Sunday, 21 December 2014

A little more running practice...

As we are in winter and the weather isn't exactly kind I have found it increasingly difficult to get any real running practice in. My dad has been scouring our local vicinity to try and discover a running specific track and we have even looked at  trying to find somewhere indoors, large enough to have a jog around.
 
One of Ade's images which I played around with using Snapseed

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Saga of my Sandman cranks and bottom bracket, plus a little test ride cut short.

Yesterday I was very pleased to be reunited with my much beloved Sandman Hoggar Fat Bike. Si my new found friend and bicycle mechanic over at Cycle Solutions returned her complete with new e.Thirteen TRS the Hive cranks and bottom bracket.
New e.thirteen TRS cranks and BB

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Decidely dodgy riding weather

My friend John on his trusty steed
My friend John has been going stir crazy of late. It's understandable as he has now been unemployed for over 2 years after losing his job at our local Citizen Advice Bureau. John has to attend this pointless agency through the government. Constantly writing and re-writing CV's and not actually being assisted with finding a job at all. The threat of being sanctioned for the slightest thing hanging over him each day. 

Last visit of the year to the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic

Due to the weather being so horrid, what with this so called 'weather bomb' I simply haven't been able to get out a practice on my running limb. It has been either windy, wet, slippery or freezing. So yesterday was the first opportunity I had had to run since visiting Pace Rehab and Paul my prosthetist over at the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic.

I know it's early days, however I'm a born worrier, yes I said worrier not warrior I'm way to soft to be a warrior. Anyhoo my main concerns at the moment are that I'm not getting enough practice in, my fitness is atrocious and I have this very worrying niggle in my good leg around my knee area. All I want to do is get my head down and get some serious training in, there always just seems to be something that gets in the way. You see there I go again looking at all the negatives. But me being me it doesn't take long to then take a step outside of my sub -concious and give myself a good talking to, some what like what a good friend would do. Trying to focus on all the positives.

Paul tinkered and tweaked a few settings on the running prosthesis and each time I would go for a short run, back and forth in the car park, finally retiring inside the Lombard Clinic as it was brass monkeys outside. Yes I can run on the new blade, it's stable and safe, however Paul is very enthusiastic, has a real passion for his job and would like to get it perfect. So what he was trying to figure out was where exactly the small whip I have going on was coming from.

I am quite different apparently to a lot of AK amputees in that my adductor muscles are very strong. I don't know if this comes from riding bikes for a long period, or if it's my Bartlett Tendon as I work against resistance using that knee. So what Paul was investigating was whether my socket was being internally/externally rotated as I took a running stride. We did quite a bit of work in between the parallel bars, along with Tracy the Lombard Physio. Tracy then gave me some more exercise to do using a Theraband. These would help promote the use of muscles in my glute's and I think in hip abduction. A little while ago Tracy put me on to a very handy little app from Otto Bock, it's like a mini work out with your own personal fitness coach and it's aimed at lower limb amputees. So hopefully if I carry out the exercises in a routine I should see increased strength in those areas where I am lacking at the moment and this should help in my control and position of my residual limb when running.

This was my final visit of the year to see everyone. I now have a month of hard work and will return in January to see the guys, including Donna Lombard's new receptionist who is a lovely lady. Donna always looks after me, giving me the occasional hug and making sure there are plenty of beverages on the go. Just one big happy team really. I love the atmosphere as it is so relaxed and friendly and quite often I get the opportunity to speak with other amputees which I always find very rewarding.

Merry Christmas to everyone at Team Pace and also to the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic and their clients.

Friday, 12 December 2014

MBR Magazine Feature

Say Cheese
A little while ago I got an unexpected surprise in the form of an email from a lovely guy named Jamie Darlow. Jamie went on to explain that he worked at Mountain Bike Rider Magazine (MBR Magazine) and had come across my blog. He asked would I be interested in tbeing featured in an article for the mag, going on to say that he thought it would be an inspirational and interesting story for MBR's readers.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

What a day for my new bikes maiden adventure

Just got my Bartlett Tendon along with new check socket back from Paul over at Pace Rehab on Friday. Due to some technical issues (mainly due to me changing shape in a short period of time) I have been without a riding limb. Obviously this has meant my fitness has dropped off and though I have been out practising both with my running blade and also swimming it's a totally different kind of fitness so today's local loop was a cold, wet, muddy and relatively short 8 miles or so.
John and Glenn



Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ok the weather isn't going to get any better I have to get out and run...

Practising in the car park @ South Moor Park
I have been in a kind of limbo of late. My body is changing shape and I have discovered each of my various legs just aren't fitting. That's my NHS everyday leg that I wear for work, my running prosthesis which is in it's infancy, so I'm only at the check socket phase and my Bartlett Tendon which I have found to be way too big.  Pace Rehab are on the job, though it's been a difficult time getting fitted as like I say I change shape so quickly. Imagine if you will, when I'm really active I tend to loose weight, even though I am building strength and indeed muscle, it still means my residual limb shrinks. I then have to be re-fitted, however the time I then spend not doing any exercise I then put on weight and the original socket I was cast for then becomes obsolete as my sizing changes once again. It's very much a vicious circle which almost every amputee goes through. Don't get me wrong I'm not whining here, as I am very fortunate in the support and sponsorship I receive, it's just very frustrating when you want to get out there and get down to business only to have these small but annoying setbacks strewn across your path.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Positive Outcomes

As many of you know it's very rare I write a short blog, some of my friends say "Glenn you don't half waffle on, we much prefer to just skip the text and move along to your photo's". Well in this case I don't have many photo's. The pics  Ern (my dad) had taken came out pants. Not really Ern's fault, it was just that the camera is a small compact, under artificial lighting, late in the afternoon so it was dark and indoors.

Really I should have got more shots when my two new friends Si from Cycle Solutions and Andy from Bike Swanky arrived. But taking pictures was the last thing on our minds as we came in doors practically as soon as Andy and Si pulled up in Bike Swanky's logo'd up van. We just had so much to talk about.


