Thursday, November 16, 2006

It begins again

The night before we go on holiday with my folks, Al shares that there was a blue line on the pregnancy test. Here we go again!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Development update

Took Callum swimming today. He's coming on lots and we ought to think about swimming lessons soon. I think he could take a more structured approach OK. He's happy to try swimming on his own with the armbands, but struggles against the current in places!

Connor's volcabuary is coming on. I thought after I got back from Font that there'd been a leap, but I wanted to document it:

Standard phone greeting.
Standard phone sign-off.
Used when rattling the cupboard door.
When trying to get a toy back off Callum.
Shower, but can't quite pronounce it.
"Who wants to be first in the bath?"
"Would you like some pasta, Connor?"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Font trip 2006 retrospective

So, this is in effect a post-project review. Sad. Next time, I'll have a Gant chart! Anyway, in no particular order of priority:

  • I was strong - should have got more done.
  • I had real problems transferring that strength to the rock - getting the power onto the road as it were. That felt like a real technique thing - the majority of training for this trip was done on my board, or doing deadhangs and ladder work. So need more variety generally. Well, I already knew that, but it's a bit hard to get living in Hampshire!
  • Preserve skin, rest properly.
  • Take rest days.
  • I don't live in Sheffield and do twenty hours climbing a week anymore. So don't get sucked into climbing with others that do! Further to that, I am only doing around five hours climbing a week. To get the stamina to do lots of climbing, you need to climb lots. No secrets, just hard work and time.
  • Specificity! My training mainly consisted of doing thirty problems with two minutes rest. So I was fairly well primed for doing circuits of that length, but not a full day of all-out bouldering.
  • Session peak. Doing twenty problems like that is not a good warm-up for climbing anywhere near my limit. Doing a short warmup and making the seventh problem that I do at my top-level would have been a better fit.

So major takeaways from that are that I need to climb more - I'm trying to address that by going to Craggy at lunchtime and getting some mileage in on the self-belayer as well as bouldering. That has its own pitfalls, but doing an additional 150 moves per session can't be a bad thing, even if it is climbing on blobs and routes that I know too well. Also, I need to start doing weights again. Not sure how I'm going to fit that in yet!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday - Cuvier re-match

Scott was really feeling the effects of yesterday on his ankle, so was going for a rest day anyway. We went to the Carrefour up past Cuvier first, to get the obligatory Pommerol before getting the last bit of climbing in. It was a little damp still, and not sticky damp either. But the warmup went well, Marie Rose first time, other stuff flashed and I felt more comfortable, both from having had a rest day so the skin and muscles were better, plus more accustomed to the style of climbing.

I had intended to purely try to get on Charcuterie, via Dutch's sequence of go for the RH crimp from the undercuts, rather than getting into the other undercut. But Scott persuaded me to get on the arete that I'd briefly tried on Wednesday. RH slot, LF on good hold, rock up on LF nobble to get LH sloper / crimpy layaway depending on how you prefer to take it, RF by LF and LF onto smear, then RH into crimp, RF goes into starting slot and then LF kind of hooking / flagging on the side of the arete to throw LH for high chickenhead. RH comes onto pinch the arete above the chickenhead , get the feet high (RF into RH crimp?) and go for the top of the arete, whereupon you really shouldn't fall since it's a good hold and you'd probably miss the mat if you fell from there anyway.

Whereas previously, I couldn't even sort out my feet enough to get the RH into the crimp and do the crux throw for the top, this time I did it first go, despite the damp. Just pysche and concentrate, sufficient rest and skin. Fucking basic things.

There was a group under Charcuterie, so I had a play on L'Abbatoir instead. Not done it for probably eleven years. Couldn't remember the sequence, I was getting close using a high LH sloper and kneebar, but conditions / skin / strength / time weren't permitting it today. Only had three goes, got further each time, but had to sack it off.

Had quite a speedy journey back up; at one point Scott had to brake for a van that was going slowly in the fast lane and fortuitously went past a gendarme with a speed gun. I commented that was a bit lucky and maybe we ought to observe the speed limits. Alas, he got clocked doing 126 in an 80 zone at the turn-off for the ferry-port and we got a motorcycle escort to a cashpoint to pay the 90€ fine.

