Whistler Blackcomb, Week 2 – Monday report by Sarah

Straight up to the very top of Blackcomb mountain, climbing 1 vertical mile on 3 chair lifts with four of our housemates. Jemima wearing flourescent pink trousers again, to the amusement of the boys.

Head off in deep powder and zero visibility, the boys go off piste and we try to stay on, but split up almost immediately and spend next 30 mins digging and scrambling way out of snow, then regrouping. Meet up with the boys, who have spotted J’s trousers from the lift while still half a mile off. Boys head straight off-piste, despite cheery signs saying “Off piste = boken leg”. Well, they have been here 3 months already. Do same blue (that’s European red) again, realise it only takes 10 minutes if you keep your head out of the snow, not an hour. Do same run again, literally guesswork on every turn in zero visibility. J decides to do an exceptionally cool very high speed run in deep powder all the way up an uphill section I can’t even manage in the quickest part of the run. Very cool indeed. You have to be, with those trousers on.

Take shelter in hut at the top which serves soup. Drink soup then coffee, then realise hut has emptied and the lift has stopped and everyone has gone home.

Emerge in gathering darkness and not much visibility, wave hello to 4, yes 4, piste bashers starting work at the top of the mountain. Come down a green (that’s a European blue if only for the random bumps in the middle of the piste) and decide to follow someone down what turns out to be a black (that’s a European ‘omigod, why are we on a black?’), crusty moguls for about a mile. Try not to veer right into the terrifying terrain park series of 20 foot jumps.

Cloud beginning to lift, we can see again. Half an hour gone and only 1/3 way down the mountain now. What can we see? Oh, it’s MILES and MILES of sheet ice. Blues (that’s reds) all the way. At least 3 miles of sheet ice. Lovely. Thank god for knee pads I say. J does half a run on her back, spinning on her new Camelbak.

Finally, finally, we hit the slush at the bottom, and a good mile of green run later, we gently slide into the bar for a surprisingly good tasting, and dark red-coloured, beer. It’s long after 5, we are the last ones off the mountain. Serves us right for leaving the house at midday I guess.

More photos to follow once it stops bloody raining and snowing.

Marketing advice needed

Company names, taglines, ad campaigns… we’ve had clever, we’ve had ironic, we’ve had boring, but these few I have seen recently deserve a special mention of their own.

First up, a dark blue van I saw on my driving lesson around Bloomsbury a few weeks ago. In glorious white lettering, it read:

KNIFE SHARPENING COMPANY

Then, just to check I had got the point (sorry), they thoughtfully added the tagline

KNIFE SHARPENING SERVICE

Hmm, that was necessary. Then we have a marvellous tube advert for a pest control company whose name I can’t remember. Tagline reads:

WE HAVE THE WEAPONS OF MOUSE DESTRUCTION!

Class. And as I sit here typing, I see a van outside the window, with the words SOUTHWARK CLEANING on it. You’ll never guess the tagline on this puppy…

CLEANING SOUTHWARK

Good grief. Who are these people and why do they do it?

Practicing lesbian

I just heard a rather amusing line on Radio 4. I believe I was listening to an episode of Bunn & Co.

[voice of fifty-something woman speaking on the phone to a nosey journalist]
“Excuse me, I’m not a practicing lesbian! I’ve been at it for 35 years now, I’m fully qualified.” [slams phone down]

Nonsense Latin

I just found a lovely little program on the web. When you design something, a web page or a newsletter say, you always end up typing something like this, over and over, to fill in for proper text:

frdihgnkdz fdsjfpdf

dfdsfsakfds

Well you don’t have to any more, thanks to the Lorem Ipsum Generator. Just tell it how many words or letters you’d like, and it spews out the required length of nonsense latin for you to cut and paste. I just tried it, and it looks suspiciously like an essay I once handed in….

Doo be doo

Things I do when I’m unemployed:

1. Spend ages checking my email and extensively trawling through any online messageboard I might be remotely connected with.

2. Stare at my phone, hoping it’ll ring. For hours on end. Carry it round the house with me all day in case it rings and I don’t hear it.

3. Write lists of things to keep me occupied.

4. Put stupid things on the list, just so I can cross them off and feel I’ve achieved something.

5. Currently on concerted plan to do everything but my tax return, on the logic that once I’ve done everything else there will be no more distractions and I’ll have to do my tax return. Not the cleverest plan I’ve ever had.

6. Try not to eat sweets. And crisps.

7. Do exercises for surfing. Twice a day.

8. The radio is on, so I know all the news stories in depth because I’ve heard them on the 10am, 11am, 12pm, World at One, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, PM and evening news. Can practically quote ministers now.

9. Somehow I still manage to miss the Archers though.

10. Write this Bojates entry.

11. Good grief.

We didn’t find Thomas, but we climbed on some of his friends

Paula, Jemima and I went on a day trip to Didcot Railway Centre today, mostly because we wanted to get out of London for a day and not because we’re really into trains or anything. We had thought Roman ruins might be fun, but it turns out they’re all Up North.

I thought it was marvellous. It’s almost all outside, which was great with the lovely weather, but it would have been a short visit if it had been raining, I think. We walked around and climbed about on engines in a big shed, and discovered how they loaded coal into the engines, and looked at signals, and all with a few signs and some knowledgable people who told us about the air raid shelters and stuff if you asked them, but basically we were left alone to work it all out for ourselves, rather than being spoonfed information.

Old steam trains do look much more impressive than modern trains – the mainline runs alongside the Railway Centre, so you can constantly compare and contrast – they have a sense of tremendous weight and power about them that modern trains seem almost embarrassed about.

We did look for Thomas the Tank Engine, but he wasn’t there today. You have to go in June to be sure of seeing him. Shame. But we did get pictures of a demonstration of how trains used to pick up the post.

Anyone know of any Roman ruins near London that are easily reachable by public transport for our next outing?

US Senate

On a travel programme on Radio 4 just now a guest said that only 12% of the US Senate actually own passorts.

Just felt the need to tell everyone, as I think this is rather shocking.

Pebbledash visions

[This is by Sarah, not Jemima, in case you think she’s gone mad]

When I think of pebbledashed walls, and how they are made, I envisage a machine of the sort that fires tennis balls over the net so people can practice their strokes. I imagine people spreading soft concrete on the side of a house then hiding round the corner as someone very strong fires a pebbling machine, rather like a super-sized machine gun, waving it about until the whole wall is covered.

When I mentioned this picture to Jemima the other day, she laughed.

Well, I have looked up pebbledashing in our DIY Book (the sort that you could knock out burglars with), and discovered this advice on repairing a patch of pebbledash:

“Mix 1 part cement-paint powder with 3 parts plasterer’s sharp sand. Stir in 1 measure of bonding agent diluted with 3 parts water to form a thick creamy paste. Load the banister brush and scrub the paste onto the bare surface… while this is still wet, fling pebbles onto the surface from a dustpan.”

Not so silly afterall, eh?