Everybody has their own personal reasons to engage themselves with certain hobbies. My introduction to Breaking came about through a combination of different events. To put things into perspective, my childhood was difficult. It was difficult only because I found it extremely hard to communicate with people. At that time I had a severe stutter and, as a result, grew up with incredibly low self-esteem. Was an introverted person and would need others to ask people questions, or order food for me, on my behalf. During my school years I viewed myself as inferior to others because of my stutter. This put me in a tough position to socialise. Talking to girls was out of the question; was something so far away from my reach. I needed something that would boost my confidence and help me talk to girls.

When I was 15 I was thinking hardly anything would boost my confidence. That was until a friend told me about Breaking. Said he went to a class in the city (Glasgow, Scotland) and wanted me to join him. At first I was quite scared because I’d have to talk to people. I also wanted to gather knowledge on some moves to show I wasn’t a total novice. Pretty pointless because I definitely was a novice. I decided to check it out and see what the fuss was about. Turns out that I really enjoyed it. Which was pretty spectacular given that I hardly enjoyed anything except playing video games. I continued to go to the classes for another 18 months roughly. My friend stopped going and I was unsure about going to the classes alone. But I bit the bullet and decided to carry on.

Fast forward 8 years and I’m still Breaking; developed a passion for filming dance and I’m paid to film different international events across Europe. My stutter is hardly noticeable and my communication skills have improved exponentially. The circle of friends I have include males and females spanning 6 continents. How did this happen?! Turns out that Breaking opened up a new world to me. In the space of 2 years my confidence skyrocketed and other around me were noticing. Even the girls I was too damn scared to approach started to like me. Breaking exposed me to different kinds of music; different physical exercises and it enhanced my creative thinking. Since Breaking is one aspect of Hip Hop culture I’ve been in contact with some truly fascinating people. Musicians, artists, poets, photographers – the list goes on. Now I feel a sense of belonging. Something that was difficult for me in my adolescent years. The physical, mental and emotional benefits I’ve gained are truly life changing.

Now that I’ve experienced these benefits it’s important for others to know about them too. In Glasgow there’s a small number of people that break. An even smaller number of B-Boys teach regularly. In 2013 I wanted to travel and expand my knowledge of Breaking. Doing so would help for any potential teaching work I would get involved in. My close friend Sam informed me of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. An organisation that embodies the ethos of Winston Churchill. To learn information from outside of the UK – to bring back and benefit people in the UK. They have a Travelling Fellowship scheme that allows for people to travel for up to 8 weeks to various countries. All with the purpose of learning information that can benefit and enhance people’s lives in the UK.

Chaz + Lil' Cesar

Chaz + Lil’ Cesar. Julio “Lil’ Cesar” Rivas is an original B-Boy dance pioneer. Lil’ Cesar has performed on stages all over the world, including Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Concert in 2002. He has traveled extensively across the United States and over 37 countries in Europe, Asia, and Australia, performing alongside artists such as Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Ricky Martin, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano and Jason Alexander.

See lil Cesar in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pW-frEUqGE

At 21 years old I was the youngest person in 2014 to be awarded a Travelling Fellowship. Only 137 people were awarded one out of a total of 1182. When I heard I was successful, on Valentine’s Day 2014, I was overjoyed. I had to travel to London and be interviewed about my application. The interview stage was for the 256 people that were shortlisted. Flew down early morning with my dad beside me for moral support. With only 1 hour of sleep I was feeling pessimistic about the whole trip. I was forgetting what to say and was thinking this is a waste of time. When it came to the interview, everything came together and said exactly what was needed.
Nailed it!
I remember one of the interviewers walking to the bathroom and seeing me dance in the hall out of pure enjoyment for saying everything correctly.

Mijo (USA) at The Notorious IBE 2013

Chaz & Mijo (USA) at The Notorious IBE 2013

Katsu + Chaz

bboy Katsu (Japan) + Chaz

Fast forward 7 months and I was on a plane to New York. My Travelling Fellowship took me to the US for 8 weeks. To learn the positive benefits of Breaking and Hip Hop culture on young people from deprived backgrounds. I had 6 major cities to travel to: New York, Chicago, Seattle, LA, Houston and Orlando. From my knowledge these cities have some of the most influential crews and dancers in America. Hip Hop spawned from New York so it was important for me to pay dues and spend a lot of time there. During my 8 weeks I attended a few events; spoke to dancers that work within their local community; visited community centres specifically built to run Hip Hop programs and had meetings with representatives of social justice organisations.

Roxrite + Chaz

Chaz and Roxrite. Bboy Roxrite is an award-winning competitive b-boy from San Diego, California. As of August 2013, he has won 82 titles worldwide.

The whole experience was surreal! Met many inspiring dancers and was filming two of the largest Breaking events in the world – Silverback Open Championships (Philadelphia) and Freestyle Session (San Diego). I was constantly travelling and learning about different strategies to build communities with Hip Hop culture. There were some hard times that I endured through. Mainly due to a combination of missing home and undertaking a lot of work in a small space of time. On a few occasions I had no idea where I was staying in a city I was flying to in less than 24 hours. But hey, that’s the beauty of spontaneity. The whole experience was eye opening and filled my mind with an incredible amount of ideas and knowledge. I regret nothing.

Since returning home I’ve been trying to implement the knowledge and strategies I’ve learned into my local community. In the space of 7 months I’ve arranged an open dance session and, with two close friends, organised my first Breaking event – Resurgence. Two things I would have been reluctant to doing had I not carried out my Travelling Fellowship. To keep it short, the most important things I learned were:

Make Breaking accessible, consistent and cost-effective. Create as many opportunities as possible to inspire young people to engage with Breaking (and Hip Hop culture). A constant flow of classes, workshops, events and open practice sessions are the way forward. No exclusivity.

There’s many more things to be implemented in my dance scene. It will all take time and, with good networking and collaboration, I’m optimistic that Glasgow will have a thriving Breaking scene within the next 5 years.

I’ve known for a while I’ll be making a living from my passions. They keep me extremely happy and it’s a positive challenge for me. I only care for doing things that make me feel great as a person. That should be people’s motivation for pursuing their passions full-time. Even though there’s certain struggles involved, it’s working on projects you’re personally connected to. Sounds like a much happier life to me.

If you wish to learn more about Winston Churchill Memorial Trust you can check their website here: http://www.wcmt.org.uk

My final report is online and that can be viewed here: REPORT

From the events I attended, I created a few recap videos. The recap videos can be found here:

Silverback Open Championships 2014:

Freestyle Session 17:

Freestyle Session 17 – Day 1 Slow Motion:


Welcome! If you’re unsure why the title is called creative stance – let us explain: Here at Stance we film Breaking, Tricking and other cool and creative videos that take our interest. Using our recent slow-motion videos as an example, we now have a group of videos called slomo.stance. Everything that’s slow-motion has the term slomo.stance featured somewhere. Similarly to freestyle.stance which corresponds to our freestyle football videos with Waas – or any freestyle video for that matter.

