(Final) Practice, Practice, Practice…!

Ok so I’m a bit of a worrier, a fretter, an exam/test hater…

(OK OK…I can hear the ‘oh REALLY?? I never would have said THAT!’ comments from here! 🙂 )

So for the past few weeks since completing the confined part of our PADI Open Water course, we’ve been practicing like little demons at Robin Hood Watersports.  They actually don’t mind slightly manic, worrywarts (yes that’s a real word!) spending lots of time in their pool.  (Did I mention they’re a fantastic group of folks? 🙂 )

I’m pleased to say that my mask removal / replacement has become a lot easier (hoooray!!!) and regulator recovery, free flowing regulator, taking kit on and off at the surface, out-of-air simulations, detaching and reattaching our inflator hose etc all appear to be under control!

Buoyancy…now that’s a different story –  I FLOAT… BIG time…I could be a human life raft… so trying to find that ‘sweet spot’ between sinking like a stone when I breathe out from all the addtiional weight I carry in my BCD pockets, and rising to the top when I breathe in normally is proving elusive.  Oh and my feet float. Alot.  Add floaty fins and my feet – well they’re constantly not where I want them to be in the water!  But hey!  I’ll get there… just hope I can hover long enough at Capernwray to get a ‘pass’ on that skill 🙂

So this Saturday sees us at our last practice session before our Open Water qualification next weekend.  We’ll be adding our neoprene hoods and gloves into the mix.  Did I tell you we’ll be doing our qualification in DRYSUITS??? (A flooded quarry in Carnforth… in March… we’ve gotta be INSANE!)  So that’s a few final practices of the inflator hose bit with neoprene gloves on, and of course more mask practices but this time adding in the fact that you need to get your neoprene-clad fingers under your neoprene wetsuit hood edge so you can make sure your mask seals to your face properly…!  Should be interesting!

Our trip to the Maldives is certainly helping me keep me focussed – I’m going on that holiday as a qualified PADI Open Water Diver even if I have to redo some of my skills several times during the particular dive i have to do them in (in a quarry, in a drysuit…in March…)  I apologise in advance to anyone else reading this that might be in my group that day – hopefully I won’t keep you guys hanging around in the too long while I finish off!

There will of course be one (ok maybe two) more watches of the PADI DVD before next weekend…

Ok Ok… comment away…under your breath please… (At least I’ll have an idea why my ears are burning!)

Worrywart Finister signing off 😉

Practice, Practice, Practice!

This is me practicing my mask removal & replace skill for my PADI Open Water qualification. Yes, I’m a wuss…I hold my nose until I’m comfortable with a) breathing through my regulator without my mask in place (those bubbles feel a little strange coursing over your uncovered face and eyes!) and b) psyching myself up a little to let go and trust that I won’t breathe in through my nose.

When I’m comfortable breathing in through my mouth and then move onto finding my nose piece and pushing the strap over the front of the mask so it doesn’t get tangled when I put the mask back on,  I must admit that I go a little ‘zen’!

Next weekend, I’ll be practicing this skill wearing my neoprene hood and gloves – we’ll be wearing drysuits at Capenwray at the end of the month as it’s going to be a little chilly! One thing I can’t prepare myself for is the shock of cold water on my unprotected face when I have to remove my mask during one of the qualification dives, but if I get the mechanics of this skill to be second-nature, the cold will be just be the motivation I need to get a wiggle on and get the mask on and cleared in record time! 🙂

I also had a go at the pesky detach and reattach of the BCD hose skill…

Pesky as it took me a while to get the knack of what to do again… pull back the spring-cuff to detach it, then pull it back again to get it onto the connection but then pushing forwards to get the ‘click’ to show it’s connected properly.  My fingers were a tad sore – the video is my fourth attempt…

Next week, it’ll be practicing that skill with my neoprene gloves on as we’re gluttons for punishment and have decided to do our Drysuit Specialty (yes that’s spelt right…PADI are American…) after we pass our Open Water. We’ll already have done our Open Water qualification dives in drysuits so just a few more skills to demonstrate!

Adventures in Scuba Diving Part 2

So Saturday comes, and finds us at Robin Hood Watersports for the first half of our PADI Open Water Course – the ‘confined’ element ie done in a pool.  Part classroom, part practical, these two days let you get to grips with all the skills you need to complete your Open Water Certification – the second half of which is done in true ‘open water’ at a old quarry at Capernwray near Carnforth.

By the end of the two days, we would have covered (this isn’t an exhaustive list by the way…) :

  • How to set up and breakdown your kit
  • Breathing underwater
  • How to purge your regulator
  • Regulator removal and recovery
  • Clearing of a half and fully flooded mask
  • Sharing air with your buddy via your spare regulator
  • Swimming with your buddy while they’re using your spare regulator
  • Swimming underwater without a mask
  • Fin pivots
  • Neutral buoyancy
  • Hovering
  • Removing your weights whilst at the surface and underwater
  • Removing your BCD and putting it back on, both at the surface and underwater
  • Safe Ascending and Descending
  • plus many other skills and techniques!

