Tuesday, 8 December 2009


This week is Bring Your Favourite Minifig To Work Week.

So here's Indy

The Blade of Doom

The Sliding Wall

Pull The Lever!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Route Vetted

My route has been vetted and it seems as most things are in order. There a few suggestions and advice to make the route a bit better. Although the route I have chosen is a 'classic' first timer's; there were a few points the I was unsure of, but my vetter has foreseen some of my worries and has pointed out better alternatives.

Once I've had a good look at the suggestions; I may post the route; I'm not about the etiquette posting TGO challenge routes before hand.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Printing Maps

Have spent some more time playing around with the Quo mapping software designing the route for the TGO Challenge, I now know that the whole route fits on 29 A4 sheets of paper.

The Quo maps I have are at the 1:50 scale but the software allows the maps to be printed out at almost any scale. I did try printing at 1:25 which give the best detail but only allows a 7x6 km square map, which mean more pages. Printing at 1:50 gives the lease number but is nearly impossible for me to see without glasses, it would mean having to put them on to map read then take off to see where I was then going, which in a pain and in bad weather a complete hassle.

So to give me the best option of scale I can see without glasses and not have to many pages; I have gone for 1:30 scale, which gives the 29 sheets of A4, but by printing double sided is only actually 15 sheets of paper.

But I worked out a way to make this even less sheets of paper; in fact only 8 by printing them on A3 paper, I can get 4 maps to one A3 sheet.

The next step is how waterproof the printed maps will be; printing on standard paper is a no-no as one drop of water and the maps will be ruined. I know that you can buy waterproof papers (which are expensive) to print on but I'm sure that you also need to have waterproof inks to make this work properly.

I have some maps printed using a high end electrophotography machine and will do some tests to see how good they are in the wet. I don't expect them to be fully waterproof but to be better than the ones printing on a normal printer.

As I'm taking a low level route; I'm sure that having the digital print out instead of 'proper' maps will work out O.K. although I will probably get and take the Havery's Cairngorms & Lochnagar British Mountain map incase I decide to take a detour in the Cairngorms.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Part One Complete

I've just completed part one of the start of my TGO Challenge; and that is getting the route sorted out.

As a first timer; it is suggested that you do a low level route, so I have kept to this and made the route as such.

I did have two starting points but have gone with the one that I feel is the easier start for me, although it doesn't seem that easy to get to.

As usual I've used digital maps to plan the route but this time using a different software package namely Quo. I went with this one as I needed to update the two other software packages I already had, Anquet and Fugawi both of these are a long way out of date.

To update either of these two worked out quite expensive, but Quo allows you to buy 25K tiles and the cost of buying these for the route I had, worked out to less than £10.

After using Quo for a couple of weeks, it turn out to be a very easy program to use, much easier than both Anquet and Fugawi. The printing of the actual maps is much better and shows exactly what part and what scale you are printing at; unlike Fugawi.

The only problem I have had with the route is working out the map numbers to include on the route sheet, as digital maps don't have this infomation in/on them and to be honest I have never used map number since going digital.

Next thing is to send the route off for vetting and find out if there is anything wrong with it.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

TGO Challenge 2010

Darren phoned me today at lunch-time and left a message on my voicemail along the lines of 'check your email; they're sending out emails at the moment'.

Its been a long afternoon; as I can't access my email at work.

My application has been successful, so I'm on next year's TGO Challenge. GULP!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Feed me, Feed me now!!!

A normal day's food

7.00 AM 1 bowl of fruitful
1.00PM 1 1/2 round of sandwiches with various filling; 1 apple
3.00PM A Banana
7-8 PM Evening Meal
10.30PM Maybe a couple of biscuits

I've always had a problem with converting this normal day's food into backpacking food; I can never find the right food to eat, especially when wild camping.

Breakfast and lunch seem to be the biggest problems, and in all the years of backpacking I've never been able to pin these down.

On the recent trip I was trying out a few new ideas; some worked, some didn't work so well.

For breakfast I usually just eat breakfast bars but always find these to be quite bland and not very filling. This time out I took along 'oats so simple'. The oats worked out O.K, were filling to a degree but after two days, became boring and I wasn't enjoying them.

I can't be bothered with the faffing about mixing in powder milk; I really only want something that is quick and simple to do first thing in the morning.

I've tried other foods like pop tarts but find these taste like sweeten cardboard.

Next up lunch; this time I took tortilla wraps and these worked well, they were small and light to pack and stayed fresh for the whole trip. The only problem was a filling for them; I took a big lumb of Brie with me and this was O.K. but did start to turn after 3 days. I also had Chorizo sausage but again found this to start turning after a few days.

As usual I had dehydrated food for this trip; some old favourites and some new ideas to try.

Fruits are always a good item to dehydrate as they can be eaten dehydrated or re-hydrated; I usually do 4 apples covered with cinnamon and these can last 3-4 days.

Strawberry are another favourite and work in the same way as the apples; either eaten during the day or re-hydrated as a pudding in the evening.

