Posts Tagged ‘Smooth’

So I was having a think the other night about how in my position as Team Scotland blabberer I could help make all the other participants be more at ease with the task they are about to undertake. I decided the best way to do this was bite the bullet and get down there for a little reccy myself and see what the fuss was all about. So here’s a little video I took of the beautiful scenery we’ll be taking in on our ramble in the brambles:

Play video

The big question is… which one of us is going to be Jon Snow?

Just an interim shout out to some friends and colleagues who have made a difference to this challenge in the last couple of days… A full, and frank mission briefing will be given at 09:00 on Monday morning.

The big man (Gavin) was obviously feeling very generous this week due to the absolutely STUPENDOUS, STONKING AND FANTASMAGORICAL performances that have bestowed Real and Smooth Radio in Scotland this October – as such, he dug deep into his own commission for the month and donated us the princely sum of £100. Thank you so much, makes a huge difference.

Also, massive thanks to Ross Williamson, Vic Paterson, Karen Hodgson, Sue Donaldson, Michelle Hextall, Suzanne Waters, Lisa Wilkinson and Ali Bally Bing Bong for their kind donation to the cause (every single penny counts). If you haven’t already donated… please make it your priority to do so: or text REAL66 £x to 70070

Oh, and all my family and friends too… but this post isn’t really aimed at them!


The guys at CHAS really need your help – they do such amazing work and even a donation of a fiver can make all the difference.

However, that’s not where the good work ends. I would also like to give a huge bit of encouragement to the guys around the country who are raising money for the charities that are so close to their hearts. They are Noah’s Ark Childrens Charity in Wales: When you Wish Upon a Star in the North West: Zoe’s Place in the North East: and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance:

And that leads me on to the next part…

… wait, I’ll have to leave that till Monday – my new equipment for the walk has just arrived from Go Outdoors!


balaclava Crampon Flare Gun goggles pick


So… sent out an email a couple of weeks ago looking for volunteers for the next installment of Michael McIntyre’s stonking ideas story book – and silly me… thought I’d perhaps start with asking the hardy souls that formed Team Scotland on the Five Peaks last time. In no particular order… here’s the response I got.


Lynn Proudfoot: Eehhhhh, I’m sure I’m washing my hair that day.

Karen Hodgson: James (Husband) says I can’t go so I’m not allowed to (*yes Karen, I’m only joking*)

Gerry Burke: Hmm, no. It’s really not my cup of tea.

Then we had James Stephens’ response which I recorded for posterity (PLEASE CLICK ON THE PICTURE OF JAMES FOR THE VIDEO):


Seems as though I was the only one actually up for doing the challenge… I don’t think there’s any coincidence in the fact that I’m getting married in a little under six months though and will do anything to get away from organisation!

So that then led me on to my next trick.

Get everyone bladdered on Tequila at the recent RAJAR night and put a highlighter/crayon in their hand and then masquerade it as a signed testimony on Sunday Morning. This appears to have worked on both Stuart ‘MasterChef’ Stott and Shiona ‘Roving Reporter’ McCallum. Both of which have tried to pull out kicking and screaming at a couple of opportunities – however are both now resigned to the fact that it’s the only way I’ll ever leave them alone (EVER AGAIN).

Team Scotland is now made up of: Myself, James Stephens (in Miami, returns day before challenge), Stuart Stott, Shiona McCallum and the rest are representatives of our charity.


… given the fact that I’m probably the only freak in the entire business that’s actually looking forward to doing this (us White Walkers North of the Wall love the cold) – I guess it now falls upon me to yet again become official Team Scotland blabberer… sorry, blogger-er for the Real and Smooth Six Peaks Challenge.

Up here in Scotland we are raising money for a charity called CHAS: CHAS is a charity that provides the only hospice services in Scotland for children and young people who have life-shortening conditions for which there is no known cure. CHAS runs two children’s hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch, and a home care service called CHAS at Home. – See more at: – I’m sure you’ll all agree, a great cause. We are fortunate enough to be getting joined by 5 others from CHAS and sister organisations who intend to help us out on the way.

