Monday, 6 April 2009

London work, no rest, and lots of play, makes Jack a very tired boy!

It is very rare these days that an extended period of time is spent in the capital city. On this occasion I was lucky enough to enjoy 3 days and nights in the place.

When I first hit London having travelled the M4 scenic route (I love driving by the way), I really do feel great, and my half full pint of enthusiasm is certainly topped up with the additional extras like avoiding one way streets, finding a car park outside the congestion zone, and paying through the nose for it! Having managed to park, with map in hand, I head for the tube. “Oh the tube how I’ve missed you, no part of you is laudable, the atmosphere is so absorbable. When you go all shutty downy, I go all miserable and frowny. Love the Tube! Hate Pace!” Yes I love the tube as well.

The presentation and meeting that I was heading for was somewhere near Green Park, and fortunately the googled A to Z map took me straight to my destination. A few hours later, and I was ready to find out what it was like to work in the smoke. A good meeting is always followed by a good beer, and fortunately just round the corner was the recently owned Guy Ritchie establishment The Punch Bowl, where we sampled its offerings. The place was packed, and with the price of one beer around the cost of two chickens (which always gets me down), there was certainly no sign of the credit crunch.

Friday was less hectic. ASDAs free parking certainly eased my dehydrated mind, and I found time to do plenty of follow up work from the day before. My day passed by quite quickly and it was on to more research of Mayfair bars. This time it was The Only Running Footman as a start point. It was oddly not as busy as Thursday, but nonetheless just as pricey! You did get the feeling however that the clientele had been there a while, and had nearly all run out of steam and money. A couple of conversations with some interesting unknown characters about my name and what I do did amuse me somewhat, although not the most unique of topics I have found over the years.

Saturday was the big day. Our final Everest meeting. Our final Lords net session. Our final Team Tenzing meal. So much to do, and all day to do it in. The meeting like all meetings had its high and low points. The high was most certainly the revelation of Nokia as our expedition sponsor. Nets came and went, with many a beading forehead. The Tenzing meal had full attendance bar one who was otherwise occupied, puppeteering in the Fulham area I believe. Keen to bond, with our last real get together before the off, the beer flowed, and soon enough when the ice cream and coffee had finally been dispatched, it was off to a trusty Walkabout for a surfboard of shots, and some good old snake bite and black. The night went faster than any could realise, and with a glance at the clock reading half four which actually meant half five, it was felt that for the good of our now highly trained athletic machine like bodies, we should draw stumps and call it a night.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Oxford Ups and Downs, with a curry saving the day!

After some successful weekends of fitness and team bonding across the country, G Man and Mr Mullineux stepped up to the plate with a combo of fitness, cricket and more fitness on the 21st and 22nd of Feb.

With the weather blindingly good, all started well with a 10km run on Saturday afternoon. Pretty exciting as you can imagine!, but banter and comedy chat courtesy of our friends JB and Tooves kept spirits fairly high as the sweat poured from our swede. It was then off to cricket nets in Oxford, for a game of ‘breathless cricket’!

Breathless cricket? You ask. Well it involved a lot of running, and a lot of cricket all jumbled into one. The finer detail would probably bore most so I shall restrain myself from any ball by ball review. However it was a great physical and mental test, and as tempers started to fray due to the varied interpretations of the rule book, the team spirit was stretched.

Sunday was to be a breeze compared to all that had passed the previous day, and with G having organised a good long walk (30km) to warm down and a pub lunch, we set off into the Chilterns with much anticipation of a good day ahead.

Mmm... Another fine display of map reading had our team enjoying the delights of off piste walking, which led to G Man being relieved of his map reading duties. Nevertheless, we were in beautiful countryside, and the thought of a Sunday pub lunch was keeping all of us going. That crispy Yorkshire pudding and moist beef with oodles of gravy! You could see the hunger on everyone’s face.

We needed to be there for 13:00, and due to some decent map awareness we arrived at 13:15, with all of us worn out and practically salivating like enthusiastic dogs at the thought of the meal ahead. The sign outside the pub reads, “We are closed for a private function”. What! Questions start ringing around my head, and soon blurt out of my mouth with rather less humour than a miserable old g#t!

The next pub was also fully booked, and at this point our self esteem hit an all time low, which was amazing considering how low it got in the breathless cricket. Eventually we ended up finding a curry house which took about another hour to find. Thank the lord! All you can eat curry buffet! Not what the doctor had ordered, but it was warm, edible, and you certainly weren’t going to be hungry when you left!

All in all it was an exceptional weekend, with everything turning out well in the end. Next time we will ensure the pub is open, and the guide has been to map reading school.

A big thanks to Nick (and Phillipa) and G (and Laura) for their efforts.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Was it worth the wait??

Well the proof was in the pudding, and I'll let you know the pudding was good! We may well have had some disjointed starts to Saturday and Sunday's hikes, but what unveiled, was testing on all levels.

Saturday was fresh, with ground well covered by snow, and clear blue skies, it was almost as good as watching sky HD. Our first test came in the form of the icy c roads (Salt didn't seem to have reached these parts), and negotiation with a local farmer for car parking (interesting!). Two hurdles I feel were cleared well. So onto the main event. Scaling Pen y Fan at 886m was as good a days test as we could have wanted. The snow, sometimes reaching above your knees, had all the qualities to make you slip, trip and fall on your face (always lifting the spirits of others!).

