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FREE VARIOUS FORMATS Issue #2 Apr|May|Jun12 Anarchy Books

BIKING | CLIMBING | HIKING | TRAVEL | CAMPING | ADVENTURE SWIMMING WITH SHARKS! Christopher Bartlett takes us out with the BIG fish… MICROADVENTURES Al Humphreys examines a new type of adventure… JON BODAN of HALCYON WAY Chainsaws, groupies and beating cancer THE ART OF GEOCACHING Adrian Faulkner shows us how RAF - SWIMMING LAKE BALA Sgt Gary Main shares his experiences BRIAN BLESSED, BEAR GRYLLS & Prof. BRIAN COX! book reviews ALSO REVIEWED: ANY OLD BOOTS, BOOT TEST! - AQUAPAC LANNY FREELANDER - SIGG BOTTLE - POLARTEC 3 X COREL VideoStudio ProX5 Ultimate! 1

Welcome to Ultimate Adventure Magazine! Welcome indeed, and we have a NEW SLEEKER, SEXIER, MEANER, LEANER version of the magazine for your delectation. Okay, responding to reader feedback (Oy! The magazine’s too fat! / Oy! The magazine’s got too much horror! etc) we’ve made a few changes and you now hold in your hands (or indeed, on your iPad screen) a much more concentrated effort. Yes, sometimes in our enthusiasm we get a bit side-tracked, but we think you’ll agree, this newly distilled version of the mag is more….. On target. As ever, give us your feedback as we aim to please (usually, with a shotgun……). Ha! Onwards and upwards! UAM is now a quarterly magazine, released round-about the beginning of January, April, July and October. Publication dates will vary a little bit, mainly due to this whole concept being a voluntary process and writers and reviewers giving their time for free. Ultimate Adventure Magazine is written by enthusiasts, and thus deadlines must be at least a little fluid. A couple of the interviews advertised for this issue have been rolled over to Issue 3 due to other commitments on the parts of the contributors. Still, I think you’ll agree we have a bumper-packed free issue. We have interviews with Halcyon Way’s heavy metal guitarist Jon Bodan, Ruth Shedwick (of Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival fame) and Geoff Nelder, writer, climber, cyclist…. And features on swimming with sharks, the art of geocaching, Pom on a Postie Part 2, swimming Lake Bala with the RAF and Al Humphrey’s incredible MicroAdventures. Enjoy! Finally, winners of last issue’s competitions - the 3 Sol origin survival tools were won by Simon Chaplin of Blaendulais, Derek Totton, and David Cassidy of Drumbathie. The Montane Sabretooth Gloves were won by Chris Irwin of Plymouth and P. Evans of County Durham. Well done!! Hope you have some fabulous adventures with your new kit.

Andy Remic Editor & Novelist

ULTIMATE ADVENTURE Magazine. Published 2012 by Anarchy Books. Anarchy Books Head Office: POBOX 1104 Woodhall Spa, Lincoln, LN10 6WR, UK Website We accept digital submissions only. 2

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EDITOR ANDY REMIC is the author of fourteen 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 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 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 JAMES CASSIDY walks in the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, and likes nothing better than taking new gear and gadgets with him on his travels. He is a former TA Royal Engineer who taught map reading and skill at arms. Catch up with him at

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 apoc-horror DROP DEAD GORGEOUS and his ART EDITOR VLADIMIR PETKOVIC was born bestselling zombie novel, FLU; currently published in the in Belgrade, Serbia. Vladimir has exposed his works UK, Spain and Germany. In what little spare time he across various galleries and competitions in has left, Wayne enjoys running, climbing, Serbia, and illustrated three books about getting tattooed and listening to all World War II thematics. He is the artist of manner of unseemly screeches on British Horror Magazine Morpheus Tales, his BOOM-BOOM Box. likes to write poems in his spare time, and Read more at pens columns and interviews for

TRAVEL & KIDS EDITOR 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



friday night chat with jonathan fish

adrenaline junkie

1. Shark Central 33 Cue: Jaws Music.

1. Jon Bodan 18 Halcyon Way’s lead guitarisrt talks about sausages and chainsaws.

1. News 6 All the latest news for your consumption.

2. Holy Choc! 22

2. Pom on a Postie Part 2 42

2. Woof! Letters! 10

In which a Pom attempts to ride Ruth Shedwick discusses the unique across Australia on a Posties moped; Ramsbottom chocolate festival! Great part 2 of 6. for kids and, um, people who love chocolate!

Your chance to bite back..

3. Geoff Nelder 28

3. Competitions 12 Win one of three copies of VideoStudio ProX5 Ultimate!

5. The ANTI-CLARK SON Column 13

Writer, cyclist, adventurer - Geoff talks about his passions in life.

3. Swimming Lake Bala 49

Sgt Gary Main of the British RAF talks about freezing his nobbles off swimming Lake Bala.

4. The Art of Geocaching 54 Adrian Faulkner shares with us his passion for global geocaching.

Dumb comedy or comic dumbery?

6. The Horror, The Horror Column 15 That’s a whole lot of horror, the latest in horror news by Michael Wilson.


5. The Microadventure 62 Adventurer, author, motivational speaker, Alastair Humphreys talks about a new kind of adventure for everybody to enjoy.

REVIEWS FICTION the good, the bad & the ugly

1. Kit 70 Socks, boots, flasks, packs, phones, GPS, cameras, everything you could need to make your adventures come true!


yep, stories in the rear and stuff with the gear 1. NEXT ISSUE 109

1. Short Story 103 An extract from the novel YOUNG PUNKS - Paolo Sedazzari

The delectable delights of what you may expect from the next instalment of Ultimate Adventure Magazine.


2. Motorvation 81 Mountain bikes, motor bikes, cars, 4X4s, caravans, skateboards, skis… a relative ORGY of motorvation.

3. Restaurants 82

BAH HUMBUG!! And in this issue, we have a rant from the loveable old fella himself on the horrors of the NHS.

Is that food establishment you visit after a hard day in the mountains really any good? We check out the grub!

4. Media 84 Books, films, albums, games, software, stuff you might like.

5. Sport Fuel 98

3. END###

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. Animals 99 Woof!

7. Ultimate Kids Adventure 100 Adventure experiences for some of our younger readers (and their parents).


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 1140, Woodhall Spa, Lincs, LN10 6WR, UK. 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.

NEWS WILD COUNTRY ETESIAN TENTS TARGET A NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITY With families often heading off for short camping trips and some opting for smaller cars, Wild Country has developed a series of lightweight tents with smaller pack size, which are ideal for weekend breaks. The Etesian 2, Etesian 4 and Etesian 6 are quick and easy to pitch and don't take up too much room in the car boot, perfect for a speedy getaway on a Friday afternoon. Featuring a sewn in front groundsheet, excellent ventilation, alloy poles and protected entrance, all the Etesian tents have been designed for ease and comfort in use. An extended porch is available separately, providing extra room to stash kit and muddy boots. All use the Superflex alloy pole, and have the Wild Country high performance flysheet and groundsheet fabrics. The perfect weekend bolt hole.

The Aclima WoolNet Neck Gaiter is a base layer for varying activity all year made in 91% Merino wool, 7% Polyamide and 2% Elastane, so your ears stay put when you stretch it over your head. As with the WoolNet baselayers, the mesh construction has a unique ability to transport moisture and made in Merino wool it also gives good insulation. The garment has a WarmWool layer surrounding everywhere except the mouth, which is covered with WoolNet, as the mesh ensures water you exhale will not cool you down. The Aclima WoolNet Neck Gaiter breathes when you are moving and insulates when you stop. The sides are rib knitted for comfort and to preserve the shape of the product. You also have shoulder panels, which make it comfortable to wear a backpack. The WarmWool and WoolNet combination make this the perfect unisexgaiter. Additional Features: · ·

Body odour resistant 100% recyclable

SRP: £30 Terra Nova has produced a great video for the Etesian 4 tent which gives a good overview of the tent, demonstrating how it pitches and its key features. The video can be viewed on the Etesian 4 product page of the Terra Nova website - or viewed directly on You Tube.

Colours available: black The Aclima WoolNet Neck Gaiter is available now from Nordic Outdoor – 0131 552 3000 &feature=player_embedded

Aclima WoolNet Gaiter: Stops Pains in the Neck! (apparently…) 6

NEWS Round 3 of The IXS European Downhill Cup 2012 Innerleithen, The Scottish Borders Friday 15 to Saturday 17 June 2012 For four days this summer, the eyes of the World will be focused on the town of Innerleithen in the heart of the Tweed Valley, in the Scottish Borders. From 14 to 17 June 2012 the iXS European Downhill Cup rolls into town for the only UK round of Europe's premier downhill mountain bike race series. The World's best male and female downhill racers will pit their skills against each other at the spiritual home of the UK downhill scene. A number of fringe events will keep spectators and riders entertained and there will even be an appearance by the Olympic Torch!

three days gives access to all the action as well as on-site catering, kids' skills area, timber tester track and trade stands. There really is something for everyone.' The Programme of Events starts on the evening of Thursday 14th June with a Film Night showcasing some local riding and filming talent. Earlier in the day, the Olympic Torch passes through Innerleithen on its Relay round the UK.

The main event is a traditional downhill event with uplift service and kicks off with a practice session on Friday 15th June with the official launch party in the evening. Saturday sees further practice and qualifying with a Kids mini DH competition during the day and a Dual Slalom competition in the evening. Both these events are ideal for spectators as the action comes thick and fast. Saturday also sees the Organiser Innerleithen MTB Racing is delighted to announce BT Infinity as headline sponsor for the event. BT Innerleithen Pipe Band Championships take place in the Infinity is already bringing super-fast broadband to the town and a parade of the massed pipes and drums will be accompanied by race competitors along Innerleithen residents and businesses of Innerleithen and now it is supporting the super-fast mountain bikers in the Tweed High Street in the early evening. Valley's biggest biking event. Sunday sees final practice and race runs followed by the prize presentations. This is the culmination of the whole James McClafferty, BT Scotland's partnerships director, said:'BT is really excited to be involved in the biggest event weekend and spectators are advised to arrive early to be on Innerleithen's calendar and is particularly keen to sure of a good vantage point on the track. The racing will support the community benefit that can be realised through be fierce and the action intense. our sponsorship of the event. We have been overwhelmed by the successful community campaign to bring superThe winner of the Elite Male category two years ago was fast broadband services to Innerleithen and its surrounds Ben Cathro of Sick Skills MTB Coaching & Guiding. Ben and are confident that the same community spirit will said: 'The last iXS at Innerleithen was a brilliant race for ensure a successful event.' me. The track was especially built for the event and was by far the best I have ridden at Innerleithen and probably one This is the biggest downhill race in the UK outside the of the best in the country. It was a really well run race and World Cup at Fort William and follows the huge success of winning it was pretty special as well considering the high the event held at Innerleithen in 2010 when over 300 level competitors. I look forward to racing it again in 2012.' competitors raced on a specially constructed one-off track through Traquair Forest, watched by several thousand Innerleithen MTB Racing is delighted to be partnering with spectators. Many of the World's top riders are expected to EventScotland for the event. Paul Bush OBE, Chief compete as the event takes place a week after the Fort Operating Officer for EventScotland, said: 'We are William World Cup. Red Bull TV will be covering the action delighted that the iXS European Downhill Cup is returning to Scotland, as the only UK destination on the 2012 on the track for broadcast after the event. championship calendar. Scotland is the perfect stage for Innerleithen is recognised as a World Class downhill venue cycling events, and the trail at Innerleithen will undoubtedly and that recognition coupled with the success of 2010 has provide a spectacular backdrop to the action as the world's seen the series return for 2012. A purpose built track will top riders pit their skills against one another.' again be constructed specifically for the event with a fantastic mix of natural lines and manmade features. In addition to EventScotland, Scottish Borders Council is also an event partner with BT Infinity as headline sponsor. Duncan Nisbet of Innerleithen MTB Racing, said: 'This There is further support from i-cycles, The Bike Lodge, year we are focusing on the expected 3,000 spectators just Alpine Bikes, Trail Perfection and Aim Up. as much as the riders and the event arena will be the focus for competitors and spectators alike, with lots to do, see, Further information and details on the event can be found buy and try. The weekend will include a Film Night, Dual at the official site: or Slalom and Pump Track competitions and a Mini-Downhill find us on FaceBook and Twitter @ixscupinners. event 7 for under 16's. Free entry for spectators over the


Cicerone Guides for walkers, trekkers, mountaineers, climbers and cyclists Planning a trip to Scotland? Then check out the latest guide in our 'Great Mountain Days' series... Great Mountain Days in Scotland has 50 challenging routes across Scotland, from 12-25 miles long, many with optional scrambles. Get 20% off any of our 'Great Mountain Days' guidebooks, which incude Snowdonia and the Lake District. Simply add the voucher code GMD on the shopping basket page. (offer ends 15 April) Outdoor Pursuits - Edinburgh Come and visit us at the Outdoor Pursuits show in Edinburgh later next month. It takes place on the 21-22 April at the Royal Highland Centre. More details 8


Back To Basics: Bivi Bags

Image courtesy of Rosie Swale Pope

The Terra Nova Survival Bivi is a great value waterproof and breathable bivi bag. At 340g it is light enough to always have in your pack for emergencies, it can be used for planned nights out in snow holes or with one of the range of Terra Nova tarps such as the Adventure Tarp 1. The Survival Bivi is a simple design yet doesn't compromise performance, it's waterproof and breathable with fully taped seams, has a neat stuff sack and draw cord closure. If you want something even lighter then the Moonlight Bivi at 180g is a great option, it uses a very breathable, waterproof fabric to keep you comfortable and a simple draw cord closure to keep out the weather. The Moonlight Bivi is also great for adventure races, it can be part of your mandatory kit list as your survival bag and also used as a cover for your sleeping bag to keep you warm on colder nights. Terra Nova also offer a wide range of Gore-Tex bivi bags such as the classic Discovery, Jupiter and Saturn Bivi bags, have a look at <> to see the full range.

TweedLove Bike Festival Ten Days of Bike Riding and Good Times in the Tweed Valley 26 May - 5 June 2012 Organisers of TweedLove Bike Festival, in association with Alpine Bikes, have unveiled what they believe to be the biggest and most comprehensive programme of events ever seen at a UK cycling festival; all being staged across the cycle friendly Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders from Saturday 26 May to Tuesday 5 June 2012. Many events are free, and the choice is wide and varied, with events for children, families and beginners, right through to cutting-edge races for expert riders on fat or skinny tyres. Above all TweedLove is about getting out there and having fun on a bike. New events for TweedLove 2012 include: POC King and Queen of the Hill, Glentress Sunday 27 May - A major new all mountain enduro, with riders competing on a series of timed stages throughout Glentress Forest and featuring a very long and varied final descent stage, of which organisers say; 'If you don't love this stage, you probably don't like mountain biking!.' Bivvy Night - Sunday 3 June - For the bikers' 'bivvy (bivouac) night' riders carry lightweight camping kit with them on an overnight adventure up into the hills. / Mountain Bike Skills Sessions & Events Programme for Women - A number of subsidised skills sessions, as well as more advanced training for prospective racers; and a schedule of free women-only classes and guided rides. / Women's Town Centre Criterium, Peebles - Tuesday 29 May - A women's race has been added to last year's popular Peebles Sprint. Kidzone - A huge variety of events for children of all ages. From a full-on kids' downhill race at Innerleithen to the spectacular new Mini Mash-Up - a town centre balance-bike race for the under fives, to a kids cross-country, a pumptrack and fun skills sessions. TweedLove Bike Festival director, Neil Dalgleish, said: 'There's so much riding on offer at TweedLove this year, you'd be totally exhausted if you tried to do it all. 'There's nothing like this festival anywhere else in the UK, and there's nothing like some of the events we have on offer either. More than anything, TweedLove is about how good riding a bike makes you feel - and what better way is there to spend that precious extra time we have off for the Queen's Jubilee?' For further information on the 2012 TweedLove programme and to book your place on some spectacular free and paid cycling events go to: 9


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: Magazine! Well STAR LETTER Adventure done, and good luck with the

DR ANDREW MURRAY WHAT AN INSPIRATION! I read with fascination your article in the last issue of Ultimate Adventure Magazine, concerning Andrew Murray and his “ultra-marathon” to the Sahara desert. What a brilliant interview! And what a nice guy! I immediately ordered his book Running Beyond Limits and it proved to be a very compelling and inspiring read, with lots of good advice for somebody like me - who wanted to take up running. I admit I’ll never run an ultramarathon, but I have started running and I’m getting fitter, week by week. All thanks to Dr Andrew Murray and Ultimate 10

magazine for the future. It’s looking stunning and I’ll be downloading every issue you produce. CLARE SHIELDS, MANCHESTER Hello Clare, I’m really glad you enjoyed the interview and hopefully our review of Andrew’s book was also informative. If you’re not used to running, or any sport, it can be a big first step on the road to physical fitness, so well done you! As a reward for your efforts, here, have some free digital books. Log on to to check out the blurbs whilst you wait for your prize. :-) -MJ

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TOO BIG! TOO FAT! TOO MUCH HORROR! Hello Ultimate Adventure Magazine. First, can I say what an incredibly big download it was - too big for a lot of people I know! Second, I’ll start with the positives. The magazine had a lot of great interviews and features, I loved Pom on a Postie and Cycling in the Akamas. They were my two personal favourites. I also thought the Anti-Clarkson was hilarious, because I hate Clarkson and wish he’d set fire to his hair instead of another caravan. Things I didn’t like - well the magazine was just TOO DAMN BIG! It seemed to go on for ever and ever and ever. I realise you guys are very enthusiastic about your

PERSONAL SERVICE LETTERS subjects, but I would have preferred a slimmer and more focused magazine with a much smaller download. Oh yes, and there was way too much horror in this issue. I would have preferred more focus on climbing and biking. Just my opinion though. Overall, much to commend the magazine and keep up the good work! DAN, STOKE Hi Dan! Glad you liked at least some aspects of the magazine. As you can see by this issue, we’ve trimmed down a lot of stuff and are definitely more focused on features and reviews. We recognise there was a horror bias (we’re all pretty horrific people, haha) and that has also been addressed. One problem is that a lot of our writers are also genre writers, and it’s hard to curb enthusiasm sometimes. Still, we are certainly striving to be more focused and give readers exactly what they want. Let us know what you think of the new, mean, lean fightingmachine edition of this mag! And oh yes, it’s a much smaller download as well… as requested by quite a few readers! -MJ

HELVELLYN EXCITEMENT! Hello. I quite fancy having a go at climbing Helvellyn and wanted a bit of advice. I’m 11

sarcasm and taking the Michale from my beloved Jeremy Clarknos. Yes he’s better than Richard Hamond and the other bloke as well. But Jeremy is the best. I run a Jeremy Clarkson appreciation society and I aprpeciate him WILLIAM CRAVALL, TENBY. very much. I only wish I could meet him because that would Hi William. be my dream but you people I’d have to say it’s not are making it worse with your something I’d just say “Go for it!” without at least attempting a anticlarkson drivel! Styop it and grow up! couple of smaller climbs first. Maybe Kinder Scout in the Peak District? But Hell, it’s your JEREMY LONDON life to chuck around. Please take a map and compass, learn Ha ha. Whatever you say to use both, and make sure “Jeremy”. Are you sure that’s you have full wet and wind not Mr Clarkson himself with a proofs - the weather changes dose of bad spelling and very, very quickly up in the punctuation? Come on Jezza! mountains. I’d also say get Lighten up! We love you really, some good walking boots and you know we love you, or there’s nothing worse than being 6 hours from the car and we wouldn’t be parodying you in this mag. :-) having wet feet. Proper -MJ miserable. I’d also hit the forums - there’s a massive amount of great advice out there! Enjoy!! -MJ quite good at running (I can run about 3 miles). Will I be able to climb it do you think? And what kind of kit will I need for my climb? Looking forward to your advice.

A NON-BORING BORING VANNER THE ANTI-ANTI- WRITES! I have to say, I am most CLARKSON! disgruntled that you are saying Who is the idiot that’s writing the Anti-Clarkson? I am of course assuming you are referring to the brilliant TV broadcaster and all-round brilliant Top Gear host, Jeremy Clarkson. He is so very right to burn caravans and call all motorbikers gay. He should be burnign motorbikers because of their tight leathers and their need to go fast all the time! No, I cannot agree with your

all caravanners are boring. I am a caravanner and I am NOT boring! I love to tow my van to lots of quiet countryside spots and have picnics. We go for walks in fields and sit outside our vans having BBQs and playing cards! We are not boring, do you hear? GEOFF. CAMBRIDGE. Okay! Put away the axe! -MJ

PERSONAL SERVICE COMPETITION Three Copies of VideoStudio Pro X5 ULTIMATE up for grabs courtesy of those lovely people at COREL SOFTWARE. “Corel® VideoStudio® Pro X5 Ultimate is our most complete video-editing collection, combining ultra-fast performance, intuitive editing tools, advanced effects and screen recording, with bonus plug-ins from proDAD, Boris FX and NewBlue®. Captivate any audience with broadcast-quality effects, multi-layered graphics, and 2D and 3D titling. Fix even the shakiest video with image correction tools and rock-steady video stabilization. Apply animated pen effects to maps, graphics and photos. Plus, get more innovative sharing options with HTML5 support and enhanced disc authoring tools.” On my desk sit 3 copies just waiting to be used! Your first step in winning is to visit: to find the answers to the following three questions: 1) How much free online storage do you get through Storegate? 2) What HTML support does Videostudio ProX5 offer? 3) Tell us something new in this version? Your answers, along with your name and address, should be emailed to, or sent to: Corel Videostudio Competition, Anarchy Books, PO Box 1140, Woodhall Spa, Lincs, LN10 6WR, UK - by Sunday 24th June 2012. Three winners will be picked from a Champagne flute and notified within 28 days. By entering this competition you are acknowledging you are not an employee of Anarchy Books, Ultimate Adventure Magazine or Corel Software. Cheers!

Worth ! h c a E 8 £79.9 Reviewed on page 84. 12



THE MAN WITH BAD HAIR AND DIRTY JEANS SAYS “I HATE LEGO!” I have something extremely grave and serious to talk about today. Yes, I know you know what I’m thinking, as if by some mystical form of ESP I can pass across my most serious concerns. I am not talking about the dire state of the NHS, corrupt politicians, war, murder, or multiple Norfolk farmer incests. No. Today, I am going to talk about “Lego”, and more importantly, the travesty that is – was – the computer “game” Lego Universe.

good father to my cubs, I went out and bought this game at a personal cost of £22.95 GBP. My boy cubs were bouncing most hysterically, and lo! I did return home and install said Lego Universe onto my computer desktop laptop electronic hard disk thingy. But that was just the start of the pain, for lo! then I was stung for a further monthly payment, paying a monthly sum (about £6.99 if memory serves) for the right to play the game I had just already paid for. Unfair? Yes. Lego Universe is an MMO which, in Necessary? Of course. Boy cubs geek-speak, means “Massive demand it, and you know how Multiplayer Online” game, a game to persuasive an excited child can be. be played over that there interweb. So, with weeping wallet and heavy Probably against many heart, I watched the children playing homosexuals. Or gay motorbikers in over the interweb, probably against their too-tight tight leathers. Like a people in other cultures, and


bashing in their Lego brains (probably). All good and great, and everybody was pleased, especially my bank manager and those pigs at AIG, because it took my attention away from slagging them off - for the time being. But then – and this is the best bit Lego decided they were going to close down Lego Universe, because, apparently, “not enough people were playing it” – which in adult speak, means “we weren’t turning enough profit”. I read the press release with their FAQs, which strangely rhymed with exactly how I felt about the whole situation (I had just been FAQd from a great height, after all). Let me explain.



I bought a game. Surely I have the right to play that game, then, as it was my purchase with my money? I don’t buy a car and twelve months down the line, the car manufacturer says – “Actually, we’re now going to make it impossible for you to drive your car.” You don’t buy a washing machine, pay a monthly subscription, and then thirteen months down the line it stops working when just out of warranty... (oh sorry, that does happen, doesn’t it?). The point is, by buying a game surely I have the right to play that game – I spent my money on it. And my children had spent over a year building up their characters and nodoubt buying Lego Uzis and Lego AK47s with which to splatter Lego blood against Lego walls. They worked hard at earning “digital currency”.

decided they weren’t going to do that, because it would somehow make the experience worse for the players, and they would rather the player remembered the joy and pleasure of this world they could no longer access, rather than play something that wasn’t continually expanding. What absolute rot. What corporate crap. How stupid do Lego think we are? Very stupid, obviously, because these are the people who make little plastic bricks and billions of dollarpounds from said little plastic bricks. Let’s be honest – they didn’t want to maintain the servers – because that cost money. But then, hadn’t we bought the games for our children?

travesty. My children were very, very disappointed and I have now banned Lego Junk from our house, and burn (with petrol) any surviving Lego I find. I despise these money-making con-men, for they conned my children, disappointed my children, and STILL continue to sell them rubbish. I urge you, too, to ban Lego from your house. And let’s be honest, in the long run it’ll be cheaper – because it’ll stop the dog eating those crappy little bricks, getting them stuck in his(her) guts, and costing you a fortune on an expensive vet’s bill. Unless he’s sick, of course – in which case that is justice served. Lego on a bed of vomit is the best end-result for this junk.

