Sleeping in a Bag

It’s around 02:00 on Sunday morning and I’m lying in a bag at the bottom of a soggy field. I’m cold and I feel like I’ve been awake for hours. It’s really not all that bad though, I’m gazing up at the clearest starry sky and I feel alive and free.

How did I get here and what am I doing?

Well I recently got involved with a collection of fantastically diverse dreamers; people who refuse to accept the ordinary and pledge to ‘say yes more’.  They are all members of the Yes Tribe. Their leader is a guy called Dave Cornthwaite, a guy who once picked up a skateboard and skated across Australia. He is now on a mission to complete 25 human powered journeys over 1000 miles each.  A few years ago he decided to see how many of his Facebook followers he could turn into real friends and organised a camp out to see who would turn up. Nineteen people did show up and the Yes Tribe was born.

The yes bus

Dave and the tribe have converted an old London bus into an inspiring  base camp in West Sussex. It’s just the type of place that you’d expect to find 10 like-minded people who think it’s perfectly normal to sleep outside in gale force winds and driving rain, protected by nothing more than a Tarp and a Bivvy bag.  They are all here to learn more about wild camping from Dave who has bedded down in some weird and wonderful places across the globe. I found several variations of the spelling for the Bivvy, but I’m gonna run with this one.

Bivvy bagshort for Bivouac. a collapsible bag made of weatherproof fabric that is used to provide shelter usually for a single person in the wilderness.

We started out in the bus at 16:30 by spending a short time introducing ourselves and learning more about why we are all there. Dave explained what a Bivvy was and introduced a basic itinery. Then we were outside for a walk around the site looking at possible sites to bed down for the night. We checked out fields, ditches, woodlands, disabled toilets, wood sheds and shipping containers, all of which have been used by our host over the years. I truly have never seen anyone get so excited about the prospect of sleeping on the floor of a disabled toilet in my life.

After some discussion about the do’s and don’ts of wild camping, interspersed with the dangers posed by foxes, wild boar, the military and ticks……. I told you this lot were dreamers; Dave demonstrated several ways of setting up a tarp and Bivvy bag and discussed the technique for getting inside and what to do with all your other kit. We then got to work setting up our camp sites.  Some went for tents and others stretched their tarps over picnic benches.

The log in the middle is me

I found my ideal spot between two logs at the bottom of the field. I decided to go hardcore, no tarp for me! Once set up we retreated to the upper deck of the bus to shelter from the atrocious weather and to geek out on wild camping kit; hammocks, cookers, Bivvy bags, sleeping mats, apps, mapping, GPS trackers and emergency locators were all discussed. It was great.

Tarpa piece of material (such as durable plastic or waterproofed canvas) used especially for protecting exposed objects or areas.

After a spot of dinner, some birthday cake and a bottle of beer, we couldn’t put it off any longer. It was time to venture outside and climb into our Bivvy bags. The weather had calmed a little by this point and the torrential rain had eased to an annoying drizzle. I navigated down through the wet grass to my little camp nestled between two big logs at the bottom of the field. Here I met with my first dilemma. How was I going to get out of my wet gear and into a nice cosy sleeping bag without getting everything wet through? The answer was, with a load of wiggling, hopping and shuffling down into the bag while stripping off the wet gear as I went.

The experience of sleeping out in a bag was worse than I thought it was going to be, and I can be pretty hardcore.

The sleeping bag was pulled up to my shoulders and the Bivvy zipped over my head. Suddenly I was gripped by a wave of panic, I felt very claustrophobic and struggled to find the zipper to let some air into the bag.  The night basically went on like this, a bit of sleep, waking in a panic scrabbling for the zip then settling down again once I had filled my lungs with the sweetest West Sussex air. At around 02:00 the temperature dropped to below the 80C minimum of my two season sleeping bag, again kit selection, rather than the wild camping experience had let me down. I was bloody freezing! If I managed to get my arms under my body it wasn’t too bad, but it was bloody uncomfortable. I therefore had to decide between being uncomfortable and being cold. I could have got out of the bag and put my jumper on, but that was just a step too far at this point, so I decided to just go with it. During one of these frantic attempts to get some air I stuck my head out of the bag and looked up towards that starry sky, cold and uncomfortable, but happy.

