Archive for October, 2008

Unaccounted for ? AK's OMM

Friday, October 31st, 2008

A brief OMM report. Alan Kitchener. Long Score.

Spent Friday night at Seathwaite in Will’s!

8.20 start..very windy but not raining…yet!!

Big up from the start to our first control near Glaramara summit. Then sw to Esk Hause avoiding the very tops and getting two more controls on the way. Then ne to a control near Sprinkling tarn and on down to Styhead. Conditions now atrocious, both of us blown off our feet.. North and a rising traverse to a control near Base Brown then ne along high ground past Brandreth. Had to link arms to make any progress. Two more controls and an exciting waist deep crossing of Warnscale beck. Avoid the temptation of getting more points on Haystacks and decend the path/torrent to the campsite at Gatescarth.

Pleased with our efforts (175 points) but disappointed to find event cancelled.
Set off to walk over Honister but almost immediately managed to thumb a lift to the top of the pass. Passed some amazing sights along the road. Walked down into Borrowdale and along to the campsite through waist deep water. Another relatively luxurious night in the campervan followed by a push off the field and an uneventful drive home.

Much concern from family on return home following crazy reporting by media. I have written to the BBC to complain about their coverage.

Definitely not a day for the hills

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Approaching the startSo said Andy Mayhew's excellent Mountain Weather Forecast for last weekend, at And in most people's view, he'd have been absolutely right.

But we and over 2000 others begged to differ, and so Alan, Rob, Pete B, Carmen, and I headed for Borrowdale to take part in this year's Original Mountain Marathon (OMM). The weather earlier in the week had been poor to say the least, with heavy rain and widespread flooding in the Lakes, and apparently on Thursday it was touch and go whether the event would go ahead, but in the end the all clear was issued.  

Saturday morningCarmen and I camped overnight at the event centre, Seathwaite Farm at the head of Borrowdale. The winds were strong, but not as strong as they were due to get later, when torrential rain and 110mph gusts were predicted. Our start time was 9.01, when the winds were picking up but the rain not yet falling. Carrying slightly more than usual due to the weather, we opted for a cautious route choice; we were doing the Long Score course, which gave us 6 hours (7 in a normal year) to visit as many controls as we could. Rather than doing as usual (getting over-optimistic, and ending up with a mad dash to finish in time), we decided to get a couple of high level controls to start, and then take the lowest route possible towards the mid camp (at Gatesgarth Farm near Buttermere) leaving plenty of time spare.

Near Styhead PassSetting off towards our first control, near Sprinkling Tarn, the winds soon asserted themselves, and making progress towards Styhead Pass became increasingly slow and tiring. After this, we quickly abandoned plans to head uphill to a high scoring control above the Corridor Route, and instead headed down towards Wasdale Head. A couple of good but easy controls on the lowest slopes of Kirkfell, and we headed up the path towards Black Sail Pass.

The 'missing' controlBy now, the rain was falling heavily and the winds increasing yet further, even when the wind was behind us it was sometimes hard to make much progress due to the effort needed to stay upright! After a brief detour at the pass where I started to lead us uphill instead of down (oops), we picked up another control before descending towards the upper reaches of Ennerdale. Or rather, we would have picked up another control, but it wasn't there! There was a marker post to show where it should be, and it matched the map, so we're convinced we were in the right place. Perhaps it had been blown or washed away.

The next problem was crossing the stream in the valley bottom, which by now was a raging torrent. We watched 2 people ahead of us link arms and cross together, the water was at waist height and they struggled before finally making it across, so we took about 1 nano-second to decide on a half mile detour to cross a bridge downstream. Even this was tricky, requiring a thigh-deep crossing of a side stream to reach the bridge.

We then followed another stream up to reach the col between Haystacks and Brandreth. This was another torrent, completely uncrossable until we got to the col, which was a shame as the path was on the other side! So we had to go up scree and heather on the left, nervously eyeing the drop to the water below. Uphill again, into the teeth of the storm, walking was by now becoming virtually impossible but we managed it somehow, and at lastmanaged to find a tricky control relatively easily.

Bridge crossing From here it should have been an easy descent down the old mine track to Buttermere. But first we had another river to cross, this one looked unfordable (2 people in front turned back), so another long detour up stream until it was shallow enough to wade – only thigh deep at this point, and 50 feet wide. Even following the mine track back down was slow and difficult, it was like walking down a river for most of the way, knee deep in places, with numerous stops to cross side-streams/waterfalls joining from the right.

