October Challenge #2: Declutter

For me, this is the Autumn equivalent of Spring cleaning.  This seems to be my season for a good clear-out.

It happens when I put the cycling shirts and shirts away for another winter and get out the long tights and warm jackets.

When I see kit I haven't used for a year or two I think, "will I ever use that again"?  If the answer is no, it goes on eBay.

Sometimes it sells, sometimes it doesn't.  There's always a charity shop.  In the last two months I've sold 19 items.  They've been a mix of old sports kit, bags, rucksacks and camera equipment.  I have substantially decluttered my kit boxes.  And on eBay I've made a few quid.

The trick with eBay is knowing what price will satisfy you.  If there's something that you'll never, ever use and you don't mind a relatively low price, then a 7-day auction is the way to go.  I time them to finish about Friday 4pm.

You need to set a low initial price to attract buyers.  But the bidding always happens in the last few minutes.  Only one person might bid.  So they might get a bargain.  You might only receive that low, initial price.  You have to be happy with that.

There again, you might be surprised.  An old Chris King cycle hub that was trashed and ready to be binned sold for £60!

If it's something you feel is still really good and you won't be happy with a low bid, then you should use Buy It Now.  If it's in good condition, set it at under half-retail price.  If it's like new, then see what other sellers are doing and undercut them.

Then be patient.

I've sold a £600 video camera on eBay but it took a few months.  As I write, I have a small drone (brand new) and a hard-shell Sony waterproof camcorder housing up for sale.  They might be gone by the time you read this.  The housing has been for sale for ages, and I've gradually reduced the price.  I might do the same soon with the drone.

But best of all, I have decluttered.

October Challenge #1: Resurrect Kit

This is utterly amazing stuff.  Nikwax TX.Direct wash in re-waterproofing.  I know the internet is full of "unbelievable, brilliant products", but this one really is.

Remember how your waterproof jacket shed showers when it was new?  The rain 'beaded' on the surface and rolled off.

However, now the garment probably 'wets-out' because the DWR, Durable Water Repellent finish has gone.

This is the way to put it back.  It has to be done every year or so but it hugely extends the life of waterproofs.

Flattery, Ironman. Now Spend Money.

It appears the business called "Ironman" is trying to flatter me into entering more of their competitions.

Their All World Athlete programme is awarded to competitors who clock up the most points in a year.  Or at their letter puts it, "the top 10% of your age group".

Except I'm not.  Their own online records show it.  So what's going on?

I only finished two races in 2017 (the season on which it's based) and I did not do well at either, Staffordshire and Edinburgh.  At Pula, Croatia I ditched the run due to injury and recorded a DNF.  I am absolutely not in the top 10% of my age group.  There's more.

"I hope your 2018 season brings you excitement in your training and competing...", says a letter dated 30 August 2018.  Which just arrived, in October, when the Northern Hemisphere 2018 season is finished!

The facts are wrong. The timing is wrong.  Unless I've missed something, this seems an attempt to flatter me into buying AWA branded gear or entering Ironman branded races, which are good but relatively expensive.  Not this time, thanks.  The flattery has backfired.  In fact, it all seems a bit naff.

I've done it, I've got that t-shirt.  But I don't wear it.

Filming The Historic First Swim Across The Minch

On the 8th July 2018 Colleen Blair swam into history.

You can watch it sixteen minutes into this episode of The Adventure Show on the BBC iPlayer.

Others had tried and failed to swim The Minch, from the Isle of Lewis to the Scottish mainland.

The 'Little Minch' between Harris and Skye had been swam, but the 'Big Minch' had proven too far (further than the English Channel), too cold, and too full of stinging lions mane jellyfish.

September Challenge #2: People

Visitors on Sanna Beach
Some of this year's challenges I've had to go looking for.  Others have just found me.  September has been one of those months.

It started great with a campervan trip to Benbecula, North Uist and South Uist.  I spent two days as part of the team filming The Heb Adventure race, then Liz and I bumbled about having some adventures of our own.

Then we had visitors.

Our border terrier Maggie had been sent Christmas presents from Germany from another couple with a border terrier and we became internet pen-pals.

September Challenge #1 - Swim (in) The Sound Of Harris

Last December when I wrote about my plans to tackle a 'special' challenge each month in my 60th year, I listed swimming The Sound of Harris as a possibility.

We came close.  We swam IN the Sound of Harris. yeah, OK - not close at all.

I was nowhere near swim-fit enough to manage the crossing and I hadn't put enough effort into finding a support boat.

Swimming a big crossing is not something you do on a whim.  It takes planning and training.

We'd been staying on Benbecula to film The Heb adventure race for The Adventure Show.  It'll probably be on BBC-2 Scotland early in 2019.

We stayed an extra few days to walk and swim off the Uists and Berneray.  It felt particularly poignant to take this photo.

Skyak No More. Goodbye To The Broons.

It is the end of an era for Scottish sea kayaking with the departure from these shores of the country's best known coach.

Morag, Eilidh, Gordon and Iain Brown have emigrated to Canada.

They're setting up home on Vancouver Island, another superb sea kayak destination.  So as you might imagine, paddling remains Gordon's focus.

He also has a new book coming out with our existing publisher, Pesda Press - more details when I get them.

We all recently went out for dinner in Broadford and, although we hadn't seen each other for ages, it was a great night.  Their house on Skye is up for sale along with the separate 'school' building that would make an excellent studio or gallery.

The three coaching films I made with him, the Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown series, continue to sell well mainly downloads rather than DVDs now.  So what about Volume 4 in the series of films?  Will it be shot in Canada?

"Funny you should ask", Gordon said just before we said goodbye, "I have a few ideas..."  We're not done yet.