A New Adventure

Who knew walking with sticks could be so much fun? Hook’s Alice, Julia and Sarah tried out a taster session of Nordic walking with Walk Kernow, at Trelissick near Truro.

Walk Kernow was set up in 2012 by Kelly Bennett, after experiencing the benefits that Nordic Walking gave her. After losing four stone in a ten-month period through healthy eating and her new love of walking, she wanted to share her passion for this sport and both the physical and mental benefits.

Kelly said: “I began Nordic Walking over five years ago. I’d had enough of being overweight and not having the energy to enjoy my life. Diets alone didn’t work and I hated the gym. Nordic walking uses specially designed poles to enhance your natural walking experience.”

Kelly now runs beginner’s workshops to demonstrate how to use the Nordic Walking technique. After that you can purchase Walk Cards with one, five or ten walk options available. “Each week we run several walks around beautiful areas of the county, come along to as many walks as you like, hiring our poles, or using your own,” Kelly added.

This exercise is suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness, as it is non-invasive and non-weight bearing. It is beneficial for everyone, overweight, underweight, physically fit or struggling with health issues such as osteoporosis or arthritis. The benefits of Nordic walking are endless. It works on your core as well as legs and arms, it uses more skeletal muscles than swimming and mile for mile it is as good as running.

Desmond Harding, former Industrial Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, who was also present at the taster session said: “It was absolutely wonderful. I am just back from France looking for ways to lose weight after all that wine and cheese. I’ve signed up for May, [workshops] my wife doesn’t know it yet but so has she.”

You are encouraged to walk at your own pace and enjoy the scenery across Cornwall as you get out in the fresh air and increase your fitness level. Participants also benefit from the social aspect making friends and connections along the way. The ability to exercise at your own pace also allows you the chance to talk and network with other Nordic walkers.

Walk Kernow runs in partnership with Age UK but is inclusive to people of all ages, prices start from £30 for initial taster session and workshop, after which a single walk costs £8. For more information, visit their website here or follow Walk Kernow on Facebook.

*additional reporting completed by Alice Webber and Sarah Woodside.

Photo and Video credits: Alice Webber and Sarah Woodside


A 32-foot Cornish Gig Vessel built by a team of injured veterans has been launched in Falmouth.

The Great Big Cornish Gig Project began last June, supported by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and The Armed Forces Community Covenant Programme. Their aim was to train wounded, injured and sick (WIS) veterans and serving forces personnel in boatbuilding skills and build a gig to compete in the 2016 World Pilot Gig Championships in the Scilly Isles.

Al Henderson

Al Henderson

Al Henderson, a former Royal Marine said: “Part of my resettlement leaving the Marines was to come down here to do the boat building course at the Marine School.” Through that Al met shipwright Brian Cumby (now deceased), who came up with the original idea for building the gig.

Al added: “Mike Selwood ran with it, and got all the funding secured. Then they asked me to come on as one of the boat builders along with Andrew Nancarrow and Dan Scully. All the other guys are volunteers; they have built the boat. They have done ninety-nine percent of the work, we’ve just been there to oversee it and break it down into manageable sections. For me it’s been a really good project.”

It took the team of around 40 volunteers eight months to build the vessel which has been named H4H Valiant. Many had no previous experience. Stevie Allan, a survival instructor currently serving in the army said: “I didn’t have any skills at all, I learned along the way.”

The gig launch

The gig launch

Prior to the launch off the slipway at the Falmouth Watersports Centre a Royal Marines Corps of Drums performed a marching parade with the uninvited support of a small dog. Reverend Botwood performed the ceremonial blessing of the boat and then decanted a bottle of rum over the boat in line with naval traditions.

The team will now tour around the South West coast to Sennen Cove in H4H Valiant between 2-8 April before heading over to the Scilly Isles to compete in the World Pilot Gig Championships later in the month.

The Home Straight



March 16, 2016

There has been a long gap since I last wrote any updates. Without going into too much detail here, I had to break off from this assignment for a while. I have been busy behind the scenes and normal service has been resumed.