Si (Cycle Solutions),Me, Andy (Bike Swanky) and my new De Rosa Idol

Friday, 24 October 2014

'A leap of faith' - Running Prosthesis Stage 2

Really enjoyed the whole day working with Paul. His positive comments go along way
My appointment to head down to Pace Rehabilitation and their Cheadle clinic to meet with one of my prosthetists down there Paul Richardson, had soon come around. I had arranged with Paul a week earlier to get down to Pace pretty early. This would give us plenty of time to experiment with the next stage of my running prosthesis.
 

I had my alarm on my mobile set for 6:30am, though in the morning discovered I didn't really need it, as I was already wide awake, probably due to the excitement at the prospect of seeing all this new prosthetic kit. I'm sure there are some people out there who just don't get why anyone would be excited at what essentially they would  just see as "a leg". Thing is in the majority of cases as an above knee amputee you need a different leg for each activity you choose to do and without a specific limb you struggle. They are also very expensive and this means quite a few amputees resign their selves to a life of giving up on what they used to do, or want to do, even though they have the potential  in some cases to go on and do even more than they could as an able bodied person.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Running prosthesis stage 1

I'm on my holiday's, not going anywhere tropical or warm or even anywhere in particular really, though I do have some pretty exciting stuff going on in my life at the moment which is a bit closer to home and will involve travelling down to Manchester next week. But hey lets not jump the gun, let me start at the best place the beginning.
 
Paul blessing my stump lol

I love this shot it's so funny and I'm sure Paul will also see the funny side. I wasn't sure if he was blessing my stump or was a practising faith healer with the promise of "I can make it grow back".

"Hey Paul I'll just settle for one of your awesome sockets m8"

 As many of you will know I have been trying to raise much needed funds along with Arctic ONE to put towards the completion of a running prosthesis.











How all this came about was after visiting the US, last year and getting some really great advice from a gentleman named Scott Clark who is a prosthetist over at Baker Orthotics and Prosthetics who are based in Dallas Fort Worth TX. Scott had asked would I like to progress into doing other activities other than riding a bike and my reply was "sure, however as you know prosthetic gear is very expensive and I just can't afford that kind of layout". I went on to explain that our health system works entirely different to the US and indeed many other countries. I had tried contacting various companies and people, but always came to a dead end, so basically I had put the thought of ever being able to run to the back of my head, much preferring to concentrate on what I could do, rather than waste negative energy being consumed by what I wasn't able too (Notice I said unable to and not can't ) That's the thing with a lot of people they quite often get worn down by the whole health system when they don't have some kind of funding in place, and aren't able to obtain the right equipment to help move them along in their chosen direction. These people quite often then get a Negative "Can't" attitude and as we all know it's pretty much down hill from there.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Welcome to the North East Pace Rehabilitation






















 A few weeks ago my good friend Scott Richardson who is the P.R Guru at Pace Rehabilitation informed me that they were going to be having an open evening at the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic, which is situated in West Moor, Newcastle and would I like to attend as a guest on behalf of Pace along with a few of my friends and my dad, Ern.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Kielder with friends old and new...

What a cracking Crew
 Right to Left -Steven Hackworth ,John Chambers,Al Roberts,Luke Troy,Mark Boon Purvis, Steve (Scotty) Scott,Kevin Turner, Carl,Mark Eagan, Glenn Johnstone,Lee Sheridan,Ian Carr, Davey (twice around) Purvis.

My friend Al said

As you will see it's been a little while since I last wrote a blog. There's been a lot going on, however it's not really been stuff I've felt like writing about as it's been mainly depressing,sucky and bad stuff. My friend Al says I should still write about this kind of stuff as it gives other people and insight into how things aren't always rosey, even though I am very lucky in being able to do more than most what with having great support and sponsorship in my prosthetic needs and being also supported in my future endeavours. Al went on to say I wouldn't be surprised at just how many people may relate to how I go through things and then  always find the strength to bounce back. I have to admit at the moment I don't feel very bouncy, never the less here I am. As I have said in the past, popping stuff down also helps me reflect a little and can help me figure out just where I'm going and what I should be doing to get there.

This of course won't be one of my most exciting blogs, however I do hope for those that read it you can see that all I am trying to get across is that there is light at the end of any tunnel.

One of the hardest things for me when I'm feeling depressed less than motivated, un-enthusiastic or can be bothered to do anything is knowing I'm being an asshole. It's as if I can step out of my own body mentally and I'm screaming to myself "Omg just pull yourself together, your an absolute nightmare to be around and I don't like you". I suppose this message must get through, however it doesn't pull me out of my mood, no it just makes me realise that yeah actually I am not much fun to be around so I tend to cut people off, don't go out as much, don't blog, don't Facebook, in fact I don't do much.I guess I don't want to be a burden and if I can't stand being around me, then why should other people have to put up with me. It's weird as it almost always happens around winter time. It's like some seasonal clock that ticks away and then come that time of year bang, happy head off, root around in the bottom of the wardrobe and pop on my seasonal downer head.

Even as I write this I'm thinking "yeah but it doesn't have to be that way" and "hold on a minute give yourself a break, there has been a lot of shit going on over the last few weeks". Anyhoo the purpose of my blog isn't to have you all feeling sorry for me, but I suppose it is a bit of a place to share what's going on in my life and that of some of my family and friends and of course that isn't always going to be good stuff all the time.

As anyone who reads my blog will know I lost my best friend a few weeks ago. Mr Hink's has been such a miss around our house. Well this didn't help how I was feeling. Following that I discovered I had 3 lymph nodes up in my neck. One of which has been there for years, right in my clavicle area. I hadn't ever been able to feel it before, even though it was the first one I was diagnosed with way back in 2008. Now though it's up and I can feel it. They are quite small, only being around 1cm in diameter. I managed to get in and see the specialist, had bloods taken and everything appears ok. I do have to keep going back for more regular check ups. You know what scares me the most about this Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma? It's not the treatment or the disease, No it's the recovery period. I hate it when your relatively healthy and then you have that whole period of illness. Recovering is the hardest part. But anyhoo lets not spend valuable time wasting energy pondering something that hasn't even happened. Something I have learned is that way too many people live in the past with the what ifs or wishing they had done something different, or look to the future planning ahead for events which may never happen.The "Right Now" totally slips by and they are unaware's, and its the Right Now which really counts.

