Year: 2012

Christmas thoughts.

Great news. At 10:30am, with assistance from Glenn, the Sky box was “fixed”.  All set for Dr Who.

Well, its Christmas again.

I’ve just put up 2 pictures, that I think kind of capture the British Christmas.

The first, shows some friends from work. At lunchtime, Joe, Unitrons head of marketing had done a general knowledge quiz and everyone got involved and had a go (reminded me a bit of the parlour games that people used to do in Victorian times).

The picture bellow it is from the train station, as I travelled home on Friday night. If you look closely, you can see the guy in the picture with a pull along as he walks to board the train to London.

A bag with clothes appears to fastened near the top, but the rest of the wheeled device, is taken up by a whole keg of ale !.

I can’t remember a Christmas I’ve looked forward too so much, in some years. This year really has been quite amazing.

I’ve been on at least 10 walking weekends away, visited 5 countries (which puts me “back on the map” travel wise) done loads of exciting stuff at work with infrastructures and comm’s and still made time to improve my house and meet my friends for a pint.

That’s why the Christmas break is so important. It gives me time to recharge my batteries (with everything that’s going on, an hour extra in bed, and a chance to catch up on tv is a special treat) and plan my goals for 2013.

Had a few pints in the Lock Keeper last night. Its been my local for close to a decade, and it was nice to just sit there and reflect (although its a lot emptier these days than in its former glory).

Another nice treat, is a £25 gift voucher from for M&S from my employer. Its enabled me to buy some really superb food for Christmas day.

Probably won’t watch the Queens speech, always a bit serious I think, but definitely watching Dr Who (which reminds me, my sky box is broken. I’m a 20 years experienced engineer, will I be able to fix it before 5:15 !).

I think the coming year is going to be one of the best of my life and for that reason, the coming New Years eve trip to Patterdale, with all my walking friends will be all the more special.

So, to everyone that’s reading this and everyone who’s contributed to making this such a superb year (far too many to list here) Happy Christmas, from everyone here at

Adventure calls and sorry.


Firstly, apologies.

I know loads of you come back here day after day and week after week, and there hasn’t been an update for nearly a month.

What can I say, I’m working every weekend at the moment, late evenings most nights, and in between visiting Switzerland and going away on walking weekends.

I’ve also caught up with several old friends, and met my brother for dinner in Manchester. Put simply, I’m shattered.

Which is good because tomorrow, I head to Israel on holiday, a destination I’ve wanted to visit for more than 20 years.

There’s been (as Steve would put it) some unpleasantness in the region recently. My 2 friends Dan and Glenn, have ended up staying at home (although I think this is more to do with work commitments).

So, once again, I’m of on my own, with my trusty rucksack in search of adventure.

Please keep in touch (unless you work for Phonak, in which case don’t even THINK about calling my mobile), and keep coming back to this website which I’ll be updating while I’m away.

Near and far, the search for adventure continues.



Celebs, Caving, Poetry, Jazz and Fray Bentos pies.

Loads happening recently, and as I’ve said before, lots of weekends away can leave you bereft of time to put your life back together on your return.

A thing that concern me at the moment, is the threat to 2 British institutions. Black cabs and New Scotland yard.

Black cabs are at the heart of British culture. I travelled in one recently and I can’t imagine London without them.

As a keen fan of crime drama, what would the world be without Scotland yard. I’ve been watching a series recently called elementary. Its a sort of modern take on Sherlock Holmes. The hero is a genius detective and his main claim to fame is that he spent some time working with Scotland Yard. Seems like one of those occasions when “Jonny foreigner” values our culture more than we do.

Weekend just gone, I spent stayed at Skiddaw house, for the 2nd time this year. I drive up with Brian and Nikki, and we met Brian’s friend Nigel while there.

The walk in was pretty good, weather was fine and we successfully submitted Blencathra (regular lake district walkers know, that most of the hills in the lakes are called fells, and that there are only a handful of mountains, of which Blencathra is 1).

Overnighted at Skiddaw house and I was delighted to find that Mathew Parris was staying there as well. Former MP and journalist, I find his articles and interviews fascinating. I wondered about engaging him in conversation, but it occurred to me, that that’s sort of his job.

Would I like to be at Skiddaw house and someone hand me a laptop and ask me to fix it ?.  He’s in the photo above, in between the 2 children.

Walking back, the weather was atrocious. It was the worst I’ve ever seen in the lake district, and I was soaked. Back in Mungrisedale we pop in the Mill pub and I had steak and ale pie before heading home.

I found out recently on a discussion forum (so this is by no means a guaranteed fact) that Foster, Carling and Tesco’s own brand lager are all made in the same factory.

I’ve said for some time, that you cant tell the difference between Fosters and Carling lager and many hours of pub “research” seem to prove this.

During the last few barques, I’ve put Tesco’s own brand lager into a glass. If its cold enough, its almost impossible to tell it from Fosters or Carling. Thing is though, Tesco lager costs about £2.30 for 4 cans so its extremely cheap.

Made me wonder, since Tesco seem determined to take the world over, why don’t they cut out the middle man, and open there own chain of pubs ?.

Above is an artist’s (skinny Pete) impression of what a Tesco pub might look like.

George W. Bush once made a mess of the idiom fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Poundland selling 4 Mars bars for a £1. Their not proper Mars bars and their really small. As the Who sang, wont be fooled again. Trading standards have been alerted.

I always like to try new things, and lately, I’ve been trying to extend myself culturally.

The Sunday before last I was invited to take part in the worlds first Poetry take away.

It basically involved something that looked like a burger van, with some tweed and scarf wearing artistic types. They would take some details from you, then you’d go away and when you came back later, they would have composed a poem.

Alison organised it, and had a poem for the IVC. I was the only male there, and 2 of the other girls got poems as well.

I didn’t actually get a poem as I’m on the fringe.

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes and the main thing I got from the event was actually meeting some poets and chatting to them. They were very nice people.

Whilst waiting for the poem, we went to Pret-a-manger for coffee. That’s something else I don’t normally do, and we sat for about 40 minutes drinking coffee and chatting about things.

So, I’d only been out an hour, and done 2 new things.

From here, we headed to Alexanders intending to relax listening to some quality Jazz.

When we arrived, I wondered why all the seats near the front were free.

As soon as they started playing, I wished I’d brought my Specialist Phonak hearing aids as they would knock out the background sound and focus on the conversation of my friend.

However, as one of the guests at our table said, that will only help, if you have some for everyone else as well (It was really loud !).

It was a pretty mellow experience, and a lot more relaxing than a normal couple of hours in the pub. Everyone else drank soft drinks and pure orange, but I had 4 pints of fosters (its nice to try some new things, but its also nice to get pissed as well, so I went old school !).

My friend Sue from the walking group joined is a littel later. We all drifted off home about 5pm, and I was safely ensconced in the curry buffet for 7pm.

What a really smart Sunday, different than usual but loads of fun and I’m going to do it again.

Another Chester IVC event, was an evening trip to West Mine in Alderley Edge.

Aidan, that wolf of adventure had organised it. After enjoying his previous trip to Wild Boar Clough, I was hooked.

I also got to meet up with Sarah. I got on quite well with Sarah, and I’m most grateful, as we met at the Chester Globetrotters, and she was the person who recommended the Chester and District Walking Group to me.

I took this picture of Sarah with caving gear. I thought it was quite nice.

Which is a shame, as when she took this picture of me, its awful and I appear to have a Tefal head.

For £11 we got to wander around the mine for nearly 3 hears (it was a guided walk, and very informative).

Thing that’s fascinating, is that people are probably wandering around through the fields above, with no idea that this enormous mine (which would be big enough to house the evil hideout in a Bond film) was beneath them.

I treated myself to a new Rohan jumper recently (I didn’t pay the full price for it).

OK, this stuff is expensive, but its the best travel gear you can get, and brings me immense pleasure, just from wearing it.

I saw this advert recently. I last saw it in the 80’s when I was a volunteer at Fairbridge Drake.  All the instructors had some sort of Rohan clothes, but I could never afford them (in contrast, today I own 14 pairs of Rohan trousers).

