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Slightly less successful climbing session: I took a fall relatively early on a warm-up boulder and caught my thumb, ripping the nail in the process. I mopped up the blood, washed everything out, and switched to route climbing for the rest of the afternoon. Rather to my surprise, I made pretty good progress: obviously my open-hand strength has improved to the point where I don't need to pinch the hell out of the holds on easier routes.

Later in the evening, I headed walked down to the river to meet the others for the Sunday quiz at the Puerto lounge. We had a full-strength team, with P&J providing some extra intellectual firepower, which definitely helped when a tricky round on farm animals came up. Once again we were without Yorkshire Nick, but the alternate quizmaster was on much better form than last time and zipped through the rounds as fairly quickly, avoiding the problem of adding up the scores at the end by asking the teams to tot things up as they went along.

We scored highly as we went along — the team whose answers we were marking, another of the regulars, changed the name on their sheet to "The Wooden Spoons' Holiday Fund" once they began to suspect we might win. Sure enough, we finished ten points ahead of the second placed team and went home clothed in glory. Or, in my case, clothed in a windproof jacket, hood up against the rather less than lovely weather...
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With D&P back from their honeymoon, we met up first thing for Sunday morning dog walking — now starting to become something of a sacred ritual. The newlyweds had had an excellent time away and seemed happy to be back — Dasher was ecstatically pleased to see them! — and it was nice to have some quiet time to catch up and hear all about it.

We walked the usual route along the canal and, instead of following the path through Riverside Valley Park as we have done the previous weeks, we went through what is now known as the sheep field, after a day in August when the others ended up part of a small, stray flock. Rather than loop back, we cut through the corner — Dasher made the decision for everyone — up on to the western side of the canal and walked down to the Double Locks.

As we passed the lock pool, which looked just as green and weedy as it did the weekend of the wedding, A said, "I wonder which of the beasts is going to be stupid enough to mistake it for grass..." This was followed, thirty seconds later, by a big splash as Tiny Flo fell in. Fortunately, she discovered that she was able to swim and made for the shore, where I held on to A while she leaned down to the water, grabbed the tiny hound by her harness, and dragged her out, covered in green slime. Then, once over the bridge, Martha, who clearly didn't want to be left out, dived in too, coming out looking very fetching with pond weed over her face!
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Enjoyable afternoon spent mixing bouldering with route climbing. I managed to send a 6C with a trick crux that I'd looked at on Thursday but hadn't actually done, and I also managed to nail a 6A+ whose first few moves were surprisingly powerful for the grade. I also put in a bunch of time on the routes, trying to improve my stamina, and then wound down with some finger training and core work.

As I was winding down, Gavin dropped in on his off day to do a bit of bouldering and then Richard appeared, briefly at first because he wanted to drop off his kit before checking out his daughter's boyfriend's new car, before returning for a hardcore session. I then hung around for a chat while they crushed pretty much everything — with the exception of a very hard 7B+ double dyno problem — the bouldering room had to offer.

It was interesting seeing the contrast between their very different styles: Gav is my height, very controlled, very strong, with superb technique; Richard is quite a bit taller with amazing reach and vast reserves of power. So the beta that worked for one of them didn't necessarily work for another, but they both managed to work up their own solutions to each problem.
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An unofficial parkrun this morning, due to problems accessing the kit storage cupboard in the climbing centre. With a full set of marshals on the course and only one minor tweak to the route — no key to the gate to Duckes Meadow — the run took place pretty much as normal, the only difference being the lack of an official time.

Arriving a little later than normal — I was a bit disorganised this morning — I met up with A and, to my surprise, J — who'd been down to run last week, but who'd had, at the last minute, to take Tiny Flo the vets. J was slightly disappointed that she wasn't going to get an official time — she said that she thought it might be her first and last run, so she wanted it to count! — but I suggested that it was actually a pretty good start, allowing her to do run and get used to the crowd without the pressure of having to perform.

Lacking any particular reason to hurry, I pottered around the course at a very easy pace. Around the first kilometre mark, John Caswell, a stalwart of the local running scene tapped my elbow and suggested we both go for a personal worst! We then sauntered round the course, chattering away — neither of us was so out of breath that we couldn't hold a normal conversation. Towards the very end, we started close the gap with the pair of runners in front; then, as we hit 500 metres to go, John slid between them and moved on up the course. I put on a very resigned tone of voice and said to the couple in front, "Oh no! Now he's done that, I suppose I'm going have to do it too..." They both chuckled and I slipped by to finish in 22 minutes flat.

