May saw us return to the UK for, primarily, a wedding of two close friends (popular one for weddings, May) and take advantage of this to get stuck into a bit of the British bouldering scene. We also worked our butts off on various landscaping and gardening jobs and such to make up for our spring of sloth. Life needs a bit of balance.
Biblin's Cave is a small but thoroughly developed bouldering area near the Welsh border. It is environmentally very sensitive and only open May – September to allow for it's other residence, bats, which makes it feel a bit special that we are able to climb there at all. I visited for the first time with Em on a sunny afternoon; bumping into some more friends in the car park made for a good crew to work a few routes. I climbed the deservedly classic route The Bulge, and fell off Pop for the Top and Peckitt's Traverse for the rest of the session.
On a second visit, with Sam along too, we were absolutely stoked to catch up with the ever wonderful Frances, Will and Alice at Biblin's. I fell off Pop for the Top and Peckitt's Traverse some more; a less constructive session now I've climbed The Bulge, but fun nonetheless. Sam put away a reasonable first time visitor's list of The Bulge, Pop for the Top, School of Burl and Rock the Kasbah. We finished around dusk and followed Will's sat nav on a scenic route back to a very late dinner. The next day's climbing plans dissolved under a hot sun and a lazy morning spent drinking coffee and chatting peanut butter prices and milk alternatives. It couldn't have been nicer. We began the pilgrimage to Cornwall.
After a few days of seeing family and friends, a short sunny boulder session on a rather damp Godrevy Beach, and of course a bit more gardening, we started making our way back up through England. An important stop en route (other than the wedding) was to Tintagel, an esoteric bouldering spot in northern Cornwall. We drove through the faux-fairy surreality of the village, beautiful buildings, heavy spirituality peddled on every corner, heaps of wandering people and hiked down to the bouldering with Danny, Cai and Danny's dogs. Asked by at least four separate groups what the pads were for. Gave assorted answers.
The rocks at the site were outrageously slippery, everyone fell over. The sea was a bit lairy too, trying to snatch our pads, bags and Danny's dogs away. A bit of head scratching led us to suspect we had miscalculated and arrived around high tide. We waited a bit, then resumed falling over on the algeous rocks when the sea had retreated a bit. Nearly everyone was bleeding by this point.
We started climbing again, with a tentative cat dance down to the boulder pads. Everyone dispatched the classic Purple Haze deftly except me. One move is big (not too big to climb, just big enough to be too hard - this session...). Sam also climbed highly rated The Apprentice and AWOL Apprentice, a shoulder sit start to the aforementioned. Danny and Cai both climbed All Along the Watchtower. It was a fantastic first taste of this rather iconic (in the south west, and maybe even a bit further) boulder.
Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling
Flippin' mental. No words, really. Basically, once a year on the May bank holiday, lots of people gather on Cooper's Hill, a super steep incline of tussocky grass. Competitors then hurl themselves down the hill after a giant cheese in the hopes of being the first across the finish line, where a local rugby team waits to break their run. Sometimes literally. The tradition has been around since well before the 19th century, and continues in defiance of attempts to reign it in and impose more regulations.
We tagged along with my cousins, balancing on the muddy side of the hill for a couple of hours and cringing at the thuds of people impacting the ground. We watched Chris Anderson take a record breaking 22nd race title (raising money for http://www.josephsgoal.org/), and Flo Early take her third title with various limbs in bandages.
We didn't enter.
Ozzy Man Reviews sums up the cheese-rolling
After the excitement of the cheese-rolling, we chucked our stuff in the van, including a stupid amount of random food that we had collected during our time back in the UK, and headed off for Dover and a predictably heinous late night ferry. We had been organised and identified a campervan aire a little way down the coast. Unfortunately, best laid plans and all, it didn't seem to exist and we eventually stopped on a nearby road and slept like the dead.
The next morning we awoke to a ghost town; wandering the dusty streets we found the missing aire a few streets away, and just beyond it the ocean. We ran around on a vast, empty, slightly stinky, beautiful beach, stretched out at low tide, with only some laconic gulls for company. It was a refreshing way to start the day, shaking out any fidgets and cobwebs before we set out for La Forêt de Fontainebleau...