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Issue #1 Jan/Feb12 Anarchy Books
BIKING | CLIMBING | HIKING | TRAVEL | CAMPING | ADVENTURE CLAUDIO VON PLANTA
Interview with Long Way Down filmmaker
GUY N. SMITH
On horror writing and big game hunting
Performing at the Glastonbury Festival
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN CYPRUS Biking in the Akamas Mountains
MAKING A HORROR MOVIE Blood and pus and guns and zombies…
CAMPING HOGMANAY New Year climbing in Scotland!
THE ANTI-CLARKSON! Clarkson - genius or Idiot?
REVIEWED: iPAD2 | MAGLITE | BMW GS1200 127 HOURS | DAN WALSH | GPS 3 x SOL ORIGIN SURVIVAL TOOLS & 2 x MONTANE SABRETOOTH GLOVES UP FOR GRABS 1
Welcome to Ultimate Adventure Magazine! An ADVENTURE is defined as “an exciting or very unusual experience”, “partaking in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure” and “a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome”. Why do people seek out adventure? Why do people put themselves in risky situations, on dangerous crags or down vertical bike descents? For me, personally, I like to stare at Death, then kick him in the nadgers and run away. I like to push myself physically, and to experience fear; for only that way do I appreciate a cold Guinness, the dog curled by my slippers, and Red Dwarf on the TV. Long has it been a dream to mine to distil my favourite hobbies into a magazine exploring different pursuits, diverse adventures and exciting escapades. Mountain biking, hiking, scrambling, a spot of climbing, motorcycling (fast), exploring castles (slow), film making, travel – all have a place in my heart, and are also things I love to read about! It has thus been a pleasure writing about adventures, reviewing kit, and compiling other people’s experiences in this tome. How does it feel to play to the crowds at Glastonbury, then head back to a mud-filled tent? Musician Jordan Reyne lets us into her world from the perspective of the rock chick... What was it like for Claudio Von Planta, cameraman (and TV star!) from Long Way Round and Long Way Down, companion of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman, what was it like to be a combat photographer in Afghanistan? What was it like for Dr Andrew Murray to RUN from John O’Groats in Scotland to the Sahara Desert??! All these adventures and MORE in this, our very first issue… Whenever I write a novel I put blood, sweat, tears, heart and soul into the book. And I’ve done the same for this magazine. It’s special. It’s written with love and passion and honesty. And it’s a platform for YOU, and YOUR adventures. So if you’ve done something special, drop me a line. I know some people who might want to read about it.… There’s also SOL Origin Survival Tools and Montane Sabretooth gloves which use Polartec Power Shield Softshell for maximum performance up for grabs in this very issue. Good luck!! And finally, for those reading this just after our initial (digital) publication, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2012!! Andy Remic Editor & Novelist www.andyremic.com firstname.lastname@example.org
ULTIMATE ADVENTURE Magazine. Published 2012 by Anarchy Books. Anarchy Books Head Office: PO Box 40, Spilsby, PE23 9AR, UK Website www.anarchy-books.com. We accept digital submissions only. 2
EDITOR ANDY REMIC is the author of thirteen novels which some people quite like. When kicked to describe himself, Remic claims to have a love of extreme sports, kickass bikes and happy nurses. He claims to be a cross between an alcoholic Indiana Jones and a bubbly Lara Croft, only without the breasts (– although he’d probably like some). Remic lives in Lincolnshire and enjoys listening to Ronan Keating whilst thinking lewdly about zombies. He owns ANARCHY BOOKS and his website is www.andyremic.com. FEATURES EDITOR Journalist, investigator and busy-body, MONGREL JONES is the “Stig” of the outdoor world. Rarely without his trademark balaclava, some say he has blood made from lava, cheese for skin and a perverse love of Ye Old Speckled Hen. Hailing from Manchester, Mongrel spends most of his time in a tent, in a caravan, or up a tree. He has a degree in the world of hard knocks, and an MA in getting the crap kicked out of him. Mongrel tells it like it is, and isn’t afraid to turn over stones, Rub people up, and dish the dirt. Baby. FICTION EDITOR Belfast born, WAYNE
STAFF WRITER IAN WATSON was educated at Oxford, has written many novels and stories, been nominated for Hugo and Nebula awards and won the John W. Campbell, the Prix Apollo, the BSFA and Orbit awards for his writing. In the early 90s he worked with Stanley Kubrick on story development for the movie AI Artificial Intelligence, directed after Kubrick’s death by Steven Spielberg. He lives in a small village 60 miles north of London. You can see more at www.ianwatson.info STAFF WRITER JIM ROTHWELL Jim Rothwell has retired from teaching, having given up the fight to blag some sense into today’s yoof. He lives in a crumbling edifice in West Yorkshire with wife, two daughters and a pair of rescued Podenco dogs from Malaga, Spain, which are unique in sleeping 90 per cent of their lives. This suits Jim admirably as he can't be mithered with them. Jim divides his time between plotting to oust his grown up children from the nest, and slavering over Gibson Les Pauls on his eBay watch list.
STAFF WRITER BRADLEY JONES is a specialist in mountain climbing, mountain biking and fell running. Manager of an outdoor shop in the Lake District, he is married with two young kids, and also loves horror films, watching films, and making films. He is also the resident expert on Auf Wiedersehen Pet, and undisputed mountain expert at UltAdventureMag.
SIMMONS has loitered with intent around the horror genre for some years, scribbling reviews and interviews for various zines. He's written two novels to date: the ART EDITOR VLADIMIR PETKOVIC was born apoc-horror DROP DEAD GORGEOUS and his bestselling zombie novel, FLU; currently published in the in Belgrade, Serbia. Vladimir has exposed his works across various galleries and competitions in UK, Spain and Germany. In what little spare time he Serbia, and illustrated three books about has left, Wayne enjoys running, climbing, World War II thematics. He is the artist of getting tattooed and listening to all British Horror Magazine Morpheus Tales, manner of unseemly screeches on likes to write poems in his spare time, and his BOOM-BOOM Box. pens columns and interviews for Read more at www.waynesimmons.org Belgrade's metal/rock music web-zine ''Metal-Sound''. You can see more of his TRAVEL & KIDS EDITOR work at: vladimirpetkovic.webs.com SONIA IVERS is a qualified Nurse, and Midwife. She enjoys reading, writing, travel (both abroad and in a caravan), and has two little boys. She has a love of 4X4 off-roaders, hot curry sandwiches and violent movies. She doesn’t know how she got involved with ULTIMATE ADVENTURE Magazine, but they’ve chained her to the desk and she has no key. 3
CONTRIBUTORS: DR JASON CROWLEY, JORDAN REYNE, GARRY KILWORTH, GEOFF NELDER, COLIN HOWARTH, IAN GRAHAM, GARRY CHARLES, JAMES CASSIDY, GUY N. SMITH, DR ANDREW MURRAY, VINCENT CHONG, JOEL TEAGUE, MICHAEL WILSON, JONATHAN McCALMONT, CLAUDIO VON PLANTA & MARTYN PICK. .
UPFRONT INTERVIEWS FEATURES your personal service
1. News 8
1. Claudio von Planta Interview 27
Your chance to bite back..
Claudio, famous for filming Long Way Round and Long Way Down with Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman, here talks about his adventures behind the camera…
3. Competitions 17
2. Guy N. Smith 33
Win one of three SOL Origin medical survival kits & some Montane gloves!
A master of the horror genre talks about horror, hunting and the smoking ban.
All the latest news for your consumption.
2. Woof! Letters! 12
4. Whackjob Jim Column 19 Who’s Whackjob offending this month?
5. The ANTI-CLARK SON Column 21 Dumb comedy or comic dumbery?
6. The Horror, The Horror Column 23
3. Andrew Murray 39 Ultra Marathon Runner Andrew Murray about his run from John O’Groats to the Sahara Desert.
4. Jordan Reyne 45 Children of a Mud Nation - gigging at Glastonbury and camping in the mud!
5. Vincent Chong 51 Genius or Madman? A look at his incredible artwork.
1. The Men Who Would Be Kings 65 Scotland. Hogmanay. Mountains. A recipe for delight or disaster? Two Men and a Dog explore.
2. Pom on a Postie Part 1 79 In which a Pom attempts to ride across Australia on a Posties moped; part 1 of 6.
3. Cycling in the Akamas 89 Geoff Nelder takes us cycling in the mountains of Cyprus.
4. Hardcore – The Making of a Short Horror Film 97 Andy Remic and co. On the making of a short horror film with blood, pus and guns…
That’s a whole lot of horror, the latest in horror news by Michael Wilson.
5. Mexico’s Buried Secrets 109
7. How To... Fit a Bike Computer 24
Author Dan Henk travels to Mexico searching for buried treasure… sort of.
Pretty self explanatory - the fitting of the bike computer to… the bike.
friday night chat with jonathan fish
REVIEWS FICTION the good, the bad & the ugly
1. Kit 119
1. Short Story 160 FRENZIED - Garry Charles, described as a cross
2. Motorvation 133 Mountain bikes, motor bikes, cars, 4X4s, caravans, skateboards, skis… a relative ORGY of motorvation.
2. Graphic Novel 167 SIEGE - Martyn Pick
3. Restaurants 140
Part 1 of our dark and brooding serialised graphic novel.
Is that food establishment you visit after a hard day in the mountains really any good? We check out the grub!
4. Media 141 Books, films, albums, games, software, stuff you might like.
1. NEXT ISSUE 187 The delectable delights of what you may expect from the next instalment of Ultimate Adventure Magazine.
2. GRUMPY OLD MAN 190 BAH HUMBUG!! And in this issue, we have a rant from the loveable old fella himself on the beauty of Simon Cowell, no less.
3. (C)RAP Poetry 186 A selection of your finest ditties for our general amusement. And yes. Please feel free to submit your *cough* best poems for inclusion in the mag.
5. Sport Fuel 153
Special food and drink to make all that effort worthwhile!
Sob, no, that can’t be it, it surely cannot be over so soon! Remember, we need your support! Tell your friends! Get them to download this magazine! Buy them a chocolate Hob Nob as a reward!
6. Ultimate Kids Adventure 156 Adventure experiences for some of our younger readers (and their parents).
yep, stories in the rear and stuff with the gear
between The Descent and JAWS. Wowsers! Remember, readers can submit their stories of an adventure nature for inclusion in the magazine! Please see the website for submission guidelines.
Socks, boots, flasks, packs, phones, GPS, cameras, everything you could need to make your adventures come true!
LEGAL STUFF Ultimate Adventure Magazine ©Anarchy Books 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without express written permission of the publisher. Anarchy Books registered office is: Anarchy Books, PO Box 40, Spilsby, Lincs, PE23 9AR. All content in this magazine is provided as information only, and as far as we are aware, is correct at the time of publication. Anarchy Books and Ultimate Adventure Magazine cannot accept responsibility for any errors, omissions or errors at the time of publication. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers for up to date prices and information on products contained within this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material, for example letters, comments, poetry, stories and photographs, you automatically grant Anarchy Books a license to publish your submission whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including all worldwide territories and in physical and digital editions. Any submission material or review products you do submit are sent at your own risk, and although every care is taken, neither Anarchy Books or its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage. The views and opinions expressed within this magazine are not necessarily the views and opinions of Anarchy Books and Ultimate Adventure Magazine. In the words of the Stereophonics - Have a nice day.
SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED Meet Callaghan, a harddrinking, drug-fuelled, womanising no-good son-ofa-bitch. He's the amoral hardcore photographer for Black & White, the tabloid rag that tells it as it is. Or at least, how it should be. Callaghan's in way too deep with Mia, his Mexican stripper girlfriend... and even deeper with Sophie, estranged wife to Vladimir "Vodka" Katchevsy, infamous Romanian gunrunner and self-eulogising expert at human problem solving. People start to die. And Callaghan's caught in the middle. A situation even his Porsche GT3, Canary Wharf Penthouse suite and corrupt politician contacts can't solve. At the nadir of his downward spiral, Callaghan is approached by a man: a serial killer who brings him a very unique and dangerous proposition... SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED is an EBOOK novel by ANDY REMIC, author of Spiral, Quake, FOCUS ON Warhead, War Machine, Biohell, Hardcore, Cloneworld, • A VIOLENT THRILLER Theme Planet, Kell's Legend, Soul Stealers and Vampire Warlords. •BLOODTHIRSTY ACTION SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED can be •DISTURBING MURDERS purchased from anarchy-books.com for £1.99 in PDF, • URBAN FANTASY EPUB and MOBI formats.
"Who kills the killers?" www.anarchy-books.com 6
Scottish Bike Show returns for 2012 In 2011, this venerable event was attended by over 5000 visitors, and for 2012, claims the show’s official website, there will be something for everyone… “from the hardcore enthusiast to the commuter cyclist with more bikes, brands, clothing, displays, competitions, presentations, test tracks and loads more packed into Scotland’s one and only bike consumer show. Come and enjoy The Scottish Bike Show 2012 with your friends and family.” Check out www.thescottishbikeshow.com
Pic: ©show website
Biker hit by antelope! Ducati have unveiled a new 195bhp V-twin “Superquadro”. Dines well during Remic drooling already, the following week… sad old fool… Pic: YouTube Mountain biking is damn dangerous - right? With all those cars on the road, idiots on their mobiles, people crossing the road stuffing their faces with cheap burgers and fries and donuts. But 17 year-old mountain bike racer Evan der Spuy got more than he bargained for when competing in an event in South Africa - he was hit by a 150kg Red Hartebeest - that’s an antelope, which was doing some speed when it leapt at him and kicked him off his bike. As is to be expected, van der Spuy was deeply surprised, as video footage on YouTube will testify; surprised, concussed and battered. Thankfully he didn’t receive any serious injuries other than concussion and whiplash. He was discharged from hospital the following morning. The antelope was also, thankfully, unharmed during the collision, although it is unfounded that van der Spuy feasted well on an “undisclosed meat” the following three evenings. 7
In a recent MCN news report, Ducati announced the release of a new 1200cc “Superquadro” engine to power their eagerly awaited new superbike. This will make current 1198 superbike owners very happy. Ducati Chief Claudio Domenicali claimed it was “Phenomenally powerful. Over 20bhp more than the outgoing 1198!” Again, I reiterate, 1198 Ducati owners are said to be “doing a dance, jigging a jig and drinking lots of whiskey.” Again. Damn those There brilliant Ducati engineers…
British shark swimmer attacked by Great White… despite warning flags Michael Cohen, a British man apparently obsessed with swimming with sharks, met his match when he was attacked by a Great White at Clovelly Corner in Cape Town, South Africa. And the only reason he survived becoming strings of shark fodder? He was saved by a brave seal which fended off the Great White and saved Cohen’s life.
entered the infested waters to save the injured adventurer. They applied a basic tourniquet made from a wetsuit, and no-doubt saved Cohen’s life.
A member of the Environmental Management Department, Mr Oelofse, stated, “The sharks were sighted again at about 10.50am, and the beach was again closed, under the white ‘shark’ flag. When the man had entered the water at Clovelly Michael Cohen lost more than seven litres of blood Corner one spotter ran down the beach and during the attack. He had his right leg ripped free, another drove down to Clovelly Corner, but ‘the and his left leg bitten. At the time, flags were flying shark attack had taken place.’” warning that the area was shark infested, and he was dragged to safety - after the interventions of Bear Grylls was not on hand to offer assistance. the hardened seal - by local men who bravely
NEW MID-LAYER REALFLEECE RELEASED
Icebreaker is expanding its popular Realfleece product offering with the introduction of a mid layer version of its super lightweight, highly insulating Realfleece.
Zealand’s Southern Alps, soft and cosy Realfleece provides instant warmth and instant luxury. The launch of Realfleece 320 outer wear was a highlight of Icebreaker’s Fall/Winter 2010 collection, says In Fall/Winter 2010, Icebreaker debuted Realfleece – a Creative Director Rob Achten. “Consumers loved the premium natural alternative to a synthetic fleece for men warmth, softness and functionality of Realfleece 320 and women. Since the 1980s, sportswear companies outer wear, and there was a real demand for a have been selling garments called “fleece” that are Realfleece mid layer that could be worn over Icebreaker synthetics made from oil. Real fleece only comes from a Bodyfit base layers and under a technical shell,” he sheep – and the first Icebreaker Realfleece line quickly says. “Realfleece 260 is a the biggest story of our sold out globally. The line received rave reviews from Fall/Winter 2011 collection. Like Realfleece 320, we the media and consumers alike. expect it to be an instant classic.” This season, Icebreaker introduces Realfleece 260, a functional midweight insulation layer that gives consumers a natural alternative to a synthetic fleece. It has a very high insulation-to-weight value, which means it is exceptionally lightweight considering the level of insulation it provides. Made from premium merino wool grown in New 8
All Realfleece garments have an interior terry knit construction, with loft that has been brushed to create air pockets that trap air and lock in body heat. The outside has a smooth, stylish, air-permeable jersey finish. Check out www.icebreaker.com. Looking forward to reviewing these in the Highlands this Winter!!
NEW bumblebee project encourages rare bee to 10km extension of popular trail. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) – who in 2010 won an online competition for funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association – has converted 10km of MOD tarmacclad land into a luscious wildflower habitat that within a year has managed to attract one of the UK’s rarest bees.
The European Outdoor Conservation Association [EOCA] is funded by outdoor clothing and equipment brands and currently has nearly 70 members.
provides funds that can be used worldwide for conservation projects. The maximum amount of funding available to any one project is €30,000 (just over £26,000) which can have a huge impact. The Pembrokeshire Bumblebee Path Project is one of our latest success stories: not only has it encouraged essential wildlife back into the vicinity but it’s also provided walkers, cyclists and horseriders with a new cross-country section on a popular long distance path in one of the most picturesque parts of Wales.”
Nick Brown, Vice President of EOCA and founder and MD of Nikwax said: “EOCA encourages outdoor brands to invest in our environment. The association
At a recent Bumblebee Celebration Day along the new section of trail, Dr Pippa Rayner, the BBCT’s Conservation Officer for England and Wales, said:
Caption: ©Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
“Today we found five species in five minutes – including the brown banded carder bumblebee, one of the rarest bees in the UK – and I couldn’t be more pleased. “It shows that the work that is being done here on the Castlemartin Range to maintain good habitats for our bumblebees is proving a success.” The 10km section of trail was also funded by the Welsh Government and the MOD with a donation from the British Horse Society. To find out more about bumblebees log onto www.bumblebeeconservation.or g.uk. To find out more about EOCA projects visit: www.outdoorconservation.eu
NEWS Latest von Planta documentary now available to watch
Says Claudio von Planta of his most recent film: â€œThis isn't a Merry Xmas message but an announcement of my latest documentary SPELL OF THE ALBINO, broadcast on Al Jazeera English as part of their AFRICA INVESTIGATES series where Africans report themselves about burning issues in their own countries. It's a great initiative to conduct serious investigations, break all boundaries of political correctness and produce very thought provoking films with people who often find themselves in the firing line. SPELL OF THE ALBINO is therefore presented by Isaack Thimothy, who is an albino himself. He is supported by Richard Mgamba, a Tanzanian journalist and Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a very courageous under-cover reporter from Ghana.
of our own compassion on every front, to work on an individual level to prevent the kind of horror we witnessed when making this film. If we don't all take this responsibility seriously and condemn any such abuse, whenever and wherever it takes place, in the strongest possible terms, then we all risk being tainted with the barbarism and moral bankruptcy of the Tanzanian albino hunters.â€?
Click HERE to see the film.
Caution: SPELL OF THE ALBINO is a very disturbing film with shocking images about mutilated albino children. Their body parts are used by Tanzanian witchdoctors to produce 'good luck' charms for people who want to become rich and powerful. Making this film felt like going back to the deepest dark ages. At the same time it was a wakeup call to remind us that all societies - not only in Africa - have the tendency to discriminate minorities and look for gain at the expense of the weak. On a global level we are still far too far away from respecting all our fellow human beings as equal. It is essential that we widen the circles
th3 m1ss1ng 10
PERSONAL SERVICE LETTERS
The letters page is sponsored by ANARCHY BOOKS, purveyors of fine digital novels. Each issue the STAR LETTER will receive Anarchy Books’ entire collection of novels and albums - for FREE! Email your missives to: email@example.com.
STAR LETTER SO WHAT’S ALL THIS ULTIMATE ADVENTURE BUSINESS THEN?
work! WILLIAM JAMES, EDINBURGH
Hello William, I’m really glad you like the mag; and yes, we make sure we test it on devices like the iPad before we “go to press” so to speak. It’s been incredible fun and a great learning curve I saw your new magazine mentioned putting the magazine on a climbing forum and was together, but we’re all privileged enough to get an early massive enthusiasts “preview” copy. I’ve found the and really want to articles well written and informative, inject something new, the magazine quite slick and well put exciting, fresh, and ultimately together, and the high definition produce something that people version looks absolutely fab on my want to read and enjoy. So, there iPad. I have a couple of criticisms, are many tongues firmly in cheek, however. Who the hell is that and Grumpy Old Man is one of Grumpy Old Man? What an idiot! them (although he’s trying to hit What a psychopathic moron! Who let me with a shovel as I say that, but him out of the box? Who let him off my bike goes faster than his his motability scooter? He wants scoot, heh). As the magazine locking in a portable loo and jacked grows and goes from strength to up and down like they do in Jackass, strength, we will no doubt expand covering him in the same excrement EVERY single section to include that pours from his mouth! The main more of the kinds of things YOU, (real) criticism is probably of the the readers, really want. So get reviews section, which I’d like to see writing in to the mag! We need contain EVEN MORE reviews of your reviews and features. There. climbing and motorbiking literature. Now, I can’t say fairer than that, Other than that, keep up the great can I? -MJ.
WINTER PRECAUTIONS I am new to caravanning, and with Winter fast approaching I wondered what preparation I should do to the caravan to help me get through the icy months? Do I drain water? Do I need a caravan cover? Should I maybe set fire to the caravan then I don;t have these problems? Your help is much appreciated. Thanks. JANET KAY, BIRMINGHAM You need to drain off all the water from your van, and leave the taps open. There are two different viewpoints on using covers – some swear by the, some against. At least they keep the crud off, in my opinion. And if you want to set fire to it, at least the neighbours can toast their crumpets on the roaring mess. I prefer to use mine as a base for dangerous climbs :-) -MJ.
PERSONAL SERVICE LETTERS ULTIMATE DANGEROUS MOUNTAIN BIKERS EXCITEMENT!
I can also remember quite vividly, finding myself in front of the Squadron Commander on the Monday morning, trying to explain my own stupidity for 'This ridiculous escapade!'
On a recent hike up Blencathra, I noticed some rocks had been set up in a ramp formation. I thought nothing of it, until rounding a corner I was almost hit in the face by two idiot downhill bikers. Yes, on the FOOTPATH. Haven’t you got tracks for this sort of thing? Anyway, pleased I was not, and if I’d been quick enough they would have got a rock in the back of the head. Keep to your own paths, boys.
I was excited to learn of the advent of "Ultimate Adventure Magazine," being as I am an enthusiastic hiker and traveler. I'm always looking for new places to hike and travel to, so I hope to find some fresh destinations in your articles, and further inspiration to fuel my own adventures. It's great to discover a venue where people of a like-minded nature can compare notes on our explorations and exploits! Cheers!
JANET REECE, KENDAL
ROBERT SUMNER. QUINCY, MASSACHUSETTS
JACK SALMON, WINDERMERE
Thanks very much for your comments, and hopefully you’ll find some inspiration in the features this issue - Glastonbury, Cyprus, Mexico and the Highlands of Scotland! Next issue it gets much more wild! MJ
Er, that’s a pretty mad adventure indeed, and I’d say you’re extremely lucky to be in one piece! Is there anybody else out there who’s camped in extremely dodgy and dangerous places? We could start a new section in the magazine entitled “Camping on the Wild Side” - that would be cool! -MJ
Any mountain bikers want to comment? I don’t want to sound like a boring monkey, but downhill biking on hill-walking paths does sound like a serious accident waiting to happen. One way or another! (and let’s not be throwing rocks, guys, we’re not cavemen you know. Well. Some of us are not. I suppose we should be thankful you weren’t carrying an axe!). -MJ
CARAVANNERS ARE The craziest thing I ever did was to go camping in Northern Ireland in 1973 smack dab in the middle of 'The BORING... FACT. Troubles'. One of the lads was in I hate all caravanners. And yes, you, you damn motorhome drivers as well! Driving your heaps of [censored] and blocking the roads. You make me late for work. You make me late for play. Why can’t you pull in once in a while when there are twenty bloody cars queuing behind you? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you’re all fiftysomething impotent Volvo drivers with no hair and stained pants, and the only bit of power you wield over anybody else is the ability to make them queue behind you whilst you tow your putrid pieces of crap. Well, I’ll get you back in Hell. I’ll burn your caravan down! JASON [Name withheld], PETERBOROUGH Er. Over to you. -MJ. 12
training to join the S.A.S. and to be honest was a bit 'gung ho'. For some reason me and a couple of the other lads allowed him to talk us into going along with him. We never saw a bit of trouble and had a fantastic laugh bivvying out on the Friday and Saturday nights, in the countryside around Omagh after blagging one of the transport drivers to drop us off. The two incidents that I remember most clearly were: 1)Knocking on a farmer's door at 9 AM on the Sunday morning to ask for a loaf of bread, which I offered to pay for; 2) Wading chest high through a river, to get into camp through the back gate.
Apparently, the locals thought that a 'Special Forces' group were in the area and it must have caused a bit of a panic, because before too long there were squaddies everywhere looking for us and probably fearing the worst had happened. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. The magazine looks great, by the way!
THE FAT OF THE LAND There's something about backpacking, hiking, and camping that to me is both dreadful and exhilarating. Be it the fact I am forced to carry all I need for my week's stay in the wilderness on my back, or the fact that I know I'll be isolating myself miles away from the nearest hint of
Shall we axe naughty Downhill bikers?
PERSONAL SERVICE LETTERS civilization, taking my yearly, weeklong retreat to the mountains and time out of my crazy work schedule to get away from modern amenities makes me not only appreciate Nature for what God intended it to be, but also appreciate what I have when I'm back in society. So what if I miss the dishwasher, microwave oven, television and cell phone? It's crazier to think we as a society have become so dependent on those we can't do a day - much less a full 7day week - without those! While I can't say I'm jealous of those who "live off the land" and constantly and consistently find the time to find their way in the wilderness, I do envy their ability to live without those previously mentioned things so many of us seem to think we can't live without.
I moved house recently, and had to do without the internet for a whole three days. Whilst posting this on Facebook, I had a barrage of messages along the lines of “Oh God, how did you manage that?” and “I don’t know what I’d do without my trusty internet connection - slit my wrists, probably!”. It shows just how quickly we can descend from the pinnacle of “the evolved” to the pit of “the unable to cope”. Switch off a house elctric supply at 9PM and see how long the occupants last! No light? No heat? No PS3? Argh! Maybe that’s why we need conscription again? And for women, as well. Teach all these darned youngsters how to fend for themselves in the wild. -MJ
There's nothing like finding yourself under the stars, a clear night sky overhead, a hand-made fire warming your body and nature refreshing your soul. It helps one realize just how miniscule we all are in comparison to the ever expanding might of the universe. Of course, there's also nothing like making pancakes over an open fire in the same pan in which you cooked fish in the night before either. Both of these are experiences I've come to enjoy and make a part of my yearly exploration of different campgrounds and mountain trails throughout North America. I'm glad to see UAM encouraging others to get out there, explore, share, and do the same!
Blessings, SETH REEVES, IOWA, USA
During a recent walk on Gowbarrow Fell in Ullswater I noted some strange rock formations. Not cairns exactly, but small triangular mounds in high areas - they looked recent rather than old. I was wondering if they might be some kind of system used by climbers or hikers to send a message about certain routes. MR B. TAYLOR, BRADFORD Can anybody shed some light? My suggestions would be: a) New age pyramids; b) Pet burial mounds; c) Large-chested ladies on SAS night-ops under camouflage netting. -MJ
ONE WHEEL BETTER THAN TWO? I am new to the world of mountain biking and I’m writing to ask for some advice. First, I need a bike obviously, but after watching the new Coldplay video for their song PARADISE with the elephant man thing in it, I wondered about the possibility of getting a UNI-CYCLE for off-roading. Obviously, with only one wheel I would save money on tyres and stuff, and I think downhill riding would be a lot more fun, a lot more EXCITING! Can you please offer me some advice on which biking manufacturers supply onewheel off-road bikes, preferably with over 21 gears for those long uphill slogs. Haha. I nearly wrote SNOGS then and that would be funny, as people might think I’m an idiot. It also occurred to me that with the frame being smaller I would save on money from stone chips, as when I needed it respraying there wouldn’t be as much mettal to spray. Here’s hoping you can help, in anticipation. BENJAMIN LEADWEIGHT, HULL Er. Okay. Thanks for writing in. It occurs to me that when you have two wheels, your body-weight is evenly distributed over the two drop this to one wheel, it takes all the brunt of your lardy backside. Thus, tyre wear will be pretty much even. Actually, why am I even answering you? You want go downhilling on one wheel? Here’s how: buy a two wheel bike, and a chainsaw, and cut it in half. -MJ
PERSONAL SERVICE LETTERS A PRINCESS WRITES IN… ! My Dearest one, Hi, my name is Princess Asabe Gambo Yak, l am 23years old originated from Sudan. I decide to contact you after my prayers; I really want to have a good relationship with you. My father Dr. Justin Yak was the former Minister for SPLA Affairs and Special Adviser to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan for Decentralization. My father Dr.Justin Yak and my mother including other top Military officers and top government officials had been on board when the plane crashed on Friday May 02, 2008.
business venture in your Country. In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely. Please do keep this only to your self. I beg you not to disclose it till I come over because I am afraid of my wicked uncle who has threatened to kill me. Sincerely yours, Princess Asabe Gambo Yak
Er. If you want me to keep it to myself, why send it to the letters page of a magazine? Hmm? I do of course totally sympathise with your situation, and you have my most heart-felt love and kisses. By return I will send you my bank account details, sort code, date of birth, address and a photocopy of After the burial of my father, my uncle conspired and sold my father's my passport, driving license and bank statements. I will then mail properties to a Chinease Expatriate and live nothing for me. On a faithful you my credit cards, bank cards, cheque book and passwords/ morning, I opened my father's copies of signature. Please use briefcase and found out the documents which he have deposited these details respectfully, and I look forward to receiving my huge amount of money in one bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the $1million+ payment ASAP. Cheers Princess! - MJ next of kin. I travelled to Burkina Faso to withdraw the money so that I can start a better life and take care WRITING FOR of myself. On my arrival, the Branch manager of the Bank whom I met in ULTIMATE ADVENTURE person told me that my father's MAGAZINE instruction to the bank was the money be release to me only when I Hi there! I’m very much interested in am married or present a trustee who writing for your fabulous new magawill help me and invest the money zine. Can you tell me what the overseas. guidelines for writing reviews and features are? Many thanks, I have decided to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will James McGuire, Dublin. not betray my trust. But rather take No problem. Here are the guideme as your own sister. Though you lines below. -MJ may wonder why I am so soon REVIEWS revealing myself to you without knowing you, well, I will say that my mind convinced me that you are the true person to help me. More so, I will like to disclose much to you if you can help me to relocate to your country because my uncle has threatened to assassinate me. The amount is $4.5 Million and I have confirmed from the bank in Burkina Faso. You will also help me to place the money in a more profitable 14
These can be of just about anything even vaguely related to camping, mountain biking, walking, climbing, running, caravanning, travel..... as well as book, music and film reviews (preferably with some link to the above- for example, I’m going to review the DVDs of Long Way Round and Long Way Down, because there are camping elements involved).
You can review your mountain bike, climbing boots, your tent or tow-vehicle, your favourite movie or wellused ice-axe! Reviews should be between 500 words for a short review (say, your kit pack), and up to 1500 words for a major review (say of a new kayak or BMW GS1200 Adventure). Please include your own photographs when possible. FEATURES Between 2000 and 5000 words is a good length for a feature, although you can check with the editor if you have either a shorter or longer piece planned. Please include your own photographs when possible. A teaching friend of mine used to hook up on the first day of the Summer Holidays and spend 6 weeks camped just outside Paris. Now that is interesting. It’s an adventure. Last year, we journeyed to the West Coast of Ireland.... then came back round the south coast and camped just outside of Dublin. Now that was a fun experience. If you have an idea for a feature, no matter how wild or weird it seems, drop us an email.... we like odd and different, as well as normal tales of exploration and adventure. It’s what keeps life interesting! I was hiking back down from the summit of Blencathra once, and two downhill mountain bikers blasted past; I found them at the bottom, chilling in their orange VW camper van, listening to Alice in Chains and no-doubt smoking pot. There’s a feature in there somewhere... If you pitch your tent on the top of Ben Nevis in winter when the snow is up to the roof level of the little ruin up there; well, that’s a cool survival story. Please get in touch!
ULTIMATE ADVENTURE MAGAZINE would like to hear from you!!
Have you just bought a Kindle, iPad or other eBook reader? Do you need intelligent food for your device? have a range of titles, from dark thrillers to SF, from Douglas Adams-style dark comedy to horror. All titles retail at just , and some even come with their own specially composed soundtrack albums! 15
PERSONAL SERVICE COMPETITION One of three Adventure Medical Kits new survival tools - the SOL™ Origin, courtesy of Burton McCall and Adventure Medical Kits. In one product that fits in the palm of your hand, the SOL™ Origin gives you the collection of tools you need to expect the unexpected AND make it back alive. Think of it as the ultimate cross-breed of the traditional ten essentials and a survival kit, all wrapped up in one lightweight, easy to carry, waterproof and indestructible package. The SOL™ Origin is required equipment in every outdoor adventurer’s pack. Contains: signal mirror, whistle, blade, waterproof case, compass, fire lighter, LED light, nylon cord, stainless steel wire, aluminium foil, safety pin, fishing line, hooks & swivels… Your first step in winning is to visit: www.burtonmccall.co.uk to find the answers to the following three questions: 1) How many mountain medical kits do Adventure Medical Kits provide? 2) How many sparks is the SOL Firelite Tinder-quik good for? 3) What picture is on the cover for the Blister Medic pack? Your answers, along with your name and address, should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or sent to: SOL Origin Competition, Anarchy Books, PO Box 40, Spilsby, Lincs, PE23 4AR, UK by 29th February 2012. Three winners will be picked from a bucket and notified within 28 days. By entering this competition you are acknowledging you are not an employee of Anarchy Books, Ultimate Adventure Magazine, Burton McCall or Adventure Medical Kits. Cheers! 16
PERSONAL SERVICE COMPETITION Two pairs of Montane Sabretooth Gloves using Polartec® Power Shield Softshell for maximum performance are up for grabs. And here we have two pairs of fabulous Montane Sabretooth Mountain Gloves, one pair size L and one size XL. Here are the details: * Polartec® Power Shield® fabric is designed and constructed for cold alpine conditions * Durable and water resistant leather reinforced palm and fourchettes * Brushed tricot lining throughout wicking and fast drying * Elasticated wrist and contoured hem * Flocked nosewipe and adjustment around wrist * Seam free lower wrist for usage with leashed ice tools and poles * Reflective fore-finger detail * Close fitting softshell weather protection
Your first step in winning is to visit: www.montane.co.uk to find the answers to the following three questions: 1) When was Montane founded? 2) How does Montane support Mountain Rescue? 3) What is “Fix the Fells”? Your answers, along with your name and address and whether you’d prefer L or XL size, should be emailed to email@example.com, or sent to: Montane Sabretooth Competition, Anarchy Books, PO Box 40, Spilsby, Lincs, PE23 4AR, UK by 29th February 2012. Two winners will be picked from a whisky barrel and notified within 28 days. By entering this competition you are acknowledging you are not an employee of Anarchy Books, Ultimate Adventure Magazine, Montane or Polartec. 17
WHACKJOB JIM A Weight Weenie walks into a bar…
…and says, “you can get that in carbon, ya know”.
have to admire a group of people who consider it normal to turn up at the start line already bladdered. Like my pet weevil. Ok, it’s a terrible gag; sue me. But visualise that scene: the That leaves XCers; the racing hairpins of mtb. Don’t get me aforementioned, lycra-clad pasta-muncher isn’t smiling, is wrong – the majority…. well, the ones who aren’t very good at it he? That’s because, like so many others more concerned at least… are a great bunch, as many enjoyable nights at enduro with the shininess of their unobtainium giblets than event campsites will confirm. enjoying themselves, they had a But talk to some of those keen humour bypass at the age of amateurs who actually expect to be on a podium at the end of it, nought. and it’s sometimes hard to believe that this is something It’s obvious to anyone who frequents mtb events that there they do voluntarily. In their spare are cliques within this off-road time. For, um….“fun”. The only riding game, and that they are as way this lot would get bugs in their teeth is if you amputated different as chalk and platypus farts. Downhillers seem to like their lips and smeared jam on wearing giant adverts with the their gums. drag coefficient of Nepal. Of course, I get the importance Freeriders are just plain unplugged, but would you do of reducing weight; even that stuff if you weren’t downhill rigs have to shave it completely batshit? 4X-ers are where possible these days, and it does make a difference more concerned about their tricked-out cars than their rides (although not enough to catch (cough-Tom-cough-DowieDanny Hart when he’s beating cough), and I am convinced that you by 11 seconds). But trials riders are actually made by sometimes form definitely Sony in some lab. Like my pet overtakes function. And it’s daft. weevil. Single-speeders, I shared a pit with a perfect meanwhile, are so dedicated to example. I was there with my being unserious about ride: 32 pounds of dark matter everything that they’ve gone full and girders with wheels on. It circle and become very serious was the only bike in the event about not being serious. But you that didn’t snap when drizzle 18
tuned the ground into a cross between superglue and Castrol GTX. I was in team Whackjob, known not so much as a team member, as “the handicap”. The weight weenie in question was doing the solo category - on a bike that cost more than Jordan’s face and yet proved, through its incredible lack of resilience, to be made of shiny cheese and fly bogeys. No element of this machine had less than 100% commitment to weight-saving. Every component was drilled, paired or was just plain missing in the quest to save the rider the bother of taking a dump or just breathing out hard before racing to save an equivalent amount of weight. The shifters were 25 grams lighter than the next model down the range. I sneeze more than that.
