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Malachai Snowboarding.

In Mind and Travel.

Since my trip to Hong Kong in November 2012 i said to myself i should write and keep a diary of all the experiences and moments to remember for good or bad during travelling and the journey of my Snowboarding. I finally got down to creating this blog and now the season is slowly closing out i can rewrite and share my diary. The experiences overall have been pretty amazing but it’s not all been so great as you will find out deeper into the diary.
So anyway i hope you enjoy and tell me what you think and share your blogs!

24th November 2012

So here i am sitting in work on the late shift, Really tired no thanks to my mind working faster than my body right now, I've got so much in my head like a cyclone of plans and ideas yet to finish which anxiously await in the near future. The reason I’m writing is the need to release some thoughts and be able to zen some balance in my head before i end up losing the thing. The diary I’m writing into right now was bought on my travels after a hard bargain with a Cambodian street kid in the market of Siem Reap, Then i think about it i kind of fleeced that kid real bad but even buying a diary is a first nevermind on a random buy as a souvenir! i bet he spent the money on quality booze, the kids don't change wherever you go! In 2 sleeps i go to Hong Kong, a kind of backslap to everything i really travel to see but with such a high tech modern supercity i thought if there was anywhere to see a scale of the future it is Hong Kong, To be honest playing Shenmue 2 on the Sega Dreamcast only made me want to check it out for myself even more. I really would love to see some of the wildlife over there, The touristy things don't really bother me too much, Strange how I would choose one of the most built up overpopulated places in the world to get away from it all in nature, but the knowing of both being close by and a mix of and new culture is the idea of a city break for me!

Hong Kong

28 November 2012 ( Hong Kong )

I left for Hong Kong on the 26th of this month, The flight to munich was really strange, A combo of engine stalling and vibration pretty much most of the journey, There was definitely a few worried faces.
The flight to hong kong was so smooth and in a way boring because there is usually something memorable about the journey for and bad but for the most it was normal as it gets. I
I arrived in Hong Kong with no clue where to go straight from the bus terminal, I was a little worried by this point until a businessman from ireland luck of the irish sat next to me on the bus and explained Hong Kong and helped with info and directions. Still i left the bus from the stop walking without any idea which direction i was going, The directions on the website were useless, Luckily i found my way asking for directions on causeway bay from a friendly German person who i think was sightseeing but i'm not too sure as he was just standing around in the centre of the crossway.


I found the hostel and from check in i immediately met a new traveler and friend paul from london who was to become my travel pal during my trip.



The first real day in hong kong was spent wandering around HK island, We did a full circle of the island via tram and bus, A lot of places are nice but quite cliche and self indulgent, There are so many shops in HK and malls, After a while they all start to look the same. I don't understand the fascination for designer gear though in HK, it seems to be everywhere!
I've ate pretty goo so far and already so much! I've been trying to mix it up with the new stuff i've never tried but surprisingly its not that easy! my fave so far has been chicken bun from a street stall up in mongkok on nathan rd and also pork balls in tsim tsum tsai or whatever you call it, The food place we've been back to more than once in HK which means it must be good!
The harbour mall in tst is ridiculously big and as pretense as it gets, the amount of watch, diamond and designer shops says it all, still pretty interesting to wonder around and check it out.
We went to stanley but it wasn't anything really to talk about, There was a nice mall and some sweet tiny birds everywhere but nothing really special. Aberdeen was the same, Infact i expected the harbour to be much more impressive, We used it as a point to get the boat to lamma island which was a nice trip away from the city.

The island itself was pretty nice but not a lot too see, We walked for so long too maybe 1 hour 50 mins, Ice cream was pretty nice there. We then rushed our way back to central HK with help from a chinese school girl who was very friendly and funny, I think she just wanted to hang out with us in the end because she did not want to leave but we had to go our seperate ferries and make our way over to victoria harbour for a lightshow.

When we arrived there was a lot of anti chinese posters everywhere, I don't think it went down very well anyway, People were staying clear of that one. The show itself was pretty boring, The view was great though but shrouded in clouds and pollution. The other main thing to do the peak tram was equally as boring, as soon as you get to the top you step out into a shopping mall of fridge magents and angry bird chains, funnily though we spent most of our time in the mall and the toilet as the view was blocked by a thick permanent cloud, i got a funky phone charger though. The highlight for me so far has been the botanical gardens, so relaxing! peaceful and serene with animals and loads of amazing fauna. Strangely the HK people must enjoy the bustle as the park was one of the quieter places.

29th December 2012 ( Macau )

The weather has been pretty terrible so far on this trip, I was expecting sunshine but i've seen nothing but rain since i arrived although still warm and humid enough for a t-shirt.
I was hoping to travel upto sai kung and even do abit of snorkelling and surfing, I came prepared but the weather really didnt put me in the mood to do either so instead we decided to head over to chinse version of vegas, Macau.
The jet board over there was pretty amazing and comfier and just as well equipped as any plane to HK, anyway we arrived in customs and joined the huge lines for about 30 minutes. There was a lil worrying moment when i wandered off to find travel info and return to find paul missing, After about 15 minutes i bumped into him again.
We got the bus into the centre first, The portuguese colonial historical area of macau. The buildings were beautifully detailed and designed but sadly not shown alot of love by the locals but in a way its no surprise with the consumer tourist frenazy of the chinese who were present in thousands even in winter.
We walked around for a it, visited the old fort cannons which were cool and a really nice garden with impressive trees. We also visited macau museum but it was nothing special. There were many old antique and craft shops hidden between the sidestreets of macau, i wish i had more time to do some exploring but i figure i'l try and come back one day.

Macau was a refreshing change from HK, less populated, Less polluted and airy, Macau felt more like a european town. We got lost later in the night trying to make it back to go the macau tower and casino, turns out we had jumped on the wrong bus and gone way too far out to the other side of town, Anyway we made it back and made our way to macau tower.
The tower was pretty expensive but i think worth it for the views alone, There was an opportunity to do sky bungee and skywalks a sort of walk around on the roof of macau tower, wer were both up for it but decided the price was just too much and we headed back down, if i knew the deal with the casino later on we probably could have done it...

29th November 2012

We made our way to the casino, The grand lisboa the ultimate over the top off the hook building i've ever seen and probably anyone will ever see. The hotel inside was just as spectacular with the shiniest biggest decor and artwork i've ever seen and an amazing jade and ebony carving inside the main lobby with unbelievable detail. The outside really is seen to be believed, If you ever had any doubts about chinese power and intentions on the world, grand lisboa is like the grand statement of intent that china are here and big and powerful and will do it better than you.

I was gutted because i lost some of my macau pics because of drunken antics which is unlike me but i learned a lesson from it because i broke my phone and lost all my pictures upto this point later into my trip.

The lisboa casino itself was spectacular and lived upto name, paul made me laugh because the minimum chips were 10k and paul tried to trade 5k which got a histerical response from the cashiers, it was pretty funny , they probably have never seen such little money in that place, it was as grand and rich as you would expect with big spenders everywher you look.

I hit the blackjack table with 10k hk, dollars, lost it all in 5 rounds and about 5 minutes and decided to get the hell out of there as it was a game a couldnt afford to lose with a tight budget. Paul decided to opt out completely and watch me lose, he made a good call but iw as seriously drawn i think the worst cards of my life.

We jumped out and headed to a nice historical area called taipa village after some help from a kind local girl who could speak english. Taipa village was a really nice small village with historical relics, buildings and a lot of charm like a small portuguese village but in china. We wandered around for a bit running out of time to find a place to eat, We had 1 hour to make it back for the ferry terminal to HK. We jumped into a traditional portuguese restaurant which was very traditionally decorated like a portuguese grandmas home. The food was lovely,I just chosen fresh clam which great, I remembered fresh clams from cambodia so it was great to try it out again, i rarely go these places which would the sell the same for 5 x the price back home. I tried a bit of pauls food which was amazing, He got lucky with such a great choice, We were both stuck on what to choose at first.

We rushed back to the ferry terminal to board the last ferry back to, Sleepy and worn from a whole days travel, we nodded on the ferry back and it was abit of effort getting back to causeway bay without the convenience of the metro but we jumped into a taxi and were on our way back.

We decided to go for a drink and a night out, Paul was leaving the next day so it was a good way to a finish a great couple of days. The night that followed is one of the reasons i try to cut back on drink as much as possible. We spent most of the night finding somehere as chinesey and as authentic as we could get to eat, We ended up inside a japanese restaurant!! but actually it was a great place, its not so often people recognise the same people twice in such a huge international city like hong kong but the owner would never forget us after we cleared out the sake stock in his restaurant. We must have been great customers for the chefs too as we tried as much variation on the menu as possible. I really had a craving for sake that night so it was a good excuse to drag paul inside the restaurant and try all sorts of unique japanese food including snail which tastes how it sounds and pumpkin chicken soup curry which was very strange! i think probably the most i spent in a restaurant and the entire trip was here which explains the amount of sake we had and how the waiter would soon become my best friend everytime i walked by the restaurant the next couple of days.

The night later was a strangely clear one, We headed over to wan chai which is a popular district for bars, clubs, strip bars and unfortunately seedy expats, Not surprisingly mostly older businessman working in HK and the girls were on patrol for the richest dude in the club. I already knew about this side of Hong Kong before i left and i tried to avoid it for most of the trip but it was inevitable i would find myself here at some point.

We walked through the maze of strip clubs and expat bars, The tyipcal bars like the queen vic, irish bar and yobs making fools of themselves on street like a saturday night in my hometown. We finally ended up in the best rock bar in town, Amazonia! This is what it said on the wall outside so we thought we would check it out.

The bar lived up to its name, A live band were performing there own versions of covers of classics and the place rocked out, The girl on stage was an amazing singer and didn't miss a note and i'm not just saying this because i was onto my 4th bottle of asahi after a heavy dose of sake, She seriously rocked the place out! Drinking in HK is seriously expensive, More so than back in london in wan chai, i guess though the clientale only go for one thing most times so only a few before there out the door for a happy ending.

The bar itself though was good, We moved onto a new place around the corner, Rocked out a little more before taxi crawling our way back to the hostel, paul was not with it at all, I was completely wasted but just functional to get us back. He was in a weird mess at this point, barely talking but it was pretty funny, i would love to see how he will cope on his next stop, a month in thailand and the full moon party! It brings me to another point, I never want to see the thai embassy in hong kong ever again after the amount of time we spent in and out of that building trying to organise his visa.

The next day we were both in a mess, I woke up still drunk and discovered i had been sick all over my pants i left at the side of my bed but worse is that i fell asleep before i attempted to clean them, poor room mates must have hated me the next day, I hated myself for being in this situation, I don't think i will drink like this for a while now, The worst is yet to come, The same day after realising the mess i had made the night before, I made one big mistake which proven to be costly, i had left my mobile phone in my pocket which unfortunately received the full treatment of liquid damage from the night before, The worst scenario was beginning to unfold, my phone was not switching on! I could have been thinking well whatever these things happen but for the duration of the trip up to this point i had been using my phone as my main camera.


I had a mad dash trying to to find a reapir centre, I got pretty lucky and found the things i needed quite easily in Hong kong, but two days later all was in vain and i found out there was nothing i could do to repair the phone without losing all the data, I was pretty down about it because we had such amazing time beforehand and in macau but i had no more pictures to show for it. I still haven't told paul but i can imagine his reaction would be the same as mine, He did get mostly the same photos so unless my phone does a miraculous recovery which i still live and hope, I can get most photos from paul. I also brought my action camcorder which luckily douubles up as a camera which i used for recording footage of trip and continued to use as a camera after the knockout of my phone.

The last day we visited Mai po marshes which was an interesting trip, The marshes are a wildlife marsh reserve in western Hong Kong preserved and run by WWF. The walk itself was interesting and a completely different world away from the concrete jungle hustle and bustle of metropolitan Hong Kong. The reserve is famous for wild birds and extensive marsh wildlife, Even with binoculars it was difficult to spot a wide variety but the ones we found were pretty cool looking, there was this bird bird sitting on a ledge in the water with a fountain around it which looked like it was taking a jakuzzi or had serious wind it was really funny!

We took a wrong turn and ended up walking aruond the wholepark which was pretty quiet and not much to see and do except a great panorama view until the last ten minutes where i spotted possibly the biggest snake i've ever seen in the wild curled up in the grassy buch which paul couldn't see, either way we crept around remainder of the walk eyes peeled from this point! also torwards the end we crashed a tv interview with a policeman which was pretty random in the middle of nowhere on the path, the tv crew found it funny!

We got back to the hostel and paul was now leaving for thailand and it was a bit of a reflective goodbye, We had a great time during my first half of HK and paul was a great companion but the sad reality of travel is we all need to move on eventually and is something i've had to accept over the past few years.

The rest of the day i spent catching up and restoring normality, cleaning my worn beaten clothes and feeling sorry for myself over my phone by eating a load of chinese junk food. Later that night i caught with a few new roommates, Kat, Robert and a manila guy who's name i always forget but i think it was dan, he came over to see a rock concert in HK. We hooked up and went out for a few drinks, Robert was determined to do a repeat....

...Of amazonia the night before but nobody was really feeling for it and the scene which i'm glad because i didn't really want to spend any more time in the wan chai district anyway.
Robert was a bit of a strange guy and for the entire duration of the trip before i met him he had done nothing but drink and eat. He was determined to drink all hours of the day and always seemed on edge and neverous but always talking about girls, i just had a strange vibe around him and i didn't really try and click too much with him. Either way he came up to Nan liang garden with me the next day which was a beautiful garden and temple definitely worth the trip.



We also checked out Hollywood Plaza one of the biggest malls i've ever seen. There was a christmas show with a santa workshop with all chinese kids dressed up as elfs which was surreal in a shopping mall. The mall was a kids paradise with every toy and entertainment thing imaginable, I was in heaven as a big kig and i would imagine it to be heaven if i was younger. We seen some of the most amazing lazyboy and massage chairs ever with some older dudes taking advantage of the free demonstratation. The next stop was the built in indoor arcade which i couldn't resist and reminded me of japan all over again. I put up a good fight on king of fighters but eventually suffered the same fate as in japan from the locals. The final game i checked out was the best, A kind of dance mat with hands game which was so fun, the best song i've ever heard was this song all about cats meowing to a beat and the video was like a candid cat video with all different pictures of dressed up cats in hyper china style manga! so strange but a great moment!



After the game we headed back and i headed to the peak again but time at night for a second clearer viewing of Hong Kong at night. The night was a better night than ever to take a ride up to the peak which is one of the best spots to view the city skyline, The view is incredible and in many ways a celebrations display of humanity as well as a negative image of humanity in one panorama, Still the views were spectacular and one of the highlights of my trip.

I decided to walk down the peak which further down displayed even better uncrowded panoramas of the city skyline. I came to path break and ended up taking the wrong path which lead me down through the millionaire neighborhood of Hong Kong which was unexpected but surprising to see, I did kind of pretend i was just taking a stroll through my neighborhood when really i was completely lost and really trying to find the quickest way back.





