I have had quite a difficult week this week, focussing on trying to get across a very difficult message about the tough situation Cambridgeshire is in financially because of massive reductions in Government grant.
So it was great to have a bit of light relief today when I visited the Grafham Water Centre to see the work they are doing providing outdoor and adventurous activities for young people. I have always loved what Grafham do, largely because I know how much good having fun in the outdoors can do for children's development. What surprised me today was how much they have moved forwards since my last visit; I particularly enjoyed hearing about the outreach work they are doing with schools.
Today, I think the plan was to put me on a RIB and motor around watching the children sail across the lake. I appreciate their flexibility, because I suggested I would much rather sail across with them so they found an instructor who sailed across the lake with me, they then (bravely) allowed me to sail back on my own. (I am no sailor, but it really wasn't that difficult).
Before today I never could have imagined you could put two 10 year old completely novice sailors in a boat with a minimum of training and get them to sail across a lake and back with very few problems; it provided a perfect example of the benefits children get from being stretched (of course they had back up from the instructors who were around all the time in the RIB's). I enjoyed the sailing today, but I got the most satisfaction from seeing the nervous faces (and tears in one case) of the children heading one way across the lake turn into smiles and laughter coming back. They then had even more fun having a massive splash-about in the water when they got back to the Centre.
I must finish by saying thanks to everyone at the Grafham Water Centre for looking after me this morning and, indeed, the amazing children who laughed their way through the whole morning while I was there (and of course their teachers).
Every Briton knows that it was really us that won the America's cup this week. It seemed a perfect time for me to spend a few hours pretending I was Ben Ainsley.
Photos to follow.