31 January, 2007

I always wanted to try doing this

A photo every morning for 8 years:

... although I'm kind of glad I didn't.

24 January, 2007

Land's End to John o'Groats books

Invaluable books I used on my walk:

A chap called Andy Robinson objected to me saying I'd used his book for my walk, as it was as yet unpublished, so I actually bothered to dig out the remains of my books and check their names they are as below.
I'm presuming that this is the same Andy Robinson's list of LEJOG books, excluding his as yet unpublished masterpiece. Cheers, Andy!
Long Distance Path Chart

This first book is an invaluable map of all the major pathways throughout England and Wales (Scotland has strange barely existant trespassing laws which mean, correct me if I'm wrong) you're pretty much allowed to stomp in a straight line over any mountain field or bit of countryside you please (Countryside code-obeying stomping, of course).

The Land's End to John o'Groats Walk

The second is the route and description as outlined below. I have it in pieces as it was bound to the spine in 3 places and I ripped out the third and posted the rest home once I was north enough.
One thing I will say about walking guide books is that it's important to get one going in the right direction. I got a guide for Offa's Dyke that ran north to south and was forever reading back and forth trying to figure out which direction I should be heading over a field et cetera.
That and buying second hand maps from the 50's. Although the fifties maps are quaint, it can be annoying when by-passes have to be walked around, housing estates pop up where forests should be and villages with shops (and pubs) in are now shopless.

23 January, 2007

Save the Junction

The Junction is a gnarly little pub on Stokes Croft in Bristol. One of the few remaining venues in Bristol where local bands have a chance to play gigs without too many overheads.
Most of the bands who play there are pretty loud, often punky and always great fun.
It's a good idea to go prepared with earplugs.
Recent financial troubles almost brought it to it's knees, but a bit of cash over christmas has just about kept it rolling on. If you are a Bristolian (or merely an eccentric philanthropist) who likes this type of venue, then click on the banner above and buy their CD of local bands and artists who have in most cases recorded songs eclusively for this venture.
Bands include:
  • Loci - Zweifel

  • White Trash Ambition - Celebrity Spaz Plug (unreleased)

  • SJ Esau - All Agog (Smaller Intestine Mix)

  • North Sea Navigator feat Rose Kemp - Edward ( UK exclusive)

  • Big Joan - The Sucker's Bug

  • Mustard Allegro - Grosser Weiser (unreleased)

  • My Own Flag - Intervention (unreleased)

  • You and the Atom Bomb - El Apacheo

  • Redd FM - Dirty Bitch Tango (live @ Folkhouse)

  • Hunting Lodge - Dub Ghost (feat. Terry Edwards)

  • Safetyword - Debobbler (unreleased)

  • First of the Giants - Sufferer Jet (live @ Lousiana)

  • Geisha - Cocktown & The G-Boys (Unreleased)

  • Mea Culpa - A Panoramic View of Deception

  • Santa Dog - Rosa

  • The Taxidermist - Spend the Night

  • The Girl From Headquarters - A Worthless Man

  • Arctic Circle - Comfort Zone (unreleased)

  • Team Brick - Alsatian

In a very nepotistic manner I have put links in for some of my friends' bands sites.

10 January, 2007

Land's End to John o'Groats

I realised whilst looking at some of my photos from my walk that I haven't done anything with them really. So it's time I posted up some archaic photos from walking Land's End to John o'Groats in 2004:

St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, LEJOG 2004
This is St Michael's Mount in Cornwall a day's walk from Land's End. about a week after this I had to go home with a very painful ankle. I took everything out of my bag and put about two thirds of it back in again two days later and set off again. My dad said about cutting your toothbrush in half as an example of the ridiculous lengths you should go to to cut down on the weight of your bag.

Sleeping out, LEJOG 2004
I was sleeping out under the stars every night, which was lovely. Maybe it is one of those things that is lovelier in retrospect. Being 6'3", I have to take care of my back, and pitching down in the comfiest bit of land you can find on a quarter inch of foam underneath your waterproof poncho is somehow even rougher than it sounds.

Somerset, LEJOG 2004
I worked my way North and East through the middle of Devon and Cornwall, a journey that took weeks, and unlike a lot of the rest of the route, just followed my own meandering trail each day, reading a guidebook ("The End to End Trail" by Andy Robinson) and trying to find paths on the OS map that would keep me away from main roads.

