Luggage defeated (I think) so I am ready to jet

Hand luggage has been packed. I’m hoping that nobody looks too carefully at the weight of my hand luggage or asks me to unpack my ‘purse’. I don’t think that most people carry 320GB external hard drives in their purse!

I suspect that I may be very, very, very close to the weight limit on my luggage but I’m prepared to pay for excess baggage if I have to. I’ve left a few bits and bobs behind to be brought with my parents at Christmas. The one that I’m most gutted by is my lovely leather coat – it’s just too heavy! Everything else can wait a few months and there is always the option of asking for things to be mailed if I discover that life is incomplete without my Roget.

While I waited for other things to happen, I’ve been playing a bit with Flickr. The photos from Snowdon are finally up and I’ve also put up the first instalment of the packing drama. This is the drama of loading stuff ready for the boat – today’s ‘fun’ is saved for another day!

I’ll try to put up photos when I can get Internet access, although my access is liable to be spotty over the next few days. I will try to put up a “Here safely” message when I can.

I guess that’s it. The next time I post, it will be from my new home in Canada. See you all soon!

Snowdon: An Epic Journey

There is a scene towards the end of Man in the Iron Mask (the newer one, not the Richard Chamberlain 70s version) where the Four Musketeers (and Phillipe) decide to make one final charge on the younger musketeers and the King Louis. The young musketeers fire everything they have at our heroes, shots go everywhere and the smoke from the muskets clouds everything. As it clears, through the white smog come our Musketeers. They’re limping and stumbling, holding onto each other just to stay upright, but they’re there and they’re still alive.

That’s about how Da and I feel right now. We’re limping and stumbling and holding onto things just to keep moving, but we did it and we’re still alive.

The weather on Friday was too bad for us to consider doing the climb, which was a good thing because my ‘temporary allergy’ thing turned out to be a roaring cold on Thursday. If I’d been working that day, I would have called in sick because I felt so bad. Instead I climbed into the car and drove to North Wales with my father (aided by lots of cold cure and Sinex) πŸ™‚

By Friday I knew that I was starting to get better, but I definitely wasn’t right yet and I would have really struggled. So we played tourist for a day and went on steam train rides instead, vowing to do the climb on Saturday (yesterday).

The weather was supposed to be nasty in the morning and clear up later in the day. So rather than setting off at first light, we set off mid-morning and drove to Pen-y-Pass. The car park was full so we decided to drive on to Llanberis and take the bus back to start out climb, which turned out to be an excellent decision in retrospect.

I was doubtful about whether I would manage the climb back down, so we had made the decision to take the Miners’ Track up (for the views) and then try to take the train back down. The Miners’ Track was beautiful. I am so glad that we made the decision to do it that way, even though everyone told us to do the climb the other way around, because I would have hated to miss the views. We started the ascent in fog, rain and wind, but thankfully the weather kept improving as we went up. By the time we started the scramble up to the Pyg Track, the rain had stopped though the summit was still in cloud.

Scramble? It was definitely closer to actual rock climbing in places requiring hands and feet and clinging above sheer drops. A lot of the time my walking poles were needed to help me up particularly steep bits but for the climbing I had to just let the poles hang from my wrists and haul my way up. There was a section where Da and I both got stuck and I spent a couple of minutes just holding on, trying to work out how to get my leg high enough to make the hoist up to the next shelf while so terrified that I was almost (almost!) totally petrified. But I did it.

Da had a slightly selective memory so he had blocked out his memories of just how tough some sections were the last time he climbed Snowdon. We were debating afterwards whether we’d have done it if we’d known just how difficult some of it was and we can’t decide. Both of us have fairly severe problems with heights so it wasn’t just the hard work of getting up there, it was the hard work of getting past our fear to move a foot or a hand to the next bit.

When we got up to the Pyg Track, we thought it would all be fine because Da remembered that it wasn’t too bad up there. Sadly his selective memory struck again because there were a couple more sheer climb sections before we finally made it to the top. As soon as we came over the ridge we were hit by wind like sledge-hammer and it was only the walking poles that kept me from being tumbled back over the side of the mountain. Scary! The final few hundred yards were done against incredible winds with sheer drops on either sides. There is a little cairn up a flight of perhaps twenty steps to mark the absolute summit and, though the winds were at their worst, I was determined that if I had come this far then I would bloody well get to that summit. I’m afraid that I got knocked over by the wind with six steps to go, crawled up the final steps and sat on the summit because I just couldn’t cope with the terror of standing up there. So Da took a photo of me on that top step and I will post it as soon as we’ve unpacked his camera.