This advert, was when they first introduced Rohan bags. Prior to this, walking trousers were very bulky, but it was said that a pair of Rohan bags would take up the same space and much less weight than a can of coke.

Those were the days. Today, you’d struggle to find walking trousers that WOULDN’T fit into a coke can.

But Rohan have moved with the times. I own 2 pairs of Rohan Goas. An amazing pair of outdoor trousers, and BOTH pairs would fit into a coke can !.

On the subject of things that last for a long time.

I always love those films where people are frozen in time, and when they wake in the future, the world has been destroyed by nuclear war or some other such calamity.

Although its science fiction, I always wonder what life would really be like in that situation.

Surely there would be hundreds of thousands of Fray Bentos pie’s left in warehouses, so they could survive on those couldn’t they ?.

Considered opinion is that they taste like slop.

I remember reading that when the Germans attacked Stalingrad in the winter, they were so cold and hungry, that they boiled up the tongues of their boots, to make soup.

They must have had loads of FB pies to spare, but boot tongue soup was preferable !.

If you gave people these in Rwanda or during the Tsunami, I’m sure they’d hand them back to you.

I was in Poundland buying Mars bars (rip off, their really small), and saw one. For the purposes of research, I decided to buy it, take it home, cook it and eat it.

Taking only 20 minutes to cook, in its own tin, the pie is ready.

I leave part of the lid on, to act as a handle.

I tuck in. To my credit, I finish it all, but its quit foul.

So, if:

The corner-of-the-pub-discussion scenario becomes true, and the Chinese do “airmail the big one” and we face impending nuclear destruction.

In the 4 minutes I have left to live, my neighbour leads me into his house, and shows me a time freezer and a small warehouse filled with Fray Bentos pies…

I always say a life without principles is no life at all. But a life filled with Fray Bentos pies would make death about as scary as watching the sun set over Ularu :).

I’ve always wanted remote controlled lights like my brother (I mean in his house, their not fastened to him !).

I bought some on ebay and was determined to fit them. Came back from the pub the other evening well oiled.

Spoke to Glenn, and said come on mate, lets fit these switch’s.

Glenn dead-pans and replies “that’s how people die John”.

I was in a drunk I-can-do-anything mood, so decided to engage him in debate. His reply “do you want the last words ever written about you to be an article in the paper saying drunk man electrocutes himself”.

Enough said, I waited until the next morning.

Thanks for taking the time to read the search for adventure continues…

2nd trip to Corris hostel.

I visited Corris hostel a few months ago and enjoyed it immensely. I had a free weekend recently, and as its only 90 minutes drive and £15 per night, I thought why not go back ?

Along for the ride, are Brian, a genius with a map (although his skills seem to conveniently desert him at times, more about that later) and Nikki veteran of several adventure trips and great fun (with an annoying habit, of thinking of things that never occurred to me).

We had all taken the Friday as holiday, to get there early. Brian picks me up from my house, and we drive over to pick up Nikki. Nikki provided us with detailed directions (so detailed in fact, that I think I could have defused a bomb with less concise instructions).

We pick up Nikki from her Victorian sized home and were on our way. In just a few minutes, we’ve left England, and are in Wales, nearing our destination.

We park at the bottom of an enormous hill, then walk back up with our gear (for some reason, there are shoes and parts from scalextric on the floor of the car park).

I’ve packed light as usual, and we’ll be spending both evening in the local pub, but I’ve also brought a bottle of wine (a must have item for hostel stays) and a pizza.

We are meeting Pete and Cath, on Saturday but for now we speak to the warden and get checked in.

Canolfan Corris is its usual friendly self, with tables and comfortable chairs. We make a cup of tea from the geezer (one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. a cup of tea, in under 60 seconds) and pore over the map.

Were introduced to a friendly American woman called Francine.

She is attending a course at CAT, but their accommodation is expensive, so she is staying in the hostel and walking to the course each day (along a fairly dangerous road, but she was still alive when we left).

After settling in, we head down the road to the Slaters arms.

I can never decide if its a really vibrant pub, or just a pub that’s so small, 3 people make every night feel like New Years Eve.

Anyway, a superb pub it is. Brian is fascinated, by this sort of ultra sonic vibrating thing, that does amazing things to Guinness.

But you can’t eat beer (and I know, because I’ve tried hundreds of times) so we order some food.

Steak pie, chips, gravy and peas for £7. Bargain, its delicious and the plate is loaded.

We get our usual corner table and talk about the usual things you discuss on a walking trip. The weather, possible variations on the planned walk and if your in a private room, which has no toilet but a sink, do you break with convention to answer a call of nature in the night.

The evening comes to a close around midnight, and we head back up the ridiculously steep hill to our bunks.

In the morning, I’m up, washed and dressed, as I stand outside with my cup of tea and breakfast bars. Everyone else faffs about making muesli with banana’s and other types of fruit.

As we head out, its raining a bit, but Brian sets a quick pace so were not cold.

We head along a forest path, cross the main road and then head up a hill.

I take a photograph next to a really square dry stone wall. Once we wander passed it, I realise that its part of an old cottage.

From here, things get a bit exciting. It was so wet, that I didn’t risk taking my phone out of its ortlieb bag (an essential piece of equipment on any: Brian-everything will be fine, adventure).

For several miles, we walk cross country, not following a path. Its been calculated that this requires 4 times more energy than path walking.

You don’t really notice while your walking, but when you stop for a rest or a drink, you realise just how fatigued you are.

After a while, we drop down, and there’s a stream to be crossed. Turns out, its a bit wider than indicated on the map, and we end up fording it, using walking poles and wading up to our thighs in water.

As I reached the bank of the river, I threw my daysack across to the other side. Reckless ? perhaps, but once I’d done that, I was committed and knew I was getting to the other side.

After this, we had to climb up a heavily subsided hill, on what must have been a 1 in 2 gradient. I found the simplest way was to grab handfuls of plant life, and pull myself up.

It must have taken an hour to climb about 140 metres and was exhausting.

It’s here, that opinions vary. Brian reckoned that he didn’t realise the hill would be that steep. I trust my friend, but I’m sceptical.

Thing is, I can read a map, and I know that the closer contour lines are together, the steeper the hill.

Brian is way beyond that level, and can literally look at a place on a map and in a virtual reality sort of way, see the countryside around him, although he’s not actually got there yet.

So I cant help wondering if Brian was doing a Tony Robbins, knew what we were really capable off, and kept the painful truth from us to “help” us rise to the challenge.

We reach the top of Graig Wen and my lungs are screaming.

I sit down to have my sandwiches and drink some water. Something catches the corner of my eye.

Turns out a sheep has become trapped in the fence. Despite my fatigue and need for rest, I jump to my feet to give assistance (to a creature which most Sunday evenings is an essential ingredient to my Rogan Josh) and rescue it.

Brian helps me, and within minutes, its free. It must have been very dehydrated, as it took of at a pace and seemed to drink its own body weight in water.

You can see the sheep in the top right of this photo.

I return to my resting place (Well, not my final one) and reflect. I have not been this soaking wet since the Borneo jungle.

But as so often, hill walking is a good metaphore for life. Ten minutes later and were walking down the other side of the hill. The sun comes out, and it feels like were in a different country.

We see the railway line at Tywyne. There is a race each year called race the train.

The title is pretty self explanitary, but if you havent got it yet, people run along at the side of a steam train and try to beat it. You can read more about it here.

We’ve arranged to get a lift back with Pete and Cath as all of the local buses that day are cancelled because of the race.

Big problem, there is practicaly no mobile signal.

We rest for a deserved drink at the Railway Inn, and the barmaid is good enough to let us use the pub phone.

A pickup has been arranged, so while we wait for rescue, theres time for a 2nd drink. Nikki is so uncomfortable with sodden feet that see takes of her boots and socks to dry them in the sunshine.

Both Brian and Nikki put on hats. I am unable to join their “hat club”, so I just enjoy the pleasure of the bright sunshine on my face.

Back to the hostel for a hot shower and a change of clothes.

Everyone heads for the pub, but I decide to heave an hour or 2 on my own.

