Christmas is here.

Ice skating and the Chester Wheel

Well, all the signs are that Christmas has arrived. This heavily airbrushed picture of the Chester wheel and Victorian market, is just one indicator.

I have to say, I am really enthusiastic. The last 2 Christmases haven’t been great, but this one, promises a return to form.

I have even downloaded Christmas music to play on Christmas morning, the way mum used to, in the house I grew up in. I am also considering a tree and decorations, although the Jury is still out on this.

Ill be making a special effort to stock up on appropriate food and drunk, so shouldn’t end up in Tesco at 7am on Christmas Eve like last year.

Another dilemma, is Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. The Frog has now closed, and wont be re-opening until at least the spring, so I’ll need to find an alternative “start off” boozer.

I’ll be spending Christmas day at Tony and Lorraine’s, as I have the 2 previous years. Its the first Christmas in the house on my own, and I was going to spend it on my own. Instead, I’ll be spending Christmas morning on my own, and walking to their house to meet Steve for dinner.

On the work front, I’m looking forward to both Christmas parties (one in Lymm and one in Warrington) and, for the first time in 10 years, Ill be taking the whole of Christmas off. I’m also taking part in the Secret Santa.

Refurbishment of my house.

Bedroom finished, next the bathroom.

Its all systems go at home. I have successfully re-decorated (well okay, Painted) my bedroom. I have put up some shelves, and mounted the TV on my bedroom wall. The bathroom is being re-decorated and the carpet shampooed, as I write.

Off the 88 things to do in the house, only 21 remain and I am well on schedule to have the house sorted out by Christmas.

Pete came around.

Pete and Jon Rennie

I had a visit the other evening, from the famous Skinny Pete (on the right of this picture). We had a mug of tea, and discussed Phones, Laptops and Visualization.

Most of you know that we worked together and we enjoyed some pretty cool technical achievements, whilst I organised virtual beauty contests and wound up “The Gepp”.

What isn’t well know, is how much he helped me personally and domestically. He gave me a lift to Manchester to pick up Franks trainers, and did the camera work for many of my Youtube video’s.

He also helped out at home, gave me a TV video unit, spent the whole day at my house helping out at a very difficult time and on another occasion, completely fitted a toilet in my bathroom. Was great to see you again Pete, take care of yourself.

On the subject of friends, my friend’s Nicola and Ben have completed their trip around the world, you can read about it here.

Jon Mallett, a mate who’s company and support can’t even be described, is fulfilling a life long adventure and riding a motorbike to Timbuktu. They have set up a website, that you can read about here.

I recently had a photo book made at www.everyonesaycheese.com they make great Christmas presents, give one to your friends and family, they are superb.

Gerry Cochrane and old times at Fairbridge Drake.

An old picture of Gerry, at Fairbridge Drake.

Talking of old friends, I was contacted recently by Gerry Cochrane (featured in this picture, standing on 1 leg).

It was great to hear from him, after all this time. Funny when you think of all the things you’ve done, and try to remember when you first thought of it.

In a lot of cases, it goes back to Fairbridge Drake when I was 19. Everything from visiting to Chamonix to owning 13 pairs of Rohan trousers !.

Steve’s friend sleeping out for Chester homeless.

Chester sponsored sleep-out for the homeless.

Steve came around the other evening, explaining, that there was a sponsored sleep-out in support of the homeless. His neighbor would be taking part, and sleeping out on one of the coldest nights of the year (around -7).

What could I do ? I immediately swung into action, went into my loft, and willingly lent out my old 4 season sleeping bag.

Oh, sorry. Did you think that I would be taking part in the sleep out as well ?. Years ago, on my basic course with Fairbridge Drake (10 days, that would change my life forever) I was bet that I couldn’t knock together a shelter from polythene, and sleep in it, using only my town coat for warmth.

The shelter I slept in on my basic course at Fairbridge Drake.

We shook hands on the deal, and I left the warmth of the cave, fire and sleeping bag, and slept out in the improvised shelter. I spent the whole night shivering with snow on the ground outside (I hadn’t done numerous survival courses then, my shelter building wasn’t very good and the distinction between the inside and outside of the shelter was a fine one.

In the morning I was disappointed that the instructors didn’t seem at all impressed with my achievement. They explained.

We only put up with discomfort, if its in pursuit of a practical goal. To simply make yourself uncomfortable as some sort of toughness test is silly. Any fool can make themselves wet and cold, what does that prove ?.

An invaluable lesson learned early. The advise has served me many times in far away places and wild situations over the last 20 years, including the situation with the sleep out !.

I’ve lent the sleeping bag, and donated money to the charity, which I think is the most practical way to achieve the desired goal.

For the record, another lad on the course slept in the shelter as well (in a sleeping bag). Lee Sawbridge and I have been friends ever since.

Operation Mincemeat.

Front cover of The man who never was.

School wasn’t something that I found interesting. In primary school, we were taught an experimental phonetic teaching technique without our parents permission. Its largely discredited around the world, and its the reasons I cant spell very well (actually, its one of 2).

Paradoxically, although I hated English lessons, I loved spending time in the library. I found a fascinating book called The man who never was. Whenever we had a boring English lesson (which was frequent) I would open my draw with the book positioned strategically, so I could continue reading, while nobody else could see.

Its the true story of a dead tramp, who was given a false identity and left off the coast of Spain to misdirect Nazi intelligence. I was fascinated to be reminded of it, in an article on BBC News <link>.

Should I have paid more attention to English lessons. I honestly don’t know. If I could swap my imagination for the ability to spell, I think I’d stick with what I have.

Near and far, have a fantastic Christmas.

The search for adventure continues…

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