Monday, October 05, 2009

More signs of the times

Outdoor Revolution has decided to stop manufacturing tents. Neat products just not wanted by the market...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wasted in Leamington

The UK has just seen a week of tent shows – probably the biggest trade event of its kind in the World. It leaves the outdoor journalist with bright staring eyes and the sort of nervous tick that manufacturers dread to see. It denotes the death throes of brains overloaded by viewing some 760 tents through a haze of alcohol. The softened synapses reach a state of apathy and you cannot be held responsible for your actions.

First day and more than 100 tents viewed. Time for a night out in Royal Leamington Spa – my hometown. It’s a wonderful example of Georgian buildings and Victorian spa. There have been Garretts here for hundreds of years. But, like most Leamingtonian families, we have been drowned out by corporate out of towners who have wheedled their way in with Machiavellian tongues.

But it is still my town and I aimed to enjoy a night out with Nick Harding and John Traynor. As usual John’s delightful wife Fran kept a firm hand on the proceedings, ensuring the men misbehaved by delivering quick verbal rabbit punches if the conversation slackened.

We ended up at a sophisticated back street Italian for dinner. Good food washed down by beer, red wine and sambuca – a powerful mix designed with Editors in mind. After a hard day you have that buzz akin to a syringe full of adrenaline pumped into the chest via a three-inch needle. You need something to remove the edge.

And that was when I was mugged. The bill came while the conversation flowed. It was timed perfectly. Little to no thought just the credit card submitted. Looked right but missed that little bit at the bottom about applying an optional service charge of £13.

I’m now doing my expenses and cursing. What has happened to honour amongst thieves?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sit and ponder this

Anyone like to comment about the cardboard crapper? Yes, I know - the jokes are endless. In fact, I am not even going to stoop that low (oooh missis). Let's just say it's, hmmm, tasteful? Want to know more? Delve into its contents at

Ten out of ten for health and safety

The Dark Peak's popularity is a problem - as is its ease of access. Those millions of tramping feet have caused severe erosion. And, of course, erosion has to be addressed. Now I know we complained bitterly when wired duck boards were strung across various high-level paths - after all, they do sink into the gloop and if you step into a hole where one of the boards has come adrift you end up the wrong side of a man-trap. But the use of flagstones?
Correct me if I am wrong but the miles of flags now snaking their way up Kinder were taken from demolished Victorian factory floors. This is a superb piece of recycling and it really blends in nicely with the countryside. And it also provides hours of fun as you participate in the new wet-weather sport of downhill slalom.
You see, these flagstones are all very well and good on the flat but they are bloody lethal on the descent if there is a little water on them. A recent encounter saw me execute a beautiful double pirouette that took in a ten-metre slide and took out half a dozen ramblers. So full marks for grace but little to show for the slalom…
Rocks are slippery in the wet. But they are also broken and uneven. This little grip provides all the difference between a red face and a comfortable walk. Perhaps crazy paving would be a better idea?

Monday, August 31, 2009

To put on your boots and head for those hills, no surer cure for all man's ills.

A spur-of-the-moment trip up to Kinder yesterday – my old stamping ground and spiritual home of the Bastard of the Bog. Despite an early start I could not park at Edale. I could not believe how busy it was – and I did not realise that they had put a campsite next to the car park, which really put the pressure on parking.
So, over the hill and parked up on the 625. Then a quick traipse over Colborne Moor, Brow Knoll, up onto Kinder Low to the Downfall.
What a day. Haven’t felt so good in a long while. Must be too much sailing and not enough hill-walking. Gliding over bog and skipping down rocks like a goat on coke. Wonderful stuff – the Bastard was back…
Even had time to scoff at people up to their waists in bog and to wish for a bit of clag so that I could get the map and compass out. And, boy did I get it.
The cloud came down at the Downfall. I decided to beat a hasty retreat. By the time I reached Brown Knoll visibility was down to around 100ft. But going well and enjoying the navigation exercise. Onto Colborne Moor – now here is a bleak place when the cloud is down. But things were going smoothly…
…then God took a sideways look and put a bog under my feet…
…you feel a right twat when you run full pelt into a marsh and disappear up to your arse in foul smelling goo. Even worse when the momentum buries your upper half face first. I threw myself backwards to stop myself sinking further then, with water wicking through skiddies and tee, squirmed around like a land-locked seal for a further minute or so to extract myself. Even my jacket pockets filled with turf.
Stripped off and wrung out the water – the mud would have to take care of itself. By this time it was raining hard so much got washed off. I beat the retreat back to the car where I stripped for the second time and got into a spare pair of waterproofs. I did the drive back to Lincolnshire hoping that I would not have to take a comfort stop…
…and that, yer ‘onour, is why I weren’t wearing nothing under my jacket when stopped!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Powdered beer?!? How could they!

The Katadyn rep was trying hard to sell me the concept of Trek 'N Eat powdered beer at the recent Friedrichshafen OutDoor trade show. "But it will be appreciated by backpackers after a hard day on the hill," says he. " And you want to rehydrate not take in alcohol."

Like hell I don't.

But the rumour that I have been seen stripping my first aid kit of its alcohol wipes to wring into the samples of the muck is unfounded.

Red wine and tinned cheese burgers are also available. Hmmm.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top British tent manufacturer suffers

Just heard that Eurotech (Khyam and Wynnster parent company) has called in the administrators. Recession bites...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New look

Whoopie! I've just released my new-look website It acts part as my CV and part as a resource for people who want to find out about outdoor pursuits and the gear used. I've also managed to create a webshop Dustyroad Outdoor Pursuits with Amazon, so readers can get a fast link to recommended books etc. I hope it helps you get out and explore.

Serenity - our Vivacity 20 trailer sailer

Pat and I really love our little yacht. It's a four-berth and our intention was to stay on her during the 2006 sailing season. Unfortunately, we haven't managed to yet - despite it being on a floating mooring on Rutland Water.

Serenity needs some new sails so if anyone who reads this knows of any... Meanwhile, I've got some old Wayfarer sails that should fit.

Pat has just passed her RYA Powerboat 1&2. Not, I hasten to add, in our Vivacity. Posted by Picasa

Never been good at this diary lark

And that's the truth. Nearly a year has gone by without posting something. Why? Laziness must be key, but perhaps it's because I'm not being paid to keep this up. Certainly time constraints prevent regular blogging.

Can I change this? Probably not. But what I will do is post some of the tests and reviews of outdoor gear that I have written for UK magazines. After first publication the words and images revert back to me so I can do what I want with them. I'll post them here as I supplied them to the magazines. I might even add a few comments that I wouldn't think of putting in the original feature...

Let's see how it goes.