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By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Running | No Comments »

I’ve known about parkrun for years, but since I’ve never really considered shorter distances my thing, and I tend to like the solitude of running alone with just my thoughts (or maybe a podcast!) I’ve never done one. This week however, my wife mentioned that she would like to give it a try and didn’t really want to go on her own the first time. As it happens, the kids were staying with their grandparents overnight which meant we would be child free on Saturday morning so we signed up and headed off to our local run at Heartlands in Cornwall for a 9am start.

My first parkrunIf you’re somehow unfamiliar, Parkrun is a movement that was started about 15 years ago in the US and how now spread across the glove. With over 1400 regular runs worldwide, it allows runners, joggers and walkers of all ages and abilities to just turn up and run a 5k every Saturday, completely for free. The events are timed, and results are emailed out later that day, and often photos are taken and shared on a social media group. The events are run entirely by volunteers, with the ethos that you “run a few, then volunteer one” and I have to say, I was extremely impressed. It felt very well organised, better in some regards than some of the paid 10k races I used to enter. The course was very well marked and marshalled, the volunteers and the runners were extremely friendly, and the overall vibe was one of positivity and encouragement.

It’s definitely “not a race” – the idea being that it’s very inclusive and the last walker is treated as being just important as the first runner over the line. Having said that, there’s definitely some friendly competition towards the front of the pack, and I overhead the work “personal best” or “PB” many times while runners were chatting before and after the event. I overtook a runner in a spint finish on the final straight, and his reaction was to shout out “You go buddy, finish strong!” and then congratulated me on my finish after we crossed the line. When my wife crossed the line she thanked me to, for getting her out of bed (not a morning person!) and encouraging her to run for the first time in quite a while – all in all, a successful and enjoyable first park run.

Carn Brea Castle

Carn Brea Castle

Now 5k wasn’t going to cut it in terms of distance for my Saturday training schedule, so while my wife jumped in the car to head back for a shower I donned a waterproof jacket and pack and ran back via the carns for a hilly, winding, wet and slippery extra 13km. The thick mist actually cleared as I reached the peak of Carn Brea giving me a great view of the castle and the surrounding countryside including a clear view over to St.Agnes which made me reaslise I’ve never ran from St.Agnes Beacon to Carn Brea or back… will have to work out a route and check the distance on Mapmyrun.com and sort that out!

By the time I got home, my parkrun email had arrived confirming a finish time of 21:48 which put me in 9th place out over 163. Not a bad first time and now I have a goal to beat next time. Checking my data on Strava confirmed what I though which was the first 2 -3 minutes passing slower runners had held me back quite a bit. I’m pretty sure if I start closer to the front next time I could easily get that down under the 21 minute mark, and since I’m doing some speedwork as part of my regular training now anyway, I think a goal of a sub-20 minute 5k/parkrun by the end of the year needs to be added to my list!

If you’ve never done a parkrun before I highly recommend giving it a go. You can sign up for free at www.parkrun.com then all you have to do is print off your barcode and turn up any time you have a free half our on a Saturday morning. We’ll definitely be doing more of them, and I’ll be signing up as an occasional volunteer as well to give something back!

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2020 – an Ultra Year!

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Running | No Comments »

While I’ve had “Complete an ultramarathon” on my list for a long time, 2019 was finally the year I got to cross it off. Wanting to build on that I decided not to sign up for 1 more in 2020, but for 3 of them!

First will be the Cousin Jack Ultra in February. An out and back on the Cornish coast path, starting and finishing at St.Ives with the turnaround at Cape Cornwall for a total of 35 miles. It will be the most exposed route I’ve done so far, and with a night time start the first couple of hours will be done in the dark with a head torch. I’ve been running with a head torch for years so that doesn’t bother me, but I don’t usually run on the coast path in the dark so I want to get some practice in before the event.