I forgot to really say much about kat and dan manila dude. Manila dude was a youngish boy band looking guy who told everyone he was early 20's but i'm not too sure! anyway he was nice and loved his indie music, He was saying he wanted to visit the uk in the near future for the same reasons, he would be in heaven for music, he also reminded me of a shy version of my japanese friend taka who is indie mad. Kathia is an amazing women, from brazil but with a mixed japanese family background, she was a very unique and a special type person i meet only rarely in life. Kat was really friendly and easy going but open minded and aware of the world and herself, when we talked we had some interesting convo but i wish she arrived earlier so we could spend more time travelling around with paul, still i'm glad we met and will hopefully keep in touch.

4th December 2012

My last day in hong kong turned out to be one of the best and it nearly didn't happen at all. I found some info online about a wildlife reserve in the countryside of hong kong which if i hadn't done some last minute planning early in the day i would have probably missed it. I did check it out before i left for HK but i didn't really put it down high on my mind of things to do.

The last day i woke up early, Did some more research and decided to just go early and check it out anyway as either way i had no other plan and my flight was leaving at midnight.

Hong Kong lived up to everything i imagined it to be, After travelling already to culture shock type places i knew exactly this time what to expect and the trials i would face during the trip aswell as acceptance of meeting new people to only be waving goodbye in a few days time. I didn't expect to break my phone again and my debit card to be fraud but i was prepared for the worst. I actually sorted out the debit card problem in a 25 min phone call back to the uk whilst on a junk boat heading out to lamma island from aberdeen harbour which was interesting, Everything worked out fin with the card just it was a pain in the ass and i'm still waiting on my next phone bill for some final hk punishment ( UPDATE, THE BILL WAS NOT THAT BAD! )

So i set off for kadoorie farm my final stop in Hong kong, I remember switching from 3 metro lines and one train and a bus to reach the location, I'm sure some of the locals in the more off beat areas of Hong Kong were surprised to see such a different looking character, My hair was of most interest and a popular topic with the locals who were pretty fascinated. There was a lot of small talk during the trip but i didn't really get an opportunity to speak properly with the locals , well people never stop for too long in hong kong which is a shame because i had many questions about hong kong life i wanted to ask and hear from the locals. One of the more memorable interactions was with a hk schoolgirl who helped us out on our way to hk harbour from aberdeen, we were confused by the bus directions and being the only english speaking person at the bus stop happily jumped in to help us out, she was more intrigued in why we wanted to visit Hong Kong rather than anything, Hong Kong was boring in her point of view, she also watched americas next top model and i was amazed how much she was in touch with western culture. I think she had many more things to ask us as she didn't seem quite ready to go seperate way but obviously we couldn't hang around forever and after a few minutes of chat we were on our way.

Anyways back to the last day! The last day 2 hours and 3 metros and a bus later i reach kadoorie farm which is not actually a farm but a conservation park situated on the hills of a mountain valley.
I arrived quite late into the day and only realised the amount of time it would take after circling the lower base which contained many species of HK wildlife which had been rescued and rehabilitated by the park. There were all types of animals, My favourite was the wild cat which is strange seeing a big size domestic like cat in the wild relaxing comfortable in a tree! the cat looked like a hybrid leopard and was pretty cute! The wild birds were also amazing, especially the wild eagles which were huge,i wouldn't want them to peck me! The wild bore was also cute and the parrots were trying to get friendly showing off for the camera. Unfortunately some of the animals did not look so happy but people must understand most animals were rescued from trauma and life threatening sitations so there is a slim chance these animals would survive in the wild without care, hopefully some will be able to return to the wild in the future. We visited the botanical gardens earlier in HK central which also had an amazing variety of animals such as monkeys, lemurs, huge giant tortoises and many birds, The lemurs were so cool and lively!




The flora and fauna of kadoorie was also impressive with some of the wildest and biggest trees and plants i've ever seen! the mist and cloud was drawing in which created a spooly mystic type atmosphere which did creep me out at certain points as there was nobody else around as i walked further up the mountain. I walked for at least 20 minutes without seeing a single person, A big contrast from downtown hk, it was almost a relief to see some conservation workers at the high end of the mountain as i was starting to have concerns in my head on whether eagles like the ones i seen below roam the mountain tops and i was an easy picking! i did hear a few bird calls at the top but i had no problems on my way opto the peak although the mist and cloud at the top was spooky as anything, silent but in a weird way calming, it was a great experience. The peak views were spectacular embraced in cloud i could not see much but on a clear day i could imagine it to be ever more spectacular and a peaceful retreat in a hectic part of the world.

The time was getting pretty late and by this point i was becoming desperately in need of a drink after the long ascent so after taking in the views i decided to head back down to base. The weather took a turn from this point and the rain clouds opened up and showered from the rest of the day, i was in the wrong spot to be caught in a tropical shower, i decided to head back quick which took forever and i almost forgot how far i'd walked to reach the peak, even going down was starting to get tiring but the tropic rainstorm in a rainforest environment was an experience in itself on the way back.

I finally made it back to base and headed back to the bus for my final journey back to causeway bay to spend a few houses wandering and eating before saying my final goodbyes to Hong Kong and going on my way to the airport.

The airport itself was impressive like a giant mall but easily managable unlike the hundreds of malls in hk tightly packed with thousands of tiny shops. The funny thing is i ended up doing more shopping in the airport than the entire trip, a lot of stuff was surprisingly high priced in hk and the things which were cheap were a little sketchy quality and not much cheaper than back home .
So anyway thats it, 16 hours later i'm back in the uk, Bored once again and awaiting the next trip which is only a week away! i managed to save a lot of money and holidays so i booked it all in advance, i feel strange coming back this time around though, I've only been in HK 9 days but its been a world away, I've also finally realised how far behind the uk is compared to the rest of the world when it comes to convenience in life and there is only so much comfort and relative safety which makes it worth it. The fact is the uk may have advantages in living standards but this doesn't make up for the quality of life which is far higher and more rewarding in even developing countries, maybe its time to move on after all, i am feeling more detached than ever from home this time around because i'm starting to think the things i have in common are only by location...

December 12th 2012

The day before i leave for innsbruck and i've done absolutely no preparation but strangely i'm ready as ever just out of anticipation from the long wait away from the snow. I've finished work now and on my way home to get ready for tomorrow, But really i'l probably play star wars racer for most of the day to stay up to my sleeping pattern back in order.

Innsbruck


13th December 2012


So i'm in Innsbruck again almost one year later from the Youth Olympics and the flight here was so funny in unusual ways, the first was the hassle trying to get my avalanche airbag for snowboarding through customs at the airport. I was pretty surprised none of the customs staff had ever seen an airbag, But guess not many people send it way out down cliffs in Manchester! so after about an hour of checking in my airbag again i was finally on my way. I could tell there was a few nervous faces about once people had overheard a guy with an air cylinder in his bag had been cleared through customs to carry it on the plane, probably in honesty aswell you don't really see many black people skiing and snowboarding which i reckon didn't ease the moment. I get on to the flight and into my seat and a big fella is sitting next to me, he was funny had a good sense of humour about the circumstances, he was two of me so the space i was saving in the chair made up for his extra baggage. The flight was pretty straight forward, i bought a scratch card and lost, boo : ( On the approach into Innsbruck there was a sudden loud crackling and rumbling underneath the plane and then the exit lights came on which was freaky, i was thinking in my head we've scraped a mountain but we got down safely and the rest was history.

There was a tiny moment thinking i wouldn't clear customs because of the stunt me and anna pulled at the youth Olympics last time in Austria but it was all ok and very friendly.

Once back at the Innsbruck hostel i started talking with my new roommates dan and sebastian and after a decent meal we decided to break out on the town which meant checking in at the one and only treibhaus! As the night went on there was some very deep conversation and turns out we were all like minded people which is rare to find back home never mind by chance all staying in the same room in Austria, anyways i'l definitely keep in touch with those guys!

The next day i said goodbyes and i was on my way to fugen for the linecamp in Hochfugen!

I had great help along the way on the train and bus to Hochfugen, The people in Austria do feel reserved at first but are really friendly once the ice is broken. I was speaking to a girl on the train who was really nice but i was surprised on her views on snowboarding and skiing as Austrians are all about winter sports which is like the national sport. She did say she was from Germany originally which might explain it. I made it up Hochfuegen resort by bus which was free which is always good, Walked about 500 metres to reach the hotel panorama which is situated directly in front of the main cable car which couldn't have been any more convenient, The hotel was part of the package with camps but i wonder how much that one would cost a night, I know it can't be cheap for sure, in fact we only seen one other family staying during our time there in the hotel.

The afternoon we all met up for intro's and theory session based on freeride and the tour. The head coach Flo Orley a world champion and local snowboarder was really laid back and just you would imagine a snowboarder who has accomplished so much and loves snowboarding and the lifestyle. I wish i had more time to talk about not just snowboarding but the lifestyle and day to day things everybody has to overcome with a pro lifestyle, hopefully i will see him soonish anyway at the Chamonix world tour stop and be cheering him on.

The group were nice and a mix of shy to all out badass! some i got to know better than others but we all got along very well in the end. The next day we were ready to go practice lines and inspect the face for analysis etc so we hiked up and dropped in. The weather was up and down all day and we had the worst of it on this day of all days. My first line was way too difficult, I had a small gap of opportunity to achieve my line and i ended up missing the narrow turn in point to reach the next feature of my line, the only way down from here was over a cliff so i had to slide my way down mostly on my ass and ride away. I was disappointed but i know i set the difficulty too high and the margin for error is small so i was setting a very difficult route which was unnecessary for the first day.

One of the girls had a huge cliff crash and injured herself pretty badly and eventually went home early which goes to show the dangers and risk involved, Everybody crashed at one stage but some came out better than others. The second line was smooth but in less demanding terrain but everybody had a good line.

Later on it was theory then onto the bar which could have been a lot worse than how it ended considering we finished on 65% shots, we all pulled through and were fresh and ready for the final day.

We also did some bc sessions which were fun but pretty tough to learn and remember the terrain, i took a huge gully gap jump but not before bailing in the powder a few times. I thought i was the only one who bailed so many times but looking back at the video everybody had some funny strange crash moments, everybody ripped it though.

The next day was a contrast of fortunes which ended early. I took the biggest line I’ve ever had in snowboarding but later in the day smashed my face on rocks. The line i chosen was tough but if i was to overcome a few fears during this trip i definitely broken a few barriers on this one. I knew i had to go big and there was no way out. I fell on a slide strangely in the Icey approach to the couloir which was a definite no fall zone. I made it out and my legs were burning but i realised how big the line was and was happy and relieved at the same time, the group couldn't believe it either.

The next run ended my day. We hiked up again to drop in and take a line, All was going great until i approached a cliff and made a split decision to take it full speed with a wrong angle approach still slightly slanting sideways on approach. Anyway i paid for it and knew straight away i wasn't going to make it and crashed hard into the snow and rolled eventually over rocks and came to a stop. I looked down and could see blood coming from somewhere and could feel my nose really sore, i thought i had either just busted a nose bleed or broken it, the blood did not stop flowing and i knew it was not a quick fix so after picking myself up, riding off the face spitting blood a few times i covered my nose with my glove and sent myself to the nearest first aid stop. The staff patched me up and said i would need stitches asap so i got a ride down by ski patrol in a ski emergency bed stretcher back down to base which was strangely relaxing, got up too onlooking spectators surprise and was on my way to the docs for 3 stitches to the face.

A few hours later i was back in the resort and meeting with the others to say goodbyes for the end of camp training, Hopefully i will see them out there this season for the freeride world tour.

There is a strange divide with pro riding and just everyday, the riders who push themselves and live for the sport all share the same level of commitment and motivation so you can understand eachover where with casual riders there is an imbalance of intentions and dedication and i start to understand this more than ever now, not everybody wants to be pro and take big risks or just dedicate the time and effort into it but the people who do share a general mindset and presence so it’s easy to relate to many things in not just sports but life and the trials past present and future.

Today i decided to go scope the sidecountry patched up but still functioning as normal. A lot of people were concerned if i had a head injury from the crash but i came out of it without further problems (i think). The riding today was just nice tracking powder lines in the bc, i got a lil lost at one point but made it out. I also spent the afternoon in the bc terrain overlooking the main face we were dropping into the day before, This give me the opportunity to further learn the face and be accustomed to the surroundings if i come back for the big mountain Hochfuegen. The day was just fun and was a great end to the trip, I've still got another half day free tomorrow before my flight to go snowboarding but i'm going to call it finished as my face is beginning to reveal the full extent of the crash and my neck is which lashed from the amount of turns and crashes I’ve clocked this trip, I could do with a massage and a rest horizontal for a while. The next stop is la Clusaz France jan 8th so i need to patch up and get ready.

I guess this trip has made me think about a few things, Definitely one is not to take these moments for granted, Two I’m not invincible and although i take huge risks sometimes I’m just fortunate to come of things on a less serious scale, three is about my lifestyle and i really needed just to be back with similar people to refresh and confirm my reasons for why i love to do this despite the many choices I’ve made to reach this stage, I'm happy for good and for bad I’m doing what many don't have the confidence to do stepping away from a more secure stable lifestyle and living the dream and not looking back.

There is a really nice girl where I’m staying who is so enthusiastic and just outgoing and has loads of sports interests which like me she will do even if she has to go it alone. I kind of wish i could tell her more but circumstances always will get in the way which i guess is one of the bad points to living the dream. Anyway time to fly home tomorrow, Just need to finish the Zillertal marzen then i think i will settle in for the night and rise and shine for the morning. I've still got no idea what to do tomorrow but I’ve got almost a whole day , Maybe some Xmas last minute gifts will give me an excuse to visit the Innsbruck Xmas market.

Annecy, France

January 18th 2013 -

The month so far has been a big insight into the future and made me think about what i want to really gain from all the things i am doing right now. I flew out to France on the 6th January for the first FWQ event in La Clusaz, I thought i was really prepared and i knew it would be tough but what happened in the next few days really gave me a reality check on where i am in snowboarding right now and where i want to go from here on in.
The trip to Annecy was a real effort, I caught a coach from Geneva early morning after missing the last coach at 8pm the night before so i spent the night in one of my least favourite cities in the entire world. I arrived in Annecy ready for the days ahead and the city was a good place to travel onwards to La Clusaz. The city is also where my Youth Olympic games friend Gwen lives but the only time i will probably spend the most amount of time there was unfortunately clashed with Gwen’s travel plans as she was spending the month with family in Australia.

Annecy was ok, Typically French, Pretty boring to be honest and a little too upmarketish for me, I like a little sleaze in a city but it was just too sterile. I met a cool Indian guy though in the hostel and also two nice Finnish girls who were working there as part of a travel Workaway program but unfortunately were leaving the day after i arrived. They were from the far east part of Finland bordering Russia, Very lively and fun, i can't say the same for some other people who were there though. Also there was some cool Korean guys and a dude from Hong Kong who heard me talking about the city and we just got chatting away about HK and things.

The next day i made my way to la Clusaz, I got a bit lost trying to find the hotel but made it eventually, It turns out hardly anybody spoken English in the hotel and during my stay it would be very inconvenient but it was a nice place. I met a guy from Paris here who was studying in New York so was pretty good with his English and was pretty cool, i spent quite a few days riding with him, he was like a guide as he knew almost every area of the mountain because he has been going there every year with family since a little kid.

