The original intention was to be QRV at 1100z, and link up S2S with alerted activations by Nick G0HIK/P on Gummer’s How G/LD-050 and Steve G1INK/P on Shining Tor G/SP-004. This plan was necessarily altered by my mum announcing that she and my brother would be calling round with presents at 11.30am! Eventually, Jimmy and I were able to set off sometime approaching noon, after I had been editing the alert time later in 15 minute increments all morning!
At least the roads were clear - but the parking at Cloudside was not. We got the last space, and later after descent we found the roadside lined with cars for a fair distance as well as the parking area still at capacity.
It was unusual to be ascending in daylight up this one after a series of early morning and after-dusk torchlit ascents recently. At the summit, we were surprised to find it to ourselves given the amount of cars parked along Cloudside. We didn’t have to wait for the first walkers to pass across though, and from then on it remained busy, with many stopping for a chat about amateur radio.
From the spots, Jimmy advised that Dave 2W0BYA/P might still be QRV on 3.666MHz SSB from Beacon Hill GW/MW-009. We tuned in to a massive signal from him, and were delighted when he reported an equally massive one back to Jimmy’s first interjection. With it being a S2S, I naturally tail-ended, and Jimmy and I both had a Christmas activator contact in the bag.
Upon completing with Dave, I advised that Jimmy would be QRV on 3.660MHz SSB, where Mike GW0DSP was waiting for him. That headed up an excellent run of 14 QSOs for Jimmy on 80 SSB, with everything from our mate Sean M0GIA up the road in Macclesfield, to Luc ON6DSL over in Belgium.
The antenna seemed to be working wonders, so I was confident that 80 CW would be even better. It wasn’t. I advised a QSY to 3.557MHz CW, but found the frequency in use. Never mind, I thought, I’ll just call on the vacant 3.558MHz and hope to be found. Result. I was answered, first call, by Roy G4SSH. FB Roy, how do you do it? In fact, it is uncanny how often GW0DSP is the first contact for Jimmy when he appears on 80 SSB, and Roy is the first for me on 80 CW! Here we go … or not.
To my surprise, and in contrast to all recent activations, there wasn’t other stations lined up to work me. At 3 minute intervals I worked EI7CC, SM1CXE and DL6KVA. And then nothing! We noted on the spots that Roy had spotted me as 3.557MHz, not 3.558MHz, so I checked on that frequency. I waited for a quiet moment and mentioned my call, but there was no-one there either. So it looks like everyone who did want me, did find me on 3.558MHz. It was just that there were only four of them hi!
We packed up, tummies rumbling and anticipating the curry. I made a call on 2m FM, and worked Mike GW0DSP, Sean M0GIA (these two had earlier worked Jimmy on 80 SSB) and Mike 2E0MAS. Jimmy then called QRZ on 2m, but was unanswered. We hurriedly descended. Too hurriedly in fact, for we lost 3 minutes searching for the bung which had jumped out of the pole!
Drove back to Macc, shower, change, and up to the Weston Balti Raj, now with Marianne, Liam and my mum Kate in the party. A superb special Christmas dinner of Lamb Kurzi awaited us - and now we’re all rather full!
Many thanks to all callers in what was a most enjoyable seasonal activation. It was a kind of “upside down” activation, in that normally, I cruise through many QSOs on CW, while Jimmy struggles to achieve his quota on HF SSB. Today, it was very much the other way around, and Jimmy was the star of the show. But that was fine, I guess it was a touch more special for the Christmas best wishes to be exchanged by voice, even if I was restricted to the rank of listener for the most of it!
Special thanks to Roy G4SSH and Mike GW0DSP whose immediate replies to first calls on CW and SSB respectively were most reassuring and very welcome.
Merry Christmas one and all.