� Rotaski 1998 - If you copy and use any photographs from this site, please acknowledge the
source. Thank you
||Born at an early age in my parents bedroom in Streetly, South
||1965 - 1971
||Family holidays were to Bournemouth, Dorset - 1965, Abersoch,
Wales - 1966, Saundersfoot, Wales - 1967, Bembridge, Isle of Wight - 1968, Perranporth,
Cornwall - 1969, Newquay, Cornwall - 1970, Poole, Dorset - 1971 and also a trip to Holland
where we stayed with family friends and I purchased a stuffed duckling - why ? I don't
know, I was only seven years old.
|My parents fail to get me a ticket to the League Cup Final at
Wembley, believing I'm too young and I miss my beloved Stoke City beat hot favourites
Chelsea. Our Family holiday was to spend a week with my Godmothers family in Luccumbe,
Isle of Wight where I spend a night sitting in a tree watching Badgers.!
||1973 - 1979
||Family holidays were Erquy, Brittany, France - 1973, Luccumbe,
Isle of Wight - 1974, Carnac, Brittany, France - 1975, Luccumbe, Isle of Wight and
Illfracombe, Devon - 1976, Luccumbe, Isle of Wight - 1977, Newquay, Cornwall - 1978 and
Hittisau in Austria in 1979.
|I complete my compulsory education and am one of three in the
school awarded with 'Senior Colours' for swimming, helping the school become the
'Wolverhampton Schools' Senior Boys Champions' and the 'Cannock & District Senior Boys
Champions'. Family holiday was to Newquay in Cornwall.
|Life starts when I start work at Mason Richards and earn some
money. Well, a little bit anyway. I miss my sporting involvements and so
Mason Richards 5-a-side team (Who later gain the nickname Mango V after my
first taste of mango in an Indian restaurant). I qualify for the bronze medallion in
lifesaving. I pass my driving test shortly after my 17th birthday after spending a crash
course two week family holiday driving round Scotland, based in Oban.
|I visit my first Youth Hostel at Bridges and then Ludlow in
Shropshire on a cycling weekend with Paul, a friend and neighbour. Family holiday is in
Newquay, Cornwall where school friend Ian joins the family, although he nearly didn't as he
travelled down on his motorbike and chose the M6 rather than the M5. We leave my family in
Cornwall and tour back on Ian's bike.
|I visit Patterdale Youth Hostel in the Lake District with
Ian, my best mate from school. I get involved with the Lighting rig and take photographs
for a talented Rock Band called Rocksalt. Gigs are played in places such as Sutton Park
Festival, Rugby Prison and all night in Lichfield Cathedral.
The Mason Richards Football Team become
international with a tour of Northern France and happen across Charleville-M�zi�res,
a Wonderful town in the Ardennes. The Place Ducale is a spectacular
centre and fine example of 17th-century classical French architecture.
I no longer join my parents
on family holidays as it's much more fun to go on holiday with friends. At this time my
parents start going on exotic holidays abroad. !
Famous hill where a young boy flew down the hill on a bicycle in an 'Hovis' advert.
Ian, still young at this point, manages an amazing feat of strength at Corfe Castle.
|We visit Llanberis and Bryn Gwynant youth hostels in Wales
in snowy January and attempt Mount Snowden - the Slippy Face.
With Ian, I execute my first Parachute Jump at Montford Bridge, a small airfield near
Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Later in the year we spend a week on the South Coast camping and
visiting Cranbourne and Bridport youth hostels. Unfortunately 'Beer' hostel is closed for
the night ! In April we try Chepstow hostel and join the Youth Hostel Association (YHA).
Being a member of the Queen fan club, I manage to get hold of four tickets to see them
at Wembley only to find that these 'gold dust' tickets are for the Friday night and I only
return from a week away in Torquay on Saturday morning. Luckily I easily sell these and
head off instead to the Palais de Omnisport in Paris with Ian and two other friends to see
the Works tour.
Freddie in Paris
Brian in Paris
Wendy in Blackpool
|Ian's Brother Andy joins us on a walking weekend Youth
Hostelling at Wilderhope Manor and Wheathill Farm in Shropshire. I go on a European Tour
with Ian stopping with friends, in hotels and youth hostels, at one stage visiting four
capitol cities in three days. Later in the year I move jobs to work on the start of one of
Europe's biggest shopping centres. A work colleague Bruce introduces me to the Charity
organisation Rotaract and I join the Wolverhampton Club. Rotaract was formed by the Rotary
Club and has thousands of members Worldwide. I quickly joined in and one of the first
events was a day out in Blackpool. Little did I know that Blackpool would feature in a big
way later in my Rotaract life.
I have my first experience of real sailing aboard my Uncle's yacht. That's not the
Horizon, it's a forty foot wave in the Atlantic !
'The Wharf Shed'
An old canal wharf building in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. Used for Rotaract weekends away
on many occasions.
Simon at Banbury
Staithes in North Yorkshire, where Captain Cook was born.
St. Govan's Chapel on the
Pembrokeshire Coastal Path near Tenby in South
|I take part in my first raft race between Ironbridge and
Bridgnorth in Shropshire, organised by Bilston Rotaract.
I take part in the 'Round Britain Endurance & Economy Run' organised by Wolverhampton
Rotary. This involves three rally drivers driving non stop around Great Britain using the
coastal roads, stopping only for petrol. I, Simon and Anne - Marie are the drivers in the
support vehicle. This takes one week and the achievement gets recorded in the Guinness
book of Records.
I travel with my Brother Chris to Cologne (Koln) football stadium, Germany to see a
concert line up of Krafft, Level 42, Gary Moore, Marillion and finally Queen. Freddie was
Freddie in Koln
Brian in Koln
Fish in Koln
A trip with my German Pen friend Dietmar to South Wales and we try Broad
Haven youth hostel. The now annual Youth Hostel trip with Ian and Andy visits Beverley and
Whitby in Yorkshire and Ian and I also visit Saffron Walden and Hunstanton Youth Hostels.
