Grit Plus Day 5

On Friday we were all tired and a bit negative on it. We weren’t really too entheusiastic either but the grit plus guys wanted us to do the last activity because it would have been so disappointing if we turned it down. So we decided we would do the last activity and end on a high.

We had two options on the activity depending on how the weather was and what the waves were like. One of the options was a thing called coasteering which was where you had to walk along the coast line and you had to jump in to water and climb up the rocks and that kind of thing.

When we got to the beach though we discovered that the waves would have been far too dangerous so we just did boddy boarding again. I had a different instructor this time and when a wave came he was like right lets go. I would have preferred a little more warning. I wasn’t up on the board propperly at one point so i nearly came off it but i was grand and we weren’t that deep again.

Again Ushi had a ball as always rushing around on the sand. We tried to see if she would go in the water but she made this really high whine and didn’t bother.

We headed back for showers and lunch of potato and leak soup with ham and cheese toasties.

The xplore outdoors people had made a short presentation of some of the photos throughout the week. We then got presented with some prizes for things we had achieved. Mine was for hitting the bulls eye in archery. It was a bag of big jelly strawberries. We were going to get our certificates presented to us but everyone was in a bit of a rush to get away so unfortunately we all had to rush and i hadn’t even packed yet. Why is it that your clothes fit nice when your bag is packed but when it is dirty clothes you can’t fit it? Aww well.

It was a very different and sometimes challenging residential but i am glad i went. I would like to thank everyone who supported me especially the instructors from xplore outdoors and the grit team. I would also like to thank the couple who ran the hostel. It was top class.

I hope the friendships i’ve made will last and they won’t drop me after a while which has happened before. It’s only now starting to hit me the tiredness i mean. We’re on Tuesday now but the next day i was quite good surprisingly.

I deffinetly am glad i went and no problem will ever be as big as that mountain. So hopefully when we come up against something in our lives we will be able to find a solution to it. Once again it was a great experience and i’m so glad i took Ushi too. The residential wouldn’t have been complete without her. She got just as much out of it as i did. I could have left her at home and it would have been more of a challenge for me but I had to think about my independence too. If there was nothing she would get out of it i wouldn’t have taken her but i wasn’t hindered at all with her. In fact her and the instructors were a huge help.

I suppose i should finish this now as i’m starting to ramble. I look forward to the grit mentoring program that will take place soon.

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Grit Plus Day 4

On Thursday morning i didn’t rise until 8 o’clock. So it was a very quick get ready and feed Ushi.

I decided i would have a fry. Normally i couldn’t face that in the morning but i thought i might be needing it because of whatever was in store for us. Unfortunately we discovered our bus had broken down too. There had been a problem that we had noticed with the breaks so the guys didn’t want to take any chances. Thankfully the xplore outdoors people lent us a bus which meant the days activities could still happen.

We found out that we were rock climbing and abseiling. I had done that when i was about 11 but i didn’t really remember it much. All i remember was that we were staying in bushmills and my teacher gave me a lecture about how i wouldn’t be lifted and laid. Or maybe that was in another one but i can’t remember.

Anyway we headed of to the Ro valley country park in Limavady. There was a 10 minute walk to where the cliff was. It was bucketing down but we just put on a coat and got on with it. We were given the option of climbing first and abseiling down or abseiling and then climbing. They recommended i did that one. I didn’t really understand that as i thought that it would be better to abseil after you climbed but that would have meant you’d have to come back up again to do the abseil. I thought you’d climb it and abseil off the end but you would have had to climb over the edge to abseil. It was hard to explain but i know what i mean now. The instructors tied Ushi to a rope and she stayed at the top while i abseiled down.

One of the instructors attached himself to me so we could abseil down together. I thought this was great. To start with it was very hard to get moving and you had to feed the rope through a device before you could go over the edge. That was the hardest part to be honest. The instructor was asking me what my favourite food was while i was doing it to distract me. When i was going i didn’t k know what all the fuss was about to be honest. It was like walking downa climbing wall.

