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Nowhere moments

  • Posted by ruben
  • 23 September 2013

The middle of nowhere is a funny place. Even if you visit it a million times, it's almost impossible to tell anyone else how to get there, because the middle of nowhere is as much about your state of mind as the place you're in.

If you're on the side of a mountain with no houses, planes or roads in view and your phone suddenly chirps out to let you know you got a tweet, you're not there.

If you're in the woods with only the wind in the leaves and the sound of the rain for company and you thinking about bills and TV schedules, you're not there.

The middle of nowhere means going where the roads don't, to find your space and clear your head.

And it's not always about going into the wild either, it could be much closer than you might think.

Nowhere can be a hard place to find, but you'll know it when you get there.

Running Mont Blanc

  • Posted by ruben
  • 23 August 2013

Most of the team here at howies like to go running from time to time. None of us are incredibly fast. We're more Forrest Gump than Mo Farah. But although we all run different speeds, and different distances, we all enjoy getting out on our favourite routes.

In terms of distance, it's Chris, who runs our shop in town, who goes the furthest. With more than a few "ultra" runs under his belt, he gets more odd looks than the rest of us combined when people find out what he gets up to in his free time.

Next week, we'll be heading out to the Alps to support him in the biggest event he's ever entered, the UTMB trail race around Mont Blanc. It's a long run, with a lot of mountain passes to get through, but we're sure Chris will still be smiling as he makes the finish line.

Keep an eye on our Instagram for updates from the race next weekend.

Time To Empty Your Head ...

  • Posted by ruben
  • 26 July 2013
I’m sure that this state of mind and visual theatre could be priced beyond any gym membership, but no-one’s managed to make it an exclusive ‘members only’ club yet. This is a relief. It means that we can all join, any time, for free.

Words and illustration by Anna Koska

We're all defined by lots of things really, and writing a bio I could put a heap load of waffle down. But to keep it tight.. and truthful…

I'm an illustrator, and I'm a forest runner.

I started running in the forest for lots of obvious reasons, like health, no gym membership, and convenience (it's on my doorstep).

But it's become clear that it goes beyond the obvious.

image

Through forest running I have rediscovered something utterly amazing that I thought I’d lost forever in my old school satchel. I have become reacquainted with a desire to know, to learn, to dream big. As each foot falls on deer carved pathway, my mind begins to loosen from the ties that bind it to the usual rhythms of work/home life. And with this uncorking of my stuffed, distracted and chattering head, there appears a space. It doesn’t really seem to matter what my feet are doing, how my ankles are adjusting to rock, mud and shale, whether my quads are aching or whether I’m picking an errant gnat out of my eye. The head space remains accessible, available. So I find my mind wandering freely through new questions, new curiosities, fresh and dewy plans.

And amongst all this cerebral stuff that’s going on, my eyes are drinking in this extraordinary and ever changing theatre of the forest. The colours range for Monet to Van Gogh, depending on season and light. This light can play tricks on the lower canopy, transforming it into the biblical burning bush. Shadow can create a moving form that seems to race a pace behind me. One late Winter's afternoon, the light dipped so quickly that I became disorientated. Flicking on my head torch I suddenly became aware that I was moving parallel with silent-running deer. 14 or more sets of eyes blinked back at me. My heart leapt with the shock, and the thrill.

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Running in the forest and through its seasons is perhaps the most extraordinary and innervating aspect of all. If I was just to talk about the changes of the scent and quality of the air (if I could write with a “scratch n sniff” app it would help): the dry bite of Winter's icy air sucked into lungs; the first whiff of pig manure, pulled across on a northeasterly breeze from a farmer’s field as Winter subsides; the punchy honeyed smell of warmed Spring bluebells; the damp earthiness of the freshly watered forest floor; the drying pine needles underfoot as we slip seamlessly (hopefully) into Summer.

image copy 2

I’m sure that this state of mind and visual theatre could be priced beyond any gym membership, but no-one’s managed to make it an exclusive ‘members only’ club yet. This is a relief. It means that we can all join, any time, for free.

image copy 3

You can see more of her pencilship at www.annakoskaillustration.com/ and read her tweets at @gremkoska

#microadventure - the winners

  • Posted by ruben
  • 18 July 2013

Rather than going home to a sofa in front of the TV and a comfy bed after work, last month we challenged people to head out into the great outdoors to spend a night under the stars.

Together with our friend Alastair Humphreys, we took an unusual Trip on The Tube, and then asked people to get out for their own #microadventures, with prizes for the best videos, photos and stories.