Next up is the Classic Quarter. This was actually one of the events that originally peaked my interest in ultra running. It starts at Lizard Point (the most southerly part of mainland UK) and follows the coast path for 44 miles to finish at Land’s End (the most westerly part). It’s a step up from my longest run so far which was 40 miles, is perfectly timed as a “training run” for event 3 of the year, and will likely bring back memories of rolling into Land’s End back in 2003 when I cycled the length of the UK from John O’Goats to Land’s End in 11 days. This one is in early June which builds perfectly into event 3…

The Plague! Part of the Roseland August Trail (RAT) running festival, last year I ran the Red Rat (20 miles) this time I’m skipping past the Black Rat 32 mile option and going straight to the 64 mile (100km) run. Starting at Porthpean (where all RAT runs including the red I ran last year) finish, it’s another out and back this time following a very jagged stretch of coastline south to St.Anthony’s Head and back. It starts at midnight so will be quite a few hours of running in the dark, and is a significant increase in distance so I need to be well prepared.

So – 35 miles, 44 miles, 64 miles, seems like a nice solid progression! I have to admit the thought of the 100k still makes me nervous, but that’s half the point isn’t it… if it was easy there would be no point. Competing my first ultra last year gives me confidence, and hopefully completing both the Cousin Jack and Classic Quarter in turn will only build that confidence further. I have what I think is a solid training plan in place (which will no doubt go out the window once or twice along the way when life throws spanners in the work) and I’m raring to go… let’s do 2020!

This is a fantastic short film about a runner’s first entry to the plague. I’ve already watched it twice, no doubt I’ll watch it a couple more times before the event it both gives me confience I can do it, and reminds me how tough it will be at the same time!

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Game Development Portfolio

By ActionGeek. Posted in Geek | No Comments »

I registered the domain name billydeakin.com several years ago, mostly to prevent anyone else grabbing it, but have never done anything with it. I finally decided it was about time I put it to use, and decided to build a portfolio site there to serve several purposes. Firstly I wanted an online portfolio to show off some of the projects I’ve worked on over the years which consolidated projects I’ve done through my work with Art Of Play Games, and clients I’ve worked with via Kernow Web Designs, but also somewhere to show off some personal and side projects. Secondly, it gave me an excuse to learn the basics of Bootstrap which I’ve never really tinkered with before.

Billy Deakin Gamedev Portfolio

Games for TMNT, Lidl, Spiderman, Invader Zim and more!

Kidscreen award 2017 for Spongebob : Code a CharacterLike many of my sites, I suspect this one will be a perpetual work in progress which I update from time to time, but over the past week I’ve installed Bootstrap and a base theme, added sections for my portfolio skills, awards, and clients along with a resume and contact form, and added a handful of pages for various games I’ve worked on in recent years. It was actually quite hard to decide which projects to showcase, it’s not until you sit down and look back that you realise how much work gets done each year and I actually had a list of over 100 games projects from the last few years to chose from. I’ve picked a few to showcase different platforms, different brands and clients, and also different game genres which I hope shows off my breadth of experience. I also picked specific projects which got awards or nominations (everyone likes a nice shiny trophy!)

While I was at it, I also brushed up my LinkedIn profile. So now there’s no excuse, if you want to hire me for your next killer game please give me a shout!

Client logos

Some of the clients I've been lucky enough to work with

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My First Ultramarathon

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Running, The List | No Comments »

I first heard about ultra-running over 10 years ago when I caught part of a documentary on TV which mentioned Dean Karnazes. I grabbed a copy of his book Ultramarathon Man from Amazon and was fascinated. I’ve been running occasional 10Ks for years and had a couple of half marathons and one full marathon under my belt, but the idea of running further than 26.2 miles seemed crazy. I had trained for months to run my first (and at that time only) marathon, the Edinburgh marathon in 2005, and it chewed me up and spat me out. The first half of the race was fine, but it got progressively harder and the last few miles felt like torture. I remember quite clearly telling my sister at the finish line that I would never run a marathon again!

I really had no intention of running a marathon again at that stage, but something about the idea of running an ultra marathon appealed, so I stuck it on my “something I’d like to do one-day” list and half forgot about it.

Over the next decade, my running was very sporadic at best. I bought a house, got married, started a business… basically life got in the way. It wasn’t until 10 years later when I got back into martial arts and realised my fitness wasn’t what it used to be that I started running regularly again, and even then it was just a short run a couple of times a week.

Fast forward to 2018 and my interest in ultrarunning popped its head up again. A few documentaries about running on Netflix got me interested, then I read Scott Jurek’s North about running the Appalachian Trail. I started building up the length of a long run at the weekend, and most importantly found that I was enjoying it… maybe I could give this ultra thing a shot.