The event, where do i start... it was very bad for me but lucky at the same time and also a reality check, my run was messed up from the start, i cut in too early, messed up my position to jump and kind of just side dropped down to the next section, by this point i was already lost from my original line, i took the next section too deep on the left when i should have approached further to the right, the line was already very difficult and not much room for error as i found out next. I came up to the edge realising i was too far over and there was no way down from the big drop underneath me, i seen a gap with a small bit of snow leading to the area i should have been but it was a huge risk with the cliff directly underneath, at this point i should have disqualified myself and stopped but the adrenaline of the moment i think got to me and i tried to take the gap, i lost my edge instantly and started sliding down and over the cliff, i hit a few ledges on the way down before one last big ledge drop to the piste, at this point i was thinking as i was falling i was going to at least break my legs, i hit the ground board first but i was strangely ok, i got up, realised what happened and carried on to the finish. i was coughing pretty bad afterwards from the impact but i was ok which was most important and eventually i stopped coughing. If i didn't bounce on the ledges or landed a different angle i think i would be in a lot trouble right now but i managed to control the fall. Later on it was announced the 2 star face would be the same face for the 4 star event which is the highest level, if i knew the difficulty i probably wouldn't have entered as my first 2 star event as it just isn't worth the risk so early as i'm still pretty inexperienced in events.
The second event was similar, A huge face which was full of crud steep snow, I actually just fell trying to negotiate around the boulder field, i still had a decent jump and run but the fall put me in last the day before and then that was it, a very eventful but uneventful event finished and i came away with more personal questions rather than achievement....

I would say this is the reality check i needed right now though, I wasn't ready to enter such a high risk event so early in my career and season and i paid the price for being naive on the comp, the crappy snow conditions didn't help but it was too much too soon, the thing is i know i could handle it and my line was ambitious and big but but i wasn't ready to go all out and my experience so far was showing as i weren't fully sure of my run once out there, think the event was still good for experience if for the wrong reasons.
I had a lot more fun the following days just searching for powder and then i realised that right now i need to just enjoy what i love to do and experience will come naturally and i will be more prepared in the future. I also learnt that competition is not the only challenge in snowboarding and is not the most important, i don’t care if i don't win the fwt but as long as i enter a few events a year prepared and focused on a progressive level instead of in too deep too early i will be ok and more importantly enjoy the events.
Me and clement the Paris guy finished up with a great powder day but were both beat by the end of the day, i said fairwells and made my way back to the hotel and onwards to the airport for the flight home.

(back home)

I'm back now and on reflection all the things which happened have now made me come to realise a few things and although the direction and goals are the same, its ok to take a detour to discover all the other things i want to do and places i want to go ride just for fun and the experiences, i will still enter the comps but even if it’s only one then i will go in prepared and with more experience in the future to be competitive, I still have many years i can gain experience for high level comps so for now i will enter the comps on the level i feel i'm ready for now in the FWQ and just enjoy travel and bc snowboarding.
There are a few unique places i want to go ride, one of them is Greece and eastern Europe and also Nozawa Japan the land of powder so i will go check it out when i can, maybe early next season and i can reunite with my good pal taka in Tokyo! I will enter 1 more FWQ this year for experience and i'm really looking forward to it, the event is in Andorra so it should also be in a beautiful mountain location. I am going to Chamonix on the 25th jan to watch the FWT event, the trip should be nice with more of a holidayish feel about it rather than a road trip or practice. I will be supporting our coach pal from Hochfuegen Flo Orley in the comp, I'm going to get the party started in the crowd!
I could do with like a spa therapy thing to relax the tension as i'm good but feeling worn so need to restore myself a little bit.

The rest of the year i will save again, i want to get a big wild bird maybe from rehab centre but it’s a commitment and i need my own place to do it as a bird would send my cat crazy at home, the bird i think would still win in a brawl but my cat would just lose his mind he wouldn't resist trying to give it a go anyway. Also, I'm looking to finish studies in the next few years to support the travel stuff I’ve already done, nothing too big but just update my qualifications, I’ve seen some good courses but I’m just checking out the idea right now, i think in a few years i will go chill a bit to get it done.

Glencoe

January 25th 2013

The last few day have been pretty tragic on my plans, The first plan was to go and watch the freeride world tour in Chamonix, i was all set, made my way to the airport, waited long times for the switch board to tell me which gate i need to go for the flight, 5 minutes was around an hour just to be updated with the horror that the flight had been cancelled! so my whole trip was screwed up as i had to make it for the coach in Geneva really early way before the first flight the next day, so i made my way back home and lost all my money too as the tour package was non-refundable : ( I still had 5 days off so i decided to check the forest for Scotland and made a last minute road trip up to Glencoe. Anyway i arrived in Scotland early morning to find the resort is closed due to high wind etc and will it’s been closed ever since so i haven't really done much but chill in the hotel, i have 1 day left so I’m still holding onto some hope! the other day i walked around 12 miles through the mountains, i made it back ok though as I’m here writing right now but I was pretty beat towards the end and day had turned to night by the time i reached the hotel 3 hours later, the scenery though was incredible so i guess it was all worth it in the end. I've been to many mountains but not many are as dramatic and wild as Glencoe and it might not be big but size isn't everything, well to some girls maybe it is!

Andorra

February 28th 2013

I'm writing this one after my trip because the last week has been nonstop! i left for Barcelona not before my plane breaking down before we set off which was a lil freaky, the pilot announced we would have no air which was a bit worrying, how are we going to breathe with no air! (chris brown? ) anyway we eventually set off and landed in Barcelona. After a lil fuss over where i get the bus to Andorra i was on my way. I met a cool family on the bus and had a good chat for a while, we had to say our goodbyes though soon as i would be changing buses to go Sispony, a different region in Andorra.

When i arrived at the lodge where i would be staying for a week things didn't start so well, i was waiting for nearly an hour in the cold before i could even get inside and check in so i weren't really in a good mood after travelling for 8 hours. The place i was staying had a gothic thing going on, the building used to be a converted church turned lodge so i guess it worked, there was a also a husky dog and two funny grey cats, who hated being in the same place as eachover always fighting!

the lodge was not bad but not amazing. The second day i started to meet more people, Cristoph a French dude who was also in Andorra for the comp was in my room and introduced himself and we chilled the entire time, he was a very cool relaxed guy with a warm easy going personality, i also met Vincent that day who was the complete opposite a wild all out guy who was always lively and joking around, a real cool guy too enjoying the experience. The snow in Andorra was hard cement type stuff and didn't really help that it was so sunny although it was really nice and a change from arctic condtions.


I met Anton on the chairlift who was also in the competition, a Russian Entrepeneur quiet but picked his words right which was funny as he would just say it how it is. We were riding for a few days and ended up going on a road trip to the south of France to see a james bond style solar beam building straight from a villains sketchbook, Anton was really keen to see it, we know what the Russians get up to in James bond!

either way the drive was nice but very windy i started feeling seasick on the way back, we also discovered the Grandvalira pass is a freeride paradise. I met Marea in the lodge, a really nice laid back swiss girl with a really cute smile and nice nature, we had a good vibe going on and always was nice and different spending time with her, unfortunately she's a popular girl on the tour and i didn’t see a lot of her towards the end of the trip, maybe in the future we will meet up again but who knows.

I had my line down perfect in my mind for the comp so i went into it pretty confident the next day. After the briefing and a reunion with a guy from France it was time to make the hike for the comp. We reached the start point and was watching the skiers dropping in like whoaa wait we go from here!?


i chosen a really difficult line and decided to drop from the highest point where no other snowboarders had dropped in but i was confident and going for the win.

My friend Vincent had to push me over just for me to start which was crazy, i turned quickly and slipped a bit until i regained control on the really steep section and continued with my line.


I was trying to reach a medium cliff to jump but i went in too late and lost a lot of speed trying to turn in hard to reach the drop in point for the cliff, anyway i didn't reach it and ended up butt checking trying to turn out of it uphill which wrecked my line, i made over the second jump but did the same thing on the way to the third, i finished and was pretty disappointed in the end as i knew i could have had the win but it was a lesson in experience as i didn't really take the snow condition too serious as an obstacle on my run but was still valuable experience and more important my confidence was higher knowing i could have won it with such a good run, so in the end i was looking to the positives and the future. Later me and vince went to ride a big face, he saved me actually from sliding half way down the mountain on the climb up, anyway on the way down i lost edge and slid down anyway most of top part which was really exposed and icey. The bottom i had some fun through the trees. We later met up with Damien another very cool guy from France who was so chilled out, we hooked up with Cristoph again and went on some tree runs.

We watched the 4 star event the next day, had an arctic bbq which was pretty funny, there was a lot of cold sausages out there haha!


later went to the afterparty which was pretty wild and me and Damien rocked that place out and were doing some serious time on the tequila. I had to call it after 4am and go back to the lodge as we had to be up by 9am to go ride, i remember we had some crazy Andorra/Catalan wine which we had to drink by pouring it like a water fountain into your mouth which was really sketchy being red wine which would have really been a night spoiler if it went wrong. The bbq was also great and a nice thing for the organisers to setup for the competitors. I don't know what happened to Damien but Cris left early and dam was there even later than me but somehow still managed to be in one piece for 9am the same morning to go ski!

We were drained later that day and just crawled our way through a few intense tree truns which were really hard work and would have been without a tequila hangover, dam was really feeling it the most! The yerba tea he made in the morning didn't help, not surprised with the taste of it! i also got stuck on a chairlift and nearly ended up going on an upside-down ride but luckily the chairlift guy saved me. Cristoph was leaving halfway in the day which was a pretty down moment, Marea had left, Vincent had left and it was only me and dam left to ride it out.

Later we went for a great meal in some bohemia bar in Massana which was really nice and the girl serving there was also pretty hot we were like daaamn. we talked about the future and what’s coming up, hopefully we will all be riding again in the near future. After a big chat a proper finish to the week catching up and winding down we were saying goodbyes to smash mouth all-star playing out on the radio on the way back to the lodge in dams truck, a convenient and great song to end a great week with new friends, sadly dam had to make his way back home and i would be on my way back to Barcelona for the flight home the next morning, So long Andorra, see you next year!!

End of a Super Model

It's a sad time, I have to say so long bon voyage adios sayonara zai jian to my favourite board the burton super model. On my recent trip to Andorra i noticed a crack in the top sheet, i checked the siderails out and there is a bad warped edge : ( , i didn't notice it at first and the board is still flexy but i think as time goes on it will affect the performance and there is simply no easy fix for it so i had to come to the decision to put this board into retirement and move on. The board has been excellent for me, I've been so happy with it and in fact has probably got me out of so many situations where another board might not of held up, It's gonna be missed, I will still keep it here and maybe go out on it on small slopes but i will enter one last comp and call it a day. I've got another reason to do good in the next comp in Glencoe which is like my spiritual home mountain because it’s the place i really started to progress in snowboarding and is like my freeride playground back home so it’s the perfect place to end the season and i want to go out on a high as a tribute to the year and the board, one last ride.


you will be missed old pal!!!

Glencoe FWQ

Glencoe was a mix of ups and downs, the up was the conditions were amazing and still are going into the spring season, the down was i fell yet again on what would be a standard type cliff drop for me if i was up there riding and cruising for fun but i just can't seem to nail it when it counts this season in the events, either way the judges still noted the effort and difficulty and i finished in the middle of the standings.
I met some really cool ppl up there though and it was a great event to bring everybody together, A girl called Rosslyn i met on the tow bar up, a nice lil way to meet somebody sharing a tow haha you kinda have no choice but to stay silent or start convo but luckily she was really nice and turns out she was also entering in the event, She had abit of a hard time though in the event like me but i think shes got it for next year!
Sergi a crazy fun Spanish guy and Danko Croatian dude were in Glencoe for the event and we shacked up for the night in the microlodge for free so naturally we all got to know eachover and ended riding and chillin for most of the weekend until the very end.

The snow was pretty amazing, the face itself was fully packed powder conditions, the best conditions I’ve seen in any event and location i've been this year, i was speaking to a few riders in Pyrenees who had second thoughts about Glencoe because of the lack of snow last year, well i told you so if your reading this you gotta be adventurous and take the chances! unfortunately i was only in Glencoe for 4 days as i was seriously running out of money which was a shame because of amazing conditions but i also finally k.o'd my wood on the last day and split the top of my board and it now looks like a pike ready to do some vampire hunting so i had no choice but to go back home, oh and i won most falls thanks to my 1st day double tomahawk from a cliff drop, pretty crazy and funny crash but i got a huge bottle of vodka and a new hat for my efforts so if you take a risk your bound to win something even if it’s only the fun prize hehe, the best crash though went to another really down to earth friendly guy we met at the event called David, he managed to lose his ski before rolling down the mountain on a journey over some rocks and cliffs, but he was ok and we laughed it all off.
The Glencoe weekend organisation was great and i look forward to going back there hopefully in the future to do it all again, i'm pretty happy it all went down and people can see across the world Glencoe is a great ski area! for me now it’s the end of the season and i'm excited to go the beach for some SUP over the season and transform into a fish!

Memories of Cambodia

Every time i look back lately i keep thinking of the times in Cambodia, The trip was my first big experience and challenge on my own out in the real world, From the Indiana jones style plane journey into Phnom Penh to the wild and in parts still tribal remoteness of Ratanakiri province and rainforest town Banlung , every element of the trip was completely new and there was always something i would have to adapt too pretty quickly in order to get by.
I am really happy i decided to go on this trip, I asked a few people beforehand if they would be interested but the only response i had was half hearted maybes so i decided to take that as a no from experience and just go it alone, I also knew though without sounding big headed that i would be ok during the trip despite big language barriers, Culture differences etc because i learn to adapt pretty quick and i know that no matter where you are in the world the thing that is the most important is friendliness, an open mind and just respect not just for different culture but treating people the way you would like to be treated yourself, This is sadly the part which is almost lost in the UK as i sit here and write this in 2013.

The strangest thing is that i met a guy in Sihanoukville who used to live about 10 minutes down the road from my house, he went travelling for a while, loved Sihanoukville and decided the UK was shit and wanted to make a permanent move and has been living over there ever since, his life was pretty simple but he was one of the happiest brits i've met abroad, he worked over in a hostel nearby to the beachfront but also on a beautiful island 2 hours away from the mainland, the pay apparently wasn't great but with free everything living on a island with no worries who can blame him!

Some of the best and most memorable times was meeting the locals, if i went back today i would still remember all the faces i met, some working very hard day and night to make a living but the thing i never forget is how happy everybody was despite tough lives in comparison to the European way of life. I met some of the most friendliest people in Siem Reap mostly around my guesthouse, Inside the guesthouse i was being treated like a king even though i was not much older than most of the staff, there is no way i would take advantage of the kindness and instead decided to just be myself as always and speak more personally with the staff which came across pretty good because they opened up and relaxed around me and i began to make good friendships over the few days i was there, in the end it was really sad to say goodbye but we still even to this day keep in touch via gmail.

I will never forget the bike driver man Hem, Over the three days we spent travelling all across Siem Reap and even pretty far out into the countryside, I got a really personal look at Cambodia with him, Hem was an older man who had been through everything during his life in Cambodia, He was a young man during the Khmer rouge period and was a part of the army unwillingly until he decided to flee over the border to Thailand as it was the only way he could turn against the army without serious punishment, Sadly many of the Cambodian people were forced to join and would face terrible punishments for turning against or trying to quit the army, Hems only option was to be a refugee in Thailand and live and work there until the war was over, He returned back to his country 10 years later. The whole story and his openness to his life really made me break down, there are not many things which can get me like that but i was really sad that night and just questioning everything to myself about people and the world, in fact from that moment on my mindset changed completely on the way i see the world and i promised from then on i would live life to enjoy the time and not for all the useless stuff people worry about.

