The Perfect Day

I recently applied for a job for an outdoors magazine, which I didn’t get, and one of the things that they requested is a brief description of what your perfect day in the mountains would be. Oddly this isn’t something that I have ever really considered, I enjoy so many aspects of the outdoors that I have never contemplated what I would class as perfect. Having sat down and had a think about it I decided that I would share my perfect day with you.

The day would probably start early, and I would probably be moaning being tired, cold and the dark. Me and a group of friends would be starting out in the dark up a hill, maybe in Scotland, with full mountaineering gear… I would probably be complaining at the weight of the bag! There would be the excitement of a full day in the crisp white snow and the challenges that lay ahead.


On the way up the snowy flank of the hill there would be that beautiful sunrise you only get in the brutal cold of winter, where the ice crystals in the air refract the sun into breath taking colours. As a blue bird clear day breaks we would be ascending a broad, snowy, gully. I find a perverse delight in kicking in steps as you slowly work up a 30⁰ or more slope.


From here there would be a rocky ridge line, heady exposure and immense views across a valley before summitting onto a windless summit where a spot of lunch and a lovely warm cup of tea would be quickly consumed before heading on.


The decent from here would be easy and on a slope that I could play about and practice some of the skills I have picked up over the last few years.


After the decent I would want to be able to walk straight into a pub with a hot fire, tasty food and a pint of beer while savouring the satisfying afterglow of a fun and exciting day in the snow. Who could ask for more!

What is your idea of the perfect day in the hills?

Happy adventures!





My Insta-piration

Like the rest of the world I have a presence on social media, and draw a lot of inspiration from the people I follow and their stories and pictures. Here are a few of my favourites at the moment from Instagram.

Kiko Mathews – @kikomathews

I am loving watching as Kiko prepares for an attempt to become the fastest solo woman to row the Atlantic. Also she isn’t a rower, well not until she started training anyway!

One of the many things I find great about Kiko’s account is her story, she is truly inspiring and I am really looking forward to keeping a track of her crossing!IMG_20180109_123256_521


Alastair Humphreys – @al_humphreys

I have been following Alastair for a while now and I love seeing his photo’s and tales of his, sometimes quirky, adventures and his passion for getting more people outdoors by doing Micro Adventures. Alastair was also named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year back in 2012 and has undertaking some truly amazing and unusual challenges.


Kate Jamieson – @_adventuresofkate_

Always out and about and disobeying the doctors to rest her injuries Kate’s stories are hilarious and frank. She gives a great insight into how most adventurers struggle to balance working, social life, maintaining fitness and adventuring. She is also a bit of a Nelson geek having even taken to the seat on Mastermind specialising in “the Life and Career of Lord Nelson”!


Glenmore Lodge – @glenmorelodge

I was lucky enough to do the winter mountaineering course with the guys a few years ago and followed them ever since. As one of the top outdoors training centres in the UK they consistently put up photo’s that make me think “ooo I would love to do that!” and at some point I will go back!


When In Iceland – @wheniniceland

Who can beat the truly awe-inspiring landscapes of Iceland? These guys share some of the best that I have seen. This page has encouraged me to plan my next adventure and even given me some of my ideas of places to go on-route.


Who inspires you? I would love to have a look!


Happy Adventures!







Goodbye 2017 

Wow what a year it has been!

I have had a hell of a lot of ups and downs both physically and emotionally over the last year! As the year draws to a close I think it’s a great time to look back and take stock and see what I can learn. 

The year started with me being injured and this has been a recurrent theme, I broke 3 ribs on the first day of a ski trip in addition to my on going ankle saga. I am really not very good at being injured… 

 Once this was healed I was back in to the mountains swinging the ice axes in Scotland… Except the ices axes weren’t really needed! On this trip I met some new folk who have helped keep me inspired with their stories and plans.

Next up was the big on… Canada… The cycling was tough but well worth the tears and pain. A particularly highlight being the ice fields in the rockies and the amazing people I met along the way, who I will be forever thankful for after all they made it so special! 

My return was bitter sweet, it was great to see everyone but I was an emotional mess. You can read about the post adventure blues but you really can’t understand it till you have been there.  The people around you are the main thing that helps. 

I got a few short trips out but again injuries were present, first my ankle playing up, but then for some unknown reason to finish of my ribs played up… 

As you can see it’s been a year of ups and downs but there has been one main thing that I have learned… And it often seems that I forget this one… It’s people that make it worth while, meeting new and interesting people, and having fun with those you already know. They all inspire you, even those that you enviably loose contact with. 

Thank you for joining me on my adventures over the last year and for inspiring me, I hope that you will all be there to join me in 2018, and hopefully it will be even better! 



Singing the Blues

I have been back from Canada for a while now and I am slowly recovering, my physio has said I no longer need to go but to keep up the exercises and to increase my running slower than I normally would; the bug I picked up on my return has gone (although I fear another one is on its way). But I am struggling with one main thing: the post adventure blues.

We all know what it’s like, you go on holiday and when you come back everything is a bit “meh”. Now think of a six-month trip where you have been experiencing so much and your body has been producing huge quantities of Serotonin and Endorphins… It’s hard…My plan was to come back and keep active unfortunately I was struggling to walk on my return so I couldn’t really do much.

I admit that I am struggling, I just generally don’t have much motivation and it feels like everything is stuck in a loop. I feel like I have been put in a cage and the door has been locked behind me. A brief respite comes when I can get away for a weekend but with paying off the adventure and only having had one pay-day this isn’t easy.

I thought I would share a couple of tips for how I have managed to get past some of the blues:

1 – Keep Active

Although I have been injured I have still managed to keep some form of activity going; short runs (I’m not allowed to do more than 4 miles at the sec), cycling etc. Be careful what you do though and be kind to yourself, I haven’t been able to climb particularly well and my head-game is weak but I try to concentrate on the social aspect while trying to build strength and confidence again.

Photo 1 (stay active)Photo credit: Dan Milton

2 – Get Planning

I have found this amazingly helpful, be it a short weekend adventure on the coast or a big trip to a 8000m summit just start thinking of all the exciting thing that you want to go and plan one of them. I hope to be able to announce my plans soon!

