Tuesday, May 22, 2018


I’m slowly re-building my fitness to pre-holiday levels.  I’m not quite there yet - I think - but this morning I managed to beat my record up Tibrogargan, doing it in 33:45 and a total of 1:04:49, although I did stop the clock at the top - we paused for about ten minutes to take in the view.  In fact, I was expecting to be entirely puffed by the half way point and I still felt that I had energy!  So that was nice.  Also, I got to use my new windbreaker for the first time as it is getting chilly in the mornings - I think I’m going to need to invest in a body-warmer for the winter.

Lily is also increasing her fitness levels: after the Twins on Monday, she got home and promptly wanted to play fetch rather than flop on the floor.  She is also getting highly excited the moment I put sunscreen on - which was sad this morning as she was not invited up Tibro.  Her little face shows the utmost disappointment when left behind.

In other news, today is FFS3.  I’m finding it very hard to study, as it is going very well and seems to just be happening without study.  I have this niggling feeling at the back of my mind that this is going to catch me out...  I feel like I did a lot more work for the Embraer type rating.

It does help that this course is actually taught - rather than just being thrown in the deep end and expected to swim.  It also helps to have an excellent sim partner, and an instructor who is really eager for us to succeed. As mentioned previously - and I didn’t delete the post so maybe there was a glitch in the Matrix - I got 100% and my sim partner wasn’t far behind with 98%, so I think we’re doing okay so far!

We have so far mastered - mostly - the normal FMS useage and normal setup and flight from A - B and shutdown procedures, we have also completed TCAS exercises, steep turns, stalls, rejected take-offs, and today will be introducing fires, smoke events, engine flameouts and single engine operations: so much fun to be had.

I have read through the material once... and kind of have a “it’s not so hard” feeling and figure if I can remember the call “confirm engine out, prof, preselect V3” I should be fine.  And there are so very few memory items on this machine, how can we possibly go wrong?  ...famous last words???

Anyway... here’s a nice view from a mountain to show you where my mind’s really at. 

Also... just nine sim sessions left to go! (Including the two company sims after the TR check.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

All that knocking on the wall paid off!  Today was the written tech exam - or should i say, multiple guess tech exam - and I got 100%.  Just boasting a little here, but I feel very pleased with myself, and it's my blog so I'm allowed to boast.  Also, this means that we are finished with all the ground school nonsense and can move on to the real part of the type rating - which commences with Full Flight Simulator tomorrow.  I considered studying for it, but then read the profile and realised that it's exactly what we've been doing up til now, just with motion on - so I'm watching Netflix and TV instead.

Lily helping with study

Tomorrow morning I shall go hiking with A (and Lily), and then go to sim after lunch.  I don't really have any other news... when one is doing a type rating, news becomes very sparse.  I've done a little hiking and climbing, and a lot of driving to the sim centre, and a lot of sitting and trying not to yawn, and a lot of fixed base sim, and a lot of trying to study but getting distracted by Netflix, and you know, all the fun things.

My home for the next few weeks


Friday, May 4, 2018

I broke the dog.

I didn’t mean to break her.  I mean, we often go hiking together, usually one of the technically-out-of-limits mountains that nobody else climbs so nobody knows that Lily is there.

This morning it was C, A and I climbing the Twins.  Lil was full of enthusiasm, climbing into the car the moment I opened the door (to get my Contigo) despite 20 minutes to go til we left!  On arrival at the mountain she was jumping around barking and running on ahead with all the energy in the world.

Except, the initial climb (Twin1) was slow due to repeated stops, and I got to feeling like I wasn’t really getting a workout.  

The first peak

On the descent towards Twin2, I decided to run on ahead.  I made it to the base quickly, and then doubled back up - fast.  By the top, my legs were burning, I felt sick and my heart rate made it up to 196.  Stopping until I could breathe, and giving Lily some water, I then descended again to meet C&A, who were just commencing the climb up Twin2.

The entire second climb was painful.  My lungs did not feel like they wanted to recover from my sprint, so I dragged myself groaning onto the rocks at the top and poured water on my head to cool down.  Lily found herself a very large stick to chew.

Enough energy to spare at this stage...

Soon it became time to heave my jelly legs up and climb back down Twin2 and back up Twin1.  It wasn’t quite as bad as I expected, as we paced ourselves.  At the top, we paused to chat to two unexpected hikers, and then started our final decent.

Except, it wasn’t.

Shortly after starting down, I asked what time it was - being too lazy to change the settings on my Garmin to check.  At this point, A realised that she didn’t have her phone... it must have fallen out at some point between Twin2 and Twin1.

