Author: admin

Travel Emergency Repair Kit

pack_list

In just a few weeks I’ll be embarking on the most ambitious trip of my life, to Easter Island, the Antarctic Peninsula, Patagonia, The Falkland Islands, Argentina and Chile.

The trip is  to celebrate my 50th birthday, it will eclipse anything that I’ve done before and will be my first
adventure on a cruise ship.

Obviously I have an established/proven system for packing which has already begun in earnest (packing sheet shown above, ready to be filled in).

This is also the time of your when I review all of my gear and equipment.

Ripped clothes off to the menders, broken or damaged things to be repaired, replace things that are just worn out, change battery’s in torches, sharpen penknives etc.

It’s also important to open things like first aid kits and check all of the equipment inside is still functioning and in date.

erk_in_box

On that subject, this weeks blog is about my emergency repair kit (or ERK as I call it).

As I go through the contents, I hope to inspire other people to pack one of their own, for future trips.

alps

Some years ago, I did a few courses in Alpine mountaineering and the Alpine style of going light.

Although I decided not to continue with it as a hobby, I learned lots of usefull things, and one of them was the philosophy of travelling ultra light.

Traditionally, outdoor people take things like a spare torch, a spare waterproof and such like.

In the Alpine style, everything is kept to the bare minimum of essentials (to the point sometimes off sawing the handles off tooth brushes and drilling holes in spoon handles).

A minimal first aid kit and an emergency repair kit are carried to put you and your equipment back together if something goes wrong.

Although designed for the high mountains miles from anywhere, I’ve applied mine so it can be used in lots of different environments and provides peace of mind wherever I go.

erk_on_table

The whole kit laid out on my work table.

On the bottom left, is the plastic box I carry it in (from the £ shop, you can guess what it cost :).

I’ll go through the items in order. Their inclusion should be self explanatory, but I’ll add notes where necessary.

rubber_bands

1. Rubber bands
I wrap them around the outside of the box to make it extra secure.

rsack_clip_and_webbing

2. Replacement rucksack clip and spare webbing

A bit difficult to see in this picture, but the thing on the left, is a replaceable main rucksack clip. It has a screw across the middle so it can be re-attached.

The webbing on the right is the old fashioned way this used to be done, buy tying a tape know (and useful in its own right).

superglue

3. Superglue
Always store in small plastic bags. that way if they burst, they won’t destroy other contents in the box.

Ever wonder why nobody had heard of superglue before the Vietnam war ?. It was used for in-field emergency trauma care.

safety_pins

4. Safety pins
They have numerous uses (they can even be used as fish hooks). I’ve used them in the past, with an airline blanket to make a serviceable sleeping bag.

wire

5. Stainless steel wire

pen_ducktape

6. Small stubby pen, wrapped with gaffa/duck tape

Something simple like a pen, is easily forgotten.

Watching the  A team in my youth, and they used with some aluminium poles, a polythene sheet and a lawnmower to make a microlight, after being locked in a shed. I’ve never built anything so ambitious, but this stuff has too many practically uses to even list here.

cable_ties

7. Cable ties of various sizes

lighter_torch_etape

8. Lighter with electrical tape

Ability to light a fire may be useful. Electrical tape can be used for jobs too fine for the duck tape.

This single use lighter was bought from the £ shop and featured a small torch, adding additional functionality to the kit.

cords

9. Lightweight Para-cord

Bought from Cotswold outdoors, 2 metres packs much smaller than normal “green” para-cord, but can hold body weight (mine, which is quite a lot).

square_candle

10. Small piece of candle shaved square

I borrowed this from the tobacco tin survival kit in the SAS survival handbook.

With a coke can, can make a simple lantern during a power failure or used on its own to assist in fire-lighting.

sewing_kit

11. Sewing kit in a plastic container

Has a few different colours of thread, 4 standard needles, some really thick thread and a sale makers needle
for bigger jobs.

mini_multitool

12. Small Multi-tool

Features a knife, bottle/can opener, pliers, nail-file and multiple screwdrivers.

folding_corkscrew

13. Collapsible corkscrew

A pure luxury, but it would be awful to be in a situation where you have a bottle of wine and no means to open it !.

spectacle_repair

14. Spectacle repair kit

Some small screws, 2 small screwdrivers and a simple magnifying glass. £1.50 from Tesco.

aaa_batteries

15. 3 AAA batteries

Spares for  my head-torch.

plastic_bag

16. Plastic bags

Can be used to carry/purify water, waterproof important objects and even make a window for a survival shelter.

tenacious_tape

17. Tenacious tape

Tape for repairing clothing like sleeping bags, waterproof jackets and stuff like that. Expensive, but it performs near permanent repairs, wherever you are.

box

Finally, the empty box with a 50p coin to show its size.

I hope you found some of this interesting, next week I’ll be talking adventure first aid kits.

Thanks once again for reading, the search for adventure continues…

Christmas 2018 and thoughts for 2019

AM DB10

As 2018 comes to an end and my house is set up for Christmas, I’m sat watching James Bond.

Above is the model Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre, which completes my collection of Matchbox James Bond cars.

10 years ago, Christmas 2008 was a really difficult time for me (to be followed by 2009, the darkest time in my life). As I sit here, I’m in a reflective mood. How much better things are and how content I feel at the moment (although never complacent).

In the last few months, I’ve not kept this blog up to date. I was out with some friends the other evening, who I’ve not worked with in around 18 months. They said they frequently read through my blog entries as a constant source of inspiration. So, as well as the many exciting projects I have planned for next year, I commit to update this blog, every 2 weeks.

Its not like I’ll just update it for the sake of it. The reality is, something pretty interesting or exciting happens at least once a week, so its just a matter or writing it down in an interesting format.

Suunto Core All Black

As well as 7 amazing trips this year I’ve also been able to treat myself to some nice things, including the new Call of Duty and several Rohan jumpers.

One of my favourites, is this watch I bought in March. The Suunto Core All Black watch, that features a compass and a host of other features. Used by Special Forces all over the world, and John Sunter.

I was watching a film the other evening (The Equalizer with Denzil Washington) I was surprised to see, that the hero was wearing one, and whenever he does hand to hand combat, he times how long it took him to defeat his opponents (mine is usualy used to see how late my train home is 🙂

Meteora

I began this weeks blog, with references to James Bond (a series of films I’ve enjoyed since I was a boy, and if I’m honest, the original inspiration for my love of travel).

My last trip of 2018 will be to Greece when we fly out on Boxing Day. We’ll visit the old sites of Athens, a day trip to the Corinth canal and the one I’m looking forward too most, Meteora.

I love the mountains anyway, but Meteora featured in an amazing climbing scene, in For your eyes only, one of my favourites.

