An Evening with Sir Ranulph Fiennes


There is something awe inspiring about people who have an insatiable drive and desire for life. I imagine most people reading this will have a least a passing recognition of the feats of Sir Ranulph Fiennes and possibly a recognition of his amazing achievements during his 70+ laps of the sun.
I haven’t yet read any of Ranulph Fiennes books, although I have two to read, including his latest coffee table offering, Beyond the Limits - the lessons learned from a lifetime of adventures. This was the basis for his talk at the Sage in Gateshead on the night of Tuesday 12th June.
There is no doubt this guy is a one off - listening to him recite an overview of his lifes adventures, from living and being educated (albeit to a somewhat lesser standard - his words) in South Africa, to fighting a guerilla war with the local Muslim tribes against Communist Revolutionaries in Dhofar, as well as his many exploratory and expeditionary challenges was quite mind blowing. The arena sat in baited silence and laughed on cue when his many one liners were uttered.
His recollection of all his adventures were gilded with a pretty dry sense of humour, of which his aristocratic accent supports fully. One could easily assume that the guy is seperated from reality due to his upper class style accent - but in reality is probably more in touch with the world than most people I know.

His feats around the world, in the most inhospitable of environments are a testament to the guys mental strength. From the deserts of Arabia, tackling Communists, snakes, spiders, scorpians and spiders. To the inhuman cold of the north and south pole (traversed, not once but twice!). All these accounts are mind blowing. There is (from me) a certain fascination with historical exploration of the South Pole - both the Falcon Scott expedition and the Ernest Shackleton ventures were pretty much disasterous, but made heroes out of the victims. Both stories showed examples of huge amounts of heroism and stoicism, something that is lost in the modern day culture of disposableness.

Fiennes is without doubt up there with these historical heroes.

His recount of his many stories was extremely entertaining and full of energy for an elderly gentleman - and his adventures don’t seem to be stopping just yet. One gets the feeling that the fire is still burning bright for his next adventure.

The Health Barn

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Introducing our friends over at the Health Barn based in Askham near Penrith.
Originally, The Health Barn was Calico Health Centre based in Plumbton. Proprietor Chris Jackson, along with fellow practitioners and therapists have set up a brand new health centre in Askham offering a lot more services and facilities in a stunning new building.

Treatments offered at the Health Barn range from Reflexology, Counselling, Chiropractory, Trig Point Massage therapy as well as a whole host of other holistic treatments such as Floatation Tank Therapy.
I got to know Chris when she was based in Plumbton as I used the Floatation Tank therapy multiple times, after hearing about the benefits from the Joe Rogan Podcast.

I decided to try it out and was blown away by how relaxing it is, even if the sensation takes a while to get used to. For those that aren’t aware of what it consists of and it’s benefits, click on the link to the Health Barn’s website above and read about the various treatments, or even better, give the ladies a call, they’d only be too happy to hear from you and answer any queries you may have.
Chris has kindly offered 10% discount for all future customers of the Floatation Therapy.

Use discount code: ThankTheUniverse when booking or enquiring to earn your discount.

- 01931712300

Logi Firewalking


Looking forward to this weekend... We’re off to support at the Viking weekend near Chester-Le-Street. We will hopefully be recording a podcast episode with proprietor John Young while we're over there and discussing the importance of mental resilience in the modern world.
Fire Walking is a medium used to help overcome the invisible boundaries that stop us from progressing in life, whether these are sub-consciously imposed by our own psyches or imposed from the opinions of others. For more info visit and keep an eye out for the podcast…

Congratulations to Mike Grundy on his debut win in the UFC

Congratulations to Mike Grundy on his debut win in the UFC this weekend. I have personally trained with Mike (in days gone by) multiple times at both the Wigan & Leigh Wrestling gym in Wigan and at Team Kaobon gym in Liverpool.

Mike is a really humble guy who has dedicated his life to combat sports, including representing and medalling for Great Britain in the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

A super coach, terrific fighter and humble human being - we wish Mike all the best in the future.

