Saturday, 27 October 2012

New car and Ben Lomond

The temperature's dropped considerably the past few days, which is excellent because I can now look toward sharpening all the pointy gear I last used in Kyrgyzstan. The downside is I've yet to figure out storage heating properly...

Anyways, I've been in Scotland a month now and a lot has happened. Firstly, I changed my car.

NOT a hairdresser's car. Because it's manly black.

It's a 2000 Mazda Mx-5 1.6i. AN odd choice for Scotland yes, but I've always fancied a convertible and Mx-5s are among the most affordable and reliable. I've managed to have the roof down a fair bit, with the heating on full of course.
I previously had a Peugeot 306, which was a great wee car and was a bit of a sandbox for me as I serviced it myself. It was however hard on fuel, which was the excuse to change it. THe Mx-5 does 40mpg, which is better than the 306's 32mpg (which was on a good day, normally worse than that).
And the Mazda's a hoot to drive.

I haven't got out climbing here yet, what with it being that in betweeny part of the year where it's too cold for rock climbing but not cold enough for winter climbing. But I did go for a wander up Ben Lomond today, which was lovely.
Lo Lo from Benny Lo

3 hrs round trip, via the Ptarmigan ridge and down the normal way. A grand day out. Plenty of ice and near freezing on the path near the top, but no snow yet. Snow visible on the summits further north - another couple of weeks, baby...

Work's going well, getting used to 7am starts (I hate Alpine starts) and have actually started getting a bit to do. It seems like a really good company to work for.

Winter time is training time, and I've been going to the climbing walls a lot as well as the gym. The Climbing Academy is an amazing wall - bouldering only, similar to The Climbing Works in Sheffield but bigger. After a session at TCA your skin is wrecked, and you can't climb for a few days - a sure sign of progress.

Ciao for now.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Expedition Report

Just a short one today to say that for anyone who's interested, the final report of our expedition to Kyrgyzstan can be found here.

Friday, 5 October 2012


Sanchez: My aunt lives in Scotland; she says it's quite nice.
Dagless: Well, she's wrong.

So last Friday I moved to Paisley, in Scotland.

Not this man.

Not really a spur of the moment thing, I'm here for a year on placement. I've got a flat on the west side of Paisley, near Glasgow.

"They want what all Scotch people want: To kill the Queen, and destroy our way of life"

Moving over was interesting. Thanks to a cock-up by the estate agency over a delayed reference check, I got the ferry over on Friday not knowing if I'd have somewhere to stay. A few hours of scrounging McDonald's wifi later I was finally allowed to move in at 1630 - bit of a relief.

Moving to a new country is a bit of a big deal for anyone; for me it's been compounded by the fact that I don't really know anyone here and am living on my own. But  it's a new beginning and the Scots are supposed to be quite nice, im sometimes incomprehensible (says Mr Norn Iron)
I can confess to a mild feeling of panic and being cut off on the first night but that's to be expected. By Saturday (and a visit to a superb bouldering wall, The Climbing Academy) I was grand.

I've spent much of the past week in Wetherspoons/McDonald's using wifi and talking to call centres. I hate talking to call centres.

So I'm working this year for EDF Energy at Hunterston B nuclear power station, with the Reactor Systems Group. Security procedures prevent me from saying too much about it, so its essentially to do with all the bits between the reactors and the turbines and their ancillaries. 

HNB: Atom smasher and electricity factory

I haven't had a chance to do much yet though as I'm still waiting on my Personal Protective equipment (boiler suit etc) to arrive before I can get anywhere near the reactors. Understandably, security is pretty tight, and the place has its own police force (the Civil Nuclear Constabulary). They all have assault rifles (with clear magazines so you can see how many bullets they have left) as well as pistols. I'm unsure of the pros and cons of firing guns near high pressure steam pipes.
The lads of the CNC

Anyhow, they're like a tamer version of the PSNI. 

So that's what I'm doing now. Got a speeding ticket when I got a bit lost and confused the other day coming back form the Glasgow Climbing Centre (housed in a church) but otherwise all is well. I now have internet in the flat meaning I can now re-engage with all the truly important things like catz and facebook.

Come visit.