A two-week trip to Cyprus sounded like the perfect assignment for a group of Army reservists from Sheffield, writes Paul Drabble.
However, it proved to be no picnic for the 20 lads from the new 21 Engineer Regiment, based at Greenhill.
The part-timers were asked to work alongside their full time colleagues on Exercise Lion Star 5 – a mission to improve a variety of army facilities on the Mediterranean island.
In temperatures of up to 30C the soldiers took on all sorts of tasks, from building dog shelters to constructing roadways for fire engines.
The new shelters for dogs and their handlers were built for the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, which deals with explosive devices and clears routes, buildings and vehicles in war zones.
Regulars and reserves worked as a team in the testing conditions, also taking part in a range of annual military tests.
There was fun too, with time set aside for hill walking, mountain biking and water-based adventure training.
Sapper Stephan Bowles, from Heeley, who works in a call centre in civvy street, has been with the engineers for 18 months.
He said: “With the reserves and the regulars merging it’s a whole new ball game.
“The camp has been just absolutely amazing.”
Lance Corporal Andrew De Kock, a regular with nine years of experience, said the benefits of the exercise were clear.
He said: “The reservists bring a wealth of knowledge.
“They do this type of work every day and have definitely taught us some professional tips and tricks of the trade.”
Reserves make up two-thirds of the new regiment, most of whom have civilian jobs.
It is one of a new breed of hybrid units seen as the future of the Army.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Nicholson, commanding officer, said the exercise had been a success.
He said: “We’ve ach-ieved a truly integrated regular and reserve force working closely together to produce a quality military engineer output.”