Talking of pudding I found a great cake to make and take on trips; It called an Angel food cake and is made from whipped eggs whites, with essence of vanilla.

When made it is a very light cake and once dehydrated can be broken into small nuggets which can be eaten as is or as I did hydrated with a little hot water and mixed with either the strawberries or apples to make a tasty pudding.

For evening meals were the usual mixture of home-made meals and shop bought meals dehydrated; two of these were the 'look what we found' meals. These rehydrated o.k and tasted fine but were small in portion size.

I also took some Eccles cake but these seem to be quite heavy for the size to weight ratio; also they didn't last to long as they were quite more-ish.

I think I need to spend the Winter working on a good set of backpacking menus.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Enjoy England

I started this before the trip to Wales and have had it sitting in my drafts folder; I though I still had a day to post it. Don't you just hate those pesky 30-day months :-)

Even if its not eligible for the feature; it's written so may as well share.

I was contact by Jam to write a blog post on 'three things you do to enjoy England' this is part of the Guardian's Enjoy England feature.

I thought long and hard about what three things I could write about; other than the obvious of backpacking.

The three I came up with are all sightly different (I think) but all take in the Great Outdoors.

Bird Watching

I have been a keen bird watcher for many years (not to twitcher standards, mind you). The RSPB have some great reserves in the country and they are a joy to visit and explore.

One of my favourite sites is Minsmere in Suffolk. This site has a good range of habitat from reed beds to heathland to coastal waters, and changes with the seasons. Now is a great time to visit as the migrating birds will be starting to arrive and past through and there is always the chance of a rarity.

England's History

England has a rich and varied history and along with this are the buildings.

Buildings from neolithic burials to fortifications from the Napoleonic Wars.

Taking a trip to any of these interesting places is educational and helps to give a sense of where we came from.

One of my favourite of these; is the Avebury Stone circle; a much better place to visit than Stonehenge.


Geocaching is a modern day game of hide & seek only now it uses hi-tech gadgets; namely the Global positioning satellites around the Earth. Using a GPS receiver players seek for caches hidden around the Country using lat/lon co-ordinates from the geocaching website within the caches are normally some kind of small trinket and a logbook. Usually you swap out one trinket for another.

This Game is a great way to get the kids out in the the countryside and they love the idea of hunting around the countryside looking for caches.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Elan Valley 3

The final day started off with a bit of a start for me; when I opened the inner of my tent, I found that the outer had been invaded with lots of spiders. Glad I wasn't in a tarp and bivvy.

After a quick brew and breakfast; I dealt with the spiders and then packed up. Today was going to be hard on the feet mainly because most of the walking would be on track and cycle paths.

We still had nearly 2 miles of the reservoir track to walk before hitting the road, that makes almost 6 miles off reservoir track.

Dam of the end of Claerwen reservoir

The road and cycle track were hard on the feet; and with hindsight and looking at the maps when back home there were a couple of alternatives we could of taken.

Bridge across Caban-coch reservoir

Overall this was a pretty good walk; the weather stayed good for the whole trip and we managed to find a quicker route home, living in the SE of the Country doesn't lend it self well for trip to Wales.

I have some thoughts on equipment and food from this trip but I'll leave them for another post.

In the mean time here is some video from the trip.

Elan Valley 2

I awoke about 6.00am on Friday and the hillside was covered in mist, so decided to have an extra hour in bad. By 7.00 am the mist had lifted but it was looking like it was going to be a cloudy grey day.

We broke camp around 9.00am and headed West to pick up the Monks trod again at Pont ar Elan, this is part of the Elan Estate and also the area covered by the many reservoirs serving Birmingham and the Midlands.

Criag Goch Reservoir

The path climbs in a Westerly direction from the reservoir and eventually plateaus out, it was quite boggy in parts and the path seemed to run off in different directions, there were the occasionally signposts but at time these were 10 to 20 yards away from the path we would be on.

Although it wasn't hot; it was hard and thirsty work, and this did cause a problem. Although boggy there wasn't a good supply of water up on the top. At the Llyn Cerrigllwydion lakes, it looked possible to get down to them from the path but once closer, it was a steep climb down and the way back out didn't look to inviting.

We pushed on and finally found water, in a small crack in the ground with water running off the hillside.

We continued on down to the Afron Claerwen; where we across the river and stopped to have lunch, at this point I realised I'd lost my mapcase, I'm not sure if it was as I was manly striding down the hill or more likely when I bent down in the river to collect water, either way it was pretty stupid and dangerous not to keep my mapcase somewhere safer. Lucky we both had maps; so had to continued on Keith's.

We now had a decision to make; do we continued West and make for the Llyn Teifi lakes or stay on the original route. The route across to Llyn Teifi on the map looked O.K.but on the ground it looked very sketchy and boggy, so we went with the original plan.

We re-crossed the river and picked up a sheep track going up and around the back of Claerwen Farm; this brought us out on to the reservoir track, which we had the joy of walking on for the next 4 miles.

