Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Alpine Action

Mates, bikes and big big mountains: It really doesn't get much better than this.

Spent ten days in the Alpine Bike Meccas of Morzine and Verbier, riding superb trails with Rhys and Bish. The two venues are worlds apart for style: Morzine is fast and open, Verbier, close tight and technical. I was riding a lot better this year having got well into the south Wales downhill courses, and have fitted brakes that worked: Good old Hayes HFXs.

The photo shows Bish halfway down Nut House, a descent with 1500m vertical height drop, over looking La Chable. We also hit the bars with Rob, now a Verbier local, and consumed far too much refreshment which led to deep embarressment on both the Giant Twister, and the dance floor.

All this fun is brought to an abrupt end by Gav's funeral tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 14, 2006

First week in Cambridge

Well, what a fast week. Arrived on Sunday to a room in a flat owned by a friend of a friend. It's about as far from BAS as I could go in Cambridge, but the flat is modern and tidy, and the area quiet. Roath, the last place I lived in Cardiff, was one of the most densely populated districtics in the UK. Even after living there for a year, I never got used to the cats howling, the neighbours yelling, the stolen cars screaching and the police helicopter hovering.

I've earned my sleep too, as this week was as busy as it was interesting. The week started with building a radio mast 15m tall by only 30cm wide which wobbled a fair bit when standing on the top! Later, we learned more about the climate and ozone measurements we'll be taking, and their importance to the science going on back in Cambridge. BAS really excels in making staff feel valued. Heads of science programmes have take time to explain the importance of our work, as they understand that without good data, the best models and theories are worthless. Walking about the place, you get the feeling everyone is glad to be there. Even the receptionist has done a Southern Tour! Evenings have been spent exploring the pubs of Cambridge, and taking the traditional punting trip. I'm suprised by how quickly I've adapted to this new life, and how much I'm enjoying it.

However, today brought the tragic news that a good friend from Bangor University died in a kayaking accident in Austria over the weekend. He was not just an expert kayaker, but a fine friend, always ready to help others progress through the sport. My thoughts are with his girlfriend and family. He will be soarly missed. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mast Training Images

Pilons are great fun. Easy to climb and nice and stable to work off. This week our balance has been tested to the limit by a mast 15m high and only 30cm wide. A bit wobbly with two people up there, but supprisingly stress free.

I've also been issued my antartic clothing. It's very big and very orange, so getting cold and lost shouldn't be a problem down South. Unlike in Cambridge, which is utterly confusing at the moment!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Roped Access

Another glorious week. Another set of challenges.

We finished off Cornwall with a surf at Newquay followed by a trip round the local RAF base to see how the Met-Men keep Britain's planes in the sky. Interesting, but not a lot going on due to low nimbostratus and constant drizzle.

Last week was spent living the Alan Partridge Dream at Holiday Inn in Taunton. While I shouldn't condone vandalism, I have total sympathy for those who have thrown TV's from Holiday Inn windows around the World: A quick check of my room tab on the telly revealled a beer costs £3.60 and a G&T £4.20! This is very much in the world of the corporrate Amex.

However, we'll all in a good mood having spent the week dangling off electricity pilons at Western Power's massive training ground. Coming from the public-sector, this course has been a total change of pace. A quick but comprehensive safety talk, out to the shed to fit the fall-arrest gear, then standing on top of a great big pilon. All before Monday lunchtime! Over the course of the week, we've learned how to use four different safety systems, plan and carry out work at height, and to rescue an injured colleague. I've also learned how much a linesman can earn after a three year apprenticeship: Pretty much what an undergraduate would have racked up in debt over the same time...

(Pics to follow when I find some broadband)