A good few weeks ago both Al and myself decided to go biving.  John and Lee our other friends couldn't join us, John having done something to his back and being in lots of pain and Lee having just undergone surgery for a hernia. So Al and I set off ourselves and camped up at Smiddy Shore. I didn't blog about it as this was the start of me feeling crap. Anyhoo that night we were camping out I realised I had forgotten to bring my medication for my phantom pain. I had left it in my other back pack. "aww never mind I will get some tomorrow when I get home". So biving trip over I was feeling decidedly unhappy. My riding socket had rubbed me raw for some reason all the way up and all the way back home so I had a nasty sore on my hip. At the moment I'm riding with a check socket that Pace has made me and as with any check socket it's a temporary thing to iron out the areas where it's not fitting and then when this is sorted move onto what should be a comfortable final socket. So moving on I get home and figure "you know what my phantom pain isn't that bad I'm just going to quit my Pregablin". Now I should have known better as I once did exactly the same thing with another neuro drug back around 2009/10 and it sent me mental.

So long story short over the last few weeks I have done cold turkey coming off these bloody awful tablets. I've had all the usual withdrawals, but at least now I am drug free and aim to try and keep it that way. Yeah I have phantom pain and it's horrible, but I would much prefer to have the pain than be addicted to something that screws with my mind and even when I'm taking them doesn't do a great deal to help.

Well anyway there is a little insight into why I haven't been around. If anything I hope anyone who comes across my blog and reads stuff like this can see that just because I have all this good stuff going on, what with being sponsored by both Pace Rehabilitation and Brian Bartlett and then of course also being aided in my fund raising to help get me a running blade by Arctic ONE, that everyone can go through dodgy patches in their lives. Everyone is entitled to feel a little sorry for themselves. Saying that I would be a hypocrite if I didn't then go on to say one of my mantras in life is "that out of every negative, there is a positive, you just have to look hard enough". So what is it in this case? Well I don't have to think too long and I can come up with lots. For one when you're on the bottom the only way is up. When your down, you discover what good family and  friends you have, oh and you also discover that people don't just like you because you try to put on this act of being happy all the time and being the life and sole of the party. They like you for you and all your quirks.

I've found it's been really helpful chatting to my various friends near and far and when they ask "Hey Glenn how are you doing?", instead of replying in typical fashion "Oh yeah I'm ok thanks", actually saying "you know what I haven't been feeling so good". I guess I'm of the opinion if no one really knows then how can anyone help.

After all sometimes all we need is a friendly ear and someone to talk things through with,someone who doesn't say "pull yourself together and stop feeling sorry for yourself", but rather says "well we are here for you".

It's to those people I say a huge thank you too...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Great service from Si at Cycle Solutions

Since snapping my chain a few weeks ago on my Fat Bike I've encountered a few problems, what with getting my gears set up and this really annoying creak/click on my cranks. A few months ago I took my bike to my local Evans to get the threads cleaned in my bottom bracket, and have the BB installed. I purchased the more expensive Nitride BB, thinking it would last longer. You see for some strange reason my eThirteen cranks wore away on one side. Anyhoo this was an expensive repair the cranks along with chain rings and BB coming in at well over £300.

Long story short ever since having the new BB and cranks put in place my bike has more or less creaked when ever I put power down on my good side. After my chain snapped, sending me over the bars, my dad took my rear wheel off to check to make sure everything was ok. He noticed I had a few spokes that could maybe do with being tightened, so off again he went down to Evans taking my back wheel so that they could tighten my spokes along with my cones. Ern then replaced my rear Shimano cassette and I had him pop in some new blingtastic Hope Jockey Wheels, my old ones were looking like ninja throwing stars. 

Both Ern and I then had a go at setting up my gears and it was an epic fail. For some reason we just couldn't get the indexing right and the chain was jumping all over and missing gears on the cassette.

Now last week my friend Wayne had come to drop off a little Kodak video camera he has, one of my other friends might be interested in buying it. Wayne just happened to mention that he had dropped his Rock Shox forks off at a bike shop and they were going to do a complete service for him,costing around £80. Anyhoo he went on to tell me that when he was at home, he came across this very nice lad called Si who was across the road from where Wayne lives. I'm not sure how they got chatting but Wayne discovered Si runs his own mobile bicycle repair,servicing and maintenance business, so he asked Si for a quote to service his forks and when Si said £25, Wayne was more than happy and went and collected his forks so that he could hand them over to Si to sort out.

I remembered Wayne telling me about Si so txt him yesterday for Si's number. I then gave Si a quick ring, however there was no answer. About 15 minutes later I had a return call and I explained to Si that Wayne had recommended him and could he come and have a look at my gears sometime. "Yeah I'll call around at 18:30pm" Si said, and true to his word come 18:30pm there he was ringing my door bell. I quickly put my boots on and we headed off to our shed, so that Si could have a look and see if he could manage to work there or if he would need to take my bike to his workshop. "Oh I should be able to sort it here" Si said and he got stuck right in. I think Si was on with my bike around 45 to 50 minutes and I really enjoyed chatting away to him as he worked. He showed me where the indexing was wrong and, how to better route my cables and actually got my gears running smoother than they had in a very long time. We talked about Si's business Cycle Solutions and I have to say I was very happy with his skill and knowledge and at just how friendly he was, giving me advice on maintaining my bike and isn't it just so much fun talking to someone who shares your passion.

Well anyway I just wanted to write a small blog and give Cycle Solutions and Si a bit of a shout out, it's great to find local people trying to get on, and when they offer such a great service and very reasonable rates all the better.


Next job for Si and Cycle Solutions  is to fit new inner and outer cables for me and sort this dam annoying creak in my crank it's driving me mad.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

First real ride out on Bike Swanky's PYGA 29'er

Kind of lost here without my dog Mr Hink's. Our house feels real empty and quiet. My dad, Ern is lost too, so I asked him "how you fancy heading out and helping me shoot a video and maybe get a few pics". It seemed like a good opportunity to take the demo bike I have on loan from Bike Swanky for a proper blast. Paul and Andy of Bike Swanky very kindly sent the bike up on Friday morning along with 2 jerseys a mtb and a road one and some Bike Swanky flyers and stickers.
Smile your on some kind of camera
Out the saddle and away up the trail

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Farewell my dear old friend...