Start of the Claerwen reservoir and track

So far on this trip we haven't see any walkers, we did meet a couple driving at Pont ar Elan but that was all, until the track we finally met a group of D.o.E.

We had a rough idea on where to pitch or the night; we found an alternative site but did have to carry 3 litres of water up to it.

Two things on this trip I've never seen so much of is sheep and sheep s**t!

Elan Valley 1

This trip didn't get off to the best of starts with a 2 hour journey to get from SE London to West London and then 5 hours to get into Wales.

We hadn't check to road route in and the route we took was the most straightforward but unfortunately it was also the longest.

We finally arrived in Rhayader at about 4.30pm; which turned our gentle afternoon stroll into a bit of a race to get to the area we were looking to pitch at that night.

Leaving Rhayader we headed NW to pick up the Ancient track that goes across Penrhiw-wen; this track forms part of the Monks Trod which runs from Strata Florida Abbey to Abbey Cwm-hir about half way up the slopes of Penrhiw-wen we headed North to cut across the Nant y sarn river.

We were hoping to camp near to the river but the slopes on either side were fairly steep and very boggy. After getting water we had a scout about and it seems the best place to pitch was next to the ruin.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Wales Day Three

This is the intended route for today.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Wales Day Two

This is the intended route for today.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Wales Day One

This is the intended route for today; a gentle afternoon stroll.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Well I'm finally packed. Tomorrow I'm off to Wales; the Elan Valley for a few days backpacking.

Pack is a nice comfortable weight of 10kg including 4 days worth of food; hopefully the new regime of walking to work for a few days each week will help on this trip.

The route is one from Geoff's extensive range of walks. Wales is a fairly new area for me, so its nice to be able to find and use a route like this.

I may live blog along the way, if there is a phone signal but be sure that there will be video of the trip (hopefully!) when I'm back.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Gear Head

There has been some talk on a few of the blogs about gear; and I was feeling left out, so I bought something.

I'm off to Wales on Thusday for a 4-5 day backpacking trip (more on that later) and needed to get some gas for the trip, so a shopping trip to Millets was called for.

Whilst in there; I noticed they had some TNF Hedgehog is stock at £80. For a while I have been looking and thinking about wearing trainers for backpacking, I already have a pair of New balance all-terrain trainers and have been looking at Inov-8's but have been put off trying them out.

With one eye on Scotland next year; I thought it about time to give the New balance ago, and Wales was to be the opportunity but the Hedgehog looked an even better shoe, so I bought them.

Good thing is I also got them cheaper than the £80, I only paid £54. Which is cheaper the the Inov-8's, they are a bit heavier than them, 497g per shoe but that is for a size 12!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Waymarking the Hills

Just picked up on an article over on grough entitled Waymarking would be 'dumbing down the mountain', this is an ongoing debate as to whether Scotland's mountains should be waymarking as is done in Europe.

The debate was started by a journalist named Iain MacWhirter; who published article in The Herald newspaper back in July.

In the latest article of grough; they mention an interview with Iain Macwhirter and David Gibson, chief officer of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland's Morning Extra show. This particular show went out on Wednesday 26/08/09 and luckily this can be picked up on the BBC iPlayer.

The actual interview starts at roughly 31.30 minutes into the programme, and does get a bit heated.

The show is available for more 5 days on the iPlayer.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Project Flag

I like flags; I don't know why but I do. I like seeing them flying around town, I like seeing them at football matches.

So I want a flag of my own but not just a run of the mill, England or Union flag but one that represents me.

The cost of having a custom flag made is quite expensive, so I went down the DIY route. the only real way of doing this was to use iron-on transfer paper but using this in the past the results have never really been that good.

Searching the 'net I found a company selling a new type of transfer paper and after watching their video's, it looked it would do the job.

Next up was finding a design the linked to me and my name; the backpacker part was easy enough to work out and do. The London part seemed a bit more of a challenge, until I realised that London has its own flag.

So combining these two elements I came up with the London Backpacker flag.

The transfer is printed on linen cloth and is double sided, and the size is roughly 11 x 8 in.

The idea is to attach it to one of the walking poles when camping, I may also attach it to my pack and let it fly whilst I walking.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Rainy day project

This project has been about on the internet for a few months; but I haven't able to get hold of the main component.

On Sunday I noticed that the main component was back in stock at Ultralight Outdoor Gear, so I ordered it and it arrived this morning. So great service from U.O.G.

The component is a MSR Blizzard tent stake, yes; you can see where this is going.

I made myself a Colin Ibbotson Peg Trowel

For a few years I have had a pretty heavy steel? trowel; it was the one advertised in the TGO, and weighed in at a hefty 156g including carry case.

My CIPT weighs in at 37 g or 40g with the added spike protector, this was added as I am worried that the spike may go through the side or pocket of my pack.

CIPT with protector and old trowel in case

Colin recommends using grosgrain ribbon for the handle but as I didn't have any; I went with the old standby of silver duct tape.

