29 July 2016

Climb lots

Many weeks earlier we had climbed into a small quarry close to behemoth Dinorwic; this week we would climb inside the main quarry. Lovely! I like that place. It's impossible to imagine.And the climbing would turn out to be good.

 View down from the way up

This place had a lot of sports routes, so no time-consuming rigging needed; I dropped my bag, put on harness and shoes, grabbed a rope, and found myself a belayer. I was off! I started doing an easy-looking route. First rope in place! And while I was doing that other people went up other routes. Soon we had three ropes in place.

 We started on the easy routes

I wanted a fourth route; we were with a fair few. I looked at a route that looked very intimidating but well, these ropes don't go up on their own; someone had to try. But then Tony appeared. He lead it instead. That was better! I happily seconded it.

Then our attention shifted to around the corner, where the harder routes were. I first did one in the far corner, on top rope. Then I went back to do a lead I hadn't done yet, and stripped that route and the next. Then it was time for two more routes on the harder face! One was lead (again) by Tony, and he struggled. I knew that would mean I'd struggle to second it. But I managed! Then he lead another. The man was on fire! Our local spider Ika seconded it, and had a hard time herself. But I gave it a go too, and did it! It was less hard than I expected. It was an outdoor 5c, I was quite proud I managed that!

 Light fades and the climbs get harder

By that time it was getting late and it was time to pack up. Tony stripped all the difficult routes. This had been a great climbing session! I had only lead two routes but stripped them too, and climbed four more routes, up to 5c, on top rope. Good going, as far as I'm concerned!

28 July 2016

Another day of double fun

On Thursday I had a climbing course and did an SRT trip afterwards. That was very tiring, but great! And only Sunday I would have a similar, but less tiring day. So much fun! This time I would have a trail run in the morning, and go underground immediately afterwards. David had initially suggested a long trip far away, but I didn't fancy that; because of the race I couldn't get there early, and then it would probably end up being a late night. Not good! And there weren't many other takers either. He then changed his mind to a rather nearby, very short, but fun trip. Perfect! It would only be David, Phil and me; I would start running at 9.20 in the morning, and certainly not finish less than an hour later. David and Phil would gather at the mine at 10.30 and rig it up; two ropes needed to be in place. While they were doing that I would appear and then we would all three do the trip.

But first the race: the Scott Snowdonia 10k. I had picked it as it was a trail race, which I like, and it also covered new terrain. And when the day approached I was glad it was only 10k; I had been a bit under the weather recently, and not run at all. This would be my first run in ten days! Normally I run every second day. I wouldn't have wanted to do a half marathon under such circumstances...

I got up early for the race; they had on the day registration, which closed at 8:30. I wanted to be there with some margin so I would find a parking spot without too much trouble, and make sure I would get my race number. I did. Then I went back to my car and read a bit, and then even had a kip; nothing would happen until 8:45, when there was a safety briefing. I attended that (I could as well have skipped it; they said nothing I needed to hear) and went back to the car again. The 10k wouldn't start until 9:20! And there were only few runners. One of them was also from the School of Ocean Sciences; that was nice.

I had a water bag with tube with me. Within the first 100m, the nozzle came off. Oh dear! I ended up holding the tube closed with my thumb the entire race. Not ideal, but not too cumbersome either. We ran out of Llanberis over a country road, which became a track through beautiful hills, and then a narrow an muddy path through a field. Nice! Then we ran back over the road, but at the nearest pub we vanished into the woods again. I'm not good at the downhill path stuff but it was fun. Then we went back into Llanberis, and out on the other side, up the old miners' track that steeply ascends the hill on the other side. I walked that bit! Had done that before...

Having fun along the way

Running into the rainy hills 

The Snowdon train came trundling past

Sometimes the path was rather small

Grand view over Llyn Peris

Rainy selfie

Down I am not very fast either. I was only at the old hospital or thereabouts when I had already used up an hour! But I ran the very last (flat) bit fairly fast. I finished in 1:11:15. Not too bad. The other SOS-er was already at the finish; I later saw he had been there for 10 minutes already. He had had a good time too!

