Friday, September 29, 2006

Everest clean-up

Since my last entry about my Dad, he’s continued to be busy cleaning up some of Britain’s most beautiful mountains in his guise as Rob the Rubbish. He’s also had an enormous amount of press coverage with, for example, The Daily Telegraph describing him as "the unlikely new hero of the environmental lobby" and articles in other publications ranging from The Independent to the Indian Times. He’s had responses from all over the world with people being inspired to take up the job on their own mountains. His next challenge is to clean up Mount Everest and he sets off on this adventure on Saturday. However, he’s already had offers of future help with, for example, fifty volunteers in Mumbai for another trip to Everest next May. After that he’s looking to continue inspiring people by not only cleaning up on his local mountains but also going as far afield as the Inca trail at Machu Picchu. If anyone has any suggestions for him or offers of help, you can find out more information at his website.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Football bungs

This article was published in The Times on 26 September 2006. A different article on this topic was also published in the Solicitors' Journal in the same week.

Investigations into football's "bung culture" by undercover BBC reporters have produced footage of a leading agent alleging that he knows of "six to eight" managers willing to receive illegal payments. But take away all the hype surrounding last week's BBC Panorama programme, and what is the hard evidence? In particular, what are the potential legal implications?

If the allegations of bung-taking are proven, then there may, clearly, be breaches of the criminal law. The Prevention of Corruption Act makes it an offence for agents -and this potentially could include managers and other club officials to offer or receive a bribe. The offence is punishable by up to seven years in prison. Other potential offences include conspiracy to corrupt or defraud and also tax evasion.But it goes farther than the criminal law. There may be civil law ramifications: an employee of a club may be sacked for gross misconduct and potentially for breach of fiduciary duties, for example. There may also be liability for deceit. Besides this, the bung may also serve to undermine and re-open the whole contract.And finally, there are the Football Association and other professional body regulations. These emphasise that payments should not be made direct to agents and further that clubs should not have any interest in an agency. Conflicts of interest should be declared.

What of the possible victims of secret filming? Although, strictly, entrapment is not a defence in England, they may argue that the use of such evidence is in breach of their right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). They may also suggest that it was an infringement of Article 8 of the ECHR and their right to privacy. Potentially, too, they could consider actions for breach of that right to privacy and also in defamation depending on the circumstances.

Payments to players are nothing new to football. Preston North End was found guilty of making illegal payments to players as early as the 1880s and Leeds United was formed only after Leeds City was kicked out of League Division Two in the 1920s for making illegal payments.Meanwhile, a report by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington on the same issue is awaited. This coincides with the Italian football investigations. Perhaps the time is ripe for an overhaul of the system similar to that undertaken in the 1990s in relation to doping offences.

What, though, could be done? The most obvious area for improvement is an end to the alleged culture of turning a blind eye. This has to come from governing bodies and boardrooms. Much has been said about the alleged behaviour of managers and agents but it should not be forgotten that the people running the upper echelons of the sport, those deciding whether to put resources into investigations or not, are very often the chairmen and directors of clubs.

This could be coupled with a review of the system of punishments within the game.To some it seems anomalous that while the criminal law could sentence someone for up to seven years for taking a bribe, the regulatory bodies realistically threaten only fines and relatively short bans from the game. This leaves the suggestion that there is one law for the rich and another for everyone else. Lord Stevens has an excellent opportunity to clean up what looks like seedy practice. Let's hope he makes the best of it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Surf sources

For those who are interested in surfing, there are some great sites online which will tell you whether the waves are going to be any good before making the trek to the coast. Two of the best of these are Magic Seaweed and A1 Surf. For North Devon, I particularly like Croyde Surf Cam and Surf Station and there's a good collection of surfcams at Eyeball Surfcheck. Also, Sunset Surfers has a beautiful collection of surf photographs. For a great collection of online surf articles see Alex Wade's blog, Surf Nation, which can be found at The Times Online. For surfing shops and schools, see in particular Tiki Surf and Surf GSD.

As for guides to surf spots, the best starting point is probably the Footprint Series for Britain, Europe and the world. The Stormrider Guides to Europe and the world are also very useful. There are other guides to specific countries such as Fernhurst's Surfing UK by Wayne Alderson and Oceansurf's Portugal. As for older guides, there is Modern Surfing Around the World by John Severson from 1964 and Carl Thomson's Surfing in Great Britain from 1972. If you're just starting out, Doug Werner has written two very good books to help you along entitled Surfer's Start-up and Longboarder's Start-up. An excellent book on waves and weather is called Surf Science by Tony Butt and Paul Russell.

