Members Present: David Botcherby, Adelaide de Diesbach, Ben Thompson, Phil Hughes

Apologies: Leila Mason

I’ll admit, I wasn’t that keen on the trip from the start. My kit was still muddy from the P8 dig, and I really couldn’t be bothered to put it back on. But, given that work today had consisted of sitting in my car for two hours and then going home, I felt that I may as well take a trip. I had already failed to take this group on their first SRT trip twice, so it was a clear choice to take them out for a good rope trip. Maskhill still needed derigging from CHECC, so we agreed to meet at the kit store at 1800.

I turned up a bit late, hoping that everyone would be about ready by the time I got there. My hopes were dashed when I found no freshers in evidence at South Road. I checked the group chat to find they were both waiting for buses. I settled in for a long wait. Phil actually wasn’t too late, so I busied myself helping her get ready, making sure she had all the kit she needed, and watching her put it in a Bernies Bag (more on this later). Leila said she would be a bit later, around 1845, and we agreed to wait for her. Sat around in the South Road front room, we chatted shit to pass the time. Quarter to came and went. Still no sign of Leila. About 1900, after a few attempts to reach her to no avail, we decided to set off.

I stopped in the corner store to get a chocolate bar to ease my entry to the cave. Due to some faff about a dodgy chocolate salesman, I ended up leaving with an extra chocolate bar free, so I was feeling pretty good. As I got in the car, Leila texted to say she’d knocked on the door earlier to no answer, and was now on her way home. Oh dear. This trip was already going well.

Feeling quite familiar with the A57 by now, the journey over went by quickly, until we got to the top of Winnats Pass, which was wreathed in thick fog. Even moving slowly, I almost missed the layby, leading me to reverse into it, almost destroying a dry stone wall in the process. The strange religious drama on Radio 4 really added some ambience to this manoeuvre.

It wasn’t raining outside, but it was rather cold and foggy, so we took our time getting out. Keen to do anything to avoid putting on my grim kit, I got my phone out to set a callout. As it was now 2000, and this was a first SRT trip for some, I was torn on whether we’d be out quick enough for a midnight callout. Not really decided, I called round the usual suspects. Jack didn’t pick up, but I knew Michael had nothing on. About halfway through this call, I became aware of some commotion around the back of the car. I went to check it out, to find that we had a problem: Phil hadn’t got an oversuit. Telling Michael I’d call him back, we tried to work out a solution. There were none forthcoming.

Not wanting to waste the trip, we decided to go for a pint at The Wanted. This involved more foggy fun driving, but it’s not a long trip. When we got there, the car park was absolutely rammed, so I opted to just jam the car where I could and wait until someone needed it moving. Phil offered to buy us all a pint in return for her omission, which was all well and good until the bartender asked for Adelaide’s ID. Far too used to this occurrence, we all just accepted that tonight wasn’t our night. Adelaide looked distinctly annoyed as we sat sipping our pints across the table from her.

Our run of bad luck only increased as someone asked me to move the car so they could leave, leading me to shuffle my car around the worst junction in the Peak in fog thick enough to slice for about 5 minutes. My mood reached its lowest when I realised that despite planning to return through Bradwell we were too early to even raid the bins at the Co-op. My pint wasn’t excellent, and there weren’t any pork pies to cheer me up. A sad time to be in the pub.

Feeling a bit defeated, we returned to the car chivvied by Adelaide, who had grown tired of watching us drink. A reading of the newest fanfiction cheered us up a bit, and we chatted the way home. All in all not a terrible night out as it was in good company, and home at a reasonable time to boot!

Life Members Secretary Graduate biologist now taking a masters in France. Love corresponding with our life members that…