Photo 2 (Planning)Photo credit: Claire Turton


3 – Don’t forget: Excitement of the trip

Don’t forget what was great about the trip, print your favourite photo’s or write about your experiences in a blog or a book. Just remember not to dwell on it too long otherwise you may become one of those people with only a handful of anecdotes that you keep telling for the rest of your life, you know the ones…

Photo 3 (remember)

4 – Don’t Forget: Excitement of your return

Don’t forget the people you were so excited about seeing on your return, they will help a lot! Tell them your stories over a cup of coffee or just go watch a film. Just being round people will help you, for me it was meeting up with the Adventure Crew at Kendal Mountain Festival and just being around friends and family.

5 – Change something

This was my biggest mistake. I have just slipped back into the life I left when I went on my adventure but I am not quite the same person, I should have changed something; my job, my habits… something… anything. It would have helped.

Well that’s my thoughts, I am sure there are many other ideas on getting through the blues, why not let me know in the comments below.

Happy adventures!


The beginning of the end

I have now got a bit of time to catch up with updating you lovely folk! How time has flown since my last post!

St Andrew to St John (16th September 2017)

The day started well if a touch foggy, my day of in St Andrews had left me feeling refreshed for the first time in ages! The plan is simple for today, leave St Andrews and get to St John. I had hoped that there would be a costal rout that would follow the Bay of Fundy but unfortunately there wasn’t, all the roads just loops off of the highway and would have added huge amounts of distance that I unfortunately don’t have the time to do.



The day has been relatively hilly, none of them that big but the road was continuously rising and falling. The fifty metres here and there all add up on a touring bike and by the end of my 105km day I had covered approximately 1200m of accent. I find this quite entertaining as a lot of the cyclists that I have chatted to have said they rarely do above 1000m… that seems almost a daily occurrence for me!

All day I followed the highway, stopping for lunch at a service station (Subways again!) but mostly my concentration was just on staying safe on the road. St John is a small city so staying true to form it took me about 10 seconds to get lost, why can I not navigate cities!

St John to Sussex (17th September 2017)

Today starts with a cycle along the river, I can’t get lost following a river right?? Anyway as I was going through I happened to stop for a sec and some other tourists started to chat to me and informed me that the tidal bore would happen in the next 20mins or so, I thought I might as well stay and watch! Just so happens that 10 mins later some more cycle tourers came up and we had a good old natter and watched the bore.


The bore at St John happens every day and is caused by the tides in the Bay of Fundy, which are the biggest in the world. Todays tide was only supposed to be average at a “mere” 17m!!!! Today there was even someone surfing the muddy waters.

As I headed on I found a route that would avoid the main highway but it also meant that there was no shoulder to keep me separated from the traffic and the surface isn’t so well maintained, but worse than that my legs feel tired, what is going on?? I haven’t changed my fuelling, I haven’t added any weight to the bike, everything on the bike is working smoothly but for some reason my body feels like it has no juice, I don’t get it!

The first 40km of the day was through suburban sprawl or small towns with very little to note. After that I broke into a gently rolling countryside which was quite pretty. I happened across to cyclists who advised me that I “MUST” stay at the Amsterdam hotel in Sussex, my destination for the day, so I did. It was nice enough but not that dissimilar to an other hotel.

Sussex to Moncton (18th September 2017)

Ok… the hot breakfast was much appreciated but I am really starting to look forward to a proper British pork sausage!

Body is feeling just as tired, have I got a bug or something? It would have been a first on this trip… Its another shortish day today at 80km to Moncton, I think I may have a rest there.

About 20km into the ride my gear cable tension went, just like that… while going up hill… this nearly spilled me of the bike as I suddenly went from the second lowest gear to a mid-ranged gear which was far too hard for the hill, thankfully I was travelling slow and don’t wear clips! The next 10mins were spent adjusting gears to get me through the day. This is the first roadside repairs I have had to do, pretty good really considering the conditions and the distance I have travelled.

After this was done I continued the plod through the rolling landscape until I hit the suburban sprawl again, this time I didn’t get lost as I went into a city, its a frustrating game to be honest!

Moncton (19th September 2017)

I decided to rest up and put the bike in a shop, apparently all is good apart from the alignment of the gears being slightly out, also I have a minor bend in the rear axil but its not binding or causing any issues so he advised I leave it as is… I am dubious but he is the expert… lets see how that goes!

Moncton to Borden (20th September 2017)

Still tired, I have no idea whats happened to me. I was planning on following a back route today but as I turned down the road (well I was actually a few km down the road) a local drove to catch up with me and let me know that the road was unpassable ahead and my only option was to continue north for another 15km and join the highway. Great….

As I turned onto the highway I was a tad concerned as it was a big junction and quite busy but after a few kilometres the road quietened and actually the riding was quite good and vaguely flat but I was starting to get hungry. A quick Google search revealed that I wasn’t too far from a Timmies so I took the opportunity and took the detour. Timmies is definitely worth a few km!

After lunch it was back to the highway heading towards The Confederation Bridge, I decided to try and figure a way to follow the coast to the bridge but unfortunately as ever the road keeps away from coast, BOOOOOOO!


Unfortunately you cant cycle across the bridge but there is a shuttle service that takes bikes, as I pulled up at the stop the shuttle turned up. Apparently they had seen me turning up as they were leaving and were kind enough to come back for me, how nice is that!


The trip across the bridge took about 20 mins, this was mainly spent chatting to a fellow cycle tourist, Chris. He was going further north on Prince Edward Island but we would cycle the couple of Km to my spot together.

Borden to Charlottetown (21st September 2017)

It was back on the trails today and heading towards Charlottetown, the capital of PEI. The trail, as with most that I have travelled on, is an old railway line. This means that there is never a hill of more than 3%… but the 3% can drag on forever, or that’s how it felt today. The surface was also loose so made going harder.

At about 12 I took a break and made my wraps (great food on the bike!) and Chris caught up with me again and the rest of the ride into Charlottetown was with him.


Both Chris and I were both staying at the hostel in town as was another cyclist that Chris had met a few days earlier so we all went to one of the breweries for a beer.

Charlottetown to New Glasgow (22nd September 2017)

I started a bit late today but had to get to the ferry for 12:00 hours to get back from the mainland. This meant pushing relatively hard on the main roads, it was tough going but I made it and after about 20mins I was on the ferry and crossing back to the main land and stuffing my face with some food.


As I start up again my right knee started to hurt, I thought it would wear off but after a few km it had started to get worse. I found a hotel on the outskirts of New Glasgow and spent most the rest of the night icing my knee.