CIPT and old Trowel

I've had a quick try out of the CIPT in the garden and although it doesn't dig out as much as the other trowel; it certainly works and has a weight saving of well over 100g.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Moan, moan, moan

As usual there hasn't been much going on in the world of Londonbackpacker through the Summer; well there has but most of it has been domestic, painting and decorating being the main hobby over the Summer.

With most of the decorating finished; I've started to turn my attention to some walking, the first real one will be in September, a 4-5 day backpacking trip probably in Wales.

Also in September will come the publication of the October issue of the TGO with the application form for the Challenge; hopefully I will get on for next year as I missed out this year, so that means looking at possible new equipment.

I have been looking at some pieces and have actually bought some; the bought items are the X-Socks, I have heard a lot about them so thought it would be good to get a couple of pairs to try. So far I have been impressed with them especially with trainers.

Talking of trainers the next purchase will be a pair of Innov8 Terroc's that's if I can find a place in London selling them in my size.

I need a new pack, not want a new pack. My Sixmoondesigns Comet pack is showing signs of heavy use and a few of the seams are starting to unravel and although it will see me through another few years of 2-3 days backpacking; I wouldn't want to trust it to a 2-week backpacking trip across Scotland (forget to say IF I don't make the challenge I'm off to Scotland for a coast-to-coast anyways!).

I'm reluctant to order a pack from the USA, mainly because of the import taxes, actually not the import taxes but the extra tax the Post Office impose on items.

So its a case of buying one in the U.K. I know the sort of pack I want and like; its either the Comet or the Gossamer gear Mariposa plus mainly because of the side pockets, I really like these on the Comet and the G4 I own. It gives me great flexibly in the way I can pack my pack.

Like I said I don't want to order for the USA, so it means ordering from the U.K; and as far as I know there is only one company in the U.K. that sells a pack that I want and that is the Mariposa Plus.


On the 3/8 I ordered a pack and on the 5/8 the monies was taken from my account, then nothing.

On the 11/8 I happened to notice on the sellers website (I'm not going to name them; as, 1. I don't want to give them any publicity; 2. I'm guessing that anyone reading this will know who I mean) that the item was now out of stock (if OOS you can't add to your cart, so was in stock when I ordered).

I fired off an email; to find out what was happening with my order as I hadn't heard anything for 8 days. Now I'm not sure how long you should wait for an email to be answered but personally I think 48 hours is plenty of time.

On the 15/8 (a Saturday) I decided to give them a ring but got the usual 'we are only open Mon-Fri 9-4'.

So on Monday morning I phone to find out exactly what is going on. The person I speak to tells me that they have been on holiday and don't know what is going on, and the person who needs to deal with it, is on holiday until tomorrow (Tuesday) but if I give them my phone number they will get back to me.

Tuesday 3pm; no phone call, am I surprised, no not really. So I phone them, 'oh we still not sure what is happening but xxxx will be in touch soon'.

Wednesday I arrive home to the following email:-

Sorry about this but the mariposa is sold out and xxxx does not have an order in the pipeline. In view of the fact it takes several weeks for these to arrive from the states we will refund you. We are sorry for the delay in this update and regret having to let you down.

O.K. so I'm a bit annoyed, especially as I have had to do the running around to find out what was happening and I was going to let it slide.

What has really F****D!!!!! me off with this company and prompted this post; is that they refunded me on the 9/8, I know this because my statement arrived on the 19/8 and has the refund on it, and they couldn't be bothered to get in touch and let me know or even tell me this in the two phone calls THAT I HAD TO MAKE!!

I am willing to give companies the benefit of the doubt and sometimes things happen that causes a problem and items can't be supplied but when it seems that you don't know your arse from your elbow; then they don't deserve to have my custom.

Monday, 27 July 2009

TGO Challenge podcast parts 10,11,12 & 13

The Rab TGO Challenge - Part 13

And so on our final day, our journey draws to a close. The weather of the last few days has eliminated the normal joy we would feel and you can hear our tired voices grateful to finally get down to the beach and dip our toes. Of course Shirley's navigation takes her to finish in a unique place which sounds equally reflective and peaceful, and she concludes her journey in the company of John Hesp. Andy manages to talk to Colin Ibbotson to one side and discuss the finer points of lightweight backpacking and how much of a difference it can make on something like the TGOC.

Download MP3 File

The Rab TGO Challenge - Part 12

Rose, I and Shirley continue our various ways to Northwater Bridge Campsite and enjoy probably the best night of the two week trip, sitting in the sunshine with 50 or more Challengers sharing laughs, memories and magic moments which have gone to make up this years event. Here I'm pleased to meet once again Shaun Grund to see if the TGOC has lived up to expectations. Andy on the other hand can be found in the bar in Montrose chatting with Jon Hancock and Rob Hausam. Shirley as friendly as ever, makes a new acquaintance!

