Year: 2009

NYE (the “yoof” word for New Years Eve).

Family Guy - with sexual harrasment lawyer, Cynthia Ironbox !.

Its said that you should spend the special moments of your life with the people you love.  Since I love Dr Who and Family Guy, I’m going to be spending one of mine,  with them.

Yes, for the first time in years, I’m actually going to be staying in on New Year. The reason. Well, its a mixture of things:

1. Money is tight and even local pubs seem to be charging an entrance fee.

2. I can’t ever remember in my life, a NYE that lived up to expectations (a lot like watching the sun rise/set over the worlds most beautiful sights, in that respect).

3. Although Amelia has “seen off” my collection of Carlsberg, I still have some Wine, a nice Pizza, and when I’m ready to go to sleep, I only have a few metres to walk.

Well, I’ll be up early tomorrow, finalising my plans for 2010. It reminds me of something that happened last New Year.

I was talking to a friend, and commented the year had been probably the worse one of my life.  My friend asked which foreign places I had visited that year. I replied Bangkok, Koh Chang, Borneo, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, St Petersburg and various destinations in Morocco.

After a pause, he said, for just about everyone else in this pub, it would have been the best year of their life !. It gave me a bit of perspective.

Ralph painting on Mount Sinai

I’m not being a complete Social Hermit though, this afternoon, I’m off to meet the Excellent Ralph and Aud (who I first met on the Adventure Company’s trip, Pyramids to Petra).

Spending time with my Family

Over Christmas, I popped up to spend time with my family. It was really nice being able to spend time with them, and get to know my niece a bit better, who I hardly ever see.

Dave and Leigh made some really nice food, mum didn’t comment on my increasing weight and impending baldness and the following day, I went to see Avatar 3d. Overall, an excellent experience.

In the evening, we watched a program about Steve Coogan. During his stand up, he said “why do people criticise David Beckham because he isn’t intelligent”. After a pause “Nobody criticises Stephen Hawking, because he cant play football”. Hilarious.

Lee and Susan

Next day, we all meet up, and I get to spend time with Lee and Susan, 2 of my oldest friends.

Of the many interesting conversations, one about Political correctness.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Political correctness says Lee, only that some individuals have hijacked it for their own purpose.

I reply that its like a compass on a ship or sonar on a ship. They are there so that in times of confusion or poor visibility, the ship could still be navigated.

The idea was never that on a sunny day, everyone looks at the monitors, and nobody looks out of the window.

Which of us is right. I have no idea, but that’s why I love discussions with these 2 !.

Christmas Day.

A winter walk along the Canal.

Christmas day. Up bright and early, I finish off a few last minute things, and then head of for my Christmas dinner.

Its a beautiful winter morning. I’m heading out towards Saughall and since its such a nice day, I decide to walk along the canal.

The water is frozen solid. People have tried to break it with bricks. When they haven’t succeeded, the bricks appear to “float” on the Canal.

I meet various poeple along the tow-path and wish them a Merry Christmas. After a few miles, I see this barge, listing heavily. The windows are open, and its half filled with water. I’m glad I didn’t sleep in there last night !.

Tony and baby Daisy.

My hosts are Tony and Lorraine (and baby Daisy).

Most people know, that I’m not big on things like cars and houses. Tony’s house however, was demolished and then rebuilt just the way he liked it. I have to say its impressive.

Presents are opened (most of them are for the baby). A sort of bedtime elephant, that says nice things in a slightly patronising voice is my favourite.

Dinner is put in the oven, and we head to the local pub (a 15th century establishment, called the  Greyhound).

Christmas festivities and Cakes.

For a village pub, I was expecting to find old George, an Alsation dog and the landlords teenage son/daughter with their entourage of friends.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was absolutely packed to the rafters. Whilst there, Tony introduced me to some of the village people (I mean the people who live locally, not a group of gay men dressed as red Indians/policemen/sailors  etc.)

Three really nice girls were there (I mean that they were really friendly and not, not that they were attractive (although it has to be said, that they were attractive as well, but that wasn’t where I was going with this)).

The kind girl on the left, had actually baked cakes, and was handing them out. I had one of the fairy cakes, and they were delicious.

A couple of pints, and then back home for dinner.

Me eating Christmas dinner.

A feast of a meal awaits, with the ubiquitous can of Fosters.

In the evening, we drank red wine and watched a variety of television, ranging from Eastenders (and Archie’s demise) right through to Citizen Kane.

