well good morning from bigmoose,

nearly five years ago when my daughter chloe decided she wanted to climb mount kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in africa, i didn't have a scooby doo about what this was going to entail, what altitude sickness was, what base layers were, and as a city boy from london, who had never ever been in a tent, my knowledge base was pretty shocking for a challenge this big.

however, help was on hand, and i walked into an outdoor adventure store in cardiff called blacks.

i introduced myself, and explained about my daughters adventure, and was introduced to the store's area manager ashley williams who is a lovely guy who immediately bought into the project, and offered to support us with kit, and to attend a fundraising event we were holding at the vue cinema in cardiff, and building a 'base camp' with mannequins dressed in mountaineering garb, tents, cooking kit, and a very realistic setup for our event.

this fantastic support all came from just walking into store, and explaining what we were doing, so never be afraid to ask, you might be surprised with the results.

this support was based on a relationship with ash, which we nurtured until blacks withdrew from cardiff, and ash left the industry.

after kili, chloe had exams to concentrate on, so i did a quick trip to russia to mineralnye vody, to attempt  the beautiful mount elbrus.

mount elbrus was a different animal, and i needed better kit, as my ski jacket that i wore on kili for summit night just wasn't gonna cut it on the harsh snow covered slopes in russia, and i was making the move from sunday league football to the football league in terms of mountaineering.

with ash and blacks gone i sought new experts, and tucked away on wharton street in cardiff i found my mountaineering shangri-la in cotswold outdoor.

i first met antony lloyd who will be very embarrassed reading this i'm sure, pre elbrus, and his smiling face and encouraging nature warmed me to him and the business he managed.

i bought proper kit, for my proper mountaineering adventure, and the advice i received from antony and his team was invaluable, and as i was told the right way to lace up my new scarpa climbing boots, i thrilled inside as i contemplated the adventure i was setting out on, and a new relationship was born.

i am not a materialistic person, but new climbing kit does turn me on, there i've said it, and hopefully you don't judge me, and a few of you will smile knowingly.

russia was fun, elbrus was amazing, and i was fortunate enough to get through the twelve day trip unscathed and with another summit, even though we lost communication with the outside world for nearly eight days, which worried my family unmercifully, and caused me to add satphone to my checklist of must haves on any future trips, the pain i inflicted on my gang by them not knowing if i was alive or dead, really wasn't acceptable.

the twin peaks of elbrus east and west in the background, my tent buddy brian who snored and horse and carted more than most tent buddy's, and on the right a young russian soldier, i had discussed shaving with, even though he wouldn't be experiencing this phenomena for some time to come!

the twin peaks of elbrus east and west in the background, my tent buddy brian who snored and horse and carted more than most tent buddy's, and on the right a young russian soldier, i had discussed shaving with, even though he wouldn't be experiencing this phenomena for some time to come!

on my return to the 'diff i took in a small framed picture of me on the summit with a thank you message to the gang in cotswold, and carried back on with normal life, until the call of the mountains next beckoned.

the team at cotswold have supported all of my adventures, and with duncan hyde the marketing man in the store, they have supported everything i have attempted to do, including this years everest attempt, so when duncan saw my 'grab your coat' campaign on social media he contacted me to tell me that the team at cotswold had got some warm things to donate to the homeless of cardiff, which i duly collected.

my brain tends to always work at 100mph, and i often have big dreams, which i will not apologise for, and my next thought was, as i stood in the store that sold things i loved, that they have a nationwide network of stores, and maybe they could get involved in a bigger way with the 'grab your coat' idea.

so!

i contacted duncan with my idea, which briefly went like this.

cotswold outdoor support the 'grab you coat' campaign, and market it through their normal channels, especially social media, which has worked brilliantly for bigmoose on this so far.

the nitty gritty of the way i saw it working was cotswold provide a dump bin in store, and we all shout about it, and encourage people to bring in unwanted warm winter things to be given to the homeless.

the csr (corporate social responsibility) angle for cotswold doing good in our world will be great, the feel good factor for working for a company that actively takes part in this kind of activity has to be positive, and finally on a commercial level, there is a chance that when people specifically cross the threshold to donate, that they may decide to make a new purchase, so to me a lot of boxes ticked, and almost a no brainer on taking up the idea.

so!

i pitched the idea to duncan and antony, and after having a discussion with a lady in charge at the big issue in cardiff to try to arrange for the warm gear to be collected by her teams nationwide, i waited to see whether my dream could work.

well, yesterday as any of you who follow bigmoose on social media will have seen, we announced that the first three cotswold outdoor stores in cardiff, brecon and abergavenny have under antony's stewardship agreed to take part in helping us 'grab your coat', and we are now waiting to see if antony's boss likes the idea, and can implement it nationwide, so if anybody reading this likes the idea, and feels inclined to message cotswold via social media, their twitter handle is https://twitter.com/CotswoldOutdoor so please send them a message, as your support of this project can really help, and if we can get it nationwide with your help, that will just show the power you have, exciting eh, i told you we could change the world didn't i?

so watch this space and we will see how things go, fingers and toes crossed.

meanwhile in other news another big player in the bigmoose family is kris king, who has been getting people in his home town of sheffield to donate to this campaign, and he recently collected nearly thirty sacks of warm clothes and sleeping bags, great job kinger (i now know him well enough to call him kinger, and being from a team dressing room fraternity i need to shorten names, or apply individual tags for the purposes of comradery, weird but true)

kinger also came up with an idea of getting bigmoose folk to send in a picture of a bigmoose greeting to kind of show their support this week, and after sending me a picture of himself with the words big and moose inscribed on his hand, i copied him and set about applying ink to my metacarpals, which upon closer inspection was permanent marker, which took far longer than it should have to erase in preparation of a business meeting the next day in londinium, such fun!

i posted this idea on social media with trepidation, but have been pleasantly surprised by the response, and here's one we prepared earlier, hana blackley from bournemouth who i believe has embraced the true spirit of the thing, and has amazing dexterity in the perfect formation of digits, as well as marker colour, nail varnish, and use of finger and wrist jewellery, great skills hana! 

and here is our prototype from kinger, from little acorns they say....

well that's pretty much my week, apart from to say that our trip we are arranging to go to scotland for a bit of mountaineering for beginners, is now blossoming and has now got four people confirmed on the list including my old climbing buddy doogy, which will be fun, and if you are interested just drop me a line and i will send you details.

we are going to our feed the homeless night on 27th november if anybody wants to donate any warm gear before then, and if you're not sure how to just drop me a line at jeff@bigmoose.co

have a great week, and until then i'll be seeing ya,

blue skies,

jeff

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