Best of all – and what really got me – was the lack of mudguards. This was the case with every steed belonging to an ‘elite’ rider in the event. Despite the weather and the fact that this was Devon mud – the stuff that could stick to the outside of a space shuttle better than
its heat tiles – nobody thought to do anything to keep it off their own skinny arses or their shiny, heliumsuspended machines. So when our anti-hero stopped to take on fluid, carrying enough mud to generate his own gravitational field, I offered
him a loan of my mudguards. The answer? “Don’t be daft – they just add weight!” Ah, weight weenies. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t chop them up and feed them to a cyborg weevil. As it turns out.
JIM’LL BREAK IT! For this issue I’ve picked a nice letter from the lovely Mr Arthur Spoon, a frottager from Newton Poppleford, who wrote to ask: “Dear Jim My wife seems to resent the time I spend on the trails. She says the bike gets more of my time, affection and money than she does. How can I bring her round?” Well, Art, me old cat flap – that is a familiar tale to so many worshippers at the knobbly-tyred altar. My advice is to be bold and turn this into an opportunity. Pick your moment (perhaps woo her with some Mad Dog 20-20 and a chocolate Hobnob) then casually suggest that you should both stop pushing against nature’s forces and make it a happy ménage-a-trois. She’ll probably raise objections about gear oil on the sheets, but keep at it. Don’t take “get out of my house you perv” as an answer. I did, and have always regretted it. If that fails, at least you know you gave it your best shot. And Whackjob rider Jenny Beesley can advise you on how to live in harmony with your wheels. In a van. Be brave, my son. WJJ
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THE MAN WITH BAD HAIR AND DIRTY JEANS SAYS “PASS ME THE SHOTGUN…” Hello there! It would transpire that I have recently been spread across the media like Sainsbury’s marmalade across a Bangkok lady-boy prostitute’s belly, for inadvertently ejaculating comments about striking protesters needing to be shot. Ach, tish and nibble, I have here and now come to apologise for my quite frankly ridiculous comments. Of course striking teachers and nurses and ancillary staff and pointless minimumwage helpers should not be shot. They should be GRENADED! That way, all the soft and supple and squishy bits will be spread across various *cough* railway lines for our little foxy woxies to gobble on.
we send the army in to tank-blast the scumbags then we kill two birds (or teachers) with one stone (or shell). Yes, there will be nobody to teach our children, but then all the teachers are simply in the classroom showing videos and drinking vodka from their “Evian” bottles. I remember my old science teacher, Spenser the Winkle, and the stuff he used to get up to in the science prep room. Many was the sunny afternoon I’d be bent over with hot crumpets toasting on my naked buttocks. Most enjoyable it was. I remember the day I left school, sourcing myself a Luger
career in provincial journalism. Now, fast forward to our contemporary society, and teachers (and nurses and fake-tan steroid-muscle-filled firemen!) who try to tell us they are willing to strike because of proposed government proposals to propose lower pension figures. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just tough luck. If any of you people have not had
“We should SHOOT EVERYBODY IN THE COUNTRY!” Of course, I am joking, for we all know that teachers work jolly hard and quite rightly many have a whisky habit. It’s a shame most of them are Nazi war criminals who, of course, deserve to be shot, but if during these protests 20
from an old Nazi gorgeous girlfriend and pumping a couple of 9mm shells into his bulbous hobbit belly. “Ha! That’ll show him!” I thought as I headed off down the job centre and straight into a
the downright basic common sense to get yourself a decent job which pays more than £100,000 billion pounds a year, so that your stiffy little upturned-nose offspring with names like Rupert and Jemima can go to public school in the back of daddy’s Range Rover Supercharged X12 Supercharger Nitro Calpol , then
COLUMN that’s just your own fault and you deserve to work until you’re 99 years old and reliant on a colostomy bag to get you to the lavvie, luvvie. Nurses are all fat and peroxide and useless and don’t care about the patients they’re supposed to care about; college lecturers are all raging homophobic homo sexuals with drink habits and bald heads and bald vaginas; teachers are all obese German shotputters with bad farts and whining blogs about their pointless personal lives nobody cares about; and firemen... well, have you ever seen a body-builder who can look cool in yellow wellies? Let’s be honest. Shooting them all would do the world a favour and then we can descend into anarchy like the Chinese. Or the Mexicans. With their funny little moustaches. A little bit of light-hearted comedy
racism? As Benjamin the Elton used to say, oh ho ho ho. Of course not! I am simply picking up on common stereotypes and causing a bit of *hush* controversy to further my own tepid weak tea career and bank balance. So, where do we go from here? Well obviously we need to shoot lawyers. They are all thieves and scummers. GPs need to get the chop, preferably with a machete. They are lazy malingerers on far too high salaries for what they do. Surgeons? Amputations? I’ll do it for £25 a leg. Then we have HR execs. What the hell do HR even do, anyway? And of course, my old favourites, Health and Safety Inspectors. They, obviously, should simply be shot on sight just for being employed by the Health and Safety Executive who really don’t executate anything. And... and... Dammit.
We should SHOOT EVERYBODY IN THE COUNTRY because, let us be frank and honest: nobody is as important as a fat TV car journalist with dirty jeans.
th3 m1ss1ng 21
the horror, the horror
Michael Wilson asks “What is The Horror?” I’ve been on a year-long adventure, and whilst it’s not fraught with the physical risks and perils detailed throughout UA, it has nonetheless been exhilarating, exhausting and incredibly rewarding. I wish I could tell you that I’d been backpacking around the world, fighting off all sorts of exotic creatures and mountain climbing with one hand, whilst carrying a Guy N. Smith approved rifle in the other, but alas my story is a little different… I’m a life long horror fan that wants to see the genre treated with the respect and seriousness it deserves. There are too many outside the genre who believe that at best horror is a cheap art form, not worthy of brushing shoulders with ‘higher’ forms of entertainment, and at worst a stepping stone. There is also the misconception that horror is restricted to gore, monsters and cheap sex.1 One need only look as far as Adam Nevill’s great outdoors tome The Ritual, Kaaron Warren’s terrifying Slights or Thomas Ligotti’s stunning short story collection Teatro Grotessco to rebut such a narrowminded belief. Above all else, I wanted to see horror fiction covered in-depth rather than brushed to the sidelines in magazines. It’s not fair on the authors that are busting their ass on the craft day in day out, and it’s an absolute injustice to the readers that miss out for lack of information. With a passion for horror in my heart and a pen in my hand, I wrote to the new horror magazine on the block, Scream, and offered them bimonthly fiction reviews. It quickly became apparent that the demand for horror fiction coverage exceeded magazine space, thus horror fiction website Read Horror spawned in April, followed four months later by the film branch See Horror. The support from the horror community has been incredible. Not only have I 1
met some of the most talented people in the industry, but I’ve also met some of the most generous people I have known in my life. And it’s this shared passion and generosity that pushes me forward to better the - already not inconsiderable - Read Horror and See Horror readership. The next phase in my journey is an exciting one - This Is Horror is an amalgamation of both websites providing a complete horror experience for readers. With credentials (or lack thereof) out of the way, make a note of Friday January 20 in your diaries as This Is Horror are presenting a genre fiction evening with China Mieville, Mark Morris and Joseph D’Lacey. This comes fresh off the back of the Halloween Horror Night where readers were treated to the likes of David Moody, Adam Nevill and Gary McMahon. Speaking of David, the concluding part to his Hater series Them Or Us and the latest instalment in his zombie apocalypse chronicles Autumn: Disintegration have just hit the shelves. With Wayne Simmons’ sequels to Flu and Drop Dead Gorgeous coming our way in February and March, undead fans have a lot of fresh flesh to sink their teeth into. Other upcoming releases include Simon Bestwick’s The Faceless, Christopher Fowler’s Hell Train and Sarah Pinborough’s The Chosen Seed. If ever there was a horror movie that tried to embody a sense of thrill seeking into its deaths it’s Final Destination. All manner of vehicles have sent passengers to their gruesome demise in the franchise that Glen Morgan and Jeffrey Riddick penned over a decade ago. It’s made national news recently after The Advertising Standards Authority banned a poster for Final
Destination 5 depicting a shattered skull with steel rods driven through the mouth and eye sockets. For my money, the cover is no more or less frightening than any other horror film doing the rounds. Indeed the real cause for alarm is that it’s the fifth in the series. The horror films making it into the cinema are the safe sequels that guarantee ticket sales but do little in the way of stimulating imagination or delivering originality. There are now seven Saw films, and whilst I thought the first was a worthy addition to the genre it’s ran its course and kept on running. Hellraiser, now in its ninth instalment has fallen so far from grace that Clive Barker announced via Twitter, “I have nothing to do with the f***ing thing. If they claim it’s from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.” Still it’s not all bad news, The Woman in Black, based on Susan Hill’s novel, is due to hit cinemas in February and I live in hope that John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead – in development since 2005 – will turn up eventually. In the meantime, get out the VHS and revisit some of the classics, let’s face it they urinate all over the remakes. Michael Wilson is the Editor and Owner of horror website This Is Horror.
Horror can do all of the above incredibly well. See Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door for gore, Wayne Simmons Flu for monsters and Gary McMahon’s The Concrete Grove for one of the most traumatising and impacting sex scenes. Note: less is more.
FIT A BIKE COMPUTER HOW TO FIT A CATEYE STRADA WIRELESS BIKE COMPUTER… £36.86 + £1.95 POSTAGE PARKERS OF BOLTON 1) And here we have the packaging for the rather neat little bike computer. Aeons ago I had a “wired” bike computer, but for a few years haven’t really bothered. Now, however, hitting my *cough* 21st birthday, I thought I’d better get a bit fitter. And to do that, I need to know a) how fast I’m going, and b) more importantly,how far I’ve cycled. Always a tough thing, especially riding off-road. 2) First step is obviously to unwrap all the little doobries and arrange them where you can see them. Make sure you’ve got all the bits because, as with that wonderful junk from Ikea, there’s nothing worse than getting to the end and having a screw missing.
3) The Cateye is great in that it fits on a rubber suspension bar (to cushion from vibration and look after your bike paintwork) which is fastened in place by two zip-ties. Easy peasy. Then a small magnet screws to the spoke. It states in the instructions that the gap should be 5mm, and I thought “Nah, that must be a misprint, it’ll be 5cm.” It wasn’t. It’s 5mm. And that’s a damn close gap tolerance which takes a bit of tweaking to get right.
4) This was tricky in that you need to make sure the computer backing-block goes into the handlebar strap the right way. If you don’t get it right, the computer will be upside down and a proper faff to turn around. Once the block is in the strap, a sticky rubber backing goes on to grip the bars and provide a vibration buffer.
5) Cateye provide a very large zip-tie-like handlebar bracket. Again, fiddly with big stumpy fingers like mine - until I realised you put a circular plastic screw in place, which then draws the “zip-tie” through its gap, like twisting on a bolt. Tighten it up, and lo! it sits snugly in place and does its job superbly.
Here, my model for the day Miss Kona 2011 can be seen modelling said Cateye jewellery. The dirty hussy.
6) Finally, spin the wheel and yes! Wow! There’s no readout. Looking back at picture 3, you’ll see I had the “pick-up” sensor on the back of the fork - as per the instructions. However, on my fat suspension forks this makes it impossible to get the tiny 5mm clearance needed for the magnet to trigger the sensor. So, I had to turn it inwards (as seen here). Fitting took 20 minutes. Instructions were OK, with a 70% garbage garble rating. 24
Third comes Jordan Reyne, classy rock-chick from New Zealand whose new album Children of a Factory Nation was released just a few weeks ago, and is nothing This issue we have four interviews less than fabulous! for your delectation, devouring and cogitation. And fourth is genius artist Vincent Chong, whose weird and First up is fabulous horror author wonderful artwork can be seen and journalist Guy N. Smith, whom gracing many a published novel, you may know as the best selling and who picked up yet more author of Night of the Crabs and awards at the recent British the Sabat novels. He is also Gun Fantasy Society Awards. Editor for The Countryman’s Weekly. That should be enough to get your jaws into [sorry….] Second is ultra -arathon runner Dr Andrew Murray, who ran from Scotland to the Sahara! CHEWING THE CHAT WITH SOME INTERESTING PEOPLES…….
Claudio von Planta talks to UAM about his incredible work as a film maker… filming the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the modern day Samurai, and tracking down Osama Bin Laden… Hello Claudio Von Planta! A lot of our readers may well know you from your exploits in Long Way Round and Long Way Down. However, here at UAM we're interested in you, in your adventures, in your history. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a cameraman/filmmaker? CVP: As I grew up in a small country like Switzerland, I always wanted to travel and discover as many corners around the world as possible. I was also interested in politics and felt that journalism would open opportunities to go abroad. However, I was slightly dyslexic and writing was never my passion. Telling stories with images and even better with film and audio felt much more exiting. Primarily I was always interested to give voices to people who are exposed to extreme situations, who can teach us important lessons about the essence of life. These ideas were rather abstract at the beginning of my career. First I started studying political science and during my first 26
holidays I wanted to do something more tangible than just reading a book. I wanted to try my luck and produce a TV news report. I didn't have any formal training with film making, but I already cut a few silly Super 8 films whilst I was at school and felt confident to learn more on the job. To find the right topic was the key. In 1985 most media organisations (at least in Switzerland) focused primarily on conflicts in Latin America (Nicaragua, El Salvador etc.). I decided to look for a conflict where I’d have less competition. Afghanistan was the perfect place. The Soviets invaded the country in 1979, and after 6 years of war over a million refugees ended up in Pakistan and another million in Iran. Despite this massive catastrophe Western TV stations didn't make much effort to report about Afghanistan. First I thought they blanked it out because of political reasons. But once I hooked up with Mujahedins in Pakistan and started
to march into Afghanistan I quickly realised that TV stations could never send their own staff into Afghanistan because it was simply too tough and time consuming. You couldn't fly with helicopters to the front lines like in Vietnam. First, you had to walk for several weeks across mountains before you came near any action and fights with the Russians. Only freelancers took that risk. Fortunately I had some very good military training from the Swiss Army where I spent 2.5 years and ended up as an officer with the Mountain Grenadiers. At the time I felt we were just playing around like boy scouts because nobody in Switzerland had any real war experience. However, once I saw the fighting of the Afghans I quickly realised that my skills were very useful. I survived 3 months and returned to Paris with a rucksack full of Super 8 rushes, maybe 4 hours in total. Antenne 2 agreed to cut a 7 minute news report and assigned one of their best editors to work with
“In his view a man can only feel alive if he has an enemy to fight” me. His name was Pedro, he was Vietnamese and he learned the trade during the Vietnam war. I felt the choice of Pedro must reflect the quality of my story but Pedro didn't even say hello. He only addressed me after he saw my footage. His message was simple: “If you are stupid enough to risk your life for such a pile of rubbish, I think it's about time you learned how to use a camera and make proper films!” Pedro taught me the most important lesson to succeed as a freelance documentary filmmaker: you should always be the toughest critic of your own work, only ever compare yourself with the best in the business and try to be better than them. As a result of Pedro's mantra I still feel I'm a beginner after 26 years. Pedro became my mentor and Antenne 2 offered me a next Afghanistan 27
assignment. I never went back to university. I might look at it again when I'm retired and when I have something to talk about! UAM: Can you tell our readers an anecdote from your time filmmaking in Afghanistan/Kuwait/Iraq? CVP: That's difficult, there is so much. Where could I start? In 1985 I met a Japanese Karate teacher in a Mujahedin training camp in the mountains of Afghanistan. That was rather unusual. Koshiro Tanaka was not only training the Afghans, he also joined their battles against the Soviets. Communication wasn't easy but with a little bit of English I found out the essence of Tanaka's motivation. Apparently his family came originally from the island of Sachalin, which was annexed by the
Russians after the end of WW2. For obvious reasons Tanaka didn't like the Russians. As a Buddhist he also believed that everybody needed to find a mission in life to seek perfection. He chose Karate and in his view perfection in Karate was not only self-defence, but the kill. In Japan he couldn't follow his ambition, but in Afghanistan he was free to fight his enemies, the Russians, and live a life of a modern day Samurai helping his Afghan friends in their freedom fight. Surprisingly Tanaka survived and 24 years after our first encounter I met him again in 2009 in Tokyo. He is now over 70 years old and is a highly respected Karate Grandmaster. He is very nostalgic about our time in Afghanistan and misses his battles against the
Russians. In his view a man can only feel alive if he has an enemy to fight. Since the Russians left Afghanistan in 1989 Tanaka is in search of a new enemy. He feels most likely he will find it within the Japanese society itself because modern lifestyle has made them so decadent. On that note he picked up a microphone and started to sing a Karaoke love song... the moral of the story: the value systems in other cultures can be very different from our own, and it's therefore never easy to find common ground on a global scale... but I still feel close to Tanaka, somehow I understand his logic and appreciate his honesty. UAM: Looking at your filmography, there is a massively diverse range of films you have been involved in â€“ from popular BBC TV shows such as By Any Means and Long Way Round, to more serious documentaries such as Rape Trade, Surviving Sudan, Living with Aids and UNICEF Stop Aids Campaign? What gives you the most satisfaction as a film maker? CVP: Since the beginning of my career I'm most satisfied if I succeed to give voices to weak, oppressed and exploited people. My latest film SPELL OF THE ALBINO is a good example. I feel it is crucial to promote compassion and a sense of justice on every possible front because mankind can only progress if we eliminate greed, inequality and hypocrisy. UAM: You seem to choose many projects which 28
It's better than drugs! Itâ€™s better than sex! If you haven't been sick, you soon will be...
Welcome to Theme Planet, an entire alien world dedicated to insane rides, excessive hedonism and dangerous adventure. Operated by the Monolith Corporation, Theme Planet is the No. 1 destination for fun-seeking human holidaymakers Galaxy-Wide! Amba Miskalov is an Anarchy Android, an assassin/torture model fitted with a Quantell Systems v4.7 KillChip. She is beautiful, merciless and deadly, and blends perfectly with her human superiors. Sent to Theme Planet on a dangerous assassination mission, Amba stumbles upon a plot to undermine and destroy Earth's all-powerful Oblivion Government and its Ministers of Joy. But Amba is twisted, damaged and decadentâ€Ś and this rebellion poses Amba a problem: to remain loyal to her creators and tormentors, to support the enemy, or annihilate them all.
OUT NOW! Published by Solaris Books www.solarisbooks.com
have a strong ethical basis. Would you say you are trying to change the world for the better with your filmmaking? CVP: I hope my films raise awareness about important issues and stimulate new levels of consciousness. We are clearly moving forward but it's a slow process. The British abolished slavery 200 years ago. Since roughly 100 years Western societies abandoned child labour. In 1971 even the Swiss allowed women the right to vote etc. In future we will hopefully be more human with refugees, be more responsible with our environment and our natural resources. Modern communication technology is speeding up such thought processes and I hope to contribute to that effort.
reality more extreme and fascinating than any Hollywood inventions. Since the beginning in 1985 I worked as a one-man show: producing, directing, filming, editing - however, when I ended up in the UK in 1990 after filming/directing REBELS OF THE FORGOTTEN WORLD, the most ambitious and complicated documentary in my entire career, I realised that at that time nobody in the British TV industry liked the concept of a multi-skilled jack of all trades.
As a freelancer I could only find a job when I started to say that I'm simply a cameraman, a guy who presses a button but needs somebody else to think. In a certain way it wasn't a bad move because it gave me the opportunity to work with very impressive directors and reporters, particularly in the field of investigative UAM: You biography also states you are a director; what journalism. One of them was Gwynne Roberts who hired kind of films are you interested in directing? Would you me in 1996 to film THE SAUDI TAPES and track down Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan. I also got involved with direct a feature film, for example? adventure entertainment like LONG WAY ROUND, a CVP: I'm not at all interested in feature films. I find totally new genre. On my own I wouldn't have gone into that direction but it was a very useful experience. Interestingly, my ability to work as a one-man operator was essential for LWR and LWD because who ever rode the third bike needed to be totally self-contained and able to shoot and direct on his own. It was the perfect job to use all my expertise.
â€œI hope my films raise awareness about important issues and stimulate new levels of consciousnessâ€? UAM: Are you still motorbiking? If so, what kind of machine do you currently ride? What adventures do you get up to on the bike? CVP: From July to November 2010 I had the opportunity to ride the 26,000 km long Pan-American Highway on the back of various motorbikes.
At home in London I'm back on my scooter - definitely the best means of transport in congested roads! UAM: And finally, what filmmaking activities are you currently involved with?
Their story offers a great opportunity to find out how far reconciliation between Hutus and Tutsis evolved and how sport can re-unite a nation and inspire hope for development and a better future. Thank you Claudio! You can read more about Claudio at www.vonplanta.net and watch
CVP: After the horrors of SPELL OF THE ALBINO I'm keen to finish RWANDA-17, an African 'Good Spell of the Albino HERE. News' story about the development It was better than driving myself of Rwanda since the 1994 because I had to film RACING GREEN, a 3 hour BBC World News genocide. Together with award TV series about 8 Imperial College winning Sierra Leonean reporter students from London who built the Sorious Samura I followed a junior first electric car in history that football team on their way to succeeded to drive from Alaska to compete at the 2011 Under-17 Argentina. I was very impressed by World Cup in Mexico. They are the this pioneering clean-tech first Rwandans who reached the adventure. I very much hope we level of world-class football and will soon switch from petrol based they represent a new generation of transport to electric vehicles. youngsters born after the genocide.
A Master of Horror Speaks…
Guy N. Smith During my formative reading years, I demolished as many horror novels as I could get my sweaty hands on! One of my enduring favourites were the gruesome horror works of one Mr Guy N. Smith. Here, it is with very great pleasure I can present this interview for your… horror. BE AFRAID…. INTERVIEW BY ANDY REMIC GS: My mother was an historical novelist (E.M. Weale) in the 1930s. She encouraged me to write at a very early age. I used to write and illustrate a weekly comic Many of our readers will know you for her and also a monthly one. as the author of a multitude of This led to me writing short stories fabulous horror novels such as for a local newspaper from the age Night of the Crabs, Night of the of 12-17. In all they published 56 Werewolf, the Sabat series, Bats of my submissions, several Out of Hell, Fiend and Maneater, serialized. They included to name but a few. Could you tell detective, westerns, SF, pirates us a little bit about how you started and war stories etc. writing? UAM: Hello Guy! Thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed by Ultimate Adventure Magazine!
INTERVIEW UAM: I, personally, am a massive fan of both the Night of the Crabs series and the Sabat series which were an integral part of my formative horror-reading years. Can you give a bit of insight into what inspired these works? GS: Night of the Crabs was simply an idea I had. It never ceases to amaze me that it led to 5 sequels and many shorts. I was keen to write detective novels but NEL insisted I kept to horror. So I decided that an occult detective was the answer. UAM: You are also the Gun Editor of The Countryman’s Weekly, the national countrysports newspaper. What is your role with that publication? GS: I am now in my 13th year as Gun Editor of The Countryman’s Weekly. I have written for fieldsports magazines since 1960 so when I was offered the job it was a natural progression. My 4 weekly articles are ‘The Gun Report’ (review of new guns or featuring vintage ones), ‘Cartridges’ (testing shotgun cartridges or featuring vintage collectibles), ‘Deer Stalking’ (anything concerning the sport and sometimes featuring wild boar and Big Game), ‘The Gun Market’ (a weekly look at gun auction results). I also answer readers’ questions on the afore-mentioned subjects. 33
INTERVIEW on their own terms, pit my wits against UAM: Iâ€™ve read that you are an avid hunter, and a big fan of guns and shooting. their cunning. Since wild boar have reestablished themselves in the UK much of What is that attracts you to this sport? the hunting is done at night by lamping GS: I have shot since I was 7 years of age. (spotlighting). I do not agree with this method as I consider it an unfair My role is that of a hunter/gatherer rather than driven sport. I enjoy the challenge, a advantage. Lamping has now got out of hand, become commercialised. It has respect for all my quarry species and altered the entire scene and the animals managing my land so that the overall have become shy as a result and much conservation benefits more difficult to hunt in the traditional manner. UAM: Youâ€™ve written articles about big game hunting. Have you ever done this UAM: You strike me as being particularly yourself? (and if so, what was it like?) annoyed about the recent blanket smoking GS: My big game hunting is concentrated ban. Is this good for national health, do you think, or simply an annoying pain in on wild boar. They can be dangerous the arse? quarry. I like to hunt on foot pursue then
GS: The problem is that the NHS does not understand that pipe smoking is a hobby whilst cigarettes are a habit. They cannot, or do not wish to, segregate the two. In any case there was no need for a draconian blanket ban in public buildings. A properly segregated area would suffice. I read that in Europe the ban is being, or about to be, repealed in some countries. Let’s hope that Britain follows suit and our government demonstrates a little common sense. The result of the ban has led to the closure of many pubs and job losses. UAM: Finally, have you any exciting plans for the future you’d like to share with our readers? GS: I see that the filming of my Night of the Crabs has been announced along with a 2012 release date. I am looking forward to it. You can visit Guy’s website at:
www.guynsmith.com where many of his back catalogue of novels can be bought in ebook format. And Guy has also written a new story, Zombie Gunfighter, due for release in the Anarchy Books anthology Vivisepulture due out 24th December 2012.
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th3 m1ss1ng 36
PHOTO ©R. ELSE
On 8th November 2010, Dr Andrew Murray set off from John O’Groats in Scotland. His mission? To run to the Sahara Desert 2650 miles away.
Andrew kindly agreed to be interviewed for Ultimate Adventure Magazine. After all, if this isn’t an adventure… What is? INTERVIEW BY ANDY REMIC
Running through the English Winter.
PHOTOS ÂŠR. ELSE
UAM: Hello Dr Andrew Murray, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview! First, for people out there who donâ€™t know who you are, would you care to explain a little bit about your adventures?
describes the runs I've done is some of the most hostile, but beautiful places imaginable, and also talks about my work as a sports and expedition doctor, looking after some of the world's leading athletes.
AM: Thanks. I'm a doctor, and an ultra marathon runner. I've been fortunate to race in places from the high Himalaya, the North Pole, Outer Mongolia, and the Jungle. This year I ran from John O'Groats in north Scotland to the Sahara Desert. I run for the views, and the excitement, and to promote causes I am passionate about. Currently I'm looking to promote the health benefits of staying fit. It's fantastic both for physical and mental health, and while I'm not keen to make everyone run, letting them know the importance of staying active, helping to prevent Heart attacks, Stokes, some kinds of cancer, Diabetes, Depression and many other things is really motivating. I love supporting the Yamaa Trust, who I volunteer with in Mongolia. My book "Running Beyond Limits"
UAM: Obviously, you are famed for your ultra marathon running. To date, which run has been your biggest challenge, and why? AM: Scotland2Sahara, the 78 day run to the Sahara in winter was tough as it was unremitting. I had to run over a marathon every day, even when I was carrying injuries or the weather was disgusting. However the hardest day racing has had was in North Canada at the 6633ultra. The temperatures were -40 Celsius, or -70 with wind chill, and I broke a bone in my leg. I had 30 miles left, dragging a sledge and even the raw beauty of the northern lights couldnâ€™t fully compensate for the pain. It was agony, but stopping was not an option as it was far too cold to stop moving.
Snow-shoe running at the North Pole.
UAM: What inspired you to choose the Yamaa Trust in order to raise money? AM: The Yamaa Trust are making a huge difference day in and day out in Mongolia. I raced the Gobi Challenge out there, one of the best races I’ve done, and certainly one with plenty cultural interaction. We stayed with locals each night, and their warmth and kindness made me determined to do something to support their health care system. The Yamaa Trust make this happen, and are changing lives in the Gobi region. UAM: What started you running? Was it a childhood thing? Something inspired by your parents? Or is it true that you simply wanted to see the world? AM: Running is my way of travelling and seeing a bit of the world. I've always played sports, but when backpacking, there is less chance to play for a team or similar. There are amazing races put on in fantastic areas nowadays, I’d encourage people to check them out. I actually grew up in Kenya, so should probably be a quicker runner than I am!!
PHOTO ©NORTH POLE MARATHON LTD
UAM: If I’d told my wife I was going to run 2650 miles for 85 days, 3 months before our wedding, she would have hit me with a large stick. First, why didn’t your wife hit you with a large stick? And second, in what way is she supportive of your adventures? PHOTO ©R. ELSE 41
The YAMAA TRUST. WWW.YAMAATRUST.COM.
PHOTO ©THE YAMAA TRUST
AM: Jennie is fantastic. She's gorgeous, funny, and most of all patient. She is a runner and climber herself, and I did promise that even if I hadn’t finished, then I'd be back for the wedding. The Metro newspaper actually ran a 2 page spread "Scotsman runs 2660 miles to escape wedding planning" which amused her. UAM: What’s next for Andrew Murray? AM: I'm working to promote physical activity and exercise. I think that this is a fundamental challenge of our age, as the health problems associated with not doing regular exercise are enormous. I'll also do the Highland Fling and the West Highland Way race in Scotland this year, and will make another documentary about a run I'm doing which involves running 100km on each continent consecutively. The locations are stunning. 42
PHOTO ©R. ELSE
Running in Morocco with Donnie Campbell.
UAM: Your book has genuinely inspired me to take up long(er) distance runs. Any tips? AM: I'm genuinely thrilled to hear that. Running wise, I think knowing that after a few weeks things will get easier always helps. Run routes that you enjoy, and perhaps incorporate into everyday life, for example is it possible to run to work? UAM: Thank you! Andrewâ€™s book Running Beyond Limits can be purchased from all good book shops, ISBN: 978-0-956299572-9, and online from various retailers. To read more about this incredible adventure, check out www.scotland2sahara.com . "The Ultimate Marathon Man," DVD, a copy of the 1 hr BBC documentary following Andrew's run, along with extra features is ALSO available from Mountain Media.
PHOTOS EXCEPT COVER ÂŠR. ELSE
JORDAN REYNE Children of a Mud Nation?
“There were pukekos and wild birds who would run across the roof at night and dive-bomb into the river that ran around the border of the site to escape the shady drug deals and subterfuge going on, on the opposite side of the campsite…” THIS YEAR’S GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL WAS THE USUAL COCKTAIL OF GREAT BANDS, CHEERING CROWDS AND… MUD. YES. THE MUD WAS BACK (did it ever go away?)… One performer who chose to “rough it” in a tent was New Zealand folk/rock singer/ songwriter Jordan Reyne, an artist whose previous five albums have evoked imagery from haunting melodies and celtic-inspired vocals to music inspired by travel, trains, and the sounds of heavy industry. Our intrepid reporter MONGREL JONES caught up with Jordan just after the event to ask some probing questions and, in his words, “investigate the rock chick”……………. UAM: Hello Jordan. Thanks for agreeing to do the interview! First, for those people out there who haven’t heard your music, do you want to tell us a little bit more about yourself and your vibe? JR: Sure. My vibe is probably typical of all the clichés about redheads– bloodthirsty, Celtic, and full of fire. I love old folk tales too, and am a little fixated on the tales of everyday people in the industrial revolution, as well as the sounds of the time: factory drones, and the 44
more rhythmic sounds of steam and iron, so my music ends up being a mix of folkloric lyrics, Celtic melody, and the harder edge sounds of machinery that I use as rhythms and drones in my music.
famous festivals? UAM: And am I correct in thinking your latest album, Children of a Factory Nation, came out in October? On JR: fascinating. I had never been to anything like it what concept is this album based? before. Having grown up on Nzs west coast, which is famous for its mud, I was lulled into a bit of a false JR: it starts around 1880, and follows the lives and travels of a particular family– starting in a fishing town sense of security before I arrived - “I have seen mud! Hit me with your worst mud!” I thought. Stupidly. Bein Wales, with a man who chooses adventure and cause Glastonbury mud is actually some sort of local death over the everyday life and societal expectation. elemental force to be reckoned with, and capable of It heads to the factories and workhouses of London in creating its own brand of apocalypse: earth, fire, waaround the 1900s after that, with characters whose ter, wind, are nothing compared to Glastonbury mud. responsibilities and situations have forced them into Regarding the camping, I was lucky that when I ardrudgery – there are lots of machine sounds in that rived, as there was a pause in the rain to get my tent drudgery so I get the chance to go for some very industrial, industrial-folk. I won't spoil the ending by say- up in. The people next to me weren't so lucky, and had ing where things go from there, but I will let you guess to pitch their shelter in the pouring rain. They seemed whether or not anyone gets out alive…
“I have seen mud! Hit me with your worst mud!” Seriously though, it's essentially about the quietly brave struggles of everyday people - how they cope with societal expectations, hardship, and the tyranny of circumstance. There are some deliberate parallels to contemporary life – as a lot of us find ourselves in desperate situations and have to do the best we can. UAM: I believe you played Glastonbury this year. What was it like camping at one of the world’s most
to be slightly more ill informed as I was too, about the local conditions and protocols - they had not brought any food or water with them (possibly they thought the food on site was affordable, which is just silly, or else they thought it was possible to hunt and kill your own food at Glasto, which is more understandable). I have never seen people look so happy about cans of baked beans.
Oh and the TOILETS! Someone should write a horror film set in those. The seats of the loos I was camped near were made of wood, so if you actually sat on them, they oozed all over the back of your legs. Not thinking about WHAT they oozed was the only way to get
household waste. Despite the loos, and the filth, that my memory will doubtless edit out for me over time, it was brilliant.
The place I grew up in was also very wild and beautiful, yet treacherous - the middle of nowhere on New Zealand’s west coast. My father was a deer stalker, and like with a lot of things, wanted me to follow in his footsteps (daddum, che). We went camping a lot when I was young as part of his passion for killing things, though I tended to get very loud and crashy if any deer turned up. It's part of our culture though, in New Zealand – being outdoors – because the flora is just too stunning to not spend time in. You learn too how quickly nature can kill you if you don't keep an eye and aren’t prepared. There is a bit of foolhardiness and “she'll be right” around, but I think on the whole, it's one of the two things most Kiwi's do really well: camping, and emigrating.
UAM: How did the show go? What was it like playing at such a prestigUAM: Is this the first time you’ve ious festival? Was it everything you camped in a tent, or are you a hardexpected? ened professional?
“The place I grew up in was also very wild and beautiful, yet treacherous” through that particular aspect of the camping experience (all those guys who did not lift the toilet seat, and missed the hole, thanks for that). If you tried to sort of hover above the seat itself, which really was the only option, everyone could see your head above the cubicle, and your arm straining on the door with the effort to hold up your weight. It was kind of like a recurring nightmare I had as a kid where everyone could see you on the toilet – only it was a shared, communal kind of shame, mitigated only by alcohol. The best remedy to the camping conditions though was to go out and see things. Glastonbury itself, as a whole, was mind-blowing. The construction art was the highlight for me. Everything from post-apocalyptic villages to organic art, and anti capitalist protest art made of 46
JR: claiming hardened professional here, despite discovering the prior holes in my knowledge about how to live in harmony with mud. We are a pretty outdoorsy culture though, in New Zealand.
JR: It being such a big festival, I had a special outfit packed, which took ages to put on and involved a lot of finery packed in plastic bags to avoid the mud. Little did I know
that the backstage area was also a field by any other name. By the time I got on stage, my gothic folk finery looked a few steps closer to trampled milkmaid – though I may have managed to pull of “swamp witch” for a few of the more evil songs. The tech side was tricky though, with all the mud, and the kind of power source. Apparently the power on the stage I was on was a square wave rather than a curved sine wave (someone please tell me if this is true. One of the sound techs told me this after the show, so I am hoping I am not telling folk tales without INTENDING to here!). Anyway, it meant that one of my loop pedals died suddenly, in the middle of the show, and I had to finish with a couple of acoustic numbers. I have a few straight acoustic tunes, but I much prefer the mix with machines! UAM: Has your experience at Glastonbury enlightened you to the world of camping, or put you off with a vengeance? JR: It made me glad to know the things I do know about finding a good site, how to pitch it so it stays dry, and so on. I still love camping in certain circumstances – those circumstances though usually involve being alone or with just one other person, and in a setting that is quiet and far away from everything. I think that attending a 5 day festival is about the bottom of the list for “settings where tenting is enjoyable”. If given the choice, I'd go for a camper van, a bus, a barn, or befriending someone with any of the above. UAM: A lot of rock stars, movie stars and adventurers use caravans and motorhomes as a base camp whilst on tour, or making a movie, or climbing a mountain. Have you ever done anything like this? Have you any stories to share? JR: I lived in a trailer for 3 years once. It was in the middle of Auckland, New Zealand and was this really green and tranquil location in the midst of a city. There were pukekos and wild birds who would
run across the roof at night and dive-bomb into the river that ran around the border of the site to escape the shady drug deals and subterfuge going on, on the opposite side of the campsite. It was one of those tours where all the gigs are in your home town and the pay is dire. UAM: What makes your music unique over every other artist? JR: Hard to answer because I think that every musician sees what they do as unique – every creative person has access to that inner world
in themselves that only they know, and we don't get as much access to that in others. In that sense it makes all of us unique in our sense of ourselves. Philosophy aside though, I hope that my music is unique in the way it combines stories with the sounds from their settings –the environment as musical instrument – or at least, as a vital part of how a tale is experienced. Authors can do this by choosing what they wish to describe – they bring objects and settings to light behind a character by selecting them to describe. They may use any word they chose to do it.
Visual artists may use any colour to paint backgrounds behind the subject of interest. There is no reason why, in music, the only sounds we should use are those created by musical instruments – people have known that for a long time. I hope to expand on that by bringing in the sounds of a characters world to help get a sense of who they are / were. UAM: Preferred storm shelter – tent, caravan or motorhome –and why? JR: Depends on the circumstance ;) I've often thought that, in an apocalypse, I would want a tent, cos it is portable and you can run with it (yes, I often think about apocalypses. Too many of my friends write sci fi ;). In your average everyday storm, if I lived in the place with the storm, a caravan, cos you can go off for a drive. On holiday, I would go for a motorhome, cos you can either weather it out (no pun intended) or chose to move on. GCM: Thanks for the interview, and I hope you play Glastonbury next year!! Good luck with the new album Children of a Factory Nation.
“I often think about Apocalypses”
GENIUS OR MADMAN?