I sit with my pizza and wine. Francine sits with me, and tells me all about the knife edge that the environment is balanced on…

I finish up quickly and head to the pub. I’ve saved a sheep earlier that day, but I don’t feel like saving any whales !.

In the morning, were exhausted from our adventures, so I have a 1hour lie in bed and treat myself to an 8am start.

The weather isn’t looking good, so we consider driving outside of the “rain zone”. For the first time, my laptop is useful, as we are able to plat the weather on a graph (the hostel has wi fi, but like most hostels, its patchy at best)

Realising, that there isn’t much in it, and were going to get wet wherever we go,  we decide to go on a local walk around the hamlet of Corris.

We wander along by the river, and then head up a hill.

Brian is navigating. We find that a path on the map, simply no longer exists so we improvise an alternate route.

Heading uphill, we get this view back down towards Corris hostel.

We reach the top of the hill in high spirits.

There is a really friendly fell runner who tells us an interesting route back to the village.

An obnoxious woman see’s us on the path, and immediately walks in the opposite direction. Doesn’t she understand that were British. A lot of the time, when I see people on the trail and say good morning, I’m doing it out of politeness.

Did she think speaking to her was going to be the highlight of my day. If you want every path to yourself, buy your own island !.

The cool headed, relaxed manner of Pete, calms me down, and I’m back to normal again.

Wander back down hill to Corris steam railway. It goes about 100 yards, and by most reasonable standards, is an utter wast of time.

But every cloud has a silver lining and a shop there sells chocolate and cans off coke, at very competitive prices.

Back to the hostel, we say goodbye to the guy from Northern Island (I still cant remember his name, but he’s really nice), jump in the car, and we head for home.

The end of another weekend adventure, is complete with a cup of tea at Nikki’s house (which is big enough to be an orphanage (the house, not the tea !)).

Wildboar clough and Enid Blyton adventures.

I’ve always wanted to have a whole summer, where I went away lots of times, and spent weekend after weekend away from home, making the most of the countryside and the weather.

Summer 2009, I was unemployed. I had plenty of time, but literally no money, so local walks, but no weekends away.

Summer 2010, I had a job, but the first couple of months I was broke, so again, no trips and everything local to Runcorn/Frodsham/Helsby where my inclusive ticket to work, allowed me to travel on Saturdays and Sunday, for free.

Summer 2011, money was OK, but I was recovering from an operation. A guy in Field and Trek once said to me, in life, you’ve either got money or time, but never both. I had both, but no fitness !.

So, for the first summer in 4 years, I’m back at full fitness (thanks to regular walks with the Chester and District Walking Group), I’ve got some money (limited, but in the last 3 years, I’ve learned some pretty clever techniques for  finding adventure on a tight budget).

Aidan, a friend from the walking group, emailed me, and asked if I fancied a weekend away with some friends, at a bunk house. He said the facilities were basic, but it had stone walls and a solid roof (the 2nd part is important. The worst stone building in the north of England, usually provides better protection from the elements than the most expensive tent in the world).

It was Monday. He asked if I could get back to him by Wednesday, if I wanted to go. I replied straight away. I’d be delighted to go. Adventure had (literally) called and I answered.

The picture above was taken on Saturday, while walking through the roaches. I bet everyone I could climb that crag. You can probably guess what happened.

I travelled pretty light for the trip as it had been decided that we would eat out during the evening, and so would only need breakfast and packed lunches for the hill. I took Chicken and Corned beef sandwiches for the latter, and breakfast bars for the former.

I had promised to bring my kettle, but realised at the very last minute, that I had loaned it to a friend. As I walked over to meet Aidan, I popped into my 2nd home, Field and Trek. When I got there, among the 2000 lines of products they sell, they were actually having a sale of just 4 items, and one of them was a whistling kettle.

I’m a fiercely logical person, but its at moments like that, when life puts just what you need, in front of you, just when you need it that you start to wonder about fate.

We jump in the car, and on the way, pick up Richard from Tarporley.

We arrive at Wild Boar Clough. The first surprise, is that the car park is about half a mile from the hut, and everything would need to be carried (I was glad that I’d packed light).

I meet Kay and Leanne who had travelled up together. They had brought enough bedding/kitchen accessories/wellingtons/food and drink, to furnish the hut as a holiday home for Alan Sugar.

I helped to carry some of the stuff to the hut. The 5 of us got to know each other a bit better, on our “Francis Younghusband“, equipped weekend away.

We catch first site of Cumberland Cottage the 18th century hunting lodge where we’ll be staying. The building itself was in beautiful picturesq surroundings as you can see from the picture above.

The view inside the kitchen is less inspiring.

There was a stream nearby for washing, and a point further up the hill, for collecting drinking water. The toilets were “everywhere outside” if you know what I mean. There was a gas burner and the scouts who look after it had left plenty of dry wood for the fire.

The facilities were basic, but I was in my element:

As a youngster I used to build dens and tree-houses in a friends garden, inspired by the Enid Blyton books that mum had given me.

In my favourite story, the 5 friends visit Kirrinn island, and setup home in a cave. I didn’t have an island nor cave, so I made a den out of some conti board and old lengths of wood that I’d found near the canal. I’d bought some nails and string from the co-op, and my only tools were my penknife and a conveniently shaped broken brick, which I used as a hammer.

I’d spent all Saturday constructing my makeshift home, resplendent with comforts such as yesterdays daily mirror, a broken radio and a cup with no handle. I also had an old saucepan that grandma had given me for cooking (since I wasn’t allowed to light the fire, this proved impractical, so I filled it with sweets).

Shockingly, I was just preparing for the night, making up my bed (a bath towel I’d bought at an old peoples bring and buy, I was going to use as a blanket) when it turned 6pm, and mum insisted I come in for tea, have a bath and get ready for bed.

Didn’t she realise that I could fend for myself (I was only 6 at the time). Like so often with mum, a compromise was reached, and I could eat my tea in the den, but I must be in for a bath by 7, as the mysterious “immersion” would be on.

Im no stranger to adventure now. I’ve slept in the desert, in the jungle and the arctic, but tonight, 38 years later I’d be completing my Enid Blyton dream.

Other positives, were I’d be able to practice all sorts of bushcraft skills like collecting and purifying water, fire-lighting and navigation using stars and bark.

The group were interesting and enthusiastic which is a real plus. being on an amazing trip with people who’d prefer to be watching x factor is grim.

At that moment, if I’d been offered a 5 star hotel, I would have turned it down (unless there was a prostitute in my room who loved science fiction, and could play halo at legendary level, in which case I might have considered it).

The living room, was a bit untidy, but I knew by the time we came to use it, it would be dark and feel as cosy as a log cabin.

Red plastic chairs gave the room a community centre feel and I couldn’t help thinking that some Ben Orford green woodwork chairs would have fit the bill better.

That’s when it hit me. They probably had wooden chairs once, and some lunatic ran out of fire wood and used them for fuel.

Its time for dinner, so we walk the mile odd, to the Crag pub. Its a very quiet and unassuming place, but its been a busy week at work, so I’m appreciative of the lack of fuss.

We grab a drink and order dinner (I have the Beef & Ale pie which is excellent). One thing that did surprise me was how there were stuffed animals all around the place.

I’ve caught food and eaten it several times, but even I felt slightly uncomfortable eating while small animals and birds stare back at me.

No matter, by the 3rd pint the group is melding quite well.

Its dark when we leave the pub, and head back to the cottage.

I couldn’t believe that some people had turned up with no torch !.

Most of my friends know I always recommend taking 3 torches for adventure/outdoor trips (without wanting to dampen the mood, when you hear of fires in foreign hostels, experts agree, personal smoke detectors and torches to find the way out would have saved most of the lives lost).

1. A Headtorch, your take anywhere torch, that can be worn for convenience your head to allow you to work hands free, or carried in a pocket on a walk back from the pub. I use the Petzle Tikka XP2.

2. A smaller torch, that I wear around my neck (normally worn with a Perry whistle). Can be used for emergency’s, but also used when I’m in shared accommodation and need to find the toilet in the dark. I user the Led Lenser V2.

3. A very bright tactical torch. This is used for first aid situations or when weather condition’s are bad and you need to get of a mountain quick. Basically, a pocket floodlight. I use the Led Lenser P7.

