Right, I’m really not doing a lot of this blogging, am I. But for my own record, here’s what I got up to in the 2nd half of 2023.
- In July, I headed to Arolla in Switzerland with Jagged Globe, for an Alpine Mountaineering Course. It was excellent, with a lot of new skills learnt and a lot of “fun” toiling up mountains, through snow and across glaciers.
- I had more trips to the Brecons, In August and September. Up and down the usual hills, having my usual fun and outdoor experiences.
- A lot of the training was with the target of the South Coast Challenge (half), which is from Eastbourn to Brighton. Unfortunately my body decided no, with a very bad hip, so I withdrew at the 25k marker. It took a few weeks before I was out again.
- The biggest news was I took a 3 month sabbatical, before moving on from transitioning away from Strat House. The market has been very quiet this year, with little of the work I excel at. Very few people were buying our products. We tried a few routes to new business, but no bites were had. Given this, I took a step back to reassess where I am going – which is to move away from Strat House. But before jumping into looking for something different, I took 3 months to just have a break. October was about closing a few things down (I was judging some awards) and setting up the next few months. November was time for something completely different – helping restore a nuclear bunker in Edinburgh. Then back home for December for Christmas things and more “me-time” – a mis of walking, volunteering, gaming and just chilling, something I have not really had the chance to do for years.
- The November trip was in 2 parts – the road trip and the stay at the bunker. With the road trip, I forced myself to be a little less organised than I would normally be and did not have all the hotels booked before I started, thus giving me some flexibility. I did have a rough plan – it was all about adding more cathedrals to my visited list, but I had plenty of scope to do other things, having gave myself 5 days to do the journey. On the way up, I visited Lincoln, Ripon, Wakefield, Newcastle and Durham Cathedrals, plus Edinburgh. On the way back, it was visits to Carlisle and Chester. There was definitely a St Cuthbert theme to many of these cathedrals, and I added to it by heading to Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island before taking a Seal watch tour to the Farne Islands, which is where Cuthbert was a hermit for a while.
- Other places visited on my trip included a quick stop at the Angel of the North and Bamburgh Castle on the way up to Edinburgh and Gretna Green on the way back.
- My stay on Edinburgh was at the Barnton Bunker, a WW2 and Cold War installation that over the years had been neglected, vandalised and burnt. The team behind it are slowly restoring it with the help of volunteers and tradesman, with the volunteers doing a lot of the unskilled work, (eg lots of clearing land) but bringing relevant skills if possible. Many sign up via Workaway. Another push outside my comfort zone, staying with a mix of people in shared accommodation. I was lucky with my own room – although it was in a caravan with no water or heating! The advantage of driving up is I’d brought a lot of comforts, including my own bedding, plus an xbox (the wifi was brilliant) We were asked to give 20 hours a week, with the rest of the time our own. Many of the team were from other countries, so did a lot of tourist activities; as I’d lived in Scotland for years not so much of that for me, but I did catch up with friends.
- For one of my days, I headed over to Glasgow for round 2 of the application process for volunteering at the Glasgow World Indoor Athletics champs. It was far over-subscribed as usual and I did not get one of the 400 slots. Nor did I get a role at the Paris Olympics/Paralympics; although given the volunteer concern over accommodation that may be a good thing. I am going to be back at the MLB in London this year, as a media team lead, so looking forward to that.
- In other volunteering opportunities, I’ve joined the “Kinver Environmental” group with the River and Canal Trust. We clearing land, weeding, hedging, litter-picking and all sorts of activities to make the mile or so stretch around Kinver lovely (and accessible). I’ve also joined the village climate committee and will be helping on their website and other things