Month: July 2011

Congratulations – Tony and Kasia.

Congratulations to Tony,my regular walking partner and his friend Kasia, on completing the trailwalker challenge. For the record, I never doubted, for a single moment that he’d do it.

I knew, that once he set off he would complete it, even with a broken leg !.  When I’ve introduced Tony to my friends in Chester and people from work, they have frequently commented that he’s charming and friendly.

That’s only the half of it. Inside is a furnace of enthusiasm and mental determination (he’s also very physicaly fit, which is quite usefull as well).

Also, a well done to Kasia. Not only did she also complete the endurance walk, but did all of the organising and logistics and training walks.

You can read about the event here.

You can sponsor Tony’s crew here (and I would, I love walking long distances, but 60 miles is a hell of a way).

I imagine once their rested, they will have a wild night out in Brighton. I’m proud to know you both.



Ill be giving a talk on the bluelist at Chester Museum on Saturday the 17th of September. I’ve been invited to speak by the Chester branch of the Globetrotters.

My friend Ganders, has put up a website, with some of his poetry on it. I think its really good, but decide for yourself here.

Fire in the Garden.

On the subject of adventure near home, I was at a Barbecue the other evening, hosted by Glenn. Its always a pleasure to be invited over, as the events are much better organised than mine, with superb food and chilled beer.

After the food had been eaten, we sat around talking (and drinking, obviously) and Glenn produced this thing.

Obscure looking, but it means, to all intents and purposes, that can have a safe “real” fire in your garden, whenever you want one (and you can even move it around).

Because air is fed to it through 2 sources, it would be possible to put a kettle or billy can on the top for cooking.

The simple pleasure of sitting by a fire, can’t be overstated (its not an accident, that one of the most successful bushcraft companies in the UK is called simply “Woodsmoke”).

It costs about £20 from a garden supplier. Other thing to think about is fuel. Glenn was using “proper” firewood, but I passed a skip on the way home that had a few old planks of wood in it.

I think by scavenging, you could run that thing for nothing (and since its a recession, and gas prices have just gone up by ANOTHER 20%  its certainly worth thinking about). Only problem would be in winter, you’d have to sit in the Garden to get warm !.

Chester Globetrotters.

I’ve been attending meetings with a group called the Globetrotters, for most of the year. Its an international organisation represented in 40 countries with members all over the world.

Meetings are held every 2 months at Chester Museum. The next meeting is Saturday the 16th of July and start at 1pm. There are usually 2 interesting talks with a break for tea/coffee in the middle.

I was delighted, when they invited me to give a talk about my bluelist. The date for my talk is the 17th of September, and if you’re free, come along (if your reading this, you were probably involved along the way somehow, so there’s a personal interest as well).

You can find directions to the museum here.

The Globetrotters website is here.

Tony “insanity” Lewis does some more hill walking athletics.

My regular walking partner Tony, also goes on walks with a group called Social Circles and has met some friends through this connection.

This weekend, Tony and his friends are off to do the Oxfam Trailwalker in the south downs. Organised by the super organised, super fit Kasia, they will walk 60 miles in 30 hrs.

You can read about the event here.

You can sponsor Tony’s crew here (and I would, I love walking long distances, but 60 miles is a hell of a way).

In other adventure “news” Lyndsay from work, who I’ve been helping to organise a trip to Peru, sets off today. Best wishes to her.

Glastonbury. Why ?

Aldus Huxley once said, that this world (the one your occupying as you read this), could be another worlds hell. That’s similar to my feelings about Glastonbury. I’m not talking about the music or culture side (more about that later) I’m talking about camping.

“Camping” at a festival, seems to take all the pleasures of outdoor living and strip them away one by one. The tranquillity (unless you go to sleep with an ipod in your ears, its practically impossible I’m told). The peace and relaxation (not really, is your tent being rifled while you queue for hot dogs. Will you even be able to find it.) You get the idea.

Put simply, I go outdoors, because the things I like doing (ie hill walking, cooking with camp-fires etc) can only be done outdoors.

Listening to music, can be done indoors. Whilst I can imagine the romanticised attraction of sitting out on a summer evening listening to music might appeal lets introduce some reality.

I go walking 3 weekends out of 4 and I’ve experienced UK weather as it really is. Tell me, if your a music lover, how does listening to the Killers ankle deep in mud in the driving rain enhance the experience.

Also, regular dashes to the toilets (its not called the “runs” by accident) due to poor camp hygiene and eating cold food, cant possibly make you feel alive.

All of that said, I known people who have been there and had a great time, and yet others who described it as a life altering experience.

