The Great Adventure in Blightain – part III

Part three! Part three is here! Will I need to break it again? Find out in this episode!

Day two. We are in the building. We are sat down. Briefing commences. First aid class: underway. I will do some serious medicine. I will be… Bat-medic. Oh my god, why didn’t I think of that earlier?! Anyway… today is rather more outdoorsy stuff. Many people were only doing a one-day course on office first aid, so now it’s all a lot more relaxed.

The time is ripe for me to bring up bearsharks¹ again. Smiles, stares… it’s getting old. I decide to cut back. The morning is just classroom stuff. Or… is it? No, scratch that. We’re going outside to deal with someone with an injury. Blood is present. We also have a time limit.

The top score is (allegedly) 15 minutes, and we’re competing to beat that. Whether that is the actual time is debatable. I am put in charge for this and we are split into two teams. That’s one team under me, one team under mum (coincidental) and one casualty for each.

The casualty is a dude, happily unconscious (I prefer it that way) with a nice red swimming pool in his leg. Yeuch; I’m glad he’s out. I direct my team (efficiently, if I do say so myself) through the ABC’s² and Primary Survey. Then, concluding there is nothing wrong with him other than the MASSIVE BLOODY HOLE in his shin, we start to heal him.

And he’s bandaged up. One large, bloodstained dressing later and his leg is mostly covered up. Mostly. The small red crater must be left to rot; that little bastard plagued me on day one as well and I hadn’t been called out then. Anyway, we’re done in under the time limit. “We’re done!” The yell is quiet but satisfying. Moments later, the other team is done too. Close call.

Lunchtime! Back we march, happy to have beaten the top score and happy to be going back into the warm dry class. A lunch of champions – no, scotch eggs and raspberries, and it’s over. No scream today. The afternoon is… the great outdoors. Out we march and… helmets..? Why are there helmets out here? Apparently, we have to take these off.

Oh, what’s that? Without killing anyone? I see. This may require effort. So… I will be the headrest. I will hold the head, and I will take off the helmet. I use my legs as a headrest. Well done me. Then it’s time for a real challenge. We have to bandage up a guy with a huge gash, a busted arm, possible spinal injuries and… diabetes, we learn.

You see, I was given (on day one) a hint: on day two, outside, the devious buggers were going to hide some stuff in the clothing of the casualties. I wasn’t told what they’d be, where they’d be or when they’d be hidden. But it was a big help anyway. Because guess what we find? An insulin injector.

So, we start off. “Be as thorough as you can,” I say while working out the map with Nicola. We have to grid-reference our location, ditto the nearest 24-hour service (capable of calling an ambulance) and find the quickest and safest route there. I am busy doing this when I’m called over to help keep the guy steady as they move him up so he isn’t pressed against the tree.

He screams. He passes out. I hold him.

Another medic does (to my annoyance) the map. The guy is checked again. He’s bandaged up and stuff, but my legs are screaming from holding him up. We’re on a bit called the Slippery Slope of Death, by the way. Go figure. He’s slipping, my legs are dying and the ground’s sloping. Hence the name.

I ask (loudly) for someone to replace me. Help comes. It feels freaking awesome when my legs are freed. I am free! The pain is going! Anyway, he passes out shortly after the bandaging. Then, as I read the Manuel at them, Nicola goes off. The course is plotted; she’ll take three-odd hours to get to the destination. Woo.

Then there’s a lot of rummaging while I sit there as (basically) a weight for our first aid fanny-packs. Bloody hell! What are they after? And, triumphantly, one of them pulls out a wallet. And an insulin injector. Which meeeans… he’s diabetic. Oh well, we should have looked harder. Still, at least our group found it (mum’s didn’t).

Then it’s time for another exercise. This time I’m the casualty. And the injury is, quite coincidentally, a broken arm. Wowee. The treatment is a EuroSplint, of the exact same type that was used to splint me in UB. The splinting is done with only one bad joke (“Limoncello” is NOT the “freshest transformer”) and otherwise all goes smoothly.