Love you Hinks, you will be sorely missed
 A few days to reflect... It's not often I write negative posts here upon my blog. I mean sure bad stuff does happen in my life, just like everyone else's.But why write lots of maudlin crap and then get everyone feeling down, all teary eyed and feeling sorry for one another. So this blog (which I wasn't sure if I was going to write) is more a celebration of life, rather than the very sad fact I've lost a close friend.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Pace Rehabilitation - Real Lives

It's always nice to do something that's worthwhile, something that not only makes you feel good, but also gets the word out about the people behind the scenes, the ones who facilitate your success in a way.

Upon getting in from work today I checked my mails and was very pleasantly surprised to find out that I had been featured in Pace Rehabilitations - Real Lives. My friend Scott Richardson who is the Business Development Manager or PR Guru as I like to call him had wrote a very nice piece about my recent participation in Arctic ONE's triathlon down at Dorney Lake, Eton.

Of course the article is centred around me and what I have achieved, however I couldn't have done this without some very special people helping me along the way. I have been supported by Pace from very early on in my cycling adventures. We have a great relationship and this has moved on to become more of a relaxed friendship. What I like about Pace is that they take the time to listen, if I have ideas or suggestions they don't write it off and they do everything they can to encourage me, rather than being negative which I have found a lot of as an amputee.

Another huge influence on what I have gone on to do is through the use of my BTK or Bartlett Tendon Knee. Again without Brian Bartlett's backing and support I would hate to think of where I would be now. As an ordinary guy who didn't lose his leg through and accident and I wasn't in the military well funding such expensive prosthetics would have been very difficult. I realise just how lucky I am to have had the support of people and clinics like Brian and Pace. Though I would say to anyone, you can make things happen if you want them bad enough. I did. If your positive and determined in time will shine through, of course you still have to take the knocks and put in a lot of hard work

More recently, maybe because of what I was doing or involved in. Or just because I put myself out there, Arctic ONE came along and agreed to help me fund raise towards a running prosthesis. This is a huge help and one that will not go unrewarded in return. My aim or goal after learning to run of course is to try and return all these peoples kindness and go on to help other people in similar situations to myself.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation accepted my application for a running blade and I got notification in April of this year. I now have until the 31st December to make my dream come true as that is when my grant runs out. So that's why I have been hard at work trying to fund raise and take part in various Arctic ONE events.

Anyhoo on to the Article and if you feel you would like to help either myself or Arctic ONE here is the link.

Virgin Money Just Giving Glenn


Pace Rehab Glenn-Johnstone-Triathlon-ArcticONE

Monday, 8 September 2014

Thanks Michelle for treating us to a fantastic Bush crafting experience.

Quite sometime ago my friend Michelle bought Lee (Michelle's husband), our friend John and I a lovely surprise gift. It was a days taster course on Bushcrafting. This is where you learn to use skills in order to set up a camp. Things like making, constructing and putting up shelters, how to light and make a fire and one of the most important things how to obtain safe drinking water from different sources.

Well yesterday was the pre-arranged day for our Bushcrafting adventure. John had decided he didn't fancy going, which was a shame as we had a fantastic day and learnt lots, even though we only had a short period of time with the instructors. So rather than just waste the place our friend Al jumped at the opportunity to come along and expand his knowledge of playing in the great outdoors.

Al and Lee at Kirkley Hall

Lee called for me around 8:30AM and we had a lovely leisurely drive up to Kirkley Hall, which is in Ponteland. There we met Al and had a few moments to have a chat and also meet some other adventurers as we waited. After a little time had passed we figured we must be in the wrong area as time was getting on and we hadn't really seen anyone else. So we asked this very friendly lady just where abouts the Bush-craft course people may be.The lady directed us down through the car park and towards the woods and there we found a larger group of people and some of the instructors, Ron and Margaret.

Ron and Margaret gathered a few details from all of the group and explained a little about how the course would be ran and then we were off walking down an incline and some steps and into the woods, all very scenic.


Once in the woods there were cups of tea and coffee available and we where introduced to a few more instructors who were going to be helping with the Bushcrafting activities. There was Steve and Ron's son Alex.  The group of people attending the day was quite large so we were split into 3 groups of 7. This was great as it gave us all a chance to meet new people and really enjoy our successes and of course all have a laugh at our failings, of which I have to say there were few. Ron decided we should give our individual groups, names based on Indian themes. This is because he particularly likes the history of the Native American Indians, their use of the land and the tools and weapons they chose to use all those years ago. Ron is very much into archery, knife throwing and the use of a tomahawk and he has passed this passion down to his son Alex. The names of the tribes each group came up with were The Mow-hawks, The big Wood Tribe and the tribe I was in was called the Running Stream.


Each tribe then set off with an instructor to learn about different aspects of Bush-crafting. Our Tribe Running Stream, got Steve firstly as our instructor. We were to learn about shelters. Steve did an excellent job of testing our knowledge and then going on to explain how and why each shelter was made in a different way. Steve showed us an array of different knots, taking time to go over each one and if anyone got stuck helping out and offering top tips. It was a really good exercise in both team building and gaining valuable knowledge of how to construct a basic shelter within minutes. Top marks to Steve he was awesome, and like all the instructors on the day very likeable and easy to get along with.

We all thanked Steve and then broke for lunch. I decided to opt for a nice cup of coffee to go with my pre-prepared Nutella and carved chicken baby bread, fruit loaf sandwiches. It was great just sitting around the camp fire sharing stories and experiences with everyone. Me well I seem to talk more than most, in fact it's something I'm becoming increasingly aware of and at times I feel I should reign myself in. I don't know if it's because I'm getting overly confident these days or the opposite I'm quite afraid so I just waffle on about anything or nothing in particular. For those who know me I can't win as if I'm quiet I'm in a huff or sulking and when I'm chatting all the time I must be annoying. It's weird what you think of when your just typing away lol.


