USA DVD Version of Volume 2 - Sold Out!

We've sold out of NTSC copies of Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown - Volume 2, and we won't be ordering any more.

I've hung the Sold Out sign on the USA side of the website.

Increasingly, customers buy our films as Downloads, especially in the USA and Canada.  

The minimum order for this type of dual-layer DVD is such a high quantity that I don't think we'd ever sell them all.  And I absolutely do not want to contribute hundreds of plastic discs and cases to the world's ever growing pile of unwanted rubbish.

We still have plenty of PAL DVD versions of Volume 2, suitable for UK, EU and Australian DVD players. 

New Podcast - Prague to Nordkapp

This month's podcast features Petr Major from the Czech Republic.

He kayaked from Prague, the capital of this land-locked country, all the way to Nordkapp at the top of Norway.

Not stopping there, he portaged across to the Gulf of Bothnia with the aim of paddling home again.  That part didn't go according to plan.

What I like best about this podcast is Petr's infectious positive attitude and the way he coped with the inevitable set backs.

He also shares valuable advice for those mere mortals amongst us who want to tackle a big trip.

Listen to the streaming version below, or download at or through iTunes.

Padlocks Of Love in Glen Nevis

Look carefully at this bridge in beautiful upper Glen Nevis and you'll see the start of what could become a traditional declaration of love.

Or is it vandalism?

Padlocks have been attached to the bridge fence. Some have the names of sweethearts engraved on them, others have their messages crudely scrawled in felt pen.

I confess I knew nothing of this 'Love lock' thing until I Googled it.

It seems it began spreading through Europe from the early 2000s with different reasons for choosing particular locations.

In Serbia they can be traced back to before World War 2 and a bridge called Most Ljubavi, now called the Bridge of Love after the padlocks.

In some places local authorities have not been impressed.  They consider the padlocks vandalism and have even tried to have them removed, which can be a rather costly option.

Read more about them here.  I quite like the Glen Nevis locks.  It's a rather dull looking bridge and they brighten it up.

I Have Shirts Older Than That!

I fear I have not aged well. Here's the all too shocking proof. 

Three 10-year passport photos, each taken a decade apart.  

No need to tell you which is the latest, just follow the disappearing hair!

The shirt was bought 1991 in Banana Republic when we were staying with a friend in Santa Monica.

For some bizarre reason which I really don't understand, I try to have all ID photos taken while wearing it.  

If the one on the left knew he'd turn out like the one on the right, I wonder how he'd feel?

Preparing Our Bikes for LeJog

Liz and I plan to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats in May. 

We've both been training and now I feel we ought to practice riding the bikes as they'll be rigged for the journey.

This has involved some shop-bought stuff and some home-made innovation as the photos show.  I'll come to those in a moment.

Liz will ride on her stronger (heavier) 'winter' bike, a Specialized Dolce triple.  

It's sized exactly the same as her good summer bike, a lovely Specialized Ruby Comp but has the advantage of braze-ons so it's easy to fit a rack.

Weight goes through skewer
I had planned to ride my winter Trek Alu but wrote it off when, with it on a roof rack, I drove into a car park height restrictor.  So I'll be riding my Specialized Roubaix.

Fitting a rear rack to the carbon frame of Specialized Roubaix is not easy, but the great team at Nevis Cycles came up with what I hope will be a great Bontrager BackRack Light.  

The main fixing point puts the weight, not onto the frame, but through the rear axle using a longer, stronger quick release skewer.  

The only downside seems to be the skewer has to be slid out to remove the rear wheel.

Supplementary fixing point on brake mount
The supplementary fixing point could have been to the seat post collar, but then I'd have had to change my carbon seat post to aluminium.  

Instead, this fixes to the same mounting point as my rear brake, part of the bike which is designed strongest to handle the forces of braking.  

That's how both bikes came back from the shop.  

Now we needed mudguards.

I've tried those race-guard versions which fasten on with elastic bands but they've never been particularly successful.  

With Specialized's kinky seat stays for the zerts' shock absorbers I can't get them to sit correctly.  The first time the bike is leant anywhere they twist out of shape and rub the tyre.

Meant to keep bum dry
"Flexible chopping boards", was the suggestion made by Neil in Nevis Cycles.  

The results you can see on these pages are my attempts to put that idea into action.  

The red chopping board is very flexible and is meant to keep our bottoms dry.  

The white chopping board is stiffer and is meant to keep dry whatever we put on the rack.  

The meccano-like strips of metal are intended to stop the cable ties from tearing through the nylon of the boards. 

We plan to ride with our spare clothes and stuff in one dry-bag each, strapped to the tops of the rack.  

Meant to keep the dry bag dry
Constant road spray on the underside would cause most dry bags to leak after a while, hence the need to protect them with this flat, dry surface. 

We'll also each have a handlebar bag.

I've previously used panniers and I don't think we need them for this trip. True, they put the weight lower which improves bike handling. 

But I'd rather not have two big sails either side of my bike on a long trip.  provided, that is, we can squeeze everything into the dry bag.  

We're fairly experienced ultra-light hikers so I don't envisage too much of a problem.

Will it work?  I have no idea - yet.  Practice rides with the clothes and dry bags come next.

Video - 24hr MTB Race on The Adventure Show on iPlayer

One of the toughest mountain bike races around, The Adventure Show team threw a few new toys at our coverage of the Strathpuffer this year - the night vision camera and the mini-copter.  You can see some of the footage in the programme opening below.  You can watch the whole show on the BBC iPlayer until Monday 24th March at 8pm.

We Won Three Paddling Film Festivals!

I was cautious when we had won two events, but now we have won all three of the paddling film festivals we entered I feel able to celebrate a little more.

The film which won is Handling Emergency Situations, a 20-minute cut-down of the 45-minute film of the same name that you'll find on Volume 3, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown.  

It's the most challenging and ambitious film Gordon, Morag and I have ever attempted.  I was pleased with the results and so I am delighted the instructional qualities have been recognised.

I was slightly hesitant because there is no remotely similar instructional film to compare it against.

Now it has won Best Instructional Film at the big Reel Paddling Film Festival in Canada. Just a couple of weeks ago it won the same award at the US National Paddling Film Festival and the  Education and Safety award at the Waterwalker Film Festival.

We last won all three awards with Volume-1, way back in 2009. Volume-2 won at two of the festivals in 2011 but we missed out on Waterwalker that year.

It's nice to hit a hat-trick and go out on a high.  

I say that because I can't see anywhere I want to take the series.

To meet our exacting standards, each Volume must be better than the last, and in all honesty, that would be quite a challenge. 

Hopefully I'll be meeting Morag and Gordon soon and we can talk about whether there'll be a Volume 4.

The Cinema Came To Us Yesterday

I was going to write that we went to the cinema last night, but around here the cinema comes to us in the form of The Screen Machine.  American Hustle was showing and you quickly forget you're sitting in a truck parked on the Strontian show-field. This wee video was done for the National Lottery.