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it's only a game

have you looked?

has it snowed?

i just had to have a nose out of the front door, as when we went to bed last night there were flakes a fallin'.

alas it hasn't laid.

as well as on mountains, i love snow, i have no idea why, maybe it's positive association with fun based activities, skiing, climbing, snowmen, snowball fights, etc, etc, but i love it.

i think it's the way it makes everything look so picturesque and clean as well.

one of my favourite memories of recent snowfalls, was a few years ago when the guys that worked for me at the time arrived at work having fought there way through the slushy roads to make it in, only for me to map out the plan for the morning, which was for me to go out and leave them to split themselves into two teams, computer i.t. guys versus creative graphics guys, and they had to build the best snowman, and then send me a picture of both snowmen for me to confirm a winner, which they looked at me agog, until i then mentioned the winning team would win a spot prize of £20.

i placed the crisp twenty pound note on the office desk, and they all looked at me, and then sped off in the direction of the snow covered garden to create their masterpiece.

later that morning my phone pinged with two pictures of amazing looking snowmen with various accompanying details, including one pushing a wheelbarrow, which if i remember was the winner.

simple fun, but interesting how we all revert back to a childhood state so quickly.

interestingly this week i was watching a video sent to me by my mentor darren hardy, who i have spoken about before in my blog.

well this week darren shared some golden nuggets about a gentleman he interviewed some years ago, who was over 100 years old, but whose name he didn't share, alluding to the fact that he was one of the most successful businessmen of his day, though i still have no idea who it was, but his story was awesome.

darren is an amazing storyteller, and it wasn't long before i was scribbling and screen grabbing titbits from his video, and one of the gems he unveiled to me was that nothing captivates the human attention like a game, and that you can turn difficult tasks and behaviours that almost everyone else hates into a game.

i started thinking about this concept, and how i could apply it to my life, but before i could get started, i realised that only this week i had unbeknown to me at the time, applied darren's methodology into my life.

chloe and i had got our first order of coffee in retail packaging, and we had the idea to try to sell it online using social media.

now personally instagram is my favourite social media platform, but for us in bigmoose land facebook seems to be the best place for us, and always has the most impact.

so, armed with 46 bags of coffee, i challenged chloe to a competition to see who could sell the most coffee in any way, until we had sold all the bags via social media.

we took a cheesy picture, see below, and set about our task.

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carnage ensued.

we both set about contacting our own personal networks, and the post on bigmoose's facebook page, started to get some interest from friends family, and supporters far and wide.

"we've just sold two bags!" chloe exclaimed.

and the premise that we had instigated to identify who had actually sold the coffee kicked into play.

our simple message, was along the lines of " we are having a competition to see who can sell the most coffee, so please buy some, and show your loyalty to either #teamchloe or #teamjeff"

we totally underestimated how much people like games.

"totally on #teamjeff i'll have five bags mate."

"it's gotta be #teamchloe two bags please."

"two bags, one for each of you," the messages flowed in.

"wow, this is pretty exciting" we both agreed.

"we've sold over half dad", chloe informed me.

"am i winning?" i asked

"just."

"just, is good enough for me, just winning the gold medal is always good enough!"

"it's not over yet dad."

"this is unreal, we've nearly sold out." 

"who's winning?" i asked.

"me by one."

i resorted to whatsapping friends out of desperation to help me.

the silence, and the tension in the room was palpable.

"yes!!!"

team chloe's leader shouted, and i knew my fate.

when i first delivered this child twenty three years ago, and chose to love her, clothe her, educate her and feed her, never in my wildest dreams did i imagine i would have created such a monster!

who does this to their father?

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who makes the man who has dedicated his life's work to serve her, wear a cardboard box saying 'LOSER' on it, on his head for the whole internet to see, and future generations of google searches to pull up this image on it's first page?

a child of lucifer is who.

i shall speak of this no more, but for every action, there is a reaction, i am a fan of the long game, and this is by no means over.

anyway, the facebook battle, even though finished, had some positive effect, as more orders for coffee poured in, and we have sold just under 100 bags of our first bigmoose coffee co offering, in what essentially was a game.

i reckon this is pretty awesome, and hopefully is an indicator for what the future holds once we open, and was very timely when i read darren hardy's story suggesting that humans are captivated by a game, and i am going to see if i can incorporate it into my life a bit more, as if you make things fun, surely that's gotta be a good thing right?

so, the coffee shop build is now firmly back on track, and we are starting to build some momentum, with visits from the fire officer, external works commencing this week, and next week seeing some real positive steps being taken internally.

one of my mates, the lovely matt thomas, who has been a bigmoose supporter for years in all guises, has got a team of his vectos work crew coming in after work on tuesday to get involved doing a number of things, which will be brilliant for everybody involved, and shows a real community spirit, and hopefully his team will enjoy the experience, and feel an ownership of the place forever more, i love this kind of stuff, and is very much what this project is about, the sum of all of our parts being amazingly strong.

so if you wanna come along and help in any way, or have a eureka moment with a supercool idea, please just drop us a line, we really want to have as many people as possible feeling ownership of this dream.

to wrap up with today, our 'don't forget your toothbrush' campaign has riproared into life with the david lloyd filling theirs over three times already, and amazing support from the general public, so if you're in south wales any peter alan branch will take your donations, and here is their branch network.

https://www.peteralan.co.uk/branches

also the lovely jayne at university hospital wales has just put their bin out in the concourse at uhw, which is here.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Cardiff+CF14+4XW/@51.5073322,-3.1911694,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x486e1c8442847777:0x4eaef95e377baf66!8m2!3d51.5067644!4d-3.1893603?hl=en

off the record, the peter alan m.d., andrew barry mentioned to me that he would like to get 10,000 products donated, so how cool would that be, and here we go again, making it a game, maybe give it a try in your life, and see how it goes.

anyway, enjoy the festive period, finish the year strong, red line it to the end, and do something flipping amazing for someone in your world this week, it's totally within your power.

blue skies,

jeff, aka 'loser of the first bigmoose coffee co competition'

 

 

 

 

 

 

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don't stop believing........

good morning bigmoose gang,

this weeks blog is about practising what you preach.

not, i hope, that i sound like a preacher, but more of someone who gets a thrill out of others who don't fully know what they can achieve, and by providing them with a little encouragement, watching them excel, whilst spreading their wings wide as they fly higher than ever before.

well that's the plan.

that's always the plan.

not that it's a plan that has been planned, it just seems to happen that way.

the supertri for disabled children, organising a group of runners to run the cardiff half marathon, hopefully touching people positively all along the way, and not having any formal training or structure to work within, just going with it because it feels right, and persevering with it, even when it seems tough, because hopefully the return on energy will be totally worth it.

and it always is.

well that stuff all happens because of you.

you support us in hundreds of ways.

you know how you support us, you're too cool to need reminding, but we know, and you know.

and that's how we are building great events, and literally changing lives, and that has to continue, as together, we are so strong, so so strong, and this group of people who have been attracted to doing good can spread far and wide.

and it will.

but we need to be tough, and persevere when bad crap happens.

well, this great coffee shop, that we are going to build that will allow us to grow, and spread the message, needs to happen in my opinion.

i just feel that every person we are able to help, who has been struggling in life, due to a myriad of reasons will benefit, by seeing changes in their lives, and then spreading that goodness and love as they travel on their journey.

we are all on a journey, and sometimes the journey seems pretty tough, and almost too tough to carry on, but whether it's a mountain or a challenge in life that looks equally as tough, we all need help, whether it's our sherpa, our guides, or in life our friends, family, and often random acts of kindness when you least expect it.

so what the heck am i drivelling on about this week, get to the point smithman!

alright alright don't rush me, i'm trying to build some context behind the obtuse comment 'practise what you preach'.

oh ok.

geez that voice, does it ever stop!

so the crux of what i'm saying is when it gets tough, or even seems impossible, don't stop believing, and i am now laughing at my serious reference which i have remembered is also the title of 80's power ballad kings 'journey' who sing 'don't stop believing', blinking heck i didn't even plan the irony in that little link up there, it was almost like it was planned.

for those of you who the 80's represent some long forgotten time that excites your parents whenever mentioned, and makes them look at each other and smile that smile, fill your boots with this little soft rock classic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k8craCGpgs

did you sing the chorus?

be honest?

anyway, back to the serious bit.

bottom line, our mates the builders who were gonna help us with the coffee shop, have become super busy and now can't.

now, i have been working on this bigmoose mullarkey since we started it three years ago, and little chloe, aka fluffy, who is my little baby girl, who has climbed kilimanjaro, run a 42 mile ultramarathon, and endured everything i throw at her along the way, has also been part of my master plan to get this coffee shop rocking, and for it to be her baby.

my dream has been for chloe to grow into the businesswoman i know she is, and i am very proud and fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside her, and watch her flourish as we go along, so it was with some trepidation this week that i left her to take a quick preplanned holiday in the crux of the most crap of times this project has had so far.

no builder.

hmmm challenging.

nah, not for super chloe, without going into too much detail she has got another team involved, who i know are so passionate about this project already, it will 100% get completed, and we have gone from being super despondent to super excited again, and by digging deep i feel sure we will build this coffee shop, that will be more than a coffee shop, it will be a living organism, that will literally change lives, and that's gotta be worth fighting for right?

even when things don't go right.

and although this wasn't my desired plan, once we have opened and are doing some amazing stuff, i just know that chloe, myself, and you as well will all be very proud of what together we will have achieved, and hopefully it will inspire you, and others to fight tough, never give up, and never give in, and to 'practise what we preach', phew i got their in the end!

so i will be back in town monday, and am so amped to move up through the gears, and for everyone who has helped us already so far, thanks, and for everyone who has bought coffee already, thanks as well, the sum of all of our parts can make something huge.

have a fab week, and if you really feel the need to send a message of encouragement to chloe, she is human after all, and i'm sure would appreciate it, then that would be lush ;)

so until next week,

blue skies,

jeff

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coffee and cake

ni hau bigmoose friends,

sik jor fahn mei ah?

well i hope?

mine?

kind of you to ask.

this week has been rollercoaster central, leaving me a little cream crackered mentally at the tail end of it.

i shot down to londinium the night before my barclays talking gig, to make sure there were no monday morning delays, and i was fresh for the task, and ended up staying at the hoxton hotel in holborn. 

an unplanned gem of a hotel, sunday night, and the open plan reception area was absolutely rammed with people and a dj playing some funky tunes, which stopped me venturing out for food, and i stayed within the footprint of the hotel, and paid my donation to the dj's wages via my food and bev bill.

simple model, play music, make people happy, and they will spend money with you for your services, i mentally noted how well this was executed.

rise and shine, and wander over to the donmar to meet roy from barclays.

roy is a climber, and as his boss told me was the only reason they had booked me, and we joked at how the day was really just all about roy, who i had grown to like over the last few months of prep for the day.

i had been to the site and the room prior to this week, to make sure i was familiar with the audio visual setup, and the technician on site confirmed that all we needed to do was plug my mac into the hdmi port in their system.

i brought every conceivable connector and lead with me, and was 100% confident we would be good to go.

you knew before you read this sentence that av guy was a liar didn't you?

well not so much a liar, more a smudger of the truth.

no hdmi input.

i had a memory stick with my presentation in both mac based keynote format and pc based powerpoint, so we should be able to upload it onto roy's machine that was outputting on vga.

unfortunately, his works based computer was on lockdown and wouldn't allow my million plus gig presentation anywhere near it's usb port, wincing every time i got within 30cm of it. 

i sensed that my hosts, one and all were now getting just a little anxious, and roy asked if i had a plan b?

i did.

we could go direct into the projector three metres up in the air, slightly off piste, but sometimes those rides are the best right?

no ladders.

plan c?

stay calm smith.

now i'm not a panicker, but my presentation is definitely a visual one, and trying to describe the curvature of the earth as i looked back from 8000m on mount everest, whilst i would have a flipping good try, cannot really compete with the beautiful picture that accompany's my tale.

15 minutes to go, bags of time.

i calmly entered justin the tech's open plan office, and he must have known that i wasn't paying him a visit to talk about how disappointing the weekends football had been.

"we have a problem justin", i mouthed calmly, only now realising the comedy value of his name when the end of this story unfolds.

justin looked a little unnerved as he tried all manner of ways to spark up the system, all to no avail, until the eureka moment, "we'll use my mac" he exclaimed, pulling a fluffy white rabbit out of his top hat that he wore so well.

running out of the door, i looked at my watch and roy's face in quick succession, "i think we're going be ok", i gently said.

justin and his mac returned splendidly quickly, and my memory stick docked uneventfully in it's port, and did what mac's do, just worked.

the keynote uploaded, with minutes to spare, prompting me to shoot for the moon, "i don't suppose you could download my presentation remote software, so i can use my hand held soother, do you"?

"of course"

right answer justin, right answer mate, i was loving his work, and we had about six minutes till take off!

30% 40% 50% logitech i love you!

100%

3 minutes to go, and test remote.

we have connection, the remote went forward, backwards, did the little magnifier thing that it does to spotlight stuff, and raised the volume of the audio just by hand gesture, harry potter in a remote i like to think.

"we're good to go roy"

i patted my new av best pal justin, and said thanks, resisting what i now realise was a great opportunity for a 'just-in time' gag, which on reflection was a good thing i think you'll agree, timing smith, it's all about timing.

the hour talk flew by, and we had no sleeper's which is always a good measure i find.

roy's gaffer tim, a lovely chap, waxed lyrical after the gig, and i was pleased he was happy as that meant roy would share his happiness.

so a good start to the week, and my focus now turned to the coffee shop which we had arranged to get two skips delivered to be filled with debris from the demolition that we had been doing.

long story short, we used the power of facebook to rustle up an army of friends who came down on both days to help load aforementioned skips, and before our very eyes the shop was cleared and clean, amazing what an army can do, and i have a feeling we are going to need a big army to get this project to where it needs to be, as fate is dealing us a bit of a duff hand at the moment, but more of that next week, we are keeping all our small bones crossed, and i am a big believer in fate, so we shall see, watch this space.

23755770_264507580739755_5926473269017464656_n.jpg

 

i won't dwell on the rubbish bits, as they're not fun, but the finish of the week was pretty cool with a client that we work with, an estate agent in south wales called peter alan, who last year joined our grab your coat campaign, collecting over 1100 bags of warm clothes for cardiff's homeless, launching this years joint venture.

after chatting to a number of charities, we discovered that they were all in need of toiletries for their hostels that homeless people stay in short term, so we have decided to launch this years 'don't forget your toothbrush' campaign, which will have all 30 peter alan branches having drop in collection points, as well our lovely mates jayne at university hospital wales, and wayne at david lloyd clubs cardiff, who will also be taking donations, so if you're in south wales watch out for the bins.

IMG_0017.jpg

that's about it for this week, apart from my last talk on friday to 175 teachers in st martins school in caerphilly, which was fun, and the feedback has been exciting with offers of help to run next years cardiff half, among other things, so hopefully lots of positivity, and a great return on energy.

ooooh i just remembered we also produced our first bags of coffee this week, in bean and ground formats, so if you want to purchase a bag of nicaraguan jinotegan blend, consisting of cataui and cattura varieties from small farms in the jinotega region, renowned for it's incredible coffee, drop us a line.

a medium roast with a beautiful tangy crisp acidity, clean flavour, well balanced, and a sweet chocolate finish, so our amazing local roaster huw from welsh coffee roasters says, what's not to like.

this coffee will make an affordable christmas present for all coffee loving loved ones, with a story that you won't beat, and all profits will help us build something that will help others, so lots of wins i reckon.

sales pitch over.

oh and we ship as well.