Do you know what? The experience of sleeping out in a bag was worse than I thought it was going to be, and I can be pretty hardcore. But that was largely due to lack of preparation and poor gear selection on my part. Just goes to show that if you’re intending on wild camping, it’s worth getting in touch with the Yes tribe and asking for advice. I wouldn’t have changed a thing though. I had a great time and leaned so much in a safe and reassuring environment, with a nice warm bus, log burner and a lovely cup of tea to warm me up the morning after.

So if you’re interested in wild camping get in touch with the Yes Tribe and get your Bivvy on.


Helping set up a picnic bench shelter

Scavenger Hunters Assemble

Hi guys,

I’ve been very quiet on this blog over the last couple of years, and I’d like to correct that right now.  I’m going to start by telling you all about my latest experiment.

Scavenger hunt 1

As you know I’m not really a lover of the old Xbox, and hate the idea of people (especially kids) sitting at home, wasting the day away in front of said machine.  I realise that not everyone wants to, or is capable of, climbing a mountain or paddle-boarding across Scotland. Therefore, I decided to run a pretty low-key community scavenger hunt in my local town. I’m not really sure where this idea came from, it just sort of popped into my head, so I decided that ‘done was better than perfect’, and without any planning whatsoever, set up a Facebook event and published it to the world. Right! It was now out there with no going back, I had to get a shift on!

The first thing I had to do was attract some willing victims

The first thing I had to do was attract some willing victims/volunteers, in order to test out my idea. To achieve this I would have to do a bit of promo. Time was short so I contacted a couple of local community Facebook groups and asked if they could share the event page. One of them did, so a big shout out to Midhurst Rants for that one, thanks guys.  I also promoted on Eventbrite and ran a small, locally targeted Facebook campaign.  All of that was surprisingly easy to do.

Scavenger hunt

Next on the list was to decide on a format. I was initially thinking about a treasure hunt, but what I really wanted was to get the vict….,  volunteers to actually go outside and interact with people on the street. I didn’t just want them searching for clues; I wanted them to make connections and actually speak to others in the town. I devised a cunning plan which involved my volunteers following cryptic clues, leading to specific locations where they had to photograph or video themselves performing silly stunts. The idea was to create an event that appealed to the whole family. I then assigned scores to each activity – the more difficult the activity the higher the score.  Five points for a video of someone in the team eating a disgusting sweet;  fifty points for working out the location of a specific house based solely on a twenty digit code! See, I told you, something for everyone. The evidence was to be either posted on the Facebook page or shown to me at the end.  I also roped in some of the town’s shopkeepers to give me a helping hand. Big shout out to those guys later.

I woke up having literately no clue whatsoever if anyone would actually turn up.

The morning of the event arrived and I woke up having no clue whatsoever if anyone would actually turn up. A couple of people had accepted the Facebook event and I’d given away a few tickets on Eventbrite, but entry was free and it was RAINING! So my expectations were low.  I was delighted to see one couple already waiting when I got there and then a rapid succession of friends, families and couples walking through the doors of the Grange Community Centre to join in the fun. Enough people to form five teams!  I gathered everyone together, explained why I was doing this, introduced some basic rules and sent them out into the town with one instruction: “Have Fun!”.

Scavenger hunt 2My plan was to settle down in the cafe with a coffee and watch the evidence come rolling in on the event page. It was so much fun following the guys around the town through their posts. At one point I watched a video of a kid eating a Double Salted Liquorice sweet, that made me physically laugh out loud. This drew very strange looks from my fellow coffee drinkers. By the time I’d finished explaining what we were doing to the family on the next table, they were asking me for the date of the next hunt. Watch the video here

‘I loved getting out and about, meeting people and learning more about the town’

All the teams were back within the hour and a half time limit and the scores were totalled up. None of the teams had achieved scores of 100%, but all the teams had 100% fun! They all asked when I would be organising another.  The feedback was excellent, with comments like, ‘I loved getting out and about, meeting people and learning more about the town’‘The questions were set at a very good level, with a good range of difficulties’ and, ‘We found it fun squeezing into the phone box’.     Mission accomplished!