I left my watch running once I'd reached the usual finishing line and timed the others in. A finished in around 25:10 or so — easily another PB — and J finished around the 29:20 mark — solidly respectable for a first go and almost exactly in line with her expectations.

Although I'm not sure I'd want to do it every week — I need the tyranny of the stopwatch to prevent me from slacking — I thoroughly enjoyed today's run. I think it's real credit to the marshals and the run director that they went ahead, despite the problems, and it's nice that all the runs went ahead and ran anyway, despite the lack of times; I suppose it just goes to underline the spirit of parkrun as a community rather than just a timed run.
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Fun evening of climbing with A, who, even after two sessions, is starting to show signs of being good. We did the usual round of easy slabs, with me attempting to pass on a few bits of coaching advice as imparted to me by Jedi Master Gav — he always says, when climbing a slab, that it's all on your feet and you should pretend that you've got little T-Rex arms keep that principle in mind!

We then switched to auto-belays, at least partly to give A a break — when you're climbing with someone who can't belay, it's important to set a careful pace so that they don't get completely pumped after just a handful of routes because they're doing all the work and they probably don't have the huge stamina reserves of a regular route climber. But, with the centre not being all that busy, we were able to pick routes on lines next to one another, so we were able go up in tandem and I was able to talk her through the beta on some of the harder stuff.

After an hour and more of intermittent routes and watching other people climb — Gav and Hayley were storming some of the new lead routes — we switched to bouldering and I finally managed to send something I'd failed to do during our last session. The problem was graded 6a, so I'd normally expect to be able to flash it, but instead it took three or four attempts and it was only because I was fresh enough to really crank on the crux move that I was able to nail it.

A sent a couple of things she hadn't managed to do during our last session and, on an easy boulder with a long last move, she came off because she was front-on and even she couldn't lank her way through the move. I then hopped on and, from one the lower foot holds, casually dropped a knee — I'd mentioned the idea of tucking a shoulder to improve reach a couple of times but A, being long of limb, couldn't really see the point — and easily staticked the finish jug, at which point, I think she became convinced of the benefits of body position!

We finished off with stretches and warm-downs in the training room. A did her comedy physio exercises — "When I do them at home, the dogs look at me like I'm crazy..." — and I hopped on the bar and did some leg raises to try and improve my core fitness, although I now seem to have reached the point where it's the dead hang and my back muscles that bear the brunt of the effort!
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Via the Guardian, the news that Adam Ondra has sent his 9c project at Flatanger. Pavel Blazek's accompanying photos are particularly intriguing: the crux that involves hanging upside from a knee-bar; and, in the picture at the top of the piece with Ondra cranking hard on a pocket, a massive blood stain on the rock...
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Waking up and not hearing the tell-tale sounds of rain from outside, I thought we might have managed to beat the forecast. But when I looked out of and saw the teeming water, I realised my mistake: I'd pulled my bedroom window all the way closed the day before because someone was working outside with their radio on fortissimo and I wanted to shut out the noise.

Slightly disappointed, I pulled on my waterproof and headed out to meet up with the others for the usual Sunday dog walking. We'd planned to meet at nine, but delayed things by a few minutes to allow C to drop J off at the station in time for the London train. Leaving Tiny Flo at home to recover from her upset tummy — she had to content herself with twanging a spring-loaded doorstop! — we headed out with the rest of the canine contingent in search of muddy puddles and fields, which, thanks to the rain were enough for them and they weren't tempted to go swimming in the canal.

After a couple of hours, we ended up where we'd started and split up to go our separate ways: the newlyweds to go to the Double Locks to pick up the things they'd put in storage after their reception on Saturday; C to do some shopping; A to visit a friend; and me to go home, have a shower, and to put all my damp clothes in the laundry basket.

I spent the rest of the day pottering around inside and doing a post of post-production work on some recent photos. I thought about going climbing, but admitted to myself that I couldn't face the idea of going out again — it wasn't so much the rain as the thought of having to put my soggy shoes back on for the walk home from the climbing centre that really discouraged me.

