Journal

A Field Guide to Whacking Squirrels and Marrying Trees

| Stephen Fabes |
Cycling to Devon was my plan B. I’d considered running there first, a bit earnest, I know. I’d gone so far as to research running-rucksacks online (and therefore: too far) before deciding that it was not a smart way to move 150 miles. Running with a rucksack is not kind to shoulders or vertebrae, plus trust me when I say this: the chafing is outrageous (And I’ve cycled around the world, which is to say: I know a lot about chafing). The August bank holiday weekend was looming, summer’s fin…

Armagh-eddon: racing the fastest 5k in the world

| Stephen Fabes |
How is it that races guarded by qualifying times dare you to race? A small hit of pride, perhaps, that’s all it takes, and I’m signing up to run a measly 5k in Armagh, which is in Northern Ireland, in case you don’t have googlemaps to hand. But if you’re looking for excuses not to bother – and very soon, I am – this race in particular has more than usual for the dubious. It falls midweek. I live in London, so it’s the other side of a whole sea. It’s going to cost money to get there. Do I …

How to lose friends, write books and ignore people

| Stephen Fabes |
Put on your ‘writing jumper’. It’s oversized, woolly and you found it behind the dressing gowns at Scope. Forget that it still smells of a gouty pensioner. Breathe. Feel powerful. You are ready to begin.CoffeeHave a shot of hot water if you drool any of the grounds.Limber up: Look about your room and create luminous, poetic similes. The widow shines like a pair of shiny glasses in the glassy sun. The can of coke is crepuscular, like an isotope of beryllium. The sunrise was bloody, like a roa…

An Accidental Run to Smalley Green

| Stephen Fabes | | 1 Comment
It began with an empty space. I noticed it take form in my diary, a run of blank pages, cleaned of life. The weeks leading up to and after this time were messy, every page scribbled with reminders and events, presentations, shifts in A&E, drinks with mates. But as time passed, nothing encroached on this odd little clearing in the forest, and sometimes, I wondered if was all down to me. Perhaps some instinct, something subconscious, was meticulously making space. Perhaps this was th…

How to rough camp without getting murdered in your sleep

| Stephen Fabes |
There’s a tradition to uphold in writing how-to posts. The writer should peacock their expertise with a detailed account of all the times they got it right. But then… how could you trust the advice? To paraphrase ancient wisdom, we learn through our fuck-ups. And in my experience of rough camping, there has been quite a lot of learning because, to be frank, there have been an enormous number of fuck-ups. I have catalogued them with names that invoke time-worn horror movies. There has be…

My mum loves Levison Wood

| Stephen Fabes | | 3 Comments
My mum loves Levison Wood. In case you’ve been on hiatus from our star system, Levison is an adventurer. Channel 4 follow him about as he does venturesome things. ‘He’s such an adventurous guy’ my mum says. ‘Mum’ I begin, steadily. ‘I’ve been cycling around the world for six years.’ ‘I know, I know darling’ she says, before lapsing into a reverie. ‘But he’s so handsome, isn’t he?’ She follows him on Twitter. It makes me wonder when she’s going to follow me. ‘Oh, are you…