I have a new gadget!

I have been known to buy the odd gizmo and gadget in my time. From Swiss Army knives with more blades than the entire Swiss Army could use, to kitchen gadgets which do everything but turn the cooker on for you, I have had plenty. They never really get used of course, but maybe that’s part of the appeal!

Take the journey to Kilimanjaro for example. I use an iPhone in ‘normal’ life, but of course the battery life is next to useless even when you have daily access to electricity. I knew that there was no way it would last me a week or more on a mountain, even if it was to be turned off for 99% of the time. So when I went there I took with me my old Blackberry, and before I went I bought me a nice gadget called a Powermonkey, which is a solar charger for your phone. Looked great, £60, sold! I took it with me and it basically never got used, but it was nice to have as insurance, and didn’t weigh me down too much.

I also seem to have started a new trend of collecting watches. I bought me a cheapie Timex one for Kili, as I had heard that it is not advisable to walk around in Tanzania sporting a fancy watch (I wear an Omega Seamaster normally) for fear of getting it ripped off your arm by a mugger (they were probably right – Arusha was a pretty intimidating place at times I found). I then ‘retired’ my Kili watch as I wanted to keep it for posterity after I nearly lost it in a bike crash that I had (see my ‘Alain Jourdain’ post for that little story). I then bought another Timex with stopwatch stuff and the like on it for my bike ride. That one is still going strong :).

So this week I combined my trend for gizmos and watches and got me an altimeter! Yes well I needed one badly, obviously:) I did a bit of research, and looked at various options. Lots of them are ugly, all of them are pretty big, and they vary as what you get with them (e.g you can combine heart rate monitor functionality etc).

I plumped in the end for a Suunto. Suunto are a Finnish company who make compass products, diving watches, heart rate monitors etc., and seem to have a pretty good name. They are also known for their ‘Vector’ altimeter watch, which has been around for years apparently. What tipped it in the end was when I looked at Alan Arnette’s Everest blog ( http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/category/7-summit/everest-2011/ ) and saw in his kit list that he wore one too. That was good enough for me!

I looked at a multitude of different Suunto products and in the end plumped for the ‘Core All Black’, just because to me it looked the best and seemed to have the best balance of functionality (i.e. I hope to use the altimeter function in the Himalayas and take a photograph of it showing +6,000m when at Island Peak etc:)) and style. Well you don’t want something too silly on your wrist do you? 🙂 Here is a link to the watch (oh yes it even tells the time too):


I bought it from an internet retailer I hadn’t come across before, called Facewest. They do all sorts of outdoorsy stuff, including climbing and hiking gear, so I will use them again, as their customer service (having spoken to them on the phone too for a couple of things) was exemplary. I also was a bit worried that it would look a bit big, and quite frankly silly, on my wrist.

So having had a bit of a play with it, I think I have sort of figured out how to use it. It has all sorts of logs and the like for the altimeter, meaning that you can record journies and it will tell you what your descent and ascent was for the last ten trips, assuming you remember to set it etc., which it seems you have to remember to do manually.

So here is a picture of it on my wrist:

Stylin'' huh?

Is it massive? Yep. Does it look a bit silly? Probably. Will I use it? Who knows! I do like it though, so it is coming with me next week to Switzerland for starters, and we will see what it tells me in the Alps. I wonder if it has a button to show you how scared you are? Now there’s a great gizmo to have……

Alain Jourdain – A tribute to kindness

So after yesterday’s little quiz, I have another one for you. Even easier than yesterday’s this one. Ready?

Question 1 of 1:

What is this:

Not tricky is it?

Correct – it is a watch. But not any old watch, I promise you. I highlight it here for two reasons. The first is that it is the watch that I wore when I went up Kilimanjaro. It is just a cheap Timex job, and is very unspectacular. It was cheap, it glows in the dark, and is water resistant. That was all I needed.

You will also have noticed that it is a watch that is a bit scratched, and has the strap broken. This brings me onto the point of this post, and the title itself:

Today I went cycling at lunchtime from work. The weather conditions were absolutely atrocious, and it rained cats and dogs. Three of us did about twenty two miles, and I have perhaps never been as wet through in my whole life. Stupidly and unfortunately, after about a mile or so in, I turned round to talk to Neil, one of the guys that I was riding with, as he had just taken a mouthful of water from the back wheel of my bike.

As I turned back to face the front, my front wheel went from below me on a wet manhole cover. I tried to regain control but couldn’t, and I ended up flying into the kerb where I went over the handlebars and into a hedge and a fence. Having picked myself up again and counted that my fingers and toes were all still there, I discovered two very bloody knees and a few scratches up my arm, and that was it. I was very very lucky indeed.

So anyway, the ride continued, and about halfway round I notice that my watch is missing. I was very unhappy. It went up Kilimanjaro with me, and it is extremely special, probably because it is a cheap Timex, and that I bought it for the mountain only. I was wearing it today because my normal watch is broken and needs a repair. At the end of the ride I retraced my steps and searched high and low for the watch, checking the kerb, gutter, pavement, the hedge, and it was not to be found. I was gutted. I returned to the office quite upset, as it was something that I wanted to be able to look at in years to come and reminisce with.

After being back in the office for about an hour a few people had said to me that I should go and have my leg seen to, but all I cared about was my watch. I then had to go into a meeting for a couple of hours, and came out wondering whether I should go back one more time and retrace my steps. As I came out, the other guy who had been riding with us, Alain, was holding in his hand my watch, and told me he had gone and searched for it and had found it in the hedge!

I have to say, that in terms of a wonderful thing to do, this is off the scale. Firstly it was absolutely teeming down with rain, secondly he is stupidly busy with work, and thirdly it is not his watch. He did it because he is simply a wonderful and kind hearted person, who would give the shirt off his back to make any difference at all to other people. I have been fortunate to work with him for about nine months, and this is just the sort of person he is – utterly selfless, and wonderfully kind-hearted and good natured.

I was almost in tears as I thanked him, and I sent him a gushing note to express my thanks, and to which he replied with thanks as his humble, grateful and outstanding self. He deserves more than just thanks, and the world should have more people like Alain Jourdain.

Alain, I salute you. my scratches and bruises from today will fade, but the memory of a wonderful act of kindness never will. You are a prince amongst humanity, and so I thank you, truly, from the very bottom of my heart.