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 johnsunter.com, 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 johnsunter.com 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.
THE TRAIN FILLS FROM BOTH ENDS INTO TWO QUEUE’S. THE PEOPLE AT THE FRONT OF EACH QUEUE GET SEATS AND THE ONES NEAR THE BACK OF EACH QUEUE HAVE TO STAND.
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…