All of the above torches are light, waterproof, last for days on 1 set of batteries, and use battery’s which are readily available in most parts of the world.

I now also recommend a 4th torch. Something costing about £2 from Wilkinson’s. The idea, is that when you meet up with someone who didn’t bring a torch (and you will) instead of lending them your tactical torch, forgetting to ask for it back and losing £50, you give them the Wilkinson torch and forget about it.

In this case, it was Leanne who won the “Wilkinson award” for torch negligence !.

Setting our living room up for a cozy chat, I light some candles on the mantlepiece and and begin lighting the fire.. In Bushcraft, I’ve learned that a fire is everything. It can provide heat, purifies water, signal for help, cook food, keep insects at bay and if your on your own even become a companion.

Chances to light a fire in a simple setting like this, are pretty rare for me, so I was determined to make the most of it. I decided to set the fire using a technique called the Norwegian fire-lay.

It lit almost straight away, and everyone seemed impressed with my fire-lighting skills (and I was delighted that I hadn’t forgotten all the stuff I’d learned at Woodsmoke.)

We spent a good few hours, sat around the fire, drinking cans of cider (at that point, I was grateful for all the excess stuff that the girls had brought).

I slept really well, so when I opened my eyes from a deep sleep, it took a few minutes to remember where I was.

I’d slept so well in fact, that I’d actually had a lie in, and it was 8:30. The mattresses were like the mats we used in PE when I was a child. Each bunk had been designed for 2 children, so on my own, there was loads of room for me and my gear.

The Wellingtons in the bottom middle of this picture give a feel for the off the wall nature of the trip.

I boil some water, then sit outside in the early morning sunshine, enjoying my brew and breakfast bars.

We head out for the day, and come upon this friendly horse, in a field.

Aidan had planned the walk, so it was of its usual high standard. Some of the other people were not regular walkers, so Aidan had prepared a walk that would infinite them appropriately. Well that was the theory, in reality, he ran us ragged across 14 miles of the nicest parts of the Cheshire Pennines. Hard work at times, but immensely rewarding.

The weather was fantastic as you can see from this picture.

We stop at the famous 3 Shires Head on Axe Edge more and take a photograph on the pack horse bridge.

As its name suggests, this is the spot where the borders of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet.

With the bridge in the background, this is Panniers Pool.

We wander through some Caves called Luds Church in the generically named Back Wood.

Thought to have been used by pagans. Apparently, only on midsummer day does the sun shine into the cave and light it up.

In the 15th century, it was used as a meeting place by the Lollards (church reformers), who followed John Wycliffe.  They met here in secret, as they were being persecuted at the time.

In legend, Friar Tuck, Robin Hood and Bonny Prince Charlie have all stayed here.

Inside the caves were amazing, but try as I might, I just could get a photo that captured the experience of being inside.

Its lunchtime by now, and we head to the hanging stone overlooking the Dane valley.

As I look out across the hillside, I’m in a reflective mood. I’m only halfway through the weekend away (which has so far cost £7 for accommodation, £10 in the pub, £4 for a new kettle) and I’m enjoying it immensely.

The hanging stone has 2 inscriptions on it, which you can read about here.

We head up through Roach end, and arrive at the Roaches.

I’d often hear about the Roaches while talking to other keen outdoor people, but for some reason, I’d never visited them before.

What amazing scenery.

The rock formations around the hills made for some superb photo opportunities.

We wander through a farmyard near Knar.

Some “attack” Geese went for Leanne and she sustained this injury (shown later at the hut). The annoying thing, was the farmer heard the commotion and ran over to help. As she said it would have been better if he’d actually done something before attack.

I found that the Geese left me alone. But then they would, I looked at them with contempt and a sincere, knowing stare, that they would be kicked viciously, if they even came near me.

I’m good with animals.

Talking of animals, we head back, after a tiring but rewarding day on the hill and come upon these sheep coming the other way.

Its then that Aidan points out we aren’t going to the same pub that night for tea, and we actually have a dinner booking for 7pm. And its 6pm (and were going to need time to get ready).

We marshal our remaining energy and make for home, with the vigour of Para’s marching on Goose Green. Turns out by the end of the walk, we’ve done 16 miles.

We arrive back at the hut only an hour later, were dress for dinner and off we go.

Dinner on the 2nd evening at the Slaters arms.

The décor and the service, was superior to the Crag, that we’d visited the night before, but the food was not.

No matter, after a fantastic day, we all congregated together and had a really good time.

Later that evening, Aidan’s excellent girlfriend Carol joined us, and we all sat around the fire (more cider).

That evening I didn’t sleep as well as the previous night and woke the next morning feeling a bit groggy.

I packed up my stuff and prepared to say farewell to our weekend home. We were going on a walk that morning, but would be heading home fairly soon afterwards.

Weekends seem to get shorter and shorter now, so I left the others to go walking, decided to spend some time on my own.

Couple of years ago, on a tracking course (which wasn’t very good) I learned to do a “sit spot”. Its a pretty simple principle, you find somewhere quiet (say next to a tree) and sit quietly without moving.

Its not really meditation, but it really helps to relax me. The tracking idea, is that after a while, the insects, birds and small animals will start to act normally around you, you join the harmony of the forest.

In this way you can observe the forest scene as a part of it, rather than as a visitor.

I can do this for about 3 hours normally, but today, I stop after about 2, and wander around the back lanes.

I meet up with everyone back at the pub, for a well earned pint.

We head back to our weekend home to say a final farewell and then head for home.

Overall, a remarkable experience.

I’d like to thank Kay, Leanne, Carol and Richard for coming, but most of all, thank Aidan for putting the time and effort into organising it, which is greatly appreciated.


Well, I’m sat in my house disappointed (plus I’m still reeling from Amy and Rory’s demise).

The cold I cant seem to shift, that cost me 2 days off work last week, has cost me a day out walking and the coveted trip on a steam train (I’ve been in helicopters, hovercraft and submarines but I’ve never been on a steam train and I really want to).

I bought an absolutely amazing Photo which I saw while visiting the Scott Polar Research Institute. Grotto in a berg  was originally taken in 1913.

It would have taken 3 people just to carry the equipment to take this picture.

On the subject of adventure, I’m about the book the accommodation for Israel in December, and I’ve booked my flight to Sophia in January (as things stand, I look set to visit 4 countries again next year as I did this one). Additional places I’m looking at, at the moment are Paris, Dubrovnik and Cyprus. Since the summer of hostelling and camping went so well, Ill be doing the same again next year.

IVC  (there’s no “the” at the beginning, as Sue was at pains to point out) had a do on Friday, and Glenn and I went along.

I don’t normally go for big party things like that, but this one was really good and it was great to see so many people there.

There were some of the original members from its first foundation 21 years ago, and Kay the chair who I met at Wild Boar Clough gave a short speech.

Only downside, was Carlsberg was the only lager they had, and after the first hour, flatulence became a problem.

Loads of people seemed to know me, but I had no idea who they were. There was one guy there who could make a good living as lead singer in an Ian Curtis tribute band. Other notable guests were Nikki’s argumentative friend and the diplomatic firebrand Alison, who leads a double life, on the blogsphere under the pen name of OB.

Sue gives us a lift home, and off to bed (I’ve re read this, and for clarity, neither Sue nor Glenn joined me in bed, just in case anyone was wondering).

In the morning, I get loads of things done in the house (its weird being at home again over a weekend, but the stress really disappears when I get all my jobs done.

On Saturday evening, it was Andy’s birthday. I don’t like to “wear the same clothes 2 days running”, so I took Dan this time and left Glenn in the wardrobe.

The idea was to have a few drinks around town, starting at the Bear and Billet. We also visited the Brewery Tap then finished off at the Commercial.

Andy is one of my favourite people at IVC (again with no “the). We hung out together at the Derwent water weekend. I was showing him and another guy how we could light a fire using a Norwegian fire lay. I decided that would make a good theme for a present, so I bought him a bushcraft style turboflame lighter.

Only a person who’s made fire from friction understands the real value of a lighter.