Well, I’ll get going now, near and far the search for adventure continue’s and please keep coming back to read johnsunter.com – the adventures of an ordinary person.

Vilnius – across the old Iron curtain 1

t72

I grew up during the cold war. when I was 15 “those people” on the other side of the wall would murder us in our beds if they got the chance…

Whatever, but perhaps why I find Eastern European and former Soviet union country’s so interesting.

I’d had a fab time in Tallinn in Estonia, so Vilnius in Lithuania seemed a like next venture.

drinks

I always travel in style.

As we arrived to board our Ryanair plane, I noticed some “revellers” had been forced to make a quick exit and left their drinks behind.

inst

We arrived in Vilnius, and got a cab to our accommodation.

Interestingly, it was in a forecourt, with a central door.

The accommodation was superb, but we never got to meet the owner, he just sent us these instructions by text.

cupboard

We had en-suit as expected, but also a kitchen and a washing machine (latter 2 were not needed, but nice to have).

Our room was spacious, but for good measure featured this cupboard, brilliantly designed so all our gear could be unpacked and stored and didn’t clutter up the room.

I’m thinking seriously about construction one for my spare room.

stairs

We have a wander around, and some of the places look a bit boring and dull.

square

Further along there was this interesting street with Cafe’s and bars.

We found out afterwards that (quite literally) all the businesses on the right hand side thrive and all the ones on the left, struggle and close.

raminita

We’d read about a free tour each day, run in different languages.

It’s a bit daft really (the premise, not the tour). It isn’t actually free, at the end you are asked to make a donation.

Some people gave Raminita (who was knowledgable, charismatic and spoke perfect English) half a Euro !.

We gave her 15 between us. There were a lot of Americans on our tour, and as it was a week before the Royal wedding, the girl in the middle was sporting a “Megan Markle” look.

usdec

The George Bush plaque at city hall.

It was here, that he famously said, anyone who makes an enemy of Lithuania makes an enemy of the United States.

Everyone was really proud, until they found out he visited 3 other countries and said exactly the same thing 🙂

rep_bridge

We got to visit the famous republic of Uzupis.

The main entrance is this small bridge crossing the Vilnia river.

rep_sign

In reality, Uzupis is a small bohemian neighbourhood.

rep_const

Although its not recognised by any country or the UN, it has its own constituation, printed in many languages.

It also has an army of 11 men and you can get your passport stamped there.

Overall, I really like it there. The way the people of the area and come together and really formed a community.

rep_can

Before we left Uzupis, I saw this mural.

I don’t completely agree with everything it says about Cannabis, but its certainly food for thought.

wall

We visit the writers wall, featuring plaques for famous Lithuanian writers.

One in particular is Antanas Skema. He wrote The White Shroud, banned during soviet times, it’s considered Lithuania’s first contemporary novel.

panto_horse

We arrive at Cathedral square.

Statue of Grand Duke Gediminas.

Born in 1275 he was responsible for the creation of Vilnius as the capital of Lithuania.

rock

In the background, cathedral tower.

In the middle of the picture, one of the massive rocks, used to block roads so tanks couldn’t pass during the fight for independence.

chrch_square

The actual cathedral itself is pretty spectacular.

chrch_inside

I decided to wander around inside.

chrch_bmb

It’s been rebuilt and extended several times.

So this alcove for example is much older than the main hall.

pub

But we’ve wandered around now for hours and are in need of some refreshments.

We find this “authentic” place, where all the staff wore medieval costumes and there was a video showing a Knights pageant.

soup

Of the 2 traditional meals I wanted to try, soup served in a bowl made of bread.

The further into the soup you went, the more bread became available.

europa

We wandered along the Gedimino high street.

There was a festival to celebrate the anniversary of Lithuania joining the European Union.

Just as my countrymen are marching towards Brexit, the daftest thing I think the UK’s ever done.

Interesting to see the contrast.

celeb

On the stage some children were singing. Time to keep walking.

Vilnius – across the old Iron curtain 2

tesla

We chose entertainment of a different kind.

The Tesla Pub, celebrates the life and work of Nikola Tesla, inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist and futurist he invented alternating current.

It had a really cool steam punk theme, some really good beer and an extensive wine selection.

mus_cor

A more serious cultural site, the Museum of occupation.

Like many other countries, Lithuania was occupied by the Nazi’s, then “liberated” by the Soviets, who decided to stay.

The result, decades of misery for the people who lived there.

This corridor shows rooms where people were imprisoned for political “crimes” like writing poetry.

mus_room

This room with a raised glass floor, was the execution room.

Outside, the names of all the people who died there are inscribed on the wall.

mus_mol

A running video showing Nazi’s at an event in black and white had some interesting background sound.

Then I realised. It was the Darth Vader music from star wars !.

Further along, this exhibit shows the classic weapon of the freedom fighter, the Molotov cocktail.

wall1

A section of the original Wall of Vilnius, built in 1522.

wall2

And a slightly more modern “tidy” version of the wall.

cross

Early evening and we wander around Kalnai park (an amazing park with miles of hills and forests to explore).

At the top, is the hill of 3 crosses.

cross_view

The hill was famous for 7 friars being beheaded there.

The view across Vilnius was pretty spectacular, although this photo (taken badly) doesn’t reflect that.

tower

Gediminis tower.

The first castle built overlooking the city, and an internation symbol of Lithuania.

Unfortunately, it was closed for repairs, so we had to take this picture from Cathedral square.

arch

The following day, we decide to head out of town.

Passing through the Gate of dawn, we head for the bus/coach station.

bus

The bus was cheap and pretty comfortable, to take us to…

trak

Trakai.

A nice place with lots of countryside and a castle to explore.

pasty

There were loads of places to eat and drink, the place is massively popular with local people from Vilnius.

We decide to have a drink and something to eat. Kibinai is a sort of Lithuanian Cornish pasty.

I’d read about them while researching the trip and it was just as nice as I’d expected.

lake

We wander around the lake. The weather was fantastic throughout the trip.

bridge

There was a half marathon being run and at one point we found ourselves in the middle of this bridge (which connects a number of Island on the lake) with about 100 people running towards us.

We resisted the urge to jump in the water.

castle_rebuild

Trakai Island castle.

It’s been built and rebuilt and then modernised.

You can tell by the different ages of the bricks in this picture.

castle_forecourt

You have to pay to get in, but its only a few Euros.

Inside this sort of market square, children were being shown how to fight with plastic swords and fire toy bows and arrows.

castle_table

Inside, it the typical stately home thing with tables and plates and expensive chairs.

maps

There are maps and books, many dating back hundreds of years, but some created during soviet times.

castle_moat

We wander around the moat.

castle_stairs

Exploring inside the old castle, with its spiral staircase.

