Artists Impression

Artists Impression

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Putting The Finger Up

So on Saturday last seven hardy souls from The Everest Test took part in one of the less fun parts of the trip to date…the Umpiring course.

I perhaps did not prepare for this in the way most would, ie by going out for several beers in central London the night before and fitting in five hours of booze-fuelled sleep, which we all know if not real sleep at all.

The alarm went off at 6:30am, and I was indeed alarmed. I shortly received a text of rage from sister Helen who had already hit her first stumbling block when she discovered there were no trains to Wimbledon and had to get a bus. The plan was to meet Charlie BN at Fulham Broadway and then drive to Caterham for a 9:15 start where we would also meet Mark Waters, Hillsy and Hillsy’s dad.

I first realised that everyone’s preparation was along similar lines to my own when Charlie said he would pick us up from the station once he had collected Kirt, who he as currently waiting for. Worrying this, since Kirt was not on the course and had swapped his place with Paola. Equally disconcerting was that at this stage Charlie must have been thinking that myself, Kirt, Helen and Paola would have all fitted into his car. Having spent much of the weekend inside this vehicle, I can assure all readers that we would not have done.

Anyway, the journey began and Charlie said we needed to pick up Paola from Battersea. As our journey began I began to become suspicious, and my fears were proved correct as the journey continued and we in fact drove literally passed my house at 8:30, and not far from Helen’s 10 minutes later. After much chastising, Charlie agreed he would collect us from more suitable locations the following day.

At this stage I must take my hat off to BN, he in fact got us to our destination despite three differing sets of directions, and got us there early. I am always hugely grateful when I get lifts as I am one of the few people in this country with no drivers license, something Charlie was decidedly upset about later in the weekend!

So, we arrived and our journey was topped by that of the Ginger Rocky who, predicting a journey from hell, had arrived at 8am and sat in the car park for more than an hour. This lightened my mood no end, as did finally seeing Hill Junior and Senior, the latter of which I hadn’t seen since Reading days and the former may as well have been as long since he is now the invisible man.

After much hugging high-fiving in a way that all real men do, we went into our separate classrooms and began what was to be the biggest snooze-fest since Kinsey last told a story. Fortunately, we were in the speedier of the groups, thanks to not having slightly less super geeks than the other one – although we did have someone asking what would happen if a bowler was to choose to bowl from directly behind the Umpire, thus throwing the ball over his head. What a tool.

Anyway, I think the less I talk about the days events the better, we went and saw England play Wales in a pub before dashing off to Putney for more alcohol. So much for giving up that stuff. The excuse this time was a combination of an Everest singles Valentines evening and Toovey’s birthday.

Dave Kirtley kindly pointed out that if ever there was a weekend to hold an umpiring course then the Valentines weekend would be it – I would have liked to stand up for my soon-to-be colleagues of the umpiring world, but the fact that our particular course had a record number of people on it did little to back up any argument I might have come up with.

A rather civilised evening was had where I think we only offended some of the couples dotted around the bar and off we headed at last orders.

Sunday was a far easier journey in and the course passed without too many hitches, we all passed the mock exam at the end with at least a 90% score and can now eagerly look forward to Tuesday 24th when we have the real thing. Of course, if I were to fail the actual exam my entire purpose of this trip becomes slightly irrelevant, which is actual a bit of a worry. Still, best not to think about that eh?

Tonight I have to go to Wandsworth to take part in something I never thought I would do. No, not a tap dance class or an hour long lecture on the skills of knitting, but close. I am speed dating. I can’t believe I am actually making this public to the world. In my defence, I am helping out a mate – Kiwi has (I hope) put much effort to this event and is in need of some blokes after several ladies signed up very quickly. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that, but let’s see how the evening pans out shall we?

For those of you hanging out for a Stick Cricket update I can inform you that I have moved away from the World Domination part of the game and am now just taking part in the 10-over slog-fest. This was prompted by a discovery that Hills had a high score of 195/3 from 10 over’s which I knew to be higher than my own (189/7). After about an hour I managed to finally surpass his total and post 203/5, and sent a suitably gloating text message which I am sure brought Hills to his knees in despair. Judging by the enormous gash in his hand, Stick Cricket has caused him rage in the past….

Monday, 9 February 2009

Walking the Walk

Where to start eh? The Everest Expedition continues to go from strength to strength, as does my Stick Cricket ability having last night seen off both Zimbabwe and Ireland, and I have recently discovered I have an audience in Japan – marvellous!

