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Well, work is getting interesting… in that Head Office is wondering about rising budgets. And rising Budgets = me. Still.. will all work out I’m sure.

My cousin Rachel arrives with her financee Nathan today – can’t wait – very soon – in the next hour or so – and Sam is coming for dinner – also 4 others will be arriving to organise the tramp for the weekend. So it’s going to be quite the party this evening.

Oh – you’ll need real player for this.. but it’s classic – go to :

this link

and click on the link about Bilbo and Spock. It’s a complete classic

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So today – well – first a few characters… There’s Jonathan, who is the brother in law of my first cousin Hannah ;) . Now I met Jonathan at a bar-b-q that Hannah’s cousins (in law) had in ChCh last week. Following so far? Good. So – Jonathan is an awesome mountaineer, and knows other good ones too. So – his friend Dave was organising this sorta Canyoning trip today.

And Maeve and I went along – Glynn left at 5am on his way to Adelaide for a conference… ahh well. Thems the breaks of the working life. So – off we went towards the hills… And accompanied by Mike (Hannah’s cousin in law) and Sam – a Rhodes scholar from North Carolina – who is definitely tall, and definitely fun. Over here for a year – all paid – very nice. With his mountain bike in tow.

The others on the trip were – Dave – our leader – Sarah,Tim, Alan (from the Northern Ireland – complete with accent), Glynn and Lara. So a nice little bunch.

Started out with a 1.5 hour walk in, hot sun, (last time to be hot for a while!) So yeah, I started thinking that it was going to be ‘interesting’ when they said we had to absail down straight into the river / waterfall pool. No nice and easy break in – no – straight into the river for us. Also – when Dave was explaining that if you tried to absail on the wrong rope that you would fall to your -well – probable death. However, it was common sense as there was a huge chain and knot in the rope.. so if you tried to absail on the side that was the same as the knot then obviously it wouldn’t be running through the chain and you’d have nothing to stop you on your way down. And deservedly so if you make a mistake like that ;) joking joking.

And the two absail ropes where black (for bad – don’t absail on me) and white (for good). Again confirming that all things in life that are bad for you are coloured black – like the Black Riders, and those that are good are white – like Gandalf. Though I guess Saruman was an exception to that rule.

So yeah – straight down into the river, and worked our way along – hopefully will have a few pics to put up later on this week – am having Sam over for dinner (with his digital camera ;) so hopefully get a few pics then…

There was lots of jumping down waterfalls (though I must admit – I hate it – and generally traversed round rather than jump in – i had a fairly painful experience jumping – oh – 4.5m ish into glacial water while rafting in France, so it’s not like I’ve not jumped before :)

So yeah – waterfalls – and *cold*. It was cold, without wetsuits it was defiantly cold, so added incentives to keep out of the water, all good though. And then jumping down a sorta boulder field in the river for the last couple of k’s. Which I really enjoy – hopping around rivers, definitely fun. Right up to the point at which you twist your ankle.

So it was fun, as I didn’t twist it :) But I was glad I was wearing my hike boots and not runners.

Back to the cars, few pints – well glasses of beer (no I wasn’t driving) chips – most needed, and then home.

So yeah, hopefully will put up a few pics sometime, in the meantime, it really is the little differences sometimes….

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So back to work this week… and little of major excitement to report!, I was quite correct though, I was in bits after the game of squash.. but still looking forward to more games next week :)

Our car got it’s WOF. Glynn very kindly brought it over to the mechanic, it was $120 to get the breaks and stuff done, still, when you think about it – it’s 60 euro and now we have a car that we can drive for the next 6 months… pretty good really.

In fact – just to spell it out so you can see just how much cheaper it is over here.. the car was $1500 (and that was upper market ;) We’ve had to spend $200 to get it fixed up so that it will pass it’s test – and we spent $120 on insurance that covers all three of us… so for $1820 we have a car that we can drive – and it drives well.. on top of that there’s registration – say bring it up to a cool $2000. That’s roughly 1000 euro..

So.. for 1000 euro we get a car that we can drive perfectly safely and legally. Not so bad, and when you split that 3 ways it’s really quite fine :D

Back in Ireland I couldn’t even get a years insurance for that ;) here I get a car too :)

Sorry to rant.. but it is crazy.

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So not up to much until today – Saturday when we went to a New Place to climb. Called Hanging Rock. Not sure why.. probably because it’s all overhung. But maybe someone was hanged…. (queue eerie music)…

It was a lovely place

All limestone, and sport climbing. Ish. Well.. there were bolts, but unfortunately we realised only once we got there what ‘carriage bolts’ are.. They’re like oversized pins driven into the rock (well pitons). And you need wires to protect yourself with them. Which we don’t have.

However, it was possible to walk on to the top of the routes and put up a top rope.

So we did.

Not sure what grade it was, the only really tricksy part was the start.

Maeve climbed it too, but far more elegantly (truly I rely on brute force and ignorance ;)

And here’s a pic of Glynn doing the second route we topped…

But it was a great place, and at the end we just walked down to the river and went for a swim, which was a great way of cooling down (was quite cold)

Finally, when we got back to the car (the land is owned by some kind farmers who just let people come and climb), we found it had been completely surrounded.. however, after a brief gunfight we got through, touch and go though.

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So back to work.. it’s pretty nice to still have the job! Reckon – well – touch wood ‘n all that but I think it’ll be there as long as I want it. Got climbing in Briton Crag yesterday, I led an 18 – which is only 6a… but still.. it’s a start.

But two cool things did happen, my brothers present of the voucher for KiteBoarding arrived. It looks awesome, looks like will be trained on land, and then will also get to do real kite-surfing on water… and I guess there are clubs with gear ‘n stuff.. maybe I’ll be able to make friends so that I can get some sort of club gear…. who knows – sure if I like it might think about getting a kite myself.

The other cool thing was that I finally got a game of squash – against someone who turned out had a few pretty interesting things to say – he’s a graduate in electrical engineering. He used to work for a company called Tait electronics – but has quit and is developing what was (as far as I can tell) his final year project. It’s a sorta voice recognition project.. won’t put too much up about it just incase ;), still, impressive to quit work and try to get a company working. He’s already sold a couple of versions of it – so that’s good. Also, my squash game wasn’t too bad… 3:1 to him, but most games were only a couple of points in it. Reckon I’ll be in bits tomorrow though! :)

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So, after a bit of a slow start, it was off to head caving again! this time with Glynn. We went off to a place called Cave Stream. You’d never, ever, guess why. So I’ll illustrate it with a picture.

It supposed to be full of Mauri pictures. Well maybe not full, but they are supposed to be there, but we didn’t see any. However, it’s a nice wee walk up a stream – for a kilometre. It wasn’t remotely as hard as the one Maeve and I did up in Waitomo, but it was fun. Brought a camera in too..

So after that, it was off to Castle Hill again, though this time to boulder. Met a bloke who knew the place, so he was able to point out a couple of boulders that we could use as references. You’d be surprised how hard it is to figure out where you are in a boulder field! So spent the day climbing V0’s, V1’s and V2’s. I really enjoyed it there, my sort of climbing, lots of lay-backing.

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