I even found out that the staircases were designed to run clockwise-downwards.

The reason ?

The average knight is right handed.

The defending knight will be coming down the stairs so his sword will be in the optimum place.

The attacking knight will be travelling up the stairs, his sword will be flush to the wall, making attacks much more difficult.

bricks

Some of the bricks used to build and repair the castle.

castle_inside

Inside the castle, this spectacular 3 story arrangement with balcony’s and battlements.

With our castle adventure complete, its time to head home.

So Vilnius isn’t really a “see the Eiffel tower” sort of place, it was more about soaking up the atmosphere.

Once again, thanks for reading.

The search for adventure continues.

Iceland – the land of Ice and Fire 1

mewf

Iceland is a country I’d wanted to visit for years.

The main problems I faced were

A, all the people I’d considered going with had already been.

and

B, It’s staggeringly expensive.

I saved up, and Nikki agreed to come along with me, as long as we did a different itinerary to the one she’d done previously.

So off we go.

flight

We flew with Easyjet and I got a chance to update my mind map for the year, and catch up with some Madam Secretary.

bleak

Iceland is the size of the US State of Kentucky. With a population of only 300,000 there are vast areas where nobody lives.

As we get the coach from the airport I can see that there are some houses who’s nearest neighbour is a mile away.

hotel

We arrived at the City Centre Hotel (an original name if ever I’ve heard one).

The Reykjavik locals were very helpful, but finding it wasn’t helped by there being 3 other hotels with similar names.

When I walked into the lobby I thought we’d made a terrible mistake. Despite it being above 8.5 on booking.com, the placed smelled awful…

Basically, all the hot water on the Island, is provided by hot springs. And they smell of sulphur. The hotel itself, was actually spotless, and I needn’t have worried.

harb

In the morning, we headed towards the harbour.

harb2

Iceland has not had a standing Army since 1869 however, it was an early member of Nato.

Despite not having a Navy, its Coastguard service is heavily militarised as you can see from the ship above.

Walking further around the harbour, there were dozens of boats taking people out to see whales and dolphins.

sculp2

Lake Tjornin (which means pond).

In the background if Frikirkjan church and one of many modern (or strange, depending on your point of view) sculptures around the lake.

This one is called “Monument to the unknown bureaucrat”.

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We wander into the tourist information inside at the back of the picture, is this amazing table top map of the entire Island.

While here, we pick up a Reykjavik city card. It’s the cheapest way to see most of the attractions, museums and even an Island (more about that later).

lb

There are lots of really good walking opportunities in Iceland, but its so spread out and desolate in places that the tourist information can rent you an emergency beacon.

ac

But after only an hour, its time for coffee again.

A place called Idno, was right out of Agatha Christy.

punk_mus

The Icelandic punk museum, ironically set up in a disused toilet.

It was originally opened by Jonny Rotten.

stat

Arnaholl park.

The statue is of Ingolfr Arnarson, considered to be Iceland’s first permanent settler.

The story goes that he threw his 2 high seat wooden pillars into the water and said wherever the pillars wash up, I’ll make my camp.

Two of his slaves spent 3 years looking for them. This lead to the foundation of Reykjavik in 874.

Either that, or the slaves got board and with time on their hands, made 2 pillars 🙂

lh

Inside the settlement exhibition.

It tells the story of the early settlers and how they lived.

The 10th century hall was excavated in 2001. Its 20m long and 8 metres wide with a 4 meter long fire hearth in the centre.

But its not just the foundations of a thousand year old house.

There are loads of interesting exhibits. In one of them, you could slide a time line and it would show you the various stages of construction.

pan

I stop in the cafe to plan out the rest of my day.

Its at this moment, that you get a taste of how expensive Iceland is.

Since very little is made or produced in Iceland, everything else has to be flown in.

In this case a cheese and ham Panini costs £12 !.

loom

From here, we visit the National Museum of Iceland.

There was lots of stuff about how they came under the rule of the Danish, and the dark times when the Lutheran church (which everyone was made to join) prevailed.

It said simply, it was easy to see if something was banned by the Lutheran church. If it was fun or pleasant, it was almost certainly not allowed and punishable by drowning or hanging.

I saw this very impressive loom which I decided to photograph.

hooks

Iceland depends heavily on its fishing industry.

I could only imagine what they were trying to catch with fish hooks this big.

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I hadn’t realised, that Britain had actually invaded Iceland during the 2nd world war.

It turned out, that the Icelanders were not allies of the Nazi’s, but it was felt best to “protect” the Island.

Various hospital and runways were built and at the end of the war, they were handed over to the Icelandic government.

cutter

Iceland cut all ties with Denmark in 1944.

In 1950 – 1975 they extended their fishing territory by 200 miles.

The “British” would fish in these waters under the protection of gunboats.

The trawl wire cutter featured above, is said to be the only weapon ever invented by Icelanders (it was used to cut the fishing nets of foreign fishing boats).

path

We’ve spent enough time indoors, so it’s time to get out and see the place.

It was cold, but nothing like freezing. We headed out along a coast path from Reykjavik.

You can see from the view why the country is so popular with walkers.

mehouse

As we wander along, I get the opportunity to visit Hofdi house.

Whenever I’ve thought of Iceland (and Reykjavik) I’ve always thought of the scene of Regan and Gorbachev standing outside it, before they conducted peace talks in 1986.

cst

With the town far behind us, we get to wander around the beach.

This isn’t Ibiza, but it was very quiet and peaceful and some of the rock formations were really impressive.

boat

The Sun voyager sculptor, constructed of stainless steel in 1990.

isl1

We reach our destination, Kollafjourar bay where we’ll get a boat to Vioey Island.

You can see another coastguard boat in the background.

isl2

A lovely trip across the water, was ruined by some loud American girls.

They had come to Iceland for a trip to celebrate passing their exams.

One of them had come back to the accommodation late and been sick on the possessions belonging to another. This had split the party into 2 factions and they spent the entire trip criticising the other group.

But I’m British and sat their politely even thought I desperately wanted to tell them to shut up.

raft

So, I’ distracted myself by reading the instructions for the life raft.

isl3

The Island was even more desolate than the mainland.

We did find a cafe, and the hot chocolate there, was the nicest I’d ever tasted.

isl4

The wind was howling, it was freezing cold and I was glad I had outdoor clothing.

We stop at this Lennon peace monument, built by Yoko Ono.

I’m not a cynic, but I’ve seen all of this sort of stuff, all over the world and its never really worked for me.

In this case, its round, shines a light in the sky and has the word peace, written in 24 languages on it.

Another hour in the freezing cold, and we head back. The annoying girls arrive late and the captain waits for them (even though they knew well when it was leaving).