Even yesterday, April 2012, one boy cub said to me, “I wish they hadn’t

Lego Corporate Money Men – You WILL burn in LEGO HELL for your LEGO CRIMES! Now when Lego announced they were, effectively, imploding their “Universe” they stated that they could keep the game world alive, oh yes, quite easily! Only without the option to keep expanding on it and upgrading the world. So, the Lego sandpit would remain – which seems fair. After all, we paid for the privilege. But then, the Lego Gods

closed Lego Universe”. You hear that, Lego? YOU HEAR THAT? Another disappointed child, upset by YOU, Lego Corporate Money Men – You WILL burn in LEGO HELL for your LEGO CRIMES! Lego have behaved despicably, in the worst form of corporate moneymaking scandals. It is a sham. It is a

Lego on a bed of vomit is the best end-result for this junk. 14


the horror, the horror

Michael Wilson MUSES ON “Gore VS Psychology” It is often asked whether horror fans and artists prefer all-out gore or psychological horror. I am guilty of this too - just look at any of This Is Horror’s ‘Meet The Writer’ interviews! Whilst this is a reasonable question, on the surface, the more I consider it the more redundant and potentially destructive it appears to be. Why can we not enjoy and respect the merits of both subgenres? Whether within cinema or literature, one only needs to scratch at the surface of the horror genre to unveil a rich tapestry of horror in many guises. Whilst the subsequent offerings are best forgotten, the first Saw was a unique and brilliantly filmed lowbudget horror that paved the way for the torture porn subgenre. Similarly, 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of the most brutal and unrelenting horror films to grace 1 cinemas upon its release. In fact its gore factor was such that many critics initially slammed it for its unnecessarily sadistic violence (although there is a strong argument for its sadism that penetrates deeper than the banal delights of the viewer). Juxtapose the above with the magnificent and vastly underrated Session 9, Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining and the recently released, old school ghost story The Woman in Black, and you’re dealing with a completely different type of horror. The moment in which the elevator spills blood in The Shining cannot be compared to the sense of on-the-edge-of-your-seat terror experienced when Leatherface is parading after Sally Hardesty maniacally wielding a chainsaw. And, herein lies the point, psychological and gory horror cannot be compared, for it is not like-for-like so to suggest that one can or should even attempt to do so, is to miss the point and to undermine the individual merits of both subgenres. Good horror is not simply gory or psychological 15

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is remembered as being one of the bloodiest films of all-time, but if you go back and re-watch it you’ll find that there’s very little blood-shed. Furthermore, some of the most terrifying moments are created through suspense. Take for example when Kirk follows the hellish sounds from inside the killers’ house only to be levelled over the head with a sledgehammer. It is the build-up and sense of the unknown that creates fear – as unsuspecting Kirk investigates foreign sounds only to meet his death – not the actual acts of violence. One of the most overtly gore-laden films of recent years, Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs, is successful not because of its uncompromising violence but because alongside this is a philosophical message and exploration of interesting and flawed characters (as with so many nonEnglish language films the rights for a US remake have been snapped up, this time around it’s the producers of Twilight that own the rights – one can only imagine what catastrophically bad remake awaits us if that ever sees the light of day). Needless to say the complementary nature of gore and atmospheric horror works the other way around. A shockingly violent scene in the middle of an eerie and understated horror is guaranteed to have maximum impact. Likewise, showing a moment of restraint in an otherwise full-on gorefest leads the viewer/reader to question what on earth happened next that was so horrific it couldn’t possibly be fully revealed. How can we reinvent tried and tested tropes?

complement and add to the rich canon of horror? Now that is a question worth exploring. When more people examine and value originality over churning out the same tired stories we’ll see less sequels-bynumber, less textbook horror and more genre-defining and reinventing art. Surely that’s what all professionals should be aiming for and what all fans want. We’re in this together It’s a divisive question and one that creates segregation within the genre. When there are filmmakers who see horror as the ‘soft’ or ‘easy’ option, treating it as a gateway to bigger and better (ha!) art-forms, we know that the odds are stacked against us. With that in mind it is dangerous and destructive to fight amongst ourselves as we try to justify why pulp, literary fiction, psychological horror or a whole other number of subgenres are superior. As fans and creators of horror we should strive to seek out the best in horror and not to belittle it. Of course, I’m not suggesting that we should embrace and enjoy every badly cobbled together attempt at horror, but as astute and perceptive fans we can distinguish between sincerity and those looking to get rich quick.

The question of a preference between gore and psychology is an unhelpful one. Rather than asking which is preferred or better (seriously, come on…) why not ask what is the Michael Wilson is the Editor next step in reinventing horror? What and Owner of horror website fresh or original concept can This Is Horror.

To advertise in this space, please email: Rate cards are available on request.


Jonathan Fish

CHEWING THE CHAT WITH SOME INTERESTING PEOPLES……. This issue we have three fabulous interviews for your delectation, devouring and cogitation!

Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival - an event which is unusual, unique and very very special. Well worth putting on your calendar for next year!

And third comes author Geoff Nelder on writing, Geography, carbon fibre bikes and bubblewrap sex! Awesome.

First we have Jon Bodan, of heavy metal rock psycho metal Enjoy!! band HALCYON WAY and KARBONBLACK - talking about chicks and touring, chainsaws and sausages, and his battle against cancer. We salute you, sir! Second, is Ruth Shedwick, who organised the fabulous



JON BODAN on chainsaws, groupies, sausages and beating cancer… Hi Jon Bodan of Halcyon Way! Thanks for agreeing to do an interview for Ultimate Adventure Magazine! JB: Not a problem, always a good time to shoot the feces with the incomparable Andy Remic, you being the sexual athlete and shotgun enthusiast that you are. Figured that scorning the opportunity could get me into some sausage fueled trouble! And that if I obliged, you might sign my….er…Kindle? haha. UAM: You bet, mate. Now, first, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself and your current music career? Hell man, what’s it like being a rock star? JB: Well, in between all the coke-fueled orgies with hordes of groupies…..wait, what? Right. Well, let's see….this week I worked on logistics issues for our 18

upcoming European tour, cajoled my bandmates into bringing suitcases to the rehearsal space – which they all forgot, haha – so we can check our merch on the planes and not ship it at $600/box. Figured out what the weather will be like in Europe. Printed out flight itineraries. Bought my 3rd Rolls Royce Phantom for my entourage to ride around in, and arranged for Marilyn Manson to play at the kids' birthday party. Figured out when the bus will come pick us up…you know, living the dream! All this in between the strippers and booze-filled debauchery! I know, it's hard. For serious, I've been playing the guitar since I was 12. I practically learned how to play off the '…And Justice For All' tab book by Metallica. I played in a couple of other bands prior to HW, and recorded a couple of solo album/demo type things in the 90s, but about 10 years ago I formed Halcyon Way with some buddies.

We did a couple of demos in my home studio, and then after a bunch of lineup changes released our first album in 2008 called 'A Manifesto For Domination' on Nightmare Records. That album took almost 5 years to make for various reasons, so practically as soon as it was released we hit the studio again and started working on 'Building The Towers'. After the recording was finished, we did a short UK tour with Fozzy in Summer of 2010. Came home for the 'Building The Towers' press blitz and release; it came out in October of 2010 and we were supposed to do a big European tour with Stuck Mojo, but I found out I had Lymphoma and we had to cancel out of it just a couple of weeks before it started. So I went through treatment for most of 2011 and am now in remission. We put out 'IndoctriNation' in November of 2011, which was a cross between a short album and a long EP. We'd written a mountain of material during the 'Building The Towers' sessions so we released that stuff along with some remixes and the like. Right now, besides getting ready for our upcoming tour, I've been doing a lot of writing and studio work. I've got a bunch of material for HW written, but I also have done some work in the last year with th3 missing for Anarchy Books, which was fun. I've been doing some club/industrial remixes for metal bands here & there, which is a fun departure. Got several other projects that I'm working on as well – some secret for now, others that details are coming out on soon. Halcyon Way, of course, is known for being a heavy power/prog metal band, but I have a lot of other things I'm working on that are different. I've got a stoner rock project that I've been accumulating songs for that I want to do soon - I love bands like Monster Magnet and Fireball Ministry; got my karbonBlack album almost finished, got a new–jazz kind of thing I'm going to be working on this year. Got a couple of other metaloriented projects that I'm going to be working on as well. I also write material to sell to TV/film and the like – basically bumper music and such. I'm really stretching myself out as a songwriter and guitar player wherever I can. UAM: What’s life like on tour? Is it all chicks and booze and chainsaws, or are you reading the works of Bronte and Dickens, and discussing quantum physics? JB: Well, the chainsaws are especially important, particularly when wielded when inebriated. Because that's when you make the sausage out of the punters, right? No, really – most of the time you're working, believe it or not. Especially at the level we're at right now, which is as a support act for a bigger band. You typically have to load into the venue around 2-3 in the afternoon, get your gear set up and the layout of the place figured out. Set up the merch table and deal with inventory and stuff. If you're lucky, the venue will have luxuries like a SHOWER or a toilet that you won't catch typhoid or some mutant rash from and you can make use of them. You do your set, and then pretty much work the merch table and hang out with the fans, and that's always a good time. Bus call is around 1-2AM and you basically pile onto the bus and sleep while the driver gets you to the next town….or to that factory in the movie Hostel. One thing 19

we've had fun with in the States while traveling is to make prank calls, we have a bunch on tape that are pretty epic that may see the public light of day sometime! And tour pranks are always fun, like the backwards asscrawl or the Brown Widow. Truly high-brow stuff here, terribly brainy. The funny thing is that I actually don't drink, so I do all this stone cold sober! UAM: What’s this karbonBlack thing I keep hearing about? Could you tell us a bit more? JB: karbonBlack is the name of my industrial rock side project. I'm actually delivering the album to the producer for mixdown when we arrive in Hamburg in a week. Basically, the material is hard rock, but very electronica influenced. Clubby, danceable, etc – but I was really focused on writing good songs with catchy hooks that would get stuck in your head. It was something I'd been wanting to do for years, because I'd always liked bands like Celldweller, Ministry, Zeromancer, KMFDM, and the like. So when I had all the downtime in 2011 I decided that I'd work on it and see what happened. The writing process started off slowly because it was a new way of writing, but I eventually got into a good groove with it and I think it's going to be a really solid album. All the songs are super catchy, but hard and driving as well. I also stepped out in what was a very big way for myself and did all of the vocals, which I'd never done before. I'm very pleased with how it came out and honestly surprised myself with the whole thing.

I also do my remix work under the karbonBlack name and one of them ended up on the 'IndoctriNation' release. I've done some for some other metal bands as well. I have fun doing that so I am going to put a little more focus on landing those sorts of jobs this year. UAM: And you also have a (cough) secret project going on with a certain novelist? What’s the score there? JB: Well, you know I'm not supposed to talk about it, but since you plied me with precheese and sausage… Yes, I'm spearheading a project with HW's old guitar player, Zane, called PRETENSION, which is basically the Steel Panther of Progressive/Power Metal. The irony of this is that Power/Prog is where HW got our foothold and broke out into the world, but there's so much nerdy

more awesome and epic way to make fun of power metal than by writing an album making fun of The Lord Of The Rings. I can't give away too much but just rest assured that it will be comedy gold, just like the book. UAM: What are your latest projects – and why should we buy them? JB: Halcyon Way now has 3 albums out, and you should absolutely buy all of those so we can quit losing money at some point! They're available worldwide through really any retail outlet including all the online services. We've got the entire 'Building The Towers' album on Rock Band for Xbox 360 which has been cool – the reviews on the material are that it's insane to play so if you have that game, download our stuff there. '

I seriously cannot think of a more awesome and epic way to make fun of power metal than by writing an album making fun of The Lord Of The Rings. comedy built into the scene that we wanted to make fun of it. PRETENSION is an all-star project featuring prog & power metal musicians from all over the world who want to poke some fun at bands with frilly shirts, excessive gay keyboards, 13-sided dice, swords, greased up pecs, unicorns, and all that. The album is going to be the soundtrack for your very own The Bobbit, which is a parody of "The Hobbit". I seriously cannot think of a


IndoctriNation' is coming soon as well, and the title track actually went live this past week. I hope to have the karbonBlack album on the streets by mid-summer; at this point the record deal is set up and I'm just working through the album art and the mixdown. It will also be available everywhere.

The other projects I'll be announcing as I get things done, but I plan to stay very busy with them and undoubtedly they'll all see commercial release of some sort. I've got an endorsement with Brian Moore Custom Guitars in New York, and there's going to be a very cool announcement pertaining to that relationship soon – I have to keep it quiet for now but it's gonna be pretty incredible. Keep an eye on the HW pages for that as we'll be making a big noise on that front soon. Halcyon Way plans to do this European tour first, and once we get home we'll see if there's anything similar that is offered for Summer/Fall, and based on that we'll probably begin working on our next CD. I've got a good start on the songs for that I think, and once we all get in the same room and start collaborating, I'm sure we'll come out with something pretty amazing.

thanked God for my survival, we put the top down on the car, and played "Born In Blood" by Chimaira as loud as we could stand it. If that song doesn't make you want to break through walls, I don't know what will! The band did a 'comeback' show in our hometown of Atlanta in October, and we set it up as a benefit for a foundation that helps cancer patients out. It was a highly emotional night for a lot of reasons, but an amazing experience. So I can say honestly that just being alive to talk about it all is quite the adventure. UAM: Bless you sir. Thank you very much for your time and good luck in the future! JB: Always a pleasure! A quad-barreled Kekra salute to you my friend!

As soon as we left the doctor's office I thanked God for my survival, we put the top down on the car, and played "Born In Blood" by Chimaira as loud as we could stand it. If that song doesn't make you want to break through walls, I don't know what will! But for the most part, buy my stuff because I have a debilitating – and fairly humiliating – sausage addiction. I keep trying that Morningstar fake sausage but I can't deal with it…..IT'S ANDY REMIC'S FAULT!!!!!! UAM: Been involved with any adventures recently? Anything exciting happen to you?

You can

JB: Dude, the biggest adventure I've had in the last while has been fighting and beating cancer. I can tell you with no ambivalence that the process totally sucked ass. But I'm in full remission, and that's the biggest high I could imagine. As soon as we left the doctor's office I


INTERVIEW The small northern market town of Ramsbottom looks for all the world like a sleepy, quaint little village tucked away in rolling valley hills. High streets awash with quality independent shops, award winning restaurants and Cafes, and the unmistakable sound of the steam train cuts through the idyllic quietness one has come to love about the townâ&#x20AC;Ś


It may surprise you that once a year thousands of chocolate lovers descend upon Ramsbottom bringing the entire town to a stand still for a weekend. For this northern beauty is home to the UKs first ever Chocolate Festival, and due to the enormous success of the Festival (now in its fourth year) other towns and cities across the UK, including London, have followed suit. We met up with Ruth Shedwick, event organiser of Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival to find out more about what makes Ramsbottom so special…

My role is working closely with the business community, promoting the townships of Bury and driving footfall to increase tourism to the area and sustain the local economy. The best way to achieve high levels of footfall and drive awareness is by staging events. When I started working with Ramsbottom business group they fast became aware that I think outside of the box and were happy to let my imagination run wild. It was then that Paul Morris, owner of The Chocolate Café came up with an idea of having a few market stalls selling purely chocolate. I met the challenge head on and the rest, as they say is history.

children, children’s crafts, our own Festival chocolate beer, beer tent, chocolate sculpture, special edition chocolate rail ale train, and live bands. Arh, yes. The chocolate sculpture. Tell us more about that.

This year, UK Chocolate Champion John Costello constructed a lifesize sculpture of Olympic medallist Jessica Ennis entirely from chocolate. It was pretty amazing. He worked on it all weekend at the Festival and it has now gone back to his workshop for more work. Plans are to have the sculpture on display in Bury Town Centre where the There are some amazing public can watch John put the chocolatiers who attend the event. finishing touches to it. There was a How did you come by them? hair-raising moment when we loaded the sculpture on the back of the truck Luck. No. Seriously, we’re very (see picture), it caused some stares I fortunate to have award winning can tell you. chocolatiers on our doorstep. With First of all, congratulations on a Paul, from the Chocolate Café, John What were the highlights of the yet another successful Festival, Slattery who made Wayne Rooney’s 2012 Festival for you? you must be very proud. wedding cake, UK Chocolate Champion John Costello and The sculpture was one of the main Thank you. I am very proud. This combined with their contacts in the highlights this year. Local breweries years Festival exceeded my chocolate community the circle has Irwell Works and Outstanding Beers expectations. Every year I look to created our very own chocolate beer add a different dimension, something grown every year. stout. There were live bands from different, something quirky. I am just You mentioned you like to have some of the regions outstanding new so thrilled with how well it has been received. It makes all the hard work, different elements each year, what talent including The Genuine have you done so far? Articles, Ring Ring Rouge and The sleepless nights, and 5.30am starts Bourbon Words. But I think the worth it when you see all the happy faces enjoying something which has We’ve had Guinness World Records, highlight of my career was being an evening of Chocolate (5 course interviewed by CBBC’s Hacker the been part of your world for months. meal entirely of chocolate content), Dog. Where did the idea of a chocolate local celebrity chef demonstrations, chocolate workshops for adults and festival come from?


What? Go back. Who or what is Hacker? Hacker the Dog is a puppet on CBBC. If you have children, they’ll know he is a scruffy little dog and doesn’t mix his words. A loveable rogue really. What was it like working with a puppet? It was … different. He was amazing, what can I say. Hacker rapped with one of the bands, Mississippi Relic, and interviewed yours truly, Paul Morris and Festival mascot Charlie Chick. I’d love to work with him again – watch this space!

I guess it helped that he was a handsome local bobby. Sadly no records were broken, which at the time was nine, the nearest one contestant got was six. It was highly entertaining for the crowds. And is it true you have no budget to put all this on? And it’s a FREE event? How on earth do you do that?

I’m thrifty [laughs]. I seek sponsorship but like everything in this current economic climate it is hard to come by. The one thing I didn’t want to end up doing is making the event a pay for event. It’s about families and Tell us more about Charlie communities coming together Chick to enjoy a Festival and spend money in the local shops. I wanted to have an iconic You start charging and it character associated with the changes the whole dimension Festival. And that is where of the event. I manage to Charlie Chick was born. make the event pay for itself Charlie is a loveable 8ft chick by charging traders who whose minder Simple Scott attend. To help cover some speaks for him. He’s a hire costs I did introduce a mischievous chick but utterly minimal charge of couple of adorable. Children young and pounds for workshops and old love him. crafts, and people are happy to pay, but I couldn’t change You’ve had Guinness World the dynamics. Records as part of your previous Festivals, what So is it all chocolate? was that all about? The main road in town gives For the first Festival I needed way to the two day chocolate an angle, something that market where the marquees would be unique to chocolate. are filled with quality cocoa Looking through the products. I added a craft Guinness World Records, the marquee this year to add a only chocolate related record different element. Most of that seemed doable was them with a chocolate theme, ‘How many Ferrero Rocher for example, home made can you eat in one minute’. beauty products containing cocoa, and edible and That sounds easy, couldn’t wearable chocolate. Yes. You you have found something can actually wear it and then more difficult? eat it. I know, you’d think so, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Each contestant must unwrap them individually and can only eat one at a time, showing their judge they had finished before starting another. It was pretty gross actually, as I had to judge, but 24

You have other food traders attend too. Why is that when you have restaurants in town? The restaurants and cafes simply cannot cope with the amount of visitors who attend the Festival.

Which goes to show Ramsbottom is firmly on the map as a popular tourist destination…

One thing you want is to keep your audience at the Festival for as long as possible, and that means keeping them fed. I try to have a wide variety on offer to keep everyone’s taste buds happy. Hog roast, ostrich & wild boar burgers, paella, stone cooked pizza and this year vegetarian food from The Hungry Gecko the new business venture of Masterchef finalist Jackie Kearney.

Yes, the cash machines in town were depleted. The best guestimate for visitor numbers over the two days this year is 30,000. Now, that may not sound like a lot for a Festival, but it is for our little northern town.

Wow. What was it like meeting Jackie?

Funnily enough, this year I did very little PR. I relied heavily on utilising social media and given the profile of the event now its been going for four years, I found the media to come to me.

She is a lovely, lovely lady who confesses to falling in love with Ramsbottom. Her food was amazing and was well received by all, she sold out on both days. In fact, all of the traders at the Festival sold out couldn’t make produce quick enough. Sold out? That’s great news. And rumour has it that the cash machines also ran dry, is that true? 25

So you’ve a hugely successful event under your belt. How did you promote it to get so many people to attend?

Have you found social media to help in promotion of the Festival? Most certainly. With all my events and business promotions I try to get a viral campaign going, it’s all about the trending and using those restrictive characters to get your point across in a meaningful way. When you get it right, it works and

running four twitter accounts helps with my cross promotions. I started the Saturday morning at this years Festival with two radio interviews with BBC Lancashire and BBC Manchester, and there’s the local and regional press coverage as well as national coverage in The Times, which goes to show Ramsbottom is firmly on the map as a popular tourist destination. So you do other events too? Isn’t that exhausting? Yes, and no. I love what I do and I do it well [gives firm pat on the back] I’m an ideas person who will go to any lengths to bring it to life. It may also explain why I’m an insomniac – my best ideas come to me at 3am. One thing’s for sure, my work life is not dull when my telephone conversations include discussing Dragons, Giant Pumpkins, Paranormal investigations, Donkeys, Snakes, Puppets, Chocolate Sculptures, Reindeer and Camels.


Sounds like a great job. It is and I am very grateful I have the opportunity to do what I do. I’m a qualified Environmental Planner, and being able to utilise my graphic design background is also advantageous when putting together promotions and branding. But my aim remains the same. Its about supporting the local businesses in the townships who benefit hugely from these events and that’s what its all about, sustaining our local economy and raising the profile of the towns creating a healthier place to live, work and play. How many people are behind the scenes to pull this off? I’m laughing on the inside [cheeky grin]. For business support and events? There is no team; it’s just myself although I refer to myself as Town Centres Team. I know, strange right? I guess my multiple personalities help. I’m fortunate that

for this Festival there are a couple of go getters from Ramsbottom business group (Gregg and Stuart) who help close the road and put out the cones and signage at the ungodly hour of 5.30am. And on the day support I rely on the assistance of two colleagues, however, with the growth of this particular Festival I’ll need to call on more assistance in future.

Each year has to bring another element, something different that will stand out from the crowd. Needless to say it will not be dull.

Follow Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival on twitter @ChocFestival Facebook

Is it true you don’t actually like chocolate? [Laughs] Erm …… [nervous laugh] It’s true, I don’t actually like chocolate. I know, I know, I am that rare breed, a woman who doesn’t like cocoa. However, I appreciate that 99% of the population do like chocolate. Perhaps that’s what makes the Festival work, I’m all about the organising and not busy eating the product.

and the Festival website www.ramsbottomchocolatefestival. com You can chat directly with Ruth about forthcoming events and business support across Bury via @TownCentresTeam and eam

So what’s next for Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival? I’ve already been thinking about 2013 and how I can make improvements.

“It’s true, I don’t actually like chocolate.. ” 27


Author Geoff Nelder on writing, Geography, carbon fibre bikes and bubble-wrap sex! handy to have a wife who’s a physicist to test my science fiction. I am the short fiction judge for the Helen Whittaker Prize. UAM: I hear you also like to do a bit of hiking and cycling? Had any adventures recently?

Hi Geoff. Thanks for agreeing to do an interview for Ultimate Adventure Magazine! UAM: First, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing career? GN: I was born in a military hospital and emerged snarling. Surprising then that I have any fans at all. But then if they weren’t I’d give them detention because I was a teacher for years. How many, you ask? Hundreds. I might be a vampire. I taught Geography because it meant I was paid to scramble up mountains and show kids how not to fall off. I became a first aider for those brats who did fall over. My two kids trample the hills too and take their kids. I also taught Geography to get paid for keeping my head in the clouds. For noting how climate affects air pollution and vice versa the Royal Meteorological Society made me a Fellow. I wrote some climate books but my urge was to write stories. I’ve had over 50 shorts published, and a mystery science fiction novel – Exit, Pursued by a Bee. It’s 28

GN: It rained in October so I cheap-air-flew to Alicante for an impromptu cycling holiday based at Ciclo Costa Blanca in Altea. They rented me a carbon fibre bike. Wow, I’d not ridden a road bike that weighed less than my leg before. The Coll de Rates is the local challenge climb and it’s often part of the Spanish Vuelta a España. It has a mountainous section with forty hairpin bends. It rained in the morning but Spanish sunshine dried it in moments. After cycling through great rock arches (photo) and cross country to near Valencia, I clocked a start card on a Stoppomat machine at the base and heaved my heavy mass on the neat whippy bike up the slope. Five k later I screeched to a stop. A workman brandished a red STOP sign in my face. Of all the luck, roadworks. On the other hand it gave my lungs a chance to suck in oxygen and my legs to say hello to a rest, my nostrils to suck up the scent of a roadside sagebush. Okay, so clocking again at the summit – and thanks to the gorgeous waitress who brought me a glass of iced orange – my time was pretty slow. Better next year. The downhilling speeding along a meandering lane through olive groves and vineyards beat going to the gym anytime. UAM: Most people in their sixties aim for an armchair, why do you grab a kit bag instead? GN: Life’s too short. Not only would sitting around shorten it, but reduce the exhilaration life throws at me with the adrenalin buzz from gym work, rock scrambling and cycling. Then there’s this blonde bombshell I have as a personal torturer...



published and its third edition by Adventure Books of Seattle. UAM: Whose work do you admire and why? GN: As a lover of words I admire literary writing and I am delighted to see Julian Barnes winning the Man-Booker. I aspire to be a writer of both literary and science fiction and fantasy, and good examples are China Miéville and Margaret Atwood. M. John Harrison, too for his science fiction but I was delighted to encounter his rock scrambling adventures in Climbers. On the writer-plus-ultimate-adventurer personality I admire, it has to be Mark Iles. He has 8th Degree Black Belts in Taekwondo, Kickboxing and Chun Kuhn Do, with a great job and good life ahead of him. Then an iron bar hit his head. The thug is behind bars but Mark was damaged. He could have given up and vegetated. Instead he continued writing. For example his martial arts interviews and articles have appeared in Combat, Fighters, Taekwondo Times, Martial Arts Illustrated, Taekwondo & Korean Martial arts, and Junk. He got himself a MA in Professional Writing and writes science fiction too. You should be interviewing Mark. His website is at UAM: Your first novel is a humorous thriller. It has a lot of adventure. Do you follow market trends in your fiction? GN: My first novel, Escaping Reality, is the book that lived inside me bursting to escape. It’s about a fugitive and I’d experienced everything the protagonist had done – almost. That includes winter days and nights trekking GN: No. At school I’d hide behind the stage during P.E. the Northumberland moors and bubble-wrap sex. I had lessons, became overweight. I still have weight huge difficulty placing it with a publisher because it is a problems from those days. If only I knew then what I humorous thriller. Booksellers do not recognise that as a knew now. It’s the urge to make up for those sloppy genre even through comic crime exists. Since then I years that I push myself now. study market trends and warp the stories dying to be written to fit the trend – as much as one can. Beware. I UAM: Geoff, how is your typical writing day organised? recall attending a writers’ conference where we were told vampire stories have lost momentum. Then Buffy GN: I used to aim for 2,500 fresh words each breakfast appeared on screen and vampires continue to dominate to lunchtime but now I find evenings a more creative fantasy. My latest novel is ARIA, the first of a science time especially after midnight, possibly because I am the fiction trilogy. It is apocalyptic, devastating with a small only one up by then. I have laptop, will travel. If thirty group of survivors facing the ultimate adventure in minutes are free in a café or on a bus then more words staying alive. It is published in the summer of 2012 by are written. I take a laptop in my bike pannier so you LL-Publications. might see me one evening in a Youth Hostel or UAM: Thank you very much, Mr Nelder! campsite. UAM: Were you always fit?

UAM: What’s your proudest achievement to date? GN: Getting married and watching my kids being born. Oh, recently, you say? Hearing my 3-year-old grandson’s first song while sitting on my shoulders – ‘... this way that way, backwards forwards, over the deep blue sea... it’s a pirate life for me...’ Great stuff – taking after his granddad. More about my achievement? Standing on the Arts theatre stage, in front of hundreds, at Groningen University to receive my Award d’or for best unpublished novel. Hot Air, a Mediterranean thriller with a feisty female redhead protagonist has been


You can discover more about Geoff at:!/geoffnelder


3 x copies of Corel Software’s fabulous PAINT SHOP PRO 4 photo editing software! ISSUE 3 AVAILABLE 1st JULY 2012 AS A FREE DOWNLOAD Follow UAM!!


