All the things I use on a day-to-day basis
- Laptop: ThinkPad E15 Gen 2
- De-Googled Android Phone: Volla22
- Tablet: Xiaomi Pad 5
- Desktop System: Pop!_OS
- Website Production: Eleventy (11ty) SSG
- Search Engine Provider: Kagi
- Email: Protonmail
- Cloud Storage: Proton Drive
- Password Manager: Bitwarden and Proton Pass
- Hosting: Hostinger and Ossrox
- Messaging: Signal and Element (Matrix)
- Desktop browser: Waterfox
- Android Browser: Mull and Waterfox
- Main Camera: Sony A7Cii
- RAW Image Processing: RawTherapee and Darktable
- Coding and Development: Code - OSS
- Note Taking Apps: Simplenote and AnyType
- E-book Reader: Kobo Libre 2
- E-book Management: Calibre
Spanish Highs Mountain Guides
This is my baby and I have loved meeting people from all over the world, from all races, religions, colours and creeds. The mountains brought us all together under a single glorious banner.
This is here on the "Ongoing Projects" page but in reality my time on this is coming to an end. I started the business in 1998 and moved to Spain permanently in 2002. It's my baby and I have loved meeting people from all over the world, from all races, religions, colours and creeds. The mountains brought us all together under a single glorious banner.
I am now retired and, whilst maintaining an interest and doing the odd bit of easier guiding work, my time is almost finished. The reins have been passed on to my eldest daughter, Emma. Emma, together with help from my wife Kiersten, have taken hold of the business and moved it forward.
Emma showed no interest in the mountains until post-40 years of age. All of a sudden she is training to be a mountain leader and guide and is heavily involved with a local UK Search and Rescue organisation.
I am proud of her and happy that my legacy in some ways will continue.
Spanish Highs website
Landscape and Mountain Photography
Still lots of mistakes and errors but I am steadily building portfolios capturing my mountain adventures and experiences.
I tend to go against the grain. When mobile phones became "de rigeur" for taking images I reverted back to a trusty camera. I had had various cameras for years but, although I could compose a good photo, I was ultimately a point and press merchant. During mountain days, usually with groups of people I just didn't have time to think too long about the image I was trying to capture. I got some good shots but more by luck than judgement.
A heart attack three years ago forced me to retire from work and slow down. This opened the door to a more relaxed way of enjoying the mountains. I decided I would learn how to take a photograph. Not just put the camera on "automatic" shoot mode, but to start to understand the way light affects the component parts. To understand exactly how an image is formed.
In 2021 I bought a Sony A6400. A lightweight APS-C camera that would give me full control over the image but without the weight penalty of a full frame system. After buying and reading some books, watching countless YouTube presentations and going "bogged eyed" on internet forums I was ready. My mind was full of the mythical Exposure Triangle, that "Holy Trinity" of Photography. Or rather, "Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO". I switched the camera onto Manual Mode and off I went.
In the years since I had obviously learnt a great deal and also spent a great deal of money on extra gear. Current setup shown below:
Cameras & favoured lenses:
- Sony A7iii (full frame) + Sony G 24-105mm f4 + Sony G 40mm f2.5
- Sony A6400 (APS-C) + Sony 35mm (52.5mm equiv) f1.8
- Leica CL (APS-C) + Elmarit TL 18mm (27mm equiv) f2.8
Travelling in the mountains I just love the lightness and compactness of either the Sony A6400 or the Leica CL. Still lots of mistakes and errors but I am steadily building portfolios capturing my mountain adventures and experiences.
I am still learning and hopefully improving. Main thing is, I am enjoying the experience.
Cicerone Walking and Trekking Guide Book to the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Spain
- year round half to full day walks & multi-day treks
- 33 routes including mainland Spain's highest summit
- includes 8 gentler walks in the lower hills of the Cumbres Verdes near Granada
- includes white villages of Trevélez, Lanjarón and Capileira
- showcases the Sierra Nevada's most dramatic scenery
- includes 'Los Tres Picos', 'Los Tres Miles' Integral & overview of Sulayr GR240
- advice on transport, local bases, sa## fety, tick-list of 3000m peaks & Spanish-English glossary
Aiming for lightweight, bloat free, static sites that respect privacy and load like lightning! Hate mainstream corporate social networks, Fediverse is the way forward
In the mid-90s I couldn't afford a web designer to build my commercial website so I had to learn HTML and do it myself. It was a good initiation that developed my interest in web design.