By evening, the rain had stopped and walked down to the Puerto for the quiz. Much to my delight, I discovered that (a) Yorkshire Nick was back as quizmaster; (b) Dasher had come along to make up the numbers; and (c), even more unexpectedly, J was there too — it transpired that her trip to London had gone wrong after her rail replacement bus got caught up in a road accident — providing us with a vast, additional pool of knowledge.

Sadly, we only managed second place this week — some of the rounds were quite tricky — but that's fine: the others well deserved their win and, if nothing else, we were the only ones with a adorable springer on their team...
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What was supposed to be an easy climbing session turned into something a bit more serious when I bumped into Richard. He not only persuaded me to abandon routes in favour of bouldering, but also picked all the boulders so I climbed much harder than normal. Very much to my surprise — I don't feel like I've been on particularly good bouldering form of late — I managed to send almost everything I tried; proof positive that most of my problems are psychological rather than physical or technical...
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As per the plan, a group from yesterday's wedding party met up at 08:50 ready for the usual Saturday Riverside parkrun. Sadly, I quickly discovered that neither Jo nor Ceri had made it — not entirely unexpected, given that Jo had been working through a laundry list of excuses the night before. Alice soon filled us in on the details: Tiny Flo, had been taken ill while staying with the grandparents, so J&C had gone over at dawn to take her to the vets and weren't going to be back in time.

We arrived in time for the briefing and after the usual safety announcements, John Caswell, this week's run director, called Phil and Donna forward while we cheered their newly married status. No-one has admitted to tipping them off — both A and I thought about it, but neither of us actually did it — but it was a nice touch, especially with Donna being one of the weekly stalwarts of Riverside.

Talking amongst ourselves beforehand, we agreed that there were no constraints and we were free to set whatever pace we liked. I'd half-planned to do it with the others — P&D were tied together at the wrist! — but when the time came, I got the bit between my teeth and pulled away from the others, finishing in 20:10 and respectable 15th place out of 343. Alan and Cate also split off and finished midway up the field, with the others just sneaking in ahead of the 30 minute pacer.

Afterwards, we met bridesmaids Lucy and Holly (who was pregnant to run) at the finish and agreed to meet up at around 10:00 for breakfast/brunch at the Welcome Cafe. I dropped in on P&D for tea, and, embarrassingly, to ask for a loan, having thought, as per the original schedule, I'd have time to rush home for money & return in time for brunch at 11. This also gave Dasher the opportunity to clamber all over me and give me a good whiff of stinky canal dog, whilst also trying to slurp my ears off the sides of my head. Lovely!

With a few things sorted, we headed back to the cafe and, after some fussing with tables, got ourselves settled. Those who'd been there on Monday ordered almost exactly the same things again — they really were that good — with the new arrivals taking our lead. Partway through, Jo and Ceri arrived to complete the party, bearing the news that Flora was OK but under orders to rest and recoup for a few days.
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With the evening at an end, I agreed to walk home with L and A. While they went to the loo, I noticed S sitting at one of the picnic tables and went over to check he was OK — for various reasons, he'd had a particular hard day of it. Meanwhile, unknown to me, the girls emerged and shouted over at me, which, as per a classic farce, caught Stuart's attention because he was trying to find Tessa. In the end, they both agreed that they weren't the person the other was looking for and with L feeling tired and a bit stressed, A suggested they just start walking in the right direction.

I meanwhile, was joined by Phil and, a moment later, by Donna as we tried to sort out the stuff that needed to go back to house. As we were getting ready to follow the others, we discovered that Bill and John and Trish were having taxi problems and love nor money couldn't get them a cab before 01:30.

With S expecting to meet his parents for a lift back to Tiverton, we quickly arranged for them change course for the Double Locks, where they could drive those who couldn't walk back into town — on the way to where they were originally going to meet up with S — and then resume the original plan. It all worked flawlessly, with the added bonus that we were able to stash the cake boxes in the car and walk back unhindered. Well, I say unhindered: D was still wearing an extremely elegant dress that basically prevented her from breathing.