The wonderful part was that the clouds lifted just as we reached the head of the Pyg Track so we were on the summit in perfectly clear weather. It was absolutely beautiful and the views alone made it worth all that work. There will be lots of photos posted later πŸ™‚

The climb up took us much longer than we had planned so the final train had gone by the time we started our descent. We took the Llanberis route back down, even though it’s much longer, because neither of us could face the scramble back down the Pyg Track. It was just about doable when we were going up, but going down you have to look where you are going and for both of us that would have meant looking down the sheer drops. A lot of that climb down was just me reciting to myself that I’d never move again if I stopped, so we did it straight down until we finally caught sight of Llanberis and took a two minute break before tackling the very final part. When we came out next to the train station and saw my car in the car park, I don’t think that either of us had seen anything so welcome in a long time. It was such a relief to know that it was done, finished, and there was our chariot waiting for us.

In many ways, I am strangely glad that I was forced to do the descent as well because it feels like a more complete triumph. I climbed Snowdon, I descended it and I did it all on my own two feet. A year ago there would have been no way that I would have even considered doing something like that so, for me, this is one of those moments when you feel real pride and pleasure in your own achievements.

It didn’t turn out the way that either of us had expected but, as Da said last night, it turned into an epic journey that we’ll both treasure for a long, long time.

Off to climb a mountain

I have packed, I have printed route maps and I have updated the iPod with the latest podcasts. I am now ready for my trip to North Wales to climb Snowdon.

With any luck, by this time on Friday I will be sitting in the hotel bar marvelling at how wonderful the climb was πŸ™‚

See you all on Sunday!

The week in brief

The best thing about this week is that it’s Friday and the work week is officially over. Yes, it’s been like that.

The other good thing is that I only have two weeks left as an employed person with my current company. Except that I still have to get through the next two weeks. Thankfully a colleague is organising my leaving do for my last day so my boss should be letting me leave at a sensible time that day. I suspect that my colleague will hurt him if I miss my own leaving do!

The other good thing is that I am not at work Thursday and Friday next week. The bad thing is that I am climbing Snowdon and really don’t feel like I’ve had enough training.

Still, I have a lovely new toy (Canon Powershot A470 – gorgeous and dinky) so it’s not all bad.

This weekend is manic like woah, but most of it should be fun πŸ™‚

In other news, Doctor Who appears to be on track for being the highest rated show of the week. Yes, at its peak more people watched the Wimbledon final (including yours truly), but the average across the show was still higher than the average Wimbledon audience. I don’t think DW has ever been number 1 for the week, even in its heyday, so I’m feeling really quite pleased.

Also, fandom is busy dissecting it and tearing itself apart, which is always fun to watch. Things will settle down soon, but it has been a fun couple of weeks to be a Doctor Who fan. The daily newsletter at who_daily has had to put the list of reaction posts into multiple entries due to the sheer volume. That says everything about those last two episodes, I feel.

Oddly, I apparently wrote a “more serious and indepth” review of the last episode than someone else. At least that’s what the pingback says. I don’t think anyone has ever used those words in the context of me before πŸ˜‰

The BIG announcement

There is something that I have been keeping from you. One might even go so far as to say that I’ve been lying at times about something. It’s something huge in my life but I’ve not been able to tell anyone about it.

Well, I made the big announcement to my department at work yesterday so I am now free to talk openly on here about it. With several colleagues knowing about this blog, I would have been breaking my word to Da Boss to breathe a word of it here.

So here it is:

In six weeks from today, on 9th August, I will be flying to Canada and never returning. That’s right, my emigration is finally upon us. I will be leaving my current work place on 25th July so there will be a couple of weeks for me to potter about, see people and generally do the gracious exit thing. Then I fly out, hope that the Embassy has been right all those times that I contacted them to check my paperwork was OK for emigrating, and with any luck I will be installed as a Canadian resident by that evening.

It’s so exciting.

It’s so terrifying.

I’ve unlocked some journal entries relating to the move that I had marked as private. It sounds odd to post things privately, but I wanted to have a record of the process even if I had to keep them secret for a few weeks. You can now read all about the trauma of packing up all my belongings and putting them on a ship, the stress and exhaustion and relief when it was finally all done. For anyone who remembers how shattered I was a couple of weeks ago, that was why! I will be posting the photos in my Flickr tomorrow.

It’s going to be such a relief not hiding all of this. And best of all, the next time a colleague says “so when are you planning to move?” I can say “Well, 9th August sounds good!” rather than the usual vague hedging.

Today I am having the first family good-bye party. This one is with my father’s family because several of my cousins are jetting off to foreign climes for uni and gap years so we had to do that one early. It’s going to be fun! I went shopping in the morning with mum for food and then let her tote it all home in the car while I walked, 3 miles and it’s mostly uphill. Not as long as previous Snowdon training walks, but at least it’s a bit of walking that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. This is shaping up to be a busy weekend!

