Thursday, 30 January 2014


These days it seems everyone has a mobile, and   younger and younger when they get their first one.  Manufacturers are continually coming out with all manner of new gimmicks to try and persuade us to get the latest version.

Personally, as long as it makes calls and sends texts, I'm satisfied.

Well, how about this: your dog, or cat for that matter, is about to get it's own phone!
There's a company in Minnesota, USA, who have developed a product called Pet Chatz.  It's pricey though, at around £200 (or $350). What you get is a unit about the size of an American football that fits to your wall at your dogs eye level.  It contains a screen, a chute for treats and a camera.

Using an app on your phone, or tablet, or computer, no matter where you are in the world, you can phone the unit and speak to your dog (I'm not making this up, honestly!).  You can then get the unit to dispense treats while you chat about your day and find out how your dog is getting on without you.

The manufacturers are saying it's a new, fun way to interact with your pet.  You wont be thinking that when the bill comes in and you find he's been phoning his pals long distance!

But actually . . . I love it!  It will only be available in the USA and Canada when they launch it around May this year, but they're working on a European model already!  Result!

Although, maybe I should get a dog first?!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Over the past little while I've been putting together a film of my friends cycle around the world, called The Bicycle Diaries.

She wrote a great blog during the long adventure, and as research for the film I enjoyed reading over it once more.  Right at the end she writes:

"There is an art to life and happiness, you can't just expect it to happen".

I like to think of myself as a person who seeks out and embraces adventure. I'm also a bit of a dreamer, sometimes unrealistically. So it seemed appropriate recently to go and see the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Don't panic, this is not going to be a film review!  Suffice to say that the film centres around an employee of Life magazine, back when it was producing its last ever hard copy. The story takes the main character out of his comfort zone and thrusts him into challenges, some life threatening.

Every time I have embarked on a new adventure, from just a few days in the Scottish Highlands, trekking in the high Himalayas for three months or cycling across a continent for half a year, I never knew what to expect. I would plan and prepare as much as I could, but there would always be the unexpected.

I recall many times when, without warning, the challenges presented themselves, I wouldn't deal with it very well, seeing them as an intrusion, or a departure from what I considered normal. On hindsight though none of the adventures I've had in life would have been quite as memorable without those challenges. They are in essence what made the journey.

And it's those challenges that make life what it is.

Pauline is right. You can't expect it just to happen. You have to put effort into making your dreams a reality, and expect the unexpected.

Life magazine had a great motto:

To see things thousands of miles away,
things hidden behind walls and within rooms,
things dangerous to come to,
to draw closer,
to see and be amazed.

After I saw the movie I did a little research on the magazine. The first result took me to Wikipedia. At the top of the page it stated: "Life redirects here".

The next time I find myself faced with a challenge on a new adventure, or even just day to day, and it starts to feel a bit stressful, I'll tell myself, "life redirects here".

Friday, 17 January 2014


OK, so by now I should be writing all about the first week of my new food plan.

But I haven't started yet.

My excuse is that tonight I'm meeting up with friends for pizza, chat and a movie, so that would have spoilt it.  Sounds reasonable to me.

I'll bet I'm not alone. How's your New Year resolutions going, hmmm?

I've been pretty good so far with my "list" of things to tackle in the new year. I love a list:

1/ Put up an outside light in the garden. Done, even though I've been putting it off for 20 years!

2/ Sand down the rust on the bodywork on my van. Done, put off from last January.

3/ Edit a film for a friends round the world cycle. Done, though she did finish back in 2012.

Feels good to get them all done, and done well.  There are still things to tackle in my all encompassing list for the first part of this year though:

Clear out all the unwanted clutter in the apartment (that could take a while with 25 years of gathering); renovate my bedroom (that's been on "the list" since mid 2010); get super fit (OK, so somethings are unrealistic); build 3 new websites promoting my businesses skills; create lots of photo books covering all my outdoor adventures of the last 18 years; finish my feature script that I started back in 2002!!!

Oh, and improve my diet and lose weight of course.

There's always tomorrow.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


And we're off, into a whole new year, but boy, have we all piled on the pounds or what!?  So forget the January sales, this month is all about the diet for many.  I include myself in this.

There are so many diets on the go, most with one aim in mind: to shed the pounds.  However, I've been doing a little research and found the vast majority of "diets" are not really that good for you.  Not just that but most people complain that once they stopped the diet the pounds piled back on, and they ended up right back where they were.

There's a simple reason for this: most diets these days look at reducing the amount of food we take in, as opposed to changing to the right foods. There's a big difference.  Ultimately we need to have the well known "balanced diet", but most promoted diets are far from balanced.

It may be a good plan to reduce the amount of calories you eat, but if that simply means reducing the quantity you eat then chances are it's going to be hell and you'll be constantly hungry. You also run the risk of not getting the right full range of nutrients.

I've been heavily reading up on a one Dr Furman's research, and he advocates increasing the plant based element of your food intake to high levels, while reducing your carb intake to about 10% and literally eliminating all animal products. He cites many successful case studies, with the majority reaching an ideal weight and keeping it off. Dr Fuhrman's results also include people with diabetes type 2 being effectively cured. So, sounds impressive.

I met a good friend of mine today, Bill, who has also recently embarked on a new food plan. It differs from the Dr Fuhrman plan significantly, but Bill reports some amazing results on his new food plan. So, though I usually lack in motivation for this kind of thing, he has inspired me take on the challenge of changing my poor diet lifestyle. I'm about to give it a go for as long as I can, hopefully six weeks. I'll report back.

Now, where did I put that Mars bar?

Thursday, 2 January 2014


A Happy New Year to you all.

In usual style, whilst at a friend's on New Years Eve, a round of "what's your new years resolutions" started up, or, as one friend put a spin on it, "what are you most looking forward to in 2014".

There were the usual losing weight; getting fit; earn more money; have a dream holiday adventure; meet someone, type of declarations, with one friend saying get married. But there were no surprises really. Nothing out of the ordinary. Reasonable goals that seemed simple enough on the surface.

As midnight came and went, and the enormous fireworks display from the picturesque Edinburgh Castle flew into the air, heralding in the start of the year, the countdown to all these promises and goals began.

But life is rarely that neat.

Wouldn't it be neat if you could diet for just a day and hit your target weight.

Wouldn't it be neat if that dream job you've always wanted landed in your lap without an interview.

And wouldn't it be neat if they finished building the tram system in Edinburgh (in joke).

But life is rarely that neat.

Wouldn't it be neat if everyone rode a bicycle and there were no cars on the road.

Wouldn't it be neat if global warming turned out to be a good thing

And wouldn't it be neat if famine was a thing of the past.

But life is rarely that neat.

Wouldn't it be neat to release the past and move forward into the future with no regrets.

Wouldn't it be neat if you were never lonely again.

And wouldn't it be neat for the love you gave out to come back to you in equal measure.

But life is never that neat.

I wish you the best of luck with your resolutions and goals for the year ahead. A little commitment just might make them happen. Wouldn't that be neat?

For me I need to do a little tidying!