IMG_5033.jpg

the end.

have a great week, and don't forget to plan this months monthly moose for december, let's finish the year strong :)

http://www.bigmoose.co/monthlymoose/

blue skies,

jeffers

 

 

 

 

 

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chapter 4

good morning bigmoose chums.

i have been doing loads of coffee shop mullarkey this week, but don't wanna become too one dimensional in my blog about it, so i'll spare you this week.

i gave you the first chapter of my book a few weeks ago, so thought i would give you another one this week, just to mix it up a bit.

i've skipped a couple of chapters to where i have started playing ice hockey, and going to secondary school, i hope you enjoy.

Chapter 4 - Tollington Park School

I was a goalie and I loved it.

Cousin Mark had seconded another player, Dennis Philips into my left wing slot, and along with John Rego on his right formed what was to become known as the ‘PPR’ line throughout the league we now found ourselves in.

The PPR line were breaking scoring records, and our young Sobell team were better that anybody ever expected in our inaugural season, and I was now taking my role backstopping the team very seriously.

I now had my own goalie equipment, including a great catching glove, designed to catch the puck on the ice, but in my bedroom I would spend literally hours hitting a tennis ball at the wall and catching it, improving my hand eye co-ordination, and providing me with great off ice training.

I was loving the responsibility of being the goalie, and when one of my uncles brought me back an Ice Hockey News magazine from Canada I devoured every article, and became obsessed with every goalie playing in the famous National Hockey League (NHL) the best league in the world, and never did I one day imagine I might grace it's pages, more of that in another chapter.

My life was consumed with hockey, it was my food, my drink, and my air, and my dedication to my craft, on reflection was crazy in one so young, I trained, and I trained, and over the weeks and months I started to improve, as our Colts team were becoming quite formidable, and tough to beat.

I loved playing on this team, and the bond we had was unlike anything I had ever felt,

we were a very close knit unit, and defended each other on the ice and off it.

I was now eleven, and about to make the transition to my senior school, and whilst my private school pals were heading off to the next fee paying place of study, the coffers had run out in the Smith household, and I was headed to Tollington Park, or Tolly as it was affectionately known.

A huge school compared to Whittingham, with no caps to wear, and where my acidic wit and sarcasm ended up with me getting beaten up probably four of five times in the first week, this was indeed a culture shock, and when walking home after school one day, I had an older kid drag me into an alley and put a knife to my throat and tell me to give him my money, I knew I had arrived in a different world.

Whilst you may have read that last sentence and been a little shocked, I discovered that when put into adverse situations I could stay calm and not panic.

I had about 30p on me, but my brain computed I didn’t want this knife wielding thief to have it, and so I chose to be smart.

Amoury Francis was the Captain of our hockey team, and as well as being a great skater, big hitter, and tough defenseman, he was also hard as nails off the ice, and he was my mate.

“Gimme your money before I cut you” my assailant spluttered.

“I haven’t got any money on me” I replied, worrying that inspection of my pockets would quickly reveal the truth, and deciding I needed rapid action to stop being searched.

“You know Amoury don’t you?” I quickly garbled.

“Amoury Francis?” knife boy asked.

“How do you know Amoury?” he enquired.

“He’s my best mate, we play ice hockey together at the Sobell”

Knife boy was slower at computing, and I watched the penny drop, but it took quite a long while to hit the bottom.

Clang!

It had worked, he removed the knife from my throat, and proceeded to hug me.

“I was just spoofing you man, I never knew you and Amoury was tight, things cool yeah”

“Yeah no problem, I’ve gotta go though, is that ok?”

“Yeah cool, tell Amoury I was just jesting yeah”

“We cool?”

“Yeah we cool” I replied like some rubbish Tupac impersonator, and I smiled as I walked home.

Wow, that was close, and I had no idea how I negotiated my way out of it, but staying calm seemed to be the answer.

I decided not to tell anybody about my run in, and it is another of those things that until you delve back into your past you don’t remember, but on reflection it was a fast track education on how to survive on the streets of Finsbury Park, though being threatened at knife point aged eleven was a far cry from my private school in Muswell Hill.

That incident was in my first week at Tolly, and during the Summer holidays prior to pulling on my Tollington Park school uniform on for the first time I had been part of a TV programme called Magpie, that was a very popular kids show that was aired in the afternoon on ITV, after schools finished, and had huge audience figures, so for us at the Sobell it was a pretty big thing.

I had no experience with TV and treated it as just another hockey session, with bright lights illuminating the normally quite dull ice rink we trained in.

It soon became apparent that one of the presenters of Magpie, Tommy Boyd, was interested in playing in goal, and the director asked me if I would allow them to shoot a piece with me showing Tommy how to be an ice hockey goalie.

I agreed, and we left the ice to help him assemble our senior goalies equipment, and he proceeded to put it on, which must have been difficult, because hockey equipment smells somewhat, and if it’s not your kit, that is pretty gross.

We all stepped onto the ice together, me, Tommy, our Coach, and the cameraman wearing running shoes.

Tommy was led to one of the nets where the other cameraman was setting up with the lighting guys, and it was all very exciting, though when in front of the lights, very hot, and I could see Tommy was sweating profusely.

I showed him the basics of being a goalie, and he interviewed me, asking me why I had chosen to be a goalie, and I told him that being a goalie had chosen me really.

The camera guys set up a camera behind a goalie mask, to look as if it were the view Tommy was seeing, and as the players took shots, being instructed in no uncertain terms to avoid hitting the camera that was worth thousands of pounds, the Director got the shot he was after.

It was a wrap, as they say, and I enquired when the show would be aired, and was told the date which was during my first week at senior school.

Amoury and I told our new school pals to watch that night as we were going to be on Magpie, which was a pretty big thing at Tolly, and even our teachers were enthused about it, telling the whole class to tune in that Thursday.

I was pretty hyped up, and got home alone, while Mum was at work, and sat down to watch my TV debut, and as the catchy theme tuned played I could feel nerves building in my stomach.

There was Tommy in the studio with the other presenters, he looked different, more in control, and he wasn’t sweating as much.

The show went through it’s normal format, with different popular culture subjects, music, sport, wildlife, but no mention of our piece on hockey.

As the twenty five minute show continued, it didn’t look like there was going to be a very big piece on us, and eventually Tommy and his gang started to wrap the show up, and talk about what next weeks show would contain.

As the credits rolled I sat there confused, what had happened I wondered, playing different scenarios through in my mind.

Eventually, my mind wandered to the following morning when me and Amoury had to face our new schoolmates.

Oh man, that was going to be awful, they wouldn’t believe us.

And they didn’t.

Our hockey interview not being on Magpie was the icing on the cake of what was a pretty rubbish start to my secondary education, fights, being threatened with a knife, and public humiliation, hopefully it would get better, I hoped it wouldn’t get worse.

The hockey was shown the following week on Magpie, and my mates realized I wasn’t a junior version of Walter Mitty, thankfully.

My days at Tolly as I settled in were actually to prove to be a really happy time in my life, and as I discovered that sport was probably where I excelled, and I led a pretty charmed life.

Football was my thing, and our school was a feeder school for Arsenal, who though deadly rivals of my beloved Tottenham, when asked to go for trials I decided I should go, as if I got a break this could be a game changer, literally.

Our school already had one of my team mates from our school team, Raphael Meade, on their books, and Raph as he was known to us went on to have a glittering career playing for Arsenal and travelling all over the world playing, and was very much the golden boy of football at Tolly, and an amazing player.

I knew I had none of the talent Raph had, but still got asked to go for the trial, and as I arrived outside the Arsenal Stadium in Highbury a fifty two seater coach arrived to take us all to the training ground.

It seemed like all the boys knew each other, and everybody acknowledged Raph as he passed down the bus, I followed sheepishly in his wake, and sat down.

As I sat there, nerves jangling, a lad in the seat in front handed me an expenses sheet.

“Expenses for what?” I asked Raph.

“Travel” he offered.

“Travel?” I questioned.

“Yeah, travel expenses to get here.”

I pondered.

“I walked here?”

“Yeah, everyone did, but just put a fiver down, and then you’ll get paid.”

“Are you sure?” I didn’t want to halt my professional football future by falsifying my expenses this early in my career.

“Yeah, nobody questions it, just do it.”

“Ok.”

Wow, did that mean I was a pro footballer now, being paid to play, I questioned myself?

I wrote on the form Jeff Smith – Tollington Park School - £5.00

I smiled at the lad behind me as I passed the form on.

As I looked up I spied Mr Metcalfe our school sports master who also worked for Arsenal, and he smiled and mouthed “Alright?” as he called out the names on the sheet, I nodded.

The journey to the training pitches seemed quite long, and my imagination went wild with thoughts of playing in the F.A. Cup Final and diving to head the winning goal, and the Wembley crowd going crazy because of my effort.

We’re here Raph beckoned, as the bus pulled into the car park with the gravel crunching under the weight.

My stomach was in knots and I needed to go to the bathroom as soon as possible, and as I entered the dressing room, the smell of White Horse Oil invaded my nervous system.

I watched as every player methodically poured some of the medicinal compound into their hands, and proceeded to rub it onto their legs.

The bottle reached me, and I didn’t even ask, I just poured and rubbed, and passed it on as if I had been doing this all my life.

It’s funny how smell is such a strong sense, and the smell of White Horse Oil evokes such powerful lovely memories of my football career, and I used them before every game of football I ever played from that moment.

I was destined not make it that day, not because of my lack of talent, not because I knew I had no left foot, but because my trial for Arsenal didn’t see me make it to the main pitch, where Raph and the real talent were playing.

I was left with all the other runts on the second pitch, and when they kept swapping players around from pitch one to two, I never got the nod, so my professional football career ended there, with my total earnings being five whole pounds.

Where my football career stalled somewhat, my hockey career was blossoming, and we were starting to win stuff, and I loved it, the Colts were becoming a formidable force within British hockey, and we won our first Championship aged 12.

We travelled to the fishing town of Grimsby, winning 8-2 in the first leg, and came back to the Sobell to win the second leg 9-2, British Champions, and my first real silverware, and I loved it.

The responsibility of being the goalie, and influencing the result of every game was becoming obvious, and I relished the pressure, and I knew where my passion lay.

Academically I had learnt a lot at Whittingham, which put me ahead of the curriculum at Tolly, and as such I wasn’t being stimulated, which resulted in me losing interest, and only my form teacher Mr Fuller, who taught me English seemed to get the potential that I felt I had, out of me, and here I am writing a book.

I wish I could tell him.

He was a great teacher, very tall, long brown hair that went down past his shoulders, definitely a bit of a hippy, and was loved by all of us students, never losing his temper, gaining respect through giving respect.

I learnt a lot from him, and loved the way he taught English.

Whilst not making it as a professional footballer, I did still play in a very successful Tolly team, who led by Raph scoring umpteen amazing goals, and won a number of Championships, and I remember our head of year, my first experience of a Welshman, Mr Evan Evans, who was a massive sports fan.

Every Monday morning after we had won a game he would come into our class with two cups of tea for me and the other lad that played on the team Savakkis Ioannou, and ask us to tell the class about the game.

Weirdly the teachers all accepted this behaviour, and though I thought it quite strange at the time, on reflection, maybe it was his way of rallying the troops, and encouraging us to be a unified school, and to be proud of our fellow students achievements, I’ll never know, but I did enjoy the cups of tea.

It was quite funny watching him bring them into class I have to admit, and I remember him one day entering Mr Jones’ woodworking class with two brews, and informing the class that we had beaten local rivals Holloway, and encouraging a round of applause, completely barking, but lovely times.

so that's chapter 4, i hope you didn't nod off!

i'm off to the smoke tomorrow to be in town ready for an early kickoff on monday morning at the donmar in covent garden for my biggest talk yet, for barclays, and i am actually really looking forward to it, wish me luck, it's a long way from finsbury park all those years ago.

i hope you have a stupendous week ahead, and i'll update you with news from the coffee shop next week, oh we'll be selling bags of bigmoose coffee from next week, so if you want some, either for yourself, or as a prezzie with a story for loved ones at crimbo, just drop me a line.

i'll be seeing ya,

blue skies,

jeff

 

 

 

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rainbows and unicorns

hi bigmoose pals,

how was the last seven day chapter of your amazing life?

i started to type "mine has been full of rainbows and unicorns", and i questioned whether i was using it correctly.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=rainbows%20and%20unicorns

i was.

sarcasm, ahh my lifelong friend.

my last seven days has been a bit of a rollercoaster, with euphoria at getting the coffee shop keys, then arriving on site with my mate rod bruce ex ice hockey chum, who didn't really need the hammer he used to bash walls down with, as his strength and power left everything resembling a wall crumbled on the floor in front of him!

rod recently blew sixty candles out on his birthday cake, but has more energy than most men half his age.

thanks rod.

we pulled a couple of plasterboard ceilings down and revealed a lovely vaulted roof, which will give the upstairs some real character and height, and when uplit should look pretty awesome.

our stripping out work further uncovered this.

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which was a nice surprise.

as was this downstairs.

so, lots of interesting bits of character.

although this one was a little worrying.

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old school building right there.

so the week started strong, and lots of progress, but then due to a number of reasons, things slowed somewhat, and our hopes of getting open really quickly before christmas waned a little.

we then had some amazing publicity locally, and lots of interest from all the main media sources, which will help market the venture i'm sure, so hopes soared.

then we became aware of the seating area outside our shop being used by lots of people that will definitely hinder our business, the worst of which last night i looked out of the top floor window and watched two guys jacking up, and then passing out, a really harrowing experience, and one which kind of rocked me really, so we will be facing many challenges i feel moving forward.

so, very much a rollercoaster ride ahead i think, but hopefully we can hang on tight and get to the end of the ride without being too shaken.

i think we have been applying too much pressure to open really quickly, but on reflection we probably need to remove the deadlines, and let it flow naturally, still driving it hard, but realising it will happen when the universe decrees it will, it's a journey after all, and we must enjoy it.

as well as the coffee shop we welcomed home our friends the holley family from florida and their adventures in disney, and they have had a fantastic time, and we were super proud to have sent them away for what will hopefully have given them memories of a lifetime.

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lush huh?

so that was lovely to watch their daily updates of having fun with ben and micky and his mates.

we have also been working with three of my clients/friends, peter alan estate agents, david lloyd cardiff, and the university hospital wales, led by andrew, wayne and jayne, who are all going to be collecting toiletries this christmas for homeless people.

last year we collected over 1100 bags of warm clothes, but on advice from local homeless charities they have asked us this year to collect toothbrushes, soap, sanitary products etc, so if you are local to any of these places, and want to donate look out for the signs and drop off points.

