Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Awards. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 March 2018


Sue and I recently got around, rather hurriedly at the last minute, to entering the Austrian Alpine Club’s 2017 annual photography competition.

There are several categories:

  • General, divided into Best Mountain Landscape/Wild Country, and Best Portrait/People
  • Nature
  • Typical Austria

The entries were judged by previous winner Malcolm Imhoff FRPS who is not only one of the regular entrants to this competition but also a highly respected photographer with many national and international photographic awards.

He judged my photo taken with my Samsung S5 phone to be the Best Mountain Landscape/Wild Country image, commenting as follows:

‘A beautiful scene, well captured - a calendar shot!. The exposure is well handled and the colours nicely saturated. The image is nicely composed, with a lead in from the bottom left to the lakes, then across the mountain peaks, which are taller at the sides helping the frame the picture. There is a lovely blue sky with cumulus clouds.’

I think the S5 has to take some of the credit….


I don’t think Sue rated her ‘Edelweiss’ picture as her most likely chance of success, but Malcolm awarded her a Highly Commended Certificate in the Nature category, commenting as follows:

‘Well this jumps out at you. Edelweiss are small tatty things but these are enormous and quite beautiful, so well done to the photographer for getting in so close and capturing them. The flowers stand out well against the dark background but there are quite a few pointy blades of grass which distract and could easily be removed. It's called "gardening".’

This was a carefully composed shot using her Canon Powershot G15.


Sue’s other entries are shown below:

General: Cape Verde Angels


General: Shades of Blue


General: Washing day in Cape Verde


Nature: Feeding fritillary


Typical Austria: A cosy hearth


Typical Austria: Water power


Here are my other entries, for what they are worth…

General: Austrian Hiker


General: Morning View from Heinrich Schwaiger Haus


General: Resting below Bonn Matreier Hut


Nature: Cloud Over Kaprun


Nature: Wintergasse glacier melt


Typical Austria: Krefelder Hikers


Typical Austria: Lobbentorl


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Happy Birthdays, and a short report on ‘Three Weeks in Timperley’


Here are Jacob and Jessica, celebrating Jess’s second birthday last weekend. A lovely occasion.

Today is this blog’s eighth birthday! The last three weeks is probably the longest period in that entire time without a fresh entry. That’s because I needed a bit of R&R after going virtually non-stop since Easter. Not that I’ve been totally inactive.

I visited Altrincham to check on how the town centre improvements are getting on. Dyslexic staff who instruct workmen to ‘paint a tree’ when they really mean ‘plant a tree’ have helped to keep the costs down.


I’ve been riding my bike up and down the canal towpath for a bit of exercise. Here’s a view of the Watch House Cruising Club in Stretford.


On a more serious note, we got involved in an incident on a bike ride organised by a business called . If any reader plans to take part in an event organised by this lot … beware, you might find the event a shambles, with inadequate route instructions, food points, marshals, and other basic requirements.

It’s nice that Jess seems much more at home in our house and less clingy to her mum. We have some ace toys including this Duplo and some clockwork tin trains.


Meanwhile, I’m trying to de-clutter by selling a load of old computer games from the 1990’s, old phones and old GPS units. All quite time consuming – sometimes I think I should just bin everything.

I’ve enjoyed a 30 km bike circuit a few times, similar to , mainly on canal towpaths, from Timperley to Manchester, then through Salford Quays beside the Ship Canal to the Barton swing bridge, returning via the Bridgewater Canal towpath. Here are some images taken on that route.


The weather in Timperley has been glorious. Here are some canoeists enjoying an evening paddle.


Sue and I have done a few Saturday morning (5 km in Wythenshawe Park) for a bit of exercise and a sociable Saturday morning. Uncle Oliver is getting quite used to these weekly gatherings that block his line of sight to the Hall.


He breathes a big sigh of relief when the runners (290 last Saturday) have dispersed to the nearby cafe and he’s left with this tranquil view.


We live close to the River Mersey, beside which the paths offer the same sort of amenity as the canal towpaths, within the broad band of ‘green belt’ through which the river passes, offering a taste of countryside near the centre of Manchester.


Autumn crocuses are abundant beside the Mersey at this time of year.


That’s enough of my gentle domestic existence for now, as it’s time for some , , etc.

Perhaps I’ll go for a walk soon, as I used to do when I !