There had been some “developments”. Texts had been exchanged and “that bitch” needed to apologise properly and pay for the clean up of “my shit” (there were young children on the boat).

hof

But enough Coronation Street – American style, we head back to the hotel to get cleaned up as were going out for the evening.

We have dinner at an amazing place called Hofnin.

Afterwards, a few drinks in a local bar and then were off to bad. Lots to do, the next day.

coach

Were picked up by our coach and head out on our tour.

The thing is, if you talk to most people, the 2 main things they talk about on a trip to Iceland are the Northern lights and the Blue Lagoon.

Interestingly, neither were of any interest to me.

map

I’d signed up for the Golden circle tour.

You can see from above, its more diamond than circle, but in just 1 day, you can see some of the most amazing sights of Iceland.

veh

We stop to get supplies (drinks) at the Hverageroi shopping centre.

In the car park, big vehicles like this are common and we even saw coaches fitted out this way.

kitchen

Hverageroi was hit by an earthquake in 2008.

They have a small exhibition there, including an earthquake simulator which we didn’t have time to experience.

Instead, I took a picture of this kitchen. It was made up to look like a kitchen after an earthquake.

Looked like my kitchen after a Christmas party…

sf

Our next stop, a small but simple waterfall – Faxi.

A chance to stretch our legs, apparently the area is awash with Salmon.

Iceland – the land of Ice and Fire 2

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The Kerid crater.

An inactive volcano. Our guide explained that Iceland is covered in volcanoes but most of them are flat and under underground, not like the Vesuvius thing we all think off.

gf1

And now the thing I’ve always wanted to see.

The Gullfoss waterfall (which means Golden waterfall).

Even from the car park, the power of this thing is incredible.

gf2

Nearer to it, the roar is incredible.

gf3

I’d read that an attempt was made to use the waterfall to generate energy.

It was decided that this would ruin it, so it was sold to the Icelandic government.

One of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.

soup

We drive to Haukadalur. Before we get to see the famous Geysers we stop for lunch.

For the 2nd time that day, I get to see something incredible – soup that costs £14 !

gs2

We wander around the Geysers (there are dozens of them, all around).

Because the water is so clear, you can see right inside.

gs5

I can’t imagine why, but some people like to throw coins into the Geysers.

gs3

There are fences all around, so that some idiot can’t get to close and scald himself.

IMG_2663

The biggest one, goes off about every 15 minutes. There were hundreds of people standing next to it with cameras at the ready trying to time the perfect shot.

gs4

And after 16 patient minutes, I’m rewarded with this shot.

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And now back on the coach to our final destination.

ping1

The Thingvellir national park.

We leave the coach and walk in (the coach will re-join us at the car park at the top once were finished.

ping3

The first government of Iceland, was set up in 930.

They would rule and pass judgements from the top of this area that you can see.

ping2

This river is where adulterous women were drowned in Lutheran times.

ping8

We carry on for the main attraction.

The entire area is in a rift valley.

ping4

It marks the place where the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

ping5

There are sections where you can actually walk inside the fissure.

The main things I wanted to see from the trip, are now complete, and I can relax.

Coach back to Reykjavik and then showers ready for dinner at an incredible venue.

icecream

The food cellar.

A fine dining experience, and one of the most incredible meals I’ve ever eaten (I had steak, Nikki had some sort of vegetarian nonesense)

To illustrate, my “afters”. 4 sorts of of Ice cream made from different forest fruits and it was served on a rectangular piece of ice.

In short, no detail was spared.

piano

Afterwards, we have drinks in the Piano room.

The most expensive meal out I’d ever had but what an amazing evening.

church

The next day, we catch up with a few things.

Hallgrimskirkja church (which I thought looked a bit like a space ship).

church_inside

Named after Hallgrimur Petursson a famous poet and clergyman.

church_view2

At 75 metres high, the view from the top (which you have to pay for) is pretty amazing.

church_view

All the more so, as there aren’t many tall buildings in Reykjavik for some reason, so you can see the whole city.

fwalk1

A quick coffee and off we go. We’ve spent lots of time in the city, so its time to see a bit of countryside.

fwalk2

We wander up Oskjuhlio hill. Its a fresh crisp day, and we see lots of small animals and birds.

I start to realise just how much I’ve grown to love Iceland and how much I’m regretting going home.

fwalk3

As we wander farther up the hill, we come to a clearing, and see it for the first time. Perlan.

It looks like the lair of a bound villain, but actually its one of the most innovative tourist attractions I’ve ever seen.

perlan

Hot water storage tanks, used for decades were no longer needed.

So a dome was built on top and a series of attractions set up there.

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Incredibly, the worlds first indoor glacier.

Our guide disappeared for a few minutes, then re-appeared in down trousers (and yes, the woman on the screen is actually her).

glac

She explained it would be -15 centigrade and we should put on any spare clothing 🙂

meglac

I’d seen various tours that would take you out for the day and let you wander through a tunnel in a glassier, but they were all around £250.

She gave a 1 hour tour of the glacier explaining how they are made and fascinatingly, how Tardigrades (known as the water bear) are the only living thing that can survive in a glacier.

After this, we had 40 minutes to wander around on our own.

glac

As we left the ice, there was an exhibition about Glaciers.

To much to write about here, but this one was interesting, it showed a camera, which had captured the growth and shrinkage of a glacier over 15 years.

pointing

Augmented reality displays, including this one where you could point at things and they would react to the line of sight between your eye and your hand.

glac_rest

But after the deep freeze, its time for some coffee.

The cafe had an amazing view of the city bellow.

ts1

Outside on the observation deck, 360 degree views of the city.

With that, we head home.

viking

So, what an amazing trip, and so many things packed into just 3 days.

But its not over.

As we wander back, I buy myself a 66 degree’s north hat for hill walking (the brand isn’t well known outside Iceland, but their gear is superb.

My lasting memory of the trip, this singing Viking.

I don’t normally go back to places I’ve already been too, but I’m definitely going back to Iceland to see the rest of it.

Dobbiaco – adventures in the Dolomites

intro

Just came back from an amazing “walking trip” to the Dolomites in Italy.

Unfortunately, I sustained a leg injury, the week before. At one point it looked like my Dr wouldnt let me go, and would insist I stayed at home and rested it.

I’d been planning the trip for 3 years, so I was delighted when I was allowed to go (I knew I couldnt walk more than a few 100 metres, but I’m a resourcefull person and I knew I’d work something out).

lds

I’d been previously almost 30 years ago. At the time, my main walking trousers were Levi jeans and my Argos tent cost £40.

hotel1

Flying from Manchester (and ennoyingly, I’d have to fly back a different way) we arrived in Venice.