In spring 2019 I started looking around for a suitable event. It had been years since I’d even ran a half marathon so I decided to start out slowly. There was a half marathon trail race just a few miles from home in July – perfect. I signed up, and started to train. On race day I got up nice and early, ate some breakfast and got kitted up, and my wife and I started bundling the kids into the car so she could drop me at the start line… but our 2 year old had other plans – there was NO WAY he was getting into the car or being strapped into a car seat. We spent a good 2 minutes in the pouring rain trying everything from bribery to brute force, but he was having none of it, so rather dejected we went back into the house. I could drive myself, but since it was a point to point race I’d then be 13 miles away from the car with no way of getting home, so I did the only logical thing. I opened the front door and started running, and simply ran 13.1 miles on my own. It was the furthest I had ran in years, and unlike the organised half I was supposed to be doing, there were no other runners to pace myself against, no water stations, no marshalls to give encouragement… but I ran my own little half marathon and that evening, feeling rather pleased with myself, I sat down at my computer to search for a longer event. An ultra marathon seemed like a stretch at this point, but I found a 20 mile trail run in about 6 weeks time – perfect! I signed up for the “Red RAT” and carried on training.

I was more than a little nervous by the time race day came. For a start, I’d been Googling the RAT and had found a number of Youtube videos and blog posts, all almost unanimous in the exclamations about how tough it was. “Those bloody steps go on forever” and words to that effect seemed to be a common turn of phrase. I wondered if I had trained enough. Adding to my nerves was the weather – a severe weather warning issued by the MET with winds of 45 MPG which, considering we would be running on the very exposed Cornish cliff path, was slightly worrying. I need not have worried about the wind – it was certainly blustery and I had to hold on to my cap several times to avoid losing it to the English channel, but otherwise the weather wasn’t too much of a problem. I can’t say the same about “those bloody steps” though! The first half of the run led me into a false sense of security – I was feeling strong and probably going faster than I should have. The steps, however, are mostly in the last 8 miles or so, and they do go on, and on, seemingly forever! By mile 17 I was getting cramps in my quads and calves, and feeling exhausted. By the final half mile I really was running on empty, and felt utterly beaten as I crossed the finish line. I collected my finisher’s medal, made a quick call home to my wife (who was concerned about the high winds) and then limped back to the car to drive home. I was in quite a bit of pain for the next 2 – 3 days and all I could think of was the fact that I couldn’t have gone another mile, let alone another 10 to make it an ultra distance… so by midweek I did the only sensible thing, I signed up for one anyway. But not a 30 miler… in for a penny in for a pound so I signed up for a 40 miler!

I had decided that at least part of my problem with cramps was probably due to my nutrition. I was only drinking water, and eaten a couple of cereal bars. I’d also started off too fast for the first few miles, and massively underestimated those hills and steps. I once again revised my training, started experimenting/practicing with nutrition on my longer training runs, and started integrating more hills into my training. This time I had about 8 weeks to go, and my longest training run was around 24 miles – I felt better at the end of that then I had at the end of the 20 mile RAT, but I still felt like I was done by the end, I could have slogged out another mile or two but never another 16.

Race day arrived, I once again had an early breakfast and got dropped to the event without any issues. It was a point to point race this time on the north Cornish coast path starting at Newquay’s Fistral Beach and ending near Hayle. I’d be attempting to run almost twice as far as I’d ever ran before, and I had no idea if I could do it, but I had no intention of quitting. My plan was simple – keep the pace slow at the start, eat regularly and take on plenty of electrolytes… and don’t stop until I reach the end!

I “dibbed in” to activate my timing chip and I was off. Slowly and steady does it. I wasn’t wearing a watch so I simply ran at a pace that felt easy, and it was lovely. The weather was cool and damp but nothing bad, the sea spray over the north cliffs reminded me of boing a child going fishing at Mevagissey and playing in the rockpools at Trevelace and Trevanuance. Those early miles seemed to pass by with ease but I was geld to reach the first checkpoint at Perranporth. I had just about finished my drink which is exactly what I had planned so I felt like I was on target, and now I could stock up and push on. That’s when the marshall told me I was in 9th place – oh crap, I had started out too fast! I did not want a repeat of the RAT so I edged the pace back even further. By the next checkpoint at Chapelporth I was in 12th, still further ahead than I had planned (I had planned to be somewhere near the back) but I had now ran about the distance of the RAT and while I felt tired, I felt like I would make it to the end.

