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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

No gear required!! 15/3/2015

Today we went for a tramp up Beinn Eunaich and Beinn a 'Chochiull. Perfect test run for Daves new shiny manta's he got yesterday afternoon last minute before the place closed....we were at the club's ceilidh on Friday night and a very tender hangover ensued on Saturday morning after heading to Glasgows Propaganda night at the O2 ABC! Sunday morning up we got all keen for a good day out - it was glorious weather, great conditions, almost naff all wind, sunny, excellent visibility. As we got further and further in we realised that we could have done the entire day in no winter gear whatsoever...B2 boots? Not required. Crampons? Not required. Axes? DEFINITELY not required! So we took our kit for a glorious walk in the sunshine for a giggle! Today is also mothers day, so also, happy mothers day to all the lovely women in my life who make the family what it is :) I hope that you all had a wonderful day, of course, to my mumsie especialy :P ! XX
Dammit these boots will see snow today! 
Lots of the white stuff, totally avoidable though!
Looking out to the Cruachan range
Summit Selfie!
Happy mothers day mum!
Just to make the watch read 1000m! 
Highland Coo and wee highland coo...cant help it!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Monster catch up post!

Catch up time.

Well first off, ive been utterly crappy at blogging for well over a year now, and im hoping that I can get back on it. Not sure that anybody reads this but me, but i enjoy it nonetheless. A bit like a journal to just look back on an reminisce. 

The last post here was April 2013, and in that last year and a bit now, its been a hell of a ride! Starting where I left off from April 2013, I went on my first two trips to the alps, one in early May time to partake on Mr Laurent's early season Slovenia paddling trip (but we made a whole two weeks out of it taking in Italy, Switzerland and Austria as well), another in the July time with York University Canoe club, covering France and Austria and a day in Switzerland. Each of these were incredible in their own ways, I was a bit too broken to partake in all of the harder rivers, specially the second trip as I properly gave my shoulder a twang and nearly didnt even go! The first trip was a smallish one with Rich, Mike and me heading out together and me feeling like I was going to my death. It was a fun two weeks, I'd not met Mike before but it was lucky that we got on so well :) Rich went off to meet Teresa in Venice so we stole the car and went to see Dave, Mark, Rush and Ben in Italy for a couple of days before heading to get Rich and go home via Switzerland, almost missing the ferry and getting ridiculously drunk on it after we made it in the nick of time! The second trip was the YUCC trip, and it was a bit of a stress at points, with Dave famously not stopping the car for hours even though Alec, Katie and I were dying for a pee and we didn't have any food that day hardly at all...then I threatened to stab Dave in the eye with a Mars bar to make him cheer up and pull over, at which point we all burst out laughing, and nearly burst our bladders too. Pretty funny. We paddled France, Austria and a day in Switzerland. It was great, and I can't wait to go back when I'm less broken this year! We also went for the obligatory week surfing in Cornwall with Clan Fawcett and the Lochwinnoch guys, which was awesome. Then perhaps in the August time, I applied for a job as a postdoc as a great opportunity arose to do laser stuff, in Glasgow which was amazing for me, as I'm able to live in Scotland with the highlands accessible, live with Dave which was lined up to be great fun and then get transported home to RAL to do experiments and see my family...win! So I took the job and frantically sat down and started writing my thesis!! So in December, I moved all my stuff to Glasgow to essentially be moved in with Dave (!) got myself really drunk at the SUCC xmas dinner that day and then flew out to Uganda the following morning!! It was mental! I'm sure ill write about that trip separately. So all in all, a year full of trips and exciting things and to me, life didn't get much better than that. I was buzzing off of the feeling that id done a lot of constructive stuff, even though I had taken 9 weeks out of uni (!) to do it all, but to me the having a good time part of life is far more important.

That brought me right up to new year, i flew back into the UK on the 6th January after a truly epic month away, it had its ups and downs and there are a few things that I would change given the chance to do it again but it was definitely one of the best trips of my life :) After that, 2014 was just, well,.....just a bit shit I'm sad to say! In theory, it was great, I wrote up my thesis which was single handedly one of the hardest, most tiring and personally one of the most testing things I've ever done, but I did it and then with a few weeks overlap - went off to Strathclyde to begin the job i'd taken the previous year. I joined the Strath guys in the middle of an experiment and it was a great laugh, within a few days i'd been a bit tipsy in the rec soc and had celebratory beers with the team twice and it was pretty fun. Moving to Glasgow was a strange experience - a new office, new work, new place to live, new person to live with, new environment, new friends, .... new everything.
Moving in with Dave, getting used to a new job and remembering the things that miss and realising that it was going to be a far more bumpy road than I had hoped...but I made it there and proved to myself that it could be done. PhD handed in, job in hand - in theory it was the best time! 

