Sunday, 17 February 2013

The girls and the boys

On Saturday morning I tweeted that we were “giving more young people their first snowboard experience today.” I added, “Let's hope they learn as much as the last group!” The last group was mostly girls, this group entirely boys. When we say girls and boys we're talking eleven and twelve year olds. Both groups were keen to get out on the snow with a snowboard; both groups found the first few exercises we gave them a little difficult.

After an hour or two this Saturday it seemed we might be collecting strong empirical evidence that girls possess better listening skills than boys. Our boys were not progressing as fast as the girls had and were not really following instructions, even instructions of the clear and repeated kind. We broke for lunch. When we returned to the slope it seemed, instead of our previous suspicion, we had just proved boys perform better powered by a generous helping of pizza.

By the end of our session all our newbies had mastered the basics and were excitedly telling us they'd just managed to do that last run without falling over once. Faces that beam with a sense of achievement say more than any “thank you for this opportunity” ever could. Of course, the inevitable question follows: when can we do this again? Hopefully, it won't be too long. We just need it to stay cold and keep snowing a little longer.     

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The view from the top

As is the way with mountains, you get to the top only to see another higher peak staring down at you as if to quash your sense of achievement. Yesterday we spent a day off at Vlašić, a mountain in the very centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the view from the top of the drag lifts that serve the mountain's Babanovac resort.

It's a very pretty place, and to my taste anyway, all the better without the weekend crowds. We waited for a lift once, for about a minute, the rest of the time we walked straight on. Most of the the time we could see a couple of others of the slope we were on, although a few times we had a stretch all to ourselves. Part of me would love it to always be like this but I also see there is space for others to discover the joys of snow sport in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It may not cater for full on adrenaline junkies but there is plenty for beginners, and those who like to take in the surroundings as they make their way down a mountain. If you need a little more convincing you can see what it looks like in this video I made yesterday.    

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Lightning strikes

This is Lavovi Jajce (Jajce Lions) all smiles before our first game in the new BiH Floorball League. That's me second from the left. Saturday was the first of four tournament days we'll compete in this year. Hopefully we'll do better at the competing bit next time. We lost a closely fought first match 3:2, with the winning goal coming in the dying seconds.

However, for reasons I won't go into here, we for ourselves 2:0 down in about as many minutes at the start of the second game. Our opponents in this game go by the name Gromovi, which translates as Thunder. There's no thunder without lightning, and although they say this never strikes twice we were on the end of a brutal 12:2 thrashing. In the words of Yazz: the only way is up!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Comparing highs

Last night lightning stopped play. This was both disappointing and encouraging; disappointing because I was just hitting my snowboard stride, powering down the powdery slope in ridiculously poor visibility, but encouraging that the local ski centre didn't want to see its customers fried in a freak drag lift accident. Seeing lightning flash through heavy falling snow was a new experience. We know the prevailing wisdom is don't be on high, exposed places at such times so we headed inside for another hot chocolate.

Ranč is our local ski centre. We know it's a mountain but it's easy to think of it as the local hill. It was the combination of questions from my brother and getting a G-Shock watch with an altimeter for my birthday that got me interested in finding out how high this “hill” really is. I took a reading on my watch at the top, I cross referenced it with an accurate (higher) figure from the internet. 1463m. For someone more used to measuring mountains in feet (ft) I wasn't sure how impressive this was. 4800 ft, however, I understand.

During a Skype call with my brother we started comparing this to The Three Peaks in the UK. Ben Nevis is the biggest; it's 4409 ft. I was surprised. Really surprised. I started to doing other comparisons. You can see the results below. Horsham is the town we lived in in the UK, Jajce is where we are now. The Shard is the tallest building in London, the Avaz Twist Tower the tallest in Sarajevo. Leith Hill is the tallest hill in the Horsham area – a similar distance away as Ranč is to Jajce. Ben Nevis is the highest point in the UK; Maglić the highest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let's say, I look at our local hill a little differently now.    


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

It Begins in Bosnia



This video was filmed during the first two weeks of this year. They were two weeks that proved beyond doubt there is no gain without a sizeable portion of pain. So much pain! Going from effectively no snowboard experience to nine consecutive days of intense snowboarding, with a healthy dose of long-distance driving thrown in for good measure, was a stern test of the resolve. However, and it's a big however, the trade off is we, and a group of the young people we work with, have learned to snowboard. Not just that, we've learned enough to pass those skills on to others. We're not the only ones excited about this. It won't be long before you'll be able to watch how far this story has come in just a couple of months. This video is just the beginning.

(Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautiful country that offers some great winter sport opportunities. We'd recommend anyone in search of new adventures to check it out. All our snowboarding was on mountains in Bosnia - hence the title of the video.)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Shining a little light on The Lampost story

Over ten years ago now one of my brothers and I decided to convert our parents garage into a home studio. My brother had a friend with a studio on the south coast that was being forced to close. We bought the live room from them; dismantled it, transported it half an hour up the road and re-imagined the pieces into a new creative space of our inventing. Naturally, the process was slightly more drawn out than I've presented here. I'm sure our parents haven't forgotten their side of the story!

The night we finished the conversion we were sitting around in the living room, probably eating celebratory ice cream. Suddenly there was a huge crash. Everyone's first thought was we must have somehow undermined the structural integrity of the house and caused some terrible disaster. We ran around looking for the problem. Nothing was wrong. Then we realised it was unusually dark outside. The problem was a late-night motorist finding the lamp post outside a near-immovable object. It stopped his car but not without splitting into three pieces and crashing to the ground. Thus our new studio was christened The Lampost.

Sadly, since then, our plans of musical world domination have been largely unfulfilled. The Lampost has become the home of Hellyer's Puppet Workshop. (It's currently filled with foam and more variations of fun fur than ought to be legal.) However, we have finally linked up for a collaboration, remixing a track for an online competition. Even if, technically, The Lampost has had no part in the production we thought we'd honour it by naming ourselves in its honour.

If collaboration implies my brother and I have a broad base of shared musical taste this is misleading. We agree on a couple of bits of Coldplay, a lot of Chicane and would both confess to a childhood appreciation of the yellow and black stylings of Stryper. Beyond that there are gulfs between what you'd find on our iTunes 'most played' lists. But in music, as in so many areas of life, it is possible to set aside differences to work together. This we have done; turning a decent piece of hip hop into what we're calling a Euro-house banger!

You can listen to the remix here, and if you like what you hear then consider voting for us in the competition.