Lorrain, who cooked the delicious dinner.

I thanked Tony and Lorraine for entertaining me on Christmas day. Lorraine (who’s whit can be likened to Obsidian !) joked and said I sounded like someone on Oprah Winfrey !.

Overall, a brilliant day.

Noughties, Dr Who and Theology.

The "Noughties - Crap.

I’ll be writing personal Christmas emails tomorrow to everyone, but if I don’t get time, or some other problem, please accept my best wishes for Christmas and New Year, to everyone reading this.

If there is one thing that makes me want to scream at the moment (apart from climate change and X factor !) its the phrase used to describe the decade. The noughtie’s.  Utter crap. It should be called the Zero’s, and sounds like something that children would say.

Anyway, those good old Boys at BBC News have published a list of 11 photos that define the decade.  I don’t like the royals being in 2 pictures out of the 11, think the David Cameron Photo is hilarious and liked the simple picture of a girl standing in the rain.

They also have an A4 sheet you can print with slogans and logo’s of the decade. You can download it here (I’ve printed it and put it up in my room, its quite good).

David Tennant as Dr Who.

The final Dr Who episode The end of time, with David Tennant will be shown on Christmas day. Most people (well me) believe that David has redefined the character and program.

Surprising then, that he is being replaced by some demographicaly pleasing replacement along with a demographicaly pleasing assistant. Personally, I think Bill Nighy would make a superb Dr.

Anyway, to go along with all that, they have produced a new logo. I think its rubbish, but what do I know.

For people who have watched the Dr at some point on Saturday evening, throughout the last 4 decades, you can look up your favourite logo here.

A picture of "God" I got from the BBC website.

As an atheist, I don’t believe in God. Put simply, I don’t believe in a supreme being who controls everything.

There is a technique used by Tony Robbins, for when someone says I can’t/it can’t be done, etc. After a pause, Tony says, but if it could, what would it look like, how would it work etc. (you get the idea).

I tried this on myself, and asked, if God was real/existed etc., what would he be like ?.

Enlightenment. Its Simon Calder.

For those that don’t know (the kind of ignorant people, who read the sport section of a newspaper, rather than the travel section) Simon Calder is probably the best know travel journalist in the UK.

Unpretentious, practical, and yet passionate about travel, he defines the simple pleasure’s of adventure by his very personality. I was delighted to see a video about things to do in Chester (my home town) made by him, you can watch it here.

Travel Quandry’s.


A few things have happened recently on the travel front.

BA are not playing to their strengths. What I mean is they sell quality. They can cut their prices, sure but they will always (quite rightly) cost a bit more, because of what they offer.  Someone once said to me, Ryanair are cheap, but how many of their cabin crew can re-start your heart (God forbid you would need).

On a BA flight, everyone on board has been fully trained, for every type of emergency.  Although I think they have done great things to get people out flying, I’ve never been taken in by what I call the budget airline myth.

I have always believed that if you could fly BA or KLM or whatever for £20 over the price of Easyjet, most people would do it.  Sadly, for BA, I don’t think we will ever get to find out. Whether the strike goes ahead or it doesn’t, nobody in their right mind is going to book summer holiday flights involving BA.

Ironically, there is nothing to say there wont be strikes with other airlines, its just that in most peoples minds, the die is cast.

Eurorail.  I read about trains breaking down, people being stranded overnight freezing. Toilets not working and young children vomiting on themselves. Limited water and no food for 10 hours. Put like that, Easyjet, seem like Platinum class on Emirates !.

I was supposed to go to Paris on Eurorail, some years ago, but there was a fire at the time and we ended up going by coach/ferry.

The main criticism people make (and its exactly the same on a “normal” train, when it breaks down) is a lack of information. Nobody is told what is happening, what is being done etc..  Someone needs to take responsibility for this debaucle otherwise, people will just stop using Eurorail and fly !.


Nelson Mandela in prison at Roben Island.

I recently read about a film called Invictus (the superb Morgan Freeman, is tipped to get an Oscar for it).

The film is about Nelson Mandela, and the South African Rugby team and how he used the team as a vehicle to unite the country.

I was interested, as I had the privilege of watching a Rugby Match, in a pub whilst in South Africa.  I was struck by the cross section of people, who were made up of every race, tribe and cultural group within the country (SA has 11 national languages) and their instant connection, once the match began.