One more thing  then. Musicians like Beyonce fill my ipod. I’m frequently ridiculed by “proper” music fans for listening to it. Why then is Beyonce on the stage at Glastonbury and because its there, the purists think “my” music is now ok, and not mainstream or sell out. Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

People sometimes ask my advise about Glastonbury, as I know quite a lot about outdoor living (expecting to hear something about which tent to take etc).

My advise is simple. Don’t go there, and watch your favourite band at the M.E.N. arena in Manchester. If you must go someone has written this Survival Guide. Honestly, I think reading the survival guide is more entertaining than the actual event and I now know what “bed head” is.

Apparently, it isn’t running next year, to rest the land.

Japanese Garden goes from strength to strength.

Little Tokyo, the affectionate name that Glenn has given to my Japanese garden, continues to progress well.

I have now added bamboo and above a new stork has grown on the very difficult to maintain fatsia japonica.

I am hoping to break away from the comments of my friend Lisa, who said “its not a Japanese garden at all, its just 4 plastic pots”. Well, now its 5 plastic pots.

For all the piss taking, I built it to remind me of my time in Japan, and although its not fully there, by this time next year, it should be advanced enough for me to sit in it and relax.


I saw a preview for the 4th instalment of Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol. I’m really looking forward to it like all the others and enjoyed watching the trailer (you can view it here). Much of the trailer, takes places on the Burj Kalifi tower.

Its the tallest building in the world, and can be seen with the naked eye 43 miles away. Just in case you think its all CGI, here’s a picture of Tom Cruise, dangling from the building.

Some other TV I’ve been watching recently, is the Killing (shot in a sort of European style. No California weather, the lead detective is socially dysfunctional and here partner is incompetent).

True Blood is back with season 4. If like me you thought season 2 and 3 went off the boil a bit, 4 is back with bite (okay, I just couldn’t resist that comment).

Games of Thrones finished recently. If you haven’t seen it, there are re-runs on Sky Atlantic. Its character development, multiple story lines and suspense/intrigue are woven together like no other series I’ve ever seen.

I’m watching the 4th season of My name is Earl (I got into watching it, after Dan brought me the box set in hospital, and I watched it on my laptop). Hilarious.

I’ve also been watching a UK series called Luther. At times far fetched, but generally superb. I love the way it doesn’t follow the normal format of a “cop” thriller, and there’s even a mutually beneficial, befriending of a psychopath.

I watched every episode of both series. Something was nagging me the whole time, and I couldn’t think what. Turns out, the guy who plays Luther, is the same actor who played Stringer Bell in the wire.

Watched Torchwood, re-made for an American market. Its obvious from watching, that production now has “American” money behind it. Is it better/worse (or even any good). Its too early to say.

I’m continuing to watch Castle, in anticipation of the next series of Special victims unit.

Dan and I have an impromptu Barbecue.

I haven’t had a BBQ in ages, so I decided to invite Dan over. When he asked what time the barbeque was starting, I told him that as he was the only guest, it would start when he arrived 🙂

As you can see, it was a “smokie” affair, but my neighbours didn’t appear to have any washing out, so no harm done.

Nothing too elaborate, we made Tesco finest beefburgers, and some chicken kebabs.

If like me, you bought a barbecue for a tenner, and put it together yourself, you probably notice that every time you come to use it, there are bird droppings all over it and its falling apart. Even worse, you probably have to replace it each year due to rust.

A piece of equipment which has revolutionised my garden, is a barbecue cover, which solves all of the above problems. The one I use is here but they also do one for “square” barbecues as well.

Rubbish in forest.

I was chatting to a chap in field and trek about 2 years ago. I was unemployed at the time, and commented that I had bags of time, but no money. He said that in life you’ve ether got money or time, but never both.

How ironic I thought the other day, I have loads of time on my hands and a reasonable amount of money. Unfortunately, I was recovering from Surgery and was told not to walk more than half a mile per day.

Back in the mists of time, when I lived in Manchester, there was (and probably still is) a park on Alan Turring way. If you don’t know, this website is dedicated to Alan Turring (and the queen recently opened a memorial to the codebreakers at Bletchley Park).

I’m not religious or anything but I used to go there, to contemplate and think, before I made important decision, if life was getting me down, sometimes just because I wanted to sit somewhere quiet.

Its not practical to do that now, so I frequently walk in a Forest in Westminster park. There’s usually nobody around, and when I do bump into the occasional dog walker, they are enjoying the solitude so much, that they look as shocked as me.

I decided to go walking there the other day, as it was within my half mile radius. I have walked there during good times and bad, but the other day couldn’t help noticing cans and plastic bags all over the place. Is it so hard for people to put beer cans and toffee wrappers back into their pockets and take them home !.

Various cooking projects.

I’ve started cooking again. On my birthday, Lyndsay bought me some real ale. I’m not a fan of that stuff really, so it remained on the window sill.

