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RUNNING INTO THE UNKNOWN

Peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, apples, lucozade, snickers, water, money, railcard, watch, phone, long sleeve top and my camelbak for it all to go in.

I usually only need a day of doing pretty much nothing before I feel I have to do something that gets the blood pumping and the brain firing. The hip injury I’d picked up somehow back in April has been rested over the last few months and slowly I’ve been pulling the miles back in over the last few weeks. Crossing part of the city to get to the route didn’t take too long, as soon as I was on the trail the chaos of the roads disappeared and my whole brain and body relaxed. The green tunnels began and I put one foot in front of the other and enjoyed the journey.

greenwater

A few days after that run to Winchester along the Itchen way I kept thinking about where else I could go that isn’t in the city, what other trail routes are there close enough to manage in a day? The Test Way popped in my head, as I know it finishes in Totton, which is only a few miles from home and my dad has done it so knows the route. I decided with dad as support to give it a go. 42 miles. What I thought and still think is, if I really want to enter the UTMB, which is over 100 miles with over 30,000 feet of ascent and descent, then I must be able to manage 42 miles at this stage. My thinking is I try and enter the 2017 UTMB, which gives me about 2 years to get ready. Seeing as you need 9 qualifying points to enter from just 3 races means it’s not going to be easy in any way, it’s in fact going to be by far the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted…EVER! I don’t physically and mentally know if it will be possible but it’s something I have to try.

widewinch

So Wednesday it was, after a skinful with friends on the previous Sunday I was glad to be feeling good with the aftermath of tequila, ale, rum and then sausage and chips on a park bench now in the faded distance of my head and stomach. Strangely I was feeling a little nervous as if before a race or gig. I guess the looming distance of near on 50 miles was the culprit of the butterflies. We left at 6.30am and drove to Inkpen in Berkshire where the route starts and or finishes depending on what way you are going. Now I’m not gonna write out the route place by place as to be honest I don’t remember all that sort of stuff very well. I can say though that some of the route was truly beautiful and running through metre high cornfields alone under the British summer sky was a highlight that brought on a wonderful feeling of content and thoughtful loneliness. The route was marked well in some places and not very well in others, in fact it wasn’t marked at all which caused me to add a few miles to the journey. Main roads made me stressed, as nobody really likes running with the traffic. I got lost quite a lot to be honest and getting lost at around 43 miles didn’t add to my tired mood. But then a giant rainbow appeared after a heavy downpour, I could see the start and finish so that helped ease the mind a bit and I had to smile, I didn’t find any gold though. I would have taken a photo but by this time my phone had died due to the battery drain of Strava and GPS tracking my route. I was out of contact for the last 7 miles or so and was slightly relieved to see Dad waiting with the car as I came to the end of the route.

wide angle

I learnt a few things on this run. I had to walk some of the way, which is part and parcel of doing such long distances for someone like me. Only the few elite can run non-stop and those men and woman are true athletes. I was very happy that I did manage to make it running and walking. It was hard at times but for most of the journey I was in a good place in my head, which is the most important thing when it comes to such long distances. The legs will hurt that’s a given but if I can keep my mind at ease then I stand a better chance. As much as I don’t like them, the 2 isotonic gels I took really helped. I couldn’t stomach chocolate very well though, the one snickers made me feel sick. Apples were very good which was something I’d never had before whilst out covering long distances. Having a support team was brilliant and cheers to my Dad for being at the different places with supplies and guidance, I think he’s gonna have to help quite a few more times over the next couple of years.

The legs were stiff for a few days after but nothing more than as if I’d run a road marathon so recovery was good. I burned around 7300 calories and was out there around 10 hours. Burning that many calories and being out there that long, both a first.