If you're in search of surfing literature then the best known surf novels of recent years are by Kenn Nunn and include Dogs of Winter and Tapping the Source, the latter being a kind of Heart of Darkness for surfing. A great travel book on surfing is called Riding the Magic Carpet by Tom Anderson (who recently knocked me out of a surf comp in North Devon) and tells the tale of a guy from Wales who dreams of surfing Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa. It's a cross between Moby Dick and Fever Pitch and is a really good read for surfers and non-surfers alike. As well as his blog mentioned above, Alex Wade is also writing a book about surfing in Britain entitled Surf Nation which promises to be a great read. Classic surf movies include Big Wednesday, Endless Summer and Riding Giants. A very good recent edition is Flow, the story of Al Merrick and Channel Islands Surfboards.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Two Everest Kit Lists

For anyone going on a trek to Everest Base Camp, here are a couple of kit lists which might be of use.


You should take three separate pieces of luggage, a trek rucksack, a holdall and a day sac:

Main Baggage/Trek Kit Bag
Your main bag should be a frameless backpack which must not weigh more than 20kgs (ideal – 15kg). We recommend a backpack over a suitcase for ease of transportation. This is the item of luggage used to carry all your belongings in the hold of the plane and used whilst on trek for clothing and sleeping bag; carried by porters.

Used to store all items not needed on your trek in the mountains. This will be
stored at the hotel in Kathmandu.

Day Sac/Rucksack
To carry all personal effects required throughout the day’s trek, such as waterproofs, sun cream etc. Carried by you.


• Passport/Tickets/Vaccination Certificates/Spare Passport Photos/Travel Insurance Policy
• Money Belt


• Travel towel (i.e micro fibre material)
• Toiletries
• Biodegradable Laundry Soap
• Torch/Spare Batteries
• Sun Hat
• Anti-bacterial hand wipes/santitizer
• Sunglasses
• Camera – film/batteries/memory card/charger
• Travel alarm clock
• Sewing kit
• Reading material/Guide Books
• Padlocks
• Travel pillow
• Swiss army knife
• Travel clothesline
• Universal sink plug/Laundry Soap
• Student ID (if applicable)
• I-pod/MP3/Discman
• Pens and Notebook

Clothing and Footwear

Light versatile clothes – cotton and quick drying (dark colours recommended)
• Underwear/socks
• Swimwear
• 2 x long trousers, these should be lightweight and comfortable, preferably cotton.
• 2 x shorts
• Skirt/dress
• Sarong/headscarf (particularly useful if you need to cover up quickly)
• 4 T-Shirts/2 Long-sleeve t-shirts
• Fleece (for cooler evenings)/Thermal underwear for high altitude areas
• 1 smart/casual outfit for evenings out
• 1 Waterproof/windproof jacket
• Comfortable walking shoes – trainers/sandals
• Hiking boots if any trekking involved
• Flip Flops/Thongs/Sandals – also for the showers

Recommended First Aid Supplies

• Sunscreen
• Plasters/Bandage/Steri-Strips
• Antiseptic
• Blister pads
• Pain killers
• Diarrhorea remedies
• Moisturiser/after sun cream/lip balm
• Malaria Tablets (if required)
• Any prescription medication required (please inform the tour leader at your pre-departure meeting about these)
• Contact lenses and solution
• Cold/flu decongestants
• Antihistamines
• Travel motion-sickness tablets (i.e. natural ginger tablets)
• Contraceptives
• Mosquito Repellent
• Insect bite cream
• Tampons
• Tweezers
•Rehydration salts (Gastrolyte)


For the Intrepid Khumbu Explorers (the only thing he corrected since was that he now says DO bring waterproof jacket as occasionally rains)

General Kit:

Walking poles (not essential, but highly recommended) – can be purchased cheaply in KTM or Namche Bazaar (Day 2 of walk)

Good trainers or comfortable walking boots. We are extremely unlikely to experience wet weather during our trek and any surface water should be avoidable. Temperatures during the day will vary from 20-25 degrees C (mid to high 70s F) at lower altitudes to 5-20 degrees C higher up – therefore cold feet shouldn’t be a problem.

Comfortable Ruck-Sack. Capacity of up to 50Litres will be fine. Do NOT overload yourselves – aim for no more than 10Kg, ideally less, on your back. I (RC) will be around to help and we can also employ the services of a porter for the duration – approx $20-40USD/d – dependent on how much food you want his family to eat!!


Good Sun-Glasses – do not scrimp on these. We are going to high altitude where the harmful sun’s effects are far greater.

Good Sun-Cream. Look for UVA and UVB cream. NO LESS than FACTOR 20-25. I use P20, which is a once a day preparation – can be bought at the airport. One bottle will look after 2 people for the whole expedition.


Socks. If you’re wearing boots, then double-looped wool socks tend to go well. Remember, it will be pretty hot on the first few days, so a couple of lighter pairs may be more appropriate. A total of 4-5 pairs will prove luxurious. If we organize ourselves before hand, I could carry in some washing powder for everyone’s use and therefore we could cut this down to 2-3 pairs per person.

