Monday 13 August, 2007

A couple of months ago I was in a pub with Dave and Rachel. I forget which pub it was and it’s not really important for this story. Anyway, I’d been looking for something to do that’s fun, like a hobby or something instead of just drinking, climbing, gym and going to gigs.

The hobby had to be something exciting, easy to get into, not too expensive and exciting. I thought BASE jumping ticked all those boxes and is double exciting!

To be able to go BASE jumping you need to be very comfortable free falling, actually not just comfortable, very skilled. I decided that this is probably not for me. It does look amazing though..

Instead of getting into BASE jumping I thought skydiving would be a more acceptable sport which is still really, really exciting!! So, back to the pub that I can't remember, I suggested this to Dave and Rachel when they were drunk and they both agreed! [that's the way I remember it going anyway]

There are a couple of way that you can get into skydiving. One route is the AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) course. It's a kinda fast track, initially expensive way into skydiving. On your first jump you free fall with 2 instructor hanging onto you to keep you stable.. The other course is the RAPS (Ram Air Parachute System) course. When you do the RAPS course you start off doing static line jumps and lead onto free falling when you've learned to open your parachute whilst falling.


We went for the RAPS route as it's initially much cheaper than the AFF course which is nearly £1500. So the 3 of us travelled to the DZ (dropzone), see I know all terminology already, haha. Yeah, um, the DZ is just the other side of Swindon at this tiny airport. We spent a whole day there training. They really drill the important safety information into you pretty much by repetition. I was glad of this ias I usually forget things straight away. :)

We came back to the DZ the next day at 9am. During the drive to the DZ we were all pretty nervous quiet as the weather was pretty much perfect which meant we would jump that day! We put our names on the board when we got there so we were on the list to jump. At about midday we were called and got in our gear for the jump which consisted of a blue boiler suit each, a skateboard helmet with an intercom and of course a parachute.

We crammed into the plane in the order that we were going to jump. I was jumping first followed by Dave then Rachel. On the way up in the plane we did a pass over the airfield at 1500 feet and threw out a roll of crepe paper to gauge what the wind is doing. When the door was opened to throw out the wind tester thing I looked down and saw how high we were and thought to myself "I'm going to throw myself out of this plane in a minute. What the hell am I doing!".

We reached 3500 feet and it was time to jump. The instructor asked me if I was nervous then asked me if I was ready to skydive. I answered yes to both! The door of the plane opened and I assumed the exit position. I'd practised this position many times the day before and on the day of the jump but with an 80mph wind in your face it make it a little bit different! The instructor said go and I jumped! I think this is probably what the instructor saw when looking at me just after I jumped...

I remember jumping and looking back up at the plane as it seemed to be gaining altitude and flying away from me. I formed the correct position in the air so that I gave the chute a nice platform to open. The chute opened and span me around 180 degrees. I looked up and saw the lines twisted so I grabbed them and kicked with my legs and they unspun. At this point I knew I was OK and let out a WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Wow, what a feeling. Huge adrenaline rush from the exit of the plane then you get to parachute all the way to the ground with amazing views from 3000 feet!

I did a few 360 turns and had a bit of a play around steering then I though "what is that noise?". It was the chap on the ground telling me which way to turn through the intercom system.. :) I followed his instructions all the way down to the airfield. Well, I nearly followed all of his instructions. When I was coming into land he warned me to get ready to flare the parachute (put the brakes on) at which point I did flare the chute. Oops! You are supposed to flare at about 6 - 10 feet of the ground so you have a nice soft landing. I flared at about 25 feet! So when I flared my chute stalled and I dropped about 20 feet to the ground! Luckily we were trained on how to fall if landing heavily. I assumed the parachute landing fall position and rolled when I hit the ground so I didn't get hurt one bit. :)

Before I knew it Dave and Rachel were coming into land but perform much better landings that I did!

We all wanted to jump again that day but unfortunately it was a bit too busy so they couldn't fit us in. :( I'm still waiting for the weather to be good and have a weekend free so I can get some more jumps in.. The English "summer" hasn't been helping out very much....


On a slightly different note.. I've just bought a 3 metre power kite. It's awesome.



Ozomatli – Academy, Bristol

Friday 3 August, 2007

Went to see Ozomatli again at the Academy in Bristol. They put on a really lively, kick ass show.  Check out the last 3 pictures.. as their encore some of the band came right into the middle of the crowd and continued playing for about 10 minutes!!  😀

Juggling Clubs

Thursday 2 August, 2007

 I have to say thanks to Mark and Fran for making me some juggling clubs whilst they were over this summer. I’ve been practising and I think I’m coming along ok. 🙂



I’ve been trying the 3 ball mills mess to and am getting ever closer! Its only been about 10 years.. I’ll get it soon!