#7 – Do the Spice Rack: Spice Thames Valley and a National event. CHALLENGE COMPLETE!

Challenge number 7 – Do the Spice Rack: COMPLETE!  One event with every Spice group in the country in one calendar year.  Eight groups plus a national event.  Meaning that this is the 20th of my 40 challenges to be completed, with just over two years to go.  Good progress.

Technically my visit to Ronnie Scott’s with Spice London actually my completed my travels around the country and therefore completed the rack, but I haven’t yet written about the National events I’ve done this year or the events I’ve done with Thames Valley (my home group, so there’s a lot!).  To celebrate the completion of this challenge, here’s a quick resume of the ‘Rack’:

Camping Afloat with Spice Birmingham

Zombie Chase Glasgow with Spice Scotland

Avon Gorge Abseil with Spice Bristol

Urban Treasure Hunt with Spice East Midlands

Bunkburn Weekend in Robin Hood’s Bay with Spice Yorkshire

South Indian Cookery Lesson with Spice Manchester

Ronnie Scott’s Christmas Cabaret with Spice London

Lots of events with Spice Thames Valley (see below)

Center Parcs weekend and fancy dress party, plus Cave Trampolining and Zipwires were my National events (see below)

Firstly, National events.  These are events which either have no ‘home’ (e.g. they’re in one of the few areas of the country that Spice doesn’t cover) or events which are intended for members from all groups to attend such as the annual pilgrimage to Center Parcs and the Dragon Boat Racing championships.  National events also include holidays, and I’ve enjoyed a few of these in the past including Mongolia, Moscow and St Petersburg, Rome and Sorrento and a cruise on a Turkish gullet.  No Spice holiday for me this year though.  Instead my National events were a good mix of social and adventure – everything Spice is brilliant for.  First up was the always amazing Center Parcs weekend.  This is in my diary for the following year the very day we leave, it’s so good.  Several hundred Spicers descend on Center Parcs each year to catch up, party, relax in the spa, and ride the rapids.  It’s always a hilarious weekend full of fun and friendship.  The highlight of the weekend is the Saturday night themed fancy dress party.  This year’s theme was Carnival.  As usual there were some very original costumes and a variety of ideas.  My villa mates and I went for a Venice carnival theme:

 

Venice Carnival fancy dress at Center Parcs

Venice Carnival fancy dress at Center Parcs

Moving from social to adventure, my other National event was completely out of my comfort zone:  a weekend away in North Wales bouncing on cave trampolines and whizzing down zipwires.

Cave Trampolining

Cave Trampolining

We got suited up and entered the cave on a little mine railway.  Once there we had to put special non-slip shoe covers on and then slide down a little chute to get onto the trampolines.  Given that I don’t like heights if I can see through the floor, this one was a bit of challenge but I rose to it with the help of my Spice buddies.  There were three trampolines at different levels, linked by fabric chutes.  After I’d plucked up the courage to move away from the safety net at the edge, bouncing around in a cave bigger than St Paul’s cathedral turned out to be brilliant (and hard work, we all sweated buckets!).  The chutes were a little more scary though, it took a fair bit of courage to psyche myself up to sliding down one.

Going down the chutes between the trampolines

Going down the chutes between the trampolines

 

Getting ready to ride the Zip - in tandem because it was too windy!

Getting ready to ride the Zip – in tandem because it was too windy!

The zipwires (at the same site) were great – such an adrenalin rush, sadly over too soon.  We did three zips, one over the Welsh moor, one down the side of a mountain and the final one over a slate mine.  The first was 890m long.  We had to go in tandem for that one as the winds were too high and we didn’t weigh enough individually!

We did the Zip!

We did the Zip!

Action shot, flying down on the zip!

Action shot, flying down on the zip!

 

 

Cocktail evening

Cocktail evening

 

And then to my home Spice group – Thames Valley and Solent.  This is the staple of my social life.  I love the fact that I’ve met so many like minded people in my own area through Spice, that it gives me a chance to get out and about and enjoy the best my part of the world has to offer and allows me to be a tourist in my own town.  I’ve done too many events with Thames Valley this year to mention them all by name but they have included seven walks, enjoying a laugh with comedians Alan Davies and Jo Caulfield, going behind the scenes at the crematorium, taking a tour of Sandhurst college, whizzing down a dry ski slope in an inflatable donut, dancing at a Valentines ceilidh, playing skittles, drinking cocktails, super sleuthing on murder mystery trails, dining out and sampling cuisines as varied as gourmet burgers, an American brunch, Mexican, a Burns Supper (complete with a piper and the ‘Address to a Haggis’), afternoon tea, Turkish, Italian and French (including my first taste of snails).  I’ve also visited a silk mill and had a go at hand weaving (it’s a lot harder than it looks!), seen photographic exhibitions from Lord Litchfield and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, attended a beer festival, been wine tasting, watched theatre productions of The Mousetrap, War Horse, Medea and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, gone out for dessert and partied the night away at Black Tie Balls.

On the steps of Sandhurst College

On the steps of Sandhurst College

What a year!  Life with Spice is never dull.  I’m looking forward to the friendships and fun Spice will bring in 2015, but possibly with a little less travelling around the country!

Here’s a selection of my favourite photos from my adventures with Thames Valley Spice this year:

Going out for dessert - yummy!

Going out for dessert – yummy!

Looking glam at the Black Tie Ball

Looking glam at the Black Tie Ball

At the Winchester Beer Festival

At the Winchester Beer Festival

Trying my hand at silk weaving

Trying my hand at silk weaving

American style brunch, including pancakes with maple syrup and bacon

American style brunch, including pancakes with maple syrup and bacon

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One response to “#7 – Do the Spice Rack: Spice Thames Valley and a National event. CHALLENGE COMPLETE!”

  1. Sarah Cox says :

    Wow! Incredible as always x

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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