Scavenger hunt 3

And the results?

1st Team AAAS

2nd The Three Musketeers

3rd Bear Hunt

4th Team Fred

5th The Sausages

What did I get from this? Well I learned that organising something for the community is so rewarding, and I just loved the responses from all those who had so much fun. So much so that the Community Scavenger Hunt will return! Like and Follow the Facebook Page  to keep up to date with what’s happening. I have a feeling that the attendance will be much higher for the next one. 

Shout out to those shops who helped out by allowing the scavengers to enter there shops to complete tasks. You are all stars.


UK SUP Clubs Great Glen Challenge

Well that was a pretty EPIC Weekend! FULL ON!!!
A few weeks a go I found out that a race I never even knew was on was being cancelled and rearranged by Joanne and Pete Vale (UK SUP Clubs) and Tony Bain (Green Dragon Activities).  I’d been looking for a new challenge for some time and had eyed up the Great Glen before, so I quickly cleared my calendar for that weekend and paid the reduced £30 entry fee. Now all I had to do was show up and paddle.

Some of the finishers and support crew.

I decided to take the day off work on Friday so I could drive the 600 miles up to our accommodation and base at Fort Augustus, with a slight detour to Widnes to pick up my new friend Tony Bain. Driving from Southern England to the Scottish Highlands really does put the size of the British Isles into perspective, setting the scene for the epicness of the weekend to follow and setting us on a journey in more ways than one.

The initial plan was to start the paddle from Inverness at 5:30am, however with still an hour and a half of journey time left and with an ETA at Fort Augustus of 10:15; we were called by Pete and told that everyone else had gone to bed and the new start time would be 3:00am.  It didn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that we would have to be awake at 2:00am and as a result only get around 3 hours sleep!! We could have started later, but felt that this was an event where we should all start together.

The pedal was firmly pressed to the metal and we made good time, being greeted outside our digs by Pete at 10:06. We unpacked and hit the sack as soon as possible, probably drifting off around 11:00. “Three hours”, I thought, “that should just be enough”. Our roomies however had other ideas, a certain Bart de Zwart and his lovely wife Dagmar  were awake at 1:00am making breakfast and getting ready for the race. Two hours sleep to paddle across Scotland…… So much for preparation.

A very dark start in Inverness

We packed up in quite  a rush and headed off to the start line in Inverness. I was now the furthest north I had ever been in the British isles. We placed our boards on the water to a 10 min countdown from Pete and before we knew it we were placing the first few paddles of the thousands that would follow over the next few hours. The first few km’s along the canal were pretty hot with paddlers stripping off a little if they could. We portaged around the first lock and headed off towards the entry to Loch Ness, where Jo HV offered a wee dram of whisky to Nessie and asked for safe passage. The next 37km would test all of us and Nessie decided to throw up some pretty testing down-wind conditions, with half of the distance being covered in the dark, and boy was it DARK!!!  Thankfully daybreak arrived, the torches were turned off and we were able to enjoy the amazing downwind conditions on the Loch pretty much surfing the wind swell all the way to Fort Augustus, and our first support stop for over 37km. Bart arrived first with Jo arriving 25mins later and myself a further 5 mins after that. Bart and Jo spent minimal time on this stop, I however was offered a bacon buttie, an offer I just couldn’t refuse, so not surprisingly I took a little longer to get back on the water.  After refuelling I set out on the steady paddle along a short section of canal and on to Loch Oich, a beautiful little Loch, but not big enough to sustain a wind wave so no down winding here.

I cant remember which Lock this was. very picturesque though

I was really looking forward to getting to Lock Lochy and getting out into the wind again. The entrance to Lochy marks about two thirds of the journey from the Inverness end and I was told that there was 20km of Loch and 10km of canal left to the finish. Lochy did not disappoint. As we made our way down the Loch the wind strengthened and started to push some awesome waves down the 20km stretch of water. For me this was the best part of the paddle, real down winding with thigh high rolling wind swell just pushing us along to towards the end. You really had to work the board to link the swells and prolong the glides, just awesome!! and so much fun I actually forgot I was towards the end of a 93km paddle.

