Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Going up, coming down

on March 22, 2012

Big Girl has gone with Ex-Husband to visit her Grandma. Unfortunately, Grandma lives 9 hours’ drive away so Big Girl is away for 5 nights. I’m not really sure how to deal with this as Big Girl is not actually big enough to be away from me for that long, so I’m just pretending it isn’t really happening.

So, to pass the time, Little Girl and I are having an adventure. We’ve come on the train to Glasgow to visit friends, R and C and their three-month-old, E – this is the first time I’ve met him.

Firstly, I’ve never really been to Glasgow properly. I’ve seen the outskirts and I’ve driven past Motherwell with its massive, ugly tower blocks (I know, Motherwell isn’t actually Glasgow – actually I don’t actually know this – maybe it is). In my head, Glasgow is ugly and miserable and rainy and dour and full of people with incomprehensible accents. It’s also the heart-attack capital of the UK as far as I remember. Glasgow Tourist Board, you have some work to do.

It turns out that Glasgow is lovely. It has a Hamleys with the friendliest shop assistant I’ve ever met and a £3500 stuffed toy giraffe. Actually everyone is friendly. The architecture is stunning. It’s been sunny since we’ve been here. The shops are posh. There’s culture – we went out for lunch to a pub which holds ceilidhs and street markets and shows films with lunch. There’s a comedy festival coming up. We went to a fabulous museum which hosts organ recitals. There’s even the height of gentility – a Cath Kidston shop. Why did no-one actually tell me about Glasgow?

And then, in the evening we went climbing. C does everything that involves being outdoors and is slightly dangerous, including climbing. So he takes me climbing. Where I climb, we just do bouldering – even though some of the climbs are quite high you don’t use ropes – there are massive crash mats in case you fall. C teaches me how to use ropes.

Apparently there’s a difference between rope-climbing and bouldering. To the untrained eye (mine) it’s hard to spot. First of all C teaches me how to tie myself into the rope, using some fairly non-technical knots. Then he explains how he puts the other end of the rope through a belay thing and it means I won’t fall to my death (this is despite the seriously-worded signs is climbing centres explaining that actually, you can die, or at least be seriously injured, climbing indoors. I decide to believe him). Then he explains how I get down again and then I climb up. I go up a good few metres and then decide I should perhaps try coming down. Hmm, maybe I should have tried this a bit closer to the floor. C tells me to lean back and keep my knees straight. I tell him I can’t. Clearly I can’t let go of the holds on the wall. He tells me I have to. I descend into hysteria. He points out that there’s no other way down. (I would dispute this – I reckon I could have climbed down. But it’s not really the point.

So I decide to trust him. Palms sweating, I let go of one grip. I hold onto the knot. I look at the floor. I let go of the other grip. I grab the rope and lean back. This may be the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I walk down the wall. I reach the bottom and I am not dead.

So C explains how it works, how I can lean back into the rope and harness and not fall down (physics is like magic really) and I have another go. I go a little higher, I make slightly less fuss about letting go of the wall, I am slightly more confident.

By the end of the evening I actually like coming down. I’ve improved as a climber. I’m so proud of myself for managing to get myself down rather than being rescued, and for having another go at the most bloody terrifying thing I’ve done in a long time. But I’m still not sure about letting go.

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2 responses to “Going up, coming down

  1. Simon H says:

    If you get used to the coming down bit I’d come rope-holding for you!

  2. I did mostly get the hang of the coming back down bit – I liked the abseiling once I got used to it – just not the moment of letting go of the wall. We would just need to find a climbing centre that does ropes, and probably do an induction there. I’m up for that though.

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