We thought we had it bad until we passed the main bridge in the valley bottom – the bridge was deep under water with just the hand rails poking out the top, people were having to use these to haul themselves across, exciting stuff.

All that remained was a trot down to the midcamp where we arrived with 3 minutes to spare – only to be told that the event had been cancelled and we had to walk back over Honister Pass!

Our tent on Sunday morningTo cut a very long story short, the road was closed before we got going and so we ended up having a virtually sleepless night camped at Gatesgarth Farm in a tent that did its best to collapse, but somehow just about stayed up. The next morning we joined the procession of people walking over Honister Pass back to Seathwaite.

Approaching Honister PassSo in summary – definitely not a day for the hills, but it nevertheless managed to be one of the best, and certainly most memorable, days I've ever had in the mountains. My only regret is that the event was cancelled – Sunday was relatively dry and sunny, with only light gales!

Postscript.  Apparently there was another mountain marathon in the area at the same time, but it was very different. The one we were on, everybody was self-sufficient, and ran round in pairs, carrying tents, sleeping bags, spare clothes, and food for 2 days. Almost everyone got off the hill OK on Saturday, and the few who didn't spent a safe (but probably thoroughly unpleasant!) night camping in the hills before descending the next morning. A dozen or so had to be helped off by mountain rescue, mostly with minor injuries or mild hypothermia, everyone else got themselves down safely.
Descent from HonisterIn this other event, by contrast, 1700 ill-equipped runners were unaccounted for, and hundreds were trapped on the hills overnight. They were lucky to still be alive when they were finally rescued the next day. But you've probably heard about that one already…

Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures, it's hard to take good photos when you're being blown off your feet!

An appeal has been set up to collect money for the local mountain rescue teams – the majority of us didn't need them, but it's always good to know they're there!

Back 2 (First Aid) Skool

Monday, October 27th, 2008

first aid bagThis weekend I (select one)
    a) partied till dawn
    b) went cragging
    c) ran round a dark and rain lashed quarry  trying to locate elusive "casualties" to practice  first aid on

Yup,  it was the weekend of the  Outdoor and Mountain First Aid Course! Run at Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team HQ (with proceeds helping raise funds for the team) this was an intensive weekend of classroom lectures (and rather gory slideshows) and practical sessions held outdoors – the pelting rain and wind certainly helped give the exercises an authentic feel.  Although it was very hard work – we carried working till 10 pm friday and saturday night – we also had quite a lot of fun – specially hamming it up with the accident scenarios and rubber stick-on 'injuries'. The high point was probably the night exercise, held out on the hill (howling wind, rain, pitch black, bla bla) where we were dropped into  a mystery accident scenario and told to deal with it as a group.  Each session was assessed and at the end we had to demonstrate we hadnt been sleeping through the whole thing by doing individual practical assessments. I didnt enjoy that bit – assessments terrify me – but  it did give me  confidence  to know that I had taken in enough to pass an assessment.

The reason I signed up for the course was simple.  I found myself earlier this year staring up at a buddy as he led the  E1 pitch of a multi pitch route in the lakes for me to dutifully hangdog  after, and realised that although he was a much better climber than me,  if it all went wrong and his gear ripped, it could be down to  me to look after him – and I had very little idea what to do.  We all spend time out on the hills away from the crowds – its one of the reasons we go there – and there wont always be someone more experienced on hand to take charge if it goes a bit Pete Tong.  So the next time one of these courses comes up,  I'd thoroughly recommend it -better to sweat and gibber over an assessment  than find yourself in the real situation without a clue.

Peri (waving shiny new certificate but hoping not to have to use it)


Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

The Mod start to the scrambleA return visit to the Chester MC hut just outside Llanberis, by the road on the way up to Cloggy. And once again, all plans of climbing there were dashed by rain, wind, and more rain.

Saturday dawned relatively bright, with blue sky and sunshine in between the clouds. A few of us went off to look at the Parson's Nose arete, near Crib Goch, and inevitably as we neared the end of the hour long approach walk, the last of the sun disappeared and the clag began to descend.

