Archive for December 2011

Rescued from the scrapheap   18 comments

“Tis the season to be jolly. Tra-la-la-la-la – la la la la”

Just like to wish all you dudes in the blogosphere a totally awesome Christmas and bodacious New Year (been watching too much TV already)

I have my own jolly news to celebrate as well. I have found myself a new job starting in January to save me from becoming just another statistic of the global recession. I’ll be moving from phone maker to phone service provider as I start work for Orange (or Everything Everywhere to give them their “re-branded” name!).

To celebrate this rather special event here’s a couple of things to make you smile. The first one is a very old Internet gag from a few years back. I suspect most of you have already seen it many times but it still makes me smile:

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world.

However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau).

At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000 of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second–3,000 times the speed of sound.

For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself.

On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the “flying” reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or even nine of them-Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance-this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft reentering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in . 001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,500 g’s. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

Therefore, if Santa did exist, he’s dead now.

And finally what I consider to be THE funniest cartoon of all time – if this doesn’t make you chuckle then there is no hope for you:

Have a good one folks!

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Posted December 23, 2011 by surfnslide in Other

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Not been out much   10 comments

Since my last couple of days out to Froggatt and Long Churn I’ve been laid up with a bad cold. Combined with some household domestic activities like having new upstairs carpets put in and moving furniture around, that’s meant I haven’t been able to get out. In turn that means for the first time since I started my blog I don’t have anything to blog about!

Me and the family are off for a long weekend on Friday to Ninebanks youth hostel near Alston, meeting up with our usual crew of old University friends and kids. I should be able to get a couple of decent walks in on the wild moors up there. The weather is looking pretty wild up there as well, so I’m looking forward to some wintry conditions and plenty of snow.

I always like to brighten up my posts with some photos, so in the absence of anything else here’s a few of my day out to the City of Manchester Stadium to watch my club thrash Norwich 5-1

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GM jumps for joy at thought of a day of beer, football and curry

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Approaching the stadium

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Sunset over the first half action

Posted December 15, 2011 by surfnslide in Other

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Long Churn Cave – Underground Winter Madness   26 comments

As I suspect you may have gathered by now, I have a couple of screws loose or as others have remarked, I’m not wired in the head properly. This leads me to undertake activities that involve getting very wet and very cold. Hopefully you’ve come across some of my kayak surfing and gill scrambling exploits so now here’s another – caving – in winter!

I’ve dabbled in the speleological arts in the past including some of the dangling from bits of rope type but that takes a lot of things I don’t have. Like ability, skill, strength, commitment and the like. These days me and GM are more than happy with couple of hours scrambling about in easy walk-in, walk-out caves with no need to scare the crap out of ourselves abseiling into deep pot-holes.

Luckily the Yorkshire Dales has plenty of these easy caves so we met up for a pre-caving planning session in Bernie’s cafe in Ingleton over a lunch of Lasagne and chips. Despite the fact that we’d found numerous options we plumped for the local classic, Long Churn cave above Selside on the lower eastern slopes of Ingleborough. We’ve been down there many times and it has loads of interesting features as well as being easy and straightforward. This time however we had the advantage of waterproof cameras to capture all the various thrills and spills. Taking photos underground in a cave is not as easy as it looks. It’s, well, dark and, well, wet. Kind of hard to find a setting that works well and keep the water off the lens. Mind you, considering the limitations of severely testing conditions and little or no ability with a camera I don’t think we’ve done too badly.

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Pen-y-Ghent from Alum Pot

It was a miserable day, cold and wet and neither of us were particularly enthused by the idea of stripping off to put wet suits on in the pishing rain. Needs must though and after a very hurried apparel change we were heading off into the hills.

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Me in full garb

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GM ready for action

The views improved a little on the way up as we passed the entrance to Alum Pot, a massive hole around 100m deep. The Long Churn system runs just below the surface with several entrances before it eventually joins up with Alum Pot where novices reach their limit. We wandered about in the rain for a few minutes before we found the top entrance and the underground journey began.