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so, a pretty busy week, which is always good, and on a final note in a week where there has been some pretty rubbish news in our world we have found a good news network, who only report good news from around the world, and we will be live streaming it via rss feed into our coffee shop, so you can access all the bad stuff elsewhere, but while having your java in our house we will give you a serving of good stuff, with rainbows and unicorns, we all need that from time to time right?

so we'll keep pushing hard, and hopefully inspiring you lovely lot to do some great stuff too, have a smashing week ahead, and be the absolute best version of you, you can be.

i'll be seeing ya,

blue skies,

jeff

 

 

 

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labelled with love

it was early '79 and the tall figure walked into the eaglet pub on holloway road, and ordered a double vodka and orange.

this was not double vodka and orange territory, and the shadows from the midday sun showed it wasn't double vodka and orange drinking time either.

"cheers john", gil said as he then changed his mind "make that a triple" he instructed.

"before she gets here"

gilson lavis enjoyed his vodka, but probably a little too much for his wife's liking, and her imminent arrival would result in her getting upset at this choice of liquid lunch, so he chose to drink it rapido, before instructing john mcdonagh to replace it with another, "just a double this time john."

john mcdonagh was two years older than me, and played ice hockey with me on the sobell colts team in islington, and his dad bob, rest in peace, owned and ran the irish bar the eaglet, and i spent, or mispent my youth playing pool after hours, listening to irish rebel songs being sung with passion and gusto, and not really knowing whose presence i was drinking in during these troubled times. 

i was in the thick of it, but i loved it, my mate nick davidson says 'life is a guestlist', and as the pub locked the doors, and we carried on drinking, i felt like i was on it.

gilson lavis was the drummer for the squeeze, a band that were going places, releasing their second album 'cool for cats' that year.

squeeze, as well as gil on skins had the brilliant lyricists chris difford and glen tillbrook on the team list, as well as the now legendary jools holland.

gil was in the eaglet, his safe haven, to see what the midweek chart positions were for their single of the same name as the album.

squeeze never got the number one slot, but cool for cats was placed at number two that day, heady stuff in this age of pop.

johnny mac was a great hockey player, slight in stature, pasty in complexion, but one of my best mates, and as such, bob let me stay in the pub for those legendary 'lockins,' halcyon days indeed.

"smitty, gil's got us some backstage passes for the rainbow, do you wanna go?"

the answer had three letters not two.

"and i've got a spare if you wanna bring someone" he continued.

"i'll bring moose, thanks mac" i said, knowing that the big guy was a big fan.

the setlist at the rainbow on 17th december started will the beautifully penned 'labelled with love' a melancholic ditty, which highlighted the writing skills of the lennon/macartney'esque difford and tillbrook.

as the concert finished, the mcdonagh's and me and moose hightailed it backstage to meet the boys.

we joked, we drank, and we loved this mad world that we were invited into at this time.

we then went back to the eaglet, drank more, made much merryment, and as i played pool against glenn tilbrook i tried not to miss my shot on the black.

decades passed, and moosey boy was struck down with the disease we all know the name of, and close to his death he chose not to want to be seen as i am sure he didn't want us seeing his slow deterioration before our eyes, but two weeks before he left us, we received a call.

"gary wants to see you guys" julie told me, and she didn't need to say it twice.

ten of his closest friends drove up from all parts of the country to whitley bay, where the big fella lived with his family, and as i saw him my heart sank.

this fucking disease was killing my best friend, and his body wasn't his anymore, as his almost skeletal figure shook our hands.

we entered his house, and sat around trying to break through the awful awkwardness of not knowing what to say.

we did it, as mates do, with humour.

we mocked each other, we were savage in our verbal duelling, and moose wouldn't have had it any other way, and for that time together, the real reason we were there wasn't mentioned.

moose was alive and on fire, his rapier wit on show as he held court and ripped us all to shreds, and we loved it.

his energy though eventually wained, and julie suggested he go upstairs to rest, and it was decided we would all visit him individually to say goodbye.

as i write this i am shaking with emotion, as i take myself back.

how do you say goodbye to someone you know you will never see again?

we hugged, and i asked him to come and see me when he could, but he had to make sure it wasn't just a coincidence, it needed to be something that proved without doubt it was him, he nodded, and as i left the room, we both said "love you like a brother", as we always did.   

i carried his coffin into the church less than a fortnight later.

when i decided to name our non profit 'bigmoose' i wanted his spirit to live on, and to build a legacy about this man who was kind, loyal, and liked by everyone who met him, and every talk i do i show his picture and tell his story, and every kind action that bigmoose takes is in his honour, and as such his legacy and name will live on.

as you read this you all know about the last three years, but the future is unknown, and we are now building on the foundations that you have helped us build, and as i mentioned last week we have now got our commercial premises we are going to build our first coffee shop, and hopefully this will become a beacon of good, shining a light on what can be achieved when humans work together to act with kindness.

we hope to build an amazing business that can touch people, help give people hope, and put smiles on faces, and we want you to come on our journey with us, we hope we inspire you and make you smile too.

so this thursday we went to bristol to sign the legal documents with our awesome solicitor jonathan beck, who works in a 40' container in the most cool setting in bristol, and he walked us over to get a coffee and formalise things in a yurt, with the best coffee shop setup ever.

chloe and i sat as the barista delivered our coffees, and i decided to grab a picture for posterity, and as i did the yurt's sound system changed track, and i heard glenn tilbrook start to sing.

this may be just beautiful timing, but as the man sang at this momentous time in the bigmoose story, the power wasn't lost on me and i thought back to my best friend whose name we will always remember, and for you moosey boy as the song says, the past has been bottled, and labelled with love.

 

blue skies,

jeff

 

 

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can you keep a secret?

hi bigmoose blog reader,

how's it going?

have you started writing your book yet?

it'll come, there's no rush, it has to feel right, right?

now then, can you keep a secret?

no, i mean it, can you?

if you can't, and you're gonna start running for facebook/twitter/insta/linked in/snapchat as soon as i tell you our secret, then i would like to politely ask you to stop reading here.

(just putting it out there, i'm not a fan of linked in, it's probably me, but i just don't get it?)

so if you're still reading this i assume you are a good egg, and won't share what i am about to tell you, so thanks for that.

hold on a sec, i just need to go and get my second coffee, which the other day i realised with an element of shock, probably means i drink a pot of coffee every morning, that sounds awful doesn't it, two cups sounds ok ish, but a pot of coffee sounds like madness, and might explain a few things...........

anyway, gimme a minute.

sorry, that was a bit longer than a minute, i had to put the light on my phone to navigate to the kitchen, and then find my way back with the light making sure i didn't spill my coffee.

phew made it.

so, where were we?

oh yeah my secret, that i'm only gonna tell you guys, coz you are in our gang, the blog reading gang.

we have a coffee shop!

geez that feels good saying that.

you will not believe the work that has gone into this, so to finally get it is just awesome, and i've been banging on about it for so long, you're probably as glad we got it over the line as i am.

now we haven't signed the contract yet, but it's happening monday, and we should have the keys by the end of the week, so from then it will be absolutely radio rental, luckily it's the christmas run in, so there shouldn't be much going on!!!

so, for blog readers that have just joined us, to explain this a bit more, about a year or so ago i went to my where actress daughter tiffany works in between acting gigs part time, at the house of st barnabas, see link below.

https://hosb.org.uk/our-members-club/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrs_o6NOS1wIVQhMbCh1UmwoXEAAYASAAEgL_vfD_BwE#about-our-club

at the club they operate an amazing model where they take on homeless people, train them in food and beverage skills on a city and guilds scheme, and then employ them, mentor them, and get them back into society, giving them hope, and a new life.

amazing model i reckoned, and would make significant change.

so we are going to duplicate the model, with hosb's assistance, in cardiff.

open a coffee shop, make profit, and invest that profit back into people.

one person at a time.

then we build stories of success, and failure i'm sure, along the way.

people identify with what we are doing, and join in our crusade, and we grow, and hopefully expand the model.

so, our current stage as i type this is as follows.

we have a city centre location, with land securities as landlords, who are subsidising our rent significantly. (thanks steven, mark, eve, sukhi, and rhys)

we have all the furniture needed from mr x. (thanks gav and nigel)

we have a solicitor doing our legals foc. (thanks jonathan and michael)

we have a builder who is going to run the fit out. (thanks keith and geoff)

we have an audio visual team who will be fitting in an av system for us. (thanks psg)

we have our full time manageress chomping at the bit to start. (thanks mrs g)

we have our ethical coffee supplier (thanks konrad and huw)

we have  a rockstar creative helping with all things graphic (thanks pedro)

we have our website landing page (where you can register your interest) https://www.bigmoosecoffeecompany.co/

we have two events booked pre christmas already.

oh yeah, and we have a load of nerves, well i do anyway.

the plan is that we will open, start to trade, then find our first person whose life we are going to try to change for the good.

then we are going to share that transformation with you, and the world really, hopefully to inspire folk to believe you can do anything you want if you truly believe, and are willing to commit.

this sounds a bit like a battle cry, which i suppose it is really, but if what we are getting stuck into inspires some people to get involved, help, or even just do something small in their world, that's pretty jazzy i reckon.

so the shop itself will be as sustainable as possible, and we will be aiming to become a bcorp, which i am forever banging on about, but they will benchmark us to become not only the best coffee shop in the world, but the best coffee shop for the world.

http://bcorporation.uk/

 

we have tons of stuff we've done, and tons of stuff left to do, so i'd love you to come on the journey with us, and watch as we take this leap into the unknown, and hopefully we can make it successful before you're very eyes.

we'd also like your help as well.

in any way you think would work.

you might buy a coffee subscription for a friend for christmas, some bigmoose coffee co merch, again as crimbo prezzies.

you might be local and be able to help physically with the fit out, or it might be that you come and see us when we open and support us in that way.

if you are one of our bigmoose gang elsewhere in the world, just telling people about us, sharing our social media posts, etc, will also be amazing, as there is no point having the best business or model if nobody knows about it, so we are going to need as much help with marketing ourselves as possible, so a cheeky share or like here and there would be lush.

we are raw at this mullarkey, and will no doubt make lots of mistakes, but by golly we will give it our best shot (see what i did there, subliminal coffee references already!) but we'd love you to link arms with us, and make it your shop as well, so if you have any ideas, however crazy or sublime please please please get in touch, this is so gonna need team work.

we're probably going to do a crowdfund as well, as there still costs aplenty, so if you want to get involved there will be lots of perks, and opportunities be part of the team.

so that is our secret, and we are not going to tell anybody else before we actually sign the agreement, but i'm afraid i couldn't keep it quiet any more, so please keep it to yourself for the moment, but thanks for your support up to now, as even just opening the blog weekly, in it's own way helps, as it strengthens our resolve, and shows that we're on the right path, and i hope you are proud of your involvement.

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i hope you like the branding and message, and you feel part of the team.

thanks for reading, 2017 has been big, but 2018 has the potential to be the biggest yet.

much love, and have a great weekend,

blue skies,

jeff

 

 

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write your story - alleycat wins - runner beats cancer

hi bigmoose gang,

i hope you are in a good way, and the last 168 hours have treated you well?

as i write this it is pitch black outside and the wind is blowing a hooley, and it feels like we are deep into autumn, which as a season i have to say i love.

the colours of the trees, fallen leaves, conkers, and i have loads of vivid childhood memories of walking through the woods kicking through ankle deep leaves with my grandparents, so maybe the foundations of my love of this season were laid then.

as i continue to write my book, one of the best things to have come out of the experience is remembering things that have happened in my past, which are sometimes hidden, due to all the stuff we do now, but it's been a great exercise, and one i would recommend.

my goal with writing my book is not to get rich, believe me i won't, but more about sharing stuff, memories, belief that you can do anything you set your mind to, overcoming adversity, in many guises, and the journey to the top of everest, aged 53.

the other thing that will come from it, which i hope will be a good legacy, is that future generations of my family will have it as a reference point.

i am hoping that it will be fun for my childrens' children to read about their grandad, and what happened in his life, which undoubtedly will have influenced their parents in some way.

if i had a great grandfather that i had never met, but had climbed everest i would love to know about what had motivated him, what adversity he had overcome to reach his dream, and how people around him had played a massive part in achieving his dream.

i also feel that from a female perspective this would also be so brilliant to inspire young women, probably more so in fact.  

i think that had i got some archived scribing by my relatives from past generations it would make me very happy to really know my roots.

my nan started writing about her life before she passed away aged 99 and a half, and it made great reading, and as her grandson i loved reading about stuff that literally blew my mind how her world was back then.

so, although you may not write a bestseller, or possibly you think your life is not worthy of telling, it is.

your future generations will love to read how you managed your victories, your defeats, how you met you partner, those crazy things that happened when you were a child, i bet you are thinking about your past right now, and actually there is some great content there.

so today bigmoose gang, take action.

grab a pad, or open a fresh new word doc, and write some stuff for 25 minutes.

that's all, just 25 minutes.

if you want to write more, don't, save it for tomorrow.

if you enjoy writing, savour the feeling, think about the impact your scribings will have, and do some more.

it costs you nothing, except time, and don't allow that to stop you, get up a little earlier, i love writing first thing in the morning, when nothing in the house is stirring, it's very therapeutic.

one of the things i have been told about writing my book, is don't stop to correct grammar or spelling, or whether a word is correct, just write it down, let it all flow onto the page or screen, you can polish it up afterwards.

then think how somebody from the future will learn about your life and your experiences, and there is never a right time to start, so no excuses, 'i haven't climbed a mountain', who cares, i bet you have in your own world, everything is relative, i guarantee you will have a wealth of cool stuff you've done, that future generations will love to read about.

imagine reading how the transition from non internet use to todays world will sound, or the first mobile phones, all of which will be in my book, available from good book shops spring 2018, but i'm sure we will all have interesting fun stuff to write about, go gettem, and let me know if you do, i'd love to know, or read what you write.

well that was left field, sorry for that.

actually i'm not really sorry, if you get stimulated to write something, that's a great cause and effect i reckon :)

anyway, in other news, big congrats to my mate alex staniforth who has just been awarded itv north west fundraiser of the year, raising a shed load of cash on his recent escapades for 'young minds'.

i am very proud to know alex, and whilst i feel almost paternal toward him due to our gap in ages, i also admire him immensely for his drive and determination in all he does, and to do it all with such a challenging start in life, he inspires me massively.

well done alley cat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=183&v=COmFQYuZqHE

such a dude eh?

so he goes down to london on the 30th to be up for a chance to win the national award, so please drop him a line to wish him good luck, or give him a follow on social, he is all over every platform there is :)

another bit of awesome news is my mate richard parks is gonna be a dad, and i saw him for the first time since leaving for everest earlier this year, and he played a big part in keeping me in the game with advice that i referenced every day on the hill, so it was lovely to hear his news, and to share my summit with him, and his smile and genuine happiness was lovely to see, good luck parksy be the best dad you can be, this is the best adventure you will ever have.

rich was talking at a llamau event i was attending, and llamau are a welsh charity who help young homeless people and vulnerable women in wales, and their 'impact' event was brilliant, as well as very sad when some of the people that had used their services spoke about their experiences, man this world is a dark place sometimes.

check them out here.

http://www.llamau.org.uk/

the same day i went to the llamau event i had also attended a 'school of hard knocks' breakfast meeting where i listened to two of their success stories told by two men who had both had awful experiences where drugs had taken over their lives, but with help from others they had turned things around, and both these events whilst upsetting in one way, were also extremely inspiring in another, and motivate me to keep doing the stuff we are doing.

so the blinking coffee shop!

man this is dragging on, it's so frustrating, we are so nearly there, and are just waiting for the legals to be agreed, i have no idea what is holding things up, but hopefully we will have good news soon.

i went back to bath to get another van load of furniture from mr x, and i am cofident we will fit the coffee shop out 100% with all the lovely swag they have donated, i am so grateful, and really can't wait to show it off.

finally, joão my ultrarunning ceo mate has launched his fundraising campaign with a video, and has a great response already, so i thought i would share that for you to have a butchers at as well.

https://youtu.be/l6cups6N-1U

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top geezer eh?

so, lots going on as always, but i'll end this weeks jibber jabberings by punching the air in celebration that one of my great mates has got the clearance this week that he hasn't got cancer, yeah baby, there's perspective for ya, the game goes on, but never lose sight of how lucky we are, enjoy it while you're here, love one another, do good shizzle, and make a positive difference.

have a brilliant week ahead, do your thing, but make sure you do it leaving a trail of smoke behind ya!!!

blues skies,

jeffrey michael smith

 

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secret agent edition

hey, how're you living?

well i hope?

well this saturday thing seems to be working out, as we are seeing more people reading the blog than ever, so hopefully it suits you ok, and today we've got a bazooka long video to share with you, so hopefully you'll have more time to watch it than on a friday.

but before i bang it on here for your delectation, a quick update of stuff bigmoose.

monday i drove a white van, a big white van. 

in fact a flipping huge white van.

and i drove it with my wingwoman aka fluffy ultragirl, as she is now known to her friends (me)

we drove down the m4 heading east, swinging over to bath, the place not the washing method.

we landed at mr x's heeeuge warehouse, and proceeded to load up with swag.

the aforementioned swag consisted of tables, chairs, stools, chandeliers, and all manner of stuff that is gonna make our coffee shop look cool and quirky. 

but tis ok, we like cool and quirky, so when we get it rockin, we'd love you to come down and hang out eat'n drink'n an bein' merry, whilst supporting our philanthropic enterprise, a proper mission led business. here is a picture of a sample of some of our swag.

