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After raiding the cupboards...

2 tins of kidney and other beans
1 tin of coconut milk
1 red chilli
Lots of veg. stock
Salt and pepper
Lashings of oregano

left in the slow cooker for 6hrs and it comes out as a lovely thick Thai style soup...also vegan, but never mind that.


Jan. 4th, 2011 05:35 pm
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Not posted for a while, so a quick recap:

The festive period has gone really well. We toured both families and much jollification was had in Runcorn, Burbage and Doncaster. I received some excellent presents and also an ironing board cover from Chris. I also ate rather a lot of salmon, turkey and cheeses.

New Year was an excellent party at Rich and Nevs. I may have consumed a lot of beer. We've also been out and about, with a good walk around Dovestones Reservoir, a bit of sledging and a mountain bike day.

Chris departed this morning for the new rented house in Manningtree. She reports it and the area are very nice. Her new job starts tomorrow. In her absence I have already indulged in the forbidden pleasured of pickled herring and thickly spread marmite...

Apparently I have to go to work tomorrow. Not sure I approve..
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And verily it did snow on Friday night. I was due to pick Chris up from her work xmas do which put me on the road just as the minor blizzard was settling. 15 min journey to Stockton Heath took nearly an hour at 15mph in grim conditions. I took a proper skid at one point and bounced off the kerb, then a couple of other people skidded further into the journey and nearly hit me. After collecting the sozzled one, the road back was closed by the police leading to an entertaining detour in the snow.

This morning we got up not so bright and horribly early to brave the M6 for a day's caving. Most of the way to Ingleton, after a confused series of texts, we discovered the horrid truth. While the email about the trip had said the 18th, the organiser (with the ropes, permits etc) had planned it for the 19th! Oh well, not to be dismayed we headed into Ingleton anyway and set off for a walk up towards Ingleborough. The snow had stopped and we had blue skies to go with the inches for fresh snow and ice. In the end we didn't fancy the peak itself, mainly due to the large amount of ice and biting wind, so walked for a couple of hours to the head of the valley and back. Crampons stayed in the bags despite a few arse over tit moments :)

On the way back we dropped into Chris's most requested destination - Blackpool. It was a bit deserted, but the beach was pleasant for a walk, followed by a return leg via amusement arcades, purchase of seaside rock, hot chocolate and a snowman with boobs.

Good day!
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The last 4 weekends have involved driving to and drinking at the following locations:

1. Newcastle
2. Caernarfon
3. Wellingborough then Colchester
4. Exeter

By this week I was keen for a rest, but ended up going to a fantastic Pendulum gig on Weds then a most fun Evernight game on Thu, both followed by getting up at 7am.

Last night I took Chris out for a surprise date to the Golden Pheasant, one stop down the train line at Plumley. Very nice, and followed by 11hrs asleep. ah, that's better :)

Off to join in the second half of the climbing club xmas meet in Llanberis. No real chance of any actual ice being left after the Great Thaw, but hopefully will get out for a decent walk tomorrow. The thaw-refreeze cycle is promising for good conditions over the xmas break anyway.
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I'm visiting my new employer tomorrow, so have been looking at places to live. We'd picked up 2 areas - Highwoods, north of the town centre or Manningtree near the rive Stour, quite a bit out fo town. Highwoods turned out to be a pleasant enough but pretty soulless 80s-90s estate while Manningtree is a lovely riverside town with loads of interesting pubs, boats on the river, small shops etc. Nice...
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Urgh, bloody students had better not have given me the flu.
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Took the La Sportivas back for a refund and got some Mammut Mt Trail XT GTX Boots instead. B1 but hugely more practical for year round use. The good fit is consistent with Mammut having taken over Raichle who made my giant space winter boots. Bit of a palaver, but happy with the final choice.

Seems like a long week already, ready for a really good sleep, before heading south for the weekend.
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The bimble up Moel Eilio (only 762 metres) at the weekend appears to have left my legs only semi-functional. More steps practice needed!
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Astronaut Larry is highly entertaining. Particular insights from today

1. The space shuttle pilots alighn the ship by pointing a sextant out of the window
2. After 2 years training, Larry didn't realise that the shuttle toilet cubicle had a light switch until day 7 of 14.
3. The Russian flights are just as safe as the US ones but with less than 10% of the paperwork. He was explaining that for an experiment he wanted to send up to the ISS, there were 190 safety documents to prepare which amounted to a pile of paper taller than a person...when he went to Russia to send up something similar, they said "Hmm, that bit looks fragile, lets put it in a padded box for launch.."

