Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Good News

Just a quick update on the whole stolen bag situation. I have a replacement cash card from my bank in Brussels so at least now I have access to cash so I can pay for the emergency travel document on Friday. That'll get me home so I can grab my US passport and apply for a replacement for the UK one.

And I've spoken to my insurance company who will cover everything but the £100 deductible so all I have to do now is hunt down the receipts.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Minor Catastrophe

My backpack was stolen last night. My brand new backpack that matched my rucksack and was rather nice. And what else did I lose? ::sigh:: Well, my wallet of course. Had to cancel ALL my cards and I won't get my replacements until I'm back in London next weekend. So I can't get any cash and I have about 30 euros . So I'll have to eat all the weird odds and ends that have accrued in the freezer and the cupboards. And I lost my British passport so I need to go to the police in the morning and make a report, then I can go to the consulate and apply for an emergency passport. I don't have any ID but at least I have bank statements and documentation from Inland Revenue to both me and my company.I also have my contract. But hey, maybe this whole digital passport thing will make the process easier.

And I've asked Richard to Fedex my US passport and my UK drivers license just in case.

But that's not all. Oh no.

This is the part that hurts the most... my new camera was in the bag. The one I bought last month for the trek. I carried it everywhere because I was still learning/experimenting with it so was taking pics all the time. With a 16Gb SD card in it.

But to make matters even worse, my mother and stepdad had just given me a Kindle 3G. It was an early birthday gift so I would have it set up and loaded by the time I head out to Nepal. I was planning to take advantage of the free data roaming from Amazon to tweet and blog and deal with email while doing the trek. I can't believe that they gave me such a nice gift and then within hours it was gone.

Thank goodness I have insurance.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Dedication to Hut 6: Part Two

Thanks to Rachel E. Marshall, I can show y'all some photos of the interior of Hut 6. Can you imagine what a job it will be to restore that? Obviously it would be so much cheaper to tear it down or even to let it continue to collapse but then that's it, it's gone! And our chance to save this piece of history will be gone as well, it cannot be undone.

I think that's wrong. I think we should try to preserve the entire remaining grounds. We may have to repurpose the sturdier buildings for classrooms or small businesses (and frankly, how cool would it be to have your company based there? Hmmmm.) but the goal should be to preserve as much of it as we possibly can.

I saw an amazing example of this approach when I was in Germany the other week. My father was sooo disappointed as we drove around the small farming villages of his youth because the old saxon style cottages and farmhouses that he remembered were gone. And then we found the Museumshof  in Rahden. They took the finest examples of the old saxon cottages and moved them to form this museum. It's beautiful. They are such beautiful structures and it's so special that they've been saved and kept in context. Lovely.

Anyway, I'm exhausted from doing a very full day of work interspersed by climbing 9 flights of stairs every hour. But I do enjoy the fact that I don't break a sweat when I do it anymore. :-)

And I can't help but wonder what I'll do next year. South pole? Uluru?Vladivostock? Patagonia? This is a great way to force myself to stay in shape!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Reading Material

As D-Day draws closer it becomes more urgent that  I sort out my reading materials. The problem is that I read voraciously AND will have limited space in my rucksack. So I am sadly and reluctantly coming to terms with the idea that I must move to an eReader. ::sob:: I'm old-fashioned enough that I object to them on principle and yet do not see an alternative without toting around half a dozen books.


So question number one is: Which eReader do I get?
And question number two is: Which books do I load onto it?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mystery Solved

My info pack from Really Wild Challenges is amusing. Flight to Lukla Airport is described as "exciting".  Here's an example.

When you watch this, keep in mind that the runway is only 1500ft long and is at 9100ft altitude. There's a 2000 ft drop at one end and mountainside at the other.

They also refer rather euphemistically to "long-drop" toilets. I had to look that one up because it sounded to me like I was going to have to stick my butt over the side of a mountain but I now understand it to mean an outhouse without benefit of seating. Not fun but about what I expected.

Oh, and from the Nepal Fact File:
Risks - Landslides can affect Nepal during the monsoon season., flooding can also occur causing delays to travel during the summer months. Nepal is also classed as an earthquake zone, although no major earthquake has occurred since 1934.


Article in thinq

How exciting - an article has been published in thinq about this trek and the need for funds to save Hut 6 at BP!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fitness Programme

So after a week in London I'm back in Brussels and back to climbing up and down the stairs. I noticed today that my strength and stamina have really improved. I'm now only slightly winded after climbing 9 flights of stairs and not at all sweaty (although I do have a slight glow).