Download MP3 File

The Rab TGO Challenge 2009 - Part 11

Food is always important on the Challenge as, on leaving Tarfside we all visit The Retreat for a slap up breakfast. While on the road to Edzell Shirley interviews John Hesp, David Albon, Sue Oxley and Ali Ogden and I chat to the famous 'Bothy Boys' Lee Wells and Tony Bowe about their trip, the pubs they visited and their thoughts on outdoor bloggers, or one in particular! Talking of which, Andy and Kate who are a day ahead of us chat with Mick and Gayle who compare the Challenge to their LEJOG and other long distance walks. And of course there's a certain amount of gear chat too!

Download MP3 File

The Rab TGO Challenge - Part 10

With the journey coming close to the end, Andy and Kate decide to press onwards to Northwater Bridge Campsite to enjoy another day in the rain. Shirley on the other hand, puts all her navigation skills to the test and records her experience and trials of actually getting to Tarfside. We are already there of course, keeping dry and lazing in the tent reviewing gear such as the Golite Pinnacle and Lightspeed rucksacks, the NeoAir, the Montane Venture and Superfly Jackets and trousers, Inov8s, Crocs, Primus Windshield and Pot Cosy plus more. In between times I also chat to fellow Challengers, Alistair Hunt and Darren Christie.

Download MP3 File

Thursday, 23 July 2009

TGO Challenge podcast parts 7,8 & 9

It's been a bit of a week, so I have missed the updates to the TGO Challenge podcasts.

So here are parts 7,8 & 9

The Rab TGO Challenge 2009 - Part 7

Shirley still keen to hear if the ghosts have disturbed those in the bothy, is up early interviewing people still in their sleeping bags, while outside it continues to pour with rain. As it her last day, Beth gives us her thoughts on the event and a mini gear review. The weather makes us all change plans and head into Braemar a day early, to find a place to rest and dry out. We head for the SYHA where I meet the managers Alistair and Sarah Hubbard and discuss the impact the Challenge makes on the town. I also get chance to sit down over a cup of tea with Alan MacDonald, Brian Martin and Mike Gillespie to see where their journey has taken them so far.

Download MP3 File

The Rab TGO Challenge - Part 8

We all finally leave that wild flesh pot known as Braemar and head in different directions to clear our heads and enjoy probably the last wild camp of the trip. Individually we share our thoughts about the warm welcome and great entertainment at The Moorlands Hotel, which was second to none. All Challengers enjoyed chatting with locals and listening to live music until late in the night, a great atmosphere. I'm sure this Hotel will form the base for future meetings in this village, as the Fife Arms unfortunately still gives off a very dismissive air towards Challengers, which has sadly got much, much worse over the years.

Download MP3 File

The Rab TGO Challenge - Part 9

The day starts calm enough, however the gloomy menacing clouds become darker still as the weather takes a turn for the worst giving Andy and Kate a reason to get to Tarfside very early. We head up out of Glen Colva into the storm with zero visibility for a long day with serious navigation issues and lots of pacing. Shirley and Colin are forced to take their FWA and not climb Mount Keen as planned. However in the middle of it all she does have chance to give us all a quick gear review regarding the Osprey Exos, the NeoAir and Glamaig jacket from Cioch Clothing

Download MP3 File

Sunday, 19 July 2009

TGO Challenge podcast part 6

Download MP3 File

Shirley awakes thrilled to still be the new owner of an Osprey Exos so expect a full review later in the series, while we bask in the early morning sunshine at Glen Feshie. Andy and Kate enjoy a good night at Coylumbridge Campsite before heading over the Lairig Ghru to Derry Lodge. High winds force us all to make changes that day and fall back on our FWA. Andy gives listeners a good overview of what to expect in the Lairig Ghru and Shirley finally starts her paranormal camping, getting up in the middle of the night searching the landscape for ghosts.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

TGO challenge podcast part 5

Challenge 2009 - Part 5

Download MP3 File

And talking of listening to audio; the whole of the Apollo 11 mission from pre-launch to splashdown, can be listened to in real time, online at Apollo 11 radiocast

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

TGO Challenge Journals 2009

TGO challenge journals are appearing on the internet along with Podcast Bob's 2009 podcasts.

Here is a list of the one's I have found so far:-

Andy Howell's Journal


Gordon Green

Steve Smith

Preerunner's 2009 TGO diary

The first three podcasts from Bob, Andy and Peewiglet are now available. These can either be listened to here or downloaded

TGO Challenge 2009 - Part 1

Download MP3 File

Challenge 2009 - Part 2

Download MP3 File

Challenge 2009 - Part 3

Download MP3 File

We choose the Moon

On the 20th July 1969 NASA put a man on the moon; to mark the 40th anniversary the John F Kennedy Library has teamed up with NASA to recreate the mission on the Net.

The website is at http://wechoosethemoon.org/ and is showing just over 49 hours until launch (July 16th) and will then have archive audio and video from the mission over 11 stages.

There is also a mission widget you can either download for your desktop or add to your facebook account.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Youth Hostelling: The First 100 Years

There is a programme on BBC2 tonight at 11.20pm; called Youth Hostelling: The First 100 Years.

Documentary telling the story of the youth hotel movement, told through a collection of archive films charting the changing attitudes towards young people and the counrtyside.