We considered the Diff start, and the scrambling start, and opted for the one in between, a Mod up the side of the slab. I led it, Carmen, Peri, and Peter climbed together on the rope, then Rob soloed behind to take the gear out. It felt rather precarious for the grade, but cold rock and a general air of dampness probably had something to do with it.

On the areteThe rope went away just before the hard bit (typical), which was the downclimb into the notch where the scramble comes in. The rest of the route was easier, but didn't always feel it due to wet rock and a cold wind – the rope nearly came out again a couple of times, but not quite. And the proper rain held off until a few metres from the top, which was nice.

Peri hadn't been to the summit before, so we headed upwards, soon joining the massed hoards who'd come up the tourist path next to the railway. The highlight was the group of 'lads' decked out in Bermuda shorts, plimsolls, and cans of lager, zig-zagging precariously up the path.

A quick pause at the top, with the horizintal rain continuing, and we decided to avoid the crowds by descending the top of the Snowdon Ranger path along the top of Cloggy (which was black and dripping), then cutting down to the valley and back to the hut.

On the way down we met Gordon and Maragaret on their way up, and they'd just passed Annie and other Margaret on their way down. Nobody met Simon and Debra, who'd got half way up a slippery scramble on Cloggy, thought better of it, and then walked up Snowdon with everybody else instead. It is rumoured that Donal and Mike went mountain biking, but we only have their word for this.

The happiness coach in actionMike kept us all entertained for the evening with his sparkling wit, and Mike and Rob between them kept us well fed. We then stole Annie's cake for pudding.

Mike manages to fill everyone with joySunday dawned wetter and windier than the day before, so nothing much was achieved, apart from a session at the climbing wall for a few of us, and lots of shopping for everyone else. Being a vegetarian, Mike didn't have enough strength to cycle uphill, so was last seen looking for someone to chauffeur him to the top so he could use gravity to get down again.

Red River Gorge, Kentucky Oct 2008

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Red river Gorge October 2008

Sunday 12th October

Sport climbing at the roadside

A 06.00 am start was required today, this was an American style climbing trip, Chuck, Marty & I set off on the 6 hr drive East to meet Ken who Despite living in Kentucky had a similar distance to travel as us.
We met up at the campsite, quickly set up tents & dumped gear before shooting off to nearby Roadside for today’s climbing. Just to put people in the Picture the ‘Red’ is a major sandstone climbing venue in the state of Kentucky with over 1500 sport & trad routes. Most are single pitch but many longer routes of all grades are available.

The interesting thing is that many of the venues in this area have been procured by &/or under the management of a climbing group known as the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition.

The first day we visited Roadside, great for a short day, it has a mixture of sport & Trad. Routes done, Motha 5.6, Jump for Joy 5.9+, Fadda 5.10a, 5 finger discount 5.9, Kampsight 5.9+ After climbing we adjourned to Miquels Pizza & then had a camp fire back at the site.

Monday 13th October

Walk into Eagle Point Buttress

Today’s venue was Eagle Point Buttress an area none of the team had been to, it started with a 40 min walk along a lovely river, the tress were magnificent in the autumn colours. The first route was Foxfire a 5 pitch heavily starred 5.7, this was superb & took us to the top of the crag, the descent options were long walk or rap, so we rapped a 200ft almost totally free rap, awesome.

Climbing on Firefox 5.7

After that the day went downhill a bit, Chuck & I decided to suss out the rest of the crag while Ken & Marty did Day Dreaming a 5.9+ dihedral.Our tour of the crag turned into a bushwack & we decided that the only decent climbing was near where the other two were so we went & joined them.

All of did Day Dreaming then decided to set up a top rope on a serious looking 5.10b, even getting to the top was wacky as we had to traverse out of 'DD' to get there on very loose ground.
Routes done Firefox 5.7 (5 pitchs), Day Dreaming 5.9+ & Pussy Whipped 5.10b.
Tonight’s evening meal was at a buffet place all you can eat for $10.00 and believe me Americans can eat a lot.

Mega 200ft free rappel that only just reached the ground

Tuesday 14th October

After a less than successful day of exploration we decided to go for a safe bet, an area Ken & Marty knew well. It’s called Fortress Wall, it was all trad & after a dodgy start on a so called 5***** 5.7 (2 pitchs) it got good, superb climbing & Chuck excelled today.

