A lazy Sunday Morning

A lazy Sunday morning is far from what I expected on our Antarctic adventure but that is how the day started for the team.

We have become accustomed to having a delicious breakfast after spending over seven days at UG and this is always a positive experience but today we had to say farewell to the Norwegian team, Astrid and Sivert, as the weather has cleared enough and they are now able to head off to start their own journey, following in Amundsen’s footsteps.  It was brilliant to see them set off but also sad to say goodbye as we have gotten to know them well over the last few weeks and learned a lot of useful Norwegian gems!

The improving weather meant that Martin Hartley, Ben Saunders’ photographer, has managed to get a flight back to Chile! He will be missed by all at UG and our team too.  See you in 2018 Martin and thank you so much for everything you have done for us in terms of the photos and all of the advice!  We are grateful for your endless patience and for having had the opportunity to benefit from your experience and wisdom.

Lots of talk about improving weather means there is a very good chance we could fly to the start line tomorrow, Monday 13 November.  We all have our fingers crossed as the team is now far too quick at the daily crossword and sudoku!

Thank you to our friends and family who have been sending positive thoughts our way.  Today, on Remembrance Sunday, our thoughts are with our fellow servicemen and women. We will remember them.

Swift and bold


A week in the life of Nat Taylor

Nat is the Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) for 1 RIFLES, based in Chepstow, and is one of the organisers of EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN. She is an adventure racer, winner of an Arctic ultra marathon and preparing for her fifth Iron Man.
Read more about Nat.

Monday begins with 1 hour of tyre dragging before running a clinic in the local civilian practice to maintain my GP skills. Getting up at 6am after 2 weeks on a military field exercise was a challenge, but this morning I am greeted by a beautiful crisp, clear morning to lure me outside. The afternoon is spent in meetings, catching up on work and I leave the office at 7pm after doing some EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN planning. Luckily a mate has invited me over for food so I don’t have to worry about finding time to cook this evening. Phew!

Tuesday. What a day! After a morning swim (I entered Iron Man Wales at the weekend and am working hard on my swimming) work starts as soon as I get through the medical centre doors with sick people to see and decisions regarding soldiers’ ability to work. I wish I had planned ahead and made breakfast to eat in the car on the way to work. Lesson most certainly learnt as my stomach grumbles loudly until lunch!

I’m due to head to Lichfield to assess a course tomorrow but as I check the joining instructions (paperwork) I realise the course has been moved to Gosport. So glad I checked, but now rather than visit the grandparents on the way I’ll have a 5am start and 125 mile drive to make the morning brief. Needless to say I only have the energy and motivation for some evening yoga today.

Wednesday. Assessing the Battlefield Trauma Advanced Life Support (BATLS) course goes well and is followed by a conference call with a documentary team that are interested in filming EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN. I always get excited and re-energised after talking about ICE MAIDEN, despite the fact Nics and I have been working on this project for over 18 months now. After the long drive from Gosport to Chepstow, I go for a run in the local woods for a spot of fresh air. It is my first run in weeks due to being away on exercise and, as is often the case, I have to force myself to get out there but once I get going I don’t want the run to end. Whenever I feel too drained from work to exercise, I try to remember how energised I feel afterwards and that gets me out the front door!

On Thursday I cycle to the pool, do a tough swim session, cycle to work and then do circuits with my soldiers. An active morning before sitting down and reviewing medical centre procedures with senior figures at brigade (a bit like a regional manager for the medical sector within the Army). I manage to squeeze in 30 minutes of EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN admin for a bit of light relief, then have an afternoon clinic and more ICE MAIDEN work before heading home.

Friday starts with a hard Wattbike session, then morning clinic for the soldiers. I finish work at lunchtime and head to Bristol airport to catch a flight to Scotland. It’s the weekend!!!                  .

Saturday finds me walking in Scotland with a friend who wanted to spend her first long day in the Scottish hills since her son’s birth a year ago. The day starts at 6.30am and we are at the start of the trail with ice axes, crampons and emergency kit by 10am. Armed with Poppy the dog, we summit three munros. Although Poppy makes it to every peak first, we let her take the glory and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

Considering it is late March, there is sunshine at points and the brocken spectre came out in all its glory at the first summit. This was a reminder of why we do winter walking in Scotland…because (just occasionally) it can be so beautiful!

A few patches of snow and ice but no need to deploy the crampons, and navigation is made easier when we get above the cloud where the views are stunning. We arrive back at the car 6 hours after we started with a feeling of satisfied fatigue and the delightful prospect of a beer. Back home my mate was greeted by two very enthusiastic young children and a relieved husband!

An evening spent reliving the day’s activity on the hill led to plans for next year and leaving the kids for a few days to attack a spine of munros over two nights, with some wild camping thrown in. This will be perfect EXERCISE ICE MAIDEN training!

Hill walking is accessible to so many and so long as you can navigate and have the basic safety equipment there is no reason not to get out there. It’s a great workout, you can do it throughout the UK and it’s FREE!

Follow Nat’s training on Twitter @icemaidennat