All entries for August 2006

August 25, 2006

pub paddle

Ready for the pub paddle_22.8.06
Great 4 mile paddle from Leamington to the Saxon Mill and back on Tuesday.

And no–one capsized (not even me)!

Memorable moments: the views of Guy's Cliffe from the river at sunset link ; the Saxon Mill's lights reflected in the water; the family of swans at the weir eyeing us with a mix of contempt ("how dare you be here in our water") and majestic indifference (we know we're superior– just look at your pathetic paddling as we glide graciously past…)

view of Guy



Lickey Hills Bimble

Richard – "God, it's a barren, featureless desert out there, isn't it. "
Barry – "The other side you fool"

Is Rich being camera shy or is he trying to hide the fact we stopped for ice creams on our bimble to the Lickey Hills on Sunday?!
No photos please

Tania, on the other hand, has no such scruples.

The panoramic views of… Longbridge 1

Follow the leader…



August 17, 2006

The Longstone Pinnacle

Tried outdoor climbing for the first time last Sunday at Symonds Yat.


Apart from the first couple of metres, I found the Longstone Pinnacle really quite easy. There were plenty of little ledges and handholds.


The weather wasn't great– bit drizzly and chilly (especially with the standing round waiting for others) but all in all it was a good day. Really good to get out and try a "proper" rock… Would be great to be good enough to try the lead roping…


17 coiling the rope

Lovely area round there. Saw a peregrine falcon (they're breeding there too). Would love to go back for canoeing/walking/more climbing!

14 view from symonds yat

And it's good to know the pedantic safety guy has been there first!
dangerous cliffs!

(for more photos see the gallery on the left)

August 08, 2006

Being paid to stare at water

Rummaging through the boxes in the spare room, I found an article I wrote for the local paper back in 1996.


Law graduate Alison Bell found lifeguarding a more lucrative vacation job than most and spent every holiday throughout university working at different pools. She still works occasionally at Bitterne Leisure Centre where she has gained a reputation as 'Mrs Hitler'. She shares the humorous and hazardous aspects of being paid to stare at water

"Can you swim?" is one of the most frequent questions children ask lifeguards.
"No, but the ambulance gets here very quickly!" is a tempting reply.

Their curiosity is well founded since we whistle–blowing maniacs are a strange breed, perched on our high–chairs and apparently intent on quelling any fun with the assiduity of Yorkshire Water Board.

Any notion of glamour conjured up by Baywatch's curvy Pamela Anderson is dispelled by the average British lifeguard's legs. A whiter shade of white can't be found.

"Life–saving" sounds a noble profession, but despite rigorous training and gaining more medallions that Mark Spitz, occasions to plunge in heroically remain few and far between.

As for throwing out trouble–makers, we're in the line of fire if behaviour gets out of hand.

In extreme cases police are called, but often it's sufficient to bring in the "gorillas" (powerlifting champions running the fitness suite).

These hulks are extremely effective at persuading abusive youths it would be best to leave NOW.

Benefits include free swimming and, in leisure centres, endless hours of free fun with "vogue–funk" or whatever the latest fitness fad is.

This leads to an intriguing thought: Could a lifeguard's extensive exposure to near–naked bodies (or even naked ones should the pool run naturist session) change his or her body–consciousness?

Could it counter the media's exclusive use of slim and youthful models?

I believe for most people a costume is a blessing and there was probably a Speedo fig–leaf in the pool of Paradise.

Unfortunately, some people who feel shy sporting only a tiny stretch of lycra have a bizarre predilection for wearing T–shirts and cycling shorts over the top, which as well as hindering swimming, act like a sign screaming I'M FAT!

Removing watches or glasses can easily slip one's mind, but occasions when punters forget to divest themselves of other items cause much amusement.

A dignified lady in a two–tone costume once caught my attention.

She had put on her turquoise suit at home, but forgotten to take of her lovely, lacy, lilac drawers while changing.

If a potential employer requires examples of tact, I shall recount how I managed to keep a straight fact and suggest she'd perhaps forgotten something.

Reactions of the public to emergencies are unpredictable.

Once a little boy tumbled out of the flume, only to discover his mum wasn't waiting to catch him. Hauled to the side, his shock gave way to tears, but Mum's reaction was far from comforting: "I paid eighty bloody quid for swimming lessons and you still can't swim!"

If anyone dares suggest watching a pool is boring, try lifeguarding during the school holidays. Pools are used as a baby–sitting service, with kids left for the day, until they are as shrivelled as seventy–year–olds and the only game left is "Bait the lifeguard".

When called "Mrs Hitler" after merely enforcing the rules, I was overwhelmed by the temptation to goose–step down the poolside, screaming in my best German, "Vee hav vays ov making you schwimm!!"

Communication skills and foreign languages are such valuable assets!

A final note of warning: Although the Baywatch crowd never mention personal hygiene, the topic brings groans of recognition in our staffroom: feet and trainers are always soaking, resulting in chronic foot odour.

So if you have a penchant for foot massages or find toe–sucking sexy, lifeguarding could seriously damage your love–life!

August 07, 2006


Good choice Cath! I'm flattered by your decision to name your beautiful baby daughter after my hamster… and I'm sure Charlie (short for Charlotte) will be very proud too!

Charlotte Rose (aka Charlie)
Charlotte Rose_2
Charlotte Rose 3
Charlie_1look out!


V proud of my first pair of climbing boots… but will I actually be able to climb any better??new climbing boots

A bimble in the Clent Hills

Yesterday was the first bimble of the Outdoors Group, undertaken by Rich, Tania and myself. Before you ask, a bimble is a leisurely walk over undemanding terrain. Ours was about 4 miles with numerous stops (a drinks break, an ice–cream stop and a number of sit–downs/ photo opportunities). Not the most demanding of itineraries, but all in all a very sociable and pleasant afternoon.

I'm sure Rich and Tania (as experienced Comms people) will come up with much better captions for the photos… but as a first attempt:

Are you ready?

are you ready?

Look what I can do! (with a little help from my friends)
Look what I can do (with a little help from my friends)

The role of the Press Officer is to support colleagues…

the supportive role of the press officer

Tania's ready for speed dating at the Communications Day

Tania: "aahh look at the poor wee lamb…"
Tania: ahh poor little lamb...

No idea what they are, but aren't they pretty?
pretty flowers

Interesting tree (look carefully at the roots)
Interesting tree (look carefully at the roots)

I said to look carefully at the roots…
Alison and the tree again

We made it!

We made it with style!
made it!

Look what I can do!

So can I!


August 2006

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  • I loving looking at a house that show you do stuff .. get stuck in buy more outdoors toys ..lots bet… by Heathcliff on this entry
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  • That's a good idea – and although her short term memory is not very good these days, her memory of t… by Alison Bell on this entry
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