OK here goes.
So i mentioned on the home page, I have suffered and indeed do still suffer from some elements of mental illness, but its nothing special, im nothing special, everyone has problems, its how we choose to deal with those problems is what makes the people we are, if we choose to dwell on them and become bitter no one benefits. This blog is about how I chooose to deal with those things, how I take control back, how i choose to take resonsibility for my very own probelms and react in a proactive manner.
I have also learnt that not only am I responsible for my problem and it’s up to me the value I put on them and how I let them affect me, but it’s also my responsibility to make me happy to, like my problems no one can do this but me.
So im a Muppet at times and even a dick some of the time, like a lot of people, but in the great scheme of things, i like me, that hasnt always been the case and I dont always feel thats way, but hey, i do the best i can.
We all have a lot of crap to carry around, some more than others, I have had a shed load, it seems, sometimes I can drag it easier than other times. I have been fortunate enough to meet some real fighters who have a warehouse load but keep on dragging it around, I have met others who crumple dragging nothing but normal day to day crap. I have tried all sorts to break the tow rope to my shed rope or simply alleviate some of my crap. I have now come out the other side, mentally, though certain elements such as being mindful of threats still affects me unconciously when tired or run down. However accepting these and realising, hey, im not alone, everyone has crap to deal with helps, and i have a edge, i know its how I choose to react to it that counts, If i think, yep another day, o well, tommorrow will be better, its easy, if i were to dwell and think this is me, im doomed, so I think posatively and simply get on my bike.
However the shit things we experience shape us, growth is something that only comes from crap, and I would probablly be a much bigger dick, had i not experienced some crap.
So how do I deal with these bouts, how do i keep the black dog from barking at my door, I keep busy, I think yes im having a shit time but its up to me how i let it effect me, how i choose to take responsibility for it, I exercise, I do things I love, biking, exploring, treking, kayaking and mounatineering. I eat well. I spend time with people I love, people who are not only are there to share laughs with, but there to lie under the stars with, to support when they need it and to support me when i do.
However the main thing that keeps the dog in its kennel, and grounds me toatlly is planning trips away, then living out those dreams, free, tearing down a mountainside on a loaded bike, howling with joy. Pushing my loaded bike up a mountain, in deep snow and ice, in the dark, feeling the pain, and never forgetting it, “if it hurts its probably worth it”, someone once said, i like that saying. Setting up camp in the middle of nowhere, putting dry socks on and making food, these are the mood setters, these are my church. The only other place I feel this happy is when i have shared time with my kids, or quality time with close friends or cwtch time with a loved one.
I have always had a love for bikes, since i first seen a Raleigh Boxer, the little brother of the Grifter. My bike and my evolution of bikes were my transport, my escape pod, my source of enjoyment and work tool. I had fanastic experience of having a morning paper round and a evening one, for 3 years, all done on bikes, the morning one on a old fashoned steel bike with a huge paperboy basket, it was a beast for a 13 year old anyhow and the evening one on all sorts of bikes aculinating with my metalic blue raleigh bomber. I have continued to bike throughout my youth and adulthood, following the progression of mountain bikes into the market and as a sport. The other activity i have done quite a bit of is bagging mountains and wildcamping, under the stairs, so when someone first drew m attention to bikepacking a mixer of the two, it awoke a passion.
So bikepacking it is which i see as a self inflicted challenge or a transparent evasion exercise. The goal is to do something that challenges me mentally, physically, to soak up hardships and joys amoungst out in fresh air. I believe, we only grow, when we are pushed beyond our comfort zones. That through pushing oneself beyond discomfort we are forced make decsions, maturing as we learn from the consequences. Through acheiving or failing and learning from it, self worth is gained and self esteem is bolstered ultimately. Or at least thats what seems to work for me.
I am from North Wales, born in Wrexham, where I was brought up and I brought my kids up. It’s also the place where my childhood friends live and where I have spent many a night hitting the pubs and clubs of the town. I have spend a large proportion of my time in and around Llangollen one of my favourite places in the world, it’s where many of my closest friends live and hang out and also has some amazing facilities for doing outdoor shit. The River Dee for rafting and kayaking, Worlds End for climbing and everywhere around for biking, with Llandegla only a short distance away. It’s also only a short drive to Snowdonia my extended playground for all activities and mini adventures.
