Sunday, 2 April 2017

I'm an expert!

I'm an expert in...hillwalking, backpacking, mountain rescue, wilderness first aid, motorhomes, independent travel, motorcycle touring, teaching motorcycling, cycling and cycle touring, dogs and backpacking with dogs...and travelling with dogs and...

I could go on...and on...and on. But I won't cos actually I'm not really an expert in any of these fields. BUT, and it's a big but, I do have considerable experience of all of them. and so, to my point...my rant of the day if you will.

I dip into a good number of blogs. Some I read carefully, some I merely scan. I find many interesting, informative, amusing, A few have elements of all these traits. However, it's become apparent to me in recent times that there is a new type of blogger emerging. This new breed seeks to enter a new world of interesting pursuits. Being focused to a large extent on the world of hillwalking, trekking, backpacking and wild camping, my experiences are limited for the most part on these pursuits, so, here, I'm restricting my comments to this subject area. This new recruit, blogger - let's call him Bert, just for fun - will seek out information, often via social media, sample a few ideas and progress their skills. They will often search the internet for advice on gear, techniques and the like, the better to enjoy their new found activity. Much of this will sound familiar to many of you. I do all these things regularly, almost subconsciously, for I am always willing to learn. Many are the backpacking trips with a friend where I return with a new trick, a different idea, another way of solving a small problem. This is how we learn. How we improve. I see mention of a new bit of kit on social media; I look, consider, dismiss or look further.

So far, Bert and I are alike. We're interested. Keen. Bert carries on with his pursuit, bubbling with enthusiasm but then...something happens...something strange. A metamorphosis occurs. Bert disappears, quietly, into a virtual, internet telephone box and emerges...transformed...like a pupating chrysalis. For now, Bert has become...(drum roll)...an EXPERT!

Now...see their blog. It is filled with pages of...ADVICE. List upon list of what one should carry on a day hike, all you need to wild camp, rules for lightening your load. The opportunities for Bert are, it would seem, limitless. But wait...is this the same Bert who, just last week was asking for advice on wild camping...yet now is pontificating to one and all on the dos and don'ts of this most eccentric of activities? Yes, dear reader, it is he. The same. The very same.

Do you recognise Bert? You should, because he is everywhere. And he is driving me up the proverbial wall.

Back to the beginning. I am NOT an expert. I am a blogger. I write for my own personal amusement and, sometimes it seems, the amusement of a few others. I tell tales of my experiences, successes, failures. I tell of stuff I use, skills I employ. But, I try NOT to pontificate about MY gear being the best, MY technique being the right one. That's for you to decide. Try it, dismiss it, like it. I don't mind. But...Bert...please don't give me a list of techniques for sucking eggs which you yourself, discovered only the day before via Google. Please!

Bert. This is addressed mostly to you. Grow up! Be respectful. Admit your own shortcomings and we, the great unwashed, will likely respond with kindness and help. Tell us what stuff you've tried and how you found it. But don't tell me (the old one, with the grey beard and more nights and days in the wilds, the wind, the rain, the snow than I care to remember) what I must use, how I must do this or that. Behave like the smartarse you clearly are not, and we will ignore, close the page, hit the "unfollow" button and leave you to drown in your pit of undeserved self-congratulation.

You have been warned.

BTW no actual Berts were harmed during the writing of this post. Nor, indeed any Bertinas. But, after it's written...well, who knows?

Oh, and by the way Bert. If you place a request on social media asking for specific advice, please don't go to sleep for a hundred years without checking to see if anyone responded. It is staggeringly rude not to acknowledge the response someone gave just minutes after your request appeared. Don't ask me how I know.

And breathe...


32 comments:

  1. Ha! I certainly recognise Bert. I agree with so much of this. In my blog I will sometimes (often???) say "this is what I do". But never, or virtually never, give people advice. I am sometimes asked fot it and usually I refer them on to people far more knowledgeable than me eg re the TGO Challenge. The exception, of course, is when I meet an ejit in enormous boots and carrying a chair in his back pack when I may mention that soaking wet trail shoes and lying down all evening on the cold ground would make a real man of him. 😁 Oh. And I suspect Bert is often after freebies from the gear manufacturers....

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    1. That's me. But I wonder where I got the phrase, "boils my piss" from? πŸ˜‚

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  3. Love it.
    Bang on...
    And some get sponsored or supported by organisations and companies that appear to be just as expertly clueless.