Got home without too much bother, quick Thai curry and then crashed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday - Apremont

Still no rain, so went to Apremont with the team again. Left my stuff in the car, to enforce the rest day and hopefully just help Scott climb well. He had a good warm up on a few yellows and then the others arrived and we moved over to a new area. Scott, Laura, Sarah and Fi were doing the blues and other stuff to warm up. Scott's ankle seemed to be holding up under all the strapping. Wandered under a problem that Laurie was trying. Cligne de l'oeil, or Wink as it's translated. Font 7a of loveliness; RH high layaway, step up to get good LH dish / crimp. RH crimpy layway, LF into starting (staring!) pocket and then RF heel-hooking on starting layaway. Go for top, match, shuffle right to the good bit and sort the feet out before pressing out the top. Scott got it fourth go or something, very good effort. That's his trip basically, Font 7a in Font. Fair play. Laurie left it for later.

Mooched off to join the others over at Delta Roc, up the route de la solitude. Didn't remember / realise that Apremont is so big. Delta Roc again is 7a, didn't quite look like my sort of thing (slabby arete) but again, quality problem. Scott wasn't quite trusting his ankle on that one, understandable. Again, hero effort from Laurie, getting it seventh go or something stupid, on his fifth day on. Dutch got it with a more obvious hooking method, as did Dave or Hoggie, can't remember which. Barson was close too.

Over finally to Science Friction and la Lune (6c), which was Fi's demon for the day. Couldn't quite get on the top hold enough to pull onto it. Looked good; Scott thought that the first move was too powerful the way she was doing it, but then he'd had a long day. La fleur de rhum (7a+) a bit further up looked flashable; Emma was making progress on it, and then a lovely wall to the right of it, on chickenhead weirdness above a nasty landing (6c/7a?). Coefield said it's not too bad though - he did it last Christmas and exited left rather than right due to snow on top! (Like a Baboon trying to open a Kinder egg!)

Again, Laurie went back to Cligne de l'oeil and got it with the new sequence. Respect.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wednesday - Cuvier

No rain in sight, so on to Cuvier with the team. Started to warm up but felt very sore. Kept going anyway, just to make sure that I wouldn't let any sort of recovery happen today. Thrashed on Marie Rose, tried three times on some 7a arete opposite la Forge that Laurie was doing. Just not happening, so left the guys to it and Hop-a-long and I went into Font to meet Fi and Emma. Fi was doing some shopping for her new house; Emma was just being professional and avoiding the temptation to climb. Had the world's most expensive beer in one of the cafes and took off to prepare for the BBQ at the gite. Bloody palace!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesday - Isatis

Late risers, to give the day a chance to dry out the rock. Then went to Isatis; my intention was to have a fairly long day of easy-ish problems on the reds and then take a rest day prior to blasting on Thursday. That tied up with the forecast that we had, that Wednesday was supposed to bucket it down.

We got to Isatis and it didn't seem too bad. The wind was up and drying things out nicely, so sent the guys a text telling them to get their arses in gear. Apparently that tipped them sufficiently to come out, since they were sat there arguing about where would dry out first.

Scott and I did most of the first eighteen reds (missed out a few wet ones), repeating a few that were enjoyable. I didn't feel that I was climbing that well, but felt fairly strong and was looking forward to getting some stuff done. Scottie seemed to be having fun as well and was pretty tuned in to the climbing. The guys arrived, Scott flashed the Crocodile thing (silly thing, see Bleau video / DVD) and we had a bit of lunch.

Then followed the guys over to the Hautes Plaines. Never been over there before, really cool place. Quieter than Isatis and some really nice problems to do. I was trying a problem in a pit up on the ridge; only around 6c but it wasn't happening. Couldn't understand it. We went up a bit higher to where BANKSIE! had found a (7a) roof to suit Emma, but again, I couldn't climb for shit, couldn't concentrate, just thrashed and wasted muscle and skin. Scott looked good on it, Laurie(sp?) was so impressive, getting it about tenth go, just really fighting and stubborn. Oh well, just leave it for another day.

Did I bollocks. Dutch and Kim were trying a really enticing wall lower down (pull on with RH crimp, flag and go up for small projection to balance with LH before extending for high LH crimp / slight gaston. Skin too sore to pull on, but tried a few times, just to make sure.

