It’s ironic to be frustrated by the difficult decision of where to go for the years “big trip”.
After much deliberation, its Namibia.
The cost of visiting Namibia is extremely expensive (and that’s comparing it to places like Cuba and Myanmar (Burma) which weren’t 50p either!).
However it has some incredible sites like the one above, of entire ships left in the desert of the skeleton coast.
It also features extensively in Wilbur Smith’s novel the Burning Shore. Sadly, I wont get to meet any real San bushmen but it isn’t a bushcraft course after all (Nikki wouldn’t be going if it was) and we get to meet other indigenous tribes.
As some of you know, we go away for the whole of Christmas and New Year every alternative year (and why not, when else can you get 9 or 10 consecutive days off for an investment of 3 days holiday).
This time, we’ve decided to visit Sicily. It’s our usual format, where we visit 4 destinations for 2 nights each (although what those are has yet to be researched on the big computer on a wet Sunday mentioned later 🙂
Valentines came around again, and the usual juxtaposition of the flowers being delivered to me and then me bringing them home and giving them to Nikki.
As usual, I cooked, although this year I moved away from Jamie Oliver Sea-bass, and instead made a fusion mix of Chinese starters and a Thai main (green curry).
It was different in other ways too. Since the tragic departure of Tom from Corks Out, we’ve sort of fallen out of love with the place. So for the first time, the wine was sourced (as an experiment) from Waitrose. It was really nice, and I plan to attend a wine tasting there soon.
Chester has also benefited from the opening of a new wine bar in town. Veeno has been a fixture of Liverpool for a while and they have opened a place in Chester right near the town hall, in what used to be a pasty shop.
We really like it there.
But back to valentines.
This year, in addition to valentines day celebrations, we’d decided to go away for a weekend together.
Some years ago, My brother David, Mac, Cazzie and Lee all drove out on a Saturday afternoon to Snake pass (Mac was the only one of us who could drive at the time and we got there in a Ford Escort he’d borrowed from his mum).
We stopped on the pass at a hotel and bar called the Snake Pass Inn.
The weather was amazing and the ramblers bar was full. People were sitting in the car park drinking and talking and the atmosphere was excellent.
In the main hotel, families with men in shirt and tie, were settling down to Sunday lunch.
For no reason I can remember, we went down through the forest next to the river and played football. A day I’ll never forget.
So with so many happy memories for me, it seemed an ideal venue for our weekend away.
Well times have changed a bit. The place is a bit run down, doesn’t have such well to do clientèle and has been up for sale for 4 years.
Worse, the previous management had walked out 4 days before we arrived.
I was a bit concerned at first but then thought better of it. Its a traditional coaching house in the middle of nowhere and we were happy to be there just relaxing.
A stand in manager was on site with various volunteers and some Dunkirk spirit.
We had something nice to eat and some reasonable wine.
During the daytime, the plan was obviously to do some walking (there are a dozen excelent routes right outside the front door).
At this time of year, as a walker you plan for everything, but this view through the window at breakfast was still a shock.
No matter, we got ready and set off.
A good route would take us up the valley and back down to one of our favourite places in the Peak District, Hayfield.
If we timed it right, we could get there, have fish and chips from the chippy and trot back.
Better still, if time was on our side we could do a quick side route on the way back to Kinder Downfall (a famous waterfall in the area).
The temperature was freezing.
Because of the snow, it was very difficult times to work out where the path went so sometimes we were just smashing through bogs, which left our feet very wet.
Logistics weren’t on our side, and it didn’t look like we’d make Hayfield and back before dark (and from the picture above, you can see this wasn’t somewhere you wanted to be at nightfall).
However, the view of the countryside was fantastic and we were in high spirits, so we headed for Kinder Downfall.
Weather conditions worsened (ice had frozen onto my hat and waterproof jacket).
We decided to turn back, and do it again in the summer.
Overall, a fab day out and this time, Steak for dinner.
After a fun evening in the bar with a roaring fire, we headed for bed exhausted.
Our room was a bit cold, so I “shored up” our quilt with a combination of down and fleece jackets.
In the morning another fab breakfast (one great thing about hill walking, if your out for the day, you can eat a full English without any feelings of guilt as you’ll burn of all of that and more).
A shorter route today, as we’ll be heading home in the afternoon.
We head down through the forest this time. This was the place on a sunny day all those years ago, that I actually played football without complaining I was so happy.
There’s still snow everywhere and wandering further we come to this bridge and cross the river.
We wander along the valley in the other direction. I remember my brother saying years ago, that the place looked like Canada.
We’d already checked out of the hotel, but we popped back in to change our wet clothes and had coffee before setting off.