Climbs done Party Time (2 pitch) 5.7, Bombs Burting 5.8, Blue Runner 5.9+, Where Lizards Dare 5.10b, Snake, 5.9, Serpent, 5.10b.
We also bumped into another couple of like minded players, Rik & Scott, we all adjourned to Miguels pizza place for eats & good crack, damn good crack.

Chuck leading the very exposed Where Lizards dare-a bit of a sandbag at 5.9+

Wednesday 15th Oct

The last day and only half a days climbing, so we went to another dead cert called Lady Slipper/Global Village another mixed trad/sport venue. Superb climbing then we had to disappear by 12.00
Routes done Kentucky Pinstripe 5.10a, Vision, 5.7, Father & Son 5.7, Loosen up 5.10b.
We packed up sharpish & went for lunch in another buffet joint, even better than the first place & not for the faint hearted it’s no wonder Americans are so big, I have never seen as much food in my life.

Big thanks to Ken, Marty & Chuck for making this trip possible, hope to see you all again soon.

Windmore End

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

In an attempt to chase the nonexistent sun, me, Simon, Carmen and Peri headed to Windmore End on Sunday. Situated at an altitude of 400m with lovely views over the Eden Valley, the sun was out when we arrived and our hopes were high. The crag is quarried limestone, mainly around 8m high, but upto about 12m in a couple of places (it is somewhat reminiscent of Scugdale in terms of scale and stature). Unfortunately, on closer inspection the quality of rock is questionable in a lot of places. Undeterred, Simon and Carmen blitzed up Grassy Crack (VD *), while I faffed around on Windy Moss (S) trying to place two dodgy opposing nuts as the only gear before an extremely loose top out. Peri also thought it stiff for the grade, but that might have been because I'd removed all the holds. One interesting feature in this part of the crag is the quantity of belay stakes, I would estimate there are about 3 per route!

Having lost all faith in the quality of rock, me and Peri's climbing became extremely tentative as we tested and retested every bit of gear and every hold before pulling on it. Meanwhile, Carmen was on her way up Archtype (S *). We rounded the corner just as she was fighting her way past the "tiny Hawthorn" mentioned in the guidebook, which had now grown into sizeable tree. Not fancying a fight with a spiky tree, I led Legion (HS) and Peri led Sneakthief (HS), both reasonable routes with plenty of gear, while Simon led Epitaph (VS 4c **), which was apparently a good line.

After this, our attentions turned to Zero Route (HS 4b *), a compelling looking crack line which appeared steep and sustained for the grade. Simon made light work of it, making good use of an in situ tree/shrub. I made a mess of attempting to lead it, getting some low gear in then getting established in the crack only to scare Peri by shouting that I was going to jump off. Fortunately I managed to downclimb via a reverse one-handed mantleshelf much to my and Peri's relief.

At this point, we heard the noise you never want to hear whilst climbing: "Arrrggghhh…..THUD". With Carmen stuck halfway up Sneakthief, me and Peri headed round the corner to find a lone soloist had fallen off Grassy Crack. He'd hit his face and partially landed on his bouldering mat, badly twisting his back. It was clear he wasn't able to move and a 999 call was in order. Luckily, another couple of climbers had also turned up, one of whom was a climbing instructor who took charge of the situation. After a remarkably short wait, we could hear the sound of a helicopter approaching. The pilot did an amazing job, landing it practically on a sixpence and within a few minutes we'd all helped carry the guy over a wall and into the helicopter.

Enthusiasm for any more climbing had been somewhat knocked by this incident, but two of my bits of gear were hanging invitingly on Zero Route. Peri made a valiant lead of it, with no leg wobbling, no panicking, no swearing or shouting and no desperate lunges for holds. After I seconded it with equal style, we packed up and headed home. Overall, a reasonable crag in a lovely setting and probably worth bearing in mind if you're escaping from rain in the Lakes.

Tis the season to get lost

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Niched WallTis the season to get lost again and again and again……(well for me anyway) which is a little harsh on everyone else.  Yes, it’s o-ing time again and so Simon C, myself and Rob headed down to the Peak for a South Yorkshire Orienteers event held at Treeton.  The clouds increased the further south we got, but it stayed dry (the puddles on the roads suggested it had only recently finished pouring though).

