Archive for November 2010


Posted by on November 29th 2010 in Illness and injury, Rambling on...

Just hopping onto the bandwagon that started out as Maz's "My First Aid Kit" blog-post...


So, what's in the totally-waterproof 1litre Soup 'n Sauce bag?

  • 1 x adhesive dressing 6.5 x 8 cm
  • 8 x Ibuprofen 200mg liquid capsules
  • 1 x sheet various peel & stick foam pads
  • 1 x Care Plus tick-remover
  • 1 x Witch Stick 10g
  • 2 x packs Spenco 2nd Skin
  • 1 x sheet Scholl Pressure Point foam padding
  • 1 x finger bandage
  • 6 x Paracetamol 500mg tablets
  • 1 x Brix toothpick (should be 5 x)
  • 1 x precision tweezers
  • 1 x tube Cetrimide Cream 15g
  • 1 x SPF15 chap-stick
  • 1 x sheet Scholl Sore Spot peel & stick thin moleskin 7.5 x 10 cm
  • 1 x surgical scissors
  • 2 x spare CR2032 batteries
  • 1 x gauze bandage 6 x 500 cm
  • 1 x sachet BurnAid burn gel
  • 1 x roll zinc oxide strapping 5 x 500 cm
  • 1 x tube cold-sore cream 2g
  • 4 x antiseptic wipes (should be 10 x)
  • 1 x roll Micropore tape 10mm wide (almost used up, needs replacing)
  • 4 x insect-repellant wipes (should be 10 x)
  • 1 x box 45 waterproof safety matches
  • 3 x Melolin dry dressings 5 x 5 cm
  • 1 x quick-fix eye-pad
  • 10 x various standard fabric plasters
  • 10 x various waterproof plasters
  • 1 x crepe bandage 5 x 400 cm
  • 1 x strip uncut standard fabric plaster 6 x 50 cm
  • 1 x patch peel & stick thick moleskin
  • 1 x double-sided non-adherent wound pad 5 x 5 cm

And what's missing that's usually there but isn't?

  • 1 x tube Superglue (for suturing)
  • 1 x sterile scalpel blade
  • 1 x tube temporary dental filling
  • 2 x kirby grips (bobby pins)

Total weight when fully-stocked, including the bag, is 360g. Ok, so it's a bit heavy when compared to some of the lightweight versions out there, but bear in mind that I carry this kit whether I'm walking solo or in a group. Some of the tiny kits are obviously for solo use only, mine has to cope with the demands of a family with kids.

Two wrongs don’t make a Right of Way

Posted by on November 28th 2010 in Car stuff, LMAO!

What is it about sub-zero conditions that turns drivers into feckwits? Shortly after reading Mike's post about driving in snow and ice, I went out for a short but eventful walk into town to purchase some goodies from Tesco. We've had hardly any snow here, the roads are fairly clear but that which has fallen is now iced. Slippage wasn't a problem for me - the AKU Crodas with traction control coped with ease. For others, it was a different matter...

The fun began while I attempted the traverse of the North Face of Tesco car-park, heading for the safety of the col at the cash-machine. There are clearly-marked direction arrows and give-way marks painted on the ground, and adequate signage, to let drivers know that it's a one-way system. This system serves several purposes - for starters it eases of the flow of vehicles along the narrow lanes between the parked vehicles, furthermore it makes the place safer for pedestrians (after all, the car-park is a pedestrian area).

So, there I was crossing the tarmac when a car turns the corner, contrary to the one-way system, and heads directly towards me. I wasn't too chuffed. I waved at the driver and pointed to the arrows on the road. His response was a two-fingered greeting. As I passed his window, I said "It's a one-way system, Sir." The response was  "F*ck off!" so I did - on Sundays I can do without the hassle. He drove off, clipping my shopping-bag and scattering pedestrians in his wake.

Not 20 yards further on, the same thing happened again, this time with a wannabe rally-driver in a Scooby. Same set of responses. This time, I didn't "F*ck off", I told the bloke that he was in a pedestrian area and that, driving like he was and in such conditions, an accident was on the cards. He called me a c*nt and put his foot down, I turned and headed on my way.

Seconds later I heard the bang, the crunch and the cursing. He'd run into another car. I couldn't see which one from where I was, but I remember laughing rather too loudly and hoping that he'd ran into the first feckwit that I'd encountered. "Who's the c*nt now?", I thought.

Sweet justice.

Another one in the pipeline

Posted by on November 22nd 2010 in Great Escapes, Thanks

This multi-family hostelling malarkey is becoming a habit - first it was Windermere YHA, next it was Buttermere YHA. We'll complete the hat-trick during the Easter holidays when we stay at Borrowdale YHA for three nights. Trefor, the Hostel's Management Hero, has agreed to let us pay with Tesco Clubcard Rewards Tokens and that is going to save us a small fortune (family rooms are £66 a night, so we're looking at using £47.50-worth of Vouchers to get £190-worth of Tokens, the remainder we'll pay in cash). Thanks, Trefor!

