Micro Adventure – Old Harry’s Rocks – Part 2

Yep it does say in the title that’s part 2… That means you should go and read part 1 first if you haven’t done it yet 🙂 Or start from here if you like… whatever! You’re a grown up, I’m not here to tell you what to do :p

Where were we again? Oh yeah on that cliffhanger…

So my sister and I were on our way back to the beach from the Old Harry’s Rocks, when we stumbled into an unexpected situation. A man was standing immobile staring at the rock wall and a woman was seated beside him, weirdly holding something in her arms. Intrigued, we got closer and discovered what was happening. The man was looking at a small dog stuck 4 meters above the ground…

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It was too steep for the poor animal to go back up and it was clear that if he tried to climb down he will fall. Now standing at the bottom of the cliff, we realized that a huge puddle of blood was already covering the floor… One dog had already fallen off… The woman was holding him dearly against her chest wrapped up in a jacket. That small dog, despite having at least a broken leg and probably his jaw too, had managed to carry himself to his masters who were at the beach a kilometer away. The man told us that the police was on his way but we insisted to stay and help out as much as we could. We took our sleeping bags and Dryrobe out of our backpacks.

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The plan was to use that to catch Boris (that’s how the fluffy dog was named). He was indeed dangerously balancing on a very small ledge in an awkward position. Every time he was moving a bunch of loose stones were falling off, it was looking like he could drop at any time. After a while the police arrived on the beach with their 4×4 and the coast guards as well… on a zodiac! After different approaches they finally managed to safely bring Boris down. Only then I allowed myself to smile a bit at the situation… If you know London’s political scene, I’m sure the fact that a clumsy “Boris” managed to get himself stuck in an improbable place and awkard position will make you smile too 😀

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Saving a dog… Done!

Now, back on the beach, we could see the tide rising very quickly. After all, maybe my sister was right to be worried about it… If we hadn’t been extremely lucky to be in the right timing, our expedition to the rocks could had been way more fun, I mean challenging :p

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We decided to go back to the Old Harry Rocks but this time following the classic path staying safely on top of the cliffs.  It was a really bucolic route, waving through bushes, rabbit’s holes and cultivated fields. We encountered a massive herd of cows parked in a grassless meadow… We told ourselves that if anything,  with the way of life we had both embraced we were not anymore responsible for their early programmed death… – my 2 cents of vegan activism – 🙂


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We promptly arrived at our destination and even viewed from the top, those rock walls were still so majestic! We enjoyed our time totally alone up there with the sun slowly going down.

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Exploring the area we found a small path leading up to a very unappealing forest. We followed it anyway and behind the first few trees covered by massive dead brambles we discovered an incredible scenery… yes again!

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The floor was completely covered by short plants with vividly green leaves, lit up by a yellowish light coming from the sunset and filtered by thousands of tiny leafless branches. It was quite magical and really unexpected

What a place! It inspired us to start an impromptu workout using my all time favorite activity… climbing trees! Such a great and fun way to exercise.

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After a while my sister called me over, she had found something. It was a small black box with a label saying  “Official Geocache”  on the top. I then remembered a post from my crazy friend Laura Try (check her out!) about that kind of treasure hunt happening worldwide. It’s a concept where people have to find those small boxes using GPS coordinates given on a website (brilliant idea). The box was packed with random stuff from a pink earmuff to a weird whistle. People are adding their own contribution to the box. I took two massive fluorescent glow sticks and place back one Clif Bar flavour peanut butter, the perfect gift for treasure hunters! (Well… if someone find the box before June 2017…).

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Finding a treasure… Done!

We enjoyed our dinner seated on the top of those 20 meters high cliffs with the best view ever on the Old Harry Rock, reflecting on how good life was. As the sun was disappearing below the horizon, we set up our little tent (bought a year and half ago for £17, best real-estate investment ever!). Feeling toasty in our sleeping bags using my Dryrobe to isolate us from the ground, we slept like babies.

