Blog Archive

Saturday, 16 February 2019

The end of a mid life crisis

The end of a mid life crisis

My mid life crisis began at 40 when my Nissan Micra failed to negotiate a bend whilst following a Ford Transit to work. For reasons I never really understood, me and my car went hurtling sideways through a hedge and the ‘Nasty Nissan’ ended it’s days on it’s side in a field full of rather surprised sheep.

That was how the day started. It ended rather differently shaking hands on a gleaming chunk of German metal with a roaring engine. My beloved Z3 spent the next 18 years whizzing from home to work and from house call to house call. It’s oversized engine and full fat tyres meant that it never hesitated on the twisting Powys roads and certainly never destroyed any hedges or surprised any more ship. 

Blue, brash and occasionally topless it became a familiar feature in our home roads but it did have one or two drawbacks. We once went camping in it and Sally was never really deceived by the, ‘deceptively large and practical boot’ which was, in reality, minuscule. Four hundred miles later her legs had to be prised out of the seat well and disentangled from cook pots, sleeping bags and the odd tent.

If the boot was small the bonnet was massive and, bulging beneath it, was a huge piece of German engineering hewn from solid steel. Thousands of thirsty cc’s sucked gallons of fuel  into those huge carburettors. Almost as much engine oil kept the whole thing going and out of the exhaust pipe came £18,000 of emissions over the course of it’s long and happy life.

In later years the glossy paint began to peel and turn to rust. New panels replaced  gaping holes and every year my trusty mechanic would shake his head and say, ‘it will need a lot of money spending on it next year’. But somehow it always squeezed through it’s MOT and celebrated by sending another plume of blue smoke through yet another hole in the exhaust.

During this dark winter the dashboard was kept nice and bright by a dazzling array of warning lights that blinked randomly. I tried to ignore them especially the ones I didn’t understand. I was pretty sure that the traction control warning wouldn’t put me back in the hedge but I did get a bit nervous about the ABS warning as I thought that would not end happily.

By January 2019 and with 146,000 miles on the clock I decided that there was virtually no chance of my trusty steed surviving a Spring MOT. With regret I put a notice in the window, ‘For Sale, one careful owner, £1,000 some work required’!

Within a week or two it had gone! Sold to a patient determined to put it on a race track and throw it around the sports car racing circuit. Remarkably I received a bundle of cash too as compensation for the end of an era and the end of my mid life crisis. 

Farewell my trusty Zed I will miss the roar of all your horses echoing through your leaky exhaust. I will miss the wind in the hair on those fine summer days and I will miss the heads you turned with your bold and brash statement. I doubt that many will even glimpse me as I swoosh past in our new, silent and totally anonymous electric VW Golf. That’s what follows a mid life crisis.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Hong Kong, NZ and Singapore 2019 SLIDESHOW

Hong Kong,  NZ and Singapore 5/1 - 24/1/2019 SLIDESHOW

Hong Kong. Joe and Sarah's Wedding near Auckland, New Zealand Tongariro Crossing. Cathedral Bay (Coromandel), kayak trip to Urupukapuka (Bay of Islands), Auckland and Singapore (Garden by the Bay Domes, Super-tree Grove and the Marina Sands Hotel). January 2019.

Thursday, 24 January 2019


In a world full of contrasts we are enjoying a stunning day in Singapore. A few days ago we were camped in a minuscule tent on an uninhabited island and now Sally is drinking mock tails ( a Juliette) in the sky! We are ‘on board’ the ‘ship’ that sits on top of three towers some 57 floors high! It is called the Marina Sands Hotel and is ‘the most Instagrammed hotel in the World’. I can see why.

The rest of the day we spent wandering around the extraordinary botanical domes and super-tree groves in the ‘Garden by the Bay’.  Quite astonishing to enter the Cloud Forest Dome and go from equatorial heat to the chilly mists and 6 story high waterfalls of a forest of tree ferns and kauri. 

Despite the jet lag and the prospect of a 2am departure for Manchester this has been an amazing stopover!

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Shivering in Newfoundland


A lovely day in breezy Auckland. We met Jill and Joss for lunch in a cafe in Devonport. We had last met Jill in Kathmandu and she has been here for the last month visiting here kiwi cousin. 

In the afternoon we wandered around to the marina on the south side of the harbour where we banged on the hull of a fellow OCC boat to swap some sailing stories and chat about friends in common.

A fine sociable time to conclude our Kiwi visit. Tomorrow we fly to Singapore.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Kauri Forests

Paradise and Kauri Trees

It’s not surprising the Kiwis like to call their home paradise.  Today we wandered westwards after our delectable three days of kayaking around the Bay of Islands. 

Leaving the sunshine and the sparkling Pacific behind we crossed a range of hills and found a little drizzle and cloud. But, this being New Zealand,  we did as we had been told and waited 30 minutes for the weather to change. Sure enough we were soon  sipping cappuccinos on the deck of an excuisite cafe with the sun shining again and the thermometer unbudged at 23 degrees. Sunshine, good coffee, sea and 4G are obviously the raw ingredients of paradise.

What is most stunning though about New Zealand is the extraordinary diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna. 

Within a week or so we have attended a wedding on a wild beach of black, volcanic sand. We have tramped our way across the volcanic heartlands on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We have paddled our kayaks to sun-kissed islands set in a turquoise sea.  Today we walked through the astonishing Kauri Forest and were humbled by two thousand year old trees rising high above the pristine, undisturbed native forest. 

Everywhere we have gone exotic birdsong and wonderful wildlife sights have followed us. Parqueets darting through the branches of the manuka trees, king fishers flying off-piste down mainroads, the seriously Jurassic pukekos that ran around our tent, the diving gannets next to our kayak and the warbling tuis at dawn.

All of that crammed into the top half  of North Island and a week or two of unhurried travelling. 

I call it paradise too!