Tuesday 25 November 2008

the phone box mystery

Life is full of little mysteries and unanswered questions, questions like 'why do men have nipples?', 'why do we hiccup?', 'why does drinking tea always make me desperately need the toilet?', and 'why are there random video cassettes in my local phone box?'.

Yes, video cassettes.
Each time I walk past the phone box on the way to the local shop there are a selection of videos balanced in different places in the cubicle.
Phil and I have been puzzling over this for a while. The videos are usually in boxes but sometimes just have stickers on them. They are always 'innocent' (or at least marked as such) - things like 'Watch with Mother' or 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' or 'Pride and Prejudice'.

The weirdest part though is the fact that they are changed regularly. The first time we noticed the cassettes we assumed they had just been left there as a one off. Sure enough the next time we walked past they had gone and the cubicle was empty - we assumed that someone had simply thrown them away, however, on our next trip past the phone box there were more videos - and they were different.
We don't walk past all that often, but each time we do there seems to be a new selection available, always seemingly of an innocent nature just like the first crop.

We don't have a TV or VCR and so haven't picked any of them up to find out what is actually on them, and to be honest I'm not really sure I want to know anyway...

Several theories have been discussed - is this the base of a porn exchange ring? Are these stolen CCTV tapes? Or have we stumbled upon something even more sinister?

One thing is for sure - I really don't get it!

Wednesday 19 November 2008

new problems

What can I say? Work is still just as bad as when I last posted. I wake up in the morning and dread going in - this isn't healthy, I need a way out! I'm just going to have to bide my time until something presents itself.

On a more positive note I have been to the wall a couple of times since they put up a whole load of new boulder problems - yay! My first time seeing the new problems I was described by a mate as being 'like a kid in a candy store' - new challenges are just what I need to keep motivation high. What is even better about it all is that they have put up lots more hard problems than last time - I did everything V3 and below in the first session (apart from one exceptionally hard V3 that I think could easily be V4 or maybe even V5). There is a V4 project, a couple of V5s and even some V6s and V7s up now - I wonder if I'll manage any of those?

I have managed one of the V5s already (apart from the move to the bar which is a huge jump and completely out of keeping with the balancy and highly technical nature of the rest of the climb) - it is a green sloper and crimp problem involving huge amounts of balance and technique - perfect for me really :)

The orange V4 on the bulge is my next challenge - I think it could actually be V5 but hey, it will go! Unfortunately the holds are super sharp and really effective at removing skin, hence I'm only really getting a couple of good go's on it in a session.

Hopefully we will be heading up to the Peak district again on Saturday and I will be able to get a session in on Trackside...fingers crossed :)

Monday 17 November 2008


Crap. B*llocks. Sh*te. Balls. F*ck.

This is how I feel pretty much every day I have to work now. This place is driving me insane. Take the last real job I did for example - I travel out to the lovely city of Barcelona to be met by an equally lovely engineer (a kind and not altogether unattractive chap who spoke good english and had very nice manners) - all good so far yes?
Not good, not at all.
Because I know what's yet to come - grovelling and apologising for the poor service, lack of care and technical incompetance of the company I work for.

Sadly it was worse than I had feared. I did manage to sort most of the mess out fortunately but I am left feeling worn out, abused and taken advantage of, again.
It's especially hard and humiliating when the customer is so nice and kind and understanding - you end up feeling a horrible kind of guilt on top of all the other bullsh*t.

The thing is, when I was sent, the people sending me knew I would be playing the part of the company scape goat, there to take a kicking for all the combined inadequacies of a once proud and capable company that is now slowly winding and trickling its way down the proverbial toilet...

Yes, I want out. In the mean time I will continue to sit here, going through the motions, pretending I still maintain a sense of loyalty and positive work ethic, even though all I really want to do is tell them all to f*ck off.

Tuesday 11 November 2008


I went to Curbar with Scott on Saturday - it was wet. We had breakfast then went to check out Trackside (font 7A) - it was wet. We waited half an hour, during which it didn't rain and then proceeded to have a few go's each - then it started to rain again.
Anyway, even though it was wet and I didn't get a hugely long way with it, I am now convinced that I can climb it. Just need to get back up there!!!

Friday 7 November 2008

gym, RT and climbing


Hard work, pain, suffering. Good isn't it? Ok so it feels hateful at the time, but it will all be worth it in the long run.
I've been to the gym twice since my last posting - once on sunday afternoon instead of flying (the weather was atrocious) and once yesterday afternoon. Sunday's session was pretty standard, except my treadmill warmup lasted 20mins at a constant 12km/h - it nearly killed me but I feel like it's a good step forward fitness-wise. Sadly yesterday's cardio had to be stepped back - I only managed 9mins because my cold/flu/illness meant that breathing was actually quite difficult.