Rotaract organise a trip to Ostend for a beer festival in which Bruce tries to drink
more than anyone else. Rotaract forms the worlds longest human Caterpillar at the National
Garden Festival Site in Stoke on Trent.1986 proved to be a very busy year. In February I
joined Anne-Marie, Trevor & Simon on a Beaujolais run to Macon in France. The
Beaujolais is released at 12:00 midnight and the aim is to be the first back to Britain.
Mommeson Vineyard, Macon
Home by early morning
Bingo in Cornwall !
|1987 becomes a very busy year; I try Skiing for the first time with Club
Travel in Pinzolo, Italy.
In June I become the President of Wolverhampton Rotaract and also in June attend the
International Rotaract Conference 'Interota' where I make many friends from around the
World and some very good ones from New Zealand. I attend an 'Interota' reunion in
Kirkcaldy, Scotland where I tragically miss a putt on the eighteenth green at St.
Andrew's, the home of Golf.
Minehead, Lynton & Lynmouth and Ilfracombe in North Devon is the destination for
the first three night YHA weekend and Rotaract spends an eventful time in Cornwall where
Bruce tries to vault a garden gate and doesn't.
Built in 1550 and owned by the National Trust. It is located on Holy Island in
Northumberland and is cut off from the Mainland at high tide.
'place du Tertre'
Where artists gather
In the shadow of the impressive Sacre Coeur in Paris
Romeo & Juliet
A famous door, but can you get this close to it ?
I attend the National Rotaract Multi District Conference (MDC) in Glasgow and decide
that due to the fact I spend three days without any sleep whatsoever this event deserves
to be attended every year. I then spend the rest of the week (after a very long night's
sleep) touring Scotland with Tim from Tipton Rotaract.
The Trossachs Hotel, Loch Achray. Simply Stunning.
Wolverhampton Rotaract visit Paris and I organise a trip to visit the 'Rovers Return'
pub for a drink. The 'Rovers' is well known to anyone who has watched Coronation Street.
District 1210 and Wolverhampton Rotaract takes Banbury Camping rally by storm, Winning
the 5-a-side football, Volleyball, Male and Female Welly Wanging and Drinking
competitions ! Skiing takes place with Club Travel to Folgarida in Italy. Youth Hostelling
tries Castle Hedingham, Colchester and Blaxhall
The smallest Pub in Britain
Coastguard at Aldburgh, Suffolk
The Great Franz Klammer shows that he understands English humour and even buys me a beer
Teazer perform in Bloxwich with a guest appearance from Kathy, A kiwi I met at Interota
'Tan Hill Inn'
Great Britain's Highest Pub, located on the Pennine Way North of Hawes in North Yorkshire
|I form a mixed indoor cricket team called the 'Helmets' who
join Division 2 at Wolverhampton and in their first season win the division. MDC visits
Brighton on the South Coast The youth hostel trip goes to the Welsh border and we stop in
the jail at St Briavels Castle and then Bath YH.
I visit Anglesey and stop off for a look at the World's longest place
I decide to organise my own skiing trip and take 44 people to Les Crosets in Switzerland
and Rotaski is formed. In the same year I meet the greatest Skier of all time - Franz
Klammer. Members of Rotaract District 1210 form a rock band named Teazer.
1989 Ironbridge to Bridgnorth Raft Race organised by Bilston Rotaract
Entering Jackfield Rapids
Thomas the Tank Engine
Timer shots become a popular pastime of a few Rotaractors.
When somebody puts their camera on the floor, sets the timer and shouts
'TIMER' you race from wherever you are in the room to have your photograph taken !
I buy my first house and get views of five hills.
The Welsh Mountains, The Wrekin - a former Volcano, The Clee Hills, The Cleeve hills and
The Helmets are promoted to division 1 and win the league and cup competition. Skiing
visits Serre Chevalier in France where I have a go at snowboarding but decide to stick
with the skiing and I go to Livingo in Italy with Andy and Kevin. I join A.D.A.S. in the
Architectural section as a farm buildings advisor !
|Boarding in Serre Chevalier
||Unicycling in Jury's Hotel, Dublin
MDC is in Dublin where one of the speakers is Simon Weston, the Welsh
Guard injured in the Falkland War. Annual youth hostel trip visits Tintagel, Boscastle and
Hartland in Cornwall.
My Pets !
Timer shots are particularly good when your waitress gets involved !
|The Rotaski trip visits Gosau in Austria whilst the YHA trip visits
Cleeve Hill, Stow on the Wold and Duntisbourne Abbots. I travel with three Rotaract
friends to Poole in Dorset to visit the R.N.L.I. to discuss a Rotaract project to raise
funds for a Lifeboat. The project becomes known as Rotaboat. MDC is in Bradford, Yorkshire
although I miss my family of nine fox cubs who decide to take residence in my garden.
Still, it gives me a feeble excuse not to cut the lawn. I become the Chairman of our first
ever Rotaract District Conference, which we hold in a gem of a hotel 'The Metropole' in
Llandrindod Wells in Powys, Wales. This hotel becomes a regular destination and
immediately becomes affectionately known as 'The Ropple' and Rotaract District 1210 holds
its' Conference there annually.
A medieval pub at Bretforton near Evesham actually owned by the National Trust.
'Interspray' setting off round the World.
6:00 am Ocean Village Southampton
|MDC is hosted in Birmingham where the Rotaract District Chairmen are
persuaded to back the Rotaboat project at a National level.
becomes a Dad and four generations of the family get together
Woody's Top, Shining Cliff and Lincoln are the venues for the YHA weekend and Rotaski
visit Tonale in Italy I get involved in the 'British Steel Challenge' round the World
yacht race, which was conceived by Chay Blythe. Blythe, the British Yachtsman who was the
first to sail round the World in the wrong direction - against the prevailing winds and
tides. My support goes with Interspray in the challenge. One of ten identical yachts
taking part in the race. 'Mango V' my five a side football team have an away game in a
camping field in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.
