Taking a different line.

fullsizeoutput_62eI was scheduled to write a completely different story for today’s post. I thought I was being all very organised and focused, keeping the blogging going and that I had the next 4-6 weeks planned out and then out of the blue came a knock at the the door and a packaged thrust into my hands by our friendly postie, actually it must have seemed a bit like a reception committee as there were three of us standing around talking near the door when the bell chimed. What could it be? I wasn’t expecting anything apart from some jiffy bags for sending off the rapidly dwindling pile of stuff I have been getting rid of. It is always exciting or for some anxious making receiving the unknown but for me the excitement out weighted the angst. Within a moment I was looking at an Apple Pencil, My initial reaction was to think “what the……?” as there was no message, no evidence of where it had been sent from and no way of knowing for what reason I had been selected to receive this wonderful gift. As the excitement wore off the realisation that a pencil without a pad is useless right? So then I am left with a thought going through my head “could it, could it really be.. accompanied by er well one of those fancy new iPad Pro thingamajigs. So now I am sitting at kitchen table scratching my head as to what happens next when the phone rings. I’ll cut a long story short and spare you the conversation from the phone suffice to say that I have been gifted the above mentioned iPad for helping out someone who had been though a rough time and wanted to show there gratitude in a way that they thought I would appreciate. It’s funny how life twists and turns and I am now wondering if my luck is like a procession  of London buses (Number 6’s for the bus geeks out there) as not long ago I was gratefully receiving a camera and now a tablet, what could be next? winning lottery numbers? Suffice to say that I was a little bit overcome over this random act of generosity however I always remembered my grandfather saying “accept the gift in the manner it is given” to which I have done.

So how does this all tie in the the onebagonelife project? Well for a start off it takes up way less space and weight over my now ageing MacBook Pro which seems to weigh the equivalent of a breeze block compared to these modern Mac computers. A slight aside, I am trying to find a new home for my Crumpler bag collection as I have the Goldilocks range of messenger bags,  now with none of them really being right for me so I have bunged them on that popular auction site but have had no takers, what is wrong with the bagistas of North London?! All this to say that I had to ditch my Crumpler addiction for a far more sensible and subdued backpack due to developing back problems from seemingly lumping around what most people thought was the weight of a planet when I was in the big smoke. I will keep the baby bag which will hold the iPad nicely and hopefully have no side effects.

But I digress and getting back to the reason for this post I am now looking at a much more compact digital office. However I am not getting rid of the old stalwart just yet as there are a couple of things that I just can’t do on a pad, yet. But the plan is to be able to downsize the office to a much more manageable space. Without going into the tech side of things this is a step up for me and I am looking forward to seeing how it responds to the tasks that I carry out at the moment much of which is pretty lightweight usage. One of the things I will be very interested to see is how well I can view media on it. It will never take the place of a lovely big screen but I am curious to know how much of an alternative to my laptop screen it is. It really is a brave new world for me and one that I have not had to risk my own resources to gain exposure to the iPad life style. Hooray to that.

I know there are plenty that run their lives and businesses from iPads (some I follow on podcasts) and I am curious to see how this will change my habits and productivity. I know that it cannot replace a desktop for pure power and many in the media world will say it’s not a really tool more of a play thing but I am sure that anything I attempt will never be on that level anyway.

 

The biggest thing about this amazing gift is the Pencil it’s self. I have always been a doodler, in meetings, in trains planes and automobiles (one of my desert island films) and just about anywhere else when I have an idle moment. Now don’t mistake me for someone who has any talent at this but what I do do I get enjoyment from. With the ability to now create digital sketches that can be saved away for prosperity and not just chucked into the blue recycle bag I am really excited to see what I can achieve. There is so much talent out there on the net that really show off the possibilities of iPad art all I am hoping to do is improve my efforts a little bit. Yes I know the “real” artists say that it isn’t real art but then I’m sure they said that about Van Gogh and Monet.

So let the fun begin and expect the next week in pics to come to you from a rather crispy new iPad Pro.

Generous gift of a proper camera.

fullsizeoutput_625They do say things come in threes and my cameras are no exception. Well in fact until this month it was two actually (my trusty battered iPhone 5S and a Canon IXUS220HS) until I was gifted the Canon EOS 350D DSLR by a very generous friend who is also embracing decluttering in some small part due to my ramblings. He has a huge collection of camera gear that he has been letting gather dust and realised that he only really uses maybe three or four of his cameras so is now finding good homes for the kit that is now long in the tooth, maybe unfashionable or just unable to function as he needs them to but that is my gain.