C decided to wait for us at the top of Twin1, and I, for moral support as much as anything, went off searching with A.  We didn’t find it until right back at the top of Twin2.  At this stage, having climbed up Things five times, I was getting pretty puffed.  We took it nice and slow on the final ascent, but the slope was fully in the sun at this stage so it got quite hot.  Lily started looking peaked, so I picked her up.  Her little body was on fire so when we got to the top I doused her in the last of my water to cool down. (Yes she did have her own water bottle, as well.)

Patiently waiting for the hoomans to hurry up

The final climb to Twin1!

By about two thirds of the way back down to the car, Lily was trailing behind so I picked her up and put her in my backpack.  She then proceeded to not want to get out of the backpack when we got to the car!  

And since then... she has slept, and looked around foggily when people move.  I have had to move my study into the bedroom so she can lie on the bed by my feet, as she doesn’t like me going out of her sight.

Foolish little dog.

In hindsight, I should probably have made her stay with C while we went phone hunting...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Our instructor knocks on the table (or the wall) whenever he mentions something that “may” be in the exam - which I think is in a week or two.  He is a very enthusiastic, invested, and extra keen trainer, coming in early, staying late and sending us long emails of extra information that he forgot to tell us.  He looks like a cross between Dad, Eric B (HH) and George C (ATR), if you know who I am talking about.  He is actually employed by my new company but seconded to Boeing for six months, so we are lucky to have him for our entire rating as we are getting immersed in company procedures from the get go rather than having to learn them after the type rating! 

The downside to M’s investment is that we have less time in our days to do all the other required study on the type - ie the computer based training.  Thankfully we have quite a good schedule so we were able to go in on our day off today to catch up, and although the training is by the “firehose method” we are - for the most part - keeping our heads above water.

I got home early today - it is my day off - so took Lily for a walk and she was ever so excited.

The face of excitement

My sim partner, EPR, is very different from last time.  I find myself automatically putting him in the same box as B, and then reminding myself that he is nothing like him!  Instead, he is also a hard worker, and picks stuff up as quickly as I do so he is good to train with and we are both ahead of the game, according to M.  There is another crew on the same course as us and unfortunately they are struggling so I feel very blessed to have EPR.

We have already completed four of the fixed base sims - basically the full flight sim with the motion turned off.  Apparently this is cheaper.  We have a total of 11FBTs(fixed base trainer) to do, with progress checks at 7 and 11, and then 8FFS(full flight sims)  before our check (number9) and then we have a company check followed by a training day, which takes us all the way to June6.  What fun.

FBT5 is tomorrow, introducing the glories of reversal procedures so I should get back to studying non precision approach calls...

I just thought I would cave in and give y’all a blog to stop you complaining.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Barney Take II


I can’t remember exercising ever hurting quite so much!

Having not climbed much at all since the beginning of March, partly due to holidays and partly due to a seemingly never-ending stream of maladies, I was keen to get back in to it as soon as possible.

Dad and I had a great day out my last day in Ireland, climbing the Sugarloaf and walking from Bray to Greystones - according to a feature I found on my phone, >15k total.  However, since then, all I’ve really done is walking around (and to) markets in Kenya!  

The Sugarloaf in Ireland with Dad

On my arrival home in Aus, I went to the doctor about my persistent sinus issues and cough, and she said just to wait it out a couple of weeks as sometimes a cough can last six weeks - but not to get climbing for a few days to “let your lungs rest.”  Okay... well that was Thursday.  I rested until Monday, feeling pretty okay, and then climbed Tiberoowuccum with Manda and Lily - also fine, and I felt pretty fit.  Mind you, Tiberoowuccum is an ascent of less than 200m.

So of course, having already planned well in advance to climb Barney’s East Peak on Wednesday 11th April, I was determined to go ahead (John said: if you’re sick, don’t do it).  Bear in mind that Barney is over 1300m high with a starting elevation of around 200m. 

The view of the Western Peak from the Eastern Peak which we ascended 
The initial walk from the carpark to the slopes (about 4K) was okay but fast and hard work.  My new hiking boots, having held up well for Maroon, and not quite so well walking with Dad, started giving me heel pain, so we stopped briefly so that I could put bandaids on the hot spots.  Then, having climbed a couple of hundred metres further, both John and I needed to change into our Approach shoes for the scramble (Ben didn’t have any) and I found them much more comfortable on my sore heels.

At this point, my lungs were on fire and I was gasping for breath - between the coughing and the blocked sinuses, blocked ears and runny nose - none of which had I been experiencing when we started.  We climbed a bit further, and rested again, and I felt like I was going to die right there on the slopes.  My heart rate was up above 190, I felt sick, my legs felt like jelly and my lungs were heaving.  We then proceeded another 50-100metres up and stopped on the first ridge to re-evaluate.

