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Posts Tagged ‘June’

The busy summer continues …

img_0329For the first few weeks since returning from Spain at the very end of June, life was a bit hectic. The first event of no small note was the birth of Betony (and Josh)’s baby – Chester Jax. He was born on July 3rd (and weighed just 5lbs – such a tiny thing). Chester is my step-Grandson (??), although I guess I will be Grandad to him or abuelo, if Josh speaks Spanish to/with him.

During July and early August, I had several nice long (and hot) walks. Tony and I went up above Rotcher as far as The Rose and Crown and then along Bradshaw Lane and Laund Road before descending back into Slaithwaite via Moor Side Lane and Meal Hill.  John R, Mark S and I followed much the same route but extended it along Crimea Lane, Slaithwaite Gate and the Golcar Lily Ginnel Trail as far as the canal – then back to Slaithwaite.

David T and I walked along the cycle track to Bradley and back along the canal – a route John R and I often follow on Tuesdays when we meet.  This is part of the Calder Valley Greenway, which meanders through pleasant countryside all the way through to Dewsbury, although we rarely walk beyond Mirfield (where a tasty lunch can be had at Café Nosh).

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Alone, I’ve walked to Huddersfield several times and to Marsden several more. I even walked to Marsden and back on the canal with Carol one day; it’s a nicer experience when there’s someone to talk with.

Now though, the weather has turned a little cooler and I’m not as inclined to bother (although I really should).  So, I’m looking forward to my return to Spain in September, where and when my ambulatory activities can recommence.

We’ve also had a variety of people come and visit us to see our new home and/or to wish Sharon a happy birthday.  It’s been lovely to see Chris and Paul, Karen, Karen and Darren, Carol, David and Gail, Emma, Ann, and Tony and Gill.

I’m writing this en-route to London, where I will undertake some training with City and Guilds. Down there, I will meet Alison (with whom I have visited India several times), Karen, and Sue.  This time it will be a new work venture – something to occupy my semi-retired time?

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I recently spent an exciting, adventurous and exhilarating day, canyoning with Ultimate Rock Adventures.

James, the proprietor, has been a friend for many years and this is his second year of business.  The activities and services he offers are steadily gaining the kudos they deserve and despite my fears (e.g. I’ve never abseiled before – but I trusted James implicitly), I secured this opportunity to join a group going down the river one Saturday in June.12D6108E-4ECC-4700-BE55-CBDC3B7E1589

Based in Gibraltar, the adventure activities can take place pretty much anywhere, but mainly in Spain. The group I joined, completed the beginner’s route at Rio Guadalmina, close to Benahavis.

We met at the Gibraltar-Spain border and set off towards Benahavis at 08:00am. We stopped for breakfast on the way and began to mingle.  The group consisted of Keith and Lorraine, with their two children, aged nine and twelve; James’ nephew Daniel with his friend Denzil, myself and James. So, three generations really, with myself as abuelo. Lol.

We parked close to what would be the end of our journey downriver, on a site that holds the Sunday Market there (no parking on Sundays!).  Here, we were kitted out and given our first instructions.  We were provided with complete wet-suits, harness’ and helmets. We were shown how to attach the carabiner required for abseiling and what the emergency procedures were, should there be an accident.

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We began then by walking up the road a short way and crossing the river via a wooden footbridge.  This took us across country for a short way, before we clambered up and into an ancient aqueduct. This would now lead us directly to the start of our canyoning experience.

James chooses to use this particular route because it is shaded and the water is particularly cooling – which is of great benefit when kitted out in full wet-suits and helmet, in the blazing summer sun of southern Spain.  Along the way he told us something of the history of the aqueduct (now used mainly for watering the golf courses down closer to Marbella) and about some of the flora we were encountering. [Link to video]

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We eventually came to a fairly tall rock on our left and climbed out of the aqueduct and up on to the rock.  This is where it got really scary for me.  By the time I had got to the top, James was already over the top of it, fastening safety ropes etc. to the rock itself.  

This would be our first abseil.  Seeing him there, on a slight ledge just over the pointed top of the rock and looking over the precipitous drop into the river (the drop was much, much deeper than the height we’d climbed from the aqueduct) made me feel ill.  I was terrified.  There really was no way I would be able to accomplish this!

