Good morning folks

I trust you had an outstanding weekend and that you are in finest fettle.
A week full of emotions and chaos.
Here is your weekly 10p Lucky 63 accumulator that is the Monday morning blog…


Hope (1) !

The second time I came back to Peru, I really had no idea, at all!

44831_10150255952000302_3384774_nDon’t get your hair done at this place!

I had been drawn back here by the idea of trying to find teaching work and fumble my way blindly in a country where I didn’t speak the language and I knew very few people, it was a bit of a gamble!


Upon arriving, resplendent with dreads and an eyebrow piercing, even with a sharp suit, I had a feeling that my freshly printed CV (on nice paper too) was going straight in the recycling.

After sweating my way round town (again, I hadn’t done my homework. I’d previously been here in winter, which is cloudy, damp greyness. Summer is just a sweatfest and it was the height of el Verano), dropping off around a dozen CVs, the last place I visited said that if I cut my hair and took out my eyering, I could start tomorrow (the next day). Easy, I thought…

I dashed to buy some clippers (they didn’t exist).
I went to the barbers (closed).
I got a friend to shear my 24 dreads (with a pair of very blunt scissors).

I went to the 24 hour pharmacy for some hair gel (closed)
I went to work the next day for an 11hr “free trial” with hair like a man who had escaped from prison.
I got a job earning 6 soles per hour (just less than a pound at the time).
Thank you NLC, you bent me over well and truly!


Anyroad, to supplement my pound-an-hour job, I had to find another job/jobs, which meant a lot of very confusing interviews (I never actually confessed that I couldn’t speak Spanish, but it must have been glaringly/patently obvious!)


One such interview found me at a language school in not-so-near Si-Si-San Miguel.
In the very last line of the interview, my steely-eyed interviewer/interrogator told me “You can start work tomorrow, in Comas”


Obviously I accepted but when I checked my ancient Lima A-to-Z and found out that Comas was half way to Ecuador, I had second thoughts.

Best get up early…

After a 2hr (three buses and one mototaxi) commute (Lima traffic was lighter then), I finally arrived, for my 2 hour shift!


Communication (with gaffers) was sometimes/always a problem, as one day I arrived and was told that I was giving a seminar talk. About what, I asked.
Esperanto” was the answer! “You were told yesterday” I was told…


It is incredible what you can dig up/make up in 10mins when you’re under pressure!
I somehow pulled it off (and learnt that Esperanto could have been a success, if the French hadn’t vetoed it and declared that French should be the sole international language!)


In a different (last second) seminar, we were discussing extremes, for example the best thing that could happen in your life and the worst. Comas is one of the poorer areas of Lima and one of the most populous (9500 people/km2). A  young lad raised his hand and said that the worst thing that could happen in (his) life would be to lose hope. No matter how bad things were, he said he hoped he never gave up hope. Very profound for a 14 year old.

Comas made its mark on me.

Hope (2)…

hope valley hvaff

6 years ago this weekend we set off on our trip to Mongolia on the 2012 Mongol Rally, a trip which still finds me daydreaming on a daily basis (mainly about Kazakhstan’s roads).

mr3 mr2 mr

That particular dream started at the Hope Valley Adventure Film Festival (well worth a visit).
If Kenny from hadn’t mentioned the festival, the Mongol Rally may never have happened for us…

Hope (3)…


I am not going to analyse any of the games of the World Cup, I am not a pundit by any stretch of imagination. It has been a World Cup full of twists, turns, shocks and what-ifs. Unlucky teams who played their hearts out and who just couldn’t score and spawny teams who poached a lucky goal, who won, all depending on who you were following…

Obviously I was following England (especially after Peru made their early exit in the first round, a fine performance, just lacking luck/goals).


Before the tournament, I was probably not alone in thinking that England might get past the group round, but not much further. (As I explained last week, I was “tricked” into a bet at work, which would have meant that had England won overall, I would have been obliged to streak around the football pitch at work. Luckily, everybody has been spared this spectacle!)

Many moons ago, I once had a successful bet on the horses (only once), on a very aptly named “Lucky 63″, an ambitious accumulator bet (63 bets composed of 6 singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, 6 five-folds and a six-fold accumulator). I had a day off work, there was good midweek racing at Ayr and I went halves with my mate/landlord, Badger.

The first one came in, then the second, then the third and the fourth.
Tension levels were going through the roof when the fifth came in and it all went on to the last race, a horse called “Ihtarim” (you always remember the names of those who let you down). It was first into the stalls and started to get agitated and had blown any chances before the gates opened, it trailed in 4th…
(The bet paid out £621 which wasn’t a bad days work and paid for a night out in Newcastle!)