Dan buggered off talking to someone else, so I regaled Andy’s friends, with interesting facts about Chester (which I shamelessly robbed from the tour guides, when I did every one of Chester’s walking tours).

I met some of his friends. One guy was a lecturer from Oxford university. Turns out he’s a friend of Andrew Hodges, who writes about Alan Turing’s life and work. I wish I could have met him, after all, this website is dedicated to his memory.

When I got home, I realised that Andy had asked me to look after all his cards, as I had my trusty daysack. I’ve still got them, Ill have to get them back to him quick.

 I was a bit embarrassed the other day.

I was in town wandering around the shops, when a voice said John Sunter.

Turns out, it was George Lyndsay. The personal trainer I used when I was preparing for my season of alpine mountaineering. In just 7 weeks, I dropped down to less than 15 stone, and I could comfortably run 5 miles (that might not sound like much, but for me, it was a significant achievement.

I was so delighted, that on our last session before I headed for Geneva, I bought him a Swiss Army Knife as a thank you.

Well, things have change a bit now. I describe myself has being at the top end of pub fitness. Obviously I have changed my diet after last years excitement, but I’m not the lean guy I used to be, and although he was nice about it, I could see that George was wondering what had happened.

This year, loads of dreams and goals have become real, but fitness and weight loss are 2 that have evaded me. Meeting George in the street has kick-started me to get cracking. As soon as I get rid of this cold, I’m going to get out running.

Well, circumstances are different, now, and gym membership, let alone personal training is a project for future prosperous times (which will happen, no matter what anyone says).

1. When pursuing a goal, its absolutely essential to have a plan, and some way of tracking results. I’ve just bought a new super accurate set of scales, so I can measure that part of my progress

2. I’m using 2 apps on my IPhone.

Runkeeper, to work out my rout (it can do all sorts of clever stuff, but I’m just using it to map out a 4 mile circuit).

Get Running which tutors you through several session, until you can comfortably run 5k without stopping, running reasonably quickly.

I’ll put up my progress once I get started, and you can tell me what you think.

On the subject of health and fitness, the Countess of Chester hospital, are having an opening evening on Tuesday the 2nd of October. Since they took such good care of me last year, I’ve decided to go.

Ambleside weekend with Jon Mallet

On the front row, kneeling down on the left, is Jon Mallet.

In 2007 I attended a Desert survival course (1 & 2) and visited Morocco (1 & 2). While there I met Jon Mallet. He wasn’t from the usual bushcraft/survival family, and it turned out, that he worked in London for a bank.

I could tell straight away that he was resourceful and adaptable, and since he’d travelled extensively before, he’d be fine on a “rough it” trip like this one.

Short story long, was that we hit it off straight away, and we’ve been good friends ever since (he often travels all the way from London to join in my birthday celebration).

This year, he couldn’t make it, due to family commitments, so we decided we’d meet up and go to the lakes and he would bring some of this friends from London along with him.

Our transportation would be provided by Jon’s Landrover Discovery.

Jon and his 2 friends (both called James) arrived on Thursday night (they would be staying over in Chester, so we could get an early start).

I set everyone up with a bed of some kind, then we went out to a couple of pubs in town. The lads seemed to enjoy my choice of pubs, and we rounded of the evening with a visit to Asia fusion, where previously the famous the original “dizzy” Dave bought everyone’s curry by accidentally getting his arm burned.

We set of early in the morning. Everyone was in high spirits. The Landrover was really comfortable, compared to many of the vehicles I’ve previously travelled in to the lakes.

Our base would be Ambleside, and we’d be staying over for the next 2 nights.

One thing I realised early on (and should have been obvious, had I thought about it) is that Londoners have a lot further to travel when visiting the lake district.  For this reason, Friday wasn’t going to be our setup day, we were actually going to walk Friday and Saturday, and travel home on Sunday.

Before we headed for the Fairfield Horseshoe we stopped to get some breakfast from a nice cafe in the centre of Ambleside. Everyone else had a full English, but I went for scrambled eggs. Made with free range, it was (after Bills in Sydney) the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever eaten so I thought it deserved to be photographed.

We set of walking and passed by Rydal. We passed a campsite there, and I saw some camping pods (idea for a future trip).

While walking, we got chatting, and it was interesting to see the difference in culture (I’m from the North and they’r from the South.

Earlier, we stopped the car to get some equipment. I was concious that the car behind us was waiting on us, and that we should move urgently.

Jon said simply “we wont be long, he can wait”. That’s when I saw the London side of this crew. Yes, Londoners have a reputation for a southern chill and perhaps not being as friendly as people in the north. That said, they live and work in a massive capital city. Its just not practical to act like the district nurse in an environment like that all the time.

Overall, I felt the London banker set, were typically British. Very decent people who know how to relax, but are clear in their mind about where their going and what they want.

It took some getting used too, when we went out for meals, and were asked by the staff if we enjoyed them. Jon would simply reply no. Then after a pause he’d say it was excellent, and everyone would start laughing.

I’m not very good with names, but I decided that one of Jon’s friends reminded me of Catweazle, and the other looked like Mat Damon. Mat and Cat, that would be easy to remember.


We finally get into the hills.

The view from the first peak of the Horshoe, Low Pike was pretty cool.

The walk is 16 killometres, and crosses 8 fells.

Sections of the hill were very steep in parts. As sometimes happens on walks like this, we split up and regroup on the peaks.

I was really impressed with Jon’s fitness. I walk most weekends no and I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. I was no match for Jon, he flew up every hill.

We carried on, and reached the mouth of the horseshoe at Fairfield.

From here we started to head downhill. The weather was foul, but the last section of the walk had a dry stone wall, which we followed back to Ambleside.

We headed to our accommodation. Ambleside YHA is one of the largest youth hostels in the country.

It features a tv room, self catering kitchen, lounge , cafe and bar. The full time staff there were friendly and knowledgeable and best of all there was a chippy next door.

I know some people prefer smaller more intimate accommodation, but I prefer anonymity. I even bought a copy of Tubular Fell picture while I was there.

Our room worked out at £25 per person per night for a private room, with 5 beds. It was nice and warm at night, and we had our own sink for washing (just a small thing, but it means your not wandering around the corridor at night, when you want to brush your teeth.

I read that the hostel was going to be re-furbished in a few months.

Think is, doesn’t that defeat the object. I mean the idea of hostels is cheap, basic clean accommodation. That way either:

a, people who couldn’t otherwise afford it, can get away for a few days.

b, people who could afford to spend more, can choose spend less and get out more often.

If you do the place up, make it really nice and up your prices, then you’ve just created another hotel, and there are thousands of those already !.

We retired for the evening to the Royal Oak, which became our local throughout the trip.

I was introduced to the 5th member of our band, Jon (sat on Jon’s left). He and his wife Rachel had given up the city life, move to the lakes, run a smallholding and live the simple life.

It certainly seemed like a busy life. Everyone morning, he arrived after mucking out sheep, and each evening had to head back to do something in the garden. I was looking forward to seeing this project for myself.

I was also fascinated to hear that he and Rachel were both members of the Antarctica exploration society (I’d visited the Antarctic exploration museum while in Cambridge with work, and I found it fascinating.

 Its interesting to see how the town has changed over the years. A building that has been an off license, picture shop, and kebab shop was now an Italian restaurant. We decided to pop in for dinner. It was really nice.

End of a long day, off home to bed.

In the morning, full English breakfast for another day on the hill.

While people were getting ready, I saw by the lake with some hot chocolate.

I was delighted to see that you could rent canoes and I wished I’d had more time, so I could have a go.

I came upon this sign.

And literally seconds after reading it, these 2 mentalist came charging down the jetty in shorts and jumped into the freezing water.

The peace of the morning is broken, and we head off.

Today we would walk from Ambleside to Langdale and the Old Dungion Ghyll.

Less steep, the walked snakd across the lakes and the environment was constantly changing.

Catweazle had  a dodgy leg so decided to have a lie down. The remaining 4 of us plodded on.

As we wander, we discuss the classic live to work/work to live debate and seem to conclude that neither absolute extreme is desirable.

We headed up some steep hills then dropped down on teh flat and wandered through another campsite.