New Glasgow to Halifax Airport (23rd September 2017)

From New Glasgow to Halifax is 145km. The question is do I push and see if I can make that in a single day or do I split it in to two…. The knee feels slightly better but still not good so I decided just to see how it goes.

I had a choice of routes today, either get on the main highway and blast it down to Halifax amongst the traffic or take the rural route… ok there was no choice, who wants to be in the traffic!


I headed out from New Glasgow and through the West Ville to get back into the countryside, round here it is pretty wooded and undulating, not necessarily the most thrilling area to cycle but I am slightly worried about time to get things sorted at Halifax so needs must.

For what seemed like hours I cycled through what seems to be endless woodland, I seem to have been cycling in similar terrain for months now but I am sure it can’t have been that long… can it? At about 13:00hrs I got to the turning onto the 336 and was surprised to find what appeared to be a running race martial, apparently there was a local 10km run going on, so I stopped and supported the last few before turning off and beginning to climb what the locals refer to as a mountain, its not but its about 3% so not flat by any extent.  I followed this till a tiny place called Dean where I stopped at a shop and got some food for lunch.

As I started off again my knee began to hurt, it seems that any time I rest it flairs up and I have only covered 60km of the 140km to Halifax, I guessed that would mean it would be two days after all. I continued on and re-joined the 357. My knee was quite sore and needed to be iced so I continued passed the provincial parks and made my way towards the nearest hotel which was at Halifax airport, this was still about 50km of when I decided this was the best option so I ploughed on, the pain in my knee never receding but not seeming to get worse.


As I got closer to the airport I began to suffer more as I had been paying so much attention to my knee that I hadn’t been taking on enough food and water. By the time I got to the hotel I was a tired sweaty mess. I checked in and after telling my story got upgraded to a room with a hot-tub for no extra cost so I ended up having a night of near luxury while applying ice to my knee regularly… it had still been a long day as I had covered 125km. Only about 15-20km to go tomorrow to finish my journey.

Halifax Airport to Halifax (24th September 2017)

I didn’t want to get up. The bed was warm and I was tired, knowing I only 15km to go wasn’t helping… Well I thought it was 15km to go….

I set off from the hotel at about 10am after a large breakfast. The route I chose again keeps me away from the main road… well it was supposed to…. turns out the road is a barricaded private road, and even if I could get past the barricades the road was so broken that I didn’t much fancy riding it! So I had to go onto the main roads.

The main road was busy… busier than nearly every road I have been on! I didn’t feel safe, there was no shoulder so I was on the gravel. To be honest I am not sure I was even allowed on this stretch of road so I got off at the next junction with a HUGE sigh of relief.

Once off the main road I worked my way past some beautiful little lakes and entred the city by the back roads…. and promptly got lost. To be quite honest I had no idea exactly where I was going to finish the ride so I had a look at the map and settled on Point Pleasant Park at the very east of the town. Slowly, with the use of google, I got to a fort mounted on top on a hill thinking that it may give a good view over the town, and I am sure it did before the woods had grown around it! So I worked my way to the coast and decided that this was as good as any other place as any to finish… I had done it… 8500km of cycling across Canada, the second largest country in the word.


I have to say a big thanks to everyone friends and family for your encouragement and to Alpkit for supplying some of my equipment and a massive thanks to all the wonderful people that I met on the trip, its you guys that made it so awesome!






Long rides

I am feeling worn and tired. Sorry for the delayed update, pics will follow ASAP

Quebec to Buie St Paul (3rd Sept 2017)

I decided to follow the Trans Canadian trail out of town (via the nearest Timmies). The trail follows the north shore of the St Lawrence which at this point is tidal and beginning to widen in to the delta.

Following the trail led onto country roads leading through small villages that had an Alpine kind of feel, I followed the low route for the tail only to find that not only did the trail stop but the path through Reserve Nationale Faune du cap-Torment is a non-bike path! So I had to back track and rejoin the main road… this proved interesting…. the quickest route took me straight up a huge hill gaining approximately 500m in 5km, and to make it even more fun my gears decided this moment to decide that I hadn’t tinkered with them enough lately so I lost not only granny gear but my second lowest too, I couldn’t actually make any headway so ended up walking the bike up. Not a happy bunny and I may have said one or two words about the Trans Canada Trail (I think I may write a review of the trail and pass it on to them too).


For the next 30km I gradually worked my up more hills, not a steep but without the climbing gears I was really struggling! Thankfully the last 20km was down hill but my legs were done, I had done 110km with 1200m of accent averaging 18kph. I would class this as a tough day.

That evening I stayed in a motel again. Buie St Paul comes across as a nice town and for some reason feels a bit like a small skiing town, not sure if it is though!

Buie St Paul to  Saint-Irenee (4th Sept 2017)

God my legs are tired! And its going to be another tough day. I planned a short day and hope that my legs would feel better after the first few km… that was before I realised the first 7km had 300+m of accent. This was going to be a grind fest but luckily I had sorted the gears on my bike and the views were quite impressive.


Even with the views and the working gears I only managed 33km, and in that there was 700m of assent. I was destroyed. I need a rest day.

Saint-Irenee (5th Sept 2017)

My legs are burned out from the hills over the last few days, I had a wander down the beach and a look round the village but otherwise rested up. Can’t believe that after the amount of time I have been on the bike I can still burn out like this!


Saint-Irenee to Saint Simeon (6th Sept 2017)

A day off had helped the legs a bit, the first climb out of town (600m from where I stayed) was 17%… this didn’t help my legs. and this was the way the day went, up and down for the 49km to Saint Simeon. I didn’t see much of the scenery as I was struggling so much on the hills, each one being above 10%. The weather has also turned colder so on the downhills I am starting to get chilly, my motivation is defiantly getting low as and I must say as I go into the last 1000km of the trip this doesn’t seem to help, after all its just round the corner now.


Just a small one.

Saint Simeon to Rivier-du-Loup (7th Sept)

Very short day today, I crossed the St Lawrence by ferry but  I didn’t fancy playing in the mist and drizzle so help up at a motel.


Rivier-du-Loup to Simeon to near Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha! (8th Sept 2017)

I’m still struggling, I just don’t fancy riding any more but I have distance that I must make, the day is chilly and some fog still left over. I am back to wearing sleeves.

