Don’t leave foot health checking till it’s too late!

If I had my way, the NHS would provide routine foot health checks on at least a five yearly basis but trust me when I say it ain’t going to happen! But if it did, so many people that present here at the Mountainfeet shop and clinic wouldn’t have such big and ongoing foot health related issues.

So if we’re not going to get attention on the NHS then what can we do? Well, having your foot health and structure checked by a qualified podiatrist or foot health practitioner doesn’t cost much in the scale of things and can identify early symptoms of many of the problems that affect us in later life. At the very best, we may tell you you’re one of the lucky few who won’t have issues but if so you’ll be in a tiny minority!
Poorly fitting footwear isn’t often solely responsible for deformities such as hallux valgus presentations (bunions) but they can exacerbate the issue in a big way. Often, the best solution we can provide for these problems is to have a good look at the shape, size and structure of the footwear a person uses and advise on replacement accordingly. It’s staggering how few people are actually wearing correctly fitting footwear or have a true idea of their shoe size. The foot changes state structurally through most people’s lives and this needs a good level of understanding in order for the changes not to cause long term joint and connective tissue damage.

So seriously, don’t leave this kind of routine check till tomorrow or when you start suffering. The earlier a problem is identified, the easier it is to prevent it developing into something that can interfere with the enjoyment of daily life.

And just in case you think I’m coming at this from a purely commercial angle, just consider that I’m still providing a free foot health appraisal with every footwear fit I do. No, this is largely because I have foot pain and congenital structural issues myself which could easily have been addressed years ago before they became a permanent and debilitating problem that is limiting my enjoyment of sport…

The Magic Garage…

Lizzie (a muggle cyclist)
I have a wife who’s madly into cycling of all varieties. Sadly, she’s not similarly enthusiastic about the maintenance of the several bikes she uses and relies on a little recognised service known as “The Magic Garage”…

Perhaps you have access to one of these fabulous facilities too? Although little talked about, they’re nevertheless a nationwide phenomena and can be located in the most unlikely places. The common link tends to be that it’s usually a male of the species who is the ‘guardian’ although there are rare exceptions in these extraordinary times I’m told.

The principle of the Magic Garage is straightforward for anyone to comprehend but exactly what happens within must remain a close secret to be taken by guardians to the grave. In essence, one enters the Magic Garage with a sickly or dirty piece of sports kit – in our case it tends to be a bike or in extreme circumstances, an item as big as a sailing dinghy. The door is lowered and the non magical deliverer and usually owner of the kit (a muggle) leaves the facility.

Before…

Some time later (and this depends entirely on the magical level of the guardian), the kit emerges from the Magic Garage, fully restored to its former glory and ready for action and further abuse from the sporting muggle owner.

Though I have taken an oath of secrecy about the inner workings of the Magic Garage, I can reveal that there are three levels of magic that a guardian may be qualified in. The ultimate level is one that I have studied years to attain and is unlikely to be held by anyone under the age of forty. Of course, there are guardians like my friend Mick who studied at British Aerospace’s School of Magical Mechanical Engineering and therefore fast tracked at an early age to top flight magical fixing.
…and after the Magic Garage!
Guardians practising at the beginner or intermediate levels tend to experience problems based on a lack of confidence and often succumb to pressure from their muggle partners to take on magical mechanical tasks which are way beyond them. In these instances, mentoring help can be sought from prestigious magical mechanical training institutions – specialist shops such as Mountainfeet, Surosa Cycles or the Saddleworth Cyclery are just a few examples. Apprentice guardians are usually reluctant to call for help but as one who is older and wiser than most guardians, I most strongly urge them to seek advice from those more qualified than themselves. This will generally save them from self inflicted bloodshed, domestic violence and engaging in dark magical mechanical practices such as the use of hammers or internet forums.
Now the role of the Magic Garage has been publicised, muggle benefactors of the facility may stop taking the service for granted and bestow the respect due to the particular guardian who performs this often thankless magical repair work for them…
Next week: The Magic Laundry Basket…

Turbulent weather and times…

Sat here in a tiny cottage in Wales thanking our lucky stars we decided not to camp this week! Wind or rain or better still, wind and rain have been the overriding feature of our summer holiday so far. But however bad the weather, it can’t eclipse the shocking images we faced yesterday when turning on the TV for the first time in three days.

