Monday, 6 August 2012

July to Olympic August

July has finished and August begun and Jackie and I have been watching the Olympics and 'Super Saturday'. What an amazing day that was, 6 gold's for Team GB! I've never been particularly inspired or wrapped up in the Olympics in the past (horror from some people no doubt, particularly from our friend Alex who heads up the sports training department at Birmingham University!), but I've now really got into it and realise what a fantastic achievement it is to even partake, let alone win a medal. What us mere mortals do by comparison is hardly worth a mention!

'Super Saturday' started off for me with a visit to the New Queen Elizabeth hospital for a routine ultrasound scan of my kidneys, as part of the programme of checks done every two years for the gene defect that runs in the family. That was all OK, it appears I have two kidneys and they looked OK so, with the previous other two checks, that's my full MOT done and I have a two year ticket!

All that excitement from the Olympics was tempered when we heard of the death of the mum of Manu, a friend of ours. Its a reminder that we're all here for only a short time, so we've got to use that time to the best of our abilities and live life to the full. We're thinking of you Manu.

Earlier in July I went with Jackie down to Lund Point, the BBC studios at the Olympic Park, to help her deliver some equipment. The studios are actually the top floor of an old block of flats, scheduled to be demolished shortly after the end of the games. The top (21st) floor certainly commands a good view over the stadium and its currently the backdrop for the BBC 10 'O' clock news. If you've seen the news during the Olympics you will recognise this view that I snapped through the window while I was there:
The Olympic Stadium from BBC Lund Point
 The last week in July produced a mini heatwave for a few days and it happened to coincide with Jackie's rest days between shifts, so we took the opportunity of going up to our friends Gareth and Emma's cottage near Buxton (for about the fourth time). It backs on to Harpur Hill quarry, so we had half a day 'bolt clipping' a number of routes on the limestone. I must have been feeling pretty relaxed as I managed to lead a 6b! Quite staggering really and, I suspect, a 'one off'. In the evening Jackie cooked a Paella, which we ate on the patio, with great views of the surrounding hills and sunset. It really is a great place to go.

The next day saw us climbing 'trad' at Hen Cloud, next to the Roaches. We did a few routes there, leading alternately and I really enjoyed 'Central Climb' a 4 pitch VS (4c), first climbed in 1909 and steeped in history. I was amused by the story I read in someones guidebook of an ascent many years ago by an experienced climber who got benighted on it. His climbing partner had a problem and couldn't follow. He spent so long trying to get up it that night fell and neither had a torch. They were eventually rescued by the leaders chauffeur, who became worried and went up to find them. We enjoyed it, but Jackie complained about the second pitch, as it was quite polished. Some are suggesting that pitch should now be re-graded 5a, so I say, well done Jackie! It was not easy to second.
Hen Cloud from the road. Central Climb is in the middle of the picture
After a good day's climbing we went for a beer (or two) at the Hoffman bar in Harpur Hill, scene of a previous visit with Ian and Helen some weeks before, where we all had a sing on the karaoke night and stayed there till 2:00am. Well, surprise, surprise, they remembered us! Better than being ignored though.
A beer outside the Hoffman after a good days climbing
On the way back home on Thursday we took a detour to Dovedale and had a walk along the river. We came upon Ilam Rock, a solitary pinnacle of limestone towering over the river. The arete on the face overlooking the river looks an amazing climb and Jackie was really tempted. She's definitely added it to her wish list. I thought it looked quite hard, but she thought she'd be able to do it. It looked very sustained to me once started, so you'd have to keep going to not run out of strength. We eventually identified it as a climb called 'Easter Island', with a grade of E1 5b. That's about two grades harder than we are currently leading on trad, although technically we should be able to do it. I don't know, we'd have to be feeling really good to give it a go. Here's a (not very good) picture of it (Easter Island going straight up the arete you can see) and another of Jackie giving it a closer look:

Jackie at the start of 'Easter Island'

Ilam Rock, Dovedale

Our arrangements for our year away in the Antipodes is progressing well and we have now booked our flights and insurance. We fly out from Heathrow on 29th October to Bangkok. We are in Thailand for 3 weeks, intending to travel round sightseeing and climbing, before heading to New Zealand, for a bit more sightseeing and climbing. We arrive in Auckland on 22nd November and will stay there for 6 months. Jackie's mum, Pauline is going to join us for a month and she's booked a flight out on 30th January, returning on 28th February. On 18th May we fly to Sydney for 3 months and intend travelling up the east coast of Australia through Brisbane, Cairns and possibly Darwin. We'll catch a flight to Melbourne (or Adelaide) so we can do the Great Ocean Road, before catching a flight from Melbourne to Singapore for 2 more months. We hope to go to Indonesia and/or Malaysia while there, but we haven't organised that far ahead yet. All we know is the flight back home must be within a year of going out, so we will be back home on 28th October 2013.

We've got lots to do at home before then, not least, getting our house ready to rent out. We've already had the agents round and its going on the rental market as we speak. We've got a little bit of decorating and some minor jobs to do, but the main job is to move all our furniture out and into storage, as we're told its better to rent unfurnished.

Fiona, my daughter has offered us her single garage in Kenilworth for storage, so we've got to get all that fixed up and arranged. Plenty to do....

Our biggest problem is what to do with our ultra soft pussy cat, Jasper (also known as Tiddles). He's 13 years old and really likes it as an only cat. Who can we get to look after him and take him on? Where's he going to go? We just don't know yet and its bothering both of us. Fiona has offered to have him, but she's got a cat and we're not sure if he'd like to share his life now with another cat! Maybe we'll have to introduce them and see if they get on.
Jasper, our soft pussy cat.


  1. Hi Jackie and Brian, glad to read on your latest antics! Glad the MOT was passed again Brian! We were away too and found out about dear Manu's mum on our return. Very sad. On a different level... we are sad you are off soon and that we might not see you for a year - though we are of course thrilled for you too. Glad we have a weekend booked together in September. We would like to have you round for a 'last supper' before you go too, dates to be arranged when we see you. I think we should try a Sunday tea club in a couple of weeks or so to try and cheer Manu up if we can. Love ya lots! Helen & Ian xxxxxx

  2. Hi Helen, thanks for your really nice comments, we'll miss you too, but we'll keep in touch telling each other our news. Looking forward to our September weekend and a 'last supper' sounds a great idea. Manu suggested a Sunday tea club soon, so look forward to seeing you then. Lots of Love, Brian (and Jackie) xx