Beard care products

When I first started to grow my beard a bit longer I never used to use any beard products, although there weren’t too many on the market at the time. I used to shampoo my beard after swimming, but that was about it. When I went to my first beard competition I was given a goody bag containing a couple of beard oils and balms. As my beard became more of a statement relations would give me beard care products for Christmas or Birthday, and then I received yet more goodies at the British Beard and Mustache Championships (BBMC) (read about it here). What I’m trying to say in a round-a-bout way is that I have very rarely bought stuff for my beard. The one exception was buying a taster pack of beard balm from Fine Fettle, which is great stuff.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to look after my beard a little better, and because I didn’t go to the 2018 BBMC I’ve run out. I therefore have had to buy some care products for my beard. So, what do I use?

Firstly, the bad stuff. You can buy some cheap stuff at Boots. Don’t, it’s not very good. I’ve also found the stuff from Lush not to my liking either.

The good stuff! One of the free samples I had was from the Bedfordshire Beard Co. My wife really likes the smell, which is reminiscent of liquorice torpedoes.


It’s quite firm so I only use it when my beard is wet, and I have to rub it between my palms for a while to get it soft enough to apply, but as I said earlier, my wife really likes the smell.

The name of my blog might suggest that I do triathlons, and swimming does make a mess of my beard. After a swim I have taken to using Braw Beard wash and oil.


This stuff is good, especially the beard wash. After using it my beard is soft, manageable and feels great, and the oil keeps it soft all day. The oil has a delicate smell and isn’t overpowering, and the beard wash is so good that I only use it every couple of days. I always used to only use beard oil if my beard was dry and balm if it was wet, but Braw Beards suggest using their oil when the beard is wet. Conversely, Fine Fettle suggest using their balm when your beard is dry.


This is a new flavour, but I really like it. Fine Fettle is very soft and a little bit sticky, very different from most balms, and it acts almost like a gel, holding the shape of your beard. I’ve tried using this when my beard is both wet and dry, and it works great either way.

These are the three brands that I currently use. They all help me to look after my beard and are of exceptional quality, although I’m always happy to try out free samples, hint, hint.

Male Suicide Prevention

Last night I watched a BBC Horizon documentary on male suicide. It had interviews with survivors, relations, charities and emergency services. Most terrifying was the statistic that suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 50, not car accidents or cancer. A few months ago a member of the local triathlon club took his own life. He wasn’t a good friend, as we didn’t see eye to eye on many things, and had had a couple of arguments over dangerous cycling or swearing in cafes. That is beside the point, it shocked me when I found out that he was gone, and it shocked a lot of people in the tri club.

I’ve suffered some very dark days myself, at school and in my early 20’s where I struggled to see the point of everything or anything. Most recently these feeling returned when I was at Uni, less than ten years ago. I didn’t talk to anyone and tried to work things out for myself, but as the documentary mentioned, you’re never really cured.

There are many reasons for suicide, relationship breakdowns or losing your job are the most common, for others it might be the feeling of complete loneliness or that nobody truly cares anymore.

Men, on the whole, don’t talk about their feelings. We all need to talk more. Do you have any friends that you’ve not seen for a while? Send them a text or a message, nothing serious, but let them know that it would be cool to meet up some time. Let friends know that if they needed someone confidential to talk with, you’ll be there for them. As the documentary also illustrated, it might not be the friends you expect to have issues, it might be the most outwardly lively person you know.

I’ve seen a few people copying and pasting a paragraph on Facebook letting people know that their door is always open and the kettle always on. This is a good start, but try to make it a bit more personal, write it in your own words instead of copying it.

We should all reach out to people more, even if you think that they are the last person in the world who would ever take their own life.

Finally, if you’re reading this and feel that you really don’t have anyone to talk to, message me, or even better, call the Samaritans, they do amazing work. I don’t have the answers, but please guys, talk to each other more about how you’re feeling, especially if you’re feeling suicidal.

Book Review 2018 – Part X

I’ve owned a Kindle for about six years now, although I did stand on my original one and had to get a replacement. Amazon were very good about this and sold me one on the cheap (they could probably afford it). I prefer real books, but sometimes an e-book is easier, or cheaper, and I can fill it with hundreds of books. Early in the year one of the ‘deals of the day’ was Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.