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GM in the entrance point

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Me above Dr Bannisters Hand-Basin

The first section is the hardest as you descend a 4m waterfall called Doctor Bannisters Hand-Basin. It looks quite intimidating with the water dropping down a chute at angle into a deep pool. Not as hard as it sounds. Whilst out in the open air, Limestone is one of the planets slipperiest surfaces, underground without any sun to grow the green slime that lives on the surface, it gives really good grip. It looks and feels a little intimidating, especially with the noise of the water but you just straddle the stream and inch your way down before climbing down into the pool.

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Me descending Dr Bannisters Hand-Basin

It’s a great introduction to the cave and from there it’s a classic underground water passage, more than head high, snaking around with loads of small waterfalls and side passages from long abandoned courses with little mini-calcite features and crystals.

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Calcite features

Caving isn’t for everyone but for me it’s fascinating that there is a whole underground world just below the surface. Combined with some entertaining scrambling and crawling around and a chance to play in the water it’s a great day out. At this time of year it’s a bit cold on the hands and feet but providing you have a wetsuit on it’s actually not that cold as all the crawling and scrambling about is hard work enough to keep you warm. Mind you I have to admit that the getting changed at the start and finish is pretty unpleasant on a cold wet December day in Yorkshire.

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More calcite features

The main passage splits and we headed away from the water down a drier side passage. There are several spots of crawling and little falls, narrow squeezes and the like to keep the entertainment up as you head deeper into the system.

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GM descends one of the small cascades

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The Long Churn Ghost

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Calcite columns

You eventually pass one of the caves most famous and endearing sections. The Cheese Press. You get to crawl through a bedding plane just about high enough to squeeze your body through into a parallel tunnel. I’ve done it a couple of times before and remember feeling the rock on my back and stomach as I squeezed through. Both me and GM gave a look and decided we didn’t need to prove ourselves and more importantly didn’t want to get stuck now that middle age has had its inevitable impact.

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Me slithering about on the waterfalls

We squirmed and squeezed our way down to the point where mere mortals have to stop at the Dollytubs pot where the cave plunges into some serious potholes where you in fact come out in Alum Pot where we peered down earlier. GM has been all the way to the bottom on a previous outing but this was far enough for today.

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Looking into Dollytubs pot

We clambered back up, followed an alternative passage to rejoin the main flow.

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GM in one of the more restricted passages

We took a short detour to look at the top of Diccan Pot, another serious and deep pothole. The water was much deeper and fast-flowing here as well as cold.

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GM en-route to Diccan Pot

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Me en-route to Diccan Pot

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The ghost is coming to get me

GM was giving me palpitations by standing far too close to the edge. We were both pretty cold by now as some of the pools were waist deep.

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GM climbing one of the smaller falls

To make the most of the day we followed the stream passage all the way back to Doctor Bannisters Hand-Basin so we could climb back up, again much easier than it looks.

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GM climbing Dr Bannisters Hand-Basin

We were back out in the open air again and it was cold and raining. Enough fun and stupidity for one day so it was a quick dash down the hillside to the car, and off to Uncle Festers for the weekend to take in some football.

We’re planning a return visit to the area in the summer when it’s warmer to explore some of the areas other easy caves. If you are ever keen to try this you can hire some basic gear and lamps at Inglesport in Ingleton and get some advice on where to go for an easy introduction. Go on, give it a try, you know you want to. 🙂

Froggatt & Baslow Edges – long lost friends   8 comments

One of the great parts of being an outdoors, walking type of person is exploring every part of your “local” hills. Getting to know the best routes, places and hills, returning to them regularly, becoming intimately familiar with all their subtleties and nuances. As life and work takes you to new homes so you have new “local” hills to explore and the process starts again. This has the added benefit that when you return to your old stomping grounds it’s like renewing old acquaintances and discovering their charms all over again. The reason for this slightly rambling first paragraph. My local hills are currently the Black Mountains but my previous stomping ground was the Peak District having lived in Hilton (near the Toyota factory) for a few years. I was heading north for a rather mixed activity weekend and thought a short walk in the Peak was in order. Inspired by Terry’s video and it’s nearness to the M1, I chose the Froggatt and Baslow edges for my walk.