I re-joined the trail and followed it south east, the trail tended to have a great surface of fine gravel over some kind of hard-pack meaning that the going was quite easy but the general gradient was up all day with a total accent of 550m, not too tough but noticeable. Although these trails are good and keep you away from the traffic, I must admit that the scenery doesn’t seem to alter much, its trees and some swampy areas and that’s about it, also they tend to follow the roads in the area and when my legs start to get tired I really do begin to wonder if I should have been on the roads, the riding would be easier and I would probably make better time…

red trees

Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha! to Edmundston (9th Sept 2017)

First place I passed today was the entertainingly named town of Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha!, apparently named for the fact that people make that noise when they come to a boundary or obstacle…

At about midday the weather started to look like it was turning and not long after the heavens opened, luckily these trails are really well maintained and have rest stops where the old stations on the rail line used to be, this is a distance of about 10km between them,  and I managed to get to one just before the torrent started. I ended up sat in the shelter watching the rain blow across the lakes for nearly an hour before it cleared up and blue skies came out. As would be expected the trail was a tad damp and made for some interesting riding for a while.

At about 60km I crossed over from Quebec to New Brunswick and, for once at a Canadian provincial border, nothing seemed any different.


About 20km later I arrived grimy and covered in grit from the trail, I checked into a motel, had a shower and collapsed onto the bed. I just feel tired all the time at the second yet don’t seem to get a good nights sleep! After a nap I headed out scavenging for food and ended up at the old faithful Boston Pizza.

Edmundston (10th Sept 2017) 

I only managed to get a few hours sleep last night as the neighbours were coming and going at all hours so I decided to have another rest day and ended up sleeping most of it, what a waste but I obviously needed I just hope I can sleep later!

Edmunston to Perth-Andover (11th Sept 2017)

I started the morning with a smile at Timmies this morning before heading back onto the trails, they had started to get rougher as I followed the St John River, its also funny to think that just over this stretch of river lies the US, there is nothing separating them apart from a 20m wide stretch of slow moving water.

It was another uneventful day on the trails, a brief stop at Grand Fall which is not so grand due to the damn they have built at the top of the falls, to talk to the tourist information about potential routes and a spot of lunch before heading back onto the trail. For a tiring but uneventful conclusion to the day in Perth-Andover


I needed to do some bike maintenance tonight as the gears aren’t working properly again, I have a feeling the rear cassette and the derailleur may both be wearing out but I will nurse them through as far as I can, its not long till the finish line now.

Perth-Andover to Hartland (12th Sept 2017)

I have to say the trails have started to get tougher, they seem to be less maintained and more broken, in fact I am beginning to worry about what it might be doing to bits of the bike and to me. My hands lost feeling in them after about an hour and a half riding and I am starting to just feel battered.

The trail was pretty much the same as before and I was getting bored so had a short 60km day, I know tomorrow will be a long one so time to rest up and get as much energy in me as possible.

Hartland to McAdam (13th Sept 2017)

I am moving slightly away from the river now too which means that there are more hills, none too bid but with the gravel under tire its not easy getting Eve to move up them. I have been using the lower gear ranges more and more, just as well I fixed them!

As today wore on I just got more and more tired so found the quickest way of the trails and onto the road…. it turns out that the main road round this are is gravel and in about as bad condition as the trial, I am really feeling battered and I am getting chafe for the first time in months due to the broken surface!

I got to the town of McAdam at about 6pm and headed for a motel, I needed a shower and a bed… the motel had closed…. There was a b&b…. I couldn’t get hold of them by phone or by knocking…. so I headed for the campsite and they were kind enough to give me a free night as I looked in such a sorry state and they were amazed by what I am doing. If I have learned anything on this trip it is the more sorry for yourself you appear and the more crazy you sound, the more people will look after you. It’s enough to restore your faith in humanity. Now time to put some cream on my sore bum, eat a freeze dried meal and get some sleep.

McAdam to St Andrews (14th Sept 2017)

My bum is feeling a bit better but am tired as I only got about 3hrs sleep as my imagination was working overtime, every little noise last night I was sure was a bear… the campsite was in a wood so there was a frigging lot of noises.

The day started ok, my legs were tired but I could deal with that, the road was good apart from a couple of stretches of roadworks but nothing to worry about, but as the day went on the thing that hurts me most happened, the temperature increased and reached 28 degrees centigrade, I don’t deal well in the heat, it saps all my energy. I drank over 3ltrs of water in the 4hrs ride (a lot for me) and was wanting more. It was taking everything out of me and was starting to make me feel unwell. If it wasn’t for this the ride would have been beautiful, especially the last 20km going onto the peninsular of land  St Andrews is situated on, the hills overlooking the bay and out to the Bay of Fundy. I was quite looking forward to getting to town… mainly to recover and rest.

St Andrews (15th Sept 2017)

I have spent the day exploring the town and went on a whale watching tour on a tall ship! I had the pleasure of watching grey seals basking on rocks in the Bay of Fund. Also saw harbour porpoise, minkie whales and even a few finback whales, which are the second biggest creature in the world and it was probably only 30m from the boat!

I like this town, its pretty, the people are nice and the food is good. I am feeling contented, just a shame I cant stay longer!




Mon Français est terrible

So I am now passing from Ontario into Quebec and French Canada. Unfortunately my French isn’t much good any more making things slightly more interesting as in some of the more rural areas their English is even worse! Makes for some interesting conversations with lots of hand gestures and pointing!

Tweed to Perth – 110km (23rd August 2017)

The day started with breakfast with Brian and Laura before we headed our separate ways.


I was back on the Trans Canadian Trail as it seemed good at this point but I hadn’t anticipated that yesterdays storm would have brought down so many branch’s and even trees, after 10km I had to switch to the roads to avoid some complete blockages. Most of the time not much of interest actually happened as I just pottered along the tree and lake bordered trail but I did see my first wild turtle, it was ninja stealthy and I nearly mistook it for one of the many rocks on the trail!


As the day wore on the trail got more broken, on long days like this it becomes hard as just trying to keep focused on staying on the bike as the larger stones move out from under my skinny wheels with a pop kicks wheels out all over the place. Its quite good fun though!

Perth to Ottawa – 92km (24th August 2017)

I was back on the highway most of the day but there was very little to see, days seem to blend now as the scenery doesn’t change that much, at times it feels like I am just munching out miles.