I was approached in Siem Reap by a kid promoting an orphanage, i was sitting in an open restaurant overlooking the market and the kid spotted me and walked in and grabbed my attention, I couldn't just pass it by so i listened to him, the problem like many other orphanages in the area is many tourists don't see this side of Siem Reap on first appearance as the touristy areas are very well presented and there is rarely any sense of poverty or problems in the main touristy streets, but even though the area receives a lot of money from tourism the money rarely goes to these orphanages and relief centres etc because the tourists simply see a blind eye to these places because they are hidden from view, the kid was probably in areas he was not allowed and i remember the restaurant owner telling him to leave but i said it was ok and allowed him to finish and i agreed to pledge a small amount of money for a t shirt which i still have and wear today as a supporter. The orphanage is truly independent and right next to the Angkor temple site but goes unnoticed and unfunded by the local gov despite all the money going into Angkor visits right next door, I said i would do more to promote this orphanage but I’ve sadly not done as much as i can but i am actively supporting them, If you have time and/or plan to visit Cambodia Siem Reap check out - SOID Organisation, The orphanage has a facebook page which keeps regular updates and also encourages people to volunteer for free.

I think i will definitely be back one day, even if it's to fulfil the things i said i would do like contribute and help the orphanage, or play my own role in making a fun safe environment for the kids out there, i do a lot of sports and interested in many sports not just snow and surf so i think it would be great to setup something involving bringing the kids together through sports in the future, hopefully i can find some sponsorship back home to support the idea and we can make something great for the kids out there because they deserve it.

Road to the Arctic

Heyy so my blogs been a lil silent lately because it's that time of year when us riders go into hibernation for the winter or are counting the piggy bank jar for early season rides, I got out kind of later than i wanted this season but i was planning on a different kind of early trip to begin the season, It's been on my mind for quite a while but i decided now is the right time to go and discover Arctic Norway so i booked my flight and i was flying out early December 2013 reporting back right now, Which means i made it in the Arctic yeahhh!!!



The trip was not last minute but a lot of the original plans were changed due to a weird kind of unseasonal arctic storm going on up in Narvik, the city where i was planning to spend most of my stay. Almost from the beginning of the trip things were starting to look bad. I had a really funny flight talking to a dancing judge and costume designer on the plane to Oslo, Those guys were off to Lillehammer about an hour away from Oslo but they were really nice and friendly and made the flight a lot more interesting! I got into Oslo and walked in a straight line down the airport for about 1 hour past sushi parlours, mini champagne bars and just crazy expensive food places until i reached my terminal for the flight to Narvik but i just also found out the flight before mine and many others had been cancelled so i started to think the worst and i would be stuck in Oslo for the night but even though the weather had only laid up a little bit which i found out from all the turbulence on the plane, I managed to arrive in Narvik on schedule and was on my way to the guesthouse.

The guesthouse was kind of nice but strange at first, I'm just not used to things being so open and trusting but i arrived and the keys were inside the room which was open already so anybody could have really walked in, I was lil worried about that the first night but relaxed about it after the night and found out your more likely to have a big ice skating bail out on the street than anything that can happen overnight, The streets were like ice rinks and fun but only if you know how to slide on your feet and not your face!
the first night i managed to catch the northern lights right outside the guesthouse over the city, Amazing! but damn it was cold that night and it took me a while to adjust back to those temperatures so i was in and out of the bar every minute to admire the views of the lights, Speaking of the bar Norway aint cheap and if you are planning to drink you better have some space on your credit card because the first couple of drinks would be my last for the night.
I was speaking to the staff in the guesthouse and asking about the area and i didn't really think about other things to do before i arrived apart from snowboarding so i was interested to find out more stuff around the area but was surprised to find out Narvik is actually pretty small and if i was really hardcore travelling most of the touristy things could be done in a day, Luckily i had a week so i took my time with most of the things, But i also didn't have a choice, Because i later found out the main ski resort would be closed for the week due to conditions and lack of snow, In the arctic? yeah right.
Even though the resort was closed this was a good opportunity to improve my fitness because i've been slouching off a little bit since summer, I decided to make the ascent by foot and follow the piste route up to some great drop in spots on the trail, I'm really glad i did this because not only did i managed to see some amazing views but also this give me a general idea of the area and the best spots to go in the future for snowboarding. I was limited to where i could go but i managed to get some decent runs even though the snow was really kind of hard concrete pow because of the freezing temperatures.



I think it was the 3rd day i decided to do the walk all the way to the top or thereabouts, I was already on my way up when i joined a women who was telemark skiing with her husky dog on a lead, I decided to tag and just follow their route and it turns out she was making her way to the viewpoint before skiing down so i managed to reach the viewpoint for some of the most amazing views ever. I was really tired though by this point, And i didn't really make the most of the ride down because it was getting dark and i could barely see so i had to make a wise choice to get down in one piece.



The sky in Narvik is amazing, The colours are an arctic white/blue/purpely pink like nothing i've ever seen before and the kind of thing you would expect to see on an alien planet on a sci fi movie, I've seen quite a few sights already in my life but i think it will take something not from this world to beat the views in Narvik. The conditions were so snowy i managed to snowboard all the way back from the viewpoint to the town centre back down on the walkway but i bailed into a garden fence on the way there haha. The night sky is just as amazing as the day, If you don't see the northern lights then the polar night is still something spectacular, Not quite fully dark but like a dark blue with the shadows of the moon. Overall i didn't really get as much snowboarding in as i would like to but i definitely experienced the arctic more than i had planned this time around and i was really starting to get a nice connection to the area and the people towards the end of the week. Anyway after 4 days of hiking the mountain i was getting tired and i needed to change things up and take a break so i decided to check out some more of the city, attractions and the surroundings.



Narvik is also known for a really serious battle in WW2 and i thought it was only right to pay respects and visit the museum, I was shocked about how big and important the battle was during the war, I also found out only pearl harbour was larger in scale and brutality during the war, I was really feeling sorrow for the soldiers who i could imagine were fighting during those arctic winter conditions against relentless force from German invasion and after seeing some of the weapons i couldn't believe people were fighting like this back in those days, It was a very strong reminder of the sacrifices made for the freedom we have today and that the world can never see that kind of power again.

I really like the Norwegian people, At first the locals are very reserved and it's kind of understandable since many people probably know each other in a small place and already have their own circles and are not used to meeting many tourists and outsiders etc but if you approach and start the conversation the Norwegians are very friendly and just happy for life in general and also wouldn't change anything for the world, I naturally started talking to many locals working on or around the ski resort and everybody shares the same passion and happiness for their surroundings, It's really great to see others feeling so strong about preserving what they have around them even though life can be hard in the arctic and the conditions something else. I even started talking to a piste basher who stopped at the side of me before i dropped in for a run for a quick chat haha i was thinking is he going to run me over, It's a good job none of us made any sudden moves or else one of us would be going down the hill the wrong way up.



Some other guys i met during the trip, A very happy and enthusiastic swiss guy who was real funny and had a really youthful presence even though he was an older man. A travelling circus on tour who were kind of strange but i think they thought i was strange too so yeah we kind of balanced out in the end lol, A kind of psychotic guy who hated the Swedish and apparently was planning his revenge trip lol i don't even want to go any further into that one, Also two guys from Slovakia and Czech republic in Lapland, This was kind of a mash up because we were trying to find the nearest coop in the pitch black so we decided the best thing to do is to go together and we all ended up talking and having a fun lil adventure across the snow in the dark and i even managed to see a reindeer and the northern nights!
The last few days were really really arctic like conditions, The weather had turned into super storm and it must have been snowing for 2 days nonstop, The snow was so heavy even the gritters couldn't keep up with clearing the constant snowfall and cars turned into snow ploughs.
I decided to do something different for the last few days even though it was kind of a last minute decision, I knew there were other areas to visit within a short distance via train so i decided to take a train ride and stay in Abisko in Swedish Lapland. I was excited for this because i didn't plan to go Lapland this time around but it was the perfect short trip location, But from the moment i left the platform and stepped onto the train i had nothing but issues during this short time in Sweden. First of all my train was blocked off by an avalanche, So we spent around 1 hour 30 minutes just waiting on the train for the track to be cleared before we could go on. The next thing was some issue with my booking in the hotel which was kind of a rip off anyway but i had a big thing with the staff over things i didn't actually want but i had to pay for anyway, In the end though i got a nice refund and it was worth it after the refund, The room was typical ikea showroom but i wasn't impressed for how much it would have cost in the first place but since i was there only a night i though what the hell, This put me in a bad mood the rest of the night though and i got an early night. The hotel is actually built especially to see the northern lights but there was no chance because the conditions suddenly turned really bad on the day of my arrival.
The next day things started looking up and i was a little happier after finding out i would get a discount on the room after all the performance the night before, I set out to explore the area and found all the cute huskies right next the hotel aww!! i really wanted to see these dogs so i was really happy i managed to get a glimpse whilst i was there even though the kennels were closed for the day which was unfortunate because it would have been nice to go out on a sledge ride through the trees. The views around there are just unbelievable, There isn't much to see but it's the baron landscape which creates a eerie atmosphere and gives you a feeling of being at the end of the world, The Abisko range actually reminded me of Ayers rock but without the colour lol.
I was really charged after such a good day so far and decided to take one last trek through the woods before dark to try and reach an impressive waterfall, Turns out this could of been one of the worst decisions of my life. The trail had obviously not been trekked for a few days because the snow was fresh and deep and i could see no signs of any footprints or anything on the way up, I reached about half way and i had a moment of indecision which is a really rare thing for me, I had to decide whether i wanted to go on and possibly complete the trail quickly but risk coming back in the dark or turn back and quit while I’m ahead, I spent around 10 minutes thinking of the best choice of action, After a pause i made up my mind to go as far as i can before i could see the light begin to fade so pressed on down the trail.
So about a quarter of the way up i was getting a little paranoid about the woods and the trees and just sheer remoteness and my loneliness in the area, The atmosphere was dead calm and there was absolute silence except my feet scrunching through deep snow, Also by this point my feet were really beginning to feel the cold and i had let a lot of water into my shoes which was starting to really feel horrible, Then i spotted something straight ahead, The figure turned around at me and i could see the glare of eyes looking right back at me, I was told there are moose and deer in the area but from the size and the movement of the figure ahead there was no way this was a figure of a moose or deer, Then it hit me, This was a bear! My mind and heart at this point went into overload, I thought i can't run because the snow is too deep and it will attract the bear, I also can't defend myself other than what i've got on me, I carry a really high power pocket light and my first thought was to use it in defence or just actually stand upto it and go out with a fight but unless i get a lucky balls shot i don't think i would stand a chance and there was absolutely no bail out spot or hiding place except the freezing arctic river next to me, my only choice was to turn back slowly, take the chance of powerwalking back and then from the previous signpost i started powerskipping through the snow back down the trail and out of there! all the while i was thinking the bear is going to show up over the horizon or through the trees running behind me, I was on full radar alert scoping 360 around the area for any movement as i was making my way back, I knew there were bears in the area but you always imagine a bear to be hibernating during the winter, So being naive i took the chance. I made it to the end of the trail, exhausted and still under full alert thinking the bear is just teasing me or something and will get me when i think i'm safe, Only when i got back to the hotel i finally started to relax and i could take my mind off the situation.

So after such a crazy day my trip in Lapland was coming to an end, And even still i was paranoid about the bear waiting in the train station which was just a single wooden hut lol and i was alone so i was still thinking the bear is going to pop up and be looking through the window and there's only way out! The train arrived on time and i was finally on my way back and could forget about the whole thing.
The last day i had an early night, A few beers and it was an early uprising for an early flight back to the UK! The idea of the trip was to check out the area for freeride in the future, Also i managed to get a good idea of the surroundings and some amazing locations and mountain faces.


2014? To be continued....

3 Vallees Dreams

Hi hi, It's been a really strange start to the season, I could say it's bad luck or bad timing or bad planning but things just haven't worked out like how i had in mind, But in a weird way i'm kind of glad it's gone like that because it's been fun and unexpected, i just enjoyed being out there travelling and seeing new places in the winter, Kind of just going along with it and seeing what happens. I started out in Norway kind of expecting going as far north as possible will be snow sure for early season and a great place for some quiet practice sessions, It was snowy but the snow had only just started to fall arctic style the week i arrived which means everywhere was still preparing to open for the season, Bad timing but an amazing trip which i definitely made the most of, Arctic Norway was too beautiful i can still see the horizon in my head it was just unforgettable, I hope i get to go back there someday and really get the most out of the amazing terrain for snowboarding. I've been trying to convince my snow pals to join me and go there again but Norway is not a cheap trip and the best time to go which is spring is the wrong end for having any money after the regular season, Also there is just so much to do it would be a shame to go there for a short time.

I went on a trip to Courchevel in France in January to meet and stay with an ol rider Damien, The travel was seriously long, I thought i'd save a little money travelling by train via London and Eurostar, I still can't believe i made it there and back, The journey took something like 16 hours altogether with 3 changes and a little help from a very friendly guy in Paris train station who saved my ass from missing the train to the alps by walking me the full way across the station to my platform. The snow was pretty average, the weather was warm but kind of nice for a relaxing ride for a few days, not good freeride weather. After the 2nd day the clouds opened and we had powder days for the rest of the week but i managed to damage my board quite badly on the hazardous sneaky rocks under the powder. It was really nice though just spending time relaxing with good people in the alps, I met a load of new guys out there who actually inspired me to make the most of the time during not just the winter season but every season, I mean i met basejumpers, Motocross riders, paragliders, I started to think i've been missing way too much fun in the summer. Courchevel was nice though, I still prefer the small resorts but it was a good experience to see a mega resort and also see how the other side live, Even though we spent most money in the spar downtown haha. The last night we went bowling and for some drinks and i was so wasted and probably a new record of wasted, I got back in to Damien’s place and spent at least 3 hours in the bathroom, Slept for around 4 hours and then woke up still drunk in a mad panic trying to get my shit packed so everything was simply launched inside the bag and i wobbled along to the bus station to catch my bus connection back to the train. I didn't really start to come around until i made it back to London, Tired, thirsty and drained, I know i was a mess the whole way, I don't want to feel like that again too soon.

We then tried an attempt to summit Glencoe which turned out disastrous and we had to abandon ship because of extreme weather early February. The conditions are better than ever in Scotland but with the snow comes the wind and it's crazy windy up there right now, I knew it was a bad idea really to try and summit, Maybe next time i should choose riding partners with the right attitude to riding and the mountain, Always stick to your guns on this one because wrong judgement can lead to mistakes.