FEATURES ULTIMATE ADVENTURES JUST FOR YOU… This issue we have a range of features, including swimming with sharks, one man’s (continued) mission to travel across Australia on a little postie’s moped, swimming Lake Bala with Sgt Gary Main from the British RAF, The Art of Geocaching… and last but by no means least, the MICROADVENTURE by Alastair Humphreys. Enjoy! -MJ





Five lemon sharks, all pretty much fully grown three-metre specimens, one of whom was in the latter stages of pregnancy, glided around… As shark populations fall around the world, there are less and less places to observe these beautiful, graceful hunters. South Africa has its share of shark action, Fiji’s Beqa lagoon has its feed, Guadeloupe has Great Whites, the Galapagos and the Cocos have Hammerheads and Whitetips, Papua New Guinea has healthy populations of reef-dwelling species, and a few Egyptian sites can be of interest, but nowhere guarantees such up-close-and-personal and prolonged encounters as a liveaboard off the Bahamas.

stories were swapped, and there was a distinct air of happy expectation, possibly assisted by Captain Scott declaring that all beers on the trip were free. As soon as dinner was over we left our moorings for the night crossing to the Bahamas. After clearing Bahamian immigration we set up our kit on the dive platform and headed for Tiger Beach where we moored up to a buoy. A steel drum with bits of fish carcass stood on the aft of the port deck, to which Scott added some fish offal and some tuna heads before he started pumping the stinky grey gunk out into the sea. Plastic crates were filled with more carcasses and some fresh snapper the crew had caught, and were suspended under the dive deck and from a couple of buoys. Within 10 minutes dorsal fins appeared and Lemon sharks dotted the bright blue ocean.

After flying to West Palm Beach, Florida, I boarded the 12-berth Dolphin Dream II and met up with my companions for the next six days and our host, Captain Scott Smith. Initially attracted by its spotted Atlantic and bottlenosed dolphins, Scott has been visiting the banks off Grand Bahama for the past thirty years and has an intimate understanding of the tides, currents and reefs. The pre-dive briefing was simple and succinct. We would be moored here I was sharing a room with Mike from for at least 24 hours, as the sand was Texas, a veteran of two Dolphin six metres below the boat no buddy Dream expeditions, and the rest of the pairs were obligatory, and the only passengers were a single US female, limit on dive time was the rate we used an American couple, an Aussie father- our air. daughter combo, and a group of five Dutch divers. Over dinner a few shark

Lemons at Tiger Beach 34

“Don’t hang around on the surface, don’t fondle the sharks, do have fun. Pool’s open!” The Lemons cruised around the dive platform, and we waited for a gap in the traffic to stride in. Crew Travis and Connor handed down our cameras and we sunk down to the sand. Five lemon sharks, all pretty much fully grown three-metre specimens, one of whom was in the latter stages of pregnancy, glided around with much more grace than a human in the same state, checking out the bait boxes but pretty much ignoring us divers. Mostly they stayed close to the sand, occasionally resting and opening their mouths to pump water through their gills to breathe without swimming. I’d never encountered Lemon sharks before and the thing that struck me was the number of remora hanging off them. One of them must’ve had over 20 suckered up to its browny-bronze skin. A three-metre Tiger shark put in a brief appearance and then moved on. Contrary to popular belief, Tiger sharks are shy and wary, they don’t grow so big and so old by blithely approaching anything new without much caution. The lemons, on the other hand, and fearless loggerhead turtle, happily cruised around us.

At such a shallow depth and with very little finning to do, my first dive lasted over two hours as I lay on the sand and let the sharks swim around me, making the most of the light and shooting without my strobes and using manual white balance. After a cup of tea, a slice or two of chef Gail’s excellent cake, and a battery change, I headed back down for more of the same. After another hour underwater a 3.5-metre tiger with a permanent, lopsided grin turned up and swam around in an oval pattern, coming up to one of the bait boxes, and then gliding away to reappear a couple of minutes later, over and over until I was low on air again and my stomach was rumbling. We stayed moored up at Tiger Beach overnight, and after breakfast the next morning I suited up and jumped in. The lemon shark contingent had grown to 14, the smallest being over two metres long and around my age. Mature lemons can live an estimated 70 years, mainly living off a diet of slippery fish, hence their long and

Caribbean Reef Shark 35

pointy teeth. The pregnant female was still around, and her bloated abdomen looked ready to release her litter of eight to ten live pups. I wondered how that worked, whether they just slipped out as she swam around, or whether she went through the same drama as human females.

clearly more appetising than I was. It was mildly exhilarating, but I didn’t think that Smiley paid me any more attention at all, although I could swim right up to her. However, at this point, she seemed totally at ease with us and with SCUBA gear on, by lying under the bait box that was suspended from a buoy, I could get I swam under the boat to beyond the just as close and not have to keep bow and inspected the chain we were going up to breathe. moored to. Running perpendicular to the boat, its wrist-thick links were In the afternoon we upped anchor and adorned with coral growth. A small went to a spot where dolphins are rock harboured an eel and cleaner regularly seen. With two lights shrimp and a school of Cottonwicks dangling under the boat we slipped decorated some finger coral in the into the silent, otherwise inky black ocean as soon as curved fins early light. appeared on the surface. Underwater In the afternoon Captain Scott gave the ocean was alive with high-pitched me special permission to freedive in squeaks as the spotted Atlantic an experiment to see if the interaction dolphins darted around us, teasing was noticeably different without those of us with cameras. It was bubbles and kit. Initially the Lemons impossible to get a clear, in-focus were pretty curious, a couple often shot, but was most amusing as the following me up to the surface dolphins appeared like ghosts and between descents, but the novelty of whirled around as if to say to their my presence soon wore off and they fellow mammals “hey human, this is returned to the bait boxes that were how to dive”.

Lemon Shark passing overhead!


The next morning Scotty cruised around looking for his friends and within forty minutes had found identified the unmistakable notched dorsal fin of Chopper, the alpha male of the area, who he had first seen thirty years before, and we jumped in. Scuba was impossible as firstly by the time we’d have kitted up and jumped in they would have gone, and more importantly, the dolphins were after some fun. The best way to prolong any interaction was to freedive down and twirl and spin in the most dolphinlike way possible. Travis used a UPV to keep one pod interested, as I followed another. Every time they seemed to be disappearing I’d dive down to five metres and spin twist as much as I could and they would come straight back, chirping and chattering and shaking their heads in approval. Incredible. .

On the next dive I followed our other crewmember Travis down. He was a on a lionfish hunt and speared fish tend to attract sharks. Lionfish are not endemic to the western Atlantic or the Caribbean and have no natural predators there. They were accidentally introduced when some pets outgrew an amateur aquarium in the US and were dumped in the sea their owner. Not only do they produce many young from an early age, but females do not require a mate to fertilise the eggs. To keep numbers down and to protect endemic fish species, dive operators have taken it upon themselves to try and get rid of the beautiful venomous invaders. They are also great filleted and grilled.

hammerhead, possibly the daddy of the family the great hammerhead Sphyrna Mokorran, in the distance. Lying in the rocks next to the bait box, we stayed very still still,more like snipers in dead ground than divers. It did occur to me at one point that I was lying next to a box of dead fish and must've looked pretty deceased myself, other than the odd bubble stream. To a fish equipped with the unique electrical-field-detecting seventh sense that is the ampullae of Lorenzini however, we must have appeared very much alive and inedible as the two dozen sharks cruised merrily over and around our hideouts.

For our third dive of the afternoon we We headed to the sands where visited the Sugar Wreck, a shallow Connor was going to do a feed. As we wreck that has been broken open by knelt or lay in a circle the Lemons

Opposite me I could see a large Dutchman’s eyes open very wide before he started pointing frantically behind me, bubbles flowing out of his regulator. After lunch we moored up at The Mountains, thus named due to the reef topography. The tops of the reef (or peaks of the mountains) were 13 metres deep, and the sides sloped down another 17 metres to a sandy bottom. The sides had small caves, overhangs, and gullies with plenty of reef life and coral coverage. Connor placed a bait box on a ridge and soon more than a dozen Caribbean Reef sharks had joined us. They were a mixture of juveniles and sub-adults, the longest being two-metres long. A Nurse shark put in an appearance and was soon using her mouth, adapted to feeding from the floor to suck bits of fish out of the crate. It was a scenic site, but for the time being was tigerless and lemon-free. When my buddy and the other divers were low on air they ascended to the boat overhead. I was alone and sat on the bait box for five minutes of sharkpetting. Some people say it’s wrong to touch wild animals, in fact I used to too. Then I learnt to put sharks into tonic immobility, and the only thing I now consider “wrong” about it is how absolutely amazing it feels. It feels like being in love with a big fish.


successive storms, but that is home to large schools of snapper, turtles, French angelfish and lobsters. Being a shallow site it was a good choice after the deeper dives of the afternoon. As the sun dropped and the moon began to shine, a lobster scurrying across the rocky bottom caught my eye. In fact I stayed down so long it ended up as a night dive for me. After a final dive at The Mountains the next morning, we moved to a patch reef called Fish Tails. The sandy bottom was 13 metres deep, and was covered in lumps of rock and coral split by sandy channels. It was a busy day with three 90-minute dives, all memorable for different reasons.

cruised in along the bottom and started getting a little frisky. One of my strobes was given a sniff and a nibble and my grey freediving fins seemed to catch their eye. I was lying prone in the sand to get a Lemons’ eye view when I felt my fin being tugged gently. Opposite me I could see a large Dutchman’s eyes open very wide before he started pointing frantically behind me, bubbles flowing out of his regulator. I turned to see a male Lemon shark feeling my fin like a puppy with a new toy. I gently pulled it away and the curious chap moved on. Three shy Tigers turned up and had a short mosey around before disappearing into the blue, and then it was time to head back to the boat. As I finned I felt myself kick something. Rather odd as I wasn’t over any reef and was a few metres off the sand. I looked round and saw my fin-fancying male Lemon shark friend again, sort of sniffing out my left fin again. As soon as he saw me looking at him he skulked off on a tangent, like a naughty schoolboy.

By this time I’d learnt to get into the water later than most of the other divers. Copying Walt, a veteran shark diver, I waited until the others had been down for 25 minutes before kitting up, meaning that we only had to “share” our finned friends with the group for twenty minutes or so before they started getting low on air. There The Lemons and the Caribbean reef were plenty of lemons and reefies sharks hung around the boat though, again, a nurse shark, and a and after dinner we jumped in and did

a night dive - with sharks - an of the group. The sandy bottom was excellent if slightly unnerving concept. featureless and after some time turning round and round looking for The two lights hanging from the stern and occasionally finding the tigress, I and the dive platform lights cast a had no idea where the boat was. It circle of light close to the boat, but a was time for a bit of turtle navigation. few fin kicks and I only had the light of Popping up to the surface I saw the my torch to rely on. It was pretty eerie. boat a couple of hundred metres I sensed something behind me and away, and dipped back down again, saw two three-metre lemon sharks then remembering that tigers are quite coming up on my right shoulder. When partial to turtles. Soon enough the I shone my torch on them they circled reefies and Lemons circling the bait once and swam of to inspect some boxes suspended below the boat other divers. Good fun, but pretty came into view and I didn't feel quite creepy, and I found myself drawn to so alone, although all the divers were the lights of the boat. I wondered if a back on board. Tiger would show up, and waited half an hour, but if one was there she On the second dive Connor took down stayed out in the darkness. some bait for a feed, and the tiger was certainly keen. We were in a loose On our last morning at sea we awoke circle on the sand and Tigger was to a tiny tornado 300 metres off the coming in close to each diver, starboard side, and I took it as an sometimes head on, moving in calmly omen that something special would but assuredly. Sensibly divers let the happen. The tide was rising, creating graceful giant fish pass, moving out of a gentle mid-water current at six its way, or gently pushing it aside with metres going away from the boat, and a camera housing or dome port. I poor visibility. As the sharks were wasn't sure whether I was imagining midwater that's where I went, hanging it or not, but I seemed to get extra out in the milky blue soup. A female attention, or maybe it was the white Tiger came past a few times, checking diffuser plate on my larger strobe. I me out and I drifted away from the rest moved behind a low rock encrusted

with coral and an orange barrel sponge to compose images with a more interesting foreground, and held my camera for portrait shots, the smaller strobe positioned to the side to illuminate the foreground, the larger strobe up in the air. Tigger came in to the bait box and past Connor, and then went up and over my bit of rock and I snapped away, noticing her pause briefly and eye my strobe again. On her second pass, just as I had got a good shot, she twisted her head back to the right. I saw her nictating membrane flutter over her right eye, and then my strobe was in her gaping maw. This wasn't a nibble like yesterday, she had a firm grip and was not keen to let go. As it was a four-day-old camera and wide-angle lens in the housing, I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t willing to let go either. She was over the top of me, her mouth to my right, her under belly above me. After four or five seconds I started to get worried about the state of my strobe, so I reached up and gave her a tummy rub with my left hand, manoeuvring my camera out of her mouth with my right, and thankfully she let go. I decided to stick to video and landscape format shots for the rest of the dive.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins Tigers at fish


Cotton Wicks at Tiger Beach


On the last dive of the trip we moved over to the reef and the bait was placed at a sandy crossroads where two gullies intersected. The tiger from the first dive was joined by a second of the same proportions, and just as we got out of the water, a third, larger female turned up. She was close to four metres long, and had an impressive girth to match. I hung in the water and savoured their graceful magnificence, the result of 400 million years of evolution, and thought what an amazing five days it had been. For anyone who wants shark action from dawn to dusk, with plenty of tiger shark time, this is the trip of a lifetime.


As apex predators, sharks play an essential role in keeping our oceans and reefs healthy and balanced. The planetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oceans provide up to 80% of our oxygen supply through photosynthesising plankton and plants. Commercial shark fishing was banned in the Bahamas in July 2011 Only a few species are protected internationally If shark fishing and finning continues the effects will be disastrous. Join to help educate people and protect sharks

Shark Facts - Around 100 million sharks are killed every year, Other facts mainly to supply the Chinese demand for shark - Annually, worldwide, 1000 people are killed by fin soup falling coconuts - The fins are cut off the live shark and it is dumped - You can avoid sitting under a coconut tree, but helpless into the ocean, no longer able to swim youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d think yourself mighty unlucky to be hit and - Shark fins provide no flavour; only texture that killed by lightning, yet it happens 1000 times a can be replicated with gelatine or other thickenyear. ing agents - Crocodiles kill an estimated 500 people per year - As sharks reach sexual maturity at a late age and - In the US alone, in 2010 dogs killed 32 people, produce a small number of young the fishing and cows murdered 22 people pressure on them is far too high - In the UK there were three human deaths caused - In many areas shark populations are down by an by cow attack estimated 90% and some species are on the - There are, on average, 70 reported shark attacks verge of regional extinction per year worldwide, resulting in five fatalities.





POM on a ! 2 # E I T POS OR



PART TWO Day One I rose at 5.30 and dressed in my road armour: helmet, boots, shoulder and elbow protectors, and shin and kneecap guards. Then I kissed Annette goodbye (she opened one eye, briefly) and then went to the start point of the rally. Fifty riders and fifty postie motorbikes. A couple of Americans, a few Brits, several New Zealanders, and naturally in the great majority, Australians. Mostly men, but also a handful of women. One of the women, a good-looking lass, was wearing the full body armour of Boudicca, the Celtic warrior Queen who thundered around in a chariot killing Romans right, left and centre, in BC Britain. Most impressive. I was envious. With armour like that who cared whether you came off the bike and bounced around a bit? ‘Howya doin’?’ asked a lazyeyed, dark-haired Aussie about half my age, as I wheeled the bike out. ‘You up for it?’ ‘As I’ll ever be,’ I replied. ‘You?’ ‘No worries,’ he came back with the traditional Oz reply, and gave me the broad grin of a rider who knew what he was doing. I was actually quite nervous. I’d only had about 20 hours riding in my whole life, all on borrowed motorcycles. Nothing came automatically to me. I could drive a car without even thinking, had been doing for 50 years. Now I had to think ‘throttle’, think ‘brake, where is it, which one?’, think ‘gears, where are they, what am I supposed to be in?’, think ‘lifesaving look over left shoulder for turning left, over right shoulder for turning right’ and a dozen other things. They did not just happen in any natural way. I had to think about them and think quickly. Nothing was instinctive. So of course I was nervous. I didn’t want to make an ass of myself on the first day. I didn’t want to make an ass of myself on any day, of course, but I knew I was going to at some time, so begged it would not be just as we started out. I didn’t want to be the butt of jokes or the one they picked out as the dodo from amongst all these Kiwis, Yanks, Ozzies and Poms. We lined up two abreast. A long line, stretching back the length of the sideroad. One 43

support truck was in the lead and another followed, with two others somewhere around. There was supposed to be a police escort out of the City of Brisbane, but other things were going on too. A charity run for a start. We had lost our motorbike escort to the Heart Foundation. ‘Start up!’ came the call down the line. Please start, please start. One kick and 21 roared to life, the little darling. Gear up into first and we were away. The line broke up fairly soon afterwards, both longwise and sidewise. We went out as a trickle, finding our way through the Sunday morning traffic to the outer reaches of the city. It was a fairly straight route, for which I was thankful. Getting lost in the Outback actually held fewer fears than getting lost in the city. In the Outback there was only kangaroos and the very occasional road train to worry about. Here in the city was mindless traffic and a multitude of unfathomable roads. Those on their way to churches and/or pubs on that Sunday gave us a good hooting send off. It must have been something to see 50 postie motorbikes scrambling along the highway. One of us, Scotty, was dressed in a clown’s outfit, wig on top of his helmet. Why? Only Scotty knew. ‘It seemed like the thing to do,’ he told me later, when I asked if it was a bet or charity stunt. ‘I just felt I needed to do it.’ Scotty was an expert mechanic and of great assistance to those who broke down when the repair truck was nowhere in sight. There were others with similar skills. What had I got to offer? I could write them a poem, of course, on the wonderful song of the Australian bell bird or the absurdity of the duckbilled platypus, but somehow I didn’t see that helping. (I remember a writer friend of mine, who when he obtained his doctorate in literature from Canterbury University saying he longed to be in a theatre when someone fell ill. When the call came out, ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ he planned to rush forward and cry, ‘Yes, stand back while I read the patient a couple of verses from Shelley.’) I was not wearing my goggles at this point. Only prescription aviator sunglasses, or

‘sunnies’ as the Ozzies call them. The goggles would not go on over my glasses, which I needed in order to see properly. Later, after several stone chips had nearly taken my lenses out, I forced the damn goggles over the glasses. They were uncomfortable but absolutely necessary. The weather was good. It had been raining hard when we arrived in Brisbane. Torrents, accompanied by an earthy, rainforesty smell. People had been getting onto buses and trains and emptying pints of water out of their shoes. But the rain had passed and it was a mild and pleasant spring day in Southern Queensland. Dayglow youngsters roared past me, occasionally whooping and hollering, giving release to their feelings. They rode their bikes like young Mongols rode wild horses, following some invisible Ghengis Khan. Others, the middle-aged and older men were more sedate, but still highly competent. I clung grimly to my handlebars, mentally mumbling, ‘Change down to 3rd. Shit, I’m already in 3rd’ as I slowed almost to a stop. ‘OK, get a grip. Think about what you’re doing. No, don’t touch the front brake, use your back foot brake you idiot or you’ll be sailing over the handlebars. Whoa, miss that bus if you please, Mr Kilworth. Don’t wanna join the insects on the windscreen. Change up again, and again, heck there is no again, I’m already in 4th. Well at least I know where I am now, but for how long, god only knows and he’s a secretive little . . . heck, that engine noise gets my tinitus going, but don’t think about that, or the slight headache, think about what you’re doing, or you’ll oversteer. Look ahead, not down. Look right ahead, way, way ahead, so far ahead you’ll be staring over the world’s edge.’

Taped to my handlebars was my Running Sheet, which told me where to turn and when. I began the day at 36,862 kms and from that point all the way down a numbered sheet had worked out what my speedo should read when deviating from the straight and narrow. At 36,908 I needed to turn right to Esk, Brisbane Valley Highway #17 CAUTION! Crossing duel carriageway. I followed the instructions, along with 50 others. There would be times when I would be alone in the world and these sheets would save my bacon. Today the destination was a town called Gayndah, northwest of Brisbane. Today’s fuel stop, where we would refill our spare tank and top up the tank on the bike, was Jimna Fire Tower, in a lightly forested region with a gravel road. At 37,1018 we forked left to Jimna and there rested in a dirt layby by a 47 metre high tower from which rangers presumably watched for forest fires. After scoffing sandwiches and drinking water, I put on my motocross helmet back on. We were going onto gravel now, obviously more dangerous than bitumen, and Pete had suggested John and I followed him, did what he did, went at the same speed. After two minutes it seemed not so much gravel as hard dirt with lots of potholes and rocks sticking up. I tried to keep up with Pete’s 70 kph but was worried about the sticky-up rocks, so slowed a little to about 65

kph. Pete slowed too, to keep me and John company. The track was undulating, with some fairly steep slopes and rises. We turned one corner, started to go down a descent when we noticed a knot of bikes and riders on the edge of the forest road. Someone had come off. More than one person. It seemed a jam so we didn’t stop ourselves. We’d only be adding to the clog-up. In fact we later learned that a rider had gone over the edge, into a culvert (I’d never heard of a culvert until that day) which is a kind of channel or watercourse alongside a road. The rider, a guy named Jack, had several broken ribs and facial injuries. Cuts and bruises too. At 75 Jack was the oldest one amongst us. Next oldest was a Kiwi, at 70-odd, then me at 67. I hoped the Biker Gods weren’t starting at the oldest and working their way down. Jack then was out of the rally and was whisked away in an ambulance. As someone remarked, you don’t bounce at that age. Someone else had run into Jack from behind, when the accident happened, but I never found out who. Pete started to speed up after that and I actually passed him on this occasion. It was probably the only time I did while on dirt, but I felt quite good. We finished with the ‘gravel’ and once again went onto bitumen, or what I would call in UK tarmac. The next name on our sheet

was Ban Ban Springs, on the Goomeri road. Ban Ban Springs are a line of natural springs at the end of the Bin Bin Range of hills (dontcha just love these Aboriginal place names?) the water of which runs into wetlands covered with wildlife and plants. The springs were a source of water for the Aborigine clans of the region, a sacred place with Dreamtime associations with the Rainbow Serpent. It is the birthplace of the Wakka Wakka tribe. It’s one of those areas, apparently, where one should stop, relax, and contemplate the serenity of nature. Unfortunately, blokes and gals zooming along on 70 kph bikes don’t have time to stop and lay out a picnic blanket, then muse on the wonders of the natural world. We hurtled past. Goomeri, on the other hand, is famous for its Maytime Pumpkin Festival, which attracts thousands of people to the small town. Apparently the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll has made Goomeri internationally famous. It sounded very inviting but again, bike riders are obsessed with ‘getting there’ and we wanted to reach our destination at Gayndah before nightfall. 377km in total. A longish day. On the way I saw my first Whistling Kite, a beautiful bird of prey that skimmed the treetops. Also saw a kookaburra on a wire. He laughed at me. Why wouldn’t he?

Also saw a kookaburra on a wire. He laughed at me. Why wouldn’t he?


At Gayndah we camped in the local showground where I put up my one-man tent for the first time. It was simple and easy. Went up in ten minutes. Blew up the bed, unrolled the sleeping bag. Went for a shower, thence for a drink at the make-shift bar. Pete was leaning on a fence talking into his mobile phone. He used his hands for emphasis, despite the fact that the caller could not see him. Behind this darkening silhouette of a white-bearded Melbournian, along an immense horizon, was the most multi-hued sunset I’d ever seen. It stained the landscape red, orange, purple and mauve. Breathtaking. First day over and I had covered it pretty well. I felt good. This was cool stuff. No worries. Pete and John had beers, I had a Tennessee whisky-and-coke. Pretty soon the night sky stretched itself over us, smothered in unfamiliar stars. I sought that diamond symbol of Australia in the sky, the Southern Cross, and found it safely embedded in the sky amongst its fellows. The air was as clear as crystal. This was not yet the Outback. Pete reckoned the Outback began where fences ceased to be. We still had fences. The Queensland Country Women’s Association (founded in 1922 for women who derived their living from the land) cooked us an evening meal which was delicious. I can’t remember what it was, but every meal we had on that ride was good and most of them were provided by the charitable QCWA. Wonderful ladies. The lunchtime sandwiches were something else, being sliced white bread smothered in marg, with processed meat innards. But heck if you’ve got a good breakfast inside you, eggs, bacon, beans and sausage, and you’re looking forward to a great dinner, what do you need lunch for? And what else were they to do? The fresh fruit and cake went down well, that’s for sure, while the kangaroos and kookaburras often got the sandwiches. Gayndah, what we saw of it, was a pleasant town. The spot was discovered by a Henry Stuart Russell in 1843. He saw the River Burnett (named later) and thought the land around it looked fertile. Gayndah claims to be the oldest town in Queensland, Ipswich and Brisbane being cities. In Gayndah oranges are the only fruit. They grow the best oranges in the world, dontcha know. They also host a local Bush Poets Competition. I wanted to stay and take part in it, this being my forte rather than biking, but I was called to my bed by an overwhelming tiredness at 8 pm.


Anyway, I told myself, as I sped along a whitelined highway in my dreams, what did I know about the bush? It’s all very well being a poet, but that was only half the job. You need a special wilderness touch to write twangy Oz poems like ‘Nine Miles from Gundagai’ by Bowyan Yorke. ‘There goes Bill the Bullocky, He’s bound for Gundagai . . . Never earnt an honest crust . . . Never drug a whip through dust.’ (carries great alliteration in its stride, finishing with) ‘. . . the dog sat on the tucker box, Nine miles from Gundagai.’ Forget your prissy ‘O daffodils we weep to see thee fade away so soon’. Bush poems have a good hard outbacky feel to them with words like ‘Murrumbidgee’ appearing in the middle of the verse. Nothing too fancy. Nothing too airy-fairy. Just good solid verse with a story to it, a beginning and end. This is Australian history, where a dog eats a bullock cart driver’s tucker while he’s away having an honest drink. I like Oz poetry, just as I’d liked the poems of Robert Service when I visited the Yukon in Canada. Poems like ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew’. You don’t write poems like that by growing up fancy. You have to be as hard as a bullet and eat gravel for breakfast. Who says it’s not poetry? A poem, like any art, is what touches the heart of the beholder. Next morning, up at 5 am. Pack away the tent, fold up the sleeping bag, get a fatter neighbour to roll over and over your inflatable mattress to try to get it flat again (you can never quite get rid of all the air, can you, just as dirt from a hole never quite fills it when you put it back - ah the mystery of physics - it was ever thus at school). Cram everything in the kitbag and throw the bag onto the sweeper truck. Go for breakfast, collect those astonishing sandwiches, and then gather round Danthe-man for the day’s briefing. Everyone looks eager to go. Many riders want dust or gravel, preferably with lots of curves and ups-and-downs but most of today is bitumen. I’m quite happy with tarmac at the moment.