Then the last and shortest challenge: fix a twisted ankle. Okay, so there’s this bandage, right, and it sticks to itself like clingfilm. So we use that, and she’s okay, but then she says she feels faint, right, and then she passes out. So yeah, I ask Manuel the Manual and he says that she’s got compression. Diagnosis complete, level complete. Woo.

Anyway, that’s that. Now, my feelings. Erm… private.

¹Bearsharks were a running gag during the first aid course, starting with day one when we made charts of all the things we’d have to consider. I was with the group for “Environment” and… well, let’s just say they fell under the category of “Environmental Hazards”. They’re 50% bear, 50% shark and 100% deadly. Well, one breed is. The other just flops about and drowns.
²Airways (anything in their windpipe?), Breathing (are they breathing?) and Circulation (blood flowing?) check.

Erm… Britain Part 2

Hello! Welcome to part two of my great British saga, which is expected to last all of two posts and… erm, probably under 1,000 words. Post two will feature stuff on the first aid course and possibly more on my feelings. It depends. It depends on how many words I need to cover my first aid course.

I will start off with the journey to Hope, the site of our course. Hope is a small village in the Peaks. So. We get in the car. I get out Google Maps. My phone begins pumping out instructions to get there, and… I open the Daily Mash. So it begins. Time passes. I read the best articles out loud. Then, after only a few hours, we’re there.

We check into our room. Nice little B&B. Pretty place. Food. Book. Bed. Morning. Food. Car. Course. Talking. CPR. So, erm, CPR. Cardio-pulminary resuscitation.  Hand on top of hand, ball of hand in centre of chest. Pump. The rhythm is ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive. I pump, and pump, and pump. Then the defibrillator. It tells you what to do, so that is easy.

Then… choking! Heimlich (now the abdominal thrust), thumping, baby-shaking… then lunch. Mmm, scotch eggs and raspberries. Delicious. I’m chowing down and having a leisurely drink when a horrible scream jolts my heart rate up over 9000. And… our instructor, Nicola Pickering, is yelling. Her hand is blood-red.

“Argh! I’ve burnt my hand!” The words aren’t even necessary. We all saw. Time to learn how to heal a burn! So – “DUH,” you say, ‘Just use cold water!” NO. You use a burn dressing. Or clingfilm and then ice or cold water. Why? Because the last thing a burn needs is more air. That’s why.

But we have a burn dressing. So we put that on. And lo and behold, her burns turn to plastic. Huzzah! Anyway, the afternoon is spent doing wounds. First I’m a medic, gingerly bandaging the 15-centimetre wound on mum’s arm. Then I’m an assistant, grabbing dressings out of a bag. Then… then I’m unconscious, my spine damaged, my mother rendering me dead.

Then I’m back in the building, having biscuits. Then tea is over, and… talk, talk, talk.

Talk, talk talk.


…Shit, I’m going to have to break this again.

Talk, talk, type.


Blah blah Nicola Pickering blah course blah High Peak First Aid blah. Blah. Google blah map blah.

