All posts by Roy

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I rode to Switzerland on my Suzuki GSX1100f and climbed the mighty Matterhorn.

Also went to the Isle of Man TT, met some goats, went slack-lining, rescued a jackdaw, cows on the beach, and got drunk at the Horner pub in Lauterbrunnen.

 

Matterhorn Climb – 14,692 ft (4,478m) August 2013

I climbed the Matterhorn – 14,692 ft (4,478 m) to raise £961.23 to keep a Type1 (insulin dependant) diabetic child in Ecuador alive for a year.

Update: 21st August 2013 I did it! and I raised £1,414.61 to get kids in Ecuador insulin 

The Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland  is a serious affair for any climber, and this will not be no walk in the park, more than 500 people have died trying to reach the summit of this beautiful mountain.  Summit day will be the hardest physically gruelling day of my life, and as an ex British Forces Soldier I know what I am talking about.

Matterhorn Summit
Matterhorn Summit 1030hrs 21st Aug 2013

As a complete alpine novice I attempted this mountain solo in 2010, but was forced to turn around by avalanches, rockfall and hailstorms.  My Girlfriend Jane is Type 1 (insulin dependant) diabetic, and I took her with me up the Hornli Ridge to an altitude of 3260m where the base camp hut is.  It was really hard for her, really really hard as she suffers badly with her illness and she will not be able to accompany me this time; however she has the memories of this amazing place and she will know where I am, and know the sounds and views I will have and she will know that the alpine choughs will be keeping their beady eyes on me.

Matterhorn Hornli Ridge
The view from Schwarzsee on my 2010 solo attempt

The whole adventure started, literally as a vision in a dream of the Matterhorn, a mountain I had never even seen a picture of before.  When I googled it, the view from the start of the climb proper was what I had seen in my dream.  Since then there have been a catalogue of strange co-incidences and peculiar paths that have led me to where I am now. Not only is this a dream come true for me, but it is destiny, and it is for a fantastic lifesaving cause.

My Justgiving Page: My Justgiving Page (Can no longer accept donations)

Article in the Southern Daily Echo about my climb: Hampshire climber set to conquer the Matterhorn in aid of charity

We went to the Isle of Man TT races 2013 (with vid)

Jane and I went to the Isle of Man TT Races for four days of fantastic motorcycle madness.

We packed a lot in on our four day holiday, we watched Thu practice from Gorse Lea which is a fast (170mph) right hander.  Fri practice at Bray Hill, Saturday Sidecar Race from Braddon Bridge, and (unusually on mad Sunday) the Superbike Race from the end of Cronk-y-Voddy straight where the bikes flew past us just a few feet away at 180mph (290kmh).  Bruce Anstey was less than 2ft away every time he passed, It was amazing.  John McGuinness (wearing Joey Dunlop leathers and with his bike in Joey’s livery) got a sixty second time penalty for speeding in the pits but still came third in a battle against Guy Martin who came fourth.  Michael Dunlop got his first superbike win, and Cameron Donald came second.  To top it off Jane did a bungee jump.  She said it was the best holiday she had ever had.   Here’s our video:

We stayed at the Quarterbridge campsite (Douglas Rugby Club R.U.F.C), heres my little review: Very friendly, £67 for four days, great food from the burger/pizza van which sold fresh locally grown produce and tasty good quality burgers and pizzas made properly on their conveyor belt style furnace thing.  Toilets were clean and plenty of bog roll, club house was friendly, great local ale, and showed the days TT events on the telly, not enough phone charger points so bring your own six socket extension lead.  Highly recommended.

Acting the Goat – because everyone likes goats – esp. mentally ill (vid)

I’m posting this because it makes me smile. Jane and I had a lovely time acting the goat.

We were just randomly driving about. We found a slow worm here too but didn’t get it on video, it was a bit like Jane’s snake “Snakey” but different and sort of not a snake at all. I think I might get some goats when I grow up, they are quite peculiar and charming.

Feeling Mentally Unstable? – Nature Helps

So I was on my way back from another emotionally draining psychiatristric appointment today and I decided to go for a short walk with Sassy dog who had been itching to get out of the car. I live in the beautiful New Forest, and she’d had her head out the window taking in the fresh air, looking for rabbits with her ears flapping about and her eyes streaming (no doubt imagining she was wingsuiting or tracking – she does enjoy watching the videos with me sometimes).

I stopped at one of the car parks, slightly alarmed at how many cars were there because I wanted to be on my own to reflect on my currently unstable mental state. But I needn’t have worried, the cars and vans were full of people on their lunch breaks sitting reading papers, gorging junk food and bitching about their workmates. I picked up a handful of the horse treats I’d bought from the farmers shop and put them in my pocket.

A broken silver birch, but sadly no fly agaric
One day, out looking for fly agaric (because Jane had never seen one) I came across this broken silver birch.