I am still not feeling 100% from last season, I had quite a few slams last season and my lower back is still feeling really tense, I can't explain it, I can ride just fine and it doesn't affect my riding but i just get achey now and again when i'm in one position for too long, I've started to do some stretches more and even some yoga type positions to try and loosen up. I went to the doctors over it and he says there is nothing really out of the ordinary but i just gotta see how i hold up, I guess until i'm in extreme pain they won't do anything about it. I'm really happy with my riding and my board right now though, I've got a good balance and i'm one with the board, The flex is kind of stiff but i like it for powder tricks and grabs, The base is really fast and unforgiving so commitment is everything once you have chosen a line. My team have been really supportive and i'm really happy to be a part of such a positive group of people enjoying snowboarding and life without the seriousness of competition etc.

I really do like competition, A part of me is saying stop because it's more hassle than it's worth but i like the fun of travelling to new places, riding new lines and meeting new people, For me this is what its all about, The result is not so much important right now but i want to be at least enjoying the line rather than having doubts etc and also just give it as much as i can, If both of these don't come in sync i already know it's not really going to be my day. I do want to take some time out though and just go and enjoy travelling and riding for a season without any pressures of the comps and discover the wilderness of the mountains again, There are so many places i want to visit such as Macedonia, Greece, Greenland, Japan, Bulgaria and many i can't even think of right now but of course i only have so much time and money, I need to think about where i want to be between now and autumn and prepare myself for the year and life ahead. Competition is inside me because i have the desire to push myself to the best of my abilities, This is the reason i started snowboarding in the first place and freeride because i wanted the ultimate challenge of pushing mind and body beyond normal limits and do the almost impossible. I know i still have a lot more to learn and experience but also i would love to focus on filming and create a documentary of our travels, Hopefully the team will get together in the near future to create a nice video piece on our lifestyles and travels because there is still so much to say about us as riders which can't fully be explained until you hear us speaking about our lifestyles and background.

Very soon i will start my FWQ campaign in Bansko, Bulgaria for the first stop, the organisation so far has been very confusing and a little disappointing to be honest but hopefully i get there without too many issues but i could have done without the added stress. The next stop will be Glencoe for the British FWQ event, The conditions are great up there right now, Let’s hope the wind holds off for the event but if the weather plays nice this should be a great event, I have some unfinished business for this event after my tomahawk drop last season so i'm really out for the win on this one and will be far more competition minded. The following week i will heading over to Stavanger in Norway for the extreme sports festival which also includes my final FWQ event stop as the event is part of the festival, This event i'm a little less prepared for but hopefully the conditions will be great and i go in with confidence and enjoy my line, also have some fun and check out other sports events during the festival and finish my FWQ campaign on a high and a party!

This doesn't mark the end of snowboarding though, I plan to do some testing with the team in April in the 3 valleys and also go on a little trip back up to Narvik in northern Norway for freeride in the winter sun and a classic bank slalom event. This spring also if the conditions are still good i will go for one last ride in Glencoe and also for a little freestyle on the glaciers of either Cervinia or Saas fee in Switzerland, depending if i'm not completely broke by then which could be a very real situation after all this travelling! But oh well this is the life of a rider!

So, Next stop Bulgaria! I will keep things updated on my twitter account, watch out for all the piccies and news of the event. Take care and enjoy the season!

To be continued……

Season 13/14

Well its coming to the end, Can't say i didn't try , I've been to over 5 countries this season but the cards weren't playing for me this season nor the last one to be honest, I hoped to make up for last season with some good travel and riding in various countries, Well i got a lot of very fun riding but the comps didn't really work as planned for a number of reasons this time beyond my control, Weather, Bad communication etc, But what can you do except look back and take it as a lesson for the future. I'm still happy though because it marks the end of a chapter and the start of a new adventure in my life and career.
I definitely have been thinking more into the future and life this season, Well i've had the time to think about a lot of things during my travels hanging around airports for a good few hours for transfers and the long coach rides to these destinations. Everything from people in my life to where i want to be and the career i want to build over the next few years , It's like i've already got the next few years planned out but i guess it never really goes that easy, But i realised i need to change direction now and set off into the horizon on one path before i miss a good chance and other things in life begin to take over as i get older and the path gets a little more narrow on me.

A part of me is feeling resentment over the season but as always the people i've met this year and different terrain and nature i've been able to see and experience has still made each trip worthwhile from the far north of Lapland to the far east of Europe in Bulgaria.
I travelled solo in attempt to meet others and i managed to do that each time even if the scenario for better or worse brought us together. On my most recent trip to Norway i met fish and ilia in Stavanger which completely made the trip for me, honestly its rare you meet such freespirited people just out their living life, Maybe it was some kind of fate. Also their Airbnb host was really funny and the complete opposite to any Norwegian i have met so far which was refreshing because i was starting to build up some stereotypes of Norwegians because of some cold reception earlier in the trip, It's funny because he reminded me so much of a guy called Darren back in the uk who i grew up with but i haven't seen for a long long time.
I also got speaking to a polish girl who was really cool and pretty cute working in my hotel in Sandnes, I could have spoken to her all day, She was telling me about her experiences living and working in Norway, I kind of feel sorry for her because she seemed a little stuck and fed up hell don't we all at one point but i know she's got some crazy energy inside her to go and do whatever she wants when the time is right.

The snowboarding has been good, The season started out in arctic Norway, The conditions kind of what you could expect up in such extreme locations, The weather started off pretty mild and by the end of the week the town was buried in snow, I did manage to get some riding in but only from hiking to the summit for a few lines down through the trees and back onto the piste which was closed at the time because of the conditions, There is more on this in my post of arctic Norway part 1.
next was France which was real fun, I had a great time out in the 3 valleys with Damien and his work mates, We got some pretty good riding in too, We found some great spots in Courchevel for some freeride and powder and also our final day we hiked for a nice but kind of sketchy line in Meribel. The board has been amazing this season in terms of performance, I have had no worries and full confidence in the boards strength and capabilities on the bigger terrain, I even had confidence in taking it into the park on a few occasions and again the board held up, Any mistakes were down to me getting a little too relaxed and heroic.
Speaking of heroic i had a great crash off a sky rail in Bulgaria during the next trip, I had been getting a little too confident in making this big rail about 10ft off the ground and eventually karma bit my ass and i fell off the rail onto the lip backwards coming up short, I am surprised i didn't come out worse from this but it was a horror crash ugh i still remember it! Bulgaria started off warm with no fresh snow but then like the story of the season, towards the end of the trip the heavens opened and we had powder days for 3 days nonstop, In fact i was actually pretty worn out come the end of the trip and i don't think i could have gone for much longer anyway after 6 full days of riding all over the mountain. There was a sketchy moment where i ducked under the lift to reach a nice looking spot until i realised there was a big cliff sitting underneath me and the snow was actually loose and ready to slide, I've been in this position before and the last time i nearly died so i made sure not to make this same mistake again and i climbed back up and out of there. The last few days were amazing, Deep powder, Steep lines on diamond powder runs, tree runs, Everything, I couldn't ask for a better way to finish the trip in Bulgaria and i had met some really great locals and seen more of the real Bulgaria.
The last ride with Fish and ilia was again pretty fun but we didn't manage to get too many days of snowboarding but we still made the most of what we got. We met a very happy Italian guy who showed us around the mountain we decided to ride that day, He was working as ski patrol and a coach and was pretty happy to see us so we hooked up and decided on lapping the single chair for fresh powder runs down the sidecountry area. Such a nice and laid-back day with a great mix of riders with hardly anybody on the mountain, Those are the days you live for in snowboarding, Well for me anyway.

So yeah the season has seen ups and downs and didn't really go as i planned it from the start but in a way it's not such a bad thing as i would have never have been able to enjoy the freedom of the other times i had, I Yin and yanged it old skool! and i didn't want to get too downbeat over the situations i was facing at the time either, After all i was in a different country doing what i love which is travelling and riding and discovering new things, I can't really complain, I don't think i've got it good because you choose the lifestyle you want to live and make it happen, But i do see things from the real world perspective and appreciate the fact i can do these things in my position so i should try make the most of it.

The season is not quite over, I return back to Arctic Lapland for one of my favourite events the bank slalom! and riding under the midnight sun is my kind of trip! If i missed any riding this season i'm going to make up for it with riding through the day and night until i can't ride anymore. I need to hold back a bit after this trip though, as much i want to keep riding i seriously need to save some cash if i am going to do anything for next season and believe me we already have some blueprints down on the table so it's something i need to get focused on and prepared for in the next 8 months.

So what's next? I won some free ferry tickets to one of my favourite islands up in Scotland so i'm going to use it as an excuse to head up there for a little break this summer and try and find and snorkel with the basking sharks and whales which are popular in that area. Also sure would be nice to go and get back on the stand up paddleboard this summer maybe across the sw wales coast.
I'm also thinking of doing some volunteering in the port town of where i jump on the ferry to the Scottish isles, I don't know if ya'll know but i'm pretty big on animals and i would love to do more conservation and sanctuary work, i am not a bird watcher but i love the wild birds and i'm pretty fascinated by their personalities so i want to get more involved with this too in the future. I continue to support WWF and it's great to see the work they are putting in across the world which is making a difference to the animals under threat.
Last but definitely not least is working on design and shaping in the workshop, I want to be get closer behind the scenes and learn how to properly shape and design the boards i ride and hopefully become more established within this field in the future. I know all these things are going to take a good few years of experience and hard work but there is always something to do and keep me busy so i will keep moving on!
I will have some more pictures uploaded next month to sign off the season so check back on that, I will post the pic links also on twitter and g+ once i've got the final pieces together.
I've also had a new love for discovering new music again, I thought there was no hope for new music but there are still some great artists going under the radar doing their own thing out there and travelling has also opened my ears to different styles of music worldwide.

I could go on about all the bad over the season, There was times actually i started to write about these events and i was calling heads on everything and everyone that had got on my bad side but i took a step back and breathed and thought what’s the point because it’s done and there is no point holding onto grudges, just move on, The whole emphasis of this blog post is moving on and this is important if you’re ever going to get anywhere, Leave the bad behind and learn from it.

So i want to end on a good note and say thank you for all the good times i shared with people this season and hope to see ya'll again soon somewhere along the road, Keep riding, Keep smiling, make the most of life, sing, be happy, Until next season!

To be continued……

Stavanger and South Norway

OK so i've really got a lot to write about for the end of the season and i've had to give it some time to really think about how i want to explain the past few months, There has been a lot of things which have gone down and i don't really want to outweigh the good stuff with the negatives but all i can say is it's been a very strange end to the season.

So first off, The end of march meant another chance to try out at entering a FWQ comp, I had already picked the events i wanted to go early in the season so many of my plans were already in place a long time before i set out and travelled to the FWQ destinations. My first impressions on Stavanger, If i had not been to Norway before earlier on in the year i would have been fascinated by the oldish style buildings and the laid back small town vibe but after Narvik’s out of world views and friendly atmosphere, Stavanger just seemed a lil dull. The trip actually started out pretty weird, I made my way to the accommodation which turned out to be a hospital for patients, yeah you heard that right, my room was a hospital ward haha i don't know how it happened either but turns out i booked it 1 day early by mistake and ended up losing my booking so i had to make some last second plans and find some kind of alternative accommodation which turned out to be a good draw because i found a great place on the outskirts of the city in a place called Sandnes which had claims to be a hostel but it was the poshest hostel i ever seen, still it was pretty sweet to have my own room and a little luxury which is a rare thing for me. I'm usually stressing over stuffing my bags into awkward places and juggling around a load of gear so it was a nice deal. The funny thing was i still managed to watch the Manchester united game with a few united supporters from Norway on the first night of my arrival hehe just can't escape Manchester! the Norwegians were really nice though and friendly and pretty fanatical, They were actually visiting Manchester for the game a few days later and only entered the hostel/hotel to watch the game because of lack of digital tv back home which i thought was really funny and none of the staff really blinked an eyelid, The staff were really nice though too and i got talking to a few whilst i was there.
The event was a none starter for me because of the situation which i explained earlier in a previous post, We had some real bad communication issues with those guys and well it was just straight up bs and a little disappointing but the saving grace was meeting the two American riders fish ilia and also our Italianh rider in the local resort we decided to shred which turned out to be a real fun ride.



Narvik and Riksgransen, Abisko, Wildlands



So, with the end of fwq events i thought what the heck let's finish with competitive freeride now and go and enjoy the end of the season with a bank slalom and just riding in the winter sun, The next stop was Riksgransen, Northern Sweden and a return back to arctic Norway, Narvik where it all started earlier in December 2014.




Narvik looks completely different without the snow, A lot more concretey and square, I guess the lack of snow lost most of it's ski townish look and charm, The first time i arrived it was -28 and i really felt i was really out there in the middle of nowhere, But after becoming familiar with the place i was a little less excited about spending more time there and especially after finding out the local resort closed a week earlier before i arrived which completely sucked half my spirit right out straight away. I really planned to come back and ride the local mountain but with the earlier closure the only option was to spend most of the time over in Swedish Lapland in the resort of the bank slalom event, Riksgransen . I'm going to get this out of the way soon so it doesn't sound like i'm having some ultra rant, After my previous trip over the border, I already decided i don't like Sweden or the atmosphere, So i wasn't expecting too much northern hospitality once i arrived in Riksgransen and sure enough i didn't get it for pretty much the entire time i was there plus i got severely burnt with the deal we had on our event package which ended up costing me like almost as much as it would to stay for an entire week rather than 3 days, For a snowboarder in like one of the most expensive resorts and places on earth this is bad news and you can imagine i was already a lil pissed before i even strapped in a snowboard.
Riks was kind of hyped up to be this mecca all-time place to ride, The terrain is definitely around and there are some great natural features conveniently sitting next to the lifts but in honesty it's nothing you can't do anywhere else in any other resort in Europe for much cheaper, I was a little bored after 2 days and i had already lapped most of sidecountry accessible terrain from the lifts, In fairness there are tons of other options around for touring but it wasn't really that kind of trip for me. There are no really steep or long lines, Most of the terrain is fairly mellow with some feature drops to look out for, The skiers were really charging those drops, I seen one guy straight up go full speed over a huge cliff with a sideways landing and another cliff underneath which was really sketchy, freaking nuts guy!! but he made it and did it in style in the end.




the Swedish are pretty known to be a little cold but there was defo some localism /crewism going on up there, The only real peeps i had a decent talk with were other international riders who also felt the same bad atmosphere of the place which was kind of a shame because it had the potential to really go off as an end of year celebration of riders from around the world but turned out to be a Swedish gathering for swedes only, We pretty much all said the same thing too in that well it was hyped up, We've been here, We've done it, We won't be going back, We will be in Norway riding proper mountains! :P




The event was pretty fun though i gotta admit, The course was great and pretty challenging, I probably could have done with another day of riding and a few more practice runs, My final practice run i finally got the course down in my head and i got through the course and turns pretty well but during the competition i lost a ton of speed on like the 3rd corner going in too hard on the bank turn and by that point i was already out of the finals, I actually lost my edge again turning too hard around the flag trying to cut the turn tighter for more speed but i ended up pushing too hard and going down at that was me finished for the competition, the rest of the run went pretty good but i was way way down on the time. I mean i give props for the course design and the location seems a perfect fit for a bank slalom, the course kind of snaked through like a small canyon and was challenging and fast enough for even the best of riders to have troubles over the weekend.
The last day of riding was really fun, my legs had finally got into full power and i just decided to ride mostly off piste for most of the day and really push it, I was really done at the end of the day.