Boot woes!

Nov. 22nd, 2010 09:32 am
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In a boots update...

Cotswold in Betws-y-Coed did a very good job in measuring and assessing my feet before going on to some serious fitting. Straight off they said that my feet were the wrong shape for any of the Scarpas. Apparently mine are long and thin in a southern European style, rather than short and squat as is more common in the UK. A pair of Asolos were a perfect fit but were a bit too inflexible for my purposes.

I settled on some La Sportivas, which are part way between, stiffer than a walking boot, but more flexble than a snow and ice design. After getting home and trying them on a bit more I'm coming to the conclusion that they are a bit narrow and press on the edge of my left foot. Unsure how to proceed as the pressure point is a lump of hard skin that I could probably get rid of with some foot TLC and otherwise they are quite good.

The other purchases of walking crampons, winter walking trousers and a head torch were more successful :)

Possibly I'll be going into the Liverpool branch to swap to yet another pair of boots...


Nov. 14th, 2010 07:49 pm
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After over 10 years of faithful service my 3 season Karrimor walking boots have died a death with multiple split stitching and the beginnings of several holes. Its time to buy a new pair but I've been stuck in with several options.

I want to be able to both use them year round in snow-free conditions, but also for winter walking with crampons.

Now, for actual ice climbing I use big, fully rigid plastic boots with step-in (with clips) Grivel G14 crampons. With no bend at all, these are horrible to walk much distance in, so no good for winter walking.

The first option I've been considering is the Scarpa SL, which is a reasonably flexible 3-season boot. The disadvantage would be that they are too bendy for my current crampons, so I'd have to buy a new strap-on pair of those as well at extra cost.

The second, more expensive option is the Scarpa Manta, which is a proper 4 season boot but with just a touch of bend. Initially I'd thought these would be too stiff for year round use, but plenty of people who have done reviews think they are good for summer walking as well. These would fit with my existing crampons, which would make the overall cost about the same as the SLs. Going for these would also mean I could do easier winter climbing without having to wear the plastic monsters.

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I went to costco to get beer and food supplies for tomorrow. All good, apart from it then taking 1hr 40 to get home from Liverpool. Gah!

...ooh, beer!


Oct. 31st, 2010 06:16 pm
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Now that I'm more or less back in working order, its time to get into shape.

Thursday at the climbing wall went pretty well. In contrast to the previous week where I'd had appalling technique due to trying to protect one leg from any force or twisting, this week was much better. I at least managed to move upwards in an efficient style, if not quite twisting into the wall as I'd like to. Much more to improve on but at least it felt like I'd get it in the end. Feeling pretty weak so time to hit the weights and the pull up bar a bit more regularly.

For running, I got out to Eddisbury Hill at Delamere today. This was nice for two reasons. Firstly, this was the first hill I'd walked up after surgery and it was nice to come back and run up it. Secondly, the uphill part was limited by cardio fitness and not by my knee. Downhill was challenging as that's where the ACL comes into its own, but I managed to run down slowly if not at full pace.

Was hoping to get out for a spot of MTB at Llandegla, but DIY got in the way. Maybe later into he month.


Oct. 28th, 2010 05:09 pm
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I have a sudden nostalgic urge to play Shadowrun...
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Lunch of chilli salami, olives, feta, Pie D'Angloys, cucumber, tomato and houmous. A nice benefit of working at home between hospital (where I just got discharged by the knee surgeon) and physio this afternoon.
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The trip to Colchester went well. This morning was excellent and saw all the lab space and funding stuff sorted and plans made for my start there. The afternoon had one slightly weird meeting, where I may have said slightly the wrong thing. This may have been exaggerated by my thinking about it during the 5hr trek home!
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We may just be about to start the experiment, after a 5hr delay. As it turns out, the last 3hrs may have been entirely due to a mis-communication about the settings of the beamline. Oh well...


Oct. 12th, 2010 07:49 pm
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SO, the flight was only 25 min late after a careful detour to avoid French airspace. A pleasant couple of hours around Zurich then here to the lab and the pleasant Hotel Hirschen. A good week beckons...
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Off to Switzerland again tomorrow, presuming that the French general strike doesn't bugger up the flight. Shame I have to get up at 4am!
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Update: Official reply has arrived. I'll be starting 1st March :)
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