Stopping to admire the view

John seemed keen to discourage me, saying he was unsure we were even 1/3 of the way up and there was SO far to go, and about 3 fake peaks to navigate before we reached the top, and if I thought this was bad, it was going to get far far worse... and Ben wanted to help me have the actual facts.  I wanted to know how far we had climbed already, and how far there was left to climb.  Having worked out we were at 780metres, and had come around 500 - and had to get to 1360m, I told myself with certainty that we were half way.  I really felt like turning around and going back, telling the others to keep going, but what I actually said was “I’m not a quitter” and “I’m fine” and things like that, although neither of the others thought I was fine and agreed afterwards that I had been in a LOT of pain!

Ben climbing a particularly hard part that I wouldn’t have wanted to descend

After that, I broke it down into 50-100m chunks.  “I’ve only got to do 100m” I would tell myself.  Or “once we’ve done this 50m stretch I will stop and rest” and it became so much more achievable.  Feeling the numbers tick by really helped.  Knowing from the map that we were at 950m, or 1050m, encouraged me.  We would guess our current elevation while I gasped and heaved and slowed my heart rate enough to navigate the next 50m.  We would revel in the view, awestruck at the immensity of the mountains and the beauty around us - while I caught my breath and the nausea subsided.  Every different plant became worth stopping to admire, every lizard another opportunity to stop and say “wow, that’s a fat one.”


This is actually vertical, you just can’t tell

I didn’t stop feeling like I couldn’t do it.  The little voice in my head kept saying “you can quit at any time” and “just stop. Just go back” but I didn’t actually say any of these things.  When we climbed up almost-impossible rocks and once when John had to give me a foot up as my legs are ridiculously short, I said “I wouldn’t want to go back down that way” as much trying to encourage myself that I had no choice but to continue!

Another break to breathe

The top came upon us suddenly.  I felt like I was prepared to keep ascending ad infinitum.  I felt like the the keep-on-moving-you-can-do-it just kept on going... and suddenly we were there.  Right at the top, and we could sit and have a well-earned cheese and pickle sandwich.  We rested for thirty minutes which felt much much shorter.  I unwrapped and rebound the dime sized blisters on my heels, adding strong tape from John to my supply of bandaids (this actually fixed them for the remainder of the hike).

John in front of the Eastern Peak - Western behind and slightly to his left

And then... we started our descent.  I had thought the bad part was over!  I had thought we had done it!  Some how I had forgotten that what goes up must also come down, and as it had taken us four hours to go up... it was likely to take another four to descend!  My jelly-like legs objected to being forced downwards, and the dust and leaf covered rocks seemed extra slippery despite the good shoes.

Valley into Rum Jungle, with endless mountains in the distance 

At one point, hurrying to catch up with the others, I found both legs suddenly caught between two rocks that jumped out at me through the bush, and pitched forward to land on my chest, on a rock, winding me badly.  The others, ahead of me, had heard me fall, and shouted out “are you okay?” But, being winded, I was unable to say so!  Tears were streaming down my face from the shock, and gasping for breath I was raising my head from the ground when John came running back.

John was screaming “are you okay?! Oh my God, Kate, aaaahhhhhhh” etc in apparent panic at my contorted can’t-breathe face, and as I couldn’t initially breathe, I wondered momentarily whether I actually WAS hurt and maybe I was bleeding or or or - which didn’t help.  Once I caught my breath, I said “I think I’m okay, just winded” or something like that, and then coughed and hacked and gasped for a few minutes until I could walk again.  I think that was the most dramatic part of the day!

More views

We managed to add a little humour into the descent, with Ben deciding to go through a rotten stump instead of around it - which of course I photographed - and trying to take lightly the numerous times we strayed off track.  That was the hardest part, as if we went off track we usually had to climb back up to the fork... and every step we went up, I knew we had to come back down.

Ben hauls himself through a rotten tree stump

Once at the “bottom”, we had to walk the 4K back to the car.  We stopped for John to replace his hiking shoes, and for me to change my socks, hoping for some pain relief, and then we marched.  We marched, and we didn’t think about our fatigue, and we teased Ben about running back to the carpark (somehow we had to cure his endless energy) and we remarked on the flora, and the lack of fauna (John: I’ve never seen a snake on Barney) and the hot showers we would have when we got home.  We drank our last supplies of water, and we just kept on walking, uphill to the saddle, wondering why the world had to have uphills at such late points in the day, and then the final downhill, remembering each landmark and realising how much closer it put us to the finish.

Mount Lindesay in the background slightly touched by clouds

And then of course we had to drive three hours home in rush hour traffic.

Except, I didn’t, because Ben was driving, and hooray for Ben driving, because John was napping in the back and I was too tired to even move.  So, thanks, Ben!