I saw this amazing board, which had pictures of the pass frequently blocked by snow. In this picture, there were 15 feet snow drifts which had been cleared with multiple snow ploughs.
That was after people in the pub had been stranded for several days, drank the bar dry and at one point had to burn furniture to keep warm.
It’s time to head home and once again, the pass is blocked due to snow and we have to drive the long way back.
I also notice that they now have a new sign 🙂
Thing is, this place might not be what it once was, but the only difference now, is that less people seem to go there.
You can change that if you want.
The only reason I have money and time to do the adventures I do, is because I’m pretty organised.
This Merino wool jumper from Rohan is perfect in just about every way a jumper can be.
With one exception. It just looks awful on me.
So last week I put it on ebay and sold it.
Interestingly, I now have some money to spend on adventures and dont have this guilt thing of not wearing it hanging over me.
On the subject of organisation and ideas. My idea factory.
Goals for the year are always listed (and reviewed) in brief in my mind map.
Activities are organised in my week/weekend planner (email me if your thinking of doing something similar or have a similar system, I’d love to discuss it).
The essential 3rd process is the brainstorming, where the ideas actually come from. I call this my idea factory, and I thought I’d explain how I do it in case its useful to someone.
Venue: A proper pub. An empty house is too quiet for my thought process and a well run pub won’t have noisy idiots or anything like that.
Equipment: Relevant magazines and books and my notebook and pen (I normally use my space pen, but on this occasion had this one from advanced bionics).
I can use my phone to check dates in my calendar but no other purpose. Remember that this is just the capture process, and research that comes from it will be done on a wet Sunday on a powerful computer with 2 enormous monitors). Oh, and finaly a pint of Moretti, Asahi, Peroni or Budvar.
From here, I’ll normally get about 20 ideas, which may vary from 2 weeks in Cuba to cooking a particular meal.
Typically, of the 20, 2 will be infeasible, 4 will be put on the mindmap for the following year.
The remaining 14 will be fully researched and then completed (with enthusiasm) as quickly as possibly.
One idea I had recently was losing a significant amount of weight for 2 ambitious walking trips I’m intending to do later this year (Hadrians wall, 20 miles + per day and Mount Toubkal in Morocco a 4000m peak.
There’s loads of information out there about losing weight, but in its essence it creating a calorific deficit (or taking more calories out, than you put in).
So, first thing, is recording and measuring. My friend Julie recommended a website/app combination called Nutracheck. Using it, I work out a plan of how many calories I can eat per day, and ideally how many calories I should burn in exercise. Plan is to lose 10% of my bodyweight by the 8th of May (or the weight of 1.5 old style Dell 15 inch monitors for those that remember them).
The next thing is exercise.
I absolutely love walking, but it just doesn’t burn calories fast enough around work in the winter.
I’m really into cycling at the moment, so instead of getting 2 trains to work, I get on the first one with my bike and then cycle to the office (3.2 miles) and do the reverse at the end of the day.
So far, everything is going to plan and I’ve lost 8 pounds.
People have asked me how I’m making it work so well, and the honest answer is something I read by Tony Robbins. The key is to make things real to you (ie find something personal that you connect with).
When I see a chocolate bar and feel like eating it, will the idea that I’ll feel better in myself or increase my concentration by eating more vegetables motivate me to stop ?
Off course not. What will actually focus and motivate me ?.
- When I cycle home, I get home 45min earlier than I would if I got 2 trains. That’s almost 4 hours a week, and I can do a lot with that time.
- I have a box in my wardrobe with some of my favourite clothes I can no longer wear. When I hit goal weight I’ll be able to wear any of them I like.
Just to prove that adventure is everywhere, as part of my weight loss plan, I try to go for a walk at lunchtime 3 days out of 5.
The other day I spotted this fox near some railways lines.
If you look on the top right of the screen, you may see a countdown timer and a few people have asked me what its for.
Well, if you have a normal job in the UK, there will be 141 days in the typical year when you can go out in pursuit of adventure if you want to.
I dont think I’ve ever done all 141 but I constantly strive to do as many as I can. I also list all my planned adventures on a whiteboard next to my bathroom at home (its the first room I walk into each day).
The countdown is too my next adventure and updated each time its completed.
This weekend I’m going to see Alan Carr, walking up Moel Siabod, cycling 16 miles, going wine tasting and eating at a Brazilian steak house.
The following weekend were off walking in the Peak District staying at Ravenstore Youth Hostel (my first visit).
Its organised by my old friend Cheryl from CDWG who now lives in Birmingham and did something similar on a trip to Ironbridge a few years ago.
Near and far the search for adventure continues…