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Julie being the big sunrise lover that she is was the first one up and made sure I would be a close second. Again what we were witnessing was breath taking… The sun was rising over the ocean coloring the sky, clouds, the water and cliffs with nuances of red, orange, pink and yellow.

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Perfect time to throw down some burpees, because that how we roll!

On our way back to the beach we saw dozens and dozens of rabbits rushing towards the bushes on the edges of the cliffs as we were getting close enough from them. That’s probably why the dogs from the day before ended up in that sketchy situation. They must have been chasing one of those cute creatures.
Once on the beach looking wilder than ever, we realized we only had 4 hours left before the departure of our bus to London. So we left the wild and beautiful beach we were on behind us and try a shortcut through the land.

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Behind one or two small dunes was a completely different terrain. It was a very humid area with a lot of brackens, heathers with their yellow flowers, little trees and small lakes. We saw countless of birds and were lucky enough to observe a hind browsing only meters away from us. That’s the beauty of being in the wild early in the morning.

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We made it back to the ferry and we crossed over for free (you only pay one way). We walked on the way to Bournemouth pier with 20 minutes to spare before get on the coach. So we did the only thing left to be done…

 

And that was it. We were both back on time for our respective evening shifts.

Adventures are the best and that one only cost us £20 in total and 24 hours of our time. But we still came back with priceless memories that will last a lifetime.

Go ahead. Open a new tab and treat yourself with the most rewarding gift, a micro adventure. There is not valid reason not to! You won’t regret it 😉

More pictures from the trip on facebook

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Micro Adventure – Old Harry’s Rocks – Part 1

Time: 24h Cost: £20

No money… No time… Let’s go on a micro adventure!!

So here we are, my sister and I, on a coach towards Bournemouth on a Thursday morning.  We don’t have much of a plan, only a return ticket (£19) to London 24h later. Inside our backpacks, a tent, sleeping bags, spare clothes, some food plus a smile on our faces and that is all.

Arrived at the coach station, we made our way to the beach. Why? Because we have in our minds that image of massive white cliffs that we saw online after googling “Wild places in Britain”. Hitting Bournemouth pier, we went west. Dodging waves and playing with the dogs running around us, we were enjoying the fresh air while walking along that nice sandy beach.

IMAG3774Bournemouth beach – My Sister’s version of Kate Winslet’s Titanic pose

First unexpected event, we witnessed a huge military plane flying quite low above the bay. When suddenly, a dozen of soldiers started jumping off with their parachutes! As soon as they touched the water, three zodiacs appeared from nowhere, going full speed towards the submerged guys. A really impressive drill to watch, remaining me how much I would love to this kind of stuff.

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Two hours later, we reached a sea loch putting temporarily a end to our beach walk. That little stripe of sea was the entrance of a massive bay sheltering Poole’s harbor. Luckily it was possible to cross via a small ferry (return tickets £1 only). We paid the tool and hopped on the next one.

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Once back on the land we carried on walking on wilder and more untouched beaches. First Shell beach and then Studland beach… Where we could have had an interesting situation if we would have had done our trip on a warmer day…

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After one or two hours – we didn’t pay attention at all to the time- we finally encountered our first cliffs! It wasn’t the white ones we were expecting, those ones were rather colorful!  But nonetheless really pretty. No, this is not a random homeless… that me and my backpack :p

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Not long after the beach ended and was replaced by some muddy rocks covered with seaweeds. It was obvious that this ground used to be under water most of the time. We continued our journey jumping from rocks to rocks at the bottom of cliffs that were getting whiter and taller.

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An hour later, after avoiding few potentially epic falls on the really slippery floor (thanks to my inov-8!) we stopped in front of those majestic cliffs called “Old Harry’s Rocks”.

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We had a rest, ate a Clif bar and started to explore the area. We were alone, humbled by the scale of the scenery. Looking up at those immense cliffs that have been standing here for centuries was an amazing feeling. I’m not sure how to explain it but, like I do when I’m contemplating wild mountains, I always start to think at all of those men and women throughout the ages who must have stood at this exact same place, looking at the exact same spectacle, being as mesmerized as I am.  And this, somehow makes me feel profoundly connected to humanity and to nature. (woowoo time! Sorry…but I’m sure some of you can relate to this and if you don’t, I wish you to experience this feeling one day.)