Much like Hantu, Stance is also a platform for creativity and storytelling. This is exactly what you will find on here. There’s many dancers and other artists with a story to tell. A story which reveals their necessity to adopt a creative lifestyle. So in honour of the creative lifestyle, everything you will see on here will have some focus on creativity.

However, within any creative artform there’s an element of community spirit. An essence of unity and togetherness that you only find through the arts and other creative endeavours. This will also be highlighted here. Many artists put a lot of their time and effort into the growth of their community. Sharing positive vibes and encouraging others to lead a creative lifestyle. It’s important for us to recognise the hard work that creative individuals are undertaking.

So without further ado – let’s get creative!

ChazB.

Below is a playlist of slo-mo


From Ghana to Music to African Festival Fashion

There is a great Ghanaian proverb which states “If you’re climbing a good tree, someone will give your bottom a helping push.” I cannot overstate how true this has been on the journey in life I have found myself on since I first visited Ghana as a fresh little 18 year old straight out of school. Africa has always fascinated me, it’s so rich in culture, music, beauty and colour, I wanted to explore, to learn more. At the time I was working in a call centre, one of the annoying ones that calls at tea time to ask a ‘few quick questions regarding your mortgage’. It was here, chatting in between calls, that I met Frank, a Ghanaian who has lived in the UK since he was ten. ashantiempress1His brothers still live in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana and at the time, in 2008 his brother Richard had just opened Blessed Mount Mary’s, a school in a rural village. This seemed the perfect opportunity to visit Ghana and to spend some time doing something productive with all the free time I had found myself with since leaving school!

I booked a flight to Ghana and spent the next five months living in a world that seemed so very different from everything I had grown up knowing in the UK. I lived with Richard and his family in a small compound built by their father. Every day we made the 30 minute journey to the school, the roads were dusty, the tro-tros (public transport) were bumpy and the sun was oh so hot but unfailingly I would arrive to a clammering of little voices surrounding me and grabbing my hand as soon as I walked down the track. The school in 2008 was very basic, originally meant for a house it was a small half completed breezeblock building with bars over the windows, no electric or running water and pit toilets set in a plantain grove just back from the road. There were very few resources available except for chalk and a blackboard which made teaching art and creativity a little difficult! I had to really use my imagination with lessons like when I had the children running round the local area looking in ditches for used plastic sachets used for drinking water. With these we made a little production line, cutting and threading to create skipping ropes, volleyball nets and hammocks as toys for break times!

Over these five months Ghana the school captured my heart and I felt on my return to England I had to do something to help these children attain a good education, something we undeniably take for granted in the UK.

Whilst at University in Sheffield I took part in Bummit, a charity hitchhike to Budapest. Around 300 students had to raise £200 sponsorship each for charity and then get themselves from Sheffield to Budapest spending no more than £15 on transport.bummit I wrote to the Bummit organisers with a little info about Blessed Mount Mary’s and asked if I could donate my £200 to put towards a bus so that the children from surrounding villages could make it to school safely. This was a defining moment for me, something I really thought very little about at the time, just a little email has had a massive effect on my life and the lives of the children at the school. I see this as the moment that I really started climbing that good tree and Bummit gave my bum a helping push up onto the first branch!

Months after that first email I received a phone call from the Bummit team and was flabbergasted to hear that they had decided to donate £5000 of the money raised to the school to buy a new school bus. However, there was one big problem, school busthey could only donate the money to a legitimate charity rather than just my bank account in the hope that I’m as honest as I seem! There was only one solution to this so I set about starting a charity and so Nsoramma (a Ghanaian symbol meaning children of the stars) was born. I visited other charities to see how they operated and step by step I learnt new skills and gained confidence in what I was doing. I reeled in the help of my friends to become trustees, holding business meetings in the Student Union bar and finally made an organisation legitimate enough to access the money.

Now it was 2011 and it seemed a good time for another little holiday to Ghana, I packed up my bag with toys, coloured pencils and wads of cash and headed for the sunshine! Richard and the students were overjoyed with the fact that we were able to buy a bright yellow school bus which jolted down the dusty roads early in the morning, cramming in more children than you would ever imagine possible. There was a little money left over and we used it to add a splash of colour to all the grey breezeblock walls and to create a library with books that were sent over by friends and relatives.

After seeing the school again, although progress had been made, there still seemed so much more that was needed so on my return to Sheffield I decided to combine my love of live music with fundraising.east park collective This was again all a little accidental, I didn’t really plan it but it all just seemed to click into place and happen.
I asked at one of my favourite independent venues in a quirky cellar under the Odeon cinema, I got in touch with local ska, reggae and funk bands and tried to rediscover my photoshop skills learnt in college to make flyers.
People’s responses were always really positive and I am so grateful to everyone who donated their time, advice and skills to helping what became Ashanti Beats (so named because of the school being located in the Ashanti Region).
Once the bands and venue were booked I relentlessly promoted, every gig I went to I carried a bag of flyers and in my drunken over talkative state I gave them to anyone who would listen. This haphazard technique must have paid off because the first Ashanti Beats sold out and had a queue lining up outside the door for most of the night. Over two hundred people came to skank with us and this first gig raised £700!

I found that I loved the feeling of organising and spreading good vibes! gigEveryone would be dancing, singing and meeting new friends because I had put in the effort to make the event happen. It gets a bit addictive, another four Ashanti Beats followed in my final year at Uni, squeezed in between writing my dissertation. It began to make quite the name for itself, I can remember being weirded out and nudging my friend as we sat in the Library eavesdropping on people talking about going to the next Ashanti Beats! A true sign of making it big!! We raised over £2000, had amazing bands play, had appeared on the radio, featured in a Sheffield based music magazine and I was asked to co-manage the Community stage at Peace in the Park, a free Sheffield festival with over 8000 visitors! The original idea had snowballed immensely and I took more from the experience than I did my degree!

In 2012 I passed the Ashanti Crown over to Ella Wildin, a lovely young lass in first year whom I had met at Ashanti Beats nights. Now that the night had built a name for itself it was too depressing a thought to let it fall into nothingness. I wanted someone to learn from it in the same way I had, to build up more networks and put on more amazing events all in the aid of charity. I went off gallivanting around the world for two years whilst she took Ashanti Beats to greater heights. We kept sending the money raised from the nights out to the school and it was used to build two new classrooms, install a water pump and provide sponsorship for eighteen of the most destitute students at the school, helping to alleviate stress on their families and ensure they were able to attend school.

When I returned from South America I moved to Bristol with little idea of what direction to take in my life, I love the city and all the creative people in it but so many jobs I was applying for just seemed ultimately boring. I ended up working long, unsociable hours in a restaurant, earning just enough to pay the rent, it was a depressing shock to the system after the two years I had spent travelling. Winter then set in and I spent days on end biking up hills in the pissing down rain on my way to a job I hated. Then, maybe a chance of fate but I saw a post on facebook from a girl I worked with in Canada, she was going to Ghana! I messaged her listing all the places she should visit and friends of mine she could meet. She must have picked up on my over enthusiasm and just said in passing, “why don’t you come.” Two days later I had quit my job and booked a flight to Ghana, leaving just three weeks later. I had no set plan, it just seemed like the right thing to do and I hoped it would offer me some perspective as well as the chance to visit the school and meet Richards children, one being Small Ruby, my God daughter who is three but I hadn’t had the chance to meet yet!