Gave me an idea, I could use it to make beef stew. Got my Jamie Oliver cookbook, my stockpot, and off I went.

Steve came around the next day for dinner. He commented that it could use more seasoning, but otherwise was very nice.

I’ve had to change my diet due to recent events, and Steve has been supplying me with a veg bag. Having used up the veg, I realised that I had a leak, and some potatoes. I’ve always wanted to make my own soup, so tried my hand.

To be honest, once it hit the pot, Steve took over. Overall though, it was delicious, and Ill be doing it again.

I like my soup thin, and one lesson I have realised is that a food processor, isnt the best thing for this (although the advertising says it can do anything).

In reality, getting the nearly ready soup out of the pan, and then into the food processor and then back into the pan, is a pain.

Ive now got a proper soup blender (one of my friends gave it me for nothing, when I setup a wireless router for them). Since I’ve now got some carrots left and I’ve re-stocked my spice rack, Carrot and Coriander soup should be on Sunday evenings menu.

Travel and Adventure.

I’ve done loads of stuff in the UK this year, but overseas travel has been virtually non existent. While in hospital, I used the time to plan, and I’ve since booked a trip to Lisbon with Glenn and Dan. I’ve never been to Portugal before, and I’ve been told that Lisbon is the cheapest capital city in Europe.

I’ve been reading up on it, and I cant believe I’ve not been there before. There are loads of fascinating things to see in Lisbon and its the home of Vasco De Gama, one of the greatest explorers in history.

I’ve also booked on a summer barge trip with Social Circles. My friends Tony and Dave are both members (Dave actualy met his wife Jen there). In the past, I’ve had reservations about these sort of paid-for-friends organisations, but I’ve decided to go along, and see what its like.

The barge goes from Manchester City centre to trafford and back again. If the weathers nice, it should be fantastic.

I’m going to try to visit Manchester a bit more often. Although I had a go at moving back there, and it didnt work, its still my home and I want to catch up with some old friends.

Well, thats it for this time. Thanks to all of you who sent me your best wishes while I’ve been ill.

Near and far, the search for adventure continues…

Hospital visit.

I recently spent time in the Countess of Chester hospital.

I just wanted to quickly thank Dr Appleby and Dr Bradshaw and all the nurses and “health cares” who took care of me. I cant remember everyone’s name (apart from Blessed, which is a pretty unique name and easy to remember).

It was quite a shock to find myself in hospital, but all the staff there really looked after me and I cant find the words to express my gratitude (and this is me were talking about, and I’m not lost for words often).

While I’m at it, I’d also like to thank the unsung hero’s of the hospital, the domestic staff who made my bed and always had a smile, and the catering staff who made such good food.

I’d also like to thank my boss Tim for coming to visit me, and the 2 cards I got from everyone at work.

Finally since the visit was unplanned the help of Glenn, Steve, Tony, Dan, My brother David and Lee for coming to visit me and bringing me supplies of clothes, chocolate, laptops etc.

I’m out now and feeling much better. I hope to be back at work by next Monday, and my Dr reckons I’ll be able to run a marathon by this time next year.

If your interested in the technical details, the picture bellow shows my arteries before my operation.

The picture bellow shows my arteries immediately after the operation.

The Dr’s let me photograph the x-ray board (I don’t even want to guess what the picture resolution of this thing was !) .

What would my advise be to anyone who ends up in hospital ?.

I’ve broken it into 2 sections. First is some advise I got from mum (an SRN for 27 years) which I garnered from a conversation with her when I was a little boy.

The 2nd lot is from my recent experiences.


1. Be polite and respectful to everyone you meet in Hospital.

2. When dealing with Dr’s and Nurses, ask questions by all means, but never argue. They are the experts.

3. Try to remember the nurses names, but if you forget, calling a qualified nurse “staff” will suffice (short for staff nurse).

4. The woman wearing royal blue is the Sister. She will have worked hard for that promotion. Calling her Sister rather than nurse, without being told,  will help to gain her respect.


1. A fully loaded kindle is essential. An IPhone is useful for text/email (or even for speaking to people !) and can remote record your sky box for things to watch when you get home.

2. On the meal sheet, you are only allowed to choose one serving of afters. If you make a “mistake” and choose something like rice pudding and cheese & crackers, you’ll usually get them both.

3. Take the time to put up pictures and cards next to your bed. Loneliness and isolation are normal (which is ironic, considering your surrounded by people all the time) and comes over you without warning.

4. You need to rest, but the best cure for boredom, is productivity. Always have a pen and paper to hand, and write down ideas (I came home with 15 pages of notes/ideas. The ones I’ve implemented so far, have worked really well.)

Life has now returned to normal, so best foot forwards.