Now I must go and make cheesy herb bread. Family arrives in two hours and I feel the need to be pretty and clean before they get here.

Snowdon training walk 2: Everest?

I went on our second proper training walk for Snowdon. It was five miles long and a bit tougher than Monday’s, involving a few more climbs including the steepest climb in the area. As we live in one of the hillier areas of England, it takes a bit for us to be impressed by hills πŸ™‚ I was really pleased that I made it up that climb without stopping and only needed a couple of minutes to catch my breath at the top. Maybe I’m not in peak physical condition, but I’m in better condition than I thought.

The great thing about a walk with climbs was the views. There was some absolutely amazing views across the landscape. It was a bit cloudy so I couldn’t see all the way to the horizon, but everything we could see was gorgeous. On the one hand, I wish that I had a small camera that was light enough to carry on these treks. On the other hand, at least I wasn’t stopping every two minutes to take photos!

Although I was tired by the time we got back to the car, it wasn’t total dropping on the floor exhaustion and just sitting in the car on the way home was enough to allow me to recover. I’m starting to feel more confident about what I can do. The one learning is that I need to eat a larger breakfast before going walking and take more snacks. I’m not used to getting particularly hungry. It’s easy to see why people in the old girls boarding school and adventure books I read eat so much. They’d need all that food just to keep going with all the walking and running and dancing they seem to do.

Before we started the walk, we took a trip to the local outdoor fitters and picked up some walking poles for me. Previously we’ve used one each of Da’s pair of poles, but as we are now getting more serious about this hiking thing we felt that it was time to outfit me properly. What I bought aren’t top of the range, but I really like them and I’m not sure that I would have made it up that big climb without them: it’s still muddy from the rain and there were a few times when I would have slid. As it was, the climb was easier when I was using my arms to help me a little. Whole body workout!

This afternoon has mostly been quiet. My sister is home for the weekend and has an absolutely horrendous cold. She’s feeling rather sorry for herself, so we watched films and then watched The Unicorn and the Wasp while I transferred it to DVD because my sister has been too busy lately to catch much TV. Only fifteen minutes until the wonder that is a Steven Moffat episode!

Tomorrow we’re off out for a meal to celebrate my sister’s birthday. I’m trying to promise myself that I’ll get the non-fiction cataloguing done today, except that I suspect I’ll just end up watching TV with my sister instead πŸ™‚

Snowdown Training Walk 1: I have conquered the elements!

I am soaked, exhausted and very happy. It’s a bank holiday here so Da and I did our first real training walk for Snowdon. It is hideous weather today (rain, wind, yuck) but I thought it would be good practise seeing as we’re unlikely to guarantee perfect weather for our climb.

We walked across the farm and down into the valley through the woods. Then back up by different paths and across a different part of the farm to home. It’s the first time I’ve done a massive amount of hill walking. Mum usually just can’t manage that stuff so we didn’t take her, which was good because she would have hated the weather!

The rain did ease a bit as we went. Which is not to say that it stopped, merely went from torrential to just raining. It was a good test of whether my kagool will stand up to that kind of weather. Um, it looks like I need a new kagool! My boots and water-proof trousers were fine, though πŸ™‚

We were planning a trip to our local outdoor supplier today, except it turns out that they aren’t open on bank holidays. So we’ll have to pick a weekend to go because we need some extra walking poles (a pair each would be much better than one each), new backpacks (with bits to attach the walking poles to when we need to scramble), possibly a kagool for me and a water-proof map holder.

Still, I feel very proud of what we did today and, although I’m tired, I’m not dead. Two months ago I wouldn’t even have attempted this kind of thing. Now I can. Getting fit and doing my physio religiously is paying off.

The good news is that the train up Snowdon isn’t going the whole way, but it is going three-quarters of the way. Da and I have decided that this is enough of a safety margin for me so the climb is on. I’ve booked us a suite in what looks like a great hotel and I’m getting quite excited about it all.

In other news, I had a fantastic visit with paranoidangel42 (my convention roomie) this weekend πŸ™‚ It turns out that two fans can talk Doctor Who non-stop for two hours without noticing. We subjected my parents to Robot instead of Eurovision on Saturday night, which was great fun if only because we got to mock the effects which were a little bad in places. And very bad in other places. The toy tank that was suppose to be scary due to the wonders of perspective was particularly mock-worthy. There were some wonderful moments in it, though, with the Brigadier getting some great lines. It was Tom Baker’s first outing as the Doctor and he also had some fantastic stuff. So it was certainly yay-worthy.