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Author Archives: alex

We’ve moved (the shop)

  • Posted by alex
  • 16 August 2011

howies Cardigan Shop
howies Cardiagn Shop
You may have noticed a dash of new howies blue on Cardigan high street this week. We've been working against the clock to get our new shop open in time for the Cardigan Street Race. And we managed... just!

We popped up to the high street to see how things were going, and as you can see, it's going well.

Chris and the shop team are putting the finishing touches to everything this morning, folding all your favourite bits and pieces and getting everything neat and tidy.

howies Cardigan Shop
howies Cardigan Shop
howies Cardigan Shop
So if you're down by the river wondering where we are, we're at 52 Pendre. Drop by and say hello. (There's still a bit of sale stuff from the old shop in there too!)

SAS Raffle - Update

  • Posted by alex
  • 15 August 2011

SAS Thermometer Week 1
A big thank you to everyone who bought tickets in the SAS raffle last week, we're off to a great start.

This week you've raised £1300 towards fighting great causes for our coastline - nice one!

With 17 weeks to go, we need to keep up the pace to hit the £25,000 target by December. If you've bought a ticket or two, you're in the running for £2000 of howies clothes (obviously), so let your friends know tonight over a drink, now with a tweet or on your ride home and let's smash the target.

If you haven't got involved yet, there's a book of tickets going out in every order, or you can get them directly from SAS.

Start building your howies wish list, 'cause £2000 is pretty much a wardrobe full!

How-To: Microadventure

  • Posted by alex
  • 15 August 2011

howies microadventure
Last Monday, Alastair Humphreys came down to see us in Cardigan. We'd arranged to go on a Microadventure - an adventure close to home that is cheap, easy to organise and most of all, fun!

So, what if you're new to the world of adventures? Alastair's got a few tips for you mind out of the daily grind and taking the plunge into the world of Microadventures...

It's been more than fifteen years since I began enjoying sleeping in wild and wonderful places. I guess I've spent about a thousand nights sleeping outdoors. Out of all those probably only about ten have been in a 'proper' campsite.

I've slept on top of England's highest mountain on New Year's Eve and on the northern tip of Britain in midsummer week.

I have also spent many nights without a tent -bivvying- and these are often the most magical of all. (Not always, mind!). I've bivvied on hill tops, seashores, even on a swimming platform out at sea and in sewage pipes (clean ones) on three continents!

So I know how easy, safe, simple, fun, rewarding and invigorating sleeping wild can be. It is one reason why I came up with the idea of microadventures to try to encourage people to give these things a try. But I completely understand how someone who has never done it might think otherwise.
Therefore I hope that this article will help encourage wild-campers to give a microadventure a try by explaining how to do it all, and answering a few common worries.

What is a bivvy bag and wild camping?

A bivvy bag (bivouac bag) is a waterproof outer layer for a sleeping bag. If you live somewhere it doesn't rain (ie Not Wales) then you don't need one, and you can just lie out smugly in your sleeping bag. For a one-off bivvy microadventure a cheap orange survival bag is fine (your sleeping bag will get a bit damp on the outside from condensation). That's what I used on our howies microadventure last week. A better option is one from Alpkit for about £30.

Wild camping is camping away from a proper campsite, out in the wild.

Is wild camping legal?

It's completely legal in Scotland and, elsewhere in the world, nobody has ever complained, told me off, arrested me, or been in the slightest bit concerned. In the same way that nobody would mind you having an afternoon snooze on the beach, nobody minds wild camping, so long as you're not on private land, near someone's home, or otherwise being annoying.

Is it safe?

Assuming you are out in the countryside, away from people then a night out under the stars is about as safe as a night can be. I will admit to the occasional night when strange noises in the woods have spooked me a little, but that is only the fault of an over-active imagination and a youth frittered on late-night horror movies! This goes away after a couple of nights. If you're out there with a friend it's even easier.

Where will I sleep?

Finding spots to wild camp is an art form! It's also all about compromise: sheltered in an old barn or under a cliff in case of rain versus a full canopy of stars out in the open if it doesn't rain. Getting out of the wind will keep you much warmer, so if you're bivvying on a hilltop (my very favourite place) then consider dropping just a few metres down the leeward side. If you're sleeping on a beach sleep above the high-tide mark or else you might win a Darwin Award.

You can find safe, snug wild camping spots surprisingly close to towns and villages too. Follow a footpath just a short distance away from a road then nip behind a hedge or a clump of trees. You'll feel very open, conspicuous and slightly silly as you lie down to sleep but you'll soon relax and enjoy the novelty of being right out in nature.

How do I use a bivvy bag?

Shove your sleeping bag into the bivvy bag. You can, if you wish, put the sleeping mat in there as well, but I find that's too cramped. Snuggle in and sleep. If it rains in the night just snuggle even deeper, pull the bag over your head and leave just a little hole for your mouth otherwise you end up getting way too hot!

What do I need to take on a microadventure?

The whole point of microadventures is that you do not need much time, money or specialised equipment. The trip I did with howies is a perfect example - we left their office at the end of the day's work, rode out of town wearing small backpacks, had a great adventure, and were back at the office ready for work the next morning. Granted, not every workplace will allow you to ride your bike round the office or wear merino cycling stuff as you work, but these are minor problems! A bundled up suit makes a great pillow...

