One week till I start walking the South West Coast Path

Tuesday 28 July 2015 – Walthamstow.

It is hard to believe that in a week’s time I am heading off on a bit of an adventure. Staying in England, and heading back to the South West Coast Path, though this time with a pack and a tent. I have been mildly obsessed with the path ever since I was a support driver for Malcolm Law and Tom Bland when they ran the path for charity back in 2012. I cannot get enough of it, mind you it is pretty long, so there is plenty to go around.

Unlike those two, I am not mad enough to consider trying to run the entire 630 miles, so I am planning on walking it instead, doing so over a couple of years rather than one long session. This summer I am lucky to have a month off work, and will do three weeks of walking – if I can.

When I first decided to do this a few weeks back I had in mind a three week power walk, carrying all my gear, free camping as much as possible, cooking and being self sufficient. The reality of the distance and the terrain has now fully set in, and mixed with the reality of my fitness and experience (or lack thereof) of multi day hikes I have settled for doing the best I can and just enjoying myself. If I do three days walking and three weeks of lying in the sun reading a book, then so be it. At least I left home. I suspect I will achieve something in between.

One of the many things I enjoy about doing different things is all the research that goes into these activities. I realise I am not going to Antarctica or the Amazon jungle, so research is sort of overkill, but it is part of my routine and I get great pleasure out of it – mixed with a bunch of self doubt and fear thrown in for good measure, once the reality of hiking sunk in.

For this trip I needed to pretty much buy everything, I have a good travelling pack, but it would be hopeless for hiking, I have a sleeping bag, and that is pretty much it. I needed a tent, a stove, sleeping mat, walking poles and a raft of other bits and pieces thrown in. I spent a lot of times in shops, reading, internet searching and generally enjoying myself researching things I knew very little about. Last weekend I went out and bought it all. I spent a lot of money as I prefer to buy quality over cheap. But I am happy with my purchases.

At the weekend I had a test day of putting up the tent, checking the stove, and a first load of the pack with most of the crap I have accumulated for the trip, some which will be dumped before I go I am sure…

The tent went up pretty easily and is as small as I expected a light weight two person tent to be, I reckon it will fit me and my pack comfortably, but I would not be wanting to share it with anyone else.



The surprising thing was when I took it down and put it all back in its bag, it actually fitted with room to spare. This was actually a shock, a pleasant one mind.


After a bit more research this week and a second packing session – I have tossed out some stuff already, I have found that the modern thing to do is put the tent at the top of the pack not the base.

The pack is very shiny !! I remember when the Macpac pack I took on my travels was this shiny. It isn’t any more 🙂 


I have decided that for this trip I am not going to take a laptop, I was planning on taking my little travelling laptop and doing some writing and photo editing on the way, but even the small laptop weighs too much, and I am going to have to be very weight conscious (pack weight, not me weight. I plan on eating like a pig). I will take a pen and notebook and more flash memory for the camera instead. So there will unlikely be any posts along the way.

Not taking a laptop worries me somewhat as I will have to decide now what music I want to listen to for three weeks. What if I change my mind ?

It is a hard walk, the more I read the tougher it sounds, while there are no mountains to traverse the path is a constant stream of small ascents and descents, and a lot of them steep. I admit to being a little pensive about the whole thing. I guess it all adds to the excitement, in a way.

This Friday is my last day at work for 4 weeks, Yay !! As a great start to my holiday, El and I are off to the lovely lovely city of Bruges for the weekend. We are very excited about this. El has not been there and I have not been since 1987. It was the first European town I stopped at on my incomplete Europe tour and I shot a whole role of film there, which was utterly extravagant at the time. I was stunned at how beautiful the old town was, I suspect not much has changed since then. I also suspect I will take more photos this time!

Wahoo !! Looking forward to an awesome August !!

A quick family catch up in New Zealand.

Sunday 21 June 2015 – London.

I have been back in London from my quick trip back to New Zealand for over four weeks now and this is my first attempt at writing about the visit. I have been busy again with work, and we have had some lovely English summer evenings that have been perfect for an after dinner walk – but really it has just been a hard post to write. It is not getting easier with time either, my feelings towards the country in which I was brought up are very mixed now. I loved seeing my family and friends, but I hated the central part of Auckland, was ambivalent about the rest and felt very disconnected from the place. It was as if I did not belong in the city anymore.

Maybe it was the fact it was a short trip, that I was jet lagged and tired for most of the time I was there, who knows. I knew it was not going to be a ‘fun’ trip before I left, but I found it far more draining than I expected.

I arrived on Friday 12th at 5:00 am, after three mostly reasonable flights via Dubai and Melbourne. I would not normally elect to fly with an airline that makes two stop offs, but I had old air points with Qantas which were slowly disappearing with age so thought I would use them to get an upgrade to premium economy on the trip to NZ. It made a huge difference and I really liked the leg to Dubai, great flight. I witnessed a sad experience at Melbourne airport security as one of the officials was screaming at (I think) an Indonesian couple who obviously had limited English as they tried to take a stroller through the security gate. He was a miserable prick, and a classic example of what I hate about Australia.