Then Scott sprained his ankle playing rounders, and I had to help him walk off.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday - travelling down

Christ, Scott had a shitty journey last night. But he got here finally and we had a few hours kip before heading out to miss the joys of the M25 on a Monday morning. Got to Dover early doors and snagged an earlier ferry. Ferry food sucks! I don't think there are any eggs in the scrambled eggs, and the beans were watery and tastlesss. Should have stuck to croissants, but I was trying to keep the healthy thing going.

Got to Milly in just under four hours - not bad. Sorted out the tents - John had forgotten to include pegs to the one I'd borrowed, so we improvised and sent slagging texts. Then headed off to Apremont, thinking that it was a bit showery, but it would be close to the road.

Arse. Road was closed, so couldn't drive all the way to the main car park. Instead, parked at the south end and bush-whacked around for a bit.

Finally got to the near car park area. Easy problems were all wet, so ended up doing stuff that was probably too hard, and wasted too much skin. Stupid, where's my self-control? That's what happens when you don't get out on rock much.

Didn't hear back from the others, so we just sorted out food at the campsite. It started to bucket down, so we cooked at the toilet block, hopefully not setting a precedent for the rest of the trip.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pre-Font trip

So, I've been training reasonably well. I had a bit of a gastric infection a week ago and missed some training, but otherwise I think I'm going pretty well and hope to do some good stuff. Last time I was in Font (two years ago!) I was not quite doing Surprise (bad sequence) and was trying Alta as well, but had the sequence really bad for that. I was trying to go from the starting crimps to a high left good flat hold, but the normal way is to reach into the undercut first with the right and then move across using an intermediate. Hoping to do better with it this time - I've put 5 kg onto my deadhang whilst maintaining the same weight, so I'm stronger than last time. On blobs at Craggy, I'm doing OK, but it will be interesting to see how it transfers to rock.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mirroring the parents

Al took Callum to a third birthday party for one of his friend's yesterday. One of his other friend's 'had to sit on the naughty step' for spitting at Callum, but Elliot came up to the Bash later and apologised. Callum's response?

'That's not good enough, Elliot'! Where did he learn that ...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bloody Monkeys

Took the boys to Longleat Safari Park today. Callum was very excited, but Connor managed to fall asleep just before we got there!

So we went through the first bit, which had the giraffes, zebras, ostriches and some other stuff. Then we went round the flamingoes up to the monkey enclosure. Al voted to take the shiny new Zafira in whereas I was a bit more cautious, but Callum was pretty vocal about what he wanted to see. So in we went.

It was obviously very funny to watch the monkeys dismantle other peoples cars. They must go through some sort of training programme. Rights lads, next up, Audi A3. Weaknesses, trim comes away easily, remember the arial if they haven't retracted it and the rear wiper will come off if you hang on it hard enough. And so it was that some of the little nasties got on our roof, and went straight for the rear-screen wash projector. Off in a flash. I even saw one using a branch as a crowbar to get a wiper off another car.

Callum and Al thought I accelerated rather hard to coax one of the little fellas off the car, but it was more like controlled kangaroo hops to encourage the monkey to leave. Connor woke up in the next enclosure and saw the gazel-thingies and deer, then caught the tiger and lions as well, so he was bouncing off the walls. Little smashers!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Separation Anxiety

Al's away at the moment and phoned tonight while Callum was still in the bath.

Callum : 'Was that Mummy?'
Me: 'Yes, and she says she loves you very much'
Callum : 'Yeah, but I've got a bouncing frog!'

Maybe you had to be there.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Post-Project review - North Wales trip

  1. If you arrive in the Pass and it's dry, go climbing. The BBQ can wait, but tomorrow will probably bring rain.

  2. A bunch of Sarf London market boys will not be able to thrash up Snowdon in proper Northern rain that hurts, Wayne and his brother excepting.

  3. Never go hill-walking with a fell-runner. Doing the Llanberis track up and down in a little over three hours is going to hurt later this week.

  4. The Vaynol is very good for supping - good choice with the campsite, Mr Velupillai.

  5. The campsite was basic and I'm probably needing my creature comforts more in my old age.

  6. The Vaynol sucked for food. They got my order wrong, brought the food out cold and is was generally unimpressive. I made up for it by drinking lots of Robinson's. (c.f. point 4)

  7. Not doing any climbing for a while over the hot summer months leaves Fairy Liquid soft hands and flabby muscle which doesn't cope well with the Cromlech boulders.