Summer rolled in and we managed to get through several munros, about 30 in total i think starting at easter time, and finishing when I went away in late autumn early winter so a reasonable few i think ... not half as many as I would have liked but you know, I do have to work for a living!
In July I had an experiment on the Gemini laser facility as a kind of cross over between the old and new universities, but it was a very testing run! It was great for me though, so many groups and such a good experience and I came away thoroughly broken and tired but proud given the circumstances of what we did achieve! Almost straight away after that I was whisked away to Germany for a few weeks to work at the GSI laser facility, and then almost immediately after that, was back to Rutherford again for another TAP run for 6 weeks, running right up to the lab closing in mid-late December...so it flew by. An entire year went by so fast that I never really caught my breath! It was a whirlwind of new things in life and a bunch of testing experiences with work and a whole heap of personal stuff too, things you learn about yourself and others when you make a new start.
Gardens in Darmstadt I think!

Heidelberg - such a good day! We miss you David!
Walk in the woods probably post-beer! Point 5 eV!
Tour of GSI - such a huge place, PHELIX seems a tiny!
 The new year 2015. Man I was glad to see this one in. It sounds all doom and gloom but I do think that occasionally, you'll have an absolute clanger for a bit of time, and then things get better - 2014 was my clanger and I'm hoping that it doesn't last into this year :)
Spending Christmas 2014 at home after being away the previous year was absolutely magic, and then boxing day at Rog's and a day out clay shooting with him before heading back up the road was really special for me.
Nan and Me 2014 - matching jumpers!
Nan and the grown ups in xmas jumper style!
It reminded me of how much I value everyone back home even if I dont get to see them much at all. Like when I was a kid, mince pies were magic, mulled wine was a real treat and being at home cuddled up in the warm with the christmas tree lights on was really humbling...and i only missed it for one year! Im pretty sad but I do love a good Christmas :) and even better when its followed by a family do for those we didn't see on xmas day on boxing day where we get even more fat and drink even more wine! 


So that brings us right up to the new year then, there is a lot of stuff there and much has been missed out due to my lack of blogging over that time but honestly, I've just not been very motivated to. I felt a bit saturated with social media - constant Facebook updates from everyone reminding me just how boring I really am (!) and so I just kinda, switched off for a while I think. Im not particularly fanatic of the whole thing, but I have to say that I do enjoy having a nice record of fun times to look back on and smile about, even if it is a bit of effort! to keep it up. Any who, must endeavour to keep writing little things on here :) 

Monday, 7 April 2014

'Be the change you want to see in the world'

What would you do if you could do anything? ... watch this little gem....


For now I choose half and half, enough of the stuff that I need to do, to sustain the things I want to do - so for those who know me, and still wonder why id rather drive hundreds of miles just to go get freezing cold on a river, or out in the hills in my own time then keep listening. I shouldnt think ill ever be able to completely stop doing things I dont want to do, but, there are some pretty awesome things to do in this world, so get on it as much as humanly possible. Thats my plan, and I like it so far :) Whats yours?

This YouTube channel is all about a guy called Alan Watts, a british philosopher, touched a bit of a nerve with me today, after my epic week or so away in Scotland, and all the fantastic things I got to do in 2012. Roll on 2013.

'Be the change you want to see in the world'

Go Ghandi. Right on.

:D

Saturday, 17 August 2013

To Jason, Love Sam

Sam made this video on 17th May 2013, for Jason, and its a beautiful thing....give it a watch.

NSR 2013!

Well that was an experience, my first NSR!!

Friday night, with Heather in the van with me, we trundled down the road from the container at uni...and firstly we managed to get a bit lost! BUT it was totally worth it because we were on the way to Chaz's house for dinner, YUCC have this tradition that Chaz's parents did dinner for us all before NSR....dear god, it was epic, we showed up late and everything but we got given this lasagne and cake for pudding, it was gorgeous and a great way to start the weekend. 