'Mango V' Wet but happy
You have to enjoy life with a boss like this bloke !
Owner of the 'Ropple' David Baird-Murray and Manager Dennis Gardener
'Sam' my parents Golden Retriever. Nothing but the best Scottish Smoked
Sam feeling the chill at the Harbourside
Sam - a little Otter !
|MDC moves back to it's first ever location of the Isle of Wight. Andy
Steggall composes a song called 'Rescue me' to raise funds for Rotaboat. We record it at
Rich Bitch studios in Birmingham. Home of 'Electric Light Orchestra'.
A Red Squirrel - Still around on the Isle of Wight
Rotaski travels to Crest Voland in France and the YHA trip visits
Arnside, Ennerdale and Wastwater where Colin joins us, in the Lake District.
A number of District 1210's Rotaractors who are nearing Rotaract retirement age form
'The Jaffa Club' after a bar-be-que at Andy's house and vow to have the same sort of fun
and entertainment that they've had in Rotaract but without holding any meetings !!
Formation of the Jaffa Club
Older but still playing timer ! (Oldtimers ?)
A break whilst walking over Scafell,
England's highest peak.
A Cumbrian Dinosaur 'Dyathinkhesawus' !!
I attend the World Bog
snorkelling Championships in Llanwrtyd Wells in
Wales and with Steve 'interview' the Ladies World Champion, a swimsuit clad Australian.
Steve, Rotaract District 1210 Chairman then organises a Bath Race at Trentham Gardens in
Stoke on Trent where a Rotarian is seen to have a blow up doll water skiing behind his
Bill, a Director at Work who has unfeasibly long legs !
During a 'Jaffa' weekend at the 'Ropple' - Andy beats Steve at the 'Slap
the card onto your forehead' game.
|MDC is held in Blackpool and District 1260 announces that
they have raised 10,000 pounds sterling by creating a giant mosaic in Milton Keynes
An early ski trip to Mayrhofen in Austria with Ian, a former Rotaractor from Kettering
results in a meeting with Roy and Carole who then Join the Rotaski group in 1995. The
Rotaski trip to Claviere in Italy is followed by a Christmas trip to Tonale in Italy.
'Mango V' visits the Lake District and takes part in quad biking, archery, go karting,
rowing and my first attempt at driving an argocat vehicle.
York, Lockton and Boggle Hole are the YHA destinations. We visit Castle
Howard and Ian gets held to ransom.
Ian at Gunpoint
The twin towers of England's National Football Stadium
Martin's interpretation of how to ski moguls - Legs together Ski's
Martin see's how the professionals always show the bottom of their ski's
to the camera. But he's being doing it for years.
North V. South
The Rotaski Boys from County Durham take on the Southerners at Broomball in Folgarida,
Italy. A game played in ordinary shoes with ice hockey sticks and a ball. Most of the
playing time is spent on one's arse !
|I miss my first MDC at Lowestoft since 1988 due to work commitments but
still manage two skiing trips to Folgarida in Italy and the Cairngorm in Scotland. A group
stops at the Aviemore Highlands hotel managed by Dennis Gardener the former Manager of the
Ropple. 'Mango V' visits 'The Ropple' for our lads weekend away and again take part in
Quadding in Wales
Jaccuzziing in Wales !
The YHA lads are accommodated in their second Castle at Pendennis and
also stop at Exeter and Coverack, but this time spending the weekend travelling by
Mountain bike rather than walking.
November, and all the hard work pays off when Rotaract visit the R.N.L.I.
Poole and I say;
"I name this lifeboat 'Rotaract I', may God bless her and all who sail in her"
Sam takes a look at the wildlife in my back garden
My pet Kingfisher !
My pet Squirrel !
The Darlo boys with Ian and I in a bar on the slopes at Bardonecchia,
YHA trip again cycles, but to Solva Creek, Trevine and Pwll Deri in Wales. I manage to get
three ski trips in again with a recce trip to Flaine in France with Ian where we meet Andy
& Sarah from Bradford.
Stokies here, Stokies there
Time to fly the flag in Flaine
I attend the England V. Scotland game in Euro 96 at Wembley when Gazza
scores 'THAT' goal. When you've got Martin- the Scotsman sitting next to you - life
doesn't get very much better !
A trip to my Chairman's apartment in Val D 'Isere in France shows me how well the Boss can
ski and the Rotaski group goes to Bardonecchia in Italy. 'Mango V' visits Barmouth in
Wales and I have my first go at clay pigeon shooting and quad biking.
Stoke City's new stadium under construction
Vineyard in South Staffordshire who make a very good English wine. Along with work
colleagues, I am challenged by our Solicitors at Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting,
Hovercrafting, Karting and 'Duck' dog trials !
|Rotaski goes to Monte Campione in Italy and I try riding a skidoo for the
first time. Well worth trying. YHA weekend is Dartington, Salcombe and Maypool.
May, after 119 years of football at the Victoria Ground, Stoke City play their last league
game against the team they first met in the league, West Bromwich Albion. As per usual
against the Baggies, Stoke win to send a capacity crowd home very happy.
A pic of the Boothen End, where I normally stand but can't get a ticket for the last
Stoke City banner passes across the Boothen End.
The team say goodbye.
A new season and a brand new stadium.
|Two shots of the North Stand and One of the
McEwans stand on August 27th against Rochdale - the first game at the Britannia Stadium.