So that was it, The closing end to the season, Not the party i had hoped for but still looking back the season has been quite a wild ride all across Europe, I started in Narvik early December 2014 and finished in Narvik 2015 with a hell of a goggle tan too, I managed to start and finish the season where i wanted to be even if the things in-between got a little weird, I've had a lot of time for reflection over the season and well next year means new challenges and a little rehaul of my lifestyle in order to truly be where i want to be with my riding going into the future, The season is over but i will keep riding this summer on the dry slopes and indoors ready for the next!

Lofoten Islands 2016 and future thoughts

I got back to write this post which means i made it to the end of the season with a few cats lives left but cats were definitely sacrificed on the way to the end! The Lofoten trip was a very mellow and relaxed trip which is what I really needed after a very busy winter in work and in the mountains. I was properly losing hope with the world a few weeks beforehand as there had been quite a few obstacles attempting to make life crappy on the run up to the trip , I even was self-planning the next few years with mass travel ideas just out of relief to tell myself it's all worth it. I was a little tired from work but my legs could take one last beating before hanging up the boots for another season and this trip had been on radar for a while, The timing was right with my legs and energy charged ready for one last ride. After a bit of disappointment in setting up our last planned trip with a few guys who went M.I.A it was about time we laid down blueprints and when all was said and done it came down to the two original badasses who were still ready for anything , Myself and Damien D , There was no way we would pass up this kind of trip to experience some of the best of Arctic Norway , Even with limited time i think we did it proud. The travel itself was one of the big things, I had to get from little old Glencoe to Edinburgh and then meet Damien in Oslo for our flight to Evenes the next day at 8am in the morning , I spent most of the bus ride up to Edinburgh talking to an American traveller who i was sitting next to on the bus about Scotland and whisky and then onto all kindsa random crap. 5 Hours later i made it the airport carrying my big wheely machine ready to board the flight and onto Oslo where i met Damien sitting there at the luggage just chilling and then we spent most of the night drinking beer, enjoying the trippy artwork , eating some kind of mash up of French animal paste and sleeping on our wheely bags on the floor, Yeah we were horrible 3 hours later but luckily i think half our flight were doing the same thing the same night. Damien managed to bring half of his fridge through customs in fact if he could take his fridge he probably would because he eats like a whale and farts like one too , He tried to blame it on Norwegian sausages most of the time haha. So we touched down and after a bit of messing around trying to find the timetable for buses we were on our way to Svolvaer!!!



Svolvaer was a great place man i mean totally different to narvik with a more relaxed small town kinda feel and being by the port and with great sunshine throughout the time of our stay really gave it a holiday feel, Our choices just worked out right , The time we decided to visit and the locations turned out almost as practical for us as we could get without a car. The guest house was really kind of kawaii cute next to the marine overlooking the harbour and run by some really nice peeps , Ruth was a character and a half and really friendly , Our room was sweet i mean total luxury compared to my usual adventures , We actually had a cooker , Fridge , Free food , Towels and a TV i mean it could have been another planet! I was looking at a few places beforehand and the guesthouse was my final choice so we really got the good straw in the end and also we hooked up with Patrick a family member of the owners working in the guesthouse who shared some local info over beers and some insight into living out in Arctic Norway and travel plans etc for the future. I think Damien was pretty shocked at just how pricey Norway can get from our first trip to the supermarket , We ended up getting something like chilli paste , rice , bread and milk , absolute basics which were nice but he was not in the mood to get fancy in our shopping list , The most exotic thing we tried was Kaviar mix in a tube for the first few days which was like some ultra salty fish probably made up of all kinds of marine animal maybe even old boots and fishing rods, anything they can get away with for 20 krona , It wasn't actually all that bad but there is only so much kaviar i can take , haha sounds much more sophisticated than it was. We had a good scan of the local mountains and almost instantly we knew we had to try and reach the imposing mountain at the entrance to the town, The great thing is we had a view directly from our guesthouse as we were almost underneath it.



We tried to get some information on best ways to get up the mountain , After some eagle eyes of Damien noticing tourists had taken a path to reach the mountain in a brochure picture , we went in search for the tourist office for more info who confirmed it and told us of a trail which leads up to the entrance of the mountain , What they didn't tell us is half of it involves rock climbing and there would be no goats, grhhhh i wanted to see goats!!!




i kind of saw goats on the way up to the first drop in , I followed a line of footsteps in the snow leading up to the spot but realised the footsteps were more like hoofs than feet , No wonder i was having trouble getting up there i was missing two more legs! i bet the goats were watching somewhere just thinking what the hell.




Anyways the first drop was the last cats life i sacrificed of the season , I had got prepared and scanned the turns out but upon dropping in realised just how icy and steep the terrain was going to be but within the second turn i had lost my edge and began sliding down into a rock which lead to even more rocks over the horizon , i was sliding and picked up speed but still had control of the direction of the board even if i couldn't slow down, within the last second i dug deep on my back foot heel edge to turn the board out of danger away from the rock and barely escaped before turning toeside and losing edge again this time into another rock, luckily this time i had already made enough space to avoid it but just narrowly before sliding out and getting composure to get up and ride out in one piece. My mind was blank riding out just thinking what happened and how i even got out of it but i didn't dwell on the situation for too long as the reality is these things can happen and i wouldn't allow it to bring fear or doubt into the rest of the trip , But it could have easily been game over on the first day, Damien made the wise choice not to ride it and we had fun riding out and down the face , I got well and truly ready after bailing out at least 4 times on the way in the spring slush , It was pretty funny and Damien got a good laugh out of it whilst ripping on us snowboarders. The climb down was sketchy as we were carrying equipment on our back over narrow stone pathways with nasty drops but eventually we got down and i got a good picture shot of Damien looking like a wildlife presenter. A short walk back through the housing estates and we were back and sleepy and hungry and ready as ever for a beer and plans for the next day.

Day 2 we found out that the sun sets at ridiculous o clock which meant we took the chance to enjoy a sleep in before setting out on our next and final ride in Lofoten. We decided to go check out the mountains around the local ski area which we never even knew about but had been closed already for the season, one thing Norwegians don't do too great is make things very clear for tourists which we found out a few times later in the trip.




Today was just a fun day and a hike up to the ridge overlooking the town , these locals have some sick terrain no wonder we didn't really see anybody around but telemarkers after the lifts are closed they are probably still burnt from powder days throughout the season, The telemarkers we caught up with were also like Olympic speed walkers , We managed to stay within distance at first but they were soon gone and over the horizon within the first hour of our hike up to the ridge. We took a look up to the face leading down off the ridge and with good snow conditions we had a real fun ride down not doing anything too stupid but just nice cruisey mode back to the start point , We had tracked some big jumps on the same line but looking down the face it was hard to judge whether we were in the right part to take off and come out safely as there were some big jumps leading into other big jumps kind of sketchy if losing control of the wood. I got into a little trouble on the way up , about 3/4 up the face at the steeper point I hit an icey spot and i was in a really dodgy position not really able to step back or even properly strap in if i had to bail out of the line but i couldn't really go on and i just didn't trust it enough to carry on trying to walk sideways across an icey face with nothing but a long a way down underneath me so i had to make a call and ask damo to give us a hand for the final section but hey it was all worth it in the end.




Next day we planned to set out and head over to Narvik by coach , i noticed that more Norwegian flags were around than usual and we figured they are probably having some kind of national holiday but we totally forgot that most things and services would be shut on this day and we hadn't really prepared or expected it , We set out for the bus and after waiting for about half an hour realised something wasn't right , then it hit us that the holiday is probably the reason and made a call to head back to the guesthouse where we made plans to stay 1 more night and head out the next day. We got chatting to Patrick and Ruth again who updated us on the holiday thing and had no choice but to just ride out and have a chilled day checking out the sights and the area and plan to set out the next day. We were pretty happy to get some free hire bikes for the day and wanted to go further down the road and visit the village Kabelvag, we got there pretty quick and raided a local café bars coffee stop and cinnabuns!!! damo was laughing at a till which sounded like a duck everytime it opened up. We still had plenty of time left and thought what the hell lets go deeper into the Lofoten’s, since we had no real destinations damo suggested us go visit a village called Brenna which is named after his mate so we headed out down there cross country style. The bike ride was beautiful but a long long way, i reminded damo a good few times she better be worth it, the way there wasn't too bad until we reached a point in the bend where we thought we had already made it only to find out it was beyond the bend and further into the coastline two steep hills later. Brenna was nothing special but a good spot to just stop by the coast and take the views of the ocean whilst making tinned mackerel sandwiches which we hijacked from the guesthouse. There was very little talking on the way back , even after the few turns of the wheel as we set back it hit me bad how far we still had to go and how much my legs just don't want too but out of determination we got some good speeds down taking turns to lead the front and set pace and made it about half way pretty quick , The last half of the journey was just defiance to get back as we were struggling for a little while but we could see civilization again after the remoteness of the coastal road , first thing we did was head back to the café for more cinnabuns!!There was a ska night on that night which would have been great but we were so wasted by the time we got back i made the call to just take it easy and relax rather than head back out on the bikes late on and come back drunk and tired at 4am and also we had to get the bus at 10am so i was just not really feeling it and damo didn't need any persuasion to stay in bed once he crashed out for a quick nap.




So that's us checking out! the sleep did us good and we were on our way for our final days in Narvik, We nearly missed the bus after some dramas and Damien flipping out at the driver haha but they kissed and made up later on.




So back in Narvik for the third and hopefully not the last time , We got the timing right on this one with the weather playing nice for all days well except the day I was leaving which went overcast and kind of crappy but fresh snow was still falling even this late into the year. The drive up on the bus i was pretty surprised to see so much snow still lying around the trees on ground level it's like winter never stops out here and loads of cutesy reindeers!!

The guesthouse we were planning to stay turned out to be shut down, We got there and the place was looking dumped out Damien couldn't believe i brought him to such a dive after our harbour view luxury of Lofoten, The place looked a lot nicer covered in snow and eternal darkness haha. Even i lost my nostalgia goggles though when we turned up , pretty mashed up grounds no signs anything , We got talking to a guy in the pub one of the days later and he told us they had to shut down quick time because the railway owned the land and wanted it or something like that but apparently they were selling it anyway , I got in touch with them a few months before we left and they were all good and open , strange man but whatever we were hoping on the backup plan and in the end it worked out better closer to the mountain and a lot nicer building with some badass view of the city and lake, also unlimited free tea coffee biscuits and strawberry teas and breakfast hell fook yes its heaven for balling on a budget. We got some help up from an eccentric Norwegian cat lady who stuck a picture of her cat onto her wheelie bag haha i loved her but she was hard work very chatty beyond a level where even i could keep up without losing the will and i don't mind having a good waffle myself , Damien was looking for the nearest exits every time we popped into her haha and we both looked at eachother like oh shit here we go again , But i liked her very friendly and overly outgoing but she would jump over crocodiles to help you out for anything.

Narvik seems to have got even pricier than last time i was here, Even the cheap shop wasn't that cheap anymore we could barely agree to buy a bag of nuts lol but i think once in Narvik we were a bit more relaxed and accepting that nothings cheap so screw it lets just enjoy some nice stuff while were here. We took a walk on the first day to find some info at the ski centre and first thing we noticed was an event going on at the base and a load of Norwegians in dnb bank outfits because that's soooo badass cool in Norway right? anyway i knew it , Damn site played me bad and the wrong information was put up leading me to believe the event was going to be on the next day , yeah i was pissed i wanted to do a bank slalom to finish off the year crapathon of average events but it wasn't going to happen and i just accepted it and moved on to our ideas of riding the mountain over the next few days.
We ended up going out later on , we first got to the club and it was dead at about 11 , Most people back home in UK can barely stand up at that time never mind only just think about going out later on , We ended up staying in the local pub and had a good chat with the locals and a bar man who supported united, damiana pissed off some drunk girl by calling her crazy haha she was cute but nah man too much hard work for me. The club was ok , kind of cheesy typical local club kind of thing , We noticed it was mixed all ages which was kind of different to see and pretty laid back , one guy was rocking too hard and got ejected by a bouncer straight in front of us and just gangster style left the building it was funny. Rest of the night the standard kinda night out , I don't think Damien was feeling it just to chill and enjoy it , He was on a mission for women whereas i just weren't that bothered i was just out and chilled, i stick to bro code always unless made clear , I can do all this back home so my focus is on the riding of boards and the rest comes after. Anyway we made it to the end and enjoyed a few hours’ sleep before getting up for breakfast and ready for the ride later on in the day, The great thing about the place too is that the lift access didn't open til 3pm but it stays light until really late so we knew we had all night long to ride.

The first ride was ok, the snow was hard pack on the slope and hard tracked out crust off it on the main resort part of the mountain, My board and legs didn't like it all but i could cope . We later started exploring the backcountry areas and found sweet powder just waiting for cruisers so we took the invitation and mainly stayed in this area for the rest of the day with big rides down through the trees and long ass traverses to get easy distance back to the slope. Damian was self-made camera man for most of the trip , i didn't really think too much of it , I brought my Holga film camera for the best shots and just the phone which i never got to work properly enough to take clear shots whilst Damien had all the gadgets and took most of the shots and films during the trip which in honesty was a good call as my phone was just not set up properly until i got back home and realised the exposure focus was not properly set up because of the stupid default settings.

We did the walk up to the more serious backcountry terrain and luckily were followed behind by a local board guide and some skiers , We ended up walking on past the first drop in point for our position which we had traced out for ourselves , On the way up we started getting caught up in the clouds and walking into whiteout conditions , We took a break to stop and eat and wait out to see if the clouds would clear before after half hour deciding to make the decision to turn back and ride down, anyway on the way back we bumped into the guide group who were taking the earlier drop in point , after a break in the clouds these guys dropped in and were down , we thought we would enjoy the silence and views and take a few shots before heading back down but we left it too late and got carried away and before we knew it the clouds were closing in on us ready to settle down on our ass for the night , we tried to wait it out again but realised that we just need to get down in one piece as we were both getting cold hanging around doing nothing , after a quick sparring session we waited for a break of visibility and decided to go for it. I was trying to stay within visibility of Damien on the way down but i could see him sharp jumping turns but i didn't want to lose sight of him in worst case scenario terrain , so i had to stay on my edge hard to keep in the same direction but i went on a bit of a slide over some hard pack which i didn't see until it was too late , a lil dodgy but nothing to worry about too much as i knew there was nothing dangerous underneath. We took the ride out through more great powder , i think it's official I'm going to become a powder hunter from here on as I've had a fair share of crust to last a lifetime, we must have been the last people on the mountain as it was deadly silent, we got back after a few funny moments , one where i took out Damien whilst trying to slow down off a jump haha , back down and back to the house for beers , strawberry teas and food time!!

The final day and the day we had been waiting for finally to get into further backcountry lines and the line we wanted to take from the beginning. We started the ride off just lapping the slack around the top of the resort , We had a dusting of snow the night before which made conditions a lot better and the sun had came out for us for the entire day , We knew we were in for a good one , That's until damo yardsaled his phone and it could have been game over right there . The search for the phone wasn't looking hopeful as he lost the thing in the most tracked out area on the hill making it hard to retrace the last line. We lapped the lift to look for the phone , I didn't give up hope totally but it was looking like we were in for a long day , Luckily somehow damo found it almost right next to him as he stopped and was ready to leave it behind , The final day could have been so much different if things didn't work out , but he found it in good time , we even had time to relap the resort and come up for the final lift to start our final journey up the mountain at 8pm in the evening!