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so that was monday day, and monday evening our mates craig and aimee came over to show us their cardiff half/mental health awareness video, and here is a quick backstory.

craig and aimee met my girls some years ago when they worked at wagamama, and they have now gone on to be you tube sensations with over 15k subscribers to their channel, having a viral clip of aimee getting bashed with a fish, getting over 1.8 million views, and just being lush mates, with the same idea of doing kind stuff as us and you.

we watched the video, and i fought back the tears, feeling proud of them and everyone involved, give it a watch and hopefully you'll feel the same.

they launched it the next day, which was world mental health awareness day, and it has got rave reviews, so if you have time please give it a watch, or if you're busy, come back to it, it really is great, and one of the stories is just the best.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpGHTZTC3g4

so how great is that?

i really hope you enjoyed it as much as us, it just shows what a little bit of help can do for others doesn't it.

so, as well launching the video on tuesday, me and fluff went to have coffee and lemon cake and meet the lovely lowri morgan at the chapter arts centre in cardiff, coz we love it there, and they do good cake!

lowri is a bafta and multi award winning television presenter, a world class ultra endurance marathon runner, and is one of only six to ever complete one of the notoriously difficult 350 mile non-stop footrace 6633 ultra in the arctic and the challenging jungle ultra marathon in the amazon forest. 

when she completed the 6633 she was the only person to finish the race, and i found it hard not to bow as she walked in!

we had a good old natter about running an' stuff, and i reckon we might become pals, watch this space.

http://www.6633ultra.com/

lowri on the 6633

lowri on the 6633

that was tuesday, so onto wednesday.

wednesday we headed to cheltenham to do an everest talk at gchq, which if you haven't heard of it before, you can have a readup here. 

https://www.gchq.gov.uk/

now i can't say too much, as it's even more top secret than mr x's magic warehouse, although similar in some ways, lol!

gchq is this amazing high security facility in cheltenham, where the national cyber security centre is, and the movie the imitation game was a part of.

now, as i said i can't say too much, but i can say i was rubbing shoulders with folk from mi5 and the cia.

say whaaaaaaaaaaat!!!

i know!

i struggled at keeping it together at this one.

my world is certainly a bit of a weird place these days. 

my host for the day informed me there had been a ballot to hear my talk, which was oversubscribed, and told me that professor brian cox had spoken to them the other week, and i suddenly felt sick.

i had an hour to talk to these fellow humans, that i assumed were super intelligent, super fly, and me and chloe noticed a few that were definitely james bond material.

i opened by thanking them for protecting me and my family, and i think this caught them off guard.

as i flew through my slide show, talking about how bigmoose was created, and some of the stuff that we do, i saw a few heads nodding, they laughed at a couple of places they were supposed to, and i didn't spot one sleeper, so all in all i think it went ok, but man it was a pressurised one, but all character building i guess, though i have to say it doesn't get easier from a nerves perspective.

the good news is we have had one of the audience ask if we can go to their child's school to talk, and one lady who has a disabled child who is going to come to our next supertri, and has said gchq will bring a load of volunteers, so if you attend the next supertri and see a load of people with dark glasses on talking into their wristwatches, give them a little wink and tap your nose as you pass ;)

here is the building, which I loved the look of, very cool, though i did make myself chuckle, when inside this super security facility, and being asked to leave my laptop and phone in the car, i genuinely enquired "is it safe?"

GCHQ-aerial.jpg

by wednesday i had pretty much peaked.

thursday and friday were spent coffee shop prepping and writing the old book, which is coming along nicely, though i have slipped behind a little, but hopefully will get back on pace now the cardiff half is sorted.

as well as my everest book, i am also co-writing a children's everest book with the headmistress from winsley primary school, mrs wilson, who i love, but it does worry me every time i send a chapter over to her for her to read.

anyways, if you've watched craig and aimee's video, this week's blog will have taken up too much time already, so i will wrap things up.

in conclusion, we will be looking for help on the coffee shop project as soon as we sign the lease, and will be trying to hit it hard to get open as soon as possible.

our mate keith who owns merrylees construction is going be helping us massively, but if you know any building type people, we will need all kinds of trades, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and general hard grafters willing to get stuck in, so if you know anybody please ask them to get in touch.

also, we will be needing raw materials as well to build with, so if anybody knows any philanthropic builders merchants please give them our details.

i shall now get off my knees.

have a top week, and catch you back here next week,

blue skies friends,

jeff

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cardiff half edition

well hi bigmoose family,

and to all the new subscribers from last week, welcome.

the cardiff half marathon provided bigmoose with a place to shout about what we do, and with our brightly emblazoned shirts, and placards with motivational, and hopefully a couple of funny sayings, engaged us with the 25000 strong crowd, and the response has been brilliant.

we have had loads of e-mails and messages direct and on social media, with some awesome comments about our presence at the race, and i'll talk about the race in a bit more detail later, but for now, thanks for subscribing, i can't promise anything except hopefully stuff that might just inspire you to do some cool shizzle in your life, that maybe you wouldn't have done before you pressed 'subscribe' and if if that is how it pans out, then that's a good thing i reckon, what say you?

anyhoo

i want to tell a couple of stories, which are all linked really, just to show the power of small actions.

two people have been pretty pivotal in my life, resulting in you and i having this relationship, and a third whose one action has proved to be amazing.

first, georgina jones, my pal who ran the cardiff half on sunday and supports everything bigmoose does, and is solely responsible for me doing public speaking, which is now a big part of my life.

my schoolteacher, mr fuller, who was my form master and english teacher, who was pretty much a hippy, very tall, about 6'4" with really long hair and a beard, resembling catweazle a tv character from the 80's.

mr fuller taught me to enjoy the english language, and unbeknownst to me at the time was influencing my life in a rough part of finsbury park, and encouraging me to read and write as much as i could, and here i am writing this blog for you, and currently writing two books, thanks mr fuller.

i did try to hunt him down to say thank you, but failed miserably, but you never know, could you imagine having taught some snotty nosed kid back in the 70's, and he gets back in touch to say he holds you responsible for his current life, that would be pretty cool huh, i'll keep looking.

so, mr fuller encourages me to speak and write and enjoy english, and george encourages me to speak in public about what i'm up to, and then the third person in this story assumes his role.

john adamson.

i've spoken about john before, he's a northern dude who is an ex dj, supports preston north end football club, and having not really spoken to each other for some years when we shared an office space in cardiff, contacted me to ask me to compere an event he was putting on in cardiff.

so here's the timeline.

i go and compere the sharetalk event in cardiff, which john pays me to do to help pay for my everest trip, and at the same time i do a talk about bigmoose.

peter higgins is a shareholder in sharetalk, and we meet and chat.

i meet joão andrade who is the ceo of widecells plc who takes the microphone during the q & a and commits to help raise money for bigmoose.

so the story is starting to weave itself together.

along the way we are arranging the cardiff bigmoose half marathon team, and recruiting as many people as you can shake a stick at.

i go to widecells plc in manchester to do a talk about bigmoose, meet alan greenberg, ex head of apple education, who invites me to london to discuss his involvement with bigmoose.

whilst with alan in london, he introduces me to two chaps graham livesey and glyn shier who work in the same space as alan, and who i told about bigmoose and the cardiff half.

so october 1st in cardiff this happens.

i meet joão at 07:30 outside our proposed site for our bigmoose coffee shop, with a camera man filming an interview about how he is commited to raising £50k for bigmoose, and is running the cardiff half with his wife vivian, who has never run a race in her life but really wants to be involved.

08:15 i meet tom holmes one of our runners, who was struggling with mental health issues, details of which i don't want to share, but was in a very dark place, and since joining our training runs, and signing up to the half has now stopped having counselling, as his counsellor has told him he is good to go. tom and i wander over for our 08:30 interview with the bbc where tom talks to camera, and doesn't stop beaming his massive 'tom' smile.

08:45 we have gone back to our bigmoose meeting point and i see graham and glyn, who i haven't seen since my brief meeting in london, looking fit and strong and resplendent in their bright, orange spotty bigmoose shirts.

we have the obligatory team picture, and the whole team chants 'moose moose moose' in a very deep war cry like fashion, which would make my old mate chuckle i reckon.

everybody except me (bad knees from the hill still) and chloe (recovering from her ultra) rock off to their positions at the start of the race, it felt a bit like when i dropped my first born off at school for that first morning, i have to admit.

30 minutes in, my phone rings, and it's peter higgins, who has driven from leicester to accompany his wife sarah who is running for the first time, and he and their daughter evony will be cheering her on along the route, and they will meet us back at bigmoose basecamp after the race.

so five people running from portugal, london and leicester, and raising over fifty grand for bigmoose, all because of john's intro, george and mr fullers encouragement, and yesterday a friend asked me if i like doing the public speaking and i replied without pausing, an emphatic "i love it", and i know why i love it, because it spreads the word, it allows me to encourage and recruit people to join us, and definitely allows me to leave the world better than when i found it, so yes i love talking, check out these smiles, what's not to love.

joão and vivian (he's the dude that's running badwater #ultraceo)

joão and vivian (he's the dude that's running badwater #ultraceo)

graham, me and glyn, thanks guys.

graham, me and glyn, thanks guys.

sarah and peter's lovely daughter evony, sporting her spotty bigmoose bow!

sarah and peter's lovely daughter evony, sporting her spotty bigmoose bow!

and here is a link to the sweetest video of sarah you could ever wish to see.

https://t.co/4taiq7yZlf?ssr=true

how awesome is that?

and then, to my personal fave, beth, who had never run a step before rocking up to one of our training runs, and then didn't stop training, and now is the proud owner of a cardiff half medal, quality!!!

so, so proud of beth.

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as well as amazing runners, we also had 14 cheer stations along the route, with a mix of crazy dedicated friends, all offering energy, encouragement, high fives and snacks to the runners, thank you everyone who stood in the cold for hours offering support, your efforts were really well received, thank you.

the brilliant team holley

the brilliant team holley

the lovely shelley gelsomini at mile 5

the lovely shelley gelsomini at mile 5

tiffany and the legend that is cat

tiffany and the legend that is cat

there are loads more pics on our website here

http://www.bigmoose.co/cardiff-half-2017

so we all had a spiffing time all in all, but what we didn't expect was the response from the general public, we have been inundated with lovely comments and thank you's from runners who saw the signs, our runners, and heard the cry of 'moose moose moose' all along the route, and whilst i haven't got time or room to share them all with you, here are just a couple.

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so the impact we made on the race was pretty great, so again thanks to everybody that got involved in any way, and if you didn't but fancy having a bash next year, we will be doing it all again, and have some ideas and plans afoot already, so drop us a line if you wanna be kept informed.

now as well as the half, we have had loads going on, and it's been a pretty good week all in all, with mr x allowing me to go and collect all the furniture for the coffee shop on monday, a talk with a secret government department, which i have to stay shtum about happening tuesday, yes my bottle is going, and every digit available is crossed for some good news on the lease for bigmoose coffee co, please please please let us get it soon, you must be bored of hearing about us being 'nearly there'.

so i have just had the blog police sound their siren, so i better let you crack on, but thanks for reading, thanks for supporting, and never forget small actions can have massive reactions, go gettem bigmoose gang!!

much love and blue skies,

jeffers

 

 

 

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fluffy's monster ultra

good morning bigmoose crew,

last week's blog was late, and sent on saturday instead of friday, but was opened by the most people ever, so i'm gonna experiment with this being sent today (saturday) instead, and then see what you guys reckon, any feedback will be gratefully received.

so last week i mentioned among other things that chloe aka fluffy was running a 42 mile ultra race, and it turned out to be a rather epic day, with lots of highs and lows, and lots of things to learn from, so i asked her if she wouldn't mind recounting how her day went, warts an' all, so you guys could experience it through her eyes.

so, she has written a tale about how the day went, and it is below for your delectation, and she too appears to have a propensity for long blogs, so i will update you on all stuff bigmoose next week, but hopefully chloe's efforts show that you don't always get what you want, but sometimes the journey is the takeaway from an adventure.

i hope you enjoy 

chloe's first ultra

long distance running has never been my strong suit. but in march 2016, a good friend of mine passed away after a 2 year battle with cancer. emily was an amazing young woman and inspired many people, including me. until then, i had been fortunate to not have ever lost anyone close to me and so losing em, was a massive shock. at bigmoose we wanted to do something to remember her, so dad came up with the idea of getting a cardiff half team together.

at this point (may 2016) i had never run a mile in my life, but after watching dad on mds i knew i wanted to give some running a go and then losing em, gave me the push to commit.

for the last few years i have suffered badly with back pain and inflammation in my chest. i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at one stage but this has been proven to be a misdiagnosis. we still aren’t 100% sure what causes the pain but it requires daily management and sometimes walking up the stairs can be challenging, so i knew running a half marathon wouldn’t be easy.

i trained for months prior to the race and the day of the half was amazing. with over 100 runners #runningforemily, i managed to cross the line with dad, pritch and my good friend olivia richards.

following on from the half dad came up with the idea of me attempting to run 365 days of 2017, no matter how far or short the distance i just had to run. this was a great focus for the first few months of 2017, but i felt i needed something more. before dad went to everest we discussed aiming to run a marathon together when he got home. however, whilst he was away i started thinking about running an ultra... i ordered a running vest to hold my water bottles, sent dad a picture with the caption ‘thinking of doing an ultra’ – his reply ‘you are so my daughter!’

and that was it, it was booked!

i had 6 months to get my mileage up, i hadn’t run any long distances since the half and i was now back down to running only 2-3 miles per run and i needed to be able to run 42 within 24 weeks! i got a training plan and began upping the mileage. i stuck to the plan as much as i could but my back pain often got in the way, resulting in missed training sessions and doubts building in my mind.

but progress was good and on 19th august i ran my first marathon followed by a 30 miler a few weeks later. i felt good and ready for what was to come! in the last few weeks of training my knee started playing up due to tightness in my hip and so i had to rest and miss my last big training weekend but i knew i’d put the work in up until then, so i just hoped it was enough.

on saturday we drove to cambridge, i was ridiculously nervous and as we ate dinner that night i felt sick and my stomach was in knots. i tried to get some sleep but my mind was ticking over going through everything i needed and just hoping that my body would hold out for just one more day of long distance running.