Early last year, we got to speak to Mike for a few minutes via the Priory Podcast just before he was off to training., here is the YouTube link to the episode below:
- The Priory Podcast - Episode 11 featuring Mike Grundy



2019 is fast around the corner and it, for the most part, will provide 365 days of opportunity…
Thank The Universe would like to support you on your journey through 2019. We’re hoping to run a programme called; 100%’ers, which intends to give moral support, as well as a platform, for those who have plans and goals for 2019.

The purpose is clear – we want you to succeed! We want you to commit 100% to your plans and goals, and we want to provide the platform and exposure to help keep you motivated to do so.

We will provide an online profile of you and your goals with a dedicated page on our website and if you are comfortable in doing so, an audio podcast.

There is no catch – we simply want to help as many people as possible achieve their plans, goals and dreams.

However - we are not the experts – although we will help with anecdotal advice and motivation where required, the work load and heavy lifting still rests with you.

Each month, we will have a review of each 100%er’s achievements and progressions and subsequently award the month’s winner with some Thank The Universe swag.

There is no catch and no buy in, other than your readiness to commit to your goals and have a plan in place (so we can monitor progression). You don’t even need to have a public profile if you feel this would be too intrusive, but we’d prefer that this was the case.

If you feel ready to commit to something 100% and are willing to share it with us, please get in touch by going to and emailing us via the contacts page.

Let’s get 2019 kickstarted!

#staytrue #100%ers

Catch Wrestling - Keeping the spirit alive

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In support of the re-launch of Scientific Wrestling’s website, I was asked to complete a few formal questions. As part of the official Scientific Wrestling accredited training staff, I was only too happy to take part and discuss my involvement with the Catch As Catch Can movement:

1) What drew you to CACC?
My first involvement of any kind, was the Billy Robinson training seminar DVD, W.A.R. A friend of mine and my assistant coach at our local MMA Training School, downloaded the DVD from a file sharing site - noting it had Josh Barnett on it. At the time, we knew nothing of Billy Robinson or the history of Catch Wrestling. The fact that Billy Robinson had a Lancashire accent drew me in, and I found the physical techniques so appealing too. The fact that the techniques actually promoted pain appealed to me even more as it added an extra dimension to the grappling we were teaching at the time which was heavily influenced by Judo and No-Gi grappling.

2) Why learn with Scientific Wrestling?
The interest that was peaked from the W.A.R DVD led me to research both Billy and Jake and as such led me to the previous Scientific Wrestling website where I got in touch with Jake about coming over to Salt Lake for one of the weekend training camps with Billy Robinson in 2009. It seemed like the perfect match to learn from Billy Robinson who was born, raised and learned how to wrestle in the North West of England and being from the working class north west myself.

3) Please describe your personal coaching style.
Not having coached for a number of years now due to other priority commitments, but at the time of teaching, I tended to primarily use the techniques that I’d learned under Billy and Jake. Mike Grundy, the British Commonwealth Games medalist and pro MMA fighter from WIGAN, was also a big influence on my teaching style, but more from a freestyle wrestling perspective.
It was always important for me to teach the transition from standing to ground. Using the techniques we’d learned in Judo, refined by Catch with the addition of pain holds became a staple of the classes I was teaching. The importance of high fitness levels was also top of the teaching agenda, coupled with stress innoculation from the grind of the pain and pressure holds.

4) What is your favorite memory with Billy Robinson
I have many great memories from having the privelage of training with Billy. I guess the first one is actually meeting him in person during my first trip to UTAH in 2009. Jake invited me down early to train with Harry Smith whilst he was in town, and I was basically used as a grappling dummy for Harry - which was absolutely fine - and in many ways I think it was Billy’s way of testing my physical endurance. I was also very proud when both Billy and Jake taught at the local gym I was coaching at at that time. To introduce Billy, who I considered a living legend, along with his techniques, to the younger generation of fighters and competitors was a real treat. And giving the them a glimpse of a tougher time, from when Billy had been taught and raised was really special.