Then off to the campsite to let the carnage begin...and mine began with meeting Dave, Mark, Matt and Rush at the registration tent so we could all pitch up together. Then mandatory beers :) of which we had many...the party tent was heaving and we all had a few drinks and i was pretty battered! And it turns out...that at NSR....there is a LOT of nakedness. I was without a t-shirt within about an hour for the rest of the night! And so was Dave and everyone else...sweatyyy mmmmmm.
The course from the bottom
Saturday competition time, I was pretty nervous actually, never been to HPP before, and wanted to compete...so...start with a 360 - a roll or a turn etc, then just play as much as you can on the features on the way down, along with hitting this ball in the eddy which hangs from the slalom line. It was a disaster! I tried to get stuck in the inlet wave, managed it, and then got thrown over and swam out of my boat. Dear god. Then the eddy with the ball, and i decided to lick it. Yes LICK it, the ball at NSR, i thought sod it, im going to get ill anyway! Then, the waves on the corner, i got nailed, side surfing it like a bitch, then it chucked me in for a roll, then more surfing, then i got tired, then i swam again. I was live baited out twice, got back in and carried on both times but how embarrassing! And it was Chaz who bailed me out too!!! Anyways, i got off the water, Dave fed me bacon, nobody saw me thankfully on my run :) I got back on for a wee play but I was pretty hanging still and that was it. Funny thing was, I made the womens expert category!! WTF?! 
Turns out that was the sum total of the boating i did over the weekend, because that night, this happened....
Dave and Glen

Running about the campsite at 3am

Matt, conquering the bollards 
Party tent, raving!

Our well respected kayaking experts.....! 
Speciallllll
Glen



...and predictably, i didnt make it to my heats, which were like 9.15am...REALLY?! As if im going to bed early at NSR?! Nah. Not a chance. I woke up at 830am, on time to make it, Dave rolled over sweating alcohol, telling me to go off and get it done but you can bugger off if you think im coming with you....thanks a heap! I wasnt feeling it, then i met this guy called Alan, who convinced me that the secret to life was, and i quote, 'to stop giving so much of a shit' - whilst walking around still awake from the night before, in an sleeping bag upside down, pretty naked too by the looks of it. I got his number and I said id try and make it to Hurley sometime :)

Anyway, we spent the day watching the playboating events, the mens intermediate was absolute class, the expert categories were sickening and the fresher runs were hilarious. As was the old school event, which was Saturday but still, old boats, old kit. Awesome. 

There was so much swimming, and it was encouraged!! An amazing atmosphere :) Utter carnage, lots of beer, lots of paddling...awesome.

Presentations

Richard Green styling it

Rush
Also just remembered, I may have written in a WWPF post from last year that some guy from Aston uni wrote his number on my arm and Dave found it on me later when we went to bed lol...well, i bumped into him this weekend too...not sure if he remembered why he recognised me! lol! Anyways ...roll on next year! I heart NSR :)

Washburn 18th May 2013 - YCC release day!

YCC in charge of the release at the mighty washburn for the day....what can possibly go wrong! 

Ha, well apparently nothing, the day went off without a hitch and we had beautiful weather and everything...a rare day at the Washburn! 
Jon had asked me to help him out for the day with an intro to whitewater for a couple of our newbs, beginning with a run down of the washburn and structure of whitewater ...eddies and signals etc. His great idea was to have me and JBT paddling it and doing the things that he was explaining like a live demo - I had a blast doing this actually! It was like being a performing monkey! And to add to the hilarity, JBT had an out of boat experience at the broken weir so monkey came to the rescue. Hehehe. Jon also turned to me and goes 'Rach, just err, drop into that sideways for me will you?!' ... just into the play weir but still, i was in a nomad and its a shallow ditch so i was less than keen but in the end, did it anyway, Jon did it too himself but still, the look on my face was priceless when he asked! Down the bottom we did some stuff with the newbs, they did good considering that it was too early for them really but still, we gave it a good go and rafted/guided them down a bit of the river which was ...interesting...lol!
Sideways? In this?!

Sun!!

Lew having a blast :) I love that guy!

As soon as I had got off the river with those guys, the others were getting on and I was tempted into another run, and another, and then we took Adie and G down with a bunch of us - they told us, they didnt want to do the weir from the word go...but then we missed the getout for them to portage, and so they had to run it...and they loved it :) 

Adie on the weir

G on the weir

Me in the weir lol

Adie gettin his sea legs back :)


Then, between stuffing my face with a banana and some chocolate, back on for another run in the playboats before giving up for the day, this time I didn't mind the weir sideways because I was in a boat that I could play and then get out of it! :D Love my star, its great. 