PS Also during the last three weeks the period for nominations for the 2015 commenced. After last year’s ‘’ fiasco I was delighted to see that there will be no ‘outdoors blogger’ award this year, and that there is no reference to last year’s ‘winner’, voted for by friends despite doubt as to its legitimacy as a genuine ‘outdoors blog’. My postings on the TGO Awards are . I would have encouraged readers to nominate and vote for either or as Accommodation Provider of the Year, but this category also appears to have been discontinued. has my nomination though…

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Outdoor Activities shortlisted for The Great Outdoors ‘Outdoor Blogger of the Year’ Award


I’ve attended the last couple of award ceremonies, representing the Bridge of Gaur Guest House near Rannoch, and Alpenstock – my local gear supplier. I’d nominated both of them, but this year the nomination period passed me by and with neither of those fine establishments being shortlisted I didn’t expect to be involved in any way.

Nevertheless, I’m on a TGO mailing list and recently clicked the link to cast my votes. I was somewhat surprised to see my own blog listed in a new category for this year. Thanks go to whoever nominated me – I feel honoured to be shortlisted, though I’m not sure whether many folk will recognise ‘Outdoor Activities’ from the code name above.

‘Outdoor Activities’ thus gained an unexpected seventh birthday present. It’s really an on-line diary, not exclusively an ‘Outdoors’ blog, but out of over 2000 posts to date nearly half to have the ‘Walks’ label, and ‘Bike rides’ and ‘Skiing’ account for quite a few more. The original purpose was to keep in touch with friends and family whilst on a trip to New Zealand in early 2008. Sue and I enjoyed doing that, and I decided to continue with it until I got fed up. I still enjoy it, albeit I feel some entries are becoming a little repetitive.

Highlights, in my opinion, are entries such as the ‘Italian Border Route’ – a 58 day backpacking trip to the Alps, and various TGO Challenges including this well indexed record of our 2009 Challenge. More recently I’ve failed in my bid to properly index trip reports, and I apologise for that – some housekeeping is required. Perhaps starting with this summer’s trip to the Dolomites, and continuing with last year’s Pyrenean Adventure, which with Humphrey Weightman’s assistance was converted into a book with very little editing.

I am familiar with three of the other shortlisted blogs, and have now had a quick look at the others. Here’s my take on them, albeit very superficial.

Alan Sloman’s big walk – I’m a long-term follower of Alan, who writes with passion, originally about a Lands End to John O’Groats walk in 2007 and subsequently concentrating on TGO Challenge walks and Alan’s impassioned opposition to wind farms.

Alastair Humphreys – a new one to me, Alastair is a professional adventurer, author and motivational speaker who has written around 1500 postings since 2001.

Backpacking Bongos – James Boulter’s blog records a wide range of wilderness trips alone, in his campervan, or with his dog. I’ve followed James for a while and enjoy his postings.

Dean Read – another new one for me, Dean appears to be based in the Peak District and his activities include blog postings starting in 2006. He uses video clips and is a keen mountain biker and photographer.

Keith Foskett – a professional long-distance walker, writer and blogger. You expect ‘Outdoor Activities’ to compete with this?

Terry Abraham – a film maker who posts blog entries as he goes about his film making activities. I have his excellent ‘Cairngorms in Winter’ film made with Chris Townsend. Terry has recently released another film – ‘Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike’ to similar acclaim, and he has just finished another film ‘Backpacking in the Lake District with Chris Townsend’ that will no doubt receive similar accolades.

The Girl Outdoors - a blog edited by Sian Anna Lewis ‘a journalist obsessed with adventure’. I notice that one of her recent postings is an interview with Alastair Humphreys, who seems to be popping up everywhere as I compose this entry.

Tony Hobbs - has only made two blog postings this year, though I understand he also posts videos elsewhere, and these may be the reason for his shortlisting.

Two Blondes Walking is an engaging record of two anonymous blondes’ antics with the wildlife of Dartmoor, Duke of Edinburgh Award children, and life in general. It’s new to me, but I’ll now be following these blondes’ short, often quirky, daily postings.

Leaving Tony Hobbs aside, I note that I’m the only person on the shortlist who doesn’t ‘Twitter’ (I have no plans to do that). Some of the blogs include advertisements that I find distracting, but that shouldn’t affect one’s overall opinion of them. Very few of those shortlisted attempt to keep their on-line records of their trips up to date on a daily basis whilst on those trips. That’s left to amateurs like me, Conrad and Gayle. It can be quite hard, but not ‘work’!

I note that four of those shortlisted, (Alastair, Keith, Terry and Tony) have also been shortlisted as ‘Outdoor Personality of the Year’ and Alastair has a third throw of the dice as one of his books has been shortlisted in the ‘Outdoor Book of the Year’ category.

