Category Archives: miscellany

Oh well

I’ve been to the physio today and I have a grade 1 medial collateral ligament strain in my left knee. Painful but not too serious. I’m having a course of ultrasound treatment and some gentle exercises. Hopefully it will only take 4-6 weeks to recover. I really should have done some strengthening exercises for a couple of months beforehand. Also I should’ve used my Bioskin knee support when I felt a twinge. Hey ho! I’m pretty fed up, especially as the weather has been so good. Unfortunately our little dog, Patch, is not in great shape either, so it’s proving to be a pretty dismal year so far.

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TGO Challenge and Technology Survey

Ed over at the Trek-lite forum is looking for people to participate in a survey on how people on the TGO Challenge use technology. If you’d like to participate here’s a link to the post on the Trek-lite forum: http://www.trek-lite.com/index.php?threads/tgo-challenge-2019-how-do-you-use-technology-when-backpacking.6171/

Mice ate my rucksack!

Oh dear! We had some mice in our loft and they attacked my Tramplite rucksack. I’ve sent it back to Colin who is hopeful he can repair it. They also attacked my Exped Thunder rucksack but that didn’t appear to be as tasty and it only suffered minor damage to the hipbelt. They seem to like foam and ate some loose closed cell foam I had lying around. I don’t think they could’ve been there long as nothing else was damaged. I felt a bit mean calling in the pest control man, but I’m afraid poison is the only way I can be confident of getting rid of them. There appeared to be no activity last night, so I’m hopeful they won’t bother us any more.

Patch is getting old

Our beautiful little dog is now over fourteen years old and age is catching up with her. We’ve known that something hasn’t been quite right for a while. After Christmas she ate a stone, the second time she’s done this. She had it removed and they discovered that she has an inflamed stomach and gut. She has also tested positive for Cushing’s. Unfortunately the treatments for both conditions clash so we are dealing with gastric problem first. Cushing’s is problematic as it makes her very anxious and she is losing muscle, particularly on her back legs. It’s sad to see such a hitherto active dog in decline. All we can do is to make her as comfortable as possible and give her lots of love.

Eggs and hair regrowth

Ok, this is totally off topic but may interest some people. This year, I changed my every day diet. I’ve been reading a load of stuff on the impact of diet on brain function. Our next door neighbour is suffering from dementia and I want to make sure as far as possible that I avoid it. There’s a burgeoning volume of literature that links diet and gut health to cognitive function. If you want to read a couple of books, I suggest Genius Foods by Max Lugavere and The Diet Myth by Tim Spector.

As a result of reading these books (and others), I decided to reduce the amount of processed food (mainly sugar and gluten based) in my diet. I’ve increased my protein intake (especially fish and eggs). I now have a good portion of green vegetables (mainly, spinach, broccoli, kale) or a large green salad every day and instead of puddings I have fruit. Snacks are fruit and nuts. One of the main changes has been to have a good portion of protein at breakfast (poached egg and smoked salmon, in addition to my usual porridge). I’ve found this gives me a lot more energy in the morning. When backpacking, I often have freeze-dried scrambled eggs, sometimes with Biltong for breakfast.

I definitely feel healthier for these changes and they haven’t required a huge sacrifice. Admittedly, it’s more difficult to follow when backpacking, when I tend to eat more sugar and gluten than I would normally. As it’s only for a short time, I figure the damage shouldn’t be much.

After being on this “diet” for just over six months, I noticed a strange, unexpected but welcome side effect. I’ve suffered from male pattern baldness from my late thirties. Both sides of my family have it, so I just accepted it as part of life and made no attempt to mitigate it. Over the past few months, the hair on my bald pate has started to regrow. At the moment, while it’s not thick, it is noticeable and has good coverage.

My hairdresser has noticed it too. It’s got to the stage where I’m starting to use hair clippers regularly to keep it neat. While it’s still not thick, it is getting thicker. It feels very weird but quite exciting. I’ve no idea how far it will progress and how thick it will become, but I’m hopeful that it will continue.