After a 20 minute walk, we made it back to the riverside where S got his lift home; I went in to drop off the newlyweds' GoPro, said goodnight to the spaniels and walked another 20 minutes home. It being after midnight, my steps counted against Saturday's total and I found I'd managed 4,000 by the time I got home around 1 a.m. Something tells me I'm going to struggle to get up at dawn for parkrun.
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At around half-past four, without everyone — including two spaniels — loaded aboard the boat, it was time to take the ferry down to the Double Locks for the evening's event. I'd originally planned to rollerblade, but A, who was supposed to be helping me knock the rust off my technique, suffered a wheel failure whilst practicing and we decided — to my intense relief — that there was insufficient time to train for it. Fortunately, the boat right was so lovely that I wasn't at all bothered at not winning the crazy transport challenge.

Monica keeps a close eye on Dasher, who has yet to settle down after pulling poor Stuart hallway along the quay. Meanwhile, in the background, Tessa looks after Blitz — who wasn't at all keen on the whole boat thing...

Sailing down the river, with Lucy, ever glamorous in her shades, in the bow seat.

The bride, in a pair of Audrey Hepburn sunglasses which perfectly complemented her dress, carefully disembarking...

With everyone safely ashore, the spaniels pulling their way through the pub and leading everyone in the direction of the marquee and where there were jars of sweets for every guest and a big tiered carousel of cupcakes. We mingled around for a while, with people taking the opportunity to enjoy the tea and little cakes available on each table — poor Ceri, who is coeliac, had to ask someone else to eat the last, tempting little piece of millionaire's shortbread to prevent him from eating it! — while the newlyweds and the dogs went off for photos by the canal. An event that took rather longer than expected, prompting the best man and the usher to suggest that people sit down ready for the speeches after bride and groom's return.

(On Saturday, those of us at post-run brunch finally discovered the whys and wherefores of the delay. The original plan had been for the guests to mingle and chat while the photographer was working, and moving to sit down when the couple returned; but I think by that point everyone, especially those in absurd-but-fashionable footwear, was only too happy to sit down and take the weight off their feet.

Meanwhile, out of sight by the canal, everyone got ready for the photoshoot. Unfortunately the spaniels, who both adore water, plunged themselves into the canal — Blitz, misjudging the green pondweed, going in face first. While P hauled them out, covered in weed, D shouted at photographer to keep going in case anyone fell in! Once the dogs had done their stuff, they were sent home in the care of their friend Floppy's owner, while the photographer finished up and the couple returned to the party as if nothing had happened!)

The speeches were excellent and memorable and brief. The father of the bride engaged in a very funny, knockabout routine with his identical twin as he warmed up and got over his nerves, before ending with a very heart-felt comment. P was gracious and thoughtful and got a huge cheer when he mentioned his new wife, while D said that although she'd written a speech, she'd had a glass of prosecco before the ceremony and completely forgotten to bring her notes with her! Olly, the best man, was noticeably nervous and broke the ice by mentioning it upfront, before talking about the groom's failings — the worst he could manage was to throw some doubt on P's taste in movies! — and finishing, in excellent time, with a couple of good jokes.

We then had a nice period of chatting and mingling — it was warm enough to sit outside, so I adjourned to a picnic table with Lucy, Alice, Peter, Janine, Monica and Jaco and caught up with everyone while waited for the hog roast — barbecued halloumi for the non-meat-eating contigent — with plenty of very good chips and lots of lovely salad, and crackling for the carnivores. With the food ready, we returned indoors, where Lucy joined the table, and wolfed down our suppers. The girls gave me a fair amount of crap for going back for seconds of salad — Ceri backed me up, saying that he tended to snack after having a veggie supper — before losing their moral authority by going back for more themselves!

Once everyone was fed and watered the band — The California Calling — got set up ready to go. As per wedding tradition, the bride and groom had the first dance.

There was a minor false start when the initial piece of music cued up turned out to be the right song, but the wrong version: Donna had wanted a poppier, shorter version. She duly retrieved her phone, the band connected it, she resumed her position, and then they realised she needed to re-enter her pin so they could play the music! But eventually, the married couple got down to strutting their stuff on the dance floor:

(Phil said afterwards that they'd asked Alan & Cate and Peter & Janine — all very good dancers — to come and join them on the floor, but when they gave them their cues, they all grinned back and let them carry on with their wedding dance!)