Coming over the finish line

I ate a banana, drank some water, and left. Time to drive west! It was a slow trip; there was a lot of traffic on the roads. But when I got to the parking spot I saw Phil appear and wave at me. Good; I didn't know where the entrance was! I threw off my sweaty race kit and put on my wetsuit. That was stupid; I should have gone for a leak first. Oh dear! Once you're in the wetsuit, caving suit and harness, you are not going to the loo anytime soon. But I walked up. The men had just rigged; David had gone back to the cars to put on his wetsuit. He (and I) needed that as we wanted to explore a not very promising but flooded bit.

I had a cup of coffee with Phil while waiting for David. And another one when David was back; we were not in a hurry! Then we dropped. It was one of those drops when you have to swing out to get to where you need to be; that is always fun. I explored the bit of the mine in the direction we would not go. Then we went the other way. After a tricky drop we were in the part-flooded chamber. After some photography David and I went into the water. And soon we saw it didn't go far, just as we expected; we know now, though. Time to go up!

We didn't use that ladder; it probably wouldn't cope (Pic by David)

David and I swimming away  (Pic by Phil/David)

A rather wet David at the end of the flooded, newly explored bit

 Phil at the top of the outgoing pitch

We got up, explored everything on that level too (including a print of a bare foot; what were people doing there on bare feet??) and then went out. It was only 1:20! Good going. As it was that early, and I was ravenous by now after having had breakfast at ~6:30 and not much food since, I proposed pub lunch. The men agreed! And so a lovely day ended with some catching up with two admirable men over good food. And I realised I smelled like a garbage belt, but nobody asked me to leave. And when I came home I found out I had been the fastest woman (of nine) in my category, in spite of my wonky health. What a day!

MATLAB complete(ish)

My previous post on MATLAB was called "MATLAB success"; it sounded like it was all done. But I explained in the post I hoped to do an extra part of the assignment in MATLAB. I had no idea how, though! But when I went to Laugharne I hitched a ride with a bloke called Connor, who turned out to be a complete MATLAB nut. He proclaimed to be willing to help me with it! And he did.

I told him what I would ask of the students. He then sorted something out on his own, and showed me what he had. Then came the task of A) making sure I could do the same analysis with this year's data, and B) figuring out how I would get the students to use the scripts in the way I wanted them to without either leaving too much up to their imagination or railroading them too much. The first task is done; I managed to emulate his work. Now I only have to nail the second part, and then I can compile everything, write the assignment, teach James to do it (he's my guinea pig), and finalise the introductory lecture! And then I'm laughing! Let's just hope the students are good at it and enjoy it too...

Not quite what it should look like (the labels are too long) but the concept clearly works!

26 July 2016

Tiring but great day on top of and inside mountains

It started out with climbing outside again. I realised you are a lot better off if you can do trad climbing, placing your own gear, rather than relying on bolted routes. And I figured a "single pitch award" would get me there. And the entire award may be a bit much (I don't know yet what it entails), but one has to start somewehere: I registered for a one day course. It would be soon! But then I realised it was the same day as a not very loudly advertised mine rescue training. So I had to move it to the next occasion: in July. I hadn't initially realised it would be on a week day. But it was! Oh well. Let the Calvinist stay home, I go out!

That day I drove to Plas-y-Brenin, the local outdoor centre. I met Simon, our instructor. The only other person in the course would be Mags, another club member. Together we had a cup of coffee and decide don what to do. With only two participants one can tailor a course to their exact needs! I said I was happy with pretty much anything as I was bound to learn something. And Simon suggested going to Cwm Idwal and have a scamper. Sounds good!

He drove us there, and we set off on the path that goes by the Idwal slabs. We wanted to ascend these, but they were busy; Simon decided on scrambling up the Introductory Gully instead. Fine! It had a big overhang, and it was wet and slimy, so I was in my element. It wasn't hard but slipping will kill you, so Simon made sure we were always anchored in some way. That also provided some practice in setting up anchors like that. Soon we were at the top. I did, unfortunately, pop my knee in a careless moment, but it wasn't too bad. There we continued, very suitably, on Idwal Continuation. That was a bit of scrambling with some climby bits; sometimes the steps were so high you needed climbing techniques to come up. That was fun! And I put my climbing shoes on for some of it; I was just on my everyday shoes as I thought I'd be in climbing shoes all day, but for scrambling you don't need them, but these were not so good for the climby bits. So I had to change! it was fun, though. On the tricky bits we were on belay again. Good practice!