We saw some caravans and Mat started to tell me about the one he owns. I was fascinated to hear, that it had a remote control.

Literally, you unhook the caravan from the car, then you can “drive” and “steer” it into its designated spot by remote control. Caravans have come a long way, from the ones mum used to take us to in Wales when I was a child.

Even though I’d only known Jon’s friends for 2 days, we had gelled really well.

As we stop for a break, I pose in front of the highest dry stone wall in the lake district.

After they photo is taken, they all start laughing. They’ve made the whole thing up, and apart from it being quite tall, have absolutely no knowledge of it and have seen it for the first time 3 minutes before.

Its a nice wall anyway, so I’ve put the photo up.

We arrive at the bus stop next to the ODG.

We would have got this bus, but cw was driving over to pick us up.

I really enjoyed this walk, and I’m determined to do it again.

Once inside it was a bit drab (certainly not as alluring as their website lead me to believe) and the guy serving certainly wasnt putting himself out.

Still, the walk was complete, and had to be finished off with a pint (as god intended) so I waited my turn for slow-motion-man to service me.

As I sat with the lads enjoying my pint and sea salt crisps, I realised the walking part of the trip was over. Catweazle wasn’t around, and I was a bit worried (whether he was ok, and more importantly, how the hell we were going to get back to Ambleside).

As I’ve seen happen a couple of times recently on walks, we had no signal, but we were sure our rescuer did. Back to slow-motion-man to save the day, as he produces a landline. We wake up cw, get picked up and its back to civilisation.

That evening, I dine on fish and chips on a bench next to the lake. I walk into town for a few pints at the Royal Oak, happy in the company of good friends.

In the morning we rise early.

No cafe this morning, were visting Jon & Rachel at their freehold for breakfast.

Its right next to Shap, the first place I ever visited in the lakes, and nearby is the cottage from the film Withnail and I.

They have everything here, lambs, chickens, goats for milk and an extensive garden and greenhouse.

The place obviously requires hours of work to keep it running, but must be incredibly rewarding and the rest of the lakes are just on the doorstep.

We enjoy a full English breakfast out in the garden with copious amounts of tea and toast.

I’m used to eating food that’s locally sourced, but in this case, it was within 30 feet of where I was sitting.

Jon finishes off the morning with an impromptu Freddy Mercury impression.

Back in the car, and I’m home 2hrs later.

Overall, I spent a bit more than I expected on the trip, but why not, it was a fantastic weekend.

Thanks to Jon for being a great mate, just like he’s always been. Hi to Mat and Cat who’s company and conversation I came to enjoy greatly.

Finally a very special thanks to Jon and Rachel. They hardly know me, but welcomed me into their home, which I found interesting and inspiring.


Still busily updating during my evenings.Things have calmed down a bit at work, and my next trip in the UK and abroad isn’t until December. Some people tell me I should just get on with it and put the pages up.

I disagree. A couple of years ago, I was with a girl I really liked. One evening in the pub, I leaned over and kissed her nonchalantly.

She didn’t look pleased at the exchange, and said simply “If your going to kiss me John, do it like you mean it”.

The relationship didn’t last for long, but that simple piece of advise has stuck with me ever since. Quite simply, when I do something, I try to do it like “I mean it” or just not do it at all.

An example I give was something that happened about 3 years ago.

I was working with a new assistant. We had only worked together for about 10 days, but I felt that he was cutting corners. Not intending to force a confrontation so early in my new job, I tried to use an ancedotel example.

I asked him. You know that I’m single and I live on my own ?

You know that logically, I spent last night on my own, and when I left this morning my bed was empty ?. You know that nobody is likey to enter my house today, until I get home ?, so the question is this.

If you could see my bed right now, what would it look like ?

The point I was getting at, is do you think my bed is unmade, or a mess ?. After all, why not, nobody else will see it, nobody else would know.

But that’s the point I was trying to get across. My bed is made immaculately every morning. Why ?. Because although nobody else would know, I would know.

With that thought in mind, I left for lunch. I was shocked to find when I returned, that I was invited into HR. My assistant spoke to the HR manager, and said he felt “I was having problems at home, and taking it out on him”.

That’s a story for another day, but the point is, if nobody else knows, no matter, always give and do your best work because inside you’ll know.


Gareth Wilkinson (the artist formerly known as mithering Gareth). Spoke to me a few months ago, about a trip to Paris.

I was delighted to help, and gave the best travel advise I could think off.

He emailed me this photo the other evening. He and Katie are having an excellent time.


It was with bitter sadness, that I said goodbye to my friend Lyndsay today.

The bitter sadness was because I really thought the lunchtime buffet would be pizza, but it ended up being sandwiches.

No matter, it saved me the cost of my lunch (even though a complete lack of communication lead to me finding out just a few minutes before it happened).

Lyndsay originally worked in accounts and we had loads of happy times. When she moved into another job within the company, I gave her a card.

We are both keen fans of Margaret Thatcher, and I was reminded of a quote from Lady Thatchers book. In it, she was talking about here friend, Sir Keith Joseph and his retirement. The book itself (the downing street years) is 1100 pages, but in just a few lines she said that once he retired, life in politics would never be quite the same.

I’m no prime minister, but my life at work would never be quite the same, once she left our office and moved to her new job. Now she’s moving to Switzerland, I feel that way more than ever.

The projects were working on at the moment, will mark the greatest achievements of my life. And my friend wont be there to see them (well, unless she regularly visits


 My friend from the CDWG Marjorie (wearing blue in the picture above, and holding a camera) celebrated her birthday recently, with a weekend in Anglesey that we all enjoyed (Ill be putting up photos and more details in the coming days, but this will have to do for now).

Took Friday off, did some beach-combing in the afternoon, then a walk to the highest mountain in Anglesey on Saturday (with a cool walk along the Anglesey coastal path on the way back) and a trip Anglesey copper kingdom on Sunday.

Copper Kingdom, has a large quarry, and 70’s and 80’s version so Dr who were filmed there.

Lots of good company, nice cake, and evenings in the pub. Superb.

As a gentleman (well, some kind of gentleman), I couldn’t possibly divulge Marjorie’s age. Suffice to say, she does significantly more with her time, in later life, than many others in their so called “prime” and is an inspiration to all at the walking group.

Update 2.


This month I replaced my prized head-torch with a Petzle Tikka xp2 (the old one had to be “prised” of my head, I loved it that much).

You might wonder what I did with the old one (or maybe you just don’t care). Anyway, I was on a weekend away (I’ll be writting about that trip tomorrow, as I’m presently putting up 1 article a day for the whole week) at Wild Boar Clough and met a girl called Leanne.

She really inspired me, as she is fanatically motivated to raise money for a teenage cancer charity (the picture above, is a Teddy, that she raffled (I was annoyed, I really wanted that bear !)). She is raising sponsorship for a walk along the great wall (I’ve done that walk, and its amazing fun, but not easy at all).

I donated my old head torch, as I knew she’d need one to complete the walk and it might save her a few quid on her equipment costs.

I completely endorse Leanne’s charity, and if any of you have any spare cash, I’d love you to donate it to her website (I know some of you have offered to donate to the upkeep of, but I’ve got that covered. If you’ve got a fiver (or a tenner) spare, then please donate it.

In fact, I’ll go further than that.

I’ve said several times, that I’m happy on my own, and that I like being single for the freedom and order that it gives me. Its become a cliché now, but as I always say, when I get home from work, there may not be loving arms waiting for me, but there isn’t a row either (unless the fish want some !).

However, in the last 10 days, several of my friends have commented on situations, and said that I should ask this girl or that girl out. I know that they mean well, but I’m pretty happy where I am. Loads of you have said I should open my mind, give it a try, and all the rest of it.

I remain un-convinced, but if friends (you guys reading this), donate £50 or above between you, to Leanne’s Trek China website, I’ll genuinely give it a try and ask someone out. To make it a bit more exciting, the person who sponsors the largest single amount, can pick my prospective “Beau”.

You can contribute to Leanne’s charity here. If you guys really want me to be “happy” (against my will) you won’t mind contributing £20 to making it a reality.