But I don’t want to do any of the serious stuff today… I want to do the fun parts. A big shout out to my favourite peakers and bloggers from last time out who I hope will joining us (either physically or in spirit):

Helen ‘Mother Hen’ Walledge: I’m sure Jamie, Callum and I will make huge use out of your cooking skills. Cold sausages ahoy! I’ll provide the Hot Chocolate

Alison McDonald: Wuss. ‘Nuff said 😉

Steve Dunbobbin: You will finish this. You will not moan. You will savour that beer at the end!

Charley Schmarley Dwyer: Shame you can’t go… hope your colleagues chat is half as amusing as your own!

Gemma Mainprize: Dara da da da da… I’m lovin’ it!

Mark Lee: Bet you’re looking forward to not having to share a car with the man that can’t shut up for 4.5hrs!

Caroline Parker: Looking forward to seeing you ther…oh wait, you’re on the wrong side of the fence now! ;o)

Michael McIntyre / Army Man Dan: No excuses about your ‘Knees giving way’ this time ;o)

And many more I haven’t mentioned yet (but I will, don’t worry!)

Above all – let’s just make sure we all push ourselves and each other to get over the line… make some stonking money for our respective charities and then have a few beers to celebrate at the end of the day. You are collectively the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with and I’m really looking forward to having another opportunity to have a get together pre whatever may happen in the near future.

Also, big thanks to Andy and Mark for agreeing to cover the costs of the charity participants in this endeavour – a very warm and welcome gesture and one which I’m sure we’ll all pass on our gratitude for.

Finally – Team Scotland now has it’s own Just Giving page for everyone taking part – please visit our page

or text REAL66 £x to 70070 if you’d prefer.

Note how I’ve changed the title from Team Scotland Blog to Team Five Peaks Challenge? I think we can all now officially say that we were a 46 person strong team that undertook this challenge on Friday. Not the seven from Scotland or however many from all the other centres.

I’m lucky in that I already know quite a few people from Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle – but it was great to finally put faces to the names of a number of others from around the group I hadn’t had the privilege of meeting yet. I’m sure I’m not the only one who took this great positive away from Wasdale Head campsite.

APART that is, from my colleague and friend, James Stephens’ who may very well be cursing me for my lack of help! Not only did I pitch up an hour late and laugh at him and everyone else being like drowned rats from putting the tents up in the rain – I also got up and buggered off 2hrs before him and left him to take down the tent by himself… again, in the pissing rain! Sorry James… pint on it’s way to you soon, I promise!

I’m not going to dwell too much on the ins and outs of the challenge itself, as it’s covered in far better detail elsewhere… I’d rather concentrate on the feats of mental strength and camaraderie that people showed on the day and talk about that – as these to me were the real challenges that some had to overcome.

So let’s start with dinner on Thursday night. I got thrown in at the deep end to a group of 4. Imagine me, Helen Walledge, Jamie Griffiths and Callum Marks trying to make haute cuisine from some pasta, dolmio sauce, frankfurter sausages, sweetcorn and a tin of mushrooms (in brine). In Scotland we would use a certain word to describe the result of our hard work…


IMG_2016 IMG_2017 IMG_2018 Ummm






It got to the stage (particularly after we had wedged a tin open with a pen knife) that Jamie and I were seriously beginning to hatch a plan to kill, skin and slow boil one of the little lambs that were gamboling so playfully nearby. But we decided against it – but only because Helen is a vegetarian. Damn you.

I have to single Helen out for praise as without her I wouldn’t have made it through the challenge. She made my lunch rolls you see. And mighty fine ham and cheese rolls they were too. I was so impressed with her roll making ability, that I even offered to share my hot (tepid) chocolate with her at the top of Scafell pike, and anyone that knows me… knows that I don’t like to share! Thanks Helen 🙂

Next up is Gemma Mainprize. We found ourselves bizarrely whistling and singing the McDonald’s theme tune more than once throughout the day – not entirely sure how this came about – but at one point… going down the third peak, it stopped me from going every so slightly mental. So, durra da da da! I’m lovin’ it Gemma!

