July 2009





reblogged from lickystickypickyme

Understand, I’ll slip quietly

away from the noisy crowd

when I see the pale

stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.

I’ll pursue solitary pathways

through the pale twilit meadows,

with only this one dream:

You come too.

– ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

I stumbled upon this cartoon via the badscience twitter.

020709It’s from this artist (large version here).

I must admit I have always been a big fan of newscientist.  I subscribed religiously for years and was even sometimes sad when it was a day or two late.  But things began to change.  Looking back it is easy to see the signs; first I started to come home and say “oh did it arrive today?”.  Inside me the little geek voice was screaming “You know its Thursday!  IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THURSDAY”.  The next sign was when I had not finished reading last week’s copy when the new one arrived.  Then it came to the sad stage when I simply went “meh”.  The little voice cried.

Part of it was the writing.  It slowly started to slip towards the realms of focus for a while, which is ok.  But then it recently seems to have become a little too far flung and speculative.  There has always been way off creative thinking written about in the pages of newscientist.  however, the balance seems a little off in favour of the strange.

Now newscientist and me is like a lost relationship with an old friend.  I am selfish to it.  Weeks will go by and I don’t even think of it.  When I remember, I look at it in the shop and see if any of it interests me.  Sometimes I buy it to read bits of it, but most of the time I leave it sitting lonely on the shelf.

I am seriously thinking about doing my Mountain Leader assessment in a few months time.  It’s a 5 day long assessment which is considered to be tough.  You need to know your stuff and be comfortable in the mountains.  It is something that I have really wanted to do for many years, a major personal goal that I have always had hovering on the horizon.  I probably need to set a few autumn evenings aside for night navigation practice to make sure I am up to scratch.

One aspect of the ML syllabus is knowledge.  Knowledge of geology, botany, and local history.  One thing that is not mentioned on the syllabus, but I think should be, is folklore.  This is an area of knowledge that is in real danger of being lost.  I would imagine lots of it already has been lost.  For years I have hunted for little pieces of folklore about the Mourne Mountains.  There are some books that have a bit, Estyn Evens, Bernard Davey and Paddy Dillon’s books being three major ones.  However, the gems in these books are mostly nuggets of history more than folklore.  With so much folklore found in the Antrim Hills can it be possible that no stories exist about the Mournes?  Are they really so sterile?  But then, hidden away on a dusty shelf in an old book shop I discovered this:

the wee people

The Mournes are not a void after all.  This little book is packed with stories and fables in the very hills and valleys that I love.  I have to keep my eye out now; for the little people.


A meeting of fairies in the Mourne Mountains



I sat down tonight to update my log book to see if I have enough quality days and camps.  I need 40 Quality days, 8 nights camping, 4 of these nights being ‘wild’ camps.  I was quite surprised to see I had recorded 96 quality days, 24 nights camping, 13 of these being ‘wild’.  Although there is some variety; Dartmoor, Lake district, Scotland, Peak district, Wicklow, Antrim Hills, Donegal, in there.  It mostly reads as Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes,Mournes, Mournes,Mournes,Mournes.


and wow some more (or less really)

The lovely sharon went shoe shopping today:


It all began at 9.00 am in a newcastle coffee shop. It was supposed to begin at 10:30 am but I liked the idea of sitting for an extra hour or so by the sea just reading and sipping. After 10:30 the climbers began to arrive. Some people believe that climbers are hardcore and extreme, they are up at dawn and eat chicken and paper. These guys arrived late and instantly ordered coffees and ulster frys. An hour or so later we were heading for the hills and preparing ourselves for FM.

(Mum and Dad read no further in red text. Jump to the last bit in black text)


FM was my first ever multi-pitch climb; 180 meters of slab climbing. We tackled it on mass as three groups moving separately. The climb is considered Very Difficult (easy in the rock climbing world) and involved a lot of friction under the feet. Once you got your head around trusting the friction of the rock then it became a pleasant and enjoyable climb. At this point I should mention how a climb is named. It is named by the first ascenters who earn that privilege. And the first ascenters deemed this climb fitting of the name “FM” an abreviation of “F&*£ Me”.


The moments on the belay points (5 of them) allowed time to soak in the amazing views and watch the other teams progress both above and below. The valley below is my favourite in the Mourne Mountains but it is always amazing to see it from a different perspective. The valley has so many characters, many of which are hidden and only revealed if we show some daring.


After finishing FM we had some time to relax and have a long lunch in an amazing spot. And time to realise that another climb was possible. And so, we went to lower cove to rope up for some more climbing. Vertical steepness but not multi pitch this time.


At one point I found a comfy little ledge that I could take a picture from.


And it was such a lovely day that we decided not to climb but to go for a lovely walk in the sunshine. That’s all.

One of the best optical illusions I have seen:


The green and the blue spirals are actually the same colour.

Check it out here

too much shopping:

A lot of shopping to carry over 17 miles.

Why NOT to time travel by =Nocturnal-Devil on deviantART


This one is for all the teachers.


Revelations – by Jerry Moffatt

I read a review of this book about a month ago and I thought it looked good.  Then when I went to actually buy it I could not find it.  It was listed as published and on sale in the author’s own climbing wall but I could not get it at the usual big online sources (I wanted free postage).  So I left it and nearly forgot it until I saw it on sale in Belfast.  This gave me a chance to randomly read a few paragraphs and get a flavour of it. I t put me off.   In my mind it formed into an ego trip for someone who believed they were a climbing god. I put away all thoughts of reading it.

After finding a few favourable reviews of it, thoughts of giving it a chance crept back.  It seems I was wrong to judge a book by a few random paragraphs.  It is a very good read.  Its not an ego trip, its an honest account of someone who is very driven, competitive and was one of the best.  A very interesting aspect of the book is that it gives glimpses of the history of modern climbing and the origins of some terminology, ethics and techniques.  This is not delivered in a historical style but is dropped in as part of Jerry’s own voyge of discovery.  And, as a few reviewers have pointed out, it is had to put down.

169lppjvia digg