When we got up we had a quick bite to eat.Then we were on. Into Cwm Cneifion we went; I had never been but I agreed it was beautiful. From there we would scramble up Cneifion Arete; this isn't hard but it is very exposed, so we would take turns leading, and placing kit, so we would be secured. Simon didn't do a lot of explaining but he did keep an eye on us and dropped useful hints. I learned stuff! And just had a generally great time. It was beautiful and fun, and the company was good. What more would one want?

Mags belaying Simon who has started climbing Cneifion Arete

Simon scampering up

View from high up on the arete; Llyn Idwal and Nant Ffrancon 

We reached the top. That was a pleasant, flat place. We could take all helmets and harnesses and suchlike off, and all we had to do from there was walk down and think of the cup of tea we would have afterwards. 

 Mags and me on the top

The cup of tea was lovely. But after the second I had to go: Fron Boeth was waiting! I wanted to have ample time to drive to Croesor, so I could have a relaxed bite to eat before everyone would arrive. We had only eaten a small amount on the hill! And days like these make one hungry. SO I drove off, and to my surprise, found Phil in the car park. He had given the likelihood of his appearance as 1%, but there he was! He was as hungry as I was, so we did the eating together.

The other appeared and we got to the final parking spot (with limited space) and started changing. I had bought a new furry suit on eBay and wanted to try it. I have one, but it is very thick and too warm in summer. Wearing anything other than a one-piece, however, leads to shirts creeping up and concomitant unpleasantness. I had got cold on two previous trips because of this and had had enough. Now I could try my new purchase! Even though it started to dawn on me that it was going to be a long, uphill walk, and maybe it was a bit much in the middle of July. Oh well. I had left everything else in the car. I was committed!

There also was mention of rope work; I love that, so I had brought my rope, and full SRT kit. That's heavy! Phil started to run up the hill, as he does, so I followed and sweated my arse off. But it clearly was less sweaty than it would have been in the other suit! I did feel the fatigue, and Ihad tired feet, and I struggled a bit with my popped knee. But I got there.

 View from the way up

I thought I had never done this day's mine, but when we parked up things looked familiar. When we started walking it was even more familiar. And then I realised I had indeed done this mine before (albeit not the part we were heading for now), and more than that, I had seen this valley before from above, without realising I had seen it from the inside too! Things started to come together. It all makes sense now!

We got to the top of a spoil heap and sat down for a bit. I could feel the mountain and was quite happy. I just lay down! Very relaxed. But then we decided to move on. Almost a pity!

 Having a relaxed chat before going underground. David, Simon, Phil and Edwyn

Phil wasn't well and had only come along for the walk, so he went one way; David and Paul didn't want to do SRT so they went another way, and Simon, Edwyn and me went to the top entrance. While walking into the adit Simon asked "so who of us has hangers with them?" None of us did. Oh dear. That seemed to be the end of our SRT plans. In these regions it is customary to leave only the bolts in the rock; the hangers and nuts you take with you. You can't safely attach a rope to just a bolt. We just looked into the depth and had to make do with that.

We went back, walked to the next entrance down, and went to the pitch. There were hangers there! We could do two thirds of the planned rope work! Great. But we would be careful; there was no way out on the next level, so only if the next pitch also had hangers we could go down and pull the rope down without getting stranded. Edwyn went down first; soon he confirmed the next pitch did have hangers. So I went down too, Simon threw us the rope, and we went on. Simon would follow us around the outside.

 Remains of a bridge

When we came out at the bottom level we saw the nearby lights of David and Paul. Great timing! We walked back and changed. It was late. I tried to convince Edwyn and Simon (on whom I depended) to go without delay. It had been an excellent day, but now I really needed sleep! Lots of it!

25 July 2016

Regrets of youth

It must be the having turned forty. I keep having old songs and old sound fragments pop up in my head. The shit I spent my time on in my youth! It's scary to what extent things you listen to as a child (and I'm afraid, that apparently lasts well into your teens) end up stored pristinely in you long term memory. The daftest nonsense! The sheer silliness of things might be illustrated by the following; my sister was visiting me, and I made a cultural reference to a recorded spiel from a particular exhibition on potatoes (!) in a sort of agricultural attraction park (only in the Netherlands, I assume). She could reproduce the entire spiel. It's not just me!