From the moment I stepped off the plane and felt the humid night air on my skin and the clamour of activity as taxi drivers stood outside the airport exit cheering as Ghana scored in the African Cup of Nations being shown on a tiny TV, I knew I had made the right decision. We spent our first night at the excellently named ‘Rising Phoenix Magic Beach Resort’ surrounded by slightly pervy rastas and a lingering smell of weed whilst listening to awful reggae covers. It was great!

ghana fabric shopAs I spent more time in Ghana, volunteering at the school and later at an amazing music festival, Asa Baako, on Busua beach I started to think of what kind of project I could start on my return to the UK. I love to visit the overcrowded, slightly mental markets in Africa where all the senses are overwhelmed yet the experience is always insightful. Kejetia market in Kumasi is a sprawling mass of thousands of stall holders selling items as varied as cow feets, bush doctor herbs, random plastic things from china and exquisitely beautiful fabrics. I always headed straight for the narrow alleyways lined with fabric, women sat in amongst them gossiping between themselves, it is here I would spend hours chatting, laughing and admiring the bright patterned fabrics before buying a few yards to have something tailored for myself.

It was at this point that the first thought of what has become Ashanti Empress clothing crossed through my head as a brainwave. Why not expand the Ashanti ethos to start an ethical clothing label, producing good quality, exciting and original festival styles for people in the UK, whilst supplementing the income of local people and raising money for the school, it would at least legitimise all those hour I spent in the market looking at fabrics! ghana womenI began to speak to others about my idea and design some styles. I found a lovely seamstress through Richard’s niece Priscilla and we spent many afternoons in a small hot room trying on a whole range of crazy coloured garments. I came across Akwesi, an amazing tailor by chance when walking down an alley in central Kumasi where, whenever there was power, he would set up his sewing machine under a tarpaulin. With the designs coming together and the right people to make them a reality I decided to invest £500 and piece by piece garments were made and my ideas grew. I realised that I want to incorporate these exciting designs of pattern and colour into a social enterprise that forms lasting connections with Ghanaian people, bringing them reliable business during times of economic hardship. I also plan to form a co-operative that helps artisans in Ghana sell their art work and jewellery via the internet into a Western market where they can achieve higher prices and do not have to rely wholly on the unpredictability’s of tourism. The logistics of making this dream happen are still a work in progress but I have most definitely begun to climb that tree and only have bigger branches in front of me.

stallWhen the time came to leave Ghana this May I emptied out my bag of the bat and ball, the sun cream and books and stuffed it instead with piles upon piles of African fabric, beads and beautifully bright clothing combos. I have created what I love in terms of the styles, clashing bright colours and originality of the Ashanti Empress label, the UK is too grey and that needs to change! It seems I am not the only one with this belief that the nation must be clothed in colour because within a week of being back I had already had sold outfits to my friends and that Saturday I had my first market stall in Bristol’s ‘artsy area’. The response I got only strengthened my belief that I had made the right decision and I am so excited to continue learning and building Ashanti Empress. Bristol is an inspiring place to be starting a business, it is full of creative minds who offer their advice and help unsparingly. On the market stall I love that you never know where each conversation will lead, who you meet and what they might be able to offer. Each and every conversation is worth starting, you never know where it will lead you and that is often forgotten in our society.

I am ready to embark on a huge learning experience, I have no idea where I will end up through starting Ashanti Empress but I want to experience the ride.ghana 2 It has been a haphazard yet fascinating series of events, coincidences and fate since I first visited Ghana in 2008 and I hope that I can build upon the connection I have with this beautiful country and its people.

If you have an idea you believe in don’t be scared to follow it.
Never doubt that once you start climbing that good tree, there will always be people who give your bottom that much needed shove to help you reach the top, to achieve whatever you are striving to do.
However, you must be the one to begin the climb.

facebook: facebook.com/ashantiempress

Twitter: @ashanti_empress

Email: ashantiempress@gmail.com

E-shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AshantiEmpress

 


My name is Charlie Uldahl Christensen and over 8 weeks ago I freed myself from my job, my apartment and most of my possessions, to become a vagabond, a rover, a pilgrim.

 

Presentation video about the journey

The project, which goes by the name, Walking for Water, took form in my head as I returned to Denmark in the summer 2013 after having lived among the Maasai people in Lengasti, Tanzania for 6 months.

masaai 1masaai 2

 

 

 

 

 

At my stay there, the water supply system for the area broke down, and ever since, the local people has been forced to walk about 38 kilometres each day, to bring home clean water. The symbolism is that I will walk so they don’t have to.

 

Mini documentary about the Water situation in Lengasti

walking for water route

 

 

For 2,5 years and more than 18.000 kilometres I will walk on my feet through Europe and Africa and on my way I will make text and video reportages about the life on the road and about some of the different sub-cultures I meet on my way.

In the videos I let the people I meet explain about their lifestyle with their own words. Because the understanding of alternative ways of living gives a bigger perspective and leads to sympathy rather than fear in a world where fear of the unknown is getting bigger day by day.

 

 Interview with Metal fans in Roosendaal, Holland.

 

 Interview with a Biker Club in Drachten, Holland.

 

By doing that I hope to get a large amount of online followers and eventually to make it rentable for a number of extern sponsors to finance a Water Supply system and benefit from the Media attention and CSR the pilgrimages can provide.

 

The Organization

 walking for water logoThe long-term goal of the organisation Walking for Water is to establish a platform where volunteering workgroups support future philanthropic pilgrimages with advice, network and administrative workforce and help them plan their journeys and connect them with projects to support.

 

We want to create a model that makes it rentable to everybody involved to take part in making the world a better place.

 

The pilgrims get the adventure.

The volunteering workgroups get a community where they can use their skills, get valuable experience and add talented acquaintances to their network.

The Media get good stories from around the world to tell.

The Sponsors get the publicity and optionally custom made marketing campaigns.


Past, Present and nearest future

 

I have now been on the road for about 8 weeks and the 1300 kilometres I have been walking has taken through Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium where I have been amazed by the hospitality I meet everywhere. On the countryside I sleep in tent or hammock in the woods but in the cities local people usually host me. In that way I get to see the families from within and get to see how different nationalities, cultures and religions tend to live, eat and sleep.