After some dinner and a few drinks, we were picked up by our transport and driven to Dobiacho with the rest of our group.

The hotel we stayed in was superb, the staff friend and very efficiency.

hotel2

The bar where we spent many of our evenings, had an extensive wine list and a friendly barman from Macedonia.

hotel_view

The view from our window beckoned…

But alas I couldnt go out walking. After breakfast, the group headed off and Nikki went with them.

I headed into the town to recce the area and find some interesting things to do.

sign

First off, I find this map to some sort of water plant. I’ve got something a bit more exciting in mind.

I look around a bit more (walking very slowly) and then realise, the best way to find out whats going on, maybe the internet.

table

So, back to our hotel room, and this dainty table arrangment, reminiscent of the type of thing in Rhyle caravans when I was a youngster.

A bit of google and a trip to the conveniently located tourest information next door, I’ve got a plan and I’m all set.

A couple of pints and wait for Nikki to come back.

train2

In the morning, we walk to the station and get this train to Lienze, in Austria.

Trains have come a long way since the last time I was here, and the delapedated thing I drove before has been replaced by this sleek electric train that was speacious and comfortable.

river

There wasnt much to see there, appart from the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of an Austrian mountain town.

Like any mountain river, this one was extremely fast flowing and we did’nt see any canoes on it.

helter

As we wander up the hill, we see this sort of helter skelter thing that you can race down, operating the breaks and steering it yourself.

It’s next to a ski slope, so I guess its there so theres something to do on the hillside, when its summer.

castle1

We arrive at the Bruck castle.

Annoyingly, Monday is when everything closes in this part of the world, so we didnt get to see inside.

castle2

The grounds were very nice, so we went exploring through the forest and around the lake.

pizza

That evening, we have dinner at the Ariston bar and one of the nicest ham and mushroom pizza’s I’ve ever eaten.

train

Next day, were back on the train.

This time were going to a place called Bolzano and we’ve got a specific goal in sight.

market

But first, we wander around the market.

Nikki spots some things she likes and we carry on our way to see…

utzi

… Utzi

A 5000 year old man found frozen in the mountains.

Archealogists have been able to find out all sorts of things by looking at what he ate, what he was wearing and stuff like that.

It’s the most significant find of its kind in history.

bus

The following day, Nikki goes out walking, and I head off to pursue my own projects.

On this occasion, a bus from the town goes right next to the Tre Cime (or 3 fingers). The jewel in the crown of the Dolomite mountains.

3fin1

I still can’t walk very far, but its an easy path and I take it slow, resting frequently.

3fin2

Slight problem, is that from my viewing point they look like this.

3cime

If I’d been able to walk another mile I could have taken this picture which captures them much better. Never mind, at least I’ve been there, despite my injury.

3fin3

Because I got the first bus, nobody is there. I wait for 45 minutes for someone to come along and take a picture, but in the end I just do this selfie, pointing back down into the valley.

3fin4

But its a nice day, so I wander a bit more.

3fin5

Looking back across the valley to the hut.

I walk back and get the bus back into the town, feeling quite elated.

chin

Back in town, the Italian army are on manouvres.

They have a base just next to our hotel, and I get to see this Chinook landing (along with several attack helicopters).

cort_town

Following day, and it’s my return to Cortina.

30 years ago, while interailing, the “Dolimtes” were basicaly a trip to Cortina and some walks around there.

We camped in the town and bought Pizza’s for our evening meal, while spending most days out walking.

carpark

I was delighted to find myself on this exact spot from 30 years ago.

My brother and I saw a Ferari. David was elated. I said well Dave, its not that uncomon is it. He asked me to clarify.

I said well, its not like you’ve seen a Harley Davidson parked there.

David replied, do you mean like that one ? and parked next to the Ferari was a Harley Davidson.

None of them were around on this day, but it a moment of pure nostalgia.

cort_walkway

We continued to explore the town and I saw this old bridge.

cort_hilltop

Last time we were here, money was really tight, but this time we had a bit more resource and it was possible to get a cable car up to Faloria.

cort_climbers

Spectacular views of the valley and town bellow, and here you can even see some climbers.

cort_hut

One thing that did facinate me last time, was Cortina was featured in the film For your eyes only.

The ski slope, Tobogan run and various other places all featured in the dramatic Ski-ing scene.

On the top of <name> there was a really interesting nature walk. Along the way, we saw this hut from the Silvester Stalone film Cliffhanger.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I’m off to Malta in a few hours with another old friend, Nick Barker.

Near and far, the search for adventure continues…

Gran Canaria – adventure at the SportPesa IT conference

OK, so for full transparency:

I normally write about the places I visit, and since this website is called the adventures of an ordinary person, I do it with a personal slant (ie halfway through watching Swan Lake in Moscow, I left and went for a drink in an Irish Bar with an Australian Lawyer that I’d met. That’s what an ordinary person would do).

On this occasion, my amazing employer, organised a series of workshops and meetings called the Island SummIT, a meeting of all the IT teams from around the world, at the Baobab resort in Gran Canaria.

So, I was away working (as you’d expect me to do) but just like me, I found opportunities for adventure here and there and made the most of the oportunity. Therefore, this isn’t really a full article about the Island, rather an example of what you can do on a work trip with a bit of imagination.

Above is a picture of me “sailing”.

It seemed easy. We were flying from Manchester, and flying home to Liverpool.

Outbound, no problem I thought, I’d just get the train from Chester to Manchester Airport.

Big problem. A Virgin train, transporting people from London to Leeds, broke down. So in Llandudno, they were punted onto my train to Manchester and told to change there.

They had massive bags and there were hundreds off them. Result: it was like a bus in the 3rd world. I’m not talking, so busy you couldnt find a seat, I’m talking so busy 3 poeple were standing in a space for 2.

But the hell is over after 90 minutes, I arrive at Manchester Airport and meet up with my collegues (who are also my friends).

hot1

On the flight, I find myself sat next to 2 young people, who could only be described as “love birds”. We make polite conversation, and I listen to Brian Tracy, 21 ways to be more productive, and jot down some ideas in my notebook (and I mean an actual notebook with a pen, not my laptop, which stays in my bag.

We arrive in the hotel, and I can’t believe it. I normaly travel to collect experiences. I stay in the simplest accommodation that will allow me to do this, and try to save money where I can, as the money I’m spending today, could finance the next trip, etc.

But, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to stay in a fabulous resort, and now I’m going to find out.

hot2

The staff are amazing, professional, helpful and nothing is too much trouble.

