MPs are often criticised for going on ‘jollies’. Well, I can assure you that my last trip, a couple of weeks ago, was definitely no jolly.
It was to visit the Royal Marines at their Arctic training camp in Bardufoss, northern Norway.
I am a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme and a cross-party group of MPs were invited to accompany the Marines for part of their ‘inhospitable climate’ training.
For the best part of the week, we attended briefings on the nature of the training, went out on motor launches in the icy fjords and put on our snowshoes for a trek over deep snow.
The high point (or certainly most memorable part) of the visit was the night we spent in a tent at a temperature of -25° C.
Without heating, we did our best to get at least some sleep in temperatures so low that our nasal hairs developed ice.
One MP even developed the first stages of frostbite in his toes.
Never have I been so glad to see the rising morning sun.
The purpose of the visit was to give us first-hand experience of what it is like to undergo training to be a Marine.
We only had a small taste of what is entailed, but we left with no doubt that the Royal Marines are highly professional, determined and as tough as old boots.