After Lochy the pace slowed somewhat as the exhilaration of the glide passed and was replaced by the last 10km slog along the canal into Fort William. This was definitely my lowest point. My lack of sleep the night before hit me like a train and I actually thought I was gonna fall asleep while paddling. My knees, back, calf, and shoulders were all aching and I knew I just had to get through these last few very bendy km’s . I finally rounded the last bend and could now see Neptune’s Ladder and the finish line. I crossed the line to cheers from Jo,  Pete,  Dagmar and Bart. It was Great that they could hang around for a bit after their finishes. I Paddled up to the pontoon i third place. Absolutely knackered, but with a great sense of achievement and was asked If I enjoyed it and would do it again, the answer to both questions was NO!!! However I’m already planning how I can beat my time next year and also thinking about what I could do for my next challenge.

Me just coming into Fort Agustus at the end of a dark, but pretty epic paddle along Loch Ness

I’d just like to shout out to all the guys, and gal  who completed this epic challenge. Really well done to everyone. It was fantastic that everyone finished and with times they were happy with too.  Bart de Zwart, Jo Hamilton Vale, Tony Bain, Allistair Swinsco, the blind and dangerous Dean Dunbar, Glen Parry (surf Ski) and Tom Wakeford. I actually never met the last two guys as it was a rush in the dark when we set off and I was sparko in a nice warm van when they finished. Sorry guys.

And a big thanks must go our to our support crews, we couldn’t have done it without you guys. Thanks a lot.

Also a big thanks to all those who sponsored me. I have managed to raise over £500 for the Save the Children, Syria emergency fund. Its not too late to add to this great cause if you wish.

Just click on the link below,  or text ‘ISUP97  £2’ to 70070

Just Giving



Here are the final timings:

Bart De Zwart.   10:50
Joanne Hamilton-Vale. 11:38

Phil Plume. 12:41

Glen Parry (surfski). 13:00

Tony Bain. 13:56

Dean Dunbar 14:47

Allistair Swinsco 14:47

Tom Wakeford 16:38

My stats


SUP: Adam D Short, Paddleboard the Nile – cops, cars and robbers update #2 — SUP Mag UK

We recently caught up with Paddleboard the Nile adventurer Adam D Short to get an update on his adventures. Trust us when we say it’s been ‘colourful’ so far! Adam D Short is, in his own words, a new breed of extreme adventurer and endurance explorer. With several action filled challenges already under his belt, […]

via SUP: Adam D Short, Paddleboard the Nile – cops, cars and robbers update #2 — SUP Mag UK

From Scotland to Syria

socialmediacoverimage_851x315_isup97_1475615569681A couple of weeks ago I committed to complete the Great Glen Challenge. This is a non-stop 97km paddle along the Caledonian Canal, from Fort William to Inverness. I have decided to do this on my Stand-Up-Paddle Board.

Last week I saw a video on social media detailing the events in Aleppo and focusing on the kids caught up in this horrific conflict. It made me feel like I should be doing something to help, but I really didn’t know what I could do, or how I could help.

I have decided to use my paddle to raise awareness of the situation and raise some money in the process, so that the aid is there when the guns stop and the aid workers can get in.

I can’t change the attitudes and views of either side in this conflict, and I don’t really have much to give myself. What I do have however is my health, my freedom, my sense of what is morally right, and some pretty awesome friends.ad_216378309-e1471591939690

I want to make a bit of a competition out of this, and wanted the prize to be something active that the whole family can do together. Some of my friends in the SUP industry have agreed to give up their time to deliver either a SUP lesson, or experience to the winner and their family. These guys are spread around the country, so we should be able to put you in contact with a SUP instructor near you.

All you have to do is have a guesscropped-11892309_10153526752325767_5515932123502360862_o1.jpg on how long you think the challenge will take me to complete, and leave your time as a comment below my ‘Great Glen’ life event on my facebook page.

The winner will be the one closest to my actual time (hours and mins). Entries left after 6am on the 15th October will not be counted. After the event I will contact the person with the closest time. I will require the winner to provide proof of their donation, so please keep your confirmation emails and text. Minimum donation is £2, but please feel free to donate more if you wish. You can also donate by text by texting ISUP97 and the amount ie £2 TO 70070.

Click on the Just giving icon below to donate.