Might be worth a look.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Kite & bike festival

I spent a few hours on Blackheath today at the annual kite & bike festival.

I was hoping there would be some bargains from the kite sellers, but prices didn't seem any better than on the internet; as for the bikes there wasn't to many companies selling or displaying them.

The kite displays were worth watching and also the big inflatable kites were fun.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Update to the update

So I've just arrived home and guess what is waiting for me.

Yeah; the package from Point North, so it does only take day to despatch and deliver but unfortunately nine days to process.

Update to yesterday's post

I fired off an email last night, and have received a reply this morning.

The order was despatched yesterday; ten days after ordering or nine days after receiving an invoice.

So thanks for the prompt service; Point North Fabrics.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Black hole time warp tunnel

Are some companies in the U.K. surrounded by black hole time tunnels?

It's just that I can order something from one company and have it next day (which always amazes me) or within 48 hours but another company not much further away in the same part of the country can take weeks. I placed an order on the 31st May which was processed on the 1st June but still hasn't arrived; now the big problem is that it COULD of been lost in the post but because they have a get out clause in the old favourite of 'please allow 7-10 WORKING days therer nowt I can do until Monday.

Surely in this day and age; companies are able to deliver within five days. I've had stuff delivered from Australia & the US of A quicker.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Not another gear list

I know, I know. Everyone has a gear list on the interweb somewhere, so I may as well post mine.

The list is pretty much what I would take on all the trips I do; I will occasionally swap out the TN solar tent for the Hilleberg Nallo, if the weather is going to be bad or maybe for a Winter trip. The weight wouldn't chance that much as the Solar and Nallo weigh more or less the same.

I think over the next year some of the gear will need to be replaced; as I had noticed that the my pack in starting to show a lot of signs of unrepairable wear.

Ray Mears Public Lecture

Just found a public lecture Ray Mears did recently at The University of Liverpool.

The lecture can be watched on The University of Liverpool website.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Smile, originally uploaded by londonbackpacker.

VW Kamper Van at Wareham

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Mapping Games

After a tip off from BG about umapper having some new features on their site; I popped over to have a look.

The one I found most interesting was the GeoDart Game; this allow the user to place a series of points on the map and create a geographical game.

So far I have created two GeoDart games; both based on Football and one of them has been featured on the umapper blog.

I am working on a couple more that are more walking related.

Here are the two GeoDart Games.

To play it's best to open the map out to full screen by clicking the box in the top right corner.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Video & Photographs

There are also some photographs over on Flickr

Thursday, 28 May 2009


I really need to find a couple of decent waterproof cases for my cameras, as the ones I'm using now are letting in water.

Tidy up

Most of the gear is now out on the line; drying in the warmish sunshine we are having in London.

In hindsight; I don't think I realised how bad the conditions were, although raining it wasn't that bad but the wind was constantly driving it in to us and although I'm not usual good walking in the rain was happy to keep walking.

It wasn't until we got into the open along the coast at Old Harry rocks that the wind was really felt, and walking into the head wind was a challenge, so I understand why Bex had, had enough.

From this..

To this

I suppose this is one of the problems of having the arrange thing so far in advance and only having School holidays to do them in.

I also had a bit of a shock; it must be over 10 years since I shared a tent with anyone, and this really threw me. Whenever I've used the Nallo in the past, I've found plenty of room to store gear, move around and forgot how different it is with two and especially a 11 year old who at times can seem to have St Vitus dance.

Part of this problem was that she was bored once we were camped. I tried to make this as late as possible (around 5 o'clock) but this didn't help.

The walking wasn't a problem at all; as she walked about 4 miles on the first afternoon and in the few hours the next day cover nearly 6.5 miles and there wasn't any complains about carrying the rucsac.

I not sure what the next move will be, but I'll wait and see if she asks again about going backpacking with me.

As for me; I want to try out a night bivvying somewhere but it will definitely need to have good weather for that.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Purbeck 2.3

Not happy

Purbeck 2.2

Decided to bale. Weather not looking better for this afternoon. Not much for a soaking wet 11 year girl. Looked to go to campsite nearer to swanage but near to tears (bex not me). Not sure shes ready for this just yet, although if weather was better, as she enjoyed yesterday.

Purbeck 2.1

Been no let up in rain, so bus into swanage. Now sitting in cafe drying out & deciding next move. Bex's boot have leaked & she isn't enjoying it. It's big contrast to yesterday.

Purbeck 2.0

A good nights sleep but woke to rain.
Set off at 8 o clock with light drizzle but was soon heavy and strong winds by time we got to studland and old harry rocks it was pretty nasty so turned back.

Wednesday's planned route

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Purbeck 1.2

A nice walk from corfe along brenscombe hill great views down into poole harbour & studland. Now camped at burnbake, quite a few tents here mainly families so may end up being noisy.

Purbeck 1.1

Train down was fine.
Arrived to warm sunshine & blue skies. Slight change of plan was to get bus to corfe castle & start walk from there. Bus fares down here are expensive £5 for 1 adult & a child.

