Adding miles to the legs

The Saturday after Christmas found Anna and I running around Buttermere and flogging around the Keswick shops. My legs were already knackered from the previous exertions, but I thought it was best to keep them moving incase they seized up completely.

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The weather was great and we enjoyed fantastic views ………….

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In Keswick we made a sentimental visit to Woolies (last day) and bought some discounted chocolate! DOH!!!

All that hard work ruined! We also saw Santa in mufti, looking like he’d had a hard couple of days, but he did snap up some bargains in Woolworths for next year. Apparently the credit crunch even extends to the North Pole………..

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On the way home we got more great views and a fell pony tried to hitch a lift!!

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A busy day for parapenting…. how many can you spot???

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Isle of Man


Caroline and Saskia talking…

It was that time of year again, Caroline’s birthday, so the Elliott sisters decided it was a good excuse for another get together. The venue was Caroline’s house on the Isle of Man. I flew from Blackpool and Saskia flew from Luton. It’s always exciting flying from Blackpool. The plane is teeny (9 passengers) and it only takes 25 minutes.

There were no great plans of adventure, so we did what girls do best – talked, drank wine, talked, went shopping, and talked some more….

On Saturday night we had a lovely meal at Harbour Lights in Port St Mary – more drinking and more talking.

On Sunday Malcolm took me, Saskia, Laurence and Maddie out on his rib to look for basking shark.


Ready to set out on the rib.

We didn’t find any, but there were plenty of seals and we had a fantastic time crashing through the waves by the Calf of Man.


A seal watching us watching him.


The fantastic rock formation just off the Calf of Man known as The Dragon.

Fun in the race between the Isle of Man mainland and the Calf of Man.

All too quickly the weekend came to an end and it was time to go home…. …until next time.

Booster pump (a new toy)

It has been some time since any serious toy purchasing has been undertaken. This situation was rectified this week when Andy and I bought a second hand oxygen booster. This is a very useful bit of kit which takes supply gas and boosts it to anything up to about 250 bar. Using the booster we will now be able to fill our rebreather oxygen cylinders to the 200 bar mark and above. This gives us the capability to do longer duration dives. We don’t intend to do longer duration dives but we now have the capability, which is the point, isn’t it?

The booster uses a standard scuba cylinder to provide drive gas via a regulator and inflator whip. The oxygen is fed from a supply cylinder (in this case an 18 litre filled with O2) into the booster. The compression ratio of the booster is 20:1. The rebreather oxygen cylinders are both 3 litre capacity and only take a few minutes to top off to 200 bar even with the slow booster cycle rate of 1 stroke per second to avoid overheating the oxygen. Overheating oxygen is not a good idea. Andrew may want a new garage but this is not the best way to go about getting one.

The picture shows Marcus inspecting the new toy and feeling the cooling effect on the drive cylinder tap. After pumping the second cylinder with O2 the drive cylinder had cooled to the point of cutting off the supplying gas. The demand valve still worked okay but the cylinder tap wasn’t having any of it. Measuring by touch there was no increase in booster pump temperature so everything was completely safe – well, that’s what we told Sue.

Shop + Run, how many pounds can we lose?

A nice late start for me, I met Anna and Ian in Keswick at 12.30 for some serious shopping. But strangely I realised that not only did I not need anything, I didn’t want anything. How unusual! 😯
Ian bought a present for Kelda and after wondering around the shops and a scrummy hot chocolate in a cafe we decided to visit Keswick Museum. Very interesting, and FREE!!!

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Ian playing musical stones

Dinner was bubbling away in the slow cooker when we got back to Anna and Ian’s so we decided to work up an appetite and go for a short run. We went to one of Anna and Ian’s favourite running spots near Cockermouth, which despite the heavy clouds still gave us fantasic views.

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Anna and I heading for the hills

Now I feel justified in eating a huge dinner. :yum: :yum:

Chamonix Mont Blanc

Day 1
We spent a week hiding away in Chamonix over New Year, and we arrived with every intention of undertaking all winter mountain sports. Instead, we couldn’t help but relax and enjoy the sites, starting with a ride up to the Aiguille du Midi for some fresh air and a view of Mont Blanc. Sabiene went all wobbly and woozy at the top through lack of oxygen after a run up the stairs!

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Mont Blanc – Sabiene & Andy

Day 2 – Shopping!
Day two, and we were knackered already. So after a lengthy recouperative period in bed, we decided to hit the shops for some retail therapy in readiness for Norway in February. Snell’s thought it was Christmas – oh yes, it was. But Sabiene left having melted her credit card, having bought everything in the shop. Check out the gear in the pic, including the sexy gold Black Diamond Vipers.

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Shopping

Montenvers

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Montenver Snowdrift

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Mer de Glace

A walk along the Petit Balcon Sud
Gear testing day. A walk along the Petit Balcon Sud all the way to Argentiere was a great way to see the Mont Blanc range on the other side of the Chamonix valley. And what views – the Dru looking magnificent in the high winds, and the forest around us silent and white. A fantastic day ended with a free train ride back to town.

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Dru

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Petit Balcon Sud

Aiguille de Midi
Since Sabiene had been a bit dodgy the first time at 12,000 feet, we had another go up the cable car to the Auiguille. The second time was just as clear – stunning views all around, and very tempting to put the crampons on and have a wander about.

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View from Aguile

Ski de Fond
For those of you who do not know, it means Nordic Skiing, and it was the closest we got to actual skiing, but it was very nice nevertheless – and a lot more tiring than it looks. We set out early through the forest while everyone else was nursing their hangovers, so it was great.

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Ski de Fond

Sisters in Town

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Caroline and Saskia came up to the Lakes to enjoy the wonderful weather. It rained! Then it rained some more. We went shopping, spent lots of money 😀 and then had a lovely meal at Zeffirellis in Ambleside. We were surprised to find no meat on menu. I hadn’t realised that it is vegetarian. Hmmmm, a nice change but not something I want to make a habit of doing – me being a true meat eater. We drank far too much, and now we feel very delicate. It’s all my fault – apparently! 👿

I got all my sisters with me…

Yeah – “We are family, I got all my sisters with me…” Well, that’s how the song goes, so me and Caroline made our way over to Bedfordshire to Saskia’s place for a weekend of sibling fun.

Wine tasting, a huge pavlova, gossiping and Jonathan Ross on Friday night, and Nick’s golf on Saturday morning, gave us the excuse of a late start to the day’s adventures. After a very leisurely breakfast, we finally headed out to Milton Keynes, purses packed and loaded, ready to undertake the serious shopping experience.

Five hours later, Caroline’s purse much lighter, with bag’s a plenty, we finally made it home for a much needed cup of tea and a glass of bubbly. We just had enough time to make ourselves beautiful, yeah, really, it doesn’t take very long – Chris, who had very generously agreed to take us to the restaurant, only had to wait 15 minutes for us.

At the table we were greeted with a surprise bottle of bubbly for my birthday – thanks Nick. We followed this with a wonderful meal and more wine, and another late night of gossip.

Sunday was wet but relaxing and it was sad when we all had to go our separate ways.

I’m looking forward to our next get together.