 

A week ago my Mule – the pram with all my belongings, which I push around in front of me, broke down in Compiegne North of Paris. By coincidence I ran into my new friend Christophe who made a nice emergency reparation that made it possible to continue to Paris, where I am now awaiting a new chassis to be sent from the manufacturer ODDER in Denmark.

mule 1 mule 2

At my stay in Paris I am couchsurfing with local people and in the beginning of next week I will have some family coming to visit me here for a couple of days. When they go back home I will hit the road again and move South-West following the old pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela into Spain and break of the route going straight south towards Madrid on the other side of the Pyrenees.

mule 3

I will make the next update for the HANTU Collective will come in about 2 weeks. Until then you can find information and sponsor the project on the website www.walkingforwater.dk

And you can show your support and get news updates by liking the facebook page www.facebook.com/charlieswalkforwater

If you want to be a part of the walking for water family or if you have any questions what so ever, you can always contact me on

 

Email: Charlieuc@live.dk

Phone: +45 50737984


I have been asked to write a day to day account of the ocean voyage onboard the ‘Westerkade’ which over 12 days took me from Iceland to Canada by ship. This is what I wrote.

 

Perfect conditions

 

DAY 1

“This cannot be true” the captain said as we stood there together on the bridge overlooking the horizon. “I don’t believe it” he said. I wasn’t sure what he meant?

I’m just a simple traveler. I was born in Denmark in 1978 and I started a trip which is to lead me through every single country in a single journey, without flying. That is: every single country in the world! I had arrived to Iceland and then continued up north to Greenland on a fishing boat making Greenland country number 40 since I left home. But now I was back in Iceland, after retuning on a shrimp trawler, and I was looking for a way to cross the final leg of the North Atlantic.

In Reykjavik there is only 1 connection to Canada if you are not flying and it doesn’t take passengers. The cargo ships are operated by Eimskip but in this case the ‘Westerkade’ is actually owned by Buss Reederei – and I happened to be on the bridge with the captain.

The ‘Westerkade’ is a 127m long multi purpose cargo vessel which had just finished loading with containers in Reykjavik. She is from 2000 making her 14 years old – and it shows. But there is a certain charm about the ‘Westerkade’. Almost as if you can hear her tell stories if you just listen.

Now we were almost ready to go. The sun was setting and the sea looked quiet and calm with the sun glittering across the ocean. A few birds flew around us for a final hunt for food just before it got dark. The captain was adjusting different panels, pressing buttons and getting us ready for our departure. The massive engine contributed with a light shaking of the entire ship. And the captain said: “this cannot be true”. He continued: “we are heading out into optimal conditions. It’s never this good. People think that life onboard is a fairy tale. But we often encounter rough weather, we all have work to do and it’s certainly no cruise – you are lucky.”

I am happy to hear that. I’m no man of the sea and bad weather conditions are likely to make me sick. I quickly shoot a few pictures before the sun sets and we emerge into darkness. Our first destination will be Argentia, Canada, in about 6 days. 2 days after that we should reach Halifax. We are on our way.

Karaoke
DAY 2
While I was minding my own business in my cabin I noticed the cabin telephone ringing and wondered why? This is the 7th vessel I have been onboard since I started crossing the North Atlantic. I’ve been on all different sorts of vessels; reefer cargo ships, passenger vessels, container carriers, shrimp trawlers…but never before had the cabin phone been ringing.

I answered the phone and found the 2nd officer to be at the other end. He wanted to meet me at the galley at 4:12pm in order to show me around. 4:12pm – What kind of awkward time is that? As I later met with the 2nd officer he explained that an hour of 60 minutes is divided by 10 which adds to 6’s. In other words: 6, 12, 18, 24 etc. I understand that. But I still don’t understand the practical reason to do that. I had the 2nd officer explain it to me again and I still didn’t understand and left it at that. I mean…you could also break it down into 3’s: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 etc. And then we could have met at 4:15pm.

I was shown around the boat, inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs and everywhere we went the 2nd officer would point out where the nearest safety equipment was and how to use it in case of emergency. By the end of the round he asked if I would join the crew for karaoke later that night? You see, most of the crew members are from the Philippines and in that part of our world karaoke is a big thing. So I accepted his invitation.

A few hours after dinner the karaoke machine had been fired up and someone was giving it his best. I sat down with the others and was immediately handed something to drink. The table was full of different snack varieties and it was explained to me that this is how they let their steam out after a long day. Some had been working 11 hours and some had been away from home for as much as 8 months. “Tomorrow it all starts again. We work, we eat, we sleep. And sometimes we sit and talk and sing” he said.

The crane operator, who is Icelandic, joined us and and was handed the holy book of karaoke. In a very Nordic way he absolutely refused and proclaimed that it would never happen. However, a few hours later the crane operator was standing in the middle of the room with everyone applauding and laughing. He was hitting it off like a rockstar with the microphone in one hand while the other hand was raised to the sky singing: “I WAN’T ROCK’N’ROLL. PUT ANOTHER DIME IN THE JUKEBOX BABY!!”

Book selfie

DAY 3
I haven’t seen the sun since we left Reykjavik. The weather is kind of good I would say. I mean; we haven’t encountered huge waves, storm, high winds, hard rain or any other harsh conditions. We just have this grey sky above us which reaches all the way down to the horizon in every direction. Everywhere you look it is either grey skies or dark ocean. We haven’t encountered any other vessels, seen any airplanes or spotted any whales. It’s just us, the engine and the sound of small waves being broken against the ship.

The cook arranges for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Within an hour of each meal everyone finishes and returns to their duty onboard. This is no scene for deep conversations. Most dine within 10 minutes and leave.

On the bridge someone is always on guard. The captain and the 1st and 2nd officers take turns of 4 hour shifts.

I feel welcome onboard. But I am pretty much left to take care of myself as everyone onboard has a job to do and a function to fill. There is no internet and no television. So I lye in bed reading, I sleep more than usual, I prepare emails so that they are ready to be sent when do get online again, and I play solitary on my smartphone.

Fire drill

DAY 4
The abandon ship alarm sounded and the loudspeaker instructed everyone to assemble at the muster area. I grabbed my life west and my jacket and headed down as instructed. Within minutes I stood along side the others at the muster area and we did a quick head count: 1, 2, 3, 4…14!! The 1st officer radioed the captain who was still on the bridge and informed him that we were all there. It was an exercise of course. We then proceeded to check all the available safety equipment needed in case of a live “abandon ship” situation.

It was a beautiful day. Most of the sky was blue and I got to see the sun for the first time since we left Iceland. Some seagulls were hovering above the ‘Westerkade’ and the weather was fine. The seagulls have been our only companionship since we left port. Sometimes they hover, sometimes the sit in the water and at other times they will catch a ride while resting on the ship cranes.

Early afternoon the sky once again turned grey. The swell started to pick up and the ‘Westerkade’ increasingly began to roll more and more. Once in a while I would loose my footing and need to support myself against the walls in order not to fall. But I’ve stopped taking my travel sickness pills. I figure that the first couple of days are the worst. I hope I’m not wrong.

Storm sproejt
DAY 5
Today started out with pleasant weather. But that changed. During the afternoon everything around us turned grey again and it started to rain. The wind picked up and once in a while the increasingly larger waves would test the ships hull as the bow would crash down resulting in a spectacular spray of water. At that point the 1st officer estimated the waves around us to be about 3 meters high.