One final rule. If you win, the person you nominate can’t be Leanne herself (this is a bit of fun, but its for a sincerely good cause, so no messing about on that front).

Had an amazing bank holiday weekend.

First thing that was cool, was I completed the 3 remaining “houses” of my every-curry-house-in-Chester tour over 4 consecutive days.

Thursday evening, the Gate of India with “pub” Tony. Saturday evening, Barton Rough with Dan, and Sunday evening Cafe Naj with Glenn.

I also treated myself, and replaced my Gators, my head torch (as mentioned above) and bought a really cool picture called Tubular Fell.

It maps out all the Wainwright fells, in a “London underground” format. I didn’t actually take any pictures of us having a curry, so for this section of the blog, I founda picture of these 2 complete strangers on the internet with a Tubular Fell picture.

Dan has also donated his old computer, to so we are presently experiencing the joys and frustrations of Windows 8.

I also saw brilliant ultra light backpacking setup in Cotswold outdoors. The stuff I have is really light weight, but this stuff is amazing.

I’ve also been getting organised with overseas travel.

My goal for this year, is to visit 4 countries (at least 3 I hadn’t previously been to). Munich was the one I’d always wanted to go back to, complimented by Tallinn in Estonia and Helsinki in Finland that were first trips.

So, with one more country to visit this year, which should it be ?

A country I’ve wanted to visit for more than 20 years. Problem previously was, both my partners at the time (separate relationships, I’ve never been in a 3-way) , and my mother, wouldn’t let me go there, as they were convinced I’d “get killed”.

I’m happily single now (and sadly my mum’s gone) so the door is open to finally visit Israel.

I cynically put the picture above up, because that’s most peoples idea of what Israel is really like. In reality I don’t believe Israel is like that most of the time (and lets be practically, if it is or it isn’t ill only know for sure when I actually go there).

I’ve booked flights in early December, as its the cheapest time to go in a 3 month time horizon.

We’ll have an overnight in Tel Aviv, and then 3 nights in Jerusalem (loads to see on foot, and a few road trips out, to places like the dead sea and Bethlehem).

Dan and Glenn are coming, so if I do “get killed” I’ll have my friends with me, when I arrive on the other side.

On the Friday evening at the beginning of the last bank holiday weekend of the year, the walking group had their usual around the walls pub crawl, organised by Anne.

It was a special time for me, as it marked my 1 year membership of the Chester and District Walking Group (which is strange as I feel like I’ve been there much longer. The people I’ve met feel like friends I’ve known for several years, yet chronologically, they can’t possibly be).

I’d like to thank Sarah blond hair (don’t know her surname) for recommending the walking group, at a meeting of the Chester Globetrotters (the next meeting of the “globey’s” is on Saturday, I’m quite looking forward to it, as I’ve missed the last 2 meeting due to travel commitments).

Anyway, it was a brilliant evening with a chance to catch up with people I don’t see very often,  Glenn turning up in the same coat as me, and a brief visit by “pub” Tony getting into rounds, and then sloping off to buy his own drinks. But that wasn’t all. A plan was hatched to have a meet up and go cycling.

Couple of years ago, Chester council set-up a series of fun rides through the countryside around Cheshire (there are 8 all together) and up to this point, I’d only done 1 of them.

It was decided that on Bank holiday Monday, we would go out for a ride, and complete my 2nd one (I’m determined to complete them all, before the 1st of Jan 2013).

We all met up at Glenn’s unit (that guy will do anything to sell furniture).

Alex and Glenn, came dressed for the Tour de France. I however, wore my patented “old clothes” and I tucked my right trouser leg into my sock.

It was commented on later, that I looked like a paralympian with a carbon fibre leg !.

Lets clear one thing up, right away. The weather was foul. As I woke that morning and looked out of the window, I desperately didn’t want to go. But,  I never let good friends down (although none of them were going, there was Alex and Glenn to consider 🙂

Its for this reason, that you won’t see any pictures outside. It was raining, and I didn’t want to get my phone wet/couldn’t be bothered to take photographs in the rain (in fact, just close your eyes, and imagine your standing outside in the rain. See, there wasn’t any need for photographs after all).

The ride we did was called the Manley Meander.

As you can see from this photo, Alex did a superb job of navigating a series of mundane roads on a grey day (and even made time to eat a sensible sandwich, along the way).

As we arrived at Manley Mere, the woman proprietor started shouting and waving her arms as we fastened our bikes to the gate.

Turned out, that the gate didn’t open outwards as we’d thought, and opened across electrically. If we’d put them there and the gate had opened, it would have cut the bikes in half.

We hung around the Chameleon restaurant/bar a while longer, and the weather wasn’t improving.

As time ticked by, the sun (which nobody could see for clouds) went above the yard arm, so what could I do ?. I got a pint in, and like so often, contemplated life, through my reflection in the glass.

After this, we cycled some more. I realised that by adjusting the hight of the saddle on my bike, I could make riding a lot more comfortable.

With an angry mother-in-law of a day, weather wise, it wasn’t long, before we were back in another hostelry (the Plough).

Glenn treated me to fish and chips, washed down with a few more pints, before I headed of down the canal back to a warm bath and some dry clothes.

I want to say at this point, that despite all the discomfort, it was, overall a rewarding day.

I want to say that…

But it wasnt. I think my cycling experiences from now on, are going to be based significantly on the weather forecast.

still, thanks for Alex and Glenn for coming with me.

Day back at work after bank holiday, and I’m at Manchester airport. I’ve flown extensively, but I’ve never flown there and back to a place in the same day.

On this occasion, we had a meeting with one of our suppliers in Horsham. With 2 directors in tow (Tim and Helen), the time to drive there and back with an overnight hotel stay wasn’t an option, so plane it was (I tried talking them into a private jet, but they weren’t “on board” with it, so to speak) 🙂

The plane to Gatwick was barely in the air 30 minutes, before we landed. We were picked up by a chap called Stewart (again, this is work stuff, relating to a massive project, so I cant discuss details. What I can say, is that Stewart is an expert on telecommunications and one of the cleverest and most charming people I think I’ve ever met).

We arrive at their building.

As I expected, the building was List x rated, but even more cool, they shared the building with another company, Fender, the famous guitar manufacturer.

We were shown loads of cool telephony products. The main thing I learned, is there’s no such think as a phone system any-more. There is a call handling system (which handles everything from texts, to phone calls and hd video conferencing) and endpoints, which can be headsets, software programs that run on your laptop and work like phones, monitoring people in your team, and even conventional plastic phones as well.

I spent the day looking at some amazing telephony solutions using Microsoft Lync. I remember someone once saying to me, If you like computer networks, you’ll love convergent telephony, its even better. I’ve seen it, and it is.

Back at the airport, its been a productive day. We have a quick pint at the bar, and then it occurs to me. The last time I was in this specific airport, was the first part of my first trip around the world.

At the time, the building felt so mysterious and exciting. But now I’ve been too so many airports, that the mystery has gone from this place.

I also noticed that Jamie Oliver has a restaurant there now. Is there anywhere he doesn’t have one.

Flight back home, train back to Chester.

Back on the train to work the next day.

You can always tell the people who are getting the train to the airport and don’t often travel on the train. There noisy, disorganised, carrying to much baggage, faf around deciding where to sit, and take ten minutes to get on the train or get off it.

If you one of those people, I’d just like to point something obvious out, that you may have missed.


If I’m behind you at the bottom of the train, and you take 10 minutes (and I’m not exaggerating) to put your bag just where you like it, just so, it means that 2 things are happening.

1. Me and all the people behind me cant get a seat until you move.

2. While your faffing around, the people getting on the top end of the train, are wandering further and further down the train. ALL the people in that queue will get seats (which is against nature) and all of us will end up standing (which isn’t very nice).

All of this so your £9.99 Argos pull along, filled with dresses from Evans, can be in the premium spot, for a 23 minute journey.

If in doubt, do what Rohan say. Travel light and move fast.

