martynj.com - things I have learnt

Bob Graham Round: A group attempt - planning, training and logistics

It was summer 2014 when Rob first voiced a desire to do the Bob Graham Round, a classic fell running challenge involving 42 summits, 66 miles and 27000 ft ascent in the Lake District to be completed within 24 hours. Like many runners, my introduction to "the BG" was Richard Askwith's book "Feet in the Clouds". While reading, I had dismissed the BG as crazy, and little had changed when Rob mentioned it. The exact Bob Graham route isn't strictly defined, but the 42 summits form a large loop (map here). Having chosen clockwise or anti-clockwise (the former ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/bob-graham-round-planning-training-logistics

Self-Build: Insuring a House prior to Demolition (Property Owner's Liability)

We're now the proud owners of a tatty '60s bungalow for demolition followed by self-build project. Among the usual "new house" tasks - meter readings, sorting council tax, etc - it should be insured, even though it'll be reduced to rubble in the future. On the face of it, it sounds unnecessary to insure a for-demolition property since: - there's no mortgage secured on the property (if there was, the bank would be pretty unhappy about demolishing it!) - if it falls down or is vandalised, it doesn't really matter, but it seems that "fire, lightning and property owner's ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/self-build-insure-house-for-demolition-liability

Starting a Self-Build House Adventure

Well it's official, we've just bought a ropey 1960s bungalow in Sheffield with the plan to demolish it and build our own house. If all goes to plan, it'll be self-build in the sense that we'll work with an architect to spec a house to our requirements and will be making loads of decisions along the way, but ultimately we won't be the ones laying the bricks. It's a decent sized plot by UK suburban standards, about 750 square metres, which is plenty for a good-sized house (200 square metres over 2 stories) with ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/self-build-house-adventure

Planning a Wedding at Townfield Barn, Shatton

We recently had our wedding reception at the rustic but beautiful Townfield Barn in the Peak District's Hope Valley. In a stunning setting, it's a great venue that can be completely personalised to whatever you want, but does involve a fair amount of effort to make the logistics work. It'd be much easier to do second time around with the benefit of experience, and since we're not planning that, we thought we'd put some thoughts online below in case they're useful for other couples getting married at Townfield Barn in future. Contents Space | Catering ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/wedding-townfield-barn-shatton-peak-district

Jura fell race 2014: A first-timer's thoughts

The Isle of Jura fell race is recognised as one of the most spectacular and demanding events in the fell racing calendar. At 17 miles over steep technical terrain and 2370m (~7800ft) ascent, a time of sub-4hrs is the barely attainable target for all but the fastest. Starting outside the Jura Distillery in Craighouse, the race climbs steadily over boggy ground to the first of its 7 summits after 3 miles. Peaks 1 to 3 are a fun warm-up, with tussocky grass and exposed rock for interest. Views over neighbouring island Islay and the Paps of Jura are stunning. The ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/jura-fell-race-route-tips

Easy 105 yen conveyor sushi in Tokyo and Fukuoka - Uobei Genki Sushi

Eating out in Japan without speaking much (/ any) Japanese or being able to read Kanji characters can be tricky. Often we'd limit ourselves to places with pictures on the menu or plastic models of the food that we could point to. One place that ticked all the right boxes in terms of ease, tastiness and feeling like a uniquely Japanese experience was Uobei 'Genki Sushi'. We visited one branch in Hakata, Fukuoka (5th floor of Yodobashi electronics store, map) and one in Shibuya, Tokyo (map). It looks like there's quite a few other locations, but my Japanese isn ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/uobei-easy-105-yen-kaiten-sushi-tokyo-hakata

Japan cycle touring on rental bikes - Izumi, Kumamoto & Amakusa

We'd read in many places that Japan is a cycle touring heaven (japancycling.com, etc), so decided to spend 8 days biking and exploring rural Japan. Where exactly was a detail to figure out later. Since we were traveling to multiple countries, we wouldn't have our own bikes with us, so finding a decent bike rental place was the first challenge. This was more difficult than expected. It seems that multi-day bike rentals aren't at all common in Japan, cycle touring presumably not being all that popular domestically. We narrowed down our bike rental options to countryside-chiba ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/japan-cycling-rent-touring-bikes

36 Recommended Things To Do in the Peak District

Having spent a lot of time in the Peak District over the last 10 years, and being asked for recommendations from time to time, I've made this list of suggested Peak District activities. I haven't tried to be exhaustive, but instead focus on things I have enjoyed or that are on my own to-do list. More activities are listed for the northern half of the Peak District, "Dark Peak", so named for its dark gritstone and moorland landscape, as opposed to the more southerly limestone and green hills of White Peak. This is simply because I've spent ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/recommended-peak-district-things-to-do

9-Days Around Iceland, Driving Ring Road 1

Taking advantage of rescheduled public holidays this year, we spent the first 9 days of June driving the Iceland ring road and seeing the many sights en route. A full loop around Route 1 is ~1340 km (830 miles), though with detours we added another 1000 km. While the isolated Icelandic interior is generally accessible only by specialist 4x4 vehicles, Route 1 is OK to drive in a 2-wheel drive car. Our Nissan Micra rental car managed fine, even coping with detours onto bumpy gravel tracks. The state of the roads varies, with many being closed due to snow and ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/driving-around-iceland-ring-road-1

Iceland trip Day 9: Reykjavik and Keflavik: Coffee and Puffins

Having read about Reykjavik's excellent coffee culture, we set off with a list of recommended coffee shops in hand. The quirkiest of these, Kaffismiðja Íslands, was closed (Sunday), so coffee and pastries at the plesant Glaetan Cafe & Bookshop sufficed instead. Te and Kaffe, an Icelandic chain, featured later in the day, and likewise had good coffee in a relaxed atmosphere. Suitably caffeinated, we walked up to Hallgrímskirkja, the striking church visible from all of central Reykjavik. The architecture may not be to our taste, with imposing concrete columns mimicking the basalt structures that occur naturally around Iceland, but the ...

Full entry: http://www.martynj.com/iceland-reykjavik-coffee-puffins