Later on it got more rough and the waves had risen to about 6 meters in hight. It’s dark now and who knows how large the waves are. But I’m holding on to the table in my cabin as I write this in order to stay on my chair. Once in a while I need to grab on to the table with both hands. I imagine it feels similar to driving a car on a bumpy dirt road while being in an earthquake.

This is definitely an experience.

The propeller is likely being lifted out of the water when the ship is heading front down. At times it is quite violent as the ocean hammers into the ship like an iron fist. At other times it merely feels like the ship is sliding on the ocean. It is hard to predict when you will be knocked out of balance. But you know that it could happen any time.

I’ve spent a great deal of time on the bridge today. It’s fascinating to observe as well as tiresome for the body. The engine has been overheating for some time now so we are going about half speed which is increasing our time at sea. I don’t believe I’ve ever gone this long before without seeing land.

Storm hoejre

DAY 6
I opened my cabin door and observed a doormat along with 3 pairs of shoes slide past me on the hallway. Without raising an eyebrow I simply continued to make my way up to the bridge. Only looking at the sky I would have said that it’s a beautiful day. Some grey and white clouds mixed with a little sunshine and a dash of blue sky. Not bad. But the wind and the waves continue to test my sea legs. The ship roles from side to side at a 20-30 degree angle which is enough for me to loose my footing once in a while.

I spoke to the ships cadet who is 20 years old and from the Philippines. I asked him what made him want to be a seaman? He didn’t have a saying in that matter. He’s parents made that decision for him in order to provide for the family. It makes me rethink my obscene luxury of traveling to every country in the world.

Birds

DAY 7
The chair in my room eventually won over me. Every time I would place it back under the table it would slide out and fall on its side. I haven’t received much sleep during the night. Apart from the battle with the chair I had to struggle to stay in bed and not fall out. Also the closet sounded quite threatening all night. I had no trouble imagining the closet doors bursting open and the shelves flying out across the room. But luckily that never happened.

I got to a point were I started wondering how much this ship would be able to handle and mentioned that to the crane operator during lunch. He simply smiled and replied: “a lot more than this”. Everyone onboard has experienced much worse than this. But for someone as new to this as I am this seems like a lot already.

There are things you simply can’t do without 2 hands. Not easily anyway. I’ve started to notice that; like closing your belt buckle…or putting toothpaste on your toothbrush. Now why would I suddenly observe something like that? Well, it seems like it’s always in those moment I get thrown across the room and into the wall.

Life radar

DAY 8
The waves and the wind settled last night and I slept like a baby. We are now back to the same conditions I remember from the first few days with grey sky and dark water. Well, actually the conditions have changed in a different way. It was much warmer before. But now we have left the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and I can now see my breath when I stand outside. Also we are in the middle of an area where multiple ice sightings have been reported. This ship is not graded for sailing in ice – but so far we have seen no ice at all.

While I was sitting on the bridge speaking with the captain I noticed that the radio signal from 4 other vessels had appeared on the scanner. Soon after I could see 2 of the vessels on the radar. We are no longer alone! 7 days of solitude and now we have proof of life…kind of. Even though one of the vessels, most likely a fishing boat, was at relatively close range we never saw it due to fog.

Fishing boats! That must mean that we are approaching Canada!

DAY 9
With a little imagination the weather conditions today offered me some idea of what it would be like to be on a cruise. It has been spectacular. More or less a blue sky above and a beautiful relatively calm sea below. I went for a walk on the deck and noticed some birds I haven’t seen earlier. They must have flown out here from land? Which in turn must mean we are getting closer to Canada?

Still on deck, as far towards the front as I could get, I stood and enjoyed the beautiful view of blue. And for a second I realized that I’m much closer to Canada now than I’ve been since I left home. And I remembered that I am traveling to every single country in a single journey, without flight. This lead to me thinking that I will meet thousands of people, see unbelievable things and encounter cultures and history that I’ve never before come across. And THAT fills me with a feeling I simply can’t explain. But it’s an absolute joy…and it all lies at my feet…in front of the ‘Westerkade’ which is plowing its way through the last nautical miles to North America.

From the deck I climbed the many steps up to the bridge and from there we were able to spot some enormous icebergs in the distance. Then suddenly a few whales surfaced on the port side and were visible for a few minutes before they once again headed down towards the deep.

And then finally in the horizon Canada appeared as a long flat line which could easily be mistaken for low lying clouds.

Later, after dark, we had come closer to the coast and the lights of some seaside villages could be observed with the naked eye. We should reach Argentia tomorrow morning and Halifax on Sunday.

Argentia

DAY 10
I have had no television, telephone or internet for 10 days now. Kind of crazy in today’s modern world. But I have been able to do a lot of reading; about 700 pages in my book. Today however I never had the chance to turn a page.

Contrary to most mornings my alarm clock woke me up early because I wanted to be on the bridge for our arrival in Argentia. As I stepped outside I was met by the pleasant smell of trees! I don’t normally notice the scent of trees but having spent so many days at sea it was quite vivid.

Argentia is a very small port off the east of Canada. We arrived early and started unloading immediately. However I was less interested in the unloading and much more interested in the crew. Lately I’ve been trying to make a video with the crew and some have been more or less cooperative while most have been shy. But today something was definitely different. Because I had everyone dancing and acting crazy. It was amazingly fun.

Over the recent days the crew and I have gotten to know each other much better and the regular evening karaoke has also been helpful. Besides; we are all on the same boat. The video so far has everyone looking like a lunatic and if you were to judge by the video alone you would probably think that the ‘Westerkade’ is a “fun house” running wild. Let’s hope I won’t get anyone fired.

In reality the crew worked hard under the sun today and we departed Argentia 2 hours prior to our anticipated departure time.

Two more nights and we will arrive in Halifax if all goes well. It should have been an 8 day voyage but the rough sea conditions along with a troubled engine has set us back 4 days. However I trust that this 14 year old lady will get us there on Sunday.

All blue

DAY 11
Onboard the ‘Westerkade’ there are 3 Ukrainians. Imagine that. Imagine being offshore far from home without having the latest news about how family and friends are holding up under these confusing and troublesome times. But they seem to be holding it together very well and the chief engineer told me with a light smile as if it was a joke that he used to be Ukrainian but due to recent events he is now suddenly Russian. On second thoughts I guess you can’t imagine something like that. How could anyone?

On a much lighter note I should mention that today was spectacular! The weather was on its best behavior and everything around the vessel was a beautiful shade of blue. The sea looked like as if it was made of blue oil and had a fine slick surface with very little disturbance. Perfect conditions for observing dolphins and whales. And I saw plenty of both. In fact two times I saw whales come up to the surface and arch their huge backs followed by the enormous tails being lifted up into the air counter weighing a push down into the deep. It almost looked like slow motion. I probably saw 10 whales today and twice as many dolphins. Later when I enthusiastically told the crane operator he simply replied: “it has become so trivial to us that we hardly notice anymore”. It’s a sad thing – but I figure that it might not be that uncommon for us to loose sight of the wonders around us, both large and small.

