Friday, 30 September 2011


This will be my first weekend in Yorkshire for what feels like a very long time! Tonight Stef and I are going for another short walk before meeting some of the KCAC / Cononley mafia at the New Inn for a drink. Tomorrow we're going to go to the coast for the day if the good weather holds; either east to Filey, or west to the Morecambe Bay / Fylde peninsula. I'm also hoping to get a reasonable length run in at some point; probably early on Sunday morning. We've got tickets to see John Cooper Clarke as part of the Ilkley Literary Festival next Tuesday, which I'm looking forward to greatly!

Another girl, another planet

I thought about my former colleague Steve last night when we paused for a moment or two to watch a guy fly-fishing for grayling on the Wharfe. Steve would have loved this wonderful weather during the last week or so and would have been dashing frantically down to catch the last hour of light after work to fish his local stretch of the Derwent in Cromford. I hope they're rising for you up there old friend!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Blinded by the light

The Old Hall, Haworth

Our club run last night was my first head-torcher of the 'winter'. We ran nearly eight miles from the Old Hall in Haworth (at the bottom of the cobbly-road) over to Top Withens and back. It was a great run on a perfect night for running. I wore t-shirt and shorts but wished I'd run in a vest. It really was warm, even at 8-45pm when we got back to the car park

After the run Jennings Snecklifter was taken and Stef (who sat in the pub while we were out running) and I had a nice catch up with Tim, Emily and Richard H. Our night races, err, 'timed training runs', start again soon and I'm really looking forward to lots of head-torch action this winter

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Disney Girls

Surf's Up has been a favourite album of mine since I bought it on vinyl from Selectadisc in Nottingham when I was doing day-release at Trent Poly around 1982. This is Bruce Johnson, solo on the OGWT, and yes, he does the whistling bit near the end! If it doesn't bring a tear to your eye then I suggest you turn off your computer and 'phone the undertaker because there's no hope for you

Bolton Abbey sunset walk

We managed another short walk in the dale last night. After parking by the cricket ground near the Devonshire Arms we walked up to the priory ruins along the river, and back down the road. Two dippers, a few bats, a green woodpecker and a little grebe were spotted along with a field of handsome tupping rams and loads of conkers. The photo above was taken on my phone from opposite Lishmans butchers. I think it's about time I brought a proper camera

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The mandarin and the owl

Stef and I went down to the river for a walk last night. On the way to Barden Bridge Stef finally saw a little owl! I've been promising her for nearly two years that there's often one near the Devonshire Arms and last night it was there. Later by the river we spotted two dippers, a heron and a lovely pair of mandarin ducks. I've seen a few males over the last few years but I think it was the first 'lady' mandarin I've seen. The female is a lovely looking bird but appears drab at the side of a magnificent male

Incidentally, I play around with imaginary names for bands with my blog titles sometimes. 'Douglas and the weekend' is probably still my favourite but I think 'The mandarin and the owl' could be a grower. Now all I need to do is to form a band!

Human behavior

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tribal War

Little Roy is the guy who recorded a reggae version of Nirvana's grunge classic Nevermind album recently. This is possibly his most well-known song from before

Donkeys, a pie and a rare wader

We've had a nice relaxing weekend so far in Devon. Yesterday we went to The Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth. I'd never been before but Stef's family are regular visitors. The sanctuary is a charitable organisation that looks after donkeys and mules that need a new home. The site is very well looked after and they have 400+ animals currently, many of which are 20 to 30 years old

In the afternoon we went over to Black Hole Marsh nature reserve. There was a real buzz about the place because several local birders had found what they hoped was a semipalmated sandpiper among a flock of 15 to 20 dunlins. The small waders were very mobile and there was a procession of birders moving from one hide to another. Devon Bird News is reporting this morning that the bird was indeed a 'semi-p'. We managed another nine species of wader including curlew sandpiper, greenshank and common sandpiper along with shellduck, little egret, heron and kestrel

Last night Stef's mum served up a rather splendid steak and ale pie with fabulous shortcrust pastry. A great way to round off a good day!

Saturday, 24 September 2011


The Esbjorn Sveensson Trio were recommended to me by Keith Cocket and I went to see them live around 2003, at Buxton Opera House, I think. The concert was fantastic! 