A week later whilst on a couple days off on tour I was in Switzerland so thought I’d try and get some miles under the belt up in the hills. I managed 24 miles with not much supplies and a lot of rain. But again I thought in my mind if I cant handle some of these hills then how am I going to handle running though the Alps?? Again my mind was in a good relaxed place and I realise it has to be to achieve what I want to do over the next 2 years.

wideswiss

On returning home from a recent musical jaunt to France and Switzerland I have entered my first 50 mile race along the South Downs Way and will attempt to enter the 100 mile race as well. These are certified qualifying races to enter the 2017 UTMB but they operate on a first come first served limited amount of runners basis. The races aren’t until next year, which gives me time to train and focus. I will have to run more qualifiers to stand a chance and then its potluck if you do get in to the UTMB. It’s one of the most popular trail runs in the world and entry is a lottery (for runners like me). We’ll have to wait and see.

This journey will take some time. Step by step. Onwards.

I am Dave Pen

Watching

BITS OF STUFF

Greetings to you all out there in cyber space land. I’ve have just returned from a very much needed rest of eleven nights on a Greek island, the time spent close to the ocean and in the warm sun was splendid.

Greece

Just before I left I was in the studio with Archive creating some new mad other worldly banging tunes. Prior to this we’d played our first festival of the summer in Germany alongside Mogwai, it’s always a strange feeling when you share a bill with other artists who have inspired you along the way. I wonder if this still happens to lots of other people in my situation? I hope so. The journey home ended up with me sweating it out and staring at a square on the inside of my bunk until my eyes slowly closed over the course of what felt like forty-five minutes.

Shout

The BirdPen latest album has been generating some good reviews and its great to see the LTD Edition versions of the gatefold White Vinyl albums available. Check it out:

White Vinyl

Bird and myself have been back into the studio, which we set up in the surroundings of the New Forest down here in Hampshire to start writing what will be our fourth album. It’s early stages but 9 new songs have been created in the first writing/recording session. We are due back in next month for session number two. No need to speak about what the concepts of the writing are about yet as ‘In The Company Of Imaginary Friends’ is still very fresh in the mind and I’m looking forward to getting out and playing the songs live again this Autumn/Winter.

I’ve been delving back into the twisted tales of the dark sinister minister Mr Jim Jones again lately. I read Deborah Laytons book ‘Seductive Poison’, which is a brilliant haunting insight into the world’s most famous cult leader and his followers of the Peoples Temple. The faiths he was preaching about in the early days were that of a pure world with no fear or hatred and to then end up a paranoid junkie manipulative mad ranting demon bringing the deaths of over 900 men, woman and children just reeks of mad sinister evil. I found a link to the final forty-five minute recordings in Jonestown but couldn’t really bring myself to listen through it all. It all really creeped me out for a Wednesday morning so I went and mowed the lawn instead.

jonestown_gallery_12

We’re back on the road again this week heading back to Germany for the Southside and Hurricane festivals. Always some top acts at these two festivals so will in doubt have a mooch and lend my ears to a few.

Might shove some random poems up on here at some point soon too. I’ve been jotting down rhyming ramblings a lot lately and I should get them off my Phone and up on here.

I don’t blog enough these days either.

I am Dave Pen

SECOND RAMBLE

We are a few more shows in now after I decapitated a snowman in a car park and slept for 18 hours. It’s all going great and we are playing for almost 2 hours a night so the memory is on top form. I’m hungry and sandwiches are on their way for the after gig snack, the pizzas have disappeared, and I guess that’s a good thing, right? I do like a slice now and then though.

………………………

My tired head is awaiting the bus to collect us from the hotel in Hamburg. I need to sleep some more after bringing the rider back to the hotel last night. We avoided the darkness and flashing seedy lights of the reeperbahn and celebrated the shows successes so far and having the next day off back at our hotel. Earlier on in the day Smiley and I walked into a pub full of the walking dead, it was no safe place to watch a football match and the flesh on the people in that place was grey and crawling so we turned and left after five seconds. I wouldn’t have wished this bar on anyone, it was proper grim.

………………………..

