Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 review. All or nothing.

It hardly seems possible that exactly a year ago today, shortly after returning from a 3 month trip to Nepal, I took ownership of my very own 6.4 acre parcel of ancient woodland. 
For the most part it has been a labour of love and an absolute joy... for the most part. (See here amongst other posts).
I do seem to have spent an awful lot of time at work in between trips away, and an awful lot of time working in the wood too (but that's a good thing). You can't enjoy the kind of travel that I do without working very hard to pay for it.

So, four months working away from home on a reconstruction project in a recycling facility in London seriously curtailed my adventuring at the beginning of the year. It was an interesting project though (if you're an Engineer), and I got the occasional opportunity to go into the city and be a tourist. London is a very cool city.
I spent almost every weekend during that period beavering away maniacally in the wood; clearing brambles and logging windfall timber, furiously strimming an invasion of Himalayan Balsam, building bridges over the brook, and enjoying the springtime regeneration of life. The profusions of Wood Anemone, Bluebells, and Wild Garlic were wonderful sensory experiences.

I'm a mature and responsible Supervisor and I'll have no more said on the matter.

Being a tourist.

Springtime in Bluebell Wood.
Immediately after this I was whisked away at fairly short notice for a month of mountain biking in Sri Lanka (see here) searching out new trails for the Rumble in the Jungle Stage Race. It was great fun spending all that time with my friends Phil Evans and Ajay Pandit Chhetri. We did have one little wobble mid-trip when we were attacked by an entire Tamil village wielding clubs and machete but that's another story - 20 people and a priest were eventually arrested and charged - when I finally get around to finishing it I'll post the whole sorry saga on here. It was an interesting experience.
The race, on the other hand, went fantastically well. Obviously I didn't win, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but I did win the popular vote and was presented with the "Rider's Rider Award" and it is something that I will treasure forever.

Styling it for the camera

Me, Phil, and Ajay

My "Rider's Rider" Trophy

After a couple of weeks "rest" I jumped into another work project which has consumed a lot of my time (including quite a lot of my spare time!), this looks like being ongoing for quite some time too.

In July I was asked if would consider being a trustee for a new charity - Helping Paws - that my friends Phil Evans and Corinne Smith were setting up to help street dogs in Nepal and Sri Lanka. It's an honour and a privilege to be part of this. Animal welfare is something I feel very strongly about and having seen, first hand, how these animals suffer I want to help in any way I can.
Please feel free to follow their endeavours using the links below:

In August I had my long needed shoulder operation to repair the damage I sustained from a dislocation in a crash during Yak Attack 2013. I'm pleased to report that the rehabilitation is going well and it no longer pops out of the socket at random intervals - I'm quite pleased about that too.
During my three week convalescence from work boredom got the better of me and I built myself a new bicycle from a lovely blue Sonder Frontier frame & fork, and bunch of bits I had laying around in the shed (See here). I'm sure you'll agree that it's a beauty. (My Mum says I'm a beauty too - mind you, she has only got one eye).

Nemo. It's a beauty :)
Rocking the sling look

In September, for some inexplicable reason, Colin at Alpkit asked me if I'd like to do a talk at their annual outdoor festival - The Big Shakeout. Quite why anyone would want to present me with a microphone and a captive audience is beyond all reason (I didn't let them down).
You might think that this would be a breeze for someone as gregarious and extroverted as I am. However, I am also extremely introverted and shy in equal measure, so the prospect of doing it both thrilled me and terrified me at the same time.
I ended up hoodwinking my audience with a bunch of ooh-ahh photo's and then regaling them with a few of my choice travel tales, including the piece-de-resistance - My Rara Lake poo story. That sealed the deal :D
I was actually very nervous to begin with but once I got into my stride I was fine and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. 
It's an exceptionally good weekend for families (if you disregard my poo story from that equation) should you be interested in going.
Oddly enough no one else has come forward to request my presence at other events. I fear my nascent public-speaking career could be over before it has really begun. 

The Daring Deeds Yurt at Big Shakeout. The scene of an unspeakable crime.
October 7th was a difficult day. It was the fifth anniversary of my cousin Darren's death. It's strange how a simple date on a calendar can be so hard to bear. I wrote a short blog post on the day which expresses how I felt - here.

Darren Holloway 1970-2012
And then in November along came my annual bout of self flagellation - Yak Attack.
You would think that I'd know better at my age.
I love it. You can read about this years adventure here.
It's the best race in the world.

And finally...
Thank you to everyone Alpkit for their continued support.
Thank you to Phil Evans at MTB Worldwide for the great opportunities.
And especially thank you to YOU for stopping by and reading my nonsense. I hope everyone of you gets the chance to chase your own rainbow in 2018 and beyond.

You can follow MTB-Worldwide (Yak Attack etc) here:

Yak Attack Adventures


You can follow Alpkit here:


You can also follow Chase The Rainbow here:

Thank you for looking, see you soon.

Please don't forget to Like, Share, and Comment, if you enjoyed it :)

Consume less, live more. Plant more trees.

And so the sun sets on another great year.

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