My first ultramarathon FinishPortreath was the next stop. Now I was getting tired. 16 miles or so to go, and from this point on I was much less familiar with the coast path so I took advantage of the aid station and sat down for 5 minutes with a coffee and a cheese sandwich. My legs didn’t really want to get going again, but I couldn’t risk stopping for any longer than 5 minutes and cooling down too much so I headed back up out of Portreath towards Godrevy. As I was running up towards North Cliffs a young couple walking the other way stopped me to ask what the event was as they had obviously already passed several runners. When I explained we were running 40 miles from Fistral to Hayle along the coast path their reaction was incredible – both of them wanted to shake my hand and cheered me on up the hill, that gave me the boost I needed to climb up onto the north cliffs and then started the longest slog of the run that long, relatively flat section of coast seemed to drag on forever, but eventually I made it to the final aid station at Godrevy. At this point I knew I’d make it to the end – I “only” had to run through the dunes and along the beach at Gwithian, round the corner and back up the hill to the finish at the St.Ives Holiday Park. The weather started to take a turn for the worse as I headed down onto the sand and then the dunes went one… for EVER! The rain and mist meant the visibility was really poor and the sand sapped what little energy I had left in my legs, but eventually, I did make it to the Hayle estuary which meant the dunes were behind me, and it was just a short stretch up the hill to the finish line. I actually met another runner at that point (first I had seen in quite some time) who was lost and checking their map. I showed him where we were, and we ran together for a while. Turns out it was his first ultra as well (we’re pretty sure we were the only 2 newbies on the run!) but he was struggling at this point. After a mile or so he excused himself to head into the bushes to relieve himself, though I suspect he just needed a breather. I had however somehow found some extra energy, no doubt from knowing how close to the finish I was, and powered on the last half mile to so up the hill to the finish. My dad was waiting for me at the finish line as he had kindly agreed to drive me home (didn’t seem like a good idea to drive myself on such tired legs!) and it was great to see him and shake his hand as I finished my longest run to date.

I was definitely tired but felt nowhere near as bad as I had just a few weeks previously running half the distance. Could I have gone on for another 10 miles? Yes, I think I probably could if I had to!

Now, the sensible thing to do at this point would be to cross ultramarathon off my list. However, there’s unfinished business! The 20 mile RAT is only one of the distances offered at that event, there’s also a 32 mile and a 64 mile (100km) version, so… I’ve signed up for 35 miler in February, then I have my eye on the Classic Quarter (44 miles from Lizard Point to Land’s End) in June, leading up to the RAT Plague (100Km) in August! Maybe if I manage to complete that one I can tick ultramarathon of my list for good (or maybe not)

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For many years I’ve had “Create an app that gets 1million+ downloads” on My List and while this doesn’t tick that item off, its at least a step in the right direction… let me explain!

I’ve developed many (well into 3 figures and counting) games over the past decade and a half, which have been published on various platforms. I’ve never had a big break away success though. About 18 months ago my business partner at Art Of Play Games and I became aware of an emerging platform which was growing rapidly: Facebook Instant Games. The idea of Instant Games (IG) is that they are small, usually hyper casual, games which are highly optimised for almost instant loading, and streamed straight from the platform to be played within either the Facebook or Messenger app without requiring a download.

Since the App stores these days are incredibly crowded, and since the vast majority of the games we were seeing on the platform were much lower quality than our own, we decided to invest some time building content to test the platform. The first small game we produced was Battle Bike 3D, a simple steampunk themed arcade game which got played more than 250,000 times in the first three months with virtually no promotion. Not quite the “1 million downloads” but still impressive and enough to validate the platform.

Since then we’ve developed several other small games including General Joyride, Dragon vs Vikings, and a halloween themed game called Curse of the Candy.