4. Day Two I remember that morning vividly. It wasn’t the Outback, there were still fences, but the landscape opened up like untying a brown parcel. It became immense. Even though 50 riders started off almost together, we soon became strung out. There were younger more vigorous riders who wanted to burn it up out front. There were those who wanted to dawdle and take photos of everything from yellow-flowering wattle trees to dead kangaroos. I sort of found myself in the middle. Mostly I stuck to Pete’s tail, terrified I would get lost if I didn’t. (It was bloody easy to miss those coloured ribbons marking our route). But on occasion I was the only person in a gigantic flat bushland. Solitary Max. It was quite cold early on, before the sun had warmed the world. The wind cut through me as I hurtled into it at 70 kms. I made a mental note to stuff newspaper down the front of my jacket. This is what I had joined this rally for. Being alone in the Australian hinterland is indescribable. It’s truly awe-inspiring, frightening in its immensity, and stunning in its aspect. I felt so very privileged to be able to experience such a scene. It drained me of all the bad feelings I had ever had. It filled me with wonder. My spirit expanded with the wide open wilderness as I hummed and rattled along the road, the bush stretching to infinity on either side, to back and to front. I was in the bubble of a sky the size of a universe. It was royal blue with puffs of cloud like the spots on a fallow deer’s flanks. Except, down the centre of heaven was this long, long cloud, oh, a hundred kilometres long, under which I travelled most of the morning. Talk about whiteline fever. I had one under me and one over me. And crossing this rufous, sandy landscape horizontally, every half-hour or so, was a narrow creek. It might be CARVING KNIFE CREEK, or WOOMBA CREEK, or simply, JACK’S CREEK. Most had no water in them. One or two did. The trees around waterholes hid kangaroos and other wildlife. But I have to say most of the roos I saw were road kills, that threw up an unholy stink from their open-vault graves. No doubt they’d been hit by road trains, trucks or big cars. Unlike the rabbits or crows of England, they didn’t flatten. If they were actually on the tarmac their bloated forms looked like hot-air balloons. I swerved round them, disturbing a thousand flies. Some of them were meals for the carrion-eating whistling kites, that soared overhead. Today we started out towards Mundubbera, heading first towards Cracow. I saw a twelve-inch bluetongued lizard crossing the road in front of me: lovely creature. Around me the bush, with the occasional shrub, dwarf tree, or rocky outcrop. The noise from my bike engine was excruciating after a while. It grated on the nerves and I realised why a lot of the lads wore earplugs. Also my riding gear was uncomfortable. The goggles pressed my glasses into the bridge of my nose. Flies got inside the helmet and drove me insane. I itched in various places. My bum got sore after two hours. My teeth rattled along with the loose bits of metal


on the bike frame. When I hit a bump in the road the jolt went right up my spine and kicked my cerebellum like a football. The scenery was magnificent. The method of viewing it less so. That last evening one of the Ozzie biker boys had sat down next to me after the meal and had started to talk bikes. Pistons, drive-chains, cooling ribs, fairings, etc., etc. He might have been speaking in the tongues of angels, so far as I was aware. My eyes glazed over after five minutes, though I listened politely for half-anhour before saying, ‘Look mate, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I’m not a biker. I’m on this trip for other reasons.’ He stared at me in a puzzled way for a minute or two, then said, ‘Yeah, OK, mate . . .’ then carried on for the next hour-and-a-half in the same vein as before, without pause for breath. If I knew nothing about bikes when he’d started his talk, I knew even less about them at the end, realising as one does, how complex and intricate was this holy subject, and how utterly confused I was by it. I knew where the gear lever was (quite a lot of the time actually) and the rear brake (when I remembered it wasn’t on the handlebars, like the front brake) and a few of the little switches like the fuel switch and cut-out switch, oh, and the bung hole where you top up with oil, but as to what lay beneath the cladding, that was still a occidental secret. I could lube my chain, refill my fuel tank, put air in the tyres, check the oil, start and stop the machine (with only occasional hiccups) and that was good enough for the run we were on. If anything else went wrong I ran to Richard-the-mechanic and started to cry. Richard is one of those unsung geniuses who know everything about bikes and probably bikers, has taught kings and princes the fundamentals of bike maintenance, and who never ever reveals his disdain for idiots like me. When fixing whatever it was that had gone wrong he always told me what he was doing, why he was doing it, and what the end product should be. Miraculously I absorbed these snippets of knowledge so that next time I could fix the same problem myself. The run to Cracow was just short of 200 kms, some of it over gravel roads which required a certain amount of respect. In a roadside café, many of us were sipping coffee, dressed in our biker gear, with the robust red Honda Postie Bikes propped up in a neat row in the parking lane outside. A little old lady of the Outback entered and stared around with saucer eyes at the luminous-jacketed riders. ‘My goodness,’ she said, ‘what are all you posties doing out here?’ One of the guys, on his way to the exit, said firmly, ‘Step aside if you please, madam - the mail must get through.’ We laughed then let her in on the secret. She laughed with us. At another place, a real postie joined the end of our straggling line of machines, staying with us for a couple of kilometres, before turning off on a farm track

and waving a cheery goodbye. Cracow is an ex-goldmining town in the unlikely named Banana Shire area. Cracow was obviously named after the Polish city with a different spelling. All we saw of this ghost town was the Cracow Hotel, which is owned by a guy called Fred Brophy, a famous bush boxing manager. The large bar inside the hotel (which looks a bit like a giant clapboard shack) is crammed with artefacts, from antlers to music boxes to worn saddles. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of junk that would send a Victorian era collector into shudders of ecstasy. Apparently tourists are attracted the place, one of the reasons being there is probably no other watering hole in the district. I liked it. It has to be seen. We were told the first bit of gold to be found, back in the glory days of Cracow, was discovered by some wandering fossil hunters. Then another nugget was picked up by an Aborigine (who I hope made himself a rich man) and the subsequent mine was only closed down in 1976. And so we thundered on towards the famous Banana itself, a small town named after a duncoloured bullock who lived and died there in the mid-1800s, a beast held in affection by the local stockmen who used old Banana to herd the wilder elements of their cattle into the stockyards. That’s what you do in Oz. You don’t have fancy AngloSaxon or Viking names for your towns. You name them after your favourite hound or work horse. And past Banana we went, with barely a backward glance, intent on reaching our goal which was the town of Rolleston over 200 kms away. We were staying at the Rolleston racecourse that night. My little motorbike was hot between my thighs and as we ate bitumen at the end of that day I recalled similar bikes and bikers I had seen in various parts of the world, especially on the Asian continent. The small motorbike has been a great boon to the poorer areas of the world (some of them no longer so poor). I’ve spent a great deal of time in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries and have witnessed some hairraising small-motorbike-sights. 47

I remember once seeing two men riding in Ho Chi Min city. One guy was sitting on the saddle, head down, throttle open to the limit. His friend was standing on the pegs over the top of him. In the hands of the standing man was a huge pane of plate glass. His arms were stretched wide in the shape of a crucifix, his fingers hooked around the far edges of the glass. Around, in front, behind, and just about everywhere, were other bikes, cars, trucks - whizzing near this pair with only fractions of a inch to spare. I leave it to your own imagination how close these two came to death by multiple lacerations. In another Far Eastern land, it was quite common to see a man sitting on a small motorbike with a live domestic beast sitting on the pillion seat, usually a pig, its front trotters tied together, its legs around the neck of the driver of the vehicle. It seemed never to bother either rider or passenger that they were cheek by jowl, the snout of the sow alongside the nose of the man. In fact it appeared to be the most natural thing in the world and I wonder if conversations were held between the two, one in animalese and the other in humanese. A grunt here, a snort there, an understanding developing over the journey to market. By the afternoon we were still not in the Outback. I could see fences all around. There were irrigation channels too. Someone, Ewan I think, said he’d noticed cotton farming around the area. Ewan came from Darwin, so he knew the north well. He was a tall quietly-spoken man with ‘Lonesome Rider’ on his back. I liked him. There was no brashness or side about Ewan. We refuelled at Theodore that day. Refuelling was done off the back of one of the trucks. You started out in the morning with 5 litres in the bike tank and five litres in the spare can. That would, in theory, take you 250 kms or more, depending on the rider’s weight and how fast you pushed the bike along. Some days, like today, we had 450 kms to do. At the refuelling, usually midday or thereabouts, you took on another 10 litres and so could finish the journey comfortably.

In the afternoon we passed mining operations with trucks going back and forth. Otherwise it was endless road, going on to the edge of the world. I’m told that one of the riders, a guy named Cam, was attacked by a dog in Theodore town. Then in the afternoon a Jack Russell flew at him from out of nowhere. I noticed him around the Rolleston camp, later, with ‘Two Dogs’ written on his back. Cam must give off one of those atmospheres that drives dogs wild. Who knows, maybe he had some kangaroo dung on his boots? There were two more casualties in camp. One of the women had fallen off her bike on the dirt road coming into the camp. Her leg was injured and the ambulance was called for. Also someone else was stretched out on his back, clearly in pain from that area. Two days and three casualties? Heck, at this rate would get through half our number before the ride was over. There was a sheet we were supposed to sign when we arrived at our destination every day. It was a simple task, but one which I constantly failed at. As usual when I arrived at the camp that afternoon I forgot to sign the arrival sheet. I always forgot to sign it and in the end they got tired of bollocking me. My head was so full of long white clouds and distant horizons there was no room for ordinary things like the signing of sheets to confirm that I wasn’t actually lost out in the wilderness, but here in camp humming a simple tune as I knocked in tent pegs one by one. Kylie must have got awfully tired of this Pom. We had corned beef, cooked Aussie Outback style, for dinner, amongst a bunch of vegetables and bread. And pudding too. Followed by coffee or tea. It was clear from the start we weren’t going to starve on this run. I had thought I might be able to lean down over the trip but the meals on those first two days soon put that wish back at the bottom of the well. I could just not eat so much, of course, which would do the trick, but damn me it would be a strong man who could resist that country cooking after a day in the saddle, yippy-ay-yay old buddy.

Everyone was getting to know each other a bit better by this second evening and exchanging stuff about home towns, home countries, home continents. The Aussies and the Kiwis got on best of course, and worst, just like rival neighbours anywhere. They reminded me of the English and Scots back home. When I see some Kiwis and Aussies sitting together, I just like to toss in the world ‘rugby’ or ‘cricket’ and watch as the temperature rises on both sides of the table. The Brits and the Yanks did not have the same ground to battle on. They don’t play soccer or rugby and we don’t play baseball or their football, so we ended up being awfully polite to one another, which was a bit tame. I went to look for Pete later, to have a talk about cricket. He was good for a blast at any time and would lambaste the English cricket team at the drop of an Akubra, while I - albeit with lesser ammunition - would have a good go at destroying the myth of Australian cricket domination. I went to bed that night about 8.30, along with most of the camp. I woke again at about 11.30 and went to the toilet. It was dark over the camp site but there was one area where it was lit. Under a pool of light that fizzed with black clouds of flying insects the small team of mechanics were still hard at work. Richard, Lang, Mick and Andy were probably all there, tinkering away with problems we had given the machines during the day. I noticed a sad-looking bike with its guts strewn all over a slab of concrete flooring, the frame already thick with dirt. An autopsy. How the heck these metal surgeons put such dismembered bikes back together, all the bits in the right places, was beyond a mind like mine. This scene of engineering men - heads uncluttered by literary junk - toiling under late lamplights, righting mechanical wrongs, repeated itself over the next few nights. It was of course a long way from the world of the wordsmith, this world of mechanics, though I too have laboured nights at getting the right line in the right place, turning a few jumbled words into a poem. This was a vision of men who had made a modern day craft into an art. My work had never been good enough to cross boundaries like that. I could not turn an art into a useful thing: others took what I did and did that. They took my words and produced books. I have the greatest admiration for men like Lang who can rebuild antique aircraft and then have the guts to fly their recreations halfway round the world. Men like Lang Kidby turn metal puzzles into actual shapes that one can not only touch and smell, see and hear, but that can do things like race along the road or fly in the air. I’ve written 80 novels and over 200


short stories, but they don’t race and they don’t fly, they don’t do anything except sit there and wait to be read. As for engineering, if I can mend the toilet ballcock when it goes wrong (which I can do fellah) I congratulate the engineer in me. To understand the precision-made parts of a modern machine, to make an engine actually work, must be immensely satisfying. That kind of achievement is so far out of my mental territory it might as well be on the moon. The blow-up pillow was useless, so I stuffed a sock bag with a towel and used that. It wasn’t like home, but then nothing was. Indeed, I slept well until shocked awake by clanks and crashes. I sat bolt upright at 4 am thinking we’d been invaded and the tanks were breaking down the metal corrals. Then I remembered we were in the middle of Queensland and tanks would have job getting through the bull dust. It turned out to be a cattle station nearby, that was loading up its cattle B Doubles (articulated cattle trucks) ready for the day. What a racket! Had no one told them there were tired bikers in the next field? Would they have given a monkey’s uncle if they had been told? Of course not. I managed to fall asleep again, but my dreams were full of sledgehammers.




rains - and boy does it rain in Wales - the water runs down from the mountain (ice cold) straight into Lake Bala. This year particularly was a wet RAF and cold summer, so a CTech Wooldridge (1st IS temperature of about 12 to 14 Male – 2nd Overall) degrees C. To give you some SAC Wisby (2nd IS Male – indication how warm that is, 3rd Overall) your average swimming pool Sgt Main (27th Overall) is 28 degrees C. So why do 3:59:23 it, I wish I could answer that without being too flippant, but 1:11:59 the only answer I can give is 1:14:02 because I can! My name is 1:34:21 Gary Main and I am a 45 year old Sergeant in the Royal Air So, when did swimming in a lake in Wales in June and not Force, and I have been swimming for nearly 35 years wearing a wet suit for three miles seem like a good idea? so I should be a reasonable 5 km – 66 Swimmers – 43 finishers (46 Army/ 8 Navy /7 RAF/ 5 Other)

and one out door, both 25 metres long. I was detached from my parent unit for four months and took full advantage of this. I set myself a target of 500,000 metres in my four months. This target was 20,000 lengths in total or 135 lengths a day. On paper and in the bar of my favourite pub this seemed a very reachable target. The truth however was something completely different as work sort of got in the way. I just made distance by the skin of my teeth, by completing the last hundred lengths on the day of my flight home. My reason for my renewed

So when did swimming in a lake in Wales in June and not wearing a wet suit for three miles seem like a good idea? I tell you when, NEVER! Then to compound this fact it was the fourth time I had competed in the race so I should know better. The race in question is the Interservices open water championship. This is an event that is held every year involving serving members of the Armed Forces. It is held at a place called Bala in North Wales not too far from Snowdonia National Park, and to be honest, too damn close to the park as when it 50

swimmer. In the military, generally, the onus is on being fit and the facilities are there for you if you want them. I recently had a lay off from from swimming for about five years and it was only being detached to the Gulf State of Qatar that changed that. There is a small UK contingent based on an American based called El Udied, and with Americans being Americans their facilities boasted two swimming pools. One indoor

interest in swimming was because of a conversation with a friend in a bar and he told me, after I mentioned I used to swim, that it’s only me stopping myself from swimming again. So I made a promise to get back in the pool and stay as fit as I could, and that dovetails nicely in to why I swam the 2011 Lake Bala inter-services race! I set off from my home in Stafford late Sunday afternoon and drove

three miles was well within my abilities, but in such cold water that was the difference. I was told in the brief before the race that if you were going to have a heart attack it would be in the first five minutes as your body adjusts to the cold water; it was a comforting thought and I tried but failed to put it to the back of my mind. So I lined up with 74 other competitors and entered the water. I can We got there about 08:30 and see why a heart attack was a possibility, as you walk in and the main event started about immerse yourself in the green 11:00 so I had a long time to get nervous and worked up to cold lake, you literally have your breath taken away as you the fact it was a very dull and cold day. I got several decent try to control your breathing. cups of tea inside me and got You then make your way to changed for my attempt on the the start/finish line and in my case, the worst breast-stroke I 2011 Lake Bala Race. As The race itself is split up into mentioned earlier, unlike some have ever done as the cold hit three different events depending on your appetite to open water events a wet suit is me quite hard! Then something very strange not allowed, it’s just you and freeze your nuts off - or happened - my entire body you Speedos and yes you’re realistically, how far you can started to tingle like it was swim. The distances involved right, it’s not a very good getting in a very hot bath. I are 5, 3 and 1 KM, or to make visual but that’s the rules! I was told afterwards it was the would like to say I was totally it easy for me to get my head comfortable in abilities in such nerve endings adjusting to the into it, once, twice and three cold. So we got ourselves times around a series of buoys cold water, but I was not; the distance was not the problem, lined up and off we went! in the main part of the lake. the 90 miles to the small town of Bala and stayed in a lovely little hotel on the high street called The Goat. I then met up with my team mate Wooley and had the best pre-race meal athletes could have - yes you guessed it - a pizza and a few pints. Once I’d had a lovely nights sleep I woke up to an over cast day and a rain falling in bucket loads, so there was only one thing for it and I went downstairs for breakfast and had a full English, the meal of kings. After the best breakfast I have had in ages, we drove to the boating club, the starting point for the race.


The lake itself is basically kidney shaped and until recently was a straight swim along the length of the lake, but then the course was changed to an event that encompassed swimming around a large diamond in the main part of the lake. I chose to do the 5 KM but one or two very brave individuals did all three events, more fool them.

You have to see a mass start in an open water event to believe it; I remember seeing a film years ago about piranhas feeding, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what it looks like from the outside, and in the middle of it all itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a mass of failing arms and legs as people try to get used to the cold and swim in a straight line. To be honest it was chaos, but this does not last long as the stronger swimmers get into their stride and the field thins out in a long line. The course was around four very large buoys, they are very easy to see when standing up, the problem is once your eye-line is at the same level as the water, spotting these buoys is nigh on impossible. So I headed off in the general direction of the first buoy in the hope that everyone around me knew where they were going. As I found out quite quickly the main difference between swimming in a pool and a lake is you are directly effected by the elements; a lovely smooth surface in calm weather, very choppy in bad weather. The direction of the wind made swimming entertaining to say the least. On first leg of the diamond the wind was blowing across the lake, so on the first leg of the diamond the wind blew the water directly into my face, but with a bit of a assistance from the current, so it was not too hard swallow some water! The run from the second to the third buoy was


into the current and with the wind in my face, this made it hard to swim and again I was swallowing water. The third to fourth is into the wind again, but the wind was to my back, and fourth to the starting buoy offered the best run as it was with the wind and current and produced my quickest time. It had been a while since I had swam in open water so I can say that the first lap was awful as I could not get into my rhythm as I was constantly taking on water and lifting my head to make sure I was swimming in a straight line. The cold was there at this stage, but my mind was on other things, such as just getting a decent time under my belt, holding my stroke style and keeping my cadence up. The second and third laps went a lot smoother as I got my timing and direction sorted and more importantly, my rhythm was more consistent.

twelve hours swimming and having to cope alone with any demons in their heads. I plodded on and felt very strong and happy with my form for the last two laps, to the point that I overtook several stragglers that had gone off at a good pace on the first lap as I was getting my act together. I finally approached the finish line and I would like to say sprinted over the line, but fell over it would be a better way of describing it.

Now for the really hard bit getting out of the water, I kid you not, I had been horizontal for nearly one and half hours and my heart was working overtime to keep my blood in the right place, so standing up proved very difficult as I was very cold and dizzy. I tried to talk but my face was frozen so talking was a real pain, or lack of it. If you have every had an injection for having your teeth out, well that was my entire Unlike most distance sport swimming, it is quite novel as head. The floor of the lake was covered in small stones, and you are totally alone with nothing to see and if you lose anyone who has walked on a stone beach without footwear focus your speed can drop will know what I mean. I went away almost without you from my horizontal position noticing it, so there is a lot of self regulating as you have to when swimming to a vertical gee yourself up and give a pep one of walking; I was dizzy talk every now and again. As a and could not find my footing due to the pebbles. So it was friend of mine once said, you not my most dignified exit to spend a lot of time alone in dry land as I almost fell over your own head and I know several times, but it was very exactly what he means. I am in awe of people who swim the welcome never the less. channel and spend ten or

That was the hard bit over so it was time to towel down and get warm, so after a lovely warm shower, which I drank as much as washed in to get my core temperature up, and even with as many layers of clothing as possible (think of Joey in friends wearing all Chandlers entire wardrobe) I did not stop shivering for nearly two hours. It was hard, but good fun, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something you do to say â&#x20AC;&#x153;I can do itâ&#x20AC;?. Will I be doing it again next year? You bet, and as someone who was an ex-swimmer I am now a swimmer again - and I love it. Oh, before I forget, I finished in a time of 1 hour 35 minutes not too bad a time but compared to the winning time of 1 hour 12 minutes, I have some way to go but again, not bad for an old boy and bugger me, did I say it was cold?

Bugger me, did I say it was cold?






These containers placed by geocachers, as they are known, for others to find are given ratings on a scale of one Whilst to any onlooker this to five, both in terms of how activity might seem sinister, craftily the cache is hidden, these individuals are actually and the difficulty of terrain. participating in one of the Each container contains a log world's fastest growing sporting activities: geocaching. book which players sign as evidence of their visit, and Using handheld GPS devices, usually (if there is room) a few token items for kids to swap. slightly smaller and more Geocachers also register their accurate than the ones you finds on the website, filling have in your car, players use "The first one is near here," virtual logbooks with details of published co-ordinates from shouts one of the group. He their adventure in finding the the official consults his handheld GPS cache, notes to the owner of website to find the ‘caches’. device, and follows it to a any maintenance possibly The containers themselves bunch of trees. His needed, and maybe a slight can be anything from a compatriots follow and start hint for subsequent treasure tupperware sandwich box or rummaging in the ivy. Before hunters. too long one of them cries out, 35mm film canister hidden in "Got it!" and emerges from the the undergrowth to more With over a hundred thousand cunningly disguised hides: a undergrowth with a film geocaches in the United magnetic snail or a fake bolt. canister in his hand. It is The ingenuity of a hide is only Kingdom alone, you don’t popped open, the paper log limited by people’s imagination need to venture far in order to removed and signed by take part. and craftsmanship. everyone. One of the individuals pulls out a PDA It's shortly before dawn on a cold, frosty January morning. A group of individuals are rummaging around in the backs of cars parked on the verge of a lonely country lane. They don walking boots, stock their backpacks with bottled water and test that their head torches are working. Jaffa cakes are passed around as a substitute for breakfast.


and uses it to record and timestamp the find.

For the more adventurously inclined who find searching their local towpath a little too sedate, there are a number of more difficult caches that require abseiling, diving or potholing in order to reach. Those who like to vex their brains rather than muscle will find a large number of puzzle caches, which require thinking literally and laterally in order to derive the cache co-ordinates before heading out the house. Most handheld GPS units support geocaching, with features to load cache details, hints and previous logs as well as the co-ordinates. These cost in the range of £200 - £600, however most modern smart phones have a variety of geocaching apps available that, whilst not as accurate as a dedicated unit, should get people relatively close to a cache. Geocaching is still a very young activity, its origins only going as far back as 2000. On May 2nd that year, the US Government stopped intentional non-military degradation on the GPS signal that resulted in GPS users seeing a ten-fold increase in accuracy. Enthusiastic GPS users began talking on internet newsgroups how this improvement could be tested. It was one such user, Dave Ulmer, who came up with an idea and on 3rd May went into the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon and hid a black bucket containing a log book, pen and various items including a slingshot, videos and books. He then published the co-ordinates to what he called the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt” on the sci.geo.satellite-nav newsgroup with instructions for any finders of "take some stuff, leave some stuff." This first geocache was found by two users within the first three days who posted accounts of their adventures on the newsgroup. Within a week other caches had been hidden, and by the end of the month the "GPS Stash Hunt" had webpages detailing listings as well as its own mailing list. Negative connotations surrounding the word “stash” saw the creation of the word ‘geocache’ but this did not hinder the growth of the activity which a decade on sees over 56

one and a half million caches hidden worldwide, and over ten million geocachers. There are geocaches in Afghanistan, Iran, Antarctica and even on the International Space Station. It’s unlikely you are able to visit anywhere, however remote, and not have a geocache within the vicinity. Larger geocaches will often contain swops, the idea being that you exchange something in the cache for something of your own of equal or lesser value, but many will also contain trackables in the form of ‘geocoins’ or ‘Travel Bugs’. These are specially minted pieces or items with a special dog tag, each with a unique code on them. When geocachers pick up these trackables they use the code on the website to register that they have taken the item and then move it on as quickly as possible to another cache and drop it off, both physically and virtually. It’s not unusual to find a geocoin or travel bug that has travelled tens of thousands of miles around the world. It’s possible to read the logs and see the journey any trackable has taken. There are often races between them to see which can travel the furthest within a certain time.


Many treat the geocaching as a hobby, going out and finding one or two as a cheap way to keep the kids entertained on a sunny afternoon or as a motivator to go out and get some exercise. For others though, geocaching is nothing short of a sport where you are ranked by the number of caches youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve found. "I'll typically find 30 to 40 on a day out," says geocacher, Richard Salmon (11,890 finds). "I'll start before dawn and carry on until it gets dark."

pop up across the UK, circular trails stretching over 20 miles in length across varying terrain, aimed directly at the hardcore, some with as many as a hundred caches along them. "It's a pretty cost effective sport," says Salmon. "After your initial outlay for a GPS, your only cost is fuel." Not that he needs to travel very far. "I keep a list of every cache within a 15 mile radius, crossing them off as I find them, and every day there are new additions. I'll travel further afield for highly concentrated areas of caches, but there are always unfound ones inside my catchment area."

got knocked out of the top 50, and only needed 3 caches to get back in it, I'd go right out and get them done." However Salmon admits there are limits to even his ambition. "Whilst it would be great to be number one," says Salmon, "with the sheer number of retired geocachers who are participating almost full time, it would be impossible."

It's not surprisingly then that the upper echelons of the rankings have a high proportion of older people. Given the number of caches in Richard is part of an everthe UK of varying difficulty and growing number of hardcore terrain, it's easy for geocachers who have a geocachers of any physical mantra of "it's all about the ability, given enough time, to numbers". A look at their pick and choose their targets profile pages on the Any new geocache is met with to increase their number of website finds. There is even a facility a flurry of excitement, with shows a wealth of stats: their UK ranking based on number hardcore geocachers dashing on the website to search for out to be the "first to find". of finds, broken down by wheelchair friendly geocaches. Asked why, Salmon, who difficulty and terrain ratings. admits to venturing out in all Many have maps of the Geocaching is also big country, each county shaded a weathers to go and find a business. Many tourist boards different colour depending on newly published cache, says are now actively promoting how many caches have been "It's like anything in life, that geocaching in their regions, competitive spirit that makes found there. It's the level of trying to encourage you want to beat the next statistics you'd expect a geocachers to come and visit. person. I find it keeps me professional athlete to When the largest series in the motivated." compile, not an activity world, consisting of over a normally associated with thousand caches along the ET families on a gentle afternoon Unusually for a competitive activity, it's not unusual to see Superhighway in Nevada, stroll. were archived by the Nevada geocachers grouping up and working together. "A joint first Department of Transport However, more and more to find, counts as a first to find (NDOT) following safety geocachers have started to concerns, local businesses for all parties," explains cater for the hardcore. were in uproar. Whereas traditionally, caches Salmon who will often phone were only placed at a point of other geocachers to join him Connie West of the Little on a night-time â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;FTFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; interest or local history, now A'Le'Inn told the Las Vegas expedition. series have become more Review Journal that for the commonplace with hides every first time in their history, rooms 0.1 miles along a set walk (the Salmon plays down claims were fully booked throughout that he's obsessed about his minimum distance a cache stats but does confess "I could the winter season and after can be in proximity to the caches were removed, lie and say I'm not worried another). There have even every single booking about my UK ranking, but if I been huge rings starting to 58


they're not yours but everyone's."