And eventually, finally, after over fourteen hours, we pulled up at home.  And after a gloriously hot shower I found I wasn’t even that sore (although this morning - next day - I am decidedly stiff and sore).  

Was it worth it?  100%!  Would I do it again?  Yes!  But... not sick... and not without a lot of fitness training and climbing beforehand!  Definitely not a hike to do after a month off!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I’m home

I’m home.  Little things remind me of Africa.  Little things like boiling the kettle to make my coffee of a morning.  Making homemade bread for dinner last night and slathering it with butter - or, having a little bread with my butter, you know how it is.  Because I can.  Because, who’s counting?  I don’t have one slab of butter to last months, I can eat it all today if I want to.  And my kettle takes mere moments to boil...

Selfie time at school - the kids loved this: this is Manu in purple, and I think Darren to his right, pointing

Little things remind me... little things like taking a shower.  Little things like spending All Of The Time on my phone watching YouTube and browsing, caring not how much internet I use.  

Kingsley builds a contraption

Little things like chopping up my vegetables to make dinner last night, using about three different knives, just to find one I particularly liked for each veggie.  I clearly didnt have only one tiny paring knife to use for everything. 

Bible story time (L-R) Sanchez, Seth, Manu, ?, Faustine

Things like waking up in the morning and spending half an hour just deciding whether to get up, spending the day browsing around and the evening watching something on TV.  That’s not a little thing.  The amount of free time I had yesterday I barely knew what to do with myself: no little children’s fingers entwined with mine, no shouting of “Teacher! Teacher Kate!” No school prep of an evening.  I have to say I think I miss it. 

Women carry water from the spring, to boil over wood or charcoal fires - there are no ovens

Little things like walking around town holding my wallet and iPhone in my hands as I shop.  Ha!

Banana seller at the market - 4 bananas for 20KSH (0.20USD)

I already feel so many worlds apart from Ireland, and from Kenya.  All that said, I did feel like I was truly coming home, this time.  

Angeal, Faith, Bravine and Celin discuss with Teaxher Sarah.

I treated myself to some new stationery yesterday.  There’s something about having a new notepad and a new pen - despite the 547ish pens I already have.  But then I look around just Officeworks, or I look around Woollies, and I wonder why do we need so much stuff?!  So much consumerism!  The wanting!  I mean, I have several pairs of shoes, but I was walking along yesterday thinking “oo those are nice” and I had to stop myself.  Really?  Really?  After Africa?

Kisumu food market, beans are a staple.  Beans of all sorts.

I was thinking as I walked through Westfield, if only I could show this to them.  I’m not sure why, because what would be the point - but also maybe to share it.  Maybe to take some of this and put it there, to share all the extra, All The Things that we don’t need.  All the things that are Extra and people Waste, and they don’t think of the people who Don’t Have.  

African shops (I think in Chavakali or M’dete, I’m not 100% sure) 

Shops painted the green of Safaricom... because without the ad, there would be no paint.

Let me put something to you.  What if you didn’t buy that one extra thing.  What if you didn’t buy that one coffee in the shopping centre, and instead drank it at home.  What if you said no to that piece of clothing when you already have a full wardrobe.  Would you?  Think about it... and if you do... think about what you could do with that money.  That $5.  That could change someone’s life.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Boat Ride

What is strange to me is that none of the teachers realised that if a child fell into the water, it would drown unless rescued by one of us.  Or worse still, a drama that constantly ran through my head and made me prickle with fear, if the boat capsized, how many of the twenty eight preschoolers would three of us wuzungu be able to save?  

None of the teachers were able to swim - but they were all wearing adult life jackets, and being adults, they would all be fine - probably - unless they panicked.  But of the twenty eight children, just one was wearing an appropriately sized and fitted child life jacket - the other twenty seven were wearing ludicrously oversized adult jackets with broken zips and hastily tied straps - and let’s face it, even if the zips had worked, the small children would have slipped right out of the jacket when immersed - or maybe a larger one would have flipped over with its head under water - either way, not a success story.

We were only on the lake for about ten minutes - if that.  But I felt distinctly uneasy and watched the children like a hawk.  At the other end of the boat, J was doing the same.  Having given all his valuables to a teacher, he was poised ready to dive.  All of the children were actually very calm and well behaved, so unless the boat leaking became worse, or a hippo (they were around!) came up under the boat, I suppose we were okay.  

The three year old in the child life jacket screamed the entire time.  He was intensely upset at having to wear a jacket different from all of the others. 

And when the boat finally docked and we lifted the children one by one onto the rocks, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.  J apparently had the exact same thoughts as myself, as he shared with me afterwards.

Was the 1000KSH we paid for the ride worth the risk?  I’m not sure I think it was.