LEJOG 2004
Inevitably some road walking was necessary. I like this photo because of the way the exact square cut into the hedge in the distance looks.

Luxury: A tent at last! LEJOG 2004
Rosa came and met me in Congleton where my aunt and uncle live (which is perfectly halfway between Offa's Dyke and the Pennine Way). It meant that I've not walked Offa's Dyke or the Pennine Way in entirety whatever lies I may tell you later, as I missed the last day's walking on Offa's Dyke, which was all rolling countryside and a bit gentle, and the first and last days on the Pennine Way. Anyway the point of this picture is to demonstrate that she brought me my tent. As summer wore on and I got further north into rougher territory it was really nice to have a cover over my head. The additional weight was like starting all over again for a while, even considering that I'd put on some muscle for once in my life.

The Pennine Way, LEJOG 2004
Some bits were nicely wild, such as the Pennine Way. Although maybe too much had been done to make it safe for people. I'm kind of glad I didn't sink in a bog though. 2004 was the wettest summer on record (don't know if that record has been beaten yet), so I had my fair share of dampness and hardship to contend with.

Walking the tracks, LEJOG 2004
This gives you an idea of the size of bag I was carrying. It was big. It was my bain and a burden and a half. By the end, I was sick of walking, sick of roads and paths and most of all sick of carrying that enormous weight around everywhere, it was like torture to me.

Walking LEJOG 2004
I'm terrible at smiling for the camera.

Blair Atholl to Kingussie, LEJOG 2004
Scotland was without doubt my favourite places to walk. the remoteness of locations, the glorious views and roughness of the countryside. It's properly wild in places. Bleak as anything, but in a very romantic way.

Scottish Highlands, LEJOG 2004
nearing the end. I had to make the decision whether to go through Glasgow and follow the West Highland Way along the West Coast or, to head vaguely Northwards from Edinburgh and try and beat a path straight through the mountains.
In the end, although the West Highland way is one of the nicest walks around, apparently, I opted to just tear north as quickly as possible without the detour. "Beating my way was hardly necessary however, as for the final fortnight's walk the A9 runs all the way from the end of the M90 to within a day of John o'Groats. I succesfully avoided it until Inverness.

One of my favourite days (well, two days) was going cross country from Blair Atholl to Kingussie.

Finishing post, LEJOG 2004
Tired and a bit beardy on my final day I walked 30 miles, unwilling to camp out a mere ten miles from the end when darkness fell and navigated the dark road to John o'Groats making excited phone calls to friends and family. Worrying I'd missed a turning in the dark and finally, finally walking in to town, buying myself a luxurious B&B room and then drinking too many doubles of whisky. This photo was taken the next day, exactly 3 months after I set off.

05 January, 2007

Those who could, can't

Jesus, I'm frustrated. Those of you who know me, know that I have been trying to get a place on a course as a teacher this year. In fact most of this year, that is what I have been aspiring to do. You'd think with all the adverts and press that the government have put out that it would be an easy process, wouldn't you?

No way!
There are about 3 or 4 different agencies, a number of different ways they want to communicate and the entire experience has been quite traumatic.

Now, obviously I am angry because I haven't got a place on a course. Why else would I be so riled? The most annoying thing though is not that I was turned down, it's that I was accepted at every stage of the process, accepted for a place on a Maths Enhancement Course (MEC) to get my maths up to scratch in the 6 months prior to the teaching course (a PGCE - Post-Graduate Certificate in Education) starting; accepted for a place on a PGCE to go and study in the same place as the Enhancement Course is taught. But simultaneously as Bath Spa University accepted me for a place on the PGCE they wrote to me to say that the MEC was now full up (despite having previously assured me that if I was fast enough I would get a place - and I did everything I could from that moment) and I would have to go elsewhere to study.

Jesus, God-blaspheming mother-loving shit-sticks!

Now I'm on the waiting list for the MEC course which starts on Monday week. I presume that I am anyway, because when I phoned them a day after receiving their e-mail they had all gone off for Christmas and there's neither sign nor trace of them yet. My alternatives are: To commute to the nearest MEC course in Plymouth (or Birmingham) each day; to postpone my PGCE until next year; or to give up entirely. I'm just pent up with fury right now and feel like smashing things. it's been like this for a few days.
Thanks for listening.

People keep trying to give me reassuring advice or tips, which just makes me more angry for some reason, because their advice is usually as futile as what I've already considered, which will eventually lead to nowhere. More on this later, I expect. A more considered and rational explanation.