Such was the level of uproar, the NDOT were forced to come up with a compromise that saw some caches moved away from the edge of the highway. In August 2011, the series was reactivated and the Little A'Le'Inn is now reporting between 50 and 500 visitors a day from all across the world, predominantly geocachers looking to bag this iconic series for bragging rights.

Before the cache listing is published on the site, it has to be approved by a team of volunteer reviewers following a stringent set of guidelines.

"The review process covers a large number of things," says Dave Palmer, a UK volunteer reviewer for the site, "such as proximity to other caches, checks to ensure they are non-commercial, that they don't damage the surrounding environment or are With the ever increasing demand for new caches, there's pressure on the hardcore to do buried. We currently ask for copies of proof of more than their fair share of cache setting. "It's permission from the landowner in many instances including anything on Church just as fun setting them as it is to find them," property, railway company property, sites of explains Salmon, "as once they're out there, special scientific interest, and nature reserves."


The myriad of rules can be bewildering for even experienced geocachers although as Palmer states, "the first of our aims is to work with cache owners to get their cache published." But that can be difficult if the landowner hasn't heard of geocaching or the cache owner isn't sure who they should be talking to in order to get permission. With the demand for larger and more challenging circuits, crossing multiple landowners, it can be as much of a challenge to set the caches as it is to find them.

UK, and we encourage people to follow them." In just a few short years, the GAGB has negotiated blanket deals with the National Trust and many county councils. But as they admit the GACB have a long way to go. Even the volunteer reviewers have adopted some of the practices developed by the GAGB. "We use the GAGB guidelines as our local guidelines for the UK," says Palmer.

"I'd very much like to see GAGB become as For that reason the Geocaching Association of influential as the Ramblers' Association," Great Britain (GAGB) was set up with a view of explains Daly. "We're constantly reviewing acting as an independent voice for the activity. ways in which we can make ourselves more widely known to geocachers, to landowners and to the general public." "Amongst the most important practical things we do are to negotiate major landowner For geocaching to grow as a sport, and to gain agreements," says former GAGB Chairman, acceptance from landowners as a nonBill Daly, "and to maintain our database of all destructive and harmless activity, the GAGB blanket agreements that we're aware of, whether negotiated by ourselves or by others. needs to overcome internal challenges as well as external. We also have guidelines for the placing of caches which are written specifically for the


"I think one of the biggest tests we face is avoiding being seen by geocachers as the cache police," says Daly. "We liaise with landowners regarding caches placed under blanket agreements with them, and sometimes a cache gets placed that doesn't meet the landowner's requirements. We try to resolve situations like that to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, and to do so by amicable discussion."

the list emailed out each week to newsletter subscribers shows that whilst many are series or rings, there's still plenty that are set based on an interesting locations. "There's so many places that are hidden away or have secret or interesting histories that you want to bring to other people's attention through setting caches," explains Salmon. "It's always disappointing when you can't get landowner's permission for those."

With as many 300 new geocaches being published in the UK each week, the role of the "It's not always about the numbers," he concedes. "Most of the time, but not always." GAGB has never been more important in ensuring the sport grows responsibly. A look at




It’s all about making choices, and then making them happen. It is now a decade since I graduated from university and set out to try to live adventurously. I am fit and healthy, I spend time out in the wild, I have been to many places, and I make my living doing things I love. Originally I wrote that last sentence differently. I wrote, “I am lucky: I am fit and healthy…” But it’s not luck. Not really. It’s all about making choices, and then making them happen.

If you want to travel or do something different with your life it is up to you. Nobody can do it but you. It is time for action. Time is ticking. Time for me to start making an effort towards fixing these broken things that I care about very much. I make my living from speaking and writing about the things that I do. I have a platform to preach from. And the time has come for me to practice what I preach.

This is ridiculous. Ridiculous because it is all so fix-able: 1. Turn off your TV and go for a run 2. Eat less, run more 3. Take time out and go on an adventure 4. Quit your job and do something you love 5. Climb a hill. Jump in a river

So here is my manifesto for 2011: * In a boring, pragmatic world I appreciate that not everyone can muster the time or the money to go on a massive, whoopeedoo expedition. But everyone, everyone, EVERYONE can manage a microadventure. And to prove how strongly I believe that microadventures are fulfilling, challenging and worthwhile I have decided to not plan any major expeditions for several months. Instead I will do a microadventure every month. * Each year I speak to thousands of schoolchildren about the thrill of expeditions in wild places. It has troubled me for a few years now that there is no formal follow-up to my visits to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated. This year I will make a concerted effort to set up a system for all the children I speak to to be offered the opportunity to have a wilderness experience of their own. [If anyone can help with this please get in touch] * My blogging will be more focussed. There will still be some space for travel ephemera, daft comedy, wonderful books, and poems to fire the soul. But mostly I will concentrate on doing what you love, making stuff happen, travel writing, microadventures, and how these are all inter-linked and related to the statistics above.

If you are fatter than you ought to be then the only person who can change that is you. If you get out of breath walking up stairs and you’re under 60 then you need to do something about it. Now.

As always I value the combined knowledge and wisdom of all you out there, so please do let me know what you think, what I can do better and so on. Wishing you all a challenging and rewarding future! Let the revolution begin!

What I do feel fortunate about is that I have now reached a time when it feels appropriate to start making what I do a bit more useful and helpful to other people. Here are a few statistics about western society. 1. 60% of adults and 70% of children do insufficient physical activity1 2. 60% of adults and 30% of children are overweight1 3. 54% of people would like to take time out for an adventure or to travel3 4. 90% of people do not feel that their current job is their vocation4 5. 40% of people have not stood on a mountain or swum in natural water2


This year is my year of British microadventures. A year of seeking out challenges, new places and new experiences in my own country. In order to try to encourage a wider span of people to sample a microadventure for themselves, I am going to cover a range of different types of microadventure. I’m kicking off with adventures that are ready-organised for they are the simplest to commit to, get a flavour of, and perhaps be tempted to try a bigger and bolder adventure next time.

In between laps I drank tea, ate voraciously, and compared horror stories of icy crashes and muddy punctures with other riders. Music from the PA system kept spirits high throughout: the race began to Springsteen’s “No Retreat, No Surrender” (followed by the equally apt “A little less conversation, a little more action, please”). In the evening a live band (The Mystic Shoes) kept muddy legs tapping and stopped heavy eyelids from slipping closed.

The route began with a long climb up a track slick with ice. After 20 minutes of constant climbing, slipping and crashing I hated the course. A skeleton wearing a bike helmet and perched on a rusty bike looked on as I The first category of microadventure for this year is to enter a race. Races are excellent because they cater for cursed the leaden skies. But the rest of the course compensated for the harsh winter conditions. There were every capability. Everyone on Earth can push themstretches of technical rock slab to negotiate, a steep selves to their very limits in a race, whether it be a 5km run in the local park, the London marathon, or a 24 hour muddy singletrack slalom through gorse bushes, and a mountain bike race. Don’t think you have to enter a race long exhilarating swoop down through a forest which in order to win: I’ve never won a race in my life! Enter for provoked whoops of delight from me even at three in the morning. Or perhaps I should say “especially” at three in fun and for a challenge. the morning. The Strathpuffer (a 24 hour winter mountain bike race in For I was acutely conscious, in those long, dark nightnorthern Scotland) is a race that illustrates this well. I time hours, of the absurdity of what we were all doing. entered the Quads division, which is the least taxing as you share the burden with three team mates, alternating Hundreds of mud-caked idiots riding as hard as they could round and round in circles while the rest of the laps throughout. If that is too easy you enter as a Pair. world were enjoying their Saturday night and then their And if you are well hard you enter as a Single, looping round and round without stopping for 24 hours. But even Sunday morning lie-ins. I was wet, cold, hungry, muddy, sleepy, bruised and a bit scared as I rode hard downhill, that is too easy for some people. A mad minority rode focussed on the pool of light from my headlamp picking the Strathpuffer on singlespeed bikes (bikes without out the patch of track ahead of me. And yet there was gears) and are the daftest of the daft! nowhere I would rather have been. Here’s a brief account of my time riding the “Puffer”: I encourage you to enter a small event as you will find it “50% icy terror, 50% fun,” was how I described my first friendly and non-intimidating, even as a complete novlap of the Strathpuffer. ice. My final lap felt more like 10% fun (for zooming downhill Rather than entering a normal marathon or half-maraon a bike is always fun) and 90% exhaustion. After a thon have a go at something a bit different for once. A day and a night the novelty of the 7 mile loop had worn vital part of the microadventure ethos is trying someoff somewhat. thing different. As the hours and laps and riders passed a good deal of Enter a cross-country race, or a mountain bike race, or the ice had been scuffed from the trail. So mud replaced an adventure race. They are held all over the country ice. Night replaced day. After 15 hours of night riding, (here are 10 Great Races to start you off). Low-key, day once again replaced night. And as the clock ticked gently eccentric events that will push you as hard as you over to 24 hours and the race ended, the waves of wea- wish to be pushed, taking place in beautiful parts of the riness were replaced by a warm feeling of satisfaction, country that you may never have visited before, and for an enormous appetite, and a yearning for my bed. a pretty reasonable price. The Strathpuffer cost £45. Divide this by 24 and you get your fun for under £2 per The Strathpuffer had everything that I look for in an enhour! So go on: sign up for a race today. durance race: it is tough, it’s a bit daft, it’s in a beautiful landscape, and the organisers and competitors are all Don’t be intimidated – have a go. You may surprise friendly. yourself.

I encourage you to enter a small event as you will find it friendly and non-intimidating, even as a complete novice. 64

impressive, hardcore British challenges I have heard of and definitely merits a look at their website and a donation to their charitable fundraising. After waving them through at 4am I slept until first light. Last week I had the perfect opportunity to practice what I preach: a brief taste of being trapped -bored- indoors on a sunny day. I had just spoken at an IT conference in Scotland and the boss of the company had taken the stage after my talk to do her very best to drain away all the fun, enthusiasm and positivity I had been paid to inject. On and on she droned, death by PowerPoint, death by cliche, way, way, way past her allotted time. The clock on the wall moved with glacial slowness. I watched my watch and waited. At last she shut up! And I was free. We were all free. I bolted for the train station eager for a microadventure. I unfolded my map and made a plan. Stepping from the train into the peace of a Lake District evening I bundled my suit into my rucksack and began charging up the nearest mountain. We think nothing about jumping on a train for a day away, so why not use it for a night away? There are 16 glorious free hours between leaving work at 5pm and returning the next morning at 9am. It was dark by now but I didn’t care as I stormed uphill as fast as I could (microadventure doubling as ramped-up South Pole training regime).

Dawn is the “Wow” moment, if you have not already felt it, when you feel vindicated in deciding to sleep on a hilltop. Waking early but refreshed, with a view more uninterrupted and magnificent than any five-star hotel, on top of the world. I’m aware that microadventures are no panacea, no solution to genuine woes and unhappiness, but they really do have a power. To put things in perspective, to infuse a serene, calm sense of well-being and happiness, if only for a short while. Only for a short while because the point of this particular microadventure is that you can be back at work on time in the morning. You might look a bit crumpled if you used your suit as a hilltop pillow, but who gives a damn! So I stuffed my sleeping bag back into my backpack and hared back down the hillside, making a slight detour for the reflective, calm waters of Grisedale Tarn on the way. A ball-bracing cold swim, a hot cup of coffee, and a mad, grinning, whoopee-charge down the grassy fells and I caught my train back home.

Virgin trains have a knack of crushing any feelings of well-being. But as I type this in an over-hot, over-expensive, over-crowded carriage, I know that the memory of It was a warm, still spring evening. I unrolled my sleeping waking alone in the silver-hazed silence of sunrise, and bag and bivvy bag on a patch of grass beside the summit plunging into that lake will stay with me for a long time. cairn. (If you haven’t got a bivvy bag one of those orange Elbow were on the right lines singing “One day like this a year’d see me right“, though I’m greedy and am looking plastic survival bags will do perfectly well for a short trip to the hills). Far below me was the small cluster of Gras- for one a month to see me right. mere’s lights. I had slipped the surly bonds of Earth and Sleeping on a hilltop is a very cheap, easy route to a left the boring world of conference waffle well behind. quick burst of refocussing, reprioritising, refreshing gratitude, serenity and happiness. It seems that a sleeping Sleeping on a hilltop is normally a guarantee of uninterbag and a Scotch egg on top of a hill are all I need to rupted sleep. But that night I was delighted to be disturbed by the team taking on the Bob Graham Round as make me happy. I hope you will try it for yourself. Please let me know if you do. part of The Epic Tri challenge. This is one of the most 65

If you can spare five seconds I’ll tell you the story of my life. Or at least I can sum up this story: there are challenges and adventures at the very limit of your capabilities right here in Britain. You just need to go find them. A mere 12km of walking on the hilltops of little old Britain. It doesn’t sound much. It looked impressive though; my first sight of the Cuillin Ridge was from many miles away, across the sea, looking over the water towards those far blue mountains. I was heading to Skye on a whim to climb dangerous mountains with a man I’d never met, who had read my books then emailed me after we both entered a stupid winter mountain bike race. (He won the race. I just about survived it.) Alex’s idea appealed immediately: to mountain bike cross country to the sea, paddle over the sea to the mountains, and then attempt the formidable Cuillin Ridge. A triathlon of microadventures through some of the finest landscapes in Britain? I’m on my way, I replied. So we began from ‘S’* (“Good pub there” is the guaranteed comment from those who know it), pedalling happily into the glen, excited to be on the move, delighted by the weather which appeared to be holding and which was crucial to our success. The path was narrow singletrack, strewn with rocks and ditches. I quickly realised that the hills of Surrey are inadequate preparation for the skill levels needed for mountain biking through the Scottish highlands. However, in between my stumbles, foot-downs, and a comic straight-over-the-handlebars-into-a-bog it was beautiful, remote riding. On all sides barren peaks rose from the green glen into a warm blue sky. And silence. We passed a loch, perfect for a swim, but we had miles to go before nightfall so we pressed on, hurtling along an exhilarating sweeping descent down to the blue sea and a sweeping bay. Its isolation was accentuated by a single house, built bang in the middle of the curving bay far from electricity or running water. We rode onwards, up a bugger of a hill and blasted wooping down the other side, down to a tight little bay and the beginning of the second phase of our Highland triathlon microadventure. We needed now to paddle out into the sea, across the bay to the base of the impressive mountain range before us. Whilst I inflated my beloved packraft Alex chatted with his friend Colin who’d met us here armed with a couple of sea-kayaks. 66

The day was hot and the paddle was a joy. It was a windy day with the white clouds flying. And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying. Waves cooled my face and soaked my clothes as my blunt packraft battered the swell. I struggled to make headway against the headwind (the curse not only of cyclists but also, I have learned, the packrafter too). Packrafts are the jacks of all trades but the masters of none (I feel an affinity!) and as I watched the two sea kayaks pull easily away from me I knew that I was in for a long drag if we were to reach the other side before nightfall. But it is a special thing, being in a boat. Your view is a privileged one, inaccessible to all those mere mortals left behind on the shore. Jellyfish pulsed and drifted, pretty pink and white, through the clear blue brine. The shore gradually receded behind us with each pull on the paddle. Blisters bubbled on my hands as the mountains ahead of us loomed a little larger with each small stroke. We were paddling westward into the dazzling evening sun. Liquid stars fell from our paddles and burst over the bows of my boat. At last, tired, wet, but happy we reached the lee of the mountains, sheltered from the headwind and I could lie back in my packraft and relax. We were in the mouth of a secluded loch, tucked tight into a brooding cleft at the base of the mountains that thrust steeply straight up from the shore. The Cuillins are the ancient eroded remains of a vast volcano lip and they curved spectacularly high above us jagged and menacing like rotted black stumps of teeth. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful sea paddle in Britain, and I grinned in smug delight once again at my decision to dedicate a year to searching for wildness and adventure here in my own country. Alex was thrilled as well. Although he knew Skye well and was a regular climber and mountain biker here, he had never experienced a paddle such as this. Even in your backyard there are new adventures, new sights, new perspectives: you just have to make the small effort to go and discover them. Alex pointed behind me and I turned to look. A dozen seals were peering curiously at us from damp dark eyes. Two snorted and dived. The rest watched us quizzically as we paddled smoothly towards the shore past a couple of seal pups still in their juvenile white fur. Two terns, the whitest, sleekest of sea birds, shrieked low overhead, concerned for the young in their nests. We though were concerned only for food, for we had been long on the move and were ready for dinner. We pulled our boats up onto the shore beside a small river.

I jumped. Then I looked down. A long way down. Deep breath. Push on.

As Alex boiled a big pan of pasta I followed the course of the river – surely one of Britain’s shortest – from the sea up through just a couple of hundred gentle metres to its beginning at Loch C. I had wanted to visit this spot for years. I learned about it in the book Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. He writes…

geringly beautiful view of mountains, sea and islands.

This summit (Gars-bheinn) serves as the start point of the ridge challenge and we began at a good speed and in high spirits. The weather was beautiful, we’d made a really early start: everything was looking good. We made good speed for a couple of “We reached the entrance to C at hours hiking, jumping and dusk. Cliffs on one side, and a cut scrambling our way along the ridge. wall of rock, waterfall-seamed, on On both sides was sky, a lot of sky, the other. As we passed between and a long, long way to fall on both the cliffs I felt a strong sense of hav- sides. The views were as beautiful ing crossed a portal, or stepped over as from an aeroplane. But we could a threshold.” spare only a few glances for full We slept on the shore and then – too attention was needed to concentrate on our footing and route finding at all soon – we woke up again. 3am. Time to begin the third phase of our times. It may seem strange that adventure: to tackle the famous Cuil- route finding is difficult high on an exposed ridge, but it’s a jumbled lin Ridge back to the pub at S. We rocky chaos up there and progress hoped to reach it in time for last orwas hellish hard. At one point Alex ders. Only 12km stood between us and beer and yet we had allowed 20 leaped across a gap then turned to watch me. hours to get there. That should give an indication of the difficulties that “I recommend you don’t look here – stood in our way. just jump.” We left Colin sleeping (he would paddle home towing the spare kayak I jumped. when he woke) and began climbing Then I looked down. through the darkness. By sunrise we A long way down. were atop our first Munro (any Scot- Deep tish mountain with a height over breath. 3,000 ft (914.4 m)) enjoying a stagPush on. 67

My admiration for people who run the length of the ridge in just 3.5 hours turned to amazement as we reached the first climbing section. These mountain madmen scamper up and down cliffs which, to my wimpish eye, looked frankly terrifying. I was happy indeed to be roped up as we wriggled our way up very difficult (VD) and mildly severe (MS) rock faces and abseiled down the other side. These climbing sections, we felt, were the only likely things to stop us finishing our challenge so we were chuffed to be ticking them off. I am no climber and I do not intend to become one. I enjoyed the puzzle and the challenge of solving the riddle of hand and feet holds to heave yourself up a vertical face. But I did so with very little enthusiasm for looking down between my feet to enjoy the views. The technical term for this yawning empty space is ‘Exposure’. I do not like Exposure one bit! But I found it fascinating to face it. I was tied securely to a rope. I was safe. But I did not feel safe. And that alone meant that this was a perfect microadventure: I was out of my comfort zone, I was pushing myself hard mentally and physically. I was learning about myself and peeling back my boundaries.

The most spectacular spot on the ridge is the marvellously named Inaccessible Pinnacle, described in Wild Places like this: “a shark’s fin of black rock that jags hundreds of feet out of the ridge which had long been, to my mind, one of the wildest points in the world… I felt a quick buzz of fear, remembering the description of the Pinnacle by one of its first ascensionists: ‘a knife-edge ridge with an overhanging and infinite drop on one side, and a drop on the other side even steeper and longer’.” The Inaccesible Pinancle was the symbolic high point of the challenge. The view from the top was extraordinary, even if I was clinging to the rock with a vice-like grip. Unfortunately from here on things went downhill. My knee reacted badly to the terrain and, after eight hours up on the ridge I was moving like an old man. There was no way I would make it the whole way so we were forced to drop down from the ridge and concede defeat. I was not happy to have failed, especially through something as random and uncontrollable as an injury. The triathlon microadventure challenge had been such a good one. I was disappointed to have let Alex down. But I was also quite impressed to have failed. Britain is not a

particularly wild place. You don’t tend to get beaten by the landscapes here. So I was impressed to have been humbled by these ancient, awesome mountains. I had underestimated them (the only other British challenge that I have underestimated is the Bob Graham Round). It eased one of my slight worries of this year of microadventure that, through trying to encourage others to challenge themselves, that I was not particularly challenging myself. Mountains do not care how you fare on their slopes and summits. They were around for millions of years before your petty quest began, and they’ll still be standing beautiful yet uncaring when our grandchildren’s grandchildren feel the same restless urges to test themselves. Sure, you go and pit your wits, your skills, your guts, your luck against them. You might win, you might lose. But they don’t care either way. Maybe that’s part of their appeal. It’s certainly a good metaphor for doing big stuff in life: Do it for the doing, not for the praise of others. And don’t be put off trying big stuff by the fear of failure. The mountains don’t think any less of me because I failed. And they are far more impressive than the office

jobs-worth whiner who loves to sneer at you if you fail something. So I failed this microadventure. But I did far more than if I had not even begun. And I now have an excuse, should one be needed, to return soon to the wild places of Skye for some unfinished business. * I’m not mentioning names here for the same reason I try to avoid placing maps of my trips on this site: the world is full of spectacular spots and it’s better to go find your own hidden gems rather than following someone else’s prescription. Plus, selfishly, I want to keep the ones I find to myself. On the other hand they are not particularly secret spots: anyone who knows Skye will know where I am referring to. And I am aware that even if 100% of my blog readers converged on Skye that there would be more than enough room for both of you. All Al’s adventures can be found on his website,, and I very much urge you to visit. :-) These extracts were all previously published on Al’s website and have been reproduced here with kind permission.

Do it for the doing, not for the praise of others. 68



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. 69

REVIEWS KIT Aquapac Waterproof iPad Case £39.99 (£25.50 online) First, let me say what a wonderful little waterproof case this is. Having suffered over the years from many a run-in with the elements, be it via map cases or my recently destroyed Blackberry, sometimes I really do hate the rain (and random spilled cups of coffee). This case is light in weight, feels weirdly slick and odd under the fingers, maybe even a little bit thin/flimsy - but then this is the best bit. It allows for full functionality of your iPad or


iPad2 (and no doubt iPad9), allows you to touch and scroll and magnify even whilst your iPad is, ahem, wearing its protection. An inbuilt throughcable allows for pluggage of earphones, and claims to be waterproof for up to 15ft for 30 minutes. I confess I never had the raspberries to plunge my iPad2 into the kitchen sink, but it did survive several showers and various journeys hiking over the moors. £25 ain’t too bad to save a piece of kit worth over £500. Surely? There is another version of this case for your iPhone (or

any other phone for that matter) which I expect are brilliant. My one reservation, with regards this case in particular, is that of necessity - after all, I’m pretty sure I don’t need my whole iPad on a long-haul hike or climb. Why would I? My phone, yes. But an iPad? So there’s a chance the case is redundant before you begin. Great for urban protection and desk coffee spills. Maybe not as necessary for trips to the Alps.


REVIEWS KIT In terms of performance, the t-shirt performed great. I was kept very warm, and it did appear very breathable – not something easy to measure when you’re wearing other layers and a heavy fleece Polartec were always a fabric jacket on top. I certainly wasn’t sweating manufacturers, as far as I was concerned excessively, and the t-shirt didn’t leave me during my early days of biking. I owned several fleece jackets, like a Berghaus and a stinking like a donkey’s armpit (which would Jack Wolfskin (great name, by the way) and suggest the polygiene fabric was indeed they were made from Polartec fabrics. Now, doing its job). So, a result there, then! Especially during the inevitable post-climb it would seem, they have blossomed and indeed produce their own kit under their own drinking session. branding. Overall, a solid product with a weird little “riding up problem” that should be irrelevant However, this t-shirt isn’t one of them. This in “proper” products – and it stopped me “polygiene” t-shirt is a Polartec test shirt for stinking like a dead camel, which is always a fabric performance. It’s a nice slinky silver good sign, and would suggest that colour (see below), although some people may have reservations; the last time I wore a “Polygiene” is, in fact, a rather special little fabric. silver shirt I was mocked as being a crew member from the Starship Enterprise. RATING 86 Obvious sales points for this fabric are that MJ of most performance fabrics nowadays – breathable, with the ability to keep you warm, and...… well, here’s the official “blurb” “Polartec Fabrics with Polygiene® effectively combat body odor by inhibiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria in the fabric. Polygiene® Odor Resist Technology is a silver-salt treatment that permanently binds to the fibers of a fabric. It is nonleaching and safe. Polygiene is bluesign approved and qualifies for Oeko-tex 100 certification. The silver in Polygiene is 100% recycled, recovered from recycled electronics.” Polartec Polygiene T-shirt/ test shirt £Unavailable as this particular shirt.

So that’s the tech out of the way. The t-shirt is a very comfortable piece of kit – initially. However, on a particularly long trek I did have several instances of it riding up at the front, a phenomenon I’ve never before experienced. I acknowledge I have a little tub down there, for I am a great lover of steak and Shiraz, but never had this problem with any other t-shirt. It must have been the way the fabric is cut, this being a test item, and definitely not my steak and Shiraz obsession.


REVIEWS KIT spoons, baby bottle cleaners, but after carrying a load of Lucozade sport (and then, me being a lazy bum, being allowed to fester for a week I have always been a lover of or two) the subsequent mould a good bottle, right back from and, dare I say it, POISON I nurtured and grew rendered the early days of mountain many a bottle a haven for biking when I seeemd on a bacteria. And death. never-ending quest to find the perfect bottle. Enter the SIGG Wide Mouth Sports Bottle. The “wide Many was the time the mouth” moniker is nothing to problem came not from the actual bottle itself, but indeed do with users needing a large orifice in order to get the from a struggle to clean it. I most from this bottle, but resorted to all sorts of instead refers to a 2-stage contraptions, pan scrubbers opening of the top - which in wrapped around wooden SIGG Wide Mouth Sports Bottle 0.75L £20.00


turn allows for proper and hygienic cleaning. Thus, this bottle can be used for all manner of toxic substances, and still be scrubbed fresh. The bottle body is made from the usual SIGG machine aluminium, which is both of very very high quality, contains a lovely glossy anodised finish, and is simply a pleasure to own. A grade-A bottle then, from our friends in Switzerland.