The travel feature on Antarctica makes for an unusual holiday, definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is something for the traveller who wants to push boundaries and encounter an extreme travel adventure. As I wanted to use photographs of the aircraft and Union Glacier camp, I sent an email to Leslie Wicks, the Marketing director of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE). She very kindly sent me the images I wanted to include in my piece and asked that I give credit to the photographer/ALE. It is important to respect copyright laws. It’s not just courteous, it’s the law. I think that my feature would be suitable for publication in Sidetracked Magazine, an adventure travel brand interested in breath-taking adventures, or Wanderlust, who focus on special interest travel to off-the-beaten-track destinations.

The crime feature has evolved into a comment piece as the informal tone was more suitable to convey my own experiences over time. I wanted to draw attention to the whole scale of cyber-crime and include some facts and figures but I didn’t want it to be too dry or dull. I also didn’t want this to be a lecture on how to use the internet, more of an awareness piece. So I focussed on a couple of examples of scamming and hacking using recent media articles for reference and some mind-blowing statistics of the extent and cost of cyber-crime. The targeted publications for this piece would be the Huffington Post Tech Section, which has a more casual style of writing and would be useful for promoting my specialism online. I think the Daily Express Comment Section has a quite relaxed tone while still being informative. A traditional newspaper with an online version will be appropriate for the age demographic I would like to access.

Are you bored of the beach and tired of tavernas? Maybe you are looking for a different holiday experience or something to add to your Bucket List? If so, you might like to consider a visit to Antarctica.

If you re-read that in disbelief, I assure you it is not a typo. A Boeing 757 passenger airliner recently landed on the blue-ice runway at Union Glacier to demonstrate the feasibility of such aircraft in providing a commercial service in the future. Until now, flights to Antarctica have been made using aircraft such as the American Lockheed Hercules or the Russian Ilyushin; Sturdy workhorse cargo-aircraft with basic passenger facilities.

The Boeing 757 landing in Antarctica. Photo © Tim Hewette reproduced with permission of ALE

The Boeing 757 landing in Antarctica. Photo © Tim Hewette
reproduced with permission of ALE

The project is a joint partnership between tour operators Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), Loftleidir Icelandic, a subsidiary of the Icelandair Group and Niche Aviation Solutions (NAS) Corporation, a freight logistics company based in Hampshire. A specially adapted Boeing 757-200 ER aircraft has been fitted with 62 business-class seats offering passengers a more comfortable, thoroughbred racehorse experience on their journey to the white wilderness.

So far there is no definite timescale to setting up the commercial passenger flights but ALE spokesperson Leslie Wicks believes they could do so within two or three years. If you prefer to travel in style, then this is good news, but you better start saving now. Currently, ALE’s week long excursions including (less comfortable) flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, and food and accommodation will set you back about £16,000.

So what is the fascination with this white mass around the South Pole? In terms of accessibility, this is the final frontier. Antarctica is the coldest and surprisingly driest continent on Earth with the highest elevation. There is no significant plant or animal life in the interior although the shoreline and surrounding ocean is home to an abundance of fish, birds and marine mammals.

The climate is harsh all year. For tourists Antarctica is only accessible during the summer season, between November and March. Daytime temperatures average between -1o and 4o C although it may reach as much as 14o C near the coast. During mid-summer there are twenty-four hours of daylight. By comparison, winter, temperatures drop to as low as -40o C, the sea is impassable and there is twenty-four-hour darkness.

It is said that there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing. Even so, packing for a short stay will be a considerable task. Virtualtourist.com offer advice on what to pack including a helpful section from people who have travelled to Antarctica. The list is extensive and surprisingly includes sun protection cream. It is still possible to get sunburn as the UV rays are very strong and the ozone is very thin.

Antarctica covers an area of approximately 14,000,000 sq. km south of 600 S latitude and is unique in that it is not owned by anyone. There are no native inhabitants and no government in overall control. Instead, Antarctica is regulated under the Antarctic Treaty System. This comprises the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and other associated agreements. Originally, twelve countries including the United Kingdom signed the treaty which was to ensure, “in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.” Military activity is prohibited as are nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste. The success of the treaty, which has no expiry date, is seen in the growth of membership countries. Currently 52 countries, about 80 percent of the world population have subscribed to it. Visitors to Antarctica must comply with the Treaty and are of course bound by national laws and regulations.

