ACP Blogs, Camping Kit, Gear

Long Distance Hike Kit List

April 4, 2019

I’ve been getting a lot of messages on Instagram asking about which kit I carried on my 8 day hike around Anglesey Coastal Path. I’ve got some more in depth comments on the kit coming, will link this list up accordingly when it’s done.

Thanks gang!

Tent: Vango Makalu : https://geni.us/VangoMakaluTent

Sleeping Bag: Vango F10 Vulcan: https://geni.us/VangoVulcanSleepingBag

Sleep Mat: X-Lounger: https://geni.us/sleepMat

Backpack: Osprey Aether AG 70 https://geni.us/OspreyAetherAG

Vango Pico Walking Poles
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Days Out

First Time at Crufts 2019

March 19, 2019

Last weekend was the 2019 Crufts dog show in Birmingham, UK. We’re all really big dog lovers in our house and our daughter is hugely in love with them too. As a belated birthday gift (and a treat for us all) we decided to book tickets for Crufts.

How much did it cost?

I managed to get hold of tickets for the final day of the event (Sunday) at a cost of £18.50 per adult. The kids were free which was pretty great. The day is focused around the Toy and Utility dog group and also features the prize giving ceremony for the whole event (though this is separately ticketed so you don’t get access to the main arena at that time).

Where did we stay?

We drove down to Birmingham the evening before and stayed at the Best Western Weston Hall hotel which was about 20mins away from the NEC. The family room cost £95.00 and didn’t include breakfast (we did end up opting for so do try and get it included at booking – £10 otherwise). It was a really traditional old manor/hall with a few olde quirks but the staff were good and the food was surprisingly great too, recommend sticking in for it.

Crufts opens at 8am but this rare hotel stay for us meant we were reluctant to get out of there super early so we ended up getting there for 9.30am. Parking is £16 on the day or £12 if you book online in advance. There’s a bit of a walk from the car park to the main halls so be prepared for 10 mins or jump on a shuttle bus.

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ACP Blogs

Hiking Homesickness

February 19, 2019

Taking on a challenge like the Anglesey Coastal Path continuous hike last year, I really thought that I’d given it a lot of thought before setting out.

Admittedly, the space between deciding to do it and actually setting off was only a few months but I poured over thru-hike videos, did numerous practice hikes, checked my gear over and over, got my feet used to hiking long distance, sorted my work life and my family plans around the time I was taking away.

But one thing I totally didn’t do was prepare my head.

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Personal

Out of the mist.

February 19, 2019

I’ve been stuck for a few months on the blog. The last piece I wrote was after completing the 8 day solo hike around Anglesey and it all pretty much stems from that.

The hike hit me hard mentally, I’ve touched upon it in the vlogs from the walk and I’m writing a piece about some of the specifics currently.

When I got home from Anglesey I was faced with 8 days of video footage, photos and notes.
I’d originally planned to shoot a nice video whilst out but when you’re feeling bad or in the driving rain and wind it makes filming (or indeed anything creative) pretty challenging. So the footage I came back with was bitty at best and spread over three different devices with random filenames, some dodgy audio (lost my micromuff) and lots of wobbly footage (lost my tripod).

Overwhelmed

It all just sat there. A massive overwhelming lump of bitty rubbish. When I came home all I wanted to do was spend time with the family doing all the things that I’d promised to myself whilst on the walk, things I’d do more of. Every time I opened the computer to go through the footage it just got me down.

October rolled into November which became one of my most busy work months and December is our favourite time of the year as a family with Christmas and a break for New Year. So yes, January arrived and I had pangs to write bits on what we’d been upto over Christmas, what plans we had for the new year, some new reviews and some extended features that I’d written. The problem was that it felt that I need to shift all the Anglesey stuff out of the way first otherwise everyone would of been left wondering what had happened, how I found it etc. It just felt wrong to avoid talking about it. So the need to create something new pushed me into going through the Anglesey footage and finally putting it together.

A New Approach

I’ve spent most of January putting it together and it’s definitely been a learning experience. I no longer am going to film so much on big trips away. Coming back with so much broadly shot footage is daft and overwhelming. I definitely need to be more concise and disciplined, have a definite brief/idea of what I want as opposed to “shoot everything and figure it out later” when filming.

Now I have a much clearer idea of how I want to create and share video of our trips and experiences, one which doesn’t overwhelm me and hopefully not paralyse me again. More concise, nice looking and tell our stories much better.

I’m excited to be creating again.

ACP Blogs

We did it

October 18, 2018

I’m home.
Between October 4th to the 12th I backpacked the 130+ miles of the Anglesey Coastal Path.  All to raise money for Mind.


You can read a bit of background on why I chose to hike this in a previous blog post. It was much, much more difficult than I thought it was going to be.
Physically, the preparation and amazing advice people gave me in the run up was absolutely spot on and on good days (when it wasn’t smashing down with driving rain) I barely noticed the miles.