Sadly due to the closing in of the weather (in about five minutes), we had to turn back at about the three quarter mark. Rescue helicopters seemed to be everywhere, but fortunately they were training. Amazing scenes all around. More comedy on the way down, as our youngster's (BJ) patience wore thin, and he decided that rolling down the slope would be far more productive! I also had the fortune of following Curry as he slid and slipped his way from one leg to other.

Sunday. They couldn't possibly be late this time. I had further to travel, and they had less, so surely the half nine meet would be easy! Mmm... No! My naivety of thought had me concluding that these relatively intelligent team mates of mine would have learnt from their first day map reading issues, and made a prompt arrival at the meet point. Well needless to say, we headed off at 10:45am, with me well versed in Cymru FM!

In the itinerary, this was an easier walk than Saturdays, and as we set off into the Beacons along the well trodden tourist trail, i felt we were in for a breezy day. Little did i know that we would be heading off the well trodden trail into the depths of forest and beyond. Initially as on the first day, banter was everpresent, with close relation chat being passed almost as a matter of course between Tooves and JB. However, things did pan out a little different. Map reading stops seemed to be more frequent as the day wore on, and mutterings started to brew amongst the squad. The snow was falling, fatigue was starting to kick in, and we hadn't seen a decent path for a while. There was probably an hour to an hour and halves light left, and the sense of humour had long gone. Luckily a path was found, and we all lived happily ever after.

A super weekend that tested the body and mind.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Who said fitness couldn't be fun!?

Well, after approximately one month of preparation, and many helping hands in the lead up to the weekend, the Fantasy Farm Fitness Challenge by all accounts went by like a dream. People have said that it was brilliant fun, and have thanked me on more than one occasion for my efforts and organisational skills. They have also thanked my parents, and I too have to join in with this thanks. My beef stew, certainly wouldn't have sat on the stomach quite as well!

It is easy to say that the weekend was all my own doing, and to the obvious untrained eye, that would be the case. However no event can be what it is without the competitors themselves, and on this mighty weekend, (deep into the unknown) they certainly stepped up to the mark!

It was an absolute pleasure to have everyone up to the farm. Everyone mucked in, fought hard, but did not squeal. Not a single complaint. G's toys did fly a little, but that was only his competitive edge coming to the fore.

Thanks must also go to Kiwi and Kirt for supplying me with quiz displaying equipment, and Mr James Duffield for his crucial stopwatch.

Congratulations to the jam filled Will Simmons, who stuck to what he knew. To Tooves, another Australian silver medal, and to Nick Mullineux one of our recent new recruits making a big impression.

To get a real flavour of what went on, i can only point you in one direction, and that is to our resident Australian Nick Toovey. He does write well!

And for the detail of the day, event by event, follow Kiwi's story on the main expedition blog

Thursday, 15 January 2009

3.846% improvement!

Yesterday, with the ground really starting to soften, I thought it was time to give the 'Finisher' another crack. Well the inclines still halted my progress, but managed to shave a hefty 2 minutes off my time. Yes that's right. Two whole minutes! This morning however, I am now feeling the effects of improved athletic performance. Maybe I should have taken an ice bath or something. I won't quibble too much about my lack of mobility this morning, as my return on investment seems to be slightly better than that of the banks!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

First Fantasy Farm Five Mile Finisher!

Having banished the Christmas/New Year hangover to the scrapheap, I focussed my mind on the upcoming fitness weekend at my place. With the schedule for the weekend being hectic, it was important to quantify what was needed for the main event.

The ‘five mile finisher’ definitely didn’t fail to live up to its name. With the ground thawing after temperatures down to -10, conditions underfoot were improving, and so at 11:35 today, with breezy but fair weather, I set off to see what it would take...

Well in a nutshell, it required more than I had, but completed the course in 52 minutes. This may sound terrible, but the course is not really an armchair ride. Of the five inclines, I failed to complete any of them without stopping. My calf muscles basically dictated how far I could go on the ascents, and could only endure so much!

With 12 days to go until the Fantasy Farm Fitness Challenge, my appetite has certainly been moistened. The events are being fine tuned, and I am looking forward to the tests it brings people individually and collectively. By my experiences today, I certainly need to be doing more hard training leading up to this event, and if any of the Everest team is reading this. Work yourself, it’s gonna be tough! The ‘Grim Challenge’ at Aldershot did not force me to stop, and that was 3 miles longer!

Monday, 5 January 2009


Wow, its been one hell of a festive season!

'A vivid snapshot of the great day'

Bouncing from presents to mulled wine to cashews they were mine.
From goose to roasts with gravy and toasts.
My pudding ala cream, my eyes, a little large it did seem!

Rolling onto sloe gin and mince pies, i did ignore my greedy eyes!
More cheese and wine, the day was going fine.
Until the games did commence, i passed out. Families are all too intense!

Belated Happy Christmas and New Year to all.

Sadly we have to wipe the slate clean, and start the new year fresh and ready!

Training has started again, and feel like i'm dragging all of Christmas round with me, but fear not, one weeks mind over matter, and i'll have forgotten all about hangovers, rough homemade cider, and reheated turkey.

Went for a run round home today, and the nostrels aren't too keen on this cold weather. Its supposed to be -9 tonight, so they better get used to it. Really looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead, and hopefully will keep you posted a little more often from now on in.