Tuesday, 27 May 2008


I can't post something about cake with a flippant comment at the end about my sore finger, and not expand upon the last.

I have a sore finger. In fact it would be better described an achey knuckle. It's the middle joint on my middle finger. It isn't swollen; it doesn't hurt when I press it or poke it or knead it; it just aches and feels a bit stiff.

I've been in denial about it for a couple of weeks now, but it is definitely not right. But I don't know what's wrong with it, apart from the fact it hurts. I'm pretty sure it's not a pulley injury, which is a bonus. Any ideas? I've not climbed for 5 days now (not that I did very much at Dumby on Thursday) and it is starting to feel a little better today. In my usual hypochondriacal way, and with my ever overactive imagination, I have had nightmares about warped and twisted arthritic fingers within the next 6 weeks, visions of never climbing again, panic attacks about having to cut up all my food with scissors, and the sad realisation that my climbing achievements may only ever amount to a 7b sports route and a supersoft-graded Font 7a boulder problem. Four years of climbing isn't enough. I want more! As you can imagine, I am distraught at all these prospects, hence the long period of denial that my finger even hurts at all. I am hoping that some time off will be good for it, and have vowed to take my yoga a bit more seriously just in case I need a longer-term distraction to kick in quickly.

While I'm on the subject of yoga, I did spend the weekend practising that difficult jump-through, from downward dog to a seated position. It's hard to describe, as well as hard to do, but for those of you who have done any ashtanga yoga I think you'll know what I mean. Finally today, in class, I managed it. Karen gasped and said "where did that come from?!" I was so pleased with my little self! It wasn't perfect, but it was a good start. Practice does make perfect after all. It was one moment where I felt as though I had made some progress in 18 months of yoga. Climbing has given me enough strength and flexibility to be able to achieve many of the postures fairly quickly, and as a result, I haven't felt a significant change in what has been possible for me. The sense of well-being and energy which results from practice is what keeps me coming back for more, not the sense of achievement. Today changed that a little, which is nice, although I can't imagine that it will alter my approach drastically.

I'm missing the climbing, but I had Other Things to do this weekend, like watching Eurovision(!) and lounging in sunny Invernesian gardens. Blissful, actually....except Eurovision, which was alternately hilarious and excruciatingly painful.

And tomorrow, we eat cake.....maybe that will mend my finger.

Tip of the Day

If you accidentally drop some eggshell into the raw egg when cracking it into a bowl, the best way to get it out it using the edge of the broken shell. Did you know that? Well I never...

Tonight is chocolate mousse cake night. Nigella's recipe is, as usual, fit for goddesses (and gods, I suppose) and naturally gluten free (as long as you're careful to buy the right chocolate). Especially nice for those who can't usually have "normal" chocolate cake....except that this is normal chocolate cake.

Unfortunately, I don't have a big enough round tin with a removable base, so this time I've put it in the rectangular brownie tin. It just about fits, but while writing this I've realised I'm now going to have trouble getting wobbly, bendy moist, moussy cake out of a solid tin. I have visions of it looking more like chocolate crumble cake than chocolate mousse cake. I'm sure it will still taste good. Presentation never was my strong point!

It has yet to come out of the tin....

Not sure how this is going to improve my climbing, but at least it's given my finger a good rest and my biceps a workout with beating eggs and sugar....not so easy after a power yoga class!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

May Madness

May has been a bit mad, although I seem to have been busy and out climbing with amazing frequncy given everything else going on. This recent spell of good weather has inspired me to get on with some things, although I seem to be collecting projects and not ticks at the moment!

Early in May we had a Solomon Grundy weekend: Sport on Friday, Trad on Saturday, Bouldering on Sunday (...work on Monday, unfortunately). Chasbo picked me up from work at a cheeky 4.45pm on Friday and we headed to North Berwick to meet Bong. Having the long, light evenings makes such a difference to morale...

Bong mid-dyno on Law of Gravity 7a

It was a bit nippy in the wind, and a bit humid, but we had a couple of good burns each on Law of Gravity, Bong doing the 7a and me (idiotically!) trying the 7a+ start, amongst the nettles and the broken glass. I was still top-roping, and still couldn't link all the moves, but it felt better second time, once I'd remembered how to climb on quarried basalt. We warmed up on the 6a+ in the far corner, which, like all the routes at North Berwick Law, is stupidly reachy for those of my slightly diminutive stature. Trying to find a way to reach through all the moves on Law of Gravity has taken a bit of time. I'm not a dynamic climber at the best of times, therefore I am never going to be persuaded that jumping for anything less than a huge jug, particularly on the lead, is a) possible and b) a good idea. I've now managed to do all the moves semi-static, which means I now have to try to lead it. One more project to add to the list.