Anyway, reason for this photo, is I saw a student had put this rucksack down. Its exactly the same make as the first rucksack I ever owned (mine was orange, but that’s minor detail). Took me back and made me laugh about how discerning I am now with my outdoor geare

Ok, so its Wednesday morning in work, and I’m impressing everyone in finance with story’s of courage, adventure and tenacity. After I’ve finished telling them, I finish with a few stories about myself.

Next thing, the boss appears at my desk and tells me something important is going down. I look outside the window, and butty van isn’t there, so I wonder what he’s referring too.

Turns out, were involved in some due diligence work off-site (which, you’ve guessed it, is confidential) and that we need to drive 6 hours south of our office, where my firewall/security skills are going to be needed.

With only 30 minutes notice, were off. I don’t have any spare clothes or anything like that, but I’ve lived in the desert for 10 consecutive days, and in the Jungle for 6 so I’m mentally prepared (I just don’t have a toothbrush).

Get down there, do the deal, then drive an hour north, to a place called Newbury. I’ve heard good things about the town, but never been there.

We decide to stay over, at a superb pub called the Bacon arms (daft name, brilliant accommodation, with the 3 essential b’s being more than adequately catered for (Bed, Bath, Breakfast)).

We had a couple of pints around the town, then had a kebab for super (I’ve not had a really good kebab for ages, and this one was superb).

Cooked breakfast in the morning, where I entertain the waiting on girl, with stories of my high level/covert mission. Then the boss arrives, and I have to be quet, in case he tells her we dont really work for a government agency after all, and ruins everything.

Back at work, and impressing everyone in customer service’s with story’s of courage, adventure and tenacity…


Update 1.

First of all, let me apologise in advance for not updating this website recently.

As I’ve stated before, I’m trying to make the most of the summer by going away on as many weekends as possible and its a very exciting time at work. That all sounds great, but it lately, it has left literally no time for anything else, and more than once, I have had to buy brand new socks, as I didn’t have any clean ones in the house and eat my evening meal off paper plates, I bought for the barbecue !.

Well, summer is over. Although I continue to aggressively pursue adventure in my spare time, and build the greatest achievement in my career during working hours, there is at least, a bit of time left.

I’m putting up this page now, and I’ll be publishing pages about my summer adventures, 1 each day, for the whole of the coming week.

Monday, I worked flat out with Dan. By the end of the day, we must have done 2 days work. I was so exhausted, I was in bed by 7pm that night. The following day, I was attending the Insight event, hence the reason to sort things out.

Insight are a computer supplier I’ve used for nearly 12 years (they sell everything, and I mean EVERYTHING). Its always said, that people don’t deal with company’s, they deal with people. I’ve worked with a guy there, called Gary Siddle for 10 years. He’s never let me down,  and couldn’t recommend him more highly.

I was at their London event earlier in the year, but when I went to the Manchester (the greatest city on earth, even if people do step over you when your having a heart attack) event, I remembered my camera.

I finally got a photo of me and Gary, and by a complete stroke of luck, I ran into Peter Grice, someone I worked with a few years ago (At the time I nicknamed him Skinny Pete, but looking at this photo, anyone standing next to me, looks skinny 🙂

So, here it is. Me, Gary and Pete.

The event was hosted at the Gmex (the building you can see outside the window is the Midland hotel).

I normally find the food and drink at events like this to be a bit so so, but in this case it was superb, with an excellent mix of exotic and ordinary.

They also had some beers and wine, which was a nice touch.

But its not food and drink that you go to an event like this for.

In this room are top experts, from some of the most successful technology company’s in the world. You can literally walk up to a stand and ask any question you like.

The other thing that’s cool, is they have the very latest technology on display. In this photo, we have the Microsoft Surface table. 5 years from now, there will probably be one in every house, but right now, its cutting edge (although the touch screen movement was a bit flaky).

I got to try out windows 8 on a computer/table combination, with office 2013. I’ve looked at this before, and considered it un-feasable, but actually using it alongside an expert from Microsoft, I can see how it works (you can see what I mean by watching this.)

My main reason for attending was to research some stuff for a big project at work (which obviously I cant talk about on here).

I saw some cool stuff with interactive whiteboards and video conferencing and stuff like that, but I was most interested in convergent communications.

The idea of convergent communications, is a bit like the idea of the information superhighway. Put simply, the phrase was being bandied around, 6 years before the technology actualy existed.

Convergent comms, is real now. Put simply, it links everything from mobile texting, to hd video conferencing and everything in between under one roof in the data-centre. Even better, it uses open standards, so you don’t have an Ericson phone system, you have a back end, and then things like handsets and screens can be purchased from many different vendors.

I’m something of an expert in MS Lync now, so the one I wanted to see in action, was its rival, Cisco Jabber.

In an entertaining demo, they had a caricature artist in London, talking to people across a vid conf link. In the picture above, you can see a delegate being drawn in real time, and in the background, a couple of “Captain Picard” devices from Cisco.

After this, we had a 40 minute demo of Jabber, and I learned about a concept called full immersion.

Absolutely fab day, loads of cool tech, exactly the reason I work in this industry. Got loads of new ideas, I’d like to thank Gary from Insight for inviting me.

On Wednesday we had to visit a client site, which involved a trip down to London. I think its a real shame that Virgin are losing the franchise. Its said when they took it over 15 years ago, they had the simple idea of making a train, feel like a plane, and they’ve certainly done that.

I cant say much about the reason for my trip, but what I can say, is that its one of the best hospitals in the world, it was an honour to be asked for our help (and we succeeded).

When I visit London, I normally build in enough time to walk where I’m going (I don’t like travelling underground and I prefer to get the feel of a city (lets be honest, I’m from the North of England, London feels like visiting another country, so I treat it in the adventure context it rightfully deserves)). Because we were on the clock, we ended up getting a taxi.

Travelling in a London taxi is a unique and fascinating experience. On the face of it, your driving in a taxi, so so what.

Well, this is one of the safest cabs in the world, by both design and frequent random safety checks.

The quiet guy driving, will have studied the 6 mile radius around Charing Cross for 2-4 years, before receiving his green badge. He will know the 320 runs in the area, which encompass 25,000 individual roads, which he must know from memory. Additionally, he will be highly qualified in first aid, and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of London’s attraction and landmarks.

With our 3 hours of intensive work complete, we walk back to London Euston.

We wander along the South bank of the river Thames. We have a quick look in the British Film Institute shop. I see an authentic Escape from New York t shirt. My co workers laugh when I tell them how much I loved the film all those years ago,  and if 15 year old’s could be legally tattoo’d then, I’d still have a python tatoo’d on my stomach, like Snake Plisken.

We pass by the London office of ITV and see autograph hunters waiting outside studio 3 (where Daybreak is filmed).

We visit Gabriel’s wharf, and have lunch at a restaurant called Studio 6. Its a beautiful day, so we sit outside. We can see the Oxo building nearby (apparently, it used to be illegal to put advertising onto buildings, so the designers of the Oxo building, had the letters built into the architecture to get around this.

I’m surprised to find that their “home made” burgers, really are home made, and the coffee is Italian (and someone famous from EastEnders is in the same restaurant, but I have no idea who she is, as I dont watch it).

Further along the bank of the Thames, we see London Bridge (Dan had never been to London before, so we thought we should show him a bit of the town).

In the background, is the shard, the tallest building in Europe (I read an interesting theory about tall buildings and the economy, which you can read here.)

Its funny how things meant with good intentions, can boomerang back.

As I get on the Virgin train, its a warm day, so they are giving out ice lolly’s. I decide to save mine for later, so put it in my bag.

On the way home, I’m engrossed in the report I’m writing, and forget all about it. The next day in work, I realise its melted, and completely destroyed my book on Israel.


After a mad busy, hectic week, its Friday. My assistant is on leave, and I’m running from one job to another to get them finished.

At lunchtime, I decide to get some headspace, and walk down to the driving range (its a bit out of the way, they have a bar, and I usually have the beer garden to myself). Dan Q, is busy on a team lunch, whatever the hell that is, so I wander over on my own.

As I walk past the lake, I see 2 fish. They are at least 2 foot long, and swim with grace and poise. I’m starting to unwind now. It will be weekend soon, and I can relax. Thing is, Friday night is only fun, if you feel like you earned it, and this week I have.