Spark London Podcast

I’ve been going to a few of the excellent Spark London open mic true story telling nights which are held twice a month in Brixton and Hackney. The good people of Spark were kind enough to feature one of the stories I told at their Brixton event in May on their podcast. The theme of the evening was surprises and I’m the 3rd story teller in the episode (the 2nd Joe) although I recommend listening the other two cracking stories as well. Follow the link and have a listen – http://stories.co.uk/podcast/

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Plan Solo: 5 Places to Travel Alone – Enterprise Magazine

There’s a feeling I get when I’m travelling. A buzz. A rush. An overwhelming sense of excitement. It’ll come up from the depth of my being and beam from my face in an unstoppable smile. I could be staggering down a mountain in the Himalayas, perched on a rock looking for dolphins in the Mekong River or cruising along a desert highway in Rajasthan. But I’m always alone, far from home and in a strange new place.

Read more on Enterprise Open Road

35mm Photo Blog – London

Take a stroll through central London and it’s hard not to be struck by the layers of history that straddle the banks of the Thames. From Christopher Wren’s masterpiece at St.Paul’s Cathedral to the neo-futurist monolith of Renzo Piano’s The Shard, history and modernity sit side by side along a river that’s breathed life into the city for thousands of years.

Twenty-first century Londoners bustle through the iconic beheamoth of a city as a constant stream of tourists and visitors criss-cross the river on bridges old and new.

Taken with a Canon AE-1 with 35mm film.

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The Millennium Footbridge & St. Paul’s Cathedral
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Southwark Cathedral
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An street performer entertains a crowd of shoppers and tourists at Covent Garden
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The Thames stretching off towards Westminster
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Temple Station
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Across the Thames to the Tate Modern
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Blackfriars Rail Bridge and the remains of the previous bridge alongside
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Somerset House
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Sturgeon fish sculpture on the base of the old street lamps on the Victoria Embankment dating back to 1870
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Victoria Embankment
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St. Pauls seen from White Lion Hill

 

 

 

The Three Times

He first stayed at Treyarnon Bay in 1993, the August of his fifteenth birthday. He’d been before, on day trips while camping further inland, but never stayed so close. Just a short walk to the narrow sandy beach and the grass covered headland. It was the right time to escape from the city which had never felt so ugly. A lad was killed in Endcliffe Park just a few months before. A young life taken by a boy with a knife.

The ocean was cleansing in its vastness. He’d sit on the grassy headland and stare, the perfect line of the horizon dulling his senses and tranquilising his thoughts. He’d watch the waves rush in at high tide, sucking the water from the rocky inlets like a vacuum, before crashing into the rocks and firing white water cascading into the air with a whoosh and wetting his face with sea spray. He’d body-board when the surf was right, spending hours at a time in the ocean.

His skin tasted of salt.

At night he and the other teenagers would head into the dunes to make fires and drink foul cider. On his birthday he drank a half bottle of whiskey and woke up on the beach, wet, sandy and paralytic.

He came back for his twenty-sixth, the first time in five years. A break from the depressing monotony of a low wage job.

He’d sit and stare at the ocean again, watching the sun disappear between dragon’s teeth rocks as the sky turned to lava. Night lit up so bright next to the ocean, stars, constellations, satellites moving across the sky with purpose. August Perseids burned in colourful incandescence as they crashed into the atmosphere, the Milky Way a cloudy band of uncountable stars above. Everything is moving, he thought, everything is changing.

The friendships forged there had more meaning than those found elsewhere. They could last a lifetime. That year he made connections that changed everything. A different way of living showed itself. Conversations and meetings that would shape him. People he’d love, who’d love him.

He’d swim in the ocean on calmer days.

His skin tasted of salt.

This summer I’ll be back, the tenth in a row and the seventh full season, June or July right through to September. Not just a holiday any more but a home, a way of life. I’ll work for myself in the village, outside in the sun or wind or rain.

With old friends I’ll sit around camp-fires. Those I’ve shared everything with. Lived, travelled and loved with.