Lee checking for a saggy bottom
Lee chuffed his bottom isn't sagging
  After lunch we set off with Alex,who was going to teach us all about fires,. The best materials and tools to use to create a fire. Firstly Alex showed us what small kindling we would need to collect in order to get our fire going. We were asked to head off into the woods and collect 2 bundles of kindling each. Fine pine tree branches work best as they ignite well and the sap within the branches helps the fire burn. On our return Alex asked us all to take a seat and he meticulously went through various tinder's, how to make or prepare them and different methods of igniting a fire. We got to practice with fire steels as well as a metal striker and traditional flint. Then there was the old fashioned playground method of igniting a piece of Charred cotton, using a magnifying glass and the rays of the sun, Alex even used an old 9 volt battery and some wire wool in his demonstration. After Alex's demonstration we all got the opportunity to practice making our own fire, using a firesteel and a small amount of cotton wool which we rubbed Vaseline into. This makes for a great method of starting a fire and is very easy. Before long we all had fires of varying size and were all pretty proud of ourselves. Alex did a great job of teaching us all, he took time to answer our questions all the while making the exercise fun, informative and safe. Again top marks.

 
Ho Ho I have created Fire!
Al got well into it so
Blow Al Blow
Lee and Alex




Having a chat around the camp fires

Our next exercise was in water filtration and this was led by Ron.  As many of you will know water is very heavy when your attempting to carry it. I know a great deal of my overall back pack or Bike Bag Dude Frame bag weight is in carrying 3 litres of water, so being able to source water if or when you are on a long trip is a valuable piece of knowledge. I found this part of the course very interesting indeed. Ron went through lots of different ways in which we could source water and then the dangers of drinking from certain places, how we could utilise both natural and man made items such as reeds, socks, denim jeans,bottles, polythene bags, charcoal, sand and the list goes on, all to help make filtration devices to make the water safe for drinking or in order to collect safe drinking water.. More very useful information and definitely something I think we can and will put into practice as we plan for our adventure next year. 

Finally we joined up with Margaret who had a real treat in store for us. We were going to make Bannock Bread. Margaret handed us the ingredients and the small mixing bowls. It was my job to mix up the stuff for Lee Al and myself. I commented that the bread would be nice with raisins and Margaret just happened to have some, as well as some cinnamon, so I popped these in. Once mixed I attached the dough to a stick and spread it out evenly and Lee baked the bread over the open fire. it only took around 10 to 15 minutes and when done the bread tasted amazing.

Making Bannock Bread Mmmmmm!
"What are you boys doing!"
Lee giving the sign of his approval
 Wow the day had gone so quick and we had all thoroughly enjoyed it. This was just what they call a taster session, obviously you couldn't learn everything in one day. I have to say though I learnt so much in that short space of time and the guys over at Taught in the Woods  were all simply fantastic, so a huge thank you to Ron,Alex, Margaret and Steve. If your into the great outdoors I can't recommend doing something like this enough.

In ending a Huge thank you to Michelle for arranging the day out, we all had an awesome day. I will be giving you a huge hug and a few kisses when I see you next xXx

Sunday, 7 September 2014

I don't care what the weather man says When the weatherman says it's raining!

" I don't care what the weather man says.When the weatherman says it's raining". Well that's not exactly true, especially when the weatherman or lady says it's only going to rain intermittently maybe for an hour or so and it turns out that it actually persistently continues to persist to piss down non stop.

I'm a Firestarter


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Really enjoyable, yet slightly stressful weekend.

This weekend as I write has been a mixture of great up's and what is now a prolonged down. The up's being able to hang with one of my newer friends Al and go out on a great ride with him on Saturday, showing him my local area. Then today, Sunday having a very enjoyable roadie adventure (only  slightly marred by the bane of my life Strava and it not mapping my data or ride)  The down and what's stressing me out is that Mr Hink's is still not himself and has worsened and I'm really concerned. I've been holding off going to the vets as last time he picked up and the swelling around his neck went down. But come tomorrow I have asked Ern to get an appointment asap as our little lad, (well he's not so little due to the steroids he's on, Mr Hink's is getting increasingly fatter) just isn't very well. His neck is very swollen and it appears like fluid around his glands, he is also so lethargic. The only thing that hasn't changed is that he is still greedy and can hear the rustle of a crisp packet at 20 paces, it just takes him longer to get to you to scrounge a crisp.

Anyhoo I try to make my blog as positive as possible but thought I'd share my worries as although it's not the same as chatting to a friend, when I write stuff down it does seem to help as I feel everyone that reads my little tales does it because in some way they want to support me and in doing so also care about poor Mr Hink's.

Whilst out with Al I thought I'd lump my big camera around and practice with it some more. I really should be grabbing more shots I don't take half as many as I used to. Generally I see something I want to shoot, but it disappears in the blink of an eye and I don't have time to capture it. I'm not a great photographer, but I do have a keen eye, well at least for what I like.


The Farmer's Trail
You can call me Al
 Although Al and my local loop was relatively short at 18 miles or so we were out for a good few hours. I often think it's not the actual miles you get in but where your riding. Just like Lee a few days earlier Al was very impressed with some of the trails I took him upon. And of course I had to take him on the Farmers Trail, one of the main ways out of the Shire as it were. We mainly rode around the Beamish and Hedley Hall area, taking in a bit of the Tanfield Railway and showing Al the oldest remaining single span railway bridge in the world, the Causey Arch. This was built in 1725-26 at the cost of £12,000, a vast amount of money in those days.

Al in Beamish Woods
Say Nutella Al
No Back Pack for me today, just my trust Bike Bag Dude Frame Bag
Arctic ONE
 As Al and I rode up one particular stretch of road up a steep little hill I was in front and I pulled into a drive way of this house, just to wait for Al to catch up. I had been there a few days earlier on this same route with Lee and we had seen this goose, it never really bothered us. Well I saw this goose again today and as I waited for Al I kind of spoke to it in a nice friendly manner "aww hello there", all of a sudden this goose turns to look at me and it was like a scene from the Robert De Niro film with Travis Bickle  "You talkin' to me?  You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking to? You talkin' to me? Well. I'm the only one here." and then it decided to have a hiss and go into full on attack mode. As I was on the hill I couldn't set away quickly so had to kind of push my bike like a scooter, figuring if I turn around at least it can only have a go at ripping off my false leg lol. Just then a few people came out from the nearby back door of the Tea Rooms, which are in the Causey picnic area. One of the ladies who works there and this man saying that the goose is a nuisance and the man saying it's the worst tempered goose he has ever known. Both also said it would be better in a pot. Awww I disagree I think he was great, he was just doing his job and guarding his patch where he lives. No harm done.

