You know that phrase, right? Feel the fear, and do it anyway - that one? Well today, I did.
We visited the Historic Dockyard at Chatham - somewhere we've been talking about going for absolutely ages, years. Today we fancied a day out, the sun was shining, and we had Clubcard Days Out vouchers to spend - the Dockyard admission can be paid using these, reducing the cost from £33 cash price down to a mere £7.50 in vouchers - these were exchanged on the bonus 5x deal earlier this year. Off we went, stopping en route to get some salads and bread for lunch, and a bottle of juice to avoid the no doubt pricey food & drink inside.
On arrival one of the first things we noticed was a large, black, naval submarine. HMS Ocelot, to be exact. One of the next things we noticed was that they were giving guided tours of said Submarine - actually down inside the thing.... Now at this point, my Mum will be cringing. You see, one thing of many that Mum and I have in common is claustrophobia. I've had it since I was a tiny baby apparently - it makes it hard for me to travel on the Underground at busy times, I positively loathe lifts, particularly small or noisy ones, and if you ever, even in fun, try to hold onto me and not let go, you will rapidly find out just how hard I can fight to escape. Confined spaces, or confinement generally, panic me. Ben suffers no such demon, and was positively beaming with excitement at the idea of exploring inside a real submarine. He REALLY wanted to go on it. I REALLY didn't - I was getting slightly anxious just contemplating the idea - heat, for me, makes claustrophobia symptoms worse, much worse, and today was roastingly hot......
"You'd like to go on there, I assume" I asked casually, hoping that he would for some reason say no, actually, he wasn't that bothered, maybe another time......of course, what he actually said was "yes, I'd really like to" - drat! The thing is of course, I knew he'd enjoy it that much more with company - these things are always more fun with someone else to compare them with, aren't they. If I decided to stay outside, in the fresh air, and wide open spaces, he'd spend the whole way round feeling guilty -there's nothing like discussing the view through a submarine's attack periscope with someone else who knows what it looks like, after all! So I took a deep breath, and stepped forward to ask the lady giving out tickets what time we could take a tour. I checked with her also that I would be able to get out again if I discovered I couldn't cope, and she reassured me that yes, all I would need to do was let the tour guide know, and he would arrange for her to come through and collect me.
4.15pm found us back at the sub, Ben ever more like an excited schoolboy, and me feeling ever more like it was the gallows awaiting me, not a perfectly tame tour around a large metal coffin. The tour lasted 30 minutes - the toughest bit was actually descending into the sub in the first place - once inside it was actually roomier than I expected, swinging through the tiny round hatches on bars placed above them for the purpose was actually quite fun, and the view up the periscope was an unexpected bonus. Only right at the end, in the engine room, when it got really REALLY hot, did I really start to feel I needed to get out - but the fact that it was right at the end, and a handy open hatch above us offering both cool air and a glimpse of sky, got me past that, and a few minutes later we were indeed out in the open again, with the tour guide asking whether we thought we'd make submariners - "they're accepting women into submarine crews now, you know!" he joked to me. I explained that, not THIS woman, they wouldn't be, and told him why, and he was genuinely impressed, telling me that I'd done really well going on the tour at all, and that he wouldn't have guessed..... For me, it feels like a massive step. Would I do it again? Hmmm, maybe. It would be far, far easier on a cooler day, with less people. If I never venture onto another submarine again though, it won't matter - I tackled it, and won!