5) Your website

Thank The Universe: VLOG #01 - 'Pressure'

Thanks for watching... This will hopefully be the first in a series of VLOGs from the Thank The Universe team (me). Following in the philosophy of the website and social media instagram; @thank.the.universe we decided to give the idea another platform via the VLOG. This particular clip is about the pressure that undoubtedly clouds the current generation into becoming people and personalities they are not, all because the outside influence of social media, reality TV and advertising would have us believe that it was so. The point is we must have the courage to say no and even do without... Ultimately the message is about staying true to yourself and enjoying the things you DO enjoy without succumbing to the unnecessary pressures. #staytrue Godspeed..

Approaching the centenary of the World War 1 Armistice


November 2018 sees the arrival of the 100th year since the signing of the Armistice of World War 1. To pay our respects to this monumental moment in time and to commemorate the absolute tragedy and astronomical disdain for the seriousness of consequences by those in power, we shall be posting occassional posts on our Instagram and Facebook social media pages.

The mainstream versions of World War 1 history hold the spot light firmly in the eyes of the German government of the time, and especially as the industrial and economic collapse of Germany after the Treaty of Versaille spawned the the rise of the National Socialist German Workers Party or NAZI Party. And as we know, the rest is history. But unfortunately, history, and certainly history so finely balanced on a political razors edge as was the political situation in Europe in the early 1900's, is not as cut and dried as what we're often led to believe.

So over the course of the next few months, we will be sharing some (hopefully) interesting tid-bits of facts around some of the main characters and incidents involved before, during and closely after the events of World War 1. The purpose of course, is to inspire interest, whether it inspires others to carry out their own esearch, debate the posts that are made or simply to shine a light on the usually dark corners of information. 

Cheers AC

Disneyland for the over 40's

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The only previous time I’d seen the Foo Fighters was when they closed the main stage at T in the Park in 2011. That year they released Wasting Light and truly had the momentum with them, featuring as headliners on various festivals that year including the BBC’s Big Weekend in Carlisle.

They performed for around 2 hours at T, playing basically a ‘best of’ set, which if I remember correctly featured a number of songs from Wasting Light.
Fast forward to 2018 and I was fortunate enough to have had a Foo Fighters ticket bought for me for one of their UK shows, of which there was only going to be 3 dates, so as expected they were sold out within minutes.

It’s fair to say that I’d not really followed up on the momentum of 2011 and my interest in the Foo Fighters waned slightly. Certainly I had not been waiting in anticipation for their follow up albums, Sonic Highways or Concrete and Gold. It’s difficult to say why really, as even now I consider Dave Grohl to be the epitome of cool and still have Everlong on every Playlist I create. Perhaps it was the introduction to other new bands or more appropriate music for me at that time as I remember 2011 and 2012 were particularly tough years for me for one reason or another, and as any music lover will tell you, quite often it is music of a particular band or artist that you attach yourself to, that gets you through these particularly tough times.

Come the day of the show I’d still not made my mind up as to whether I was going to go, even though I’d taken leave from work. Once I’d had a coffee and gotten my shit together I made the decision to go and quickly threw some clothes in a bag and booked a train ticket. The usual push and pull coastal train from Whitehaven to Carlisle was cancelled due to on-going strikes and a shuttle bus was provided instead. This was much to the annoyance of one gentlemen who surprisingly conveyed his opprobrium to the bus driver due to the journeys late start, stating “What time are we setting off like? We’ve got a connection to make you know…”

Arriving in Manchester, I’d booked myself into a Hostel in the Northern Quarter. Hostels for anyone that doesn’t know are a great way to meet people of like-minded or open minded opinions. Travelling to gigs solo is never a big deal for me as it is for others, but hostels do offer up the opportunity to meet and speak to people with similar interests.  In our 8 bed mixed dorm, there were 2 others travelling to see Foo Fighters; a 24 year old Biomedical Scientist from Dundee who was experiencing Manchester, hostel life and a solo gig for the first time in her life. The other was a Foo Fighters veteran of 10 shows, from Newcastle.