I'm really looking forward to a long weekend in Wales but can't get the time away any sooner than July 30/31. I invited a colleague to join me as he's climbing Kilimanjaro this summer. It would be nice to get a bunch of people together for this.

Monday, 20 June 2011


I think we should now address where, specifically, your donations will
be spent. The short answer is that, while lots of people have talked
about Heritage Lottery Fund granting £5 million to Bletchley, they
haven't talked about the fact that The Trust has to raise £2 million
themselves first.

So, having toured The Park many times, I would like to dedicate this
trek specifically to Hut 6. Hut 6 is the truly decrepit white hut that
I posted pics of last week. Back in the day though, Hut 6 is where
Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe Enigma codes were broken.

The bottom line is, we need £456k to save Hut 6.Wouldn't it be amazing
if the IT Community banded together to save this piece of history?

“Ultra shortened the war "by not less than two years and probably by four
years"; moreover, in the absence of Ultra, it is uncertain how the war would
have ended”. Sir Harry Hinsley, official historian of British
Intelligence in World War Two.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Into Thin Air

If anyone for one second questions why I'm not trying to get to the summit, read Into Thin Air. I just finished it. Wow, what a story. If you haven't heard about it, it's written by one of the survivors of the Everest disaster in 1996 when 8 climbers died.

Practice Run Anyone?

So plans to do a run or two up Mt. Snowdon are firming up for July 30/31. Please let me know if you want to walk up with me. Or if you want to wimp out and take the train and meet me at the top for a cup of tea. Or even if you want to meet me at the top and walk down.

More pressingly, I'm looking for accommodation for that weekend so if anyone lives in North Wales. Finances are definitely getting tight (because, of course, I'm just getting to the end of completely rebuilding my upper jaw and I can assure you that's cost me a fortune) so I asked a friend if I could use his cottage but haven't heard anything back. :-(  To be fair, I know he's switching assistants right now and things can be hectic and get lost but I'm still left without a base of operations.

OTOH, I now have so much equipment that I can probably just buy a cheapo tent and experiment with the whole sleeping bag/liner/mat arrangement at a campsite. If I do that, I will definitely hope to have company. Doing stuff like that just isn't safe for a gal on her own.

On that subject, I must confess that I'm utterly amazed that all of my kit seems to fit in my rucksack with room to spare. Modern materials are really amazing. It looks like I'll actually be able to fly out with just carry-on!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Kit List

I've got my kit list and I think I'm just about done shopping. I went to Kathmandu today and got the last bits and bobs like the sleeping bag/liner/mat, rucksack, more clothes, spare boot laces, gaiters (lord almighty do they look stupid but might help with the leech situation), microfiber towel, headlamp, more trekking trousers, water purification drops, money belt, etc. Thank goodness they are having a 50% off sale! I've also checked and all of my kit fits in the rucksack with room to spare. I just need a few odd bits like some more quick dry undies, snickers bars, baby wipes, handwash stuff, diamox (helps prevent altitude sickness), emergency medical evacuation insurance. Just odds and sods really.

Anyway, I thought folks might be interested to see the full Everest Base Camp kit list so I'm posting it below...


Everest Base Camp, Kit List
Really Wild Challenges is a trading name of The Really Wild Travel Company. Head Office address: CBC House, 24 Canning St, Edinburgh. EH3 8EG
Registered in England and Wales. Company No 6709179. ATOL Bonded No. 10210

The items listed below are purely recommendations. The list has been designed by the Really Wild Travel partners on the ground; however please take into account your personal preferences and common sense. If, after taking part in the challenge you have suggestions for this list we’d love to hear from you!
In the list below we’ve indicated which items are essential and which are optional, as well as which items you can hire locally – prices are listed in Nepalese rupees. However, if you would prefer to hire kit before departing the UK, please contact Trek Hire (01306 886333 or visit www.trekhireuk.com). Try to use your equipment before you go – particularly your daypack, hiking boots and sleeping bag/mat – this will show up any manufacturing faults and whether they are comfortable enough.

The Really Wild Travel philosophy regarding packing is simple: Travel light! Bring as little as possible but bring everything you need. Travelling light is much less of a hassle, so do not bring things you can do without. If you need to wear jewellery, keep it simple and inexpensive. The general rule is that if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. Bring clothes that wash and dry easily (jeans take forever to dry and should not be worn if possible).