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Back to reality…

“Thomas… The water level is definitely getting higher! We should go…” My sister started to freak out a little…(bless her!). I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t concerned at all about the eventuality of the tide rising – either being overconfident or just having a good intuition. To make my sister relax, I placed a big white stone on a small strip of sand right where the waves were currently stopping. We agreed to reassess the situation in fifteen minutes “If the stone start to be submerged we will leave immediately, otherwise we can definitely stay a little longer.” I could definitely tell that she still wasn’t convinced…

Straight away, they told us that we were witnessing a “once in a year” phenomenon!!!

Luckily a couple was approaching, following the bottom of the cliffs as we’ve done before. We found out they were locals and knew the tides timetable. Perfect. Straight away, they told us that we were witnessing a “once in a year” phenomenon! Indeed, it is usually impossible to access to the bottom of the Old Harry’s Rocks by foot! The water level never gets that low, only during the spring tide. Without having a clue we were at the right place, the right day, at the right time… Is it possible to be luckier that this?? Actually… Yes! The couple also told us that we could stay one more hour before starting to make our way back. 🙂 😀 That is exactly why unplanned adventures are the best, ever so surprising!

We explored and climbed even more, fully aware of how good life was treating us.

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Finally on our way back to safety, with the feeling of having already lived an awesome adventure, we suddenly and unexpectedly walked our self into a critical situation….

Our micro adventure was only starting…

Part 2 coming soon 😉

Facebook Album for more pictures

Flying Monkey Bars – How to

Ok, so now that I’ve got the emotional stuff out of the way with that 1st post, it’s time to get that blog rolling!

Let’s start with a subject that I hold very close to my heart and think about pretty much all the time… my girlfriend! Hahaha no… I’m kidding… I meant training! 🙂 (Sorry girls…. That might explain why I’m single!)

So, topic of the day: How to fly?

More precisely how to do the flying monkey bars. The flying monkey bars is an obstacle that recently became notorious in the OCR world. Mainly thanks to the Nordic race series Toughest.

The obstacle consist of an horizontal ladder but unlike the classic “monkey bars” the bars are further apart . Usually between 1,50 to 2m. The only way to get across two bars is to let go of the 1st one to then coach the 2nd one, spending some time in the air in between hence the “flying”. It’s a move called “lache” in Parkour.

That video will show exactly what I mean.

That’s me at the end of the day I learnt how to do them. I was lucky enough to have my friend Tim Shieff, world famous parkour artist, as a teacher.

I have since taught that skill to few persons and I think I have found an efficient way to do it. I recently took few people down to the freshly set of flying monkey bars at Nuclear the famous race series based in Essex. None of them is a seasoned obstacle racer nor an expert on obstacles but within an hour they were all able to fly!

Luckily Pete from Mudstacle was here to capture that moment and has just edited that awesome tutorial video.

Yes, I know… She’s my sister and she’s a bad ass!! Full article on Mudstacle.com

So if like many others you couldn’t get a word of what I’m saying in the video because of my “soft and gentle” French accent… no worries! (& sorry… :D). I’m going to break it down for you!

Phase 1 Warm up!

That’s a given, but extremely important! Focus on shoulders and ankles.

Phase 2  Swing

Guys, that’s key! It all comes from the swing.

Start your practice by hanging from a bar. From there create a momentum by propelling your hips forward and letting them go back and take your body backward. Repeat the hip movement forward and build on that pendulum momentum. You are going to have to loosen your grip a bit to allow your hands to rotate on the bar.

“Play” with that move until you feel comfortable swinging.

Phase 3 Catch

Here you want to recreate the feeling of catching the 2nd bar after having let go of the 1st one.

If you are able to comfortably hang that should not be an issue at all. But you might need to “convince” your mind that you will be ok. So again you need to practice a lot that step.