His generosity is a bit of a blessing and a curse in that the imagery taken on the DLSR “should” be much better than I can accomplish on my other compact cameras. However the learning curve to master how to use it properly seems almost vertical. I’m not adverse to learning new things in fact actively encourage myself to push the boundaries of my knowledge base where I can, its all to easy to settle for a landscape we know and understand. Then there is the University of YouTube to help. Some very helpful channels I have stumbled over are https://www.youtube.com/user/firstmanphotography and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwWyFRy2l6aUFMsRemP51Sw

It’s funny how things seem to fall into place, is it synchronicity?, as I have been thinking about trying to improve my photo taking skills having seen my friends efforts over the years. His stepping up a level over time is in part due to his kit but I find the world of camera kit daunting, confusing and looking round the interwebs there seems to be no shortage of opinion as to what is good and bad kit but ultimately only you can decide what works for you. Thankfully now I have a platform to start learning on one that I like that cost me nothing and can teach me the basics. I also can work out what I would want from a camera in the future without having made any costly mistakes. I don’t see a D1 in my future though!

On the whole I have always been a happy snapper and really only started taking pictures with the advent of digital cameras although I seem to remember having a Kodak Instamatic film camera for a bit and a throw away Supasnaps snappy snap snap plastic job but nothing rememberable and there are so few images left from those days that I can now see why previous generations had so few photos handed down as opposed to now where every hair is recorded. Proper photography runs in the family though via my father who made it a profession after the war but I was never drawn into it in the same way as some of my siblings. Even now I see it more as still taking those snaps just hopefully with a bit more quality to them. I have been trying to go back to some of the earliest pictures I took on various digital formats that I have managed to hold onto over the years amazingly, to see the arc of progress and it is just amazing to see in such a short step back in time the fledgling quality of those pictures. We take for granted now the quality of megapixel cameras images we can create but it is fun to go back and look at those pixely, blurring and low res images from time to time,

Now I just need to get out there are start using this gift, thanks D.

Health and fitness for year ahead.

I have been wrestling with this post for a couple of weeks now and I have been thinking about the content of it and whether to post it. I have struggle with weight most of my life but in the last couple of years been doing something about it. The initial spark was seeing a photo of myself at a wedding anniversary do of my parents and thinking WHOA! That’s not me!!!!? Is it me? No it can’t be! and from that point on I decided to get a grip and try and reverse decades of neglect. I’m not going to bore you with details but one day I may show comparison photos just to remind myself what I looked like before and to never go back there again. How does all this relate to this blog? Well in order to be able to go out and enjoy adventures one needs to be fit. In fact life is generally better when one is fitter.

One of my goals for 2018 is walking a section of Pennine Way and to be able to walk 60+ miles a reasonable level of fitness is required. I have calculated that I can probably do 12 to 15 miles per day comfortably due to the terrain and carrying the weight of my rucksack so over the forth coming months I need to build up my walking stamina so that when I come to do the trail I am able to enjoy it and not endure it.

In my view there is no better form of exercise than walking, we can all do it no matter what age or ability but doing a long distant walk takes training. Only a fool would decide to set out with no preparation. I plan to do something like the couch to 10k plan but for me it will be the couch to 10 miles plan

I have recently come across the #NHS1000miles challenge and am going to incorporate this into my daily routine. Having a daily target to follow is also good motivation for me to get outside and at this time of year in winter when the mornings are dark and the nights are long the limited hours of light are always a challenge to my resolve. Summertime sees none of that lethargy or avoidance with beautiful warm mornings and long lingering sunlit evenings who would want to be inside?

There are many apps for smartphones now that record ones daily activity whether that be steps, miles or gym activity and the one I have stuck with over time is Runkeeper and and according to my stats I have manages to walk 4,477 miles and burnt 528,201 Calories in the last mainly 4 years so it would seem I have been walking around 1000 miles a year already so maybe I should raise the bar a bit. however with Runkeeper I need to remember to use it and this is where my second favourite exercise app comes in. Pedometer++ is a simple but very neat view of ones efforts to do 10k steps a day and with no need to activate, monitor or control in anyway I can even leave it for the whole week and check progress however that’s not what I do and I try to look at the beginning and end of the day to see how successful I have been. I am amazed at the power of the psychology of this and the fact it makes one want to do better. Obviously thats not always tfullsizeoutput_616he case and the pic on the left shows. Now some other this is done to leaving phone at home but I really should hold my hands up and say that some days are better than others. I didn’t start off the year saying that I was going to resolve to do X but waited to see what challenges would appear to me and then that would shape the plan of fitness. I have long given up setting long term fitness goals as I just don’t have the concentration for it so breaking down tasks into more manageable chunks has led to way more success in the past. This year is no different. Whether it be the long distant walk, a desire to get out on my bike, when the weather gets warmer or even have a go at canoeing at some point I really need to be lighter, a lot lighter but the effort will definitely be worth it!

Some of my plans for this year.