Not a pic from my own past; random pic from Wikipedia by F. van Rooden

So instead of gems like Mozart's Requiem or True Faith by New Order (just to name two anthems I could have locked onto but didn't) I spent my time listening to, and setting myself up for torture with, the likes of: 'I save the day' by Roberto Jacketti & the Scooters; 'Nothing's gonna change my love for you' by Glenn Medeiros (a big hit with early teen girls at the time, of course), and 'Hela hola tuthola' by Pater Moeskroen (admittedly, quite a funny song, but hardly one I expected to have staying power at the time). And they're coming back to me now. I suspect it's only getting worse! One is not very selective at an early age, and has no idea one is punished for that decades later... 

24 July 2016

Sunny climb

It was a hot day! It was good to leave the office early and get out into the sun. And Eifion had picked a magnificent venue! We would be climbing some crag in Nant Peris. It's such a beautiful valley!

View south of where we parked

View west of where we parked

We got there; soon we all had bottles of sunscreen in our hands. We would need it! The person with the kit was coming a bit later; she struggles to leave work early enough on Mondays. So we waited for her, admiring the view, and other climbers visible here and there. When she arrived we could go and lug the kit to the crag. And then the laborious rigging started; this was again a trad-routes-only crag.

Eifion rigging in the sun

It always is some faff. We would need many routes; we were with many! I had a climbing course coming up so I paid attention. I don't think I'd rig in that ultra-safe it it was up to me; I'm a mine explorer, after all. I was trying to curb my impatience! And I managed. By the time the second pitch (we would do three) was done I went down to start climbing. I ended up climbing two pitches twice and one once; a good score! With the pitches I did twice I just muscled my way up the first time, and tried to climb more technical and elegant the second time. It was fun!

Some of the climbers on the walls much higher up were associated with the same club! And they took this picture of us. 

The first two pitches are rigged; the climbing has started!

Something that wasn't much fun was that later on, the midges came out. I was wearing a tank top and shorts, so they could take their pick. And when you're belaying someone, you have your hands occupied, and you can't chase them away. Oh dear! But it was a small sacrifice for a lovely night.

When most of us were tired and all of us were fed up with the midges we called it a day and started to de-rig. While we walked back to the cars the sun set behind the hill. It was gorgeous!

22 July 2016

Spring (?) clean

I think I should have less stuff. Stuff gets in the way. Stuff makes moving house a pain in the neck. Stuff needs space. I have a lot of stuff I don't use. There seems to be a good solution: get rid of it. But it's hard! For me, at least.

I am perennially afraid that if I get rid of stuff now, I will have a use for it later. I held on to my climbing kit, for instance, when I left Norway. In Plymouth I climbed three times (here, here and here), and in York I didn't climb at all. But now I'm back at it and very glad I still have the stuff! I also kept my skiing trousers; generally too hot for the temperate UK climate. But one pair of trousers lives in my office and comes out on winter Monday mornings; the heating is off over the weekend, and quite often it will be Wednesday before the temperature is such that wearing only one pair of trousers is comfortable. The other one is in use for climbing on cold days. So hanging on to them paid off! See what I mean? It's hard.

When I got rid of the broken hoover I went to the recycling centre, bringing along some other stuff, and it reminded me of how nice it is to get rid of stuff. And then I realised my bicycle key was about to break off, and I wasn't sure if I had a spare. If I did I'd better get it out soon! But where would it be? And then there appeared a weekend in which I wasn't feeling too great so pottering around in the house seemed a good idea. And thus it started.

 The endangered bicycle key

Looking through different places where my spare key might be, I ended up sifting through some stuff I had been intending to sift through before, but never got around to. Now I did! And quite some of it could go. A big garbage bag filled up. It felt good! And I didn't find a spare key (I think I have none) but I did reunite a few rogue locks with their spare keys, and chucked the rest away. Success!

 Large bag ready to go

 Entire shelvy thing empty! Except for some tasteful decoration.

One other thing I had been working on earlier, with insufficient progress, was scanning photo albums. I had done quite some scanning, but hadn't had the heart so far to actually get rid of the original albums. And that had been what it was all about! So since I had started scanning I had diligently moved all the heavy albums to the other side of the country twice. Not good! So as I was on it anyway now, I decided to make some progress. One album had been scanned but only partly edited and turned into PDF; I sorted that. And scanned and edited another. And this time I did an actual selection of which pics could go. My albums stopped at 2004; after that, I kept my files digital. But in the period 2000-2004 I clearly had a digital camera but still printed everything off. That had resulted in an overabundance of pics; in digital form, I keep them all, but now I only keep the valuable ones in analogue form. That way I managed to compress four albums into one! Now we're talking!