THE ARTWORK OF VINCENT CHONG
VINCENT CHONG is an artist of whom you may have never heard. However, in my world he is the elite of the elite… Please…
Allow me to educate you…
WORDS: REMIC, CHONG. ART: CHONG.
I’M A FIRESTARTER. TWISTED FIRE STARTER… I AM A NOVELIST. I write books for a living. And in my world of twisted science fiction, freaky fantasy, horrific horror and thrilling thrillers, one name is whispered over glasses of whiskey and crushed ice, with nervous twitches behind as the darkness grows in, the fog envelops, the shadows lengthen and the clock strikes thirteen. And – well hell, all Hell breaks loose. Look around these pages. These are the twisted, horrific, deviated images of one MR VINCENT CHONG, artist extraordinaire and the person responsible for many a thrashing, tangle-in-your-sweat-filled-sheets nightmare. Dazzling multiple award winner, utterly respected, completely in demand, VINCENT has finally agreed to take time from his hectic schedule of commissions and award ceremonies to speak to UltimateAdventure Magazine about his art, his creativity, and his plans for the future....
AR: Your artwork is absolutely stunning. How did you originally begin on this career path?
AR: What's your all-time personal favourite piece from your collection?
VC: Hmm... tough question, as this tends to change all the time. Right now, off the top of my
“I always loved seeing cool book and album covers and realized that that’s the type of work I wanted to be doing” VC: I was interested in art from a young age and pursued it throughout my education. So although I guess I always wanted to have a career in some sort of creative industry it probably wasn’t until I did my degree in Graphic Design (where I specialised in illustration) that I knew that what I wanted to do was become an illustrator. I always loved seeing cool book and album covers and realized that that’s the type of work I wanted to be doing. AR: What do you prefer, digital composition or more traditional methods - and why? VC: My final artwork is put together digitally using Photoshop but I incorporate a lot of other techniques into my work such as photography and traditional painting and drawing, so it’s this sort of mixed-media approach I prefer. I don’t ever create an image from scratch digitally – even though I use a Wacom pen tablet I still don’t find drawing with it directly onto the screen as intuitive as starting on pen and paper and then importing it into the computer to tidy up digitally. For me, working digitally to create the final piece gives me more scope to experiment and speeds up the process more than if I were to do something completely using traditional methods. 54
head, three of my favourite images are The Devil’s Tune, Even the Dead Die, and Saint Darwin’s Spirituals, but if you ask me on another day I’ll probably give you a different answer. AR: Can we buy your artwork, either in book form or original pieces? VC: You can buy prints of my work directly from me and can find info on pricing and ordering prints at either my website (www.vincentchong-art.co.uk) or my blog– (vincentchongart.wordpress. com). I’ve also got an art book out called, Altered Visions: The Art of Vincent Chong which is available through Telos Publishing. Besides this, I’m also available for commissions and doing original remarques. Again, please check my blog for further details. AR: Finally, what do you have planned for the future? What's in the pipeline? VC: Right now I’m snowed under with more book cover and interior art commissions so I’ll just be continuing with that in the near future. Over the years I’ve had various other creatives approach me with ideas for collaborative projects, some of which I’ve made a start on (though I can’t give any details here...) but haven’t had the time to develop them much, so hopefully at some point I’ll be able to carve out a bit more time to dedicate to these collaborative projects. Also, I’d love to develop my own personal projects – maybe do my own illustrated story. It’s something I’ve thought about for years but never had the time to seriously get any where with it. But who knows… maybe next year will be the year. 56
â€œThree of my favourite images are , , and
Thank you Vincent! I have purposefully kept this interview short. Mr Chong is a busy man, and indeed, Oh Lord, his work speaks for itself. And if you don’t think his art is an adventure of the senses, you need locking in a cage. With a lion. And a cobra. You can see more of Vincent’s artwork on his website, www.vincentchongart.co.uk and his new book, ALTERED VISIONS: THE ART OF VINCENT CHONG is available from Telos Publishing Ltd.
NEXT ISSUE WIN…
3 x copies of Corel Software’s fabulous VIDEOSTUDIO PRO X4 ULTIMATE video editing software! ISSUE 2 AVAILABLE 1st MARCH 2012 AS A FREE DOWNLOAD www.uamag.co.uk Follow UAM!!
FEATURES ULTIMATE ADVENTURES JUST FOR YOU… This issue we have a range of features, including one man’s mission to travel across Australia on a little postie’s moped… the mad man! (Sad Max, in fact)… then there’s cycling in the Akamas Mountains in Cyprus, the making of a blood ’n guns horror short, author Dan Henk’s research trip to Mayan ruins in Mexico, and camping in the Scottish Highlands over Hogmanay, including the picturesque conquering of Beinn Tulaichean. This diverse range of features were great fun to read and put together, and we offer them to you. Enjoy! -MJ
WORDS AND PICTURES BY ANDY REMIC EXTRA PICS BY JASON CROWLEY
SCOTLAND HOGMANAY or
Two Men and a Dog- Part 1 65
WE SHOULD GO TO SCOTLAND! WE SHOULD CLIMB MOUNTAINS… AND EAT MASSES OF FAT FOOD! WE SHOULD CAMP IN THE SNOW! We like to keep our New Year’s Eve celebrations varied and fun, and alternate between hosting a party, going to a party, staying in a posh hotel (can recommend the Caledonian Hilton on Princes Street in Edinburgh, big thumbs up!) and now... “We could take the caravan,” says the wife, Sonia. “What? Why?” “Well, we’re a bit skint, and instead of just staying for New Year we could stay a bit longer. A week. We could have a full week break over Hogmanay.” “Whereabouts?” It’s rare I find the enthusiasm to stay anywhere for a week. Especially in the depths of winter. Bah humbug. Etc. “Scotland,” she said. Dangling the bait. “We could stay around Loch Lomond. You love it there.” The set-up. “You could go climbing,” she said. The clincher. I pondered this concept, thinking of all the mountain climbing, mountain biking and novel writing I could get done in a week. Brain ticking over,
and knowing I had to be crafty here to get the right location and not actually have to do any of the groundwork in terms of finding somewhere and booking it all, I ventured, “It’ll be cold.” I, too, could play chess. “The van has good heating, and Scotland can’t be colder than here.” Living in North Manchester, the rain capital of England (or so it sometimes feels, being nestled just at the foot of the Pennines which likes nothing more than to dump copious amounts of the wet stuff on our heads and umbrellas and GoreTex), my missus was indeed Right. How much worse could the weather possibly be? “What happens if it snows?” I pondered. “We’ll be shafted. You can’t tow a caravan in the snow. Not even in my Lanny.” “We’ll just have to chance it.” “And it’ll be expensive, I’d wager. I bet you it’s just as expensive as staying in a hotel for Hogmanay, and then it’s like, what’s the point of dragging the caravan all that way? Hmm? I ask ye?” “Let me check it out.”
And she did. She searched on that there interweb for a few hours, and made a few phone calls. The good wife Sonia discovered a hotel called The Ardlui, a hotel on the shores of Loch Lomond which markets itself as “A Window on the Loch”. The hotel has an adjacent caravan park containing “statics” which can be hired, and also a small plot for touring caravans. The good missus duly booked us five nights – over Hogmanay – for less than the cost of a single night in a hotel. This was, obviously, a bargain. Provided we could get the caravan there. Provided it didn’t snow… “Pray for rain” isn’t my usual mantra, I just let the Weather Gods get on with it, but as the turkey and stuffing stuffed my turkey belly fuller than full over the festive period, and I wobbled grotesquely into the Twixmas period, this became my mantra. Because in Scotland, rain soon becomes snow. And with snow, we have no go. The second bargain of the century was the Hogmanay evening meal at
I would walk 500 miles…
A room with a view! the Ardlui, and indeed, the Hogmanay #2 evening meal as well (Scotland, for reasons I find both logical and wonderful, celebrate Hogmanay twice/ we should do this with more things! 2 birthdays. 2 Christmas days. 2, er, weddings). The etymology of the word is, apparently, obscure, and may well link back to Ancient Norse. As I was about to discover, I was going to meet a few Vikings. And so, with accommodation and meal booked, and a meeting up with friends on the 30th of December duly
entrapment of work and mortgage payments and banality; heading for the hills, baby. Heading for the hills. It was cold. Indeed, it was icy. There was no rain, but plenty of the black slick slippery stuff. The roads were quiet on 27th December. Nuclear Holocaust quiet. The Road quiet. Half Life 2 quiet (only without occasional zombies popping up for an intimate integration with double-barrel shotgun shell chicanery). And with fingers, toes and pigtails all crossed, we rumbled north, the Good Ship
the dangers in Danger Town (“oooh it’ll be alright, and if it isn’t alright I’m sure you’ll sort something out” – such happy slappy optimism, such trust in fellow husband’s ability to sort out any old problem)... and anyway, I hatched a plan. Blizzard? Hell, cut the caravan loose and run for the nearest town. Smash and grab. Cut that there rope, despite an old and trusted friend dangling on the end... As usual, and especially on this day, the roads grew quieter the further north one traversed. Up past
It was quiet (only without occasional zombies popping up for an intimate integration with double-barrel shotgun shell chicanery” arranged, we dutifully hooked up the Big White Bugger (twin-axle Sprite Quattro) and humped it up the M6. I love this journey. I love how the miserable rainy Pennine Moors become the miserable and rainy Lake District. But the Lakes are so much more beautiful than industrial Manchester and Blackburn, and during the drive – even on the motorway – the landscape gradually changes, lifts, rises, undulates, becomes more rural and beautiful and, obviously, Scottish. I love that feeling of heading north, heading for the mountains and lochs and freedom; I feel like I’m escaping the 67
Land Rover Discovery growling along as only a Disco can, stocky and butch and squat like a female German wrestler, that big square bonnet punching a path through cruel north winds and whispers of tickling snow as the kids got excited in the back on their PSPs and DSs and bounced around like Kanga Roos. I confess, I was nervous, and watching the skies like a hawk. What if it snows? What if there’s a blizzard? We’ll end up stranded like a Big White Whale. Arse. But there’s only so much worrying you can do, and the wife was happily oblivious to
Kendal, Carlisle, Penrith, looping round through green green (white speckled) hills, across the border (I still look for Hadrian’s Wall) and on towards Moffat. “Moffat!” as little ’un always used to cry in irrational unexplained excitement and delight. “Moffat! Moffat!” I think he just loved the roll of the word offa his kiddie tongue. Once, we did have “the van” stored on the Camping & Caravan Club site in Moffat, but got a little tired of the site constantly flooding... “Can I book next Bank Holiday weekend please?” – “Sorry sir, the site’s flooded”. When we finally removed the caravan from this site, I
Beats Eastenders any day!
Attack puppy poised for action…
asked one of the staff, “When is the site here actually not flooded?” With a completely straight face, she answered, “We had one week in July when it all dried out.” I grinned like a begging Labrador! I thought she was joking. She was not... I’m heading north, I’m heading home, doing a hundred and twentyfive, sang New Model Army frontman Justin Sullivan. Damn bloody right. Only not 125. More, er, 55. At a push. Doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? And so... Scotland unfolds. The scenery sucks you in like a... giant Dyson. Not the best simile, I confess. But what fabulous scenery! Far better than my clumsy analogies. Get away from it all. Away from nasty, petty, weed-paranoid relations, and carping back-stabbing money-grabbing inheritance-hunting female relations; away from the rain and the grime; the red brick factories and the inner-city shitty. I’ve met people who’ve never been to Scotland. I’ve met dudes in their sixties who’ve never been to Scotland. And whilst I admit, this is Good because it leaves Scotland quiet and free and more of it for me, it’s bad; bad for the imaginationless. How could you not like this country? Maybe the rife rumours and commonly-held misbelief that Scots hate the English? Blame Mel Gibson. Everybody else does. 69
I’ve never met a Scot who was anything but friendly. Except maybe Tony Blair, who wasn’t that there friendly to them Iraqis. Scottish? You mean you didn’t realise he was born in Edinburgh? I suppose it must be that Public School accent, and that curious hobble from having too many hot crumpets toasted to his behind. In Scotland, there is a large group of grumpy looking buggers, I confess, but that’ll be the weather, dark days and midges. Midges! What Iain Banks describes as the “microscopic mega-scourge”. And he’d be right; they certainly like my haemoglobin and have chased me south on more than one occasion. But hey, do people look any happier in Manchester? In New York? In, er, the Bahamas? When the M8 motorway ends just north of Glasgow (fabulous Glasgow, with fabulous architecture and home to the fabulous WorldCon in 2005 but that’s another story) then Scotland really opens up. Really starts to – shine. If that’s the right word. Big skies and sweeping roads. Like God peeled the top off a Glasgow tinny and took a big frothy slurp. Over the Erskine Bridge, past Dumbarton with echoes of ancient Scottish stone buildings filling your views, then like a bullet from a gun, spat out and up the A82 towards Balloch.
I must confess, I have big love for Balloch, a pretty little Scottish town with a lovely stretch of shoreline shops, a touristified boat trip out on the loch, and a fine Italian restaurant called Cucina, where I (we) have eaten a few times. Friendly, childfriendly, excellent food, good prices and an authentic Italiano/Scots atmosphere (heh). It’s a much recommended stop-off point on your journey to the Highlands, and even has good Trip Advisor reviews – that most amazing tool of the petty lunatic. And so, onwards! The A82, up past Arden, Luss, Inverbeg and Tarbet is a fabulous road, sweeping majestically along the western shores of Loch Lomond. But then, what am I saying? Every road north of Balloch is fabulous, great in a car, stunning from a thumping motorbike, probably picturesque even from a doubledecker bus. On this day, the trees were barren but pretty with frost, the loch was cold and beautiful, an ice queen welcoming you to swim in her depths. Ice sparkled on the roadside preaching caution. The Lanny grumbled north, pausing at Tarbet to turn right, and heading around the narrow section of road so dreaded by anybody cursed with the curse of towing Something Big. Around this section of the loch the road has been carved from the hills, and is indeed narrow and uninviting – but with a
great view of the choppy winter waters. After the narrow towing escapades, we reached the Ardlui Hotel, and pulled into the car park. We were met at the gate by a guy we took to be the caretaker or groundsman (he was actually the owner, I believe), who attacked us in garrulous Glaswegian. “Urgle burgle kurgle glakpuk?” he gesticulated, and we nodded and smiled and asked him to repeat his gibberish, which he did, several times, with a twinkle in his eye and a curious smile. I believe this gentleman achieves some private entertainment from confusing Englanders. Anyway, by a
pints of Guinness (I always drink Guinness before and after a climb, in pursuit of iron and a self-con trick that I’m having something “healthy”). And so we had the walks, and the ice, and the meals, and the exploration. Stirling is a particularly fabulous little city. And we did the family stuff until a couple of days later, our good friends Jake and Sharon arrived. And we did more exploring and chatting and laughing, until the arrival of New Year’s Eve and... The Plan. The Plan was for me and Jake to do a climb, namely a Munro, Ben Tulaichean, then head back for a five course banquet at The Ardlui and
snow over a couple of inches of solid ice. Even the grumbling burbling Lanny struggled to find its goat-feet, for at the end of the day ice is ice, sliding is sliding, and this was a bugger. A couple of times brakes were applied, at very low speed, and the brakes simply did not. As we slid inexorably towards the water’s edge, me and Jake sharing dumb expressions and a readiness to bail out at any given moment, we no doubt wondered and pondered the lunacy of our project. However, thankfully we made it to Inverlochlarig without soiled underclothing, or ice in our beards (that would come later), unloaded
“And so we had the walks, and the ice, and the meals, and the exploration. Stirling is a particularly fabulous little city” combination of spittle, gibberish and hand gestures (polite ones) we were directed to our pitch, and our cumbersome caravan was transmogrified into a tiny palace overlooking Loch Lomond. And believe me, there’s not many better ways to wake up than to wake up with a view of Loch Lomond. Now I personally don’t very much enjoy staying in a caravan. It always seems a bit cheap, a bit cramped, a bit plasticky, but on this occasion it was a very large caravan with exceptional beautiful views, and only a few short footsteps away was the Ardlui’s bar, which served up a fabulous beef goulash and plentiful
drink our way through the Hogmanay celebrations; with fireworks. It was A Good Plan. It was The Best Plan. Early, awake before the sun, faithful red Land Rover Discovery crunching through platters of ice and heading on up to Crianlarich; then east my man, east towards Ardchyle, south to Craggan, then west along a narrow loch-side road to Inverlochlarig. This journey was exceptionally dangerous, along the narrow track describing a path beside Loch Voil. The rut is very close to the water’s edge, and on any normal day this wouldn’t be a problem; but on this normal Scottish day there was a sprinkling of fresh
Now that’s a looo-
way to roll…
sturdy time-tested kit from the 4X4, and allowed the young pup (my collie dog, by the name of Fizz... don’t ask, it’s a long story and allows for me foolishly granting both children and wife permission to name dog in my absence, not realising it would be my sorry arse out there on the mountains shouting “Fizz, come here girl, here Fizzy Fizz”. Bah). Fizz was only a year old at this point, a bit naughty and frisky and full of youthful puppiness. She gambolled round like a little lamb, frisking and yakking and burning off an excess of energy previously gestated like a shook (fizzing) lemonade bottle. In fact, maybe her
name was most suitably apt. Ben Tulaichean begins with a walk along a track, past a couple of farms. Passing one, we were descended on by what can only be described as a pack of rabid dogwolves, howling and barking and yammering and growling. There were roughly ten dogs, predominantly Labradors with some mongrels thrown in for ambience, and led by a big black beast, a male Lab of stocky ferocious misdemeanour. I love dogs, but packs of dogs barking at me doesn’t instil mountain calm, and our walk across the farm track slowed to a wall cacophony of noise. And then happy little Fizz, my one year old pup, employed a trick I now realise is part-instinct, part-cunning, part herder; she describes an arc past her target, so it effectively appears she is almost walking away from whatever it is that interests her – then suddenly she loops round, tightens up the curve and comes in fast from behind to either inspect, sniff or bite. On this occasion, her target was the big black male Lab.
Damn Scotland for having this much beauty!
Ha! We’ll have it done before lunch.
Man + dog + ice whiskers.
“God now sat beside me on His throne, radiant and proud of His Creation; he cut the top off the world, as if Mother Earth was a hard-boiled egg and God wielded the spoon. Light and World and Infinity flooded in” On this occasion, it was to bite. Bite his testicles, in fact. Never have I heard a dog howl so loud and long, and bemusedly I watched this yammering yakking Lab turn tail and flee, pursued by his confused and stumbling pack. Fizzy trotted calmly over to me and Jake, and sat down on the frozen mud, grinning up at me. Good dog. Clever bitch. Tactical bitch. Brain over brawn, damn that deadly female of the species. It was most amusing. The beginnings of the climb were fairly gentle rolling hills of coarse grass, past ragged tattered sheep who looked like they’d been savaged by foxes fairly regularly. The small tight foothills increased in gradient, until the work proper soon began and the snow increased, although without ever getting truly deep. We hiked and climbed and humped our packs skywards, past rocks and icicle formations, over grass and rocks and patches of snow. It took a few hours. It was most enjoyable. Eventually, we reached a plateau, sweating and working hard. We’d thought we were practically at the 72
top, and as we breached the lip of the plateau something very bizarre happened. The summit of Ben Tulaichean stretched off, up and up and up, towering above us. It was massive. Hell, it looked like the entire bloody mountain all over again. I glanced over at Jake, and pulled a face. “I can’t do that. I’m knackered. I haven’t got it in me!” We both stared up in awe and horror. This wasn’t Ben Tulaichean. It was bloody K2! Jake, as ever a disciple of the Great God GPS, tugged off his winter mittens. “Let me check our altitude,” he said, and blipped and blopped away on what I had come to think of as “the damn machine”. However, here, and now, it was most welcome. Jake looked at me. “We’re only a hundred metres from the summit.” We stared at it. At the hill. At the towering monolith. At this edifice, this fortress, this mountain. “Damn, that’s never a hundred metres,” I said. It looked like a thousand metres. Like five thousand! “That’s what the GPS says.”
We headed on upwards, across a field of sloping snow and ice, axes at the ready. The final bit of the ascent looked bigger than the whole damn hike so far, and indeed as we mounted those final hundred metres we realised we’d been victims of some bizarre optics, some estranged atmospherics; some twisted visuals. How did that happen? How did it look so big when it was only a hundred metres high? We chatted and puzzled and wondered. We’d almost been mugged by the mountain. If I’d been walking alone, at that point the mountain would have won. But Jake’s as stubborn as a stubborn mule, much to his credit, and kick-started me up those final metres until we reached the platform just beneath the summit – and watched the world open up in its vastness, its glory, its majesty. Exhilaration gripped me. We were above the clouds. The sun sparkled like an atomic explosion, which it surely was. God now sat beside me on His throne, radiant and proud of His Creation; he cut the top off the world,
Conan! What is best in life?
A dram to keep the chill away.
It was magical. Jake and I stood, and ogled the universe. Travel writer and motorbike journalist Dan Walsh once wrote, “Nothing’s nice as tits”. I believed him. I agreed with him. Hell, I found the phrase comically brilliant. Until this point. At that point in my life, on New Year’s Eve on top of Ben Tulaichean, I saw true beauty. True majesty. And I realised that something was nicer than tits. We had a celebratory photograph session, “hero shots” we call them, posing and gurning for the cameras, then headed up the last few metres, over rocky rocks and bumpy bumps, right to the top summit and a nice little nook where we broke out a flask of Lagavulin, and a camping stove, and German pork sausage. We got the cooker going, cooked the sausage, and Fizzy sat with a grin, begging food and scampering around in the snow. It was a brilliant sausage, and I shared mine with the dog.
What better way to enjoy a whiskey?
Where’s my sausage? Grwl.
Do you think he’s earned a 5 course Hogmanay feast?
After all my sausage was gone, consumed, scoffed right down, my final memory was of Jake scoffing down his own sausage portion and Fizzy begging for just a little bit of leftover. And as Jake popped the last chunk in his mouth, and smiled benignly at the dog, I remember thinking he was a damn mean sausage-hogging meaney. After all, Fizzy did see off that Labrador pack! Hot toddies, kit packed up and a pleasurable amble back down the mountain, through snow and ice and wind and hail and mist, past ragged sheep and mountain-ravaged rocks, we made it back to the Lanny without incident, and with weary legs drove back for a much much much needed shower, a scrubbing of dirt and sweat and fears, then into our posh frocks and met our families and dived into that bar for a chilled pint of Guinness and an amazing five course Scottish Hogmanay banquet fit for Men... Men Who Would Be Kings. END. Check out www.ardlui.com.
God’s own medicine.
There’s a Breville out back. John’ll do you a toastie.
The Men Who Would Be Kings 76
Published February 2012 Angry Robot Books
This volume contains all three books in the Clockwork Vampire Chronicles: Kell's Legend ~ Soul Stealers ~ Vampire Warlords The land of Falanor is invaded by an albino army, the Army of Iron. A small group set off to warn the king: Kell, ancient hero; his granddaughter, Nienna and her friend, Katrina; and the ex-Sword Champion of King Leanoric, Saark, disgraced after his affair with the Queen. Fighting their way south, betrayal follows battle follows deviation, and they are attacked from all quarters by deadly albino soldiers, monstrous harvesters who drain blood from their victims to feed their masters, and the twisted offspring of deviant vachine, the cankers. As Falanor comes under heavy attack and crushing invasion, only then does Nienna learn the truth about grandfather Kell - that he is anything but a noble hero, anything but a Legend.
SERIAL FEATURE PART 1
POM on a ! E I T S O P OR
“SAD MAX AN AUSTRALIAN MOTORCYCLE CHALLENGE…” WORDS AND PICTURES BY GARRY KILWORTH
an Ozzie prerogative. But Pete went on to talking about an expedition they do in that state every year, a thing he called the ‘Postie Bike Challenge’. ‘I’m going to do it one year,’ he told me, ‘before the You know you’re getting on a bit bones seize up.’ when you’re told that the next dog you I met Pete in 1971 on a camp site get will probably outlive you. ‘We’d be outside Athens. He was newly married better to get one from the rescue centre,’ to Carolyn and I was driving home to UK said my wife Annette, ‘they’re often older from a 3-year RAF posting in Cyprus. dogs.’ It was reflecting on this very stark Besides Annette and myself, I had two and sobering news that made me think, ‘I kids in the VW Beetle, the camping gear, need a challenge. Something that will and everything else I owned in the world. test me before my bones grow brittle and Pete and I played table tennis in a Corfu my mind wanders off to the far side of barn where the rain came down in the moon.’ torrents. We kept in touch and visited Have you seen the film ‘The World’s from time to time. Fastest Indian’ starring Anthony Peter has done some wild Hopkins? It’s a true story about a New things in his time. He’s a competent Zealander with a passion for motorbikes, yachtsman, holds a pilot’s licence and who takes his Indian motorcycle to the has had some adventures in the Salt Lakes in America at the age of 60Australian way that would satisfy something in order to break the world Odysseus. His back yard is made for speed record. Well I’m also 60-odd and adventures and hearing him talk made the movie impressed me. I thought, ‘I’ve me wish I’d emigrated to that land when I got to do something like that before I was younger. I almost went as an older keel over.’ The Australian Postie Bike man. My daughter’s family lived there Challenge is not as magnificent as a for a few years and Annette and I would world speed attempt, but it did look more have joined them if they’d stayed. Now my mark. Since I was in Melbourne at that Pete has more time on his hands he the time, it also seemed more seeks more adventures and I watch him appropriate. closely to try to hang on to his coat tails It’s true about the flies in Australia, when he finds a good one. I’m not a they cluster around you like . . . well, like sailor, but am up for almost anything flies. They’re not particularly large, like else. Pete is younger than me by about the British cattle-bothering clegs, but five years, but we’re both in our sixties. they are very, very persistent. They hop Both fairly fit and healthy, me mostly around your face like fleas and crawl into from walking and dashing about a tennis all your orifices - up your nose, in the court, but who knows when ill-health will corners of your eyes, in your ears strike a nasty blow, or the years become seeking moisture, and boy are they too heavy. determined to get it. When I spent six ‘That sounds like good fun,’ I said. months in Melbourne in 2007 I carried ‘Tell me about it.’ switches broken from a garden hedges I thought he was going to extol the and got carpal tunnel from constantly virtues of bicycles. A nice gentle pedal flicking it across my face to clear the through the rainforests of Northern ground. Queensland. He wasn’t. Australian ‘You should see the flies up in postie bikes are not of the push variety. Queensland,’ Peter, my Ozzie host told They are full-blooded pedigree me. ‘Big as bloody hippos.’ motorcycles. Not big ones, admittedly. He was exaggerating of course. It’s 110cc Hondas. But they’re still quite
PART ONE 1. Beginnings
fast. I’d seen the local postman zipping about the streets of Melbourne on these machines and presumably they used them in the more remote areas of the land down-under too. Every year an organisation called Gridley Enterprises buys a batch of old postie bikes from the post office. Gridley is not a charitable organisation in itself but it facilitates donations to Rotary. A participant in the ‘challenge’ buys his second-hand Honda, flogs it over tarmac, dust road and gravel track, then gives it to Rotary at the end of the rally to dispose of as they will, either passing the bike on to a needy country or selling it and doing the something worthy with the cash. Dan Gridley and Kylie Kidby plot a course, put it on the internet, and wait for would-be riders to contact them. I make light of the organisation it must take: the hard work and logistics must be a nightmare. Apparently they’ve never lost a rider in the wilderness, though they’ve had one or two fall by the wayside through injury or illness. Pete said, ‘We should do the ride together. The next one is from Brisbane to Cairns - B to C if you like. It’s around 4000 kms, some of it through the Outback, some of it through rainforest.’ We were drinking beers on the veranda of his house on the outskirts of Melbourne, contemplating the antics of a dozen noisy rainbow lorakeets in the branches of a massive tree above our heads. ‘I haven’t got a licence,’ I said at last Pete blinked. ‘What?’ ‘I haven’t got a motorbike licence.’ The grizzled grey beard on his chin twitched. ‘Why?’ ‘Why?’ I began to get annoyed, more with my inadequacy than Pete’s incredulity. ‘Because I never took the test. I rode a bike, once, for a couple of weeks - a 250 Ariel Arrow - but I never got around to passing the test. That was, oh, several hundred years ago,
Alone in the Outback.
when-I-were-a-lad.’ ‘Well bloody-well get one then.’ ‘OK.’ And that was that. Actually, we were in March at the time. The Postie Bike Challenge took place around September/October. I wasn’t going home to UK for a while, so I knew 2007 was out. I’d never get my test and organise another trip out to Oz in three months, not to mention the cost of the enterprise, which was over $4000, excluding air fares and other expenses. It would have to be 2008. Pete however was impatient. He put in for the 2007 run, did it, and then wrote to me in UK and said he would also do the 2008 run, with me and a guy I hadn’t yet met, another Pommie friend of Pete’s who lived in Leicestershire. John. As soon as I got home I rang an establishment called the Ipswich Rider School. A pleasant young woman called Sue answered the phone. ‘You come along here, darlin’,’ she said. ‘We’ll soon have you riding around the Suffolk countryside.’ I went along there, and met Claire, Andy, Rob, and my instructor to be, the ever-patient Charlie. Naturally they were all a bit puzzled as to why an ancient old scribe like me suddenly wanted to belt along the A14 on a 650cc Kawasaki Ninja. (I wasn’t exactly a born-again biker: this being my initial birth.) I explained it was all a bit tamer than that. I needed to get a licence for a 125cc bike in order to tootle along the Bruce Highway in far-off Oz. They were all very polite. Not one of them sniggered and they all patted me on the head and said they would do their very best to turn the raw material, this 5 feet 7 inches of effete writer, into a trailblazing John Surtees - or they might have done, if they weren’t half my age and had actually heard of John Surtees. I could see they weren’t optimistic. I wondered who would take on the task of moulding this lump of clay into a mean-machine rider. Claire, dark-haired and attractive, with a lovely smile, also took out riders, but I guessed most of her students were women who wanted to be taught by another female. Andy was tall,
lean and rangy, a bit like Clint Eastwood. He had tough-looking features that belied the guy underneath. Andy was actually, like Rob and Charlie, a serious biker who strove to get the best out of young lads who were desperate to get out on the road on two wheels. Rob was shorter, but more solid and tightly packed. He looked like a martial arts instructor. Charlie was something between the two. Like me he wore glasses and had been a military man at one time. It was Charlie who took me on. Good old patient Charlie. ‘I’ll get you up to speed,’ said Charlie. ‘You buy yourself a helmet, jacket and boots, and a develop a good positive attitude.’ First, before I could even plant my bottom on a bike that touched the Queen’s highways, I would have to pass the government Compulsory Basic Training test. I felt I was back in the R.A.F. again with TLAs (Three-Letter Abbreviations). Charlie and some others took us in a truck to the site of a disused sugar factory on the edge of Ipswich. I had three fellow students, all very much closer to kindergarten than me. We were each given a motor scooter. There followed an eyesight test (I just squeezed through by squinting in a semblance of Jack Palance playing Ghengis Khan) and a talk on safety. Then we went outside and received instructions on the bikes’ controls. Finally we got to sit on one and tootle around some spaced-out traffic cones, getting the feel of the machine, learning some choreographed handling skills and feeling like Steve McQueen in ‘The Great Escape’. After which we had a ‘long but important talk’ - I forget what it was about, but amongst it was probably a warning about the dangers of forming our own biker gang and challenging the local chapter of Hells Angels. (Adversity had brought us all quite close). Later on in the day we at last burned up the highways and byways of Suffolk for two hours, which I found exhilarating and heady, even though we probably didn’t go above 25mph. At the end of the day, having all passed, we
Road Train, 54 metres long. The ocean liners of the Outback, they don't stop for anything. Get off the road quick and prepare to eat dust.
relaxed with tea, while the youngest of our group shot away. ‘Where are you off to in such a hurry?’ asked Charlie. The youth grinned. I’m 17 today - I’m off to pick up my the new Suzuki bike my mum and dad have bought me.’ He could ride it on the roads now his CBT was under his belt, so long as he wore his L-plates. For me it was the beginning of on-road lessons, with Charlie riding patiently behind me, the voice over his radio mike gently steering me clear of killing either myself or any unwary pedestrians. I had one nasty moment when I failed to see a car coming (my view was blocked by a parked van) when doing a U-turn. Charlie stepped out into the road and held up his hand traffic-coplike, to halt the vehicle speeding towards me. I then got a strong lecture on lack of observation. ‘Don’t follow orders like an automaton,’ he chastised me, ‘you’re riding for yourself, not for me.’ I was to hear that phrase many times, even from the examiner on taking my test - Ride for yourself. You were supposed to forget someone was tracking your every move from a few yards behind you. You were supposed to be riding oblivious of that fact. However, when someone’s murmuring instructions constantly in your left ear, it’s very difficult to imagine you’re on your sweet lonesome. It’s easy to relinquish responsibility for yourself. Fatal, but very, very easy. I found the hardest things to do on the bike were the little manoeuvres like U-turns. The bike wasn’t as sensitive to the touch as I’d have liked and it wasn’t difficult to under or oversteer when trying to U-turn on a narrow council estate road. Touch either curb and you failed. Put your foot down during the exercise, and you failed. Whistle ‘Dixie’ and you failed. It was very easy to fail the U-turn. The thing to do was ‘look long’. It was deadly to stare at the opposite curb as you turned - because that’s where you’d steer the bike. You have to sit up straight and whip your head round halfway through, stare over your shoulder down the long road where you eventually want to be heading. Right up to the test I was never sure I was going to get round without a foot going down. On my first test try I did a perfect U-turn I failed on something else. Before I could take the practical test of course, I had to do the theory tests. It’s fifty-seven years since I took my first driving test in a 20-year-old Austin 7. That little Austin was a 747cc ‘Box Saloon’ motorcar which weighed less than its four passengers. Based on the Ford Model T it had all the appearance of an 18th Century black carriage that lost its horse. A flimsy little vehicle -
you could poke your finger through the upholstery - everything connected by wires. Sometimes one of the wires snapped and you would lose the brakes, acceleration or steering: usually something fairly important to a long life. In those days there was no such thing as theory tests and if there had been, it wouldn’t have been taken on a computer. The first part of the exam was the Hazard Test, where I had to play a game as the driver of a car indicating road hazards where they seemed likely to develop. I’ve never been good with uncontrollable movements on screens and by the fifth hazard I felt desperately motion sick. I did make it through to the fourteenth hazard, then belted for the toilet bowl. When I came out, wiping my mouth, the examiner said wryly, ‘Mr Kilworth, the good news is, you don’t have to take it again.’ I’d passed. And I also passed the multi-choice questions. I’d taken that as a given anyway: I’ve always been good with ticks and crosses on paper. It was the practical exam that I was concerned with, and I was right to be so. Charlie took me over all the routes the examiner was likely to take me, pointing out the awkward places where I might meet a bus coming towards me, or junctions with strange angles. In the main these did not bother me, nor the emergency stop or anything except the blasted U-turn of course. What did bother me was the fact that I could be on a 40 MPH road without knowing it and could be failed for ‘not progressing’ or in layman’s language, going too slow. Since I was new to the area and was being guided by a bodiless voice all the time I never quite knew where I was most of the time. And some nice local kids had stolen a lot of the 40 MPH repeater signs: those little reminders normally fixed to lamp posts. I often found myself doing 30 MPH on a 40 MPH road. Andy provided a good solution to this problem. ‘If you think you’re on a faster road,’ he said, ‘look down the sideroads. If you see a thirty sign, you know the road you’re on must be forty. You might pick up a minor for not progressing for a short distance, but if you do the whole length of the road without speeding up, it’ll be a major fault and he’s bound to fail you.’ I took my first test in May 2008. I thought I’d done all right. ‘I’m afraid on this occasion you haven’t passed,’ said the examiner. ‘Lack of observation.’ ‘What?’ I asked. ‘How? Where?’ ‘On one stretch of the road there were vehicles parked down both sides and a bus coming down the middle.’ ‘I saw that,’ I replied. ‘I 81
Lunchtime sandwich stop. observed that, all right. I slowed down and changed direction to avoid the bus.’ ‘True, but you didn’t look in your mirror first.’ ‘I did.’ ‘Didn’t.’ ‘Did . . .’ but of course, I wasn’t going to win a playground battle of dids and didn’ts with an omnipotent examiner. I had failed. I felt devastated. He asked me when I wanted to retest and I told him, ‘Never.’ Of course when I’d cooled down, Charlie and Andy persuaded me to take the thing again, which I did at the end of June. Meanwhile from the far side of the planet Earth Pete was sending gently-encouraging emails like, ‘Pass your test you pommy girl’s blouse! What’s the matter with you? You’ve got two arms and two legs like everyone else. Don’t think with your arse, think with your head. You have got a brain somewhere in there, I suppose . . .’ and other such helpful rosy phrases. I did take the test again, of course. I was still totally obsessed with the U-turn, but again it went like a dream. About halfway through the test disaster struck. The examiner had managed to get himself a hundred yards or so behind me, back in traffic. This is not unusual. It’s always difficult for someone following behind to keep in touch with the man ahead. I came to a roundabout and, since Charlie had always taken me a certain way, I turned right. Even as I began my majestic sweep around the roundabout, having done my lifesaver - a brief glance over the right shoulder - I heard a voice in my ear saying, ‘Turn left at the roundabout. Take the left turn.’ But I was already committed to turning right, and instead of continuing right round the bloody circuit, I panicked and took my usual exit. It was a fast road. I went quarter-of-a-mile before I was able to turn round and begin searching for my lost examiner. The first person I saw was Charlie, who had been following both of us.