The rising tension, apprehension and sheer excitement that I felt in that bet were exactly the same emotions I felt when watching England this week. Especially for the Colombia game, the Sweden game and then the fateful Croatia game.

I personally think that Gareth Southgate has achieved miracles in Russia.


Gone are the team of prima-donnas, gone are the egos, gone (or just better hidden) are the WAGs circus…


He has formed a team of young lads who wanted to play for their country, to win for their country and to give their absolute all for their country. What they possibly lacked in experience, they made up for in enthusiasm and passion. I was gutted that they lost, really gutted but proud as punch for them. A team you could relate to, for reasons I don’t really know why, but you could!

Sweden v England: Quarter Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The Nipper woke up on Thursday morning singing “Vindaloo” (she may have been subjected a bit too much to that and Three Lions) and asked if England were playing today. It was with a heavy heart that I told her that they were out (bar the third place match, but who remembers third place, bar those who win third place!)

She then asked me if Peru were playing, that took some more explaining…

Hats (and waistcoats) off to Señor Southgate and the team :-)

It’s coming home, but not just yet…


Not the World Cup…

On Friday morning I found myself on a bit of a Mission Impossible!
Right now, all over Lima, as the Alcaldes (equivalent of a Mayor, albeit a rather sticky-fingered dishonest one) are coming to the end of their terms, so they are emptying their pots, rather than leaving a single centavo for their lucky successors!

As a result, you can’t go more than a block without seeing some major roadworks/digging up/bedlam. Whilst the major arteries still have their monster potholes unfilled, the minor roads are getting dug-up in a right royal fashion…


Through a game of one-line-email-tennis, I found out that I had won a prize for the Lima Marathon. I had an inkling I was 3rd Vet 45, but didn’t think prizes would go down that low.

The correspondence went something like this:

Hello there

Just wondered if prizes went down as far as 3rd Vet?
Reply: Yes

Could you tell me what I have won then?
Reply: A trophy.

Where can I collect it?
Reply: (Address)

When could I come to pick I up?
Reply: (Time)

One phone call would have nailed it, but I had no phone numbers, so after 5 emails, I was on my way.

EasyTaxiBeat (whatever they call themselves now) are usually brilliant, but the first cab I ordered started driving in the opposite direction, so I crossed the Panamericana bridge thinking it would save time. Never presume nor use logic in Lima!

After 20mins, a very patient taxista called Bernardo arrived and glad that he was patient I was (I sound like Yoda).

The address was eventually found after roadworks detours, I knocked on the door and was met by a puzzled-face-woman. “Ah, no the numbers change when you cross that road” (waving in the direction of a fenced-off road/huge snarl-up of angry traffic. Some taxistas would let their GPS lead them off a cliff into a burning sea of flames, as did Bernardo. I said I’d get out and run two blocks and he could wait. Traffic was going nowhere, after 2 more false addresses, I eventually found the place and picked up my Perspex prize.

Then, we chugged across town to meet my mate Lloyd for a lightning-quick dinner, then work.
I was gassing so much, that it wasn’t until afterwards when I was legging it for the bus, that the kind-hearted waitress came running after me “Señor, Señor…”

I’d only gone and left it on the table.

Less than worthless to anybody else, but worth a lot to me :-)


(What a Donkey!)

To yonder mountains.

My running ground to a halt some time back. The UT69/LMT race was a dream (to bury last year’s ghost), but I just ran out of time.
Breathing issues (I’m still breathing though) and a calf problem have both put the handbrake on. I did see my magician/saviour/Physio Super-Maro midweek and although I can’t run right now, I’m hoping to be back in action soon, but not in time for Saturday.


I booked my bus ticket to Ancash months ago for a training weekend that didn’t happen, so I changed the dates to the weekend of the race. You’re only allowed one change, so If I don’t go this weekend, I lose my s/200 :-/ (£46, which to be fair is a good price for an 8hr overnight bus).


So, although I can’t run, I shall go and help out marshalling.
It’ll be a weekend away from the city, mountains, camping and a bit of fresh (albeit thin) air.

I can’t wait :-)


Next week.

Fiestas Patrias warm-up…

Next week too.


Meet the F#ckers…


Ensconsed back in sunny Salamanca, it hasn’t taken long to be reacquainted with my vecinos again and some new ones too…


Mr. Rev-the-knackers-off-my-van-every-morning still revs the knackers off his van every morning. The ageing wreck will explode one day, hopefully with him in it.