I suppose I should start with the expedition. The last three weekends have involved people going up, down and across the country in search of hills to climb and heavy objects to move.

January 24th was the Weekend at Kinsey’s farm in Hereford(above left)) which I sadly missed due to having to work on the Sunday. Honestly, my work really does get in the way sometimes! Everything I’ve heard and read suggests this was a thoroughly entertaining weekend, although perhaps not one where I would have excelled – so I can take some solace in that!

Having missed out on that I decided to get some walking time in so Jules and I hopped on a train to Guildford and wandered around for about 16 miles(right). It was a decent outing and served as good preparation for what was going to take place the following two weekends. Most pleasingly my boots caused me no problems and came through some rather stern tests in the shapes of melted ice puddles and suspect piles of mud that could quite easily have been some animals dinner the night before.

On January 30th I jumped in the car with Woodsy and Blade and headed down to Dartmoor for a Team Hillary weekend organised by Jamo. This weekend was actually organised a ridiculously long time ago and it was good to meet the previously invisible man that is Russell De Beer, who it turns out is quite a good lad and exceptionally good at carrying heavy objects up tall hills!

Saturday was an early start and again we covered somewhere between 16-18 miles, but this time it took considerably longer and there were several proper hills, not the little bumps that get called hills in London. I was pretty knackered by the end of it and felt fully justified as I, along with all 13 others, supped pints of Badger in the local boozer while Jamo fell asleep mid-story. This is the man who once fell asleep while on a date…in a restaurant. Brilliant.

The next day Sir Sleepsalot had organised four contests – Earth, Wind, Fire and Water which were, well, pretty odd. Earth involved carrying fertiliser to the top of a Tor in teams of five (I had Russell, Glen, Woodsy and Charlie) and back again, an event we dominated thanks to the afore-mentioned carrying skills of the South African sounding Englishman.

Wind was another jog up a tour to fly a kite, with one member in a Gorilla suit – we had a proper shocker here going across some private land and getting screamed at by some angry people. We also failed to get a bonus point for this as the photographical evidence required did not have all of us in the picture…due to yours truly lagging somewhat.

Fire involved cooking two fried eggs at the top of another Tor. Yep, stove, chair, tables and apron were all packed and while Russell again picked up all the heavy stuff I got off pretty lightly with just two eggs – and even managed to keep them safe. Well done me. I think we came second in this one.

Water was the real killer and due to our team being a man up after Kiwi was sitting the day out I decided to take the magnanimous step and sit out of carrying two massive buckets or water up another absurdly steep hill. Due to my brave sacrifice my team came in first by some distance, thus grabbing a share of the spoils as all three teams finished level on points. Well done us and thanks for the weekend Jamo, one that’ll live long in the memory for a special brand of chat and plenty of rambling and walking. I won’t lower the tone by discussing the amount of methane that lesser beings may not have survived.

And so to the weekend just gone. Severe weather warnings and falling shards of ice may have put off less hardy souls, but even the closure of the Severn Bridge could not stop 12 hardy Everesters heading to Cardiff and on to the Brecon Beacons for a weekend of snow, waterfalls, curry and a cricket pavilion…with no electricity.
Saturday once again had an early start and after sharing a floor with two Kirtley’s and a Butler I think all four of us were ready to get out of there! A rather twisty drive later and we’d found Kinsey, just the 90 minutes after we were supposed to, and after planting a few snowballs on each other we began our walk up Fanny Big(I don’t know if we actually were on Fanny Big, which is I am sure spelt more like Pen-Y-Bigg, but it caused many an immature chuckle so I've thrown it in). As the pictures show we were often waist-deep in snow and while one part of the walk was absurdly steep, it was also great fun and we all made it up and down without too many problems and again the boots held out and stayed dry over the ten miles or so. Definitely one of my best UK experiences.

Saturday night arrived and after an unconvincing win in the rugby and a shocking defeat in the cricket my misery kicked in, especially when Chelsea drew with Hull and I decided the best course of action was to sink God only knows how many pints of Brains, bottles of Magners and Tiger and Cobra, eat a curry and then make Kirt do some Jaeger Bombs with me. I must add that I’d been told that the walk on Sunday was going to be a: “nice scenic walk around some waterfalls” and was not expecting the six hour hike that actually took place!