Before tourism, Antarctica was almost exclusively visited by scientists for research purposes with support teams such as cooks, electricians and medics. These stalwart travellers could be in residence from three to eighteen months so many tons of provisions were required to last the duration. ALE first began by providing logistical support to such research programmes before branching out into tourism.

For those who prefer sea travel, the window for visiting Antarctica extends to March before ice begins to form around the coast. There are many tour operators who will arrange custom visits to suit the individual’s needs. It is best to browse through the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) first as they advocate and promote safe and environmentally responsible practices for private-sector travel to the Antarctic. A full directory of members can be found at http://apps.iaato.org/iaato/member/list.xhtml .

Large-ship cruises offer luxury travel but may be restricted in how close they can get to shore. Smaller ship expeditions are able to travel nearer to the coast and take passengers ashore in small rib craft. Some ships have their own helicopter so can take small groups on visits to the interior. An 11-day tour with Swoop Antarctica sails from Ushuaia on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the southernmost port in Argentina. After a two-day journey across the Drake Passage you arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula. A full activity programme is available including hiking, camping on ice, visits to wildlife colonies, kayaking and visits to historic huts and science stations. Prices start from £5,509 excluding flights to/from Ushuaia. It is also worth noting that there are no direct flights from the UK to Argentina, but you can route via Paris or Amsterdam. Another option is to fly from London to Buenos Aires, Brazil and then onwards.

Union Glacier Camp. Photo © Christop Stahl reproduced with permission of ALE

Union Glacier Camp. Photo © Christop Stahl
reproduced with permission of ALE

In 2003, ALE began offering weekly scheduled passenger and cargo flights from Punta Arenas, Chile to their main camp at Union Glacier. The camp operates between November and January, with a flight time of four hours and 15 minutes. Flights can hold 60 passengers or two shipping containers of cargo and are of course weather dependent. For local flights to more inaccessible areas, ALE have at least two ski aircraft such as the DHC-6 Twin Otter or the Basler BT-67. They have fuel storage areas located around West Antarctica to enable self-sufficiency and for emergency requirements.

Once on the ground, or rather on the solid water, there are plenty of options for sight-seeing and once-in-a-lifetime experiences provided by Adventure Network International (ANI), a subsidiary of ALE. ANI run Union Glacier base camp and field camps. Set in this spectacular landscape, they have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Accommodation is in spacious, double-walled tents which sleep two guests. Polar sleeping bags, pillows and linen are provided. Tents are heated naturally by the twenty-four-hour sunlight and temperatures range from 4o C – 20o C. Meals are prepared and served in a large dining tent. A wide selection of fresh meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, beer and wine is flown in regularly from Chile. This space is also used for briefings and talks and is the communal meeting place for activities.

Inside a polar tent. Photo © Leslie Wicks reproduced with permission of ALE

Inside a polar tent. Photo © Leslie Wicks
reproduced with permission of ALE

ANI offer seventeen tailor-made experiences graded from easy to extremely strenuous. These include overland expeditions, ice climbing, wildlife viewing, photography and many more, for the full range visit  http://www.adventure-network.com/experiences. If you fancy flying down to the South Pole and camping out overnight, try the ‘90o South Overnight’ trip. For the more adventurous there is a two-week challenge. The ‘Ski Last Degree’ tour flies down to 89o S from where the team ski and sled the last 60 nautical miles to the Geographic South Pole. While there you can imagine the heroic journeys of the early explorers Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton who ventured into the unknown over 100 years ago. It may also be possible to visit the Amundsen-Scott Station, a research centre where scientists are at work studying the Antarctic environment.

Antarctica offers something for everyone as long as you don’t mind the cold. Whether you go by sea or air, this will definitely qualify for the trip of a lifetime.

The South Pole © ALE reproduced with permission of ALE

The South Pole © ALE reproduced with permission of ALE


These days, if we or our family feel unwell, there are a range of medical options available to choose from.

If an ambulance is needed, we can ring 999. We are asked to think twice before visiting our over-stretched A and E departments. Could we maybe wait and see our GP? And don’t forget the friendly local pharmacist can offer advice and prescribe a range of medicines. The NHS 111 service is available when you need medical help fast but it is not an emergency. We are asked to apply some common sense in who we choose to ask for help.