Tragically, Esbjorn Svensson was killed in a diving accident at the age 44. I must get out my copy of Seven days of falling and stick it on my i-Pod; I'd forgotten how great this music is

Friday, 23 September 2011


My journey home was relatively uneventful. The Emirates flights were on time and service was up to their usual high standard. Ironically, the only problem was a diversion through Burnley because the M65 was closed for some reason. I wasn't concerned because there was an interesting programme on the radio about Paula Radcliffe, this weekend's Berlin Marathon and next summer's Olympic Games

I woke up this morning around 5am after a reasonable night's sleep (I was in bed before 10pm). A short time later I unloaded my washing machine as I was making a cup of tea. Mundane stuff, but mundane stuff at home. It feels great to be back and I'm looking forward to the weekend immensely!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Rapid Fire

There was no problem getting to the airport this morning. A dozen or so nervous looking travellers (me included if the truth be known) were transferred from the hotel in a mini-bus along with two policemen without incident. I was sat at the back next to one of the policemen who was armed with a machine-gun and I'm now waiting in the lounge looking forward to my flight home in business class!

I should be home around 9pm UK time and I'm off work until Tuesday. Tomorrow I'm going down to see Stef at her folks' in Devon and on Sunday evening I'm bringing her up North to carry on her recovery following her operation. We haven't really got much planned for the next few weeks apart from the Bob Graham Club dinner in early October, but some gentle walks by the river plus another night bivvying up the dale have been mentioned

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Karsh Kale


It's my last full day in Bangladesh today and I'm waiting hopefully to be picked up from the hotel soon to see customers. I use the caveat 'hopefully' because there has been a hartal called for tomorrow. Wikipedia tells me hartal was originally a word used in Gujarat to describe the closing down of shops or businesses to create a demand. Ghandi popularised the word in India for what we might call strikes and it is now used all over South Asia for strikes or civil disobedience. I suspect with action called for tomorrow there's a fair chance we'll need to be careful going out today, especially this evening

I'm flying home tomorrow and after first hearing about the hartal yesterday I contacted the hotel reception who said their normal action is to take guests who need to fly to the airport early in the morning (the hartal is dawn until dusk) and if nessacary under armed police guard. There was some trouble in Dhaka on Monday (50+ people were injured and 27 vehicles vandalised including some set on fire) and things are generally hotting up politically after Eid. Fuel prices and public transport costs are being increased by the government and there is general underlying unrest. I will be a relieved man when the plane leaves tomorrow

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

North Country Boy

Training update

Since leaving home on Saturday September 3rd I've managed eight sessions in the hotel gyms (three in China and five more since coming here to Dhaka). I usually do 10 to 15minutes on the treadmill then five minute 'blocks' on the 'cycling machine' (I've no idea what the kit is all called) and the 'steppers'. 30 to 40minutes in total is as much as I can manage without getting bored but I'm usually struggling to stand when I finish because if the machines aren't rocking I've not trying hard enough! It was with some pride that I noticed a bloke cleaning the sweat off the treadmill this evening when I'd finished running on the steepest incline on it

In addition to the running etc I often finish off with some squats. I used to have all kinds of problems with 'creaky' knees but since taking on the 200 Squat Challenge and strengthening my quads I've had no problems, including during the most rigorous of my Bob Graham training this spring

The other thing I've just started is some core work on the Swiss ball. At the moment I'm just sitting on it with my feet off the floor but I think I'll get a ball for home and investigate some other exercises to do

Yosemite High-Line

Yosemite Falls High-Line from Camp 4 Collective on Vimeo.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Almost Famous

I'm not sure if the baked beans I had with my breakfast this morning made me more or less home-sick

More on the earthquake

BBC news is reporting the epicentre of last night's earthquake was in the NE Indian state of Sikkim. As can be seen above it is front page news in the Bangladesh Daily Star today. 16 people are reported to have lost their lives between India and Nepal; very sad news

Sunday, 18 September 2011


There I was sat at my desk in the hotel a few minutes ago looking at my lap-top when suddenly I noticed the chair wobbling. I thought it was me but then realised the lamp at the side of me and the curtains were moving too. A few moments later I heard someone speaking English outside the door so stuck my head out and it was an American guy from California. He confirmed we'd just had a tremor, which had highly unsettled some other guests. He added the best thing to do was probably stay where I was

Here I am now hoping and praying that whatever we felt wasn't caused by something highly destructive a few hundred miles away. Bangladesh is an extremely poor country with shocking infrastructure and the last thing they need is a bad earthquake, especially now, in the rainy season


"All you need is love, love is all you need"

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Today's Hero - Igor Stimac

I'm bored with writing I went to the gym and had curry for my tea, then had a few drinks and I didn't start my blog to discuss work, so I've decided to introduce a new (possibly ongoing) feature to my blog: 'Today's Hero'!