I didn't really show it back then but after a pretty heavy session of walking and riding for the last few days i was touching reserve tank to reach the summit point , i was happy to see it and i think damo was looking like he was also ready to sunbathe rather than hike the rest of the way which wouldn't have been a bad idea because the sun was shining down on us even until this late on the evening , a quick look back and the views were something amazing and it confirmed it was worth the wait and drama for the last day after all.




We met up with the local guide with a group who had been up the day before and even he was blown away by the scenery and such an amazing day in amazing conditions , I don't think at that point any of us were in the rush to do the line down, We got a few really good poser shots overlooking the sunset but it was one of those true moments which deserved it. The group jumped off down the straight line and we headed out to our final line further across the ridge , a few sketchy places especially on a snowboard where balance and vision was the difference between ruining the line or ruining the entire trip by falling over the ridge to the right and a final ride to the hospital , I had to hold it even if it meant falling on my ass proudly to stop any momentum of the board from tipping me over the edge , Easier said than done on a stiff directional freeride board .




The sun was coming down and we had this pinkish sunset glow overlooking us , Damo said to us he wanted to carry on riding the next morning before i left for my flight but i said i wanted to end the day, trip and season with a nice final ride and this was the day to do it , What has been another mixed season with some highs lows and a complete change of pace and lifestyle i think this trip and final ride confirmed to me that this is the life. I made a final glance and safety check with damo before dropping into the sunset with a few nice long sweeped turns and a fast exit into powder before we both headed off down almost like a video game run of powder, cornice drops, more powder, trees, more trees, a bit of piste ,more trees, park and the final furlong into the car park, what a day, what a trip, we finished at around 10.30pm still in the arctic semi light sky, the ride took us about an hour to get down , a new record , shattered but sad to leave it all behind and once again Narvik has opened my mind and created ultimate memories.




Damo is off to New Zealand for the start of the ski season out there , Part of me doesn't want to stop but I'm also going to be terribly committed to my real life of work but what this trip has taught me is that there is still so much fun to be had on the road in fact it could never really end unless i decide to slow life down but I’m not nowhere near feeling my age just yet , the love of travel has brought me here and travel is what's inside me and what i need to continue to do going into the future.

Reports of life in Newquay 2016-2018

2 years have passed and it's about time i got out of this damn town, I mean i should have seen it coming really i had many great years of living in Scotland relaxed and stress free, I made the move to get back in touch with Social life and enjoy another side away from the pursuit of glory on the Comp Snowboard scene, I guess i can see now just how much my life was very much disconnected to all of the bs of daily reality. I've been fighting to stay in touch with the person i am since i moved to this place, The usual jealousy bitterness and just all round attempts to make my life crap is nothing i wouldn't expect or had to overcome before which is why i've come out of a complicated two years still with my mind on the same rails but as determined and as focused as ever to be in the right place with the people who bring out the best of me.


I thought i had seen it all in Manchester which was the reason i decided to leave my home city in the first place, I never expected an easy ride but i've never seen such a disjointed confusing place in all my times of travel anywhere in the world, I could never call it home because i'm just far removed from what makes here convenient and comfortable for others. Living remote can be fun and very rewarding for mental and physical strength learning to adapt in the wilderness and pushing yourself to explore new terrain as i found in Glencoe but here i don't see any reason to be cut off from the rest of the world except for comfort in familiarity which is something i've never cared for all that much anyway, I was looking for some kind of scene which i thought i never had up in Scotland but in reality i was in the middle of the outdoors Scene with some of the most inspiring and intrepid people i could ever meet, The scene doesn't exist here beyond a few close knit friendship circles, I guess you figure where you fit in.





I've always been a wanderer and two years ago i should have continued on my pursuit in sports in Europe without distraction, Yeah i've had fun throughout the summer and the social side has released some dormant energy inside me but i also believe it was a year too long. I admit i got a bit comfortable in routine and was happy to just spend the money believing i always had the time in the world to just slowly reach an end goal within saving for something new but after a recent set back trying to land a late Job for the season in Andorra i realized that time is not a given and i can't just wait for things to come around anymore i have to take myself onto the frontline and battle it out and possibly lose but at least be relevant along the way.


The freedom to skate wherever and whenever without being run down by police or stared down by the rest of the public has been nice here and has been a great challenge really pushing my fitness and allowing me to use snowboard skills and crossover into skateboarding so it's been very useful and productive in terms of confidence and strength, The skate areas now feel a bit dead because i've burnt out so much it's just become too samey and i've pushed what i can out of most areas in the town although just a few weeks back i found a few amazing hills to bomb as a kind of swan song .


A big thing i missed a lot whilst living in Scotland was the music and club scene, I've always been used to just hitting the town in random nights of the week in my hometown Manchester and it's been great to get back in touch with that side here as music still remains pretty close to the heart from times drumming, Producing and Mixing vinyl when i was younger, In fact with skating and the music nights here i have been inspired to get back into music again in the future, I don't ask for much in life but a new drum kit and a Vestax Deck setup again would bring me a lot of happiness, Maybe when i've found a place to call permanently home, We have had some good classic nights out though and really made the most of it and been back in touch with the evil goat Jägermeister !




I'm not perfect but i don't think i've done anything to deserve the hard times i've had in this town, I maybe had some karma hanging over me from the past but after i threw myself off my Motorbike back in Manchester a few months before leaving for Cornwall and the endurance and determination in the depths of winter to ride to and from Tamworth Snow dome, The times i got lost in the hills of Buxton in the middle of night and yard saled half of my snow gear somewhere down the M4 i thought i would finally be able to find balance and stability, Guess not and i leave here the same way it started fighting some indiscriminate problems and drama i didn't create except being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Luckily the strength inside can see beyond this town and i'm in the mood to fight back again, I can't change the world but i can change my own .

Santander,North Spain 2018

Where to begin! A mix of emotions and endurance from the very beginning of this trip. The whole idea was to travel out to Santander via the ferry from Plymouth and work a voluntary project for a few months , I would hold a base and then go explore the surroundings , Improve my Spanish as well as getting in as much Snowboarding at the end of the winter season as possible , The perfect setup but as with many things this past year it sure enough wouldn´t be so easy .




It all kind of started as soon as i left Newquay, On the way via coach to Plymouth we were held up in what looked a big roadside accident on a really sketchy hillside road which could barely fit in width the 2 lanes of traffic, We were waiting in the traffic for a good few hours before finally being allowed to pass. The snow had already began to fall on the day I left and the weather was soon to revert back into winter mode due to the huge storms sent by Russia, I was in a race against time to avoid the eye of the storm, the rough seas during the crossing overnight were a result of this and i caught some pretty bad sea legs from the ferry journey, My head was a rollercoaster a few days after my arrival in Santander, The best way to explain the feeling is like a drunk sensation but without the happiness and good times.




I arrived in Santander to a combination of rain and sunshine the usual weather we have been getting in the south of UK however the air temperature is noticeably warmer even in the tail end of Winter. I scooted away with my Big Snowboard bag straight off the ferry expecting a huge expedition trying to find my hostel, I was still yet to configure my phone for usage abroad at this point so I was without the help of Google maps and any clear Spanish vocab for directions, Luckily, I booked the most convenient hostel in the world on the pier itself overlooking the Ferry port! I still nearly managed to get lost by walking too far up the street but on first glimpse the hostel is pretty hard to spot without any advertisements or signs, The only real way to find it was by looking for door numbers and from the outside it looks like a fancy townhouse apartment, Making my way inside i realise it is just a fancy apartment with bunks which was a nice surprise and a step away from the some of the budget holes of the past.



The people I’ve met at this hostel were already some of the highlights of this trip for me, A wide range of different backgrounds and characters , The hostel owner herself was really sweet and actually quite cute i definitely had a bit of thing for her, She just has some kind of aura totally relaxed and happy within herself but also i think a bit of rock and roll on the inside, I feel as if she wanted to get more involved with the rest of us but obviously there is a fine line between mixing the business with pleasure, I´ll be on that line waiting if she changes her mind!
I met two girls here from London who were such a breath of fresh air from what i´ve been used to down in the south, Still very much city girls but with that sense of adventure and motivation to go and discover new things even if only for a few days around work, I can relate to these guys because i did the same and travel is what i wanted to do whenever i had the free time around work, They weren’t the loudest or most outspoken but had great personalities, whilst people around their age are out drinking and not generally doing much but burning money and being rebellious they are just doing their own thing and saving up to go explore and see the world .
I had the same luxury before moving down south but since then i have found it almost impossible to be allowed that sense of freedom again and flexibility with work, I restricted myself because of this and admittedly i lost the immediate drive to change it despite not really having any commitments or anything holding me back, The location as well doesn´t help as Cornwall feels like the end of the world in the UK, Plymouth Santander ferry was the quickest escape to New Found Land.

I don´t need to be comfortable anymore, I never was somebody who wants to stay in one place forever so this trip is almost a restart of the life i love to live which is free, slightly unpredictable but always adventurous. I also have to give a shout to an amazing Spanish woman i met here an English teacher who was so full of energy and a great presence in the hostel, Very outgoing and a great sense of humour but also just her straight honesty and passion she shows in her hobbies and the things she loves to do was very inspiring and refreshing to see especially from the older generation, I loved her!




I spent the next few days figuring out how to get this snowboard to an actual mountain without a car, I thought i had found all the information I need online via forums and websites but it turns out i was very much lost in translation and later discovered I was 5 years late for the bus service direct to the mountains via Santander. I want to a rant on here because it’s Daft, the resort is literally highlighted by most of the tourist centres as one of the big attractions of the area so at least provide us with public access! Anyway after jumping through loops i eventually figured a way to reach the resort and stay nearby without a car, i will come back to my time Snowboarding the mountains a bit later in the post.




Santander itself is quite attractive and feels very upmarket and modern compared to many of the Spanish cities, Dirt and rubbish is none existent, Streets are literally in some parts pathed with gold with nice little touches of Spanish decor and artwork, Buildings are a mixture of classic Spanish design with ultra-modern shopfronts and restaurants however character and charm can be found in the backstreets through the many traditional bars and restaurant which were jammed packed out of the door most nights during a stroll downtown, I did start to question where the Spanish find spare money for anything other than food. Prices did feel quite high but the city has a kind of sophisticated and smart appeal more than a grungy urban backdrop, We did go looking for a bit more sleaze around town which lead us to the more youthful quarter but even still not much happening if you are used to the night life of some of the big European cities, Opera and traditional dance were posted up on walls around town and shop windows, I did see a random poster for Rammstein in the middle of it all at one point though, A German death metal band completely satanic compared to the fine arts of Santander’s music scene. If you like Food and drink Santander is Eden, I´ve never seen so many restaurants per street anywhere in the world and i thought i had seen it all in Hong Kong. The views from the city are amazing looking out onto the sea and mountains and i would also argue the beaches around Magdelena castle are some of the best city beaches in Europe and surprisingly quiet and clean. Santander isn’t the biggest of cities but it’s got a nice safe and easy feel to it , Those who want the action and nightlife as well as traditional culture and attractions probably won’t find the best of it here but I think it would be a great city to live as it’s got a bit of everything without falling too short and still being surrounded by nature .

We did get pretty trashed one night after mixing the drinks a bit too much and i spent the rest of early morning hanging over the hostel bathroom radiator! probably the worst i´ve been in a good few years , My new Lithuanian pal i met at the hostel somehow survived the aftermath of the night although i think it finally caught up the next day on the bus as we were both looking a new shade of green on the way to Bilbao and speaking more than a few words a time became a risk to the public.




I´ve had mixed feelings about the Spanish people ive met so far, I´ve found that the people who are used to greeting and being around international people to be very friendly , humble and open minded but their does seem to feel a huge ingrained sense of Spanish pride and self-arrogance from those who are not so accustomed to sharing the world with others and seeing through others eyes. I understand cultural differences but most of it comes down to universal traits which many adults should already possess such as politeness, patience, acceptance and just common respect of others. I really do start to believe the Brits have much more in common in terms of self-mannerism and personality with the Germans and Austrians, We just don´t take ourselves as serious and enjoy being silly but still with a level of respect and care for others, Well apart from the typical brits abroad but even then many know when the line has been crossed and dignity has gone out the window.




Anyway, A major change was about to arrive around the corner for me ........

A place in the Saltash

19/07/2019

Today is a rainy summer day here in UK and it has made me stop and think about the things going on in life at this moment in time and i usually begin to write when i have so many things at once going on upstairs.

I moved to Plymouth with my now ex this year and whilst we had a good bond i do not think we were at the same stage of our lives where we can truly understand what each other wants together, I was more i guess accepting to compromise my lifestyle to share my life with her whilst she was more on the lines of doing everything else except putting that same effort into a relationship. I realized that for all of this i was compromising not just my lifestyle but also my personality, Switching to something i'm not and whilst being a bit more focused on being settled has now brought about some good personal things in my life such as my job, I lost as i said that personality of me trying to focus and be more serious and dedicated to what is important, I mean i never lost sight of us in the process but i believe she lost that same desire to do anything to keep it strong. Either way, i needed the time out to bring myself back and break those walls down.

Plymouth for me is such a mixed place however there is nothing here which i didn't already know about the big cities of the UK, I expected the usual social stereotypes, Noise, Pollution, Attitude from the people which is standard, I moved away from Manchester in a very urban suburb for this very reason which is why i was in no particular rush to move back into a city however i have also come to accept that if you want the opportunities in life unless you have a very particular skill then the best options or at least the wider options are available in the city, I just had to find that balance of city and outdoors lifestyle again.

After our decision to go separate ways, I always knew in my mind i wanted to be back in a small town away from the hustle of city life but also not so far away that it becomes a hard time trying to travel to and from work and access to the shops and things to do etc.

I decided to move over to Saltash which is a small Cornish town just over the Bridge which connects Cornwall with Plymouth and the Rest of the UK. My first thought of Saltash before moving here was it would be like a real kind of small town hillbilly folk atmosphere, One of the first sights below the bridge as you head over on the train is the Most Englishist pub in England, the whole building is just the Union jack printed all over the front of it, Now as a person of Colour despite having travelled the world and have no real fear of being accepted or not, Even i think twice about wanting to go inside given how patriot it is from the outside, Also just the flag itself is a national symbol and like anywhere i believe yes there is showing the flag for pride but then also it can have some nationalist ideals behind the people who are prepared to make such a statement. This is the one thing which kind of honestly put me off Saltash in the past in believing that people would be in this mindset being a small town however since discovering the area and living here i would say it is probably one of the most relaxed middle class and safe, friendly towns in the area.

Due to the short distance of Plymouth, Saltash is known for being a commuter town where people live to travel to work which makes sense but looking out your window and the views and scenery of this place it is not just the standard council estate, It has a real life atmosphere and character, Ok it is only small but there is enough here to live and be happy but feel as if you are completely out of the smoke and traffic jams.