As ever as I got in towards town I started to get lost, I had a nice chat with a lady who has done similar trips herself up until a few years back, she was now in her 70’s!

First impressions of Ottawa was it was quite nice with some big gothic style buildings, most of which are government buildings.

I finally found the hostel and checked in and this one was an interesting one… its in a prison! As I checked in I was told the hostel had organised a night out at the local comedy club so I signed up to go along.

The doors in this place are heavy and thankfully an Italian chap, Alessandro, gave me a hand with my panniers up to my room, he also had just got to town and was heading to the comedy later. Getting to my private room I was slightly surprise at the size of the cell, it was tiny with only just enough room for the bed which my panniers had to go under!


So of to the comedy club we went and a good laugh was had, I cant remember the name of the acts but its the first comedy club that I have been to that was worth the money. Afterwards Alessandro, Tracy (an fun American chap), Serena (a lovely Italian lady) and an Aussie lass (who’s name has escaped me at the sec) went for one or two (rea 4+) drinks.

Ottawa  – 0km (25th August 2017)

This morning I took the tour of the prison, learning its grisly history including the hundreds of bodies that were discovered in the court yard and potentially hundreds more that were under the carpark. The prison was closed in the ’70’s due to its medieval practices and the appalling breach’s in human rights, and the hostel opened there just 6 months later!


After the tour a few of us went to look round the city, Alessandro was in a bit of a mess from the night before which entertained me!


In the evening we had all signed up for a pub crawl, I had to behave as I was back on the bike but we had a good time, especially in the bar that we had been to the night before as it seemed to be “the place to be”.

Ottawa to Voyager Provincial Park – 115km (26th August 2017)

I didn’t get lost leaving the city!!!!!!!!! erm yea… might be too excited by that….

Once out of the city I was back on the trails, they really do all the same! These trails were better maintained and the going was smooth. The trails are mainly old rail tracks so the going is flat and straight so quick.

After about 80km I pulled up to the provincial park for the night, it wasn’t the best I have been to, just an overpriced campsite in the woods.

Voyager Provincial Park to Montreal – 93km (27th August 2017)

I’m starting to struggle to get up in the mornings, even when in a tent.

After about 10km on the road I came across a couple of tourers on the side of the road, one of them had a bad knee so was waiting to get picked up, they were only doing a couple of days so they weren’t too far out, I cycled on to the next town with the other one, Eric, before stopping and getting some much needed breakfast. Eric went on but I was likely to catch him later.

I caught up with Eric as I was on the way into Montreal…. you guessed it, I was looking at a map of where I was supposed to go. Eric was going the same way so I cycled with him getting information on everywhere that we passed through which was nice and meant I wasn’t getting lost!

I got to the hostel about 17:00 and got some food there before heading for a walk about the local area to get my bearings… and some more food. I got my first experience of the locals speaking solely French… this could get interesting, to say my French is rusty is being very, very kind….

Montreal – 0km (28th August 2017)

I was looking forward to Montreal as everyone says how nice it is, but I have to say I was slightly disappointed. I maybe its just that I had such a good time in Ottawa a few days ago, or that the language barrier had impacted me more than I realised but I just couldn’t get the feel for the city. I visited the area’s that people rave about and was just slightly underwhelmed. Having a rest day was good though and I put the bike into a shop for a check over.


Montreal to Granby – 82km (29th August 2017)

*sigh* I hate riding in cities…. I got lost, detoured, sent all over the place! Eventually I escaped and was back on the trails following Le Rue Vert. This route goes from Montreal all the way to Quebec so I would follow this for the next few days.


For some reason, even thought I had had a rest day my legs were tired and my head just wasn’t in the game. everything felt slow and sluggish and my right knee had started to play up again. For those that don’t know, my knees have been playing up on and off since I was about 16 so I know when they need to rest and when the pain will disappear.

The trail was the same as ever quite samey but its nice not to be on the roads.

Granby to Danville – 96km (30th August 2017)

Much to my regret I left the trails for a while today, I was greeted instead by gravel roads that were far more hilly and the gravel was tougher to ride on than the grit of the trails, that probably doesn’t really make sense but the bigger the stones the tougher on both the concentration, body and a bigger chance of something going wrong with the bike. This all means that going was slower.

On one of the gravel roads I had a particularly fun encounter with a dog that forced me to dismount and face it down, its not the first time but this one seemed quite determined to get to me! I find this quite entertaining as I have covered nearly 7000km through areas containing some of the most dangerous land predators and haven’t had an issue but come across the domestic dog and they will nearly always chase!

Danville to Quebec City – 150km (31st August 2017)

I started the day tired and it didn’t get much better, the first 40km dragged and I couldn’t get my head into the ride. I had made plans to meet up with some of the guy I had met on the road in Quebec but the last two days hadn’t been as far as I had planned so I had to make up the distance today, by 13:00 I felt like I had enough but had only covered about 40km. I had been in contact with the Nic (one of the cycle crew) and this gave me the drive to push on, after I had taken on some food (bag of crisps (1000cal) and some fruit juice (another 1000cals)) I was feeling better and started to push on, maybe I was low on energy.

As I crossed the bridge from Levi to Quebec I was already starting to see some of the beauty of the city with gothic structure of Le Château Frontenac looking over the town. I was slightly surprised by the almost militaristic feel of the city, I had no idea what to expect to be honest but the gothic structures, the sheer cliffs, city walls and Citadelle were a surprise.

Half hour after checking in I met up with Nic and had a few beers, it was a good night and great to catch up with him and his girlfriend, I hope to keep in contact with them and see them again some time down the line.

Quebec City – 0km (1st and 2nd October 2017)

I have had couple of days resting and catching up with some of my buddies from on the road in Quebec. The city is probably the prettiest I have seen in Canada so far with quaint rough stone cottages, imposing gothic towers and monolithic fortifications.


The city was first settled in 1535 and is one of the oldest cities in North America. Also, Quebec’s Old Town is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist,

Also, Quebec’s Old Town is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist.

French explorer Jacques Cartier built a fort at the site in 1535, where he stayed for the winter before going back to France in spring 1536. He came back in 1541 with the goal of building a permanent settlement. This first settlement was abandoned less than one year after its foundation, in the summer 1542, due in large part to the hostility of the natives combined with the harsh living conditions during winter.