Here are the winners as selected by Mr Humphreys:

3RD PRIZE – DAN AND LEO KNAPP CAMPING OUT UNDER THE STARS

2ND PRIZE – CHRISTOPH DRESSLER’S PHOTOBLOG OF HIS MICROADVENTURE

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1ST PRIZE – STEVE COFFEY AND HIS COLLEAGUES’ OFFICE MICROADVENTURE

While the competition may be over, we still think that anyone who breaks their daily routine to go somewhere new and spend a night in a bivy bag with the sound of the sea or the wind in the trees gains something every bit as worthwhile as any prizes.

Cook outside

  • Posted by ade
  • 31 May 2013

The sun won't hide forever.

The weather people think it's going to be out this weekend. The trails will be dusty. The ice cream vans will be out. Tarmac will be tacky. The beaches still empty. The blue bells are still out. The lawn will be dry. You can wear your favorite tee.

So cook outside this weekend.

Ruben cooked us an incredible stew over a fire that warmed us after a cold float down the river.

Start a small fire.
Get a big pot.
Put in splash of olive oil.
Chop an onion and garlic and throw them in.
Then add some carrots, a squash, a couple of sweet potatoes, one aubergine, as many red peppers as you want, a spoon of paprika and some chopped tomatoes of your choice. Once it looks like it needs a drink then add vegetable stock and 1/2 a bottle of red wine.

Then drink the rest by the fire and let the whole thing reduce.

When the veg is nearly ready, drop in a cup of cous cous and simmer for 15 minutes. If it needs more liquid, open the second bottle of red.

Eat with a hunk of bread warmed by the fire, and a great view.

beach_cook

Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

Two years ago our friend Alastair Humphreys visited us at howies HQ on the West coast of Wales as part of his year of Microadventure.

Al came up with the Microadventure idea to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone and go somewhere they’ve never been. A Microadventure is an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

Next week we're planning to get our feet wet in another Microadventure with Al and we're hoping some of you will get involved over the summer as well. We're joining forces with Trek bikes, Osprey packs and Mountain Equipment this time, too. There will be some great prizes. More on that later.

To find out more about Microadventures you can join the Facebook page here, use the #microadventure tag on Twitter, Instagram and Vine. There are videos of past adventures, tips and tricks for those planning their own adventures and lots of like minded adventurers to talk to.

We'll be updating the Facebook page (and our blog, of course) with all our upcoming adventures and more details about how you can get involved.

Remember, you do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to go somewhere you've never been.
You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained, or rich to have an adventure.

Adventure is only a state of mind.
Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

Spring Photoshoot Slideshow

  • Posted by alex
  • 13 May 2013

When we needed pictures of the new bike and run range in action, Hazel, Ade
and Alex booked into the Pwll Deri YHA in the untouched corner of Cardigan
Bay on Strumble Head.

We arrived in the dark, so it wasn't until sunrise that the full beauty of
our location unfolded.

To model the kit we recruited some active local friends. Sam and Phil who
are runners, riders and Lifeguards on our beaches, Josh who we ride mountain
bikes with and Laura who cooked all the food for our Rest Less ride.

5am starts, creaky bunk beds, breakfast overlooking the sea, beautiful
light, dusty coast paths, rocky headlands, a lighthouse, burning gorse, the
Presili mountains, winding back roads, 150 year old woods, wheelies, good
food eaten together and photo's showing the beauty of where we work.
Our photo shoots are work, but they really don't feel like work.

This slideshow is a selection of shots from the photo shoot.

Photgraphed and compiled by Ricky Adam
Music by The Redneck Manifesto

Weather the weather

  • Posted by ade
  • 22 March 2013

Whatever the weather this weekend, dress for it and get out in it.

When you're home and changed with a cuppa, your pulsing thawing hands,
deeply aching thighs, burning cheeks and clear bloodshot eyes will be the reward.

The words of this old nursery rhyme says it all.

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

Plastic Bags?

  • Posted by ruben
  • 15 March 2013

To minimise our environmental impact, we try to use as little packaging as possible – we only bag stuff when we really need to.

So if you've been a customer of ours for a while, you may have noticed we’ve changed the material our bags are made of. They used to be paper, but now they're plastic.

We’ve switched to recyclable plastic as it is the most widely recycled material available in the UK at this time. They have less environmental impact than paper bags because they weigh less, take up less storage space and use less energy.

Likewise, we've found that recyclable plastic has less environmental impact than degradable plastic. This is because degradable plastic bags cannot be recycled or composted properly in the UK, so they end up as landfill. They leave small traces of plastic in the soil that never break down. They are also known to create more greenhouse gasses than conventional plastics and paper.

The change has had a big effect and more than halved the annual CO2 footprint of our packaging.

We don't pretend that recyclable plastic is perfect. But right now, it is the lowest impact way of packaging our stuff.

Click here to download the geeky analysis report from carbon footprint experts Tickety Boo.

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