Priest in the Church of England. Father, husband, son. "Small acts of Good change the world."

Category: adventure

New bike, new rides.

As I watched my XT660 be taken away on the back of a trailer in 2016 I instantly knew I’d made a dreadful mistake.

I wasn’t riding like I had been – that was mainly because my son had been born at the end of 2012 and my time at home was suddenly far more precious. The bike was sitting there gathering far too much dust and so had to go.

Barley three years later I was coming home from central London on the tube and popped out at Stanmore. Catherine was due to pick me up in the car but was running late. I spent the time looking at some bikes outside a little garage under the arches and before I knew it I’d bought a fabulous little red Vespa.

I’ve been riding that all over the shop for the last three years and have been having a blast. My latest big run was up to the Priest and Deacons retreat in Walsingham, Norfolk. It was on that ride that I think I knew in my heart that it was time for another big bike.

I had a play with a few configurators on various websites but it wasn’t until I joined in with the 59 Club for their ride from the Ace Cafe down to Westminster Abbey for the annual blessing of bikes that I actually saw a bike that I utterly fell in love with.

As we rode into town I sat behind an Aprilia Tuareg 660 – the brand new mid weight adventure bike that is causing a storm in the adventure travel market.

It was solid on the road and was clearly happy in the traffic and the stop start avoidance of a large number of bikes on busy roads.

I got home and immediately googled the bike to discover dozens of reviews that confirmed my observations on the road and went further to say it was brilliant in the dirt and amazing in the twisty a-roads.

Speed forward two weeks and after much agonising (and negotiating) I’ve put a deposit on it. It’s due with me in the coming weeks. I had a test ride last Saturday and it produced the biggest smiles I think I’ve ever had on a bike.

I can’t wait for it to arrive and a new chapter in my biker life to begin.

Help find me a new camera

Since I’ve been bombing around the world my Casio Exilm Z850 has been a constant companion. I rate it really highly (must write a review soon) – it’s constantly dropped from the height of my motorcycle tank bag, it’s been soaked by sea-water on at least two occasions and still it ‘just gets on with it’ and takes photographs that when I got the camera I thought were awesome and now, think are pretty good.

The time has come to replace this stalwart of my gadget armoury and I need your help. I’m totally stunned every month when Lonely Planet Images release the photos that have been added to the library over the past few weeks – and I want to take photos that make people go wow.

Some background – when I was in school I desperately wanted to be a Photo Journalist – I worked for the local paper for free and I badgered my Dad until he bought me an Olympus OM-10 from the local second hand stor

e – complete with ‘manual adaptor’. It had a light metre inside but other than that I was totally on my own. After months of paper-rounds and being paid to take my friends band photos I managed to scrape enough money to ‘upgrade’ the the Olympus OM-2n .

It made a big difference to my shots, as did the purchase of a 2x adaptor and, at great expense, a 75mm Olympus lens.  I held onto the dream of becoming a Photo Journalist right through my engineering apprenticeship (where the camera managed to earn me some money on the side in Caerphilly town centre of a Saturday morning) and right into University in Swansea, where finally, the dream died and I sold the camera for much needed rent money.

Since then I’ve had a succession of crap compact cameras that just didn’t cut the mustard. The Casio has rather re-ignited that old desire to take wonderful photographs and I find myself slipping it into manual as much as the fully automatic settings – I’ve even bought an old Konica Minolta 35mm SLR to mess around with (it’s been out of the bag once).

My composition needs a little work , I need to get my head out of snapshot mode, but I feel the old juices still flow and can’t wait to get back into thinking through a shot properly before I take it. So now the tough part – I need a new camera.

Requirements:

  • Tough
  • Light
  • Compact
  • Decent video mode
  • Solid lens support
  • Easy to charge (I’m running this from the motorbike / powermonkey)
  • Easy to transfer images (no propritary connectors – worst case – SD cards are good)

Let’s ignore the money side of things for the moment and work the ‘perfect world senario’.

What do you suggest? I have a totally open mind and no legacy kit to support.

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It’s for charity

I wrote a short piece over at journeytorussia about how touched I’ve been by the donations we’ve received for Everyman. The thing that has struck me has been the amount of money people have parted with – Everyman is an amazing charity that makes sure people know about Male Cancers and the more money we raise, the more awareness we raise the better.

The donations that have really struck me though are the little ones, the one that really made me smile and get a really warm fuzzy feeling was from a young chap on ebay who I bought a camping shovel from – when we completed the purchase he looked at our website and decided to donate the profit from the shovel purchase – how cool is that!?

So first off I want to say thank you to everyone that has donated, and secondly I want to point you in the direction of another justgiving page – that of Patrick’s latest adventure – The Longest Day – John O’ Groats to Lands End…non stop and in under 24hours!

Afritrex – 5 Marathons, 5 Mountains

Holly cow. These guys are totally nuts.

Seriously… I thought we were mad in our little jaunt over to Russia and back, but compared to Ben and Owen, we’re off for a stroll in the park.

I love this kind of thing; Ben and Owen are driving counter clockwise around Africa – enough of a challenge on it’s own – but to make things interesting they’re also going to:

  • To complete five marathons of at least 26 miles
  • To climb five of the highest mountains in Africa
  • To visit as many of the sites across Africa where the Victoria Cross has been won as possible (VC180 Challenge) and
  • To hold a number of transport technology workshops based around the Trailblazer project

I’m already excited about tracking the Dakar (starting Jan 5th) but this now also gives me something else to watch in Africa – it also gives me something else to spend my money on – in fact perhaps you should consider donating to – it’s pretty damn impressive and they deserve to raise a stupid amount of money for their chosen charity.

Good luck guys!