I'm enjoying this mix of being by the sea and in that Cornish slow paced way of life only this time with some options to get out of it and explore new territory easily if things get too slow, The problem living further into Cornwall is that it is so far away from the rest of the mainland that it makes it quite difficult to leave and go further north if need be, Not only this but transport links are limited most of the year. I do like the pace here and relaxation which is most important, Some days i can just decide to head down to the Harbour and relax or make the cross country journey to the beach on bicycle, Other days i can head back into the city and do what i need to do but i find myself as i always knew not in any hurry to go back over that direction on my days off, I can easily feel chilled at home and make the most of the surrounding area. The one real annoying thing is that to reach the beach by Bicycle i have to take the scenic country route which means some intense up and down hills, By the time i get there i am pretty tired and the thought of cycling back again doesn't exactly give me much inspiration after that hard slog to get there. Another option is to go the long way around back over on the Torpoint ferry to Plymouth and cycle back home from there over the bridge, I haven't tried it yet, but it might be the easier way just less scenic.

I have found my secret cove out there which is going to be my go-to place for a swim and relaxation, I've been looking into different Water sports and stuff here and living by the water it looks as if nearly everyone owns some kind of boat or whatever but doing a bit of research i figured that for the price of it Water sports and sailing really is a rich persons game, I mean i've been a part of Snowsports for years which is notorious for luxury and high cost but even this is manageable compared to the ownership and maintenance of a boat or Jet ski or anything that moves with a motor on the water. The other option is a Paddleboard but again i must save some money for this and right now i just don't have enough motivation to spend 500 on one when i can be swimming for free and using that money to be riding across some of the most amazing mountains in the world.

I'm still awaiting to hear back on the IOC for maybe another round at YOG this time in Switzerland 2020, I'm already looking ahead to the Winter with a comeback official but for now it is time to hit the beach in my new home.

I've got a few pictures to show from this year below –

Capita-Lism

I’ve returned, A few years of ups and downs low tides high tides i have begin my journey back into Snowsports for the 2020 season. Snowboard gear as you can imagine is not cheap and since selling half my stuff to pretty much live over the last few years, I’ve found it very difficult to earn it back with the barriers of life. This year was a now or never year I think for me as I had always said to myself I would go in for one more winter YOG in the future with the next one in Switzerland for 2020, So I just had a moment of yolo and with things in place in my life which allow me to ride again i sent that application asap and now i can truly look towards the future and riding again. I mainly cycle to work, and this has really helped me build that dormant energy and strength I had in my legs again, I think as the saying goes, I’ll be fit as a fiddle by the time the season begins and ready to charge.

Also, though just the mental challenges over the past year I’ve faced have truly tested me and to come through this on absolute low points to now being back there where I was truly happy and living life on that level again independently is something that i’m personally proud of in my character. This is also a subject in Mental Health I think many find hard to discuss in Sports, especially when you have had that motivation and determination all these years and then to suddenly walk away from it or be pulled away due to life circumstances is quite a hard thing to accept and overcome. In a sport which has an expensive entry way such as Snowboarding it is hard to balance life and the sport especially as an independent person living life away from home and the support of others both mentally and financially, It is an interesting topic and one which I shared during my time in Greece as a Human Library speaker, The psychology of sports and continuation especially into older age. The main thing really is that if it is something you love to do and cannot imagine yourself to ever stop, mentally you can easily slip rock bottom into a breakdown when the speed of life and your lifestyle changes completely and you have felt a sense of belonging in this environment. OK, nothing lasts forever but it is easy to feel lost at this moment in time as with many people who participate in niche sports could explain.

My board of choice is the 2019 Capita Navigator due to the camber and speed and just all round badass all mountain ride, I’ve paired this with the surfy Classic Burton Custom Bindings as I plan to hit the BS Bank slaloms and Backcountry for the foreseeable future, See you out there!

Greece and 2019

I returned back to The UK a little shaken from the events out in Spain, I had applied for a few job positions back in Manchester in the hope that I would eventually find my place working in sports with kids of disadvantaged backgrounds, This is something which I have been aspiring to accomplish and commit my time and efforts into after moving away from the Competitive Sports scene. I was in a hotel cafe chatting away a week beforehand in the mountains arranging an opening day meeting for a job, The opportunity even though I had no intention of being back in my Hometown did look like a great chance to set my sights on a career position so at the time with no set plans back home and well no home to go back at all it made sense to book the next flight back to See where things go from here.

The moment I stepped onto the train platform at Manchester Airport I knew I had made a bit of a big ambitious mistake to return back to the crowded traffic jammed noise polluted and messy streets of the city expecting anything more, The compromise hit hard especially after the scenic and peaceful surroundings of Northern Spain over the past few months, I had crossed a personal line in which I said I would never do again but here I was back but with absolutely no reason other than a promise of an interview which never happened. The one exception and place that still holds heart and true to the city is the Afflecks palace shopping building which has forever held onto the charm and Independence without selling itself out to the ultra cliche of the Northern Quarter, A space now filled to attract the vainest people in the world.

I had a few problems this first week back, I started to get a sore tooth the day of my flight back to Manchester, I had a feeling this wasn’t just any old pain which would pass after a few days and sure enough I eventually began to get really ill over the coming weeks. I had not heard further news from the job and with my patience wearing pretty thin due to waiting around days after when we had arranged an interview and my tooth feeling like it was ready to take over my face completely I decided to make an early call and make another pricey flight back to Newquay the town i spent the past 6 months desperate to leave behind. I had no choice but to find work and return to my old job at the surf shop, I don’t even like surfing and most of the guys here also haven’t seen a board in their life but we all have our own things going on and the atmosphere is relaxed so it was actually a great thing at this moment in time to return back to where i started in Cornwall, I owe it to those guys for giving me some time to get myself back on track and also allow me to clear and start thinking ahead again without the stress of work.

I fixed my tooth up at the dentists which by this point was giving me some serious pain , I had no choice, I didn’t want to pay for it but it couldn’t stay like that , I have a high tolerance for pain so I know when the time has come.

I started looking back and thinking of Spain and where I went wrong, I did get a little naive thinking that my budget would give me time and that Spain would be in a better position and open to opportunity for the rest of Europe but this time I was simply wrong and it was maybe a bad shout to just rely on the few to shape the way of my entire trip, If I wanted to focus on helping others and being a part of an ongoing important Project and mission I had to forget about trying to walk through the door via the indie traveller route and go through the official pathway, yeah that means the paperwork, Beaurocracy and all the social media crap the standard regulation that i usually avoid in real life but these are just the steps I have had to take in order to see the bigger picture.

To be continued ....

I had played a few cards down now won and lost had fun with travel and got a bit of Snowboarding in right at the end of season, I had fought a personal battle in believing I can still ride to the ability I had built up to and dedicated my life over the past 10 years, I was happy to maybe leave this side of life aside right now to start a new path hopefully inspiring kids of all backgrounds to dream big and reach goals or at least happiness and inclusion within sports, I had ignited something inside of me again to remain strong and stay as focused as ever .

I came across quite late an EU project in Greece whilst still looking for voluntary work out in Europe, I was already very much living out of bags and ready to go back here in the UK so this project was very much the right setup and the right time for me to fully get involved and begin that transition without worrying too much about leaving anything behind except my much loved board and bike which are still living in temporary homes. A few weeks later I would be on the way to Athens for our first meeting as a European Voluntary team!

To be continued .....

During my time in Athens i sadly discovered the real side to Erasmus EU Humanitarian volunteer programs, after all we wouldn't be in the EU without trying to bend and exploit the rules of the system to gain from it and this sadly also is the scene of the NGO sector i have witnessed in Greece during my time, I should've known to not trust it and i let my guard down on this one and give it a chance.

I joined up to this Erasmus project with good intentions and made clear my ambitions and strengths and reasons to be involved, At first everything was smooth but i should have been reading between the lines during my time at the APV which was an earlier meeting to find out more about the work involved and meet the team and begin some kind of preparation. We Were walking into a blank canvas with very little thought into our roles, No Backup plan and no importance of the voluntary activities besides a social display of fulfilment.

We arrived into immediate troubles trying to establish any kind of working relationship and understanding and respect between us and the refugee communities, Many of the first community reps to show interest backed out of our talks and plans because as suspected from the start this project would be a waste of their time and didn't focus on any of the possible needs.

The first few weeks also revealed the strengths and weaknesses of our team and organizers, Our accommodation a Horse ranch just heading out of central Athens was an interesting and unique choice and due to being closer to the mountains in the nature and living alongside all of the animals i felt very happy and fortunate to be within this environment. We had a bunch of horses about to get ready to go on summer vacation, A really cute Garfield cat which was completely lazy and slept the entire day on anything and a few dogs defying their old age and being as fun and playful around the ranch when also not passing out due to the constant heat of the sun. OK it was pretty basic, but it was really something to learn and tolerate and make our own rather than walking straight into a palace with all of our needs catered for, We had our own personal space in a bustling crowded city. I admit the shower could do one, We had a very old busted up shower which also had to be reheated after each use which was a pain the ass but we would manage around the difficulties and accept that well at least we have a place to make our own and it's not every day you get to experience living on a Horse Ranch in the Middle of a huge city. We also had to remember the people we are working to help do not have any luxuries at all and we have been invited to Greece for free all expenses paid, We could maybe attempt this word of compromise but many in our group had other ideas.

This is really when it started to break down from the very start, The group had a big debate over it and i think even those who were all for staying in the Ranch eventually gave up the defence in order to keep the peace including myself, Obviously now at this point the mood between us and the organizers had shifted since it had caused so much drama and the blame was really being directed hard at the Organizers which is understandable but still felt very personal in the attack, The final straw for the group was when the area had a power cut and we were without electricity throughout the week restricting us to cold showers and takeaway meals.

Athens itself for a week is a nice enough city with many sites to see and explore and a lot of independent culture and old historic ancient streets and monuments, A week spent in Athens can be an amazing experience and leave you thinking there wasn't enough time to see it all however i believe a week is enough after my experience of Two months living in the Capital. I spent a lot of my free time playing Basketball at a real good street court in a bit of a ghetto area overlooking the city called Strefi Hill but i managed to meet many locals and played quite a few games with the refugee communities which hang out around there seemingly all day. The weather was hot throughout the entire time and we had Athens almost fully to ourselves to explore as half the city and residents shut down and disappear for the summer holidays and head towards the islands and beaches. I remember probably 2 rainy days in two months which were actually a welcome relief but this also made clear how dirty and polluted the city actually is, The warm weather helps mask much of the pollution problem but just walking around any central metro station in Athens the density of people and vehicles is far too much and i often wondered what everybody was doing besides the tourists.

Athens at night especially in our area had an uneasy edge, I didn't feel threatened mainly due to my own presence and my city roots learning to look out for danger but i definitely noticed how easy it would be for things to go wrong taking a bad turn down a street or shortcut in a quiet neighbourhood, The streets were practically a ghost town as soon the sun goes down, We found it fairly easy to navigate around eventually and then walking everywhere became a refreshing break away from taking the Metro to many of the local spots, We also discovered many little bars, Shops and food places along the way. I had my favourite stop off for food this tiny takeaway only selling Homemade Souvlaki and it became my go to place when i just needed some time alone to just chillout grab a beer and get away besides the basketball courts, Also a heavenly doughnut shop which happily reopened again just in time for the final weeks of the program, Probably a good thing they closed during most of summer as i would never look the same again.

The group were impressed with all the street tag artwork and independent general rebelliousness of certain areas of the city but it was too much, Almost every single wall and object possible had been tagged and for me it made the city look very tacky and ghetto, The Graffiti wasn't even that good, I've seen far better during my trips in UK, France and Norway but i guess to newcomers to this kind of environment was an interesting thing to see. Also the thing I've learnt over time about fighting hard against the system is that people are people and if possible can find ways to manipulate and abuse their powers and privilege for their own benefit either way on both sides, At the end of the day if we all ran around doing what we want lawless then we wouldn't have many people left to fight for, Whilst i appreciate raising awareness there are different levels of extremes and it's very easy to be biased and prejudice if you follow only one set of ideals instead of following neutrality, Something which the group should know about more given how well educated most of the guys were on our project, But what i believe it comes down to is experience with people and the World not books and rhetoric to make decisions on others.

I don't really have much to say about the project itself, I felt from the beginning there were underlying issues and bad organisation and lack of clarity about the actual goals of the project and during the first month of our time in Athens we were pretty much making things up as we went along due to no real aims or previous engagement with our active refugee communities.

We had been working alongside an already established EU funded NGO in the City, I found it surprising the lack of real world planning and the weakness of cooperation between the NGO and the refugee hosts, Something just didn't feel right from the start.

What we achieved i'm not sure, We managed to create and run group activities but without any long term strategy so it was all just really a summer camp babysitting which ok was fun and brought many good days out and activities for the kids but in reality is this the best way to spend EU money because i think many would contest how important this is over direct aid if we did not plan to continue any more support once the summer is over.

I felt bad for the kids knowing the situation of the project and how everything is going to change again after this opportunity to be socially active and enjoy life like a local person, I feel it was irresponsible not to leave at least the means to continue social connection within the local community. The sports were a huge success arguably the most but again i almost felt as if the NGO organisers resented the fact many of the other activities failed to create the same impact and were purposefully holding back from fully giving support into the sports efforts, After all we did manage to get kids and adults making new friendships and enjoying the time together and feeling a part of a local group.

I was disappointed in the way the funds were being managed by our NGO as it was obvious how successful the sports had become over the time and also how the community had come together in different workshops but they failed to capitalize and make something long term for the refugee communities at possibly their most united moment together.

Towards the final few weeks i tailed off and allowed the kids to just enjoy the time without trying to set up too many structures or rules, The important thing was for the kids to just enjoy themselves now and make their own fun, We are adults and responsible but they are also learning to grow up and act for themselves and this is one of the greatest things i believe you can promote to a younger one, The belief in that they can be strong independently and do things for themselves without the mothering of adults setting the barriers, A few guys in our group tried to put too much emphasis into rules and structure but again without i think understanding youth culture and the ways of people especially kids from street backgrounds.

I began to just tick down days, I had experienced many of what Athens had to offer within the first month and ventured further and further out of the city to find green land and peace during weekends by traveling to some of the nearby attractions and towns/cities, The track is well and truly beaten anywhere around Athens but still feels a luxury away from the metropolis streets.

I could feel the total difference in tolerances and interests within the group, To be honest my lack of enthusiasm for the direction of the project plus really my boredom of many people in the group and the lack of really any fun things with the group during our spare time meant i just began to lose interest in the entire thing, I was only really there for the kids but with so many hurdles and obstacles i lost the ambition to achieve greater since we were already severely capped by the ideas of our NGO. The group had already made me a marked man in the second month after i didn't turn up to a meeting one day, I still continued to try and contribute whenever possible but i was being largely ignored even for the cause of the project, This moment on i was being treated really as an outsider and i was being shut out, I'm so used by now to operate and get things done independent the effect didn't really work on me however the whole scheme reminded me of being back in school as a kid trying to stay popular and out of sight from bullies, I left this game back in High school and in the end this scene achieved nothing because i actually went on to enjoying my time even more in Greece towards the final few weeks.

The future now really is starting to shape for me due to these times in Greece so in many ways what happened in Greece can now stay there for good and bad, I have no reason to look back anymore, I have a clear sight ahead and can begin to focus ahead. I never would have imagined it just yet but i'm totally happy and ready to start this new stage more as an Adult and not just the Snowboarder inside anymore, I have new mountains to conquer.

There's nothing here.
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