Just a quick note here - if you've a mind to use your Tesco Clubcard Vouchers for this sort of thing, be aware that the current exchange-rate of 4:1 changes to a less-favourable 3:1 on December 6th 2010 so get your exchanges done pronto. Tokens have a shelf-life of six months so they're worth getting now if you're going to use them during the first bit of next year.

Anyway, we've yet to discuss objectives and we're mindful that a lot will depend on the weather and on the mind-set of the kids in our group, but the environs of Borrowdale offer so much and at so many different levels of ability that we shouldn't be stuck for choice. A couple of options that I'll chuck into the mix are a short bimble up Rosthwaite Fell with a possible extension to Glaramara and maybe even as far as Allen Crags, and a trudge up to Styhead Tarn with the possibility of a pull up to Great Gable. Both of these offer superb adventures for budding young fell-walkers, letting them get into the real mountains and putting some rock beneath their boots. Then there's the knot of lower fells around Watendlath where I've spent many a happy afternoon - I could let the others wander the fine network of paths there for a few hours while I try to tease a few trout out of the tarn.

Hopefully it'll be a bit drier than the last time I stayed at Borrowdale...



Posted by on November 19th 2010 in Just for fun

There's got to be a suitable collective noun for such an unruly collection of outdoors socks.

This website suggests that it's either "an odd number", "a stink" or "an oddnumber", but none of them fit the bill for my stash.

Other terms suggested to me so far are "a plethora", "a foot-fall" and the one I like best so far - "a march". If you've any others, feel free to let me know.

FWIW, here's my stash after I'd culled the duffers:

Tidying up some loose ends

Posted by on November 17th 2010 in Great Escapes, Rambling on...
Tags: , ,

For me, the last two months of every year tend to be a bit fickle when it comes to getting in some hill-time. Factor in a bunch of birthdays, the inevitable Christmas shopping, the trips out to deliver pressies and the staying in to accept them, and there's precious little time left for getting away. It's not as if I can snatch the odd half-day or just bugger off one evening, overnight in the hills and then return the next morning - living in England's rotting industrial heartland means that any decent mountains are many hours of driving away, so any venture has to be long enough to provide a good return on the investment.

This year I'm taking a different approach - I've booked a weekend away, the rest of life will just have to STFU and fit in around it. Coniston beckons, a few of us have answered the call. Hopefully we'll find the right conditions to christen my new snooshows, maybe we'll even tick off a few more Wainwrights, but if we don't it'll be fun all the same.

Of course, while I'm away, somebody else will have the job of tidying up those loose ends. Here's a quick snapshot of the cause of the disorder:



Even though the two-week claim period hasn't yet expired, we couldn't continue looking after her without giving her a name. That process in itself was an ordeal - we'd made a long-list and couldn't agree, so we whittled it down to a short-list and still couldn't agree.

Eventually we put the names in a hat and Anna drew out the winning entry (which just happened to be the name that she put in... hmm...). Even now, we can't agree - the name is Elvy... or is it LV? Of course, now that the mog's been named it'll be hard if we have to let her go, despite her infuriating habit of chewing through my boot-laces and draw-cords!

More pics if you click the one above.

Bad to the Bone

Posted by on November 8th 2010 in In the garden, Rambling on...
Tags: ,

This little furry fiend had been hanging around the Close for at least four days and nights, hiding from fireworks and trying to scrounge titbits. Yesterday we relented, caught it* and took it in for the night. I've never seen a cat so hungry - it had no problems snatching the feeding-fork from my hands in order to glean the last morsels of food from it.

The local cat rescue folk have had a good look at her and have pronounced her to be about 10-weeks old and healthy, the vet considers her to be full of worms and just over 8-weeks old.

Anyway, it looks like we've been adopted by her. If she's not claimed in the next two weeks I suppose we'll be keeping her.

* We tempted it from a garden by offering it some cat-food, but during the grabbing operation it decided to have a damned good bite of my finger instead. This kitten does look cute and cuddly, but I can vouch for the fact that it has teeth like well-honed daggers - they went in all the way until they were grinding on the bone, and it didn't want to let go. If we keep it, I reckon we'll be giving it the understated name "Nipper".

The Buttermere trip – a quick gear roundup

Posted by on November 4th 2010 in Bargains, Great Escapes, Shiny new kit

Just thought I'd do a short post about some of the kit that my family used during our recent trip to Buttermere. There's not much here to excite the lightweighters out there but when kitting out a family sometimes value-for-money is a more important consideration than grammes-per-litre, and often cheap doesn't mean bad.


