Bulk-buy the tissues; things are about to get emotional. Yes it's true, after five wonderful years of employment, my time at Experience Days has sadly come to an end. But what a half-decade it's been! I count myself extremely lucky to have spent 20% of my life working here - who else can say their job involves bungee jumping, breaking World Records, and more archery lessons than you can shake an arrow at?
I started here in 2013 as a placement student from Bournemouth University, but swiftly took over as Accounts Manager in 2014, then promoted myself to Intern Manager, and finally became Business Developer for South Africa in 2017 (another self-proclaimed job title). Now for the part you've all been waiting for, my Experience Days highlights!
I think I'd been in the office for mere days before I was handed the keys to the company car and sent off to Kent for an Alpaca Trek with Alpaca Annie - not that I was complaining! The experience was fantastic and is still going strong today, which I'm going to put down to the amazing blog review I wrote (although I'd be surprised if anyone actually read that - talk about tl;dr).
In those first few months I also went rock climbing, chocolate making, Segway riding, pole dancing, supercar driving, yacht sailing, machine gun shooting, kayaking, and fire eating, just to name a few.
Bungee Jumping; Solo and Tandem with Ruscha
It's become a bit of an Experience Days tradition to make the interns do a bungee jump, so I was no exception. My first was September 2013 which I did alone (my parents showed up to watch so I couldn't chicken out), then I did a tandem jump with Ruscha in August 2017 (it was her last day so again, couldn't say no). I'm glad I did though, it's one of the most bizarre and exhilarating sensations I've ever experienced, not one I'd necessarily say is fun, but thrilling nonetheless.
'Go on a 100km walk for charity' they said, 'it'll be fun' they said. Well, it wasn't. I'm still putting it in my Highlights though because it's a pretty huge achievement, and one that I won't forget in a hurry. The first attempt took place in July 2014 when we took on Trailwalker UK, a 100km trek across the South Downs in aid of Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Robb, Mahmoud and I set off with high hopes, but after 60km my blistered feet couldn't take any more, and we left Mahmoud to complete the walk on his own (kudos).
Obviously this was unacceptable, so in September 2015 Robb and I strapped on our walking boots once more and had a go at the Thames Path Challenge, raising money for Send A Cow. This time we were successful (because it was loads easier), and went home with our medals after 26 hours of walking!
America; Part One and The Return
The office for Xperience Days is based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and I was lucky enough to visit not once, but twice over my time here. First trip was in June 2015 during which Michelle and I went horse riding, took a trip on the gondola, hiked Fish Creek Falls, and went paddleboarding! It was really interesting to see the US side of the company, and their office was above a doughnut shop so it always smelled great.
The second trip was in December 2016, so I got to see Steamboat in the snow as well as the sun. I was there primarily to help out with shipping over Christmas so we didn't do as many experiences, but we did get to go skiing which was awesome - and I only nearly broke my leg! Big thanks to Michelle for hosting me twice, and putting up with me nearly fainting from altitude sickness and wiping out on the slopes.
Because walking 100k was a little too easy, we decided to tackle Warrior Run, the "south coast's toughest obstacle course". I was pleasantly surprised by the ratio of running to obstacles (I hate running), and the camaraderie shared amongst strangers taking part - something I wasn't particularly looking forward to turned out to be really great fun!
At the end we were completely soaked, freezing cold, and very muddy, but I had another medal to add to my collection and some pretty cool photos to remember the experience by!
Cape Town; The Most Epic Adventure of Them All
Not in my wildest dreams could I imagine a better way to finish my time here at Experience Days, but Cape Town managed to surpass all expectations. It was incredibly rewarding to visit a country that I'd spent the last year building a website for, and I certainly wasn't disappointed by the stunning scenery, the friendly locals, and the glorious weather - in fact returning home to the bleak and miserable UK was one of the saddest moments of my life.
Cape Town was a fortnight of 'firsts'; first time driving in a foreign country, first time paragliding, first time below the equator, first time watching a baboon steal some bread from an unsuspecting person's car, and loads more. It's also the place where I had the best fillet steak of my life, and where I realised my life-long ambition is to live on a vineyard. South Africa is by far the most beautiful country I've ever visited, and I'd return in a heartbeat - 2019 reunion anyone?!
Thanks to everyone who has made the last five years completely unforgettable, and for shaping me into the person I am today. Now it's on to pastures new with a 3-month trip round America doing a few of the experiences we offer, so this won't be the last you hear from me!