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!

Yarn and sushi and other good things

Yesterday I went up to London to meet up with my sister for sushi and yarn shopping. As we weren’t due to meet up until 6pm and I didn’t fancy trawling through trains during the rush hour, I decided to go up a couple of hours early.

Hmm. What on Earth could I do with myself?

And then I remembered that going to the British Library was on my “do to before leaving England” list and voila, my afternoon was sorted. I spent a very pleasant couple of hours wandering the exhibition galleries, looking at the Ramayana display and standing in the presence of Magna Carta. Is it sad that I can identify King John’s Great Seal from ten paces?

Then I popped up to Oxford Street for a pre-emptive wander through the John Lewis yarn department and had to remind myself that the Rowan magazines weight far too much to take on the plane with me and I can buy them in Tangled Skeins (my new local yarn store) whenever I want after the move. I did leave with a pin cushion – to stop me using the arm of my chair as a pin cushion – and some self-striping sock yarn. historyterry – what size are your feet?

Then it was off to Itsu on Regent Street for sushi with my sister, which was absolutely fabulous and she introduced me to these tiny pots of incredibly intense chocolate mousse that I fell in love with. Must visit Itsu every time I return to England for visits.

After supper, we were back in JL making tough decisions about yarn for her the cardigan that I’ll be making for her Christmas present. We finally settled on a teal colour to go with the cashew (it’s stripy!) and cream borders. Sis nearly succumbed to the lure of a Rowan accessories book but the patterns are all fairly complicated (a lot of Fair Isle) and she doesn’t yet know how to knit. I’m planning to teach her to knit and get her started on a simple scarf when she visits at Christmas. Once you’re confident in knit and purl, everything else flows much more easily and a scarf is great for that kind of education. JL is evil because they knit up some of the patterns and display them so that you can marvel at how nice the garments are and how gorgeous the yarn feels. I resisted the lure, though, although I’m not sure how easy that will be once I’m not having to be concious of weight restrictions!

Today has been lots of rather mundane moving stuff. I transported a ton of magazines up to the dump (still got a few more to package and take, but I ran out of plastic bags) and put together a pile of stuff for shredding. The shredding pile isn’t as big as I’d hoped 😦 Still, there is the drawer under my bed to excavate so I’m sure that it will be getting added to. I’m predicting another dump trip next week to get rid of everything else that needs chucking.

I’m a terrible hoarder, but moving overseas is actually making me ruthless about chucking and shredding stuff. After all, when every extra kilo has to be paid for it gets hard to justify keeping crap “Just in case” when you know that there is only a 99.9999999% chance you’ll ever need something again.

That weekend update post thing I promised

Today I am feeling much better and I have plans to go into London for supper with my sister, yarn trawling in John Lewis (yay!) and possibly a quick stop in the British Library so that I can say that I’ve been. I have also spent the morning bagging up a huge stack of magazines for the tip. Go me!

So, weekend.

Friday night was my work leaving do and it was great fun. I’m not normally one for going to lots of work dos, but as this one was in my honour I couldn’t quite escape! I did end up a few minutes late because I was trying desperately to finish the handover – oops. Still, the do was brilliant fun. We had a few drinks in the pub so that those who couldn’t get to the meal afterwards could pop along and then 20 of us toddled off to Old Orleans for food and more drinks. It was just the right thing and I got a bit of a surprise when Da Boss announced that the company was paying. Thank you so much, Da Boss, that was a really lovely surprise πŸ™‚

Needless to say, we all got silly and happy and had a fab time and I realised just how much I’ll miss them all.

I listened to Pottercasts on the way home and reflected on the irony of the FM transmitter I bought to play my iPod through my car radio only starting to work properly two weeks before I leave. Bah.

Saturday morning involved a very early start so that I could catch a train up to York. The train journey was lovely and relaxing and I met historyterry only five minutes late. We drank coffee in the station coffee shop and then wandered into the heat of outdoors (oh god, the heat!) to walk into the city centre. We split up at the Minster, T to find us a suitable lunching venue and me to explore the Minster. That turned out to be a great choice because I enjoyed spending the time quietly exploring, taking photos and having the freedom to sit and think a while as well. I’ve always found my faith to be a quiet, private thing and I think that I would have felt awkward having company for that trip.

Hundreds of photos of stained glass will be posted tomorrow.

T found us a real ale pub to eat in and I was starving by the time I met him for lunch so it worked out perfectly. After lunch, we wandered through the Shambles and found a vegan tapas bar that I must remember for future visits. There was also fudge, lots of it, and we got to watch them make the most fabulous chocolate orange fudge ever.

OK, yes, I brought some home with me πŸ™‚

Then it was onto the train for a trip home that turned out to be an epic trip thanks to faulty trains, cancelled trains and other shenanigans. There was a lovely moment, though, when the chaps across the aisle called out and handed me the Guardian supplement for the day: Mazzmatazz’s Rebel Knitters Guide! I’d taken the wool for my sister’s blanket with me and it proved to be a talking pointed on the train in the nicest way possible.

Having arrived home rather late, I still had to get up early the next day for the club championships at my archery club. I’d been planning to compete for months so I had no intention of letting a silly thing like complete exhaustion stop me!

It turned out to be a blazingly hot day and, despite being outside for eight hours, I only have the tiniest bit of sunburn on one arm to show for it. Phew! Mostly I’m just looking a little more tanned than usual.