I’m not crossing the million downloads off my list yet, in fact we have a couple of projects on the go for launch in 2020 which are much more in depth games for more traditional gaming platforms which I’m quite excited about, but it’s nice to see thousands of people playing and enjoying our games, and leaving positive reviews and feedback!

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Becoming a (geek) dad

By ActionGeek. Posted in Geek | No Comments »

You’d think that 9 months would be plenty of time to get used to the idea that you’re going to be a parent. It isn’t!

At least it wasn’t for me, though I don’t think any amount of time would have done the trick. Despite spending a ton of time thinking about being a parent, reading books, researching online, going to ante-natal classes etc. the reality of it didn’t really sink in until a few moments after the birth when I was holding my new son in my arms and wondering what the heck do I do now!

Those first few weeks were a blur, not least because we were in and out of hospital several times each week due to some initial health concerns (which thankfully sorted themselves out after the first month) but after that things started to settle down. We started to get into a routine, I started to get some work done again (programming isn’t something which comes easily with high stress levels, very little street, and a brain which is feedling completely befuddled – at least not for me!) and my thoughts were at least able to focus slightly further into the future than the current crying fit, or the next nappy change.

Now almost 2 months in, and I’m actually really enjoying being a dad. The cliche that you don’t understand what it’s like until you do it really does seem to be the case here, and I’m both enjoying the time spent with the little guy now while also looking forward to all the fun and adventures to be had in the coming years – teaching him to read, playing with Lego and scalextric, riding bikes, going fishing, building camp fires, and all the thousands of other things big and small.

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot is learning. What will I be able to teach him as he develops, and what skills and knowledge would I like to be able to teach him but I’m lacking. Art is one thing which sprung to mind – I’ve never been very good at drawing/painting and so I’m going to try and address that. I don’t ever expect to be a great artist, but I’d like some basic drawing skills to be able to pass on. Music is another – I can knock out a few chords on a guitar or a ukelele but I’ve never learned to read music notation very well and I’ve always wanted to learn to play piano but have never got around to it. Now I have an additional reason to put in the effort to learn, so I can later teach, so playing piano and learning to draw to a reasonable standard are now on my list.

No doubt there will be many, many more things to add to the list now over the next few years – but for now I can focus on learning to draw, whilst perfecting my nappy changing technique ;)

BTW – there are SO MANY cool projects to do, things to build, and adventures to be had with kids detailed on various blogs and sites which I’d never seen until recently. From Star Wars inspired bunk beds to sub-orbital weather balloon camera systems, amazing tree houses, and everything in between… to epic adventures! Maybe I should have had kids years ago ;)

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Last weekend I was asked to give a short speech at our martial arts club’s annual awards night.  I had just completed my 3rd gup grading, my most gruelling grading to date, and with a stinking cold it was a true battle.  Normally I strive for the best I possibly can be in a grading, but feeling as rough as I did I had a different game plan to usual – head down, grit my teeth and simply get through it.  My thinking was, get it out of the way and then I can go home, have a Lemsip and chill on the sofa for the afternoon playing some Xbox – after all, I had earned it!

No such luck!  As I was leaving the grading venue, Master James asked me if I would please give a short speech at the awards night in a few hours time.  So much for Xbox, the afternoon would now be spent pacing the living room thinking about what I was going to say…

Public speaking has never come easily to me, in fact for most of my life it has been something I feared and actively avoided at all costs.  For my communications A-level I had to give a small presentation (to only 3 people!) as part of my final exam, and I was so nervous that I sat in the college refectory drinking vodka out of a coffee flask to try and calm my nerves!  However, over the years I have become less intimidated, and to a degree more interested in the art of public speaking.  I put that down primarily to one thing.  In my late twenties, I became involved with a network marketing business which I ran for about 5 years.  At first I despised the fact that it involved a certain amount of public speaking (from sharing ideas and teaching the business to individuals and small groups, to giving live webinars, and standing up and giving presentations to a room filled with hundreds of business people) but over time it forced me out of my comfort zone and taught me valuable skills.  In fact, while there are many things that I disliked about that business, I’m very grateful that I was involved with it due to that education and experience.