When we climbed up again i had someone doing it with me. Again i really appreciated that. IIt was a bit of a climb to get on to the cliff itself and i was nearly ready to give up at this point. I couldn’t see a way of getting up on to the ledge above me. But i eventually moved on again. The instructor at one point was giving me lots of encouragement but i nearly got upset. I appreciated the compliments but i was feeling pretty emotional.

When we got to the top we just abseiled back down again. It was easier than the first abseil.

We had to cross this bridge to get over and watch the others either abseiling or climbing. One of the other girls was afraid to step on to the bridge because it was quite high. Ushi strangely enough wouldn’t move until she stepped on too. She stood in front of us both and wouldn’t move until the other girl came with us.

We headed back to the bus after to eat some lunch. We had sandwiches again plus a yogurt and an orange and a packet of crisps.

We headed off to Ballykelly after. We were going go carting. The carts were only one seaters so they weren’t sure if i could do it but the opportunity youth guys asked if i could and they said i could. We had to go in and get this big overall on that racing car drivers would wear. We then went out to the track. I didn’t know you could get indoor go carting but you could. The go carting place was in a converted warehouse.

Everyone was taken in two groups. I was allowed to go after everyone else had done their turn. I didn’t get that much time on the track but i did get some time which was good. When you put on the helmet it’s like you have your ears covered like you’re wearing a hood. The front is completely open though. You have to where a balaclava to keep the helmets clean. When you’re zooming round the track the wind in your face is pretty amazing. I’m just glad that they let me have a go on one of them.

We had Pizza for dinner. We were going to continue the rest of our life maps we had done the previous day but we were all tired so decided that we would just chill and Watch Taken instead. We were all wrecked by the end of the day.

I noticed from about 10 o’clock that night Ushi was very unsettled. She spent most of her time wandering between me and the other girls then sitting in front of me again. I wasn’t sure what she wanted so opened the door to my room so she could go in and out if she wanted but that didn’t work. She had been out already to the loo so it wasn’t that either. Finally at about 12 o’clock i went in to the bedroom and closed the door. Within about 5 minutes she was fast asleep. I think she was just wanting some company bless her.

I’m away to write the last day now.


Grit Plus Day 3

Yesterday was day 3. Again it was up bright and early ready to start the day.

We went mountain climbing yesterday morning. It was called Knock Glade and it was in ballycastle. To start with we had to walk through this forest to get to the mountain. It then became full of rushes and then we were in a field. I worked Ushi but had someones arm too because some of it, in fact quite a lot of it just wouldn’t have been safe to work her on my own. It was hugely steep at one point and when i got to the top i thought i was going to lose my hearing and had to sit down. But after a while i was grand and continued on up. I’m afraid to say i did moan quite a bit which i didn’t mean to. I think i moaned a little anyway but the instructors said i didn’t. I’m terrible for putting myself down though. There were quite a lot of marshy boggy bits too.

Ushi was grand too and had no problem with it at all. I wish the same could have been said for me though. Ushi even had to get lifted over some parts as you had to climb over a couple of fences both at the start and the end. She put her trust in the instructors and whined for me at the other side.

The way down was basically a very steep hill, but not as steep as going up. I couldn’t believe how windy it was at the top though. Totally would have blown the head off you. Anyway Ushi was quite pully going down so I gave her to one of the grit team. She was a bit pully for him too so the instructors said it was okay for her to be let off. It meant then i could have a person on either side of me helping me down as i felt safer that way. I ended up squeezing their arms to death in some parts lol. Ushi bless her heart kept looking back for me.

I was glad i climbed the mountain but i’m not sure if i would do it again. I probably would though if others were as i’m a bit weird and would just beat myself up if i didn’t.

By the time we were finished it was about 2 o’clock. We got home to a nice shower since we got soaked and just chilled in our jamies and that if we wanted. I was going to have my packed lunch that we had been given but dinner was at 6 o’clock so i knew i wouldn’t be ready for it if i ate my lunch.