But, what exactly constitutes an emergency? How do I, an unqualified person determine whether my loved ones are a bit poorly or seriously ill?

Before my son started school in 1997, I had never heard of meningitis. Like many mothers I learned the signs and symptoms to watch out for from a little card. It is this sort of awareness campaign that educates and informs ordinary people, of health risks and illnesses which may affect our family’s health.

There is now a great need for another nationwide campaign. Sepsis (also known as septicaemia or blood poisoning) has been claiming the lives of too many people. Early diagnosis can save lives but not enough is known about this silent killer.S1

Sepsis affects about 150,000 people in the UK every year and is responsible for the deaths of 44,000 people annually. That is more than breast cancer, bowel cancer and prostate cancer combined.

This life threatening condition occurs when the body becomes overwhelmed with infection, but it can start with a simple bite or cut. Sepsis is caused by the way the body responds to infection, such as bacteria, injuring its own organs and tissues. We all come into contact with germs and bacteria every day without becoming unwell. On occasions the body reacts abnormally to an infection and this can cause sepsis.S2Initial signs to watch out for include; a very high (or very low) temperature, racing heartbeat, rapid breathing or confusion. If a person has two or more of those indicators, then medical advice should be sought if you are concerned. Other indications include; cold, pale or mottled skin, loss of consciousness, not passing urine, shivering, muscle pain, slurred speech or severe breathlessness.

Recognising sepsis can be difficult as in the early stages symptoms may be mistaken for flu. If caught early, the outlook is good for the majority of patients. Sepsis can be treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids but early detection is vital.S3

The UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) was established in 2012. The charity’s objective is to save lives and support those affected by sepsis by instigating political change and raising public awareness.

Dr Ron Daniels, CEO of UKST said: “There’s a need for professional awareness and a certain standard of education and training as there’s a gap in knowledge. There’s also a need to raise public awareness. We are contacted by people who have come to harm having sat at home not knowing what to do.”

The trust believe that once sepsis is accepted as a medical emergency and as a clinical priority for the NHS then up to 12,500 lives can be saved every year.

Truro and Falmouth MP Sarah Newton joined forces with The UK Sepsis Trust in 2012 to form an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on sepsis to raise awareness of the condition and to increase effective treatments.

In her blog Mrs Newton said: “The APPG has made real progress over the past two years raising awareness of Sepsis and securing a range of actions to prevent avoidable deaths.” Mrs Newton wants a treatment plan known as the ‘Sepsis Six’ to be more widely adopted. “The Sepsis Six can be administered simply by a nurse and reduces the risk of dying by one half if delivered within an hour of Sepsis developing.”S4

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are currently developing a set of guidelines for health professionals working within the National Health Service (NHS). Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE said: “We want all healthcare professionals to see sepsis as an immediate life-threatening condition and make sure there are systems in place across the NHS for it to be recognised and treated as an emergency.” Publication is anticipated to be in July 2016.

Progress is being made in raising awareness of this devastating condition, but it takes time, money and dedication to accomplish change on a national scale. For more information on Sepsis visit the UK Sepsis Trust here.

As the middle of February approaches, it is safe to say that many New year’s resolutions *insert appropriate non-achievable target here*, have been consigned to oblivion in Room 101. Publicans and night club owners will be breathing huge sighs of relief now that Dry January is over. The traditions of Shrove Tuesday lately taken over by St. Pancake’s Day are at an end. But following in quick succession is another ‘tradition’ in which retails see another opportunity to part us from our money; Valentine’s Day.

The love aisle. Photo source: Julia Conway

The love aisle. Photo source: Julia Conway

The local supermarket, featuring the large green letters, conveniently dedicates a complete aisle of the store to whichever seasonal theme is being promoted, and this month that is ‘lurve’. The purchasing department have surpassed themselves with the amount and variety of tat on offer this year, there is something for every budget. The shelves are stacked high with teddy bears, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, photo frames and pointless blocks of wood spelling ‘love’. An abundance of flowers and cards, all pink and red, and of course the compulsory prosecco. Another costly, customary celebration foisted upon us under the guise of expressing our love for one another. All this for one day. So who was St. Valentine and what did he do to warrant a sainthood?