Unexpected strain

Mentally however, I was crushed from the day before I left until the day Sarah and the kids arrived at our kindly donated Airbnb (thanks Mum and Dad). 8 days in my own head, alone, was absolutely not fun. Having spent most days trying to distract myself with podcasts, the evenings always were filled with tears and questioning why any of it was even vaguely necessary. I was clouded and crippled with homesickness. The first few days were the worst and if it wasn’t for a few people being in constant contact I’d of been coming home 2 days in (I’d packed my bag ready to get a cab to the station one evening). After being talked into carrying on, most plans had gone out the window.

The trip had changed from being an adventure, an outdoor experience to photograph and enjoy, to an exercise in mental/physical endurance and getting it done as fast as I could (especially with Storm Callum rapidly approaching) 8 days down the line and I rolled into Holyhead, coming straight off the mountain (somewhere I’ve wanted to climb for a while) in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin. Friday arrived, Sarah braved the roads and delivered herself, Erin and Finn through a raging Storm Callum. We ate pizza, watched crap garbly TV and everything suddenly felt like it had never happened.

I had a lot of support

I couldn’t of got through it without a lot of very loving/caring souls.
James Ventham, a constant dialect form arguably one of the most resilient men ever to grace this planet.
Ben O’Donoghue, one of my former Mongolia journeymen, offering me multiple, daily messages of supports, advice and offers to come and walk with me.
Dad for offering words that helped me turn a corner and remember the reasons why I’d set off in the first place. Mum for picking the sprats up and dropping them off at school everyday and quietly doing a load of housework (Love you guys)
Gemma and her family for the super generous surprise buying me lunch and dinner when I was totally down in the dumps.
Enid for letting a random man off the Internet enter her beautiful home and rest for the night whilst she wasn’t even there.
John and Lucy at Llanfair Hall for letting me stay in one of their beautiful camping pods.
Rory Southworth for recommending amazing socks.
Hayley at Tyddyn Isaf Caravan Park site for lending me a corner of their field whilst the BBC dominated the rest of it.
Sally Majeur for her extremely generous special donation all the way from Switzerland.
Every single person who messaged me in someway, from friends and family to the amazing little crew of people who have watched the story unfold on Instagram.
My incredible partner Sarah, which this couldn’t of been done without her doing her bit. Flying solo with two kids for over a week whilst I have multiple breakdowns over the phone to, supporting me at every opportunity, I definitely share this ‘win’ with her.

Together we raised over £2000!

Every single person or organisation, friends, family, people I’ve worked with etc who chucked in whatever they could into the pot. Thank you.
I’m going to close the JustGiving page tomorrow night and get the funds sent to Mind ASAP. If you’ve been putting off donating. Now is the time. If you can, please do, we’re so close to £2k it’s crazy! Thanks so much everyone. What a weird week.

Keep your eyes open for the trip vlog and a few more posts where I delve into the downs (and the few ups!) of my hike around Anglesey.

Next time, I think I’ll just sit in a bath of beans or something 😉

ACP Blogs, Personal

Why hike the Anglesey Coastal Path?

September 8, 2018

I’m not really sure where the spark came from for this. I guess I just quietly couldn’t face the summer ending, it’s gone so fast and I just don’t feel quite ready to hunker down for winter and Christmas. Everyone seems to be saying how fast it’s gone too. Am I just at the age now where time flies or do younger kids feel the same way?
I really can’t face not camping again until next year so getting back into a tent seems like a great idea. Albeit more of a technically brilliant, claustrophobic cocoon than our big bell tent.

At the beginning of the year I went walking looking for a wild camp spot to do my first wild camp. It’s September, 9 months later and I still haven’t done my first solo wild camp. Time and work, general life balance have all been responsible alongside my subconscious nervousness around the whole thing. I need to actually do it.

We’ve had a turbulent year so far. Whilst work seems to have increased a lot it feels like our cost of living has gone up faster. The pressure to earn more as a single income, self employed family is higher than ever. It all got a bit much at one point but the fog dissipated a little thankfully. The quiet summer period is over and the phone is ringing again. Sarah has been through the mill much worse though. She’s fighting her own, often severe, mental health battles. All whilst currently working, voluntarily at a school and working through a teacher training course on her time off. Then on top of all that, she’s a Mum, an incredible Mum who is idolised by our two kids (and myself). She’s had some amazing help from close friends, our wonderful NHS professionals and mental health organisations.

This feels like the right thing to do

So all these things kind of merged in one perfect final jigsaw piece placement in my mind a few weeks ago. I could do something to raise awareness and funds for a charity close to our hearts, Mind. I could get outside whilst the weather isn’t too cold and in the last throes of Summer and I could finally scratch my wild camping itch all whilst challenging myself physically and take on some mental battles that I’ve experienced travelling in the past.