Travis Bickle Goose  "You talkin' to me?
 Al and I then decided to head into the Tea Rooms for a very refreshing cup of tea and a slice of pie. Luckily Al had just enough for a couple of tea's and we shared a piece of corned beef pie. I had forgot I had brought my other bag so no stash of cash, my little pouch being left at home.

Throughout yesterdays ride we met nothing but nice friendly people, stopping to chat and pass the time of day it was very refreshing.



It was also canny breezy yesterday as we ended up at the end of Tanfield Railway near to the Industrial estate I asked Al "do you feel like riding a little further", "Yeah why not" he said. So we headed through the factories at Tanfield and boy was the wind really strong here. At one point we were both riding sideways, full tilt lol. As we approached Tanfield we cut around the back of the play area and through the council estate. I then took Al the back route on a trail up through Tantobie. This proved to be a canny hard little click and by half way we were both puffing and blowing. A short rest and we continued on to the top of White Le Head and the bowls green. 

 
Anyone for Bowls?
Playing around with my shot

My cones are slack again, got a wonky wheel
 A few pictures and then back on to the road for a short while before we cut down the back lane to Harperley. Al really enjoyed this downhill stretch. As we came to the bottom and the crossroads we turned right and I took Al along to meet my Uncle Dave over at Anfield Plain. We stayed a few minutes, then set off getting on to the C2C and our ride back into Mordor. We take a small detour and end up coming out at the Ox at the top end of Harperley this has enable Al to pick some wild heather which he says "is very lucky". 

Checking for Adders lol
Over here Al, there's a nice piece
Al says the heather is lucky, sure hope so :)
Al attached a piece of lucky heather to my bike, well I didn't crash on my way home bonus, though I did get a puncture Boo!
After this Al took his life in his own hands and drew out some money at one of our local ATM's (braver man than me Al). As we rode towards the subway to get onto Wear Road I informed Al to keep up a bit of a pace otherwise he may get his wheels nicked. Just joking I love the area I live in. It just needs much needed funding and some regeneration.The people on a whole from Stanley are all very friendly and pleasant.

As we come down Wear Road we called in to to see our mate John and his wife Kristina, cups of tea all round. I have some sandwiches left so get stuck in. I think I may have been a bit eager as I almost choked on the fruit loaf. Ewwww it's horrible when you choke then cough and something goes up your nose. In this case as I sniffed I discovered it was a raisin, it tasted ok after I got it back down...


Sunday 

On the Top Road
Bike Swanky's De Rosa Idol
 As Strava failed to log my ride I have a bit of a pet lip on. I can't be arsed to describe where I went as I'm buggered. I wouldn't exactly say I got lost, however I didn't really know the route, as well it was one of those adventures where you sort of see where it takes you, before thinking "I can't remember this many hills or having so few gears and wow I'm knackered now and I'm not sure how far home it is". Anyhoo I have awarded myself King of the Hill so screw you guys lol.



I would like to mention a lovely gentleman I met as I had rode through Satley. I caught up to him as he rode his bike and we shared a very nice conversation al the way up to the junction of the A68, where he turned Left to head towards Tow Law and I headed right in the direction of Corbridge. He asked all about me and in return I discovered that he was a retired lecturer from Durham University. John used to lecture in Civil engineering and was telling me all about his cycling adventures in France, he was a lovely fella. A big "hello" John if you do ever get to read my blog.

Ok the rest is pretty boring, well apart from the bit where I saw this geet big bull up on this hill and thought "Ooh that might make a nice picture". I'm not mountain biking so what can go wrong huh? No nettles...Wrong as I discovered when I fell over in the grass verge "aggghhh F...F.. F...Flipping heck that stings". I jumped up real quick and as I was on a relatively busy road did the old "look around to see if anyone had seen me". Result no one had and I didn't look like a complete muppet, well that was until I clocked the Bull staring at me from down the hill, you know with one of those "what a dick" stares as he chewed his cud. Omg what is it with me and animals this week, a rabid goose and a mocking Bull.


Just chewing the cud
"Ha Ha you fell over"
 A bit of a tour to get to Consett I then popped in to spend an hour with the Gooch, my cousin Guy at Consett. I love seeing wor Guy as he is a top fella, always upbeat and just good craic. Haven't seen either him or his wife Tracey in ages so it was good catching up.

From Guy and Tracey's it was home. No sooner in the house, swapped my leg out popped a pair of shorts n trainers on and I asked Ern "hey you fancy going for a ride around the route I've just done. "Yeah ok", anyhoo we worked it out at 28 miles, so that wasn't a bad effort especially as there were some canny hills. Screw you Strava I have a car and it has a proper odometer and everything, just means I have to go out twice and it could potentially be problematic when I'm out on my mountain bike going down a skinny off road trail D'oh.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dorney Lake and my first Triathlon with Arctic ONE

August the 23rd has soon come around. This was to be the day where I would take part in my first ever triathlon. A challenge set by all the lovely guys at Arctic ONE and something in which I was eager to have a go at. The venue, Dorney Lake, Eton,Bucks. 

For those of you following my adventures or journey, blog call it what you will, you'll know I'm quite an active person. Since becoming ill back in 95 (notice I say ill as I still have difficulty describing myself as disabled, disabled for me is when you can't do something/anything and it is a phrase or description that I feel can be quite stigmatising, just my opinion, sure other people may see it differently) Anyhoo I have had this recurring (don't know if you would call it a dream) lets just say a thought that I wanted to run. Although as a fit and healthy person I was never an athlete I just enjoyed trotting around. I regularly ran about whilst delivering letters and packages as a postman, something to which my old work colleagues would testify to.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Very kindly asked to write an article for the Empower Magazine... Sweet!

A couple of weeks back my good friend Scott Richardson over at Pace Rehabilitation informed me that Empower may possibly be interested in running a little article about my latest adventures and pursuits. I'm still continuing to be supported and sponsored by both Pace Rehabilitation and Brian Bartlett which is simply amazing.