The previous weekend I’d been in Manchester for a more intimate gig at the Gorilla bar on Whitworth Street. The Bronx were playing in-between their appearances at Download Festival on Friday night and the Electric Ballroom in London on the Sunday. I feel like The Bronx set the standard for live shows for me now in terms of the passion and energy. After every show where I’ve seen them play the whole event has left me feeling euphoric - so the Foo Fighters would have a lot to live up to. Of course, it’s not a competition.

At the Ethiad Stadium, the place was rammed, estimated to be between 40 and 50,000 people in the stadium. My seat in the South stand gave a spectacular view of it all and I was sat next to a couple from Cockermouth, which wasn’t surprising as it seemed that half of Cumbria was at the gig if Facebook ‘check-ins’ were anything to go by. Although, wasn’t everyone at Knebworth in 1996 when Oasis famously played?

The Foo Fighters kicked off the night with All My Life, a tremendous opener and a song that would make it onto any gym workout playlist. I guess that is what is good about the Foo Fighters, the fact that they produced up tempo aggressive and edgy rock songs. What did get my goat though was the fact that they drifted off into a slight melody halfway through the song. I was always under the impression that there was a certain formula for a live set list. The opener was always expected to be a fast paced aggressive song played from A- B in order to stamp the intention of the show for the night. Instead I found the meandering melody / call-respond section, a break down in the momentum.
There can be no doubt that Dave Grohl has written some entirely epic rock songs. The Foo Fighters set list for this show was testament to that, but too many times these powerfully energetic rock songs had their sharp edges blunted by pitting the set list with what I thought was far too many melody meandering, call and respond sessions and overly extended band member introductions.

What I realised was that the crowd was full of over 40’s. And of course I am over 40. But it seemed like this was Mecca for the over 40’s. This was Disneyland for the over 40’s in the crowd. Every comical face pulled by Dave Grohl, every time he raspberry’d down the microphone, he was greeted by an almost embarrassing round of sycophantic style appreciation and applause. It was almost cringe-worthy. I remember thinking that there would be no way he’d get away with this in a more intimate and younger environment. Perhaps that;s the beauty of charging so much for an attendance ticket.

At one point during a crown call and respond session – I was blown away by the volume of the crowd during their respond part. Only to have this thought utterly dashed by the on stage introduction of backing singers! I couldn’t believe it! I’d let the fact slide that they’d introduced a keyboard player as part of the group, but now they had introduced a part choir in 3 lady backing singers. It was becoming more and more like a U2 concert.

I must say, in order to give this article a balanced view, that the musicianship and dedication to provide people with their money’s worth was second to none - it had to be at ~£70 per ticket. It was also pointed out to me that Dave Grohl is slowly losing his voice and that he has been told by medics that he should no longer carry out his trademark screams. I for one could not tell that his voice was going and certainly wouldn’t have noticed if I had not been told. And for this, I think he needs a pat on the back. My two favourite Foo Fighters songs were played at the back end of the set list. Both songs, Best of You and Everlong were two important songs to me during the tough times of 2011 and 2012 as I described earlier. The passion in Dave Grohl’s voice in Best of You gives a relatively basic song an extra dimension and always gives me goose bumps. Everlong simply speaks for itself and like The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, will simply go down in music history as one of those perfect songs applicable to any generation.

I may be a harsh critic. And I certainly do not wish to be inimical in my review of the Manchester show, as there is obviously a considerable market for the Foo Fighters and objectively, they deliver what is expected. It is just a far cry from the sweaty, mosh pit filled academy sized halls I prefer where I feel bands and the audiences are still sharp and maintain their sharp edge.

But I guess that is what is so beautiful about music. Like the world, it takes all kinds to make it go round.

Review of the week

Whatever happened to the threat of Ebola? Wasn’t it supposed to have consumed half the British population by now? Every week or every month there seems to be a new scare tactic reported by ALL the television news channels and daily rags… Since the two Korean countries have now shook hands and actually spoken to each other, America, albeit potentially briefly, has turned its bully boy tactics towards Iran (again). What gives with the American foreign policy? Do as I say don’t do as I do springs to mind, as the good old U S and A flexes its junk food fed muscles. Never-mind about Israel having nuclear weapons eh, they need them don’t they? This shit better not fuck up my trip in October you c*nts.