With that, the band kicked back into their first set — Andy was impressed by how together they were — and punched out a whole load of classics. So classic, in fact, that even I knew them — although it took me an embarrassingly long time to recognise Livin' on a Prayer and an embarrassingly short time to remember the words!

A memorable evening was made even more so with the addition of lots of soap bubble tubes — Monica was impressively adept at blowing bubbles — which proved a big hit with one of the bride's nieces. The same niece was also impressed by the length of my hair — I felt this strange tugging & a little voice told me to stand up, before telling me, very seriously, that the longest bit came down to the very bottom of my back. She also proved to be very taken with Alice: at one point, Lucy ordered me to rescue her, but, given my total lack of dance moves, A, quite understandably, stuck with her new friend with the bubble-popping moves!
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Busy but extremely enjoyable morning, meeting up with P and some of his group for breakfast at the Jolly Roger. I skipped the full English in favour of tea but the others had big plates of everything — including fruit! — with huge quantities of coffee and toast. Despite a minor mishap — C's gluten-free toast got confused with the regular sort — everyone had a good time and I picked up the GoPro to lug around in my camera bag.

One we were done, P and a couple of the others went to the Double Locks to finish setting up, while the rest us went our separate ways. I walked home, sorting a few chores on the way, changed into my only decent shirt and sole pair of smart-ish trousers, and put on my only real shoes. Scrubbed up, I walked back to the Waterfront, arriving slightly early. As I was wandering round, waiting for the others, I saw a group of guys looking very snappy in white linen suits and with a woman dressed in a bright red dress and jacket crossing the bridge; they really stood out from the usual crowd of tourists.

After three-quarters of an hour at the Waterfront — enough time to allow the groom to have a nerve-settling G&T — we started to make our way up to Larkbeare House ahead of the actual ceremony. We arrived juste as the previous couple were finishing up on the lawn, leading us to realise that decorated Land Rover Defenders where clearly the transport method of choice, for they were about to depart in decorated silver number; P&D, on the other hand, had arranged to be transported by finely matched pair:

As we approached I was rather surprised to see the bride's father standing around outside, having expected him to be busy indoors, preparing for the ceremony. Luckily, as we walked up, I remembered that D's dad had an identical twin and remembered to introduced myself. Fortunately, they were dressed differently so it was possible to tell them apart — although someone mentioned later on that they'd seen them, after telling someone they were twins, one of them had changed jackets and come back to tell the same person that they were actually triplets!

The ceremony was lovely and the Registrar was particularly good, putting everyone at their ease but without undermining the importance of what was going on. A gave the first reading, excellent despite her nerves beforehand...

...then, after a little bit more ceremony, J stood up and gave the second reading...

We then had the vows and the exchanging of rings — all present and correct and the right sizes for the left fingers — the happy couple were officially pronounced man and wife. After the formalities of signing the register — and reenacting the signing in a legally compliant fashion for the photographer — it was time to progress out into the grounds...

Once outside, where, thankfully, yesterday's terrible downpours were but at distant memory, we stood around mingling and catching up while the bride and groom went off for photos in the grounds of the house...

Bridesmaids Lucy and Holly, with one-and-a-half flower girls, two identical brothers, and Cate and Alan in the mid-ground, and Monica and Peter just visible at back.

Lucy, Alice, and Jo looking very chic, despite the lack of compatibility between their footwear and the lawn...

Johnny, cutting a very dashing, while the others share a moment.

Holly and Liam had come down for the day from Plymouth. It was good to see them again, especially with Holly anticipating her first training day at her new school on Monday.


And with that, it was time to slowly walk our way down to the riverside and the Puerto Lounge where pitchers of lemonade and Pimm's where waiting along with plates of tapas and plenty of bread. I caught up with M&J, who I hadn't seen for a few months, and went spent a pleasant hour or two snacking and chatting before it was time to cross the river to the piazza where the ferry was waiting to take us to the Double Locks for the evening event.
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Getting home from this morning's walk, I picked up my stuff and went for down to the climbing centre for a spot of easy training. After doing some easy warm-ups, I spent the rest of the session doing clip training. My goal was to focus on positioning, to try and get a feel for which holds were better or worse, and which locations were easier or harder. After a series of circuits on the same route, things really came together, with the clips becoming just another part of the sequence.