How it Feels Leaving Britain… Again or my Adventures in Great Blightain

Hello, people! I think I know what you want to hear, so… I am in Dahab. I am sitting at the helm of my PC. We arrived yesterday. I am now going to tell you about how crap it feels to leave home. It feels… upsetting. I wanted more time there. But it also feels… good. As in, good to be leaving the cold.
Good to be leaving the government, the rain, the… airport. I think it felt best to leave the airport. The other places were likable, in their own way. Except the government. I won’t miss them, the oily, cynical bastards. Not that I saw them.
Anyways, it was sad. For a start, I didn’t get nearly enough time with my friends. No sir. In conclusion, I didn’t get enough time to see relatives. I might have felt a bit better, in hindsight, if mum hadn’t been plastered right up to the point at which she woke up in Luton. And then later sort of blamed me for her missing tickets.
Enough whining, though. I can’t write an entire post about how sad I felt on the plane to Geneva (and then Sharm). So, let’s start with Kinder Castle. What is Kinder Castle? A castle. A CASTLE. David rented it. David is a futures trader. David is a lord.
Seriously. We gave him champagne (well, fizzy). The others gave him such things as cufflinks, a jumper, a “Bathtub Duck Shoot” set and… a lordship. Yes, my cousin is now Lord David. He owns a square metre of land in Obscuristan, Scotland. Okay, I lied. Obscuristan isn’t in Scotland. It’s in Siberia.
I don’t know what he’ll do to his square metre. I’d be impressed if he could find it. Anyway, it’s probably got a crappy tree on it or something. But anyway. Kinder Castle. Kinder Castle is a small, well-kept castle in the Peak District. It’s owned by the National Trust or something.
It was built during the European Dark Ages, but restored during the 17-1800s to make it the perfect English “Summer” home. Well, I say Summer… you know what I mean. That time of year when the sun shines down upon the world… then quickly hides because Britain’s appeared.
Anyway. I enjoyed that. But what did I actually do? Hm, good question, quote mark-free person in my head. I… watched an awful lot of TV. I… shot things with the water pistol that came with Dave’s bath toy. And I flew a kite. That’s mostly it.
Sure, I played with Dave (they had a Wii), I messed about, I iced a mini-cake, I… built a fort. Oh yeah, that. Minor detail. I figured out that the Sky box in the lounge worked, and then I noticed the huge array of cushions and footrests that would help with my fort. And I thought it was a good idea.
Not everyone was happy with the new arrangement. But I liked it, and I thought it was cool. Even when I had to deconstruct it at checkout time. So, I spent most of the time in my fort, with the telly. I spent some time with other stuff. But… it was the fort that mattered. Really.
So, erm… yeah. Telly, fort, water, cake, kites… yeah. Then we drove off. Then we drove back, a day later, for a first aid course. CPR, metal-splint-things… OKAY, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I will continue this in another post. Stay tuned for first aid, airports and… probably kittens.

©blah blah blah lawyers blah 2013 blah lasers blah

Fatamorgana Gelato – not a sponsored post

This isn’t a sponsored post! Noooooo. It’s a gelato place! I’ll probably end up making this a short piece however I cut it, so I’ll try and keep it sweet too. First, I would like to obsessively splog about their incredible selection while totally not salivating.

Kentucky-flavoured, homemade, organic and gluten free ice cream (nearly put fat free in there – not that anywhere in the US would be… #ohsnap) may not sound so appetising, but I assure you that it has nothing to do with the state. Well…

Well, maybe the whole tobacco thing… yeah, it’s chocolate and tobacco flavour. Sound good? No? Well to hell with your opinion, I thought it tasted fine. (Note that as I graduate from tweens to teens, my posts will likely become lippier.) I’m also not suffering symptoms of nicotine withdrawal… so, extra points!

Then… um… black tea and dark chocolate, anyone? No, I don’t either. But mum… mum was all up for it. It sort of had a smoky aftertaste. Mum seemed to like it, and… I guess it was fine. Maybe even pretty good. You may ask why I chose to write a post about ice cream. Well, let me finish the bastard review first, m’kay?!

But guess what? Mum ruined her selection. With what, you ask? With… mango. Yes, mango. But apparently it would have gone fine if it was tangier. Personally, I’d have gone with another chocolate. But then I don’t recall ever having had more than two scoops of ice cream.

