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.