5am alarm – i sat on the bed of the travel lodge, feeling so sick and slowly eating a bowl of fruit and fibre - my standard go to breakfast before a run. when dad played hockey he was very superstitious and this has carried on as he’s continued taking on big challenges and in 2015 when he ran race to the stones he packed a bowl, a spoon from home and a measured amount of cereal in his bag. he explained that he liked continuity and wanted to keep as much the same as possible on race day. so flash forward to september 24th 2017 and i chuckled to myself as i sat eating my cereal out of a bowl from home with a spoon from home thinking what a mini me i am of dad!

the weather was due to be dry and as i got dressed i was so glad i wouldn’t need to contend with rain as well as everything else.

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the start line was in front of the beautiful ely cathedral, near cambridge and as we arrived i had that first day of school feeling. i felt sick and didn’t want to get out of the car. there were so many doubts, my back hadn’t been great the week leading up to the race and i felt so frustrated that after 6 months of work that my body may not allow me to complete my challenge. i cried as we sat in the car and it took all my energy to get out into the cold morning.

race brief done and the countdown began. 3, 2, 1 and we were off. after a few miles the sun started to rise and the temperature was increasing rapidly. it was only 9am and it was already18 degrees. i was wearing my go to pair of leggings and t-shirt that i had trained in for months and, though i was comfortable in this outfit, i had not factored in the heat of the day! who’d have thought the end of september would be so hot?!

the first few miles felt good, the amazing runners at the front of the pack were now just small specks in the distance, the gap continuing to expand as their pace remained steady (and so fast!!!). i was near the back with about 8 other runners, we were all around the same sort of pace and i had 4 runners behind me for the first 6 miles. as it continued to get hotter and my back started to ache the runners started to over take me and before i knew it, i was in last place. coming last didn’t bother me at all but having the bikes tailing me was off putting and i didn’t expect them to be so close to me at all times. every time i needed to stop and stretch my back they were there, and as i’m so used to running completely on my own, it was really odd being followed!

i ran pretty well and got a boost when i saw my parents at mile 8. however the sun got hotter (now at 25 degrees) and by the time i got to mile 15 i had slowed to a walk, i met dad at mile 17 and was in tears. ‘i don’t think i can do this’ i said to him. he joined me and helped pace me and encouraged me to continue. we made the decision to try and make it to the half-way point before the cut off time and then make a decision to whether i continue. this meant 4 miles in less than an hour, which on a normal occasion would’ve been fine but because i felt so ill it was such a struggle. we made it to 21 miles with less than 4 minutes to spare.

by the time we got there i was on my hands and knees being sick. the sun was absolutely battering me, i sat in the shade just playing it over in my mind and thinking how easy it would be to get into mum’s car and just come home. i even worked out that if i left then i could be in bed by 5!! however i just couldn’t give up until i absolutely couldn’t take another step.

i made the decision to carry on with the option of meeting mum along the route in case i needed to pull out. dad was with me now, which was amazing, but we were averaging a super slow, 20 minute per mile pace, but i just couldn’t move any faster. the pain was intense and i felt exhausted but also frustrated as i knew i could go further as i’d done it in training. we planned to get to mum and as we got to the end of the path i saw her waiting for us with a huge smile. ‘how you doing?’ she asked, 'it’s not going to happen’ i replied, with my head down.

we walked to the pub where mum was parked and i ran in to the toilet, i reflected on what had happened over the last few hours, i felt broken but before the race i told myself to keep going even when i felt like i had no more to give and only stop when i physically couldn’t go any further. i came back to the car park and saw mum and dad and they were ready to get me in the car and start the drive home. ‘i want to keep going’ i said. they both looked surprised but immediately were on board and supported my decision. i had a horrible blister on my toe so i strapped it up, drank a glass of coke which gave me an amazing hit of sugar and then got back on the road.

i don’t know what happened during this 20 minute stop but as i started again, i had a new lease of life, the pain killers had kicked in and we were now averaging 13 minute miles which was an amazing improvement and more than that, i was actually enjoying it!! we still had the bikes behind us but i had a spring in my step again and deep down i knew the race wasn’t over and we were back on track.

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the miles melted away, we ate skittles, laughed as we went, reminisced about our time on kili and i felt so happy and content to be completing this with dad.

then we got to the half marathon checkpoint, 13.1 miles to go. based on the time i had been out if they multiplied up they worked out i would finish by 10pm – the cut off was 7pm – the marshals said they needed to ring the race director to see if they were going to have to time me out. we pleaded with them that i was feeling better and had sped up, but they were like tradesmen pricing a job *deep intake of breath P shaking of the head P arms folded P* - it wasn’t looking good! as we filled our bottles i could see the marshal talking seriously on the phone. dad said to me ‘you carry on, i’ll catch you up to save wasting time’ so i kept going and then heard the deep shout of the marshal ‘put your number and timing chip down, you can carry on at your own risk but hand over your number’. i turned around debating what to do... i knew my race wasn’t over, i didn’t want to get in the van to be driven back to the finish line and i didn’t want a dnf and to hand my number over!! i looked at dad and he shouted ‘just keep running fluff!’. i only needed to be told once!! i turned back around and continued on the road ahead leaving the marshal confused and still shouting to leave my number!

dad caught me up and we laughed like naughty school kids running away from the grumpy teacher! we continued at the same pace, taking in the beauty of cambridge and as the sun began to set i felt so much better. with 8 miles to go we stopped and saw mum and by then i knew there was nothing going to stop me now.

by mile 36 we knew we weren’t going to make the 7pm deadline. it would be close but we knew we wouldn’t get there. we rang mum and gave her the update, she was now waiting at the finish line. we kept going and then suddenly the beautiful ely cathedral was back in sight. as we started up the last road towards the cathedral, dad crossed the road to let me have my moment and as we got closer i could hear mum shouting and cheering and by the light of the street lamps i could see she was with 2 other people.

i ran my heart out touched the finish point and sighed a huge sigh of relief. then as i walked towards mum it became apparent that she had convinced the race director to stay and wait for me to finish, mum told him about my back pain and that it was my first ultra and he kindly stuck around! i crossed the line at 7:22pm, the cut off was 7pm. he gave me a goodie bag and congratulated me and then from his back pocket he presented me with my medal, i questioned him and said that i hadn’t made it on time and he said that i deserved it for the perseverance and determination to not give up! what a top guy!

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the other person with mum was one of the runners that i had run with for the first few miles or so. i saw her a few times during the race and she passed me on her way back as i was still making my way to the halfway point. she had finished an hour prior to me but came back to take a picture of the cathedral in the dark. as she did she spotted my mum and started chatting, when mum told her i was still running, she asked if she could stick around and see me finish! i was overwhelmed by the kindness of the these 2 strangers, and probably overly enthusiastically hugged them both!! what a day!

i was elated! after 10 hours 44 minutes i had finished my first ultra.

the car journey home i slept but kept waking up and feeling for my medal, to make sure i hadn’t dreamt it! the first few days of recovery were rough as we think i got sun-stroke as the heat was relentless, but apart from sickness, a few blisters and tired legs i feel great! the whole day was amazing, but what i took away from it more than anything is to surround yourself with people that love you and support you. i 100% wouldn’t have finished the race without dad’s support throughout and without mum following us along the route with food and drink. these two are heroes.

time for some rest now!!

as brucey would have said "didn't she do well"

there are lots of things i'd like to say about this episode of our family life, but they will all sound like soundbites from a nike ad, so i won't, except to say i'm super proud of this young woman, and can't wait to see how her life continues, i have a feeling it's going to be a great journey.

thanks for tuning in, and i'll get a bumper cardiff half marathon edition blog out to you next week, but just to say to all runners good luck, and keep an eye out for the 14 bigmoose supporter stations at every mile along the course, and if you see our runners if you're supporting, don't forget to cheer with a huge 'moose moose moose', to make them feel loved.

have a great week,

jeffro

 

 

 

 

 

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one little fluffy, there's only one little fluffy! (how to embarass your child in one easy lesson)

good morning bigmoose friends,

we're 24 hours late this week, which i will explain why in a wee while, but first off, i want to tell you how excited i am about this weekend in smithland!

today, my fellow bigmoose cohort, and second born child of mine [and tania obviously, couldn't have done it without ya tan ;)] chloe, aka fluffy, is running her first ultramarathon. 

well technically this isn't true, as she has run 30 miles in her training programme, which actually makes her an ultrarunner already, but on sunday she takes part in her first ultra race, and is aiming to run 42 miles off the bat.

now this is pretty mean feat for any human, but for one that a year and a half ago had never run a mile, and struggles with her health daily due to some kidney problems she has, i reckon this is a pretty monumental effort.

chloe rhian smith as we named her is a bit of a feisty one, and punches very well above her weight, and many many blogs ago i wrote the infamous story of how she categorically wouldn't wear the blue dress in her kindergarten production of the nativity play at her third christmas on the planet, resulting in her being given a supporting role, as opposed to the preferred by all part of mary.

the writing was on the wall.

at fifteen she summited mount kilimanjaro, raising fifteen thousand pounds for a local barnardos project in cardiff, and at seventeen she returned to africa to volunteer for a month to help build schools, mixing concrete and laying blocks among other tasks.

she studied to become a teacher, but realised it wasn't going to allow her the freedom she craved to make a difference, so she made the hugely brave decision to come and work with me in my business, and on the bigmoose groove, and recently whilst i was on everest she ran our social media, getting amazing comments from everyone who followed our journey, for her portrayal of my adventure in her words to accompany the pictures, as well as coping, the same as the rest of my girls did, with not knowing if i was going to be coming back.

as you can tell i am extremely proud of both our dustbin lids in equal amounts, but it just so happens this weekend belongs to chloe.

we will be driving to cambridge today to rest up ready for the early start tomorrow, for what i hope will be the culmination of an amazing amount of training and effort, and as somebody involved with bigmoose, what a fantastic show of courage and determination she shows us all.

she is a grafter, a fighter for others rights, and as with both of my girls i am amazingly proud of her, but this race is a big effort and mentally a biggie, so if you get a chance please follow her on @chloe_runs on instagram, and give her a bigup, i'm sure she would appreciate it, and hopefully she might inspire you to do something a bit out of your comfort zone as well.

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so, why a saturday blog i hear you shout.

basically, i screwed up.

i'll start at the beginning.

last monday me and chloe trundled down to windsor to the delightful braywood school tucked away down a leafy lane, and full of lots of learning, ready for us to tell them about our everest journey.

the talk went great, and we did an assembly and visits to individual classes for some top questions from the kids, including the standard 'how do you go to the toilet?' enquiry.

as we had approached the school i did a double take, as i saw two huge heads which looked like ugly versions of our monarchs in somebody's garden, and on our return trip we slowed to reveal the queen and prince philip, looking pretty haunting, and had it been night time i worried about how my sleep pattern would have been interrupted.

i did a quick google and found a picture for you with the effigies owner ben bennet aged 83, who alleges to have found them in a house clearance, and decided to put them in his front garden to show the passing world, which i'm sure is what me and you would do as well, makes perfect sense.

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so this was monday.

wednesday evening i had been invited to talk about homelessness at an event arranged by chris nott in cardiff, and the event was a bit of a biggie, with the leader of cardiff council, the head business correspondent for wales online, and a load of ceo's of charities and other companies in attendance, and overall very overawing, and i felt very nervous before my spot at the end of the evening.

thankfully it seemed to go ok, and some very positive connections have presented themselves, with one chap i know well whispering to me 'call me tomorrow, i think we might have a pot of money we can give you for the coffee shop' so i will see him next week, but i have to admit i am flipping super excited at this, so it just goes to show, you've gotta get out there and shout about what you're up to, marketing marketing marketing i guess, but it never fails to scare the bejesus out of me beforehand.

so two down, one to go.

thursday saw me head for sunny lancaster, where i had never been before, and when i looked at the distance from the station to the barracks where i was going to be speaking only being 2.2 miles i chose to walk rather than getting a taxi, and was rewarded with a stunning walk along a huge river, with a weir, ducks, and amazingly beautiful vistas worthy of constable's fair brush.

as i entered the barbed wired facility, i was met by a soldier called paddy, wearing fatigues, and a beret that fitted perfectly, and the way he stood exuded confidence.

we chatted and walked to where i was going to be presenting, which was a bit of a ramshackle looking facility, that looked a little tired and in need of some tlc.

however, once inside, the audio visual system was better than most five star hotels i have been in, and the kit had a lecturn with a touch screen monitor which mirrored the laptop that would be plugged in, and a sound system using a brand my day job has taught me is top drawer, this was hi tec indeed, never judge a book.

mark yates, who i had never met in person before introduced himself, and his firm but warm handshake, confirmed what i had already guessed about this blog reader who had contacted me post everest to see if i would come and talk to his troops, he was a goodun.

a man who has dedicated his working life to the army, and now trains soldiers to be the best they can be, is himself a very accomplished athlete, having completed among other things the 'triple brutal' consisting of a 7.2 mile swim, then a 336 bike ride, followed by a 78.6 mile run, all up hill and dale, including a summit of ben nevis, so not for one second did i underestimate this humans physical and mental strength, and i have to say when i meet people capable of doing such stuff, they tend to often be extremely humble, as was mark.

the talk seemed to go ok, and the q & a whilst not as lively as the schoolkids, seemed to be more cerebral, as you would expect, and post event feedback from mark states that "it evoked some deep feelings on social responsibility and compassionate leadership. also some of the guys were saying that i came across as a 'normal bloke' which empowered them to strike out a bit harder and go for their own challenges"

my work was done.

how cool is that, we're making a difference by making a difference, i love it!

mark and paddy, (peter kay fans sit down please) then drove to the station under the cover of night, and as mark looked at his phone he relayed that i needed to catch the 20:56 train for birmingham new street, and as we pulled up outside the dimly lit station, my watch read 20:54.

i boarded, and breathed a sigh of relief that i had made the last train, getting me back to the 'diff about 1am, all good.

i didn't check my phone for my connecting train time until we had stopped at preston, crewe and warrington, and a little bit of investigation revealed that i should in fact have got off at crewe.

muppet.

i don't tend to do panic, but it soon became apparent that this faux pas had thrust me into an unretrievable situation, there was no way i was going to make birmingham new street before the last train left at 22:21.

aw fish, as princess carolyn would say.

i communicated this message back to the cottage, where tan and chlo questioned what i was going to do, and i assured them i would be fine, but that my journey from the midlands would not continue until 05:00 and i would see them for breakfast.

muppet.

now in this situation, i had choices.