Here then is an idea for a microadventure and the stuff you'll need:

  • Leave work
  • Cycle / walk / run / paddle / swim, even drive (if you must) out of town
  • Climb a hill / go to the beach / find a lake
  • Eat
  • Relax
  • Campfire (where appropriate)
  • Sleep
  • Wake up
  • Find a lake / river / lido / ocean for a quick skinny dip.
  • Cycle / walk / run / paddle / swim, even drive (if you must) back into town
  • Greasy Spoon cafe
  • Back to work
  • Ask your colleagues if they did anything interesting last night

 Basic Kit List

  • Bike
  • Rucksack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Cheap orange survival bag
  • Cheap foam sleeping mat
  • Torch
  • Rain coat
  • Wooly hat
  • Warm clothes for night (use a spare jumper as pillow)
  • Food and drink that doesn't need cooking
  • Water bottle
  • Toothpaste with toothpaste already applied and wrapped in clingfilm
  • Matches to light a campfire
  • Notebook - even if you never write a diary this is a really good chance to jot down a few observations, thoughts, resolutions
  • Camera - for smug self portrait

 Next Step Up: take all the above plus...

  •  Camping Stove
  • Pan
  • Pasta and sauce / pesto, Super Noodles, Pot Noodle etc.
  • Spoon
  • Proper bivvy bag (instead of orange bag)

Luxury Additions: take all the above plus...

Even if you have never cycled or walked ten miles before, even if you have never wild camped (or even if you have never camped) I really urge you to give this a try on a nice warm, dry summer's evening.

The very worst thing that's likely to happen is that you get back to work the next morning a bit tired. Far more likely is that you will be thrilled to discover wildness, nature and beauty on your doorstep. You'll probably enjoy it so much that next time you'll take the whole office with you as well!

Off to town

  • Posted by alex
  • 10 August 2011


A few people from the office are heading cross-country to visit the big smoke this week.

Ruben and I got our tickets this morning. All 22 of them.

Hopefully we'll have deciphered which ones we need and which ones we don't by departure time.

Surely there's a less paper intensive way of making a return ticket?


  • Posted by alex
  • 9 August 2011

You may have heard on the grapevine that Alastair Humphreys came to Cardigan to see us yesterday. A few of us joined him and spent the night on a Microadventure based out of Cardigan.

Keep an evening or two free in the coming weeks, we've got something we'd like to share with you and will let you all know about it very soon...

13.1 Miles

  • Posted by alex
  • 4 August 2011


A few of us have been talking about running the Cardiff half marathon today. Some of us have even got around to registering.

Keen to keep up the momentum, I hope to head out for a lunchtime run a couple of times a week in some loose form of 'training' for the 13.1 miles. I have yet to work out a plan on how I'll go from starting running on Monday to finishing what will be my 1st event, but I'm sure I'll get there.

A couple of us popped out to the lake for a run today. I'm still not quite keeping up with Ruben and the stills from the GoPro video might tell you why!

Today's 5km was shorter and easier than Monday's run but despite the slower pace and shorter distance, I was still edged out at the sprint finish. Come October, I hope I'll be able to give Ruben a run for his money... at lunchtime at least.


  • Posted by alex
  • 2 August 2011


Just came across Loki Longboards online.

Based in Devon, these guys are riding unwanted or disused antique furniture brought back to life as recycled timber longboards. Each board tells it's own story through the hand crafted wood decks. A piece of history in every one.

The guys even collaborate with riders to suit specific tastes, riding styles, timber preferences and source timbers (within reason) on request.

So before you break apart that old cabinet or bin an disused set of drawers, it could be worth a look at their range for some insight as to what they could be.

Lunch Breakout

  • Posted by alex
  • 1 August 2011

Believe it or not, it's summer out there.

Despite the rain and with the arrival of my new shoes, we decided it was time to hit the trail.

I'm new to running, so when given the choice, I optimistically opted for the 10km stairs route. I followed Ruben who set a punishing pace through the woods in a climb and fall over loose trail and slate, chasing the river. My new road shoes held despite the rain, it was simply my legs that couldn't keep up with the gate-hurdling Ruben.

My efforts eventually paid off, making it back to the office with a smile, and my shoes broken in.
Below is a short I've titled "Ruben kills Alex".

Note to self: Next time - Run harder. Run further. Keep up longer.


Get out the calendar and circle the weekend of October 1st & 2nd. The howies Coed y Brenin Enduro is a brand new event, happening, at....yes...Coed y Brenin forest park.

We've teamed up again with Summit Cycles, the crew who brought you the Dyfi Enduro and created this brand new event in the UK’s most famous mountain biking forest.

The route will be played close to our chest, but we promise it's going it's going to be a great mix of trails you know and some stretches that rarely get seen or ridden.

Unlike Dyfi forest there are lots of options on linking trails in CyB, so you'll have two routes for you to choose from - 30km & 60km each. Both promise awesome riding, great feed stations, and a twist of that howies Dyfi enduro weirdness.

Remember though, it's an endurance challenge, not a race (although times are recorded..), so you can go as fast, or slow, as you like.

howies are contributing a bundle of gear which will be awarded at random as riders cross the finish line. We're also doing an event T-shirt, which you can grab at signup.

Registration dates TBA, but if it's anything like the Dyfi, places will go fast!

So, if you're interested in riding some superb technical single-track in the famous Coed y Brenin, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled.

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