With perfect timing, my M.C.C. membership card arrived today. I feel a summer of cricket as well as backpacking coming on!
Twiddling my thumbs at work, I thought I would have a quick look at the Ogwen web cams as I will be up there the weekend after next (sorry no links as I’m typing this from my iPhone). Yesterday it was quite clear. Today the cam facing Y Garn is a total whiteout. The one facing Capel Curig showing some serious snow. I guess it will probably melt over the next week or so but I may take my Kahtoola Microspikes if the snow is hanging around. It’s quite handy to have these cams to check on conditions. I’m also enjoying Mick and Gayle’s K2CW walk. Sounds like a bit of a grim day today.
I find myself in the twilight zone at the moment. I’m at work but not required to do anything in particular. I’ve read the papers and most of The Economist. It’s a strange existence. I’m not used to aimlessness. I’ll have to find something concrete to do tomorrow!
Thank you for all your good wishes. One of the good things about “social media” is the warmth of sentiments expressed in the comments. I am also pleased to report that the attitude of my employers has been constructive, which has made the whole process a lot easier. It’s also heartening to hear from others who have been this way. I’m starting to think about trips I might do this year. I may even apply for next year’s TGO Challenge when the forms come out in October.
You might have noticed there’s not been much activity lately on this blog. About four months ago, the company I had been working for was taken over. After eleven years of working for one company, the new one was quite a culture shock. I’ve struggled for the past couple of months, becoming increasingly unhappy and stressed.
Today, I gave up the struggle and resigned from my job. While there is some sadness, there’s also an overwhelming feeling of relief. A number of my former colleagues have already gone and I guess I won’t be the last. Fortunately, I won’t be on the streets selling The Big Issue. I’ve been pretty cautious in my career and built up some savings. As befits an economist, I’ve modelled my finances and I’m OK. Not rich but OK.
I still have some loose ends to tie up, but I shan’t be working full-time again. After 30 years of work it will feel odd. I have some plans to try to get some non-executive directorships, doing some community/charity work and possibly doing another degree. I’d like to become the world’s expert in something, not tent mods, before you say it! Most of all I want to spend some time with my family.
So, this is a new chapter in my life. I will have a lot more time for backpacking and blogging. Why “economically inactive”? Well if you don’t sign on, then that’s how you’re classified and I shan’t be signing on!
I am amazed at how much the price of external hard drives has fallen. I’ve just ordered two Western Digital 1TB drives for under £60 each from Amazon. I’m going to use them for offsite storage for backups. Dave (Red Yeti) made a good post about offsite backups. At the moment I’m not keen to use a web-based service, so I’ll back up to an external hard disk and rotate the disks to somewhere safe.
Currently my entire computer is backed up to my home server, which I bought primarily to store my CDs (about 450 ripped so far) but that is no protection against a fire. I will also transfer copies of my ripped CDs as a backup, hence a disk large enough to cover all eventualities. As Dave says, how would you feel if all your pictures were lost. I’m now in extreme disaster planning mode!
As you have seen, I’ve been experimenting with iBlogger after reports of glitches in the WordPress app for iPhone. TBH it’s a bit limited. You seem to be able to post only one picture and it’s always at the top of the post. It also takes an age to post. You can’t see comments either. There have been a number of favourable reviews, but I’ve found it a bit disappointing. Hopefully it will be developed further.
Here’s a picture of some frogs for Darren. It looks as though you can only post one picture per post on iBlogger, which is a constraint. Anyway ta ta for now. I’ll post this and see how it comes out.
After my brief attempt at political commentary I’m back to gear and tweaks! The NeoAir has been a transformational piece of gear, giving superb sleeping comfort at a very low weight. I think it has been a game changer for sleeping mats. The Exped Downmat still gives the most comfort but for a much greater weight.
The one thing I’m not so keen on is the very grippy top surface. I tend to move around a lot in the night. The NeoAir means that my sleeping bag doesn’t move with me. I tend to move within my sleeping bag, meaning that I can’t use the hood effectively.
My workaround is to have a “pillow case” for my NeoAir. I’ve taken a silk sleeping bag liner from backpackinglight.co.uk, chopped a bit off and added a velcro seal. Well, actually my mother did the chopping and the sewing! And here it is:
The white strips are the velcro.
The silk case weighs 93g and feels luxurious, much nicer than the tacky feel of the NeoAir. It will add a little bit of insulation, but more importantly, it will allow my sleeping bag to move with me in the night.
…..and stand well back. See below
Backpacking blogs should probably avoid politics but the impending election has filled me with trepidation. We can all have different opinions on social and foreign policy. However, one thing is crystal clear and incontrovertible, Gordon Brown’s economic legacy is as best disastrous and at worst catastrophic. I don’t know how this man has the gall to suggest that his record and character make him fit for re-election. As an economist, apart from keeping us out of the euro (done to thwart Tony Blair), my judgement of Brown’s track record is that it has been appalling. His record of broken promises was starkly outlined in a recent Jeff Randall article. Even accepting an element of political bias, it makes for grim reading. This is the man who wants your trust. Surely people won’t vote for this incompetent, egotistical bully? Gordon Brown’s recollection of his record and prowess reminds me of the Big Lie technique. Surely anyone has to better than Brown?