beat myself up about what a tool i had been.

get a hotel, which would cost me an arm and a leg for a very few hours of room useage.

or, i suggested to myself, i could use the experience as an adventure.

you know where this is going don't you.

i decided i would see what being homeless in birmingham looked and felt like, and i won't tell you the full story here and now, i will just boil it down to tell you i spent the night walking the streets of a very cold birmingham city centre, immersing myself in the danger and darkness that appeared around a number of corners.

this wasn't some corporate night on the streets with bands and pizza, please excuse my cynicism for such events, i'm sure they mean well, but for a more authentic experience go it alone, take away the safety net, then the senses are heightened i can tell you.

as day broke, i was cold to my core, and my three layers, including my rab down jacket, had only provided minimal protection, so what anybody with lesser thermal protection would be feeling like gawd only knows.

i knew i was going be making my way back to a hot shower, eggs on a bagel, with ketchup, and pondered that there were people of all ages that were now awakening to the next chapter of daylight and this was their life, life on the street.

man that sucks.

as the train took me back to my nest, i grew tired, and the safety of the carriage allowed me to drift into unconsciousness, knowing i wasn't going to get mugged, killed or abused in some way that the previous hours hadn't allowed me to do.

as i stepped out of the taxi and into my home, i was tired, but had lots of hope for the day and my life ahead, but my fellow street sleepers had this missing from their lives.

hope.

love.

simple stuff, but oh so important.

our homeless event on wednesday had two young people that had come though a time living on the street, and were now living back in warm homes with food and shelter, and their stories whilst harrowing, helped me realise that there is lots of work to be done, and my small amount of time in downtown brum has only strengthened my resolve.

humans need hope, and it is our responsibility as parents, as employers, and as people to help give hope to others, in whatever form that may take, encourage, grow, nurture, however we can.

geez, i got into it a bit there, sorry about that, but hopefully you get why, and my war cry rally's you to take arms so to speak.

the bitter sweet taste of heinz blended with my bagel and egg, and i contemplated writing my blog, but dear bigmoose blog reader, i decided that i was spent, emotionally and physically, and what i needed was rest, and i banked on the fact that you would understand, and get it, that whilst always attempting to hit deadlines, and deliver in a satisfactory way, it isn't really that important, and the bigger picture is about the impact we make, and sometimes the story of failure or imperfection is more relevant and more powerful.

so, to end on a super positive note i just wanted to update you on the offer of furniture and stuff we were offered by mr x recently, who works for ***** ******* and has this week confirmed almost all of the furniture we looked at recently will be given to us free of charge, so as soon as we get the coffee shop we are rocking!!!

also, mr x doesn't work for pizza express as one friend recently suggested, her great attempt at hangman not being wholly successful, sorry nads.

have a top drawer week ahead, give people around you hope, invest in them, which will in turn deliver smiles for you, and send some positive vibes to my little fluffy kid running 67592.4 metres, GO ON FLUFF!!!

mucho amor, 

cielos azules,

jeffers

 

 

 

 

 

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darren hardy, cardiff half and school of hard knocks

good morning bigmoose friends,

how goes?

this week i'd really like you to take thirty seconds to reflect on your last seven days.

how've they been?

happy with them?

if you answered yes, that's great.

if you aren't, have a think about why.

can you change anything to shake things up?

regular blog readers will know that some years ago i invested in going out to san diego for a two and a half day course with darren hardy, where i learnt a tremendous amount, which i still apply to areas of my life today.

darren supplies his 'darren daily' foc, and it consists of lots of ideas, and thoughts on self improvement, and i tend to watch it most days.

today he did a throwback to honour his mentor jim rohn, as it would have been his birthday today, and although it looks a bit dated, he has some interesting ideas about doing some simple exercises to improve who you are.

i totally don't wanna become some kind of evangelist for darren or the late jim rohn, but have a watch, i think there are some simple concepts that could spur you on to do some cool changes in your world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=190&v=waHFo2Rn4f8  

i hope you liked the essence.

so now we are all perfect humans (lol) what's been going down?

i hope you've done some cool stuff, and there seem to be more and more blog readers getting in touch, to tell us of great stuff they are doing or have discovered, so this week i'd like to share a website that a friend of mine steph waterman sent me.

i met steph back in 2014 as she trekked to everest base camp, and she has supported bigmoose since then, coming to our black tie shindig with her mum, and she is a lovely human.

anyway this week steph sent me a link to  a website called postpals, and basically postpals is set up to allow individuals to send a card, letter or even a gift that can give a poorly child's face a much needed lift, and as they quote 'brightening the lives of sick children'.

now, i think it's delightful, but it's a pretty emotional site, so tread carefully, but if you want a way of doing something really simple and quick to brighten a child's day have a look.

www.postpals.co.uk

phew, emotional right?

in other news, things have been very busy in bigmoose hq, distributing our cardiff half shirts, ready for our runners to paint the town orange on october 1st, and although i won't be running the race i am stoked about how much fun it's gonna be.

i know there are a load of blog readers coming from all over the gaff, london, leicester, essex, cornwall, and portugal, so i hope we're gonna have a lot of fun.

the bbc rang us yesterday, and want to do a story on the fact that so many people are getting involved to help raise awareness of mental health issues, so what great exposure, with the whole journey buzzing with energy, which transmits into power, power to do good, which is very beautiful and worthwhile, so thank you to everyone getting involved, and if you can't get involved directly, follow the race, and maybe encourage someone in some way, get involved and be a part of a lovely thing.

the big thing that has really hit me this year is how running as a team can psychologically be so therapeutic, so we have a bit of a plan to continue our training runs after the race, and form some kind of a running club, possibly encouraging people from all over the world to join in and run satellite clubs, which could be fun, and i have already sounded a few people out, so if you fancy having a chat about setting something informal up in your neck of the woods please drop me a line.

for me next week is a pretty busy one, and i will be talking at a school about everest, an event addressing homelessness, and an infantry batallion in lancashire, which is pretty diverse, but i am really excited, and yesterday i had an article published in the western mail education supp about schools and growth mindset, encouraging people with a story to contact schools to engage and share, so i'm a tiny bit proud of that one, and if it gets one person to go to one school, hopefully that's good, and the power of the everest story is continuing to do positive things for the world.

in other news, last night i went to a rugby match arranged by school of hard knocks.

arranged as the finale to their first adult programme in wales, it was a pretty emotional affair, with this gaggle of individuals, now having gone through some amazing training in the classroom and on the rugby pitch, and forming a cohesive unit, who it was obvious have found something in life that has possibly alluded them in the past, hope.

the bond these men showed on the pitch, and at the end of the game was a joy to watch, and i think i mentioned before that i have been asked to be an ambassador for them, and i can't wait to get involved, hopefully helping inspire them to believe in themselves, and make pivotal changes in their lives.

here is a video with one of the lads on the programme, which reminds me of that saying that you can't change the past, but you can change the future. 

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/arrested-100-times-gripped-heroin-13520761

well i can feel the blog police looking at their wristwatches and doing that look they do when the blog gets a little long (every week) so i'll wrap things up now.

thanks for all your positive comments on the first chapter of the book last week, and one blog reader, who is a man of few words messaged me last week for the first time ever 'good blog' high praise indeed, and it must have really touched him to get such a gushing response, and has inspired me to keep scribing!

i met a geezer a couple of weeks ago who subsequently we had a text chat about some stuff, and at the end of his message he penned 'have a super day on planet earth' which i liked, so i would like to wish you the same, but extend it to a super week, until we meet again.

blue skies,

jeffers

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bigmoose and our everest summit

morning chums,

firstly cheers for all your messages last week saying you were going to do some stuff to make others smile, one of which was a friend of old, who text me saying he showed his staff last weeks blog, and they then "sent a bunch of flowers to an unsuspecting client whose father had passed away recently, and have now decided to do a feel good factor theme every first of the month", great job steve, thanks for letting me know.

this old blog mullarkey has an impact which i sometimes underestimate, as i found out when i had a young lady contact me last week who is a psychologist and wants to help do some stuff together, and when i asked her why, she told me she read my recent blogs and liked the honesty, so therein lies a lesson.

anyway, this week i am going to share my first chapter of my book with you, which is written exactly how i've been told to write it, with no research, no referencing, just let it flow, grammar and spelling mistakes an' all, so here goes.....

As the summit came into view probably two hundred metres away, I knew that I was going to make it.

The boy from finsbury park in North London, who had gone to school with holes in his shoes, was going to summit Sagarmartha, the tallest mountain in the world, standing at 8848m high, this was the mountain that everybody knew, though possibly by it’s western name of Mount Everest, the one the movie was about, the one that hundreds of books and documentaries were about, and I had probably seen all of them in my bid to learn as much about this place as I could.

And yet, all of my research and meticulous preparation couldn’t prepare me enough for the emotion that I would feel as I realized my dream, my goal, my pure unadulterated joy of getting to the top of the world.

As I breathed through my mask that had provided me with supplementary oxygen for the last thousand vertical metres, I knew that barring any lapses in judgement I was going to get to sprinkle my best mates ashes on the summit, have pictures taken with my sponsors flags, and I also knew I would get to make that call.

That call back to my home in Cardiff where my family were waiting, pacing up and down, totally out of control, fearing the worst, that I might actually die on this last leg of the journey, but hoping and praying that I would call and tell them that I had made it.

This journey I had taken was extremely selfish, and only after I returned to the UK did I realize how much my family had been affected, fearing for my life for the best part of ten weeks while I was in Nepal.

They put on brave faces, but Tania and our two daughters Tiffany and Chloe 26 and 22 had lived through the pressure of not knowing if I would come home, knowing that if I were to die, where many do, on this amazing but deadly mountain, that I would have died in a world that would make me happy, but their lives would have to carry on without me, and as a very close family that would have been sad.

With each step that took me closer I could see the brightly coloured prayer flags fluttering gently in the wind. Today was a morning of amazing weather, and Russell Brice our head guide, or Big Boss as his team of Sherpa call him with affection, had got the weather forecasting perfect, and our trust in his judgement was to be rewarded, as the sun shone bright and clear, and the wind on the top which can reach up to 150 miles per hour was almost at zero.

Every step I took got me closer to the summit, and I started to prepare to be as efficient with time as possible, as I knew we would only spend 15-20 minutes at the top, and that would pass very quickly.

I knew where my satphone was, as I had it inside my down suit, next to my heart, not for symbolism, but to stay warm, as when satphones and cameras get cold their batteries lose power, and I really didn’t want any hiccups with my planned call home.

Flags were packed neatly in one of my rucksack pockets, and moose’s ashes were in another pocket, safely ensconced in a lightweight camera case, to stop me from accidentally smashing the tiny glass container they now resided in, I really didn’t want my mates remains scattered inside my rucksack, that would have been time consuming even though he would have laughed at the comedy had this happened, such was our relationship, and the guy who had been my ice hockey defenceman for a number of years on the ice, had also grown to become my best friend, often getting me in and out of scrapes as our teenage impudence moulded the men we would become.

As I sat in a tiny hotel toilet drinking a bottle of beer, rehearsing my lines for my best mans speech, I didn’t realize that this, the first public speaking I had ever done at my best friends wedding, would be followed years later by speaking in front of thousands of people about my adventure to the top of Mount Everest to scatter his ashes after he died aged 42 from cancer.

We approached the summit, me and my two team mates Joe and Karzu, along with Gyaljen Sherpa and our guide Bruce, an antipodean that I had met and climbed with three years previously when my first Himalayan adventure had taken me to climb Manaslu. As we all made our way onto the crown of Peak 15 as this work of nature was known prior to the Welshman George Everest, measuring her back in the 1852, and being renamed as Mount Everest in 1856, I noticed how amazingly calm it was, almost serene, with no threat of danger whatsoever.

However, we were well into the Death Zone, above 8000m, and our bodies were dying with every ridiculously tough step we took up towards the blue sky.

Science says that our bodies cannot function properly at this altitude, and due to the lack of oxygen, we actually start to eat ourselves, so staying any longer at this height than we really needed to was above and beyond dangerous, literally.

I had made it, and now I wanted to share it with my family, to let them know I was safe.

I put my hand into my down suit and fumbled for my satphone, but it wasn’t there.

It must be, there’s no way it would have fallen out, and I searched harder and deeper, and as I felt the aerial deep inside my pocket, I breathed out relieved.

I took the phone out and it felt warm as it had been sitting next to my heart, which I imagined would have been beating faster than it probably had ever done before, and thus generating lots of heat.

I pressed the tiny button on the side, and it burst into life, and told me that it had full battery, brilliant, so far so good.

Now, would we get signal?

There was no way I could prepare properly for this moment, I was in the hands of Thuraya the satphone company, and I just hoped that at that precise moment signal would be good.

Searching for satellites…………………

The next twenty seconds seemed like twenty minutes, until the screen flashed up “Nepal” telling me we had action, and I proceeded to dial the number.

Within seconds the call connected, and the phone in my daughter Chloe’s hand rang with my satphone number as the incoming call, and I have since found out what her exact feelings were, relief, excitement, and still the fear that I had to get down the mountain safely.

Some years before this moment I had listened to my mate Richard Parks phone home from the same spot I was calling, and he cried, which in turn made me cry, so being a very emotional animal I anticipated a few tears as the emotion of actually making it to the top of the world would wash over me.

“Hi baby, we made it” I muttered, and I could hear Chloe’s emotion in her voice as she answered me, “We’re all safe, and we are now standing on the top of the world”, “that’s fantastic Dad, we are all so proud of you” and I could hear her voice cracking a little, so I attempted to be brave, and stay strong.

“The view is amazing, and everybody has made it safely”

“That’s brilliant do you feel ok?”

“Yep, I feel great, so we’re going to take some pictures, and head back down, and I will call you when we get down to Camp 4”

“OK, brilliant, stay safe, we all love and miss you”

I love you too baby, say hi to Mum and Tiffany”

“I will, we’re really proud of you”

“Love you baby, speak soon”

“Love you Dad”

And end call.

Now I felt emotional.

And breathe Smithman!!

I breathed through my Darth Vader mask very deeply, and felt the urge to say “Luke I am your Father” but chose not to, it seemed a little inappropriate, but broke the ice for me in what was a bit of an emosh moment.

Ok, next stage of Everest summit tasks!

I had admin to take care of, pictures to be taken, and ashes to be spread.

I sat down with the prayer flags very close to me to my left, and a picture of the Dalai Lama in the background, which I chose to be the backdrop for my summit pictures, and as I unfurled my sponsor flags, and handed my phone to Bruce, he kindly snapped away for me, capturing the images that I had dreamt of.

As Bruce pointed the phone at me I felt my feet slip, just slightly, but at over five miles high, slipping slightly was enough to put fear into my heart.

I lifted my feet up and stamped down with force, and the spikey crampons that were strapped to my high altitude boots, dug into the snow, and my mind drifted to thoughts of me being the worlds first climber to summit Mount Everest, but then to slip off, falling to my death, what an absolutely rubbish epitaph, I really didn’t want it to end with Bruce radioing down to Base Camp, to the legendary Big Boss, and saying “I’m really sorry Russ, but Jeff just fell off” it’s funny how your mind works when it’s starved of oxygen, but this really was bothering me.

I looked at my crampons, and they were dug in with some force, I wasn’t going anywhere, as I searched my rucksack for the small glass receptacle full of my pals remains.