Shallow Rib (VDiff)Rob and I opted for the blue course, while Simon as ever went for brown (the longest).  For those not aware of the orienteering scale it goes white, yellow, orange, red, light green, green, blue, brown with increasing length of courses and technical difficulty – although the latter has already reached maximum at green.  Anyway Simon had a good run and was pleased to finish well within brown standard.  Rob had been going relatively well (compared with me) with just a couple of time consuming controls and was somewhat surprised to find himself disqualified – having inadvertently missed out two of the controls altogether.

Rebaissance HVS 5bNo surprise that they were both sunning themselves at the car when I finished.  I had got myself lost far too many times and the only positive points I could muster were that I completed the course and always managed to locate myself again – it is so much easier finding the controls when you know where you are.  (And also did better than Rob – ed).  I was amazed to find that I hadn’t come last given the numerous errors.

CurbarBy the time I had finished the clouds had dispersed and left a clear blue sky so naturally we wasted a good hour or so debating where to go.  Eventually, Baslow was the chosen crag as none of us was feeling that energetic after the run.  It was well worth the bit of a drive over, as we were rewarded with glorious warm sunshine and lovely views of Curbar and surrounding fields in the autumnal light, followed by an even better sunset.  An array of easy routes were soloed mainly by Rob and Simon.  Rob led Niched Wall (S) which Simon had abandoned (ie wimped out of – ed), opting for Death to Khomeini (VS 4b)  instead.  Which were pleasant little routes.  We also threw a rope down an unprotected 5b to finish off on.  A good day out and a nice surprise end to the day given the cloudy and damp start.

More photos, by Simon and Rob

Strange glowing object spotted in sky

Monday, October 6th, 2008

"Scully: Its me – Mulder. We've got to go to Yorkshire.

Yorksheer? Isnt that in Yoorp??

It is, Scully. Theres been an unexplained weather phenomenon. The sky  turned blue on sunday and  a big round glowing object was seen by reliable witnesses!"

In one of those moments of wild optimism/enthusiasm/stupidity I decided to join Guido and various YMC folks on Sunday, meeting at stupid o'clock.  Stupid o'clock dawned and my motivation plummeted. From what I could see in the half-light, the day was grey, damp and 'orrible.  Blearily arrived at Guido's to meet Pete McDonald, Katie, Dave Something and Tuze, and  discussed weather tactics.  Despite groans from people hoping for long routes, Slipstones looked a decent bet, so off we chugged, bouldering mats armed and ready.

And for once our Cunning Plan worked. The further north we headed the more the sky brightened and we reached Slipstones in glorious sunshine, exchanging fleeces and beanies for T shirts and shades as the day went on.  A lot of the routes felt quite steep high and intimidating by comparison with Bridestones last week, and some of the landings were a mite pointy. But then again I' m not a Bold Boulderer – Guido and his buddies were happily shimmying up scarily high VS's and HVS's while I wussed around on easier stuff.  But by the end of the day I'd actually managed to get up a short HVS (Escalator Variant, HVS 5b) with a low crux and decent landing, and felt well chuffed.  Guido's list of problems/short routes done by various people as below, by and large I dont remember who did what, but guess what, guys – mine were  the easier ones!

Escalator Variant Hvs 5b
Overhanging crack VD
Petch's Groove HS 4c
20ft Crack VD
Tranmire Crack Vs 5b
Tranmire Arete VD
Undercut flake S 4b
Problem Wall Hvs 5b
Agra RH Hvs 5b
Brush up Hvs 5b
Jug Handle Pull Up VD
Wall Centre Vs 4c
Happy Daze Vs 4c
Tiptoe Hvs 5a
Slanting Flake HS
Slanting Flake LH HVS 5b
Welcome Wall VS 4b
Stereo Android VS 4c
Stereo Right Hand S
Tommy's Dilemma VD
Gypsy Wham HD
Tea Party Slab VS 5a

Question of Balance VS 5c

Right Edge (II) VS 5b

I'm still confused by the dividing line between a short solo and a highball bouldering problem, mind. Any suggestions?

A random vertical walk ..