On the Saturday we steeled our nerves for some trad. Face it, we have inadvertently turned into bouldering sport climbers. This wasn't really the plan; it just happened. One of those mornings when you wake up and realise that you're over 30 and you've got grey hairs and wrinkles.... ah, sorry, that's another story. Since both of us haven't done any trad for quite a long time, and have never done very much anyway, we opted for a 3 pitch moderate in Glen Clova. Ha, how hard can it be. We laced it with gear (in the name of "practice") and had a jolly nice time, thank you very much. Moderate? Not so sure. It actually turned into an epic route finding mission, since the people whoe write guidebooks don't believe in giving beginners any help with the easy lines. In fact I think we ended up tracing a random line which probably warranted V Diff at least. I landed the top pitch, which was exciting to say the least, with a fair bit of yo-yo-ing going on. Finding a belay at the top was also...challenging.

Threatening weather in Glen Clova

Having taken hours and hours and hours on our little adventure, we walked off just in time to run away from the lightening which suddenly came crashing down, hitting the top of the crag as we walked away from it. I wasn't sure whether it was the trad or the weather which scared me more!

One last comment about Glen Clova: I have never seen so many pheasants in one day. It could almost have been a pheasant dating convention!

On Sunday we went bouldering at Dumbarton. This was our first trip ever and one might say that it was a bit of a smack in the face. We knew that Dumbarton has a reputation for defeating some very cool people. As far as I can see, it deserves it's reputation! Admittedly, it was a warm sunny day, and the friction wasn't up to much. I have often been sceptical about the whole "conditions" issue, but it has an undeniable effect when climbing on basalt.

Cory on Requiem

While the rope was up there, we had a shot at Persistence of Vision. Another project..... Definitely harder than 7a in my opinion, but maybe I'm just not as strong as I was. Or maybe hanging out with strong Canadians just kicked me into touch! I probably deserved it. Persistence of Vision seems like something to come back to in cooler, less sweaty conditions.

Caroline at Dumby on a warm up something

Later in May we had a day on the Cobbler. It was too damp for climbing, but good for a walk. Caroline got home with her downies.....or some such nonsense - she's way too in with the kids for me to know what she's on about ;-)

Caroline and Lynwen at the top of the Cobbler - some awesome looking routes up there

Caroline trying to work out her downies homies finger thing

Another day at North Berwick saw me link Law of Gravity on a toprope. Given that it's a pretty stretchy route, I think it might be quite scary to lead. But I have to try at least. The chances of me falling are pretty much 100% and I hate falling. Ho hum.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

The Force of Font

Having sat on this for a while, I've just got around to posting this cheeky little home movie that Diff put together from the snippets of action we took in Font last month. Our objective was to do this ourselves, but having seen the results, it's clearly best to leave this stuff to the professionals!

When it was cold at Cuisinere, we opted for the X-wing flying silliness, which is what all the zipping between boulders is all about (no, we didn't expect you to guess).

Thanks to Chris Hall - AKA DJ b-burg - for allowing us to adulterate his fine work with noises from Star Wars. You can find unadulterated versions of his work on his websites:

Friday, 9 May 2008

Rock to dust

We made a bad call on the weather the weekend before last, and ended up indoors on Saturday, but managed to make it to Rockdust in Perthshire on Sunday. What a glorious day. Weem was tempting after the previous weekend, but with various parties exhausted or unavailable, we opted for the sunshine of Rockdust instead.

I am sure I know people who would have thought it was too warm to climb that Sunday. Maybe it was, but not too warm to climb fun stuff. We basked in the heat of this south facing crag, hoping that this would be an indication of the summer to come, but expecting to have to absorb a full summer's worth of sunshine in one April day!

Our lovely afternoon was interrupted only by a jug of a hold coming away from the face en route, resulting in a short but mildly shocking fall for climber and belayer alike. Falling off a 6a was not part of the game plan. The said jug is now safely ensconced indoors as a trophy of a good day out and a brave moment in continuing up the route. On closer inspection it seemed that there were a number of dubious looking holds on the right hand side of the upper crag. In particular, the routes immediately to the left of the 7a on the right hand side appeared to offer the best potential for some unwarranted air miles.

The offending unattached piece of rock

So, if you're heading to Rockdust this summer, be warned. There are some very "new" looking patches on the wall....much bigger than the one we made.