Once checked in, I make my way to my room and I can’t believe how big this place is.

hot3

It takes me a full 10 minutes to walk from my room to reception, and from one walkway on the 3rd floor, I see one of the hotels SEVEN pools.

hot4

In the morning, I wake up. I have a balcony, and the view isnt amazing.

There’s a basketball court, what looks like a car park and some wastland.

I dont care, I’ve always said, you dont live on the outside of a house, you live on the inside. The room I’m in is massive, has a desk for me to work at, a sofa to relax on and a very comfortable bed.

bath

Best of all, when I go into the bathroom.

It has a separate bathroom and toilet, and there is even a telephone handset in the toilet.

I’m not interior designer, but I decided to photograph this bath. I’ve put on a bit of weight lately (although I have a plan to fix that in summer) but honestly, I could have fit in that bath 3 times.

But this is no time for indulgence, I’m on the company’s “dime”, keen to represent the UK office in a positive light and just like in my private life, learn as many new things as I can.

island_summIT

Our first morning. After a breakfast that would humble a king, its time to start work.

There are several talks, workshops, meets and greets and the like.

Obviously, we are the fastest growing gaming company in the world, in a competitive market so I can’t discuss a single thing I saw or heard.

But, it was fascinating, I met loads of cool people and it was ace to see how they’d found solutions to some of the same problems we’d been experiencing in the Liverpool office.

walk1

With lunch and the days activities over, everyone heads back to their room to get ready for the evening.

I don’t. I’ve spent hours researching the area and things to do (Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted, Rommel – The Dessert Fox).

So, I head for the beach and set off walking.

walk2

But I’m not here to sit by the ocean.

Actually this is an area of outstanding natural beauty and I wander around exploring the sand dunes.

walk3

There is a cordoned off area, with a real oasis (La Charca) and some unique bird and animal life to see.

walk4

After 2 hours, I wander into the town. I see this guy, who constructs the Last Supper from Sand each day (I give him a couple of Euro’s, it seems wrong to photograph his work and not reward him somehow).

walk5

Further along, the famous lighthouse. I’m normaly the first critic of beach holidays, but even I have to admit, the view, the air, the sea contribute to what is, an amazing expirience.

hotel

Wandering back to my hotel, this picture shows half its length.

As a Rohan customer, I’ve got a series of adaptable outfits to cater for every evening. A formal shirt, and were off out for a Curry (probably the best one I’ve eaten outside Rusholme).

hackathon

The following day, and its back to the action.

A series of talks by various people from Dubai, Kenya and Bulgaria and one incredible talk about a system called Erlang.

Everything I love about IT.

30 years ago, Ericsson designed a programming language for their phone system. It had to be able to make hundred of thousand of connections. They needed to be reliable and consistent (as theyre phone-calls, if an email is a minute late, fine but phone conversations dont work that way) and it needed to be hyper secure (it could for example be used for a “global” switchboard for the UK NHS phone system, so confidentiality would be a must.

But, voice over IP and various other things happened, it never took off, and was forgotten about.

Incredibly, 30 years later, cutting edge web developers are using it, as all of its qualities are ideally suite to transaction based websites.

So, something written 30 years ago and forgotten is born again.

With the formal part of the meeting over, I wander to reception.

I think the picture captures the scale and grandour of the hotel.

eve2

I decide to wander around the hotel and get a feel for it.

There’s a pretty cool bar near reception and it has this incredible view.

I get a pint of the local beer and relax.

But I can’t relax too much.

The formal part of the meeting will be closed of with a Gala dinner, which I’m really looking forward to (I’ll get to relax and chat to the friends I’ve met in meeting and workshops).

The problem is, despite being loaded with Rohan clothing for every kind of event, I’ve no formal evening wear.

So I improvise. The excellent Meg at work, who is a keen Everton fan, helped me to purchase a football shirt. I hope it will work for the evening (well, it has SportPesa printed on the front of it, so lets see what happens).

sp_top

We have drinks in the VIP area, and a few people start asking about my top.

Forced to do what I always do in situations like this (and honestly, the only thing I can do) I tell the truth.

I explain:

I have no interest in football whatsoever and I’m not an Everton fan (although I’m sure theyre a fab club)

My heroes are mountaineers like Chris Bonington and Doug Scott.

But…  I work for SportPesa. We work at the top 1% of the technology industry, and the people I work with are amazing.

So, I wear my football shirt because I’m proud to wear the SportPesa logo.

The dinner and meal are fantastic. I got to bed about 2am, and I’m exausted.

cat1

In the morning, I’m up and off exploring the Dunes again.

The company have arranged “a water based event” but the details are limited.

A bus takes us to the coast then I see it.

They have hired this incredible Catamaran (I’ve never sailed in one before so its amazing).

cat2

But this isnt just “sailing” we have our own DJ and a free bar.

In the same way that I’ve built shelters and slept out in the woods to see what is like…

It’s amazing to be on a Catamaran, relaxing with a G&T, living like Rock star or premier league player, just to see what thats like.

cat3

We sailed out to meet some other boats and there was the option to go Paragliding or Jetski-ing.

I did’t do either, I just relaxed on the boat. I can only remember a handful of times in my life that I’ve felt so relaxed.

cat4

The slight low point, is when we pull into port and the food is served.

Its paella and seafood which I dont like.

I’m so relaxed, I hardly care.

cat5

The DJ starts banging out gangster rap.

Not to everyone’s taste, but I personally love that stuff. The dance-floor is full (dance-floor, on a boat).

Our trip nearly over, were heading out to sea, to watch the sunset.

cat6

What an amazing end to a perfect day.

Bus takes us home, a few drinks at the hotels panoramic bar, then its off to bed. Completely shattered.

turt

The next day is free.

I have a lie in until 8am. As I wander towards breakfast I see that there are some turtles.

chester

I wander into town, and see the main Casino in the area is called Chester – the name of the city I live in 🙂

bike

I pickup the mountain bike I’d arranged to hire from Free Motion.

Extremely professional, I get this amazing hybrid bike for just 21 Euros for the whole day.

They even give me a recommended list of places to visit and a map (and comment that they have shops in every town, so if I dont want to cycle back, just leave the bike in one of the other shops and get the bus home).

green_line

Baking hot day, but the freedom and simple pleasure of riding a bike.

I peddle in one direction to an oil refinery and then head back and ride to Play del Ingles.

I’m glad I did.

When I told some friends I was heading to Gran Canaria, they’d warned me some part of it were like Blackpool.

I’d dismissed that (after all, the place we were staying was like acapulco).

When I got there, there were bins with vomit in them, gangs of what I can only describe as hooligans, and when I locked my bike up and went in a german bar, they would let me in, as “your English, you wont enjoy it”.

elec_car

On the way back, I saw adverts for disbled carts, which were everywhere. At least someone was having fun there.

pers_pool

So, back to Meloneras. I lock up my bike and go for a walk along the front.