REVIEWS KIT Brasher Ahklun GTX B1 Crampon Boot £165.00 (£120 online) First, here’s the Brasher blurb: “This men’s specific B1 crampon compatible, high cut boot offers year round performance, and is perfect for mountain walking, trekking and scrambling. Weighing just 1518g (per pair size 9), key features include: Tough and durable 1.8-2.0mm abrasion resistant suede upper with fabric panels Tri-Fit Technology comprising: moulded PU heel insert for stability; new tongue system to reduce pressure points with extra padding for enhanced comfort; and a moulded heel cradle for extra support Waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® Product Technology Vibram Foura sole unit for superb grip with EVA midsole and PU heel insert for excellent shock absorption

Memory Foam in the collar for additional comfort Added toe protection with an abrasion resistant textured rand and moulded rubber toe cap” I think this is a really, really good looking boot. It feels very sturdy in the hands and, more importantly, on the foot. If anything, the boot is too sturdy and I put that down to the crampon compatibility and a need for rigidity whilst fitted with crampons; as a result, however, it wasn’t exactly perfect for my needs. It seems churlish to deduct marks because of this, but then the boot is marketed as a mountain walking boot as well. It gave brilliant support, protected my feet in all rugged terrains, but did hurt my toes to begin with - something which improved as I broke the boots in. These are great boots, don’t get me wrong, but I’d certainly try them on and trot around a bit before parting with my hard-earned.



REVIEWS KIT Zamberlan 309 Trail Lite £145.00 The Zamberlan blurb: “Light weight and comfortable boot, ideal for hiking and trekking. The one piece leather upper combined with the GORE-TEX lining will ensure the utmost protection from humidity and water penetration. Fabric: HYDROBLOC Full Grain Leather Full one piece Hydrobloc full grain leather upper Vibram Baltra sole for utmost durability, grip and traction GORE-TEX lining for utmost protection and breathability Upper: HYDROBLOC Full Grain Leather Leather Thickness: 2,4 mm Lining: GORE-TEX Footbed: Zamberlan Footbed Insole/Shank: Zamberlan Flex GT Toe and Heel: Thermoplastic



Lacing System: F.W.S. "Foot Wrapping System".” Okay, I’ve had these boots a couple of years now (and they’ve accompanied me on many, many treks and climbs. They are superbly comfortable - after an initial breaking in period, where I felt they were quite “hard” on my feet but now they’re like slipping into a warm honey pot. These boots are premium at keeping your feet dry. Many has been the time when a climbing partner has said, with a frown, “Are your feet dry?” and I’d smugly reply, “Oh yes” and watch them squelch away in a huff of wet feet. Again, you gets what you pay for with boots. These Zamberlans are rugged, oh so tough, give excellent ankle support, are breathable (and match very well with Brasher socks, reviewed last issue) and I love them. They are my babies.

REVIEWS KIT Karrimor KSB Tour eVent II RRP claim (£119.99)/ Price £50.00 Okay, these were never destined to be a high end boot - except looking at the manufacturer’s claimed RRP, you might expect them to be. They have Vibram soles and claim to be waterproof, and I recognise I bought them at a knocked down price because they were never designed to be hardcore walking and climbing boots, just something for walking the dog, driving the car, and mooching about in. I have, however, done some light trekking in these boots and it has to be said, they are very light and comfortable. I use them for day to day general knocking about in, but even in these modest conditions the KSB Tour eVent IIs have proved to be less than waterproof, and in heavy showers (or even long wet


grass) have leaked like they had their own special hose attachment. They are comfortable, then, and have been reasonably enduring - but more because I dare not take them on any serious sort of adventures. These are cheap and cheerful boots to walk the dog in. Only they’re not that cheap. And they stink. Did I mention the stink? They stink like a dead dog on a cart full of dead dogs. I admit, that could be something to do with their leaking combined with my bad Dave Lister foot odour, but hell, I’ve never had a boot reek so much. So if you want a reasonably comfy, reasonably cheap, death-stench kind of boot, these are the bargain bucket versions to go for.


REVIEWS KIT HiTec Whistler Quik Zip600M £80.00 I can’t find the original blurb for these boots, as I’ve had them a few years now and I think they may be discontinued. But I’ve included them in this test as a reason why I will never buy HiTec boots again - for as long as I live. Okay, so that sounds ominous. And it bloody well is. I very much believe in the mantra that you get what you pay for; and very much so with boots. I paid £80.00 for these abominations. Initially, they were comfortable, and they had a gimmick which I very much liked - they had “quik zip” quick release side-zips, which for anybody, like me, who can sometimes be a lazy ass, were something of a revelation. So, from revelation to abomination in one quick stride (hop). Within 2 months the first zip broke.



So the gimmick I’d happily paid extra to possess was now no longer operational; within a few weeks, the other zip broke. So now I had to use laces like every other schmuck. I attempted to return the boots, but had - to my chagrin - lost the receipt. It never occurred to me to keep a receipt for boots. After all, I’d never had a pair of boots die on me after a few months. Ridiculous - yes? And at £80, a riot of ridiculousness, baby. I emailed HiTec several times, but had no response. And thus relegated said boots to simple “dog walking” boots, where they have stayed at the bottom of the league table ever since. No treks or climbs for these boots, sorry. As you can see they are indeed dog-eared and scabby, and now have very big holes which pump in water faster than a fireman’s high pressure hose. To be avoided.

REVIEWS KIT Brasher Altai GTX 3 Season Boot £135 (£98.00 online) Again, here’s the Brasher blurb - “A lightweight yet tough and durable 3 Season trekking boot that will perform on rugged terrain during more challenging treks. Altai GTX has all the components to perform when the going gets tough! Key features include: Tough and durable 1.8-2.0mm abrasion resistant suede upper with fabric panels Tri-Fit Technology for support, stability and comfort Waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® Product Technology Vibram Winkler sole unit for superb grip with dual density EVA midsole for excellent shock absorption and reduction in leg fatigue Memory Foam in the collar for additional comfort

Added toe protection with a moulded rubber toe bumper”. I really, really like these boots. They are strong, sturdy, yet immediately comfortable. They give good foot and ankle protection, were brilliantly waterproof, and contain everything you’d expect from this level of boot - Vibram, Gore-tex etc. I trialled them in all manner of terrains, from forest trails, snowy climbs, rocky descents, torrential mountain treks - and not once did they let me down, not once did I have wet feet, not once did they perform with anything except excellence. I haven’t got anything bad to say about them. The box was a bit plain? So I won’t say anything bad about them at all. How could they be improved? A cheaper price? But then, you gets what you pays for, right? A great pair of boots!!





Montane Extreme Smock Manufacturers claimed weight:1020g Tested Weight:1020g Price:RRP £120, available for around £80 online Come New Year the television is full of adverts for sofas, holidays and losing weight. I appreciate that over the festive season we all put on a few pounds, and I was made aware of this very fact when I visited a local outdoors retailer to take advantage of the January sales. One of the bargains to be had was the Montane Extreme Smock, which I’d been eying some time back as a potential replacement for a Buffalo style smock which I’d had for some time. There was one green one remaining, my preferred colour, size M. Normally I take a large size, but smocks are usually generously cut, so I was hopeful this would fit. My hopes were dashed however, as it was simply too tight. That left the red and black option, which was available in a range of sizes. I was confident the large would fit and was shocked to find my middle constricted. With a sense of shame I reached for the Extra Large and tried it. The arms were fine but the middle was still a touch too tight. The large chest pocket has a spare strap in it, and yet it felt full. ‘I’ll make do’ I thought but wearing it at home reinforced the thought, it was still too small. There was only one thing remaining, an XXL. Double Extra Large! My waist varies, but is usually around the 34” mark so I was gobsmacked. These smocks do seem to be made on the tight side. A visit to the store proved fruitless, however they tried to source a XXL for me, eventually arranging to have the only remaining 79

one brought from Inverness. Unfortunately by the time a stock check had taken place the XXL had gone, and I resolved to start the diet earlier this year! Bear all that in mind if you are going to buy it via mail order or online be aware that it may be small made and you may wish to check the returns policy. Having got that off my chest, how does it perform?

The Montane Extreme Smock is similar in design to the Buffalo Smock, a popular choice for an insulating layer in the military. A pertex outer, a pile inner, zip up sides, a chest pocket with pile lined handwarmer pocket behind it, and a velcro panel on the neck to attach a pertex and pile hood. It’s a design which is so simple, and efficient that little has changed over the years, and after using it for only a few weeks I can see why.

The pertex outer works brilliantly, even in heavy showers. My old Buffalo copy lacked the hood, and that was possibly its only weak point. The hood on this is effective, if bulky. As it attached with velcro I thought it would have a tendency to partially come away from the jacket if it snags on something, but I’ve found that it is a fairly secure . It is well shaped though and holds the shape well. Many jackets are let down with a poorly designed hood, a charge which can’t be levelled at this one. This is pile lined, with a wired rim and elasticated cord volume adjusters which are retained in sleeves which prevent them slapping you to death in strong winds, and once adjusted it remained snug and moved well with my head.

REVIEWS KIT The arms have reinforced elbows and D-rings to attach gloves to. As someone who has watched his unsecured glove whipped away on a Munro summit in a high wind that’s another plus point. There are two two-way zips on each side, which can be loosed to get the jacket on and off or to vent the jacket if you are too hot. A final feature is a detachable belay strap, which attaches with a velcro fitting at one end and a fastex clip at the other, a handy and effective feature if you wear the jacket along with a climbing harness. If you don’t use it, it detaches completely.

zips. At the end of the day I found the pile at the base of my back was damp, but show me any layering system that doesn’t.

The Montane Extreme Smock is very adaptable as a cold weather all round jacket, the pertex outer meaning I don’t have to reach for a hard shell every time a spot of drizzle appears. It’s weight and bulk are something to consider, especially if it is not going to be worn but carried in a rucksack, as it does require a bit of room, but in my view it excels at what it does. If you are looking for a smock which will give you years of In all my years using a similar jacket I’d never good service, and performs well in cold, windy really considered wearing it while hillwalking, I see conditions, you would be advised to give this it more as a jacket to wear when I’m going to be smock serious consideration. static for long periods or when I’m not going to be working up too much of a sweat, and initially that was how I tested it. However on a recent trip, with my first choice jacket away for repair the Montane JCA Extreme was pressed into action. So how did it fare? The forecast was for extreme cold, and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint. I started off wearing a merino wool base layer and the Montane smock, but quickly overheated. While cold, it was sunny with no rain or snow, so the smock went in the rucksack for the ascent, however at the top the wind was biting cold, too cold for just a thin layer of wool. I had read that some people wear this type of jacket with no base layer, and with the temperature well below zero I decided to put it to the test, and managed to get the merino layer off and the Montane Smock on without turning completely blue. And on it stayed for the rest of the day. If I was too hot I opened up the zips, if it cooled, and oh did it cool, I closed the



REVIEWS MOTORVATION Landrover Freelander 2006 model 65,000 miles Sigh. And so we come to the review of what has turned out to be a nightmare vehicle. I told her not to buy it. I TOLD HER not to buy a Landrover with 60,000 odd miles on the clock (whereas with a Honda CRV or Toyota RAV this would not have been a problem, in my humble opinion). Still. The problems started small. Tracking so far it leathered the front tyres in 3 months. About 15mm out, when (according to the tyre guys) most cars are 3 or 4mm out. Yes, this could have been due to a rough previous owner - but what was he doing? Jumping buses like Evil Knievel? Then it got worse. Cold start problems, or so we first thought. This was checked out at Lincoln Landrover, who kind of umm’d and ahh’d for a bit, then diagnosed 1 faulty injector. No, wait, 2 faulty injectors. Oh no, wait again, just 1 faulty injector. Make your minds up guys! So we took the motor in and had an injector replaced (at a few hundred squids), and then this little baby started with a curious grinding sound from down near the front. Could it be the front transfer box, or maybe the brakes?


We took the Freelander (which was proving to be not very free at all) in to another local garage, who stripped out the brakes, front and back, and check all diff oils and prop/drive shafts. Couldn’t find the problem. Then one bright spark realised it was actually coming from the gearbox, and could be a partially stripped cog (or something/ he was speaking mechanic speak at the time). The solution? Just leave it and see if it gets any worse. “It might not get any worse, or your gearbox could fail in a month”. Cheers! Great! Wonderful car! Who said Landrovers were bad in terms of reliability? Oh, that would have been WhatCar magazine… Anyway. What’s it like to drive? Well she’s done a couple of trips to Scotland and Wales, all without apparent problem (except for the sporadic grinding), and lots of usual trips to work etc. Quite a lot of miles in the past few months. And the very great shame is, the Lanny is a wonderful car to drive - planted and solid and “don’t mess with me”. It spins along nicely at 80mph although eats fuel like it’s out of fashion at this speed and has been nothing but stable in rain, mud, snow, ice. Just a very very very great shame about the reliability issues! The cockpit is a bit dated and old fashioned, even for this age of vehicle, and it has quickly become apparent the cost of servicing and repairs is much higher than, for example, a Volkswagen Passat. Let’s see how she does for next issue.

RATING 72 [and falling…] AR

REVIEWS RESTAURANT The Tea House in the Woods Italian Restaurant Woodhall Spa Lincolnshire Admittedly, this is an unusual name for an Italian Restaurant. After all, a tea house is a place where refined characters from Emily Bronte novels recline under umbrellas spilling cake crumbs down flowery dresses whilst discussing the merits of Mr Darcy’s peculiar stance. And an Italian restaurant is usually a dark, cool space with lacquered wood, the aroma of garlic and an Old Don sat in one corner, quietly nodding to his clients (both food orientated, and hitman orientated). In Little Italy, New York City, I really did see an Old Don in a bonafide Italian restaurant, which made me feel like I was genuinely in a Martin Scorcese movie. Anyway. If you read last issue, you may have heard me moan lyrical about the horrors of Jamie Oliver’s dockland restaurant, imaginatively named “Jamies”, and his apparently wanton need to destroy my wife’s birthday. I mean, you shouldn’t leave an Italian restaurant craving a McDonald’s Big Mac – something I’d normally only use to line a climbing boot. I’m happy to report, however, that The Tea House in the Woods


(inheriting its name from a previous owner, I do believe) is perhaps one of the finest Italian Restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of frequenting – right up there with the Godfatherinspired abode from NYC.

bacon Carbonara Tagliatelle for main course, although it has to be said the traditional Calzone with spicy Italian sausage and spinach is also a firm favourite. The wife is partial to meat balls (snigger), and indeed regularly orders meatballs The service is polite, impeccable, which she nibbles delicately, as a perfectly timed, just right. There is a good wife should. The boys are ably selection of private booths, open sorted with an array of pizzas and tables and outside seating (for when child-size portions of Lasagne, Spag the weather is nice; and its nice a lot Bol, Tagliatelle and many items from in Lincoln). The prices are very, very the adult menu. Never does a meal reasonable – as in Good Value go by without us pretty much licking reasonable, not Tesco Value Pay our plates clean, and the waiters are Peanuts Get Junk type, er, junk. And extremely funny and great with the the food.... kids. Ahh. This is the best bit. The food! Food of the Gods? I feel, perhaps, this is no exaggeration, and indeed have staggered from said restaurant with distended belly and swimming mind, a little like a particularly bulbous frog on an amphibian collector’s taxidermy dissection/reassembly tablet. This review is not based on a single visit as well, oh no, I have made it my mission, in fact, to sample a HUGE variety of dishes from The Tea House in the Woods – purely in the name of research, you understand – and can happily report with hand on fat belly, that this is indeed a fine purveyor of foods. My current favourite is mussels in white wine and garlic for starters, follow by either a rather smooth and sublime

If you are visiting Lincolnshire, or live in Lincolnshire, or are passing within a hundred mile radius of Woodhall Spa, then I very much recommend The Tea House in the Woods are purveyors of Fine Italian Fare. The restaurant isn’t obvious to find, not being situated on the main drag through the village, but if one is to follow the signs for the “Kinema in the Woods”, Woodhall’s traditional old cinema (which is, in its own right, fabulous and still has “Intermissions” – remember those? plus scrummy creamy homemade ice cream, the sort usually only found in a Famous Five novel), then it’s not hard to miss. Very, very much recommended.



I have just vacated your fine hostelry (fine, as in, it is decorated very fine) after subjecting myself to one of your “meals”.

compare. And that’s in a bad way. Guys – it was rank. Here’s a note for the “chef” – chicken and vegetable pie should, by its very definition, contain some chicken and vegetables. It should not be a corner piece of pastry containing, well, some pieces of gristle. I recognise that, technically, “chicken gristle” is part of a chicken, but would you serve me a pie containing beak, eyes and claws? Actually, I think you probably would.

I don’t normally do this. I don’t normally whine and complain. When I have a bad meal, I vote with my wallet and my presence, and simply – move on. Life is too short. But it has to be said, the “meal” I just suffered at the Lincolnshire Poacher was beyond

I’m careful with pub meals. I don’t expect a gourmet chef. I try and play it safe. You don’t get much safer than chicken and veg pie. And whilst we’re at it, the chips were undercooked, the carrots were tinned/hard, and it really was a gastric disaster. In fact, I think

The Lincolnshire Poacher Lincoln To: The Manager, The Lincolnshire Poacher, Bunkers Hill, Lincoln LN2 4QT Dear Sir, Madam.

I might make myself sick – because it’ll certainly taste better coming up than it did going down. I know what you’re going to say. “You should have brought it to the attention of the staff”. Well, I would have done, except the TV blaring football, and the shouting, Stellafuelled football dudes made it quite difficult to be heard. I can safely say, my family and I will not be visiting “The Lincolnshire Poacher” again. And I look forward – very much - to reviewing your hostelry in my magazine, We’re still waiting for a reply…..


To advertise in this space, please email: Rate cards are available on request. 83

REVIEWS MEDIA 1996 - so did Corel win my heart and my custom?

Corel VideoStudio Pro X5 Ultimate £79.98 (or free if you win our competition!!) I confess, not only am I a bit of an adventure junkie, I’m also a vanity junkie. Which means taking lots of photos on bike rides and climbs, and, er, yes - filming myself in these pursuits. Some of the video footage I got on Ben Vorlich in Scotland, for example, makes one’s jaw drop… and also made me realise how important it is to take a camcorder on rides and climbs. As with any other data, once you have your raw footage you need something with which to manipulate this data - enter stage left, Corel’s VideoStudio ProX5 Ultimate. Now I’m an old hand at editing, having been playing around with similar packages since about 84

I’ve used quite a few packages over the years, on both MAC and PC. My previous software of choice on the PC has always been the Pinnacle range of video editing software, despite the (many) flaws. I started – way back – with Ulead Video Studio 4 – this was back in about 1997/1998, when I and a few mates were making comedy sketches (remember BAD BABY? probably not... and school promo films (we were teachers/ the horror)). Then I upgraded to Pinnacle Studio 9, then a few years later to Pinnacle Studio 11 Ultimate – which, if you can believe this, arrived with a mis-typed serial code. As it was my Christmas gift with which to edit footage of my kids opening their Christmas presents and stuffing turkey into their maws, I was best not impressed. I spent a fun morning trying to get it to work, and I can tell you here and now there’s no easier way to annoy a consumer than with such a basic simple sloppy error. Another year, another upgrade. I (foolishly) upgraded to Pinnacle Studio 14 in the hope it would alleviate the regular random crashes. I’d started making a series of short movies and it was a long and frustrating process. The problem with crashes on a reasonably long project is – well, where was I up to? Which changes had I made to the whole project? Thankfully, Pinnacle’s “recovery” software was quite good, although on some occasions did scramble my entire edited project meaning I had to start again. Grrrwwwww. Upon purchasing a MAC, I thought I’d try Adobe’s Final Cut Pro, which every man and his donkey bangs on about, especially on film making forums and casting sites like Shooting People. Now, I did use this software quite a lot – mainly because I was being told it was the best. But you know what? I disagree. I used Adobe’s range of Creative Suite software, including After Effects – and yes, they are very, very powerful, but yes, they need a lot of hand holding and schooling. They’re just so not fluid. I found every stage of Adobe’s user interface just massively counter-intuitive. Maybe it’s me (it probably is me) but time after time Adobe software left

Striding Edge in the mist web video and total disc authoring. Ultra-fast and packed with intuitive tools, it lets you create everything from family movies and slideshows, to fun stop motion animations, and screen recordings of presentations, tutorials and more. Get creative with advanced compositing and So then. Corel’s VideoStudio stellar creative effects. Tap had a lot to live up to, and a lot into the full power of your to overcome. I am a picky multi-core processor with SOB and have a wealth of unprecedented speed. And experience with different share everywhere with native packages. With video editing HTML5 video support, and software, I am not an easy enhanced DVD and Blu-ray™ man to please. authoring.

Be more creative with 21 multimedia editing tracks, support for multi-layer graphics and advanced drag-and-drop visual effects.

First, here’s some official blurb to whet your appetite and introduce new features over the outgoing Pro X4 version...

Outstanding value— hundreds of bonus effects, filters, transitions and templates! BONUS! SPECIAL

me tearing my hair out. So, back to Pinnacle, beautiful to use, intuitive, powerful, and yet time after time it left me tearing my hair out - with multiple crashing projects and mangled editing. Argh! What was an amateur adventure film maker to do?

“Corel® VideoStudio® Pro X5 is an all-in-one video editor that brings together creative editing, advanced effects, screen recording, interactive 85

Fast & easy HD video Get started faster with Instant Projects and templates—and finish faster thanks to highspeed rendering and support for GPU and multi-core processing. Advanced visual effects

Complete screen recording Make a video featuring anything you do on your desktop, including slideshows, tutorials, product demos, game recordings, how-to videos and more. Innovative sharing Create interactive online video and quickly burn pro-quality discs, complete with menus, titles and transitions.

EFFECTS VALUE PACK - Get the full power of VideoStudio Pro X5 plus these professional-quality special effects applications:

NewBlue® Video Essentials 20 high-end filters and effects Boris Graffiti 5.4 Template-driven, broadcast-quality titles and effects proDAD Mercalli SE Advanced image correction and rock-steady video stabilization proDAD VitaScene V2 LE 100+ fully customizable, high-speed effects, transitions and filters proDAD RotoPen Exclusive to VideoStudio Pro X5 Ultimate! Apply animated pen effects to maps, graphics and photos Free download! WinZip® Pro File compression, file sharing, file encryption and data backup.”

Sounds good eh? Sounds too good to be true! So how was it? Okay. Installation was a breeze, although the “Ultimate Pack” on Disk2 could have been a tad easier – with a 1 click installation, for example, as opposed to installing every separate item from the ultimate pack individually. A minor gripe, but in these busy lazy days of our mad rushed lives, every minute counts. It could have saved me a whole ten minutes! And I like my ten minutes. You can do a lot in ten minutes. You are immediately presented with a locked set of windows (as opposed to Adobe’s bizarre many and varied floating tabs and bars and junk), and in a colour-set very pleasing to the eye and promising many hours of easy editing. Yeah. We’ll see.

First thing I did was drop some really old (well, 2002) .avi files in to see what it did. I confess, I was trying to trip VSP5 up and crash it, or get some kind of error message. “I don’t understand that file”, that sort of thing. After all, I’d had them from every other package I’d ever used – especially Adobe. MACs are particularly anal about nonMAC file types. Anyway, VSP5 played them no problem. Aha! I’ll go older, then. So I dug out some old camera files, circa 1999 and 2000. MPGs these were. I dropped them in – and hot damn they worked! I dropped in some old 8mm transfer files, and it played them as well. There was no tripping up VSP5 and it had certainly covered its bases with encoding/decoding. Moving forward a decade, I dropped in some AVCHD (Panasonic’s own) files – now I’d had many problems with these files on both Adobe and The Beginning of The End 86

surely a VERY GOOD THING. The software and UI is so intuitive I hadn’t even flicked through by this point. I found page 33 – rendering. That’s what the index said. But... Nope. So I logged onto the website Couldn’t find anything there, either. So I hit Google, and again couldn’t find anything. Maybe it was just me being antiquated. What I did find was this comment on a forum post, which I think backs up what I’ve experienced over the last few years - “I I did some editing on mountain climbing films, use Corel Videostudio x4 too. I tried Adobe including a video diary from when I climbed premiere pro and cyberlink's Power Director. Ben Nevis, adding the usual sort of titling, Adobe is to complicated and not all in one. PD splitting clips, splitting video and audio to add is super fast rendering but crashed every 30 new layers of audio, adding effects to different min. Seriously. Videostudio does all I need. I sections and fading them together. I very much prefer burning AVCHD DVD5 discs. Higher enjoyed playing with FX like old film grain quality than mp4 and cheaper. The video time (which in some programs can often look a bit... is shorter but I'm not charging admission and orange) and rotoscoping, which I absolutely making popcorn. It took me some time to love. Polar Express done on a budget. And accept that a $50 software was actually better without Tom Hanks! Result. for my needs. I think it's a perfect match for AVCHD prosumer camcorder editing and I spent a good day messing with VSP5, and rendering. ” my only niggle was I couldn’t find an indicator for real-time rendering – or an option to switch So I stopped worrying about my niggle, this facility on/off. Although, saying that, banged through a sample copy to a DVD everything was happily rendered in real time (16:9) quality file – which rendered pretty anyway, all effects applied without any loss quickly, considering it was a 12min 36sec film whatsoever (on my 6-core Phenom running filled chock wither FX and my PC was also 64bit Win7, 8GIG DDR3 memory). Not sure running Word, Paint Shop Pro and Serif how it would run on a Core2 Duo though!! So, PagePlus at the same time. I do love multiat this point I picked up the manual.... which is tasking.

Pinnacle systems – but on VSP5 they played like a dream. And I wasn’t deleting these differing file types – just stacking them up in memory, like a house of cards, waiting for them to fail and fall. Next, I dropped in files from my Sony HDR. And every one worked like a dream. A mad mix of files from over a decade, a range of cams, all rendered at different FPS and sizes. Not once did VSP5 stumble or falter. Impressive.


What do I think overall, then? Videostudio Pro X5 is an absolutely fabulous video editing program. It did everything I wanted, quickly, without fuss and WITHOUT CRASHING. I did have one moment when I got the dreaded “Not Responding” freeze, and thought “Oh yeah, here we go” but it was in fact the program simply letting me know it needed updating and would I like to do so? There’s a fabulous range of effects, intuitive user interface (I didn’t use the manual at all, except for one look up), and it was just so slick and professional. Home computer video editing software has come a long,

long way from its infancy, and yes, you can buy very expensive “industry” standard software from Adobe that requires a PhD to understand and operate. But most of us want to spend more time out biking and climbing and running – right? And when you take that film footage of Helvellyn, Ben Vorlich, cycling through Sherwood forest or scrambling your KTM across a Welsh beach – well, I reckon this is the best software you can get to fulfil that role. Oh yes, one last note – there’s a very handy function for removing shaking from, for example, headcams – the proDAD Mercalli SE advanced

image correction and rocksteady video stabilization. I applied it to some old downhill MTB footage and it worked a treat. Very much recommended!

One last last note. Having enjoyed using this program so much I got in touch with Corel. And you know what? The lovely people there have offered THREE copies of this premium editing software for free – all you have to do is enter the competition earlier in the issue. Aren’t they nice people? Say thank you Corel. “Thank you Corel”.