Scotland has introduced new policies to try and tackle the increasing alcohol abuse problem they seem to have, by raising costs to a minimum retail price and banning certain promotions. This seems to have caused all kinds of uproar, as it seen as targeting those on lesser financial incomes. I can see this going one of two ways;
a) it’ll promote a healthier lifestyle and deter the public from binge drinking, or
b) People are extremely resourceful and like most things, the black market will find a way to produce cheap (and more dangerous) alcoholic drinks that aren’t regulated by any policies or standards…
Anyway, if Scotland thinks it has a drink problem, it should take a look at Uganda (think Idi Amin). Those crazy bastards have the highest alcoholic dependency rate in the world. They drink some schwifty home-made brew called Wariga which is made from bananas but often turns people blind if they have too much of it. Much like masturbation then.

It has been another chaotic week on the public service transport. With the camper van now sold and the aging Mercedes giving up the ghost, I’m heavily reliant on buses and trains and the occasional taxi to get me where I need to be. One thing I notice in the PST is that there is no decorum. The typical Britishness of waiting in line completely disappears at a bus stop. You could be the first at the bus stop, soaked to skin waiting for your bus, but if a crowd of people come, you can forget about being first on sunshine. People don’t give a Frenchmans fuck if you’re soaked to the skin or if you have been waiting 5 to 10 minutes longer than the rest. It is a free for all!
You also quite often see some crazy people on the bus service. Mainly on the journey home, which I can only presume, means that crazy people don’t get out of bed until after seven thirty on week days.

2 of the strangest things I’ve witnessed either waiting for the bus home from work or actually being on the bus home were unfortunately both carried out by women. Sorry ladies. Although to be fair in one instance one lady did have assistance by an equally insane bloke. The crazy thing about it is, they don’t even realise they are crazy.
The first tale came on one of the earlier return buses, which always happen to be chock full of people. So much so it was standing room only. A women got on who, to be fair, didn’t look like a full shilling. She had her arm in a cast, a bottle of pop in her pocket and was carrying a (probably top of the range and on tick) Ipad with her good arm. She propped herself up with her back against the hand luggage rail near the front of the bus with-out securing herself in any way. So this lady decided to start watching her Ipad. She rested the Ipad between the crease of her elbow of her broken hand and then struggled to put her ear phones into her ears all whilst maintaining her balance as the bus was driving and changing gears in its jerky fashion. Then she decided to open her bottle of pop. She took the bottle out of her trouser pocket and proceeded to open the top her teeth and her good hand. Fairly impressive so fair. Who says women can’t multi task?
However, she started to get cocky at that point, and not realising that juggling 3 chainsaws was enough, she went for the fourth. She decided to stroke another passenger’s pet dog. Rookie mistake love… The bus driver subsequently slammed on his brakes and old Vishnu takes a slow motion tumble onto her backside… There wasn’t a hint of embarrassment… And rather unfortunately the bottle of pop didn’t spill a drop….

The second incident happened as I sat waiting for the number 30. Another bus pulled up, I can’t remember where it was going, but there was a young lady hot stepping it towards the bus. She was carrying what I can only presume was her kids tea for the evening. It was a McDonalds’. She had her arms full anyway. But as she proceeded to pay her way on the bus, she too was guilty of juggling too many items and subsequently dropped her kids' chocolate milkshake all over the floor of the bus… Again I didn’t see much reserve or embarrassment on the girls face. What seemed to be one of local smack heads did decide to help her though in the most enthusiastic of ways. He contributed by trying to sweep the chocolate milkshake from the bus into the pavement with his foot. The bus driver was just sat there, almost seemed like he was refusing to move until the mess was cleaned up. The local smack head was determined to make it spic and span but it wasn’t helping, until the girl kindly gave him her hoody to use to mop up the mess… The guy was insistent and to be fair, managed to clean the mess up with her hoody.  Once he’d got it mostly mopped up, he was well happy with himself. The girl then asked for her chocolate milkshake soaked hoodie back…

For more exciting adventures, be sure to tune in next week…