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Rockity - their pictureOn Sat. Peri, Carmen and I made the trip to RockCity – Hull's indoor wall with a relaxed attitude to floor walkers etc, which luckily means they still have auto-belays. Ask Peri and she can give you details of every auto-belay route as she estimates she did 'em all – about 25! Meanwhile Carmen & I played guess the grade. The notion of a grade as a guideline is very much the case at RockCity but means you do have to use your own judgement – which I reckon is good. Post coffee and gear gawping we all swapped leads – about 5 hours' climbing in all which makes the £7.50 entrance seem good value.

A good place for a change or for training on the auto-belays, it's never busy and there are loads of top ropes. Take a warm coat (or 2) and your YAC card – as we have a club membership (saves you 10 quid p.a.)

Website – it's about 35 miles from York, takes about 40 mins.

A Traverse of the Knoydart Peninsular

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Descending from the 'Looney Bin' on SaturdayThis was the trip I advertised on your site last week a bit last minute I know anyhow this is what we ended up doing.

Descending from the 'Looney Bin' on Saturday


A complex day with 10 people arriving from all over the UK meeting in a remote bunkhouse in Barrisdale, basically in the middle of nowhere. The group I was with consisted of 7 people & we met up at Achintee where a pre arranged taxi took us into the remote Kinlochhourne, the start of the walk in. The walk in was supposed to take about 4 hours & of course we had gear for 4 days minus the food that had been freighted in a few days prior to our arrival. The route alongside a superb sea loch took us 2.5 hrs which was good because if it had taken the full 4 hrs (guide book time) we would have finished in the dark.  On arrival 3 of the team were already in situ with fires lit, the generator fired up & a very welcome brew on. Not knowing what to expect when we made the booking we found the White House very comfortable indeed & ideal for our purpose & can be very well recommended as the best place to stay in Barrisdale.

View of the western isles Eigg, Muck etc.

Today’s objective was climbing 2 remote Munros & the walk started up the main footpath back to civilisation up to a col at 1500 metres, a route we were going to get to know well over the next few days. As we climbed it started to rain heavily & 2 of our members dropped out & returned to the hut, at this time I did not think any of us would be completing the 2 hills. When we got to the col we met some people who had approached from the other side, they had a recent weather forecast that said it was going to clear later so this encouraged us & we continued. The first munro Luinne Bheinn (Looney Bin) 3083 ft in real money was still in cloud when we got there, by the time we reached the second summit Meall Bhuide 3107 ft was clear, the down side of this walk was that we had to walk back over the first summit to get back. The good thing was that as we descended looney bin the second time we were treated to superb views over the western isles, We could clearly see Eigg, Muck, Rum & Skye. A superb long day taking us 9.5 hrs & taking in almost 6000 ft of ascent.

Descent from Lardhar Bheinne on Sunday

Today we were going to have a look at the highest peak on the Peninsular, Ladhar Bheine at 3343 ft. Once again we approached it via the steep climb up to the col & once again it rained on us. Once at the col the rain eased off & we set of across pathless country to climb to a second col & ridge called Aonach Sgoilte.  After that we peeled of right to the main ridge that took us up to the main summit. The descent was via a superb ridge giving amazing views of the sea lochs below, unfortunately we could not see the Western Isles today & this is supposed to be one of the best viewpoints. Ladhar Beinn is rightly regarded as one of the finest hills in Scotland & provided us with a memorable days walking. Slightly shorter than Saturday it took us about 7.5 hours with approx 4500 ft of ascent.

Knoydart funghi shot

Our final day & the one everyone was dreading, the group was splitting up & we had to catch a ferry at 11.00 hrs & we had a 6 hr walk to get there, Do the maths, yes we planned to start walking at 05.00. Once again we had to take the big climb up to the col but today it was different, it still rained but we had big packs & of course it was dark.

While 2 of the team walked back to Kinlochhourne, it took 8 of us just over an hour to get to the col, a superb effort, from then on it was all downhill to Inverie on the other side of the peninsular. Here is something that resembles civilisation; well it’s got a café & a pub as well as a short stretch of tarmac.

The Western Isles Ferry we used to escape on

This is a fantastic trip with superb scenery, it is also very tactical & I found it very interesting planning it & felt lot of satisfaction when the plans worked.

On an obscure note the group developed a lot of new skills including using an old Lister diesel generator & an understanding of basic household plumbing, not forgetting a certain person honing their negotiating (Chat up) techniques on the Estate managers wife.