I’ve been a fan of Terry Pratchett for almost 30 years, back when the Discworld series was only on book two, but Neil Gaiman has passed me by. That is very remiss of me. Back in March I took my Kindle with me when we visited my parents for a few days, and I promptly left it there. They couldn’t find it for six months, even though I had said that it was most likely under the bed (it was).

Back to Good Omens, I started reading it in March and only finished it a couple of days ago. A two and a half hour train journey, which should have taken 45 minutes, allowed me finish it off. I loved it and could spot Terry’s humour in many passages and I am looking forward to the TV series.

What’s the book about? Witches, angels, demons, the apocalypse along with the four horsemen. All very good. You should definitely read it, and I will most definitely be reading some more books by Neil Gaiman.

Parkrun pb

Amazingly, last Saturday I managed a personal best (pb) at my home town parkrun, Lancaster. It was the 30th time I’ve run at Lancaster and my previous best was 20:15. Now it is down to 19:44.


What did I do differently? Have I increased my training?

No, the answer is that the route was altered. Instead of two laps with half paved and half on dirt, this week it was 5 laps all paved with no technical bits. There was a dangerous tree in the other half of the park.

I also finished in 6th place, only one place behind my highest finishing position. When I received the results I noticed with surprise that I was fourth in my age group (45-49). The only non vet in the top ten was the winner. Plenty of good running in these old ‘uns.

The aim now of course, is to manage Lancaster parkrun in under 20 minutes on the proper route. There is also a new fairly local parkrun in Fleetwood which is completely flat which we might have a look at next week. Under 19 minutes is possible.

After that, another ten parkruns and I will have reached 50, which along with my beautiful wife we’re hoping to do at the same time later in the year, although I will have to miss a week as Helen is one behind me at the moment. It’s taken over two years to get to 40, so full on respect to those who have done 500.

Cycling down Snowdon

Last weekend the three of us hiked up and down Snowden and really enjoyed it. You can read about it here. Near the bottom, as you leave the road and start on the path there is a sign.


Imagine my surprise as four mountain bikers sailed on through the gate. A bit later we had to step to the side so that another two could pass, and then later on another two, although I stopped to talk with one of them. I mentioned the sign that said there is a ban on cycling from May to September. He said that it was a voluntary ban. That’s a new oxymoron, one I’ve not heard before.

What a load of rubbish I thought.

Back home a few days later and my wife google’d cycling Snowdon, and fair enough there is a voluntary ban, although all cyclists must be off the path by 10am. The last two we saw most definitely were not.

What got me though, is why would you want to cycle Snowdon on a Saturday in the middle of the summer when there are many hundreds of people walking up the mountain. Trying to cycle through people is an absolute pain, I want to be able to go fast, and not have to stop every couple of seconds for walkers. The voluntary ban could be revoked at any time if cyclists don’t slow down or move out of the way.

As a cyclist, I think Snowdon should be for walkers only in the summer, definitely at a weekend, especially as there are so many other really great places to cycle in North Wales.

The end of an era

Yesterday was my last commute by bike, probably. The company I work for is moving office at the weekend to Horwich, which is less than 10 minutes walk from Horwich Parkway, so no more lugging my old bike on and off trains (here). No more will I worry about the dangerously close passes (here) and I won’t have to wear the brightest jacket you’ve ever seen (here).

My old commuting bike has seen some miles, especially as it’s done over 1,000 rides (here).


The last few weeks haven’t been too bad as it is the school holidays, but come September and it will start to get cold and dark, and the roads would be busy once again. I’m pleased to have survived as there were times when the traffic was so dangerous I almost quit. I should also probably buy a new pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres as they are nearly worn out, although I didn’t get a single puncture.

I’m sure this won’t be the end of my old faithful bike, but for now, he’s hanging up in the cellar waiting for when he’s next called upon.

Walking Snowdon

A long weekend away camping in north Wales, what could possibly go wrong. The two hour journey took nearly five because of accidents, I forgot the inflatable mattress and the campsite was horrible. We stayed one night, ignored the festival toilets and the scary fight at 3am, packed up and drove to Llanberis.