Derby County are playing Nottingham Forest today (the score was one a piece last time I checked, amazingly Bangladesh TV isn't covering the match live), so it seemed appropriate to start with former Rams' Croat libero and captain, Igor Stimac

Igor wasn't my favourite 90s Derby player (that was Tommy Johnson) but he was by far the most important. Handsome (the photo doesn't do him justice), and build like a cruiserweight boxer, he was an awesome sight when in action and I can still hear the spontaneous cry of 'Igor, Igor, Igor', that rang round the Baseball Ground on the afternoon he was first introduced to the fans

An older friend said there was an air of Dave Mckay about the way he read the game and his physical presence; a real compliment. A worthy start to Today's Hero I think

Edit: 2-1 to the Rams. Igor you're a hero alright, ftw

Friday, 16 September 2011

Where's me Jumper?

I ordered a mushroom and garlic pizza this evening for dinner and when it arrived it took me straight back in time to the early 90s. A friend of mine packed in his job as an engineer at Rolls Royce in Derby around 1992 and enrolled at Hull University. I've no idea what he 'read' but it seemed to involve a lot of all-day drinking

A group of us used to jump in the car at the weekend and spend Saturday night as honorary students drinking and dancing in the University's Chico Mendes bar and a club in the city, the name of which I cannot for a second recall. I'd forgotten the name of the band too but a quick Google of 'Dancing in the disco...' soon sorted that out

Two songs remind me of this time. One is Jealous Guy by John Lennon (I won't be blogging about that), and the other is this, which now sounds like Pete Shelley fronting up the Fall. It's actually far better than I remembered but then I haven't been drinking lager snakebite since lunchtime!

The reason the pizza reminded me of those days was a 'mushroom pizza with a garlic smell' was our preferred after-hours takeaway at that time

Charles Bradley

I've got to admit I'd never heard of Charles Bradley until I saw a post on the excellent Aquarium Drunkard blog yesterday. I've been missing out!

Another week

I should have been on my way to the airport in Dhaka just about now but after a series of phone-calls and some frantic Skypeing yesterday evening I've arranged to stay here until next Thursday to test the samples which have now arrived from Dubai. I've informed the hotel I'll be needing the room for another week and there are three pairs of boxer shorts hanging in my bathroom after hand-washing in the sink last night with shower gel (I've spent too long in Yorkshire to pay the hotel three dollars a pair to wash my pants!). I'll need to get some shirts and a pair of jeans laundered but apart from the fact I haven't really got much reading material I should be okay

Today is a holiday here so I've got the day off. I'll go to the gym later and if the weather is alright (it's been quite mixed the last few days, with rain in the late afternoon) I'll go up on the hotel roof for a bit of sun-bathing. I'm told there's a park very close to the hotel and I fancy trying to find that. It's usually too frantic and just too much hassle to bother going out of the hotel in many South Asian cities but I think I'll get cabin fever if I stay in my room much more

I've been to the gym six times since I left home and ran three miles on the treadmill last night. Some relatively fast running will do me good and I might go home fitter than I came if I can lay off the pizza, chicken curry and local whisky just a bit

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Beach Boys

Diamond Lake restaurant

This is a photo I took yesterday (you can just about make out my reflection if you squint hard) outside what translates as the Diamond Lake Restaurant in central Dhaka. We had lunch, which was chicken curry, boiled rice, mix veg curry ('dry') plus daal. It was the second time I've been there and the food is excellent. The restaurant itself is very basic but it is absolutely heaving at lunchtime. In addition to the rotisserie in the photo chicken is also cooked over charcoal and roti are prepared in an open area by the entrance. The smell of the meat cooking over the charcoal is mouthwatering!

23 Skidoo

More 'found sounds' and tape manipulation. I've got several 23 Skidoo records on vinyl somewhere at home. One of my favourite bands from the early 80s

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Jezebel Spirit

I was pondering making an ambient recording with 'found' moorland and woodland sounds plus waterfowl and wading birds calls to load onto my iPod for use in the gym (pretentious, moi? I've no idea how I would do it!) and then I set to thinking about Brian Eno and David Byrne. I haven't got the My Life in the Bush of Ghosts album but will buy a copy when I get home. This track sounds as terrifying and fresh as it did when I first heard it

Out and about

My samples are finally on their way out of Dubai and I got out of the hotel to see a couple of customers yesterday. The samples will not clear customs before I return home on Friday morning but we can test them next time I'm here, probably in late-October or early November

Last night I had a pizza in the Italian restaurant in the hotel. It wasn't too bad, although it was suspiciously round in shape (I suspect imported, maybe frozen, bases are topped with local fresh ingredients). I also tried some more of the local Carews Whisky. Carews distill spirits here in Bangladesh. The rum was my staple last time I came but they don't have it in this hotel sadly. Alarmingly, the gin smells of Germolene although that might have been the Singaporean tonic I had with it the other night! The whisky doesn't make a bad drink with Coke and plenty of fresh lime and ice