Working the circuits without resting up between routes helped me get a much better feel for my endurance, giving me the confidence to keep trying moves even when I was starting to feel seriously pumped. I also found that because a couple of the others routes crossed close to the one I was doing and I didn't want to get in the way of people who were actually trying to send new stuff, I spent a lot more time hanging around and shaking out than normal. And I that too helped with my confidence: I found that if I picked a good rest, I could hang around for a fairly long time, shake out, get a lot back, and then motor up the last part of the route.

All in all, a good afternoon session. It would've been perfect but, somewhere between my place and there, I managed to sunburn my shoulders...
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With a free day — the first of many for some and just the August bank holiday for others — we met up by the river and went for the usual Sunday dog walk. The weather was fantastic — I caught the sun on my way home — and everyone enjoyed themselves, with the dogs charging in to the canal after a mix of tennis balls and sticks.

On the toepath, Tiny Flora found a hefty chunk of wood which she couldn't quite carry unassisted. Luckily Dasher was on hand to help; which meant that, after a couple of minutes, she ended up in full possession of a new toy with which to wreak havoc. Having a hyperactive spaniel charge at past you at full speed carrying a hunk of timber the size of adult's arm isn't exactly condusive to a relaxing morning and everyone was rather glad when she misplaced it somewhere towards the end of the path.

We did a tour of the field, with the non-parents among us remembering the times we'd managed to get lost as children.

Mine happened when I was quite young — somewhere between 18 months or two years old — and managed to wander off and out of a shop whilst in town with my mum. Fortunately, some passing stranger, suspecting the quite such a tiny child shouldn't be walking around on his own, asked me where my mum was and I was able to describe the shop where we'd been in enough detail that they were able to take me back there, at which point I was reunited with my understandably concerned parent. Whenver my mum mentions the story, she always says, "It's a good thing you were such a verbal child. Otherwise we'd never have got you back..."

On the gentle circuit back, we stopped by the river to allow the dogs to practice their fetching. Tiny Flora ventured into the water, but wasn't enthusiastic about going in any further than her armpits. Dasher, on the other hand, was so excited, she forgot her manners got positively whiny.

At one point, someone managed to drop a good bit of wood off the top of the little escarpment down to the beach. Unwilling to let such a quality bit of timber go, K said to A, "Go on, A! Fetch it!" And despite an initial reaction that involved obsene hand gestures — something well beyond the hounds, with their lack of opposable digits and their boundless love for playing with thrown objects — A gamely clambered down to the fetch it.

On the way home, we stopped at The Welcome Cafe for brunch, courtesy of part of last night's quiz winnings. The food was excellent — generous helpings and very tasty — with something for everyone from vegetarians to coeliacs to everyone else.

Before the food arrived the core members of the team posed for a photo, which I took, in lieu of a better camera, with my glorious Nokia C5. (For a five year-old not-very-good camera, I'm constantly surprised by how well it performs, but maybe that's just because my expectations are low) I'm not in the photo because, (a) I'm notoriously camera shy and; (b) I've missed a couple of the sessions.
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To the Puerto for the quiz with the regular team plus P, brought in for the first time to help with the brainy stuff. There was a substantial turnout — 14 teams — and, with usual quizmaster Yorkshire Nick busy behind the bar, a locum compere running things. Consequently, things did not go particularly smoothly — the process of shouting out scores didn't wasn't really particularly efficient — and there was a long, nerve-wracking delay during the totting up process.

After indications of an error in the accumulation process — I think one of the teams may have come out with the maximum number of available points — Yorkshire stepped in and re-did the maths and the sorting. As they were doing this, some of the teams who'd had their scores called early & knew they weren't in the running, left.

A few of the regulars hung around and it eventually came down to a tiebreak between us and one of the other teams. Luckily P had our back and got the answer almost precisely spot on — it was a case of the team getting closest to a particular value — giving us the win and the prize fund. For it turns out that, if you compete in a quiz on a bank holiday with 14 teams at a busy pub, the amount of money you can win is none too shabby...
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Intriguing competition from Arco, with slightly odd results and some of the favourites losing out but leaving no doubt that the winners were the best people on the day on their particular routes.

