Month: April 2009

Cycling the Wirral Way.


I decided to spend the afternoon out on my bike. The Wirral way, is a great ride, and runs from Hooton to West Kirby.

Ive walked it a couple of times, and normally set of from West Kirby, and walk to Hooton (means a longer train journey on the way out, but a shorter one on the way home).

On this occasion, the weather was really nice, and whilst a train journey can be done in any weather, cycling is preferable without rain. 10 minutes on the train from Chester, and im in Hooton.

The picture above, was actually taken in the hills surrounding Llangollen as I couldn’t find anyone to photograph me on my bike.


The trail is a converted railway line. The overgrown trees around it, give it a sheltered and peaceful feel. Its possible to wonder along different paths and stand on the hills overlooking the Dee estuary, towards Wales.

I took about 4 hours to complete the route (I could have done it much faster, but wanted to enjoy it, and frankly hadn’t ridden a bike for a while).

Arrive at West Kirby, wander along the water front, treat myself to a sausage roll at the bakery, and then jump on the train home.

Promenade trail, Rowing boat and Museum trip.


I spent the morning wandering around the Riverside Promenade trail here in Chester (the leaflet from tourist information is free, or you can download one, from the link above). The highlights of the walk for me, were the Water tower, the Grosvenor Bridge and the Suspension Bridge (sometimes annoyingly called the Holyoaks bridge, as its featured in the opening titles. That program went downhill, once Becka left).

After  spending 2 hours exploring I debated having a Pie and Pint at the excellent Boat house pub (previous winner of the credit crunch lunch award here at

Instead, I decided to content myself with my trusty packed lunch and bottle of water, and instead, use the money to rent a rowing boat. Okay, your not exactly navigating the channel, but the feeling of freedom and exhilaration of “piloting” your own boat, are remarkable.


Ive lived in Chester now, for 8 years and the Chester regimental museum is somewhere Ive never gotten around to seeing. At only £3, it was an opportunity not to be missed.

I couldn’t believe how many interesting artifacts and displays were there. The picture above, shows a replica of a WW2 fighting trench. In the middle of the picture (a bit hard to see) is an authentic periscope, used to look “over the top” without getting shot.

There was a great deal mentioned about the Cheshire regiments involvement in Bosnia, and elsewhere, an account of the 2 VC’s awarded to the regiment.

One that I found interesting, was where a private in the regiment, had jumped out of the Allied trenches, and jumped back into the enemy trench having noticed that their machine gunner was dead. From here he was able to traverse the gun down the length of the enemy trench, take the position, and 42 prisoners with no loss of life on either side.


Some of the displays showed barracks and some of the activities performed by the regiment, throughout the world (it was pointed out, that even outside of wartime, soldiers will routinely be sent to places like Borneo and Norway for advanced training.  Above an imaginary scene of a soldier in the Borneo jungle). Having spent time there myself, I can tell you its authentic.

One other aspect of the museum, was its honesty and sense of humour. A display showing all the different ranks of soldiers and what they do, mentioned the Colour Sergent major, who is responsible for quarter-mastering and supplying the regiment. It was stated, that when he isn’t there, he is referred to by everyone as “the colour bloke”.

The museum was run by former soldiers of the regiment. As I entered, they told me the rules about photography, gave recommendations for things I might find interesting (they were extremely helpful) and politely, asked me to show respect at all times.

He said with humility that brave people (some of them his friends) had died in uniform.  It was a humbling experience.

Hill Walking in Llangollen


Its not possible to get the train from Chester to Llangollen directly. You normally get the train to Chirk or Ruabon, and then get the bus. I decided to get the train to Ruabon, walk to Trefor (the site of the famous  Pontcysyllte Aqueduct) and then follow the Canal into Llangollen.

The Weather was better, throughout the day, than this picture gives credit, however it does show some of the countryside, nature and serenity of the walk.

According to the map, it was 7 miles, but took nearly 3 hours, each way, so not sure what that’s about.  On the way, I was passed by a barge.  It travels from Ruabon to Llangollen and back again, and costs £11 one way. I thought this was a bit expensive, when you consider that you can hire your own barge for around £100, as I did on  my birthday one year.


Arriving in Llangollen itself, I immediately make for the steam railway there. I have been in submarines, flown in helicopters, travelled in amphibious vehicles, and even driven a tank, but I have never actually travelled on a Steam Train.

There was a major Steam Train event taking place, with hundreds of enthusiasts. I have a strange kind of reversal of luck. The ticket seller, explains to me that its my lucky day, and that for £16 I can travel around on different Steam Trains, all day. All very nice, but I only want to go on one, and was thinking more like £3.50.  Because of the Gala event, the standard ticket prices aren’t available, so I have to put off this adventure for another day. I take a few minutes to snap a nice picture of a Steam Train anyway.