Being my last night onboard I sat with the captain on the bridge until midnight. A few times I walked outside as we were moving under a cloudless sky and with no noteworthy interference from light almost every star was visible. Apart from the constant rumble from the ships engine and the sound breaking the water as we move forward it did remind me of being in the desert. Absolutely majestic.

Halifax havn

DAY 12
I was looking forward to the view from the bridge as we approached Halifax. However this morning it was so foggy that the front of the ship almost wasn’t visible. Instead I spent time on finishing the video we had all participated in and I took my time to enjoy the fine company of the many men that I eventually had come to know very well.

As we neared the port the pilot ship came alongside and the pilot boarded the ‘Westerkade’ in order to safely navigate us into Halifax. My bags were packed and I had said my goodbyes to almost everyone when I received information that customs and immigration was running a little late. Eventually they showed up and cleared me only 10 minutes before the ‘Westerkade’ departed for Portland in the USA. Had they not done so then I would have been forced to stay onboard.

The ships agent offered me a ride to the nearby train station and together we left the isolated oceanic world which had been my home over the past 12 days. As I disembarked I did so with a slightly heavy heart.

As Shakespeare has said: “parting is such sweet sorrow”.

Best regards

Torbjørn C. Pedersen – 1000 years to late for being a Viking.

Reblogged from once upon a saga


In the midst of the vortex, every day is the wrong day.

“Come to the event tomorrow!” I say, mirroring a mistake from just yesterday, when tomorrow had been Friday. Wrong. Today in my mind, tomorrow is Saturday – not Tuesday, as it is in the real world. Why is it I keep looking so unreasonably far forward?

I’ve been here for a week. That duration feels arbitrary; it could stretch longer or shorter and this feeling of muted satisfaction would remain the same. It’s the vortex, anyway – a resurging flurry of psychic activity and coincidences; blindsiding, time-tracking confusions.

Four years ago, I met someone. It was the type of interaction that caught fire as soon as we allowed it to, but we had only one date and only one kiss before he scurried off to the Portland airport. He was a writer, seasoned with words and passionate about romance. After he returned to Los Angeles, we lived for naive months in the type of word-bound fantasy writers have idealized for centuries – one filled with over-the-top texts and phone calls to the break of dawn. It was pure scripted indulgence that ultimately proved powerful and life-changing, but its importance was far from what I’d expected.

In-The-Midst-Of-The-Vortex_01

Months into our interactions, we planned a desert rendezvous, set two months in the future. All seemed to steamroll ahead perfectly – until he disappeared one day, after vowing never to do so. And we never spoke again…

… until yesterday, when I found myself in Hollywood, to watch a film at the Arclight Theatre. His coffee shop wasn’t the nearest one with WIFI, but for whatever reason, I made a deliberate decision to sidestep the closest one and unknowingly chose to visit his.

During my long commute to Hollywood, and without invested emotions or real expectation, I wonder offhandedly if I might run into him. I enter the coffee shop. The cashier compliments my iridescent gold scarf when I place my order. And when I receive it, a skinny, dark-haired boy – and boy is the only word I can use to describe him – calls out an order for an Americano. We make eye contact when he slides the drink over to me, and then he immediately dips his head low, like one who’s been hit with a brick. Slithering behind the glass housing of the espresso machines, he vanishes, as though he had never emerged to begin with.

I say his name aloud with an amused scoff-laugh, surprising even myself. We are no more than two feet apart, but separated by a metallic wall just slightly taller than us both, I can’t see him. I sit down.

In-The-Midst-Of-The-Vortex_02

For hours, I debate over what to do. And finally, as I am gearing up to leave, he takes his lunch break and sits at a table near the entrance. I decide to kill him with kindness. I approach and make small talk as though nothing had ever happened. The awkwardness is palpable, the words exchanged dull and pointless. His eye contact runs adrift, constantly sweeping out to sea.

Given all this, I care not to try further. I only wanted to say hi, I explain, and ready myself to leave. He apologizes for being weird and fumbles immediately for his phone. Adrift.

And that is only the beginning of the vortex. Today, I exit my friend’s apartment, which he is subletting from a stranger for a month. I immediately see another friend I’d met a half decade ago in Korea. He’s smoking. We squint and point at each other. I knew he lived in the neighborhood; I didn’t know he lived literally next door.

At the coffee shop, I see my friend from Portland across the room. He doesn’t live in the neighborhood, and he had somehow set down his computer next to mine without either of us realizing it. It’s a vortex – a swirl of coincidences upon coincidences, of magnetic fates and pointing neon arrows buzzing, for reasons thus far unknown.

But I’ve been here before. The best times in my life have been in these vortexes.

In-The-Midst-Of-The-Vortex_03

And so it is that I’m still contemplating such mysteries when she sits down perpendicular to me on the metro, heaving a sigh as she does. She’s wearing a black windbreaker and a watch, middle-aged with a rolling carry-on and glasses perched atop her head.

“Something’s out of whack,” she announces to no one in particular. “Must be the full moon or something.”

Funny – I wouldn’t peg her to believe in that sort of thing; she possesses no woo-woo flair whatsoever. In camaraderie, I mean to ask her if she’s having some sort of day – because I am certainly having one… but I fear the interaction, because mine isn’t negative. And is there even a full moon today?

We pass through the stations, and she stares off with hands clenched, thumbs twiddling. These are moves of impatience, but the reality seems much more complex. She purses her lips and shakes her head slowly and silently to herself – a move time immemorial, denoting circumstances so unbelievable that sifting through them is sluggish at best.

I want to say something, ask something, offer some semblance of comfort.

“I get you, sister,” I want to say in symbols or mental transmissions, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t, really – not today. My high is too high and her low is too low.

As the driver announces overhead that the train is only going to Hollywood and Vine, I realize that I am on the wrong train. And in a day electric with significance – or at least great curiosity, depending on your view of reality – I wonder why I’m here. Am I simply supposed to witness this, witness her? Or is it just me spacing out again?

Too late. The next stop is approaching. No time to think. I brush past the woman, and I have to acknowledge her mood.

“I hope your day gets better,” I say quietly.

“Oh sorry about that,” she responds on auto-pilot, imperceptibly moving her luggage towards her in a butterfly daze.

And I step off, hoping that her processing was slow, but that she will have heard me later.