I’m looking forward to watching the film, and for those that don’t know, Invictus is the name of a Poem by William Ernest Henley, which Nelson Mandela memorized whilst imprisoned at Robben Island (I saw Nelson Mandela’s cell, and spent time in his small garden, within the prison, where he wrote A long walk to freedom ).

In these difficult times of recession and uncertain futures, I thought I would put it up here for people to read.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning s of chance
my head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley.

Several times while I was visiting the country, I heard Robben Island described as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, with all the other ones…

For those that are interested, these are some of their names.


The Rosetta Stone

I’ve written before about the irony of visiting Athens and then finding out that most of the Elgin Marbles, were actually back home in England, at the British Museum in London.

Exactly the same thing happened in Cairo, where the Rosetta stone is made of plastic (the original, being once again, in the British Museum, London).

There was a brilliant article about it today, on BBC News.

On the subject of adventure, Richard Branson has finally taken delivery of the vehicles which will enable him to offer tourist trips into space.

I’ve found somewhere on the internet, that do Wills for free.

I’ve also realised that my old boss, looks like Robert Peston, the BBC finance expert.

Cold weather arrives.

Ice carving in Chester city centre

Thanks to everyone who came out on the 13th of November, to celebrate the completion of my bluelist.  Between Land-rovers, waiting at airports and trying to sleep on planes, I had been travelling for 30 hours, but I still found the energy to stay out for a whole evening with my friends.

A couple of people asked me what I was going to do now its complete. Well, in the short term, I want to sort out my house, the bills, spend more time with friends/family, and stuff like that.

Once things get back to normal, I have another interesting idea, that I’m exploring at the moment. I read in the travel section of the Mail (in between articles on British values and broken society !) about someone who visited a different city for a weekend break, every month for a year.

The idea, is that if you don’t actually mind where you go, you can travel really cheaply.

I want to do that for a year, while I plan a 2nd bluelist. Places on my mind at the moment, are Cuba, Israel, Washington, San Francisco. If your reading this and you know somewhere cool to visit, then give me a shout.

Well, if the recession is biting, it certainly wasn’t showing on the streets of Chester on Saturday. They even had a chap doing ice sculptures.

A friend recently gave me a TV (he didn’t need it any more, and it was a lot better than the one that I had). I was immensely great full and I remembered a film some years ago called pay it forward.

The idea, is that you do a good deed for someone, and they pay it forward, to someone else, and so on and so on. My previous portable TV (which the “new” one replaced) was more reliable than one that belonged to another friend. Using a shopping trolley, I popped over with it the other evening.

Its Christmas after all, and even when times are hard, there is always some kindness that we can show.

Happy birthday to my old friend Lee Sawbridge (he was with me on my first adventures around the Alps and Europe 20 years ago, and more recently, dropped me at the Airport for the last of my bluelist  journeys).

I wont be able to make it on Saturday Lee, but I sent you a card, which I actually chose myself.

Severenth playing at the Frog and Nightingale.

In my local the other night, were a band called Severenth. Heavy metal isn’t really my thing, but there music was pretty catchy, and I found myself singing along to it.

It would be fair to say that the band and their fans (who completely filled the pub) weren’t exactly dressed for a job interview and that many of them, you wouldn’t have wanted to meet in the proverbial dark alley.

The thing that surprised (and frankly shocked) me, was how polite they were. People would say excuse me to get to the bar, hold the bathroom door open.

Just goes to show, that appearances can be deceiving. Several times a year, hundreds of suited “gentlemen” arrive in Chester for the races, and cause mayhem. Give me the HM crew any day.

Rumors continue, that the renowned internet sleuth Dave Mandy (aka Dizzy Dave) was somehow involved in the death of Micheal Jackson.

Speculation is based on Dave, having information about the death, before anyone else in the pub that night, despite a large portfolio of Smartphones being represented.

For the record, it was a HTC Android device that got there first, with 2nd place going to several IPhones.

The final episode of the amazing crime drama, Monk.

Its was with a mixture of elation and regret, that I watched the final episode of the crime “drama” monk.

It ended on a high note, altough it was easy to work out who the murder was (or was that because Ive watched it so often, and got onto the “wavelength” of the writers).

For several years, I used to watch it on Saturday mornings. I really will miss that show.

Other drama, is that the rather excelent Doll House, has been cancelled. It was commented that this might be because nobody watches stuff on TV any more, everybody downloads, and because it usually misses out the adverts, the producers werent making any money.