‘Where is he?’ I yelled, panicstricken. ‘Do you know?’ ‘Somewhere on that housing estate,’ replied Charlie in a cool voice. ‘Come on, we’ll find him . . .’ I followed faithful Charlie, who then left me parked by a curb while he did a square search of the region. He found the examiner and brought him to me. The first thing I asked the examiner, as he removed his helmet, was naturally, ‘Have I failed?’ His face was deadpan. He replied quietly and calmly, ‘Unfortunately I can’t fail you for not following my instructions - only for making an error on the road.’ There was a moment’s silence while I digested this wonderful, unexpected piece of news, then he added, ‘But you’d better be very good after this, Garry,’ we were on first name terms now, ‘because you’ve just cost me most of my lunch hour.’ I did pass that day, by the skin of my teeth, and went home to find a short cheerful message on my phone from downunder Pete. ‘Well done, Garry’ he said, ‘congratulations on passing your motorcycle test.’ I thought, how the hell does he know? He was in Oz. But of course Pete didn’t know. He was guessing. I like to think he had a little faith in this Pom. I was like a twoyear-old, full of jumping joy. I was going to Oz to take part in the Postie Bike Challenge! I had passed my bike test and was on my way. It’s true to say I was as happy as Larry, which on reflection seems appropriate, since the expression is an Australian one and refers to Australian scallywags, which the Aussies call ‘larrikins’. A larrikin is worse than a bloke, but not as bad as a hoon. Hoons drive too fast and drive dangerously, I didn’t want to be one of them. No-sir. I just wanted to ride my bike and I wanted to ride it where I liked. Pete said on the phone, ‘Once we start the ride though, you’re on your own!’ ‘Fine,’ I replied, ‘but don’t
The long unwinding road, plus a thick layer of bull dust.
My Aussie mate Pete, with bike and tent, under the only tree for a thousand kilometres. important that we did not take an instant dislike to each other. ‘Want a salmon sandwich?’ he asked. ‘I’ve got more in the boot of the 2. Ploughed Fields and car.’ Bridleways ‘Thanks,’ I replied, ‘I will.’ After the sandwich we looked at With the test now under my belt the blackening sky thoughtfully, then I had to think about getting some off-road went to meet Geoff Mayes, a greying experience on two wheels. Pete insisted British motocross champion and an allon it: there were copious emails from round expert on going fast on a dirt bike. com.au demanding action. John, the Geoff was remarkably ordinary-looking other Pom joining Pete and I in Australia, for such a tough competitor, but then I proved to be a brilliant ferret. Or had never met a champion dirt bike rider perhaps it was his wife Stephanie? before. I quickly found that men Anyway either John or Steph found and associated with this daredevil sport, arranged a one-day motocross course along with their fellows the trailbikers, near Ipswich for the both of us, to be were generally a smiling affable bunch of followed by a trailbike course at St guys who just love what they do. They Albans. The motocross course was run have no need to show off or be anything by a great guy named Geoff Mayes, who but themselves. They are the real stuff turned out to be one of those people when it comes to a dangerous and gifted with passing on the secret skills of difficult sport. their science. He was wise in the way of Geoff greeted us warmly and dirt bikes, had the patience of a god, and kitted us out with plastic greaves, chest I am sure could choreograph machines and back protectors, elbow guards, so long as they had two wheels. gloves, motocross helmets, thick boots, John and I met in the car park goggles, jackets and jeans. I could for the first time. At just over 60-years hardly walk, let alone ride a motorcycle. John was a bit younger than me. We I felt like one of those knights who had to were both grey panthers (a much more be winched into the saddle. Ask me to acceptable euphemism than old farts). tie my shoelace and I would have burst At our time of life who you are and what into tears. you’ve achieved is irrelevant. Status is ‘All right?’ asked John, slapping totally unimportant. Age is a great me on the shoulder. ‘I’m leaving my leveller. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve glasses off.’ been a company director or a toilet ‘So am I,’ I said. attendant in your working life, if you end The motocross goggles tended up pompous and high-handed, unable to to crush glasses against one’s eyes and get on with your fellow men, then you’re a blurred vision was better than having to going to have a lonely last-quarter of worry about adjusting things on one’s your life. face every five minutes. It was important Happily for me John was that we kept our hands free for steering, cheerful, open, bright and easy to like. I breaking and accelerating. We only had hope I came across the same way. We to look a few yards ahead in any case. were going to spend several weeks in I stared at the track. It was this each other’s company and it was stony dirt strip that went round and up
expect me to share my jolly jumbuck with you when you run out of bread-and-jam.’
and down like a switchback for about a kilometre, with hairpin-tight curves and corners, and lonely drops into hidden gorges. I could see one steep hill that was almost a vertical wall. I watched 16 and 18-year-olds hammering round this track on their bikes, taking the hills with flying leaps on their growling machines. My stomach flip-flopped. Only two weeks before today I had been riding a 125cc scooter with L-plates on it. Now I was expected to imitate Evel Knievel. Can I really do this? I thought. At that moment it started to rain and the track turned to sludge. John slapped me on the back again. ‘Here we go,’ he said, and nudged me towards my 250cc Kawasaki motocross bike, which being off-road I was allowed to play with. One of Geoff Mayes’ assistants went with me. He was a thick-set, solid older man who appeared to be fashioned from leather. Fred was as gentle as he was toughlooking, but he was standing no nonsense from this effete writer. ‘You’ll do a few turns round that little track over there,’ he said, ‘then on the top section of the big track, then finally on the whole track.’ Will I? I thought. Will I really? I climbed into the saddle of the bike only to find my short legs could not touch the ground. Motocross bikes are extremely tall machines, due I guess to the springs, whatever. My next problem was starting the damn thing. The kick start handle was halfway up the side of the bike and I could not get my leg high enough to work it. Fred gave me a helping foot and the bike coughed into action. Geoff had given us a little lecture before we started. ‘Don’t lean over with the bike on going round a corner, like you would on a road bike. Push it away from you, keep your body upright. Sit as far up as
near the handlebars as possible maintain your weight over the front wheel. When you take a hill, give it the gas going up, but ease off the throttle on going over the top or you’ll find a lot of air between the ground and the back wheel. Open up the throttle on the straight, but throttle-back on entering a corner. Halfway round the bend open the throttle again. Left-hand bends, stick out the left leg. Right-hand bends, stick out the right leg. Now, off you go!’ John and I went round the small flat track rather timidly at first, then got braver by the minute. Soon we were both bored with playing on the roundabout and went onto the top half of the big track. The mud was slippery but we managed to stay on for several circuits. Then we got bored with that and it was time for the big track. John went hurtling off, spraying mud and grit into air. I followed a bit more cautiously. Those first three times round the big track I almost came off on several corners. God was gracious and somehow I managed to stay in the saddle. But I found it exhausting, mentally, probably because I was physically tense. I halted after three circuits. ‘I’ll stop now,’ I told Fred, cheerfully, thinking I might as well quit while I was ahead. ‘I’ve got the hang of it. I’ve had enough practice.’ ‘Oh no you haven’t,’ Fred replied, quietly. ‘Yes, yes, I have,’ I insisted. ‘I don’t need any more.’ ‘Oh yes you do,’ said Fred, firmly. The rain was belting down. I was unhappy. I had mud in every orifice. My arms and legs ached. My head hammered. ‘Off you go, then,’ Fred said. ‘Get a few more under your belt - about twenty or so circuits, eh?’ Miserably, I did as I was told and of course after a few more circuits began to enjoy it. I can do this, I thought. I can do this. I wasn’t burning up the track like an eighteen-year-old, but I was taking every tight corner at a reasonable speed and getting the hang of handling a bike that like a frisky colt wanted to dance in the slippery mud on its own. It was trying to throw me off, but I stuck to the saddle with determination, roaring up the hills, leaping over the tops, and charging down the gradients. Man and machine did not exactly become one, but we certainly came to respect one another as individuals. At the end of the day I felt charged, exhilarated and a little more macho. This feeling was soon knocked out of me when John and I went on another course, this time at St Albans. We booked in for a day with Trailworld who take potential dirt bikers out on a tour of the muddy lanes and green roads, such as the Icknield Way, even 83
across ploughed fields. Again the bikes were taller than fully-grown race horses. High, heavy beasts that I had great difficulty in getting my short leg over, let alone doing anything once I was in the saddle. No one cared. No one said, ‘Ah, poor short-legged bugger, let’s give the little bastard a hand.’ Once we had all the body armour and battle helmets in place they simply jumped on their machines and roared away down the road. I followed tentatively, not having ridden a manual-geared machine for some 50 years. They had not changed a lot in that time. I had trouble finding the right gear, stalled the thing several times, and grew very frustrated with myself. The problem was with my short legs: every time I stopped I simply fell over to one side. The bike was extremely heavy and it took all my meagre strength to right it. My arms grew more and more tired with every halt. I was holding the others up and that made me and them unhappy. They wanted to be haring down green lanes chucking up divots of mud. I wanted to be home in bed. I did start getting to grips with the demon machine after several miles of tarmac. Then we turned off onto a bridleway, footpath, or something of that nature. Very narrow, very muddy (it had of course started to rain) and with a startling number of solid looking trees lining the root. Everyone else let out a joyous shout (including John) and tore off in a long line spraying the hedgerows with sludge. I brought up the rear, along with one of the biker-tutors, who kept urging me to ‘Get yer cheeks off the saddle mate and stand up on the pegs’. Flying down that lane was like running a gauntlet. Overhanging branches turned into whips, which lashed my face and body. The bends were hairpin and I kept expecting to meet terrified old ladies walking their terriers around each corner. Mud everywhere, sometimes so deep it was up to the wheel hubs. Water by the gallon, spraying the county of Hertfordshire willy-nilly. John came off and damaged his chest. I came off but managed to land in mud, so walked away unhurt. One of the other riders, an ex-policeman, came off and broke his wrist. I was amazed that there were no fatalities at the end of the day. And even more amazing, they all enjoyed it! For myself, it was the best experience of my life, and the worst. I had no desire to repeat it. Seven hours of battling through swamp and bog, hemmed in on all sides by trees, with the occasional rock thrown in, is not really my idea of fun. I did think, at the end of the day, while I was driving home to Suffolk with my limbs aching and my eyes halfclosed, that the Australian Outback would not, could not, be as challenging as that day on the dirt trails of
The 12-day route through Queensland, with overnights circled. Hertfordshire. After all, it didn’t rain in the Outback, did it? No mud then. And there were only bushes in the bush, weren’t there? No damn solid-trunked trees to worry about then. And I would be riding a small machine, one which would allow short-asses like me to touch the ground with their toes on both sides at once. Little did I know at the time that there would be other obstacles, just as formidable, perhaps even more so, out in Ozzie walkabout country, where the horizons are further away than infinity. True, we would get no rain. I have known biblical deluges in my time. Once, on a backpacking holiday with friends Rob and Sarah, the Malaysian rain came down in barrels. We were on a windowless bus crossing the central jungle and came to a river where a bridge had been washed away. Night fell, black as the deepest cave. With torches we had to cross on bendy planks that threatened to throw us into the swirling torrent below. Then, having escaped from a watery death we reached the coast to take deck passage on a fishing boat to Tioman Island. When we arrived at the island’s jetty it was still monsoon rain. It bleached our skins and clothes. It washed our flight tickets and passports clean of any ink. Our backpacks were sodden lumps. The A-frame huts on the campsite leaked. It was the Ramadan month, so there was no fishing going on and consequently very little to eat. Now, my pal Rob is a big guy who likes his steak and ale. There was none of that. We stayed four days and then took a small plane back to the mainland, having survived on banana porridge and Fanta drinks. Only the magnificent Malaysian trees and wildlife saved it from being an absolute disaster.
3. Preparations The official and rather posh title of the 2008 postie bike challenge was: Brisbane to Cairns via the Gulf of Carpenteria Previous years rides:
lot more to worry about than items of clothing for a 67 year old hack. In August, a month before the ride, Pete sent me a list of the things I would need. However, everything had to go into a soldier’s kitbag. It wasn’t a big kitbag and it had to hold a tent, air bed, pump and sleeping bag, as well as the following items:
sunnies (Strine for sunglasses) bandanna (to prevent choking on red dust) thongs (Strine for flip-flops) calculator head torch 2 fibre t-shirts At the time of writing I received an invitation to the newest light shoes route: bathers 2009 Brisbane to Melbourne washable long trousers light socks What I should have done before jumping at the swiss army knife chance to ride through the Australian Outback was to look up the history of the ride, starting with the 2002 run. If had done, I camping towel would have found out some humbling facts which are only now camping pillow (mistake, didn’t work) evident to me while in the process of writing my small account soap pens of the 2008 ride. You will have noticed that this book is notebook dedicated, among others, to the men who acted as volunteer camera mechanics during our ride. One of those men is simply spare batteries referred to as ‘Lang’. Well Lang Kidby OAM, father of Kylie one of the two organisers of the challenge, just happens to be toothbrush and paste Vaseline (oh the relief after a day an Australian hero, though you wouldn’t have known it by the in the saddle!) quiet way he went about fixing our bikes when they went The author, somewhere camera and spare battery/charger wrong, and nudging us on when we got struck on the trail and in the middle sandals the several other duties he carried out. of nowhere! sunscreen Lang, along with his wife Bev, are Australian paracetamol adventurers and have organised and led many expeditions through many countries, including Australian desert crossings, ear plugs (against snorers, of which there were many) washing powder and pegs flights in antique planes, reconstructing a replica of a 1919 water camel (threw this away after the first day) Vickers Vimy bomber and flying it from Australia to the UK, cap restoring a 1940 Dodge Army staff car and driving it from mobile phone (turned out to be useless in the Outback - no Aqaba to Paris and most significant of all, recreating the 1907 Peking to Paris motor race using restored cars from the period, coverage) jeans Lang and Bev driving a 1907 ITALA. This man plotted the Jumper centre of Australia and was the recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia. He has led military and civilian expeditions It was, as you might imagine, a hellava struggle to get through jungles and was an army pilot with the Aviation Corps it all in. I saw guys jumping on their bags to get the stuff to for 14 years. stay put. Fortunately the zips were strong and once you They don’t come any bigger or more modest than wrestled the contents to the ground, you zipped up the bag Lang Kidby. Lang and Hans Tholstrup (another Aussie adventurer quickly before everything kicked out again and sprayed the campsite with underwear and toothbrushes. - the country is crawling with them) organised the first Postie Bike Challenge in 2002, a job he has since handed over to his On the first day of September, Annette and I boarded a Royal Brunei flight for Brisbane, Australia. There were two stop-offs, daughter and her partner. He now travels with the team as one of an hour at Dubai where we were supposed to one of the mechs and helpers. Looking up that first ride I came up with a news report disembark and buy buckets of gold jewellery. The other was from ABC News Online, which might have made me wonder if for three hours at Brunei, which had an airport lounge not much bigger than my kitchen. The economy flight was tedious Pete was hauling me into something that was well out of my and uncomfortable. We have done it several times before and comfort zone: Quote: The 2002 Postie Bike Challenge organised by each time it seems longer and more unbearable. Always, just as I manage to fall asleep in a contorted sideways knot, the adventurers Hans Tholstrup and Lang Kidby has proven too guy behind stands using the back of my seat to pull himself challenging for some. The 4000 km charity ride split at Julia upright, thereby joggling me instantly awake. I usually glare at Creek yesterday when more than a quarter of the 80 riders him, but find he’s lost somewhere in his own head and has no decided the dirt roads through the Gulf were too gruelling. So far 7 participants have withdrawn with head injuries, broken idea that I live on the periphery of his world. The only thing I can say about modern aeroplane flights to Oz is that they’re collarbones and broken ankles. One of the riders says his probably better than the old three months at sea playing deck experience as a (real) postie has helped only slightly. quoits and canasta until one is sick of one’s neighbours, sick Unquote. of the colour green, and sick of being sick during the I’m glad I didn’t see this article before my ride, knowing we were also going on the dirt roads through the Gulf. occasional storm. Even short voyages by sea are to be avoided. It probably wouldn’t have stopped me going, but it would have Annette and I were once on our way to Rhodes, when made me that much more nervous. I’m also glad I didn’t then there was a terrible a storm in the Med. We were on board a know Lang’s amazing history. I would have pestered him like a Melbourne fly and annoyed the hell out of him. I did manage Greek car ferry which had been a French battleship during WW1. The vessel was still painted navy grey and all the to annoy his daughter. I had failed to get two of the ride tembossed metal signs above doors and gangways were still in shirts at the outset and Kylie ordered me some more. I asked her one too many times whether they had arrived. Kylie had a French. Our new Volkswagen beetle was strapped to the deck 2002 and 2003 Brisbane to Darwin 2004 and 2005 Brisbane to Adelaide 2006 Brisbane to Alice Springs
as the world began to rise and heave all around us. The kids were still young then - Chantelle 6, and Richard 8 - and we had a cabin in the depths of the ship adjacent to an empty hold. Someone had forgotten to batten down a giant crane hook dangling on a chain as thick as my thigh. The hook itself was the size of a railway truck. It swung back and forth in the storm clanging monstrously on the side of our cabin, knocking the kids out of their bunks. We were not en-suite and every time someone wanted to go the toilet (which was fairly often, given the conditions) they had to accurately time their run across the void which was the ship’s hold, or become a fly-smudge on one of the iron walls of the vessel. We thought we were going to die during that storm, which lasted for 24 hours. Every time the ship’s bow went down under the water, we were convinced it would never rise again. I vowed then that I would only ever get on another boat in a dire emergency. On arrival at Brisbane, we took a taxi to our accommodation, the local Quaker Meeting House. Annette and I are Quakers and we are much more comfortable in a bed-and-breakfast environment than in a luxury hotel. It’s not that we scorn luxury, or consider it decadent, but would much rather be in a room with breathable, unrecycled air. We both find the atmosphere in modern hotels oppressive and though the breakfasts are enough to feed one for the whole day, there is a kind of suppressed panic in the dining room as people form in small bunches around the multi-slice toaster to anxiously watch their personal bit of bread disappearing inside the machine, terrified they will be unable to identify it when it drops out as toast into the tray beneath. The Brisbane Quaker Meeting House was on the steepest hill I’ve ever seen covered in tarmac. Walking down it was a frightening experience. One felt it would be so easy to lean forward, then topple the rest of the way down that sheer black surface. The house itself though was in a beautiful forested garden. It was the Aussie Spring and we woke the next morning to a chorus of bell birds, butcher birds and kookaburras. The latter of course do not have melodic calls, but certainly the bell bird with its flute-like chimes and the butcher birds with their variety of warbled notes were gentle alarm clocks. I had no idea what to ask, so I said nothing. My bike looked young and fresh, despite having 30odd thousand kilometres on the clock. As postie bikes they all looked exactly alike of course. Little robust-looking Honda 110s, designed for ‘commercial and agricultural use’. The ‘X’ model, which we were using, had a reliable four-stroke engine and was simple and undemanding. Although it had 4-speed gearbox, it was what we call in England a ‘semi-automatic’. There was no clutch. You crunched through the gears from neutral upwards, 1 through to 4, and so on, down again. We were given a lesson in first-line maintenance by Richard, Mick and Andy, three of the mechanics who were to accompany us. Checking the oil level and tyre pressures every day was a must. Watching for looseness of chain and any nuts and bolts was also important. Pretty trivial stuff, I thought. (That was until we were hammering along the wild trails of untamed Northern Queensland. Two-hundred or so kilometres of brick-hard corrugated track, rugged enough to shake loose the teeth of saltwater croc, soon changed my mind about ‘trivialities’.) ‘These’ll save you some cramped fingers,’ Pete said, giving me some soft grips for the handlebars. ‘After steering for seven hours, your fingers will be like claws on those hard grips.’ I duly cut away the hard grips and replaced them with soft spongy ones that did indeed make my life a lot easier on the trail. Kick-starting my lovely 21 for the first time, she sounded, as another rider remarked, like a cross between a lawn mower and portable generator. The sort of noise that causes the dead to spin in their graves. Spanish youths use 85
similar machines to ride up and down the same stretch of road carrying half-a-dozen of their mates on the frame and mudguards, while holiday-makers vainly attempt to rest. On the back of the bike was a plastic milk crate. Pete had made me a cover for it and had provided some elastic retainers to keep it on. In our milk crates we would carry 5 litres of fuel, 2 litres of water, sandwiches, a thick book of maps covering the vast and seemingly empty interior of a continent (most of the pages looked blank to me) and ‘personal materials’. My personal items consisted of two toilet rolls, a packet of cleansing wipes, imodium tablets, and dehydration powders (blackcurrant flavour). Add to these essentials a brass naval compass and it can be seen that my major fears were divided equally between loose bowels and getting lost in the wilderness. As it happened the former was to become reality and the latter was to remain a harrowing nightmare.
One-man tents on an outback town showground.
Cowhorns garnered from bush country.
We had a free day so we went into Brisbane proper, walked along Queen Street and Elizabeth Street, and visited the Brisbane’s City Hall, with its wonderful clock tower. Brisbane is named after Sir Thomas Brisbane, an 18th Century general. He was one of those rugged soldiers who probably asked for a posting to a rugged land. His military career is in the Guinness Book Of Records as being the longest. Our Tom apparently served 70 years in the army and he was famous for having slept six nights in continental winter snows with nothing but his cloak to keep him warm. Each morning he found himself frozen hard to the ground, while around him in the night many common soldiers had died with the cold. They don’t make generals like that these days, though when I was in Aden during violent times, I did hear of a general who put up with chilly air-conditioning without a murmur of complaint. After City Hall, we visited the United Church, just off Albert Street, where a Japanese couple was getting married. We sat in a pew at the back and watched the ceremony. The church was empty. There were no guests, no attendees. Just the wedding couple. They went the whole hog with music, a choir singing, she in full white wedding dress, he in tuxedo and top hat. A photographer, of course. But no friends or relatives. When we asked the registrar after it was all over, what was happening, she told us it was a common occurrence. They married in Japan then came to Australia to have another wedding, simply to gather photographs and videos of the ceremony. It was then I remembered seeing the same thing in Venice. There an Asian couple had changed clothes behind a billboard, he had set up a camera on the steps of a church with St Mark’s Square in the background, and they had then posed in their wedding kit for a series of self-taken photos. How strange this world has become since my grandparents shuffled off their mortal coils. While in Brisbane we went to stay with Dave and Doreen, great friends of my brother. They showed us the Glasshouse Mountains, so called because one of the first Poms, Captain Cook, thought they looked like the glassblowing factories of Northern England. Dave and Doreen’s house is actually owned by a dog called Chewbacca, a lovely border collie. Chewbacca lets the couple live there free of rent. Chewbacca actually wanted one of those Queenslander dwellings that look like the southern USA mansion in Gone With The Wind, but he had to settle for a less expensive single-storey ranch-style dwelling. Next, we went north, to Noosa Heads for the day. Richard Branson was a frequent visitor at Noosa, where he used to go running early morning. The story is that he liked a cold fruit juice after his run and finding no juice bar open at that time of the morning he purchased one of his own which he opened at six in the morning. On the 4th day we went back to Brisbane. I dressed in my biker gear - big boots, armoured jacket, knee guards, motocross jeans, reinforced gloves and big black motocross helmet - and went to find the rallying point for the bikers. We had been told it was at the Exhibition Grounds. Annette and I lugged my army-style kitbag through streets broad and narrow, going from one Exhibition site to another. In Brisbane they 86
cover a vast area and I was looking for a garage or hangar of sorts big enough to house fifty motorbikes and their riders. Eventually I rang Dan on the mobile and he guided me along a street I had passed twice already. What hope did I stand in the Outback? I met Pete and John just entering the building. ‘You found it then?’ said Pete. ‘Didn’t get lost?’ ‘What, me?’ I laughed gaily. ‘I’m a walking compass.’ We entered a warehouse humming with people, some in motorcycle gear, others in street clothes. There were lots of beards about, several of them quite long, mostly grey and grizzly. Most of the people in the room were men between the ages of 25 and 75, but I was surprised by the number of them in their 40’s and 50’s. They were all roaming around identical bright red motorcycles, which peppered the floor looking clean and shiny. These roadsters were being inspected and appraised by their new owners. To some of those owners these small postie bikes were tiddlers, but to me they were mean machines. The dominant accent that echoed around this hollow room was naturally Australian. Some people knew each other, but most did not, and the beginnings of camaraderie were emerging as strangers spoke to each other about the coming enterprise: ‘Hi, I’m Dave. Up from Sydney. You?’ ‘Bill - you up for this?’ ‘Hope so. Been looking forward to it.’ ‘Me too.’ All very gentle and tentative. Later they would be greeting each other in the mornings with a slap on the shoulder and something like: ‘Bill, you crusty old bastard. There’s a rumour you came in last yesterday.’ ‘Not a chance, mate. The day you don’t cough on my dust ain’t arrived yet.’ ‘Yeah, right.’ I went to meet the organiser, Dan Gridley. Dan was a man of good build, neat of dress, and you could tell he had an underlying seam of toughness. Kylie, his partner and helper, was pretty and a very good organiser. Dan showed me my bike, Number 21 in red figures on the headlamp, and left me to learn from others how to pack the milk crate which would carry essentials like petrol, water, food and other bits and pieces. The crate fitted on the back of the bike and Pete had made covers for all three crates. He had also brought elastic ties to keep the lid down on rough ground. In fact, I was being babied quite a lot: something that would soon change. Dan gave us our briefing for Sunday’s departure. ‘I want you here, ready to leave at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning. We’ll all leave the city together. There was going to be a police escort, but they’re busy with road runs and other events . . .’ He then told us how a normal day would go once we were out of the city. ‘We usually rise about 5.30 am, pack up our tents and then have breakfast. The night before you will have checked your bike for any problems, filled your spare gas tank with fuel, lubricated your chains and made sure there’s no slack there, and checked your oil levels. ‘Departure is around seven every morning, after a daily briefing. The first to leave will be the marker truck, which will tie coloured tape to key points along the route, so you’ll know where and when to make a turn. Your bags will be carried by the repair truck, and a sweeper truck will follow behind all the riders, helping those in trouble. You’ll be expected to do your own repairs where possible. Tools can be borrowed from the repair truck. If you can’t do it, because it’s too technical or you need muscle assistance, Richard, Lang, Andy or Mick will be there to help or take over. When you arrive at the campsite in the evening - usually a town showground or rodeo ground - the first thing you’ll do is check your bike for potential problems, oil and lube, and refuel. Then put up your one-man tents and finally, get a beer. ‘Any questions?’
When I was 12 years of age I got lost, with another boy scout, for two days in a South Arabian desert. The maps given to us were later proved to be faulty. Such experiences don’t leave your mind, even after 55 years. Horrific tales, which we have all heard, of people wandering away from their car to take a pee in the Outback, never to be seen again, haunted my early thoughts on the trip. I was almost persuaded into purchasing a hand-gps system. I had visions of myself drinking the petrol out of my fuel tank while the mystical landscape of the Aborigines swam around me distorted by heatwaves. In the end cost got the better of my fears. I settled for a good compass. I figured a gps would only tell me where I was, i.e. lost in the Outback. By the end of the day, armed with information and items to stay alive and moving on two wheels, I went back to my Quaker accommodation somewhat uneasy with my inexperience. Would I manage to ride this sturdy little machine without falling off? Would I manage to travel the hinterland of Australia without getting lost? Would I manage to complete the trip without getting ‘crook’? The answer to all these questions was actually, ‘No’.
A Le Mans start, early in the morning.
* Here’s a few statistics for the bike nerds amongst you, on the Honda CT-110 Postie Bike, so that you are fully aware of what our multi-national bums were about to sit astride. Dry Weight: Engine Oil: Fuel Tank: Fuel Reserve: Forks: Bore & Stroke:
89.5 kg (197 lb) 1.1 L (1.2 US qt) 5.5 L (1.4 US gal) 0.8 L (0.2 US gal) 140 ml (4.7 oz) 53 mm x49.5 mm (2.047 x 1.948
in) Compression Ratio 8.5:1 Displacement: 105.1 cm3 (6.39 cu.in) Spark Plug: D8EA (NGK) Spark Plug Gap: 0.6 - 0.7 mm (0.024-0.028 in) Ignition: CDI Points Gap: 0.3-0.4 mm (0.012-0.016 in) Valve Clearance: 0.05 mm (0.002 in) both Idle Speed: 1,500 + or - 100 rpm Output Power 7.5 HP(DIN) @ 7,500 rpm Clutch: Wet plate (semi-automatic or crunch gear) Gear Box: 4-speed Stroke: 4-stroke Top Speed 85 kph Soichiro Honda set up the Honda company in October 1945. The war had not long been over and he used military 2-stroke motors that he purchase cheap. When they ran out he designed his own 50cc engine. In 1958 he released the C100 Super Cub, a 4-stroke, overhead valve motor, with a centrifugal clutch and 3-speed gearbox. 70cc and 90cc versions followed a bit later. Honda has since sold close to 40 million of these bikes, which includes the Postie Bike, one of the toughest machines on the road. I was soon to learn that the CT-110 needed to be a robust worker, to deal with conditions out in the wilds of Australia. Corrugated roads, thick bull dust, heat, up to 8 continual hours a day at almost top speed, rocks, gravel, sand and a novice rider - all these my little bike took in its stride - and never once did it falter or even look like giving up. So, there were 50 of these magnificent little colts with a rider on each one of them, but the organisers were carrying 6 spare bikes on one of the three trucks, just in case. It turned out they knew what they were Doing, naturally, because I think they eventually used all six. 87
The camp at Cooktown, Cape York Peninusla, the evening before the end of the ride. (Notice the 'swag' tent in the foreground - very prestigious).
Everyone's either having a shower or downing a beer!
TO BE CONTINUED…
Adventures in Cyprus WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY GEOFF NELDER
The unnerving feeling when brakes fail while hurtling down a steep lane in Cyprus led me to let go the brakes and let gravity have its wicked way. The Akamas Peninsular is a 230 square kilometres UNESCO-protected Nature Reserve in the most westerly part of Cyprus. There’s an exhilarating road hugging most of the coast, and breathtaking
I really wanted a road bike such as my Dawes Super Galaxy at home in Chester, but I wouldn’t have been able to ride in the Akamas on anything without robust tyres capable of withstanding potholed dirt tracks. Dirt in Britain equates with mud, but after only a few hours of sun in Cyprus, they are hardened surfaces. I settled for a hybrid with 21 gears .
When new, it was a Raleigh Pioneer Hybrid. It must have been popular because the paintwork was worn, but the transmission, gripshift gears and V-brakes were in perfect condition. At only 10 euros for daily hire (2011 prices) complete with tools, maps, guides, helmet and personal adjustment of the bike to my size, I was well pleased.
“I find solo cycling allows the non-navigating bit of my brain to be inspired with story ideas” mountain stretches reaching over 400 metres above sea level. In spring the pink cyclamens contrast with the yellow ragworts farther south. The air was heavy with the scent of jasmine, and I had to watch out for jaywalkers such as the spiny-footed and the agama lizard. AGIO GEOGIOS This village was where I stayed with a group from UKAuthors on a writing workshop. I was the only cyclist in the group, and against advice from my wife decided to rent a bike and explore on my own. I find solo cycling allows the nonnavigating bit of my brain to be inspired with story ideas. The first problem was in finding bicycle rental. My enquiries started in March and I was told everything tourist remained closed for winter. I didn’t think Cyprus had a winter, but their seasons are more like high tourist or low tourist periods. Eventually a friend who lives in Cyprus found Zephyros Adventure Sports in Paphos. I hiked and bussed to their offices on the Tombs of the Kings Road only to find no one there. Their neighbours, a car hire company, seemed delighted. The woman rubbed her hands at the prospect of another driving customer. But then I noticed a small blackboard on the Zephyros door. I left my number. Apparently, the owners, Lucy and Andy, are out during the day taking groups on dives, climbs, treks, and yes, biking trips. A phone call later and my rented bike arrived.
CYCLE LANES Mediterranean drivers are known for beeping their horns at the slightest excuse and I expected to have to jump the bike into the verge at any time. In fact I found that most of the main road from Agios Georgios to Paphos sported a narrow bike lane and a wide lane for joint use by pedestrians and cyclists. One problem was that there many stretches with loose gravel on the surface and obstacles such as skips. I’m glad that I hadn’t a high pressure tyre after all. Note the banana plantation on the left. The blue plastic bags protect the growing bunches from insects. When I stopped to take that photograph, a farmer emerged from the plantation and after a chat offered me two small green bananas. To my surprise they were ripe and sweet. Perfect cycling food. Generally, when I cycled to Coral Bay from the west I opted for the picturesque coastal lanes, even though there was a tough uphill at Agios Georgios.
I knew they were toxic if livestock ate them.
INTO THE AKAMAS My main cycling aim was to venture into the Akamas Nature Reserve. An amazing 54 km return ride leads mainly along the coast to Polis. It’s not possible for a writer or anyone Luckily, my hotel was at the southern with imagination and appreciation of edge of the reserve. Agios Georgios such stimulating scenery to cycle past has several tavernas and a huge the sea caves. I had to stop, sit on a church. In there I was surprised to boulder, relax and let the sounds of find icons of our English dragon rumbling waves make me visualise slayer, then it dawned that Agios is bygone smugglers. Greek for Saint. From the village a In April the bright yellows of the tarmac lane soon became concrete ragwort wildflower, deliver a visual with rough ridges. They’re needed feast. In spite of the feast to my eyes, because the slope was long and
steeply downwards. Sadly, photographs rarely do justice to gradients. Not only was it a test of brakes but there was a hairpin to the left leading up again. Note the uncommon white anemones off the track on the right. Beyond the bend the ride was breathless. Not just a result of battling gradients but because of the scenery. The Mediterranean was on the left, limestone gorges to the right and ahead was the nesting beaches of Green and loggerhead turtles. I love cycling in any rural part of the British Isles, but there’s something magic riding in an unaccustomed foreign place.
The new aromas, views, and the cascade of wild flowers I only otherwise see in Botanical Gardens. In Britain we occasionally swerve to allow a wandering hedgehog to survive and we spy the odd mouse, rabbit and fox. In the Akamas I had to do all that plus bunny hop over the lizards. Butterflies sometimes danced in front of me. I recognised a dappled white and orange tips. Sadly, I saw few birds, even seagulls. Over fishing has removed their food, and inland the hunting of birds has only recently been drastically reduced.
excitement. Sometimes the exhilaration was too much and I had to dismount. I was warned by a local that horses sometimes pester travellers on the coastal road around Lara. I was used to seeing feral ponies in Snowdonia and they keep well away from hikers and bikers. Nevertheless, I took my dog dazer along. This emits a beyond-humanhearing sound, that repels dogs, cows and horses (a handy discovery). I didn’t need it. I saw a donkey and many goats but they gave me plenty of space.
downhill to Fontana Amorosa. Once again I cycled on a coastal track but this time in a southeasterly direction to the Baths of Aphrodite and the beach with a Cyprus Tourist Office pavilion. The Baths of Aphrodite was, allegedly, where Akamas, the son of the ancient Greek hero, Theseus, peeped at the naked Goddess while she bathed. He was stunned by her beauty, she by his and so they dallied. Alas, she was spoken for so Akamas left her to make his own way on the island founding towns and having the district named after him. The Baths
“The unnerving sudden sideways lurches and the wheels Occasionally spinning added to the excitement. Sometimes the exhilaration was too much and I had to dismount” En route to the Lara, where the turtles nest, I should pass gorges on the right such as the Avakas. I could not resist and I ventured into the narrow valley. The lane to Avakas Gorge was difficult to ride being cut from the limestone cliff sides. Centuries of horses and people have created a bumpy surface, and continuous rock falls have left loose stones impossible to avoid. The unnerving sudden sideways lurches and the wheels occasionally spinning added to the
Springtime was too early for the turtles so I rode on north another 20 kilometres before following a hillier inland track, right, towards Polis. There was drinking water at the chapel at Agios Kononas. From there the gravelly track took me south for a while before it converged with the route leading over the Akamas ridge. The views were overwhelming as were those in gorges where biking was impossible!. From Smigies, I rode to the Akamas lighthouse, then
have no identifiable building remains and no naked Goddesses, I looked. Not much in the way of ruins either though the spring water was refreshing. After a paddle in the sea and a late lunch, I about turned and retraced my route making it a 54 km round trip, plus the side excursions up the odd gorge. Alternatively, I could have cycled back via a relatively new (EUfunded) road to Kathikas, Pegeia and onto Agios Georgios.
Bewilderment in the Avakas Gorge 93
“Cyclists and hikers should be aware that from 1960 until 2000, the British Army used the Akamas as a training Area and firing range” I cycled some of that from the south on another day. My daughter was married in Pegeia and I had the urge to cycle there, park my bike at the picturesque village spring or 'vrisi', where traditionally, young women would collect water in red clay pitchers. CONSIDERATION Cyclists and hikers should be aware that from 1960 until 2000, the British Army used the Akamas as a training area and firing range. We can’t blame all the spent cartridges we cycle around on local people illegally hunting 94
game in the reserve. We have a responsibility to do our bit to protect the sensitive and rare ecosystem in the Akamas. Cycling is friendlier than motor vehicles but if many mountain bikes wander off road then the resulting erosion could damage habitats. In fact if it has been raining consider waiting a few days because some of the dirt tracks will be too muddy to enjoy and the erosion would be worse. When I cycled in spring there were few insects but a repellent and sun cream are advisable. Take your time, explore on the tracks and enjoy the Akamas. Recommended cycle hire:Zephyros Adventure Sports. Tel: (00357) 26930037 Website: www.enjoycyprus.com Copyright Geoff Nelder.
“The horror, the horror…” The Making of short horror film,
HARDCORE WORDS AND PICTURES BY ANDY REMIC PAUL REMIC SONIA REMIC COLIN HOWARTH
“I’m not bloody proud of myself…” 96
What’s that noise? It’s Kubrick spinning in his grave! WORDS: ANDY REMIC PICTURES: REMIC, REMIC, REMIC AND HOWARTH IT WAS A cold November morning when a raggle-taggle cast and crew gathered in a car park beside Ramsbottom Park, breathing dragon smoke and huddling into winter hats, coats and gloves. This was the opening shoot of what would become a short horror film promoting my book, HARDCORE, a novel of SF medical depravity about a team of twisted squaddies - Combat K, and their adventures on a medical planet gonewrong. REWIND. It had seemed a good idea at the time. These things always do. Whilst ensconced in a beer-bubble at a bubbling SFF convention, I was sidelined into a meeting with my Angry Robot editor, Lee Harris, upon which we drank, and chatted, and drank some more. We were discussing marketing tactics for my books, and out of the blue came the idea which meshed together two of my favourite pastimes – writing novels, and making home movies. Only this wouldn’t be a home movie. Oh no. This would be a bona fide promotional film for a published novel..... wooh! PICS: Top - Props are so important when making a (little) movie. Believe it or not, this is a kid’s gun sprayed black. Middle - Paul playing Keenan, the “straight and serious” arm of Combat K. Bottom - Baby packed in with the props and make-up bags.