Also bumped into an old face today, Chris turned up with a bunch of folk at the river, and I was pretty much stunned into silence when I clocked who it was and didn't know what to say so we exchanged knowing nods like you do and went on our way. I had a chance to strike up conversation but didnt, just didnt know what to say. Made me sit back and realise how far ive come though, doesnt feel like ive made any progress with my boating but seeing him and thinking back to the sorts of things we used to do and what was scary then, and whats scary now...definitely got me thinking.

Ive paddled 4 days out of 7 this week, and im so much happier :) more weeks like this please! 

Friday, 16 August 2013

All the way to Scotland, twice, to Germany and back again...

February turns out has been a busy month for me, I started the month with a trip to Scotland to go boating on the 1st, with the intention of boating with YUCC on their trip, but never caught up with them...oops! It started by arriving in Glasgow on Thursday night, working Friday morning at Daves, then a jolly out to the Clyde wave (guage at 2m) for an hour between things before an online lecture in evening, fresh out of the river! Turned out the Uni had ventured up to Roybridge for Saturday and with a three hour drive from Glasgow, we decided to make our own plans Saturday which in the end meant a run down the Kelvin (on huge) in the city, a quick run but all we had time for before going off to a ceilidh in the evening with the scottish uni's polo competition happening that weekend. I watched a guy do a yard of Guiness that night...trooper. Or idiot.


Mighty Clyde!
Legend?Eejit? Not sure.
Euan bootie
Murray bootie


Just, well, Glen!

The boat race

Matt bootie


The next day was kind of a big deal for me, not a massive day or anything but we went back to the Leny. I thought I would be more nervous than I was but I was still pretty jumpy. I remembered a few markers here and there but my memory from the run last time was a blur ... this was where I dislocated my shoulder 6 months ago, almost to the day. It was the 3rd February, level was 0.98, and before Dave says it was slightly higher and the 1st July last year. 

I ran the right line on the falls instead of the left as i did before, and have to say i do prefer the left. I know its meant to be harder and stuff but I kinda enjoyed in first time round. Did the right, got through the gorge and stuff and eventually at S-bends I asked Dave where it was it happened, and he pointed it out, and honestly, there is no reason for me to have gone in there! The rocky bit there by the top is totally not how I remember it, but we passed it fine, and I relaxed a bit from there, and I got off the river, still feeling the love for the Leny :) 

So we ended up with a sedate but nice weekend, I did feel a bit gutted we hadn't done more but it was still cool and I got something out of it. 

A week later, my supervisor announces that im going to go to Germany for a few days, so conveniently i chose to fly out of Glasgow, putting me back there for the YCC scotland trip on the 21st, so naturally i made the most of it the weekend before as well before I flew! Currey night with the girls on Friday night and then boating Saturday with YCC, on the Wharfe. It was a wicked little day, did some leading, had a fresher buddy, Batman, who is wicked and I got to run Linton falls for the first time as it was going at a really nice level, I think the guage was at like, 0.7 or something like that. So Shaun, Greg and me ran the falls, twice, and I led me and Greg down the second time - it was nice to go first for once!! 






Then back to Glasgow, where we wanted to get out boating but Dave was feeling really shite and I wasnt feeling the love for bullying him out onto a river, so a beer in the park was order of the day before the Jena trip the following morning. I returned from Jena on Thursday, Dave flew back up from London so once we were both sorted we shifted up to Fort William for the weekend with YCC. I have never seen Scotland so low! Half of the trip didnt take boats but I was determined, playboats and big boats at the ready!

Friday morning, we were all fired up to go somewhere even though it was dry and though that the Sporge was worth a shot, low levels, very technical but i thought it was a good laugh, lots of pin potential and rock smacking, and Dave got a spanking in headbanger I think its called, everyone actually worried for a second there, but then he surfaced with a grin on his face...that was close! Lots of the club arent used to this type of river, there were portages and stuff to be done but it was fine. After that, Dave, Elliot, Rob and I went for a run down the Roy gorge, and having done so well all day, I fell out of my boat almost immediately....lol. Turns out its hard to get under your boat to try to roll in a low water gorge. It was cool, some reallllllllly nasty ciphons to portage and there was one drop which was a no go which took an AGE to portage but other than that a good enough little run, and Elliot managed to snap the end off of his paddles...oops. 

We ended the day watching England beat France in the rugby in the Fort and a few beers, followed the next day by the drive home, having exhausted the realistic dry Scotland options, we did call in at the etive on the way back and...
....nahhhh. Home to bed for more rugby, this time Scotland beating Ireland which was nice. Then, for me, back to sunny York  before NSR next weekend!