In-The-Midst-Of-The-Vortex_04


On a Saturday afternoon in April 2015 I read an article about The Real Junk Food Project in Leeds. Having worked in the online travel industry for well over a decade I was becoming increasingly disengaged with working in the private sector. The article really triggered something in me as I love food and cooking and wanted my work to feel ‘real’. After some research I ran upstairs to tell my partner and co-director Rene that I’d found ‘my thing’ and was going to bring The Real Junk Food Project to Sheffield!

realjunkfoodsheffield

I contacted Adam Smith, the founder of the project in Leeds, and set about creating the online presence of the project. Within days it quickly snowballed and I was inundated with offers of help, items donated and enquiries from the local media. Within six weeks of going live with the project we ran our first pop-up with the help of 22 volunteers, my parent’s campervan and a lot of 15 hour days. The response has been and continues to be incredible. People just want to help and it can be very humbling at times, especially coming from a private sector background.

realjunkfoodsheffield

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. Just three days before our first pop-up we went for a walk around the kitchen at the venue we’d hired. Despite being a huge space they only had about 7 forks and 10 plates. We already had 400+ people saying they would attend on Facebook so this discovery was very concerning. After a few tweets and appeals for help, good people of Sheffield came forward with offers of crockery and we went on a mad dash to Costco to purchase cutlery. The Archeology Dept at The University of Sheffield lent us their large stock pans, trays and plates and The Sheffield Mug Co. gave us a big box of slight seconds with our name across them and many households donated items to the cause. Panic over!

realjunkfoodsheffield

The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield has three directors, myself, Jo Hercberg, Rene Meijer and Liam Garcia. Jo left her job to manage the project full time and does so voluntarily whilst we apply for funding. The aims of the project are to educate people on the amount of food wasted whilst giving people the opportunity to eat out and be social regardless of their financial situation. We will continue to run pop-ups across Sheffield whilst looking to secure a permanent space to operate a cafe 5-6 days a week. Our main obstacles at the moment are the logistics of transporting food and equipment to the pop-ups and storage. At the moment we are running it from our small terraced house using a VW Polo, which takes quite some leg work to get things from A to B.

realjunkfoodsheffield

The next surplus food pop-up will be held on Saturday 29th August at The Burton Street Foundation in Hillsborough and meals will be served from 6-8pm and there will be a bar for some Bank Holiday drinks. Hope to see you there!

All photo credits to Jason Ruffell http://www.jason-ruffell.co.uk/

Links:

 

Next pop up event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1410906549238145/

Instagram: @realjunkfoodshef

Email: info@realjunkfoodsheffield.com

Twitter: @realjunkfoodSHF

Web: realjunkfoodsheffield.com

Facebook: realjunkfoodsheffield

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user35563469


I’m Rob Lee; I’m a Graphic Artist and I cover walls with colour.
I’ve been doing this for a relatively short amount of time, although it’s taken me a good few years to get to this stage. I come from a creative family, my dad was very artistic, but his profession was in Structural Engineering.

1.School
This influenced me from an early age. When studying Art at A-level I got into Graphic Design; especially of club flyers and other forms of promotion.
This spurred me on to study Graphic Arts & Design at Leeds Met. It was a great course and allowed a lot of artistic exploration.
I dabbled in Photography, Screen-Printing, Vector Imagery, 2D Animation and in my final year I actually specialised in 3D animation.
2.Uni

Patrick Caulfield Study

I was working with architecture and the shapes and patterns found in buildings, their deconstruction and reconstruction.
Going 3D was a logical progression and I created numerous animations all of abstract objects made out of 100’s of smaller shapes that break apart and rebuild.

3.Uni

Following Uni my aim was to become a 3D Animator but I had so much more to learn on the program that it was hard to find time whilst also earning a living.
I got bored of constantly staring at a computer screen and began to crave a more practical means of expression.

This is when I discovered Stencilling.

6.Stencil

Initially I saw it as a way to make a bit of extra cash, creating Pop-art pieces and selling them on ebay. However the precision required to cut a detailed stencil interested me greatly and I immersed myself in it.

It was through Stencil Art I discovered Street Art and I began the path I am on now.

My style takes influences from the natural and man-made world alike.

Inspired by technology,

architecture,

 

8.Stencil

natural landscapes,

colour, film,

sci-fi,

music

and pretty much anything that catches my eye.

 

 

 

 

I attempt to portray organic forms from technical shapes using contrasting or complementing colours. I developed a simplistic yet technical, graphical style; sticking to strict parameters of perfectly straight lines, curved edges and 45-degree diagonals.

Creating this rigid Manifesto has led to interesting outcomes.

9. FirstMural

I think that one day I will break these guidelines;
but for now I am enjoying where it’s taking me. Since starting out 3 years ago I have completed some great commissions for numerous businesses in Sheffield and London; to name a few, CADS in Sheffield, The Metro Newspaper London, and the one and only Harrods.

HarrodsWEB2

I painted a large external mural celebrating the Tour De France at the time of the event. The route came extremely close to the mural so it gained a lot of attention and praise.

Tour de France sheffield

I have recently completed a full 360 degree optical illusion installation which has been the most challenging project i’ve worked on so far. This was the most intensive use of my other discipline, Perspective Anamorphosis. This is the process of distorting an image so that it requires a single specific viewpoint in order to see the image in full. More on this in another post sometime though.

panic room 2

panic room 3

Just the other day I arrived back from Bristol where I was one of 300 artists who painted at Upfest, Europe’s largest street art festival. A great experience and good practice for future public painting!

image1

Photo credit- Mark Hat

Looking forward;

As well as working on some great commissions I am building up to painting a number of large scale publicly viewable pieces, which will mark the start of my street presence.

When I find time in between all this I will be producing a series of Screen Prints and hand painted pieces.

If you’d like to see what I’m up to;
please follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or visit my website www.roblee.co.uk


In December, a plan amongst a group of friends had arisen to fly out to Iceland in June for the second instalment of secret solstice festival to celebrate two of their 21st’s. After having been before in 2010 and knowing first hand how beautiful the place is, I decided that I’d prefer to stay for a few days longer that my friends after the festival – after all, what’s the point in visiting such an amazing place just for a festival?!

 

The festival was weirdly wonderful and is up there as one of my favourites, but I’m not here to discuss the antics of the weekend…

 

As I was the only one who was going to be staying past Monday I deemed it fit to do something that was both constructive and challenging on a personal level for me but to  also do something that benefited other people at the same time. A two birds one stone kind of thing. So, after a few months pondering what this could be, I came up with a vague plan to minimise expenditure over my extra 3 nights and 4 days and to do something a bit different.

 

This something different was a solo walk from Reykjavik (the capital) to Keflavik (the main airport) whilst incorporating a mountain (Mt Keilir) in the mix – all whilst wild camping and living out of 2 rucksacks to raise money for the charity Roundabout Sheffieldan organisation who supply  housing and life skills to young homeless people aged 16-25 in South Yorkshire – a very valid and legit cause.

 

So, feeling rather light headed after a mixture of working, networking and partying for 3 days straight, I pulled myself out of bed on Monday lunchtime after a few hours kip, packed my bags, said my goodbyes and started walking towards my first target – Mt Keilir. I knew for the most part of the day it was going to be Tarmac roads and it was also the day that I needed to make the most progress out of the 4.

Liam Taylor photography

Shortly after leaving Reykjavik and upon arrival into the next town, I realised there was a few more essentials which I needed before leaving all civilisation: water, food and gas for my stove. All of which I assumed would be available from a petrol station / services.

