Monday 29 November 2010

i have a problem…

Disclaimer: I deserve no sympathy. I am actually an idiot who cannot afford another expensive hobby, hence the problem!

Last week I met Paul. Paul is a pilot and owns an aeroplane called G-SKNT. G-SKNT is a Pitts Special S-2A.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to fly. For a very long time learning to fly remained a mere pipe dream, until I found the means to actually do something about it back in 2008. I undertook my training at RAF Halton, which was conveniently just across the road from where we were living, and in 2009 I passed the skills test to gain my PPL. During the time I was training I quit my job as an engineer and then moved to Wales (I actually passed my skills test two days before we handed the keys back for the house in Aston). Since then I have worked the occasional contract, but primarily relied on my ever-so-long-suffering husband to keep me in clothing, cake and chocolate (the bare essentials), hence I had to stop flying simply because there was no way to afford it.

My most recent contract in Devon has given me the chance to get back into aviation – something I’ve been longing to do for…well…ever since I last stepped out of the cockpit back in 2009.

Brilliant! Fantastic!

So…where is the problem?

The problem originates with the deep rooted desire I have harboured ever since I first went to Halton and saw a tiny little stunner of an biplane in the hangar…I wanted to fly a Pitts Special.

I had no real thoughts of doing anything other than simply ‘having a go’ in one at some point, so when I got chatting to Paul, heading down to Shobdon to aquaint myself with G-SKNT seemed like an excellent idea – I was only going to have a look after all, with a view to one day maybe going for a spin.

Aerobatics. Seemingly an activity designed to provide a terrifying and expensive method of simulating the kind of hangover you wake up with the morning after having drunk two bottles of wine at your husband’s cousin’s bonfire party…So not something you’d particularly want to put yourself through really is it? A bit like winter climbing…and well, we all know how that goes (in case you aren’t a regular reader – winter and ice climbing are my greatest obsessions.)

Last Tuesday I flew G-SKNT.

I will admit now that I was terrified when I climbed into the front seat of that aeroplane, I knew that Paul was going to put me through something terrifying and traumatic, and I had a good idea that I was going to find it as horrifying as the rollercoasters my niece dragged me onto at Thorpe Park a few years ago (I don’t like rollercoasters). Somehow though, I also knew the real reason I was so afraid: I knew wouldn’t be able to just walk away having ‘done it’…

I had no intention of even trying aerobatic flying, let alone deciding I wanted to learn to fly aerobatics. A superb instructor, and his beautiful little aeroplane G-SKNT have changed all that.

Damn you Paul.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

brand new 2010 petzl nomics and elite mountain supplies

So, I’m now the proud owner of a pair of the brand new for 2010 Petzl Nomics.

I will write more about these once I’ve started using them, as a simple play on the board doesn’t really count, although they did feel fantastic for this.

I have a couple of minor gripes, but they really are tiny and I will be writing more about these in a short while, but overall I’m really rather pleased with them.

I just want to say a thank you to Adam at EMS for the fantastic level of service he provided when I placed my order, and just send a shout out to anyone looking to buy any climbing equipment in the near future as he is offering a 20% discount on the rrp of all of his stock to members of the BMC, MCofS and a good number of climbing clubs. 


Bring on the ice!!!!

Monday 8 November 2010

devonshire cream teas

It’s about time I got round to writing this one, after all I have been back home for nearly a week now.

Living and working in Devon for nearly two months was certainly an experience, and certainly not one I regret in the least – living with Jenny was hard work at times, but never dull, in fact we spent probably 90% of our time together laughing – from minor kitchen epics, to supermarket fiascos and random ‘youtubing’ competitions, oh how we laughed.

Anyway, the main point of this post is simply to provide the reader with our guide to some of the best cream teas we sampled during our time in the county, so here we go!

  • Fradgley’s, Lynmouth Street, Lynmouth EX35 6EH

9 out of 10. I’m cheating a little with this one, as this time round we didn’t make it up to the north coast, but on my last Devonian work trip this place scored a huge hit – a cream tea here consists of two HUGE scones, decent jam and beautiful clotted cream in ideal amounts (although for me perhaps more cream than was really necessary!). I don’t remember much else, so the tea must have been acceptable – I can recommend this place as somewhere it’s worth skipping lunch to visit, the scones really were massive.

  • Primrose Cottage, Lustleigh, TQ13 9TJ

7 out of 10. This place really is a lovely place to stop for afternoon tea, situated in the Dartmoor village of Lustleigh, it would be well situated for the casual walker. Jenny and I stopped here for a ‘site meeting’ one afternoon after having attempted to visit the day before only to find the place closed – the opening hours and days do vary. Very nice tea, beautifully made scones, with nice jam and reasonable clotted cream, although perhaps a touch on the expensive side – a cream tea here costs £5.00 per person and the scones aren’t of an overly generous size, unlike some of the others we experienced. That said, for me they were an ideal size – perfect for an afternoon treat and not requiring an empty stomach to accommodate.

  • The Fingle Bridge Inn, Drewsteignton, EX6 6PW

9.5 out of 10. The only reason these guys don’t score the full 10 out of 10 is because the scones on offer were plain, there was no option of having a fruit scone which is normally my preference. Colossal freshly baked scones (and I mean freshly baked – these scones were not warm from having been thrown into the microwave for a few seconds, they were warm from quite literally having just been pulled from the oven. Admittedly this may not be the case on every visit – we were there mid Saturday afternoon at the beginning of the half term break, so prime time really) greeted us alongside gallons of proper tea (with a milk jug that actually poured!), pints of wonderfully fruity jam and several kilos of the thickest clotted cream I have ever seen – I kid you not, the cream was the stickiness and consistency of treacle, truly gorgeous.

Unlike the previous two venues mentioned, the Fingle Bridge Inn is in fact a pub and not a tea room, and you could easily be forgiven for not necessarily considering that they might in fact be the purveyors of what for me, was certainly one of, if not the best cream tea in Devon!




An honorary mention must go to the Service Station at Okehampton, just off the A30, for serving simple, decent cream teas, at a reasonable price, in a roadside diner that once used to be a Little Chef. The scones are smaller than the likes of the Fingle Bridge epics, but similar in size to what you are served in Lustleigh, and come warmed (likely in the microwave), with an adequate amount of proper clotted cream and some simple sachets of jam. This is not a gourmet cream tea, but I like the place and I always enjoy the teas here – not at all pretentious, ideally positioned for the hungry driver in need of a break, and open into the evening. Ideal!

Friday 5 November 2010

help support mountain rescue

NEWSAR launches its supporters group on November 25th, so anyone interested in supporting us should check it out.