The ocean will be there as always, tranquillity in one hand, ferocity in the other. It’ll be my playground. I’ll float and dive and explore the hidden world beneath its surface. I’ll feed myself from its pantry of muscles, mackerel and pollock. It will anchor me in my thoughts as I sit and stare, content with my journey through the adventure of life. It’ll hold me in awe with its power and its vastness.

My skin will taste of salt.

Photo Blog: Cordillera Huayhuash, Peruvian Andes

The Cordillera Huayhuash, a 30km long mountain range in Peru’s high Andean region of Ancash. The rugged landscape and it’s wild and unpredictable weather conditions is crowned by the high snow covered peaks of Yerupaja, Siula Grande, Jirishanca Yerupaja Chico and Rasac, all of which reach skywards at altitudes of over 6,000m, making it the second highest mountain range in the tropics.

Each year trekkers come in groups, or alone to complete the unforgiving 160km circuit of the range, where altitudes rarely dip below 4,000m. The tough but rewarding trek follows trails and small segments of old Inca road over high pass after high pass, through an Andean wilderness where condors soar high along the ridges and peaks in search of carrion, and wild horses graze in small herds.

Unlike the its much larger sibling to the north, the Cordillera Blanca, the Huayhuash range is not a national park. Small farming communities live among the many grass covered valleys, tending to livestock put out to pasture during the drier seasons and providing occasional supplies and refreshments to the trekkers and climbers that pass through the land.

A wide valley on the western edge of the Cordillera Huayhuash
A wide valley on the western edge of the Cordillera Huayhuash.
Donkeys make their way up a high pass
Donkeys make their way up a high pass.
Crisaldo takes a siesta next to his horse. When I spoke to him he seemed sad. It turned out that a few weeks before several of his friends had died in an avalanche while fixing ropes for their clients on Alpamayo. Crisaldo was part of the team sent to recover their bodies.
Crisaldo takes a siesta next to his horse. When I spoke to him he seemed sad. It turned out that a few weeks before several of his friends had died in an avalanche while fixing ropes for their clients on Alpamayo. Crisaldo was part of the team sent to recover the bodies. The job of horseman for a small group of trekkers was a break for him.
A train of donkeys makes it's way across a high valley
A train of donkeys makes it’s way across a high valley.
Wild horses roam the valleys of the Cordillera Huayhuash.
An early morning view of Yerupaja, at 6,635m it's the highest mountain in the range.
An early morning view of Yerupaja, at 6,635m it’s the highest mountain in the range.
Laguna Carhuacocha
Laguna Carhuacocha.
Yerupaja Chico enshrouded by clouds
Yerupaja Chico enshrouded by clouds.
Francisco, 13 years old. Each day he hikes from his home in the valley up to Siula Punta, one of the highest and most gruelling passes on the circuit, where he sells bottles of Coca-Cola to the trekkers he meets.
Francisco, 13 years old. Each day he hikes from his home in the valley up to Siula Punta, one of the highest and most gruelling passes on the circuit, where he sells bottles of Coca-Cola to the trekkers he meets.
The valley below Siula Punta
The valley below Siula Punta.
The northern edge of the range
The northern edge of the range.
A shepherd tending his flock
A shepherd tending his flock.
Laguna Siula
Laguna Siula.
A pair of wild horses graze above the frozen ground one morning
A pair of wild horses graze on frozen ground in the early morning.
Quebrada Atuscancha on the eastern edge of the range
Quebrada Atuscancha on the eastern edge of the range.
Jagged peaks on the western ridges of the range
Jagged peaks on the western ridges.
“Trekking alone with no donkeys, gringo?” asked the old lady carrying firewood, “you’re loco!”
David appeared from nowhere to guide me through a field full of rather aggressive looking cattle.
David appeared from nowhere to guide me through a field full of rather aggressive looking cattle. “What are you doing out here?” I asked him, “Riding my horse, watching the cows,” he replied.
The old lady at Laguna Juraucocha. She hobbled around the camping ground selling beer and soft drinks to climbers and trekkers while begging for medicine for her bad hip.
The old lady at Laguna Juraucocha. She hobbled around the camping ground selling beer and soft drinks to climbers and trekkers while begging for medicine for her bad hip.
Jirishanca
Jirishanca.