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December 18th, 2014

08:40 pm: Counting down
Massively busy and very tired, I'm counting the hours until the start Christmas. After a frantic few days of activity, I'm happy to be able to report that I've successfully done all the things I absolutely positively had to do before going away; I've completed most of the things I really ought to do; and I've completed a decent number of discretionary activities. I haven't completed the huge pile of stuff I started doing yesterday, but I've done enough of it to soften the landing on my return in January...


December 14th, 2014

11:06 am: Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm
In lieu of proper content — I'm still too tired to string more than a couple of words together — here's Gillian Weir performing Julius Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm, which wikipedia asserts is one of the high points of the Romantic repertoire:


December 11th, 2014

09:01 pm: Useful conversations
Still very much frazzled — I haven't done a fraction of the things I absolutely positively have to do this week, never mind the stuff that's discretionary — but I really got into the spirit of today's training/discussions once we passed the basic details and had some very useful conversations with the people from Altair.


December 10th, 2014

07:25 pm: Forever typing the same commands...
Working with PBS and qmgr again for the first time a while, I've found myself beset by constant temptation to use show instead of print to display the server values — an atavistic trait that I've released has its roots in the distant days of traditional Cray NQS; something that obviously had such an impact on me that it has been forever burnt into my unconscious muscle memory.

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December 9th, 2014

10:21 pm: Kenton Cool at the Quay
My course finished half an hour early today, so I dashed home and went for a run before hurrying down to the Quay to meet R for supper. We had a nice chat while the place filled up with people in to hear Kenton Cool talking about last year's ascents of Nuptse, Evereset and Lhotse — the triple crown — which he managed without returning to base camp.

Kenton Cool at the Quay

E arrived just as R was heading home and we went down to sit on the floor for the rest of the evening. The talk was really excellent, with just the right balance of humour and seriousness, and there was a good turnout with the raffle ticket numbers ending well over a hundred. Not only do I now appreciate just how amazing it is, but I know that Yuichiro Miura skied down Everest and also summitted it in 2013 aged 80. I also now know about David Breashears' amazing Rivers of Ice photographic project, that lets you zoom right in to huge photos of the mountains as well as comparing recent pictures of the glaciers with those taken in the 1920s.

An extremely enjoyable evening...

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December 6th, 2014

04:59 pm: A quiet day at home
A lazy day of staying in, thanks in part to the removal of the steps from in front of the house. So instead of disturbing the builders, busy setting up the shuttering required to cast the new stairs, I've read, snoozed, listened to the radio, and made myself something nice for afternoon tea:


The scones were made using a slightly modified version of one of the Guardian's list of 10 best yoghurt recipes from sometime last year. They came out extremely well: the yoghurt added a pleasantly tart quality and the layering worked every bit as well as promised.

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December 5th, 2014

10:26 pm: A heavy week
Well, that was a slog. Spent most of this week on a course which, despite the best efforts of the trainer, wasn't exactly the most exciting thing ever. It sparked off some interesting ideas, but despite getting in well before dawn and staying on late I was too short on time to implement most of them. Dealing with various other things in the evenings left me so exhausted that by the last of this afternoon's sessions, it was all I could do to keep my eyes open.

Fortified by tea, I pushed off to the quay for an evening of dark climbing. It was good fun — although I think it was lighter than last year because they left the lights on in bouldering rooms — and I'm quite tempted to get a head torch for running and climbing, but I can't really justify the cost. Happily, E doesn't have the same problem: she won a Tikkina in the raffle.

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December 2nd, 2014

09:23 pm: A very strange Advent Calendar indeed...
How delightful: a Tea and Jeapardy Advent Calendar, complete with chickenised versions of various christmas carols.


November 30th, 2014

09:40 pm: Advent nostalgia
What better way to mark the first Sunday in Advent but with Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, here in a version by Zoltán Kodály:

I'm pretty sure we used to sing the English version of this when I was at school...


November 29th, 2014

02:58 pm: Foggy day on Dartmoor
With sunny weather and clear skies in Exeter, we optimistically headed for Dartmoor. The roads were clear and we got to Ilsington with only one minor map reading confusion on my part, only to hit a bank of thick fog as we climbed up towards the top of the moor. We successfully navigated ourselves to Hound Tor car park, where the visibility was down to 15 metres, and, despite mater's misgivings and complaints, successfully navigated ourselves up to the tor itself where I was impressed to find a couple of people climbing trad despite the filthy weather.

Bonehill in the fog

We toured round the rest of the tors — in some places it was possible to see for 30-40 metres — ending up at Haytor, where it was so foggy that despite the short distance from the car park to the tor, we got so lost that we eneded up at the quarry instead. Giving up at this point, we stopped off in Chudleigh Knighton for lunch, and came back to town to allow the parents to drop me off before starting on their journey back to Coventry.

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