Saturday, 8 January 2011

Last Huey out of Buckfast

I told people it would be like the Saigon embassy but they didn’t believe me.  
In the end, all the panic and chaos was there, only instead of people it was household appliances. We’d been burning papers for weeks, and some of our possessions had already been moved out for safe keeping. They were the lucky ones, because no matter how much you prepare, it’s always going to be a scramble for the last Huey off the roof, or the last three cubic inches of space in the boot.
You might have gathered by now that I’ve been on the move, and it was a big one. Moving from Devon to Scotland, there’s be no going back for stragglers. Anything that couldn’t be found space in the car faced forceful redistribution to charity shops.
We made a start on New Year’s Eve and at first, the cleaning seemed like fun. But by the third day of scrubbing, binning and packing, it was like a battle zone. And boy, was it hard work. I know I haven’t been climbing for a while, but I was amazed at how many things get you pumped. And I mean really pumped. Scouring the oven shelves was worth F7c twice over, as I required many a rest and unscheduled shake out.
On the fourth day things came to a head. We’d cleaned ourselves into a corner and I’d packed more than I ever thought possible into a Renault Laguna, while still ostensibly leaving room for two people and a dog. Around the door to our cottage, laden rucksacks stood importantly while clocks, glasses and jackets jostled for position. I crammed ever more in, but some had to be cruelly rejected.
My partner argued everything’s case, like a house clearance version of a UN human rights lawyer, but there comes a time when you’ve got to call it a day and get the hell out of Dodge, and at three we were ready to leave. I stuffed a clock radio into a side pocket in the door and rammed a rucksack behind a headrest, and we were on our way. A frying pan clung desperately to the wheel arch but was pushed away, brutally, by a golf club, and fell to the ground. An ancient Black and Decker drill, old enough to remember the fall of Saigon to the Viet Cong and NVA, sat squashed under a trunk and sweaters and sheets packed every last air space in the car, while a set of elegant wine glasses drifted around on the doorstep, unable to believe they had been left behind. They might still be waiting for another car now. It won’t come.
And so, my life changes. At least in all the outward aspects. Dartmoor receded into the distance in the rear view mirror we drove north on one of those journeys that make you realise how small England is. In five hours we were north of York.
Needless to say, my climbing gear was given preferential treatment and lives to fight another day. But I can’t let this opportunity pass me by without saying a few words about the people I met in Devon, especially all my colleagues at The Herald and all my climbing mates. You were all great, and I hope to see you all again soon. Ciao. And to all of those who warned me it would be cold in Scotland – you were right.
This blog is a continuation of one that started life at courtesy of The Herald in Plymouth.


  1. Welcome to Scotland!
    I'm an ex-pat Somerset boy living up in Aviemore now. I've been following you're blog for a while and hope you'e able to enjoy the Highlands as much as the mighty Moor. If you're looking for folk to climb with then get in touch.

  2. Well get a move on Dom... I'm keen to know how it's panning out up north and what you're climbing (and writing about)