I continue wandering around Llangollen. I visit the Pro-Adventure (a supplier Ive used several times for equipment and outdoor activities). After wandering around further, I see that the credit crunch has taken its toll on local adventure businesses, but this has created opportunities for people like me.

Normally a days hill walking, mountain biking etc with a guide costs around £100 per day. Now they are offering deals where you can do this for and average of  £45. I haven’t done any Kayaking in a good while, so make a mental note of this for the future, when I plan a weekend camping in Llangollen.

No trip to this town would be complete, without a walk along the river. About 250 metres outside the main town is the riverside park. Its pretty quiet, so I buy some tea and a chocolate brownie, get out my notebook and start writing stuff down (its easy in the excitement of the day, to forget things).

A wander around some more, have a good look at the campsite, look around a few bunk houses and camping barns and take down telephone numbers. I see the shop doorway of a charity shop. I remember that several years earlier, my friend Frank had some acting work here. He was working for the BBC on a local news story called “Keep a welcome in the valley”.

The basic idea, was that Frank would stand in the shop doorway, and try to convince passers by to try on a horrendous dressing gown, which he told them he was considering buying for his sister (Ive known Franks sister since she was a small child, and she would have strangled him, if he had ever seriously delivered such a gift).

Frank being Frank, actually got all 5 people to take part and put on the dressing gown.

Back to the Canal, and a long but peaceful walk to Ruabon.  The station, it is overrun with Steam Train enthusiasts. travelling home (ironically on Diesel trains !).

I sit there, and wonder how they can get so excited about something like that. But then it occurs to me, how many people would think wandering along a Canal is such a fantastic experience, yet to me it is.

WW2 U Boat and Birkenhead Park

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of the German U boats in WW2, and Alan Turing’s attempt to catch them by decrypting the Enigma code.

I caught the train to Hamilton Square. The U-Boat story exhibition is just nearby. The main things to see, were various artifacts which had been recovered from the Sub, and the Sub itself, which had been cut into sections to enable it to be viewed more easily.

At the center of this picture, is the rear section of the sub, which show damage inflicted by anti-submarine planes, which ultimately sunk the sub.

At the end of the war, the German high command, ordered all submarines to surrender. Its still unknown, why U534 (the submarine featured in the exhibition) didn’t. It was sunk by the RAF, but its mission always remained a mystery. It was theorised it was carrying hi ranking officers to South America, that it had gold and jewelry, and one other theory, is that its experimental torpedoes were being taken to Japan, to continue the war effort.

Karsten Ree, believed it contained treasure, and decided to raise it. There wasn’t any treasure in the normal sense, but endless information about U-boats and life on-board, which the exhibition attempts (and I believe achieves) to capture.


A working Enigma machine (the Sub carried two, one in general use, and one in storage. The one in storage was in near perfect condition).

Looking inside the sub, you could see just how tiny it was. This section shows the engine room, but in other places, there were 2 small hobs, where food was cooked in shifts, around the clock.

It was said that life on board was very hard (52 men in an area the size of a small terraced house). When they weren’t working they were either sleeping or eating. There was always plenty of food to eat, to keep moral high.


I spent about an hour there and then moved on. About half an hour’s walk away, is the famous Birkenhead park.

Its famous, because quite simply it was the first public park, open in the word. Central Park in new York  one of the worlds more obviously famous parks, is based on it, and from the air, the 2 are almost identical.

Using my Iphone, and the trusty google maps, I was able to find the entrance without much trouble. It was much bigger than I expected. On a beautiful day like this one, there are few things more fun than wandering around and exploring in the outdoors.


I continued on through the park, and passed the boathouse, alongside the parks lake. Bit further along, they have re-opened the victorian tea house (I think the Victorians would have been pretty unhappy, as its now called Cappuccino’s. I stop and have the now ubiquitous coffee, and a chocolate muffin.


I spend another hour wandering around the park, and then back to Hamilton Square. Ive passed through the underground station at Hamilton Square many times, but never seen the outside. Apparently, some of the best Edwardian buildings in the country are located there.

Afternoon in Delamere Forest


With all my daily chores complete, I decide to visit Delamere Forest. Its only about 12 miles from Chester, and about a fiver return on the train.

One area of days out, where money disappears really quickly, is eating out. Its nice if you can afford it, but I always take a packed lunch, some crisps and a chocolate bar. Then I take either a bottle of water or a flask with some coffee in it.

I don’t carry any formal walking stuff, but I wear a T shirt, a jumper and a waterproof jacket, between these 3, they can match just about any UK Summer weather. Bit of money, mobile phone, Swiss Army Knife and an orange bivy bag (not really used for emergency’s, more often used to sit on, and eat my sandwiches. One final thing, is footwear. If your not walking hills, or anything serious, you may find it more comfortable, to wear an old pair of trainers.