Quebec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and diplomat on 3 July 1608, and at the site of a long abandoned St. Lawrence Iroquoian settlement called Stadacona. Champlain, also, served as its administrator for the rest of his life.


Quebec City was the headquarters of many raids against New England during the four French and Indian Wars. In the last war, the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War), Quebec City was captured by the British in 1759 and held until the end of the war in 1763. It was the site of three battles in which British troops under General James Wolfe defeated the French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm on 13 September 1759 and shortly thereafter took the city; and the final Battle of Sainte-Foy, a French victory (28 April 1760). France ceded New France, including the city, to Britain in 1763.


So that’s the boring history bit, on the Friday I met up with MJ and one of her friends and went to the Circus Crepuscule, its one of the free performances put on by the city every year and this local troop are pretty good! After the show we headed for a drink and a “beaver tail” (a dough strip with topping, its nice!) the rest of the time was looking round the city and eating.



Ahhhhh! I can’t keep up!


Niagara Falls (13th -15th August 2017)

I spent about a day updating the last blog, shame but it needed doing! The next few days were wet but this didn’t stop me from doing the tourist stuff including a trip on The Hornblower into the falls and a walk behind the falls, both of which was well worth the money and give you a true perspective of the scale of Horseshoe falls.


Niagara to Toronto (16th August 2017)

Today I did my longest ride to date clocking 170km. My plan was to try to meet up with one of the cyclists I met on the road, Nate, for a spot of lunch in Hamilton. I started the day early and went to take some photo’s of sunrise at the fall meaning a 05:30 start, from there I headed north to Niagara On The Lake. NOTL is a small up market area that seems to have had a fair amount of new buildings go up in the last few years but is still quite nice.


From Niagara On The Lake I followed the lake until I rejoined the route that I had cycled a few days earlier, through wine country. Thankfully it was still quite early and the wineries were closed otherwise I would have been sorely tempted to have a tipple. I continued to retrace the route till near the campground at Fifty Point Conservation area where I contacted Nate, unfortunately it looked like even though I had pushed the last 80km it wasn’t likely that I would catch him on his lunch break.


I reached Hamilton at 13:00 and had some food by the lake, by this time I had covered approximately 100km and I was still feeling good so I decided to push on towards Toronto, another 70km… this may have been a mistake…

About 30km further on in Mississauga I started to tire, I stopped at a Drugs Mart (kinda like a big Superdrugs for those of you in the UK) and got a drink and some food to give me a boost for the push into Toronto.

As I approached the city the traffic was increasing, and not just cars but cyclists of the worst kind… the lycra clad commuter… these strange creature seem to believe that they own the roads and cycle paths and seem to suffer from delusions that, on the commute, skin tight clothing on a carbon bike is needed…. Imagine the look on some of there faces as a raggedy looking cyclist with four 20ltr panniers and various other bags seems to keep up with them, or at least catches them at crossings, and all with a cheery “hello” rather than the aggressive ringing of a bell or just ignoring everyone around them.

I was already regretting coming to the city, it all feels so fake, the tall skyscrapers blocking out the sky and making it feel like a prison. I think I may be going feral.

Toronto (17th – 18th August 2017)

I have spent the last couple of day exploring Toronto, I have taken a trip up the CN Tower (the queues were horrific), the views were good but I think I preferred the Calgary Tower even if it was shorter.


I also had a trip the Distillery District which is a bit of a hipster kinda area and I must admit that I quite liked it. The area is possibly the oldest I have been in since coming to Canada with Victorian style red brick building similar to the uk, there are art galleries, bars and such in the area which made for an interesting few hours.

Lastly I went to St Lawrence Market, National Geographic voted this one of the best food markets around… I have been to better over here to be honest but it was interesting to have a look around.

I had some bits an pieces to do on the bike so paid a visit to MEC for some parts and other then a general explore I rested up as I have been having niggles in my knees after big days on the bike.

Toronto to Bowmansville (19th August 2017)

I planned to start early but breakfast was at 07:00 so it was later than hoped, thankfully being a Sunday the roads were quite quiet so getting down the waterfront trail was quiet easy, from here I followed the trail which passed through some nice seaside like villages that often had a harbour. The day continued like this and was rather pleasant apart from one or two downpours that always led to a friendly conversation as everyone hid from the rain, it even lead to a rather nice cup of tea and scone both of which were free!


I ended up in the small town of Bowmansville where it turned out that there was nowhere to camp and the motels were full due to two weddings in town so had the luxury of a Best Western…. not cheap though!

Bowmansville to Havelock (20th August 2017)

Today I headed inland and said goodbye to the great lakes, kinda sad as I have been traveling along these for quite some time now and always enjoy being close to the sea and these might as well be classed as seas!


After following the lakeside trail for approximately 35km to through Newcastle and Port Hope the route goes north up highway 45 for most of the day passing through small towns, its rather a boring route but I put in a 115km most of which I was listening to music through to keep interested!

Havelock to Tweed (21th August 2017)

I followed the highway for a way before joining another rail to trails project, as you can tell from the name this is old railways that have been turned into recreational tracks for walkers and cyclists, they tend to be ok gravel surfaces but this one was a tad torn up after the first 10km and I was cycling through puddles that left my feet slightly damp… this was followed by coming across a grader that was tying to repair such damage with soil that sunk under my tires in other words it was a wet and muddy day, good fun but tiring. After following the never changing wooded trail for 40km I was tired and there was a motel on the edge of the town. With the weather looking dicey tomorrow (tornado warnings) I decided for a rest day and some TLC for my bike. Just so happened that a couple of other cyclists had decided the same and they even treated me to dinner! I spent the eve  chatting to Brian and Laura and a fun time was had by all!


Tweed (22nd August) 

Eve got some loving.

On the right track

Yes, I know I have fallen behind on keeping this up to date but I have been camping a lot in areas with little or no signal to post…. So grab a cuppa and find a comfy spot, this could take some time!

Sault Ste. Marie to Blind River (5th August)

I decided to have a big day on the road to day and planned to do about 140km. The route unfortunately still follows the main highway for the majority of the day. The climbs tended to be smaller than I have had on previous days and my pace seemed to be good, I think I may have even have had a tail wind for most of the day! At about 80km I came to the small town of Thessalon and still feeling fresh I took the detour into town and thought about getting some food but it was surprisingly busy! I hadn’t realised but this weekend was a long weekend and there was a parade through the town, I decided to watch instead of scooting round it and was surprised that most of the floats just seemed to be pickups with families sat in the back, rather odd but interesting to watch!