I always tell people I'm just an ordinary guy. I'm no elite athlete by any measure. My take on this though is that in some ways this helps to inspire more people just like me. People who may be struggling to come to terms with their disabilities, or wanting to get into something new. I hope they can take a look at me and just think "he's just and ordinary lad, if he can do it then maybe I can".

And so I was contacted by Chris Swindells  the Production Manager at Publishing Magazines Ltd. Chris firstly asked if I could provide him with a few images and a little background. As we chatted via email this then progressed on to writing a few lines and then eventually Chris asked you know what can you just send me around 300 words describing what's going on in your life. Well I tried my best to get it to 300, however went slightly over to around 404 or so. Chris said the piece I wrote was perfect, so I guess this is what you will get to read in the link below.

http://issuu.com/publishing_magazines_ltd/docs/empower_magazine_issue_5

 As mentioned in the article I would just like to say a huge Thank You to:

Everyone over at Arctic ONE, all their fund-raisers and supporters, especially two of the trustees, Matt Kirby and Bex Stubbing's, who's support has been absolutely amazing.

Pace  Rehabilitation for their endless support. I am so looking forward to my next adventures and learning to run on my Pace built running prosthesis. I know the whole team is right behind me.

Brian Bartlett for, designing the BTK and being kind enough to sponsor me and being a great buddy.

Paul and Andy over at Bike Swanky for sorting me out on their demo bike so I could get some road bike practice in for my triathlon and for getting me fixed up with a road bike and sponsoring me on a new mountain bike.

And finally to Empower for featuring me in their magazine and Chris for walking me through what he required and offering words of support for my then upcoming triathlon.

Empower are always looking for new and interesting stories about people with disabilities.

Chris Swindells
Production Manager
Publishing Magazines Ltd
Direct Dial: 0191 516 61 65

Follow Us on Twitter:
@EmPower_Mag
@educationmat
@momentum_mag

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A spot of afternoon Geo-caching with friendly folk along the way...

            In from work a quick text to Lee to let him know I'm home and will be over to his house as soon as I get changed and get all my bike bits and bobs sorted. I knew we were just going for a nice relaxed ride locally so thought I'd take my big camera today and try and see if I could get some shots. Really it's just about practising with it, truth be known I don't have the patience. If something doesn't exactly work out of the box in my opinion it's broke. I'm one of those blokes that's more hands on. I hate reading instructions and find it boring when anyone tries toy explain to me about photography, what with ISO's, F Stops, apertures....Yawn! You get the picture. Point and click is about my stamp and I have to say in the past I have done ok.

Once at Lee's and he has his stuff sorted we head off along and up the Farmers Trail, it's a lovely day for riding, the sun is out and there is a slight breeze. Lee has an idea where he wants to go, however I persuade him to follow me as I want to show him some new trails locally. Lee's a dead funny lad, he always has this idea of where he wants to go and when someone takes him off the beaten track he kind of becomes uncomfortable. Maybe it's not on his Garmin which he rely's on so much, it always makes me chuckle to myself. Anyhoo Lee follows my lead and as we ride up different trails he comments on "Oh I've been on here" or better still "Ave neva been along here it's beautiful". This is what I like to hear, it's great taking people to new areas and letting them see that we live in such a pretty area when you get just outside of the hustle and bustle of our town.

                     
Overlooking the pond
Some pretty flowers near the waters edge



I show Lee parts of Beamish Woods he has never seen before and and of course some he has. As we pass the big pond I take the opportunity to practice with my camera. We  then work our way along to the forges. In the Woods there is one particular sweet spot of technical riding. I am very pleased with myself today as I only had to get off once for this tricky section that was on a camber, and up a incline, covered in tree roots. I managed all the technical climbs, in and out of the trees and only fell off once, not being able to put my leg down on my Bartlett Tendon side.
 
Lee enjoying the beautiful quiet area
Pics a little blurry, but hey just practising!
Lee coming through the techy trail






















 As we approach the Forges and Ousburgh Woods I give Lee a quick history lesson about the area. Lee is very interested in local history and he appreciates my small amount of knowledge. As we ride into Ousburgh I take the path that leads through the ford and stream as Lee heads over the foot bridge.
 
Once in the woods fully Lee is blown away by how beautiful the area is, all the ancient trees, the stream or burn as we call it and all the flowers, butterflies and other bits and pieces you expect to see on a sunny day in the woods. Lee comments on how he will now make this one of his more regular routes. It is really pretty and serene in these woods. As we come out at the other end we get on to a small road and have to climb a rather steep bank. At the moment I'm trying to practice more and more riding up hill out of the saddle using my Bartlett Tendon, why you may ask? Well I was contacted by a guy who asked is it possible to ride out the saddle up a hill. Yes it is, however it requires quite a bit of practice and energy. You have to concentrate on getting your pedal stroke right, keep your balance and have good endurance. My aim at some point is to make a small video of me riding up a few banks or hills. But hey that's for another day.

A short ride up the road and Lee says "hey why don't we cut down here and get onto the Bowes Railway Line, it will make our ride just that bit longer". So off we go down this road to our right looking for the sign post for the Bowes Railway path. It's not too far down the road, we both have to man handle our bikes through one of those stupid gates, you know the ones to stop motorcycles, the ones that actually don't really stop them at all, they just hinder everyone else. Anyhoo Lee is off up the path, me I stop as I see an interesting sculpture and get off my bike, then position it next to the stone sculpture and proceed to get some snaps.

Sandman Hoggar Ti
  I take a few pics and then just as I'm about to get on my bike a lady with a dog comes my way. "Ooh I will wait until you get away" she says "Otherwise he may chase after you". Just as I step over my bike and get in position the lady says "Eeeeh your amazing, riding a mountain bike and you've only one leg...amazing". "Aww thanks" I say and we go on to have a very pleasant little chat. I always appreciate and respect the people who are not stand offish and have the confidence to ask or take an interest when they see someone who maybe a little different. As I set off to leave I tell the lady my name "Oh I'm Glenn by the way" to which she replies "Oh Hi I'm Julie". " We are having a charity do at the Schooner in Gateshead" I say "your welcome to come along", then I'm on my way to catch up with Lee.