I was given the ashes by his wife Julie back in 2014 when I made my first journey to Nepal to attempt to climb, but unfortunately that trip was to end in a massive icefall, which killed 16 of our Sherpa brothers, and the decision was made to cancel the climbing season that year, so moose’s ashes returned home with me, as he waited for the next post life adventure I would take him on.

I had deposited a small amount of the aforementioned ashes behind a radiator when I received an invite to number 10 Downing Street, but that’s another story for later, but for now I had to get Super Bruce to film me sprinkling my best friends remains at the top of the world, in one take, and without having them blow in any unexpected directions. I really didn’t want any gusts covering Joe with ashes, or for that matter have them blow over me, and I had this awful premonition that if moose was living in the after life, and had any control whatsoever he would have given a little blow, just to cause ashes to cover me, and my biggest fear of all, to go in my mouth, man I worry a lot!

Bruce signaled he was ready, and I started to take the tape off the bottle top, and gently poured the ashes into the wind, I only had one take at this, there was no second chance, no pressure.

The bottle emptied, and I looked at Bruce for confirmation that he had got the shot, and as he nodded I felt relief, and a feeling of happiness that my best mate had shared this moment with me, in some surreal way, but the fact that he was in my mind made me feel happy, he would have loved what I was doing, and I could hear his voice saying “you’re f*****g mad you are” but in a loving way, we had a great relationship, extremely rude to each other in a typical blokey way, but fiercely protective of each other, and I remember vividly getting the phone call from him, while I stood on a busy Regent Street in London with my family, and him telling me that his cancer, which he had beaten once, had come back again, but this time had spread to his liver, and I knew this was the end.

I stood like a statue on the busy London street, and it was like a movie, with everything passing me really fast, as I listened to my best mates soft voice tell me his news, and as we hung up the tears rolled down my cheeks, and as Tania looked at me she knew, we all knew.

that's chapter one, rough and raw, and i'm sure it will need to be polished, but we're cracking on with it.

here's the video we took at the top, in case you haven't seen it on social media, and just for reference the bit where i am on top of lobuche was shot on the anniversary of when i was in exactly the same spot in 2014 and heard that there had been the icefall killing 16 sherpa, and was feeling a bit emosh, which is why my voice cracks a bit #tinytears

IMG_3852.jpg

so, finally we are just over three weeks until the cardiff half, and i just wanted to say thank you to everybody that has helped by signing up to run, agreed to carry a bigmoose sign, and generally helped in any way.

we're doing a brilliant job in raising awareness and dollar, for 'mind' and if you are coming to cardiff to watch the race, cheer our runners on with a 'moose moose moose' as they pass, they will be easy to spot in their bigmoose running shirts.

have a great week ahead on planet earth, and i'll see you back here next week, thanks for your support,

blue skies,

jeff

 

 

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big thanks and big love

hi,

how's your week been?

mine, dear bigmoose blog reader, has been the polar opposite of the last couple, aided by a load of you lovely lot that have sent me messages supporting me being 100% transparent with how i've been rocked by recent circumstances and feelings.

the fact that you have taken the time out of your busy lives to message me has been extremely uplifting, and what i think we can all get from this is how small gestures can have such a  massive impact.

so, have a think of one person that one small action could make a difference to, and if every one of you who reads this follows through, we will have touched almost five hundred people, the power of which is insane, so let's give it a try, take five minutes out today to make someone smile because they didn't expect what you are going to do, send them a hand written note or card telling them you love them, or you care, call them and check in on them, or any other creative gesture you think of, and when you have let me know, i would love to hear the difference you can make.

this action will definitely count as september's monthly moose, so what better time to do it than today, go gettem you beauts!!

so, with only a month to go until the cardiff half marathon, we are getting pretty amped, and this years bigmoose dickie dirts arrived yesterday, and i have to say i love how they've turned out, and i reckon they are going to look brilliant with over a hundred bigmoose runners pounding the south wales course this year.

we had one of our training runs this monday, and there is a lad who has joined us on our journey, we'll call him tom for anonymity.

his name isn't really tom by the way.

or maybe it is.

anyway, 'tom' was really struggling with depression, and was in a really dark place to be honest, and he agreed with his bro, who we'll call 'craig' for anonymity, to come and run with us.

his name isn't really craig by the way.

or maybe it is.

anyway, he turned up to run, having never run before, cranks out a few miles, and seems to be very happy with his performance, as the other bigmoose runners big him up and show him a whole loada bigmoose love.

fast forward eight weeks and tom has already run the 13.1 miles, the distance the cardiff half is, and told me monday with a beaming smile, that he now runs most days, and it just gives him such a feeling of freedom to pull on his sneaks and step out the door into a world that he didn't know existed for him before, almost meditative in it's own way.

tom was having therapy prior to his first run, but his therapist has now signed him off, saying that he is good to go, and craig confirmed that the change and the difference in tom has been literally amazing, and tom has agreed to be a part of the short film that craig is shooting about this bigmoose cardiff half journey we are all on, and how it has changed him, and i for one can't wait until race day to see the euphoria and emotion that all of our runners will feel as they cross the finish line.

chloe and i returned home after the monday sesh, and discussed how brilliant this year has been, and in general the whole running vibe.

last year we ran in memory of emily, our lovely friend we lost too early, and that was a part of her mum donna's grieving process, which was brilliant, and this year running to raise awareness of mental health issues is proving to be so so powerful, and tom's story just makes every minute we spend co-ordinating things worthwhile, and i am so pleased that what started out as a bit of a dream has turned into a life changing process, and we should all be so proud, as we are all part of this in some way.

here was our training sesh pic, with a smaller than usual squad, due to it being a bank holiday methinks.

here was our training sesh pic, with a smaller than usual squad, due to it being a bank holiday methinks.

in the picture the two guys that are on the left of the pic that look alike are called craig and tom, just saying.

big smiles huh :)

also, while on the running groove, bigmoose love for the geezer wearing the blue whittle fit shirt, who is mark whittle our resident running rockstar trainer who turns up rain or shine to guide our troops, and help with all manner of training tips and guidance, all because he's a lovely chap, so thanks mark, and if you want to check him out he has a lush website here http://www.whittlefit.com/ 

so that was monday, and the rest of the week has been pretty exciting too, with some personal shizzle going on as well as bigmoose, including being employed to be a producer on a champions hockey league tv production in my home town of cardiff, which was a first for me, but i really enjoyed it, and will now add tv producer to my cv, and i have another two gigs ahead, which i can't wait for, variety is the spice of life hey?

the other absolutely blinking mahoosive thing that happened this week was that a secret benefactor, that i absolutely can't mention, has offered us some furniture for the coffee shop, and as we pulled up outside this mammoth warehouse east of cardiff, tania, chloe and i were absolutely gobsmacked at the size of the place.

the deal is that we met a chap on our tour of schools prior to everest, and then saw him again on the post everest follow up adventure, and long story short he works for a very cool national restaurant chain, who have lots of furniture that becomes superfluous to their needs when they do refurbs, and they store it before disposing of it.

mr x had arrange for us to visit this aladdin's cave in a pretty secret location, and as we stood there, mouths wide open at the vastness, and beauty of the furniture ensconced in it's new storage area, he informed us that there was probably less than ten people had ever see this place.

honoured indeed.

we wandered the aisles, like a huge costco, and were told to think about all we needed to fit out our new venture, and none of us could really believe what was happening.

there was literally everything we needed, chairs, tables, chandeliers, mirrors, lighting, you name it, it was there.

so, two hours later, we emerged having earmarked a myriad of furnishings that once ok'd by mr x's gaffer hopefully will form the fabric of our new venture.

we drove home, almost in shock, and as we eventually broke the silence, we talked about the serendipity that we had tripped over with the school talks, and how the whole circle of events that led us to this point were so brilliant, but so unexpected.

we haven't got the signoff on everything yet, but please keep your fingers crossed for us, as i hope the man from ----- ------- says yes, we will report back asap.

well i had intended writing a very short intro today, and then adding in my first chapter of my book, which highlights my summit of everest, but it's pretty long, and the blog police would bang me up good and proper if i extended what seems to be quite a long blog anyway, so i will endeavour to share it with you next week, but as you can tell, whereas a fortnight ago i struggled with words, that definitely ain't a problem today!

finally i am going to unashamedly end today's blog with a big heap of promotion for my first born, tiffany who whilst living in london pursuing her acting career, has embarked on an entrepreneurial enterprise in her down time, which appears to be doing spiffingly well, which firstly makes me extremely proud, but also very keen to share, as i think it is a brilliant venture. 

i won't go into detail, but here is a link to what she's up to https://www.brushandbubbles.com/

FullSizeRender.jpg

cool huh?

she is doing events in london and cardiff, so if you fancy it, get involved, one of the great things she is seeing is that people are discovering skills they didn't even know they had, which is brilliant, and very aligned to bigmoose's ethos, great job t.

so, thanks again for your lush support, bigup yerselves, do that cool thing and contact someone, and then bask in the warm glow of loveliness that you will feel after you've done something smile inducing for someone in your world.

have a great week, and i'll see you back here next week, enjoy life.

blue skies,

jeffro

 

 

 

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hitting the wall

good morning bigmoosers,

sorry about last week, i hit a wall.

i have been very naive, and i didn't see it coming.

last friday i had a combination of factors that influenced me, and as i sat before my keyboard, i just couldn't write anything, and as i sat there trying, so it became harder to even start, and i eventually concluded that it wasn't going to happen, and i typed what i now realise was probably a cry for help.

i truly didn't want to, as i really do not behave that way in normal life, but maybe on reflection i needed help, i needed a load of you guys to contact me to see if i was ok, maybe my situation craved help.

apparently so.

i think the reason for my dark fog last week was made up of a number of factors, all playing their part in weighing me down, and now i have had a chance to look at what caused the engine not to start, i feel confident i can avoid a recurrence, and i am really glad i have shared it with you, as it shows that this kind of stuff can hit at any time.

firstly, i have been aware that returning from a successful summit of the highest mountain in the world often brings a wall that climbers are renowned at hitting full face afterwards, and i had expected it in 2014 when i returned having been turned around by the death of 16 sherpa, but it never came, and i put this down to the creation of bigmoose, and the energy that this gave me.

this time however, i had seen a couple of cracks from fellow summiteers, but i didn't feel it myself, as i was still very excited by the work that bigmoose was doing, helping others with mental health issues, helping them with running, being a part of a caring team, and all the benefits that our runners are experiencing, as well as getting very close to signing the lease for our coffee shop, and what that will do for others as well.

all super exciting things, which i hoped would stop me from hitting that wall.

but here's how last week panned out, and it appears, face planted me slap bang against the brickwork!

i have been meaning to write a book for some time, and having been given a book on 'how to write a book'. 

i read it, and concluded to make my commitment, get myself an accountability partner, thanks pedro, and get writing.

all well and good, but here's where the naivety came in.

i have told this story to a couple of people since last week, and i think the analogy works.

if i presented you with a black box, and told you that it was a jack in the box, and it was a pretty scary character that was inside the box, and that it springs out fast, you would be ready and prepared, and as you pressed the button, you would more than likely be totally ok, as you knew what was going to happen.

however, if i just smiled and put the box before you, and told you to press the button with no warning, the result would probably be very different.

evil_jack_in_the_box_by_deadman1972-d586etp.jpg

 

my life has quite a few black boxes, which i have packed up, put in the darkest corner in the loft of my mind, and they have stayed there for decades.

as i merrily set about writing about my life during the early years, where i had some traumatic stuff go on, i completely forgot what was in the boxes, and as i pressed the buttons the emotional connection to these things was revisited, and i didn't realise how they would affect me so powerfully.

my naivety was such that i didn't expect the consequences of revisiting this time, and unbeknownst to me, it was to have a rather profound effect, which enveloped me in a way i hadn't expected.

i have also been struggling to pay the remittance of my everest costs, which has been adding a huge pressure, as i feel guilt at having achieved something amazing, but not having paid my dues for that feeling of euphoria, which i think has led to me hitting the wall that i thought might happen, but i have done it by running into it with both eyes closed.

add in the awful terrorist attacks in spain, the second of which i woke to read about last friday, and i think i just shut down.

this is very outside my normal world, but i have to say i am kind of glad it has happened, as i hope i can learn from it, and i vow not to let it happen again if possible.

whilst writing my book, i am now looking forward to see any potential jack in the boxes, and as they approach i will be ready.

regarding everest, i have done some research on the matter, and i am in the 'what next' phase, that people that do this kind of thing have, and it is a question that been asked a lot, and i have answered with 'have a rest', 'spending time with my family', and now 'writing a book', but i have to say it does add a certain pressure, which i have to manage in my own way.

i also need to pay russ as soon as possible, as i need this part of the journey to be over as soon as possible, as it is no doubt adding pressure to me and to him.

so, last friday i slowly picked my game up, and that night i had an invite to a party that my climbing mate doogy was having to celebrate his wife's birthday, and as the rain poured down like a winter's night i really didn't want to go.

however, i stepped out into the rain and made the journey across town, and entered the happy atmosphere, drank a couple of martini espressos and had some lovely conversations with new faces, stayed long past the witching hour, and i think got myself back on track.

this week i feel a lot more like me, and the writing has been going really well, so hopefully the demons have been exorcised, but it has shown me that we can all get hit by mental health problems at any time, and i must never underestimate the negative power that can be produced.

i wasn't sure if sharing this in such detail was the best course of action, but hopefully it was and it explains things properly.

cheers for getting in touch last week, your text, call, e-mail genuinely really helped, and maybe the takeaway from all of this is that we all sometimes need to reach out if we think someone needs our help, and maybe on reflection it happened to me for a reason, and if that makes you think about how you see things in a different way, that is a great thing right?

i'm a big fan of learning from adversity, and allowing it's power to be used in a way that produces a positive outcome long term.

have a great week ahead, help anybody you can, and if you need help, ask for it, there's a lot of kind people out there.

blue skies,

jeff

 

 

 

 

 

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hi,

i have woken this morning with a heavy heart, events in the past 24 hours have brought me to a place where i don't feel i can write a blog.

this has never happened to me before, and i apologise.

have a great week.

jeff

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cause and effect, samaritans and stumpbusters

buenos dias bigmoose crew,

now i never really studied physics particularly well at school, and science wasn't really my bag in general really, but over the years, i have applied a lot of scientific theories to life, and this week i have become very aware of the law of cause and effect, and i won't insult your intelligence by outlining examples in the way that a very helpful explanation online does, though i must just share two quick examples that they list.

"john made a rude comment, so elise hit him."

harsh as an example of cause and effect i thought, and made a mental note if i ever meet an elise to be polite.

but my personal fave to explain the real science of cause and effect "the meal we ordered was cheaper than expected, so we ordered dessert."

really? i'm not too sure about that one, but i'm sure you get the gist of it anyway. (today i learnt that you spell gist g-i-s-t not j-i-s-t, who knew?)

well this week i started to think about the cause and effect of what bigmoose do, and how sometimes we don't realise the far reaching effects of what we write, what we say, and what we do, can have on people.

specifically, some responses to last weeks blog in which i wrote about mental health, and how we can all help others in our own way, resulting in receiving one of the biggest lots of e-mails from people telling their stories of mental health issues, and getting some personal feedback from people whose lives it appears we touch.

one chap had a conversation with us outlining that he is not in a position to run a half marathon just yet, but that by watching what we are up to it is inspiring him to run a small amount, which is helping him cope, and he wants to run the half next year, so it is stimulating him to have a goal, which in turn is helping him in his own way, and i was really glad he shared that, as it just shows the power of taking action, and sharing it with others.

my favourite e-mail we received last week though was from a young lady i won't name, but she has been a bigmoose supporter for years now, even though we have never met, but she does lots of cool stuff helping others less fortunate in her part of the uk.

she sent me this e-mail, but as a bit of a back story, my knowledge and awareness of her is she is a young twenty something girl who posts  a mix of beautiful sunsets and selfies on instagram, and she seems to me to be very well balanced and in control, and has given me permission to share her e-mail.