It’s a small world…

I’ll let you know who wins in due course.

Thanks for reading my postings, especially during my/our longer trips when the interaction with commenters is appreciated, whether or not you choose to vote for the ‘Postcard’.

Note: following some comments and emails concerning my take on advertising on some of the shortlisted blogs, and having been accused of “trying to bash your opposition”, I have amended the above text to exclude some observations regarding advertising, and I’ve replaced the offending comments (below) with what I hope is something conciliatory. I certainly have no intention of “bashing” anyone – I just wanted to provide a brief overview with links to those shortlisted. In fact I’ve tried to be appreciative of all the blogs, so far as I can be, so I apologise to anyone who has misinterpreted my observations.

Result: Here's my take on this by way of the replication of a comment made on , see also  and  - I think TGO magazine's readers have come up with a strange result...

"Martin Banfield here. I've been away. In Wales. On a walking trip. , as usual in a rather basic way on a mobile phone whilst trying to be sociable at the same time. It's my on-line diary. Dean Read and many others will relate to this, but won't necessarily be inclined to read it. It's for friends and family and anyone else who may be interested. It's not controversial. My 89 year old mother is the target audience.


I was shortlisted for the Outdoor Blogger Award. I felt surprised and honoured. Until I spotted that it was a website that my wife and I use to notify friends of planned trips that had been shortlisted, not our blog. I was able to get TGO magazine to change the web address to correct the error, but the name by which the blog is recognised - 'Outdoor Activities' was never revealed to voters.


I was curious about the other shortlisted blogs. I wrote a short piece, providing links:

I mentioned that for me, advertising detracted from the content of some of the blogs. James Boulter's 'Backpackingbongos' blog was perhaps unfairly mentioned as it was the first on the list of 'offenders'. (The advertising on his blog is minimal and shouldn't really have deterred anyone from voting.) The cause of using outdoors blogs for advertising purposes was then taken up by Sian Anna Lewis in an exchange of comments including some, supportive of my stance, by Alan R. After being accused of trying to 'bash' the other shortlisted bloggers, I (for the first time in seven years of blogging) removed some of the comments and concluded an acrimonious series of emails with Ms Lewis, who emphasised that she encouraged advertising on her blog - a bit of an anathema to me. I've now looked a bit more deeply into her blogging efforts. To me, a blogger with an interest in the outdoors (mine is an on-line diary not exclusive to 'the outdoors'), Ms Lewis's so called 'Outdoors' blog is a bit like turning on BBC Countryfile and getting a shopping channel.


Anyway, the exchange with Ms Lewis led me to conclude that this was not for me, so whilst I had already put a voting button in my sidebar, I left it at that and didn't mention the shortlisting again, even to friends and family. I expected Alan, Alastair, James, or Terry to receive the award, all their efforts being, in my view, worthy of such. Imagine my amazement when I discovered the results of the voting. The winner of the 'Outdoors Blogger' award appears to me to be a different genre to most of the other shortlisted blogs.


That's enough. I've just lost nearly half an hour of my life..."

PS - makes me feel much better!

PPS Keith Foskett has made some valid observations . Well done to him on coming third. I should have included his name in the penultimate green paragraph.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Wednesday 13 November - The Great Outdoors Awards 2013

An SOS from car less Carey saw me picking him up from BMC HQ in Didsbury and wrestling with the M60's rush hour traffic, arriving eventually at Burgundy's Wine Bar too late for any meaningful nibbles but in plenty of time for the free bar.

It was good to catch up with Carey, who I probably hadn't seen since our 2011 trip to Turkey.  Though the long tale of woe concerning his lost car keys was rather painful to hear.

I was representing both Bridge of Gaur Guest House and Alpenstock, Stockport's premier outdoors retailer, at the awards ceremony. Neither expected to receive awards; their 'award' being the satisfaction of being nominated, then shortlisted together with other worthy contenders.

Others needed consoling when their names didn't feature in Daniel and Emily's double act. They are pictured above during the ceremony (devious editing has been required given my phone's inadequate flash).

I'll insert details of the winners when I get home, but for me this event is more an opportunity to enjoy a beer with old friends and new. It was good to see Andy Howell, who had been so generous in his review of my book, and much of the evening was spent with Sue and Ali, who were so disappointed when their Newtonmore Independent Hostel failed to gain the Best Accommodation award.

A nearby Italian restaurant came to the culinary rescue for eight of us, leaving Emily stranded in the foodless wine bar. The Great Outdoors Magazine's editor, newly returned from maternity leave, had others to please.