Fourteen albums (the fifteenth is awaiting scanning elsewhere); of these fourteen, nine have been scanned! Soon this row will be a lot smaller and lighter...

I will have to keep this up; six albums still to scan. And then I have an entire drawer full of loose pics. Best to scan these too! And then I should be careful with the PDFs. I'll see if I can dedicate two separate carriers to them, and keep them in two places. And then soon I not only have made space, but also made a backup of irreplacable old pics! That always is a good thing...

20 July 2016

Explore down

Just over a year ago, we had explored a mine in which we saw a bolted drop. It was too late in the evening to explore it but we wanted to do it some other time. That time was now! I looked forward to it; new terrain, and rope work! My favourites.

Without issues we got to the meeting point. We were with only five! A nice little group. We went in and started rigging. I was th efirst to go down. It went to a small level that looked dead, and then went further down to the top of a rise, with planks over the top. You could go down that rise, clearly, but I wasn't sure if it would go. I thought it'd be a bit selfish to explore all the way down on my own so I stopped at the rise. Soon Phil was down too. Then David. He decided to go all the way down. When he was there I asked if there was space for two; hwe answered there was space for evrybody! So I followed. We all did except Paul who did not fancy any rope work today.

David on top of the rise

We soon saw that only one tunnel went a fair distance; Phil and I also found out the water in it got deeper and deeper. We decided to go back and wait for the rest; it would be more efficient to go in all together. In the end it was only me who scouted it out (surprise); the water came to my chest but at least I knew for sure what was at the end. A blockage! Another surprise.

Having figured that out we were ready to go up again. Phil had started; I wanted to be next as I was the wettest. I went to the intermediate level I had seen on the way; that would give me time to explore it while the next person came up. That was Rich; he had made an unwise change to his SRT kit, and already at the top of the pitch we had told him it was as unwise as it was, and David had offered him a sling which would remediate the situation. Rich stubbornly decided, however, to climb up to the next level without the sling. That left Phil and me to wait a considerable time, listening to the sounds of discomfort emanating from the rise. Oh dear! Luckily he saw the error of his ways and deployed the sling for the second part of the pitch; otherwise we would still be there.

Phil on top of the rise

A kettle and a bucket

With Rich up to the next level I went all the way up. I took off the SRT kit and had a look at the rest of the mine. I had seen it before, but it was nice to see it again. I don't always have an acute memory of such places! On the way back I bumped into Phil and Paul. When we got back Rich appeared, followed by David; we could de-rig. While David, Phil and I did that Paul and Rich vanished so Paul could show the latter what he hadn't yet seen; they wouldn't be gone long and they knew where we would have gone to so we went out. It was nice and early!

We had a half-hearted attempt at locating where the blocked adit would have come out, but then we went back to the cars. I was fully changed by 10PM! Brilliant! I left on my own; David had not come from work so had travelled on his own, and he inteneded to go and get a bite to eat on the way back. That drew in crowds so all the men from my car joined him. I was home by 11PM and lights were out before midnight! Great! Chest-deep water, rope work, artifacts and home early; mine trips would struggle to get better...

18 July 2016

First world problem

Someone left their bike at my favourite parking spot! Oh no! It was there for eight days. I was afraid it was abandoned. I took exception! The spot where this rogue bike was located is the dryest spot we have at our building; it's closest to the wall, and sometimes the building shelters it from rain. I am not happy about having to park outside anyway; having to leave your bike in the frequent Welsh rain means lots of rust and lots of need for oil. And I'm fine with someone else getting the prize spot if they get there first, but to abandon your bike at this sought-after location? It's digraceful!

However, after eight days it vanished again! Maybe someone just went on fieldwork for a week or something. Hurray!

The situation as I don't like it

The situation as I prefer it (that's my bike there)

16 July 2016

Fun climb

The evening had all the ingredients for an unsatisfying climbing evening. It was windy, it was a bit cold, the sky looked like rain, the rock we would be climbing was infamous for getting slippery, and we would be eight people at a site with only trad climbs, and trad climbs mean: time-consuming faffing and little climbing. I had a great time, though!