Your main bag should not weigh more than 20kg. Additionally, in line with our responsible tourism policy, it is important not to overload the transfer agents who have to carry and transport it. Your hand luggage should not exceed 5kg and maximum dimensions of 56x45x25cms (correct at time of press – please confirm with your airline). Please make sure you pack your rucksack/kit bag yourself, and do not under any circumstances take any items through customs that are not yours or that you have been asked to deliver for someone else.
Keep extra cash, passports and house keys in your hand luggage. For the most up-to-date air travel hand luggage rules, please refer to the air travel hand baggage rules on the UK government’s website: http://www.direct.gov.uk

Don’t pack valuables, cash, fragile or perishable items in your hold luggage. Airlines and insurance companies will not accept liability for them. When leaving the UK, we recommend that you wear your hiking gear, and take as much as possible in your hand luggage, especially a full day’s underwear and other clothing. This is to ensure that in the unlikely situation that your bags do not arrive at your final destination, you are still able to make a start on the challenge while we relocate any missing baggage.

During the challenge itself we recommend that you keep all valuables with you at all times, especially electronic items such as cameras, iPods and mobile phones.

Everest Base Camp, Kit List
Really Wild Challenges is a trading name of The Really Wild Travel Company. Head Office address: CBC House, 24 Canning St, Edinburgh. EH3 8EG
Registered in England and Wales. Company No 6709179. ATOL Bonded No. 10210

Large holdall or Rucksack (no suitcases please!)
Day rucksack (for sun lotion, camera, iPod, snacks etc.)
Sleeping bag liner
Sleeping mat
3 Season Sleeping Bag (liner recommended)
Windproof waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex recommended)
Long sleeved shirts
Walking boots (sturdy well worn in hiking boots)
Thermal long sleeved top
Thick long-jons or skin tight thick tights
Down Jacket
3-4 additional torso layers
Trousers (such as lightweight cargo trousers, avoid jeans)
Waterproof walking trousers
Underwear (should be lightweight, cotton and loose fitting)
Thick hiking socks (ideally one pair per day of trekking)
Sandals/flip-flops/trainers for wearing around the guesthouses in the evenings
Gloves (thermal lined)
Balaclava - optional
Peaked cap or wide brimmed hat - optional
Additional warm hat - optional
Toothbrush & Toothpaste, Soap (Anti Bacterial and ideally in a bottle), shampoo/Conditioner (Bio-Degradable), Lip Salve With Sun Protection, Antiseptic Wipes
Razor & Cream, Sanitary Products, Shower Gel, Travel Towel,
Deodorant, Toilet Paper/Tissues, Hairbrush/Comb
Insect repellent
Sun lotion (minimum 30 SPF)
Documents (we recommend leaving a copy of all travel docs with your next of Kin)
2 Passport photos (for your trekking permit)
Air travel tickets where relevant (issued at the airport)
Travellers Cheques - optional
Credit Card - optional
Travel Insurance (please bring a copy of your insurance certificate with emergency contact number)
Copies of Vaccination Certificates (may be useful if you require medical attention) - optional
Camera - optional
Sunglasses (keep dust and grit out of your eyes as well as the sun)
Pair of Walking poles
Water bottles
High energy snacks - optional
Novel or guide book - optional
Plastic bags (for laundry) - optional
Head torch
Watch/alarm clock
First Aid Kit
Pain killers (e.g. Paracetamol)
Adhesive dressing (plasters), Compeed blister pads
Diarrhoea tablets
Immodium - optional
Anti-Malarial Course
Water purification tablets - optional
Plasters and bandages for small cuts and sprains - optional

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Fundraising Update

A quick (and rather naughty) post from work. We're only 1GBP away from the first thousand in Fundraising!

Meanwhile, I'm reading Into Thin Air which, while sad is also immensely evocative and I do so so so wish I could afford the time and money to make an attempt to summit. OTOH, it's rather disgusting how commercial the whole enterprise has become and the dangerous consequences.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Mixed Bag

I have several things to talk about today.

First of all, I want to draw people's attention to a rather amusing and informative interview with the fabulous Dr. Sue Black which gives a nice overview of the history and importance of Bletchley Park.

