Loads of cool and interesting things have happened over the last month.
Among, them an amazing achievement I set my sights on in my 20’s. It’s had extra focus over the last 2 years and with the assistance of a real friend I was able to complete it (more about that later).
I’ve also met up with an old friend from Fairbridge Drake and anther from IBM.
I’ve mentioned before the advantage of being on the virgin train mailing list and why everyone should be on it, so I was delighted once again to get a return journey to London for £22.
I always try to have a theme to my adventure projects and a simple list of objectives to add focus.
The theme for the early part of the day was a tv program (which has now finished) called Ripper Street.
Featuring 3 amazing characters and the work of “H” division, it was set around the streets of “Whitechapel” at a time after Jack the Ripper.
It dealt with many relevant topics of the era and showed the harsh grim reality of life in that place and time.
The main plot “meet up” area’s were Leman Street station house (the old name for police station) and the local public house, The Brown Bear.
But of course that part of London no longer looks that way and instead the whole thing was filmed in Ireland (the pub above is just the frontage of the Brown Bear, its only about 5 feet deep).
But the actual historical places still exist in London. I enjoy walking anyway, so worked out a 2 hour route that would allow me to soak up the atmosphere of London on the way.
After a wander along the Thames I arrived at Leman Street Police station.
It seems to be closed down now, and at the entrance, it says “If you need a police officer call -xxx”.
More disturbing the nearby pub.
I had set my heart on posting a picture of me drinking a pint in the Brown Bear.
It appeared to have closed down, although a first floor window was open so someone obviously lives there.
Disappointed, but loads of other stuff to do, so I’m off on my way.
To cheer myself up, I head for the south bank and have a pint at the Anchor.
This pub has special significance as it’s featured in the original Mission Impossible film (at the end where Ethan and Luther have a pint by the Thames and Luther tries to talk Ethan into staying in the IMF).
I head back to St Pancras station to meet up with my friend Nadiah. I’m quite excited, as although we communicate regularly, we haven’t met face to face for some time.
We originally met on the Fairbridge Drake Hambros Cruise (FD had 12 centres across the UK and each centre got to pick 2 trainee adventurers to take part in a month long trip that involved sailing, mountaineering and canoeing across France and Spain).
The world felt so small and limited to me when I was 20. Nadiah was an incredible woman who never seemed fazed by anything and capable of doing whatever she put her mind too.
Someone who showed me what the world could be and quite simply, I dont think I would have achieved half the things I have without meeting her.
After some quick refreshments at the station, we wander to the British Museum and see the Elgin Marbles and the Rosseta stone (I consider it a privilege to be able to see these things and its great to be able to share those experiences).
But there’s so much to talk about and the time flies. Before I realise it, I’m quite hungry.
We wander down to the bank of the Thames where we find a quiet spot and have a picnic.
OK, this is johnsunter.com and we always tell the truth here. It wasn’t actually a picnic, I bought some sandwiches and stuff from Phillpots.
We find an atmospheric London pub called the George. A chance to escape the hustle and bustle of London and relax.
It was great chatting to a someone who new me such a long time ago and surprising how little we’ve changed.
Reflecting on life in my 20’s and comparing all the things I said I’d do to how my life actually is :).
Nadiah heads home and I wander back to Euston, get a bottle of red wine for the journey and with a sense of nostalgia, listen to 80’s music all the way back to Chester.
Although obviously proud of Chester’s new Storyhouse theatre, Nikki and I still love to go out for the evening to Liverpool (if you can just block the train home out of your mind).
The Royal court theatre is somewhere we visit a lot and this time. They were showing a production called the Royal, about Liverpool Royal hospital, which is being closed down and moving to a new more modern hospital.
The play is very topical, as the real Royal hospital is closing down at the time of the production.
A crass comedy, but really connected emotionally with the audience and and incredible scene with a wrecking ball.
A few evenings later, and I’m back in Liverpool again.
I meet up with my old friend Oliver (who I worked with at IBM), his lovely wife Jess and his brother Dale.
Their wedding in Las Vegas some years ago was my first trip outside Europe. They now live in Chicago, so I try to catch up with them whenever they’re in the UK.
Instead of our usual meet up destination in Manchester, we decide on something different and I suggest Liverpool. He’s due to arrive before me, so I recommended a visit to Liverpool museum.
I could use lines and lines of text describing the museum, what’s in it and how superb it is. Instead I’ll simply say this: As a Mancunian, I’m embarrassed we dont have a museum as good as that. Go and see it if you get the chance.
After a few drinks in All Bar One, we went for a curry. I’ve always enjoyed modern fusion food, but Mogli was on another planet altogether, with small dishes served in a Tapas style and names like “Gunpowder” Chicken.
Work the next day, wished them a safe journey home and I promise I’ll get to Chicago at some point even if its only to taste authentic Pizza and have a go on your boat.
Years ago another girl I met through Fairbridge Drake (Jane Smith) gave me a picture of a place called Crib Goch in Snowdonia.
My mum took a liking to it, and had it framed where it hung in the living room for over a decade. When I got my first and subsiquent houses it came with me and hung in a place where I’d see it every day.
Crib Goch is one of the most challenging walk/scramble routes in Europe. A knife edge ridge, that rises 700m in the first mile. An iconic challenge for any young adventurer.
Problem is, I’m not so young any more. As Jon Lennon wrote, life is what happens while your busy making other plans. The picture stayed on the wall and CG drifted down the to do list.
Well, I was still mad keen to do it, I just needed near perfect weather and someone daft enough to come with me.
Enter “millennial” Matt from work. It would be his 3rd Crib Goch ascent this year alone !.
