Project: Training Wall MkII

In August 2018 we made the (currently questionable) decision to move to Leicester for a new set of jobs. Part of our agreement was that we should rent a 2 bed house, and that the larger room be turned into a training room in lieu of access to a wealth of London climbing gyms.

Having built a small board back at my parent’s house a few years ago (inflicting untold stress on them by drilling ruddy great holes in the the walls) I was obviously the pro, and relished the challenge to mangineer a new training board.

The requirements were as follows:

  • Free standing – tick
  • Under £200 – tick (already owned holds and beastmakers)
  • Big enough to actually be usable – tick

I had the idea and raided Wickes for 18mm ply and 4m beams, and got to work. Times like those are when I’m so glad to own an estate
I planned for this to be a very simple build with minimal cutting, I’ve not got any power tools other than an impact driver so sawing is a hassle. A simple build is actually what I got!

A large square composed of 8 610x1220mm ply panels screwed onto a lattice of 45x70x2400mm and 45x145x2400 C16 timber beams set at 20 degrees (for now) and suitably supported. I then extended the right side perpendicular to the board to facilitate hanging both BeastMaker 1000 and 2000 fingerboards complete with pulley set up. KTX Silver M5.0 50mm and 120mm screws were used – good enough for most climbing centres, good enough for me!

The Core Screw-On board footholds are excellent and force the accurate footwork required for hard climbing, it certainly takes a bit of getting used to; an aggressive pair of Scarpa Instinct slippers help.

Being a furnished house we had a spare double mattress once we’d disassembled the bed to make space, perfect pad for the training board.

The hold selection is a random assortment from Surrey Summit so if any lovely hold manufacturer wants to lavish us with gifts please feel free – we’ll advertise the hell out of you!
We just need some free weights and we’ll be fully set to get stronger and starting achieving our goals.

Why I’ll (Probably) Never Own a Home

There’s a never ending, and very public, battle between multi-home owners, first time buyers, the government and the retired generation. Why can’t everyone own their own home?

A grumble at the multi-home owners:

Apart from accruing greater and greater wealth, what possible reason would you need 2 or more houses for?
My university landlord owned something like 20 houses within Portsmouth, the majority of them funded directly from the taxpayer through student maintenance loans. Presuming each house has an average of 4 bedrooms with each tenant paying £350 a month. That’s £28,000 a month. The guy drove an old Skoda Octavia. Goodness knows where all that money was going; I sure couldn’t spend money that quickly.

If the end-goal is to simply hoard money, deprive potential home owners of their own bricks and mortar, and bumping up house prices in general instead of putting it to good use in philanthropy or entrepreneurship then why are you doing it? Once you’ve covered everything what is there to splash out on? You could be buried with it I suppose.

For the Government:

Build more bloody houses; don’t quibble about where they’re going to go, or whose budget they’re being paid with. Just get houses built wherever there is suitable space. Brownfield sites, turn villages into towns, make blocks of flats that people actually want to live in. Increase density if you can’t build outwards. All these tiny villages need to get with the times and accept that they need to expand….for the greater good.

An observation:

I’m in my mid-twenties, meagre savings, renting in a cramped house share in Surrey, and have literally just started earning over the £20k mark. To celebrate my new position I rewarded myself with a car upgrade through a small 3 year loan – I’ve done the maths and yes I can afford it. It struck me that with that purchase I’ve sealed my fate on (probably) never owning a house. I doubt I’ll get enough of a payrise in the next decade to cover living costs, rent, repayments, general savings AND saving for a house deposit.

But why should I buy a house anyway? Working in the outdoor pursuits industry I need the flexibility to go wherever an enticing new job requires, it demands freedom to just uproot and go elsewhere. I also have peace of mind knowing that if anything goes wrong in this house it is my landlord’s problem; if I owned the house I’d have to replace the boiler, fix the washing machine, renovate the house every decade, so much expense on top of the mortgage and other outgoings!

A good example is within my own family. A sister, her partner and their toddler all live under the warm, welcoming roof of my parent’s house so that they can save up for a mortgage. It’s a busy house and as much as my dear parents want to assist their children they will need to draw a line eventually and regain the space as theirs, there’s very little to physically show for their saving efforts; a bank account with a slowly rising number that has actually plummeted in global value with the drop in value of the pound (looking at you Brexit and Trump). Everyone’s hair is greying a little faster too!

Who should own houses?

Fund/Asset managers, pension funds and the like. They’re always after stable and rising returns so why not invest in thousands of homes with government-backed funding and relax in the flood of rental income.

There is too great a focus on buying your own home. Financial stability, enjoyment of life and saving for a rainy day/big event should take priority instead of scrimping for years on end to afford a 5-20% stake in a building and an area in which you won’t want to live in 15 years’ time. If you can’t afford a house then just relax and enjoy life a bit more with the extra cash you’re not tucking away.

If you are fixed on buying a house then take your job and move up north where just about everything is cheaper, nicer, friendlier and airier. Embrace the Northern Powerhouse BS that is doing the rounds instead of clogging up the South with more of the same.