Prague

Laetitia is working in Prague this week, another tour as a tutor on the Lead with Impact course. And so another great opportunity for me to take advantage and get to see parts of Europe I really don’t think I’d visit in normal circumstances… More “Prague”

Management Training

This week I was lucky enough to get to help out running a day of outdoor management training tasks at High Trenhouse. (By the way, High Trenhouse is a beautiful venue, highly recommended!) My friend Joe has been working with them for some years and this week they needed two groups supervising so Joe asked me to help. What fun…

My group discussing their strategy for the game "Discourse" - based on the famous Tower of Hanoi game
My group discussing their strategy for the game “Discourse”
This game is based on the famous Tower of Hanoi which interestingly was the basis for my recursive programming work at university (which, by the way, led on to my building a recursive descent natural language parser :geek: )

The last time I was on a management training course the shoe was on the other foot! It was strange for me being on the other end of one of these days. No longer was it me learning that diving in without a strategy, plan, good communications, etc. was a recipe for failure. Instead I got to observe the results of how a particular set of communications and a rush into action worked out. There were some very funny moments too! 😀

As it turns out I think everyone that goes on a management training event and has to take part in any kind of team based outdoor activity would also do well from running a similar activity. Then perhaps, as in my case, they might even learn more than when participating. Why’s that? Well I found that running the games was an amazing learning experience. Not only did it give me a grandstand position to observe just what happens when people rush in to a task or have weak communications, most crucially I had time to consider the paradigm that the tasks were trying to reflect. For example, how a repetitive task can lead to mistakes or how a stretched resource can lead to errors…

Springtime France

We’re recently back from a couple of weeks in France, what an amazing (and weird?) series of spring weather conditions we had though… More “Springtime France”

Berlin

One of my extra curricular activities at work is to be a tutor on the Lead with Impact course across Europe. A great advantage of this is that I can get to see parts of Europe that I have never been to before.

This time it was Berlin. More “Berlin”

A Chamonix Painting Expedition

Time to Work

Last week Ian and I went to the French Alps to get a load of apartment maintenance work done. The lounge area got a complete floor-to-ceiling paint job (there was a nasty crack in the ceiling to repair too), and Ian’s kitchen area got a new worktop…

Fitting a new worktop in Ian's kitchen first required us to make a very big mess removing the old one!
Fitting a new worktop in Ian’s kitchen first required us to make a very big mess removing the old one!

Here’s a shot of the lounge area freshly painted and looking neat and tidy ready for guests in the forthcoming ski season…

The newly redecorated living room looking fresh and clean!
The newly redecorated living room looking fresh and clean!

Pet Passport

One of the fun, or at least new to me, attributes of the journey was taking Zac to France with me. He’d had his rabies injection and was kitted out with a brand new pet passport. 😀

Zac's Pet Passport
Zac’s Pet Passport

One irksome thing about pet travel is that despite the ferry companies not charging any more for a car with five passengers than they do for one with just one passenger (i.e. just the car is charged for) a pet costs £15 extra each way. What is that charge for? There are no special facilities provided, not even a dog walking area at the port areas. Seems like simple unashamed profiteering to me!

Before coming home we had to take Zac to a French vet (between 24 hours and 5 days before returning to the UK) to get his special worming tablet for some kind of wicked dog and cat tapeworm that isn’t present in the UK, and they want to keep it out as it’s transmissible (and can be fatal) to humans.

So all in all a bit of extra cost: rabies inoculation, pet passport, micro-chipping (if not already done as it was for us), ferry passage fees, and French worming treatment. But well worth it – having Zac with us painting, relaxing in Chamonix, running, climbing, and sharing the long drive to and from the Alps was brilliant! 😛

Zac relaxing after a hard day painting with a Gin & Tonic
Zac relaxing after a hard day painting with a Gin & Tonic

Time to Play

After all the maintenance works Laetitia joined us. Typical girl – swans in after all the hard work is done, strokes our egos a bit with the odd tiny compliment on the work, cracks out the gin & tonic, and then drags us out to play the next day…

Laetitia and I had already spent the previous day at the easily accessible Les Gaillands (it was easier to go there as we could take Zac!) but today all four of us went up in to the Aiguille Rouge. Ian and Zac went for a run from Plan Praz to La Flégère and Lac Blanc… Laetitia and I went for a climb…

Interestingly, I guess because it was such a wonderful and still day, there was a constant stream of BASE jumpers leaping off the top of the Brevent. Each one of them whooped as they hurtled towards the Chamonix valley. This is the first time I’ve been close enough to see wing-suit jumpers exiting. They really do “fly”. In just a couple of seconds they have picked up enough speed to inflate their suit’s wings and then they seem to shoot off horizontally at incredible speed. It looks like a fantastic buzz! But what a risk – 1 in 60 die! Take a look at this infographic…

Your Chances of Dying

Anyway, back to the matters in hand – climbing! A much safer activity. Oh and running, safer still!

Pete looking after Zac on the Brevent cable car - he was very anxious
Pete looking after Zac on the Brevent cable car – he was very anxious!
Laetitia coming off the top lift station of the Brevent - there was loads of frozen snow underfoot and a beautiful inversion in the Arve valley looking towards Sallanche
Laetitia coming off the top lift station of the Brevent – there was loads of frozen snow underfoot and a beautiful inversion in the Arve valley looking towards Sallanche
The first pitch of Crakoukass
The first pitch of Crakoukass
Pete descending from Crakoukass - the right-hand skyline of pillar behind is where the 6b pitch goes
Pete descending from Crakoukass – the right-hand skyline of pillar behind is where the 6b pitch goes

Zac and Ian go for a Jogette

Zac the Mountain Poodle trotting along the Aiguille Rouge trails
Zac the Mountain Poodle trotting along the Aiguille Rouge trails
Pete and Ian enjoy a beer at the end of a hard days play in the Aig. Rouge
Pete and Ian enjoy a beer at the end of a hard days play in the Aig. Rouge

That evening poor little Zac was utterly knackered! He immediately curled up and went to sleep when he got in. A little later, when we decided to take a stroll though Chamonix to see what was going on in town, Zac was so stiff he could hardly walk. 🙁 Poor thing. But he recovered quickly and was full of energy again the next day! 😀

Time to come Home

Laetitia left Chamonix by Easy Bus to catch her Easy Jet. Ian and I settled in for one last night with a beer before the long drive home. But at 11pm we got a text message from Laetitia, her flight had been cancelled due to fog in the UK! There had been travel disruptions for a couple of days in the UK due to fog. So surely they could have predicted this and saved Laetitia the scary prospect of travelling right across Geneva to a hotel, alone, at night, and in an unfamiliar intimidating city!!! Terrible customer care.

Then to top it all, the next flight home that they could get her on wasn’t for four days!

Luckily Ian, Zac, and I drove through on a rescue mission the next morning and all four of us travelled home together. Not the journey Laetitia had planned, she missed a couple of really important business meetings thanks to Easy Jet’s ineptitude, but at least there were four of us to entertain each other and share the driving…

Zac taking on his share of the drive home
Zac taking on his share of the drive home