Second, I want to thank Julie Archer of Archer-Yates Event Management for her generous donation to Bletchley. Julie and her team do great work on the ACCU spring conference and now also volunteer their time and effort to help with the ACCU/Bletchley Autumn Lectures that we put on to raise funds for BP. On that topic, I'm actively planning this year's Autumn Lecture and will make announcements on that score as soon as I return from Nepal but hold the dates of October 22 and November 12 open (we need to confirm the date with speakers).

And finally, I took a trawl through Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports at the New Exchange mall by St. Paul's today. What a rip-off! And utterly inattentive staff as well. I think I'll stick with my guy at Kathmandu thankyewverrahmuch.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Visit to Bletchley Park

Trotted up to BP today to have lunch with Kelsey Griffin, Director of Operations. As long as I was up there, I took a few pics that, I think, really illustrate the need for funding.

Hut 6

You see, the real problem here is that these huts were never intended to last long. They were simply built out of cheap materials and the priority was for them to go up fast. So they fulfilled their task admirably. However, the question now is how and to what extent do we preserve them? Always a tricky question.

Anyway, progress is definitely being made but it's not just a case of preserving what we have now but also ensuring that the site is maintained and accessible for the future.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Exciting Progress

Very exciting news today. The word is finally starting to get out. First, my father dropped a word and now the  Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics are aware of this madness and seem to approve. Hopefully they will spread the word through academia. That would be lovely. Maybe my little bro can do the same with the American Chemical Society? Not an obvious tie-in, I'll grant you but you never know. Maybe they'll ask me to conduct an experiment at Base Camp to show the difference in pressure or something. Mind you, the High Altitude Flatulence ought to cover that nicely.

Moving on...

I was also interviewed by a journalist today and will be dashing up to Bletchley tomorrow for a photo session and then lunch with Kelsey (Director of Museum Operations). I will, of course keep everyone posted as events transpire.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Good News/Bad News

So, the good news is, my contract in Brussels has been extended to mid-July, supplying a bit more much-needed money (cause this shindig is costing me a fortune!). The bad news is that it delays by 2 weeks my launch into intensive fitness preparation.

So, now I'm looking at doing a weekend at Mt. Snowdon for July 30 & 31. Does anyone want to join me? The idea is to get up there the Friday night then get up with the sparrow's fart on the Saturday and do the climb (route to be decided but I'm leaning toward the Watkins Path). Then, depending on how achy we are the next day, perhaps do a second climb? If not, we can always tour Electric Mountain.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Meet me in Cambridge!

It occurs to me that I ought to mention that I'll be speaking in Cambridge next week. Not on this topic although I plan to insert a slide at the end to ask for sponsorship.

Nonetheless, if anyone is interested, the topic is Facilitating LEAN Problem Solving Sessions.


It occurs to me that I've been talking a lot about the who, what, where, when and how but nothing at all about the WHY???

So, WHY am I raising money for Bletchley Park? In order to answer that, I would like to take you back through the mists of time. Back to the summer of 2008.

At that time I'd organised a picnic with some fellow friends from ACCU and their partners at Bletchley Park. It's something that we'd talked about for years and so it finally happened. Butu, while I knew that Bletchley needed money I had no idea the state that the place was in until that summer afternoon.

As I walked around this historic location, the place that can be considered the home of modern computing, I was aghast. The buildings were crumbling, often protected only by a cheap plastic tarpaulin thrown over the roof and secured with stones at the corners. I thought to myself "Oh no, no, no. Somebody ought to do something about this.". Then I thought, "I ought to do something about this!".

It especially shocked me because I and many others make some pretty good scratch in a field that owes so much to what was done at this historic site. So I think that's only right that we try to preserve this place for future generations.

And that's when and why I started raising money for Bletchley Park.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Normal Service has Resumed

Well I'm back from holiday. The weather and the fishing in the Algarve were both fabulous. If you want a good day of fishing near Portimao, you wouldn't go wrong by contacting Alvor Boat Trips and let Luis and his lovely wife Roisin guide you.See you next year guys!

Then  I returned to London to collect my father, turn around and head back to Brussels. only to grab a car and drive the rest of the way to Espelkamp in Germany. Stayed at the Hotel im Loh where the Albersmeyer family made us feel so welcome. I look forward to staying there again when I return next year to do the Grimm's Fairytale Trail.

Anyway, I'm back in Brussels trying to catch up on my sleep.

I'll try to get back on-topic in a day or so but I have to confess that after that vacation, I'm exhausted! 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Another small hiatus

I'm off to Germany today for a few days of hiking with my father. I'll be sure to post a pic in my hiking gear when I get back.