My selection? First, passionfruit. A delicious, tangy ice cream, with all the passion of the Christ, but none of the Melware. Also, it was delicious. And sour. And… according to the girl working there, it was a “good choice”. Though I had my doubts, seeing as I’d coupled it with…

Stracciatella. What is that? Choc chip. “Oh,” you say. But it was delicious! Tasty vanilla ice cream, lovely dark chocolate chips… though my ice cream did end up looking like one of those “Eggs Benedict” that mother is ever so fond of. Mmm…

…Christ, I’ve extended this past my usual length. Oh, and you were asking why I, in Italy of all places, chose to write about gelato. Because mum will write about Rome, Venice and Florence. Well, whenever she finishes putting each day of our Mongolia trek into 400-word Grauniad columns. Any month now…

The locations of Fatamorgana’s branches are: Via Lago di Lesina 9 (rione Trieste Salario), Via G. Bettolo 7 (rione Prati), Piazza degli Zingari 5 (rione Manti), Via Laurina 10 (Via del Corso), Via Aosta 3 (Re di Roma), and another one which isn’t on the card. 38 or 36, big sign saying “GELATO”, find it yourself.
Oh, and we’re in Italy.
© 2013 Zac Sutcliffe. All legal bullshit is strictly enforced by bazooka-toting lawyers on cybernetically enhanced, flying alpacas.

Fun at High Hazels

Meh… my brain is a sponge (cake) right now, so no witty intro today. Instead, have this invisible screen bacon as penance:



Yum! It is so TASTY! But anyway. ‘What the £µ¢κ are “High Hazels”?’, I hear you say. I’ll tell you! High Hazels is a a group of holiday cottages operated by the National Trust. They are in the Peak district near Harwick Hall. I can’t be arsed to tell you about H. Hall, so just check mum’s site.

Okay, so… first up, getting there. Erm… a small Japanese car, four people, lots of luggage. Quite a few hours’ drive. Bleh. Next, waiting. For what? My cousins, Elias and Evie, with whom TV-watching and rubbish cricket are much more fun. They arrive, bringing me great happiness and entertainment. Woohoo.

Out comes one very cheap plastic cricket set. Hooray. Elias is batting, I am bowling. Ngh… I do not throw well. My bowling is destined to improve greatly over the next few days. Then batting. Meh-diocre. Then… den-building. Nope’d. Then… the horrifying realisation that “CBBC will be back at 7:30 AM”.

Next: tomorrow comes. First on the agenda: brekkie. Then, a film. The film? Cats & Dogs. I have no desire whatsoever to see the sequel (or even the second half of the film). It was bad. Sunday? Well, Elias’ b-day. And, um, Hardwick hall. Say, remember how I said I couldn’t be arsed to tell you about it? Well, I was kidding.

So, like, H. Hall was built by Bess of Hardwick, who was very powerful on account of her excellent divorce lawyers. She made a fortune out of not-very-much and was very proud of it, so the letters E H are distributed about the place. E H as in Elizabeth of Hardwick, natch.

Zac-approval levels:

Decor: 7/10, nice dusty weapons, boxes and chairs.

Size: 8/10, convenient for a shortish trip

Preservation: 9/10, very well preserved

Architecture: 6/10, pretty good, I guess

Touristiness: 9/10, few crowds

Grounds: 6/10, big but with only one tree to climb

Overall: 7.5/10, should visit if nearby.

I am writing this in hindsight as I was bathed in relief at Elias’ b-day present’s having been a smash hit (LEGO and bubble wrap, double-whammy). Also, my draft seems to have disappeared and I am writing this from scratch. The rest is, well, uneventful. Well, maybe apart from a few times, like when I made raspberry sludge with a hand-blender and a jug. Mmm…

And on that note, I am pressing that pretty blue button that says “Publish”.