About 30 mins after this I looked up at the sky and coming from the north west were some ominous looking clouds, not long after was a grocery store so I decided to stop and get a iced tea and sit out what looked to be a short shower… I wasn’t wrong it was short but heavy.

After the shower I hopped on the bike again and was off, I was still feeling good so blind river seemed more and more achievable. At about the 120km mark I began to get tired and my legs started to feel leaden. As I drew into Blind River I noticed a nice looking motel right beside the river and decided to stay there for the night. I had a meal at the restaurant across the street and a brief wander round town before heading back for some rest. It had been a long but nice day.

Blind River to Webbwood (6th August)

Todays plan was to head to Espanola on Highway 6 but not all plans work out! My legs were feeling leaden so the going was hard although my averages are still showing 23kph so not to shoddy. The temperature was slightly cooler today too and more clouds in the sky, I had a feeling it might get a touch wet later on and I wasn’t “disappointed”. At about 14:00 and 30km from Espanola the heavens opened, I threw my rain coat on before but it wetted out in no time. By the time I entered Webbwood I had decided it was going to be a shorter day than planned and another motel as I wasn’t putting a tent up in this, it would have been wet inside and out. The motel was poor, the staff odd but it was shelter. After check in I passed a few words with a motor cyclist who had also decided it was no fun playing in this. The weather briefly broke and I went to get some food from a local services type place…. they didn’t take card and I was out of cash so I ended up with more lentil medley fun!

Webbwood to South Baymouth (7th August)

I am feeling sluggish today and my legs ache for some reason, its was a slow start and after 10km I stopped for breakfast at Timmies at the junction with Highway 6, after another 5km I stopped and had a second breakfast from a different Timmies in Espanola.


This seemed to help a little as did the beautiful if slightly hilly terrain as I approached Manitoulin Island, the views reminded me of parts of Scotland which is pleasant although every hill was a challenge!


The traffic seemed to be lightish in the direction that I was travelling but heavy the other way, it was people going home from there long weekend I guess!

As you cross onto the island there is a funky swing bridge, unfortunately I didn’t get to see this in action but it was cool. I stopped at the info centre on the other side to check how the ferry worked and bumped into another cyclist, Mark, who is travelling to Niagara as well. As ever info on what we had learned and routes was shared before Mark headed of.

After the info centre I got some food at a local restaurant before heading further onto the island. Manitoulin is apparently the biggest island on a lake its pretty and worth the visit for those travelling across the country.

As I approached Manitowaning I was really starting to get tired and wanted to find somewhere to stop, there are no campgrounds and the motel was full so I had to keep going for another 20km to South Baymouth by the time I got there I was done in, I managed to get the last room in a motel although I had planned to camp, and went to get a pizza. I ended up having an early night as I was so tired, shame as it seems a pretty town!

South Baymouth to Wiarton (8th August)

It was an early start to get the ferry from South Baymouth to Tobermory, as I was queuing up I spotted Mark again and said hi, we went and got coffee while waiting to board.

After tying  the bikes up to stop them falling all over the place while underway we went and got some breakfast in the cafeteria, the trip was rather pleasant and Mark and I decided that we would stick together as we headed in the same direction.


On leaving the boat we had no option but to follow Highway 6 down to Ferndale, a distance of about 40km were we turned east onto the more rural back roads, this took us through a small village where I swear that I heard banjo’s…. Continuing through we passed into woodland were the trees gradually turned from evergreens to deciduous, I wonder why it changes so quickly?


A steed downhill decent brought us into the pretty town of Colpoy’s Bay before a steep climb back out and in to Wiarton where we found a campsite for the night, we ended up going and getting a beer and pizza for dinner. I haven’t been drinking much on this trip so it was rather pleasant! Back at camp I watched the sun set then headed to bed.

Wiarton to Markdale (9th August)

After breaking camp and breakfast at Timmies (you seeing a pattern yet?) we took the backroads  to Owen Sound, just outside of town we happened across a waterfall, Ingles Falls, which was impressive!


Not long after we joined up with a route that Mark had heard about that consisted of a old rail line that was converted into a footpath/cycle/snowmobile track and continues for 130km. The track is gravel so it would be a two day job but being off the roads was lovely. The track winds through woodland, swampy land and lakes, at one of these we came across some giant swans (bigger than the UK type) that wasn’t in the mood to move! After about 10 mins of shooing it finally got out the way.

That afternoon we got to Markdale, had some food and a couple of beers at the local restaurant/bar before setting up a stealth camp on a patch of grass next to the trail and an ice-cream factory.

Markdale to Orangeville (10th August)

We were up early and got breakfast at a local café before re-joining the trail, towns are becoming more common now and we cycled through a few to take a look but the rest of the day was gravel grinding down narrow tracks. Oddly the closer we got to the terminus of the trail (Orangeville) the worse it got!

We got to town about 16:00 to find there isn’t a campsite of any sort, we aske around multiple places and then got told that one of the local parks was best for stealth camping.

We headed for a bike shop as Mark had lost a glove and the normal conversations and advice were had including that the Jamaican bar round the corner was good, so we had some snacks there and a beer or two.

We cooked dinner at the visitor centre before heading to the park and setting up for the night, the local drunks trying to help Mark with his tent…

Orangeville to Winona (11th August)

Today was a scatnav day as we would be heading into urban areas. We started by heading down Highway 10 before joining the Caldone Trailway, this are was very similar to somewhere like Surrey, mainly flat with similar types of trees. The trail was superb and possibly some of the best cycling I have had since the Rockies.


We re-joined the backroads in some rather swanky areas before entering into suburbia and then industrial areas, the scatnav kept us on mainly miner roads and grassy areas as we wiggled our way through Mississauga then into Burlington which has a couple of rather interesting bridges! These areas sit on the shore of Lake Ontario so there were some nice views and places that we did think of pitching up for the night, then changed our minds and continued as there was still a lot of day light left to use, the cycling was generally gentle and we were on one of the many cycle trails which was pleasant.


After a while the trail goes onto the Northern Service road for the QEW Highway so became noisy, and we were both starting to get hungry so stopped at the closest place we could find for dinner, not long after we figured we wouldn’t make the campground we planned so we went to a neighbouring conservation area that thankfully had camping. I did some washing and had a shower and on the way back to the tent lightning was flashing in the distance, during the night a storm struck and I could feel almost a fizzing energy in there air as thunder and lightning raged around my tent, I think it was the biggest storm yet.

