The starting exam was not too bad in the end. Apparently although some Regulars fail the exam, no TA person has ever failed it. I suppose when you have to take time off work to do the course, you're not going to mess around with the possibility of being sent home on day one.
After a weekend with just the eight TA people (catching up on the first week of work done by the Regulars*) I joined up with my full-time group - the course of 60 or so is divided into five groups. I'm the only TA person in my group; there's a mix of other cap-badges (corps/regiments). The other officers are a helicopter pilot, a mech/elec engineer, a signals officer, two infantry, an intelligence officer**, a field engineer, a teacher***, a medical officer, a clerk and a logistics officer (like me!). The last person, S, was on Herrick 13 at the same time as me, and even visited Shahzad a couple of times. We were in the same room at one point, watching a comedy show! It's a small world. My group paid me quite a compliment today - they said that I was wasted in the TA, because I am so switched-on and knowledgeable. Coming from a Regular course of high-flying young officers, that's quite a compliment!
One of the other officers on the course lost both his legs to an IED in Afghanistan. He moves around on artificial legs, or a wheelchair when he gets tired. He is incredibly strong-willed, and just gets on with things, making jokes and generally not worrying about it. I would hope that if I were to suffer a similar fate, I could show the same strength of character.
Last night S and I went for a run out of the Land Warfare School. The big hill, Battlesbury, is the first in a line of about five chalk hills overlooking a river valley****. We tried for a seven-mile route up and down the first three hills, but it was getting pretty dark by the time we reached the top of the second, so we decided to head onto the Salisbury Plain training area to the north and follow the perimeter road back. It's pretty winding and hilly at this side of the plain, so I'm pretty sure we covered about eight or nine miles by the time we got back.
* We do in two days what it takes the Regulars five days to complete. Dedication!
** Who is also my room-mate for the duration of the course.
*** Army Education and Training Services
**** We use local maps for all our exercises; I can draw the hills, river and towns from memory now