I have on quests of self improvement acheived quite a bit as an adult, as a child I did not do so well, I struggled badly in school, largely as a result of the abusive environments i was subjected to, school was something to avoid along with home. Academically I was very bad and when I did attend school, I was in remedial classes and could barely read or write until I attended adult classes in my mid 20’s. After a spell in army, which turned out to be as abusive as my home life, followed by a brief period of homelessness, I trained as a woodmachinist and cabinet maker and became quite good at it. After the collapse of a business venture and learning how to read and write I attended higher education, I found out I had severe dyslexia (yay, im not simple or stupid after all ). I did very well and suprised myself immensly how well with hard work I could do. My first HND i acheived the highest grades every awarded 13 overall distinctiona nd 11 overall merits, I then went on to do a Degree and a post grad diploma. I acheived chartership status as a Building Surveyor, and a second chartership as a Construction Project Manager, along with a few other professional diplomas in Architecture, Surevying. I worked for many years in the industry and eventually had my own private practice.
I worked as a professional in the construction industry in the week and as a outdoor guide or instructor at wekends, coaching, guiding or instructing, kayaking, white water rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, team building, assisting climbing seasons, assisting gorge walking, assisting mountaineering.
With 11 years of somewhat stability and in line with the death of my best friend and the collapse of a 17 year realtionship with my wife my mental health collapsed again in 2006 after a long spell of coping.
I met a woman and after a period of living off grid we set up and ran two businesses, initially funded by her family, offering main event tents and accomodation at events and festivals, cariad canvas and wedding tipi. The businesses were very sucessful, however they did take their toll on me as I undertook a large proportion of the work in setting them up and running them. After 9 years my partner and I separated, unfortunately I was pushed from the businesses I had set up, built and loved. I love tents, I love hard work and I love working outdoors, so it was a great job for me.
I have been fortunate enough to have some really good friends to do most activities with; many I have met through the kayaking scene over the years and have gone on to enjoy good times and experiences in many other activities beyond those on the water. I have been involved with kayaking since I was 14, I’m not the best by any means, I’m competent or was, its all relative though, some of my friends are up there as being ranked in the world and some having won international events. I am a level 3 Kayak coach and 5 star trained paddler.
I love the mountains and the remoteness that comes with exploring them, I have had some great times on them and also some pretty sorryful times, as they are generally where I go to gather my thoughts and like my wounds. my special thing is wildcamping whether it be in tents, bothies or under rocks, on ledges whatever, just as long as its remote, I love it.
I love biking, I have never been on my bike riding and regreted it, im like a child on a bike, smiling as I decend fast, grinning ear to ear, i cant get enough of it.
My latest was paragliding, it was amazing the feeling of excileration and freedom, but unfortunately UK conditions are not the best. Its odd when I land i always feel glad to have survived, like i have been reborn, afterwards all problems seem insignificant as they are generaly not life threatening. I gave it up recently as the thought of injury and who would be effected by it hit home with the injury of friend.
I have spend a good chunk of my life living outdoors allowing me to learn some neat tricks on self sufficiency in remote places to the point were i was competient enough to runn sucessful courses on bushcraft and survival, for a major north wales activity provider. I love the feeling of waking in a forest to a smokey fire, ahhh forest living, its a harmonious environement.
As mentioned I have spend a considerable amount of my adulthood on the water either canoeing, kayaking or rafting. I loved the water and a day barely went past when i wasnt drawn to it and my group of friends who also frequented it. This love wiltered and died some years ago, with a bout of mental illness in 2008, though it is slowly being re ignited thankfully.
I love spending time with friends doing adnormal stuff in beautful places, chilling enjoying one anothers presence in remote places, mountains, lakes, lochs, caves, rivers, forests or just the quite local, talking crap and laughing generally at one of our friends and more often at me.