Outward bound and out of his depth - James Marston takes part in a team building weekend

I woke up aching on Monday.

In fact as I creaked out of bed I wondered if I’d ever be back to normal.

Of course it was the exercise.

Because, dear readers, instead of relaxing in my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) over the weekend I was in Cumbria doing outdoor things – a team building conference with my sister Claire.

I have never done such a thing but Claire, who knows about these things, said it will include flip charts and blindfolds and sandwich lunches.

As we arrived in the Lake District – a place where the peace is only disturbed by the swish-swosh of man made fabrics – I realised I might be a bit out of my depth. The hills are huge and running around on them in the driving rain is a far cry from a gentle stroll on Felixstowe’s newly extended promenade.

A lady called Julie, who owned a remarkable collection of tight fitting and suitable clothing and referred to us as “guys” throughout, kicked off with a flipchart demonstration about what type of person we all were.

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Though tempted to announce “My name’s James and I am C of E” it turned out I am a “cool observer of life undershot with snippets of original humour”.

This is because I like to know what’s going on and am quite introverted apparently; at least I am without a bottle of white wine in me.

My sister is an “extrovert who enjoys joining in” though she did whisper to me that on a previous character assessment it turned out she was a SINBAD – single income no boyfriend and desperate.

After much discussion about whether we all want to be leaders I found myself in a canoe paddling around Coniston Water at much slower speeds than Bluebird of the 1960s.

So far, so possible.

It wasn’t until I was presented with a mountain bike I began to get concerned.

“Right guys,” said Julie, “How many of you have been on a bike?”

I replied that I regularly use my city shopper for mooching around Felixstowe as it’s easier to park and go the wrong way up the street now there’s that shared space scheme.

After about half an hour of cycling on unmade rocky roads I fell off. Thankfully my bulk helped me avoid any serious injury but coming to with a crowd round me on a rocky path is a far cry from stately homes.

Then we spent an hour or so blindfolded and unable to talk as we made a cube out of large plastic squares.

The next exercise – after a sandwich lunch – was something called gill walking which required a wetsuit and left me – there were no changing rooms to hide in – with no option but to mumble something indistinct about asthma/a 24 hour thing/period pains/20-a-day and hand over a note from my mum which I had forged earlier.

I took my ease and spotted a rainbow.

By the time I came to rock climbing I held the rope and heaved to – just the sort of thing for the larger cool observer.