Unlocking Friendship and Adventure: Aspiring Prospects Take to the Surrey Canals!

It’s residential time for Aspiring Prospects, and everyone is excited!!  For many, this trip away is the first time they have spent time away from the family home.  Some feel a little anxious, some feel excited, some feel a mix of both emotions. 

We are all off to spend two days traveling on the Surrey canals, aboard the Angel Blue canal boat; skippered by Paul.  We all want to say a huge thank you to Paul and Surrey Outdoor Learning & Development for making this residential possible. 

Whilst the residential offered everyone a chance to relax, to take in the sights, to enjoy the views, sounds, ambiance of the countryside, the trip also afforded opportunities to work together, laugh together, talk with, and get to know each other.  From preparing and cooking meals, eating together, to clearing up afterwards, each person played an active role in creating wonderful memories. 

This was an opportunity to work together and everyone pulled their weight, contributing to the team effort.  When we were not cooking or cleaning up, the sound of chatter, jokes, and laughing could be heard; the sound of friendship and camaraderie grew with each hour that passed.

With each lock we came across that needed to be passed, teams were assembled, with everyone taking turns to open and close gates, so the Angel Blue could safely move from one canal to the next. For some the locks were easy to work, for others the locks were quite challenging, but in time everyone grew in confidence, even managing to work the locks independent of support!!  As the locks filled, those who remained onboard, could be heard shouting words of encouragement, followed by cheers when the boat made its way through the lock and onto the next stretch of canal.

As day one came to an end, the team helped Paul to moor the Angel Blue.  Splitting into three teams, dinner was prepped, cooked, eaten by all, and tidied away.  Following dinner, a small group decided to go for a swim, hoping the chill of the water would help them cool down on such a warm sunny day.  The water was clear, with a welcomed chill, and if you looked closely from above, you could see little fish swimming amidst the reeds.  The fish soon dispersed when with a splash, they were joined by three of the Angel Blue crew!

Whilst some of the Angel Blue crew swam beneath the evening sun, the rest of the crew opted to start the short walk to a local inn, to grab a cold drink, and ice-cream, or both.  Once the swimmers had had their fill, they joined the Angel Blue crew for a cold drink or two.  What a wonderful way to end day 1 of the residential. Great food, a cooling swim, an evening at a local pub, with cold drinks, delicious ice-cream, and excellent company!! 

Day two was much like day one; however, the sun shone even brighter, and the temperature soared a few more degrees.  The return journey started early, and as the boat pulled away, breakfast orders were taken, and the crackle of bacon and sausages being cooked could be heard.  Whilst the bacon and sausages cooked, and teams prepared the breakfast baps, the Angel Blue continued it’s journey back to Guildford.  Throughout the return journey everyone was given the opportunity to become skipper, and steer the boat, with some jumping at the chance.  Others however opted to stay beneath deck, hidden from the sun, and the soaring temperature.  At 12pm lunch was prepared, and everyone happily tucked into their chicken-salad wraps, crisps, honey and oat bars, and a light desert of summer berries and fruit. 

We arrived in Guildford at around 3pm.  Everyone, including the skipper, was happy to get back – the sun and heat had taken its toll.  Before departing from the Angel Blue, everyone got stuck in with the tidy-up.  Bedding needed to be collected, placed in bags. Cooking equipment, plates, cups etc had to be stowed away.  Rubbish had to be collected, bagged, and readied for departure. And finally, a big sweep was needed to make sure the Angel Blue looked as good as new. 

As the crew disembarked, people’s bags and belongings were hauled to the riverbank, bedding and blankets also.  Everyone had had such a good time, and words of thanks offered to our wonderful skipper Paul highlighted how special and memorable the residential trip aboard the Angel Blue had been. We were all asked if we would do it an again, and the answer was a resounding yes!!!  Huge thank you to all who made this residential possible – what a blast!!!!  Massive shout out to our skipper Paul, for enabling all aboard to play an active role in managing the locks, and in giving everyone the opportunity to wear the captains hat, steering the Angel Blue up and down the canals.

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