REVIEWS MEDIA The Lore of the Land A Guide to England's Legends from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys by Jennifer Westwood & Jacqueline Simpson Penguin Books 928 pages ÂŁ20.00

place or landmark. Westwood and Simpson also explain why such stories are told, as well as the difficulties encountered by folklorists attempting to accurately pinpoint their origins; it's fascinating stuff and written in clear, unimposing language.

Lore is divided up by county, and my primary impulse on first opening the pages was to find out which tales were native to my neck of the woods, Lancashire. Some were familiar, albeit through reading Westwood's excellent Albion: A Guide to Legendary Britain a good few years ago. Hence the tale of Boggart Hole Clough, with its fairytale amalgam of unrequited love, magic seeds and strange visions, as well as its sinisterly unfairtytale-like ending, was not new to me. However, there was much I had not previously encountered, including the story of "old Mr Hodgson", the master of a grammar school in An enlightening Introduction Bury, who outwitted the Devil; details the authors' modus nor did I suspect that Chipping operandi. The entries must boasted its own "black dog" have narrative content, and cannot be merely "picturesque" tales, or the Lancastrian names for such beasts are the descriptions of places or beliefs; they must be centered splendidly evocative "Skriker" and "Trash". in a particular locale, though variants of a certain type of story may be found throughout The Chipping story is an interesting example of a the country; and the oldest phenomenon the reader will sources for any particular scrap of folklore are preferred not fail to notice: the same sorts of stories crop up in a over the modern, though variety of places. Perhaps the contemporary tellings are not most famous "black dog" is wholly excluded: tourist "Shuck" (also known as "Shuck information leaflets, for Dog" or, particularly if one is a instance, are good indicators fan of retro-rockers The of what stories are being told Darkness, "Black Shuck"; the nowadays about a particular The British Isles teems with myth and folklore, as the sheer size and density of this remarkable book testifies. Every spot where humans have left a footprint, no matter how tiny or remote, has its own indigenous tales of the fantastic or absurd. In this volume, Westwood and Simpson concentrate only on England - a survey of Britain in its entirety would yield a book quite possibly as huge and weighty as Britain itself â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but what is sacrificed in terms of scope is more than compensated for in depth.

latter is a notable and pleasingly noisy instance in which a story once told verbally has found expression in an entirely different medium). Shuck lurked in the graveyards of East Norfolk as well as Cambridgeshire; yet Shuck-types lope through much of England. But this is to oversimplify, and folklore is not a simple business. Folktales gain new dimensions in the telling, and existing elements of the stories are abandoned or warped. Shuck, it transpires, is not truly a dog but a shapeshifting "bogey beast" and, to complicate matters further, Westwood and Simpson point out that the "distinction between bogey beasts and hobgoblins is blurred" . . . Folktales overlap, intertwine and merge in fantastically complex ways, and Lore of the Land is an entertaining and eminently readable guide through England's potentially overwhelming, but continually exciting, rag-bag of word-ofmouth yarns.



REVIEWS MEDIA There Are Other Rivers: On Foot Across India by Alastair Humphreys Published by Alastair Humphreys 121 pages £5.00

Humphrey’s crisp, articulate prose.

Humphrey’s adventures in India begin on his flight to his Honeymoon with his new bride. Hmm. Hardly the place to be fantasising about agony, This is a pretty little book. The hardship, endurance and more cover feels nice, in its smooth agony. But it would seem Humphreys is “Born Again cool matt skin, the cover Hard”. I was happy to sip image is intriguing, and the cocktails on my honeymoon; fact it was shortlisted for the Humphreys immediately National Geographic craved another arduous Adventurer of the Year adds just another layer. So, I flicked expedition to the world’s wild places. This is no man to trifle through the pages and a with, for he is one of life’s couple of things struck me natural nomads, natural immediately – the quote is travellers, a man just as happy from Steinbeck, one of my all time favourite authors, and at covered in mud and insects and trudging up ravines as the back Humphreys urges reading a book by a bedside you to donate his book to a table lamp. He works out how charity shop when you’ve much time he has available, finished with it. What a nice guy. Most authors I know froth analysed the map of India, and situations. It’s a joy to read, and sows things like basically jabbed his finger at the bit when then spy their Humphrey’s checking his there and said I’ll do that. books on a second hand bearings using Venus. In stall... What followed is a fascinating Flabbiness we experience the author’s incredible honesty, Humphrey’s begins in an odd insight into Humphreys, the we learn about Humphrey’s man himself (one which can way, by explaining what his routines – the stuff that keeps be happily extended by a) book is not, and thus checking out his website, and him going. And every other separating it from the likes of b) reading some of his micro- chapter sparkles with Michael Palin and other interesting little insights into adventures in this here very celebrity travel writers. magazine). His writing is very his journey in India, and to top “Primarily this book is an it all there’s a fabulous photo tight, economic, littered with attempt to articulate my insert. The book ends on a fascination with the open road beautiful little phrases and and the magnetism of the next observations, and an absolute fabulous little revelation and as a reader, you feel privileged joy to read. He also uses the horizon. I hope it will strike a to have shared a fascinating innovative technique of not chord with anyone restless worthwhile portion of a man’s recounting his journey and yearning for a long chronologically – he claims he life. Very, very much journey.” Well, I like my recommended. did that via Twitter during the adventures, and I like my journey (and shares some of short(ish) journeys – nothing these tweets). to the extent of avid RATING 88 traveller/explorer/adventurer AR The chapter Dawn is sparsely Humphreys – but By God George, I’m sure happy to dive written, short snappy first person observations and on in and share the ride vie 90

REVIEWS MEDIA The Vintage Book of Walking Edited by Duncan Minshull with a Foreword by Richard Holmes Vintage Digital 368 pages ÂŁ8.95 For some, walking is a way of setting aside one's woes, whilst others use time spent tramping through forests, meadows or cities to examine their problems with the vigour, calm and perseverance required to formulate some sort of solution. Some walkers let their minds go blank, drifting along in numb serenity; others find a stroll, hike or ramble an excellent, in some instances the only, way of producing and cultivating ideas. Some walk to escape domestic difficulties, whilst others seclude themselves from their homes for long stretches in order to appreciate them more strongly on their return . . .

philosopher. Hopefully, there will be fewer who relate too keenly with the subject of Aspley Cherry-Garrard's offering: "I am told that when confronted by a lunatic or one who under the influence of some great grief or shock contemplates suicide, you should take the man out-of-doors and walk him about: Nature will do the rest."

There is much seriousness to be found in The Vintage Book of Walking, from Thomas Hardy's The New Boots, an amusing and poignant evocation of expectations thwarted by mortality, to Nicholas Shakespeare's beautiful and sorrowful depiction of Werner Herzog's final visits to the bedside of travel writer and ceaseless wanderer Bruce Chatwin who, dying of AIDS, notices his legs had become "spindles" and observes, "I'm never going to walk again."

evocation of the Antarctic, nestle alongside pieces focussed on comparatively humble yet beguiling instances of the British landscape, as in Dyer's poem The Country Walk. Urban walking is not overlooked. "Walking," says Iain Sinclair, "is the best way to explore and exploit the city," then lists elements of the urban landscape which are often seen but There are countless reasons why seldom noticed: "Alignments of people walk, and these reasons may There is much humour, too. telephone kiosks, maps made from change within the individual from day Overcome by laziness, the Italian moss on the slopes of Victorian to day, walk to walk. There are many poet Petrarch's repeated attempts to sepulchres, collections of prostitutes' different ways how people walk, too, find less arduous pathways up Mount cards, torn and defaced promotional as well as variances in the company Ventoux always result in failure and a bills for cancelled events at York Hall . they choose to keep, the types of tiresome doubling-back to rejoin his . ." There is practical advice, such as terrain they favour, and so on. companions on the harder but Nicholas Luard's brief seminar on Walking itself is a simple business, ultimately inevitable proper route. footcare, as well as Arnold Haultain's but the philosophies that lie behind Nicholas Crane contemplates the testimony on the restorative effects of this universal activity are varied and ideal number of spare socks to be tea. There are short stories, most complex. taken on a journey (he has been notably Ray Bradbury's The advised that only one extra sock is Pedestrian and Richard Middleton's Reproducing extracts from writings by necessary, as long as the "principle of strange and unnerving The Brighton sages, poets, novelists and writers of crop rotation" is implemented, the Road. There is a meditation on every complexion, The Vintage Book spare sock taking the role of the field solitude by William Hazlitt which may of Walking offers a loose overview of left fallow) whilst Samuel Taylor be contrasted with Petrarch's the differing motivations, methods and Coleridge, seldom inclined to keep his investigation into the proper sort of significances of putting one foot in mishaps to himself, describes companion for a journey of any length front of the other. Split into eleven accidentally setting fire to his shoes . . . I could, of course, go on. The chapters, beginning with the whilst "drying them at the boatman's Vintage Book of Walking is not only a fundamental Why Walk and hovel on Loch Katrine". In this same delightful book for the keen walker but concluding with the inevitable Final letter, Coleridge encapsulates a could, perhaps, compel the nonSteps, no path is left untrodden or contentment familiar to many walkers walker to don their boots and get scree slope scrambled up. who are enduring a physically rough moving. At the very least, it will trek; walking barefoot, he has hurt his explain to those who are baffled by The reader is likely to encounter heel and, "Likewise my left leg is a the desire of some of us to trudge instances of recognition as well as little inflamed, and the rheumatism in through bogs, or hunch across hailenlightenment. When Jean Jacques the right of my head afflicts my right stricken moorland, or splash through Rousseau declares that, "There is eye, ear, cheek, and the three teeth â&#x20AC;&#x201C; drenched valleys, why we do what we something about walking which but, nevertheless," he concludes, "I do. stimulates and enlivens my thoughts. am enjoying myself." When I stay in one place I can hardly The Vintage Book of Walking is think at all; my body has to be on the There is much to enjoy in The Vintage available as a Kindle download. move to set my mind going," there will Book of Walking. Firsthand accounts be many who perceive a similarity of natural landscapes, some fabulous between themselves and the French and intimidating, as in Shackleton's IG



REVIEWS MEDIA The Boy Who Biked the World by Alastair Humphreys

The narrative is interspersed with sections from Tom’s Journal, which really break up the prose and add an Published by Eye Books extra layer of interest. I feel 113 pages + Your Journal Humphrey’s is also nudging £5.99 his young readers to go for it, to take on adventures, to This is a children’s book, and keep journals – to lead a positive, exciting, wonderful being a big fan of C. S. life. This, I feel, as an Lewis, Tolkien, Roald Dahl author’s real motivation, is to and Michael Morpurgo, I realise Alastair Humphrey’s is be highly commended. up against some very stiff competition. Now, this is a very different creature to the The book is also educational for all sorts of reasons, be it other book reviewed here – There Are Other Rivers – for for Geography, MFL (modern it is children’s fiction, through foreign languages, for those not paying attention), food and though, although I feel nutrition, keeping fit, the joy intrinsically based on of multi-cultural exploration, Humphrey’s real-world survival in the desert.... and adventures during his many the further you get into the travels. book, so the real joy of Humphrey’s subject matter is truly conveyed to the reader. We begin with Tom, a This is not written by some schoolboy who’s being bedroom typist; the author bullied because he has the dream of travelling round the has been to these places, and seen them with tear-filled world. Being mocked on his child’s eyes. Humphrey’s is mode of transportation, he writing not for money or fame; decide to bike – and but because he is on a subsequently sets off on his mission. A mission to bike, waving goodbye to his invigorate the youth of the mom and dad who happily world with the things he has wave him off. This is great. seen, the experiences he has The stuff of adventures and the stuff Enid Blyton is made enjoyed. of (and, incidentally, The Boy Who Biked the something I lapped up as a child; we all need to dream of World is a fabulous read, a adventures, right? – if you’re real joy, a real gem. And just never given this opportunity, for the record (and after peeking at the score), I then so easy is it to slip into approached Humphrey’s to apathy and a future of write for UAM after being watching endless video enthralled by his writing – nasties whilst wasting your and adventures. I like Bear life on “benefits”). Grylss; I am entertained by 92

Bear Grylls; but if Bear is part of the media circus, then Alastair Humphrey’s – well, l think he’s the real thing. ** Note: I have been very selfish. I have kept this book to myself. Now, I will give it to my 9 year old boy, and his review will appear in UAM Issue 3. Yes, I enjoyed this as an adult who craves adventure – I wonder what he’ll make of it (being part of the PS3 generation)? *** Extra Note: Although I recently took Joe up Jacob’s Ladder in the Peak District, which was a climb in torrential rain. He struggled. Really struggled. And on the way down I looked at him, suffering, red in the face, apparently in agony, and tentatively asked: “Have you enjoyed your day?” – I expected a barrage of moaning and whining. Instead, with eyes shining, he said, “It was awesome”.


REVIEWS MEDIA Wonders of the Universe by Professor Brian Cox & Andrew Cohen Published by HarperCollins 256 pages £20.00 My old Physics teacher was called Mr Knox. We loved him. We loved it that he smoked 80 a day, drank whiskey in the Physics lab at lunch time, had a missing tooth - and, er, pulled the fittest teacher in the school. It just wasn’t right, but Old Knoxy made Physics interesting and sexy. Now, I very much enjoyed the BBC TV series Wonders of the Universe. And second, I like Brian Cox – Coxy – he’s got charisma, he knows his subject (or to me, a layman physicist with O level, Grade C, appears to know his subject – which is one and the same thing), and just comes across as a really nice bloke. He’s also the exkeyboard player for D:Ream, you know, the band who sang Things, Can Only Get Better. So. A really crap exmusician. But I suppose it paid the bills at the time.

the huge BOLD name on the cover. Come on COX! STOP CASHING IN!! Stop abusing COHEN! It’s a cheat, a scam, and you’ll be telling me Andy McNab writes all his own novels next!! However.

What we have here is a fascinating insight into, ahem, the wonders of the I was looking forward to this universe. Coxy might be book (which was a Christmas more glamorous than old Knoxy, but their end was the present), until I saw the same – to explain things like immortal legend: what the stars are made of, time travel, the speed of light, Professor BRIAN COX the life cycle of stars, gravity, & ANDREW COHEN Einstein, the life cycle of the And you think, oh God, get to Universe and what happens when the Sun dies. ****, another ghost-written cash-in not really written by


It’s very well written (it should be, there was two of ’em doing it), with fascinating photography throughout, and for me just brought the whole arena of physics and space alive. Like being a little boy once again. When I take the Collie for her nightly walk, I gaze up at the stars again. Wow. I’ve even thought about buying a telescope. Hell, I’ve considered turning my attic into an observatory. Knoxy would be proud. And for me, that’s the real wonder.


REVIEWS MEDIA In 1884 British botanist Everard im Thurn made the first ascent of Roraima, and his lectures inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his early SF novel, The Lost World. A fan of Conan Doyle and his scribbling, Blessed I got this book signed by here describes his childhood Brian himself at the SFX fascination with The Lost Weekender in Prestatyn, World and how this inspired where he made several appearances. His signature a lifetime of adventure... is HUGE, just like the MAN until he finally set out on an expedition to climb Roraima HIMSELF – not tall, or fat, but HUGE in vivacity, HUGE himself! in fun, HUGE in his passion for LIFE and ADVENTURE. Blessed’s writing is a true joy to read. Not only is he “GO FOR IT!” he enthuses in his inscription, and I did, I beautifully fluent, poetically lyrical and economically do, and I intend to. J accurate, his writing brings I have always been a fan of across his out-and-out passion for his subject Blessed, ever since the matter. Rarely have I read Flash Gordon and an account written with such Blackadder days, and only recently discovered that he obvious joy. Yes, most was much, much more than writers who achieve publication can write; but a beardy weardie actor Blessed’s Quest For The treading the boards and Lost World is bursting at the applying liberal splashings of foundation and face paint. seams with utter and total vim, vigour and vivacity. Oh yes, Brian indeed has the heart of an adventurer – And I love it that he’s the eternal gentleman: “The indeed a Lion! - as ably insect swarms were frightful. displayed here in his own The mosquitoes seemed to Quest for the Lost World. have proboscises long and In the extreme south-east of tough enough to pierce bell metal. My bare forearms Venezuela at the junction between Brazil and Guyana quickly became a bloody lies a 9000ft mountain called mess, but it was the ladies Roraima. It has a completely who suffered the most, Marianne in particular.” And flat summit and incredible vertical walls, soaring above the fact that he is so downto-Earth it hurts: “After a few the savannah and tropical forests like an impregnable minutes I was sweating like a pig.” How many Hollywood fortress. Roraima is over 2 billion years old, dating back stars would present to before the most primitive themselves thus? lifeforms existed in the oceans. Quest For The Lost World by Brian Blessed Published by Boxtree 164 pages (plus numerous fabulous colour plates) £16.99

Overall, Blessed’s adventure story is a riveting read which a) inspires one to travel to Roraima on an expedition to unlock its secrets; and b) makes you want to research this subject and place even more. “Using ropes, two-way radios, and frogman’s outfits, we might be able to penetrate deeper and unlock some of its secrets. Who knows what we may discover? It is rumoured that there are vast caverns of diamonds to be found in the Labyrinth. The Pemon Indians would not set foot in it for love nor money. They gave no reason for this, they just shook their heads. Perhaps they fear they will be haunted by Corupuri, the Spirit of the Woods...” Book me a ticket. Now, I want to climb Roraima and explore The Labyrinth. I would sincerely love to GO FOR IT!



REVIEWS MEDIA Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls Published by Transworld/Channel4 Books 410 pages £18.99 And so the blurb reads: “Bear Grylls is a man who has always sought the ultimate in adventure.” A good start indeed, for it would seem both he and I seek ultimate adventure; only for me, without eating so many bugs. “Growing up on the Isle of Wight, he was taught by his father to sail and climb at an early age. Inevitably, it wasn't long before Bear was leading out-of-bounds night-climbing missions at school. As a teenager, he found identity and purpose through both mountaineering and martial arts, which led the young adventurer to the foothills of the mighty Himalaya and a grandmaster's karate training camp in Japan. On returning home, he embarked upon the notoriously gruelling selection course for the British Special Forces to join 21 SAS - a journey that was to push him to the very limits of physical and mental endurance. Then, in a horrific freefall parachuting accident in Africa, Bear broke his back in three places. It was touch and go whether he would ever walk again. However, only eighteen months later and defying doctors' expectations, Bear became one of the youngest ever climbers to scale Everest, aged only twenty-three. But this was just the beginning of his many extraordinary adventures...”

claim comes from a “contractual dispute” but we all know, in all probability, is a row about money, leaves his future shows hanging by a thread. I’m sure he’ll bounce back though, as his charisma and enthusiasm for adventure do shine through. And this can be seen in Mud, Sweat and Tears.

Bear takes us on a journey through his childhood and a potted family history, from Great-grandpa Walter who was in an early Special Forces organisation formed by Winston Churchill, to Bear’s early childhood holidays on the Northern Irish Coast. Bear was schooled in London, and this he does not like; from the outset you realise that the great outdoors and adventure are in Bear’s blood. Yes, he is now a TV celebrity which, to some people, somehow degrades his position as explorer or adventurer. I think Bear lives and breathes the outdoor life, and his shows reflect that. I think his natural enthusiasm shines through. I also love it that Bear is Chief Scout, and feels strongly about young people getting involved in adventure due to, one of my own bugbears, the good old Health and Safety Executive: “There’s so much unnecessary red tape now preventing children from getting the most from life,” said Grylls in a speech at the Royal Geographical Society. “What I want to do with the Scouts is remove this. Excessive health and safety should be scrapped... If you mollycoddle kids, you disempower them. And I So, there you go. Don’t need to read think you empower them if you teach the book now... unless, of course, kids responsibility and how to you require an insight into the close manage risks. I want them to be personal life of the man himself. involved in loads of dangerous things the whole time - I have that in I’ll be honest. I like Bear Grylls. I my life and I’ve learned how to do it know he’s had a bad time in the safely. Kids love it when I tell them press (in 2008, he was “abandoned we’re going to do something superin the wilderness” but actually stayed dangerous. Fear is healthy - modern in a motel – or so claims a life and health and safety rules strip programme consultant/ which did his children of this.” credibility as Man vs Wild and Born Survivor a little bit of harm; after all, It’s funny, because Bear trained for it’s pretty easy to vs Wild from the the SAS(R), and yet I get the feeling comfort of a motel bed), and his some people look down on the (R) recent “sacking” by the Discovery bit, as if Bear hasn’t really done it. Channel (14 March 2012) which they Like he’s toy SAS. Plastic SAS. But 95

here Bear gives us an insight into his training, and the incredibly difficult hoops he had to jump through; and it has to be said, Bear is one tough cookie. But then, the SAS don’t mess about. I reckon I’d be binned on the first day, heh!! Bear takes us through parachuting accident, his ascent of Everest, (great read!) and then the greatest challenge of all – marriage!! [joke]. Overall then, Bear’s book is very well written, easy to read, fluent, engaging, charismatic, honest, interesting, and an insight into what makes this adventurer/ TV celebrity tick (and tock). If you don’t like Bear Grylls, then this book might well change your mind. And if you are a fan (as am I), then it’s simply a great read that helps you understand how he got where he is, and what drives him. One last piece of advice. Never accept an invite to Bear’s for dinner, because you might get a shock what he serves up!! (I have a rule in life; I never eat anything with more limbs than me). Oh yes, and THANK

YOU to Bear for a tweet which my my 6 year old’s birthday that little bit special!!



UNM - Lyle Brotherton

Ultimate Navigation Manual By Lyle Brotherton Collins 368 pages £14.99

term MVAR. Ever. It is not contained in any of the issue manuals. I googled it and eventually found one very obscure reference to the If you are going to write a book phrase. The British Army uses the term GMA, Grid Magnetic called The Ultimate Navigation Manual you have Angle, which is the angle of declination between magnetic to expect it to come under north and the grid. some close scrutiny. This One completely wrong fact is book, by Mountain Rescue that “gates are not marked on team member Lyle F OS Landranger or Explorer Brotherton aims to cover maps”. Gates may be marked every aspect of land navigation, gathering existing on OS Landranger maps, although not all are, and you common training with best will find the symbol on the map practice from various military legend. As I say not serious and SAR teams across the mistakes, just enough to keep world. I first learned of the book on an outdoors website, pedants like myself busy for a while! where its merits and shortcomings were being There are some minor discussed. My interest was inconsistencies, such as the sparked, and I sent off for a copy. Mr Brotherton obviously use of bold grey type within paragraphs, which are meant knows his stuff, but there is to refer you to the index. Some the odd part which is either confusing or wrong. Not wrong have the page number listed next to them, others don’t, and in a “Trails magazines’s infamous route off Ben Nevis” in at least one case the point referred to isn’t indexed. wrong. More minor continuity These are more proof reading errors than anything. or publishing errors, and are Occasionally there are niggles which in time will be paragraphs which contradict picked up and corrected. Don’t something already stated elsewhere in the manual, such however let these moans put you off; this is after all the first as the contour interval on edition. I’m overwhelmingly 1:25,000 OS maps as being confident there will be a 10m, then in another section second and a third edition, 5m (in fact it is mainly 10m, because once tidied up this and 5m in areas where there will be the bible of land is so little difference in height navigation. Since I first that 10m contours would not reviewed the book the author provide enough detail). On has taken all criticisms square page 66 in the expert facts on the chin and has gone section, it states that through it with a fine tooth declination is known in the comb, producing pages of military as Grid Magnetic corrections of detail, be it Angle (MVAR). I was a map factual errors or simple typos. reading instructor with the army and had never heard the 96

From the basics of what is a map, to datums, compasses and bearings, ancillary equipment to satellite navigation systems and computer mapping, I can think of very little which is not covered. There are some very good sections on specialist navigation techniques, and while I would perhaps argue with their order of preference (I would rank night navigation first, over all others, but that’s just my opinion) you can’t say that there are any glaring omissions. It’s also very welcoming that Mr Brotherton seriously recommends the use of satellite navigation. Many people who ask for advice on which unit to buy are often sneeringly told to learn to use a map and compass instead. That’s not the case here, with almost everything (and I say almost only to cover myself) covered, right down to which type of batteries should be used. For many years I have been advocating Geocaching to anyone wishing to get to become proficient with satellite navigation units, and it’s good to see it rates a mention here, as it is undoubtedly an aid to learning.

REVIEWS MEDIA The author is obviously aiming this at an international market, and the occasional references to azimuths show that, a term more familiar on the American side of the Atlantic. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing surprising when you look at his track record, having taught search and rescue techniques in over 24 different countries! There is, what appears to me to be a degree of product placement in the book, with repeated plugs for a particular brand of compass and a particular brand of rather expensive binocular most apparent. Likewise it is the highly praised compasses one deficiency which has probably led to the development of Mr Brothertons take on the romer, which he sells from the website which is associated with the book. The book is designed in part to be used with the website. The website is still developing and new content is continually being added. From here, amongst other 97

things, you can download a programme of activities which you can use in conjunction with the book as a guide for beginners, as well as the list of amendments to the first edition. Video content is used to explain some of the techniques in the book, and you can use the forum to contact the author. There is nothing earth shattering in the book. Almost everything is available elsewhere, spread across a variety of titles. What the writer has done is bring all these techniques together in one volume, and explained them with clear and easy to understand diagrams and pictures. Whether you are a complete beginner, an occasional dabbler or an old hand this book has something to offer you. If it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t, your name is probably Lyle F Brotherton.


UNM Mountain Rescue Team

REVIEWS SPORT FUEL (or chocolate bar, if you will) for me is the fact that I’ve heard various hardcore mountain adventurers cite the fact that their survival kit This is a chocolate bar, but is made up of ten Snickers whereas a lot of other bars, to be consumed in the chocolate bars have toffee event of accident/ broken and caramel and other leg/ twisted ankle/ broken lesser sports fuels, a Snickers is indeed the fuel of coccyx. any self-respecting Pros: Nice and tasty, chewy, adventurer. After all, it contains peanuts, and as we crunchy, compact, melts and re-hardens without too much all know, gram per gram, peanuts contain perhaps the visible scarring, good thick highest number of calories of chocolate covering, peanuts. any foodstuff. I am of course Cons: Disturbing vein using generalisations here, because a) I’m a bit too lazy patterns on chocolate to research proper facts and surface, a no-no figures and skewed statistics; and b) Wikipedia as an academic and truthful resource is to be hugely mistrusted. The proof of the pudding Snickers Mars, Incorporated £0.60p (about)


if you hate peanuts, gives you a raging thirst, peanuts (which, my mate says, makes my breath stink like the bumhole of the Devil’s Stallion from a hundred metres). So, perhaps an acquired taste, but without shadow of doubt a necessary part of any adventurer’s survival pack.


