A week in the life of Nat Taylor: Full time doctor, part time expedition organiser

Nat Taylor blogNat is the Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) for 1 RIFLES, based in Chepstow, and is one of the organisers of EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN. She is an adventure racer, winner of an Arctic ultra marathon and preparing for her fifth Iron Man.
Read more about Nat.

Monday begins with 1 hour of tyre dragging before running a clinic in the local civilian practice to maintain my GP skills. Getting up at 6am after 2 weeks on a military field exercise was a challenge, but this morning I am greeted by a beautiful crisp, clear morning to lure me outside. The afternoon is spent in meetings, catching up on work and I leave the office at 7pm after doing some EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN planning. Luckily a mate has invited me over for food so I don’t have to worry about finding time to cook this evening. Phew!

Tuesday. What a day! After a morning swim (I entered Iron Man Wales at the weekend and am working hard on my swimming) work starts as soon as I get through the medical centre doors with sick people to see and decisions regarding soldiers’ ability to work. I wish I had planned ahead and made breakfast to eat in the car on the way to work. Lesson most certainly learnt as my stomach grumbles loudly until lunch!

I’m due to head to Lichfield to assess a course tomorrow but as I check the joining instructions (paperwork) I realise the course has been moved to Gosport. So glad I checked, but now rather than visit the grandparents on the way I’ll have a 5am start and 125 mile drive to make the morning brief. Needless to say I only have the energy and motivation for some evening yoga today.

Wednesday. Assessing the Battlefield Trauma Advanced Life Support (BATLS) course goes well and is followed by a conference call with a documentary team that are interested in filming EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN. I always get excited and re-energised after talking about ICE MAIDEN, despite the fact Nics and I have been working on this project for over 18 months now. After the long drive from Gosport to Chepstow, I go for a run in the local woods for a spot of fresh air. It is my first run in weeks due to being away on exercise and, as is often the case, I have to force myself to get out there but once I get going I don’t want the run to end. Whenever I feel too drained from work to exercise, I try to remember how energised I feel afterwards and that gets me out the front door!

Nat Taylor blog

On Thursday I cycle to the pool, do a tough swim session, cycle to work and then do circuits with my soldiers. An active morning before sitting down and reviewing medical centre procedures with senior figures at brigade (a bit like a regional manager for the medical sector within the Army). I manage to squeeze in 30 minutes of EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN admin for a bit of light relief, then have an afternoon clinic and more ICE MAIDEN work before heading home.

Friday starts with a hard Wattbike session, then morning clinic for the soldiers. I finish work at lunchtime and head to Bristol airport to catch a flight to Scotland. It’s the weekend!!!                  .

Saturday finds me walking in Scotland with a friend who wanted to spend her first long day in the Scottish hills since her son’s birth a year ago. The day starts at 6.30am and we are at the start of the trail with ice axes, crampons and emergency kit by 10am. Armed with Poppy the dog, we summit three munros. Although Poppy makes it to every peak first, we let her take the glory and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

Nat Taylor blog
Considering it is late March, there is sunshine at points and the brocken spectre came out in all its glory at the first summit. This was a reminder of why we do winter walking in Scotland…because (just occasionally) it can be so beautiful!

Brocken spectre

A few patches of snow and ice but no need to deploy the crampons, and navigation is made easier when we get above the cloud where the views are stunning. We arrive back at the car 6 hours after we started with a feeling of satisfied fatigue and the delightful prospect of a beer. Back home my mate was greeted by two very enthusiastic young children and a relieved husband!

An evening spent reliving the day’s activity on the hill led to plans for next year and leaving the kids for a few days to attack a spine of munros over two nights, with some wild camping thrown in. This will be perfect EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN training!

Hill walking is accessible to so many and so long as you can navigate and have the basic safety equipment there is no reason not to get out there. It’s a great workout, you can do it throughout the UK and it’s FREE!

Follow Nat’s training on Twitter @icemaidennat

Selection for EXERCISE ICE READY announced

After an incredible two weeks in the Arctic Circle on EXERCISE ICE BAMBI, it has been a difficult decision for Nics and Nat to select those going on to EXERCISE ICE READY. They would like to wish the Ice Maidens leaving at this stage the best of luck in their future adventures.

