‘The best chance to ensure it won’t rain,’ said the coach, ‘is to remind everyone to bring wet weather gear.’
I could not help feeling his optimism might be misplaced as I listened to the rain thunder down on my roof at five this morning.
The forecast had been for a clear, cool day but had been revised a couple of times and now the satellite was showing there was ‘a chance of showers,’ and in WA, ‘showers’ mean that a biblical amount of rain is about to be dumped.
I grabbed my tea and stayed up, not daring to get back into bed in case I started to dawdle. Normally, my number two and I organise this training day, which is usually quite easy because it basically involves saying hello and then handing over to some team leaders who take the groups through a series of activities, but today was different. Today that colleague was in the UK and if I was late, there was no one else to cover me. I had other team leaders there, some guest speakers and another enormously helpful team member, but my number two – usually the early riser who allowed me the luxury of turning up a little later if needed, was on the other side of the world.
I am very bad at early mornings to begin with, but even more so in the winter when I have to juggle being able to walk the dogs (preferably in the light) with getting somewhere. For this reason, I had reversed my morning routine and started with tea and getting ready, having the dogs as the very last item on my list of things to do, which meant I could walk them, return them to the house and leave immediately. They were not going to like it, but it is only once every two years, so I was sure they would forgive me.
My dogs are left indoors when I go out. Apart from a backyard that lacks adequate shelter, one of Archie’s personal missions is to guard the fence line and he responds to any noise behind it by barking furiously, which would drive even the most reasonably minded neighbour insane. The main task was to get them walked, ensure they had the opportunity to go to the toilet, and get them home for breakfast. Sounds simply enough, but because both dogs sensed I needed them to do this, both held on to last night’s dinner with extraordinary tenacity so by the time I got them back, although they had done two laps, neither had produced anything. Too bad, I was just going to have to buy new carpets. I lay generous amounts of newspaper on the ground in known ‘hotspots’ and left.
As it happened I got there before anyone, including the venue staff. Fortunately, I had had the brilliant idea of dropping all the stuff we would need off the day before so there was little to set up, but I still wanted the laptop running the PowerPoint ready to go and to make sure we were set up and ready to go when the group – the largest we had ever had come to this day – arrived.
I was due at the venue at 8.15am. I got there at quarter to, which meant I beat the venue staff by fifteen minutes and the first team member arriving for the day by ten minutes.
This is a day that moves fast, we had four groups circulating through activities, one of which was getting fitted for a uniform and answering a questionnaire. Normally I go through the questionnaire personally with as many of them as possible, but this time, we had asked them to fill it out before coming, which was just as well because with a team member down, I had no time to do them at all. The guys running the activity started running really early, so I ended up juggling the order of presentations on the fly, and having to change up a little what we were doing as we went. It was not hard, but it was tiring. My knee, which has been getting progressively better since all the fluid was drained out of it at the end of March, was getting more and more sore.
After the heavy rain to begin with in the dark sky of the dawn, the clouds had cleared and the sun made a brief, coquettish appearance. The groups were taken out and completed a low ropes course, and some other problem-solving challenges and we only had them inside for a couple of talks and some food in the middle of the day. I have not seen the photos yet, but someone took hundreds so I know we have some corkers.
Somehow time caught up with us and we were no longer ahead when packed the room up and shoved everything back in my car. Everyone there to help me had been amazing, and the day had gone well, but I was shattered and my knee was killing me. I got home, walked the dogs and peeled the support bandage off it. It is back to looking like a celeriac again, just like it did before all the fluid was drained out of it three months ago.
We had no rain on the day, but plenty of the wet stuff building up in my knee cavity. Bugger. For the first time in a long time, I took to my bed for an hour, unable to stay awake without a pit stop and fell into what felt like a chasm of sleep.