Purbeck 1.0

It hasn't stopped raining all night in London, and is still raining now.

Hope the weather is better in Dorset.

Tuesday's planned route

Monday, 25 May 2009

All packed

I'm all packed and really to go, pack weighs in at 11kg which isn't bad considering I`m carrying 2x2 days food and a 2 person tent.

The tent is the Hilleberg Nallo2; which actual weighs the same as my TN solar, I do have the older style one, not the one with the sloping back,which I find better.

Bex's pack weighs in at 6 kg which feels lighter than her bag for school each day, so hopefully there won't be any problems carrying it.

I'm going to joining the throng of people trying out mobile blogging on this trip, I know there are a few big transmitters in and around Swanage so getting a signal shouldn't be a problem.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Bits & Pieces

The fur on the camera worked reasonably well to cut out the wind in the microphone but I do need to find a way to attach it better than at present.


I was really impressed with the Caldera Cone; not knowing how much fuel I would need or use, I took 400ml (I know overkill for two days!) and ended up using about 100ml for the two days.

Most of the cooking was just boiling up cups of water for either coffee, tea or cooking Freezer bag style.

Boiling water for coffee, tea used about 10-12ml of meths and to boil 300ml took about 15ml.

This is a great stove for solo cooking and when food doesn't need to be simmered; although that's what a pot cozy is for.


Before going on the last trip; I couldn't decide whether to wear boots or trainers, in the end I went with the boots which are a pair of Hi-Tec Peak II eVent, I'm glad I did as the lanes on the Sunday coming back were full of deep puddles and sticky claggy clay.

I'm working on a review of the boots, to post soon.


Back to the camera. For some reason and I don't know why but the lens on the Zi6 seems to be narrower than on my previous camera and although filming in widescreen doesn't give a very wide angle view.

To get round this I bought a little 0.67x lens to fit on the camera. This attaches via magnets; one goes on the camera and one built into the actual lens.

These are designed for the iphone but work just as well on the Zi6.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Ticket to Ride

My train tickets for my trip in May just arrived.

This will be a special backpacking trip, as my eldest will be joining me on it.

Although she has camped before, this will be the first time walking and camping.

We are going down to the Isle of Purbeck, and doing a variation of some of the walking I have done there in the past.

I have the route already planned but will adjust it according to how she feels day-to-day. At the moment it is working out at 8,12,8 miles.

She has done 8 mile walks in the past but that is without carrying a pack.

Hopefully she will enjoy the trip.

Saturday, 25 April 2009


My last night in Scotland, last year; I found that my sleeping mat had developed a leak and was going down after a few hours.

Once home I got it in the bath, and eventually found the hole and repaired it. Or so I thought; last weekend's trip I used the mat for the first time since then and it was still leaking.

I've had this mat for 5 years and it was a freebie; so I pretty much got my monies worth from it.

Biggest problem now was getting a replacement, as they are impossible to buy in the U.K. Other than the U.S the only other countries than seem to have them is Australia or New Zealand.

I don't mind buying equipment outside the EU or even paying the 15% tax on it, but I do mind having to pay the P.O. the £8 for telling me that I have to pay a tax.

Luckily Mac E over at Stayin' Alive had just bought one from a company in the U.K.

So an order to Raw Outdoors on Thursday and today I have my shiny new mat.

I did looking into buying a NeoAir but was not sure whether I would like it or not and also the price was a bit to much; plus I know exactly what I'm getting with the Themo mat.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Ode to Mouse Lane

I can't forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring

In summer time and on the Downs how larks and linnets sing

High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and oh the air!

I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair.

But now I know it in this filthy rat infested ditch

Where every shell must kill or spare, and God alone knows when.

And I am made a beast of prey and this is my lair.

My God I never knew till now that those days were so fair.

And we shall assault in half an hour and it's a silly thing

I can't forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring.

Written by John Stanley Purvis - (using the name Philip Johnson) 5th Battalion

Yorkshire Regiment
on 2nd Dec 1915 in a trench behind the Somme

This stone was placed in the lane by the people of Steyning

In the year 2000 AD in celebration of their inheritance, and replaced

after damage to the original, in 2006 AD.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Shout Out

I'd like to give a shout out to Team io. AktoMan recommend them, cause I was looking for some new guys rope for my tent.

I ordered from their ebay site at 11.34 am yesterday and the new guys arrived today before 11.00 am, great and fast service.

Thanks Team io

Thursday, 16 April 2009

A grand (few) days out.

Tomorrow I'm off to the South Downs for a couples of days hiking.

Saturday's Route

Sunday's Route

Just got to find all my gear and pack it.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


The faux fur swatches I ordered; turned up today.

I have eight pieces and each one is about 2x3in in size, so there is plenty on each one to use to cover the mic.

Some of the swatches have longer fibers than other and thicker backing. I will have to spend some time working out with one will work the best, just hope it stays windy.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Bad Wind

After Saturday's problems with the wind across the microphone on the Zi6, I have spent some time looking for ways to block out the wind but still allow the mic to pick up sounds and my voice.