Plastic flowers £1 each. Photo source: Julia Conway

Plastic flowers £1 each. Photo source: Julia Conway

Many theories exist. In one version Valentine was a priest in Rome in the third century under the rule of Emperor Claudius II. The emperor needed a strong army so he banned his soldiers from getting married. Valentine defied the emperor and continued to perform marriages in secret. When this was discovered Valentine was arrested and sentenced to death. He was beaten with clubs and beheaded on February 14th 268 A.D. Another story from the same era has Valentinius as a Christian martyr, imprisoned and executed for his beliefs. Whoever he was, it has been confirmed that a St. Valentine did exist. Archaeologists in the 16th century discovered a crypt within an ancient church in Rome dedicated to him. As well as being known as the patron saint of lovers, St Valentine has been kept busy in the afterlife and called on for interventions on beekeeping, epilepsy, fainting, travel and the plague.

Valentine’s Day became more commercial in the Victorian era. Alongside the release of the Penny Black stamp in 1840, stationers began to produce cards to promote special occasions. The traditions have grown, directly led by the manufacturers so that this tacky celebration has now become part of the fabric of our society.  It is not that I am unromantic. It is just so overblown and out of proportion. For weeks we are bombarded with adverts by supermarkets, confectioners, jewellers, florists and restaurants. This trend has seeped into our culture during the affluent years of the second half of the last century and have now reached a saturation point.

Write your own message of love. Photo source: Julia Conway

Write your own message of love. Photo source: Julia Conway

According to Marketing magazine: “Brands need to delay their Valentine’s Day campaigns to match the last-minute behaviour of UK consumers, a quarter of whom say the event is over-commercialised.” Reporting on a study by the digital advertising agency RadiumOne which questioned 1000 over-18-year-olds: “… only 14 percent of adults are markedly positive about Valentine’s Day”. The study also found that 24 percent of the sample bemoaned the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day and another 24 percent who despite being in relationships were not celebrating due to “not wanting to feel forced”.

Rupert Staines, RadiumOne’s European managing director, said: “The commercialisation and sense of obligation mean marketers must be far smarter about how they promote Valentine’s Day to avoid alienating consumers further.” I hope the retailers take note. Although in principal it is wonderful to have a day dedicated to love, the pressure to buy the right gift is fraught with anxiety for giver and receiver. Love should not be measured in fiscal terms, that is not good for a relationship. There are many ways to show each other how much we care, in kind words and actions and they cost nothing.

A group of Falmouth University students have launched a campaign to raise awareness about disability.

Ingrid Busengdal, an event manager for the Disability campaign said: “This is a student-led project which aims to break down the negative stigma and stereotypes created by the mainstream against disability.”


The project aims to promote a correct mainstream representation of disability through raising awareness of the social model of disability which states ‘People with impairments are disabled by the fact that they are excluded from … mainstream of society as a result of physical, organisational and attitudinal barriers’.

Ms Busengdal added: “In order to do this, The Disability Campaign is running Don’t DisAbility week alongside the FXU from the 9th to the 12th of February 2016. We have a series of events to be held next week. We will be established as a university society this year and we plan to make this an annual campaign in the future.”

The group will be set up in The Compass all week along with their supporters from Falmouth University Feminist Society stalls from a variety of charities including Scope, Sense and Cornwall Dyslexia Association.



A full list of activities is planned throughout the week including a pub quiz, speed dating, a sensory experience and a sports day. For full details check out the Facebook page.

Project Manager Mackinlay Ingham said: “Under the social model of disability anybody with asthma, an allergy or has ever been intoxicated, has at some point disabled themselves or been disabled. An example of why we promote this all-inclusive attitude is, Can disabled people have sex?

“I am a wheelchair user and without fail on a night out the number one question I get asked is: Can you have sex? My reply to that is, can you have sex? As the person asking the question is normally extremely intoxicated and therefore as disabled as me.

“The aim of my campaign is to raise awareness of the fact that we are all disabled – there should be no negative connotations to the word, it is a description. I am a wheelchair user and I am more than able but society would say different. The activities will allow people to experience everyday situations from a different perspective.”