I also have to mention the kind soul (whom I cannot remember) who came to my aid with painkillers somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd peaks. Those that don’t know, I’ve had a number of issues with my knee in the past and it can give me some real pain on occasion. I didn’t have any painkillers, and the UTD team weren’t allowed to hand out – so thank you for passing them to me. Probably couldn’t have finished the challenge without them. I have a feeling it was Dan or Alex in the digital team – but as I spent most of the day staring at their footwear I’m not entirely sure. Help me track down the kind soul!

Speaking of the digital team. It was great to meet you all. Dan and Alex – you guys were helpful for the motivation of keeping up – I’m sorry we only got to finally chat in detail in the pub later! Kat… well, it was all going so swimmingly until you beat me at an arm wrestle… I’m not so sure I want to talk to you anymore… sniff. Ha!

But, before I finally say well done to my own team I want to finally name check a few of the guys who made a significant impression on me at the challenge due to their determination and sense of adventure. In no particular order:

Charley Dwyer, Julie Hainsworth, Linda Bailey, Steve Dunbobbin and Michael McIntyre.

You guys in particular inspired me throughout the day. What grit. What determination and well – what a feat! I single you guys out in particular as I know some of you weren’t sure even if you could complete the challenge at certain stages – so I’m so ridiculously proud of you all for doing it.

When it comes to Michael, I’m singling him out because the sod had been pretending he was tired all day – but was in fact keeping a bit in reserve to make sure he crossed the line first in a sprint finish. Hope the cramp wasn’t too bad in the end Michael. And I’m sure you took a huge amount of satisfaction out of pipping Hitler (sorry, Dan) to the finish!

Well done to LP, James, Gerry, Karen and Rob for overcoming the adversity of the challenge and completing it – a huge well done from me.

Last, but not least. Alison McDonald. Poor Aldo. My jumper and shoulder is still wet from all the tears we had at the end when she crossed the line. Her knees were shot, her legs were shot, her emotions were shot. But she went and bloody did it you know. And I think everyone, particularly our own Ewen Cameron should be praising her for a monumentous feat of achievement. To say she’ll be feeling a sense of achievement at this is a massive understatement.

I’ll leave you with some pictures of the challenge and sign off with the fact that, as of this morning, we raised an impressive £11,344.80 for Duchenne Now – an amazing charity, one of which I’d love to fundraise for again.

BUT YOU CAN STILL HELP! Donate via or text RSSC plus your donation to 70070 (i,e. RSSC £10)

You guys. All forty six of you, are absolutely amazing. I wish I could talk about all of you who pushed your own personal boundaries, but I tried to set a 1000 word limit and have already failed! Thank you so much to Laura Mather for coordinating this to make such a great trip for everyone. And also to you, Michael, Rob, LP and Tom from London for making such an entertaining trip back to the campsite from the pub on Friday night!






Two days to go.

Team Scotland are having a great week of preparation. We’re covering off a few hundred miles this last week or two – some have been in London at the Sony’s, some are going to St. Andrew’s for a conference, others have spent time in Wales at the boocamp. Problem is we’ve all been driving, train-ing, plane-ing and taxi-ing. In my case I’ve even been on board (in my head) the Starship Enterprise. It was an entertaining mission which was abruptly finished by my alarm clock on Monday morning. Gah.

Aldo hasn’t written anything since the 6th May

She’s obviously thinking we’ll forget to bundle her into the back of the car for travelling down. I can assure you Alison… we won’t forget. Your dulcet tones on the news report on the way into work in the morning is enough to remind everyone that we need to fold you up and put you in the back.