A few minutes later and Sassy was off running after the grey thing I saw bolting into the undergrowth, I knew she wouldn’t catch it she is a useless hunter (I’m happy about that). It was very wet, flooded after the heavy rain and I had to pick my route carefully because I was wearing inappropriate footwear. I noticed all the strange funghi sprouting out of the ground, and the flowers. Stopping to look around I saw a massive buzzard step from a dead tree and soar away to another tree, only to be pestered by crows who chased it away out of sight.

Moving on I met some wild ponies, standing around looking a bit miserable. I approached one and tried to get close to it, remembering not to stare at it too much. An outstretched arm offered a treat which it took and munched away with it’s mouth and lips doing that funny snorty thing. Most of it’s teeth were missing. More ponies became interested and slightly less wary, some were pregnant, more treats were dispensed, some refused my offer but took them when I threw them on the ground. I nodded then left them to reconsider whether all humans are bad. I heard a strange noise and looked up into the sun, the clouds had broken and I regretted forgetting my camera, three swans flew directly over me then landed in the temporary lake that had formed. Fully grown trees where they shouldn’t be, surrounded by water, it was quite breathtaking.

After just ten minutes I returned to the car; the people had probably read a few pages of their shitty newspapers full of miserable lies and sensationalism, learning nothing useful, achieving nothing, experiencing nothing.

I felt quite refreshed, partial sanity and a sense of well-being had temporarily been restored. For being kind and opening my soul I was rewarded with my first ever brief glimpse of an otter whilst driving over “the otter bridge”. There is a world out there people, get out of your cars. You might get your feet wet or get a bit chilly, but I promise you’ll feel better afterwards. x

Mental Health Problems – Suicidal Ideation – Don’t commit suicide, live your life.

Cyclothymia is a member of the bi-polar spectrum. There is a high incidence of suicide amongst those with Bi-polar disorder, I think I read somewhere that it was one in ten or something.  I would never do it but I have a full understanding of how, certainly in the past,

self portrait - 1986-11_2
self portrait – 1986-11_2

before being medicated, this was a real possibility.  Just don’t do it, things can always change.  In the past, with cyclothymia I’d get suicidal ideations, where for no reason I just think about ending my life.  It was very strange but not unheard of, especially when going onto new medication. Best just to get up and do something a bit different and take your mind off it, or call someone but don’t alarm them unnecessarily!

Here’s a link to an article on attempted suicide written by Natasha Tracey, who is bipolar. Follow her great blog, she’s on facebook too. Natasha Tracey – the bipolar burble blog

I certainly was having a lot of thoughts about suicide when I took these photo’s, and part of the reason I took it was to eliminate any doubts about whether it had been an accident or suicide.

suicidal ideation
self portrait – suicidal ideation, always remember things will get better.

I wanted to show the viewer, after my death, that I was quite calm and ready to take the decision without being drunk and not on the spur of the moment.  Not very nice I know, but thankfully my circumstances changed, my mood phase shifted, and it never happened so all’s well that ends well.

Death is all around us, we just don’t see it. We fear it (although what we are really fearing is a painful death I believe), we are saddened by it when we lose a loved one or when we hear of someone dying in an accident.

Personally what I think is really sad is people doing nothing about getting fat, knowing nothing about how their body is fuelled (cut down on the carbs/sugar); People who drink and abuse their bodies with Class A drugs – to “escape” (escape what?) – If it’s something from the past, then it’s not now, try and live in the present; people too concerned with “stuff”.

self portrait - 1986-11_1
self portrait – 1986-11_1

Try and regularly do something that makes you experience real fear, fear that you have to try and take control of, that will make you feel more alive.

Most people have no idea what their bodies are capable of, and do nothing to stimulate the natural feel good drugs that can’t be banned. We do not have all the time in the world, and as individuals we really are specks of dust in time and space. Why doesn’t everyone want to fly a wingsuit, anyone can do it, you just need a bit of money and a bit of time, not a new carpet, car, sofa or whatever. It’s stormy out, I might go and climb a tree today. (and indeed I did –  a beech tree)

Brento the starling I rescued

Brento, the fledgling Starling was trapped in Jane’s wall cavity and I rescued him by removing a vent, no sign of parents, no nest.  As we could not find a local rescue center and also because he was so desperate I took it upon myself to be his caretaker. My duty was to give him as much chance of survival as if he was with his parents, which was a tall order!

It is a difficult job to care for a baby bird. If you are considering it, make sure you are 100% certain that parents are not about. Take time looking and listen for their calls.  If it’s a starling it will have been nesting in a roof or a wall or something high, if it’s a Blackbird it will be from a nest in a bush. Starlings can fly (a bit) as soon as they leave the nest, Blackbirds on the other hand hide in the bushes waiting for mum for days till they are mature enough to fly, so it may be a Blackbird, it’s hard to tell the difference.