I have chosen to support the Save the Children Syria emergency fund as I believe that this is the best way of getting the money raised to those innocents who need our help.

Thank you!

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

SUP: In full plume – Plume family SUP profile

Great article on my family from UK SUP Magazine. Thanks Guys.


Interview: SUP Mag UK

Pics: Phil Plume, SUP Armada, Georgia Wharton

Phil Plume is husband, dad and regular fixture at stand up paddle board races around the coast. Fanatic supported, his family is made up of three offspring and one long suffering wife. The kids are regularly in the water, paddling, surfing and having fun. We caught up with the Plumes to get the lowdown on their SUP antics.

Where’s home and your local SUP put in?

All – Home is about 30 mins from the coast in Midhurst. Local SUP put ins are Bracklesham Bay, Pagham and West Wittering in West Sussex on the south coast of England.

Tell us how you all discovered stand up paddle boarding?

Jack – Dad

Alfie – Dad

Sophie – Dad

Phil – I became aware of it in the early days as I am also a windsurfer. I discovered an old stand…

View original post 2,301 more words

SUP Armada 2016

They say that your perception of time is directly linked to the number of memories you are making. A day that creates lots of new memories flashes by at the time, but when re-run as a memory seems to have lasted for ever!  This means that the key to living a long fulfilling life is the creation of memories.

Last weekend the kids and I attended, and I was involved in organising, the 2016 SUP Armada. A memory generation machine!

UK SUP Clubs race series

SUP Armada is the brain child of Dan Charlish, and was born in 2014 out of the despair of a windless weekend on the pre-existing kitesurf Armada.  The key idea of the Armada is to break the Guinness World Record for the longest parade of paddle boarders over a 1 mile course, while raising loads of cash for the Armada’s charitable trust. This year was an evolution of the format to include Racing, Yoga, Trade show, tasters and onsite camping. It also happened to coincide with a weekend of amazing weather.  The 2016 event also included a change of venue to the beautiful Bewl Water in Kent, a man made and very picturesque lake on the Kent Sussex border. Bewl has fantastic facilities, complete with adventure playgrounds,  cafe, and a perfectly formed beach and lawned area from which to stage the racing and other events.

I was asked by Dan to get involved in the racing element of the Armada by acting as race Director to stage 4 of the UK SUP Clubs race series, which would be held at the event. I have only done this once before with a handful of competitors, so stepping up to manage over 60 racers, with series points at stake had the memory generation equipment in overdrive. The planning before the event paid dividends, with both the 6km technical and 1km sprint races running bang on schedule and like clockwork.

Aside from the  UK SUP Clubs racing,  many new paddlers took the opportunity to try out paddle boarding  with SUP taster sessions run in the safe waters just to the left of the race area. Teams of between 6 and 8 took on the megaboard challenge racing together around a short course with no rules on which way to turn around the marker buoy; cue the carnage and smiles.  All the while SUP yoga sessions were taking place just off the beach using Fanatic’s awesome Fly Air Fit platform.

Red Paddle Junior racing

The Red Paddle Junior racing was a highlight of the day. The future of UK SUP racing battling it out in front of the crowds for honours in the age categories  under 10, under 12 and under 14. It wasn’t all about racing for the kids though. In fact kids of all ages, including my own, just had a ball playing in the water, on boards and in Bewl’s fantastic playgrounds.

All the while recreational paddle boarders were just having fun paddling around, having fun and soaking up he atmosphere, as well as a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

At 15:00 the main event started, boards were queued up on the beach and paddlers waited patiently for their chance to break a Guinness World Record. Super mario bros, Iron Man and a number of assorted caped individuals were spotted paddling. With some great scenes of comradery  as more proficient paddlers helped  others around the 1 mile course; and the result? well we did it! We broke the Guinness World Record for the Longest Parade of Paddleboarders with 390 paddlers, beating the previous record by 97! What a result!!

So the time had come to pack up the Sup village, light the BBQ, or retire to the bar to enjoy a cold one, while watching the last few paddlers enjoying a sunset SUP across the lake. This is the stuff that memories are made of.

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Armada Movie

SUP Armada Website

UK SUP Website

Georgia Wharton Photography