I wore my AKU Crodas, Ella wore hers. Neither of us had any issues, they were nice and comfy. Chris was breaking-in her Scarpa Mantas - it was her first full-day outing in these stiff boots and they were obviously overkill for the route and the conditions, but they did need to do some mileage before being used in anger. Aside from an issue with the fit around her ankles, they were fine. Anna wore an old pair of hand-me-down Hi-Tec mids, no idea which model, they were fine too. We've promised her some new boots next year. Despite the bog-trotting and beck-crossings, we all enjoyed dry feet all day.

Regarding the performance of the Fitness Footwear test-and-review samples, I wore the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams for the walk to and from The Fish on Thursday night and they were fine (apart from the squeakiness), even in the wet. If Friday hadn't been forecast to be wet all day, I'd have worn them on the hill too, but the AKUs got the vote at the last minute. The Salomon Exit Aeros were a dead loss - comfy for driving but dangerously slippery even when getting out of the car and stepping onto a damp motorway-services car-park.

Other Clothing

I was trying out some different socks - for many years I've used only Thorlo KXs, KXLs or STs, but I'd seen some Wed'ze RNS 700 ski/snowboarding socks in Decathlon and I'd decided to try a pair. Actually, they're not bad - nice and long, padded in the right places, thin in the right places, and they stay up!


I carried the LA Alpine Attack 40 - my standard any-season day-pack for a few years now. It's a tough, solid performer with few techie bits, the easy-access external crampon-pocket this time being used for the bothy-shelter instead of the JetBoil PCS. Ella used her Berghaus Womens Freeflow III 35+8, the shape and the back-size are both perfect for her. Chris was using a new Quechua pack - the Forclaz 25 Air - she said it was a good carry. It's got some nice features for a sub-£25 pack, such as decent-sized and well-placed belt-pockets, a lurid green stowaway rain-cover, and a comfy air-cooling system mesh back. With the rain-cover deployed, there was no way that we would have lost her! Anna had a new Quechua pack too - the Arpenaz 20 - and it was just right for her slight frame.


I figured that having some sort of shelter for the kids during snack-breaks would be a good idea, so I took the Terra Nova Bothy 4. It turned out to be a good call - the kids enjoyed sitting/eating/playing in it. I might invest in a bigger version for whenever we walk with another family.

Obviously we carried, used or wore many other items, but other than the above there was nothing to write home about.

Observing Report 16th-17th October 2010 (First light for the new scope)

Posted by on November 1st 2010 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics, Shiny new kit

Sorry this is a bit late but I'm playing catch-up here.

Saturday night was forecast reasonably clear so I grabbed the chance to point the baby R-C scope skywards to see what it could do. Although this scope is built primarily for imaging, I wanted to try some visual observing first to see how it compared to the 8" Newt.

I'd been told that aside from the reduced light-grasp due to the reduced aperture, the contrast would be reduced due to the relative size of the secondary obstruction. Well, I believed that until I looked at Jupiter's clearly-defined belts through the 8mm eyepiece. It looked good, and there were no issues with holding the planet and its moons in focus at the same time. I had a look at some Messier objects through various eyepieces and was similarly impressed.

After that I removed the eyepiece and put the webcam in at prime focus and went back to Jupiter and its moons. The scope has a larger native magnification than the Newt, so it was hard to gauge the differences, but it was certainly no worse, I reckon it'll make a fair grab 'n go planetary webcamming scope.

Finally I set it up with the D50 at prime focus and took some guided long exposures of a few objects - M1 (The Crab Nebula), Comet 103P/Hartley again,  M33 (The Triangulum Galaxy) again, M67 (an open cluster in the constellation Cancer) and M74 (a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces). Hartley was really motoring - in the pic the comet's elongation gives an indication of how far it was moving during each 300s exposure.

The data for the last two was dumped due to it being affected by high-level thin clouds, but I processed the rest and got some reasonable results bearing in mind the small amount of data that was used. I'm sufficiently encouraged by these to plan ahead for a decently-long session with M33 when the skies eventually clear here, I reckon I could get much better results with more data at better settings. It that works, I'll go for M74 which is supposed to be the most difficult Messier object for amateur astronomers to observe.

Anyway, the pics are as follows:

103P/Hartley, currently in the constellation Auriga.
Subs: 10 light @ 300s, darks, flats, ISO200.
D50 and AT2FF on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 M33 (aka NGC 598), a spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum.
Subs: 12 light @ 300s, darks, flats, ISO200.
D50 and AT2FF on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 M1 (aka NGC 1952), The Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus.
Subs: 12 light @ 300s, darks, flats, ISO200.
D50 and AT2FF on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

By the time I'd finished taking flat-frames, packed away and locked up, it was getting light. I was knackered but happy. For such a small scope, the baby R-C has proved to be good and I'm glad that I bought it.

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