Thursday, 23 January 2014

Motorcycle emptiness

Not a great deal to say here really, just wanted to share a few photos of a place I found whilst out for a wander yesterday, a little hidden gem of a place. Probably not the style of photograph that people would expect from me, but I love to see scenes like this. I find it somewhat comforting to know that no matter how hard we try to ruin the planet with our junk and carelessness nature will always be there fighting back, and given enough time she'll always win. We're not as important as we think we are.

Anyway, here's a few photos of rotting motorcylce parts for your viewing pleasure, as always, feedback's greatly appreciated.

Thanks for looking,

Bye for now,


Sunday, 19 January 2014

My new job

Hello all, and sorry for the prolonged period of silence, I know it's no excuse at all but I've been pretty busy since the middle of last Spring with my new job. Believe it or not (I'm still unconvinced) I'm now a professional bushcrafter!

Early last year Paul Kirtley of Frontier Bushcraft most generously offered me the opportunity to work with the team at Frontier as an assistant, and I jumped at the offer. My first season was fantastic, having an opportunity to simply get out in the woods with a great team of people and share a little of our collective knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject was amazing. I worked in education for a while when I was in my early 20's, and I really enjoyed it at the time, somehow though I'd forgotten how personally rewarding I found it. At the risk of sounding horribly pretentious, the feeling that I can, in some small way, empower other people is an amazing one, and Bushcraft is a great subject for the purpose. Simply taking a group of people out into the woods and showing them how to pitch a tarp to keep the rain off and make a simple fire to brew up on, and seeing how much a basic understanding of those simple skills does empower people, is a wonderful feeling.

I really never expected to work in education again, and I certainly never expected to make any kind of money out of Bushcraft, but here we are, paid work with a top Bushcraft school, and, as you've probably already guessed, I'm absolutely made up about it.

Well chuffed with my new job!
(photo courtesy of Austin Lill)

So, the purpose of this blog was twofold, firstly to explain my prolonged period of silence, and secondly to say thanks to Paul and the team at Frontier for a great start to a new job and a wonderful first season, thank you all for making me so welcome, I feel both honoured and proud to be part of the best bushcraft team around.

All the best,


Mobile phones for the outdoors

The argument about mobile phones and their use in the outdoors has been raging since mobiles became common, and I imagine that it'll continue for some time to come. I don't want to get involved in that discussion here, I simply want to talk about the solution that I've come up for my own needs.

So, what do I need from a phone?

  • Good battery life
  • The ability to make and receive calls
  • The ability to send and receive text messages
  • Good battery life
  • Lightweight/compact, as unobtrusive as possible
  • Good battery life
  • Buttons rather than a touch screen, buttons work just as well in the cold/wet, touch screens don't
  • An alarm clock that works when the phone is switched off (to save battery, which reminds me)
  • Good battery life
  • Either: robust enough that I can't easily break it, or cheap enough that I don't mind if I do break it
What don't I need from a phone?
  • Games
  • Internet access
  • A camera
  • MP3 player/radio
  • Apps
  • GPS
  • Wi-fi
I should point out here that I've got nothing at all against smart phones, I use an android based phone as my everyday mobile and use and enjoy all the added bells and whistles, they're just not what I need in the outdoors.

So what did I come up with that ticks all the boxes for me? A nokia 100:

I wanted something that was fairly hi-viz so I went for the baby pink one. At 70g the phone's really lightweight and at approximately 110 X 45 X 15mm it's fairly compact too. It has buttons rather than a touchscreen so I can easily use it with gloves on, and I can also wrap it in plastic to keep it dry and still be able to use it through the plastic.  The alarm works when the phone is turned off. The battery life is a pretty impressive 25 days on standby, and about 7 hrs of talktime (that's about 25 times more standby than my HTC). And although the phone probably isn't nearly as robust as some that are available at about £15 it is cheap enough to replace should I break it. 

There's even a few added extras, it's got an FM radio so I can listen to the news (although I have no idea why I'd want to), and a torch (you can never have too many torches in the outdoors). It's also got the usual basic gadgets like a calculator and a stop watch, both of which can be very useful on occasion. 

The only real downside to this phone is that it's not waterproof (although it has survived at least one good soaking so far with no obvious ill effects). Not a problem though, I simply put the phone inside a zip-lock bag, a bit of tape to keep the plastic bag nice and neat and all's good. The bit of tape even gives me somewhere to write my number down so I don't have to remember it.

All in all the nokia 100 is pretty much an ideal phone for me, I've been using one now for about 6 months or so and couldn't be happier with it.

Bye for now,


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Not the Ashover show

Yesterday saw the 82nd annual Ashover show, an event that brings approximately 16,000 visitors into our usually idyllic little corner or rural Derbsyhire.

So we went climbing for the day.

It was our usual exploring team, Gemma, Rocky, and myself. Not much else to say really, just wanted to share some of the cracking photo's that Gemma took of Rocky and I being adventurous. Enjoy.

Surveying the first route of the day.

Rocky opted to lead, he usually does, he's the better climber of the two of us.

Placing some kit.....

....and more.

Starting to make some progress.

Shortly after this shot was taken Rocky's handhold gave way leading to a fall, it's the first time he's fallen on my belay so it was kind of nice to get it out of the way. It would've been even better if part of the rockface hadn't come down with him, a little too exciting for a second. No-one was hurt though which is the important bit, and we both feel a little more confident about climbing together too.

After retrieving the kit we decided to move on in search of a different spot.....

...."down there maybe".....

....."I'll have a look"......

......"yeah, this'll probably do"......

After a little bit of a trek around and down we chose a route and got it rigged.

Rocky setting off up the climb, checking as he went for loose rock as it all looked a little bit sketchy....

....too sketchy. Shortly into Rocky's climb a seemingly solid piece of rock broke away, a rock that we'd both checked and decided was safe. If that rock came away so easily then there's no telling what the rest of the face would be like so common sense prevailed and we called it a day. We lived on to fight another day.

All in all a cracking day out, we didn't manage a great deal of climbing done but we checked out a couple of spots that we've been eyeing up for a while, and explored a little bit more of Derbyshire. Best of all we avoided ending up in the beer tent with the prize winning local heifers. Happy days.

Bye for now,