  8. Whereever you go climbing in the world, you will bump into people you know from Sheffield. Mr Busby looked far too fit and strong for my liking, so I'm going to have to start getting thin so that I can be good enough to hold his rope next time I see him at Rubicon!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Australian influences

So my brother and his family visited, and I didn't write anything at the time. The one thing that sticks in the mind is his son, and my allusion to Beaker.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Callum's developing social graces

We went to Alan and Alison's for a BBQ this Sunday. Cracking day, far too hot, and the boys were enjoying playing in the garden while Alan did his manly thing with charring bits of meat over the flames. After the Bash had eaten about four sausages, he sat down for a bit, holding his belly, then turned around and asked "Dad, why are we still here?". That's my boy, fill your boots and leave!

Monday, June 19, 2006

How to run a successful cafe?

"Is that panini too burnt for you?"

I think she'd answered her own question to be honest...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sport Induction 201

Callum's first class obviously being the Rugy World Cup in 2003, which he didn't understand, but probably got thrown about a lot.

'Dad, why are they having a cuddle?' after Fred scored Brazil's second against the Socceroos.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Took the boys to Chessington World of Adventures, courtesy of Tesco's vouchers. Good day out, Big Sausage was covering his eyes on the bigger rides, like the Runaway Train, but they both seemed to have great fun. It wasn't too busy either, given that it was half-term.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

First steps

Connor's strang seven or so steps together today, just before his first birthday and in time for the grandparents to see at the weekend.

Monday, May 29, 2006


I was stayed with Jon and Jay at the weekend up in Sheffield, as part of a climbing trip with Scottie and his mate Dan. I bailed staying in the flat that Scott had sorted out when Andy and Emma were due to come back. Five people into a two-bedroom flat doesn't go for me; I'm getting old and like my creature-comforts.

Jon offered me a blue towel and a white one, then snatched the white one back, saying that he was going to put a coloured wash on in the morning! That boy's changed from when we shared a house post-Uni...

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Al has this mannerism of stating Genius! as a thinly veiled sarcastic comment. Now so does the Bash. He was asking one night where his grapes and milk had gone, and Al told him that we'd taken them downstairs since he hadn't appeared interested in them. His response? Genius! :-D


Callum sucks his thumb. Neither of the boys were, or ever will be, given dummys, so now we have this habit to break. Allison told him to 'stop thumb-sucking', but got a little mixed up. 'Stop some-fucking', whereupon we both collapsed. The Bash didn't pick up on why though, otherwise he could have been repeating some choice words in nursery.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What's the Story, Morning Glory

Al was traumatised today when she went to wake up Callum and he had a humdinger, but he wasn't really aware of it. She caught sight of it and hastily put him on his potty and ran away! I had to explain to her that Morning Glories aren't just caused by waking up to an obviously very sexy wife, but also because a male is bursting for the loo. Nice.

Calcutta Cup

What a day to go to Penny Hill Park with a load of Scots! We've got the in-laws down at the moment, and took them to Penny Hill Park for afternoon tea. And met half the England team. I'm surprised the Andersons were as restrained as they were!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Party Animal

Went out for Dave and Helen's thirtieth last night. I was about five hours down on sleep before going out, missed my window for kipping in the afternoon and then couldn't sleep on the train. I soon fixed that by having four pints and going for a kip in the toilet of the bar until closing time. Classic!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Continuous development

I'm continually amazed by how the boys acquire little skills, so that I'm playing with them and then suddenly tweak "hello, how long have you been doing that?"

The example that prompted this was Connor's habit of insisting on having one of the train letters for his name when he's getting dressed after bath-time. I noticed he has awareness that he can hold it with one hand while I get his other arm into his sleepsuit, then he needs to swap the toy over from one hand to the other when I want to get the second arm into the sleepsuit. Clever!!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dinosaur hunt!

Family trip to the Natural History and Science Museum today. Callum loved the animatronic T-Rex! It was nice to go around the place; I'd not been for ten years or so, when I went to London Village to meet a friend who was studying at Imperial.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And so it begins (again!)

Connor's started crawling a good 'un. And he's not content with just that. He's gone from the expected commando shuffle crawling to trying to stand up already, and with his strength I don't think it will be too long before he's up and running around playing football. The cheeky little mouse is already trying to climb up the stairs!