“It seemed a good idea at the time. These things always do”
Paul Remic, “Keenan”, getting into character… 99
Well, that was a few years ago, for a book called KELL’S LEGEND. I made that little film on my own, in the woods, in the snow, but for this film I wanted a bit more “polish”, a bit more “script” and some actual real actors. Oh yes. And a director. Through a friend of a friend of a friend, no? I met up with Colin Howarth, formerly of Bury, now of Cardiff, and avid film maker with a fine Sony HDV camera and plenty of ideas. We chatted through various concepts and drunkenly watched “Children of Men”, deconstructing camera angles and techniques and acting skills. It was a good night. Cardiff is a fine town!
Hey, move over Spielberg! This is a piece of cake! FAST-FORWARD. I never, ever dreamed how much effort would go into making even a short film like this. Props. Locations. Costumes. Fake blood (oh how I had fun experimenting with different gloops to make blood and green zombie pus). It took a bit of planning this one, because I wanted to expand on the little films I’d made before, and I certainly wasn’t going back to the cheap pans of the front cover you get in most book promos. I wanted nurse zombies. I wanted action. And I wanted guns, baby, lots of guns. I wrote a script around November, and tweaked it a few times over the following weeks. I gradually asked a host of people to be various characters, including “extras” to be zombie nurses (... you need to read the book, set on an abandoned medical planet where the patients, nurses and doctors have been left to a 1000 year medical gestation).
“I wanted guns, baby, lots of guns…”
Anyway, with a cast in place, and three locations set-up, we started to creep towards F-Day, and I became increasingly obsessed with the minutiae of film making. What was the best recipe for fake blood? Should we use plastic guns, or real guns? And where the hell do you get real guns? This came in the guise of the Fusiliers Museum in Bury, again to whom I am incredibly grateful for the loan of a 9mm Uzi, a 9mm Luger machine pistol, and a pump-action Remington shotgun – which have undoubtedly leant the film an air of reality because they were, er, real. And that shotgun. Man, that shotgun. What a quality piece of kit. The closer we got to the day, the less I was writing, with more time spent checking I had all the stuff I needed. Quality tripod with fluid head? Check. Cocoa to mix with glucose and green dye for zombie pus? Check. Sexy nurse garter? Check. Yes. And herein lay a problem. In my study, with a glass of red wine and some soft music playing, it felt oh so entertaining to write a script following a section of the novel whereby Franco Haggis (the mad one) disguises himself as a nurse. With a shotgun. Oh yes, highly amusing I chortled to myself as I tapped away at the keyboard. It seemed a good idea at the time. These things always do. Only, the closer we came to the actual day, the less and less I realised how not-fun it would be dressing up in a nurse uniform and big ASDA Y-fronts and dancing around in front of a crowd of people, “acting”. Hmm. I bottled it a bit. The big ASDA y-fronts (and yes, I’m aware there’s a glaring anachronism here when writing SF, but hey, I have a warped sense of humour) were dropped in favour of some more modest British army knife-cut combats. I kept the nurse hat, though. I love that nurse hat.
Just another normal day at the office, dear. 101
ABOVE - The original poster for our little film of HARDCORE. Ollie SO ENJOYED doing this, he talked about it for days!! RIGHT - The fabulous artwork for the novel itself, by MAREK OKON. BELOW - Magic moments - one of the best bits of getting a book published is when the “box of books” finally arrives from the printers…
The day of reckoning arrived, and after a flurry of a hundred emails, everything was “set up”. First thing I had to do upon rolling from a dream-filled slumber in which I was chased by sticky blood-covered actors wielding plastic weapons, was drive down to the Fusilier’s Museum in Bury and pick up the various deactivated weapons for the shoot (ha), namely Mr 9mm Uzi, Mr 9mm Luger machine-pistol and Mr Remington pump-action. I had to sign a declaration stating I wouldn’t rob a bank or carry out any nefarious activities; and I had to keep them covered in public so I didn’t scare any old grannies.
of scenes to satisfy director Colin’s need for perfection. Colin’s manner with these “child actors” was superb, he was caring and considerate, funny and yet guiding them to produce exactly the performance he wanted. My little boy Ollie played the boy who sneaks up behind Keenan and stabs him in the back. A shame that in the final film you can kinda tell it’s a plastic knife; I wouldn’t let Ollie hold a real knife for obvious safety reasons, and I’m not the kind of obsessive to sacrifice my children’s fingers for the sake of some cheap promotion.
we wanted to do, and why we were doing it, he was extremely interested and amused. And so was I, right up to the point where he asked for £400 to use his factory for a couple of hours. Now, we writers do get paid, but there was a misconception here that I was “loaded” because I was talking about film making and movie shoots. Hmm. Well, I wasn’t. After much hunting, however, I approached a steel works called Bradshaw Profiles Ltd – who were just brilliant. They were actually massively entertained over the whole thing, and nothing but helpful at every step of the way filming in
“And now I stood in a factory car-park pouring fake blood and zombie pus over the breasts of four young women. Life doesn’t much better than that!” SO IT BEGINS… The first (film) shoot was in the park, where two young girls played the parts of Keenan’s murdered children. They were absolutely fabulous little actors, and not once did they complain about the cold or the repeating
Then we all bundled off to a local factory in the town of Bury. Looking for locations, I’d found several steel works, or metal fabricators, that would do the job just fine. The first I approached was a massive steel works, and when I met the owner and explained what
their own little world. Top guys. BREASTS… And now I stood in a factory carpark pouring fake blood and zombie pus over the breasts of four young women. Life doesn’t get much better than that!
“That nurse’s underwear gets right up your bottom and plays havoc with your testiculars”
IT GETS WEIRDER... It’s weird, but the whole shoot started to take on a life of its own. because I wasn’t directing this one, and I was actively “acting” in it (although I want it hereby stating that I most certainly do NOT consider myself an actor), and I chatted to the other actors instead of engaging brain in camera direction and blocking and lighting. I left all that to Col, who did an admirable job. Highlight of the whole day for me (despite pouring syrup over four women’s breasts) was when I got changed into my nurse uniform in the toilets, replete with lace garter (long story). I looked at myself in the mirror, and thought, “What the hell are you doing, you ginger-bearded shaven-headed gun-wielding idiot?” And, with heart beating like a tom-tom drum, I stepped from the toilets. All kids present immediately stopped what they were doing and stared. I fancy some may have even pointed. I suppose it isn’t often you see a large bearded bloke in a nurse outfit. Especially not on a Sunday afternoon. The owner of the factory, a large gruff man who was very, very kind in allowing us to film on his premises (in this age of Health and Safety insanity), glanced up at me – me, in drag, painted nails, carrying a genuine Remington pump action shotgun. “Alright?” he said, no expression on his face, not even a blink, as if this dude came across gun-wielding bearded nurses every day of his life. “Er, I think so,” I said, but I obviously wasn’t. That nurse’s underwear gets right up your 104
bottom and plays havoc with your testiculars. Not that many nurses have testiculars. I think. TIME FOR THE PROFESSIONALS And so Colin the director expertly guided us through the afternoon’s filming, and bit by bit we all came in and filmed various scenes and shots and movements. The lead “evil zombie” was played by my wife Sonia, who later cursed me, and cursed the film, and moaned about how she would never have done it if she’d known she would end up looking like Beetlejuice. I calmed her. “Calm down,” I said. “You look, er, like any wife would covered in blood and pus”. She’s a good sport, bless her. Another hilarity was trying to get a blood splatter on Nicola, who was playing the character Pippa. She stood there with an uzi whilst I, just out of camera shot, flicked large globules of fake blood at her. Spielberg would have been proud! During the course of the day, there was much laughter and merriment. There was an element of stress, in terms of timings, especially as we only had the factory location for a few short hours, and the guns had to be returned to the Fusilier Museum. But laugh? Laugh? Rarely have I laughed so much, and indeed, all of the cast seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, through to Paul and Rick doing a zombie dance and others really getting into role so that they spent all afternoon in zombie mode. Or maybe that was just the stress.
HARDCORE 2, ANYBODY? Anyway, it was so much fun... well, one day soon we should definitely make a follow up. HARDCORE 2 – Revenge of the Nurses. I certainly plan to write the book!
You can see the film
HERE Cast List: Keenan – Paul Remic Pippa – Nicola Cross Franco – Andy Remic Rachel – Nicole Willis Ally – Jade Baker Zombies… Rick Cross Sonia Scott Ruth Shedwick Dawn Wild & Some others…
Filmed on location at: Ramsbottom Park and Bradshaw Profiles Ltd, Croft Street, Bury, BL9 7BG. Weapons supplied by: The Fusilier Museum, Moss Street, Bury BL9 0DF. Music by: Jordan Reyne and TH3 M1SS1NG Written by: Andy Remic / Directed by: Colin Howarth Based on the novel HARDCORE by Andy Remic, published 2010 by SOLARIS BOOKS. 105
A chat with HARDCORE director Colin Howarth UAM: Welcome to the magazine, Colin Howarth! Obviously you're interested in film making, but tell us how you became interested? CH: Cheers chap! The mag looks fantastic! Well, I'd always wanted to be involved in something creative even as a kid. When I was younger I didn't have access to a camcorder or anything like that so for me it started with writing really. I remember visiting careers advisers after I finished my A-levels to get advice on how I could pursue a career as a scriptwriter but at every turn I was talked out of it. I was told on more than one occasion that because it wasn't the most common of career paths I should consider something else! I just carried on writing with a view to just practicing and getting better and more confident and it gave me the creative outlet I needed. As I went through uni meeting other creative folks I managed to get some work experience at the BBC. I was only there for a few weeks but I was like a kid in a candy-store! I eventually moved to London where I met loads more creative types. I joined a writing group with a producer and director and completed a 6-part comedy drama which didn't get anywhere. I did a very short stint as an assistant stage manager for a theatre production, and launched a magazine which lasted only a few issues but again, great experience. Eventually I sat a digital video production course and by the end of that I had finally produced my first short film from end-to-end: writing, producing, directing, editing and so on. The film itself wasn't much cop 106
a typical first film I guess - but that became the springboard for producing and directing the other stuff I'd written over the years. I am still working through that list but not only am I writing, which is what I always wanted, but also producing and directing the work I've written too! To date I've directed a handful of shorts, music videos and promos, including the trailer for Hardcore which was great fun, and comedy sketches. I've done the odd commercial piece but my main interest is in creative film-making. As a qualified teacher I've also taught film at GCSE and A-Level.
props, make up, sound etc as and when it is needed. I have to say that being truly independent means I rarely if ever have a budget, so I'd love to say that I've got a garage full of expensive kit but I donâ€™t. In Cardiff, where I live now, you can hire any kit you can possibly need. UAM: As a film maker, I assume you adore the medium of cinema. What are you three favourite movies, and why? CH: Too right! Jesus! My top films. It changes all the time. Can I count the original Star Wars trilogy as one
â€œfor me it started with writingâ€? UAM: What kind of equipment do you use for filming/editing etc? CH: I use a Sony HDR-FX1E camera for filming. It is considered pretty old now as things do move on pretty quickly, but it is still a great little camera and my most valued possession! For editing I used Final Cut Pro on a G4 PowerMac for years and more recently converted to a PC where I am using Premiere. I think I prefer the FCP/Mac set up but probably because I am more used to it. Outside of this it is all down to
film? Honestly, those films created entire cultures, worlds, technologies and languages. Good vs evil. Heroes and villains. The musical score makes those worlds and characters come alive and as a kid I found all three films to be the most amazing things I could ever wish to see. I had the Star Wars figures. I lived it and breathed it. So for pure entertainment and sentimental value I have to put those in there.
Personally, I found that film to be massively powerful in so many ways. Paddy Considine is immense and for me Shane Meadows gives the perfect lesson in independent, low-budget film-making. It shows just what you can do with a great idea, a cracking script, great acting and a camera. As someone who would love to find success in lowbudget film-making by finding that perfect combination of elements, I'm including this one for its inspiration-factor! That runs a close second against Buffalo 66 by the way. Thirdly and finally, I'll say Amelie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I know it doesn't exactly sit with the others, and I'm a massive fan of
horror and stuff, but for his brilliant direction in anything he has done, Jeunet is pretty amazing. This film runs like a fairytale, and again he just brings out the real magic of cinema and film-making. It's a genuinely beautiful film and carries tonnes of childhood nostalgia through it. And Audrey Tatou is perfect too. In every way! On another day, my other film would have been Oldboy! UAM: What new projects are you working on? CH: At the moment I am (very) slowly working on a short where I am using old animation techniques
to tell the story of a boy who is becoming an adult - about the changing expectations of him and the pressure on him to grow up. It is called The Boy with the Heavy Heart . As well as that I still have plenty of other shorts to tackle, and loads of script ideas including a comedy drama. Having a little girl has meant that my energy and attention have been directed away from the films a bit, but as she is growing and starting nursery and so on, I'm starting to find a bit more time. UAM: Thank you very much, Colin!
â€œHe just brings out the real magic of cinema and film-makingâ€?
AUTHOR DAN HENK VISITS MEXICO SEARCHING FOR BURIED SECRETS… WORDS AND PICTURES BY DAN HENK
I always wanted to see the Mayan ruins…
dropped us off in Cancun, and we took a rental car down to Playa del Carmen. It's apparently the closest village to the ruins, and a major I had never been down to Mexico, or tourist stopping point. The hotel anywhere in South America, but the rooms were nice, if a little musty and lost civilizations buried in the jungles plain. Whitewashed concrete walls, hard floors, and a lumpy bed. The were the stuff of legends. It greatly helped that I was raised on a healthy local restaurants in the cobblestone village square had all the entrees in dose of Doc Savage and Indiana English and Spanish, and were Jones! I had, in my career as a traveling tattoo artist, made it across overpriced. Plenty of Western European sight seers flocked around much of Europe and the United us, some with way too little clothes States, but I knew I would need to on. Almost all of them were getting set aside an entirely different on in years and looking pretty far vacation to venture down below the border. My late wife was Colombian, removed from the rough and tumble locals I had envisaged. I had a and I had a vision of it being fairly moment of fun with the local untamed and wild.
small tourist segment and proceeding through a village that looked like the seedier parts of southern Florida. Once out of the city though, the scenery quickly degenerated into that of a third world country. The road was riddled with potholes, and the weathered asphalt was fighting a losing battle against the encroaching weeds. Tall wildgrass and short trees lined the roadway, and every few miles a shanty, propped by wooden timbers, harbored a local market selling trinkets. The wider, more open stores, essentially large rooms with a wall missing, would alternate with three to five strong pockets of sloppily constructed houses. All tin
“I had a moment of fun with the local Mariachi…” I set out with my traveling companion Nicole, and her boyfriend Neil. In preparation I brought combat boots, binoculars, a canteen, a Kukri, and a special forces knife that resembled a K-bar. Outfitted and ready to tackle anything that came my way, I headed into the wild. Only, it wasn't the wild. The plane
Mariachi, who stopped by our table and asked us if he could play a tune. I requested Slayer. He wasn't familiar with the band. We spent the rest of the evening watching a UFC fight over beers at a local bar. I, for one, hoped our trip to the ruins the next day would bring some of the rustic charm I had anticipated.
and wood planks, they looked barely habitable. Small, wide eyed children crowded up around them, staring out at the passersby in wonder. The doorsteps led out right onto the shoulders of the road, and the sides and back of the houses were mobbed by a swarm of tall weeds and trees.
We set out fairly early, exiting the
We stopped at a slightly more
developed restaurant, still constructed from rough cut timbers, but featuring at least an unpaved parking lot and a porch. The food was good but bland, and we were warned not to drink the tap water. Almost mid day by now, it didn't take us much longer to reach Chichen Itza. The title means “the mouth of the well of the Itza” in the Mayan language. One of the wonders of the world, it was the site I had the greatest anticipation for. Pulling up in a tree sheltered dirt parking lot, we disengaged and headed in. I was a little dismayed by all the European tourists, but we ventured through the brief woods and into the remains of the ancient city. I was outfitted in combat books, with a canteen and large knife hanging off my belt. The first locals I encountered started calling me “Rambo”, and that apparently held for the five days I was down there, as each new group of locals had the same nom de plume for me. It is still a source of amusement for my traveling companions! The famous ball court was a site to behold. A place of myriad symmetrical pillars, and acoustics that still confound modern theater builders. There was nothing gory this day, but in ancient times it's rumored that the winning captain would present his head to the losing captain, who would then decapitate him. A strange reward, but supposedly a great honor, as the winning captain would then go straight to heaven, avoiding the thirteen steps all other Mayans must go through.
“I left a little disappointed. The grounds were littered with trash, a swarm of tourists, with their garish clothes and endless babble were everywhere, and it all had the feeling of a tourist trap” I took the opportunity to climb the crumbling steps of the temple wall, a thick rope dangling down the center of the steep stairway, and was rewarded at the top with a bird’s eye view of the ancient ruins. A small, dilapidated stone hut crowned the top, the back section roped off with safety warnings for the tourists, which I promptly disobeyed by exploring the back. Not that there was really anything to see, as it turned out. Climbing back down, I headed over to the great step pyramid. One of the wonders of the world, and endlessly hyped and talked about, I hoped to scale it as well. As I drew in close to the steps, a Mexican police officer pointed his machine gun, and ordered me back. I left a little disappointed. The grounds were littered with trash, a swarm of tourists, with their garish clothes and endless babble were everywhere, and it all had the feeling of a tourist trap. As we headed back towards the car, a cluster of shanties on the roadside popped up. All were decorated with the relevant trinkets. Wooden statues and masks, carpets adorned with Mayan designs, and a whole mix of baubles for the foreign crowd. 111
A man rushed out and tried to convince me to buy a fairly attractive area rug, festooned with image of a Central American warrior, he wanted $400. As I kept turning him down, the price dropped all the way to $50. I was soon to find out, every single one of the “authentic looking” novelties, from carpets to candle holders, would be repeated at every single roadside store. The exact same designs and patterns, as if they all had the same supplier - which is probably a pretty good guess. Next up, a day later, was Tulum. More Mayan ruins, not a “wonder of the world”, but close and significant enough to check out! I was down there in part to investigate the ruins that I had always wanted to see, but I was also there to do research for the “creepy hidden ruins” part of my novel, The Black Seas of Infinity. So far, everything looked too modern and commercial to give me a real feel. Tulum was much better. A little more isolated and solitary, it gave off the ambiance of an abandoned, age old city. Ancient stone structures were spread out amid wide expanses of grass, the whole area bordering a glistening blue ocean. It may have formerly been called “Zama”, which means “city of the dawn”. Tulum means fence or wall in Yucatan Mayan. It faced the Caribbean Sea, and was a well guarded entry port in antediluvian times. The pathways through the ruins were neatly laid out, the grass cut and the borders roped, but the lack of people, and the soft ocean breeze, created an overtone of an old-world civilization. Glistening white blocks of stone, the edges worn by centuries of weather, appeared timeless and immobile. It was a little hard to imagine a population, as the whole area had an almost 112
ghostly aura of lifelessness. It was striking how small the dwellings were. Made of stone, they reminded me a bit of the castles I'd seen in Europe, only more scattered (and much cleaner). It was almost like they harbored a city of dwarves! The scene was beautiful, but almost like an insect behind a glass. I felt like a distant observer, when I wanted to be more involved. Next up was Coba, which translates to “Waters stirred by wind", and that proved to be quite a bit better. It was more buried in the woods than Tulum, and less populated with tourists than Chichen Itza. It also had more of a real sense of mystery. A trail of packed dirt through a scattered forest of slim trees led us into the ruins. There were people around, but somehow these environs seemed more primal. Giant iguanas wandered about. Keeping a safe distance, they regarded us with an air of aloofness. The ruins looked rougher, the stones less clean cut. The openings between the structures were smaller and densely packed with underbrush. Long queues of what looked like decayed stone walls connected several of the buildings, many of them fairly massive in size. The whole location gave off a vibe of being more recently populated than the previous two sites. Although, by recent, I still mean centuries old. There was a bit of a feeling of something watching over me; something at my back. I got the intense feeling that this would not be the place to hang out at night! Ancient ruins that looked like sloped temples, their apexes over-arched by twisting tree branches, descended into gritty balled courts. Now, this was a place where I could imagine heads being severed!
â€œAncient ruins that looked like sloped temples, their apexes over-arched by twisting tree branches, descended into gritty balled courts. Now, this was a place where I could imagine heads being severed!â€? It helped the mystique that the jungle crouched in at every corner. Apparently, the ruins are situated at a higher spot than any of the others in Mexico, and a climb up a steep flight of stairs offered spectacular views of the landscape. An unmarred swarm of trees thronged all around, flowing out through peaks and valleys, until the woodland disappeared in floating streams of mist. The pyramid I had ascended rose higher than the famous step pyramid of Chichen Itza. It's back end was overrun by the ceaseless jungle, further cloistering me in, and amplifying a feeling of isolation. This was by far the best of the ruins I had been too, and finally gave me the ammunition I needed for my writing! We spent much of the morning, and early into the afternoon exploring the ruins, with Neil even joking that the lizards were remote controlled, and
monitoring our every move! We departed early enough to catch one of the other wonders of Mexico, a cenote. Essentially an underwater cave, there were several populating the way back to Playa. Pulling into the small, packed-dirt parking lot of one, we descended a stained wooden landing into a pit of water that was so clear, we could see the riverbed below. Shirts off, swimsuits on, we ventured in. The open pit led into a cave, and as we swam through, flocks of small bats screeched overhead. They were only normal bats, and stayed clear of us, so unfortunately I have no grisly stories to tell, but it was a great end to the day. We made it back to Playa, and celebrated by drinking beers at a bar while we watched the latest UFC. The next day we ventured into the local town, and visited a couple of
the tattoo shops. They surprised me by being much better than I expected. Although, I would bet I just saw the better ones that catered to the tourists, every city has horrible ones lying around. The city was dirty and gave off a low rent, cheap feel. I wondered how many of the people made their living off the tourist clientele. There was a remarkable difference, both in the amenities and the price, of the stuff inside the small tourist section of Playa and the surrounding town. Your choice seemed to be life that was cheaply valued and a struggle outside, or artificially snobby and cultivated inside. I think next time I'll try to stay more out in the less populated areas. We had a little taste of police corruption on the last day, just as we headed back home. Neil was driving, and a Mexican police officer pulled
us over. Smiling through a grill of gold teeth, and holding aloft a radar gun (with a dangling cord that was not connected to anything), he asked if we were local. Nicole is Cuban, and spoke to him in Spanish, and probably could have pulled something off but we were in a rush to the airport. He claimed we were speeding (did I mention that his radar gun was not plugged in?), and said we needed to pay him $100 in US currency or he would seize Neal's license, take it to Cancun, and we would have to negotiate to get it back. We were already in danger of running late for the flight, so we simply paid him. As if to add insult to injury, his grin got even wider and he shook each of our hands in turn. We all lived in NY at the time, and at a stopover in Miami, we had dinner with Nicole's mom. She insisted, several times, that we were essentially robbed, and could have easily bargained a better deal. Well, you win some, you lose some. Split three ways, it was only $33, and we all had a great time. Next year, me and Nicole would venture down to Costa Rica, but that is a whole new story!
WHO IS DAN HENK? At 18, I was kicked out of the house. I spent the next 8 months homeless, sometimes sleeping in the woods. Finally getting a steady job and a place to live, my friend flipped my beat up old car and I went through the windshield. After a two week recovery, out of necessity I moved from Northern Virginia to downtown Washington DC. A year and a half later, a crack head broke into the house. A knife fight with him severed the tendon on my left hand. After surgery and yet another move, I finally attended art school. My work made it into galleries, political cartoons for Madcap Magazine, covers for Maximum Rock and Roll, and numerous t-shirts and ads. I left art school early, at the advice of my teacher, for a career in NYC. Two interviews with DC Comics made me realize they paid very little, and only wanted me to draw superheroes. Three years later, at the urging of a tattoo artist, I went into the field. I have now been tattooing 11 years. I've been featured in a slew of books, magazines, newspapers, and on TV in the US and Europe, both for my tattoo work, and my traditional art. Tattooing has been very good to me. Life, not so much. I've had brain cancer, and was actually in Bellevue Hospital in ICU when the twin towers went down. Seven years later, wife died in a hit and run. But life is what you make of it. I've always written, writing full novels (that I'm sure were horrible) by the 5th grade, and taking numerous creative writing classes. I've put out quite a few articles over the years, and THE BLACK SEAS OF INFINITY is my first novel, published by Anarchy Books in 2011. I'm already hard at work on a second book of short stories, hopefully to come out sometime next yearâ€Ś You can read more about DAN HENK at www.danhenk.com 114
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY REVIEWS SECTION
OUR REVIEW MANIFESTO
It is our aim at ULTIMATE ADVENTURE MAGAZINE to offer only honest opinion and impartial advice. Of course we don’t want to upset advertisers, but we want to upset YOU our readers even less… because if those boots fail on the mountain top and you have to flop your way home in bare feet… well, you have every right to be damn annoyed. And so, whether it be daypacs, snowboards, motorhomes, mountain bikes, tents, 4x4 vehicles, books, movies, battery chargers or shotguns, our aim is to give you our honest, unbiased and truthful opinion. All reviews are scored out of a possible 100%. 0-19% - Mediocre. It gets a chopping session with the axe. Something which is FUBAR. 20-39% - Could do better. Wake up, you, at the back! 40-59% - Performs its function hmmm okay. Distinctly average. For media, then it may be worth checking out. 60-79% - Just above average. May be worth the asking price. 80-89% - Very good indeed. Worth the money! A UAM SILVER AWARD. 90%-100% - UAM GOLD AWARD. Buy it! Most items reviewed, be they hotels to motorbikes, will get a rating out of 100. However. Some items will get a special “MAGPIE KIT RATING”, which is not so much a measure of cost to functionality scoring, but more a “this is a really cool bit of kit and although I know I don’t really need it, I want it, dammit!”. So then, it’s a secondary score expressing desirability. For all you “must have it” tech-heads out there. And you know who you are; so stop hiding behind your girlfriend, fidgeting with your iPhone. 115
REVIEWS KIT MAGLITE XL200 LED FLASHLIGHT 172 LUMENS 5 MODES PRICE £25/30 Okay, this is one of Maglite’s new generation flashlights, the “newest member of our XL series”, with “advanced features” and “stunning brightness”. Marketing spiel, or a true step forward for the torch? Let’s look at the feature list. There’s a “‘Spot-to-Flood’ adjustable LED beam”, the unit is “Anodized for corrosion resistance and durability”, and has a “rugged, machined aluminum [sic] case”, along with “Intelligent Energy Source Management - continuously monitors the balance between high brightness and efficient power usage allowing for prolonged battery life”, is “Powered by three (3) AAA alkaline batteries (included)” and is “Individually serial numbered”. A serial number? Why? –? You can also purchase a hipster holster, in order, I presume, for those moments when you need to quick-draw your Maglite XL200 and pump six rounds into a fast approaching terrorist or zombie… sorry. Wrong mag. So, wading through the necessary advertising waffle, what’s it really like? Is there a genuine reason to buy one? Or should I just stick with a cheap wind-up dog-walking unit from ASDA, with or without a serial number, cheap as chips at £2.99? Using a wander up Ben Lomond as an excuse to test a bunch of kit, I brought the Maglite XL200 along for the ride. Yes, there is not much call for a Maglite in the daylight hours on a mountain, but as can be seen by the picture below, those 172 lumens sure do stack up to a beam visible in daylight - and is blinding to look at directly. At night, this little unit is truly stunning. I mean, stunning stunning. For one such as I, used to walking the mutt with a standard wind-up torch, the Maglite suddenly allowed me to see where the hell I was going. A rebirth of night vision, one might say. The flashlight itself is small, compact, and fits well into your hand with the ergonomic perfection of something like a well-machined mouse (that’s computer mouse, for those not paying attention). It’s light in weight, sturdy, not too small that you’d lose it, and not so big that you dread carrying the lump. The blurb talks of “rugged machined aluminum”, obviously some new alloy discovered by Maglite, but it really does feel like a quality tool. The various modes are activated by a touch button on the base (convenient) and the modes are well
thought out and useful. What gets my vote for a 5/5 score, however, and warrants carrying this unit on any climb or ride or dangerous pursuit, is the 5-click SOS function. Yes. Lying there with a broken leg, or your head squashed between two rocks, activate this SOS function and the flashlight will happily signal your distress for up to 218 hours (better than 127, right?). Often, I have pondered what I would do if I fell down a gully with a broken coccyx and had to wait for an air ambulance. How would I signal for help? Now I know. I have my little Maglite friend. During the entire Lomond trip I got some security from the knowledge I had a backup, a friend who knew how to signal for help. I gave my leedle Maglite a name. Bill. And I am very happy to say, Bill scored Top Marks. So, condemn! thy hellish wind-up crappy rechargeable device to the bin! And buy a Maglite XL200. Not only is it cool (baby), one day it could save your life.
RATING 92 MAGPIE 94 AR
a tale of music, groupies and hedonism by JAMES LOVEGROVE Mik Dyer is a rock star. Kim Reid is his number one fan. Mik has had enough of the shallowness and emptiness of the rock-star lifestyle and wants to end it all. Kim becomes his willing nemesis, eager to do anything to fulfil her idol’s wishes. The two have never met, but Kim knows what Mik wants from her. His lyrics and a drug-induced vision have given her all the instructions and inspiration she needs. As Mik’s band God Dog return to their hometown for the final gig on their latest tour, there’s more than just songs on the set-list. The audience are in for a night they’ll never forget...
by DAN HENK Visions of pulp era heroes fill his thoughts. Taking advanced physics, he dreams big, but harsh reality bites and he resigns himself to building surveillance drones for the military. After a brief probative period, he’s moved into the clandestine world of investigating crashed alien craft. Fascinated beyond anything he thought possible, it’s a dream come true but his lack of social skills get him fired. However, he's seen too much – and a year later returns to pull off a bloody heist... Fleeing into the woods with the military in hot pursuit, he makes a mad scramble up the coast. It’s only then he discovers the world has grown strange. Businesses are closed. Highways deserted. The US has become fractured... Trigger happy locals and violent militias are only the beginning. Death, madness, and the unwelcome return of creatures from beyond this world await... 117
REVIEWS KIT SIGG ALUMINIUM SANDWICH BOX PRICE £20 I confess, owning an ultra-light, durable and strong lunch box has never been high on my agenda. I have never trawled the internet late at night, bottle of whiskey in one hand, Trail Magazine in the other, drooling over thoughts of getting my hands on the latest coolest funkiest hip and cool smash and grab lunch box. However, once it was in my paws, well, what a nice little thing I decided it was. To say the Sigg Aluminium sandwich box is well made is an understatement. If you want the perfect aluminium lunch box, then this is it. I loved its looks; it was like carrying a small ammunition box in my pack, which in turn made me feel like Steven Seagal swaggering up the trail [joke]. It reminded me of my old motorbike luggage boxes - in miniature. And for sandwiches. Whatever. I got this little box and thought it was a cool little unit. The sort of box you could pull out at the summit of a mountain, then look condescendingly at your climbing partners as you wiggled it provocatively, as they then had to remove their cheap and tacky pieces of plastic junk. Functionality. It it functional? Well, as can be seen in the photos, it is the perfect size for 2 generously loaded ham and mustard sandwiches. The clasps are well engineered, and a rubber seal keeps food fresh and dry. The whole unit feels extremely robust, because that’s what you need in the event of, say, a serious tumble from your downhill mountain bike you need your sandwiches uncrushed and there to be enjoyed as you wait for the paramedics. This is not an item that will set the world on fire. And as lunchboxes go, its modest in size (but just the right size)
and we can no-doubt progress with all manner of “lunchbox” jokes here; but I’d rather not… (but let’s just say Russell Brand’s lunchbox is much, much smaller; whereas Frankie Boyle - well, as we all know, his unfunny lunchbox doesn’t even exist, so tiny is it, ha ha!…). The SIGG aluminium sandwich box is a fine piece of kit. Do you really need one? Probably not. Do you really want one? Well… ye-eees. Now, if somebody were to try and steal my sturdy aluminium sandwich box, I’d give them a beating with it - and then happily eat my unscrunched sandwiches afterwards. It’s one of those pieces of kit that you don’t really know you need it until you’ve got it. It’s light, strong, well engineered, and just a neat and cool little thing for all you tech-head magpie kit-junkies who have to have the best of everything, and to hell with the price.
RATING 75 MAGPIE 86 MJ
REVIEWS KIT CATEYE STRADA WIRELESS BIKE COMPUTER PRICE £37 Earlier in this issue we fitted this little bundle of plastic delight, so now it’s only fair that we put it through its paces. The Cateye Strada is by no means the cheapest computer on the market, but as a wireless unit is most reasonably priced. It sits discreetly on the handlebars and gives you a multifunction displaying showing mph/kmh, distance travelled, total distance etc.
See page 24 for fitting instructions.
handlebars in mid-descent and planting your face in a hedge (or pavement). The Cateye Strada was suitably easy to fit - easier than a wired unit, if memory serves, because there’s obviously no wire to faff and mess with. Yes, you pay for the privilege (wired units come in around 10 or 12 quid) but this is a far more elegant solution.
On a five hour off-road pounding, the Strada didn’t blip, didn’t miss a beat, it did what it said on the tin and did it well. Ergonomically speaking, it has a very clever system whereby the select button in on the back, on a chassis, so you My first ride out was in the rain, and simply press the whole unit to cycle the unit proved itself suitably through selections. Very neat, and waterproof. It’s easy to read on the very efficient to use. This is a move and appears very accurate. fabulous little piece of kit! There’s no vibration noise, and of course no wires to unwind and RATING 79 tangle up your forks twisting you
REVIEWS KIT Garmin Oregon 550 GPS PRICE £315 Having been using and teaching the use of conventional GPS receivers for a number of years I was interested to see how the next generation with on screen mapping would perform. As all the mapping is based on the same Ordnance Survey maps, the only differences are between how each unit operates, and affordability.
but the problem would reappear later anyway. Other rechargeable batteries acted the same way, but using standard alkaline batteries apparently remedied this problem, and I had less problems with it while it had alkaline batteries fitted.
Another handy feature is the attachment point on the back, which is far more secure than the previous clip attachment, and allows the unit to be attached to a carabiner or to a secure bike mount. The rear cover release is located at the bottom of this clip, and is a definite While the units are expensive, the improvement on the similar looking mapping seems even more so. system on the Colorado models, Combine the cost of this with PC which slides on, and can based mapping and you are looking occasionally catch on the rubber at a hefty chunk of money, certainly seal. more than I could afford. Luckily for The unit itself keeps many features me a Garmin competition in TGO from most of the other Garmins in brought me a brand new Oregon 550 the range, so if you have used other and mapping for the National Parks. Garmin units you should be able to Out with the old and switch on to the quickly master this one, however new…
Take some time to find the right setup for you and won’t regret it.
Additional mapping is optional. The unit has a built in base map, which has some road mapping in it. However buying one of these and using the base map only would be like using a Ferrari for the school run. It can use the Garmin European road mapping, which I did use while waiting on the Micro SD card with the maps to arrive, and this is an improvement over the inbuilt map, however if you want it to work to its full potential then you just have to install the Discoverer mapping. The screen on the unit isn’t overly large, and panning can be slow at times, and is acceptable on its own, but used in conjunction with a paper map it is be a fantastic combination. I was using the National Park Discoverer mapping card, which, as it suggests covers Britain’s national
“Combine the cost of this with PC based mapping and you are looking at a hefty chunk of money, certainly more than I could afford” The Oregon 550 is a great concept. A touchscreen GPS with optional on screen mapping (courtesy of a Micro SD card), and built in camera, which takes photos which can later be used to navigate to as a waypoint. So how easy is it to use? To start with, along with the usual cables and instruction disc, the Oregon 550 comes with two rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. Having charged and used these batteries I can say that I found them to be unreliable, and that at times the unit would become unresponsive and slow. In some cases the tracklog failed to record some sections, not good at all should you wish to backtrack, or even just keep a log of your trips. I found that often the only way to fix this was to switch the unit off and on,
instead of buttons almost all the features are accessed via a touchscreen, which is glove friendly (although if you are wearing big chunky gloves a stylus from a Nintendo DS can prove rather useful).
parks. The good thing is that should you go “off map” then another large scale overview map kicks in, and if you zoom in you have road mapping available. The road mapping comes in extremely handy, as you can navigate to a point “on road” as opposed to the traditional direct line. The default page is the main menu, This is great for cycling, or just for which allows you to access the usual getting you to the hills in the first features, including a trip computer, place, and optional car and cycle camera, a photo viewer, waypoint mounting kits are available. You can and track managers, along with even search for individual addresses maps and compass. From the main and travel to them, handy for finding menu you can also customise the an after walk pub! unit, changing the display size and information, and you can even use For general hill use the national park your own photos as wallpaper. The card is a good budget option, having trip computer is excellent and more a fairly decent coverage of the more versatile, having a maximum of eight popular hill areas, but should you easily changeable data fields, so that wish to travel to more remote your location, speed, height and locations then the full OS mapping is more can be accessed at a glance. necessary.
Another good feature is the 3.2 megapixel camera. It is of reasonable quality for taking snapshots, comparable with the cameras found on most mobile phones and has a 4x digital zoom. When you take a picture the GPS records the location. Should you wish to navigate back to where the picture was taken, simply select the picture and go to it. It’s that simple.
directly from websites and into the GPS as GPS exchange files, far quicker and easier than previous methods.
The unit did have some drawbacks initially, the battery problem being one. Another problem was far more annoying. It is good practice to reset your GPS prior to a walk, otherwise the odometer begins to add all your previous walks One area in which the Oregon 550 together. Having completed my first differs from the previous generation walk using this GPS I saved it as of GPS, is that your computer normal, and reset the unit. I arrived “sees” it differently, much like a home to download the information digital storage device. Instead of on to the PC to find…..nothing. downloading tracks directly to Selecting clear current track not mapping software, these are only clears the track, but waypoints transferred from one drive to too. Initially I thought I had made a another as GPS exchange files. I mistake somewhere, and tried use both Memory Map and Quo again, with the same result. Having mapping, and find it easy to use loaded in information before the with either system. walk, I now found myself on the hill Similarly, tracks, waypoints and without the waypoints I had saved geocaches can be downloaded for the walk. This wasn’t critical, 121
they were there as a backup, but it was a cause for concern. A visit to the Garmin website led me to the solution. The unit was in need of updates or patches, which correct software errors. These are available on the website, but Garmin really should encourage new owners to update their GPS before using it. With the updates installed, it operates perfectly. Overall I’m very impressed with it. It’s versatile and is a million miles away from the first generation GPS which told you where you were and little more. Useful from the minute you leave your house, to the trail and back, it’s one of the items which will end up near the top of your kit list, and unlike the GPS of yesteryear, near at hand, not stuck somewhere in your rucksack.