Onwards we go enjoying every show with the Germans treating us well with Frankfurt being my favourite crowd for some reason, maybe it was the free box of Maltesers that reminded me of home and the 10 mile run of discovery I did plus Motorstorm for the PS3 for ten Euros from the bargain bin from the Media Mart down the road.

Bunk time television shows have kept me company in the late hours as we’ve been hurtling down the autobahn. I’ve been trying to drown out the insane snoring from the depths of the bunk below me and Fortitude has been a cosy companion for such a freezing snowy show.

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Into Slovakia and its capital Bratislava where an electronic beats festival awaited us. Our first time here and a nice plush hotel was arranged for some r&r time during the day before our 1am headline slot. The hotel was nice but I got right into it with a duff locker in the spa changing rooms and had to get the maintenance men out to wrench it open with a couple of screwdrivers only to realise it wasn’t my locker at all. My key said 62 and Locker 63 wasn’t mine, it was actually 65, I grabbed my T-shirt and bailed for a hotel room bath and a curry feeling a little bit like Kermit.

The gig was cool and full of screens so we got a butchers at what goes on out the front, it was like 2001 a space odyssey and that is a good thing right?

OBEY-BRATISLAVA

Leaving now at 4.09am.

I am Dave Pen

TOUR BLOG 1 – BUNKED

The cosiness of having my own cheap suite in a budget hotel has now gone, the dark comforts of the bunk have set in and I quite like it. So far I’ve avoided anything intoxicating my blood stream, from bud to mud I’ve said no. One Pina colada is all I had, this wont last. I have to be realistic about myself and a day off is looming, I will run before poison though.

The sun has tried a few tired attempts to brighten the skies but has failed and been mulled and jumped on upon by a bunch of dark grey moody rain filled clouds. It sometimes feels like I have TSAD. Today’s view from my bunk window didn’t really fill me with bright up and at them energy.

Bunk View 1

I’m on a new wanna be swanky bus which has a cheap IKEA naff bling vibe to it. Different coloured dimming lights, a TV that comes up from an invisible slot and fills the whole of the front window etc. The light in my bunk doesn’t work and there is no power in there of which to charge devices. We all need devices right? It’s all European so I miss the sturdiness of the 3 fork UK plugs.

We’ve done two shows so far. One was brand new and some of the processors in a computer decided to bail out for a minute or two, which meant Pollard and I had to ramble at the French audience for some time. They weren’t going anywhere and were sometimes as silent as a stone in a vacuum pack. All was well on the other show in the mess fest of Amsterdam until my guitar sounded like a ten-ton ball of electric wire that wrapped my brain and was plugged into the mains. I couldn’t get monitor man Kev who was dressed as a shark to notice my intense loud problem and when he looked he thought my head gesture meant up, so the level went empire state. That didn’t help and by the time we managed to bring it down to the human ear-viewing platform it was too late and my vibe had been dropped like a wedding cake. The nerd in me was coming out and the fact that the show was top didn’t matter. When you are one song away from the end and something goes wrong it can destroy the whole thing. Is that ungrateful or professional?

So far I’ve watched 3 films. Halloween 4, Halloween 5 and Halloween 6. They are all completely mind numbingly terrible. Why am I watching them? I have brought so many good films with me.

Here’s another glamorous bunk photo from being on tour.

Bunk View 2

I am Dave Pen

WE ARE BODIES

Here is the video to the song Capsize, which is the first single taken from the self titled We Are Bodies album from Robin Foster and myself.

Some of the songs were written a while ago, some were written drinking grog, some were written in an abandoned church, some were written in the car and some were written looking at bats from the top window of Robins Studio.

 

Album Tracklisting:

1-Pressure Compressor 2-We are Bodies 3-Calling Out 4-Capsize 5-Shadows 6-A Light On

7-Under The Sea 8-Guide Me Home 9-War 10-Knife 11-Fake Shelter 12-Replicants

We Are Bodies

We Are Bodies Show Date

The Album is out on March 23rd 2015. More news on this project to follow……..

I am Dave Pen

 

The Quest for Mont Blanc Documentary.