I’m far from convinced that I’m not going to get a text from LP at some point to say she contracted some form of jungle fever, maybe ebola, whilst in London and of course – the hospital won’t be allowing her out until at least Saturday.

Karen. Haven’t seen her in a while – think maybe she’s navigating her way up K2 as we speak. She’s got all the gear – including a bright orange whistle. Rumour has it she found that whilst on a boozy night out at Gatecrashers in Sheffield. Nice. Is that still there? No? What about Paris? Many a good night had in Sheffield!

Rob’s been coming to work with a bag and weights on his back for practice – I’m hoping he doesn’t accidentally cement his feet to his driveway when leaving to come to work on Thursday morning.

James is the organised one and he’ll be there with bells on. Well he’d better be or myself and Rob will have nowhere to stay and will be kipping in the back of the truck. Might pin a GPS unit to his shirt tomorrow so I can find him at all times.

Gerry will need to be told that it’s not going to be practical for him to be carrying his camera around making a 2hr long documentary about the RSL 5 Peaks Challenge for 2 reasons. A. No one will want to watch it and B. No one will want to watch it.

I’m more organised than I’ve ever been – off to a conference tomorrow and thursday am in St. Andrews- so I’ve had to pack all my gear up tomorrow and load it in the car as I’m leaving tonight!What’s the betting I’ll forget something crucial? Like my hiking shoes… or maybe my bag. I’ve even been to Frankie & Benny’s with Ross Williamson at lunchtime today, I’m right into my training me.

Also like to give a shout out to my chums in Yorkshire who have been doing their bit for the fundraising and been updating us all with some good photo’s and tales of car washing, getting boots sunk in mud and walking 20 miles in a day – well done. Looking forward to catching up with you. Looking forward to seeing my NE pals as well when they come along – if anyone wants to cooperate in the spirit of friendship and teamwork then feel free to give them a wee donation to the cause – I’ve just chucked them a tenner 🙂 

Finally – again – just in case you didn’t know. Team Scotland BATTERED their target last week to join the ranks of London, the Midlands and Wales.


HOWEVER. Being a market analyst – remember I’m eagle eyed. I know who has and hasn’t donated and if you don’t want to run the risk of some scotch bonnets in your tea next time, then feel free to stick a fiver down for the cause: OR text RSSC50 plus your donation to 70070 e.g RSSC50 £10 – if we can’t get to £1400 and help our buddies out I’ll be most disappointed. Please please please help this great cause – if you want to know what it means to some people just look at our page – we had a donation of £100 from someone who lives with Duchenne every day… just because we chose that as a charity. It’s a horrible illness and we are all collectively making the most remarkable of differences to these kids.

Look forward to seeing you all on Thursday, but in the meantime… like and share the hell out of this blog and have a click and follow for:

Steve Dunbobbin:
harley Dwyer:

And any others that you have the time or inclination to read.

Thanks so much 🙂

Stardate 08.05.2013 – see what I did there? (The big boss called me a lanky, geeky so and so* this morning… can’t think why!)

I’m awfully excited about the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness. So much so that I have arranged a “man date” with my buddies on Friday night. This consists of train into the city centre after work – beers, food, more beers, then a 21.30 showing of 2D (none of your 3D nonsense) Trek at the Grosvenor in the West End. For those of you that don’t know – the Grosvenor is an independently run cinema in the heart of Glasgow University territory – you can hire couches and have drinks delivered to your seat! Ideal! Oh, did I mention we might have a few more beers after it? Hmm.

Think that officially means my last weekend of training before the 5 peaks challenge is out of the window… d’oh. I don’t think I’d be exercising much this week anyway. Got a pretty yucky eye injury at my first Cobra’s game of the season on Saturday resulting in my eye ball getting a cut on it and me being unable to wear my contact lenses f or at least a week – sigh. The girls must really love the Harry Potter meets the Walking Dead impression I’m sporting this week!