REVIEWS ANIMAL Striding. Up Swirral we went, and On Ben Vorlich I had to lower her down Fizz bounded ahead, nimble as a a rocky cube on a length of rope mountain goat (but much prettier). attached to her harness. And in the You could see her sharp intelligence Wicklow Mountains she fell down a plotting routes, hitting dead ends in peat well, about ten feet deep, and I the steep rocks, and quickly had to haul her out – again by rope and On climbs and walks and bike rides, rerouting. Never once did she fall harness. Eeee. Happy days. one can take a variety of behind, and indeed was always a companions. Big hairy friends. good fifty metres ahead at most And soSpritely bald friends. Nimble little points. Anyway, reaching the Pros: A faithful friend, something to buggers who make you stumble summit in extremely snowy/windy nudge you onto a walk/climb when along feeling like you have two left conditions, we made a bee-line for maybe you’re not in the mood, a feet. Big chunky comrades who huff the summit protection – a stone-built defender of your ankles, happy face, and puff in your wake, making you shelter in the shape of a +, so that good at defending your property, easily feel like a superhero. But surely, the no matter which direction the wind pleased, will defend you with her life, best friend you could ever take is a screams at you, you can always intelligent, good at planning routes dog? manoeuvre into a comfortable (although not at compass reading). position. In one quarter of the Some people hate dogs, they think segment was a man talking Cons: Taxes your food, bad dog they are dirty, smelly, with canine animatedly to his partner, and breath, can chase sheep when young breath like a rotting zombie corpse, waving his lunch (a sandwich) from and feisty (not guaranteed to make ticks and fleas and bugs, a one hand. Fizz, being an farmers happy), can catch flea ticks penchant for washing their own opportunist poodle, sidled over and which grow as horrible lumps and then testicles with their tongues (the had the sandwich from the man’s drop off behind the sofa, sometimes male ones, obviously) followed by gloved fingers in one swift swipe of washing own genitalia with tongue and licking you straight on the lips, and a her jaws. Laugh? I could hardly then licking your face. permanent need to tax you worse stand, and had to apologise to the than any Tory government (hah, bloke for this mischievous example I am quite happy with my dog, and yeah right). of sandwich theft. would recommend a dog to other walkers/climbers. An uncomplaining I, on the other hand, am a firm Anyway, Fizz has indeed shared comrade with which to share believer in dogs being Good. Not many adventures. She’s seen off a adventures. good, but Good. You can give one a pack of rabid Labradors by biting raw onion to eat (a cheap and nasty the lead mutt on the testicles. She’s trick, I agree) and it will still come up tried her damndest to drag me off wagging and snuffling and craving AR Striding Edge in the snow. attention and cuddles.

Dog Faithful Climbing Friend Breed: Collie Intelligence: V. Good


The dog I’m reviewing today is my dog, a long-haired Collie bitch called Fizz. Yes, I know the name is embarrassing and reminiscent of some z-grade bad actress from Emmerdale, but my wife (foolishly, and whilst I was away climbing) allowed my children to pick the dog’s name – apparently unaware (or uncaring) that it would be me out in the wilderness shouting “Fizz! Sit, Fizz! Here Fizz! Get off that man’s sandwich Fizz!” and sounding like a proper twonk. Ahh, the sandwich. It was Fizz’s first climb up Helvellyn. I remember at the time being extremely worried that she’d struggle, and hence went up Swirral Edge as opposed to my more favourite sojourn, over


s d i k

archy Book n/Feb12 An Issue #1 Ja





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!! 100

REVIEWS KIDS ADVENTURE The Kinema in the Woods Woodhall Spa Lincolnshire

screen. At this time The Kinema is believed to be the only full time cinema in the UK still using this type of rear projection.

The Kinema in Woodhall Spa dates back to the 19th Century when it began life as a sports and entertainment pavilion. However it was in 1922 when Sir Archibald and Lady Weigall purchased the pavilion and the Victoria Hotel that it began its new life as a cinema. It first opened its doors on 11th September 1922 showing a Charlie Chaplin film.

Up until 1953 the first 6 rows of screen one were deck chairs, however these have now been replaced with more comfortable cinema seats. In 1987 James Green installed a Compton Kinestra organ in The Kinema. This is a red and gold lacquered organ with an eighteenth century oriental design.

Visiting The Kinema is an experience in itself, regardless of the film. The Kinema still has an intermission half way through the film and if you are lucky the organist appears out of the stage playing throughout the intermission. To add to the experience the lights remain dimmed and a dance ball and lights rotate around the room providing an experience that really makes you feel like you are back in the There are two cinema screens, Kinema one 19th Century. The traditional ice creams served and Kinema two. The second being tiny in during the intermission are lovely. Children comparison to most cinema screens. The experience is almost like sitting in a large living love it, adults love it. I would certainly room rather than a multiplex cinema, like most recommend it as a place you cannot miss if you are visiting Woodhall Spa. of us are used to frequenting.

Nowadays The Kinema is a cinema visit with a difference. Unlike the large cinema complexes The Kinema retains all the charm of the olde world cinema. On arrival there are twinkling lights outside and in the foyer it takes you back to days gone by with memorabilia galore.

In screen one the films are projected from behind the screen onto a mirror to flip the image which is then shown to the back of the

90/100 for sheer olde world charm and a unique experience for the young and old alike.



REVIEWS KIDS ADVENTURE Fun Farm North Hykham Lincoln For anybody with children the Fun Farm is a must for a rainy day out or for letting your little ones run around and burn off all that excess energy. The Fun Farm is an indoor three story soft play maze of fun and adventure for your little ones. There are Fun Farms currently in Lincoln, Spalding and Grantham and my opinion is this chain is likely to spread further.

The two lane mini bowling alley is just another option for children to engage in play and at a cost of £1 a player it wont break the bank either. If your kiddies don’t like bowling then maybe the electric quad bikes would entertain them.

The Fun Farm seems to be ever expanding and Friday night is now Roller Disco night with sessions for families and beginners from 6.30pm to 8.30pm and teens and intermediates directly afterwards at the cost of £5 per session. Once indoors you pay only for your child. Peak For my boys the Fun Farm is definitely a good place to visit on a rainy day. As a parent you prices can be up to £5.99 per entry, however can sit with a coffee and let them enjoy the fun. this is for endless fun for as long as you wish to stay and not limited to a 2 hour visit like My youngest had his 6th birthday party at The many other soft play centres. Fun Farm in Lincoln and 10 little ones had a ball playing laser tag and running around the In the Lincoln Fun Farm they have a dedicated soft play area. area for the under 4’s, so you can relax in peace that larger children are not charging The food is not too badly priced so you could around your younger ones. stay all day and feed the family if you wanted to do so. For the older children they have a rocket, zoom slides, climbing wall and football area. In My main criticism is that the Fun farm gets very addition to the soft play there is a laser tag busy. Go early to avoid the crowds. It’s also room where you and your little ones can run worth checking the local newspaper for special around with guns to see which team can zap offers like two for the price of one. up the most points. However this does incur an RATING 79 additional charge to the entry fee.




HERE WE GO WITH DERMOTT & JERRY JERRY ZMUDA Ever since I can remember I've been obsessed with talking animals. That's why I loved cartoons. I would try and teach Ruben, the family Labrador, to talk. I’d say to him - “Come on Ruben - if you learn to talk we can go and have adventures like Scooby Doo.” But Ruben just stared back, panting. Never said a word. DERMOTT COLLINS Basil Brush was ace. Morning, noon and night there's me trying to make my laugh sound exactly like him, 'coz I wanted to be Basil Brush. PETER WYATT I was never one for staying in and watching cartoons. I was an outdoor kid. Football. I was always playing football. Until I cracked my wrist practising my overhead kicks. But once it mended I was straight outside again, playing football. JERRY ZMUDA I was eight when I noticed Dermott for the first time. We were in Mrs. Dalrymple's art class and a kid had opened a cupboard door. An avalanche of Janet and John books slid out. The books were called Here We Go, and on the cover was a picture of Janet and John sitting on an inflatable horse waving. Quick as a flash, Dermott says – “They're falling out saying Here We Go.” And he mimicked the wave. For some reason I found this achingly funny, and Mrs. Dalrymple could not stop me from


laughing. From then onwards I just knew I had to hang around this kid Dermott. DERMOTT COLLINS Jerry laughed at all my jokes. All of them. Even the **** ones. So it was - “Yeah OK, you can be my friend.” PETER WYATT I never knew Dermott and Jerry in them days, they were in cosy old Sunbury on Thames and I was on the other side of the big smoke in Rayleigh, Essex. It amazes me how Dermott and Jerry can go on about their primary school days in so much detail. I hardly remember anything, it was such a horrible time. But something always sticks out Dad taking me to Upton Park to see West Ham, and Dad pretending he personally knew all the players as they ran past. I mean, I may have been eight but I wasn't ******* stupid. I remember him telling me how one day we were going to live in a big mansion, with servants and a Rolls Royce. “We are going to be joining the jet set!” I wanted to believe him, and I really did for a while.

MR. HEYWARD (primary school teacher) The joy of seeing children discover the world, to see their faces light up with wonder - it's one of life's great marvels. The learning curve is much quicker, much steeper in their younger years. They start off the term barely able to read, and within months they're reading fluently understanding new words. That's why I became

FICTION SHORT STORY DERMOTT COLLINS DERMOTT COLLINS I was well into me crank phone calls. Oh! Yus ******* loved primary school. Totally ******* loved My Dear! The golden days before 1471. it. Up to that school gate, strutting past Mr. Trent Remember going round Jerry's - his old dear with his megaphone giving me the eye 'cos he doing the weeding in the garden. Got hold of the knows I'm trouble. Seeing all them kids running telephone directory - searching for my next around in the playground. Would think to myself victim. - It's Show Time! - and off I went. JERRY ZMUDA Springfield School was in London's leafy suburbia, a place called Sunbury on Thames - a pleasant place to be given your introduction to the world. I was the sort of kid who liked to sit next to the window, day-dreaming. I would stare over at the rail-track at the end of the field, then up at the planes in the sky. I remember thinking to myself - this is my starting point in life - I can go anywhere I want in the world - but this will always be home. DERMOTT COLLINS When I was a kid me head was crammed full of stuff like outer space, Basil Brush and explosions. Teachers would try and steer me into thinking about boring things. Guess that's what education is supposed to be about. But I was having none of it. JERRY ZMUDA My only worry was that hole forming in the elbow of my school jumper, getting bigger each day. And the more I played with it, the worse it got. It was only a matter of time before my Mother would notice. That was my world. But that was all about to change. NATALIE ZMUDA (Jerry’s Mother) It was soon after Jerry started talking about his new friend Dermott that his accent started worsening. Jerry used to speak so nicely, but now he was sounding quite common.

JERRY ZMUDA He was flicking through the book, until his finger rested on one name. He was trembling with excitement as he showed me it. Norman Ladyman. He began dialling as my Mother continued weeding in the garden. Dermott puts on his serious adult voice - “Hullo Can I speak to Norman Ladyman please?” The man came to the phone. “Ha! He's called Ladyman. He's a lady and a man.” And he hung up - I was creased with laughter. That's when Mother came in. NATALIE ZMUDA Making abusive phone calls is one thing, but to use my phone to do it was quite another. I said to this Dermott - boy - “What would your father say if he knew what you are doing?” He replied “He’d say - well done son, good one.” He was remorseless. JERRY ZMUDA So with Dermott we created our own little world of silly voices and catchphrases. We had the Rudies Department, enforced by Wolfdog Willy who came down like a tonne of bricks on anybody swearing or doing anything rude. But his punishments were always far ruder than the initial offence. But my favourite was the cartoons we drew of Ruben the Rubbish Dog. He'd try to save a man down a mine-shaft, like Lassie, but he'd mess it up and cause an almighty avalanche that wiped out an entire village. DERMOTT-TITUS

IT’S MONKEY TIME JERRY ZMUDA “It's Monkey Time!” that was Dermott’s cue to go crazy. He'd throw his head back and make a loud hooting laugh, then dance like a demented monkey. I was compelled to join in. With Dermott around, life instantly stepped up a gear. Sleepy Sunbury on Thames went into amazing Technicolor. If Dermott wasn't playing a joke on someone, he was hatching some crazy plan. My favourite was to hide inside Hambleys toy store just before closing time. Then come out when everyone's gone, so we'd have the whole store and the toys to ourselves and all night to play with them. What a brilliant plan - count me in. 104

MR. HEYWARD I was on break duty one morning when little Tommy Higgins dashes up to me from the playing field. “Sir! Sir! Come quickly! Jerry Zmuda's been attacked by giant insects.” I immediately knew this had to be a wind up, but I looked at this kid and he was genuinely terrified. So I sprinted up there and, sure enough Dermott Collins had tricked him with some rubber toy insects. I laughed it off, but it was a sign of things to come. The Chinese have the water torture - we've got Dermott Collins. DERMOTT COLLINS Always liked Mr. Heyward. A real good bleeding sport. When we heard he was going to be our form teacher we were well pleased.

FICTION SHORT STORY MR. HEYWARD Towards the end of term, Mrs Dalrymple collared me in the staff room with a big grin. “You're going to have your work cut out for you next term - you've got Dermott Collins in your form.” I was saying “Dermott may be a horror - but he's still nothing but a kid.” I thought I could handle him.

daft gag he'd lifted off the Two Ronnies or Benny Hill, and Mum would just look away.

JERRY ZMUDA Silence reigned in the Zmuda household, most of the time myself, Magdalena my sister, Mum and Dad would sit in the dark just watching TV. I'd never known anything else, so I didn't think much of it. Ruben the dog got JERRY ZMUDA all the attention, and the only demonstrations I was walking past the staff room one of warmth and affection in the house were morning when I overheard Mrs. Dalrymple say directed at him. to Mr. Heyward - “Have you got a Dermatitis crisis already?” FRANK COLLINS (Dermott’s Father) I told Dermott about the teachers calling him Any friend of Dermott’s was welcome round Dermatitis, and he was thrilled. Thrilled to be our house - and Jerry seemed a nice lad. nicknamed after an especially irritating skin disease. JERRY ZMUDA Dermott's home life was the polar opposite of DERMOTT COLLINS mine - a 24 hour teeming hive of activity. He Kushti! From then on my nickname was 'Titus. lived with his Dad, Frank, and his two older I get under yer skin. brothers. There was a procession of Aunties doing the washing, preparing meals and his brothers were real faces about town, so all their mates would come over and just hang out. Then they'd be the various girlfriends. MICHELLE BAXTER I would sit in the living room and just watch the world come in and out - it was better than JERRY ZMUDA television. But someone was conspicuous by Mr. Heyward kept on accusing me of being her absence - there was no Mother in the distracted by Dermott, but in my last year at house. Naturally I asked Dermott about this, Springfield my centre of attention had shifted. but he just changed the subject. A vision of wonder named Michelle Baxter luscious lips, full ruddy cheeks that weighed DERMOTT COLLINS down to reveal her chipmunk buckteeth. BUT I'd often go to Jerry – “let's get round yours. I SHE'S A GIRL. I was terrified to even make need some bleedin' peace and quiet.” eye contact, and I barely ever said a word to her. Did she ever notice me? PETER WYATT MICHELLE BAXTER Those two were pathetic, completely childish. I mean I know we were all kids but they were beneath childish. There was us, trying to learn and that Dermott and his laughing hyena sidekick always trying to be funny. It got so boring. There’s Dermott thinking he’s clever because he’s discovered this new rude word . Why couldn’t my parents have sent me to St. Ignatius? That was an all-girls school.

A TALE OF TWO HOME-LIVES PETER WYATT (over in Rayleigh) I was always wanting to play outside. There was something indoors that didn't feel right. Mum and Dad didn't row a lot - but I could sense that Mum was drifting away from Dad. Dad would try and cheer her up with some


At our home in Rayleigh, pride of place over the fireplace was a faded yellow cutting from the local paper in a golden frame. It had a picture of my old man with an ear to ear grin holding up a row of banknotes. The headline was ‘ALL WYATT FOR A FEW QUID.’ He bet fifty quid that Hursty would score a hattrick against the Krauts in ‘66, and he earned himself two and a half grand, which I'm told in them days was a fair amount of lucre. But that taste of smalltime celebrity for Dad was his undoing. He thought he had the Midas touch, and Mum tells me his gambling got much worse from that moment on. JERRY ZMUDA Eventually I asked Dermott face on where his mother was, this time demanding an answer, and he said she'd gone away. I felt really


FICTION SHORT STORY sorry for him. I know that his grandmother and aunt were round a lot to look after him. But it's not the same as having a full-time mother doting over you.

JERRY ZMUDA I watched the game with a sense of defeat, as Brian Clough was going on about what a bunch of amateurs and clowns the Poles were. Then DERMOTT COLLINS the game started, and guess what? We were The good thing about having two older brothers playing rather well. Our star was the is that they'd tell you all the jokes, so at school goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, they should you're one step ahead of all the other kids. The build a statue for that man, if they haven't flip side is that they were always clipping you already. and telling you to shut it. That's why I liked I'll never forget my sense of outrage when our school so much - so I could get away from forward, the nippy Grzegorz Lato, was running them. clear on goal and Roy McFarland pulled him back. The commentator said something like POLSKA! POLSKA! “He had to do that or he would have scored.” I thought - talk about double standards, if a JERRY ZMUDA foreigner had done that, the English They used to call me The Commie. Based on commentator would have been baying for his the fact that I had a Polish name. I tried to blood. explain to them that my Polish grandfather was When Domarski scored for Poland, me and a pilot, fought the war with the RAF, and stayed Grandad were leaping around. The foreigners in Britain and raised his family here, precisely were beating the English, it was so to get away from the Communists. But kids INSPIRING. Poland eventually held England to don't listen. a draw and so knocked them out of the World Cup, it gave me a sense of pride. I went to DERMOTT COLLINS school the next day with my chest puffed out, I tried to help Jerry out. He hated his nickname ready for whatever beating they were going to The Commie. So I had a go at calling him dish out. Zoom from his surname being Zmuda. Never caught on. Still they called him the Commie DERMOTT COLLINS *******. Jerkski Zmuda what a bleeding turncoat. Poland knocks England out of the World Cup JERRY ZMUDA and now he's Mr. Polska. Do admire him for I was leaving school one afternoon and this kid this though - we walked into the playground I hardly knew jabbed his finger at me and says and Big Gary Abbott goes to him - “We won't “You Poles are going to get thrashed tonight!” I give you a kicking if you don't mention the panicked - what was he talking about? When I game.” Jerry nodded his head, went quiet for a got home and watched the TV it clicked. He bit and then he starts jumping and shouting meant the World Cup qualifier between “POLSKA! POLSKA!” Gary and the boys didn't England and Poland at Wembley. hold back from their pummelling but RESPECT! PETER WYATT I remember sitting down with me old man to JERRY ZMUDA watch England's World Cup qualifier against I asked my Dad to teach me Polish, but he Poland. We had to beat them to qualify. We waved me away and said - “Ah! What do you attacked, and attacked and attacked and we want to learn that for?” I went to My Grandad only came away with a draw. I was in tears, but who gave me a few words but that was it. my Dad he was even worse - the silly sod had put on the best part of a grand on Martin DERMOTT COLLINS Chivers getting a hat trick. Someone should Sometimes kids at school would call me Paddy have told him that saying about lighting never and say stuff about the IRA. I would just give strikes in the same place twice. 'em a whack and leave it at that. Didn't want to get involved in all that Ian Paisley and the IRA DERMOTT COLLINS stuff. Knew nothing about it and didn't want to. Me Dad's Irish, he had the accent, the silly But I didn't mind being The Paddie. The big jokes, the whole bit. My brothers were all born family event every week was the Dave Allen here in England, spoke with same English show. All the brothers would sit around and accent I did, but they all called themselves laugh all the way through. I thought he was ace Irish. When we were watching England play an' 'all, though being a kiddy wink I didn't Poland in '73 they were all celebrating when always get the joke. Raise a glass to Dave England didn't win. I was thinking - get a life will Allen makes, yer proud to be a Mick. you? This is our country now. 107

FICTION SHORT STORY THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO CAINE FROM KUNG FU JERRY ZMUDA The weekly school assembly - did you have them at your school? Each class would take turns to put on a little play with some moral to it or some story out of the bible. Our turn came. I get to go on stage and perform, my young heart was racing - I could be discovered and become a star. DERMOTT COLLINS Saw this clip from that film Jesus Christ Superstar where Jesus walks into a temple and goes mental and smashes it up - and he's singing while he's doing it. I thought let’s do that for our assembly - but give it a Kung Fu twist.

performance in front of the whole school Dermott goes into his Bruce Lee bit, kicking down the stall. JERRY ZMUDA So Dermott was dressed as Jesus, wearing a false beard and robe, and he was Kung Fu kicking down this market stall. I was supposed to be playing a taken aback market trader, but I was in stitches. DERMOTT COLLINS As I was on that stage, kicking down the stall I looked out into the audiences. Some kids were laughing, others goldfish-mouthed, some girls were even screaming. I loved being on stage. A lot of people used to say about me - “Yeah Titus he gives it all the north and south but he never delivers”. But I was A FACE after that performance. But Mr. Heyward was not happy.

JERRY ZMUDA It was from the Gospel according to John. Jesus visits the temple and is incensed when he sees MR. HEYWARD that the temple is being used as a market place. I got summonsed by the headmaster Mr. Petty, In his anger he tears the market down. and he lays into me. Blaming me for not controlling my class. I was so angry. I said to MR. HEYWARD him the only way to stop Dermott doing stuff like I was tricked. I watched the rehearsal for this is to ban him altogether from any school approval and it was so boring I have to say I performances. didn't notice anything wrong, but on the actual Young Punks is an oral history novel that takes you back to the scariest day of your life – your first day at secondary school, and secondary schools don’t come any scarier than Feltham Comprehensive, West London. Rough, tough and brutal - if you stole a peek at the graffiti in the bogs you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the bowels of hell. It really is a case of - we can laugh about it now but at the time it was terrible Young Punks is a universal timeless tale of adolescence, with our story kicking off in the mid seventies, and a sleeping Britain is about to be jolted awake by the punk rock explosion. But the three 11 year old protagonists of Young Punks are about to experience something even more seismic – puberty. We get spots and our voices break and whether you like it or everything has to change. Young Punks brings you the fun, the scrapes and the anarchy of adolescence, packed with heartbreak and anguish, sibling rivalry and parental conflict. Mixing it altogether to give you an authentic picture of what it was like to try and grow up in the seventies, and what happens after you leave school and get spat out into the big bad world. Full book £3.99 from + there is a new accompanying PUNK ALBUM by THE MICE! Check the website for details. 108



Bah humbug it’s…

The NHS! So, what is there to moan about today? The N.H.S., that long serving, some might say self serving, bastion of inefficiency, where you are charged for parking whilst visiting a terminally ill elderly relative, or released into the wild after spending 4 or 5 hours after midnight in A &E, constantly hoping against vain hope that the Triage Nurse, (who is now, you


ankle/kneecap/calf/thigh, has long since departed and you are left with a dull throbbing pain that only changes in its intensity when you try to move, to that well known stabbing variation, which the man now manipulating your leg is acutely unaware of. Eventually, you are bundled out of the door at 4.30 am with instructions to make an appointment at the desk with the Physiotherapy Gurus whom, you discover are unavailable to practise their dark arts upon anyone for the next six weeks; by which time you will have healed naturally. You look down at the roll of Tubigrip encasing the injured limb and muse upon the

“WHEN IS IT MY CHUFFING TURN?” What is it all about? You might well ask! I can remember having my hand stitched as a child. We were kept waiting for minutes, yes minutes, before a Junior doctor whipped a couple of stitches in, a nurse wrapped a bandage around it and another one whisked in to deliver a tetanus shot to my unsuspecting thigh. Bish, Bash, Bosh! I survived the experience and actually felt rather grateful for the care and attention; however brusque it may have seemed

“WHEN IS IT MY CHUFFING TURN?” notice, through an aperture in her door, eating an orange with her feet up), actually forwarded your case notes through to someone with medical experience. Finally and with great relief you are called upon to enter the inner sanctum for a re- examination/ explanation of your circumstances. Much I might add, to the dismay and envy of the other brave souls who, like yourself, are actually in need of medical intervention, only to be ushered into a side corridor with chairs which is, in effect, a secondary waiting room. The shock which masked the initial pain of your sprained and mangled 110

efficacy of the two Paracetamols you are holding and whether to take them now, or save them for later, when the pain is really excruciating…………. Sound familiar? Have you been N.H.S.’d recently? I can just see David Cameron nipping along to his local casualty department for a dose of what everyone else has to put up with. I can almost visualise his podgy little Eton visage screwed up in grim determination as, holding on to the hand of his loyal and protective wife, he stoically resists the temptation to cry out in rage and pain:

at the time. Can you imagine the field day that the current crop of ambulance chasing solicitors would had in those days? “Was he checked for Nut Allergy, or any other allergies that he might have had or could have developed in the near future?” “Did anyone think to use a local anaesthetic on this poor boys hand before barbarously inserting that cruel needle into an open wound causing an involuntary throwing back of the head, which resulted in Whiplash, as evidenced by the neck brace my client has been condemned to wear every time

Bah humbug it’s…

The NHS! he appears before medical assessors?” “Did anyone give any thought whatsoever as to the long– term psychological effects of this boy’s treatment, which have now been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress?” This is what is really hacking me off!! Big Style!!


together of two motor vehicles. I was actually quite fascinated by the concept of a man who defended himself, not to mention deserving third parties, against gunslingers of the wild-west in such an unorthodox fashion. Although I have to concede that such a weapon would have severe limitations at close quarters. I am firmly of the opinion that the British government should avail themselves of such a character, proficient in the art of whiplashery. (made up term) In fact they would not have to look far. A quick Google search unveiled a

process of claiming for this ridiculous injury: THE N.H.S. NECKBRACE!!!! With a couple of slight modifications such as a three months time lock to prevent immediate removal after exiting hospital premises, following a successful ‘diagnosis’. I would also like to see them equipped with small explosive charges, just enough for the complete removal of a scrote’s head, should he/she attempt removal before the allotted time span, in order to avoid clogging up the courts system,

The compensation culture and all the whinging, conniving, thieving, parasites that make everyone’s car insurance, and more importantly, mine and my family’s unrealistically high. The compensation culture and all the whinging, conniving, thieving, parasites that make everyone’s car insurance, and more importantly, mine and my family’s unrealistically high.

video with the delightful title: “Japanese New Year Whip Cracking,” amongst many others. I am certain that those proficient in this exotic art would love to test their skills on live targets and I would like to be the first to propose that Type the first five letters of the we provide them with some, word WHIPLASH into Google from amongst the ranks of the and you will get the following ne’er – do – wells that suggestions: INJURY, proliferate in this once great CLAIMS, SYMPTOMS, country. Let’s face it there is COMPENSATION. an endless line of cretins who desperately need whipping When I was a kid ‘Whiplash’ into shape. was a T.V. western series starring Peter Graves, about a Failing this I would like to man who could do the most propose an alternative wondrous things with a piece measure. Simple in concept it of rawhide that had been would also, by the simple fact fashioned into a bullwhip. that it is highly visible, Nowadays it is an obligatory highlight the number of injury caused by the coming chancers who are in the 111

and most importantly our overcrowded prisons. I am not suggesting that this would improve the N.H.S. in any great shape or form, there are too many vested interests out there looking to make us pay even more for a couple of Paracetamols and a length of Tubigrip, but there would have to be a measurable impact upon the number of neckbraces currently handed out in support of bogus insurance claims. Next time - Political Correctness!!! Don’t get me going on that one; I could write a book! In fact I think I might just do that.

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