The late mountaineers

Tom Ballard's surely soon to be confirmed death on Nanga Parbat makes me so sad. When his mother, Alison Hargreaves, died on K2 in 1995 I was on holiday in Cornwall, and still remember opening The Independent (when it was still a great paper) and reading a two-page spread about her quite amazing achievements. They... Continue Reading →

Failing up

I have been resting from my writing more than usual. This is mainly because of the usual loss of faith in any of my abilities, whether creative, professional or maternal. I never embarked on the more creative endeavour of journalism that I wanted when I was 24, because it was quite likely even when newspapers... Continue Reading →

Stuff on climbing risk

I am not a 1980s climber; I am merely a soft, middle-class, comfortable climber with aspirations to go sport climbing in the Spanish sunshine more often. The climbers of legend were all dropouts of various degrees, who were disillusioned with the system, rendered unemployed by a combination of Conservative policy in the UK, and by... Continue Reading →

I love Milton Keynes

I don't know why people have such strong opinions on Milton Keynes, particularly when they've never even been there. When I tell people it's where I live, they look totally nonplussed, and invariably say something like "oh, all those roundabouts", or "but you're quite sophisticated, I can't imagine you living there". Yes, ok, it does... Continue Reading →

The shame of Pachinko

When I was reading Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, it was such a totally absorbing book that as I went about my own domestic tasks every day, I could picture these poor women in 1920s Korea, running their households with nothing, and trying to make every little grain of barley matter. In the later parts... Continue Reading →

Dud baby groups

Making new "mum friends" is something I find incredibly hard. Over the last five years, I've gone to every toddler playgroup in a 10-mile vicinity, and generally failed to get past the acquaintances stage with anyone. Even when I snag a phone number, I don't quite know what to do with it, and worry that... Continue Reading →

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