We set off and in no time at all, were really up high with some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen in Snowdonia.
A very “seat of the pants” project, so in all the excitement forgot to take a packed lunch.
I did however have my emergency sausage roll. I offered half of it to Matt. He declined.
Open and craggy.
Overtaken by the moment, at one point I’m climbing 20 feet up a rock face un-roped.
From the H&S courses I’ve taken recently, I realise I’m taking an unnecessary risk.
I resolve to take it easy, most accidents on this mountain occur either due to ice or people climbing “steps”, becoming complacent and then getting injured.
And up across the tops. What an incredible experience.
Lots of people on the top. A queue was forming. I was surprised to find that many people were much slower than me.
We head back, and the anticlimax is walking back, down the Llanberis path (perhaps the dullest mountain trek in Europe).
Connecting with my inner “yoof” I took Matt and I for a slap up, all you can eat Macdonalds.
A few random things now.
You can see I bought this really cool rug to park my bike on.
It even has a bicycle logo at the bottom in case you didn’t know what it was for.
My friend Monika on the left.
A fab girl from the Czech republic who spent time in the UK looking after Children and learning English.
We met through the Chester and District walking group and are still in touch on Facebook.
She won a prize in some sort of competition (probably running or cycling, I dont know which as it wasn’t in English, but congratulations anyway Monika 🙂
A weekend later and were back in Snowdonia.
It amazes me that you can get a private twin room, in a perfect spot In Llanberis for only £32. We had booked 2 nights and dinner reservations at the Peak restaurant.
The picture above is what it should have looked like on Saturday and Sunday when we went out walking.
Unfortunately, it didn’t look like that at all. It was the worse weather I’ve ever seen in that part of Wales.
So bad in fact, that we had to do the tourist thing and head for Caernarfon castle.
As castles go, its one of my favourites.
And from a higher vantage point looking the other way.
After wandering around for an hour or 2, we visited the Welsh Fusiliers museum contained in the castle.
I couldn’t believe how many theatres of war the regiment had fought in – everywhere from Burma and Bosnia.
Speaking of military things and history.
I was sat at my desk at home the other evening, planning some things to do (with obviously a glass of wine in attendance).
I glanced at the daily Telegraph website and read this article about Monty’s plan for D Day, which was written on one page of A4.
I’m not pretentious enough to compare them, but I was struck by the co-incidence.
Nikki and I were at Chester Globetrotters again on the 16th of October.
This time, instead of compering, we gave a talk about our trip to Burma.
The Grosvenor museum lecture theatre had over 60 people there and our talk ended to rapturous applause.
I still haven’t completed the Burma pages for johnsunter.com, I hope to have it done in the next week if you interested in the content of the talk.
Afterwards we went for lunch to a place I haven’t been in years.
If you’ve never visited the Albion pub in Chester, your in for a treat.
It is literally a snapshot of how a pub would have looked during the 2nd world war.
Speaking of eating and drinking, I’ve started going to a pub nearby called the Cornerhouse.
The picture above is my 2 friends Dave and Pam, after they’d been to see the film: A man called Ove.
I’ve always said, my 2 favourite films of all time are Gattaca and The Counterfeiters. I’ve now added A man called Ove to that list and the Chester film society are showing it on April 10th next year.
The Cornerhouse did a wine tasting the other evening and Nikki and I attended. The wine was nice but they did an amazing platter with different kinds of cheese and meat which was even better.
Overall, a smart new venue and like the films, Cornerhouse has been added to Brewhouse and The Coach house as my 3 favourite pubs in the city (and they all contain the word house in them 🙂
If you’ve met me in the last 10 years on any kind of adventure, I’ll probably have been wearing a pair of Merrell cross trainers.
For hills, there’s no substitute for proper walking boots (I prefer Saloman Quest 4D).
For every other environment Merrell Moab Ventilator, are in my opinion the best outdoor footwear you can get, from pub to canal towpath to forest and desert.
Recently, Merrell have launched Moab 2. The jury is still out on the new addition, but the brilliant news is that the “normal” ones have fallen in price.
I had 2 pairs delivered from Amazon for £100 (almost half price).
If your on the lookout for cross trainers, now is the time to buy.
Just for nostalgia, I recently bought a Fray Bentos pie.
For lazy cooking, they can’t be beaten.
Wandering around Chester recently, I visited the Pop art exhibition in the old library.
If you haven’t been I highly recommend it.
In advance of my trip to Namibia, I’m reading The burning shore by Wilbur Smith.
A book I originally read almost 30 years ago and I imagined myself in the Kalahari desert.
But then I realised at the time that it was somewhere I would never see – well I’ll be standing there in 3 weeks time, so the lesson is never give up on your dreams.
The book begins on the Western front during the first world war.
I recently went to visit Cheshire military museum. They have all sorts of interesting things there, but this recreation of the trenches, brought some of the scenes I’d read about in the book to life.
Another interesting thing was some propaganda pictures they had on display.
I should mention that I wanted to remain in the European Union and I’m proud to say I voted to to stay (In the words of Mal Reynolds from Firefly: I may have been on the losing side, but I’m still not convinced it was the wrong side).
Anyway, on the subject of our European neighbours, I saw this critique of Britain from 1914 !.
Finally, I thought I’d finish with something a bit funny.
I had a book a few years ago, that showed how to draw animals (and which after a dozen attempts proved to me, that I’d never be any good at drawing).
My friend Andrew Ganley (a psychologist I met while working at Prestwich hospital and who I’ve always called “Ganders”) posted this on facebook.
Thanks once again for taking the time to read this. Near and far, the search for adventure continues…