I really have produced some crap but the things is, I think I have learned from that over the years. My aim now is for clean and fast sites, especially given that most large commercial sites are crammed full of advertisments, pop ups, newsletters, chat systems etc etc. Yawn!
Current favourites (because it changes often!) are:
- Eleventy Static Site Generator - super fast and relatively easy for an amateur like me to understand.
- Simple CSS - Developed as a simple, bloatfree and clean style. It is!
- Hostinger host all my websites (20+). Found them better than most.
Used in the past and recommend:
- Tailwind CSS - used for many years, once learnt very flexible.
- Hugo Static Site generator - quicker than Eleventy but I found it a little more complex to understand
- Ghost Blog - I self hosted, used it as a CMS to enter posts and then converted to Eleventy and HTML for final output.
Investigating My Grandfather’s Part in World War One - no idea how the old boy survived but, thankfully, he did. An amazing story of survival I am piecing together.
I have kept sane during the enforced Covid19 lock down by getting involved in projects that normally I wouldn't have time to complete. One such project is researching my grandfathers role in World War One. Below is a link to a summary of my research, including battle maps.
He fought at Poecapelle (Ypres 1917), Ypres, Kemmel Ridge, Arras, Cambrai and Valenciennes (1918). An incredible story. I have no idea how he survived.
Book for future publication
"The Last Journey of the Mountain Man" - It is the story of this humble hikers metamorphosis, evolution and journey up through the mountain world and back down the other side.
FROM THE PREFACE...
"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."(Evan Hardin)
This book is rather unsurprisingly about my relationship with mountains during my life. But the mountains I have climbed over the years have not always been of the physical variety. Mental challenges have had to be climbed too. Being in the wrong job and trying to escape the rat race and develop a new life in a foreign country have provided enormous hurdles to surmount.
Although this is mainly a book of memories, they also tell a story. They tell how a human being has to adapt and evolve in the mountains throughout their various stages of life.
In the outdoor world of the human in the mountains there is a natural evolution, a natural development cycle. The humble hiker taking his first steps into a mountain environment is encouraged by his success and the beauty of the natural landscapes to delve further. He may start to use his hands to scramble his way up steeper inclines. This usually leads to harder and more difficult undertakings until a rope becomes necessary for protection. Our humble hiker has metamorphosed into a mountaineer. This may be followed by a visit to the Alps in which case he can probably start to call himself an Alpinist.
As age begins to take a toll on mind, body and especially the legs our tough mountain warrior starts to reverse the evolution cycle. Whether he likes it or not, he has no choice. He starts looking for the easier option, knowing his ageing body is being put under more and more strain. His arms no longer cope with overhanging rock nor will the legs cope with 1500 metres of tough ascent. He has to learn a new series of techniques that will allow him to continue to enjoy the mountain environments. To adapt. He has to re-align his sights and lessen his objectives. But in the end, he will return to being the humble hiker he started off as all those years ago.
All along this journey of mountain discovery he has been gaining experience. This has allowed him to become safer in the mountains for both himself and his mountain companions. But what is “experience” and how do you attain it?
Certainly the more you venture into the mountains the more you will experience and gradually your in-built sensors will attune to the environment. Risk taking judgement will improve. But to really make big leaps in experience you have to have made mistakes. Mistakes, omissions, errors of judgement, lack of skills and equipment. If you have never made errors in the mountains then how can you say your experience is complete? You cannot gain experience from a book, nor YouTube nor an online course that dishes out a “Certificate of Experience”. No, to gain experience you actually have to have lived through all the mistakes and taken the pain that comes with it, to hopefully come out the other side intact.
This book is consequently full of mistakes! If you are expecting tales of hanging on by the fingernails in a blizzard at 8000 metres then this book might not be for you, although some of my trips took me well to the edge of my comfort zone.
It is the story of this humble hikers metamorphosis, evolution and journey up through the mountain world and back down the other side.