As we all piled onto the coach that was to take us to the Quad Biking and Air Soft combat centre in Sussex, the atmosphere was strangely quiet. Half the office had been taken down by the flu so the rest of us felt like soldiers, heading off to battle to do justice for our fallen comrades. However, as soon as we pulled up to Amazon Events and took in the full extent of the grounds, spirits began to rise. Looking around, all we could see were green fields stretching for miles and a sprawling forest sprinkled along the outer edges. The sky was clear and it was promising to be a perfect day for adrenalin filled activities.
We were greeted by Mike, the owner of the company, and he kindly introduced us to the rest of the team. Everyone made sure that they knew all our names before we set out. This made us feel really comfortable and eased us in to the relaxed atmosphere that was created by Amazon Events. After the introductions everyone was eager to get on with the task at hand, so we all gathered in the meeting room to go through the itinerary for the day; Air Soft combat to start, home cooked chili con carne for lunch, then the quad bikes to conclude our trip – perfect!
Even though the day was clear, the great British weather had made sure we had a healthy dose of mud, so we were given full combat overalls to put on over our clothes. These all came in one size... man-size, so while the boys looked like strapping army men, the girls looked like shrunken soldiers wearing their dad's clothes. Once we were all suited and booted and had fitted our bank robbing-balaclavas and facial masks on, our visibility resembled that of a working horse, but we were safe and ready to go shoot the boss!
The first air combat course we were taken to had the look of an abandoned Midwest village and was covered in a multitude of paint splatters; colourful reminders from a previous paint balling battle. We all sat in silence as we were split in to teams of Yellow and Red and anticipated the arrival of the guns. These bad boys were replica AK47's and loaded with a multitude of air pellets (and as we were told these would be constantly re-filled throughout the session). With these war torn machines in ours hands the boy's faces lit up and the girl's seemed to fill with dread. "We are not going to lie to you", Mike said, "These pellets bloody hurt when they hit".
All of a sudden the moment was upon on us, "Teams are you ready? Three, two, one... COMBAT!"The seconds after that are a blur, pellets flying everywhere, hearts pounding, people shouting all around. We duck and hide, run and jump, as bodies fly from one tree to another and smoke bombs explode all around us. Suddenly a glimpse of yellow armband runs to my side and I take comfort in knowing one of my team members is near by. "Get under cover" I hear somebody shout, so I dash towards an empty shed and crouch down. Now, the sane part of my brain knows that I am just in an air soft combat battle with work colleagues, but the small insane parts tells me that I'm at war and that if I don't shoot I'll get shot. So as the next person runs in I aim my gun and... get pummeled by a round of pellets... I'm out! The game steward directs me over to the safe zone where I can watch the rest of the battle unfold in relative safety. I observe as Nancy from accounts screams for the blood of our manager Nick and then before I know it the whole game comes to an end. Our team has claimed glory and I congratulate myself on my momentous effort.
After the victor of team yellow, we move on through the woods until we come to the next combat course – The Battle of The Fort, this, I'm happy to say, is another Yellow Team triumph. We peel off our hot balaclavas and head back to base where everyone chats excitedly about who had hit whom and how dubious Sean (from sales) final win actually was. Back in the meeting room, something delicious was cooking as the smell of chili started to surround us. Before the winning team could relax however we were first up for the quad biking. So as the others began to fill their faces, we swapped our combats for blue waterproof overalls and strapped helmets to ours heads. Again everyone had a laugh at the oversized look of the girl's outfits and plenty of photos were taken to immortalize our beauty!
To start off, we were taken around a small track so that we could familiarize ourselves with these powerful little bikes and get used to the steering and breaks. Not everyone had been on them before but this didn't seem to matter as we all zoomed off around the course as if we had done it a thousand times. Everything was going fine until a couple of the team got themselves stuck and as they revved the engines to get the quads moving again, they showered the faces of the people behind with mud (much to their amusement). Once we had completed the track twice and successfully covered all the stewards in a thick layer of mud (sorry!), we were led off the path and into the unknown of the woods. The ground was thick with dirt and giant brown puddles obstructed our way, but the bikes just ploughed through them with the ease of fish through water. As we followed the instructors around they led us through the various dips and sharp turns that this vast area had to offer, enabling us to experience the full force of the quad bike.
As we headed back to the finish we were all buzzing from the rush of the bikes and were covered head to toe in mud. Mike told us that of we came back in the summer we would experience a different wood to the one we just went through, as grass and flowers replace the mud and the trees go from brown-yellow to bright green. But judging by the sadistic way everyone unnecessarily revved their back wheels, I think we all agreed the mud made it more exciting.
After the whole team had finished their quad bike session and we had all scoffed our famished faces, it was time to leave. The team waved us goodbye and we thanked them for a fantastic afternoon, they had been really kind and made the experience a memorable one. As we hopped out of our muddy trainers and piled onto the coach, the driver eyed our dirty clothes and shoe-less feet with amusement, and we flopped into our seats without shame. We all had an amazing time at Amazon Events and even though we had a table booked for an evening out on the town, I think we were all just ready for bed!