After not being involved with a business like that for several years now (in my primary business as a game developer I can go weeks or even months without even meeting with a single client – unless Skype meetings count!) it seems that my martial arts are taking up the mantle of forcing me out of that particular comfort zone.  Not only am I now being asked to speak, but I’m also being given the opportunity to teach – I recently began helping out as an assistant instructor for the kid’s karate class one evening a week.  And once again, just as with my old network marketing business, I’m thankful for the opportunity even though it makes me a little uncomfortable… but I guess that’s why they call it a comfort zone!

By all accounts my short talk at the awards night was well received, and week on week I’m learning and gaining experience teaching the kids.  As a mentor I had during my network marketing days was fond of saying – the one who gets the most out of any meeting is the one standing at the front of the room, and I truly believe that – you really do learn more from teaching than you do from being taught to, because in order to teach or speak you need to truly understand and so it forces you to think on a deeper level, and grow as a person.

So once again, my martial arts study has proven to be so much more than simply learning to punch and kick.  People often ask me why I train (why would you give up 3 or 4 evenings a week and £50 a month to be bruised and battered and occasionally injured, to do hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups and all manner of other torturous exercises, and every few months go through a gruelling grading just for the privilege of tying a different coloured belt around your waist?)  The answers of course are many… to keep fit, as a break and contrast from the sedentary work of sitting in front of a computer all day, for the fun of training and learning, and the excitement of competing, for the friendships you form by training hard together… the list goes on.  Now it seems that another item can be added to that list – to once again have something to drive me to improve my public speaking and teaching, skills that are both valuable and rewarding, yet without my martial arts I would not currently require or have an opportunity to practice.  Once again, martial arts is enriching my life, and making me grow as a person in new ways.

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By admin. Posted in Action/Geek | No Comments »

I’ve decided to start blogging here again, after an unbelievably long break.

Why? Several reasons, but basically for the same reasons I started this blog in the first place – to focus on my personal goals, to get my thoughts straight, and as a record of where my life is and where it’s going. This time though I intend to do things a little differently.

Firstly, I started this blog for me and never really intended many people to read it. However, when I started reading about blogging and talking to other bloggers on social media I kept seeing the same “helpful” information everywhere. People told me to “write for an audience”, and focus on visitors, and most of all to add advertising like Google Adsense. Well, I’m just not interested in any of that so this time I’m doing it my way. I’ve removed all advertising from the site, and I’ll be writing what I want to write not what I think people want to read!

There are several reasons I want to do this now, but the biggest one is that my wife and I are expecting our first son in just 3 months time. I’m filled with a mixture of excitement and terror at the prospects of being responsible for another human being, bringing him into a scary and confusing world, and being a father. I know my life is going to change dramatically over the coming months and years, and I think that writing will be a great way to both get my thoughts in order and also to keep a record of our lives which I can later share with him.

I recently read an article about a concept called 750 words. The idea being that writing, every day, can be really beneficial. I already write, in fact I’ve written and published a book in the past, and over the years have written countless articles for web sites and magazines, but I’ve never really stuck to a structured schedule of writing every day.  I’ve looked into it, and there are countless books, web sites and articles saying basically the same thing – writing every day can bring a wealth of benefits, and the “magic number” for most people seems to be about 750 words (Stephen King apparently says he writes 1500 words every day and cites that as the secret to his success!). I’m not planning on writing on this blog every day. In fact, I’ve already been putting this idea into practice over the past couple of weeks, writing articles on a couple of other non-personal sites that I manage, and putting ideas down for a future book (about arachnophobia), but I think that adding some personal writing into the mix will be of benefit and also allow me to get my 750 words done on days when I don’t feel like writing on specific topics for those other projects.

I do have a bunch of ideas for things I want to talk about on here, from my hobbies and interests (martial arts, books, game design, cooking…) to the process of becoming a father, and things I learn about in my day to day life from reading books and sites, listening to podcasts, or simply living.

Will this blog dry up again in a few months, or will I still be posting here in 10 years? I have no idea, but for now I intend to post here regularly and see how things go.

Billy – The “now blogging again” Geek ;)

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I never really knew either of my grandfathers, as they both died when I was very young. I’ve heard stories of course, but it wasn’t until this week that I realised the scope of some of them!