We gathered at the RSPB centre at South Stack, as that corner of Anglesey was forecast to be the only dry bit of northwest Wales that evening. Initially it looked like there would be few of us; we set off with five people. That meant: much kit per person, and I have the biggest bag and the healthiest spine, so I ended up with two ropes and a heap of metalware. No problems!

 The view from the gathering spot

We walked towards Holyhead Mountain. An infamously windy place! Although it has its good moments. We would walk quite a way up it; this wall only has trad routes, and we weren't a bunch of very confident trad climbers. We would therefore go to the top and set up some top ropes. That is a bit of a work as you have to rig from whatever happens to be there, and anchor your belayers too. We would do that from the top this time! But that meant lugging all the kit up the mountain. It started with a boulder field; I took my time, as my centre of gravity was in a funny place and I didn't want to take one wrong step and bugger my knee. Climbing up the steep slope after that got me quite hot. But we got there!
 Stopping at a point from which we could see the routes; the book comes out

Simon and Ron started rigging. Soon Ron had a rig ready and I was ready to climb. Unfortunately, Simon wanted a bit of help with his, so I ended up waiting a while. Not my favourite thing! But one should not rush a rig. While we were rigging three more ladies appeared. I was glad when in the end I could lower myself over the edge. Soon I was down and could make my way up. The route started with some scrambling and then got into a crack. Climbing one can be a pain; jamming your feet in can be very painful, but this crack was rather forgiving. I had a few moments of not being sure where to put my hand and feet but I got up without issues. Next!

The next person was Piers, a retired man. I think his climbing prime might be several decades behind him but that doesn't stop him. I figured he'd struggle on this one! And he did. I took a strategic position from which I could see him so I could guide him up some of the bits. When he got to the crack he first fell out, with his back on a rock; that hurt. He didn't give up though! Grunting and panting he kept going. He told his belayer several times he wanted to give up but the belayer wasn't having it. And in the end he made it!

Piers and Mags are starting their way up

 Piers is still doggedly struggling on while on the second pitch, the next climber is already going down.

In the meantime Mags was doing the other route. I think it was easier on paper than the one I'd done, but she found the end trying. I think she left the route and found her own way. Then other climbed. I spent my time watching, shouting encouragements, drinking tea and putting on more clothes. I was keen to try the other climb too, but it was raining, the route was getting wet, there were loads of people and everyone was getting cold, and I wasn't sure if the opportunity would present itself. But in the end it did!

I knew I was the last so I wanted to be quick. No subtlety, just muscles! I worked my way up the first crack with all the elegance of a caver. I at some point anchored myself by squeezing my bum sideways into a wide crack and tensing up my muscles; not sure that is standard practice. But it worked! I got up. Then I came to the second crack; we thought the route just followed it but so far everybody had come out and climbed off to the right. I figured I'd do too at some point, but I was in a good jamming mood after the other crack and, to my surprise, soon found myself in the crack and close to the top. I had done it! And then it was time to pack up.

Ron volunteered to lower everybody who wanted down to the boulder field on a rope; he would then de-rig, throw the ropes down, and walk down himself. Excellent idea! No fun lugging a heavy backpack down a steep slope. The boulder field was still something to be careful in but then I reached the path again. Time to take my two (!) jumpers off! That night I drove home in torrential rain. We might have found the only spot on the island where the rain was just modest enough to allow climbing!

15 July 2016

Cake competition: round two

In May I had baked a cake (or two, rather) for the School of Ocean Science cake competition. And to my dismay I had won that round! So I had to go again. What should I bake? That question was easily answered. I received an email from my nine year old niece, with a cake recipe attached. So sweet! So that was settled then. And later I got an email from one of the organisers; could I do a second round in the first week of July? Well, I could!

I bought my ingredients on Tuesday and got baking on Wednesday. I made sure to follow the instructions well; I can't disappoint my niece! I did allow myself the liberty of adding pistachio nuts to make it a bit more unusual; we are in the cake competition after all, and the level is high. A cake needs to have an idiosynchracy! At least that's what I think. And pistachio nuts are nice. On Thursday I was underground and on Friday morning I made the buttercream that would go on top, and I decorated the cakes. And I think it turned out rather well. My rival had made a coffee cake; I think my cake looked better but hers tasted really good. And she won! But I can keep my head high. I did my best!

An unusual sight in my kitchen; precision tools like scales and sieves...

 Another unusual sight: adding ingredients incrementally
Making the buttercream

Putting the cream on

The finished product!

The actual competition