Advancing years take their toll on all of us If you’re thinking what on earth is he on about now? Well, you are probably just to young!
There is something about the death of the brain cells that makes you face up to the big and inevitable questions of life an that lead one to thing about the blogging equivalent of euthaisia!
There are many different qualities that make for a good blog. Some write simply great and expressive pieces about the outdoors, some major on superb photography and some both. There are who are very precise about everything and create (slightly worrying) spreadsheet and charts to illustrate their points. There are those who just babble on affectionally about dogs. Some people like to mike they own stuff. Some like talking about beer (or cheese and wine). Some have a terrible obsession for things like alcohol stoves or helicopter drones. But there is one thing that all walking blogs have in common: gear. In every successful blog there is the occasional feature on gear, big gear, little gear, cheap gear, expensive gear, second hand gear and boutique and expensive gear. And it is in the gear department that I have found myself coming up really short recently.
Let me share my experience.
A few weeks ago, while on the TGO Challenge, I strolled into Glenmore Campsite. I’ve been here so many times over the last couple of years that they now know me. The women in the office comes from my part o the world. This year I strolled in to collect my food parcel to be greeted with “I thought it was you”. Cue animated natter. During the chat I dropped my camera on the floor. I’ve done this many times before but on this occasion the camera bag landed with a worryingly hard thump, hitting the ground lens first.
I opened the camera case with trepidation. There was shattered stuff all around. Instant depression. However, I quickly realised that the splinters were of plastic and not glass. My UV filter on the lens had taken the impact and shattered. These filters are really used to protect the lens. Retrieving the camera I quickly realised the lens was unhurt and still focused as normal. In cleaned away the remnants of splinter from the filter frame and carried on snapping away for the rest of the trip.
When home I set about buying a replacement. I always buy camera spares from Morco. They are nice people and although they have a website they really prefer to chat on the phone and that’s how I usually order stuff. A replacement could be sourced but was not in stock. It would take a week to come through but I was in no hurry.
A week later a cardboard box came through the post. It was a bit odd as it was a perfect, cardboard, cube. But it was weightless as I would expect a filter to be. I left it on the coffee table for the weekend — removing the old filter frame is always a hassle and often involves a vice!
The weekend came but there was no need to fix the camera. So the box stayed on the table. Then came the next weekend and — again — there were no plans to use the camera and so the box stayed put.
Occasionally I looked at the box and pondered it. But not for long. It just sat there. And then a few days ago the postman came and delivered me a little jiffy bag. I opened this to find Morco’s filter; it had clearly taken longer to arrive than planned.
I sat down to inspect the filter and through the corner of my eye realised that the small cardboard cube was still sitting there. So, if this was the filter what on earth was in the box?
Just as I contemplated exploring the phone rang. As the conversation rolled on I managed to catch the word stove on the side. Stove? What on earth was going on? Occasionally I get books for review simply arrive our of the blue but nobody had ever sent me a stove on spec. I reckoned — rather sensibly — that this must be something to do with Bob Cartwright.
Phone call ended I decided to open the box. (It can get very exciting around here.) The box seemed empty expect for some newspaper. But wait what was that at the bottom? There seemed to be two small fuel measures that you get with a Caldera Cone. But I hadn’t ordered anything from Caldera. I looked in again. Nothing. I shook the cube. No sound. Puzzled I pulled out the newspaper and out fell a tiny shiny little thing.
I stared at the shiny thing for a while a bit bemused. The object was aluminium with a green top. I looked at the parcel again and then I had the eureka moment.
I didn’t take much notice of gear on the Challenge this year. However, one item that did catch my eye was a new alcohol stove that was being used by Colin Ibbotson and Rob Slade. This was the tiny Zelph Starlyte Stove.
The Zelph is tiny and weighs all of 16 grams. The stove is filled with an absorbent, synthetic, material. The absorbent filling will soak up about one fluid once of alcohol. Once filled the absorbent material means that you can’t spill the contents. When you water has boiled you can simply blow out the flame and the remained of the fuel still sits in the stove. The green thing is a slip on lid which stops the fuel evaporating. Colin Ibbotson seemed to be carrying his around in his pockets — he suddenly presented it to me while we were in the Fife Arms. The whole thing is so light that Zelph suggest you carry two pre loaded Starlytes on a weekender and you will never have to worry about fuel bottles.
I’d looked up the Zelph when I returned home. Not only was it light it was very cheap. And Paypall is so easy to use.I pressed the big button and then forget all about it.
In my prime I would have waited excitedly for days on end, grabbing the package from the postman and instantly firing up the stove. Now, I’d simply forgotten. It was a miracle the stove hadn’t been thrown in the trash.
This might seem a pathetic tale but I fear it may be a sign of irreversible decline.
I will try and redeem myself with a review over the weekend. But don’t wait around too long …