After that Volunteer now came in to talk about volunteering. They talked about the Mellenium volunteering scheme and how Opportunity youth have a 10 hour award for anyone who wanted to volunteer as a result of the mentoring course or if that was one of their goals. I’m glad to say it wasn’t just me who had already volunteered. We also talked about why you volunteer etc. We had to move around the room a few times as part of the activities they did but we were all exhausted so that was a chalenge.

Dinner was pork chops, peas, gravy and potato wedgies with a sweet chili sauce. Disert was pavlova.

After dinner was very heavy and emotional. We were creating life maps. These are where you write down your earliest memories right up until the present day. Some people found this really hard. If people wanted to they could share what they had written. It was a 3 hour session with breaks. Very hard. But they wanted us to do it to acknowlidge that things had happened and so that they could try and move on and maybe not turn to drugs or that. You didn’t have to share anything you didn’t want to though so that was good. It might have seemed a bit harsh but it is to try and maybe move people away from taking drugs or drinking or getting angry and ending up in trouble.

We were certainly glad to get to our beds i can tell you. It was a very chalenging day to be sure. Both mentally and physically. But Grit is something you can transfer back in to your own life. Sometimes you face things you don’t want to do but you sometimes have to do them.

I’m getting quite tired now and my battery is going to run down. I will write today and tomorrows entry tomorrow at some point. Even though we have the wifi sometimes you just don’t get the opportunity to use it or else it just takes too much effort to write for long periods. I haven’t even been checking emails as that even seems like too much energy. But i skimmed through them and i now have 47 unread messages rather than a hundred and something. So i’m glad i didn’t leave that any longer. That was a mountain in itself.

I will go now and sleep.


Grit Plus Day 2

I’m quickly going to write up day two before i go to sleep. I’ll have to be quick though as i’ve got a busy day tomorrow or should i say today.

Today I fed Ushi and started off the day with a lovely shower. It was lovely until i stepped out and the whole bathroom was soaked. I put my swimming suit on under my clothes as i had a sneaky suspition that we were getting wet today from the over heard conversation last night. It was a good job i did. I thought i had flooded the bathroom but there is no try to drain the water. It just took a while for it to drain away that was all.

We had a lovely breakfast after. I had cerial and toast but there were fries on offer and that too.

We then met the instructors again. We were going to do boddy boarding. Were then given wet suits. I was quite surprised that i could get in to this one without too much struggling or help. Normally they are so hard to get in to but this one was a tiney bit loose. We then loaded up the bus and went to Portrush. I was quite looking forward to it until we got closer and began to get nervous. One of the grit team mentioned to the instructor and i had an instructor accompany me all the way which was class and really reassured me.

We started off by making a really long tunnel. We were split in to teams and we had to have our legs as wide as we could and the person at the back of the line crawled between our legs and then had to crawl and touch a body board which was a buzzer. We had a life jacket on too. We then had to run in pairs screaming and see how long one scream could last. We then had to crawl on our bellies but i can’t remember what that was for. We also had to run in to the water and either get our bellies or our faces wet. I chose my belly. It was then back to the beach to pick up the body boards.

One of the instructors went in with me to the water. We were going to see if i could get up on the board in the water but i couldn’t manage that. So we headed for the beach again and Ushi was off her lead at this stage so when i bent down to get on the board I got lots of kisses from Ushi. She actually came in to the water up to her belly once which she doesn’t do in the sea. She whined lots when i was in the water though.

We only went in to up to our waists. I didn’t think the board would take my weight since it felt as if it was made of pollystyreen but only stronger obviously. You had to hold on to the sides of it. Catching the waves were just like surfing. I was too far forward at one point though and the waves came over my head which i am nervous about and find it very disorientating. But apart from that it was grand.

It was then back to the hostel for a hot shower and some lovely spaghetti balognaise which was gorgious.