Monday, 12 September 2011

Two egg omelette please, no chilli

Things don't feel quite so negative around here after a reasonable night's sleep. Maybe it was the locally distilled whisky that that put me on a downer last night. I was certainly not very happy before going to bed

I'm stuck here without being able to work because the materials I need to trial in local factories are held in customs in Dubai. The courier we used to send the samples claims they have been with customs for extra security checking for around a week and there's no sign of them being cleared at the moment. If they have not been sent overnight my only real course of action is to bring Friday's return flight forward and go home, because I'm currently sat twiddling my thumbs in the hotel. A highly frustrating situation!

Last night I met an old friend here who I haven't seen for maybe three years. He hadn't changed a bit (and claimed I hadn't), and we had a lovely hour or two drinking tea and reminiscing. His son, who I met once before and who was then a teenager, is now a manager in a local communications company and doing well for himself

This morning I have been down for breakfast and had an omelette. It's very common for Asian hotels to have an 'egg chef' and the one here was very busy today not only doing omelettes but also turning out some very tasty looking scrambled eggs too

Bangladesh is five hours ahead of the UK and I am going to sit outside on the terrace for an hour or two and maybe go to the gym before contacting the office to see if any progress has been made with delivering our samples. I've been to the gym four times since leaving home (every other day) but seem to be coming down with a cold now, which might make my session on the treadmill even harder than normal. Perhaps some chilli in my omelette would have helped sweat out the cold and been a good thing after all!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Eddie Cochran

The Bangladesh leg of my trip to Asia has fallen foul of logistical problems. I suspect there's a more than even chance I will be leaving the country earlier then planned, and before I have achieved what I set out to do. In fairness, this is through no fault of my own

Pizza and local whisky have been taken this evening in the hope of making things feel better, albeit with little success. At times like this rock 'n' roll has often found to be the only solution

On a more positive note I got word from an old colleague earlier this evening announcing the birth of his first child, which is great news. I'm about to retire in the hope that further good news will be received tomorrow

Horace Andy

Original vocal plus a dub from King Tubby. I love how the voice drifts ethereally in and out of the mix

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Moving on

I'm in what used to be the Sheraton hotel in Dhaka after arriving around midnight last night (the hotel has been taken over since I last stayed here and is now called the Ruposhi Bangla). I flew Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur and on to Dhaka with Malaysia Airlines yesterday. The first time I came to Asia it was for a couple of days stop-over in Kuala Lumpur around ten or eleven years ago on the way to Australia for a holiday. I fell in love with Asia instantly. The heat, the humidity, the noise, the food; even the air smelt exotic to me. It might sound trite but it was life-changing in a way. It's a real shame that when you depart an airplane now more often than not you walk straight into an air-conditioned corridor. I miss walking down the steps and onto the hot tarmac! 

China was okay. The exhibition went well and the hotel I stayed in was great. The only problem I had apart from the usual language barrier was feeling isolated and lonely. It was particularly difficult this time because Stef had her operation on Tuesday and so began her recovery while I was away. I'll never forget waiting for a text from her dad to say she was alright and out of the operating theatre. I was wandering around the hotel wondering what to do with myself for what seemed like hour after hour

Blogger and YouTube are blocked in China which added to the sense of isolation but I did manage to get to the gym three times in five days. I checked out the gym here after breakfast and it looks good. There's a sauna, which I thought was ironic. It's 30degrees plus outside, the hotel air-con seems to be set to 17degrees all over the building but if you want you can get a sauna!

Cold cold ground

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Hanging round

I'm hanging round the Emirates business lounge at Dubai airport. I've got a flight to Shanghai in a couple of hours and will be there until next Friday. After that it's on to Dhaka, Bangladesh for a week. I've been to China a few times in the past but to be honest it's not my favourite country for business. Generally very little English is spoken, which makes meetings difficult and the food is not great either, although Shanghai is better than Guangzhou in the South. Two weeks will no doubt fly by however and before I know it I will be back here on the way home again

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Saturday boy

Probably my favourite Billy Bragg song

The Turkey, Goose Eye

The Turkey at Goose Eye is a regular on our list of Wednesday night pub runs but for some reason I think I'd only ever been there once before last night. The run was tough but I enjoyed it and felt better than I have for weeks while running, I think mainly because the weather was cool. We did six miles and maybe 800ft of climb

We're down to the last handful of pub runs now before we revert to the White Lion on Wednesdays. It was becoming dark as we dropped back down to the car park last night and it'll be time to dig the headtorchs out soon