I then join a new group of friends 'The Corks' later in the year again
in Salcombe for their annual weekend away.
|'Mango V' go away to 'The Ropple' again and take
mountain bikes. But find a very slippy Welsh mountain to try and get up.
||Most of the family manage to
make it through a Chinese Christmas Day for a more traditional gathering on Boxing Day.
The magnificent Eilean Donan Castle at Loch Duich.
|Rotaski takes a trip to Schladming in Austria and I again
attend an MDC, ten years after my first in Glasgow, in Aberdeen, Scotland. I spend the
rest of the week in spectacular parts of Scotland such as the Isle of Skye and Glen Coe,
Eilean Donan Castle has to be visited if you've ever seen the film Highlander.
Dunnottar Castle, South of Stonehaven stands in a spectacular location and dates from the
Kilo, Buttle, Jo, Brad, DJ, Caroline & Ange during a walk on Aberdeen sea front on a
windy afternoon. Later to become an extremely wet afternoon after being caught in a
The YHA weekend is in Keswick, Longthwaite and Buttermere in the Lake
District. I develop a web site for work and decide that Rotaski should have a presence on
After becoming good friends with Andy & Sarah, met on a ski trip in 1996, I
officially become a 'regular' supporter of the Bradford Bulls rugby league team which Andy follows avidly.
I am invited to join Kingsley Homes Ltd for their annual staff golfing weekend. This is
held in Edinburgh, Scotland where I manage to play the first nine holes of the 'Braids 2'
course without losing a ball despite the course being ninety five per cent heather with
the rest being made up of greens & tees !
I enjoy my first visit aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia
|The 10th anniversary Rotaski trip heads for Sansicario in
Italy but only after Andy, Ian and myself get some practice in Val Thorens in France.
|Andy, Sarah & Sam enjoying a drink in
||Ian learning to lean well forward in Soft
I spend an excellent few days touring Scotland as part of 'Highlander II' a convoy of
I join Kingsley Homes for their golf weekend again held in Edinburgh and play the best
golf I've ever played in glorious sunny Scottish weather.
Continuing support of the Bradford Bulls gives me my first visit to Old Trafford. After
the Bulls win the super league, they then take on St Helens in the play off final but
unfortunately go down 8-6
I start my own business developing Websites.
The annual YHA weekend visits Epping Forest, Chatham and Canterbury in Kent and is not
impressed ! Apart from finding a couple of great pubs we found the North end of Kent to be
full of scrap yards and second hand car dealers.
After missing a year I rejoin 'The Corks'
at Salcombe for 'Salcombe 6'. I design T shirts for the weekend which seem to get noticed
when eleven are paraded around the village and when we again take over the beach for the
annual cricket match.
||I spend New Year in 'The Ropple' in Llandrindod Wells and the
days before in Yorkshire - researching pubs for the Fat Badgers Guide to Quality Inns
The eleventh skiing trip is
held in Pra Loup in France where Roy provides the weeks entertainment with a spectacular
crash caught on video.
After being unable to attend the two visits which my beloved Stoke City make to Wembley
during my lifetime, it becomes third time lucky when stoke reach the Auto Windsrcreens
Trophy final and retain their 100% record of wins at the national stadium with a 2-1 win
over Bristol City. I spend a few days in London getting thoroughly drunk...
After watching Bradford Bulls beat Warrington in the semi final of the Silk Cup held at
Headingley in Leeds, I am unable to get a ticket for the final which takes place in
Edinburgh on a bank Holiday weekend. The Bulls run out winners against arch rivals Leeds
The annual Salcombe weekend is booked in for the last weekend in July with everybody
following Steve's trend of 1999 by taking false teeth.
The annual YHA trip heads for Golant, Penzance
& Land's End in Cornwall and I get an extra visit in to Beer Hostel in
Dorset the day before heading down for the annual Salcombe weekend.
I join the modern world and purchase my first
digital camera enabling me to put my photos online.
twelfth skiing trip heads off to Austria and during a recent visit to
a fancy dress hire shop, I purchase 5 Rod Stewart style wigs and
produce them at the airport thinking we could wear them out on slopes
one day. They turn out to be such a popular purchase that they are
worn all week both on and off the slopes and we become minor
celebrities in the Outback bar in Leogang. We are inundated with
offers from people wanting to buy them off us, we are asked on stage
with the band, have the band wearing them during their performance
whereupon they ask us to come back the following week as it's
"The best gig they've ever had". We also get all the locals
and skiers of many other nationalities to join in with a Austrian
single 'Hey Baby' by DJ Otzi which ends up with almost everybody in a
bar in Geneva airport joining in. The song then later becomes a No. 1
hit in the UK.
a fifteen year gap since , I'm invited by Ade to join him on a sailing
weekend in the Solent with friends. Richard skippers the boat we're on
with Keith skippering a second yacht.
Annual Salcombe trip is blessed with scoring sunny conditions.
The YHA weekend is attended just by two of us
and we head off to Bangor in North Wales. Ian's brother Andy can't
make it and is disappointed to find out that we share the Youth hostel
with two coach loads of female Basketball players !
pay another of many visits to Old Trafford to watch the Bradford Bulls
take on Wigan in the final of the Super League playoffs. After a
disappointing game against St. Helens in '99 The Bulls demolish the
Warriors and I feel a need to take a photo of the scoreboard at half
time as Bradford are already 26-0 up !
After Two years of building websites, I create
the website for an Oak Frame Building manufacturer Prime
Oak Buildings and then remain with them designing buildings.