The microphone isn't that big but picks up a lot of noise.

Position of microphone

After a bit of a hunt around the internet; I found a company that sells faux fur throws and will send out swatches of the different types they do, so I ordered half a dozen different one's to see which will work best.

Hopefully these swatches will arrive soon and I can start testing them out.

The biggest worry is how to attach them to the camera; I have seen some ideas where the fur is attached using sticky Velcro but I don't fancy sticking Velcro to the camera, so will have to find an alternative.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

I finally go for a walk

Yesterday I finally put the effort in to going for a walk. Although being a bit of a lazy g*t, I didn't actually start out until 12 noon.

I decided to do part of the Saxon Shore Way, which starts at Gravesend; the main reason for this was because of the two forts that are on this piece of the Thames.

I also wanted to try out my new HD camera; the Kodak Zi6. The camera look to video pretty well, but there was a lot of wind along the Thames and the microphone seems to pick a lot of it up. I'll need to look into some way of stopping this happening.

The Two forts along here are Shornemead fort and Cliffe fort.

In the video I mention the Hans Egede and the Brennan Torpedo.

The naughty nuns and nightingales is a circular walk arranged by the RSPB and is in connection with this:-

As well as taking in some traditional sites where nightingales sing in Spring, the walk also passes through the tiny village of Higham. 500 years ago it was rocked by a scandal when the local vicar lead several nuns astray, leading to the closure of the convent at the nearby hamlet of Church Street.

Part One

Part Two

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Outdoor Bloggers

Three new outdoor bloggers have been added to the walking blog roll.

These are:-

Fatdog Walks
Stayin' Alive

So why not pop along and have a read of these three new bloggers.

Monday, 2 February 2009


So there has been warnings over the last few days that we were in for a lot of snow, and as using the local government decided to ignore them.

So this morning we awake to news that there are no bus, or trains running because conditions are to bad; that main reason they are bad is because no one bothered to get out and grit the roads.

I don't live far from work so I decided to walk the 40 minutes to get there. There wasn't as many cars on the road as usual but the one's that were out, were slippping and sliding along the main roads.

What's really peed me off is that I spent 40 minutes walking, an hour waiting around and then another 40 minutes walking home, as no one else from work had turned in.

So yet again we get snow; and the Country grinds to a crunching halt.

No work today

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Max and a Honey

It seems as though Red Dwarf is making a comeback but before that it seems as though Max Headroom has already made a comeback.

Red Dwarf
Max Headroom

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Shoe Review

I have always been a fan of Hi-Tec boots; my first pair of hiking boots were a pair of suede & nylon ankle boots which didn't keep my feet dry for very long. A pair of Goretex liners sovled the problem of wet feet but the boots didn't last much longer as the nylon got ripped on boulders and scree.

Since then I have had four different pairs of Hi-Tec's all leather, with the last two being the EuroTrek and the Seirra V-Lite.

The EuroTrek's are my every day work boots; they take quite a fair bit of abuse getting kicked against machinery and chemicals spilt on they.

The V-Lite's have been my main walking boot for the past couple of years, and have covered easily over 250 miles.

Looking long term I knew that these boots wouldn't get me far on a particular long distance walk across Scotland, so I started looking for some new footwear.

I have quite a wide foot (I think it's an E on a Clark's measuring chart), so a lot of boots don't fit particlarly comfortably. That's one of the reason's with Hi-Tec as the boots are normally wide enough to fit my feet.

After having a look around; I decided that instead of a boot, I would try a shoe/tariner type and contacted Hi-Tec about a pair of V-Lite Radar II.

I have been wearing these on and off over the last couple of months; and unfortantely I have found them to very uncomfortable.

I usally wear a hiking boot/shoe that is either 1/2 or 1 size bigger than my normal shoe. This gives me room incase my feet swell; it also stops my toes from hitting the front of the boot when going downhill. If the fit is a little bit loose; I will wear a liner sock with my thick walking socks.

The Radar are a size 12; which is plenty of room from heel to toe but the problem is in the width. I can't wear they with a normal Bridgedale walking sock, the only socks I can wear with them are thin liner socks and even then they are still tight.

If I remove the footbeds I can wear the Bridgedales but then I have no cushioning under my feet.

I've mainly been wearing them around town and trips to the local park with the kids; because of the narrowness of the shoes after about an hour, my feet start to cramp up and make it impossible to wear for any real length of time.

I've usually been lucky with boots that I haven't had to really 'break them in'. I thought that these shoes may need to be worn and broken in but this hasn't been the case, they still feel the same as on the first first day and have not given in anyway.

The boots; I got at the same time don't seem to suffer the same problems, so maybe this is only a problem with this particular shoe.

I would like to think it is; as I wouldn't want to add Hi-Tec to the list of manufacturers I can't wear.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

One Year in 40 Seconds

Just found this great video made by Eirik Solheim entitled One Year in 40 Seconds.