I have a map of the area (and I’ve attended NNAS Bronze and NNAS Silver courses).  On this occasion, I decide to just wing it, walk in a particular direction, and see where it takes me. I find this superb lake, and nearby a pub and a quite elaborate camp site. I make mental notes, as all these things will make for a pretty good weekend away at some point in the future.


Delamere forrest is scattered with trails. Sections of the Sandstone trail and the Delamere way to name just a few. Most of the trails around there, can be navigated by mountain bike (I even see a van from Fairbridge there, they are spending the day mountain biking). Someone has even constructed a sort of stunt area for mountain bikes. Its empty, so I stop there and eat my sandwiches.

I continue walking along, occasionally leaving the path, to explore the denser forests. After 4 hours of walking around in the sunshine, I decide to head back to the station. I realise, that I don’t actually know where I am, and since I haven’t been monitoring my progress on the map, could be in a bit of difficulty as there’s no one around.

I remember my Iphone, find a road, and use Google. Maps to find the Railway station. Another success for the Iphone.


On the way, I visit this Go-Ape high rope course. I am tempted to give it a try, and pop in to their office to get some details. Its £25, you are given a quick demo, and then you go around on your own.  Seems quite expensive to me, and anyway, it’s outside my budget.

The train isn’t due for 30 minutes. I’m still well within my budget, so I treat myself to a cup of tea, in the nice cafe at the railway station.

Get back home, then have a bath and cook dinner. Another interesting afternoon, for £6.50.

BT cheque lands on my doormat and adventure calls


Unemployed.  Not a lot going on.

A lot of people will read this and think that its the end of adventure for the time being. In one way, you’d be right, it can be pretty difficult to get to Kuala Lumpur claiming job seekers allowance.

However, this gives me a chance to prove something I’ve said often before. That Adventure is everywhere, and all you need to do to find it, is research and planning (oh and a small amount of money).

Additionally, since this website is subtitled the adventures of an ordinary person, a lot of ordinary people are feeling the pinch right now, and a couple of budget adventure ideas should help those in a similar position to myself.

On a practical front, I am still unemployed and its urgently important that I get another job. Its nearly 20 years since I was previously unemployed, but I remember specifically, that one really important thing, was to establish a routine.

Each morning, I get up, go for a run (although sometimes its more of a walk), get back, eat a sensible breakfast and then get ready. I then spend about 2 hours scouring the internet, calling agencies and emailing CV’s.

In the old days, I would have had to sit in the house all day, waiting for people to call me back. With the advent of mobile phones, I can get out and do something, while waiting for emails and phone calls, so most of my afternoons are free.

Well, the other morning, I returned from my run, and I found a letter from BT. They had overcharged me, and had sent me a cheque for £36. I decide to find out how many budget adventures I can do with this money (which obviously, I hadn’t planned to receive).  Since BT have sort of “sponsored” this project, its going to be known as the BT Adventures!.

The other blog entries will show some of the stuff I do in the coming days.

Dan and I pay our respects to Flo-Rida


That ridiculous musical absurdity, flo rida  (pronounced flow-rider) was on TV recently being interviewed. In the interview, he announced his mobile number, and said that he would love to hear peoples views on his music.

Dan and were in the pub the other evening, and decided to text “flo” with our thoughts on his musical talents and brand.

I won’t say what we said exactly, but words like “unoriginal” and “tool” were used quite a lot.

What’s hot, wk/beg 13 Apr 09


Although its been hyped to high heaven (which always makes me suspicious, for a kick off) the Boat that Rocked, most definitely does not “Rock”. All the elements are there, they just never seem to come together and at two and a half hours, it drags on and on. Peter Bradshaw seems to think the same.

Far better, is a film I watched recently called Revolutionary Road. Much better use of two hours, if you get a chance watch it.

A series with similarities to the X-Files, Fringe is something I’ve been watching recently and I’m really getting into it (the void left by the final endings of the L Word and Battlestar Galactica has been a significant chasm to fill).

UK only TV viewers are in for a real treat with an up coming episode of House. In it, a cat can seemingly predict who is going to die. Obviously house solves it in the end, but its a very creative episode (I am getting a bit sick of house playing mind games and all that rubbish, I’m more interested in a proper story).

On the book front, Wilbur Smith’s new book Assegai has just arrived (it was half price from Amazon, I just had to wait 3 weeks, which seemed worth it. Only 20 pages into it, but its as good as the 30 odd others of his, that I’ve read.

On the web front, I’ve gotten on board with Twitter. You may have heard about it, its been in the press a lot recently. Basic idea, is that I can update, what I’m doing, what I’m thinking or anything really, wherever I am and it will appear at the top of this website in Yellow.

It shows the last 2 tweets, and can even have links to pictures I’ve taken on the Iphone, or links to maps, where I have “tracked” my location to GPS.