We then filled in our OCN level one qualification that we will get at the end of the residential. There is also an 8 week mentoring course we will do too with one of the mentors. I wasn’t too sure what my goals were but i came up with three i could work on but i can’t remember what they are now lol.

We headed down to dinner after that which was a kind of stew which was more like mince and champ and gravy. Dissert was a lovely swish roll and custard.

After this one of the other youth workers from opportunity youth came down to talk to us about mental health and safety for women and that kind of thing. It was very interesting. It also looked at things like how it is okay to give ourselves compliments and that kind of thing. We also talked about writing letters to ourselves that we could look back on in a few months time to see how far we’d come.

We just chilled after that and bedded down for the night.

It was another good day. I was glad the water didn’t go over my head and i really enjoyed the day.

Days three and four will be coming up shortly.


Grit Plus Day 1

I’m on day two of the Grit plus residential, or we’ve just finished day 2 but i’ll write it up soon. I just haven’t had a minute really to write it up before now.

Yesterday morning i came down from belfast on the train. I was being collected at 12 by one of the youth workers for the residential i mentioned in
My last post
We arrived in Ballontoy at about 1 o’clock. We were near enough the first ones there. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was when we first got there. We are pretty near Ballycastle. The sea is in front of us and we are surrounded by fields. Unfortunately this means there is absolutely no phone reception whatsoever. Apart from by one bush which we have nicknamed the 02/whatever network bush. You take a step away from that bush and you lose signal. That is how bad it is. But it is very peaceful. The hostel is called Sheep island view but i thought it was Ship instead of Sheep. That makes more sense since we are surrounded by sheep.

There were a few girls who had pulled out of coming to the residential, but most of the group i had met last week were there so that was good. We first of all went over to have soup and Sandwiches for lunch before exploring the hostel. The place where we eat is out of the building and has an upstairs part, but the bit we were staying in was a little bungalo. It is used for tourists and back packers and that kind of thing, so basically it is a place to get a hot meal, a shower and a place to lay your head. The room i am in is tiney. It has an onsuite and a set of bunk beds and a single bed. I am in a room of my own which is good. There is toilet roll and a towel for your feet when you come out of the shower but no soap or anything. It has a communal living room and kitchen though which has tea and coffee and that kind of thing so that’s good. The chairs in the living room aren’t like soafas or that. They are just soft chairs. There is a tv and DVD player in the living room and there is wifi which has a brilliant connection. It’s a good wee place but certainly not what you would be used to. It is run by a lovely couple called Seamus and Josie. All the meals are home cooked too which is fab.

After we explored our surroundings, we met the instructors for the week. They are from a company called Explore outdoors and they will be the ones running the activities. We started off the afternoon by doing team building games like joining hands in a circle and having to pass a hoop through without breaking the circle. We also had to skip over a rope in a big line joined together. We also had to stay on these blocks and you weren’t allowed to be off them so you had to get all your team to the other side just with the blocks. The last activity was that you were on these planks of wood and you have to slide them across but stay on them. They were set up like skees.

After that we played Archery for a bit. It was good fun.

We chilled for a while before going down to get some dinner. We had burger and chips, and hot chocolate fudge cake and ice cream for afters. It was lush.

When we came back we discussed our hopes and fears about the activities. The way Grit works is that you don’t know you are going to do the activity until about 10 minutes before you do it. This is so you don’t talk yourself out of it as the whole point of this residential is to push yourself beyond your comfert zone. We also drew up a contract that we had to sign.

Once that formality was taken care of we hopped in the bus to head off to the Jet centre for a game of bowling. Again it was great craic and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Ushi is loving it so far and has quickly made friends with everyone. Everyone loves her too and i’ve had plenty of questions which i don’t mind of course. She is eating and all okay and is going to the loo which is the most important thing of all. We thought we would have to go out to the fields to let her go but there is an enclosed yard off the main kitchen which she can use and is using which is brilliant. Everyone knows the no feeding rule too which is perfect. They are just treating us like any other person which is brilliant and just what we wanted.

I should go to bed but i might write up day two quickly.