RATING 81 JCA
REVIEWS KIT Mammut X-Shot Cycling Head-Torch £65.00 I’ve been mountain biking, off-road, for a long time. I’ve also been night-riding, through all weathers, for... let’s see. Since about 1989 – so that’s nearly 23 years. Gah. You’d think I’d be slimmer... Back then, me and my mates tried all manner of weird and wonderful night-ride lighting options, from bike mounted lights (useless for night riding, because they point where the bike points, not where you’re looking at big rocks/ditches), big fat rechargeable options that weighed about 50KG and were carried in your bike bottle holder (and yes, cost was an option – the cost of batteries, because we did so much night riding). My good buddy Jake had the incredible idea of using a head-torch in about 1991 or 1992. Back then, your only option was to buy a generic unit as favoured by miners. Probably. Anyway, we were a regular twin-halo site to stun drunken idiots on the way back from the pub, and we got all manner of strange and wonderful looks, usually followed by some crazy wild witticism, like, “Off down the mines, are ye?” or “Been fixing the car, eh lad?”. Eventually, ARGOS (I think) started doing a reasonably priced cheap head-torch which could be moulded to our purposes, and combined with rechargeable batteries, made a good symbiosis of actually seeing where you were going and battery life. However. However. The downside was, for example, our Wednesday night ride, a 20-odd mile route across the moors, which would last about 3.5/4 hours. And even with brand new Duracells, we’d usually look like wee-willy winkee twinklers on those last few miles, the most crucial being the last mile or so on the road. That led to a few interesting chats with coppers. Remember: “There’s no comedy in having no bike lights, son”. Anyway. Then I had two kids, and the majority of my night riding stopped for a good few years. Now, just rediscovering the delights of falling off on the ice, ten miles from home and breaking a finger, or being harassed by a surprise herd of bulls on the darkened trail whilst thinking of American Werewolf in London (we once had to
throw our bikes at a particularly frisky big honking fella, but that’s another story), I was searching for a good, solid, affordable off-road lighting solution. And here it is. The Mammut X-Shot, in a tasteful vomit green (joke/ I actually think it’s really quite funky) is a quality piece of kit straight out of the box. It has spotlight, floodlight and dual light functions, and – and I think this is awesome from somebody regularly nagged by Five-O – it not only has a rear red light built into the battery compartment worn on the back of the head, but also a battery life of 15 hours on full spotlight. That’s fifteen hours. On its number II setting, LOW, it lasts for an incredibly awesome 200 hours; although that’s more a light to be seen by, rather than a light to see by. On the road, I’d probably plump for the number III Flood setting, which is pretty bright and lasts a good 80 hours (manufacturer’s claim). I tested the Spot-light setting for battery durability, and got 14.3 hours (as opposed to 15), which is still pretty incredible for this kind of luminosity. The X-Shot is a sturdy, well-built little unit that oozes quality. The angle of the actual beam can be adjusted with neat and sturdy little klicks, and it stays where you tell it – a necessity to avoid hitting a rock, then hitting your head. So then. An all–round fabulous cycling head-torch, with one added bonus – it also features the SOS Alpine emergency mode (also included in the Maglite somewhere in this issue). Admittedly, I think the Maglite feels better machined, probably due to its aluminium (rather than plastic) construction. But you can’t wear a Maglite on your head. Well, not the one I’ve got, anyway. There’s also another added bonus that you can use the X-Shot for a) converting the loft/ b) fixing the motorbike/ c) playing “catch me” with your girlfriend in the woods. Although she won’t miss you, because the X-Shot is so damn bright!! Highly recommended for all night-time cyclists.
RATING 90 AR
REVIEWS KIT Grivel Mont Blanc Ice-Axe PRICE £60 How do you review an ice-axe? I mean, really review it? The only way can by via a long-term review. A piece of kit you’ve used over a period of years, something you’ve taken on numerous trips, used numerous times, something which you humped through miserable conditions until the light died and you thought you might, also. My Grivel Mont Blanc Ice-Axe has been my friend for over five years. It’s blue. It’s battered. It’s been on about twenty expeditions in the mountains of England, Wales and Scotland. And it’s saved my life. So. How can I give it anything other than 5/5? Well let’s firstly look at its
condition. Battered, used and abused, subjected to endless torrents of rain, hail, snow, rainy snow, haily rain, and a comedy God intent on chucking thunderbolts on my whenever I peek my nose over 900m.
How has it stood the test of time? Rather well, actually. As I said, battered, scratched, scuffed, but no rust, no failure, a good solid reliable piece of kit. And how else do you test an ice-axe? You come up against a staircase of solid ice, and cut steps all the way up. You slip down a flat platform of angled rock, and in a manoeuvre worthy of Stallone’s Cliffhanger (only with intelligible curses and squeaks), you perform an overhead life-saver and stop your sorry backside sliding off into oblivion.
If there’s one fault, it’s that the Grivel Mont Blanc is too small for walking across snow fields. Too small for me. But that’s my error, not the axes, so I can’t really deduct points. So then. It’s lasted. It’s tough. And it hasn’t let me down. ’Nuff said.
This axe is a good axe. I’m sure most axes are good axes. However, there are many axes, but this axe is mine. And he’s a good axe. One day I’m sure I will oil him. But until he is superseded by a younger fitter stronger longer model, he’s good for many a mountain mission yet.
RATING 89 AR [it would be rude not to].
REVIEWS KIT XPLATE & XLBOWL SEA TO SUMMIT XPLATE £11.99 / BOWL £8.99 I love gadgets. I love cool bits of kit. More than anything, I love cool bits of kit that don’t weigh anything, thus making my pack weight lighter and my ride/hike/climb more durable. Maybe it’s going to extremes to hunt down a plate or bowl with these kinds of requirements, but I think not - especially if doing a lot of travelling or trekking or camping. The main sales angle of these items is that they’re “unbreakable” - a pretty bold claim (shall I go and get my sledgehammer?). I confess, I didn’t try and break them, but they were certainly extremely robust, made very good chopping boards, and of course, their best feature of all - they fold flat. Now, for a plate I don’t really see that as much of a selling point - a plate is flat anyway (although this one did have a little ridge to stop those tricky pieces of sausage trying to escape). The bowl, however, is much more versatile allowing soup on that winter trail, then folding back down flat with all your other kit. Overall then, says what it does on the tin, but with a bit of style and cool and performance (if that’s the right word).
RATING XPLATE 75 XLBOWL 84 BJ ALPHA LIGHT SPOON & KNIFE SEA TO SUMMIT SPOON £5.99 / KNIFE £4.99 I only agreed to review this cutlery for one reason, which will be cunningly revealed by the end of the review… Okay, cutlery is cutlery. You need it or you don’t. For longer expeditions and camping, for example, you certainly do need it, and that’s where these little items come into play. Main selling points are their “Ultra-light Hard Anodised 7075-T6 Aircraft Alloy” construction which, to be fair, is pretty cool. “I have a spoon made out of Space Shuttle construction material” is always a better pub talking point than “I have a spoon from Argos”. Argos ain’t cool. These are. And much recommended for camping. They are exceptionally light and exceptionally strong. I tried to break them, but could not. I did not get my angle-grinder out, for that would be cheating. So I carried them up a mountain, and they were indeed light - so light I could not tell they were there! I sweated more than they weighed. I suppose the only downside is that being so light, so weightless, I dropped the spoon and lost it between the rocks, thus forcing me to fix Dog with a stony stare, and utter the magic Matrix words: “There is no spoon”. [Sorry].
RATING SPOON 82 KNIFE 89 AR 124
Yes. She got her sausage in the end…
OMM Villain Rucksack PRICE £125 Having decided that I’d like to change to using more lightweight kit, thoughts naturally drifted towards load carrying. I already possess an OMM 32l Classic Marathon sack, which is fine for day walks, but the addition of a tent and sleeping bag overloaded it. I immediately looked to its big brother, the Villain for a solution. With a 45+10l capacity it was ideal for size. I’m one of those people who have a tendency to fill all available space, and had I bought a bigger bag I would only carry more stuff, which defeats the purpose of lightweight travel. I had expected the Villain to be simply a beefed up version of the smaller sack, but this isn’t the case. It’s made of tougher Dyneema, rather than lightweight ripstop, and while a number of features are similar enough to make the user immediately comfortable with it, such as the waist belt pockets (big enough to take a large GPS) and the handy gear rail, it has a few little tricks of its own. Gone is the full length mesh outer pocket, replaced here with a detachable compressor.
where you can stow small odds and ends, and they will be held securely enough. I found the pocket useful for retaining tent poles and my peg bag, keeping them to the side of the sack, and away from direct contact with the back. There are also two outer mesh side pockets, which can be easily reached while wearing the sack, and a lid pocket, with cord loops, an inner mesh pocket and a secure hook. All the zips are water resistant, but not waterproof. I use dry bags anyway, but this should be borne in mind, as should the side zip not be fully zipped up it provides direct access to the main compartment for water.
The back system comprises an internal foam mat (platformat) which has a metal insert for stability. The outer straps are well padded, and are fitted with Drings and cord attachments. I removed the platformat This is easily removed to save weight, and fits again in and replaced it with a small folded thermarest, which seconds. It’s ideal for stuffing a jacket into, where it can saves on space and weight, and is very comfortable. A be reached quickly in the event of a sudden shower. removable lumbar pad sits on the outer base, I The sack also has a side zip, which allows you to personally keep it fitted, although there is no access the inside of the sack, without going through discernible difference either way for me. the palaver of unclipping every clip and strap. With this sack expected to take a heavier load, it also Reach inside and down and your hand is in a pocket 125
has compressor cords fitted at the top of the shoulder
REVIEWS KIT straps, and while made of cord rather than a flat strap, they are more than adequate. The straps are fitted with loops for attaching a chest strap (with emergency whistle), and elastic loops for a hydration tube. While there is a pocket inside for a reservoir, filling and replacing it involves removing the complete contents of the main compartment. This can be a time consuming process, and if backpacking in warm weather it may be easier to use the outer compressor to hold the reservoir in place, rather than repeatedly emptying and filling the rucksack. The capacity of the bag can be increased by adding an optional 4l chest pouch. This is ideal for a map and compass, and while it has an integral map case on the rear, it’s strictly fair weather only. A feature to have if travelling in to a bothy or wild camp for a few days. Carry in the load in the two bags combined, then use the smaller bag for day walking. The rucksack is advertised as having a weight of 1160gms, and I found it to be creeping just over 1200gms mark. OMM also encourage you to go “leanweight”, stripping non essential items off to save weight. The advertised leanweight is 710gms. After a basic strip, removing the compressor, lumbar pad and platformat, I had a weight of 810gms. I could shave off a bit more by trimming down cord and strap lengths, but can’t bring myself to take a knife to it. In my view, the best set up seems to be the rucksack and compressor, less the platformat and lumbar pad, giving a total weight of 900gms. All in all this is a very good rucksack, and well worth the money. It’s suitable for multi day camping trips, and it’s extra capacity is ideal for day walks in winter, where extra gear such as helmet and crampons are required. It has a very effective reflective panel on the rear, and reflective elasticated ice axe
loops, which helps on dark nights. It’s a tidy bag, and well thought out, possibly the only change I would make would be the addition of a floating lid, but that is no reason to pass this one by. I think I will be using this for a long time to come.
RATING 85 JCA
REVIEWS KIT BRASHER 3to4 SEASON WOOL ULTRA SOCKS I confess, when products come into the office for review, sometimes there’s a scramble to get sweaty paws on the item. When socks arrive in the office, there’s… not really an amble. Socks? For review? Not as exciting as a new crossbow, GPS or Ducati. No sir. However, I had a trip planned, heading off for the mountains for a day. Go on, I thought, I’ll check out Brasher’s new 3to4 season “Wool Ultra” socks. Can they make that much of a difference? Well, yeah actually. You unwrap the socks and they simply ooze quality, in terms of this “ultra wool” Brasher have used, but also in construction with extra panelling to supply extra comfort in high impact areas of the foot. Pulling them on, they’re damn comfortable, without being excessively bulky (like many “cheap” rough wool socks I could mention). On the mountain, they performed very, very well. They were warm, comfortable, in fact the perfect sock. No matter how hard the terrain, I suffered from no foot pain (within reason) and the extra focused padding was a welcome layer of cushioning which, I believe, made sure I could continue for longer and further without suffering. The proof of the pudding has actually been the fact that my socks disappeared. I looked high and low for the bloody things, and after days and days of absence and denial from my wife (who had washed them after my climb, and was thus in the firing line of suspicion) she trotted in after picking the kids up from school, kicked off her boots - and lo! The dirty thieving scumbag wife had pinched my Wool Ultra socks! And she keeps pinching them. The dirty great sock thief! Finally, after many hikes and climbs, they have lasted really well. No plucking or holes or excessive wear. Very much recommended (especially by thieving wives).
RATING 90 BJ 127
And here Mongrel models his sweating feet…yum.
REVIEWS KIT GNARL TRAIL TEE WHACKJOB PRICE £26
Here we see Mindy* modelling the Whackjob Trail Tee.
The first thing you notice about this mtb shirt is its softness, and the obvious high quality of the material used. Checking on the Whackjob website (and indeed, the label) you can see the shirt is made from 70% bamboo, 30% organic cotton. See the breakout box below, which claims a lot of stuff. But, in the real world, does it make a difference? Is bamboo as a sports fibre everything it’s cracked up to be? First, let’s look at the actual design(s). Are these items something you’d like to wear to the pub after a hard day slamming the bike? Well, I like the design here - understated, a bit cool, but confess I’d prefer the “Nipple Tweak Trail Tee” - and trust me when I say I’m not making that name up. So yeah, something I would ride in, and then wear to the pub/ BBQ/ gig. What I was also really impressed with, about Bamboo fibre is rapidly taking hold as the ideal material for sports clothing. However, unlike artificial fibres, it does not cause issues with odour and works just as well as casual wear as it does for sports use, which is why we do not differentiate between the two in our products. The reasons we use it: - Excellent natural moisture wicking; ideal for sports clothing - Very smooth, soft and naturally stretchy; hangs and feels much like silk or cashmere - Hypoallergenic; ideal for wearing next to the skin without irritation - Naturally anti-bacterial and odour-resistant - Very durable and easy to care for – no special washing instructions - Excellent insulating properties that keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter - Excellent natural resistance to sunlight (far greater than cotton) - Sustainable crop – very fast-growing and absorbs huge amounts of CO2, and requires no pesticides and herbicides to thrive (hence usually organic) - Obtainable via traceable, certified ethical supply chains the company in general, was their strong ethical and ecological theme, a stance not often observed in today’s commercial market where dollars mean more than sweatshops and slavery. In terms of performance, the trail tee is a joy to wear; comfortable, soft, with great properties as a wicking base layer (which is how I used it). And it improves a ride, because you don’t want to be all itchy scratchy when you’re on the trail. So, if you’d like a sports-focused tee with a name like a touting hooker (tweak those nipples, baby), this is the place to go. Soft, comfortable, ethically sourced, with great real-world sports performance to trample size 10s all over cheap and nasty man-made fibres (and indeed, not-so-cheap and nasty man-made fibres). My advice? Buy one.
RATING 85 AR 128
*OK. It might not be Mindy. Maybe Mindy had a cold, so instead we got a fat bruiser to model this fine shirt. Mindy will model next time. Promise. ;-)
REVIEWS KIT APPLE iPad2 A1395/ 64GB PRICE £550 I received a white iPad2 for my *cough* 21st birthday. A lovely little touch was the fact you can have an engraving on the back of the smooth aluminium case – which here, says ANDY REMIC, 21st BIRTHDAY PRESENT. One further consideration of this engraving is, I suppose, the theft angle (what with me having been spawned in Manchester) – so, if it gets nicked and flogged on, somebody out there has to pretend to be a 21 year old me. Hah! It’s not worth it, criminal thieving scumbag. Upon unwrapping the packaging you are presented with a slim, lightweight, ultra-glossy unit. The screen and white surround are adorable. After the initial integration with MAC/iTunes etc, it’s time for a play. Downloading apps is easy, requiring just your iTunes password. In fact, it’s too easy, too easy to wallop away a large chunk of money, too easy to bend to the mitherings of your kiddies squawking “I want to play Angry Birds, I want to play Need for Speed, I want to play Worms...” etc. The iPad effortlessly hooked up to my hub (mine is the none 3G model, the reason being the download speed of 3G makes me want to tear out my hair and my toenails with me teeth; I’d rather wait for a digital hub umbilical. The screen is super sensitive to the touch, and Apple’s innovative “slide to wake up” technology is genius. It’s rare you accidentally do something on an iPad (or any Apple product) because a lot of thought and ingenuity goes into design – which is why I suppose Apple devices are selling stupido unit numbers around the globe, and Microsoft/Intel et al can only look on with sulky lips as they squat in the design corner, sulking. Games work well on the iPad2, as does the iPod and Photos
implementation; again, a dream of design. I particularly like the way you can take twisted deviant photos using the in-built camera and on-thefly distortion software. It’s a very simple idea that produces hilarious results – want to see your friends and family transformed into circus freaks? Look no further! This aspect has also kept the kids endlessly entertained, and is something they’re still going back to a few months later. So then, all nice and rosy so far. But there are problems. I confess. I hate typing on the touch screen. It’s mostly accurate – certainly more-so that an iPhone which does its best to trip-up my tricky fingers with tricky type, and employs a seemingly psychopathic non-intuitive intuitive wordreplacement spell-checker, or
whatever the hell it is. On my iPhone, this results in me sending endlessly garbled messages with words I never actually put there. It’s better on the iPad because of the size, but this gobble-a-juke tech is still on display allowing you to type garbage instead of real sentences. I also think it’s fragile. I haven’t broken it yet, I try to be very careful, but if one of the kids pick it up I’m like a comedy Mr Bean character running across the room with arms outstretched as I try to break the machine’s predicted tumble. Maybe it’s a solid as a rock, as bouncy as a bouncing thing, but I doubt it. The screen looks ready to crack with the first drop, and that’s an easy way to urinate £500 down the toilet chute of angst and annoyance.
The screen always needs cleaning, as well. This may seem like an obvious thing for a “touch-screen” device, because, well, you’re touching it. And despite the obvious health aspects, spreading germs and disease, snot and eye contagions... (conjunctivitis, that’s the word I’m grasping for) I find myself watching in horror as snotty-fingered individuals finger my pride and joy. I confess, I am anally retentive about having things clean, and I just cannot stand seeing my lovely iPad2’s screen smeared with smeary grease streaks, and so I spend a lot of time polishing said screen. Probably more time polishing the screen than using the device! Which is mad and dumb and indicative of the anally retentive individuals who effectively buy a machine which isn’t actually necessary. What is an iPad2 for? It has no keyboard, it’s not a laptop, so sending more than a Twitter is actually a bit of a pain when compared to the fluid simplicity of a keyboard (although I admit, that may be just me; I met a guy the other day who typed like all his fingers were broken and splinted, each digit a wooden prod-stick prodding out e-a-c-h p-a-i-n-f-u-l l-e-t-t-e-r with abject agony). And it’s not a phone – it’s too big. It’s not a camera, although the camera is good. So, in the words of The Cat, what is it? My conclusion is: it’s a toy. 130
It’s great for sitting on the sofa whilst the TV is stuttering with some useless X-Factory type junk, and prodding away on Arsebook or Twitter showing that men, too, can multi-task, oh yes! and it’s great for messing about on, a bit of light gaming, deviant photography, the reading of ebooks and emagazines (nudge nudge wink wink) – for which it makes a great tool (I’ve been using iBooks and GoodReader – which is great for porting in your own PDF and word.docs, for example, if you need to do a substantial amount of digital reading). You can’t read it in sunlight like you can with a Kindle, though, and its cost means if you drop it in that Majorcan swimming pool, splash, bang, money down the Spanish toilet. My second conclusion then: a great toy and gadget, if you have the money to play with. A laptop’s better for working on, an iPhone for portability, a Kindle for reading iBooks outdoors. It’s nice, and I like it, I love it in fact – but I’m worried about breaking its gloss goodness. The iPad2 is an extravagance, like having slaves oil your naked body and peel your grapes as you recline by a marble bath of milk. Cough. Too much? You get the idea.
RATING 70 MAGPIE 89 MJ
REVIEWS MOTORVATION STOPS! ! E L C I S H PRE T VE 2006 S E T ERM ELANDER T G N O NEW LROVER FRE LAND And here she is, the beautiful new addition to our “Long Term Test” stable - Annie, the loveable Land Rover Freelander. In terms of buying and testing vehicles in the everyday world (as opposed to some £120K Ferrari Muppet which you have for 48 hours) we think it prudent to put a vehicle through a long term battering. That’s right. Here’s Annie now, fresh MOT, 60,000 miles on the clock, clean and spruce and all fresh-faced and pink and scrubbed and just out of the shower. She’s tied back her pig-tails and is beaming up at us, happy in the knowledge she’s going to have an easy life…. Or so she thinks! (cue evil cackle!). Here at Ultimate Adventure Magazine we are firm believers in putting a vehicle through its paces. That
includes all manner of tarmac, mud, water, ice and snow. Annie’s going to get a right kicking. She’s going to get a bashing. She’s going to get taken behind the bike sheds and given…. Err, okay, it’s starting to sound a bit scary-dodgy now, so I’ll drop the metaphor. What you can be assured of is a realistic, no-holds barred appraisal, evaluation, and feedback about the quality of this vehicle to go on some adventures. First stop, Scotland. I feel the urgent need to wander up Ben Lomond. Again! Current rating: 4/5. Feels planted, like a Sherman tank; soaks up back-road tarmac-sprinkled farmer track bumps better than Mr Bump; loses 1 for a dated interior. Yeah yeah, I know, she’s not the new model.
REVIEWS MOTORVATION BMW R1200GS Adventure 2010, Manual £13,500, 0 miles+ Yes, I openly admit, I was (and am) an anal retentive in following Ewan McGregor, Charlie Boorman and Claudio Von Planta in both Long Way Round and Long Way Down. I’ve always been into bikes, and had many a machine in my time – from CBR600 to Bandit 1200, Ducati Monster 900 to... yes. You guessed it. I took the plunge and bought a top of the range BMW GS1200 Adventure. With aluminium panniers. ABS. Heated grips. And some nice stickers. And furry dice. I figured I’d always been a tight-arse when it came to bikes. Started with a CBR400 crash-damaged heap of flame-decorated junk (from a “friend”), then the ubiquitous Bandit 600; the problem always seemed to be, coming from North Manchester at the time, “I’ve got six grand sat in the garage for 8 months of the year whilst the Pennine Moors chonk their moorland urine over the streets”. Anyway. This time, I thought, yes, I will do it in style. Top of the range. ABS. Onboard computer. Stuff it. The Full Monty. It was with great trepidation I picked up my Silver Beast. I’d named her Mary. After the donkey from my novels Kell’s Legend, Soul Stealers and Vampire Warlords. In the novels, Mary is a hardy and stubborn beast, and it gently amused me to name the BMW after such a creature of burden. After all, she’d be carrying my fat ass. And so, I blasted away from BMW in a cloud of exhaust fumes... only I didn’t. Being a heavy old beast, the BMW didn’t so much blast as lumber up to speed. 1200cc, yes, but not quite the kick of a Bandit 1200 (which is like sitting on a bullet), or even a Monster 900. Arse. Last time I buy a bike without a test ride... And, as has been welldocumented in all manner of motorbike magazinery, the indicator switchgear was odd, left indicator on the left handlebar, right on the right. Sounds logical, but when you’re used to the traditional combined switch on the left with a push cancel - for 15 years (and now instinct), this new BMW demonology was as logical as a kick in the happy sacks from your darling wife (although I do confess, that eventuality can be logical; ouch). Anyway, to business! The bike is called an Adventure, and this magazine is the Ultimate Adventure Magazine! So did the bike provide adventures? Provoke adventures? Instigate adventures? Did it grab me by the nackers and drag me into the arse-end of a rabid bottle fight? Did it drop me behind enemy lines, give me a flick-knife and bar of soap, and scream, “Get yourself home, laddie!” Err. Not exactly. It’s a good bike. Don’t get me wrong. And for touring? Oh yes! Big panniers. A nice reliable solid stance and motor. Good, predictable cornering ability. Shaft drive. Heated grips. Good wind deflection. Warm your legs on the parallel-twin boxer engine when it gets a bit nippy. Did I take it round the world like Ewan, Charlie and Claudio, on the Ultimate Biking Adventure? Err. Not exactly. 133
REVIEWS MOTORVATION I confess. I am a “part time” adventurer. A part-time biker. In fact, I take my adventures and travels and explorations in little snippets. I have a wife and two kids, a mortgage and a job. Like most of us. And like most of us, I don’t really want to chuck it all in and head off to live in sweaty pants in the jungle for three years. That’s not me. I like having kids. Hell, I like having a mortgage. And I certainly like having a wife. I don’t like having Dave Lister underpants. I don’t like having socks full of maggots. I don’t like having a leech attached to my groin. And thus I sometimes reign-in my mania and at least try and be a sensible and reasonable human being.
Low speed manoeuvring could be very difficult. And I’m a touch under six foot, weigh 16 stone, and consider myself pretty strong. I tell you something – I look at Ewan, Charlie and Claudio with much more respect after actually owning one of these bikes. Because, to travel round the world on it, fully laden? You’d have to be insane. Or an actor under contract.
After all those miles without a problem, when I relocated from Manchester to Lincoln, and having just travelled 1500 miles in crappy old box vans fully laden with crappy old furniture, it was a relief – as my final burst of freedom, my final act of leaving Manchester behind – to bring The BMW took me on various trips, down the bike. Wife and kids already down to Hastings, up round the Lake ahead, I tonked on down the M62, District, to Penrith and Moffat, then onto the A15 through North through the North Yorkshire Moors Lincolnshire. The sun was shining. (stunning) and up to Loch Lomond The birds tweating. Mary was (even more stunningerer). Not once throbbing between my thighs like a did the bike miss a beat. It was good Big ‘Ol Thing. Oh how life felt dependable, and reliable, and lots of good! Every car ahead was a target other words that end in “ibble”. When to be hunted down. I was an elegant I got used to the machine, and bird of prey.... but wait. What was despite its weight and dynamics, I that stutter? A cough? A burble? could really hustle the big bugger, Another stutter? Nooooo! Not what really throw Mary around – which is you really want at 90mph! quite some feat, because for the first time in my life, this was a bike I And then... silence. Gradually roll to actually dropped. In a jet wash. After a stop by the side of the road. Great. just washing it. With a queue of car I check the onboard computer. Fuel drivers watching. Bum. tank nearly full. But hold on – it was
nearly full 120 miles back, wasn’t it? Petrol cap off, slosh around, is there any sloshing? Can you hear any sloshing? Ring wife. Wait. Couple of friendly bikers stop to offer help, very kind of them, glad that sort of thing still goes on. I don’t expect THIS on my Beemah! Wife returns with fuel, I fill Mary up, bike works. Great, but not great. Stabbed in the back by a dicky fuel gauge. When returned to BMW, they casually informed me it was a common fault. I gave a dry smile. I could have done without that “common fault” when my wife was forced to drag the kids on another pointless 50 mile round trip after an original journey of 130 miles. So then. Conclusions. The 1200GS Adventure is a good, solid, mostly reliable touring bike, perfect for the road, insane on the rough stuff (and that’s insane in a bad way). Heavy and ponderous until you get on the gas, good storage via BMW’s aluminium panniers. Quality, but overpriced, I feel. It has ample space for your walking boots, ice axe, tent and sleeping bag – but after running up Helvellyn, would your legs really have the strength to hustle Big Mary to the Big Sleep?
RATING 72 AR
REVIEWS MOTORVATION Sprite Quattro FB 6 Berth, Twin Axle Internal Length 20' 7" / 6.27m Shipping Length 26' 1" / 7.96m Width 7' 4" / 2.23m Unladen Weight 1340kg / 26.3cwt Maximum Weight 1555kg / 30.6cwt
the least. The light colour design of the furnishings, including the curtains gives the whole caravan a feeling of being spacious. However the gentle patterned design of the sofas makes it easy to keep clean, which is really important for family use.
Storage is fab, the fixed double bed lifts giving that much needed storage space for family use. There is an outside hatch so items can be stored and removed from outside of the van, practical for storage of outside items Having owned several 4 birth, used caravans imagine such as sun chairs, parasols and tables. Sadly the my delight to finally purchase a “brand new” 2009 Sprite wardrobe doesn’t provide space for 6 people to store Quattro FB. This is the top of the range in a line of Sprite clothes, but the ample coupboard space makes up for caravans which start at the lower price range with a this. single axle 2 birth and range onwards and upwards to the twin axle, 6 birth Quattro. The kitchen is user friendly and space is good for serving food. The fridge/freezer is of standard size as is The Quattro FB has been manufactured for several the cooker and hob. There are several upper storage years and the 2012 version of this model currently cupboards which come in very handy for longer retails at £15,665. We purchased this model on special holidays. There is a privacy screen between the kitchen offer in December 2008 for £13,500 with a diamond and fixed double bed which serves its purpose well. The anniversary pack included ( Al-Ko AKS 3004 stabliser, fly screens and blinds are of standard build and similar spare wheel and carrier, door flyscreen, fitted stereo and to most caravans out there (personally I cant believe in scatter cushions) which I feel was a very competative this day and age a better design hasn’t been rolled out price at the time. in caravans). But my only real grumble with the layout of this caravan would be the size of the toilet/shower room. Having a family of 2 adults and 2 children this model In 2009 purchasing a fixed double, end washroom really appealed to us. My husband and I have grown to caravan was practically impossible. In fact, one caravan love the idea of a fixed double bed, after spending salesman tried to tell me my dream caravan just didn’t several years arguing about who was going to make the exist. Since 2009, the whole world appears to have bed up each night. Yep, it was always me that got the realised that yes, not only do we all love fixed double short straw [Deservingly –Ed]. The boys were thrilled at beds, but we also like space to shower and the market the thought of bunk beds, but the fact they can be used is now flooded with fixed double bed, end washroom as a table and 2 chairs during the day time really adds caravans. Sadly, in my opinion this is to the feeling of space in this caravan. A ten stone likely to reduce the appeal of the Sprite Quattro FB in person can easily fit on the top bunk so this caravan can the new caravan market, unless having a large stay with the family as your children grow. The bathroom really doesn’t bother you at all. furnishings are of natural colour and inoffensive to say
Our first holiday away in the Sprite Quattro FB was to Scotland, Moffat followed by Loch Lomond for Hogmany. Yes, a cold time of year, and yes, the ultimate test for a first holiday in a new caravan. We arrived and hooked up for the first night in Moffat. Later the same evening we lost our lights and heating, not an ideal situation when you are heading further into Scotland the following day. Sprite promptly sent out an engineer with a replacement part and finally we were off to the Highlands. However, shortly after arriving in Loch Lomond the replacement part failed (explained to us by an apologetic Sprite due to a faulty batch of parts). On a positive note we still had a lovely holiday, even though we had to purchase a replacement battery and have one charging all the time allowing us to swap over as soon as one battery went dead. Returning home, our caravan was swiftly returned to its point of sale and a further replacement part that finally worked. 137
We kept the caravan for over 2 years and have been thrilled with it. Yes, initially there was a hiccup, but its proved itself since then and been used time and time again. Our holiday touring Ireland was a particular high light, although my husband can tell you some horror stories regarding towing such a large caravan on Ireland country lanes.
making a trip in person to argue with the "Manager", and when finally the van went back for a service to the attached service shop, it took the service centre over a YEAR to source a spare plastic door retainer the part that locks the caravan door open. In fact, what am I saying!? I went back AFTER A YEAR to see where my warranty repair part was, and the useless gormless dude took So OK, the Sprite Quattro FB is big down my number (again) and and yes its harder to tow than a proceeded not to call me. That was single axle, 2 berth caravan. But the another year ago. My husband comfort and space it provides to a eventually bought and fitted a new family is worth the effort. On 2 part himself, because we'd moved occasions we used it with 4 adults 120 miles away and the part was and 2 children, it works, but it's far cheaper than the fuel it would have more comfortable with only 4 cost to go and pick the part up/ have sharing, especially if 2 of those users it fitted. Idiots! are children. Still, a great caravan! One final note. I just wanted to say how SHOCKING the customer service was at the dealership where we bought the van: JR Leisure in Bury, Lancashire. We had everything from unreturned calls, the blame for faulty charge units being spun back SI on us warranting my husband
RATING CARAVAN 85 DEALER 05
REVIEWS MOTORVATION The benefits of the old Lanny Disco is that it really will go anywhere. Well, not along Striding Edge, you understand, but when compared to most vehicles of this ilk (and Nissan Qashqai, or however the hell you spell it, you squirmy little bugger, that’s you I’m staring at hunkering It can be quite difficult reviewing an down at the back whistling with your older vehicle, and in some ways unfair - after all, it’s been a subject of hands in your pockets…) well, I had abuse for myriad other people down this baby through snow and ice, on the line, ham-fisted puddings who’ve Scottish Highland roads full of virgin snow looking for esoteric climbs and crunched gears and bashed cursing the fact that I was the first to shopping trolleys and skimped on discover interesting new potholes in the oil changes, turning the engine the road. Yes, when its gets really into a sack of marbles. solid and icy, the Lanny will slide but then it cannot defy the laws of However. In the name of research physics. One hair-raising moment and looking for that uber-vehicle to saw me sliding towards the edge of take on your adventure (or indeed, a loch, but thankfully all that weight for it to ferry you TO your hunkered down and gripped in, and I adventure), I shall ignore those honourable and no-doubt fair factors was saved a dip in the cold Scottish waters - a fact that would have been and review it anyway. inevitable in your average saloon car. LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 2003 DIESEL AUTO 126,000 miles PRICE £5700
One thing I really like about the Discovery is the rear wheel allowing you to strap on a bike rack, and chuck on your bike with minimum fuss. This is a cheap Argos number which I leave in place all the time, so that when the need for a dash
through snow and ride in the mountains grabs me, there is minimum messing about. Downsides of the Discovery? Vehicle tax. At a whopping £455 a year, that’s up there with my insurance fees. And then there’s the fuel - hahaha. You want to stand at the pump, pump in diesel and pump empty your wallet? £120 to fill up sir? That’ll be a Discovery, then. Admittedly, this model was a 2.5L automatic - which do use a bit more juice. But then, on my icy climb up Beinn Tulaichean, I doubt very much I would have even got there, never mind had the most incredible climb of my life. So what cost on adventure, hey? What cost on the best days of your lives? This vehicle was a little bit unreliable. I had a fuel pump go, which I suppose is reasonable because of the mileage. But it got me to Scotland. Got me through the snow and ice. Got to my climb and numerous icy mountain bike rides. And that, good sirs, is recommendation enough!
RATING 80 BJ
REVIEWS RESTAURANT then mission accomplished! The children’s meals weren’t really children’s meals, because the menu is *very limited* in content. Both kids left the majority of their food. The missus had spaghetti Bolognese which was the nicest dish of the meal; in fact, we all tucked in, like vultures on a cadaver, because that was the only thing of quality on offer, and thankfully more tasty than a corpse (a vulture may disagree). The prices were okay, but more expensive than a traditional Italian restaurant (quite often run by traditional Italian people, not faux Cockneys) and, it has to be said, this came nowhere close to a massive myriad of genuine Italian restaurants offering better value and far, far superior food. I can reel off ten restaurants in a variety of towns and cities that are far superior. And that, my friends is a shame. A bigger shame is that Jamie’s Italian will continue to trade on 1) his name, 2) the tourist trade. And it doesn’t deserve to. JAMIE’S ITALIAN CANARY WHARF LONDON I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver. I’ve spent many an evening watching his happy little gurning face on the TV screen. He has entertained me immensely by bantering with dinner ladies, Italian godfathers and, in his most recent army-truck expedition, the Italian Welsh (?). During a recent trip to London, and Canary Wharf in particular, my wife (because it was her birthday, thus giving her the controlling vote, damn her to Hades!) insisted on eating at Jamie’s Italian at Canary Wharf. Jamie Oliver’s own little authentic London Italian restaurant.
we were seated on what can only be described as garden furniture. It was extremely uncomfortable, like having a piles operation, and proceeded to torture all collected buttocks in a most unseemly manner. We were presented with menus, once again by uber-efficient staff, and it was at this point I was peering around, glancing over towards the kitchens and hoping to get a glimpse of Jamie himself. Sure I didn’t really expect to see Jamie coming out at the head of a conga, but it would have been fun. To see the geezer super magic smashing would have been, you know, geezer.
The starter, a bruschetta, was pleasing to the eye but short on content. The selection of breads was And so, me and the kids were duly dragged along to what is, admittedly, pretty pointless if we’re honest. For a fine looking building at the heart of mains, my carbonara was quite frankly a disgrace – if the aim of the the Docklands. First impressions chef is to save as much money as were good. Neat and efficient frontpossible, and offer a very small of-house staff, a very pleasant portion so that (predictably) a punter interior, right up to the point where will spend more money on desserts, 139
To emerge from a restaurant with empty wallet and empty belly is a crime. To ruin my wife’s birthday meal is a bigger crime. And to fail to see a naked Jamie dancing on the tables after a skinful of vodka; well. He needs to pep up his restaurant. Advice: avoid, like a bad case of haemorrhoids.