Froggatt & Baslow Edges - 8 miles, 1000 feet of ascent

I set off from home rather later than I wanted so I didn’t reach the car park at Curbar Gap until 1pm. The weather was pleasant without being glorious and I set off to find a quiet spot for lunch. As I walked onto the edge the memories came flooding back. I’ve walked Froggatt Edge many times and its a classic. easy walking right along the edge of gritstone crags (hint – don’t follow the main path it runs  several metres back from the edge) with stunning views across to the White Peak, down to Chatsworth House and along to the gritstone edges above Hathersage.

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Froggatt & Baslow Edges

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Froggatt & Baslow Edges

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Froggatt Edge

There are few better places for easy striding out with expansive views than these gritstone edges and I realised I’d been away too long. No navigation issues, no bog, no tussocks just long miles of pleasant soft valleys and darker moorland behind. Long lost friends

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Froggatt & Baslow Edges

There was a keen wind blowing so I had to dip down amongst the eroded rocks to find a sheltered lunch spot. ED over at Beating the Bounds had been promoting the benefits of carrying a stove for a fresh brew on day walks so I’d armed myself with a new lightweight kettle to go with mini gas burner cartridge.

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My little stove set-up

What a top idea, sitting with Froggatt to myself (it was a Thursday afternoon) sipping a fresh cuppa I felt pretty smug I can tell you. Life can be pretty chuffing good sometimes.

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Me in reflective mood

Still, had to get moving, it was an 8 mile walk I had planned and darkness arrives quickly this time of year.

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Looking south

The route is taken from the excellent set of guides to the Peak by Mark Richards, the proverbial bibles of White and Dark Peak walking. There was some lovely autumn light as I carried on down the edge and apart from a few folks out walking their dogs the place was empty.

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Eroded rocks on Froggatt

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Autumn turning to winter

The route works it way back by diving down to Grindleford and following a succession of paths across the fields in the Derwent valley before reaching the village of Froggatt itself. From there it follows the river all the way to Baslow. This stretch is a little more developed with a succession of large houses fronting the river. One in particular had a huge rolling lawn a good 400 yards long complete with its own figure 8 pond and iron bridge. Some serious money in these parts.

To get back to Baslow Edge the route takes you up the very steep road towards Curbar Gap. I’m sure there must be a better way to reach Baslow Edge but Curbar village is pretty and in the fading light I didn’t really have time to look for an alternative. As you exit the village Froggat Edge looms above you and it looked ethereal in the fading light with the moon coming up.

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Froggatt Edge from Curbar Village

I figured I had enough time to get up onto Baslow Edge as well so I strode out across the moor to its southern end. As I reached the top the sun was setting and the lights of the villages and towns in the Derwent valley were coming on like xmas lights.

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Sunset and lights in the Derwent Valley

Time for another brew. The wind had dropped so I was able to sit on the edge with my feet dangling, watching the fairy lights below as it got dark.

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Early evening brew

Amazing how quickly it gets dark at this time of year. There was more than enough light for me to set up my stove when I started but I needed my head torch to find all the bits 15 minutes later when I packed up. I walked the final mile back to the car in pitch darkness but the terrain on the edges is easy so no real problem.

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Stoney Middleton - I think!

Quality half-day catching up with an old friend or two. With hindsight I should have taken Terry’s advice and stayed high with a return back over White Edge to take in the wild moors and big sky – it was a bit dark down by the river. Still be there next time though. Off to spend the evening with another couple of old friends, EWO and TYG in Harrogate before more adventures under Yorkshire the next day.

Posted December 9, 2011 by surfnslide in Peak District, Walking

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