I dont recall the name of this hotel, but everyone of the rooms on the front had its own personal pool.

I don’t know when at the moment, but one day, I’m going to stay there.

me_bike

Cycling up and down, a friendly Italian couple offer to take a picture of me.

lads_pool

Exhausted, I had back home. A minibus is coming to pick me up the next morning at 4am, so I need to make it an early night.

I get a couple of drinks around the pool with some of the lads and as I sit there, I realise just how lucky I am to have experienced this amazing week.

last_supper

But, I’m a simple man.

For my last meal, I’ve found a chinese restaurant.

I go over on my own at 7pm. Because I’m early, I’m the only customer and I have spring rolls, beef and mushroom and some delicious red wine.

I wander back in a really good mood. Perhaps I should have more trips away, that aren’t projects and where I just relax and unwind 🙂

Recent visits to London.

flags

An amazing friend at SGS (Matt) suggested I get on the Virgin train mailing list. I initially resisted thinking I’d get all sorts of rubbish in my in-box.

Although that’s partially true, he pointed out that each year when they have a “sale” I’d get to know about it first.

London is an expensive city to visit, but with a 2.15 hour journey from Chester, you can travel direct at 7:15am, come home at 18:15pm and have an amazing day, with the transport only costing £11 each way.

Best of all, if you organise yourself over multiple one day “hits” you can save the cost of accommodation and evening meal (the latter can be substituted for a nice sandwich and a bottle of wine on the way home).

Above, some flags on Regent Street.

cs1

Greenwhich (pronounced Greenwhich) was a place I’d heard great things about.

One of the best things to see there, was the famous Cutty Sark.

cs2

In it’s day, one of the fastest trading ships in the world. With a minimal crew, it could transport Tea and other delicacies (we now take for granted) from one side of the world to the other.

Bellow decks, we watched this video about the ship in its heyday.

The man in this yellow coat, kept getting in the way of my pictures.

cs3

Here he is again.

Looking down the ship, from the high place at the back (which I’m sure has a Nautical name, that I don’t know).

Anyway, this is what the captain would have seen looking forward from the ship as it was sailing.

csark

The ships name, carved in original oak.

cs5

The ship itself is mounted on struts, and they have a nice cafe there where we have coffee and cake (It’s London, so costs a fortune).

mill_dome

From here, we head up the hill to Grenwhich observatory.

From there we can see this amazing view of London and the Millennium Dome (now called the 02 arena).

go

Outside the Royal Observatory.

At one time, people would travel from all over London to set their clocks by the one in the picture.

The site was chosen by Christopher Wren, and King Charles II created the position of Astronomer Royal.

There is also a very visible “time ball” that can be seen from a distance by Mariners. At 1pm each day, it dropped, and they could set their clocks from this.

mer

The prime meridian, longitude 0′.

Every place on earth was measured east or west of this line, and this is where Greenwhich Meantime takes its name.

The building itself is called Flamesteed house, after its first occupant.

scope

On of the telescopes used at the observatory. Very difficult to photograph.

4clocks

4 of John Harrison’s Sea watches, H1 to H4.

A joiner by trade, he designed a clock that could keep its time one a moving ship (something that even Sir Isaac Newton said was impossible).

Once out of sight of the shore, a clock was essential to work out the exact location of a ship and at a time of growing international trade, it saved many lives due to the avoidance of shipwrecks.

ship_clocks

Each ship had a special clock, normally stowed bellow decks. officers and men on the ship would set their own clocks and watches from it for practical purposes.

As technology progressed, the ships clock was no longer needed and in this room they had hundreds of the returned clocks.

4phones

A selection in the museum about the 4 people who voice the speaking clock.

You could hear each voice by picking up the phone and they selected relevant handsets from the time period of the speaker.

hp

Hewlett Packard is a name familiar to anyone who who works in Information Technology (I have a HP Elitebook on my desk at work).

Here, a nuclear clock, actually made by HP.

rock

In another part of the museum, were shown “the oldest thing you’ll ever touch”.

A 4.5 billion year old meteorite. Formed at the same time as the Sun and the Earth.

test

Lots of cool AV stuff, including this simulation for planning to put a satellite into space.

You get to make various decisions and video’s of people in your team, brief you on various things.

At the end, a BBC news thing tells you if your mission was successful.

yuri

In a small garden outside, we end our trip with some coffee next to this statue of Uri Gagarin.

queens_house

Another museum, called the Queens house (picture taken in the great hall).

Basically, a very nice old building where there are loads of interesting old paintings (it took me 2 hrs to get Nikki out of here !).

armada

The one I was interested in.

The Armada portrait of Queen Elisabeth I, which her hand on a globe, and ships visible out of the window.

gmoth

But it’s a day out after all, and we have a few drinks in the Iconic Gipsy Moth where I learned a few more words of cockney.

We head to the “Battle Cruiser” for some “Britney Spears” – to the “Boozer” for some “Beers”.

nikki_entrance

We look across the Thames, and I can see Canary wharf (the outside of the building was used in one of my favourite Dr Who episodes).

In the background, you can see the entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel.

tun

Inside the tunnel.

It was originally built to get workmen from one side of the Thames to the other, so they could start work.

And with that, my tour of Greenwich is over.

nbh1

Train advise wasn’t the only thing  got while working at SGS.

A fab woman called Catherine (who ran the legal department) told me about a TV series called W1A.

It’s basically a fly on the wall documentary about the BBC. Some of the parodies are so extreme, that I wonder how senior management allowed them to make the series.

Anyway, each episode begins with the “head of values” arriving on his folding bicycle outside New Broadcasting House, W1A (where the series takes its name).

nbh2

I really wanted to see it first hand (and standing there, it’s a spectacular building).

ei

I’ve spoken before about the British museum, how much I like it, and how on every trip to London, I make a point of popping in, even if only for 10 minutes.

This time, there was a tie-in, to some of the trips I’ve got planned.

In March next year, I’m going on a cruise to Antarctica. We’ll take in various places, but 2 of the highlights for me, and places I NEVER thought I’d get to see are the Falklands and Easter Island.

Interesting then, only about 2 of the Easter Island “heads” have ever left the Island. This one is in the British Museum.

emarbles

Later this year, were going on a sort of back packing, Greek Island tour and spending some time in Athens.

I’ve been previously, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Acropolis museum now it’s finished and half of the Parthenon sculptures that will be on display there.

The other half of the sculptures (sometimes called the Elgin Marbles) are on display in the British museum and in the picture above, you can see them laid out on display.

lion_hunt

The Assyrian Lion hunt.

In Assyria, Lion hunting was considered the sport of Kings.