The women's semi-final routes featured a hard crux which led to a lot of people falling at the same point, but there was enough separation to generate a final list. It was particularly good to see Molly Thompson-Smith making finals — the first British woman to do it since 2004! — and to see Ashima Shiraichi in action — it's hard to believe, given her list of achievements and her reputation, that's still only 16 years old.

The men's semis route also featured a hard crux, but more people made it through giving a clearer separation. After his performance in Munich, it was fun to watch Alex Magos absolutely storm the semis; and if his finals campaign didn't go to plan, then it just goes to show how bad luck can catch out even the very best.

The finals routes were extremely tough, with the women's featuring a hard cut-loose that troubled a lot of people. Kim Jain was the only person to hold it with an awesome show of core power, only to get timed out slightly further on — a real shame, given that she looked like she was still fresh and had only a handful of moves to go. The men's featured an odd dyno low at move twelve which bothered a lot of people: Jacob Schubert took a while sizing it, but got back into his groove; Megos really struggled; while Ondra, who had the reach, did the move statically.
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Hot and humid this morning with a big bank holiday field, but still managed an OK time and decent enough place. Rather to my amusement, this week's top 30 finishers showed a strange cluster of names: six people called either Sam or Samuel.

With D busy with wedding errands — a couple of other regulars were running in veils and bride-to-be sashes — it was just me and A this week — with A picking up another PB. Next week we're hoping for a bigger group: the plan is for P&D's wedding party to turn up for parkrun; I know some people have been practicing their distance running, ready for the day-after-the-big-day.
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Successful evening of climbing with A, who had done a taster session a while ago but hasn't actually climbed for real. We're pretty close enough to the same circumference, so we managed to save a few quid by putting her in my BD Momentum while I wore my lightweight Petzl harness. Sadly no such luch with shoes — what can I say, I've got small feet!

The evening was good fun, especially trying to do the basics of teaching skills that have now become completely automatic. It's doubly hard to try to teach the knot tying because I'm so used to doing it on automatic pilot, facing the rope, where, teaching, I suddenly had to do it facing the other person — when teaching me to tie a four-in-hand tie knot, my dad was only able to do so standing behind me! I also tried to go through the basics of belaying — just keeping tension on the rope, not actually climbing — how to lock off and how to lower off.

On the climbing front, A did a handful of easy routes on top-rope on the slab — the hardest was a 4 which featured a little bit of an overhang. We then gave some of the auto-belays a go, which was harder because the routes were longer, and they were either vert walls or slight overhangs with bigger overhangs higher up. That said, she still managed to get up a 5 on her second or third try, which isn't too shabby.

We finished up with a little bit of easy bouldering — although some of Gavin's problems seemed hard for their grades — and went home tired, happy, and very much still alive and surprisingly intact...
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Todays series of proms marking the 500th anniversary of the start of the reformation concluded with John Butt and the Dunedin Consort performing Johann Sebastian Bach's St John Passion in its original liturgical context.

This isn't a new concept for the Dunedins: they released an excellent studio recording in 2013 which featured the same sequence of the pieces; a godsend when I was trying to puzzle out the identity of the organ piece preceeding the passion — it was Buxtehude's Prelude in F-sharp BuxWV146. In fact, the only really significant differences between the recorded version and tonight's performance, other than the expanded choral forces, was the decision to sing the congregational hymns in English — expecting an unprepared proms audience to sing in German was probably considered a little bit of a stretch — and Stephen Farr's addition of a muscular organ accompaniment to the final verse of Now thank we all our God to round the night off on a rousing note.

The performers were consistently excellent, with Nicholas Mulroy strikingly good as the evangelist and Matthew Brook, who I've raved about before, on fine, angry form as Jesus. The St John Passion, shorter and more intense than the contemplative St Matthew, makes a fine piece for the proms and the notion of getting the audience involved — John Butt apparently spent half an hour coaching them before the start of the performance — worked particularly well.

Another standout concert from the 2017 season.


Aug. 20th, 2017 10:40 pm
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After going our separate ways for afternoon, we regrouped at the pub for our usual Sunday quiz. With A busy on a work call-out, we temporarily renamed our team, only reverting to our usual moniker when she rejoined us. The questions were a bit trick — we didn't do particularly well on the sport round — but we pulled it back at the very end, acing the final double-points round and getting all but one of the pictures correct, finishing a point or two clear of our nearest rivals!


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