It was an all day shoot, six dozen arrows before lunch and another six dozen after. I was shooting a Bristol III which was six dozen arrows at 50 yards, four dozen at 40 yards and two dozen at 30 yards. For some reason competitions bring out my best work so I ended up shooting a personal best. Yay! As icing on the cake, I also got a medal for 2nd place in the handicap adjusted score category so I felt really pleased with my performance. Unlike the last time I competed, all that physio and hiking has paid off because I didn’t ache at all afterwards.

When I finally trailed home from the champs, my sister and father had cooked a lovely vege sausage and mash dinner so we ate that while watching the final three stages of the Tour de France. Despite a couple of drug-related upsets, this has been a great Tour and I’m so glad that I got to see the end. I had a feeling that the yellow jersey would bring out something special in Sastre, so it was great to see him retain the jersey through the time trial (what the hell happened to Evans out there, anyway?) and pull it on in Paris. A great end to a fabulous weekend.

Photos from Wales and York will be up tomorrow and now I must grab some lunch before I dash for my train.

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 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.

Stuff and more stuff

Today has been a quiet day at home, catching up on stuff that I’ve recorded and doing lots of knitting. A new project has been cast on and I’ve got a bit more work done on the blanket. In fact, the blanket now has two completed rows plus some patches. It’s looking beautiful. Um, very little has been done of a practical nature. Oops. And I’ve not been in an emotional place to do any writing this week.

Da and I have been planning our training sessions for Snowdon and working out what new equipment we’ll need, at the moment concluding that we’ll need a new set of walking poles (because we only have two walking poles and we’ll need two each) and we may need to invest in a new rucksacks. Possibly. We need to drag out the old rucksacks and check what state they’re in.

Unfortunately Da has just been doing some checking and discovered a slight hitch with our plans. We’d decided that we would definitely walk up and then, if I was struggling, we’d take the train back down. After all, the aim is to get to the top of the mountain under my own power and we need to be sensible about my unreliable joints.

Except there is a chance that the train will not be running when we’ll be doing the climb. It’s closed while they refurb the cafe at the top and that work, which was supposed to finish in the Spring, is now scheduled to finish ‘in the Summer’. Um. Da is going to call and find out whether the work will be done by the weekend we’ve planned. If the train won’t be running when we do the climb then we’ve got a decision to make about the trip. Do we do it and run the risk that I’ll not be able to get back down safely, or do we play it safe and cancel the entire trip? I really, really, really want to do this for a whole bunch of complicated reasons, but I don’t want to need mountain rescue to get us because I’m too stubborn for my own good.

The train not running wasn’t something that I even thought about until Da checked this afternoon. Damn, this isn’t a decision that I wanted to have to make.

In other news, I am going to a concert tomorrow night so I need to leave work at 4pm, which is my official finish time. Sadly, I’ve seen what the numbers are so I know what my week is shaping up to be like. I just hope that Da Boss will be understanding and let me leave when I need to tomorrow no matter what the numbers are.

Wait, Da Boss and understanding in one sentence? I’m doomed!

Tea at Claridge’s (and yarn trawls)

Oops, I haven’t posted here for longer than I thought. I could have sworn that I cross-posted a few more things than I apparently have…

And while I was away, WordPress has updated the Dashboard! I quite like it already – all the bits I check every time (including my stats) are right there without me needing to click lots of links. Only time will tell whether I continue to like it or whether it actually drives me insane, but so far I like it.

Anyway, onto the actual meat of this post.

Yesterday was the day that I did tea at Claridge’s with Mum and Sis. It’s one of the items on my list of Things To Do list this year. We combined it with a trip to John Lewis on Oxford Street for yarn finding and it was a wonderful day out.

I have never drunk so much tea before in my life! I may never sleep tonight πŸ™‚ The waiters and waitresses seemed to believe that if your cup was empty, they weren’t doing their job right. Heh. We must have had at least ten cups of tea each, no kidding. But was gorgeous. Mum had Claridge’s Royal Tea and Sis and I had Claridge’s Perfumed Tea. It was truly scrummy tea, slightly spiced with a beautiful scent.

There were enough sandwiches to sink a battleship (the smoked salmon and chicken ones were particularly fine), followed by scones with jam and clotted cream and finished with French pastries. I am absolutely stuffed and it was all amazing. I felt like a princess with all those waiters and waitresses falling over themselves to be kind and courteous to us.

The yarn expedition was also successful. I now have some beautiful Rowan Cashsoft Aran in lovely rich purple which I plan to use for some fingerless mittens, some wool for a hat for a friend and a pattern book that I want to make everything out of. My sister’s Christmas present has already been decided on – a cute cardigan from the new book. Mum picked up the wool for a new cardigan for herself and some wool for a tea cozy from the pattern book that is just adorable. There was so much wool! So many colours! So many types! I hadn’t realised there were that many yarns in the world! I now see why Mum gets so frustrated by the local yarn shops.

All in all, a fabulous time was had by all and my only regret is that I can’t do that every weekend πŸ™‚

This evening I have plans to watch the Bafta TV awards with a big bowl of popcorn and make a start on my new mittens. I’ve been playing with a couple of new cast on techniques this afternoon and I’ve fallen in love with the cable cast-on because it’s just beautiful.