We look forward to EXERCISE ICE READY this November back in Norway with Zanna Baker, Shiryn Burns-Hill, Jenni Stephenson, Sandy Hennis, Sara Canning, Rin Cobb, Hayley Creighton, Beth Grey, Steph Innes-Smith, Vikki McIndewar and Sophie Montagne.

Read more on EX ICE READY.

TRAINING WEEKEND

On 22 January 2016, the Ice Maidens descended upon Wyvern Barracks, Exeter from across the country to enjoy a weekend of bonding, hiking, tyre pulling and discussions relating to diet and kit.  Who knew there was so much to say about chafing, icy nasal secretions and the pungency of merino wool?

The arrival of Saturday morning was heralded by a dawn chorus of mobile phone alarms and minor grumblings as to the potent scent produced by twelve women sleeping in a cramped room atop brand new Army mattresses fresh from the plastic, reeking of mass produced efficiency.  Eau de Wyvern was carried off on the breeze when we boarded comfy Cuthbert Combivan and headed to Dartmoor, to be greeted by a mystery man from – gasp! – the Navy, planted like a little cress seed by Queen Ice Maidens, Nics and Nat to test the Ice Maidens further.

The Dartmoor weather was kind to us for hours, with some sunshine and invigorating winds reserved as a special treat for the highest point in Devon.  Ice Maidens enjoyed a cycle of ninety minutes of walking followed by a five minute break, testing even the most experienced Ice Maidens’ ability to co-ordinate a windy ‘wild wee’ and the consumption of a calorie dense snack.  The hours were filled with plentiful chat, including free legal advice and dating tips dispensed en route, anecdotes galore, photo opportunities featuring Dartmoor ponies, dogs perched precariously on quad bikes and 42 kilometres of bonding.  Ice Maiden Lauren did well to maintain a smile despite a ‘popped groin’ and the rain we encountered for the last three hours or so may have dampened our colourful clothes but not our collective spirit.

The group enjoyed a guilt free meal out before retiring to Casa Wyvern.  Sunday began with a gentle hour of hauling tyres round the barracks’ car park in circles whilst wearing the now compulsory Ex ICE MAIDEN t-shirt.  After an essential discussion and demo of the clothing we will require in Norway next month, Ice Maiden Rin provided us with a most informative nutrition lecture whilst perched, ironically, above various boxes of chocolates.

The weekend concluded with Nics and Nat’s departure for their recce in Norway and much excited chatter.  Two of the tyres were ‘adopted’ and now reside in Leeds and Gateshead respectively.  Reports confirm that they are settling in well with their new mothers.

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Ice Maiden

Ice Maiden

Meeting with Armed Forces Minister, Penny Mordaunt…

Following meeting with the Minister Armed Forces the Ex ICE MAIDEN team are feeling reinvigorated and ready to take on the challenge of crossing the Antarctic land mass on foot. MinAF was very enthusiastic about the challenge and wishes the team every success. MinAF thinks it is a brilliant idea to get an all-female military team across Antarctica during the 100th year since the formation of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Ex ICE MAIDEN looks forward to another tour of parliament in the future.

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TRAINING DAY

11 November 2015 in Chepstow, Wales

Some of the ICE MAIDENS gathered to participate in a training day designed to teach the correct techniques used in the new strength and conditioning programme.

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SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THE SELECTION WEEKEND

25 – 27 September 2015 in Capel Curig, Wales

After receiving over 250 initial applications, 50 women were invited to the selection weekend in Capel Curig, North Wales

The weekend entailed the 50 selected women rotating through a number stands:

  • Outdoor/team building activities
  • Talks from a previous RAF Antarctic expedition
  • Information on the training and commitments expected from squad members
  • Interviews
  • and of course a social opportunity!

Twenty two of these women have been selected to start the training program before going to Norway for EX ICE BAMBI to learn the foundations of ski touring.

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Photo Credit – Corporal Max Bryan Army Photographer

RECCE Ex ICE BAMBI

Successful whistle stop tour of Norway, 3 airports and a night at the Allied Training Centre, Lakselv. The Norwegians based at ATC are looking forward to supporting Ex ICE MAIDEN and training the team on Ex ICE BAMBI. Nics and Nat visited the training area and reviewed the maps. The 5 day Winter Survival Course with the Royal Marines will be a good test with Vibeke Sefland (http://www.mountainvibs.com/) pushing the ice maidens to live in the polar environment while learning to ski tour on Ex Ice Bambi, which is departing at the end of February. Ice Maiden