Choose a bar and try to either jump or run towards it. Try to catch it with both your hands when you are in the air. Increase the gap/speed until you feel really confident doing it. You know you are ready to move to the next step when you stop feeling any ounce of hesitation.

Phase 4 Let go

You are getting closer!

Now you are going to let go of the bar while swinging on it. I’m not going to tell you exactly when to let go, you are going to figure that out by yourself. Ok, preferably you want to do it in a way that you will move forwards…

First, just focus on the landing, you want to land as far as possible from the bar you are swinging from. Then do the same but keep your arms above your head when you are in the air. You will notice if you are landing forward enough, that your hands are passing really close to the 2nd bar. The last step of that phase will be to aim to touch the 2nd bar with your fingers/hands. Yes, just touch! Don’t try to catch it, yet.

Practice, practice, practice…

Phase 5   F.L.Y.

Ok, it’s time to actually try to fly!

If you look back at all the drills you have learnt during the previous phases you will notice that you now have all the skills you need to successfully do a flying monkey bar! Yes, you do.

What we have been doing wasn’t really difficult. Few simple steps, easy to learn and complex at all. The idea behind this approach is to create those movement patterns in your mind and in your “muscle memory” That term for me means that when your body will be faced with that same situation your muscles will know exactly what to do and how to react. In reality it’s your mind that sends the right info to your muscles but it is not a conscious order. It’s what I like to call “Flow”. -I invite you to read the chat I had with Doug about flow on that page-

But, enough talking!

Let’s go for it!!

Grab your bar. Swing. Focus on the bar you have to catch. Visualize yourself catching it. Let go. Catch the bar.Done! You have done your first flying monkey bar. Well done you. Repeat.

In case you can’t do it but you were able to do all the previous drills the only limitation is your mind. You will be scared, it’s normal. I was too on my first ever try. After my first leap my arms and legs couldn’t stop from shaking. I could feel the adrenaline flowing inside my body.

You are going to have to push yourself and face that fear, just accept it.

the fear is not going away i guess i will have to do it afraid

How many times you have accomplished something you were scared of doing? And how did you feel after doing it anyway? Exactly! So you know what to do.

And don’t worry if you fail. It’s ok. Fail again, fail better. Look at my sister on the video. She actually felt flat on her bum more than 20 times! But she wasn’t going to give up! She knew she will succeed and she did! (Proudest big brother moment ever :D)

Let me know how it went!

What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

Origines

Ok, let’s do it! Let’s start my own blog!

No more excuses like “My English or writing style are not good enough” or “No one really cares about what I have to say”… I’m just going to do it anyway!

Awesome, I’ve always wanted to share my stories, adventures, challenges, training, racing, thoughts ect… and improve my English along the way! It’s going to be a great way for me to keep track of the stuff I do and hopefully inspire some people to be more active/adventurous in their life – even if it’s only one, it still makes it worth it!

Right! So, how does that blogging thing works? I have to start writing my first post I guess, but on what subject? “How it all started” that sounds about right!

Oh yeah… But… that’s a quite a problem actually…

One the main reason why it all started is something I have never ever talked about… to anyone.

Rainy day in London, November 2011. I’m lying on the floor, exhausted but with an indescribable feeling of happiness and fulfillment. I’ve just crossed the finish line of my first obstacle race (OCR), a 10km filled up with obstacles. I never felt that much alive before. Anyone who saw the smile I was wearing on my face that day wouldn’t believe that less than two month earlier I had faced the worst experience of my young life.

September 2011,

“-Hi Mum, can’t talk. I’m working.

-Wait… It’s important…

-What?

-Your father died in a motorbike accident…”

My brother is 17, my sister 19 and I’m 21. Yesterday we were all studying, oblivious to life, now we are in charge of organizing our father’s funeral, telling our grandmother that, actually, it wasn’t an accident and dealing with the police and insurances… No need to say that we were not ready for this! Anyway, I’ve heard elderly persons well over their 60s saying they were not ready, when losing one of their parents. I’m not sure it’s something you can ever be prepared to live.