Now Christmas has been and gone and the last turkey and or ham sandwich has been eaten, the final chocolate consumed and the tree decorations put away in the old suitcase it is time to get back on with life, hooray. So far in this blog I have on the whole just been talking about or planning to do things but in 2018 it is the year for doing. I don’t make new year resolutions preferring to make changes by writing down things I want to add to my life when they occur to me rather than giving up a bunch of stuff on the 1st of the year only to have failed a few short days, weeks or months down the line. I also like the planning part of any goal or “journey” and although I suppose you could go into detail of say giving up chocolate, these ideas don’t come to you on the last day of the year, more likely it is triggered by other things that happen throughout the year. But having an outline of what one wants to complete is a good starting point. There are now so many ways to manage your life, goals, plans and just about anything else electronically that it can be somewhat overwhelming. Who remembers 43 Things I loved it for it’s notion and the way it worked but unfortunately it went away and yes I do know it popped up again under a different flag but I am taking a more personal view of my progress and trying to cut down on my digital commitment. The less places I have to check, remember passwords and post to just makes life easier and simpler.

What are my plans then? well some are things that I have just recently dreamt up and some are activities that I have been thinking about for years but have never gotten round to doing. These are probably the most hardest to complete due to complexity or cost or both. However I have thought a way round it and am where possible trying to break them up into more ‘doable’ bits. Also I am deliberately not trying to overload myself with more things that I know I wont be able to achieve, more like grabbing the low hanging fruits, not what all those cutting and thrusting motivation gurus would be telling me to do. Lets cut to the chase and get me to put down in writing or should that be typing some of these things that I want to do this year.

  1. A Section of Pennine Way
  2. Camping – Starting off small
  3. Car camper – Can it be done?

As you can see I am being rather vague about these individual goals and deliberately so. I have some idea of incorporating some or all of these to achieve one or more of the goals and I have picked a theme to run with for the year. It has been a long standing desire of mine to complete a long distance hike and until relatively recently I could never find the time to even think about doing one probably more like I never really made the effort to organise doing it. A series by on the good old BBC with Paul Rose ignited the idea again after doing a short stretch of the 109 mile Cotswold Way with relatives over from Canada last year. I picked the Pennine Way as it was something I was aware of and being close to at a young age through my Scouting days. I tried to enthuse others to go along with my crazy plan but most of the adults thought it was mad idea and were not going to let us go wandering off on our own through hill and dale. The fire was lit and has been smouldering away ever since and with every trip North passing through the limestone peaks and dales just reminded me that ‘one day’. As the path passes not that far away I should in theory be able to complete this reasonably easily with the assistance of public transport and a tent. This leads me on to the second goal, and one that I loved doing back in the day. Tramping out with your home and provisions on ones back made for a sense of true explorer even though we were on the whole probably no further that in site of our village and home, but it was exciting and fun. Camping is also the ultimate tiny home life as you can only own what you can carry, now this is something I don’t want to necessarily explore too much but the idea of having a mobile home that can been wherever you want to be and can get to a lot of places many other forms of tiny homes can’t is fascinating.

In conjunction with the camping I have had an idea to either walk or cycle via the canal network to see my friends in Wales which is around a 100+ mile journey from here and would be quite a trip. But that is somewhat extraneous to the core goals I set for myself this year but it never harms to have a backup plan!

Finally, car camping, this is the most challenging for me as the car is a tiny little Ford where you can barely spread ones arms out to either side of oneself. However it is an important precursor to getting a van as my view if one can survive in a car then a van would be luxury. I have been thinking about this and noodling some ideas up in Sketchup to see what is possible and with the back seat taken out there should be sufficient flat space to create a bed platform and storage for the essentials. But I need to carry out some works in the garage first to make space so I can get car in to work on in relative comfort. But this would definitely increase the range of my hiking trips. I will document this as I go along but I don’t expect this to really get started till the warmer weather returns in the spring.

I do have other goals that are not really part of core goals but are no less important or exciting to me. There’s the desire to learn a language via the wonders of Duolingo, for the record I am learning German as I was taught this briefly by mein Großmutter and a little at school but I wasn’t at all interested in learning then which is a shame as I had the perfect opportunity. I have a wish to return to Switzerland and travel on the Glacier Express and some of the other Mountain railways and so a smattering of German would be useful. Then there is a very deep seated desire to learn to fly. Thats been there ever since I can remember and with a family full of pilots I was always drawn to the air. One of my earliest memories was being taken to Biggin Hill airshow and the roar of a low flying Spitfire. This is somewhat of a pipe dream as I am fully aware of a) the cost of learning and b) cost of continuing but hey a boy can dream.

Anyway I will leave you with a pic of the first walk of 2018 and hope you follow your goals and don’t let making resolutions hold you back.

IMG_4843