Mountains for mortals: 12 non-technical mountain climbs

As a climber, I have completed several indoor climbing and winter mountaineering courses but my technical climbing skills still leave a lot to be desired. I have mastered basic rope, ice axe and crampon skills but don’t practise them as often as I’d like. All too often I only find time for some wilderness backpacking in Europe or low-altitude scrambling in the UK. Regardless, I still have high hopes of climbing the seven summits. One day…

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Countries-we-most-want-to-see-featimg

The countries we most want to see

Despite our best laid plans, we never made it to Africa last year. With renewed plans to visit the continent after our current trip through Sri Lanka and Burma, we found ourselves in an interesting discussion: if you could see only five countries before you die, which would they be?

This question posed a far trickier dilemma than the countries we least want to see. With so much on offer, we had to be ruthless in our choices.

We didn’t choose countries we have already visited, nor stateless territories (e.g. Antarctica). Two of our countries overlapped (Nepal and Canada) so we each chose one more to make a total of 10. Continue reading

Glamping in Devon (with a touch of the Mongolian steppe)

Glamping in Devon is the perfect compromise for a wild camper and his outdoorsy-ish girlfriend.

I’ve often said that I’m most content when wild camping with everything I need on my back. Kia asked me recently why I like it so much. I told her that I love the simple life. I love being cut off from the hectic, modern world and being close to nature. A bit of a cliché I know, but true all the same.

Unfortunately, Kia doesn’t share quite the same enthusiasm. She loves nature and dramatic landscapes, but would rather return to a warm hotel and tasty meal instead of a damp sleeping bag and freeze-dried couscous. When we first met and discussed our dreams of seeing the world together, her sole request was that I keep her fed and keep her warm. It’s a plea that’s simple enough but I have at times pushed the boundaries. Continue reading

Hardest language to learn: Japanese script

What are the hardest languages to learn?

We’ve written before about the best language to learn based on a number of different criteria. The verdict was French which, as a Romance language, is relatively easy for English speakers. (We stress the word ‘relatively’ because all language learning takes effort.)

Some of the most interesting data in the article comes from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) at the US Department of State. The FSI trains diplomats in language learning and maintains an internal ranking of language difficulty (specifically, how long it would take a native English speaker to reach proficiency). Here, we examine 10 of the hardest languages to learn based on FSI rankings. Continue reading