My biggest worries were around filling and clearing my mask – or more specifically, breathing underwater with either my mask full of water or indeed, without my mask at all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Scuba Diving Part 1

We’re lucky enough to be going back to the Maldives in May, and wanted to get our masks, snorkels and fins sorted so off we trotted to Robin Hood Watersports at Heckmondwike.

We’d done a try-dive with a local company here in Morley before our first trip to the Maldives back in 2001, but I got a terrible pain in my ear when descending which put the fear of god in me, so that brought my foray into the world of scuba diving to an abrupt end.  Since then I’d been very nervous of trying it again, happy with floating over the deep rather than being ‘in’ it.  Mike hadn’t had any problems with the trial, he really enjoyed it in fact, but we’re the type of couple that when we do things, we do them together, so Mike didn’t take it any further.

However, that all changed when we got chatting to Damian and his wife Sally.   Within less than half an hour, it became obvious Damian is PASSIONATE about diving – not just doing it,  but teaching it – and it’s infectious.

Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Cow…!

Hey guys – long time no speak (ok ,waffle) from me…

It’s been over six months since I last posted – 24th June 2012 to be exact…This is my first blog of 2013 and it’s almost March…!

2012 was one heck of a year though!  I feel a tad guilty about not writing anything in/about the other half of it…!

Our personal pièce de résistance was our Silver Wedding Anniversary celebrated with lots of wonderful cava during our absolutely excellent fortnight in Barcelona; the country’s pièce de résistance was our amazing hosting of the London 2012 Olympics (even we were rooting for Team GB and are immensely proud of them! 🙂 ); November saw the rather fantastic Skyfall hit the cinemas, and let’s not forget Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee!  (There’s a Daniel Craig tie-in somewhere in there… :))

We booked a holiday to the Maldives for 2013 and then came to our senses, cancelling it and instead having another festive December break in NYC which left a much smaller hole in our bank balance 🙂

Christmas and New Year’s Eve were a bit of a soggy pudding however – we both got a variety of viruses so were pretty much ill for around 5 weeks- boooooooo!!!!

Oh and we’ve fallen off the sensible-eating, no (tummy) pain, no (weight) gain wagon BIG TIME…(don’t ask…)

Here we are now though,  Valentine’s Day has come and gone, along with a variety of rain, snow and gales, but we’re starting to see glimmers of spring everywhere – Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early one and who are we to argue with the world-famous weather-predicting groundhog!

  • February 21st sees us at the O2 Leeds watching one of our favourite bands Train in concert…
  • The end of February (if not before…) sees us climbing BACK on the sensible-eating wagon BIG TIME…
  • March will hopefully see me & Mikey on our first trip of the year to the seaside sometime around his birthday – fish and chips in Whitby maybe, or an early breakfast in one of the fab little seaside cafes overlooking Scarborough Harbour, with a yomp hither and thither whichever location we end up at…!
  • March also sees us in the audience of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’ in its first national tour – we saw it in London and look forwards to seeing it in our home town! (By the way, the butler did it…only kidding 🙂 )
  • April sees me and Big Sis off on a short trip to one of her favourite cities, Paris – I’ve never been and she’s itching to show me around 🙂 …
  • June sees us in the Big Smoke for another Springsteen concert with our good ‘Tramp’ friends, Mike & Jayne at Wembley Stadium…
  • And at the end of August, we’re back in the Big Apple hoping to go on the Great Scrapple Hunt in the wilds of Philadelphia with our other good friends, Joe and Anna.

Sounds like I might have a few things to blog about if I actually pull my finger out!  😉

See ya!

Our First Springsteen Gig…!

So, last Friday, Mike and I went to our first Bruce Springsteen concert at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester – home of Manchester City FC.

We’d decided to spend the day pottering around Manchester prior to the concert – we’d not been there for years and thought it would be good idea but ended up very VERY wet – it absolutely threw it down ALL DAY.   The only time we got remotely close to dry was when we went to a great Spanish restaurant called Evuna on Deansgate…but I digress.

Our friends – Mike and Jayne – are HUGE Springsteen fans – definite ‘Tramps’… Jayne has a weekly blog ‘I’d Rather Be At A Springsteen Gig’ that’s definitely worth checking out.

Hardcore ‘Tramps’ waiting for The Boss 🙂

They’ve seen him in places all over the world – New York, Dublin, Paris, Barcelona…usually at back to back concerts in the same location and even then, feel like they could have gone to just one more gig or heard one more song…you get the idea 🙂  When the new tour dates came out, and Manchester was on the list, they suggested our going to see him with them.

Thanks to Mike and Jayne we’ve been able to listen to quite a few of his albums most recently Wrecking Ball.   Now to be honest, I wasn’t that keen on Wrecking Ball.  My first couple of listens to ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ irritated me actually, and my first full Read the rest of this entry »