Stoke City's 100% winning record at Wembley, I visit the Millennium
Stadium in Cardiff to watch them play Brentford in the Second division
play off final due to Wembley being closed for refurbishment ! However
Stoke become the first team to break the South dressing room jinx by
winning the game, probably becoming the only team to have 100% winning
records at both Wembley and The Millennium.
join Keith and Ade on a further trip sailing in the Solent and we get
much better weather than the previous year.
the success of the 'Rodettes' skiing in 2001 and a comment of
"How on earth are we going to beat that holiday" we purchase
four Gorilla suits for a trip in January to Tignes in France. This
proves to be a skiing highlight as we once again become minor
celebrities around the resort. A second 'reccy' ski trip to Les Deux
Alpes with Ian in March requires the suit to be used again which gets
me lots of hugs & kisses from some very nice Dutch women !
In Salcombe we take a trip aboard the old
Salcombe Lifeboat which is run a a pleasure craft by the former Cox
who also featured in a TV documentary on Salcombe lifeboatmen and the
'Salcombe Fringe' takes place at Baggeridge.
Gorilla suits make further appearances at both Valley parade in
Bradford (temporary home of the Bradford Bulls whilst the new stand is
built at Odsal), where we are invited onto the pitch and introduced to
the crowd and also again at Old Trafford in the Play Off Final
although some Manchester bouncers won't let us into the pubs wearing
football ?? shirts (or Gorilla heads). They also appear on a night out
in York where we are allowed into pubs
||The Annual YHA trip
takes place in January and we end up staying at a farm in Norfolk as
there are no hostels open.
The Rotaski skiing trip is to La Plagne,
France in March, the Gorilla's appear out on the slopes again as they
do in a January trip to Chamonix, France where three Andy's take four
kids away to experience some of the best off piste conditions you
could ever wish for.
Having bought myself an MGF Trophy for
Christmas in December 2002, I join in with a few MGF days out
including the fantastic Scottish Highlander trips organised by
the Central Scotland
Mango V Football Club decide to venture into
Europe 20 years after the previous adventure in the Ardennes. This
time we choose Pisa in Italy but don't ascend the leaning tower as
there is a four hour queue - we choose to go to a bar instead.
Gorillas put in another appearance, this time at The Millennium
Stadium in Cardiff to watch the Bradford Bulls beat Leeds Rhinos in
the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final.
introduce Roy (A member of Rotaski Elite) to sailing with a weekend
sailing from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Kirkudbright in Scotland but
after a night on the ale, cooking a full English whilst bobbing about
in a lively Kirkudbright estuary or the bouncing back in a force 7
Near Gale, Roy spends 9 hours being ill over the back of the boat.
join 'The Corks' on their weeks holiday aboard a Canal Boat along the
Stratford Canal and am pleasantly surprised that it's not boring
travelling at around four miles an hour - it's a really relaxing way
to spend a week.
& Florence, Italy
BBQ, West Yorkshire
Glamorgan, Wales (MGF)
League Challenge Cup Final
(MGF Day Out)
Scotland (MGF Highlander V)
YHA trip breaks from tradition and stays in the same hostel for more
than one night - but only because there are not many hostels open as
it's still only March. Andy loses it on Branscome Beach when I do a
'Neil Kinnock' and fall over whilst trying to get back from a wave -
the photo I was taking came out alright though !
the success of the Mango V trip to Pisa & Florence, we chose to
try Bordeaux in France and find that it is a lovely town. We have a
trip on the train to nearby Arcachon, the oldest resort on the C�te d'Argent
where we hire bikes & cycle to the Dune du Pyla - Europe's highest
sand dune, a spectacular expanse of sand which is well worth a visit.
again travel up to Scotland to take part in the Highlander VI run
which takes place around my favourite part of Scotland - the West
Coast. Andy Bates and I choose to divert from the route all the other
MG's take (via Eileen Donan castle) as we've done that before and take
the ferry over to Skye. After taking a superb lunch of Cullen Skink we
head back towards our hotel at Kyle of Lochalsh and witness some
spectacular cloud action over the Cullen Hills.
also join in with a well established MG run from Llandudno where we
get special permission to park on the prom where all the tourists
wander past admiring the cars.
Other MG events include a weekend at
Silverstone which includes MG racing, a run around Shropshire taking
lunch in the excellent Inn
at Grinshill and a weekend driving around the Welsh hills taking
in lots of dams and an excellent military road over he top of the
annual Salcombe weekend enjoys superb weather and I enjoy meandering
my way back along the coast using the ferry at Dartmouth with a quick
pub stop in Teignmouth.
manage to fit in thee Skiing trips in 2004. Rotaski Elite head off to
Courchevel in France with the Gorillas appearing on some of the days.
I spend a long weekend in Zell am See in Austria, meeting up with the
Darlo lads, a group from Darlington who used to ski with Rotaski
fifteen years ago but who now organise their own skiing holidays. The
three Andy's also head out to Kitzb�hel in Austria to ski the Hahnenkamm,
part of which, the Streif is regarded as the most demanding racing slope in the Alpine Skiing World Cup.
We also find probably our favourite alpine Bar, a converted toilet in
the middle of town and Andy learns how to fly an helicopter !
also plenty of sailing trips in 2004 - Long weekend's in the Solent
including being overtaken by The
Waverley, the last sea going paddle steamer in the World and a
week long trip to the Channel Islands which turned out to be a race to
Cherbourg and back as there was a massive gale heading up from the
South which would have stopped us from getting back to Blighty in
time. We were then overtaken by H.M.S. Gloucester as we got back into
a weekend with 'The Corks' on their Canal boat on the Thames, exploring
the river from Eynsham to Abingdon & back and also spend a weekend
in Weymouth, Dorset.
Annual YHA trip doesn't happen in 2005 but Ian does join us on one of
the years sailing trips. We get superb weather in April & Ian
burns his bald bonce. In June, Paul from Mango V joins us for the
first time and is immediately hooked as he was when I introduced him
from three weekends in the the Solent we successfully manage to
complete a trip to Jersey & Guernsey with two fantastic overnight
sails across the Channel. We also spot a magnificent Ocean Sunfish
between St. Peterport & St. Helier.
