On 6th-8th October, 9 DrongOs headed out to Stockholm for a long weekend. The reason for going was that Ben W had a flight voucher from BA giving him £100 off per person for up to 9 people, so we needed to make best use of it. We met on Friday evening at Heathrow (except Bara, who flew there straight from Czech Republic). James H had lounge access and Dan was the first to volunteer himself as the guest, so they enjoyed free stuff whilst the rest of us read Matthew's chartered engineer application form and tried to fill up our water bottles from a very slow machine, which claimed to have saved 20 plastic bottles with the amount of water it took to fill up one. Dan brought some ice cream back from the lounge and then we got on the plane.
When we landed, Bara had already arrived at the Ravinen Club hut, and couldn't find the key. It was about midnight at this point, so most people who could have been helpful were asleep. It turned out that Ben W had forgotten to email the key holder to remind him to hide the key, and the key holder had forgotten to hide the key. We did get through to him, but he was 200km from Stockholm so couldn't help. We spend the 90 minute journey from the airport wondering what to do, whether to try to cram into a hotel room or just sleep outside. When we arrived we tried the windows, and there was one which wasn't secured very well, which we managed to get in through! Panic over.
We had a good lie in in the morning and then went training on the area next to the hut. It was also the 25 manna relay today, but we didn't have 25 people, and didn't want to get up before 7 to give us time to make the start. The terrain lived up to Swedish expectations of complicated contours and rocks, and nicely runnable. We were doing the "naturpasset" permanent course, which meant we didn't even have to hang controls!
Ben W and Matthew V were first back and immediately went off to the supermarket to buy food for the weekend. Fortunately a 1p coin worked to release a shopping trolley. Matthew decided to load all the very heavy things into his holdall, rather than splitting them evenly between the three bags we had, and therefore struggled to carry the bag back to the bus stop. When we got back we counted the weight, which was 25kg, plus another 20kg or so in the other bags. Everybody thought we had bought way too much food, but it turned out we'd only bought a little bit too much food (we did eat about 4.5kg out of the 5kg of cheese). We basically had a whole Sarah Gales worth of food to eat.
After a late lunch we went to do a 5-person trains exercise in the forest to the north of the hut. The course did a lap of the lake which gave some great views from the cliff tops when on the far side of the lake. When we got back, Ben, Richard, Natalie and James jumped in the lake, while Matthew nobly sacrificed his swim to take photographic evidence for the rest of us. We thought the water might still be warm from the summer, but we were very wrong. Fortunately the sauna in the hut was waiting a few hundred metres away, so after a few rounds of sauna we had a late dinner of veggie chilli and apple crumble.
It was an early start on Sunday, since we went to the middle distance race which accompanied the 25 manna relay from yesterday. On the way there we enjoyed splitting into two groups for a tube train race between Slussen and Central Station. Unfortunately, the side-by-side trains were above each other by the final station, so we don't know who won. The forest was about a 15 minute walk from an underground station (Stockholm is great) and was very very runnable. We discovered that the meaning of "elite" in Sweden is quite different. All 9 of us were entered on the elite course, and all the men except Matthew had been demoted to a second elite course because the first one was full. Of the 66 people on W21E, DrongO got 60th (Zuzka), 64th (Natalie), 65th (Fiona), and 66th (Bara). This was despite Zuzka having a pretty good run, with better min/km than all the DrongO men who didn't mispunch. Matthew managed to mispunch, and on M21E-2, we achieved 40th (Dan), 41st (James), with Richard mispunching and Ben retiring with a bad knee. Classic DrongO in a nutshell. The organisers were nice though, and didn't disqualify the people who took longer than the two hour time limit...
In the afternoon it was very sunny and Zuzka went back to the hut to do more orienteering that she'd missed out on yesterday because she had to work, while everybody else went to be tourists in the centre. Dan and Bara went to a ship museum about a ship which didn't work, while everybody else went to see an ammunition factory which hadn't worked and was replaced by a building commemorating how it didn't work. Ben discovered he wasn't thin enough to fit through a metal ring. Dan and Bara went for a coffee, while everybody else walked past many nice fresh ice cream shops to search for packaged Daim ice cream, which must be eaten when in Sweden.
When we got back to the hut Zuzka had finished orienteering and had gone for a walk, so Ben went to meet her. Richard sent a message to the WhatsApp group saying that dinner was nearly ready, to which Ben replied "We will be back in 10 mins, soz we were a bit busy getting engaged". Most people hadn't read it when they got back, which was amusing for Ben and Zuzka, and the people who had read it hadn't said anything. Then Natalie read it and made no hesitation in asking about it, which was also amusing.
We ate pasta bake and played a Czech game calle Bang. Some people decided to see if it was possible to resist being tickled by tensing your core muscles. Ben was quite good at it, while Zuzka, Matthew, and Fiona were all terrible. Once dinner had gone down, some people went for the reflexbana (following reflectors in the forest). Matthew and James ended up doing 15k having cut the long loop short.
On Monday morning, having finally had a normal night's sleep and Matthew had recharged fully, some people went to do a different part of the permanent course to the west of the hut, while injured people went for a walk around the lake, and Matthew and James headed east (Matthew orienteering, and James doing a path run because his ribs were hurting after running into the side of a car the day before we came to Sweden).
We ate the leftovers from the previous meals for lunch, and sadly threw away the leftovers of the leftovers, before clearing up and heading off to the airport. Another fun weekend
for DrongO. The next trip's the cross country skiing in January, which 15 people are coming to so far!