Written by Aylwin Racher, Year 11 (Fire Leader)
The annual Perse Exploration Society Swedish expedition has a simple aim: canoe from one end of Stora Le, a large Swedish lake, to the town of Ed at the other, camping each night on idyllic Swedish islands with beautiful sunsets and rugged isolation.
This year’s expedition will be remembered, like many other trips this year, as a complete wash out. We arrived in Ed to do our ten day marathon shop at the tail end of a heat wave; shorts, t-shirts, and sunglasses were going to be the standard of this trip, or so we thought. It was not to be; from the point when we landed on our first island we were never far from the next downpour.
You should not however imagine pitiful students huddled round a fire, shivering away as the rain cascades off the thin sheet of plastic above them. The Persean is of higher calibre! For those on the trip, that will not be their abiding memory. The ill-fated colonisation excursion of Tuaranga Fire (student group), under the command of a rather rash Old Persean – none other than the expedition leader himself, Mr. Parker – illustrates my point. He thought it best to claim a small rocky outcrop, many metres from land, as Hotel d’Turanga, and a suitable place for lunch. As soon as lunch was unpacked the heavens opened with great vim and vigour and he soon discovered that there was no way to erect a shelter and no wood for a fire. The colony was quickly abandoned and a new site was found, leaving the fire very little time for their lunch. Students of a lesser institution may have faltered at this point but no, the Persean spirit ran strong and a great lunch was enjoyed by all, especially by those who had spotted the incoming clouds and chosen a good site to start with.
This is just one example of many throughout the trip as the students endured hardship and remained resolutely cheerful. Despite the weather there were many successes, including fire by friction, elaborate carving, and culinary delights such as lasagne and delicate sponges. We were kept ever entertained by late night yoga classes, swimming and a cabaret to match any West End production. We are forever indebted to the accompanying staff, and the outdoor pursuits department for their efforts to make this expedition, a complete success.