I did feel like I’d dodged a bit of a hangover and only cringed slightly at showing off my Lightsaber feature on my I-Phone while everyone was in bed (I should point out that I don’t even like Star Wars). So off we went - again picking up Kinsey more than an hour late -with Dave and BJ manning the maps and a very pleasant walk began. We started to become a bit unstuck when faced with a river to cross. After 45 minutes of getting nowhere we decided the best option was just to run through it.

Two and a half hours and very wet feet later we got back to the start, and nobody died – which is perhaps our biggest achievement, although being the perceptive man I am I could sense that Mr Butler was beginning to lose his sense of humour. This suspicion was aroused by his response to being asked why he wasn’t wearing his hat being: “Because the fury building up inside me is about to explode through my head, so I don’t need one.”

So all in all the expedition is going very well, although I could use some more sponsorship – the link is above know you want to. Throw in the launch that we had two weeks ago and a few other bits and pieces that are brewing and we’re looking rosy.

So to my addiction. Despite being barely able to see straight last night as I was so tired from Wales I still decided I could get a quick game in. When I nearly beat Zimbabwe with my first effort I decided to persevere and it was all worthwhile. Dave K registered his first hundred and Blade got another a few games later, although neither were in the winning causes. Instead it was skipper Glen with a fine 98 to vanquish the Africans while BJ, recalled to the side, struck a marvellous 50 from number 10 to beat the Irish after splendid 70s from Charlie BN and yours truly. Bangladesh are next – real Test oppo, I reckon I’ll dispatch them in no time.

So I also had an interesting text exchange this morning with my mate In Japan Right. He tells me The Everest Test has quite a following over there, which is marvellous news. I was particularly impressed with Robert Swan and Anthony Willoughby. The former being a bit of a legend and the first man to have walked to the North and South poles, while the latter is a founding member of The Cock Up Club, although I’m sure he has done several more newsworthy things as well!

So thanks Darrell for spreading the word, please continue to do so, and if you’re reading this from some far flung place do let me know!
Until next time, good evening.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Still Hooked

A little while ago I did a piece on being addicted to things, and here I am still struggling with the same issues.

Now, it's not like I'm addicted to crack or anything, but it would be nice to be addicted to something that is good for me rather than computer games or TV shows. I never became addicted to running or exercising, as many people told me I would when training for the marathon, and my latest fad is a slightly random by product of The Everest Test.

Yep, Stick Cricket ladies and gents. It is ruining my evenings and I can only say that it is a huge benefit to my professional life that it doesn't run very well on my system at work.

So I have set up Team Hillary and begun my quest for World Domination. After many efforts I finally chased down the 200-odd set by Bermuda, and once getting that first win under my belt I swiftly saw off the challenges of Holland, Canda, Scotland and Kenya, big wins all. Zimbabwe are currently posing a tougher opposition, but I am confident with hard work and single-mindedness I can beat them and move on to the big boys. Don't worry, I'll let you know how I get on.

Of course I have created all the members of Hillary and an interesting battle has been who would score the first hundred. This happened last night and I can imagine that everyone reading this blog will be disappointed. I came close myself, smashing 89* batting at six, then Kiwi hit 94 and Glen 91, but it was a man coming in at number 10 in a completely lost cause who struck a quite brilliant 111. I can tell you that Blade has now been promoted up the order.

So, other than that life is still pretty busy. Tonight I need to read everyone's blogs and decide on Blog of the Month, something I seem to have gotten myself into and really need to get on with - but it doesn't half take ages. Still, I need to find a good reason not to give it to Tooves, just to amuse myself. There's been a lot of good entries this month too.

I am also looking ahead to going down to the Brecon Beacons this weekend, as a follow up from Dartmoor. The latter trip was Hillary only and provided the kind of banter you can imagine when 14 lads get together and it was absolutely brilliant. I imagine with a slightly different selection of people we may tone down the chat slightly, but not by much.

Loads of stuff has happened since I last wrote here, the launch being the biggest thing as well as Kimbo's weekend, which I missed. Safe to say all things Everest continue to snowball and I also just finished reading "Into Thin Air". I strongly suggest you either buy the book or click on the link and read the short version - it's amazing and forced me to go and buy four more Everest-related books immediately afterwards.

The story itself is gripping and I can tell you now that when I lay my eyes on that mountain for the first time I will respect it even more now that I know and appreciate the true power it can wield.

The Everest Test