At least, the “cool” thing about organizing a funeral at that age and in those circumstances is that no one will dare stopping you from doing whatever you want. Like, using the music “The circle of life” from the Lion King at the ceremony! I’m still smiling remembering everyone’s faces not understanding why the church was suddenly filled with African tribe music and animal noises (from the song intro). We loved that movie with our father; we knew he would have found this funny.

On that day, I’ve made myself a promise. During my first ever public speech, I stated quite boldly, in front of more than 300 persons that my brother, my sister and myself we will have an extraordinary life and live it to the fullest. I have since done my best to live up to it.

To be totally honest I know I’m writing that down mainly for myself. That’s definitely another step into the healing process. It is quite draining to always keep a secret like this inside. It does feel good to get it out that way. Until recently I wasn’t planning to even release this publicly or even to share this with anyone… But I realise that even if the chances are really slim, it is possible that someone reading that story might be able to relate to it. If this helps, even slightly, one person in the world that makes it worth sharing.

With all this, I guess my message is first and foremost DONT DO IT. Do not kill yourself. Bad idea. No. Things won’t get better after. Even if, like my father, you plan every single details of it and make it looks like an accident. We will never be entirely sure why he chose that way but I guess he wanted to make us suffer less and probably get the insurance working. I definitely see in that choice, his ultimate gesture of kindness towards us. Of course it doesn’t work that way. First, money means absolutely nothing when you lose someone and anyway the police will find out and the insurance – that claims to “always be here for you” – will happily run away. Trust me.

Also, I think it is important that everyone realise that it can happen to anyone. I don’t have the figures in mind, but in our society suicide is one of the most common causes of sudden death, especially for men.  During my teenage years alone, three of my friends had lost one of their parents to mental illness and I grew up in an underpopulated part of France. It took only a year to my father to go from being a joyful man to ending his own life. Being left by his second wife and losing his job started his depression and he never recover from that disease. Do not overlook at someone’s unhappiness in your family or in your friend circle. Even if that person is your role model and you think he’s super strong and just temporarily going through difficult times, like I did. Take actions, you don’t want to live the rest of your life with that eternal question “What if?” in mind. Believe me, you don’t.

I know that first blog post is definitely not what you would have expected and probably already way too personal and way too long. But I had to do it. I hope this will have the impact I want and it is absolutely not about generating pity towards me. 1. I despite being pitied 2. I’m a white man, born in the Western world. I have pretty much won the lottery in life. I’m fine. Keep your pity for someone else. Thanks.

I hope this will contribute to raise awareness on depression and suicide which are still massive taboos, regardless of their importance in our societies. And as well, are too often synonyms of shame for the families affected by them.

Ultimately, the “cheesy” underline message here is that bad stuff happens, that’s life. I know it really sucks but those “insurmountable challenges” represent as well opportunities to build yourself and help you to grow. It’s taking a huge effort for me to say this, but that experience made me who I am today. It triggered that craving to explore my limits and the world in order to understand who I was and what I was made off. Would I be in a better place now if it didn’t happened? Maybe or maybe not, there is no way to know for sure. Would I had stayed on my career path and started making money and stuff? Probably, but would I had discovered what I’m really passionate about and taped into my physical and mental potential? Or would I currently be “sleep walking” through life?

Of course, this is only one stepping stone on my journey. This is not what I am all about, but there is definitely a before and an after to that event. And it randomly (or not?) coincide with the beginning of my journey with OCR, the sport that now allows me to live exciting experiences all around the world meeting awesome individuals and hopefully allows me to have a blog worth reading!

Beside all this, I must say blogging is quite cool actually! It feels good to be able to be more authentic by removing that filter “My life is perfect” that I always use on social media – like most of us do?

Cool, looks like I’ve made it! I’m done here! If you’re reading this, that’s means you’re part of the handful of person who stayed until the end! Thanks, I really appreciate it! Stay tune for more, the following stories should be less emotional and more about exciting stuff :p

Love ya all xx.

Thomas