I cant really comment, as I dont know the industry that well. Downloading certainly seems to have effected global tv listings. It used to be that house would shown in the UK, 4 months after it was shown in the use. These days, House and dozens of other shows are on less than a week later.

One thing that has shocked me, is the closing down of Mininova (a popular torrent site for downloading music, tv and films, for people that dont know). My suprise, hasn been the close down of the site itself, but the demographic of people who have emailed and called me about finding an alternative site.

I don’t praise or condemn downloading, but I know about technology. The people who contacted me, were mostly, the very last people in the world I would have expected to be “torrenting”.

I recorded Dr Who and the waters of Mars, while I was away in Capetown. I didn’t think it was as good as some of the other episodes Ive watched. That is of course from a story perspective. David Tarrent was as excellent as he’s ever been, playing a kind of manic Dr, who knows his days are numbered.

One other things about the episode, was that it raised a point Ive considered hundreds of times while watching Dr Who over the last 30 years. The question always arises, who doesnt the Dr just put the people who are in danger into the Tardis and “fly” away.

I know all the stuff about one of the people he saves might give birth to a future Hitler, and all the rest, but there and then, it must have occurred to him sometime, to put the present, before the future, and just help the people who are right in front of him. That question was answered for the first time in Waters of Mars.

Two other things Im watching at the moment at Mad Men (a brill program I started watching on the Plane back from Capetown) and season 4 of the Unit. I cant believe they stopped making that series, its amazing.

Near and Far have a great Christmas. The search for adventure continues (although its mostly at home for the time being :)…

Back in the UK

Me standing in front of Table Mountain in Capetown.

Well, I’m back in the UK and the Bluelist, which has occupied the last six years of my life is completed.

Ill be completing the usual set of pages, as I have for all my other destinations, in the next couple of days, but in the meantime, here’s a picture of my in front of table mountain, taken from Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid campaigners were imprisoned.

There were some brilliant people on the trip (which was once again organised by the Adventure Company), including our amazing guide Charl, a true South African in every sense of the word.

There were also, 3 pretty excellent couples from  Australia, England and Scotland, 2 thirty-something singletons, 2 pretty cool blokes, and a cockney girl called Julie.

Ill be witting loads of stuff about the trip, in the next few days, but one thing I would like to say, is how much the media miss-represents South Africa and especially Capetown.

It wasn’t anything like as dangerous as everyone had been saying, and sensible UK precautions, were all that was needed to enable a trip out in the evening (during my visit to New York, there were many more places where I felt uncomfortable, than I did in Capetown).

As I stated before, the trip was inspired by one of Wilbur Smiths books, and as our guide was also a fan of his work, I got to see loads of locations, which inspired scenes from his book.

Will get going now, but near and far, the search for adventure continues…

Off to Capetown.

Penguins on Boulders BeachCape PointTable Mountain

A lot of people ask me what made me select certain places to visit on the blue list and not others.

I’d love to be able to say that it was my keen judgement, or recomendations by famous travellers or something like that.

The truth, is they were places that stuck in my mind, during my growing up years. If (like me) you have every one of the James Bond films on DVD and you watched them all, you might notice that  a lot of the places he visits are featured on this website.

Equaly, things like the Treasury in Petra, were inspired by Indiana Jones, and stuff like that.

One of my favourite authors, is Wilbur Smith. Twenty years ago, I read 3 books. The Burning Shore, The Power of the Sword and Rage. The middle book, the Power of the Sword, used table mountain as a significant plot device.

I have been re-reading the book recently, and its just as exciting as it was the first time I read it. Tomorow, I set of for Capetown with the Adventure Company.

If everything goes to plan, Ill be standing on the top of that mountain holding a Blue Disa (a flower which only grows on Table Mountain) on the 14th of November, which will complete the Bluelist, which has taken me 6 years of my life.

Im having a bit of a party when I return, but between now and then, I would like to thank all the poeple who have helped to organise my trips. All the instructors who taught me bushcraft, mountaineering, canoeing and a whole host of other things. All the people who Ive met while traveling for their endless support and all the guides and in country people who have helped me.

I would like to thank my family and friends who have always supported me, even when the things I was doing, appeared to them to be foolhardy.

Most of all, Id like thank all of you, for coming back to this website and continuing to read it.

Ill get going now, as I have a Rucksack to pack. Ive said it before, but it wont hurt to say it once more:

The search for adventure continues…