He is at the top of the road, having scoffed his banana whilst waiting for me. We then head over to another place I want to show Lee for a little jaunt. This is called "Hedley Hall Woods" I tell him and we again have to manoeuvre our bikes through a daft gate. It's just a little loop, but this place is lovely and quiet. I'm not sure if you are supposed to ride bikes here. I couldn't see any DO NOT RIDE signs, so that's good enough for me. Lee takes my camera and grabs a few shots of me and then we complete the loop, dismounting at the gate. As we approach the gate there is a man coming the other way. Awww crap is he going to be a cock, we have a 50/50 chance. This bloke turns out to be class he opens the gate for us and spends a bit time having a chat. Lee finds him amusing as this bloke is swearing like a trooper. We get on about how certain people can be stuck up and whine about us riding our bikes and he backs us up saying "you should just tell them to"...well the first word starts with "F" and the second is "off", I take it we have his approval to ride on.

Riding in Hedley Hall Woods
Out the saddle on the trail
Having fun
Back on the road for a wee while I spot a combine harvester in the field and see a shot I want to take, unfortunately it takes me ages to get my camera out of my back pack so I miss it. I did manage to get one or two, but not the ones I wanted.
 
I got a brand new combine Harvester I do

 Continuing up the road, we come onto the Causey Arch Road and then head up towards Tanfield Railway. Lee wants to look for a geo-cache nearby and also has an idea where to stash one of his own. We spend a little time down near the train sheds, just looking around and had a small chat to some volunteers as they were leaving. Time to head off in search of this geo-cache.

Lee getting ready to blitz down the trail
Off he goes
A little way down the trail and Lee says "it should be somewhere around here
". The clue is something about used to be a tree, but now is wood or something like that. I got it in my head that the cache would be in a tree stump. We searched for quite sometime both getting nettled yet again, it's a regular occurrence with us now. I then spotted what appeared to be like an old railway sleeper and some other bits of wood right in the undergrowth, behind this small tree, or bush. "I reckon it's in there somewhere I said" and so we both headed into this tricky spot, what with nettles and prickly bushes, it was a proper nightmare. As I got near the wood and had a good look I spotted a small container fixed to a wooden post. "there it is Lee", "Lee jokingly saying his now favourite phrase when geo-caching "awww man it's never me" and we both shared a laugh.

Geo-cache logged we set off to find a spot for our own. Again Lee off in the distance me trailing behind. I stopped as I saw a lovely photo opportunity and "agggghhhh, again missed it". That's the only thing about riding and having something like a 35mm camera, it takes ages to get your back pack off and then take the shot. Anyhoo I'll just explain the scene. A beautiful golden field, that had been cut recently,blue skies and the sun at just the right angle to make the field glow. There was a group of crows I think you call it a murder. Did you know that you call a group of ravens an unkindness or a conspiracy. As I approached they were all in a huddle, then as I stopped to take of my back pack they all bloody flew away. My idea was to get a shot of my bike with the golden field in the background then clap or shout and get the crows to fly...Oh yes I'm very creative in my own mind at least lol. Never mind you just have to make do with a picture of my bike and no birds.

Dang it missed the real shot, this one will have to do
Lee was now at these local ruins. He was searching for a good spot to put our cache. I said "what about those stairs" ( there were some old stairs remaining in the derelict buildings). Well the next 15 minutes or so were spent trying to discover a path way to get to these stairs without being nettled. The bloody things were everywhere. Finally I found a path, however we had to walk all the way back around the field and come in from the other side. Even this path to the stairs was like "Nettle city" as Lee put it. We spent another 5 minutes or so deciding on a good spot and then a clue. I suggested a good spot to Lee and he got nettled yet again in the process of putting the container in position and covering it up. I then came up with what I thought was a good clue..."Stop and stair-down and West". Get it "Stair instead of Stare". I tell you I'm a genius lol.



A pretty Thistle
WoW this was scary I hate heights
At the top now time to sit down before I fall off lol
The derelict building with stairs
   Ok job done. I inform Lee "I'm starving" it's time to head home. All I have had all day is 2 Nutella and baby bread slices, oh and one of Jennifer from work's delicious buns. We set off in the general direction of home, nettled to bits but content, it's been a "canny ride" (Lee pulls the water out of me as apparently he says this is how I rate everything "canny like")  As we head down the trail towards this little country lane that will take us up the steep bank and the level crossing at Tanfield Railway we notice a man scavenging in all this rubbish. We exchange pleasantries, however I am not happy at what I see. Whilst this guy isn't doing anything wrong I am very annoyed that someone else has fly tipped in this area. There was already a pile of rubbish that had been tipped about a year ago, and now this other pile of crap. Both Lee and I got off our bikes , like I say I was proper mad. I asked the lad "do you mind if I have a quick look through the stuff" to which he replied "No of course not". I wanted to see if I could find any paper work or receipts because if I had I could hand these in to the Police or council as I think people who do this kind of stuff should be heavily fined, it's disrespectful,lazy and can cause harm to the environment and wild life. It had been quite obviously some kind of builder who had dropped off all this rubbish as there were screws,saws, old bottles of glue and other solvents, drill bits, pieces of old wood and alls sorts of other building stuff, way too much to list. I decided to call the police on 101 and they said unless I had seen the incident it was a council matter and they would try and put me through.

Anyhoo long story short, well looking at my blog, Long I have rang Gateshead Council  today and explained about the fly tipping site and they are going to arrange to have it cleared up within 7 days...Result.


I'll have a little rant now... Ok cyclist's always seem  to get a bad rap, expecially mountain bikers. We are told we can't ride here or there, based on laws about footpath's that go back to the middle ages. Yet in my opinion we actually take more care of the environment and our surroundings than the majority of other people. We face constant flak from whiney people who prefer to go around polluting the place with motor vehicles or letting their dogs poop all over trails. My biggest bug bear being those people who actually pick up their dog crap then proceed to scatter the bags all over the countryside as they can't be arsed to find a bin. Omg you have done the hard part just take it with you and dispose of it properly. Ok that's me done I feel loads better now and will continue to ride where I like in a respectful, non-threatening manner lol