This was going to be another action packed day. We were heading to Lough Gara Riding Stables for a day full of activities. First there was the matter of Flag up, auction, and breakfast.All of this was done with the minimum of fuss and when the bus arrived at 10:30, we were all ready to go.
It was only a short trip to the far side of Boyle. It was trying it’s hardest to rain on us and a few drops did make it through, but nothing major. When we arrived at the stables, we dropped our gear into a common room. We were split into 4 groups to do different activities. Foe my group, the first activity was Archery. The instructor went through the basics and then let us loose, if you’ll pardon the pun. It was great fun and more difficult than it looks. Brendan, of course, got the highest score, but then he is an Archery instructor. Mind you, he only got one bullseye.
Next it was the obstacle course in the bobby field. The four scouts in the group were split into two and challenged each other around the course with the two winners going into a final. Aoife and Ciara were the quickest to run, jump, crawl, dodge, and dive through the obstacles and so they got to go again. What a prize : -)
After the obstacle course, we next went to the Air Soft Shooting range. We got to shoot pellets at targets with replica handguns and rifles. We were not expecting to do this activity at all and it turned out to be so much fun. The targets were plastic bottles hanging out in the field. The instructor was a former World Champion marks man. His skills must have rubbed off on the girls in the group because they were all brilliant shots. Especially Jessica. Watch out if you meet her down a dark alley.
We had a break for lunch in the common room and everyone got to tell stories of what they had been doing. Apparently everyone was the best shot at the Air Soft.
After lunch, we walked down to Lough Gara and went out on the boat. It was lovely and calm until we got to a point where we were exposed to the winds blowing across a wider part of the lake, and it got a bit choppier. We learned about Crannog’s in the lake and some of the wildlife too. There were ducks, and geese and various farm critters too.
Following the boat trip, we got to go and meet some of the cute and cuddly animals in the barn. There were rabbits, guinne pigs, propper pigs, donkeys, and kittens. Alan joined our group for the afternoon, but couldn’t stay long in the shed due to his terrible, crippling phobia of baby rabbits. He says he has allergies, but we know the truth. Still brave man to face his fears like that.
We stayed with the cute and cuddlies, no not the scouts, until our horses were ready for our session. Everyone lined up and was matched with an appropriate “pony”. When they saw Brendan, they went and got Bobby. Bobby was a Horse. You can tell by the look on Brendan’s face that this was going to be a bit more of a challenge than he was used to. See below
It was a great session and everyone got to walk, trot and jump their pony’s and horses around the enclosed arena. Brendan tried to film some of the session, but Bobby wasn’t too fond of being at the back to get others in the shot and kept trying to gallop to the front. Lets, just say it was a challenging session for Brendan.
Our final activity of the day was Falconry. They have a number of birds of Prey in the centre, but we got to see the Harris Hawk and Eagle Owl. Each scout got to have a go at having the birds land on their gloved hand. It was the highlight of the trip. The birds were beautiful as you can see from the pictures and video of our day here.
We had an absolutely brilliant time in Lough Gara. The staff were excellent and the facilities were great. Everyone got to have a go at the activities and loved them. It was a bargain too for what you get. Value for money. Fully recommended.
By the time we got back to site, Brendan had to drop Ciaran back to the Boyle to catch a train back to Dublin for an Interview. Fiona was also heading out for the night with her dad who lives locally. This meant that Alan and Brendan were in charge for the evening. After dinner was cooked there was a surprise as the local Ice-cream van appeared and drove right up to the site. Everyone had an ice-cream and loved it. It was a chilled out evening after a very busy day.
We had a campfire that night and stared the quiz. There were 5 teams and the questions were passed on if they were not answered. Brendan, as usual, was the quiz master, and some of the questions were a bit difficult to say the least, but we struggled through it. It was lovely to spend a night by the fire having a laugh with everyone. That said though, our nice warm sleeping bags were a very welcome sight at the end of long day. More again tomorrow.