My maternal grandfather, Les Turner, was an engineer and I knew he was very talented. He built a number of guitars (two of which I own, that was the primary reason I learned to play) but among other things I had heard stories that back in the 1960s he had built and raced a dragster. I always assumed it was just a little hobby, but after speaking with my older sister and doing a little research I discovered that it was more than that – he took his racing very seriously, and was very successful – winning a number of events and setting new records. It seems he was a skilled engineer in his workshop, and a fearless and competitive racer on the track so I guess being an action geek runs in the family!

This is a photograph of him from 1966, next to his 1500cc Ford Slingshot which set the following records at Elvington:

International standing-start records at Elvington in 1967 in Class F:

1/4 mile in 11.06 sec. // 500m in 12.53 sec. // Kilo in 20.2 sec. // Mile in 29.62 sec.

He raced and tweaked it over several years, constantly trying to squeeze every last drop of power from it, and apparently getting a lot of respect from other builders and racers with one report stating it was “one of the best turned out cars of that era with green frame and alloy panels”.

The workmanship and build quality was so good in fact that though the car was broken up in the 1970s, the engine block was reused in another car which raced until the mid 1980s and the chassis was reused and raced well into the 1990s (and apparently is now in a collection in Denmark)

The following is an except I found on a site about classic british drag racing:

Jon Sewell purchased the car in the late 1970’s and was so impressed by Turner’s superb block work with its billet steel crank and rods, flywheel and sintered clutch in a Lotus alloy bellhousing, and an Lotus alloy diff. — that Jon realized this could be a terrific National Hot Rod motor, and it went into his #222 hot rod which he took the the Spedeworth wars racing against the likes of George Polley.

The Turner rail had been one of two dragsters being stored for a friend as a favour in Jon’s “garage”, until 1979 when Jon moved out. At this point his friend took away the blower [above] and cylinder head. The chassis, temporarily stored in Addlestone, Surrey, was bought by some enthusiasts who had a car but no trailer — so they pushed it by hand all five miles Woking

Jon says the dragster “was a work of art, even the bellhousing and diff were polished”. As for the engine, he bored it out to 1600cc and fitted the necessary cross-flow head and flat top pistons. “It was so oversquare it would rev as high as you wanted but had no torque.”

Here’s a shot of it in action:

Finally, here’s a photo of him riding his 750cc Triumph drag bike in 1969:

So nice to know that being an action geek is in my blood ;)

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Tang Soo!

By ActionGeek. Posted in Martial Arts | No Comments »

It’s been a looooong time since I did any martial arts. Well over 15 years in fact, since the Taekwondo club I was training with closed their doors, and I decided not to look for an alternative. I’d become rather disillusioned with it, increasingly feeling like the instructors at that club were merely going through the motions and not taking it seriously. I remember on more than one occasion asking a question about the application of a technique, and being told that “I don’t need to know the answer to that for my grading” – as if passing the next grading was the only thing that mattered!

So when that club closed down, I decided not to join another but instead went to a Thai boxing gym with a friend who had trained under Master Sken in Manchester. Unfortunately I aggravated an old knee injury within a few weeks that stopped me being able to train and took many months to heal. Then I ended up going travelling, and then started my business… and so that was the end of my martial arts… until now!

I’ve often thought about getting back into martial arts, but always seemed to be too busy with other things to get out there and look for a suitable club. Then I went on our usual snowboarding trip in February, and met AJ – a friend of a friend who happens to be a second Dan in Tang Soo Do who trains at a local club. We got chatting, and very quickly I wanted to try it. That was a couple of months ago now, and I’ve not been disappointed. Tang Soo Do wasn’t an art I’d heard much about before, but I’m really glad to have found out about it, and specifically about ISK Martial Arts – not only is the club extremely friendly (and very well equipped – by far the best dojang I’ve ever been in!) but they take it seriously! They like to train hard, and take all aspects of the art seriously which s awesome. I’ve only been to a few sessions so far, but every time it’s ended sooner than I was expecting (time flies when you’re having fun I guess!) despite my body feeling battered the next day. In fact, I’ve only been going to one class a week because it’s been taking me a full 7 days to recover each time, but this week I intend to do 2 sessions because I’m absolutely loving it.

Feels so good to be learning a martial art again – can’t wait for the next session tomorrow night!

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