It was great to see my mum as I walked out into the arrival hall, I was very appreciative of her coming out so early on a Friday to collect me! I spent the morning with mum and after a brief rest went in to Auckland city to do my shopping and visit my daughter at work. I was staying at a mates place near the centre of the city and was lucky to have a car again for the entire time I was there. You have to have a car in Auckland, much as I want to use public transport, it is a bit shit – especially compared to London.

It is early winter in NZ in June, though the weather for the trip, in the main was pretty good, though Friday was miserable, windy and wet, and I was miserable with it. I really hated the city centre again, no soul, no spirit and not the place I enjoyed. The shops I frequented over many years, like Whitcoulls on Queen St and (tears) Real Groovy Records are closing, Real Groovy so another hideous, unnecessary and stupid tower can be built, though fortunately it just moving. I did get some great second hand records though!




Though not all was changing, I was after a couple of books and managed to get both of them at my favourite Auckland book shop Unity Books, and I was so pleased it was still there on High St.


My daughter works in a lovely new organic cafe on Victoria St, and I was very excited to be able to go and see her for lunch on my first day, wonderful to see her smiley face.


I walked up to the top of town to visit a new record shop Flying Out records, I was after some new NZ music, but ended up with two English albums Smile Loved the store though.

And back down again through Myers Park, one of the few highlights of the city centre.


It was way too early to turn up at my friends place for dinner, so I stopped at Mission Bay on Auckland’s beautiful, glorious, wonderful waterfront for a glass of pinot and to catch a traditional photo of Rangitoto Island.


I stayed the night at my friends place with the plan of going for a mountain bike ride on the Saturday morning. I awoke with a mild hangover and to some lousy windy and rainy weather. Mountain biking was off, not sure if I was happy or sad with that.

Once the weather had settled I decided to head out to Piha just to get sand between my toes and to enjoy a brunch at the Piha Cafe. The cafe was full when I arrived so I settled for some lovely cold sand between my toes. Living in London I don’t get to visit the beach that much, and I do miss the easy access to these lovely wild beaches I had when I lived here.


My little red car.


I stayed at my sister’s house over the weekend, she moved here last year and has a really nice small growth of young kauri trees out the back. Lovely!



I also managed to spend lots of time with my family, including my grandson Mason. I see him on Skype fairly regularly,



I spent the rest of the trip staying with my mum and seeing my family as much as possible. Apart from a day out walking on Monday, which I posted about previously the rest of the trip was busy with jobs and organising things.

I have finally committed to moving the last of my stuff from New Zealand to London, there was not a whole lot of stuff left, and the cost of shipping all of it versus shipping most of it was negligible so I organised for a shipping company to come round and pick up the lot. I will finally have my records and my turntable in the same country as me.

On Thursday night I went out for dinner with some friends and my daughter and NZ based son, the kids and I then went to Whammy Bar and the Wine Cellar to see my nephew the drummer in the band ‘Heroes for Sale’. I have never seen them play so it was awesome to get to go to a gig while I was here, they were pretty damn cool.


Friday the 19th was the reason I came to NZ, it is Mason’s first birthday, and my oldest son is coming over from Australia for the weekend. I didn’t do too much during the day, final organisation and a last bit of shopping before going to pick up son from the airport to take him to my daughters house and for the first time in a couple of years I got to see all my children together in the same place.

Saturday we had a family party for Mason, firstly at my daughters and then at my mums. I think he had a good time! I am not sure about those dodgy moustaches though !






And then Sunday, it was brunch with the family, before taking my son to the airport and then heading their myself. 8 days and my trip was over.

Mason and I 1

My journey home was the reverse of the trip out, with stop offs in Melbourne and Dubai. I had another mini-drama in Melbourne when I left my glasses on the plane after they fell out of my pocket. I was in a mild panic in the airport as I had visions (blurry) of 20 hours of flights to London not being able to read or watch movies, but fortunately Qantas managed to reunite my glasses with me before we left. Well done Qantas !


I loved Dubai airport.


It was good trip to New Zealand, really busy, so no proper holiday – I look forward to that at the end July.

It was great to see my family, especially to have all the kids and my grandson together in the same place at the same time. I was disappointed in NZ, I don’t like the politics there and I was disappointed in what I read in the papers and saw on TV news about the state of the country and the attitudes of some of the people. Auckland seems lifeless and desolate and will only get worse as they build more flats and apartments for overseas buyers who leave them empty, driving more people out of the centre of the city. Thank God for the west coast beaches, the Waitakere Ranges, the bush and my friends and family.