I Broke my Freaking Arm

Hello readers. Since June the 23rd, I’ve had a broken freaking arm. It’s… not actually that painful. It’s slightly sore, granted, but they screwed a big metal plate into it and now it’s fine. So… meh. It means I miss out on a lot for a while. And…
And I have to go into hospital and remove it (not easily pulled out, those things, so it’s important to have medics standing by if you rip out a bit of vital artery), and do all that, and do boring physiotherapy to get it back in shape, and… and it’s altogether pretty damn SHIZ. :c
Wot else? Well… for a while, I can’t:

  • ride rollercoasters D;
  • climb trees :c
  • do other cool stuff

However, I can still:

  • do math D;
  • write a blog post :c
  • play video games 😀
  • watch TV 😀

So it’s not all bad. However, today Archie has gone and done a bloody sleepover, so I’ve been left here with a blog post to do. Now readers, you may know me. But for those you don’t, I am horribly stricken with a severe case of chronic laziness. Because of this, I am having a hard time even writing this.

Oh… em… gee. I haven’t even told you how it happened. Well, a while back I went to Mongolia, see. And in Mongolia, I went and sat on a horse. Well, see, the horse didn’t much like being sat on. So it made a displeased noise. Then it just started moving with the rest of the horses. It was… hot. And… the rolling Mongolian landscape got stale. And it was a five-day, seven-hour-a-day slog back to Hatgal.

But, as bad luck would have it, the saddle on my horse slipped. Have you ever seen a horse bolting? Have you ever been in the saddle at that very moment? Have you ever fallen off and gone into shock, only to find your foot’s trapped in the stirrup? Arms are weaker than rocks. Horses are fast. When a rock won’t budge and neither will an arm, then…


Looking Back on School

Hello! The time has come for me to write a blog post about Chinese middle school. DISCLAIMER: I dunno. Read it. So, looking back. Day one. I walk into school, wondering if today is the day I get in or if they opt to wait until a full day can be arranged tomorrow.
And guess what? It’s my first day at school. And I’m terrified. I sit there, at the TA’s desk at the back, staring at the board. I hope to God or something that the teacher (Chinese as a native language, no less) doesn’t come over and realise that I’m not understanding a word of what’s being said.
Also, everyone is looking at me.
Afternoon. The same damn thing. Except everyone is older than me. Because guess what? I’m at the uni. So… the youngest is 16, the oldest 23. I am downright terrified. So I copy. After a while, the teacher walks over and (presumably) notices the astounding similarity between the work of me and that of the guy next to me.
Day two. It is half seven. I am brought up to the front of the class. I am introduced. There are audible sniggers from my classmates, probably meaning that “Victor-of-a-Military-Battle Mountain” is an unusual name. I am sent to the back again. Ah, a few people have stopped staring.
I decide to stop cheating at CFL (Chinese as a Foreign Language). Conscience: clear. Understanding: eh, probably under 10%. Oh boy, I have a long way to go. Fast forward a little. Day something-something-dark side. I have endured it. All of it.
I have sat through CFL tests, maths tests, English tests (:D) and lots of other sh*t like that. And I have done fine. Fine enough to regret leaving? NO! And yet… yes. The kids and teachers have been more than nice. However brutal the hours may have been, however tough the homework…
I will miss that school.

The Awful Chinese Language

Yes, after a long period. (ha, Americanese) of inactivity, the least uncreative thing I couldn’t contrive not to come up with isn’t a whine about the awful Chinese language. But I’m still going to write about it. Anyway, as you may know, I have been suffering (or studying) the Chinese language for some time now. And I have made a terrible discovery.
What is this terrible discovery? The learning curve… is a right angle. It’s terrible. Don’t get me started on the hideous writing system. It’s all made of these little radicals, with three or four per character. Sound easy? Let’s see… four radicals p/c, hundreds of radicals, hundreds of words that mean the SAME GODDAMN THING… dismal.
‘But it’s only difficult because you’re a westerner! It’s easy for people who speak related languages!’ Yes, and what “related languages” might those be? That’s the thing about Chinese. There are no similar languages. Unless you count Cantonese, 北京话,上海话 and all the other bloody dialects. Blech. Don’t defend it, it’s an atrocity.
Shī Shì shí shī shǐ