Rotaski trip heads for Mayrhofen, Austria in January but is plagued
with queues as it turns out there are two Austrian Bank Holiday's
during the week. A number of new people are introduced to the Sport of
Pegging and lots of fun is had in Mayrhofen bars.
Stakesy, Roy, Ade & I also head off to Vebier in Switzerland to
experience some of the best skiing that can be found in the Alps. We
book everything independently as we're fed up of Ski Tour operators
forcing us to endure a really crap cafe just outside Alberville, which
turns out to be quite handy as Roy & Ade have to travel back to
Geneva to pick up a new passport for Ade as he lost his hand luggage
in the airport. They drop Stakesy & I off at the Portes du Soleil
so we can have a day skiing with the Darlo lads, returning via the
'White Wall of Death' at Les Crosets. Because
our flights are a day early, we spend a night in Montreux Youth Hostel
and pay a visit to the Freddie Mercury statue where I force the other
three to endure the cold whilst I take a photo to reproduce the Queen
album 'made in Heaven'.
the Salcombe weekend where we once again get great weather, we hold a
golf tournament at Thurlstone where I win despite me wearing sandals
and the others wearing golf shoes !
join the MGF register event at Avebury & Stonehenge where Andy
Bates & I disappear to a much better lunch pub than the one chosen
where the Nutty Landlord announces everybody who walks in through the
front door as as 'Lord & Lady....'.
one Ski trip in 2006 as business at Prime
Oak is manic. Rotaski head off to Le Corbier in France. Not the
best resort in the World as it's very quite at night. We tried to see
a local band but left before we'd even got a drink as they were
absolute pants - It can't be particularly nice for a band when they
start their first track and the audience burst out laughing and leave
- But then the French have never been too good at music have they ?
Cosford air show is again held in June and my sister & Brother in
Law host their annual BBQ as they live at the end of the runway and
this year I'm not sailing - Great weather and a great show with
Spitfires, the Eurofighter and the Red Arrows.
July I head off to France again with my old Boss, Pete Barby and other
current & former Mango V players, to Le Mans Classic. The usual 24
hour racing you get at Le Mans but with classic cars, we travel from
Shropshire with An Alvis, an Aston Martin, Porsche, Austin Healy,
E-type Jag, MGB, Jaguar XK150, Cobra and a VW Scirocco which two of
the young lads bought for the trip, drove to Le Mans & back and
then sold for more than they bought it for !
YHA trip reverts back to using a Youth Hostel again when we get
flights to Jersey for �12. As there's only one hostel on Jersey, we
use that for the long weekend little knowing of the morbid history
that the former Children's Home has. We experience fantastic weather
and hire bikes for the weekend. A trip to Gerald
Durrell's superb Zoo, somewhere I've wanted to visit since
childhood is as good as I ever expected, better in fact.
only manage one sailing trip in 2006 which clashes with the annual
Salcombe weekend so I miss that for only the second time. Sailing is
to the Bay of Biscay in France. We fly out to La Rochelle, a place
well worth a visit and flights can be found to what is a tiny airport,
quite cheaply. We don't get much wind but have a great trip anyway.
April 2007 I sail for the first time with Cath, someone whose been on
many a Rotaski trip. We sail with a friend of hers, David as his wife
doesn't like to even though he owns a quarter of a boat. I really
enjoyed this visit to the Solent - not only for the great views of the
Needles at six o'clock in the morning but also for the Dolphin that
followed us from the Needles for around half an hour.
May, I take my Coastal Skipper exam and despite not doing the Day
Skipper course or any of the other seven theory courses that are
required for this level of Sailing - I pass ! The exam lasts from
eight o'clock in the morning until three a.m. the following day. Ade
also qualifies as Coastal Skipper and Stakesy as Yachtmaster. The end
of the week sees a load of other friends arrive in Gosport & we
take two boats out for the weekend - I have a boat full of women but
thankfully the sea breezes drown out most of their chatter !
During the week, I get to visit the RNLI maintenance works at East
Cowes, twelve years after naming the Rotaract lifeboat only to find
that the boat has actually arrived there from Scotland that morning
for its annual service.
Later in the year I get my Short Range Radio
Operators license which is required for Coastal Skippers.
head down to Kent for a weekend for Nigel's birthday and we spend the
Day at Buckmore Park, an excellent Go Kart track that many Formula 1
Drivers have used over the years. Along with Chalky from Prime Oak
& his mate, we finish fourth out of around twenty teams - only
being beaten by the teams that are at Buckmore at least once a week.
My first visit to Poland is to join Martin for
his stag night/weekend in Krakow - a lovely place. I also spend a
weekend in the Cotswold's with Welsh Paul testing pubs for Fat
Badgers after going to a Martyn
Joseph concert in Stroud.
Clusaz in France is the destination for the Rotaski trip and
experiences no snow one day and too much the following day, whilst
Stakesy & I also get a very early ski weekend in December arranged
in St. Moritz in Switzerland after deciding we were bored three days
earlier. I lose my mobile phone in St. Moritz but luckily it is found
by a French woman from Monaco, unluckily she doesn't bother to send it
to me even though she promised she would.
YHA trip was back to just Ian & I and not hostelling. Flights were
dirt cheap to Londonderry in Ireland and the hostels don't look very
impressive in that neck of the woods so we stopped in hotels instead.
A visit to the Giants Causeway which was a little over commercialised
for my liking was bettered by a walk over the Carrick a Rede rope
bridge - fantastic. We also visited Bloody Foreland, a name I'd
sniggered at on a map when I was seven and have wanted to visit ever
since. It is almost as impressive as the West Coast of Scotland.