When it came to something to do, Anglesey jumped straight in there. We’d visited it as a family last year and I fell in love with the place instantly. It feels different from the Llyn Peninsula. It feels a little more wild, a little more rugged, jagged, unkempt. Its unfamiliarity is a huge pull and it’s so close to where I live. It means that I can do it at relatively low cost (hop on the train to Holyhead, the start line) and also I’m not absolutely miles away if I’m urgently needed back at home. It also meant that I could minimise the amount of time away and hopefully schedule my freelance schedule without missing any much needed work.

I’m looking forward to documenting the whole affair too. I’m going to be making a film of my trip, sharing it and each step along the way on YouTube in a similar way to how we film our current family vlogs.
I’m thrilled to shoot more photographs, for me. I’m really looking forward to figuring out what gear to take (my workhorse 5DMKIII won’t be coming) and I’ve got a few little ideas for things I’d like to shoot out there as well as the usual trip/travel shots.

It’s going to be an interest trip, I feel confident but there’s a definite air of anxiety around a lot of the challenges ahead, mainly psychological fears and nervousness.

The next step now is to get walking and get camping alone.

ACP Blogs

I’m going on a BIG walk

September 8, 2018

I come to you with a special announcement and a special request.

In October I’ll be embarking on a solo 10 day (approx) hike around the coast of Anglesey. 200km in roughly 10 days (I’m still not sure exactly how fast or rather slow that I walk). Along the way I’ll be camping, either at campsites or wild camping along the coast, carrying all my own food and camp equipment.

I’ve never done anything like this before, I’ve never wild camped solo before and I’ve never done a multi-day hike. I’ve never walked anywhere near the 15-20 miles per day that I need to do and I have just over a month to prepare and train for it.

Here’s where you come in. I’m looking to raise £500 for the charity, Mind. Mind provide life-saving advice and support to people of all ages, young and old suffering with a mental health issue across the UK (Read a bit about their impact, it’s remarkable) I’m looking for lovely folks like yourselves to sponsor and support me on this inevitably painful, blister filled, muscle aching, joint throbbing expedition around the rugged coastline of Anglesey.

Please visit my JustGiving page to donate direct. It’s the easiest of the donation sites, takes 1 minute tops. 

I’ll be making a film of the trip, covering all the run up, the pre-hikes and preparations. I’ll be vlogging and Instagramming in prep and whilst out there too so you’ll be able to see exactly how terrible I’m doing and send me supportive messages along the way.  😉 All of this will be available through Skip & Jump website, Instagram and Facebook page. You can also help me by helping me get some kit together. The wonderful folks at Vango have stepped up and lent me some fantastic gear to start with but there’s a few holes I need fill. I have nothing lightweight, nothing designed for an expedition so I’m trying to pull bits together from all over. If you want to buy me a cruddy camp meal or help me buy a fresh water filter there’s an Amazon wish list here. My kit is going to our local cub pack afterwards for re-use.

I’m concerned. I’m concerned about my body, my feet, whether I can carry this much stuff for so long, I’m concerned about getting murdered in the middle of the night, I’m concerned I’ll go crazy and start talking to myself being on my own for a week. My real anxiety triggering worries are that I get homesick REAL bad (even though I’m not even that far away!) and I’m concerned that I’m going to miss a big shoot / job offer half way though! The downside of freelancing! So please, help me make this worthwhile.

Lets raise some cash for Mind, a charity close to my heart.
Lets raise some cash, together.

Camping Kit

7 Ways Our Camping Kit Needs To Change

August 18, 2018

What works and what doesn’t for our family camping kit currently. Last minute trip out with friends to camp in Penmaenmawr, North Wales. It’s close by, we could travel there after work and setup with it still being light. We scraped around various pitch finding websites and found a lovely little place called Trwyn Yr Wylfa.

I hadn’t even looked at our camping kit since halfway through 2017 and just bunged whatever I could find into the trailer on the morning before we left. Our gear was total hit and miss and a bit more minimal. Here’s what we took from our first trip out, what worked and what didn’t.

robens_klondike

Our Tent JUST about works for us

Our “new” Robens Klondike is improved.
At the end of last year our 2016 suffered a few leaks in bad weather but Robens and Taunton Leisure kindly replaced it. I’ve kind of half written an article on this tent but it’s not quite ready. The jist of it is, that this tent is our favourite tent we’ve used ever. Robens sent us a 2017 model, opposed to the 2016 we had. It’s got a few lovely new design features that have made a big difference.

  1. The Stove Port / Collar in the roof is now WAY easier to manipulate and peg in. I used to have all sorts of trouble getting it to cover the ventilation gaps. Now it feels like it fits better, easier to manipulate. I think it’s actually been improved again on the 2018 model.
  2. Robens have added really useful guy line retainers
  3. Guy lines now have metal locks on them, makes tightening and loosening easier
  4. Guy lines also now have moveable metal rings that you can peg directly into saving wear of the lines on the actual pegs.
  5. The A-Frame plastic cap, that we lost INSTANTLY previously, is on a strap retainer, it’s going nowhere!

We really like the Klondike, its quick to put up and pack down, strong but we struggle with the layout and keeping the place tidy / organised. Other than that we’ve fallen back in love with it.

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