RATING 30 MJ
REVIEWS MEDIA These Are the Days that Must Happen To You Dan Walsh Century 375 pages PRICE £18.99 I’ll cut to the chase. This is a brilliant book. I’ve read all manner of motorcycle adventures and accounts, from Charlie and Ewan’s Long Way Round/Down diaries, to Ted Simon’s Jupiter’s Travels and more off-thewall offerings (Hunter S. Thompson, here’s looking at you!). I first came across Dan Walsh (like so many others, I am sure) in BIKE magazine. I had my own business at the time, and was going through a period of extreme and utter miserableness, and so it was with great pleasure I’d receive BIKE magazine every month, and read about Dan’s woes. There’s nothing like hearing about somebody’s else’s troubles to really cheer you up- and did Dan have troubles, many of his own making, if I (and he) is brutally honest. This book contains Dan’s motorcycle overland adventures, first from Blighty and through Africa (to a rather sour end of the adventure in Kenya, an incident filled with theft, kidnap, threats of violence, corrupt police and some rather unsavoury locals), and then from a fresh start in Canada, down through New York, across the States and down to Mexico and The Americas. Oh, and there’s a bit in the middle which feels crow-barred in, a few squished in columns from Dan’s time in London between trips. Dan’s writing starts off good, despite what some moaning muppets complaining to Bike’s letter pages originally whined. It starts off good, gets better and better, and by the point Dan’s ready to commit suicide in Buenos Aires, he is in full poetic stride. “I miss specifics – roaring Old Trafford Saturdays with my Da, cozy Sunday roasts with my Ma, bedwetting drunk on a school night with our Kid. Sometimes it does get lonely. It doesn’t last. Just drink a
beer, talk to myself, spank that monkey. What? Miss some people, find more humanity. Same wrong night in Guinea I give up in a village. A filfthy, freaked-out foreigner wearing mud skin and weird boots. They feed me, water me, bed me. How would I respond if an unknown West African knocked on my door at midnight needing help?” Dan’s a real person, a man’s man, and writes with empathy and intelligence and humanity. And observational comedy. Dan is the Ben Elton of the motorbike traveller’s comedy club. “‘It is the responsibility of every South African to make this country great again.” I tell him that his fine words are only slightly undermined by the fact that he’s just tried to sell me a wrap of Nigerian coke and a discount ticket for Sergeant Pecker’s Strip Club. He laughs. We go for a drink... Someone’s put ‘Lady in Red’ on the jukebox a dozen times. I’m the youngest drunk in there by a bad twenty years, and that includes the hookers. Classy girls – their tattoos are spelt right.” So you’re banging along, page after page after page, enjoying yourself immensely until you get to Buenos Aires. And it gets very serious. Arse. “So we create a nocturnal hobo jungle of casual criminality, loveless violence and petty sex. Even nihilists need a schedule, and ours seldom changes... Dignified waiters in bleached aprons serve coffee and croissants to the respectable readyfor-workers, and frosty beers and colder smiles to our crew of growling idiots crouched in the corner round a table full of empties, listening through our arseholes, scratching at our eyeballs and chewing off our bleeding lips... ‘Ay, los esqualidos.’ The squalid ones. The door swings shut and I piss away the last drops of my soul.” What can I say, this is not just a description of a trip on a motorcycle; this is a soap opera, a narrative, a precisely plotted dramatisation of a likeable man hitting rock bottom; and if you have any soul, you’ll cheer with
Dan, you’ll live with Dan, and you’ll suffer with Dan. This book infuses you with emotions. It kicks Dan’s empathy and humanity into the back of your skull. It doesn’t ask you to agree, but it asks you to listen, and in my opinion this is the greatest set of motorcycle travel diaries known to man. I’ll leave you with this section, and urge you to check out this book. Despite being a collection of magazine columns, it’s a brilliant work of genius and emotion in its own right. “The maid’s been in. Bed made, clothes folded, books stacked, papers tidied. I glance down. A printout of Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide note glances back. ‘No more Games ... No More Walking. No More Fun.’ I get the message. The only thing we’re missing is Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ muzak in the elevator. I walk onto the balcony and smoke. Sully God’s view on my vulture’s perch. Then crouch on the ledge, a pot-bellied gargoyle leering out of Chapel Perilous. What the hell happened, man? I guess I just had to know. I had to know what happens if you just keep going. And now I do know. You sail off the edge. There is no bottom step.”
RATING 92 AR
REVIEWS MEDIA Running Beyond Limits Dr Andrew Murray Mountain Media Productions 176 pages PRICE £14.99
Setting off from John O’Groats on 8th November 2010, almost immediately it seems, Murray suffers injury to his Achilles tendons, and I must confess, I really felt for the guy when he is injured so early on, with such a vast journey ahead. It must have The first thing that struck me when been incredibly frustrating, and is a beginning Running Beyond Limits testament to both physical and was Andrew Murray’s absolute mental strength that Murray pushed enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for his on, day after day. It’s always quite sport, for his charity (the Yamaa amusing when Murray makes Trust, supporting the people of comments like, “That day I’d only Mongolia), and for this challenge – to managed 27.4 miles” – amusing and run 2650 miles in 85 days (that’s awe inspiring. I’m lucky to manage about 30 miles a day) from John 2.74 miles, although even for such O’Groats in bonny Scotland, to moderate distances I agree with the Merzouga in Morocco. That’s the concept of carb loading before the Sahara desert, mate. And that’s a gig (tagliatelle is my favourite/ and damn long way. Guinness/ and a nice cream cake). Now, coming from somebody who does, and always has, found running an excruciating agony (yes, I’m hefty, and yes, I like the odd Guinness – I’m “Big Boned”, to quote Cartman) I have always had nothing but the most incredible respect for long distance runners. I find the concept of a marathon quite eyewateringly painful (worse than sucking a bucket of raw chillies), and on my numerous hikes and climbs and rides, whenever I see some super-fit lean-as-a-butcher’s-dog clockwork fell-runner I am instantly bowled over by their dedication and endurance. Envious, would probably be a better word. Ha yes, but I am a professional writer. I have that string to my bow! And just because Murray attempts a 2650 mile run, doesn’t mean he can write, dammit; just taking on such a mammoth adventure doesn’t mean he’s written an engaging book, right? Wrong. Not only did Murray succeed on this incredible run, but his book is fabulous. After a foreword by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Murray outlines his objectives and his writing is engaging, immediately entertaining and gently humorous. I love the fact that Murray was planning his wedding whilst performing this run, thus adding a kind of mini familysaga / soap-opera parallel challenge alongside the trials and tribulations of what is undeniably an ultra marathon. 141
Murray structures Running Beyond Limits in an interesting way. He doesn’t just regale us with his current adventure, no, he skips back to detail his Indonesian Jungle Ultra marathon, thus contrasting his run through icy Scotland with his escapades in the jungle; and then a few chapters further in, he also gives us 6633 Arctic Ultra; this bouncing between different runs, varied experiences, helps to keep things very interesting indeed (not that the Scotland2Sahara run needed it!) and also helps give more background to this man and his sport. Indeed, his obsession. I love Murray’s constantly amusing little anecdotes; I confess, if I was running 2650 miles there’d be little room for comedy. I loved the tale of the “Sourtoe Cocktail”, a Canadian drink where the cocktail does actually contain a person’s frostbite amputated toe, preserved in alcohol, and one has to “drink” the cocktail [cue jokes about the bar’s next invention, the “Cock Cocktail”] and allow the toe to touch one’s lips. “Apparently there have had to be several replacements for the original toe, due to overzealous drinkers. House rules state, ‘You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips have got to touch the toe.’” Yes, thanks for introducing that image to my imagination, Dr Murray. I nearly
threw-up my dinner. And in the same tradition of sadism, I now introduce it to you, dear reader. And thus, we continue with Murray on his adventures through France to the Pyrenees, through Guadalajara to Brazatortas (where Murray also tells us about his 2005 Everest Marathon run/ stunning, stunning photography!), through Er-Rachidia to Erg Chebbi and the final, amazing, early finish on Day 79. 79 days to run 2659 miles. Awesome! And thus a happily happy ending because Murray manages to get home in time for his wedding... (imagine the telling off for that one if he’d been late!). There’s not enough room here to do Murray’s book proper and correct justice. Running Beyond Limits is beautifully presented, on very high quality paper which is a joy to hold and read, with a fabulous, regular scattering of suitable, awe-inspiring and relevant photographs; the writing itself is sharp, witty, informative, funny, and carries you along with Murray on his amazing journey, breathless and living the challenge. It is a wonderful and inspiring read, would make a great coffee-table talking point, celebrates a very good cause, and ultimately reading this book has inspired me to take up running again. Which in itself, is a minor miracle. I cannot recommend this enough!
RATING 90 AR
REVIEWS MEDIA A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson Broadway Books 276 pages PRICE £5.99 A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is a book that chronicles Bill’s attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail, 2100 miles (ish- this is explained in the work itself, as different sources offer different figures) of forest trails, rivers and mountains that stretch up America’s eastern coast from northern Georgia to the state of Maine. Along for the journey is Bill’s old school chum and fellow traveller from their days of half-drunken backpacking around Europe, Stephen Katz. Katz is a big bear of a man whom Bill hasn’t seen in a long while (and he thus happily accepts Katz’s surprise offer to accompany him, on account of nobody else being mad/fit/deranged enough to do so). However. As Katz arrives, and this travelogue unfolds with all the suspense of a novel, it quickly becomes apparent that he is in very poor physical condition, with an addiction to Dunkin Donuts, a diabetic condition (claimed) and a serious lack of hiking ability. It is amusing indeed to see Bryson’s emotional rollercoaster as he realises he’s been saddled with a lame duck. For the reader, though, Katz is a treat to experience in all his insecurities – he is the direct and bitter comedian to Bryson’s dry witticism and stoic plodding, and their banter quickly becomes amusing and brilliant, and a distinct improvement over the books where Bryson travels alone. For here there is an annoying, unprepared and unfit collaborator to argue with, and bounce off, in the best tradition of any novel filled with conflict. It’s a bit like Laurel and Hardy. Or maybe An idiot Abroad. In America. Anyway, as the luckless duo set off from the start point in Georgia Springer Mountain - their journey quickly descends into conflict (which is, after all, what the reader wants),
with Katz on the first serious uphill section of the hike dumping lots of his kit and their joint food supply. Yes, a heavy climb is hard for anybody; but to dump your food! Even on this first day, Katz is pushed beyond his limits… “What did you get rid of?” I asked, trying not to betray too much alarm. “Heavy f***ing shit, that’s what. The pepperoni, the rice, the brown sugar, the Spam. I don’t know what all. Lots. F***.” Katz was almost cataleptic with displeasure. He acted as if he had been deeply betrayed by the trail. I know how he feels, and sympathise a little (being a hefty bloke myself), and Bryson’s observations are spot on with his personification of the trail as enemy. This situation makes for wonderful reading in a totally sadistic way, for when a journey starts off this bad with so much angst and a big arrow towards more fun to come, it makes for extremely compulsive reading. Yes, throughout A Walk in the Woods Bryson intersperses his text with lots of interesting factual information in the manner he normally employs in his work; but the jewels in the crown of this book are the simple interaction between author and companion... [Katz] sat on a log and watched me put up his tent. When I had finished, he pushed in his pad and sleeping bag and crawled in after. I busied myself with my tent, fussily made it into a little home. When I completed my work and straightened up, I realised there was no sound or movement from within his. “Have you gone to bed?” I said, aghast. “Yump,” he replied in a kind of affirmative growl. “That’s it? You’ve retired? With no dinner?” “Yump.” I stood for a minute, speechless and flummoxed, too tired to be indignant… Bryson writes in a very easy to read style, which is not to say it’s bad
writing - just deceptively fluent, the kind of easy laid-back style that draws a reader in and won’t let go. The journey goes, predictably, from bad to worse, with our intrepid duo stumbling from one disaster to another. And amidst all this entertainment (sorry Bill, to so openly enjoy your misery; I’m sure you laugh about it now… a little) there is the very real threat of our heroes encountering a bear, a bear as Bryson points out - that may well rip off their heads, bite off their legs, and eat their hefty Snickers stash. The novel slows a little when Katz has to leave the trail for a while, and as Bryson also has a break. And around this stage I think Bryson spends too much time getting bogged down in a factual retelling of a variety of information; yes, Bill revels in providing factual information to supplement his travel diary, but there was a stage when I almost gave up, such was the feeling that I was wading through an encyclopaedia. The book then picks up pace once more with the arrival of Katz, and is very enjoyable - right up to the - frankly, quite unbelievable ending. I still can’t believe Bill does what he does. It’s shocking, annoying, and I want to kick him!
RATING 79 ENDING 10 BJ
REVIEWS MEDIA 127 Hours Dir: Danny Boyle Running time: 94mins The last few years have seen the popularity of survivalist programmes soar, a trend doubtlessly stimulated by our comfortable, safe and overly secure Western world. From the humble, modest and down to earth wisdom offered by Bush Tucker Man, we’ve witnessed Ray Mears, a somewhat rotund boy scout with a pathological hatred of long trousers, survive in a variety of environments, mostly, it seems, by carving wooden spoons and making birch bark canoes. Then we’ve watched an actual boy scout, ‘Bear’ Grylls, survive all over the world, mostly by climbing obstacles that any sensible survivalist would go around and eating things that scuttle. Neither, however, can compete with Mykel Hawke, who stars alongside his undeniably lovely wife, Ruth England, in Man, Woman, Wild. He not only manages to stay alive in the most hostile environments known to man, he does so whilst coping with man’s most severe survival
challenge: marriage. Naturally, all these individuals are hardened and impressive survivalists. Interestingly, only one of them, Ray Mears, lacks a military background (some say his formative years were spent working at Gregs the Bakers), and apparently there are few challenges they would not be able to overcome. None of them, however, has ever tried surviving 127 hours with one hand trapped under a boulder, presumably because such a static scenario would make for an incredibly boring hour of television. Such an obvious problem, however, hasn’t stopped Danny Boyle, the director of many an excellent movie, from stretching this premise to 94 minutes and putting it on the big screen. To be fair to Boyle, he does his very best to keep his audience engaged, but the story doesn’t give him much to work with. Aron Ralston, an accomplished outdoorsman, has his day in Blue John Canyon, Utah, rather spoiled when he dislodges a large boulder which traps his hand between it and the canyon wall. He tries heaving at the boulder, chipping
away it and winching it, but the blessed thing just will not move, and since no one’s coming to save him because he neglected to tell anyone where he was going, he cuts his hand off rather than die of dehydration. To get round the obvious lack of suspense in retelling a story everyone is familiar with, Boyle resorts to a whole lot of predictable padding. There are flashbacks, split screens, dreams and nightmares and a subplot aimed at demonstrating character progression and the inherent nobility of the human spirit. This, undoubtedly, is the film’s most annoying aspect. The movie opens with displays of the protagonist’s frankly Wordsworthian attitude to the outdoors and his fellow man, who is portrayed in the opening sequences as a pitiful herd animal who follows his peers to watch team sports, play team games and engage in group activities, whereas Ralston is a proud and independent individualist whose domain, the wilds, is pure because it is inaccessible to the herd. After getting his hand trapped, however, Ralston is forced to reevaluate his views. He realises his arrogance and disdain of society has led him to this moment – being trapped in a canyon with no one aware of his whereabouts. The act of cutting his own hand off, then, is an act of atonement, after which he reengages with society duly chastened, and to ram this unsubtle message home, the film closes by showing him, minus his hand, sat contentedly with his wife and baby son whilst telling us he now never goes on an expedition without telling someone where he is going. So, the film is made up of two elements: an extremely boring main plot, and an extremely annoying subplot, and for me, being stuck between the two really did feel like being trapped between a rock and a hard place.
RATING 39 JC 143
REVIEWS MEDIA A REFLECTION ON MOON AND SUN(LIGHT) Running times: 97mins & 107 minutes respectively This is a retrospective look at Duncan Jones´s much-lauded 2009 film Moon, with a wee bit concerning Danny Boyle´s slightly less lauded 2007 film Sunshine, written with the innocence of ignorance. In other words I´m ignoring all the wealth of background info available to anyone who googles Wiki, and just going on my original first impressions. In Moon, Earth is dependent for its power resources on Helium-3 scraped off the surface of our satellite by big mining machines (vaguely plausible) and sent to Earth in space torpedoes. Supervising all of this lunar activity is precisely one chap called Sam who lives in something the size of a modest shopping mall, under the illusion that he’s on a short-term contract. (There’s another nifty mall in the Dr Who Waters of Mars episode: enormous empty pressurised spaces for running through in panic, that must weigh hundreds of tons, although allegedly cargo space on the Mars-bound spaceship was so limited that they couldn’t even take a bicycle with them to cover the unnecessary distances from A to B and C and D and E.) Sam non-communicates with his loving wife back home by recorded videos – none of that one-and-a-half second delay real-time communication nonsense such as has been popular since Apollo first landed. As a companion in his solitude Sam has a clunky mobile Cyclops-eyed Artificial Stupidity which often advises him to visit the infirmary. (Cue Hal from 2001: I–do–notrecommend-that, Sam…) For lo, unbeknownst to Sam, he is a clone with implanted false memories à la Phil Dick (think Total Recall); and his body will fall apart before too long – whereupon another clone will be 144
awoken from the many in storage in the off-limits basement of the mall. Evidently nobody in their right mind would ever wish, for scientific or any other reasons, to be paid to live on the Moon in a luxurious mall (especially when the mall benefits from normal Earth gravity, unlike outside where you need to move in lunar slow motion). No, obviously you’d supervise Earth’s vital energy supply by using up, one by one, solitary clones that fall apart. Cloning technology and cryo-storage of umpteen spares is so economical. When Sam has an accident outside, the Artificial Stupidity mistakenly thinks he’s defunct and awakens another Sam, which leads to poignant Solaris moments of existential bewilderment, while melancholy celestial music à la Gattica plays at great length to establish a philosophical mood. After a bit of a stand-off, Sam and Sam start playing ping-pong, which justifies the mall already being provided with a ping-pong table which usually requires a player at each end. A discovery! The torpedo which would supposedly send a Sam back to Earth after his stint is actually a highly efficient incinerator; there’s just a tiny trace of ash on the floor,
which the Artificial Stupidity failed to completely vacuum up. Moon so tries to be stylish and cool, but the problem is that the story is deeply silly. Viewing the film as an unintentional farce from the outset will enhance one’s experience quite a bit. I recommend Moon parties with a prize for the funniest catcalls. Sunshine has a slightly dodgy idea too, namely that you can rekindle a dimmed sun by chucking a lot of our world´s fissile material into our star in the form of a superbomb. I fancy you could toss the entire Earth into the sun without making much flicker of a difference to solar output, but never mind that. Sunshine is so stylish and hot, as well as cool, that this doesn´t matter a hoot. Without going into details, since I don´t have enough time today (rather as Fermat scribbled in a margin that was too narrow for his Last Theorem) and since I feel metaphorical rather than analytical, Sunshine pushes all my buttons of, ahem, illumination. Emotional and dramatic and visual insight, rather than dimness, especially of wits.
RATING MOON 15 SUNSHINE 80 IW
REVIEWS MEDIA Deus EX: Human Revolutions – The Burden of the Superhuman Employee JONATHAN McCALMONT 0. Context, Dear Boy… Context Here is a common complaint: ‘One of the problems facing video game writing is a systemic failure to place games in their correct historical context’ What this generally means is that writers fail to open their reviews with a lengthy diatribe on the history of this or that genre. While I think that there is definitely a place for that type of opening and am quite partial to it myself, I think that the real problem of context is far more local and far less high-minded. The true problem of context is that how you experience a particular video game is likely to be determined by the games you played immediately before. For example, if you move from playing one version of Civilization to the next then the thing that is most likely stand out is the developers’ latest fine-tuning of the game’s basic formula. Conversely, if you pick up Civilization V after Europa Universalis III, you will most likely be struck by the weakness of the AI and the lack of control you have over your own economy. Aesthetic reactions, like all reactions, are highly contextual. This much was evident in the reaction to Eidos Montreal’s recent reboot of the Deus Ex franchise entitled Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
unpopular sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War (2003), I believe that DXHR’s myriad eccentricities form a thematic whole that casts a rueful eye over the miseries and frustrations of modern life. The game begins this examination with a meaningful departure from the culture of generosity and empowerment created by the first two games in the Deus Ex series before ushering in an atmosphere of frustration, claustrophobia and willing submission that closely resembles the mind-set required to survive in a system dead-set on grinding you into the dust. 1. The Original Deus Ex Deus Ex was not so much released as unleashed on the gaming public in June of 2000. Looking back at the list of games released in the year 2000, it is initially quite difficult to see why Deus Ex had the impact it did. Indeed, 2000 also saw the release of such classic titles as The Sims, Baldur’s Gate II, Thief II, Diablo II and Shogun: Total War and while these are all great games that continue to produce their own sequels, reboots and spin-offs, none of them has proved as structurally influential to the culture of game design as Deus Ex.
game to blur the line between FPS, RPG and adventure game but it was the game that wrote the book on how to do it right. Look at the other big FPS titles to emerge in 2000 and you see what Deus Ex was up against: First Person Shooters were habitually claustrophobic affairs that had their players crawling through mazes of corridors in search of bigger and better weapons they used to kill bigger and better enemies. Modifying your character was not allowed and you certainly could not make your own way to the end of the level.
Given the narrow way in which the FPS genre defined itself, playing Deus Ex was a liberating experience. Instead of banging their heads against difficulty curves, players encountered a game that seemed to rise up and embrace the peculiarities of their preferred playing styles. Do you enjoy playing games like Quake? Great… dump your points over here and Deus Ex can be a Quake clone! Do you enjoy Prior to Deus Ex, video game genres exploring and sneaking your way through a game environment like in were both clearly and narrowly Thief II? Great… dump your points defined. If you wanted to play an The most visible response to the RPG, you went with Baldur’s Gate II over there and you can be a creature game was that its adoption of endor Final Fantasy IX. If you wanted to of mist and shadow! Wanna climb a of-level bosses was not only play an FPS, you went with Soldier tower and pick off all the guards with massively unfair but also an affront of Fortune or Perfect Dark. If you an augmented sniper rifle before to a franchise whose chief appeal lay were really adventurous, you might skipping through the level in its willingness to allow the player go with one of the more unmolested? No problem… Deus Ex to find their own solutions to the experimental and genre-bending has got your back. Deus Ex did it all game’s problems. While I agree that titles such as Thief II’s stealthy FPS and it did it with style. Even the Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a or System Shock 2 (1999)’s baroque game’s narrative crooned a ballad of very different beast to both the collision of FPS and adventure empowerment in which its postoriginal Deus Ex (2000) and the game. Deus Ex was not the first human protagonist JC Denton
REVIEWS MEDIA graduated from UN Peacekeeper to a rare thematic power, a power a realm of possibility where all drawing upon narratives of racial and conspiracies seemed simultaneously economic oppression. true. 1. The Persecuted Overman From the smallest details of its gameplay to the broad sweep of its DXHR’s protagonist Adam Jensen narrative, Deus Ex was a game begins the game as a cop forced into about doing the impossible and early retirement by his refusal to being more than human. Compared follow questionable orders. Now to most other games of the period, working in the private sector, Jensen Deus Ex seemed impossibly is the head of security at Sarif generous and that generosity Industries, a high-flying tech changed video gaming for ever. company specialising in cybernetic Indeed, without Deus Ex we might human augmentation. Following a never had had the massively openmysterious raid on the company’s ended level design of Far Cry 2, the offices by a group of heavily RPG/FPS crossover augmented commandos, Jensen is experimentalism of Vampire: The mortally wounded forcing his Masquerade – Bloodlines, or the employers to step in and save his tactical intricacies of the special life. When Jensen wakes up from his powers showcased in titles such as coma, his ex-girlfriend is gone and BioShock. Deus Ex is a game whose his body is stuffed full of cybernetic impact is still being felt today but the implants. force of that impact owes as much to the context in which the game Right from the start, Jensen’s appeared as it does to the beauty of augmentations are presented as an its design. Had 90s game designers external imposition rather than a not focused so relentlessly upon choice. Jensen did the job he was linear narratives and level design paid to do and should have died in then Deus Ex would not have the process but because he did his appeared half as ground breaking as job particularly well, his employers it did. decided to ‘save’ his life by turning him into a cyborg. Jensen’s A lot has changed in eleven years. reluctance in accepting what it is that Back in 2000, FPS/RPG crossovers he has become fosters a sense of were unusual enough to seem ambivalence surrounding the experimental and tentative in their benefits of augmentation that was design choices but now hybrids are entirely absent from the original so common that FPS/RPG Deus Ex games. crossovers almost constitute a genre of their own, a genre that creates Ambivalence towards human expectations and lays down rules. augmentation is something of a Because of these rules and recurring motif in DXHR’s plot. For expectations, no mere remake or example, the second you step reboot could ever hope to recapture outside the offices of Sarif Industries, the impact of the original Deus Ex. you are confronted by the prejudice At a time when open-ended level of non-augmented people who look design and pluralistic character upon the augmented with a distaste builds are common, generosity no bordering on outright hatred. The low longer raises eyebrows or merits status of augmented people is much discussion. Because of this further reinforced by the fact that change in gaming culture, Deus Ex: most augmented people are forced Human Revolutions simply could to pay through the nose for not afford to be generous and so expensive medication that prevents Eidos Montreal decided to go the their bodies from rejecting the other way and construct one of the cybernetic implants. While the game most claustrophobic and repressive never makes it explicit, the games in recent memory. However, suggestion is that the anti-rejection far from being a weakness in the medication may well be both game, the unpleasantness of addictive and entirely unnecessary, DXHR’s atmosphere lends the game a chemical cosh used by the Powers 146
That Be to keep the augmented in a state of docile servitude. The idea of using drug addiction as a means of social pacification also features in the plot of James Ellroy’s novel L.A. Confidential (1990). In Ellroy’s novel, a group of rogue police officers flood Los Angeles with cheap heroin in order to keep the Black and Hispanic populations ‘under control’. Given that the game does not explicitly state that the antirejection medication is a means of social control, this connection may come across as something of a stretch but this stretching is made a lot easier by the game’s frequent allusions to the issue of race. In what must count as one of the more bizarre casting decisions in video game history, DXHR presents FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) as a catspaw for sinister political forces. Normally, when games are looking for villainous government agencies they tend to go for such usual suspects as the CIA, the NSA or the Department of Homeland Security. However, once you familiarise yourself with some of the more conspiratorial thinking regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the decision to cast FEMA as the villains makes a lot more sense as many people argue that FEMA intentionally botched their handling of the Katrina aftermath as part of a deliberate attempt to destroy one of the great bastions of African American culture. When you consider the use of FEMA alongside the fact that Jensen has post-humanity thrust on him almost as an accident of birth and the game’s representation of a series of riots following the mistreatment of augmented humans, a clear set of racial themes begins to become apparent. In the world of DXHR, the augmented are not superhuman, they are a persecuted minority in desperate need of protection. Having disenfranchised the augmented, DXHR then sets about making the situation even more
REVIEWS MEDIA morally ambiguous by presenting Jensen as an Uncle Tom-type figure who is complicit in the subjugation of his fellow augmented people. 2. A Cybernetic Uncle Tom Despite being the titular head of security for one of the most visible corporations on the face of the planet, Jensen is not paid a penny for the work he does. Nor does he get to draw on any of the resources of the company that employs him and sends him on missions. This means that, in order to acquire the ammunition and augmentations that he needs to do his job, Jensen is reduced to carting around useless shotguns and rifles in order to sell them on the black market. Once a standard feature of RPGs this absurd approach to in-game economics was rendered glaringly obsolete by Fable II’s decision to decouple saving the world from paying the bills. This design threshold having been crossed, playing DXHR feels like a trip to the past when shopkeepers made fortunes by exploiting the people who were risking their lives in order to save the village from demonic hordes. I remember one particularly depressing moment when, having invested heavily in my 10mm pistol, I was reduced to ransacking my own apartment in search of ammunition prior to going on a mission. While there is something sad about a modern world that expects us to devote eight hours a day to work, at least employers tend to pay us for our time and don’t expect us to bring our own printer cartridges! Unpaid and deprived of resources, Jensen is reduced to petty larceny in order to subsidise his attempts at furthering his employers’ agenda. The moral hideousness of this situation is brought powerfully home in a scene where Jensen encounters his boss’s secretary. The pair engage in idle chit-chat until the secretary expresses her deep concern about the possibility of the UN adopting a regulatory role in overseeing the augmentation 147
industry… and Jensen agrees with her! Thus Jensen is revealed as a man who burgles houses in order to do his job and whose job entails murdering people in order to prevent his employers from becoming subject to health and safety legislation designed to protect people like him. Jensen is not just a corporate lackey and race traitor, he is the ultimate submissive who actively participates in his own dehumanisation and debasement. The African American author, critic and activist James Weldon Johnson (a prominent member of the Harlem Renaissance of the 20s and 30s) expressed his feelings for the character of Uncle Tom in words that could just as easily be applied to Adam Jensen: For my part, I was never an admirer of Uncle Tom, nor of his type of goodness; but I believe that there were lots of old Negroes as foolishly good as he; the proof of which is that they knowingly stayed and worked on the plantations that furnished sinews for the army which was fighting to keep them enslaved. By killing and stealing to further the agenda of employers intent upon profiting from the augmented, Jensen is furnishing sinews for the army that fights to keep him enslaved. Jensen’s slavery is particularly evident at the end of the game when it is revealed that his augmentations allow him to be remote-controlled by the rich and powerful. Jensen had no choice other than to be augmented but despite being aware of the plight of his fellow post-humanity, his actions cannot speak of freedom for they scream their submission. Clearly inspired by issues of race, DXHR’s narratives of oppression also seek inspiration from the world of work. By presenting the augmented as a racial group subject to the whims of corporations able to switch off their augmentations at will, DXHR transforms the augmented into a people designed to be both an ethnic and an economic underclass.
3. The Miseries of Work (and Play) Arguably the most interesting relationship in the game is the one between Jensen and his employer David Sarif. Sporting a cybernetic arm and the stressed monophthongs of a Californian surfer, Sarif is an engaging and charismatic figure who initially seems entirely deserving of Jensen’s unquestioned loyalty. However, as the game progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Sarif knows a lot more than he is letting on and that his involvement in the darker corners of augmentation politics has resulted in a number of morally questionable actions. However, despite Sarif repeatedly lying to Jensen and omitting to give him information that might have made his job a little less dangerous, DXHR can never quite bring itself to condemn Sarif. The ambivalence of Jensen’s feelings towards Sarif is symbolic of the game’s wider ambivalence regarding the world of work. One of the most common lies told in the workplace is that companies reward creativity and want to empower their employees. Unfortunately, while most companies do believe that they are doing just that, their narrow and self-serving definitions of empowerment and creativity usually serve as straightjackets rather than skeleton keys. Try announcing to your boss that you are no longer going to answer your email or give status reports and see how far it gets you… All too often, when companies speak of empowering their employees, they really mean that they want their employees to see their confinement as a source of emotional satisfaction. DXHR replicates this passive-aggressive double standard by encouraging you to build a character that suits your preferred style of play only to set about punishing you for failing to build the right kind of character. As the boys at the webcomic Penny Arcade have pointed out, DXHR allows you to build an expert hacker who can cut through firewalls like a cyber-knife through butter but all the
REVIEWS MEDIA hacking skill in the world is not going to help you when you are locked in a room with an armour-plated killing machine. Similarly, the later levels are so packed with heavilyarmed mercenaries that any character not maximised either for combat or for stealth is likely to find the game almost unbearably hard going. Thus the game engages in a series of passive-aggressive mind games encouraging you to build the character you want and to ‘be yourself’ whilst making it abundantly clear that some types of character are more welcome than others. Far more insidious than the boss-fights is an experience point system that gently encourages you to play the game in certain ways. Picking guards off with long-range shots from cover may be the way that you want to play the game but you’ll earn three or four times more XP by sneaking up to the guards and knocking them out thereby encouraging you to play in a particular way and to follow particular kinds of build. Indeed, even if your company did allow you to stop answering emails, I doubt very much that they’d be generous when it came to promotions and raises. The game’s carefully cultivated atmosphere of frustration and claustrophobia also extends to the level design. Much like the original Deus Ex games, DXHR has a globetrotting narrative that has you making your way between cities and complexes in such far-flung places as Montreal, Detroit, Heng Sha and the Arctic Ocean. However, while the original Deus Ex games went to some length to make their various locations feel quite different, DXHR depicts the world as a seamlessly integrated suite of offices all boasting the same computers, the same media and the same architecture. Whereas the original Deus Ex games boasted large
open-plan levels filled with by-ways and hidden places, this game has you sneaking around the same set of offices and hiding under the same set of desks. The only things that change are the voices of the guards as you clobber them into unconsciousness. Even when the game does allow you to escape the corporate maze, its level design is oddly claustrophobic and frustrating to navigate. Heng Sha and Detroit, we are told, are vast and sprawling cities and yet the game presents them as a series of cramped city blocks filled with ladders, blind alleys and public transport hubs that do not actually lead anywhere. Clearly, DXHR lacked the technology to reproduce the sprawling levels of Deus Ex let alone Oblivion and so the game shrinks its horizons to a series of small streets and office complexes. At one point, the game gives you a sniper rifle but the weapon is almost completely pointless as guards are seldom so far away as to be out of pistol range and that’s without taking into account the game’s tendency to both withhold ammunition and castigate you for shooting people rather than sneaking up and subduing them. Taken together, these racial and economic narratives combine to create an almost intolerable atmosphere of disempowerment. Whereas Deus Ex sought to empower its players, Deus Ex: Human Revolution constantly reminds them of how worthless and incompetent they really are. Playing DXHR is like spending an afternoon with a depressed and alcoholic mother who is not only disappointed with what you have made of yourself, but also insistent on letting you know how she feels about your failure as an individual. However, as unpleasant as DXHR can be, it is an intensely enjoyable game. Indeed, the game’s real thematic power lies not in its narratives
REVIEWS MEDIA of disenfranchisement and oppression, but in the fact that it keeps us coming back for more in spite of them. 4. A Systemic Stockholm Syndrome To look at the world without sentiment is to survey a perverse catalogue of injustice and oppression. Everywhere you look, people in power are benefiting from the subjugation of the powerless while many of the people who benefit least from this system reveal themselves to be the system’s most vocal supporters. As Middle Eastern tyrannies begin to teeter and fall, the streets suddenly fill with people singing their praises and crying out for the pleasures of the lash, the boot and the gun. In America, people on the left are habitually painted as
effete middle-class elites completely disconnected from the realities of a working class existence rendered tolerable solely by the knowledge that they will never have to endure the indignities of free health care. In The Fear of Freedom (1942), the social theorist Erich Fromm argues that many people struggle with the experience of being free. Upon entering a landscape stripped of objective value and being left to develop their own codes of ethics, some people react by adopting theories and behaviours designed to minimise the impact of that freedom. Fromm’s account of Nazi Germany suggests that, confronted by the harshness of freedom, many Germans opted instead to embrace an authoritarian form of government that told people how to feel, what to think and how to behave. Jensen’s
supine cowardice in the face of oppression and manipulation marks him out as a perfect candidate for authoritarian rule: Ever the masochist, Jensen keeps working for the benefit of his exploitative employers while his sadistic impulses are ruthlessly channelled into the domination and murder of his employer’s political opponents. By making this act of submission both enjoyable and compelling, DXHR does a wonderful job of reminding us of our own acts of submission. Do we feel pleasure when our company does particularly well? Do we sneer at the nasty foreigners when they beat our sports team in competition? Do we cheer when our supposedly progressive leaders announce the extra-judicial murder of a political dissident? DXHR captures the schadenfreude lurking in all of those moments and delivers it to us in a package that is both obviously joyful and obviously shameful. Few games have the courage or the insight to remind us of the ugliness of our day-to-day lives and because of this, Deus Ex: Human Revolutions is a game worthy of both commercial success and serious discussion.
RATING 80 JM
Jonathan McCalmont is a freelance critic living in the UK. Aside from writing about films, books, comics and games for a number of magazines and websites, he also serves as a festival scout for film distribution companies. When not hiking he maintains a blog named Ruthless Culture where he writes about the fundamental hostility of the universe and the hideous perversity of the human condition. Ruthless culture's URL is ruthlessculture.com 149
REVIEWS MEDIA Children of a Factory Nation Jordan Reyne 11 tracks / Running Time: 55.51 I like the artwork. Beautiful and yet beautifully sombre. And now working in Lincoln, curiously intriguing in a hangman type of way. In this day and age of digital downloads, all the tracks from this album can be sampled on Amazon - and I urge you to sample them. I go through different phases of the types of music I listen to, dependant on mood, and one of those phases is the “female vocal” phase - which I’m in now, brought on and sustained by both Jordan’s new album and the awesome crooning of Portishead. So, what’s the album like? The first thing that leaps out is the clarity of simplicity, harmonised with stunning vocals. Fluctuating from angelic harmonics to an almost primeval harsh female power, the songs link to form a narrative beautifully told. Each song is suitably original and different from its predecessor, with some brilliant use of ambient sound, acoustic guitar and vocal accompaniment, which coalesce to place you in Victorian London, suffering as the characters suffer in the tale. Rarely has an album deserved to be played in the dark, kicked back in a chair, absorbed. This album isn’t for everybody. If you’re a fan of Slipknot or Rammstein, there’s a chance you won’t enjoy this. But if you want powerful, evocative, mood inspiring submersion, then this album is worth checking out.
RATING 88 MJ
In This Light and on This Evening Editors 9 tracks / Running Time: 43.36 [67.34 with bonus EP] It’s a strange album, this one (sheesh, I’ll be talking about “vinyl” next). Not having heard the Editors before 2010’s Glastonbury performance, I picked this up offa ze olde Amazon with very high expectations. The album starts off very strongly, with In This Light and On This Evening, a very melancholy and powerful harmonic chord experience, runs into the fabulous Bricks & Mortar, which for some reason reminds me of my old Spectrum computer (it’s the beat box, man), and then we’re into the amazing Papillon. Which, again, is just absolutely fabulous. Powerful, atmospheric, genius. However. At this point, the album does indeed seem to grow very much weaker. You Don’t Know Love is… okay. The Boxer is brill, but the last three tracks feel quite weak. I also felt a little cheated… only nine tracks? Come on (and I’m sure this is the money grabbing of the record company, as opposed to any lax qualities on the part of the band/ we know how the world works right?). Still, I can’t help feeling I got only four superb tracks for my money, you know, the ones you rip to your MP3 player for “The Run”. But the others? You leave them off the “Best of” MP3 mix…. A massive shame. I thoroughly enjoyed the Joy Division-esque vocals and vibe. This makes great music to climb/ride to. Recommended, but try before you buy.
