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…and even more.

If you watched the bouldering videos, you might have noticed that there are white spots on parts of the wall, and there is white stuff on some of the holds, and there’s also white stuff on our hands. That is chalk – or, to be more precise, magnesium carbonate.

The reason for this? It keeps your hands dry, which is a very smart thing to do, as sweaty hands tend to slide off holds, and wet skin is also softer than dry skin, which can lead to more abrasion (those holds sometimes feel like someone has coated them with 80-grain sand paper). So most climbers and boulderers invest in a chalkbag quite quickly, to have their necessary dose of the white powder readily available.

Up until a few days ago, we had a shared chalkbag… which basically works nicely, there’s enough of the stuff in there for several climbing sessions, even when chalking up quite a lot. However, over time, it has happened again and again that we ended up having  different projects at different ends of our gym – and there was only one chalkbag, which, for the party further away from the bag, either meant quickly de-whitening fingers or treks back to chalk up.

How practical, then, that we recently went to donate blood… where you get a) half a litre of your blood taken away, b) coffee that can wake up the dead (and is the only coffee that I actually take sugar in), c) a meal, and d) a little present. Depending on which companies and shops have donated stuff for d), the selection is very varied – we got nice water glasses there, and foldable baskets, and other quite useful stuff, but sometimes there’s mostly or all things that we do not need.

Last time was one of these times… until I noticed, tucked in the back of a shelf somewhere, a medium-sized plushy rat.


There must have been a very telling glint in my eye, as the most patient husband of them all got at once what I was thinking of. Chalkbag.

So that little cuddly rat went home with us, and then lost a good bit of its soft, squishy polywool filling… in the body, and in its left paw. There’s a rubber band on its right paw now, holding a brush ready (this is used for cleaning holds, which gather both chalk and rubbed-off rubber from the climbing shoes). The left paw acquired a zipper and is now a little bag that can hold a key, some magnesium in case of cramps, and a bit of emergency coffee or chocolate money. There is also, not visible in the picture, a clothespeg just behind the rat’s teeth at the underside of the snout, in case a pen or a piece of paper needs to be taken into safe custody.


Most important, though: the miraculous transformation of the main body, which is not very obvious in that picture. It does become more so when the press-button is opened:


revealing the drawstring keeping the chalk in, and the chalkbag itself. And once opened up, it looks like this:


A cheeky chalk rat. Which is one-of-a-kind and thus will also be easy to find again on the bouldering mat!

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4 Responses to …and even more.

  1. Harma says:

    Would that coffee be considered French or Norwegian?

    I must say, I find the rat a bit weird, even for our kind of people. ;^D

    • Katrin says:

      It’s still German coffee – the roast and beans are wrong for both French and Norwegian. After the donation, though, it’s most delicious. Especially with some sugar in 🙂

  2. Heather says:

    Poor little rat! But then it will be appreciated for years to come.

    Coffee, meal, presents? Wow! Here you get a cup of tea / weak coffee and a biscuit. The choice is either to wait for ‘the daughters of dracula’ to visit unannounced, which means if they get it wrong there’s no one to seek advice from (and it does), or to go a long way to somewhere obscure to do it (60 miles / 2 hrs round trip), when you’re not to drive for a while afterwards so you’d need a second person to get you back, and for which you’d have to take time off work anyway which isn’t going to happen.

    I’ve never given blood: by the time I weighed enough they didn’t like my teeth.

    And they wonder why only 4% of the population do it.

    • Katrin says:

      It’s sort of funny that almost everybody instantly goes “poor little rat”!

      I see it differently… I believe that the life goal of every single cuddly animal is to be very, very important to a single human being. So important that it has to come along to all kinds of different places and is sorely missed if that does not happen. Missed, and searched for.
      Added bonus is being totally unique, and other human beings going “ooooh”.

      So, according to my estimation, the little rat should be a very, very happy cuddly animal now, with all these boxes checked. (It, or rather he, has acquired name in the meantime, too, and been important and appreciated in two sessions already. And taken places…)

      Your blood donation circumstances really don’t sound so welcoming! They are always looking for new (or more) donors here as well, though I don’t know which percentage of Germans does it. If things go wrong here, there’s several doctors who will rush in and do things – I’ve seen people hooked up to IVs in the very dire cases, so they do take good care of their volunteers.

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