Anyway, I digress. I’m here to give you an update on Team Scotland. First and foremost we are currently at 73% of target and have raised a nice sum of £775 – with plenty more to go on there. We are having our Team Scotland lunch tomorrow so hope to raise an extra £100 or so quid from that. And a few of us have still to get donations in from family and friends. We’re not worried :o) Again though – the team has been working really hard on this (in particular Rob and LP, gracias) and deserve our thanks and praise at not only their fun(d)-raising efforts but also their determination to do this challenge.

That leads me onto LP. On this blog I’m singling her out in particular for a bit of praise. Not only has she been working her backside off tirelessly for fundraising efforts, she also managed to climb Ben Lomond on Bank Holiday Monday with the minimum of fuss (on the way back down!) after some pretty strong initial resistance. I think my Mr. Motivator-esque techniques have managed to convince her she’s more than capable of doing this challenge. (Actually, I promised her I’d don a multi-coloured leotard and chase her up the damn mountain if she didn’t get her backside in gear!) Anyone who’s a friend of mine on Facebook will know that I’m not shy with these things (see Mankini) and it’s not a pretty sight. Here’s LP & James quite early on in the walk…

…this is definitely worth a caption competition (zoom!). Answers on a postcard to @_keithcrane on Twitter or via email.

Pic 4

Well done LP – you managed to scale a peak that is a mere 2 metres shorter than England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike.

Bank Holiday Monday. What can I say. Ben Lomond must have been the only place in the UK that had completely rotten weather this bank holiday. Whilst you were all basking in the Sun and the beer gardens – we were soaked through and climbing through mud, snow and other assorted nonsense. See a few of the attached images.

We also met an axe murderer on the hill. He gave James and LP a row for straying off the path and a lecture on the delicateness of the wilderness and so on. What we didn’t know at the time was that right behind the ranger was a spade, a bucket, some tarpaulin and what can only be described as a burial ground for unsuspecting walkers who questioned his judgement. (A human sized mound covered in freshly layed turf). No. I’m not kidding. You’re laughing, right?

I wasn’t. Well, maybe manically.

So there you have it. We climbed 3,196ft and we’re all officially confident about the challenge now.

Even Alison got out and climbed Tinto yesterday. You can see details of her jaunt on her own blog, here:

She was doing it on her own so I gave her some advice and my contact number in case she got into difficulties. Here’s a selection of what she said:

“I’m not gonna lie, it seems apt that your number ends in 911..”

“It’s so lovely and peaceful! Although I AM going to die doing this five times over…”

“Removing walking boots at the bottom is almost as satisfying as removing heels after a night out:) ”

I asked whether or not her feet were sorer after the climb or a night out… she told me:

“Hmm, tough to say… head is definitely less sore though!”

There you have it. All 7 members of Team Scotland five peaks are raring to go and are already in the final planning phase for next week. Do we take beer or cider, wine or spirits? Hmmm.

One final thing a massive WELL DONE to the midlands team, in particular Mummy Dunbobbin for having a happy trigger finger and being so generous with the donation. Oi, Mrs Crane, you reading this?? Steve and the team’s blog can be found at 

Charley Dwyer’s amusing anecdotes for Tîm Cymru can also be found here: 

And, this week we have a newcomer to blogging from the North East! Welcome Pete Casci and David Cellini: 

As always, comments appreciated and Retweets enjoyed @_keithcrane

Please donate now if you haven’t done so already.

Or text RSSC50 plus your donation amount to 70070 (i.e. RSSC50 £10)

*so and so used under creative licence

HOMEBUYERS in Scotland spend less of their income on their mortgages than anyone else in Britain, a report has found.


PEAKS AND TROUGHS: In East Ayrshire, which includes towns such as Darvel, mortgage payments account for 15% of disposable earnings. Picture: Angela Catlin

One-fifth of a buyer’s income north of the Border goes on mortgage payments, compared with as much as 38% just five years ago, and the lowest level for a decade.