Hello everyone I hope everyone is good and well. 2014 was a fantastic year for this great cause for Trekstock and we are truly thankful to everyone that donated, came to an event and helped us with this amazing journey that was The Quest for Mont Blanc. It was a very successful campaign and we couldn’t have raised the money without all of your kind donations along the way.

Attached here is the Documentary that was made during the Quest. Huge thanks go to the team that made this film possible and to our sponsors Bavaria 8.6 and Simond mountaineering.
The Virgin just giving page is still open and will close on February 1st 2015 so if you can spare a couple more notes then please do donate. Link below:
Thank you again to everyone and I wish you all happiness and good vibes for the future. I am Dave Pen

THE LAST HURDLE

On the train heading to the studio up near Cambridge to do some writing and recording. The sun is flickering and flashing through the trees and windows on the train, that’s a certain way to trigger a migraine. I’ve had to put my sunglasses on, I look a bit like a jackal with my black hat, black puffa coat and now black sunglasses, I have no intentions of starting a fire and I’m not carrying anything illegal. I’ve been on a blog lull of late and haven’t entered anything since the big slab of photographic evidence from The Quest for Mont Blanc. That seems far away now but I know she is still there waiting and taking anybody who chooses to attempt to summit and touch the top of her head. So from the open space way up on top of western Europe’s highest point to the crammed stuffy germ filled carriages of trains zooming to the capital of England. Nobody wants to sit next to someone else, including me if I’m honest and I’ve been carrying the lurgy for a few weeks now. Starting from my nose to my head, then my limbs and now my chest, which is just where I didn’t want it to set up phloem camp. Its hit me hard enough to have to cancel my final endurance test of the year which was my first ultra marathon of forty five miles down on the Dorset coast this Saturday. I’m truly gutted, I wanted to sign the year off with a big test and now I cant and it’s made me itchy and irritable. Fuck you germy virus fucks. Get out and don’t come back no more.

I’m not sure why I’ve not blogged of late, maybe I’ve been doing too much and finding the actual time to sit and write out what’s happened seems like a memory slog . A few random past thoughts are – Touring with BirdPen across Europe was like the miles we covered, some were long and slow and some went quickly and I enjoyed most of the ride, a record new zero funds made on the merchandise in Stockholm, a blown tire on the Autobahn, shady Czech traffic cops, horrible Swiss border Nazi’s, tambourine thief’s in Berlin, chocolate cake in Bern, happy faces at the front of the crowd, serious arm crossers at the front of the crowd, nobody at the front of the crowd. Dancing till dawn, coffee and doughnuts, good luck charms, welcoming promoters, backstage invaders, going deaf and vomiting, needing sleep and needing more sleep. The birds will always find the antennas and we will continue to transmit.

I’m on route to the studio to record vocals and guitars for new Archive material, Darius and I spent a day together last week demoing some ideas which I’m exited about, we then spent six hours watching a world war two three part drama and ate lots of food. Perhaps we were fuelling up for the oncoming fuzz marathon of playing live in 2015. Next year will be full on from what I can see and the new album, which is called Restriction, is out January 2015. It will be great to get it out there on the road. So 2015 will bring a whole wedge packed whack of new sounds. I will have three albums out by the end of spring. Archive – Restrictions in January BirdPen – In The Company Of Imaginary Friends in March and We are Bodies in April of which The Kendal mad man Robin Foster and I just mastered this wonderful album in Abbey road. Always a special place to work and topped off nicely by getting to see Underworld perform live straight to Vinyl in Studio one, what a nice way to celebrate finishing the album. Sometimes my job is truly the best job in the world! I don’t know how I’m going to remember all the words I have written though.

Final words and am gonna close this one, I’m DJ’ing with the Manglebird and a bunch of dear friends this Saturday, then off Warsaw and Berlin for Restrictions playback party’s next week. I have to admit I’m gutted my legs wont hurt, guess I’ll open the sets with Road to Nowhere by Talking heads. I am Dave Pen

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