My mind turned to finding out the reason for this strange turn of events. With a bit of digging, it appears that our modern diet, particularly when it is composed of a lot of sugar and carbohydrates is deficient in many vital nutrients. More specifically, L-Cysteine, which is an amino acid which is important for hair growth (amongst other things).

It appears that my daily breakfast of and egg and smoked salmon has significantly increased my intake of L-Cysteine which has kickstarted hair regeneration. Here’s a short article about it https://aminoacidstudies.org/major-study-confirms-that-l-cysteine-can-reverse-hair-loss/ It also seems that my revised diet has increased my intake of vitamin B5, which also helps hair growth https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vitamins/vitamin-b5-or-pantothenic-acid.html

Biotin and zinc are beneficial as well. Eggs seem to be a wonder-food with all these nutrients. Now that the eggs and cholesterol scare has been debunked, it looks like eggs are a great food to include in your diet.

I’m sharing this because I suspect that many other men have accepted that hair loss is “just one of those things”. However, it seems that dietary changes can help to reverse it. I do wonder what might have happened if I has adopted this diet in my mid-thirties. Even so, it would appear that it’s never too late to change. I’m not saying it will work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

Footnote: the correct diet is a contentious subject and I have no intention of entering into any discussion about carnivore, vegetarian, vegan or any other diets. It’s really up to you what you want to eat and as Tim Spector’s book suggests, none of us are the same and everyone’s body has a slightly different requirement.

Is blogging dying?

When I started this blog in November 2007, blogging seemed to be an exciting new adventure on the internet. Since then, this blog has had just under 1.3m page views. However, views peaked in 2014 at 180k for that year and have been declining ever since. Indeed, last year saw less page views than in 2009. Part of the explanation is that I have published less posts, especially on gear.

However, I have noticed that other blogs that I read have also been less prolific in posting. It seems that enthusiasm (and perhaps interest) in blogging is waning. I guess it following a natural life cycle of growth, maturity and decline. Maybe I’m reading too much into my experiences.

I think there’s another reason why blogging is declining and that is the rise of YouTube and vlogging. I know I am much more inclined now to watch short videos of trips than to read blogs. In the past I’ve produced a few slide show videos but they’ve been a bit haphazard.

However, I was pleased with my slide show videos for Dartmoor and Not the TGO Challenge. This was not because they are technically meritorious, but because they seem to be a good way of presenting the visuals of a trip.

In the past, I’ve probably been guilty of trying to cram too many pictures into posts. Using a slideshow video is a good way of overcoming this limitation. What I intend to explore is a combination of still photos and short clips of video.

It will be a bit experimental, but hopefully it will improve my trip reports. One thing that is frustrating about straight YouTube videos is that generally no maps or background information is supplied. To that end, I will publish some maps and comment to accompany any videos on a blog post.

At least for the moment, one thing I’m unlikely to do is to provide any spoken commentary. The videos I like most have little or no spoken word and let the landscape speak for itself. I don’t want to be a YouTube personality. Too many videos appear to contain mundane babble or cod philosophising. I don’t meant to offend anyone, but that’s not my cup of tea.

Initially any video content is likely to remain fairly simple but I will investigate some ways of improving the output. At the moment I’ve compiled my videos on Picasa, but I will look at other software. I might invest in a video camera like a GoPro as well. Any comments are welcome.

Dartmoor Running Festival Detritus

On my recent trip to Dartmoor I came across these discarded signs between Pupers Hill and Ryder’s Hill from a running event held on the previous weekend (not obvious from sign, but I looked up their website). Being a good Womble I picked them up and deposited them in a bin at Postbridge. Subsequently I reported this to the Dartmoor National Park Authority. The NPA has replied saying that I’m not the first to report an issue with this event.

If you’re on Dartmoor, please be on the lookout for further detritus from this event and remove it if appropriate. I’d also encourage you to report it to the NPA. Hopefully Something Wild will take more care in the future. I’m certainly not against these running events, but I think more care needs to be taken to leave no trace.