Mr. Wash-his-car-thrice-daily still washes his car thrice daily. His ageing motor redefines the term pride and joy. Unfortunately he is also called Mr. Unlucky, as apart from a neighbour’s kitchen window falling 4 floors onto his highly polished bonnet a while back, a joyrider rammed into his rear-end before doing a runner on Sunday night.

Mr. (or Master) My-Mum-works-nights-so-I-do-what-the-####-I-want-when-I-want (one reason for our previous-previous move away from here, this loathsome youth still has his idiot mates round for screeching/whooping competitions, over the volume of Donnington Monsters of Rock speakers. We did have words back then, I am biting my tongue, for now…

Mr. Castle Greyskull still slams his shutters shut at 1am.

And as with every place I have ever lived in Lima, Mr. Midnight (or later) Furniture shifter. This does seem to follow me around, or may be a national pastime. I have never felt the urge to move a wardrobe at 1am personally.

Plus, the mysterious staring man next door! (Centre of picture)…


In other words, nothing has changed, but I just push my earplugs in a bit deeper and dream of a hut in the mountains (or Arequipa)…


Our man on the road: George in Peru!


Several weeks ago, we featured my friend George, who with his pedalling partner, Lauren, was pedalling southwards through Colombia. They have already buzzed through Ecuador and the north of Peru, squeezed in some high-altitude trekking and are now heading inland for more monster two-wheeled climbs.

gn12 gn11 gn1

Here is the latest from our man on the road:

The highlight of Ecuador was the volcanoes for sure! We didn’t see any eruptions sadly. Another highlight as the Otavalo craft market where you can choose from one of 10 thousand alpaca ponchos. The number 1 low-light was the dogs, who chased us at nearly every house we went past. This was closely followed by the rain. I think it rained nearly every day during the 6 weeks we were in Ecuador. The lowest point being when we had to move our tent during a storm because a stream formed under/ through it. Lesson learned there.

The highlight of Peru  so far has definitely been the awesome scenery in the mountains. The people are brilliant too. Almost everybody we’ve met out hiking wants to stop for a chat. The food has also been pretty good! A particular favourite is a massive plate of ‘aeropuerto’ (mixed rice and noodles) for S/ 4.

Downsides to Peru include: litter everywhere, terrible driving, constant noise (car horns and ‘El Cóndor Pasa’ on constant loop at full volume here), more dogs, the awful fishy smell in Chimbote.

Despite these drawbacks I really like it here, and there’s never not something bonkers going on to marvel at when you stroll into town.

The plan from here is to follow the Peru Divide Mountain Bike Route down towards Cusco. This follows the spine of the Andes for about 2000km, taking in 50,000m of up and down on the way!

gn9 gn2 gn3 gn4 gn5 gn6 gn7 gn8 gn1

Happy pedalling amigos :-)

Raiders round-up!

It has not been easy of late for my beloved Shipbuilders :-(

Financial dire straits, big changes on the Board, a growing injury list and some hard-as-nails fixtures!


This week we were up against Toulouse Olympique, which was never going to be easy.
A forgettable 70-6 defeat doesn’t reflect the efforts of the team. When a side is getting hammered, cricket scores can follow (I have been on the receiving end of such scores myself. Confidence soars on one team as quickly as it plummets on the other!)


One shine of hope was the coming-out-of-retirement/resigning of former superstar Liam Harrison, who left the club 18mths to play amateur RL for Barrow Island. Captain Marvel is back and did indeed score on his (return) debut :-)

Onwards and upwards…

And finally…


After the shock of Billy Bland’s 36 year old Bob Graham Round record being beaten last weekend by Catalonian mountain goat, Kilian Jornet, the fall-out/feedback all-round says that he is/was a really humble, down-to-earth guy.


Kilian is sponsored by Salomon (the French shoe company, not the ex-king of Israel, nor connected to any mines) he is one of the few mountain runners on the circuit who can actually make a living through his running).  The fear was that when he did arrive in the Lakes, it would be with a monster entourage, but it was quite the opposite, it was low-key and kept under wraps until the last minute.


Martin Stone (the first person to do a solo, unsupported winter BGR) was the main logistics man who managed to get all the very best local fellrunners on-board to pace Kilian round the route.


Salomon originally made top-end skiing gear, but now make some cracking (top end) running stuff too (just in case they are reading this, I am a size 46) and they also make some canny videos. This one brings back a lot of memories of my own 2009 round, although it could be a speeded-up (to Benny Hill music) version of my own run!

If you are interested in running (or not) you should enjoy this VIDEO.

That’s all for now folks!
Have an excellent week :-)

Johnny, Lina & the Nipper

p.s. Next Sunday night I shall be on an overnight bus back to Lima, but I strive to have some kind of blog, even if it is a micro-espresso-shot ;-)

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