As a small business owner, I’m used to facing commercial adversity and uncertainty. But I certainly couldn’t see this coming despite dealing with some highly unsavoury characters over the years. But I guess when these lowlifes are marshalled and incited to violence, this is the outcome. Let’s face it, this isn’t a race issue or students making a stand against rising tuition fees. No, this is simply opportunist criminality and mindless violence – a sad indictment of the state our country’s in.

Surely now, it’s time for the pathetic liberalism to end. Bad guys are bad guys in all shapes, colours and sizes and need zero tolerance. I know folk who’ve had a diabolical start in life but they don’t use that as an excuse for antisocial behaviour or to loot and rob. You hear people say the scroats should be sent to Afghanistan to fight with our army but do you seriously think our professional soldiers would want these unreliable, cowardly scumbags on their right and left in a firefight?

No, it’s time us common, working, decent people took some bloody control back. And if the politicians won’t do it, maybe we’ll have to. Not a threat, just an indication that many of us have worked hard and troubled no-one to make a modest living and are rapidly losing faith in our country and our leadership. I love my country – sadly, we have a section of society that are a cancer and need cutting out if they’re not willing to conform to the law.

OK, rant over…!

We’re in the wrong business!

Don’t think anyone works in the outdoor industry to get rich – unless you count the directors of the warehouse style chains who have as much interest in you and your mountaineering aspirations as I do in the ingredients needed to make slug pellets! But how about making £132 for pressing 5 buttons on a keypad? Can we all have a job like that please?

Well, that’s the amount charged by a well known security company to reset our system after a power cut at the shop! And it took TWO engineers to do it… Naturally, we are a little tetchy about this and have politely voiced our displeasure. Have you experienced a similar situation? It seems that while us common folk are tightening our belts to weather the latest financial crisis there are still plenty of greedy snouts in troughs…

Cap the Collie

Cap hiding in the Hostas!

It’s a very sad day today for me and Lizzie – it’s exactly one year since we lost our beautiful Cap. If you’ve not had the privilege to have had a dog like Cap living with you for nearly fifteen years then it’s hard to explain what a void is left when they leave you. Cap was truly my best friend – I spent more time with him than anyone and he travelled with me where ever I went in the UK.

There wasn’t a better fellow for sharing sport with, he’d run for hours alongside a mountain bike, track me from the ground when I was flying my paraglider and climb any mountain I could.

He brought massive character to the shop and people came in just to see him. His settee at Mountainfeet is still there and I couldn’t bear to see it go. Even when enthusiastic children got a bit boisterous with him, he never snapped – in fact I’ve never seen a more tolerant dog.

When you were feeling blue he’d climb on your lap for a hug – you’d soon feel better about things. He wasn’t an attention seeker and he could take or leave being patted or stroked – what he really lived for was being outdoors and active. Which fortunately for him was the same for us!

I remember when he first turned up at our door, an unwanted farm dog from a rescue. An inquisitive black and white face with stick-up ears in front of a skinny body with an incredibly fluffy coat! He looked like a cross between a badger and a husky and I fell in love instantly. Lizzie and I were the luckiest people in the world that day – no way we could know then what quality he was going to bring to the next fifteen years…

Today, I’m sitting here writing this and missing him so much…

Help for Heroes “Join our Ride” Event



Lizzie at the top of Windy Hill



Lizzie and I rode a great bike route last Sunday and helped raise some much needed funds for Help for Heroes into the bargain. Just a shame that not more people attended but I think a lot of folk simply didn’t know about it. I’m mentioning it now so that maybe it’ll be in you head for next year…
The route was seriously hilly and took in some major climbs such as Holme Moss and Windy Hill. I rode with Lizzie and Rick from our supplier company Beyond Hope although Rick got separated half way round and we never saw him again!

I performed as a domestique after that, shepherding Lizzie round and protecting her from the headwind. I even led out the last couple of hundred yards Mark Renshaw style and pulled over to let her beat me by a second!

Anyway, the event website is http://www.joinourride.com/ – stick it in your diary for next year…

Isn’t it ironic?

Back in the IBM days…

It’s ironic really… I quit work with IBM in the nineties to go back to working in sport and yet now I spend more time tapping a keyboard than before! Still, some of the stuff I took on board then is helping me create the Mountainfeet website now so we don’t have to rely on the guys with ponytails to build it!

Just another thought… I left IBM about the same time I started losing my hair – is there a connection I wonder?