All in all, an excellent evening, well worth the effort of attending. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The TGO Awards 2012 and The Bridge of Gaur Guest House

TGO Awards Logo

After last Wednesday’s plod along the Lancashire Trail I sadly had to leave the others to enjoy their fish and chips at Kelbrook Fishery and shoot up to Kendal for the first ‘TGO Awards’ ceremony.

I’d been asked by Heather and Eddie, who run the excellent Bridge of Gaur Guest House, to represent them as they had been shortlisted for an award in the ‘Accommodation provider of the year’ category.

Others shortlisted ranged from campsites to major organisations such as HF Holidays.  As a small B&B in the middle of nowhere with just four rooms on offer, the shortlisting alone was an honour for the Bridge of Gaur Guest House.  I’ve stayed there on four occasions since they opened a couple of years ago, and Sue and I have witnessed Eddie and Heather’s exceptional hospitality, ranging from Eddie patrolling the ‘street’ looking for an overdue guest, to his boiling up a stag’s head to remove the maggots before boxing it and posting it home to its owner who was in the middle of a walk across Scotland.  That same night a couple of exhausted oriental cyclists turned up after 10pm and were accommodated somehow albeit the guest house was already full.  They go ‘the extra mile’ in the true spirit of ‘The Great Outdoors’ and were most worthy of the shortlisting.

Try to visit them sometime – go north to Pitlochry and turn left – there are numerous excellent walks in the area.

The award ceremony was very well attended and I must have enjoyed a good night as we still seemed to be going strong when evicted from the wine bar venue at midnight!

I won’t spend a paragraph name-dropping the various celebrities encountered, but it was good to chat to Andy Howell and various of his ‘buddies’ and to see Carey, Assistant Editor at TGO Magazine, with whom we had such an enjoyable trip to Turkey last year.

Terry Abrahams has written about and photographed the evening here, should anyone want to see some famous faces.

Here’s TGO Magazine’s take on the night, and a list of winners:

On Wednesday night the first inaugural TGO Awards in association with Outdry was held in Kendal. Outdoor industry professionals and personalities turned up in volumes to support the event, which commends brands and service providers who make hillwalkers’ time on the hills safe, fun and comfortable.

TGO had to collate over 18,000 votes for the reader voted categories and the products in the panel judged categories endured long debate from the expert judges including TGO’s own gear expert Chris Townsend, acting TGO editor Daniel Neilson, Andrew Denton of Outdoor Industries Association and renowned blogger Andy Howell.

The winners are as follows and in exceptional circumstances, some brands receive a highly commended award.

Independent retailer of the year- Rathbones, Keswick

Chain retailer of the year- Cotswold Outdoor

Online retailer of the year-

Accommodation provider of the year- Wasdale Head National Trust Campsite

Pub or restaurant of the year- Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale

Environmental or access initiative of the year- Country Guardian anti-windfarm campaign

Outdoor book of the year- The Backpacker's Handbook by Chris Townsend (Ragged Mountain Press)

Outdoor personality of the year- Bear Grylls, Chief of scouts

Clothing product of the year- Rab Stretch Neo Jacket, Highly Commended- Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket and Marmot Stretchman Jacket

Footwear product of the year- Salomon Fellcross, Highly Commended- Mizuno Wave Harrier

Camping product of the year- MLD Trailstar, Highly Commended- Hydro-Photon Steripen and Rab Infinity 500 Sleeping Bag

Innovation of the year- Routebuddy, Highly Commended- Polartec Neoshell and Augmentra Viewranger app

Overall comment on the ceremony was resoundingly positive. Georgia Walters, organiser of the event said, “the first TGO Awards has gone better then we could ever have hoped, turn out has been fantastic and we’d like to thank everyone that has travelled the distance to make tonight a success.”

So, Eddie and Heather, and all the others shortlisted in their category, were beaten by a campsite!

Eddie and Heather, and son Thomas, outside their Guest House

Camping enthusiasts may favour the lawn, but B&B connoisseurs will enjoy the comfortable renovated rooms inside (and the porch has been finished since this photo was taken in May 2012).

Thanks go to Eddie and Heather for asking me to represent them on such a pleasurable evening.

Friday, 28 May 2010

A Tale of the Unexpected

Route of the Year Award - 2010! Chuffed?

Yes, just a bit.  But congratulations to all those short-listed for this unheralded new award.  I’m sure their routes were every bit as well planned as mine in their varying ways.