 

So at the first services I saw I went in, sweating due to the ridiculous amount of stuff I decided to bring, to buy water, cigarettes, food and hopefully gas! The petrol station was pretty poorly equipped so I only left with 3 bottles of water, a 20 pack of camels and a kit Kat chunky. Not the successful stop I had hoped for…

 

Upon leaving the petrol station as I was lugging my stuff past two young Icelandic lads no older than 20/21, they asked if I wanted a ride. I really appreciated the offer but then explained what I was doing and that in my books a lift would be cheating. They were amazed at my plan as well as being slightly concerned at the same time. I asked them if they knew anywhere that sold gas and where I could get a decent bit of meat for dinner, at which point they offered to take me to get gas and dinner and then to bring me back to where we currently were, to which I agreed (and in retrospect in very glad I did as getting gas was a damn sight harder than we’d all anticipated!)

 

So after being driven around by 2 Icelandic teens I’d never met before we eventually found gas and a supermarket where I bought some lamb chops, they returned me to the service station where we’d originally met, wished me luck and saw me off on my way.

 

With an extra 5kgs worth of gas, water, lamb chops and cigarettes weighing me down the walk had just become significantly harder but I couldn’t let this dampen my spirits, this was just the start – on wards and upwards. The glorious sunshine kept me going, as did the kit Kat chunky and lucky charms.

 

As I set back off I was slightly disheartened upon seeing what I had to walk on, a long straight Tarmac road following the coastline surrounded by nothing but factories and lava, oh and a golf course. As I walked over the horizon Keilir revealed herself to me, standing tall and steep, isolated by nothing but huge fields of lava rock and moss. I could see my first objective and it certainly gave me the motivational kick up the arse I needed to keep going.

iceland lava fields 4

Several kilometres, blisters and cigarettes  later I was nearing my turn off point to Keilir, where the journey became an off road mission. It had taken me at least 8 hours to get to this point and was nearing 9pm already.

To begin with the road was like a forestry track in the uk (except without any trees) – it was bearable. After another hour and roughly 4 kilometres later my legs felt like jelly and the road was getting significantly worse underfoot but the mountain was getting closer and closer. I gave myself a target of another hours walking after which I promised myself I would set up camp for the night, eat and rest.

iceland lava fields 3

By the time the food was on the BBQ (I bought one from the services as I didn’t have a pan big enough for the lamb chops I had bought!) I had set up my tent and sat down it was getting close to midnight. It was the darkest I had seen Iceland all week, the sun was low and there were low sitting heavy black clouds above resulting in a strip of pink sky on the horizon above the sea. It was probably the most rewarding meal I have ever cooked and eaten. It had been well and truly worked for.

Liam Taylor photography

After a very rough nights sleep on the side of a “road” camping on lava gravel with only a towel and one side of my sleeping bag as a mattress. I woke at 6am, packed my tent and the rest of my stuff into my bags, took a few photos, had some lucky charms for breakfast then picked up my bags and set off walking. It was so tricky underfoot particularly with the blisters the previous days walking had left me with.

 

Eventually after 2 hours walking along this road I had reached the car park where people stopped to get out and climb the mountain. There was one car there which had passed me whilst walking. I knew the next part was probably going to be the most challenging yet, particularly after several locals at the pub had warned me about the dangers of walking through lava fields over the course of the previous weekend.

 

So I carefully set foot on this path through the middle of a lava field with Keilir looming over it trying to intimidate me. Every footstep had to be carefully chosen, one wrong step and it could have resulted a 128 hours situation.

iceland lava fields 2

iceland lava fields

As I neared the mountain the two ladies who passed me in the car on the track were coming  down Keilir and our paths crossed at the foot of the mountain. They thought i was mental when I explained what I was doing and gave me their remaining water, which wasn’t a lot  but it helped massively, as well as a homemade raisin and cinnamon cookie which was a huge boost in morale (and sugar).

 

Once I reached the top I was ecstatic, I was so proud that I had managed to get this far by myself already within a day. I sat down at the top for 30 minutes and took in the breathtaking view, scouted the surrounding land with my eyes for routes which may not have been on the map, finished the rest of my water and cookie and had a cigarette. I felt so re-energised just from reaching the top and seeing my next target (which wasn’t actually scheduled but that I realised I had time for) – Blue Lagoon.

Water was now my main priority. I knew Blue Lagoon was the nearest civilisation by looking at the map and I felt like rewarding myself and my muscles. There were several streams on the map between Keilir and blue lagoon for which I had steriliser tabs and so I decided that this was my best bet rather than heading back the way I came back into the middle of nowhere with no water. At least this way I could see my target and I knew there was water there if I didn’t find any on the way.

Camping in Iceland

I descended the mountain, returning to collect my bag, at which point I bumped into a fell runner who had just arrived. After explaining what I was doing and how I had no water he then gave me a full 2 litre bottle and wished me luck. If it wasn’t for him I’d be lucky to still be alive.

 

After a good 7 hours hard walking and 2 very close shaves with loose lava boulders and precarious holes I managed to make it to Blue Lagoon in one piece, 2 litres of water later. I was extremely hungry and I needed to relax after what was a very nerve racking day of walking and climbing . So I booked myself an in water massage and had from 5-10.30 to enjoy the delights of this beautiful hot spring before it closed.

 

After leaving Blue Lagoon, I set up my second night’s camp 2km away, in the direction of my final stop – Keflavik airport. This time sleeping on grass and moss – it was a substantially better night’s kip than the previous night’s.

 

Wednesday morning and the start of the last days walking wasn’t as optimistic as I’d anticipated due to the progress I’d made over the previous 2 days and hence I had a lot less ground to cover than originally expected. After 6-7 hours walking I had reached my hotel near the airport, at which point it was time to take some weight off my feet, grab a beer and relax in the hot tub before my early start to catch my flight on Thursday morning.

 

This was such a surreal and eye opening experience which I shall never forget. What’s it taught me? Mainly the importance of water and how vital it is to be well prepared in these kind of situations. It also made me realise how readily available things are in western society, the amount of choice we have and how we take this for granted massively by consuming more than necessary. In turn this made me notice that I lived off very little in comparison to normal back in the uk.

Upon arrival to the airport I bumped into the man who gave me the water on the second day at a cafe and then at border control I happened to go to the  kiosk that the lady who gave me the cookie was working at (purely by coincidence) –  this made me think about how small the world is, how the majority of people have good intentions and are actually really kind by nature. After arriving back in the UK and looking at the map and photos it put everything into perspective. Sometimes life’s not easy, but with enough determination, persistence and initiative you can do anything when you put your mind to it, after all, life’s boring without risk so it’s always worth challenging yourself and pushing your limits, particularly if it benefits other less fortunate people at the same time.

I shall be doing something similar again soon.

 

If you would like to sponsor me for completing the challenge, the page is still open for donations – please visit : https://www.justgiving.com/Liam-Taylor6

 

Photographs have been published on my page: https://www.facebook.com/LiamTImagery