The return of the blog..

With British Summer Time (and what a summer it has been) starting to fade, it’s time for me to start my LBS Sloan MSc preparation in earnest..

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I must confess that my blog update hiatus has been rather longer than I expected. But as a very pleasant summer draws to a close, my preparation for January 2019 now starts to increase in intensity. I have several plans and intentions for the next few months, and it is these that I will be talking about most over the coming weeks, however I would first like to take a little time to reflect on the summer that has been…

..It wouldn’t be British if I didn’t start with a mention of the weather. After what can only be described as a rather testing winter and early spring, with snow falling as late as April, finally the U.K was treated to sunshine. Once it arrived, it really made up for lost time, with almost uninterrupted hot sunny days from May through to August. In fact it was so hot and dry that by Mid-July many grass lawns  had become scorched and yellow; something I can not remember happening previously in the 39 years I have been on this planet.

Aside from the weather, there are several other items for which I am thankful.

From a professional standpoint, the project that I have been assisting my main client with for the last three years is finally starting to give reason for optimism. Each day still brings its problems, but there is a now a tangible traction and momentum gained, most days end with the team feeling like we are further forward than we were at the start of the day (rather than further behind!), and after pushing that big stone boulder up the hill for so long, it is finally starting to feel like we are at last starting to roll it down the hill on the other side.

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Of course, it helps that I am now counting down the weeks before I leave, but by the time that day comes I think the project and the team will be perfectly functional without me. Over the past few months we have recruited fresh blood well, and this will be well placed to fill any void that I will leave behind. This in turn means that it will not be long before we are finally delivering the first components to our customer for fitment onto their aeroplane.

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As far as outdoor adventuring goes; I once again have much reason to be happy. I have been lucky enough to get out of town and experience some pretty special rock climbing on no less than three occasions. Further to this, I have now introduced outdoor (real) climbing to several friends, many of which now share my climbing bug. This bodes well for the future, and I hope we have many more adventures ahead of us.

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In addition to the outdoor climbing, I have managed to visit several local climbing gyms fairly often for quite a prolonged period of time, while complimenting this with regular yoga classes. The end result is that my body is starting to become more flexible that it has been for many years, and my climbing ability is at a higher level than it has ever been. I now hope that I can keep up this momentum, and further improve my climbing and flexibility.

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Last but not least, I was informed on 31st August that have been granted a scholarship by LBS. I will cover this in more detail in my next post…

Intermission #2: A trip to Goodwood Motor Circuit

Last weekend I joined hundreds of other Mazda MX5 owners, and as is traditional in Britain; braved the less than charming spring time weather on a journey down to the South Coast.

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It was the first proper run out that I have given my recently owned Mk1 MX-5 R-Ltd after several months of refurbishments. The event, run by the MX-5 owners club, was a real treat despite the rather harsh weather.

As an aside, how within 7 days we can go from the hottest London Marathon on record to temperatures that seemed so cold that hats, gloves and scarves would not have been frowned upon is beyond me.

I set off fairly early with a friend, taking the various A and B roads recommended by the above MX-5 owners club. The route down really was a joy, lots of twisty roads of various sizes taking us through many classic English country side scenes. My passenger and companion for the day hails from the mean streets of Rio de Janeiro, and I’m fairly confident that the beautiful sites we enjoyed more than outweighed the threat of imminent rain (or snow!?) throughout the day. He was particularly taken by the beauty of Petworth; just north of Chichester. Regrettably I don’t have any pictures of the journey as I was having too much fun driving.

If you ever fancy travelling to the South Coast from London and don’t like the idea of taking the motorways, you could do a lot worse than follow the directions given by the MX-5 Owners Club to Chichester: Routes to Goodwood. I can only imagine that the other routes proposed on the same web-page are equally as enjoyable.

I won’t go into too much detail regarding my car as I will likely cover it with another post when the project is fully completed, but If you haven’t picked up already, I really enjoyed her ride – easily the most fun car I have driven to date, which of course I am very happy about!

I’ll now let the pictures taken by myself and my companion during the day do the talking.

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Above: My beloved R-Ltd parked up on circuit ready for the parade lap. We were one of the last cars to arrive despite the early start, after stopping off for the mandatory several coffees and a full English breakfast on route.

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Above: My friend going through the hysterical stage of hypothermia as we cruise on foot past the hundreds of MX-5s brought to the event.

Below: A few of my favourite MK1s on show on the day. My next modification to my car will likely be the front end / registration plate position. So seeing so many examples was a great help.

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Above: A not too shabby S-Ltd makes the starting grid.

Below. An RS-Ltd attracts plenty of attention as you would expect.

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Above: Nothing screams engine upgrade quite like a V6 Jaguar lump!

Below: Even rare collector’s cars need new tires you know…

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Below: A few of my favourite non Mk1 examples on show.

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Above: Prize awarded for the bravest traveler of the day; with extremely heavy rain forecast for the drive home.

Below: One last photo of myself posing on the start finish straight ahead of the parade lap. Followed by a few taken during the procession.

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Thanks for organising MX5OC! I hope you all got home safely.

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Intermission #1: A day on the Kent Rocks

This is the first post in what will be a sub-section covering anything remotely interesting that I do away from progressing my application onto the Sloan MSc.

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This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Harrison’s Rocks, which are situated near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, approximately 30 minutes train ride out of London Bridge.

The day was organised by a local company: Nuts4Climbing https://www.rockclimbingstore.co.uk/. A group of six of us visited for the day, and returned rather torn and frayed but keen to get back down there and do it again as soon as possible.

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We were met by two professional guides; Sarah and James, who after a brief warm up got us straight into the action. Other than a brief spot of lunch, we spent the whole day on the rock. Both the guides were very helpful, aiding the novices of the group with the basic knot tying and belaying techniques, and the more advanced climbers with tips on how to scale some of the more advanced routes.

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We now know enough about the area to visit next time without tuition. It is one of the few areas where you can access the top of the rock to attach a top rope without having to lead climb the route – which is very handy for us beginners!

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I couldn’t recommend booking a day with the Nuts crew enough, if you’ve enjoyed some indoor bouldering / climbing and looking to take the plunge outside on real rock, or just looking for a fun adventure pass time that is a bit different, I’m sure they will be able to cater for you.

Their services are also very reasonably priced – it cost the six of us a little over £50 each for the whole day…

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…they really did help us push the limits of our abilities; without the guides’ attentive spotting I don’t think we could have achieved half of what we climbed. Pictured above and below are a couple of UK Tech grade 5C climbs…

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Get yourselves down there!