I again win the golf tournament in Salcombe
and this year decide to spend the whole week down there so book an
hotel for the start of the week - luckily the hotel has available
rooms for the weekend where I chose to stay put as it rains on the
campers all weekend - I on the other had have sunshine all week before
everyone else arrives and spend a delightful day out in Polperro,
In 2008 I get my First Aid qualification and also
my PADI open water Scuba.
join the Darlo lads Skiing again in Zell am See and ski in probably
the darkest conditions ever as Welsh Paul joins us and loses his skis
at the top of the mountain.
Stakesy & I then have another week in the Three Valleys in France
have have the worst service ever from Crystal - A company we will
never use again as not only was the brochure highly inaccurate but
they also charged us twice for the lift pass at �170 and won't
return calls or answer emails.
In June we charter two yachts from Sunsail and spend a superb ten
days in Croatia. Stakesy has one boat with a few girls as crew and I
skipper the other with Welsh Paul and his girlfriend Claire crewing.
Jeanette (Stakesy's fianc�) manages to arrange for a couple of
apartments for two nights in the centre of Dubrovnik as hotels in
the centre are impossible to get into - well worth visiting, a
I spend a few days in Limerick training Prime Oak Ireland along with
a visit to Belgium to train the new Belgian arm of the company and a
weekend with Andrew Day, our designer based in Truro who never makes
the head office meetings (although the weekend is mainly spent
Having not been to an England cricket match for years, I visit
Edgbaston with Ian to watch England against South Africa.
also not been to a wedding for years, I then have three stag
weekends to attend, Duncan's in Edinburgh, Nigel's in Newcastle and
then back to Edinburgh for Stakesy's. I then act as Best Man for
Stakesy as he weds Jeanette. It was less than 5 minutes after they
were married and not even out of the churchyard before she told him
to take his hands out of his pockets. Pity she wasn't that quick
three weeks earlier when we were having a little gathering around
the fire pit at two in the morning when Stakesy stepped backwards
whilst chopping some wood and fell into the cold icy water of
Hebersghyll at the bottom of the ravine, resulting in a few broken
ribs and a cancelled honeymoon.
The end of July sees the annual weekend in Salcombe get great
weather and a helicopter landing on the first green during the golf
but with our golf skills, nobody hits it.
In September I visit the Southampton boat show for the first time,
parking across the water in Hythe & coming in by Ferry, a very good
way to avoid parking costs and queues.
I then head down to Lymington
& introduce three new people to sailing before one crew departs and
I'm joined by another to then spend the rest of the week sailing
across to France. We get superb 25 knot southerly winds which get us
to France three hours earlier than expected, this means that both
Stakesy & I are in our bunks at four in the morning when our crew
start shouting that there's some strange white water in front of the
the SAT NAV seems to think that we actually hit land but
luckily Stakesy was sleeping in his full sailing gear and was able
to turn the boat around possibly inches before there was a loud
October the annual YHA trip heads for the Isle of Wight, a stop
over on the way down at Salisbury YH is the only hostel as there
were none open on the island.
We were stunned to get superb weather
(t-shirts & shorts) and consequently I get some great sunrises and
shots of the Needles.
In December I'm introduced to the Cow Barn in Lower Penn, purchased
by a Property Developer I used to work for, although full of cow
pats, I think "This would be a good place to live!"
now annual, long weekend skiing with the Darlo lads heads off to
Courmayeur, somewhere I've been before and wouldn't really choose to
go back as it's expensive, has too many bottlenecks and requires a
wait for a cable car to get back down at the end of the day. My view
doesn't change as we are constantly told to make the last lift at
5pm or we have to walk back down the mountain thereby forcing us to
abandon any idea of a few drinks in a mountain restaurant to round
the day off. Wavey Davey from the Darlo lads is tasked with sorting
the accommodation but Martin finds a better hotel, half board at
half the price so the Brummie boys choose the alternative.
Banana Taylor decides to take the kids skiing for the week and asks
me to be his pretend wife as he can't bear to call me his ski guide.
Thankfully it's twin beds although that doesn't cut out Roy's
few minor tantrums during the week with the kids is easily bearable
for a week on the slopes in Madonna di Campiglio and although we
slightly lose Hannah for a while in Folgarida and Donimic has a
tearful moment when I suggest some great little 'bumps' to ski over
and then photograph him falling on his face - we have a great time
and it's smiles all around as I persuade the kids to try their first
The middle of the year involves lots of family stuff as my Cousin
Caroline emigrates with husband Rob & son Matthew to Australia and
my parents celebrate their Golden wedding anniversary.
I join Stakesy & Jeanette & the dogs for a night in Ellesmere Port
during their canal boat holiday and
a visit to the Britannia Stadium to see Stoke City, I call in to the
Motiva Stadium in Stone on my way home to watch Stoke City Ladies
beat West Brom Ladies as I'd exchanged a few messages with Vicki
Mitchell on the Oatcake message board. I thoroughly enjoyed the game
and had my camera with me and as they were playing away at Wolves
the following week, I decided to go and support them again.
last years visit to Edgbaston to watch England play South Africa in
a test match Ian and I return to watch England against the West
Indies in the third one day international.
miss the start of the game because of the massive queue to get in
but then witness England demolish the Windies with the highest one
day score at Edgbaston.