Trousers – trekking trousers probably best but not essential. High wicking, breathable. No particular make recommended. The ones with leg zips mean you have a pair of shorts too, so consider – although I never wear shorts as gaiter area can get very dusty.
Underwear – depends on your sphincter control re: no. of pairs!! I’ll take 3-4 pairs, but then I am a bit of a woman. Anyone brave enough for just one pair?!!

3-4 t-shirts/trekking shirts. I wear cotton – but then I’m a non-conformist. You’ll be most comfortable in the high-wicking stuff. Trekking shirts are routinely made of this and also come with handy pockets – helpful for storage, etc.

Fleece/Jumper/Light Jacket for colder days/early mornings & evenings. I’m also going to recommend one warm jacket – synthetic or down – so think about these combinations carefully. You need a base-layer (T-shirt) + another 1 or 2 layers to be comfortable. Personally, I take a lightweight windproof jacket + light weight down jacket to go over the top when really cold – although this eventuality has never occurred in 4 previous visits to the Khumbu. So, if you are using a 3 layer system, make sure the outer 2 layers fit over each other. Try not to be tempted to take a warm jacket and an additional Gore-tex jacket. I’ve never seen it rain in the khumbu – it could snow – so your warm jacket will be more than capable of dealing with any snow or light winds that we might experience. This is NOT a trip for Gore-Tex.
Warm hat, ideally able to cover those cold ears!

To Carry in your Ruck-Sack:

Water container. Personally, I use a Camelbak. This is in the form of a 2L reservoir bag in an overlying protective outer. Look at the website They sell these at a reasonable price – just go for the 2L reservoir bag with mouthpiece. It’s around £25 including postage. It will slip into your ruck-sack. The beauty of these is that it makes you drink constantly throughout the day, therefore minimizing your risks of dehydration and associated symptoms of lethargy, headache & loss of appetite. You can of course take a couple of water bottles, but the action of stopping, taking your ruck-sack off and getting the bottle out tends to be a disincentive to hydration. Remember, there are plenty of places to stop and buy drinks, every day along the route, so we should never have an excuse for being thirsty.

Sleeping Bag. This is not essential and therefore consider carefully if you are going to bring one. It should make you comfortably warm arguably to temps of around -10degrees C, although in the lodges, it is unlikely to get this cold. But, there is no heating in the warms, so beware the cold moments from undressing to getting in the bed. Regarding taking a sleeping bag:
Pros: Your bag, your hygiene. Snug, etc. However, all of the lodges that we will be staying in are owned by either friends of me (RC) or families of the sherpas that will be climbing with me later on the mountain, so we will be well looked after. The general standard of lodge bedding provided is excellent – clean and with enough warmth, but you can’t account for other trekkers/climbers and if you pick up knits from somebody else, it’s a long way to have an itch! Having said that, it’s extremely unlikely, as wildlife (insects) is fairly rare in the hypoxic atmosphere in the Upper Khumbu Valley.
Cons: The extra say 2Kg of sleeping bag may not feel like much at the beginning of the day, but by the end, you may be regretting having it on your aching back. You don’t need it, and the ‘lighter the better’ with respect to pack weight.
Bottom line – do what you are comfortable with, but if you are leaning to NOT taking one, I think that this is arguably better (Having said that – I take mine!!).

Toilet roll. Can be purchased in the Khumbu, but home brands better. 1 roll should be enough
Medical Kit. I have DIAMOX in my kit, so simple analgesia like paracetamol and Brufen a good addition. Also, Codeine Phosphate might be a helpful top end analgesic. Tracy and myself will be able to help with this. Other than that, a course of ciprofloxacin, metronidazole and augmentin would be beneficial if any of us get traveller’s diarrhoea, chest or skin infections. Plasters for blisters+/- talcum powder may also be a nice idea. Savlon/antiseptic cream/spray. Antiseptic Handwash for after toilet hand care!

Diary and pen – if that way inclined

Guidebook – but hopefully I should be able to give you a lot of user-friendly info, plus some of the sherpas (Ang Nuru keen to see you all). Try and only bring 1 book between you to save on weight.

Toiletries. It is possible to pay for a hot shower, probably up until 2 days before base camp, so a small bottle of shampoo should cater for a group of 4 – if we organize ourselves again. Toothpaste/brush, deodorant – if you want to keep the rest of us as friends. A towel if you’re a showering type – light travel towels the best – light and quick drying.

Music source – if you want to listen to some music on the trail. Can sometimes help if you’re having a difficult day.

Gloves. I don’t really think that anything major is required. Windproof ones may be best – like a ski glove, but unnecessary to buy a very expensive pair. I just take a light pair of cotton liners, and if gets particularly cold, I have a lightweight windproof pair to put on over the top. In reality, during the day, it will never get that cold. At night, we will be sitting around a yak dung heater after a full day’s trekking, feeling nice and snug, or be in bed. You will NOT get FROSTBITE of your digits on this trek!
Spare Batteries.