Shooting down these beautiful animals with arrows from a moving chariot isn’t my idea of sport. Artistically however, they tell the story really well and capture the tension of the event.

A sort of 645 BC face-book post if you will.

bt_tower

The BT Tower.

Until 1980, the tallest building in London and the UK.

I always remember it from the Goodie’s, when a sort of kitten climbed up it.

At one time, it had a rotating restaurant there, and I’d always wanted to go. I didn’t and now its closed for good, the message is clear…

Grab adventure when its present. You don’t know how long it will be around.

lbridge1

Tower Bridge, which many tourists confuse with London Bridge.

On a previous trip, I found out, you can go inside on a tour.

lbridge2

Walking along, inside the main crossbeam.

lbridge3

The view from the crossbeam, showing the Thame’s, the Walkie Talkie and HMS Belfast.

lbridge5

As you walk back across the other crossbeam, it has a glass floor, which can withstand the weight of an elephant.

The view was incredible, but I wasn’t going to walk across it.

lbridge6

Walking down the staircase, its really Victorian looking.

lbridge7

I was amazed to learn that up until 1974 the bridges operation was powered by steam (this is one of the massive steam engine’s, and just goes to show that the Victorian’s could build almost anything and make it work).

Today it’s powered by electro hydraulics.

thames

The bank of the river Thames.

Many of the crime drama’s I watch on tv, begin with a body being found somewhere like this.

nsy1

On the crime theme, New Scotland Yard, know and respected internationally for its outstanding detection and police work.

nsy2

I always celebrate remembrance Sunday, even when I’m away from home.

My freedom to travel and seek adventure was bought with the lives of people who fought for freedom and I’m constantly grateful for that.

In much the same way, the relative safety and security I enjoy at home is down to the police force here in the UK. That has a price sometimes too, and here, the eternal flame at NSY, dedicated to officers who have lost their lives in the pursuit of their duties.

pans

There are some things in London, I really like.

Here for example, a guy has laid out a selection of pots and pans and plays them like a drumkit for the entertainment of passers buy (and they in turn, but a few coins in his hat).

protest

And there are others that I don’t like.

Outside the house of commons, people protesting (for those reading this in other countries, freedom of speech and the right to peacefull protest are enshrined in law and sit at the very centre of everything that makes us British).

On this occasion, some native Burmese people highlighting the leader of Burma, San Suu Kyi, and the persecution of the Rohingya people.

No, they aren’t actually complaining about the persecution, they arguing for it to continue.

I remember reading once that freedom of speech, means in practical terms sitting politely while someone else says things that make your blood boil.

That’s what happened to me. Using our freedom of speech to safely campaign for the persecution of others is an outrage, I had to bare in silence.

commons

And to finish, we did an amazing tour of the house of commons.

It was easily one of the most interesting tours I’ve ever done, and incredible to stand in the chamber where Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill have stood and changed the fate of the nation.

Unfortunately, for security reasons, I wan’t allowed to take any pictures. Very disappointing.

So, if you haven’t been to London recently, why not give it a go (its only £22 return after all 🙂

New Job & Adventures in Liverpool.

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Apologies for not updating the site recently.

Its been a busy few months. Mainly because I started a new job in January, which is fab, but very demanding on my time.

I’ve decided, in this blog entry, to say a bit about my new job and some of the exciting things I’ve done in Liverpool.

My adventure season normally starts at the beginning of March, I’ve been on 2 walking weekends already this year, and I’m off to Iceland this afternoon.

gear

So, on the 2nd of January, I return from India (and the end of my sabbatical, which included Andalusia and Namibia).

With one day to prepare, unpack my stuff and get ready, I start my new job on the 3rd of January.

lb

And what a job.

I’d be working with state of the art technology in a new data centre (I know there’s more money in development, but the truth is, I love computer infrastructures).

Best of all, I’ll be working on the 9th floor of the Liver building right on the waterfront in Liverpool.

mb

I had a legal meeting in Liverpool about 3 years ago, when I was working for a company in Warrington. Afterwards, I had a couple of drinks in the city and remember thinking how much fun it would be to work here. Now I do.

Best of all, I get to work with an old friend, Mike Delafield. We’ve done loads of cool projects and learned loads of clever technical things (which obviously I can’t discuss the details of).

We sometimes go to a pub called Ma Boyles after work.

jst

In a previous job, I used to get 2 trains to travel from Chester to Ellesmere port. Main problem was I couldn’t read, as I’d get distracted and end up missing my stop.

Now, I get one train from Chester and it gets to Liverpool in 40 mins. I’m also able to start at 8am, which means I can get home in the evening at 5:45 which presents loads of opportunities in the summer evenings.

From James street station, I walk along this amazing underground tunnel to get to work.

iom

Las Vegas?  Dubai?  that’s nothing, I’ve travelled with my company to the Isle of Man !.

orange

I still help out in support sometimes.

All the people in the office are really friendly and after I helped someone, I was delighted to receive this “thank you” Orange.

shirts1

Sportpesa are the shirt sponsor for Everton.

There are lots of charity initiatives, and the other Friday we could pay £1 and wear a football shirt of our choice.

I was going to buy a Manchester City shirt in support of my brother and Frank, but at £70, too much to be worn once.

Instead I wore the Australian rugby shirt I bought in Cairns.

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The view out of our window showing the Port of Liverpool Building and the Mersey.

boat

While I’ve been working in Liverpool I’ve made the most of the opportunity.

Right near my office, is the Albert Dock, where 30 years previously my life would change forever.

I literaly sailed from this exact spot when I did a month long adventure trip with Fairbridge Drake.

tcw

The Terracotta warriors are on display in Liverpool so one lunchtime I went over to see them.

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In a building nearby, they have the longest Lego bridge in the world.

cdb

After work, we went to the Royal Court to watch Council Depot Blues.

Hilarious, and the music was really good.

scouse

A local dish I’d heard a lot about.

I decided to visit Philpotts for lunch and try some “Scouse”.

It was actualy really nice.

cinema

This picture is a bit rubbish, but its just before the start of The Black Panther (cinemas can get a bit upset when you start pointing camera phone’s at the screen during a performance).

At the cinema in Liverpool 1, I got my first experience of an IMAX screen. Expensive, but completely imersive (so just as well, the film was really good).

phil

Finally, a trip to the Liverpool Philharmonic to see Bill Bailey.

One of the most innovative comedian’s I’ve ever seen, I howled laughing when he pointed out that a bird called a “lune” had featured heavily in the Manchester music seen (seriously, it was true and I couldn’t believe it).

As I said earlier, I’m off to Iceland in about 3 hours, so thanks once again for reading, and:

Near and far, the search for adventure continues.