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.
What is this? For a start, it’s boosting my word count by about 70 words. It doesn’t count characters. More importantly, it is a poem, called Shī Shì shí shī shǐ. Google it. The point is to illustrate the need for characters and how useless Pinyin (and, to a lesser degree, spoken Chinese) is. Say it. Shi shi shi shi…
Next up: having a pop at Benny the Irish “Polyglot”. Here is the nutjob‘s site. In his final video, he’s still pronouncing “hen” like “chicken”. His accent is totally screwed up. And he’s claiming that it’s easy. Which it is, if you’ve just scratched the surface, chatted a little and bragged.
Be careful for the curve.

Arse on the Ice: my Adventures at the Ice Sculptures

<wit></wit> I have spent most of my time outdoors, as the title suggests, with my arse on the ice. Today, I will be chronicling my great adventure at the ice sculptures, and the arse-plants involved. Our story starts when we have crossed the river, because the bit before that was just me whining about how my tears were freezing and how I needed ski goggles.

So, it starts with me slipping on the ice. My arse was unharmed, but my knee suffered grievous damage and I lay there hissing for about two minutes. IMPORTANT: I did not cry. My tears were frozen. Just clearing that up. Anyway, we set off for the ice festival with me grumbling about my leg, mum rejecting offers of rides and some dude in a car offering to give us a ride to the park.

Then… let’s just skip to the ice sculptures. What do we do when we get in? No, not gawp. Well, we gawp a little. Then we set off to have a cup of coffee for mum and heavily diluted, powdered milk for me. Oh, and guess what? THEY HAVE GIANT SLIDES SHAPED LIKE SWANS. MADE OF ICE. Yeah. Drink it in… I’ll shut up about the slides.

Just kidding! It is really scary, both in going up and shooting down, because… well, it’s ice. So, it’s slippery. So, when going up the stairs you’re in danger of slipping, and going down you go so fast that when you hit the snowdrift that serves as a buffer, snow goes up your sleeve. :( Anyway, on to something interesting.

Ninjas are interesting, but I don’t have any ninjas. Hm. Oh, I know! Next, I piss around on the smaller slides. I go on most of ’em. There are loads of them. Made of bumpy, solid ice bricks, all of ’em. Fun to slide down. Oh, and there was one really big one that truly shone. It had tons of people queuing for it and it was a bit tedious at first, but then I got the hang of it.

However, nobody really got my method of “waiting until the last person goes down, then shooting down at light speed”, so… pileups ensue. Boom, I shoot down because people are starting to cut in front. Boom, I collide (though not painfully; I slowed down some) and boom, the people behind collide. A pileup ensues, during which I switch to the second slide-bit.

And… well, that’s about it. There were some awesome ice sculptures, like a giant beer bottle made of ice (Communist my arse) promoting Harbin Beer. And ice castles. Disney style. But those are mum’s domain.


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Happy New Year!

It’s new year! Chinese New Year, you dufus! I wouldn’t roll out a new year’s post this late. But hey, it’s not too late for me to blog about the firework display. Even though fireworks are an awful, awful subject to write about. Anyway, it starts off with me in bed. I’m not asleep, just enjoyin’ mah mancave. Wishing the bloody fireworks would pipe down.

They don’t. Instead, mum pipes up and starts yelling at me to come and look at the fireworks. Because she can see them from the balcony. So I rush out –did I mention that I’m in my undies and a t-shirt at this point?– and look. Predictably, there’s condensation on the windows and I can’t see much, but I get a glimpse.

Next, I go back to my f*cking room to (hopefully) get some f*cking peace and quiet. No such luck. I am soon called to mum’s room, where, for whatever reason, the windows are fine and I can see the fireworks. They’re pretty, mainly the classic colours of red, green and yellow but with some white and blue in there too.

Then I go back to my room and observe the fireworks from there. Good god, this was an awful topic for mum to give me. I wonder if she’s written one on the subject…