Even though one of the biggest triathlons in Wales is based there, and the Brutal, I’ve never been. Looked like a nice little town, dominated by the mountain railway, which was completely sold out for the whole of August, even at nearly £40 for a return ticket. We wisely decided to walk up instead, along with hundreds of others. The weather was perfect, clear sky, no rain and not too warm.


Walking from Llanberis is the most popular route, but not the shortest. It wasn’t like when I hiked up Scafell on a foggy day and didn’t see a single person. Snowdon was busy. Too busy to go to the actual summit, which was a teeming mass of people, with a queue almost down to the summit cafe, most of them taking selfies.


Nelly enjoyed it as well, although she did want to know what the hell that train was. Nelly is the English Pointer.


Helen, my beautiful wife, also enjoyed the walk. Just under 9 miles which took us about four and a half hours. We stopped often and took our time, although all three of us were tired as we walked back into Llanberis.


I would definitely like to go back to the area, hopefully with a bike and explore some of the great hills. Also, at some point I need to walk up Ben Nevis so that I have the full set. We’ve cycled through Fort William and looked up into the mist where Ben Nevis probably was, but we didn’t have the time to walk up. Next time.

Book Review 2018 – Part IX

All I can say is, what a book.


This is a book that I had to read at school, so obviously I only read half of it and tried to blag it. A couple of months ago I saw it in Waterstones and decided that I should read it properly. I took my time, savouring every page. Sometimes I read a blog, or a newspaper article or a book and think to myself with practice and dedication I could maybe produce something as good as that. With this book, never in a million years could I wrote something this good.

First published in the early ’50s, the book details a dystopian future where firemen aren’t there to put out fires, but instead they start fires, specifically to burn books. When I watch the news and see what Trump and his ilk are doing to America, or what the conservatives want to do to the UK, Bradbury predictions were far too close to what is actually happening, much like with George Orwell and 1984.

When I finished the book all I could do was sit there for a few minutes contemplating it. I really should have read the whole thing at school.

The edition I have also includes an afterword by Mr Bradbury explaining how the book came into existence, compiled from five different short stories and written on a hired typewriter costing a dime every half an hour.

This is a book that everyone should read.

Socks or no socks

Following on from my post last month about swimming without a wetsuit (read about it here and here), I will no write about whether you should complete a triathlon wearing socks or go without. If you go without you’ll possibly save yourself up to a minute on race day, but if you’re then plagued by blisters for two weeks following the race, is it worth it?

If the race is a sprint it’s probably worth going without socks, but a half ironman or longer I would definitely put socks on. What about a standard distance race? I completed Salford Triathlon a couple of weeks ago (read about it here) and went without socks. I wasn’t sure if I should show you a picture of my feet, but this is ten days after the race.


This is the inside of my right foot, just above and behind the ball. I could hardly walk the day after the race. I’ve done many races without socks and have generally been OK. What was different this time? It was very wet, and I had never used my racing flats without socks.

There you go, rookie error. One of the golden rules of triathlons is don’t do anything new on race day. I should have gone for a couple of runs without socks, then I would have known that they rub. This is my 27th year of triathlons and I’m still making basic mistakes. Learn from my errors.

The scatter-gun approach to blogging

My first blog entry was just over four years ago and back then I would write maybe once a month, at the most. I would also never share the fact that I had a blog with anyone, hence why my blog only had 8 views in 2014.

My approach to blogging is, as the title suggests, very scatter-gun. You never really know what I’ll be writing about next. Triathlons? Beards? A book review? I have moved all of my Lancaster air quality stuff to a separate blog (here), after all, someone interested in the local air quality probably isn’t going to want to know about long distance swimming without a wetsuit (Isoman Race Report). I like to think that my blog is similar to a three ringed circus. If you don’t like the clowns, then some dancing horses will be along soon, or a strongman.

There are loads of websites and blogs out there all informing you how to improve your blog, and how to get more hits. I’ve not read any of them. More hits would be nice, but most of the time I still don’t share most of my entries on Facebook. I think this is a confidence thing. Who would want to read what I have to say, and what if the way I’m saying it is rubbish? Does my humour come across, or do I just sound a bit odd? Informative for other people, or too much about me.

I don’t know then answers to any of those questions, so what I’m going to do is keep on blogging and continue to try to improve my writing.