This time I decide to take my camera but because of the high amount
of action, 'forget' to take many photos. Luckily I decide to pick up
the camera just at the moment Jimmy Anderson smashes the wickets
with the last ball of the
YHA trip is just Ian & I again and we head off to Guernsey, the only
problem being that Guernsey doesn't have any Youth Hostels so we
stop in a delightful pub/hotel
The Fleur du
Jardin We manage to get cheap flights from Bristol where I
suddenly find I am sitting next to cricketer Graeme Hick on the
plane. Although he holds the record for the highest score in first
class cricket 405 not out against Somerset, I'm not aware if he's
ever bowled England Captain Mike Gatting like I have! (OK, it was in
the nets at 'Stumps' indoor cricket centre next to Villa Park when
he was playing for Wellingborough and he had just knocked me for six
and just because I then when for spin rather than pace so he went
for another maximum, just because I didn't manage to get any spin on
the ball and it went straight on - I still bowled him!)
revealed he was playing in an England all stars match against
Guernsey with the likes of Phil De Freitas and Gladstone Small, we
decided to see if we could get to see the game. When we sat down to
watch, we found we were sat next to Mr & Mrs Le Tissier.
trips to the Solent in June, July & September had a mixture of crew
June trip saw three virgins in David Bettany, Joanne Thompson &
Steve Thompson when we got great weather and a close encounter with
a cardinal, July where the virgins from last year experienced some
25 knot winds and
Where the Skipper (Stakesy) didn't turn up as he went off to sail
the Bay of Biscay instead.
in 2010 sees the Darlo Lads trip venue chosen by me as Martin finds
cheap flights to Munich, I therefore suggest that it's probably the
only chance any of us will get in ticking 'Skiing in Germany' off
the list so we head to Garmisch - a world cup ski resort and
previous Olympic venue but not a huge amount of skiing. Gary finds a
pleasant looking hotel in the town centre which turns out to be
simply brilliant. Really friendly staff and superb food
The weekend was a complete disaster from start to finish, that's
what happens when you ski with stupid people. Thankfully, I wasn't
the cause of any of the
problems. - First morning Martin dropped four off us off at the lift
before heading off to get skis for Mike who'd forgotten to sort them
the night before
like everybody else who don't posses their own. We then find out
that the lift we have been deposited at is the lift for the Olympic
ski jump which isn't
connected to the skiing in any way. We phone Martin numerous times
to say 'pick us up' but it appears he's now lost Mike. Turns out
that Martin is waiting at the back door of the shop whilst Mike is
stood outside the front door wondering where Martin has got to.
Day three sees Crappo head off to put his skis in the car whilst we
sit in a bar at the bottom of the slopes - because they're expensive
and he doesn't want
them nicked. He comes back to inform us the car has been stolen.
It's not until there's only four cars left on the car park that he
realises he's in a hire car not his own. Apart from other little
disasters such as losing room keys, the funniest moment happens on
day 2. We decide to ski in Austria for the day so
head off Lermoos, unfortunately Gary takes a left turn at a T
junction as he spots a sign for a ski lift so we end up at the new
100 person cable car at
Ehrwald which takes us up onto the Zugspitz, Germany's highest
mountain. We have a great day skiing aprt from one guy Steve who
doesn't do drag lifts so he's stuck on the same run all day. At the
end of the day, we head back down in the brand new huge 100 person
blue cable car although we notice that Crappo appears to not be with
us despite being with us in the queue. Whilst we wait for the last
cable car down before it shuts, we get a call from Crappo saying
that they can't find the car in the car park and where were we.
Turns out they went down the mountain in an old rickety 20 person
car into not only a different resort but also a different country
and a three quarters of an hour drive from where the were supposed
to be. We've not mentioned it since, much.
second ski trip heads to La Rosiere in France with Jenny, Welsh Paul
& Claire with some of the coldest weather I've seen in a ski resort
for quite a while, we introduce a few new people to the noble sport
City ladies ask me to become their 'Media Officer' and I continue to
take photos of their games including their cup final win in pouring
also then design a
website for them and get invites to see England Ladies play and
qualify for next years World Cup including entrance into the exec
suite where the team come and join us after the game. I get given a
full set of training gear and attend
few meetings/events at the Britannia Stadium and am then asked to
head a fundraising committee. I'm then asked to take photographs at
Birmingham FA when Hope Powell, England Ladies manager holds a
training session and demonstration and my photos are used on the FA
jet off to Dublin for the night to meet a prospective Prime Oak
client so take Jenny and we do a bit of Fat Badgering whilst we're
March, Jenny and I visit my parents in Tenerife who spend most of
the winter there every year. Jenny takes eight bikinis with her but
doesn't get the chance to wear any of them as we head off every day
exploring the island.
June I take part in the 'Round
the Island' race for the first time. With a mixed crew of
complete beginers and three experienced sailors we head down to the
Hamble River a day early to get some practice in and sort out who is
most suited to each individual role on the boat.
are given a 06:20 start time which we think is going to be in our
favour as the superfast racing yachts which start first are likely
to round the Needles whilst the tide is still against them but then
if we don't get to the Needles early enough then we won't get
through Hurst Point. Skipper Steve takes the helm through the start
line perfectly and I take over the helm and take us down the Solent
and around the Needles. We pick a great route as we overtake
supposedly faster boats that started 20 minutes before us before we
even get to the Needles. After Steve and David take the helm around
the South of the Island, I then take over at Bembridge for the run
in to the finish line and we scream past lots of boats during the
run in to Cowes, some of which started over an hour before us.
Once we are parked up in Cowes, we get a call from Steve's wife who
has been following our progress on the internet, to tell us that we
finished 149th out of
the 1754 boats that entered beating not only Velsheda but also Ben
Ainslie by 179 places and he's got three Olympic Gold medals!
cousin Pam asks me to take the 'official' photos for her wedding to
Sid which I happily do although without wanting to be called
'official' as everybody then tries to take the same photos as you.
at the grand old age of 13, Stakesy's dog Molly passes away. A dog I
have a strong bond with having been there from the start and one of
the finest dogs dogs I have ever encountered.
Jeanette's tribute on their blog on the
Newfoundlands) I created for them for the birth of Jess's
puppies is a fitting tribute to a superb dog. My memories of coming
back from the pub and sliding Molly across the kitchen floor when
she was the size of a very fluffy football, will stay with me
forever - What a great dog!
Annual YHA trip heads back to the Lakes although we stop in a pub
for the first night, the excellent
We then try Cockermouth and Grasmere Youth Hostels.