hey you, how goes?

hope you had a good week, i started to write this weeks blog about the negative people that are around at this time of year, and just love saying 'you've got no chance of getting that done this side of christmas' with a cheeky grin on their faces, man i love them, but i thought no, i'm not gonna be negative, but it appears i already have been, but that was just a hors d'oeuvre in our smorgasbord of a blog we have for you today, with a real mix of subjects, i hope we touch your emotions. 

on a personal note, i have started training for the mountains again, and i really did need to, as the pillsbury dough boy was starting to make an appearance, and as a gentleman of a certain age, it's more difficult to keep the weight off if you don't train sufficiently, oh yeah and limit your chocolate intake to below five kilos a week.

so this week i went to one of my (unashamed commercial plug warning!!!) favourite sponsors, the David Lloyd, who supported me on my everest quest, and have kept their faith in me by continuing to support my exploits in a manner of ways, and they welcomed me back like a long lost son, well, they smiled and said a courteous hello, which for me will do!

the dl, as i call it, in cardiff has just had a 1.3 million pound facelift, and it is amazing, with the best kit on the market, and is quite jaw dropping, so if you live in the 'diff check it out for your place to get in shape, which segues nicely into my next subject.

segue is one of those words that i love, as it sounds nothing at all like it should, yet has a cool meaning as the dictionary says *To move smoothly and unhesitatingly from one state, condition, situation, or element to another.  so, as we have now segued, let's get discuss what we've segued into.

with christmas nearly upon us, tis the time for excess, and swiftly followed by the january goal setting, well for a lot of folk anyway. now as mentioned in a previous blog my team moose buddy kris king has come up with an idea which basically consists of getting as many followers of bigmoose around the world to join together online to record their exercise, via strava, of which some of you may have heard of, or even use currently, and we're gonna call it the 'bigmoose movement', (see what we've done there?), and there will be a lot of cool stuff going on with it, so hopefully you can get a little fitter, and have some fun with likeminded good folk, whether you swim, run, walk, surf, cycle, pretty much any exercise really, more details to follow, but hopefully you'll become a part of the movement.

it's great to have kris onboard as he brings passion to bigmoose in spadefuls, and was skyping me from his recent trip to australia to tell me that his latest personal goal is aiming to run up mount kilimanjaro to set a british record, which having spent seven days gasping as i climbed up this majestic mountain, leaves me gasping at what he intends doing, but good luck to him, and you can follow his dream on twitter or facebook.

as my week progressed i was to have two kinds of news hit me, one amazing, and one amazingly sad. the amazing news was that cotswold outdoor have extended their coverage of supporting our 'grab your coat' campaign, and will be encouraging people to bring warm stuff in to donate in their stores in birmingham, cardiff, coventry, solihull, brecon, shrewsbury, carmarthen and droitwich, which is pretty awesome, and hopefully we can get lots of support, and help many people less fortunate than ourselves, who find themselves living on our cold streets at this time of year, thank you so much cotswold.

the amazingly sad news was concerning one of my closest friends from my days of playing ice hockey, shannon hope, number 35 in your programmes.

shannon and i joined the cardiff devils at the same time in 1987, and shinedog as we nicknamed him was to be my main defenceman during a spectacular rise up the british ice hockey ranks, to secure the first league and playoff double of the modern era, by an upstart team from the welsh principality.

shiney was to become one of my best friends and our families hung out, grew together, and we travelled to canada where shannon's parents and family lived, many times, getting to know his mum and dad gordy and betty, and brothers lee, eugene and laverne really well, and they were the most hospitable and kind family, and we laughed so much in hanmer, sudbury, where they lived on the lake they all learnt to waterski on as kids.

after his hockey career shiney moved back across the pond, but my memories of him still make me smile a lot, like the times when we were roomies during our playing career.

our roadtrips were things of joy, and i remember when we stayed in hotels how shiney used to have this trick where he would get an old vinyl album sleeve cover, fill it with shaving cream, slide the open end under a team mates door, and then jump on the cream filled cover, letting physics play it's part, and covering the whole room with white residue leaving us to scamper like teenagers back to our room giggling.

we would also get access to team mates rooms, and completely turn their rooms upside down, mattresses, furniture, anything that moved moved!

so so childish, but we never got caught, and that made it even more funny as we colluded with the complainers, 'what idiots would do that?' we exclaimed as our latest victims arrived at a team meeting with tales of our anonymous pranks they had fallen prey to, and anybody that knows the dog will be smiling while reading this, and as robin to his batman, we had many adventures.

it was with great sadness then that via social media i discovered that his brother laverne had got the horrible disease we all know the name of, and i had a telephone call from shiney just before his sibling passed away, which had a sadness about it that i had never heard before, a vulnerability, from a man who knew what was inevitable, but did not know the etiquette for such conversation.

i thought of the sun kissed deck we sat on in shannon's family home, and how i learnt so much about how to hold on to fun, and how warm canadian's are in comparison to most brits, they taught me a lot.

it was with a mix of confusion, and eventual numbness that i was to receive a text from a fellow hockey player this week that was to ask me about shannon's second brother passing away. 'no, his brother laverne died a couple of weeks ago, terrible situation' i text back, you must be confused. unfortunately i was wrong, and after investigation a confusing fog of emotion covered me as i discovered that shiney's brother lee had also died this week, and as i sat with my head in my hands, i questioned what this bloody world was all about, this really can't be happening.

shannon and i have not been as close as we were since our days when we were fast and at the top of our sport, but when this kind of thing happens you focus on the times that you shared, and the people that you love, and i can't find words to express how i really feel, but to the hope family betty, gord, eugene and shannon, and all of their families, our love is with you, and laverne and lee hope, rest in peace.

i wasn't sure about putting this story in my blog this week, but the reason i have is to draw attention to the fact that life is precious, so try to get as much out of it as possible, and do as much as you can while you're here.