Those buying a home in Scotland can expect to spend an average of 20% of their disposable income on the mortgage, compared with 35% in London, 24% in the north of England and 25% in Wales.

The Bank of Scotland Affordability Review, published today, found that “affordability” – the measure of mortgage payments as a portion of average after-tax income – was bolstering the housing market.

Nitesh Patel, the bank’s housing economist, said: “The prospect of interest rates remaining at low levels for some time yet is expected to continue to be a key factor supporting the demand for homes, helping to keep house prices around their current level during the remainder of 2012.” However, UK-wide figures also underlined the huge gulf between the real cost of buying and owning a home in Scotland and England. Estate agents believe this disparity is helping to fuel the net immigration from the rest of the UK that drove Scotland’s population to a record high this summer.

Faisal Choudhry of Savills said: “Over the last few years we have seen more and more of our buyers come from outside Scotland – although three-quarters of buyers tend to be local, wherever you are.”

The Bank of Scotland found the 10 council areas where mortgages were the most affordable – compared with local average earnings – were all north of the Border. East Ayrshire was the most “affordable” place in Britain to buy a home, with payments accounting for just 15% of average earnings after tax. It was followed by West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire, where the figure was just over 16%.

Mortgages remain relatively affordable in the most buoyant parts of the market. In Edinburgh, for example, anyone buying a home today could expect to spend one-quarter of their income on mortgage payments – the same as in relatively poor Wales. Aberdeenshire and Perth and Kinross are the least affordable places in Scotland, with new mortgages accounting for 25.7% and 25.2% of average local disposable earnings.

Lower real housing costs in Scotland’s private sector should mean home-owners have more money to spend on other things – helping, in theory, to prop up the failing economy.

Gary Gillespie, the Scottish Government’s chief economist, has suggested this factor should mean Scotland recovers faster from the recession than England, and especially London. Last week The Herald revealed that Scots also have the lowest unsecured debt, on average, in the UK and that many were using any spare income to pay down their mortgages or other debts. Housing market insiders happily acknowledge middle-class home-owners are doing well in Scotland today, arguably much better than those elsewhere in the UK, with plenty of cash left over to spend on boosting their lifestyles or cutting unsecured debt. However, industry-watchers also stress that the affordability figures conceal an awkward truth about the country’s housing market: that it is effectively closed to new entrants. Times are also hard for people who bought bottom-end properties at high prices just before the credit crunch in 2008 – as they often have insufficient equity to move up the ladder. John Boyle, head of research at estate agent Rettie & Co, said: “Housing affordability in Scotland has been boosted by the modest fall in house prices, reduced mortgage rates and an increase in the size of deposits being put down by buyers. “However, the high level of deposit required and restrictions on lending are still making it difficult for people to get on the housing ladder, hence transaction levels remain relatively subdued.”

The Scottish Government last week unveiled a scheme under which 6000 people will be able to get 95% mortgages for new-build homes.

Real Radio Scotland listeners are 36% more likely than the average Scot to have bought or sold a house in the last 12 months – Nearly two thirds of Real Radio Scotland listeners are home owners1 (64%)

96.3 Real XS listeners are 28% more likely than the average Scot to have bought or sold their house in the last 12 months also – 57% of Real XS listeners are home owners2

Smooth Radio Glasgow listeners are 89% more likely than the average Scot to have finished their mortgage payments in the last 12 months – almost three quarters of Smooth Glasgow listeners (74%) are homeowners3.

The Herald – 27.08.12 

Source: GB TGI Radio+, 2012 Q2, Kantar Media, Scotland BARB Region /

1RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB six months ended June 2012 within Real Radio Scotland’s TSA

2RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB six months ended June 2012 within Smooth Radio Glasgow’s TSA

3RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB six months ended June 2012 within 96.3 Rock Radio’s TSA

*96.3 Rock Radio re-launched as 96.3 Real XS Glasgow on Monday 24th October 2011

Comments? Disagreements? Anything to add? Comment here or on twitter @Real_SmoothScot