Let’s Go Camping

Sleeping bag…check
Fire apparatus…check
Wine…check and double check

Firstly, I would like to say, this wasn’t my idea. As much as I’m all for new experiences, this is not a new experience. We’ve been camping before and if I recall correctly (and I do) we hated every moment of it. On the other hand, I agreed to say ‘yes’ more in 2014 and so here we are.

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Mountain biking for Newbies

When I think of bicycles, I think of neat paths and sun flowers or small towns, rolling hills and a packed picnic in the basket on the front. So, when my boyfriend took up mountain biking, I just watched and listened mostly in confusion. Not long after that, one of my besties decided to take it up as a hobby. Luckily for her, I’m able to impart some of my acquired knowledge, experience and tips on her.

(What? Watching in confusion is an experience).

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I tightly wrap my scarf around my neck as I wait to head off to work. A tall man slides into the seat next to me and carefully places his tool box at his feet. Seemingly, his toolbox is not able to accommodate all of his tools and so he gently places his saw against the seat in front of him. That’s the problem with a saw. It’s not easy to pack up or fold away and so all you can do is carry it at the handle like a suitcase. Yes, that’s right… a saw.
Part of me is pleased to see that people are getting up, going to work and providing for their families in this economy. Really, it’s great. However, I’ll be honest with you. There is something very disconcerting about sitting next to a stranger who’s carrying a saw.
When you sit next to a stranger carrying a saw, you mind tends to, well …“soar” into all the murky forests of your imagination.
“Why would a guy walk around with a saw?”
“Where is he going?”
“Where has he been?”
“Should I change seats?”
I take a moment to step out of my prejudices, I wonder, why should this be disconcerting? After all, it could be vital to his profession. I am a writer- I carry a notebook. My cousin is a police officer- she carries a fire arm. Perhaps he is a builder or a carpenter – so, he carries a saw. 
I start to anxiously look around for some sort of back up, the taxi starts and the vibrations cause the saw to dislodge itself from its location. The man catches the saw as it falls. He turns to us and says: “Oh, maybe I should hold it tighter”.
I incredulously nod and whisper: “yeah, maybe”.
I shake my head and look around for back up. It must be common place to walk around with a saw because I am seemingly the only person looking distressed.  “Hello, people? Do you not see that this guy is carrying a saw?”  They’re all in their own world or merely concentrating on keeping warm.
Maybe my first thought that there is something very disconcerting about sitting next to a stranger who’s carrying a saw hold true.
You’ve seen the movie.
It’s a cold winter’s morning.
You’ve heard the screams.
A taxi filled with people their blank zombie like expressions clearly evident.
You know the tension.
A man carrying a saw.
One lone woman unaffected by the trance
A man carrying a saw… A saw.
The taxi roughly drives over a speed bump, jolting me out of the murky forest of my imagination. I look down and see the saw. Cold, sharp but held safely away from other passengers. I take a deep breath and quiet the madness in my mind by gently reminding myself that Jesus was a carpenter!

Girls Who Fight Fires Kick Ass

I recently completed a “Fire fighting and Fire prevention” course. Yep, I bet you didn’t see that one coming. I now know: the classification of fires and the appropriate extinguishing agents for each; the best way to contain a fire; how to roll out a fire hose, connect and operate the different nozzles to the hose; search and rescue wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus; and of course…put out a fire!
Please hold the applause for later
The final assessment was simple. Enter the smoky storage container by ladder, manoeuvre through the various obstacles and put out three fires whilst dressed in full fire fighting gear including fire boots and a 16kg breathing cylinder attached to your back. This is what I remember…
As I cautiously descend the ladder into the smoky abyss, I hear the ferocious heat before I feel it- radiating through the thick, smoky space. I take a moment to allow my eyes to adjust to the room; then, as I gaze into the darkness my eyes confirm what my brain already knew:
It’s dark.
It’s smoky.
I can’t see anything.
Undeterred I crouch down and with smoke hovering above me like an ominous thundercloud about to burst; I slowly feel my way to the smouldering wall­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­. In the distance, through various obstacles, I spot the glow of a firefly leaping towards the steel roof. It flutters then grows and grows. My heart beats a little faster; beads of sweat nestle on my eyebrows as I slowly draw breath from the oxygen cylinder. Finally, the firefly explodes into a multitude of colours and the inferno is revealed. 
I confidently grab the water hose and bravely crawl towards the heat. As I draw near, I reach an obstacle. Drats… It looks like I will have to crawl through a make-shift tunnel.
No problem but time is of the essence. So, I launch myself onto my stomach and manoeuvre my way, elbow first, through the tunnel. Something suddenly pulls me back, I try to move forward but can’t. The cylinder of oxygen on my back is caught in the obstruction. I sigh, and like a pro, I roll onto my side simultaneously dislodging the cylinder, slide out and then jump onto my haunches.
As I emerge, the cracking sound of burning wood and steel grumbles through the hot, pulsating air. I grab onto the hose, pull it through the tunnels. I brace myself on one knee. Upon seeing me, the fire snaps and screams like a child throwing a tantrum it hurls long, finger-like flames towards me protesting its imminent demise. I remain steady and determined. I aim at the base of the fire. I shout a command to my team: ‘WATER …NOW!’
A loud rush of water bursts through the hose and in two short blasts. The fire is gone.
Fire 0
Me 1
All in a days work.
If there’s something strange, (FIRE) in your neighbourhood.
Who you gonna call?
(cue music)
tee di tee di tee di tee di dadada
I ain’t afraid of no Fah-yah!
tee di tee di tee di te di dadada
I ain’t afraid of no Fah-yah!!
Note to self:
           “Girls who fight fires, Kick Ass”