After Darren’s post on the glitches in the WordPress 2.2 app for mobile blogging and losing a reply, I’ve bought the iBlogger app so that I can be sure of blogging in the Carneddau. This is my first attempt. The picture above is from my trip to the Lakes last year. You don’t seem to be able to manipulate photos in the same way. Oh well, it’s a backup in case the WordPress app doesn’t get fixed.
Work is quite stressful at the moment. Fortunately I can focus on my first trip of the year after Easter. I’m almost certain I will go back to the Carneddau. I will take my Scarp and a few other new bits and pieces. I will also not be using Paramo for the first time in ages. There will be an experiment with a little adaptation of the NeoAir. At the moment the gear list is coming in at just over 9kg base weight.
I’m planning a stroll rather than a trek, linking camping spots rather than trying to do mileage. I’ve rather fallen in love with the wildness and emptiness of the Carneddau. It’s like a little bit of Scotland in Wales. It is also a better drive from London than the Lakes. So that’s the plan at the moment. I’ll keep you in touch as I get nearer the date.
Next time it will be the Scarp!
Yesterday was the first sunny Saturday for ages. Having made so many modifications to my Scarp, I wanted to see how they worked. I first pitched the Scarp without crossing poles. Compared with the Laser Competition and Akto, I think it is easier to pitch and to get good tension on the flysheet. There is considerable strain on the end pegging points, so using good, chunky pegs, like the ones supplied is a good idea. Other than stony ground, I don’t think pins would be secure enough.
I was very pleased with the new end guying arrangement. It is definitely worth making the guys a bit longer, even if you don’t copy the centre guy arrangement.
The next thing was to insert the crossing poles. Again, this was easy. It also illustrated the wisdom of separating the end guys from the eyelet securing the pole. It makes it much easier to adjust. In the picture below you can also see the end venting system, which works really well and is much more elegant than the original system.
With crossing poles
The Akto footprint is a surprisingly good fit. It covers one porch, while leaving the other bare. I like this arrangement as it gives extra dry storage space in one porch, but the other can be used for wet or dirty items such as boots. In the picture, you can clearly see the threshold cord. If there is one mod you should consider doing, this is it. It takes away the tension from the door hem. I can’t understand why tent manufacturers don’t do this as a matter of course. Only the Akto has this feature.
Open door with tent footprint
Naturally I needed to get inside. It feels very light and roomy. The ends are not claustrophobic like the Akto and particularly the Laser Comp.
Inside with new tent pocket
While I was moving around inside, one of the loops securing the inner to the outer snapped. This was my fault in that the silnylon tent floor was slipping against the footprint. As I was pitched on a slope, this put undue strain on the uphill loops. Whoops!
After I took down the tent, it was an easy job to sew the loop back together. There is very little “give” on these attachments so I made a small loop of shock cord to make the inner/outer attachment a bit more flexible
It was obvious that I needed to prevent the tent groundsheet from slipping on the footprint. Taking an idea from Franco, I used some seam sealant to make some gripper spots on the underside of the groundsheet. Hopefully this will prevent a reoccurrence of the problem.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the Scarp. I think the mods that I’ve made improve the tent. It’s very spacious for one. Compared with both the Akto and the Laser Comp, it’s easier to pitch and looks as though it will be more solid in high winds. I think there are also a number of changes that could be made to the design, which would improve it even more, but I’ll save that for another post.
What’s in a name?
So the Vaude Scutum has been re-named the Power Lizard. Out of what fevered brain did that come from? Weird!! Anyway the new tent looks interesting and Bob C. has given it a thumbs up from a test run. It does look like competition for the Laser Competition. However, for me, the net inner is a total deal breaker. Other than for tarps, I can’t see the point of an all net inner. It may give better ventilation, but it’s not real protection against condensation dripping on you and not much protection in windy conditions. I also doubt that it’s much less flappy in a blow. It’s unfair to compare it with the Scarp as the Scarp is heavier, but I’m glad I bought the Scarp.
New boots and panties
Staying with backpackinglight.co.uk, I like the new design of the web site. It’s easier to surf around and a better layout. Well done Bob and Rose…now what should I buy?
Hendrik is doing a great job bringing us interviews with (mainly US) cottage industry gear manufacturers. The latest is with George Andrews of AntiGravity Gear. Very interesting. Although I’ve come across AGG (I have one of their pouch cozies), some of the other manufacturers in the series I’d never heard of. I guess it’s easier being a niche manufacturer in the US as the market is bigger and property costs are much lower. I take my hat off to these guys, as it takes a lot of effort for quite modest rewards.