Nevermind, I decided to 'up the ante' with the weights and resistance work as the cardio was next to impossible - I basically increased everything by 5 - 10kg and also did some more different exercises (including some weighted pull downs, wide grip pull ups 3 x 5, L-hang pull ups 3 x 3...)
The L-hang pull ups are probably the single hardest body weight exercise I have ever attempted - dear goodness do they hurt! I can only just manage a set of 3 before my abs give up and start screaming agony at me...I must do more :)


Radio-Telephony, again. Had another groundschool last night, and this time I was one of the main participants! There were only four of us there, and one was a new guy who was doing the 'sitting in and listening' thing. It was hard work. Think I'm beginning to get the hang of it all though - I just need to do some more studying and practice really. Got another session on Sunday...


New problems on the woody = frustration. I flashed all the easy V1s, and the V3s (maybe I am getting stronger!!). Sadly there are no V4s so I'm now stuck with trying to work the V5s. Now, ok I'm managing V5 on the featured walls - the woody is considerably more difficult for me though as there is basically no way to 'technique' your way around the strength and power moves. I guess this is good because it means that by simply trying I will be getting stronger. It is, however, really frustrating to keep getting shut down by the same moves, over and over and over again.
Still, I have managed to repeat the two hardest problems on the feature walls again - the green V5 and the red V4. Interestingly I am now finding the green easier than the red with its heinous tall person's finish.

I have also been thinking about bouldering standards a bit of late, and discussing it with others have come to think that the green 'V5' is probably actually V6 - or would be if it were anywhere else. The red V4 is also probably the same grade as the green - it's certainly the hardest 'V4' up at the moment...

Anyway, all these indoor grades mean nothing in the grand scheme of things - I need a proper project! I have my mind on a couple up in the Peak district now actually, Scott should also be in with me on these as projects so this winter could prove to be a good season - the psyche is high!

Saturday 1 November 2008

proper climbing again at last

Yay! I've finally been out on some rock again!


I took the day off work to go to the Peak District with Scott - we had one particular route in mind - Long Tall Sally at Burbage North. This route is a line that just calls out to me to climb it - honestly just a beautiful line. I can visualise the sequence up it and just desperately want to get on and do it. Unfortunately, Long Tall Sally is a groove and crack - this meant that when we got to Burbage on Friday, she had a wet bottom. Dripping. Literally. This was probably a result of all the snow melting and running down the crack from the top.
Now I'm not normally such a coward - the top section (crux) was dry, I just really didn't want to risk a) blowing the onsight or b) breaking my ankle slipping off the first easy moves on an E1.
Anyway, long story short, we left it. I wobbled my way up a heinously green and slimy HVD further along the crag, just so that Scott could belay and second it (he's a great climber but has never done any trad climbing before, so I'm teaching him).

After completing the route ordeal and starting to get really cold we decided to head over to Stanage Plantation to do some bouldering. It was getting late in the afternoon by the time we got there so we didn't actually do much - the only problem we worked on (and both finished) was the right hand arete of Deliverance - a Font 6a+ sit start problem. Happily I managed to complete it in only 4 or 5 tries - a record for me, I must genuinely be improving!


Phil and I went to Nesscliffe today for the first time ever. I've had the guidebook for a little while now but for one reason or another we have never actually been, so today we decided to go and check it out - I wanted to do some more bouldering and this seemed like a plausible alternative to the honeypot crags of the Peak District (always horrendously crowded on a nice weekend day).

Now, the rock at Nesscliffe is a soft sandstone, meaning that the routes on the [very impressive] main walls are pretty much all in the medium to high extremes (there are an awful lot of E7's and E8's for instance). This may be partly due to the relatively holdless and technical nature of the climbing but also because of the inherant insecurity of any gear placement (gear could rip quite easily because of how soft the rock is). So why am I explaining all this? Well, basically I just wanted to boulder - not try any of the death routes, not because I'm a coward, but because I am genuinely not good enough to do this crag justice.

So anyway, the bouldering. Nice place, pleasant walk in through the woods. Some interesting problems with decent landings. Sadly not that many of them though. And my god, some of them are hard! There was a V2 I thought of trying but simply couldn't see any way of getting off the ground!

I did manage a few V1's and V2's, but spent most of my time working on a V4 called 'Berlin's Fallen'. I didn't actually manage to finish it - unfortunately the second part of the problem involved a hand traverse along a break where all the holds were damp and greasy. Even so, I did have fun working the first half - Phil even took a couple of videos on his camera: