Where were you?

Over the lifetime of this blog there have been periods of inactivity and various relaunches but never as long as the last period of over 7 years.

The last 7 years have flown by in the blink of an eye. One minute I was marrying Traci in Las Vegas and spending our Honeymoon walking the John Muir Trail through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Then suddenly my eyes open again and I now have 9 cats, 10 grand children, and almost halfway through my 40’s and I hadn’t spent a single night since the honeymoon wild camping until a few weeks ago.

So what happened?

I’ve been thinking about this the last few months. When I returned from my honeymoon my day job underwent the biggest change of my career. I had worked in IT since leaving school and had been at the same public sector job for the previous 12 years. I had just transferred to the private sector as part of the UK governments Transforming Rehabilitation programme and the company I was working for had to create an IT system from scratch in an incredibly short time. I found myself central to this.

Work, Work, Work

Over the 6 years that followed my life just turned into constant work, there was always something to do. I was starting work earlier and regularly working late at night. Even when not working it was still on mind, how I could solve some problem or other. Halfway through those 6 years I became the Manager of the IT team which just added more pressure. Shortly after taking that role the UK Government announced the early end of the contract we were working under. The role then turned into even more work transferring everything back to the UK government. The first 6 months of 2021 was basically spent working, often 7 days a week and up to 18 hours a day. You can only do that for so long..

End of an Era

While those 6 years may have sounded like a nightmare, it certainly wasn’t all bad. I learnt more in those 6 years than most people ever have the opportunity to learn in a lifetime, often these days you are put into knowledge silos and are only responsible for specific tasks. There I did everything IT and was given the freedom to do it, even within the extremely strict government restrictions imposed upon us.

June 24th 2021 was officially the end of that role and for most people in the company it was. We converted into Civil Servants, as did I. However, my work for the company didn’t end there, I had agreed to shutdown all of the systems and securely erase everything. The plan was for everything to be complete within 3 months. Unfortunately, part of the work involved keeping a finance system running until it was audited. The auditors clearly worked to a different timescale and dragged it out until March 2022. Myself and the Finance Director were the only remaining staff, the Director left once the Audit had complete. I was then left to transfer the data to an external company who would store the financial data, this also took longer than I hoped. I had to keep various systems running for 12 months, while working a new full time job and also helping Traci with her new direction...


Not only was I working all the time, so was Traci. She was working at a doggy day care which she loved but it was long hours and was often covering weekends. We were so tired. The weekends we weren’t working, you didn’t really feel like going for a long walk.

2020 brought lockdowns and with it people didn’t need anyone to look after their dogs, Traci found herself made redundant.

Instead of moaning or maybe as well as moaning, she decided to take a new career direction. In the late 80’s Traci had worked as a seamstress at a clothing factory before production was moved over seas for cheaper labour. Traci had continued sewing as hobby or to fix things. She had mentioned how she had always wanted an embroidery machine. This is where another journey started...

Dare 2 Dream

We initially bought a second hand embroidery machine from Ebay, it still used 3.5” floppy disks, we just couldn’t get it to work. So bit the bullet and bought a new Brother Single needle machine. Neither of us really knew what we were doing. We started watching various people on YouTube and embroidered various T-Shirts for family and friends. An Etsy shop and Website followed and Traci had a business (Dare 2 Dream). We no longer watched films or shows on Prime, not that we had much time anyway. Our spare time was now spent watching and learning machine embroidery from YouTube.

While this was Traci’s business I was finding myself drawn into it just as much. Anything computer related was my job, embroidering the items was Traci's.

Through watching YouTube we started wanting a bigger and better machine, OK I wanted a bigger machine that would allow us (notice it’s now us) to do larger items and much more quickly. We bought a large second hand industrial embroidery machine like those we had seen on YouTube, but a little older. It had it’s issues but it enabled us to do embroidery for local companies and create designs that would be impossible on the small Brother. Fast Forward another year and we bought a brand new version of the industrial machine, we have constant orders from Etsy and return customers. I felt we were getting more organised, Traci was more comfortable with the industrial machines and I think we were getting there with the computer side of things. We were trying not to work weekends or too late at night, but we still weren’t making any money

Too much

The full time IT job hours were starting to creep up and weekend work planned in. I had insisted I wasn’t going to work long hours again for an employer, you are never appreciated and no one notices the strain it puts on you, it just isn’t good for your health, but I found this happening once again. However, an end finally appeared for those systems I was keeping running for the old employer.

It was already becoming clear that we needed to sort ourselves out, we were constantly tired, sluggish and had put on weight due to lack of exercise and eating rubbish. The day job was adding lots of pressures and that transfer to the Civil Service had not been carried out as it was supposed to. I eventually ended up off sick, which other than 2 heart operations I had never been off sick in over 20 years.

Dare 2 Dream was also adding more pressure on both of us for no return.


As well as the day job(s) we ended up completing several biggish DIY jobs; attic, kitchen, garden and dining room. The best advice I would give to anyone in a new relationship is to say you can’t do DIY, even if you can. Otherwise you will become an electrician, plumber, carpenter and a whole host of other roles. Maybe this is just because I’m cheap and refused to pay someone else to do something that I could.

Life Reset

2024 rolled around and we knew we had to do something, we had both put on too much weight, were unfit, stressed, anxious and just basically felt like crap.

I set clear hours for the day job, I now fully track the hours I work and stick to 37 hours in 4 days with a long weekend and the Friday intended for a long walk or overnighter. The massive amount of holiday and TOIL I built up is booked in over the next year.

We took the hard decision to wind up Dare 2 Dream, it wasn’t making any money and causing both of us stress. I am in the process of winding up the business I had to create to to keep those servers running for the old job, they still kept coming back asking me to help out. I also always had ideas I was going to explore, but never did and it’s just hassle that I don’t need.


This brings me back to the subject this blog is supposed to relate to walking, hiking, backpacking or whatever you want to call putting one foot in front of the other to reach some destination.

Over the last 7 years we have still been walking and completed things like the Allendale Challenge and numerous other walks but not like we used to and I never had the time to write about any of them.

It felt like our health was suffering with problems sleeping (for me anyway), lack of motivation and generally feeling like crap. We actively started watching what we were eating in 2023 and made a conscious effort to go for a walk. We entered and completed the Allendale Challenge again and the Durham Dales Challenge. We then slipped again and found we had no time for walking, the only walk I regularly undertook was walking a dog with Traci for an hour.


It’s May 2024 and after starting this post over a year ago originally and having to rewrite it more than once as the months rolled by. We have now both lost weight after eating more healthy this year and exercising regularly. In general we feel better, no work stress, I’m over a stone lighter, both of us are fitter and those walking plans are back and happening.

We completed the Allendale Challenge again for the 6th time a month ago, I’ve just booked the Durham Dales Challenge in June and bagged more Wainwrights in the first 4 months of this year than the last 4 years combined, we have also been wild camping again, finally.

In 1 week we will be setting off from Mallaig on the West coast of Scotland heading for Montrose in the East via a 200 mile route on the TGO Challenge, it’s 14 years since my first and only previous TGO challenge.


If you made it this far then thank you and I will try post more regularly than once every 7 years and in the future stick to the outdoors, but I felt I couldn’t just post a walk without writing something about the gap between posts. I am also exploring creating videos. We will see what happens..


How could I almost forget those 12 cats...At the end of 2015 Traci came home with a cat she “rescued” we called him Nevis (yes after Ben Nevis). It escalated from there and we now have Skye, Snowden, Whitney, Hamish, Lochy, Journey, Munro, Macdui, Meadow, Brook and have inherited (S)Tink. Sadly Nevis who started all of this passed away in February 2020, Whitney in 2022 and Journey earlier this year which is heart breaking but we will never forget them. We now have 9 cats and wont’ be adopting anymore, hmm.