RATING 74 BJ 150
REVIEWS MEDIA Google it) and indeed, attempted to order Gazpacho Soup at the next restaurant I visited (and sent it back to have it heated up, much to the merriment of the Captain).
addictive than God and a damn sight more terminal.
Confused yet? It get’s madder. Lister’s cat has evolved into Felis Sapiens, the ship accelerates past the speed of light after which Lister, Rimmer and The Cat see “future echoes” of what will be, which causes all kinds of mayhem, and then they tangle with the most addictive game in the galaxy, Better Than Life. More
Although you may cheer with Lister, cringe at Rimmer, roll your eyes at Kryten, and sigh at Holly, one thing cannot be denied. This is a damn fine book, a worthy purchase, and if you don’t laugh – then HELL, you’re an alien. Without a funny bone. Or a spleen.
Okay, those who’ve seen the show will know these facts; but what the book adds are a myriad of minor and Forget the TV show. Even if you major delights. Where in the TV hated the TV show, Red Dwarf – show does Lister drive a Hopper The Book - is an absolutely cracking around Mimas and have pimps knifeSF/adventure/social-exploration in its fighting on the bonnet as it rains own right. It is a superbly crafted ears? Where in the show does piece of fiction. It is a gestalt entity of Rimmer and his double try and weld clever plot, comedy dialogue, the Nova 5 spaceship back together serious moral dilemmas, witty again in order to jump back to Earth? bantering, exploration of SF trope And whereas on TV Better Than Life and adventure format, an analysis of is a badly filmed comedic the bitterness of not fitting in, and a experiment, in the novel it becomes celebration of what it is to be a slob. something quite chilling, sinister, and RED DWARF - Infinity very, very dangerous. Welcomes Careful Drivers For those not in the know, Dave Grant Naylor Lister, Space Bum, after a drunken There are some problems. I’m sure 298 pages birthday “Monopoly-Board pub crawl” even dust wouldn’t last 3 million ends up on the Saturnian satellite of years. And neither would the tinned PRICE: USED FROM £0.01 Mimas with a passport in the name supplies in the ship’s stores. Have Red Dwarf. The Dwarf. The Boys of Emily Berkenstein, wearing yellow you recently checked the use-byFrom the Dwarf. Smeg Head. fishing waders, living in a luggage dates on the crap you buy from the Kryten. Smeeeeg Head. Rasta Billy supermarket? And I am still Skank. Holograms. SF trope rip-offs. locker and unable to get off the planet because he does not officially massively dubious about the whole Hell, every-decent-SF-movie-everexist. To escape, he signs up to the cat-evolving-into-cat-man thing. made rip-offs!! And yes, that mining ship Red Dwarf as a lowly However. Whereas a potato is sentence does qualify a double Third Technician, bunking up with boring, but when distilled into Vodka exclamation in the best tradition of the anally retentive Arnold Judas can be something quite brilliant, so some seedy teen mag. Rimmer, natural dickhead and the Red Dwarf – Infinity Welcomes Red Dwarf, then. Where do I begin? man you’d least like to be trapped in Careful Drivers is a distillation of the a lift with (never mind the rest of your TV show’s best ideas, with a core Well. Like real ale, you either love it spiral of inventiveness and snappy, or loathe it. Like a frontal lobotomy, it life). Fast forward. Punished for clever writing worthy of the best of gets inside your brain and removes a smuggling aboard a cat, Lister is locked in stasis – effectively trapped wordsmiths. Rob Grant and Doug part of your personality, replacing it with images of underpants sticking to in time as a punishment – and there Naylor truly are a writing juggernaut is a massive radiation leak which to be admired. And even though Red the wall and the ignoble humping of wipes out the crew of Red Dwarf. Dwarf gently pokes fun at SF, and mutant donner kebabs. But wait. Holly the ship’s computer indeed, Science Fiction, you sense WAIT!! Like a groom caught with a accelerates out of the universe until the love of the authors; sense their prostitute on his wedding night, it the radiation reaches a safe level – joy and wanton abandon in makes you wince. And like a hotwhich takes 3 million years. Upon celebrating this fine genre whilst spoon of illegal crack, it always subverting many aspects, and leaves you wanting more. But that’s which Dave is released, realises he is the last human alive, starts to bringing in a fresh twist. Even now, the TV show. The British TV show, crack up, and Holly brings back 22 years after publication, the book not the aborted and abortive US attempt (which somehow missed the Rimmer as a hologram to stop Lister is still a winner, and as sparkling as going insane. the day it was born. point/ Google it). This is the book. The first book. A revisiting of the first book by me, something I enjoyed many a moon ago and thought, “You know, let’s check it out again. Let’s see if it still makes me laugh”. And more importantly, see if stands up as an SF title in its own right. So, I read the book. And laugh? I tried to stick my underpants to the wall, tried to hump a mutant donner kebab (again, 151
RATING 85 AR
REVIEWS SPORT FUEL my Müller Corner Mini Yogurt (with Strawberry Fruit Corner) to satiate my lust! With shaking, joyful mitts I peeled back the wrapper. But... Oh no! What had happened? The horror! The theft! The ignominy! I do a lot of hiking, climbing and My Müller Mini Yogurt (with cycling, and on many of these Strawberry Fruit Corner) did escapades enjoy a refreshing indeed have plenty of Strawberry snack en route; or even as a final Fruit Corner, but where, I ask you, “prize” for my efforts, for example, was my Müller Mini Yogurt? I’ll tell when reaching the summit of a you where. It wasn’t. Wasn’t there. mountain. I am drawn on, gasping I’d been out-Müllered. Müllered and dreaming and drooling, like a off. Skanked of my rightful Müller. donkey behind a carrot of Absolutely kicked in the Müllers. It promised nutrition and joy. would seem (and this had Sometimes, it is this simple occurred in the whole 8 pots, pleasure, this climax, this treasure, kiddies) that I was expected to mix which pushes me on through the my Strawberry Fruit Corner with pain and the cramps, across slick nothing but Müller’s thin air. Not ice and slicker rocks like Indiana for me the joy of seeing my Müller Jones seeking that elusive golden Mini Yogurt (with Strawberry Fruit Inca statue, until lo! I reach the Corner) mixed together in a summit, and like a good wanderer, yogurt/fruit corner mix to form a am thus rewarded for my labours. nutritional and tasty whole. Oh no! I had to scum it with the skunkers On my last mountain hike, I and have the Strawberry Fruit reached the top of Helvellyn all Corner all on its lonesome. Sat in sweating and panting. I had my the kitchen, this would not have trusty ham and mustard been a problem. But when it’s your sandwiches! Joy! But more! I had reward? For four hours of hard MÜLLER CORNER Müller Mini Yogurt (with Strawberry Fruit Corner) PRICE: ABOUT £2/£3 FOR 8
labour? Well. Müller might as well have stabbed me through the heart (with their Müller Mini Yogurt (with Strawberry Fruit Corner)). I ask you. What is the world of Mini Yogurts coming to? And – come on, you know the score. It’s not worth taking it back, because it’d cost you more in fuel to drive back to the damn supermarket. That’s why I’ve been the victim of so many freshly bought rotten onions (Tesco, that’s you I’m growling at) and now buy my produce fresh from the greengrocers. So then. Yes. I do still have evidence. In the freezer. 2 unopened pots – sealed – without the yogurt. You know, if Müller wants to make any kind of comment. I feel like I have been robbed! Held at gunpoint! STAND AND DELIVERED.... [Get him off –Ed].
RATING 03 MJ
REVIEWS SPORT FUEL Grower’s Cup The Coffee Brewer Nicaragua, Segovia £2.50
getting it hot at the summit of Helvellyn. And yes, whilst I acknowledge this real-coffee-problem situation is not a problem in the kitchen, out in the wilderness, where coffee matters, you’re kind of stuck for enjoying the real enchilada.
“Oy! UAM! Wot you doing reviewing coffee?” you might screech in the manner of a steroid-fuelled football hooligan on a dangerous cocktail of speed and Red Bull. But you’d be kinda right, in that what are we doing reviewing coffee? Shouldn’t that be featured in some kind of grocery mag? A farmer’s market pamphlet, perhaps? A digital blog dedicated to a dreary weary hangover cure - the morning after the night before? Well, imagine the scene… Ding dong [And no, I’m not being rude]. “Hiya mate, you all right?” “Yeah mate, I’m good. Come on in. I’m just brewing up. You fancy a coffee?” “Yeah sure.” Kettle boils. In goes boiling water. Sugar, milk, job’s a good un, reet? You take a mouthful, gurgle, and spit the rancid freezedried crap all over your best mate’s best floor.
Bear with me. If, like me, you despise freeze-dried cheap ’n nasty coffee lump sludge, and always insist on a properly brewed cocktail from a properly ground bean, then to be brutally honest, you’re knackered on a long hike, mountain trail or forest mountain bike romp. A flask’s out because real coffee chills faster than an Eskimo’s exposed nadger (in my experience). You’re certainly not
This ingenious little packet is a kind of cardboard kettle and brewer and filter all in one. I confess, I was dubious at the beginning, staring at the packet as if I’d found a smiling weevil in my butter; but on a recent winter bike ride I thought I’d check it out. Boil up a pint of hot stuff, open the spout, pour it in, shake it up, give it five minutes to brew, and et voila. A gorgeous big steel cup full of freshly brewed coffee. The blurb on the packet states a “strong fragrance” and “hints of chocolate and exquisite vanilla”. And you know, for once the blurb was right. This was a proper right tasty brew. The packaging blurb also states “a velvety acidity and long-lasting, pleasant aftertaste”. Not sure about the acidity (not being a fan of supping from hydrochloric beakers) but I’ll definitely go with the “velvety”. It was a gorgeous smooth brew, all the more pleasant and wonderful for being enjoyed in the open air forest environment through which I was pedalling. Negatives? The filter, whilst okay, did allow some coffee bean detritus through, although this only made itself grubbily apparent during the last mouthful, resulting in a comedy Exorcist-coffee-vomit re-enactment (not really). But hey, for a “brew on the move”, a “coffee on the mountain” or a “Gourmet-bean in a bag” this did an admirable job, and turned a pleasant cross-country ride into a memorable one.
RATING 88 BJ
s d i k
archy Book n/Feb12 An Issue #1 Ja
BI, EPUB PDF, MO ATS FORM
NTURE AMPING | ADVE C | L VE A TR | BING | HIKING BIKING | CLIM
That’s right! This is the KIDS SECTION of UAM. We will review stuff that’s directly relevant to children and their own little adventures……. Enjoy!! 155
REVIEWS KIDS ADVENTURE FARM PARKS IN LINCOLNSHIRE
Cue mother-in-law jokes….
Like many parents with young children finding things to entertain them can be tough, especially as winter approaches and the days get shorter and colder. But luckily the rural lifestyle in Lincolnshire lends itself to an abundance of farm parks ideal for family fun. Below is a review of 2 of those parks: RAND FARM PARK, WRAGBY, LINCOLNSHIRE Rand is a large farm park and has something to offer the whole family. Costing on average £26 for a family of 4 and free for under 2’s it is averagely priced compared to its competitors. The farm aspect is large with a plentiful amount of animals for your enjoyment. There are horses, pigs, goats and sheep to feed amongst others. There is a bird area and a very sweet small animal petting area in which your child can get up close and personal to baby rabbits and other small animals. If the weather is nice there is a tractor ride included in the admission price. The outdoor play area is one of the best I have ever seen at a farm park with pedal go carts, trampolines, climbing frames, swings galore. Inside there is a large play area ( Wacky style) with endless fun for children of all ages. For adults there is a coffee house, meals are served and there is a nice farm shop to browse. Tip check out the website for reduced admission prices.
On ye olde Emmerdale farm, eey ar etc.
Kick up some speed!
Play area or, er, prison?
REVIEWS KIDS ADVENTURE HARDY’S FARM PARK, INGOLDMELLS, LINCOLNSHIRE We found a fantastic deal on Groupon with admission for a family of 4 at £10. Normal admission prices are £24 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children and under 3’s go free. Hardy’s has a lovely outside area to walk around and view the animals. The pond is especially lovely and allows space for families to feed and get up close and personal with the ducks, swans and geese. There is the usual abundance of animals including several llamas that you are warned may spit at you. Educationally there is interesting information posted around the park, for example about different types of birds and the different sizes of eggs they lay. The outside play area was large, although didn’t offer the range of play equipment available at Rand. Tractors were electric and available at an extra cost, as is the horse and cart ride. Inside the play area compares similarly to Rand and is large and spacious for child play. The café/restaurant was better value than Rand in my opinion and had a greater variety of meals, including kiddies meals. Overall we got a better deal going to Hardy’s farm park but we spent longer at Rand Farm Park and this is the one my boys ask to go back to time and time again. Tip: sign up to Groupon for deals at Lincolnshire farm parks.
RATING 75 SI
Jeff Minter would be proud!
Baa baa white sheep…
FICTION SHORT STORY Sophia Connelly was the brightest thing to be seen for miles in any direction. Yet, in the big picture of things, she was nothing more than a speck of life in a rather bland looking landscape. The sky above her was active, a roiling swirl of grey, heavy shades thrown around by the ever growing winds that promised rain. Had she been in the same spot two months earlier, the landscape would have looked harsher still, trees reaching for the heavens with bone-like fingers caked in flaking bark that had seen more seasons than Sophia would in three lifetimes. But even now, despite those branches being weighed down with foliage that should have softened the environment, the green leaves lacked the vibrancy expected from the start of summer. Instead they almost seemed to have absorbed the dullness of the sky. Destroyed any hope of ever seeing the sun. Sophia crouched down in her all in one orange weatherproof suit and matching helmet. If the phrase 'out of place' could have been summed up with one image this would have been it. But Sophia was showing little concern to the lonesome trees and the clouds that threatened to open up with a fresh deluge any minute. Right now only one thing interested her and that was the narrow, mouth-like crack in the rock before her. The opening was small, almost hidden at the base of the hill, a flash of hard strata surrounded by short trees, bushes and overhanging soil. “Are you sure this is gonna be worth it, Rich?” she asked, swivelling on her heels to watch Richard Hollis shrug into a weatherproof suit of his own.
“No point asking me, Soph,” he replied with an excited grin on his stubble covered face. “This is Tim's baby. Not mine.” “Tim,” said Sophia, changing her focus towards the thin frame of Tim Hucknall. The other man made no attempt to answer, his mind on other things. Things such as being prepared. Tim knew everything they needed was in the back of the Mitsubishi L200 because he'd ticked it all off the list as he'd loaded the vehicle before setting off. Now he was thinking he should have double checked instead of letting the other two rush him. Richard looked over at Sophia and gave her a mischievous wink. He placed a finger over his lips in a gesture for her to remain silent as he carefully crept up behind Tim. “Hey Tim!” Richard shouted, grabbing Tim's waist and squeezing harder than he really should have. “Shit!” Tim, jumpy by nature almost left his skin in response, scattering a box of carabinas before turning around with an embarrassed look on his face. “Bastard,” he said. “Tell Sophia we're not wasting our time out here,” said Richard, pulling on a red safety helmet and fastening the chin strap. “She thinks you're full of shit.” “He usually is,” Sophia added, only half joking. “Funny cow,” replied Tim, a crooked grin on his lips. “You'll eat those words once we get down there. I promise you're gonna be impressed with this.” Tim thought about his own excitement when he'd first discovered the gash in the earth just over a month ago. It had been a chance find whilst surveying the area
FICTION SHORT STORY for its viability as part of the new bypass system being planned by the Highway Authority. At the time he'd not dared venture too deep, doing nothing more than laying on his stomach with his feet up in the air as he held the laser measure out in front of himself and taking a reading that made the spelunker in him giddy with anticipation. “I'm telling you Soph,” he explained, “Once you get passed the opening there's a funnel going down at least a hundred meters.” As Tim spoke his grin seemed to get wider than his face. “And then what?” asked Sophia, a frown on her face. “The last thing I want is to get that far down and find us dead ended.” “That's pretty unlikely, Soph,” said Richard. “Chances are it'll open out.” “He's right,” added Tim. “The readings were vague.” “What do you mean, vague?” Sophia queried. “Well, not really vague.” Tim moved his head from side to side. “More inconclusive,” he said unconvincingly. “At the very least the funnel will open out into a junction.” “Yeah and we'll let you choose which way we go,” said Richard, a feeble attempt to lighten the mood. “Thanks,” said Sophia, securing the lamp to the orange helmet. “I'll also let you carry this.” Tim threw a slimline back pack at her. “What's this crap?” Sophia asked, catching the pack by one strap. “Climbing gear,” replied Tim, “Never know when you might need an ascender.” As Sophia turned back to face the silent mouth in the ground the clouds gave up their hold on their heavy load and the rain began to fall. ** “What do you mean we can't go back?” Sophia sat on the cavern ledge, looking up at a worried Tim as she cradled Richard's head in her lap. “Must have been a landslide above the mouth,” Tim stammered, “Bloody rain.” A low, throaty moan escaped Richard’s lips. Sophia brushed the fringe from his forehead. She didn't know what else to do. Less than an hour ago they had been shuffling down the funnel on their backs, laughing and joking about everything from putting on weight to Tim's almost obsessive need for order and tidiness. Sophia's biggest worry had been thinking about what to do when they reached the bottom and realised her fears had been right, that the funnel led to nothing more than a dead end of rough rock. Now all she wanted to do was go back but Tim was hanging from a rope in the gaping maw of the funnel exit and telling her she couldn't do that. “What about Richard?” she asked, trying to hide the fear in her voice, “We have to get him out of here. **
Richard had been leading the way down, his usual bravado forcing him to push his way into the opening of the cave first. If Sophia had got her way she would have been the one laid out, semi-conscious with an unknown number of broken bones rattling around in her lower half. As it turned out Sophia was between Richard and Tim, already feeling the water running beneath her as they moved deeper. The weatherproof suit kept her dry but the constant flow of rain in the funnel quickly chilled her hands. And then she heard the deep sounding thud, a percussive drum beat that seemed to reverberate through the smooth walls of the funnel and into her very bones. “What the hell was that?” She wasn’t sure whether the question came from Richard or Tim but no one was given the chance to answer. A torrent of soil and water came rushing down the funnel and hit Tim without warning. “Shit!” Tim yelled, the word unheard by Sophia, drowned out by the roar of Mother Nature bearing down on them. Tim, thrown sideways by the unexpected force, lost any sense of direction. He seemed no longer sure which way was up, by the time he smashed into Sophia. Her hands groped at him for purchase. She managed to gulp air before her face was engulfed in water so thick with dirt that it felt as if she was going to drown in a raging rapid of melted chocolate. 'Are you crazy?' her mind screamed a split second before her booted feet made contact with Richard's shoulders. Richard felt the vibration course through the rock above them and managed to tilt his head back just in time to see everything turn to shit. Richard watched the angry waters swallow Tim, throwing his friend sideways like he was nothing more than a rag doll. He saw Tim then become one with Sophia, the two cavers grappling with each other as the water devoured them, leaving only Sophia's legs visible in the split second before his world turned dark. It didn't remain that way for long... The water spilled from the exit of the funnel and spewed Richard out like an unwanted piece of flotsam. For a moment he felt weightless, as if he'd suddenly discovered the gift of flight. And then it was gone and gravity grabbed him in its unforgiving fist and yanked him downwards. If Richard had fallen all the way to the bottom of the cavern it would have, without a doubt, killed him instantly. The impact of the fall would have burst him open inside the weatherproof suit, turning him into a limp sack of useless innards and shattered bone fragments. As it was the ledge about twenty feet below the opening of the funnel prevented that from happening. Richard hit the ledge feet first, sending a shock wave up his legs that caused three compound fractures. The bone cracked like dry kindling, tearing through his flesh
FICTION SHORT STORY with a sickening wet ripping sound. The damage didn't stop there. Darkness was replaced with a variety of bright colours as Richard’s brain tried to deal with an overload of pain signals from his shattered hip and ruptured spinal discs. Luckily, for Richard, the agony didn’t last long, taken away by a new wave of darkness as unconsciousness took over. Tim had, without even thinking, saved both himself and Sophia from the same fate. As the water tossed him around, a survival instinct kicked in, a primal need for preservation. Tim's hand found the piton hanging from his belt, a
Bugaboo given to him by his father as a birthday present three years ago. With the thin blade in his fist he began to stab at the rock around him in search for a crack, a gap in the funnel surface. At the first opportunity he thrust the blade down and brought his descent to an abrupt, shoulder jarring halt. Tim allowed himself to breathe as the flow of water rushed around him, giving way to a steady stream. Only then did he raise his head and look down to find Sophia hanging from his left leg and looking up at him with pleading in her eyes. ** “You really should eat,” Tim urged, the first thing he'd said since joining Sophia and a still unconscious Richard. “I feel too sick to eat,” Sophia replied. He knew what she meant. After finding Richard's twisted body Tim had left Sophia and returned to the funnel, hoping to go for help only to find the entrance to the cave filled with sluiced earth and vein like root systems. The panic brought on by knowing they were trapped had done little for his appetite too. “What do we do now?” Sophia asked. “We can't just sit here and wait for Richard to die.” “I'm thinking about looking for another way out,” answered Tim, leaning out over the lip of the ledge and spitting down in to the base of the cavern. It had started to fill with water, an underground pool forming and getting deeper with each passing minute. The spit hit the surface, causing little more than a noticeable ripple. “Looks like its rising,” stated Tim, “And its gotta be coming from somewhere.” “And just how do you expect to find out?” Sophia snapped. “Last I checked neither of us could breath under water.” “True,” said Tim, taking the slimline pack from the ledge between them and pulling the zipper open, “But I've got this bad boy.” He held up a spare air unit with a proud smile. “You must be insane,” Sophia said, shaking her head at the small yellow air cylinder. “You're not trained to cave dive.” As if backing her up, a low moan came
from Richard. “And even if you were you wouldn't get far with that.” “This gives me fifty seven breaths,” Tim explained. “If I pace myself and hold my breath I should be fine.” “And when you reach breath fifty seven?” Sophia asked, “What then?” “If I haven't found anything by breath twenty five I'll head straight back here and we'll think of something else.” “It’s not safe down there, Tim,” said Sophia. “I saw something earlier, while you were gone.” “What the hell do you mean?” asked Tim, “Saw something?” “Something in the water,” replied Sophia, “Something glowing.” “It'll be spiders,” Tim said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Glowing spiders?” Sophia shook her head. “Caves are renowned for creatures like that.” Tim paused, trying to find the right word. “Bioluminescent,” he finally announced, with a snap of his fingers. “But these were under the water, Tim and they moved pretty bloody fast.” “Could be crabs. Hell, God only knows what's down there.” “Exactly,” said Sophia, “And I'm not sure I want you to go finding out.” “I have to do this, Sophia,” Tim said, face set like stone. “I have to do this for Richard.” ** Tim reached the bottom of the rope and slowly lowered himself into the water. The weatherproof suit offered little protection, not designed for fully immersive conditions. “You don't have to do this, Tim,” Sophia shouted from above. “Yes I do,” he yelled back, treading water, “Just stay with Richard. One way or another I'll be back.” Tim reached below the water and snapped the three glow sticks he'd hung from his belt before descending from the ledge. They illuminated the world below his waist, an alien landscape of harsh edges and stalagmites. “Be careful.” “Always.” Tim took a deep breath, slipped the spare air mouthpiece between his teeth and then dropped below the surface. The first thing Tim wished for was a decent pair of swimming goggles. As soon as his head became submerged his pupils dilated and his vision blurred. Despite this he kicked out and pushed downwards, heading towards what he hoped was a tunnel leading to some semblance of safety. The spare air unit felt heavy in his mouth and the cylinder quickly grew annoying as it was buffeted around by his movements, constantly tapping against his chin. Tim removed two of the glow sticks from his belt and held one in each hand, the light they offered dim yet appreciated. It felt like he'd been swimming for an eternity but a
FICTION SHORT STORY quick glance at his wrist watch put the journey at almost two minutes as he took his first breath of stored air. Only twenty four more and he had to head back. At first Tim didn't notice the glow up ahead. It was cancelled out by the green illumination of the sticks he was holding. Only the fact that the source of the other light was darting from left to right made him notice it at all. 'Jesus Christ,' he thought. 'That's no crab.' The fish didn't see Tim coming. It couldn't see. It had no eyes. But it could sense him, feel the vibrations he sent through the water as he swam onwards. 'What the hell is it?' Tim asked himself silently; wishing his vision was better as he neared the bizarre-looking creature. The fish had never come across anything this large before, but it felt no fear. It had no reason to fear what it did not know. It slowed down its darting movements and remained still, waiting for the other to approach. Tim could make out the skeletal-looking fins and the body was clearly bulbous, but it lacked detail. Without thinking he reached out to touch the creature. The fish felt the movement, sensed an attack and responded the only way it knew how, opening its mouth and revealing rows of sharp, barbed teeth. Tim didn't see the teeth, only a blurred outline of a mouth that looked like a smile. But he felt them as the creature bit, a rapid succession of searing bites that severed his thumb and forefinger in an instant. Tim gasped, no longer counting or worrying about his limited air supply. He was more interested in the thick blood flowing from the stumps of his missing digits. Blood that looked black in the green of the glow sticks. The fish had followed nothing more than primal instinct, defending itself against this invader. But now it felt something else... Something new... Something exciting... It felt hunger. The spare air unit almost disappeared into the murky waters as panic grabbed Tim tighter and squeezed at his chest, but he managed to hold it between his teeth, acid bile burning its way up his gullet. His bowels loosened, a fear induced release of waste matter in response to the scene unfolding before him. Fish... Not one but hundreds of the damn things, driven onwards by the scent of blood. His blood. Tim turned around, panic blinding him to any sense of direction he may have had. His breathing came hard and fast, using up the diminishing air supply. The fish sensed Tim's life force spreading through the water, tasting it and feeling its oily warmth against their scaly bodies as they swarmed towards the source. They ignored the way it thrashed around, driven by only the need to feed, the want to devour. Tim felt them closing in, squeezing his eyes shut as the cursed fish swarmed for the exposed flesh of his face. Thousands of teeth made quick work of Tim's once handsome features. He tried to scream as they
ripped off his eyelids, the spare air unit spitting from his mouth, offering the fish a fresh target. They swam in, drawn to the warmth of Tim's mouth. They fought to gain entrance, frantically gorging themselves on his lips, gums and tongue. They were tearing at the weatherproof suit, finding no sustenance within, but knowing that beneath the plastic they would discover more of the sweet flesh they craved. Tim tried to scream again, his lungs filling with a burning mixture of warm bodily fluids and icy water that drowned out any sound. The pain on the inside was matched, if not surpassed by that on the outside. The fish having torn away the layers of thinsulate and goretex, now ripped tiny strips of skin from his tender flesh. The water turned black with foaming blood, enveloping the bioluminescent fish and eclipsing the dim light of the glow sticks in an unnatural cloud of life giving fluid. Tim's brain knew it was dying and it grasped at memories, flashing them behind the eyes that had already been chewed and swallowed by the voracious creatures. Visions of his youth played out in fast forward but this final defence mechanism of the human body did little to mask the sensation of barbed teeth sinking into the first of his internal organs. ** Sophia wasn't sure how long she'd been asleep. She was dreaming about caves and raging water, seeing herself drowning before she awoke with a start. Richard was twitching, his head rocking from side to side on her lap and she thought she mumbled his name as her waking mind tried to push sleep to one side. Her eyes opened and she was greeted with Richard's face, his eyes rolling back in his head and spittle bubbling over his blue lips. Sophia was gripped by blind panic, her mind not ready to comprehend what she was seeing. In a reflex action driven by nothing more than fear she screamed and kicked out at the one man she loved. Richard never knew how he died, his mind gone long before Sophia accidentally pushed him off the ledge with her feet. He didn't experience the short fall to the water that had risen drastically whilst his girlfriend slept and he didn't feel the cold water bite through his clothing as he sank towards the bottom. “Richard!” Sophia screamed. Richard's body turned limply in the water, blind eyes looking down at the tunnel Tim had taken not too long before. His mind did not register the approaching glow, the remnants of cognitive thought seeping away along with the oxygen in his lungs. “Tim!” Sophia saw the glow and screamed his name. “Tim, quick!” He may not have found a way out but he'd be able to save Richard. The fish were aware of Richard's body entering their domain, vibrations of the splash having travelled through the water and played at receptors running beneath their scales. Some were already well fed from the other but others still suffered from a burning hunger.
FICTION SHORT STORY Sophia watched, expecting to see a glow stick wielding Tim come to the rescue, her face turning slack at the truth behind the strange green light. The fish exited the submerged tunnel and fanned out into the cavern. Something deep inside Richard saw the light and, a split second before life left him, he managed the smallest of smiles. “Richard!” Sophia screamed again, the sound deafening within the confines of the cavern. The fish attacked en masse, working as one to shred annoying clothing from fresh meat. The surface of the water bubbled dirty pink as small yet deadly teeth went to work, burrowing through fatty tissue in search of a warmer goodness within.
Sophia looked up at the rope hanging from the mouth of the funnel and considered a retreat, but she quickly remembered the look of defeat on Tim's face when he'd first delivered the news they were trapped. She looked down, wiped tears from her eyes, and made her decision. She couldn't leave Richard, not like this. She had to help him. She had to try. “Richard!” Sophia called one last time, and dived into the frenzied waters.
WHO IS GARRY CHARLES? Garry Charles is a novelist and screenwriter based in the UK. He has had work published both in the UK and the US and is slowly aiming for world domination. When not writing, Garry chills out wearing an Elvis onesie whilst pretending to be King. Garry's latest work of dark fiction is a two part horror collection, a Grindhouse double feature in written form and is available at: www.amazon.co.uk/Tranquil-Disturbances-GarryCharles/dp/0982676123/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=132 1175350&sr=8-2 For more details check out www.garrycharles.co.uk
FICTION GRAPHIC NOVEL PART 1
To be continuedâ€Ś
WHO IS MARTYN PICK?
MARTYN PICK, digital artist, British animator and Director, is renowned for his distinctive fusion of live-action and animation, and the fluid, painterly style of his film-making. Martyn studied film and fine art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and ever since then his work has been driven by the crossover of painting and cinema. His credits include animation director for the 2009 film THE AGE OF STUPID (a documentary that depicts a fictitious future archivist played by Pete Postlethwaite who looks at old footage to determine how mankind missed the obvious clues about global warming); LONDON 2012, the promotional film for the 2012 Olympics; the celebrated BBC promotional trailers for the Euro 2004 soccer tournament; and the Budweiser 2001 NBA commercials.
animation and live action − creating a visceral, fast-paced film that is a faithful adaption sure to please avid 40K fans. Here is IMDB’s logline for ULTRAMARINES: ”A squad of Ultramarines answer a distress call from an Imperial Shrine World. A full Company of Imperial Fists was stationed there, but there is no answer from them. The squad investigates to find out what has happened there.”
What is distinct about his approach is the welding of a fine art approach to hardcore genre material. His graphic novel "SIEGE" was an uncompromised statement of his explosive mix of photographic reality and wild savage expressionism. The story was an incendiary tale based on fact of Russian terrorists in Edwardian London. This But fanboys will be most impressed with powerful statement led to his debut Martyn’s first feature ULTRAMARINES feature as director:"ULTRAMARINES" − a slick 76minute CGI, scifi thriller set in Game Workshop’s fictional He is continuing to develop his work as Warhammer 40,000 universe and a visual artist and feature director. In based on the ULTRAMARINES Chapter 2011 he directed his first live action of SPACE MARINES (for more detail on feature: the supernatural thriller "THE Warhammer 40K, see Wikipedia here). HAUNTING OF HARRY PAYNE" In 2012 he is having an exhibition of his The 2010 film, which had a £6 million artwork at the production company budget (or about $9 million USD), Primefocus showing his work at it's features Martyn’s trademark blend of most undiluted and intense.
FICTION (C)RAP POETRY But they wouldnâ€™t see them. MY PIE Gods are not wise I went up a hill Like me It was very high -Billy Osbourne It nearly touched the sky I felt quite ill So went down and had a pie. -Graan Haim CUBE SQUARED
A SONG OF HAPPINESS Music. A bright tune that fell Amongst the leaves. Sipping the nectar Sweet liquid of the Gods, Sipping the nectar Sweet fire in our throats, The minds swaying as the music Swirled and danced, Swirled with the brooding equality of mind. A taste of confusion fell like fickle colours through a million stars. A taste of difference sang screaming songs through the black dust. A taste of remembrance scorched red hot black down a tunnel of pain. A taste fell. -Milly Smith WISDOM Never listen to what they say For the lies are wild And the lies are thrown To the Christians And behind them crept the lions 185
SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE SQUARE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE CUBE I COULD GO ON -Cubeboy ATTACK OF THE ANTS I wanted an Adventure in my life So I ran to the top Of a hill and watched As everybody ran around Like ants in an ant Hill. -Adam Antman
ISSUE 2 AVAILABLE 1st MARCH 2012 AS A FREE DOWNLOAD www.uamag.co.uk Follow UAM!! 186
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Out noowk in ebo er& pap back!
Legendary warrior Kell must choose to flee the conquered land of Falanor, or fight for its people. Even now it may be too late, that all is lost... for the Vachine invaders have called upon their ancient rulers, the VAMPIRE WARLORDS, semiimmortal bloodsuckers who dwell at the edges between life and death! The vampire warlords have returned, and they will feed.
“Remic is the Tarantino of fantasy, and if that isn’t a compliment, then I don’t know what is.” 189
Bah humbug it’s…
GRUMPY OLD MAN!
oldest rival – I.T.V. that well known purveyor of bad taste T.V. The X Factor is pure and utter excrement, a ‘Talent Show’ presided over by asinine ‘Mentors’ with never ending streams of idiotic comments about the artist making a song their own. Etc. etc.
The Australian judge/presenter who looks like he is hiding a couple of gobstoppers in his cheek pouches to keep the bigger boys from taking them, is particularly annoying, shovelling food into his face with all the charm of a Komodo Dragon, before making his pronouncement Puhlease! No wonder Simon Cowell as to the suitability of the dish. Let’s Just about everything. But especially bailed out to take over the American face it, most decent geezers are in the telly. version of the show, which, Surprise, the pub enjoying the football or Surprise, is also aired over here. He eyeing up a bit of skirt, not watching some unknown ‘celebrity’ who once In fact I’d be hard pressed to find a must have realised that the jig was silver lining to this one and only represented Wales in the underwater up when people began to vote existence I am legally entitled to. Jedward in as a protest over the way leapfrog final at the last before one That is, unless the Reincarnationists Louis Walsh was championing them. Olympics, being ravaged by these two culinary pit bulls in the name of can come up with some entertainment. incontrovertible proof about life being Now I wonder what on earth good an endless trip towards redemption old Louis saw in those two boys? Don’t even get me going about or whatever they claim. Perhaps if they could, absolutely without fear of The real surprise here is that people Gordon Ramsey. A complete and utter BULLY if ever I beheld one. I contradiction, I would fold this hand continue to watch, as the same old can’t wait until we get celebrity and make a fresh start on the next washed out formula is dished up, plumbing or rewiring, at least it’ll be instalment series after series, with enough more useful to your average punter, commercial breaks to take the Still, it didn’t do Kurt Cobain a lot of average Sun/Mirror reader’s mind off than yet another illustration of pan seared scallops piled up with a good finding Nirvana; did it? the putrescence that comes on in green leaf salad and then Anyway, on with the motley as they between. To be brutally honest, ‘DRIZZLED’, a word which should say. I am firmly of the opinion that B.B.C. executives should be the news is being flashed into our ashamed by the length of time it has carry a mandatory life sentence for homes via satellite, and as a header taken to oust its adversary from pole anyone careless enough to repeat out loud, or include it in a pub - meal to every search engine home page, position. Surely further proof of the in order to flood our lives with alarm banality of a similarly tired, trite, and menu. With salad dressing or some and despondency at the state of the facile formula, with which they have such slaver and by that I refer to dribble, not the personage behind world we inhabit. Suicide is the only finally wooed viewers away from a answer in this world of desperate hackneyed formulaic example of the the forced capture and bondage of some unsuspecting soul. overcrowding. The final coup de very worst of British television. grace for literally thousands who There is a way out of course and were approaching the point of The only other programmes which shuffling themselves off this mortal can compete with either of these two increasingly I have taken it. Clean up coil last week, must have been the outstanding turkeys are, the garage/shed, spare bedroom or whatever. Find a project and drag irrelevance of all irrelevances, when appropriately enough: cookery yourself away from the Idiot’s we were told that ‘Strictly’ had taken programmes and in particular, over from The X Factor in terms of Masterchef, or Masturbate, as I like Lantern in the corner of the living viewing figures when the room, returning only to watch to refer to it, a perfect example of a programmes overlapped. It certainly creation that deserves every ounce anything advert free and with a voice had me reaching for a blunt object of opprobrium I can muster. Here we over from David Attenborough. Other than that; leave it for the wife to with which to beat myself into have yet another overblown insensibility. inconsequence, presided over by a vegetate by. Alone. pair of colossal bores, who strive, As a certified contributor to the with the aid of suitably atmospheric funding of the B.B.C. via the medium and dramatic musical That was how it was meant to be. of the licence fee which, in our accompaniment and pauses to inject Wasn’t it? house, happens by some quirk of some kind of flair and drama into the fate to be in my name, I am deeply proceedings. The inevitable climax miffed that they see fit to put such of these tours de farce, is the nonsense on our screens. Only elimination of anyone incapable of slightly less alarming is the glee with coming up with a suitably impressive which the Beeb has trumpeted the example of – let’s be absolutely clear about this – A plate full of food news of its latest victory over its with which to woo the judges.
WHAT WINDS ME UP?
In this first bumper-packed 190 PAGE 60,000 WORD issue, we have an interview with CLAUDIO VON PLANTA, famous for filming Long Way Round and...
Published on Dec 21, 2011
In this first bumper-packed 190 PAGE 60,000 WORD issue, we have an interview with CLAUDIO VON PLANTA, famous for filming Long Way Round and...