It really has been an eye opener and a pleasure looking after him.  I’m no expert on birds, so for more information on starlings I highly recommend visiting http://www.starlingtalk.com/  their website helped a great deal with my research.

If you have rescued a chick you will notice that it will need feeding a lot, much more than you think it could possibly eat!  Don’t worry about over feeding it, it will refuse food when full and it will eat A LOT in one go, much more than you would think possible. They eat mainly insects, get millions of mealworm and crickets from pet shop. Dried puppy food soaked then drained is the other main food, check the protein content it should be more than say 25%. pet shops also sell fat/suet with added insects (Tesco have pellets too). Boiled egg and shell mixed with apple sauce. berries. dried insect mix. Seeds as food yes, but depends whether starling or blackbird, best to start with seeds that are like alpen squashed etc and without husks (Tesco ‘Natures Garden’ ground and table mix, and ‘No mess Mix’) mix them both together and add some goodies like dried insects/dried mealworm/apple bits/peanuts, whatever.. oh and worms are to be avoided as they may contain parasites (Gape worm) that could kill the bird in no time.

Starlings are amazing talkers and can also impersonate machinery and the likes. I have been playing Starling song to him, they have to learn it in the first 60 days or they won’t be able to remember it when they start singing at maturity.

You will need a big cage, and also an aviary/shed so that it can get it’s flight muscles excercised.  Do not try to tame it (after all it is a wild bird) by handling it too much. An important factor to consider is time, you will need loads of it! In the film you will see ways to help the bird learn how to be a bird! Also the internet has a wealth of information. If you choose to hand rear an baby bird, it will not be easy, however it will be a majorly rewarding experience.

The last day I saw Brento he fed well and seemed happy enough, in fact I’d say he was quite playful, pecking my ear etc.  I did feel something strange about him that day, and looking back now I think he was saying good-bye.

[wppa type=”cover” album=”3″][/wppa]

 

Starlings are magnificent flyers and when they glide overhead in their little Squadron’s they look like miniature humans wearing Phoenix-Fly Phantom 3 wingsuits!

Gary Connery wingsuit landing – I was there (with vid)

I told him he’d nail it, he strolled up the field, donned his wingsuit and did just that.

Gary Connery lands a wingsuit – Here’s the gallery.  I was there on this historic day 23rd May 2012 when Gary Connery, ex british soldier from 3 Para, and hollywood stuntman became the first person to jump from an aircraft (a helicopter at 2400ft no less!) and land safely without using a parachute.

I chatted with Gary minutes before the jump, and we talked about his flysight data from another jump he’d done “sputnik,”  and how he managed to get the perfect glide ratio  he had planned for to hit the boxes.  Weather conditions on the day were not ideal though, it was gusting, there were thermals at the end of the box-rig, he had changed a few things like his exit routine from the chopper, the world’s press (and me and my little camera, my girlfriend Jane and Sassy dog) were waiting, it appeared to me that the wind speed was picking up!

Watching Wingsuit BASE at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Watching Wingsuit BASE at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

I told him he’d nail it, he strolled up the field, donned his wingsuit and did just that.  There are no words to describe seeing a man fly like a bird with such precision.  If you want to know, go to Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland like I did a few years back, that will give you some idea.  “The valley” is a BASE jumping paradise where if you don’t fancy it yourself, you can get yourself comfortable and watch the wingsuiters jump from the cliffs and fly over your head, all day.

It would probably be correct to say that most people present at Gary’s jump had zero clue about wingsuiting or BASE jumping, but Gary’s confidence and profound self-belief  led everyone to believe that all was in order, nothing could possibly go wrong, lardy dar let’s get this done more tea vicar! and there’s nothing wrong with that.

When the sound of the helicopter rotors changed pitch I knew it was hovering into position, a speck in the sky above. My heart rate probably doubled, then a few seconds later “there he goes”.   Ages seemed to go by, then he exploded into view all of a sudden, no longer a speck, now a man, flying.  Then he went unstable and was rocking from side to side, I was concerned he was close to a stall and I stopped breathing for a while I’m sure;  then when he smashed into the boxes I thought  “perfect landing, he did it”, a thought that lasted about half a second to be replaced by “oh shit, he went in hard and fast.”  My girlfriend was sobbing and I was reassuring her (and myself) that he was ok.  I was nearly in tears and buzzing with adrenaline waiting for him to come out the boxes.  Gary Connery, a true gentleman, and a legend from now on. Something tells me this won’t get copied for a while, it’s just bonkers, I still can’t believe what I saw!

Here’s my video from this incredible day.  For the interview I was between ITN News and the Times, however because this interview was interrupted by the crowd running into the boxes, courtesy of Gary’s wife Vivienne (a fitting end to the proceedings in my opinion) the interview was not shown on TV to the best of my knowledge, so here it is, just as it should be.

 

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”    Theodore Roosevelt

Gary Connery what a guy!
Here’s the gallery.