However, I didn’t fancy trying to climb back down to the aqueduct and didn’t want to wimp out at this first obstacle. Only Daniel had done anything like this before, so he went first to demonstrate what James was telling us.  He made it look so easy!  Therefore, I let nearly everyone else go before me, so that I could watch their various techniques and listen to James more closely (and repeatedly).  I came to realise that the tools being used, as well as the science behind them (levers, pulleys etc.) were to be trusted and that my only real fear was climbing up and then slightly down, to where James waited with the safety ropes and equipment. Link to video

I’d already enough spent time looking down and thinking ‘oh heck’ (or words to that effect), so I didn’t do that, I simply lowered myself to the (tiny!) platform of rock and looked inland as James fastened me up and gave me my instructions.  I’d seen that an angle of around 45o would be the correct stance and then James told confirmed that by saying:

– “it’s pretty much the same angle you would be in if sat on a public toilet, where there wasn’t a lock on the door…” –

So, I was ‘off’ with a laugh and felt really quite confident now.  Feeding the rope from one hand to another seemed to come naturally, as the rope took all of my weight and the way it had been fastened by James allowed it to become a brake too.

With a few small mis-steps and splash at the end I was down! Link to video (same as the one above)

If they read this, I must thank everyone in the team again, for the confidence they gave me by being so brave themselves. Thank you all.

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We then did a variety of jumps, high and low, as we meandered down the river.  Even the high jumps did not look bad from water level, but sometimes, once you were up on the ledge, they looked enormous.  I only wimped out on one, mainly because the way up looked difficult (via a pull rope) but also because everyone looked terrified when they got up onto the ledge.

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We had one final abseil close to the end, much smaller than the previous and, again after Daniel, I was first to go.  Abseiling? Sorted!

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I think that it has been a good job that I’ve been able to top up my fitness by completing a number of walks [see other blog] and scoots over the two weeks prior to the canyoning, because I was completely drained that night and I ached all over the day after.  I developed cramp in the hamstrings of both legs towards then end of our trip and overnight they made me wince. However, I wouldn’t have missed the day for anything.

Thank you everyone for your help.

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Picture Credit

Aqueduct: By Tanja Freibott [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Readers may have noticed that quite a few pictures of jigsaws have been appearing in my Flickr Stream, which appears below the Archives link – to the right of this post. These have all been completed by me, over a period of years.

I started doing the jigsaws sometime in 2012. Our friends Karen and Dave had invited us to stay with them at a cottage in Derbyshire and Karen had brought one along with her.

I was hooked.

It helped that I’d heard from friends that jigsaws were good for memory retention and brain exercise and as I was getting quite a way into my 60’s, I started scouring the charity shops for examples to complete. Sharon bought me the first puzzle, https://flic.kr/p/dQ8VK1 which almost put me off for ever. It was well-worn to begin with, but I persevered and managed to complete without too much frustration.

 

Studies [..] have shown that keeping the mind active with jigsaw puzzles and other mind-flexing activities can actually lead to a longer life expectancy, a better quality of life, and reduce our chances of developing certain types of mental illness, including memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s Disease (by an amazing third)(3).

KING

That first jigsaw was one created and published by King, a Dutch manufacturer. I’ve completed many others by this manufacturer since and all have been tricky – even new ones. This is because the card used by King is quite flimsy and many of the pieces fit many of the other pieces – even though they shouldn’t. The boxes are also quite cheaply constructed and I generally have to cellotape the corners to stop pieces from falling out.

RAVENSBURGER

Ravensburger, a German company, have consistently produced well-made jigsaws on good card and which click together in a quite satisfying way. The most recent one to be completed was a scene from a 1960’s village green. https://flic.kr/p/UDQqbb. All of the puzzles have been challenging and all quite colourful.

GIBSONS

Gibsons is a British family run company based in Surry. I’ve experienced a range of quality from Gibsons, but the more recent examples have approached that of Ravensburger.

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I have my own Flicker Album of jigsaws and am also a member of the Flickr Jigsaw Group, which displays a vast array of jigsaw puzzles from around the world.

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Now that I am semi-retired and have more time on my hands, I find myself completing more and more jigsaws. When we visit Spain, I tend to have less time as we are out and about more, but we have a room there where the jigsaw can be left out and sat at for a few minutes at a time. Here in the UK where it is always overcast and dark, I wait for sunnier days or, in winter, make sure I’m sat under the brightest lights (which then bring a problem of too much reflection – but ….).

My board is from https://www.theworks.co.uk/ and folds away whenever I need the space.

Resources

  1. http://figur8.net/dream/2014/03/14/what-are-the-brain-benefits-of-jigsaw-puzzles/
  2. http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-Puzzles-Help-the-Mind-/10000000177633935/g.html
  3. http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/The_Healing_Power_of_Jigsaw_Puzzles.html
  4. https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/what-are-the-benefits-of-dementia-jigsaw-puzzles/
  5. https://www.ravensburger.com/uk/start/index.html
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibsons_Games
  7. https://www.ravensburger.com/uk/start/index.html
  8. https://gibsonsgames.co.uk/

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