Jeff!

This one got to me! 

I have recently had to accept that I don't have(and probably never will have) the shiny, happy lifestyle that I craved to have, just like my social media feed told me I needed to have. That I can't have the body nor the face that mangazines have led me to believe natural. That actually the old 'smoke and mirrors' phrase couldn't be truer in today's world. 

Anxiety is a silent killer. That little black cloud that won't go away no matter how much sunshine is around you. 

Please please please pass on steps to well being. A government funded mental health line, I have weekly calls. Sometimes we chat, sometimes I talk, sometimes I just listen. I've cried, screamed, shouted and even hung up on my friendly anonymous stranger. But I dont know where I would be if she hadn't reached out. 

I hope your well Jeff, and apologies for it being so long since writing. 

I really hope your friend beats the demons... and my God are they demons. 

Lots of love 

i never knew she felt like this, and she hides it so well, which is becoming a story i am finding more and more familiar as i learn more about mental health.

the mental health line she uses only covers her area, and upon investigation like a lot of help lines it only operates during daytime work hours 9-5 ish, which prompted me to look at other helplines of this sort, who it appears all have similar hours, which i find very strange, as in my opinion evenings and night time are probably when things seem at their worst, and making a call to a help line during the day for most i would think is quite difficult, especially if the length of call needed is long, very strange indeed.

my investigations led me to the samaritans, who have a number you can call 24/7/365 which seemed great sense to me especially as at christmas time, when lots of people share joyous times with loved ones, it must be very difficult for people that are lonely, and possibly at risk, so constant phone coverage at this time seems a must.

if you need their details they can be found here https://www.samaritans.org/

and their phone number is 116 123 and is free.

so, if you're reading this and struggle at any time, don't suppress things, share how you are feeling, talk about it with someone, as talking about things definitely helps, and every action has a reaction, and hopefully it will be a good one.

for me this process is very much a learning one, and i am becoming more and more aware that a lot of people are struggling through their lives, hiding fears, and maybe i need to be more aware of the signs in order to help if needed.

wow, life is complicated sometimes isn't it.

but hopefully as well as being challenging it can also be amazingly exciting, great fun, thrilling, and hopefully happy, well here's a few of the things in my world that have made me smile, and excited this week, and hopefully they make you smile a bit.

* i employed a geezer to remove a tree stump in my garden, and his business is called      stumpbusters, which made me sing the ghostbusters song constantly before and during his visit    with his husky dog nico by his side.

* my purchase order for talking for barclays arrived, making this very real, but very cool, gulp!

* my eldest daughter got a three day acting job in a room with a rattlesnake.

* we met the most lush geezer who we are going to buy our sourdough bread from for the coffee    shop.

* we ordered our new bigmoose cardiff half shirts, which will be here soon, yayyy!!!

* we finished off creating our happy message boards for our supporters to hold at mile intervals    during the cardiff half.

* realised that inadvertently we can affect peoples lives in so many super cool ways, cause and  effect to the max.

and finally i want to share with you a discovery i just made by clicking the google icon today friday the 11th, which is absolutely brilliant, and allows you to dj, mix and scratch, please try it, it's very clever.

i am conscious that today, i am jibber jabbering more than most, so i think it may be time to wrap things up, so in conclusion every action has a reaction, it's the law, it's physics baby, so make the action you take in your world today have a great reaction, have a bash at seeing how many people you can make smile today, so together we will be creating a ton of smiles and positive reactions, now that is power, which is a whole new science blog completely!!!

have a cracking week, i'll be seeing ya,

blue skies,

jeffro

 

 

 

 


 

 

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dopamine, simon sinek and just do it

hey, 

how goes??

one of my friends contacted me recently and said one of his friends was suffering from depression, and had attempted suicide.

(i just read my blog back and realised that was quite a punchy start, it will get more positive i promise!)

my friend then told me that this friend was a very skilled writer, and used to make a living writing, but after his issues, this career came to an end.

i said that i would look out for any opportunities for him where he could get back to writing, but in the meantime offered him the opportunity to write a piece for my blog.

my thoughts were he could write a piece about absolutely anything, not specifically his problems, and hopefully that would allow him to bring anything that stimulated him onto the page, and then fingers crossed, his excellence in what he is skilled at would shine through, and we would get some feedback from you the bigmoose gang, which we could then share with him, and we would start the positive process of getting him to believe in himself with the love we could share with him.

in my mind this was a soft approach to getting him back into the creative process, and i anticipated seeing what he wrote.

unfortunately, he has decided he doesn't want to do this.

this has started me thinking, about how deep his mental problems must be, and how very low he must be feeling, so i think it is my responsibility as a human to try in some way to help him, and try to get him some professional help, which i am going to try to do.

the other thing that has come to mind, is how prevalent this terrible problem is, i myself know people who suffer from tremendous anxiety, fear of social events, dependency on alcohol, and know a number that are now taking prescription medication such as anti depressants, and the more people i tell about our aim to raise awareness of mental health issues at this years cardiff half marathon, the more i am discovering people that seem on the surface to be holding down good jobs, living happy successful lives, and their social media profiles exude happiness.

i personally use social media for vocalising what bigmoose is up to, and have seen amazing results from all over the world, and think that as a medium for being evangelical about our exploits it is second to none, and it plays a huge part in getting traction on all projects we launch.

however, the pressure that is on people at the moment to live perfect, shiney lives is great, and we all know how some peoples social media feeds are full of success, happy and smiling full of social activity, which can act as a pressure in itself, as striving to live a similar life online is a massive challenge, and probably is a bit of a lie, and although i know personally i do some fun stuff, 95% of the time my life is super boring, and not worthy of sharing with the world, so i don't, however i am acutely aware of how addictive social media is.

i have recently come across a talk by simon sinek which addresses some of these addictions.

sinek, has written the book 'start with why' which i often use to challenge myself with what i do, and when i am consulting with clients i challenge them to ask themselves why they are doing certain things, and if their answers are solid it probably means it's a goer, but if the why is weak or wishy washy, then the idea probably doesn't warrant action at that time or at all.

sinek is a pretty wise chap in my book, and there is a short and a long version of his talk, and if you have time this weekend indulge yourself in the long one, but if not go with the shorter appetiser, and come back to the longer one.

i feel sure we will all recognise certain characteristics he talks of, and if he helps us all be a little more engaged, and disconnected, then it's gotta be worth our investment of time watching, let me know if you recognise you in any of what he talks about, i feel sure you will, i certainly did.

short version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL8AsaEJDdo

long version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU3R0ot18bg&t=38s

social media and the internet are issues for debate, but i think what is more certain, and is not debatable is that we now have a very high number of people leading lives where they aren't happy, and as sinek says chasing that dopamine hit, which is very addictive.

my thoughts are on this that physical activity seems to provide a similar dopamine rush, and i am witnessing amazing affects from mobilising the runners that we have within our cardiff half crew, and i am sure that there are many reasons why this activity seems to help, but i have seen a number of bigmoose crew members telling me how getting out their front door running is really helping them, and entering the half is giving them a purpose, and allowing them to be around people that don't judge, and are able to share their stories, which i am finding truly amazing.

sometimes with bigmoose we stumble across something that we think will be good, and our gut tells us it will be, but we have to just buckle up and follow that instinct, hoping it pans out.

running seems to be one of those things, and the answer to sineks 'why?' is it just feels good, and the effects of that are that the dopamine kicks in, and having been analysing our training runs we have been holding, i am very aware that there is such a happy vibe within our runners.

no judgement, all shapes and sizes and ages are welcomed gleefully, not in a cultish way, but more an innocent, raw, happy way, which reflects when at the end of the session we take a snap of the moment, and the smiles look really wide and real, dopamine central baby!

i hope i am right, and by encouraging folk to simply run, no agendas, we can help people overcome some of their angst's for the period they are running, and when i recently asked a friend if he meditated, of which i am a big fan of, he replied he 'meditates when he runs', and i agree running provides that time away from the clutches of day to day life, and just allows our minds to escape, mull things over, fantasise, dream, create, and design things for our lives moving forward, or is that just me?

as i type this i have just remembered two of the schools that we have recently visited, i think i mentioned before, that are now doing their 'one mile before lessons everyday' which is literally just that, and the results that are now filtering through are amazing with the pupils attention spans and academic results being off the scale, and i wonder why the government hasn't introduced this across the country yet, but perhaps we are witnessing the first green shoots which will slowly filter through, i hope so.

so my challenge today bigmoose gang is to you to go out this weekend and do something active, run a mile, cycle two miles, walk three miles, swim some laps, but do something you haven't done for some time, and push yourself a little.

go to that lovely park near you, check out the recently refurbished sports centre, be brave, take a yoga class you have been promising to do for years, break off the shackles, as humans we fear meeting new people who normally end up being lovely, and as somebody once famously said just do it.

finally today, we have been to visit the site for the coffee shop we are dreaming of getting, and our hopefully future landlords have stripped the building back to its raw state, and there are now some pretty cool features which i think will look fantastic when we get our design heads on the scheme, so keep your fingers crossed for us, we are very close to getting it, and when we do, we would love you to get involved, and be a part of this dream, i am so excited!!!

so until next week, have a great one, do something that scares you, help people around you if you can, and keep in touch we love hearing what you are up to.

blue skies,

jeff

 

 

 

 

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qbic, barclays and stroud green road school

good morning y'all,

i am typing this from the qbic hotel in london, where i attended a meeting with bcorp earlier this year.

i know i bang on a lot about bcorp, but they are rockstars, changing the world massively, and if you haven't watched their video here it is again for your delectation

cool huh, and any hotel that can be green, has amazing staff, and has a neon sign saying alright treacle in the bar, is 'a ok' in my book, give them a try when you're in london or amsterdam next.

i am down here for a few reasons, i met with barclays in canary wharf yesterday, my dinner club mates last night, and i am meeting a chap who was on our everest team this year today.

so yesterday i boarded a propeller powered plane in cardiff and stepped onto the tarmac in london city airport 55 minutes later, half the time of the train, and less than half the price, and i get to feel like i'm going on holiday thrown into the experience, winner winner.

as i entered the towering barclays building in canary wharf, i felt a bit nervous, was the choice of attire, jeans, shirt and jacket, and flipflops a little underdressed for a business meeting with one of the big four banks, was i affording them respect, or had the holiday vibe flowed into my threads?

"dude, they want to buy me and my story to inspire their troops, not have me conform to their dress code, stripping me of my soul", my alter ego countered as we entered their very impressive airy and spacious atrium at 1 churchill place, canary wharf.

two huge video walls ran slick videos of barclays current corporate sponsorship work, which showed colourful imagery of their recent sponsorship of london pride, the event not the beer, which i noted as being a positive sign.

i arrived early, but had a nervous fear that i might have got the address wrong, but as i hurriedly found the address on an e-mail, i then slowly walked over to ask one of the many security guards on duty if i was in the right place, and breathe, calm down smith you're on it.

i entered the lift which was full of people, but apparently had no buttons for me to press, but i noted that my 30th floor destination was already lit on the digital sign at eye level, phew, what kind of wizardry was this, as i observed calmly other employees entering the metal box, and not pressing any hidden buttons that flip flop boy had missed, was this a parallel universe, or some kind of chip in my visitors pass?

i didn't know, but it seemed pretty whack, until that is you need to go to see your mate on 23 whose stapler you borrowed ages ago, but will allow you the excuse you need to go to see him, to discuss what you really want to ask that is has he still got that ticket for the killers in december.

how does the lift know that then, or are you stuck in the lift going up and down until that girl with the ill fitting bra, that works next to our mate on 23, comes into the lift? (thus alerting the tardis to do its work)

i don't know, but it sure as hell is bothering me, i can tell you.

as the harry potteresque lift took me to the top floor in the building i departed and strode flipping and flopping toward the reception.

"jeff" i heard from behind.

"i recognised you from the flip flops"

or did he say "website"

no matter.

"hi roy, i love your magical lift"

i didn't actually say, but really wanted to.

"nice to meet you" conformist jeff offered.

and roy introduced me to elinor who was also working on this project, and she looked late thirties, dark clothes and hair, and when we settled into the impressive glass box we were to sit in for the next hour it took a while for her to make eye contact, but we got their eventually, and she was lovely.

i told them of the tour of schools we had been doing, and the response the children had been giving us, and i mentioned how i had been brought up in finsbury park, and it transpires elinor lives very close in nearby crouch hill.

fast forward, elinor is on the board of governors at stroud green road school, which just happens to be the school that both my parents went to, so the plan is for me to go there to do my everest presentation, which should be very interesting i reckon, going back to my roots an' all.

it will be good to go to this inner city school in a deprived area and show that you can follow your dreams, though i may take my ice axe...........just as a  precaution obviously :)

the barclays gig sounds like being fun, and is going to be at the donmar warehouse in covent garden which i tried to stay calm about when i found out, but really wanted to punch the air and do a billy elliot dance, as paul weller played 'town called malice', geez i must lay off the columbian (coffee, not the other stuff)

roy and elinor seemed very non corporate, and have agreed to allow me to do a bit of unusual stuff in my presentation, so i like their open  mindedness, and can't wait for november 20th.

this gig will be great for my public speaking cv, and will help pay russ back for the trip, as i still am in his debt, so if you know anybody that wants a corporate talk please put my name forward it would be greatly appreciated.

russ is currently on k2 with his himex team, so good luck to everyone, i hope you make the summit, and all come back safe.

i left 1 churchill place happier than when i arrived, and as the sun shone, and i walked towards the station, i thought about my humble roots, and how the next part of my life would pan out, interesting, fun, and a great opportunity to affect change in peoples lives, and also a big chunk of pride.

anyway, i need to get come coffee and grub, as i am hank marvin, so i will leave you today, actually no i won't, i just blooming remembered, we went to a breakfast meeting this week as well with the school of hard knocks who i have agreed to do some talking to their students, which i am really looking forward to, as they strike me as a really life changing charity that i can work with, so i will no doubt be sharing their stories with you soon, and check them out when you have a spare five.

that's definitely it now, apart from to tell you that next week i am going do a bit of a guest blog, hopefully, as there is someone in my world who needs an opportunity to write, and show the world her skills, so i have offered her the chance to write something that i can share with a lovely sensitive audience (you) and then we can possibly give feedback, and you never know what might come out of it, so a bit of a shake up, but hopefully it will be interesting.

have a cracking week, do something mad, something that scares you, and then let us know.

i'm off for food and bev, meet everest rob, then home for a charity ice hockey match, and loads of reminiscing, it's funny the older i get the better i was, lol!!!

blue skies, and thanks for reading,

jeff

 

 

 

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