Winona to Niagara (12th August)

We packed away our wet tents and went to find a Timmies, they are everywhere!

Again we scatnaved our way through the backroads and rather posh areas, vineyards, orchids before entering the suburbs of St Catherine’s were we had Timmies for lunch, the riding was on busier roads from here making directions harder to hear or follow meaning a few wrong turns as we left St Catherine’s and entered into Niagara.


We decided to get a motel and share the costs. Once showered we went for a wander to the falls and have a look and got drenched as a rain came in, after a while we headed back to the motel and cooked dinner and decided we would go to a bar for a couple of drinks…. An interesting night of good company, live music and far too much beer ensued and we rolled back to the motel at about 02:30 in the morning… we felt it the next day!





Up hill, down hill, round the hill, Lake

The title kinda sums up all the riding for this period as I am in the true Canadian Shield, the climbs are short and sharp, the descents the same and majorly fun and all of this interspersed with stunning views of Lake Superior.

For those who don’t know Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world by surface area at 31,700 sq mi (82,100 km2), that’s only a touch smaller than the whole of the UK! It is the 3rd biggest by volume at 2,900 cu mi (12,000 km3). More important though is that I don’t think it tastes great.

White River to Wawa (28th July 2017)

First stop today was the statue in White River dedicated to Winnie the Pooh, the bear that inspired the story was bought from White River before eventually ending up in London Zoo, apparently named for Winnipeg where the owner was from.


After the day with the younger and lightly loaded guys yesterday my legs feel like lead but after the first 10km they seem to loosen up but going was still going to be slow and its a long day planned at just under 100km.

To make life interesting my phone has started playing up and its my main system for navigation, I am now relying on a SatNav that seems to want to take me the long way round everywhere. Other than that the day was pretty uneventful I have still yet to see a bear over this side of the country even though nearly everyone I talk to says they see them all the time!



In Wawa I am staying at Naturally Superior Adventures located right on the lake and its an absolutely stunning location, possibly the most beautiful that I have come across since leaving the mountains! They had a local rock band playing in the evening so I went and watched followed by admiring the sun set.



Wawa (29th July 2017)

Today started with a paddle board lesson, it took a while to start to understand the balance and quite honestly the appeal, but after the first hour I started to get it. I am used to fast paced adrenaline sports and paddle boarding is a calm sport and would be a great way of travelling although I feel on rough waters it may be… interesting!


Naturally Superior Adventures

After the lesson I chilled for most of the day on the rocks around NSA… I may have even had an afternoon nap.

During the evening a group of us had a fire on the beach, good times!

Wawa to Agawa Bay (30th July 2017)

Although I slept well I felt tired, but surprisingly not achey! After a 4 course breakfast I was back on he road. Everyone says how nice this section is, and they are right it is pretty in the small sharp hills coated in pines kinda way. To be honest though its not really that different to the previous days although there is a bit more access to the lake and the beach’s.

When I was setting up camp it was “invaded” again with a couple of Canadians bearing gifts of cold beer that was most appreciated although my tolerance is quite low these days!


Now that my kinda gift!

Agawa Bay to Voyager (31st July 2017)

As I was leaving camp in the morning I met up with two other cyclist, Nate and Wade, who are cycling from Vancouver to Hamilton, a distance of 4,500km in 38 days in aid of Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, there blog is worth checking out, it is located here.


Wade (left) and Nate (right)

I can’t really tell you much about the ride as we were too busy chatting all day, it was really nice to have company again and Nate and Wade were both happy to have someone new to talk to even if they had to slow down slightly to do so!

Lunch was had at one of the resorts that pop up occasionally round the lakes, as we were leaving another bunch of cyclists came along a quick exchange was passed but there was still a long way to go, I had planned to get to Sault Ste Marie today but that wasn’t looking likely.


Wade leads the way

After a few more hours of cycling we came to a service station and we all needed some snacks and the other two were looking at staying round this are so a break was needed. 10 mins later it was back on the bikes, one of the locals had suggested a place about 10km down the road so that’s where we were heading, At this point it was about 16:00hrs and another 60km to Sault Ste Marie but at the other guys were stopping and I decided that it was a good plan, at least I would have people nearby who I knew although we ended up having dinner separately.

As I was just going in for food the other group of cyclists were just coming in so we I invited them to my table, save them having to wait around. I discovered they weren’t one group but two although all from Quebec and went to the same uni they didn’t know each other and just bumped into one another on the road, its a small world on the road! Anyway, plans were half made to meet up the following evening in Sault Ste. Marie for a couple of drinks, I like this crowd!

 Voyager to Sault Ste. Marie (1st August)

Everyone left at different times this morning, predictably I was the last out after a huge breakfast! I still felt sluggish, not sure why I am pretty sure it wasn’t the 1/2 ton of fried food I had but you never know!

The day seemed to be flatter than previously until about 15-20km from the finish when I approached 1Mile Hill and boy does it live up to its name! I switched down to grannie gear and just spun, sweat dripping into my eyes and of the points of my elbows as I worked up the hill in the heat and humidity. Then down into town and to find a motel for the night and take the bike into the shop for a pro to have a look at.

I had dinner with Nate and Wade at an all you can eat sushi place, I think we went through enough food for about 8-10 people! After dinner I got a call from MJ, one of the Quebeckers and went to meet them, they were camped out at the back of the bike shop with another two cyclists. When I got to there camp there was also a rather drunk local who was bragging how he had ridden “over a million km in the last 10 years”…. now don’t get me wrong, I guess its a plausible distance if you cycle for 6 months each year but this chap wasn’t in that kinda shape. I think he was also making the others slightly uncomfortable, I guess I am more used to drunken louts than some though!


Cycle crew

We got a taxi into town and went for some drinks followed some Karaoke which I thankfully avoided doing any singing at. Got to say thanks to MJ, Nic, Will (the Quebecers), Fernando and Sylvan for a great night. Hope the rest of your journey goes well!

Sault Ste. Marie (2nd-3rd August)

I decided to have a couple of rest days, my right knee feels tweeky so I think it might be worth it.

Anywho, you must be bored of my rambling so I shall yet you go. Happy trails and may the wind be forever at your back!