    The interwebthing is full of Berts.
    I could name several but I won't.

    ☺️πŸ‘

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    1. Yep, profiting from ineptitude is particularly bloody irritating Andy.

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    2. Andrew.
      Go on.
      Name names.
      You know you want to...
      It's inevitable.

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  4. Unfollow Geoff, unsubscribe, don't read, unfriend! Have you never thought that maybe these blogs aren't aimed at you. Stop behaving like an honorary vetter on outdoor events and realise that bloggers respond to questions about kit because they get inundated with questions by ordinary people who prefer not to be sneered at by experts. You are like the reader who used to come into the library where I used to work to complain that every book was rubbish from start to finish, but they never stopped reading each book until the end. I will be enthralled if my humble comment is approved on such an expert blog.

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    1. Stephanie, you are a fraud and a liar. Everyone knows it but you. I will leave this here and invite everyone to view your sites: https://rucksackrose.com and https://stephaniehakin.com
      Readers should know Chrissie and I have personal experience with Stephanie (Rose) and can say with confidence she is neither an experienced hillwalker nor backpacker.

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    2. And I've given you one opportunity to comment on here, but that's it. I have deleted your further comment because it was on the verge of being libelous. I have a life to lead and you have already done more damage than you will ever know to my dear wife, all thanks to her responding to YOUR pleas for help. Shame on you. Begone!

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  5. "Inundated" An ironic use of the word, I suspect.

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  6. Had to distance myself from a fair few Berts recently who email or message and ask for advice, routes, tips... only for that mined information to then appear on Berts blog or his social media without a single word of acknowledgement....

    I'm not after any recognition from Bert, that's not what it's about. Bert just doesn't take in to account the time it takes to respond to his requests or factor in that I might have a family/job/life to consider too... one particular Bert even went on a bit of a hate campaign against me as I didn't respond fast enough to his multiple requests for info :-)

    Bert has ruined my social media / online experience to the point where I have become withdrawn. I've never professed to be an expert in anything myself, I'm just an idiot who likes to spend time outdoors... Thanks Bert for destroying something I really enjoyed.

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    1. That's an interesting and unfortunate twist to my tale Dean. Very sad. Your content is always interesting and informative. Be good to meet up sometime for a camp and chat. Don't let fools get to you.

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    2. Well said Geoff. Unfortunately there are far to many Berts around and social media just gives them the opportunity to reach further than they used to be able to.

      I've had my share of Mrs Berts in a completely different field and like Dean I now find it easier on my blood pressure to just completely ignore them all. Many years ago I spent a long time helping out a couple of ladies in a niche area where I knew a great deal and they were total novices. A few months later I found one of them was charging £200 a day passing on her “skills & knowledge” . . . when I commented on that she smirked and said something along the lines of “more fool you, and you cannot stop me”.

      But over the years I have learnt a huge amount from lovely people in the outdoor community and I hope I always said “thank you”.

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    3. That's another twist I wouldn't have anticipated Jayne. It must have been especially annoying seeing someone potentially profiting financially from your help. I sympathise. Ignoring is, as you say, the best policy, but it's not easy. I'll admit I find it difficult. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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  7. Met a few of those in my time Geoff. Well said. Like you, I have many years of experience and indeed I am no expert but, with many the year behind me, I do think I know what I am about. The way I do things, the equipment I use, well, they suit me. My experience I am willing to share, advice I am happy to give, but never, never will I claim to be an EXPERT.

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    1. And your experience dwarfs many I've met Dawn. Good to see you at the weekend. Look forward to another camp in the future. Smile!

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  8. Well said, Geoff. Amusingly, informatively and expertly put even 😊 There are far too many Berties about unfortunately. I used to like to give people my take, a bit of advice, on the various Social Media groups/circles but I keep it to a minimum these days as some people don't want to learn, or need to learn for themselves. These Bert's seem to be multiplying rapidly. Not to mention there seem to be far too many inexperienced, disrespectful and clueless people getting out in the hills and not all of them named Bert. Bert Wannabes maybe; people influenced or encouraged by Bert. I do not wish to be party to encouraging said people too much into getting 'out there'. I know that's probably a selfish attitude but there it is. I like the countryside as it is and it is shrinking rapidly and becoming sullied with the increasing presence of these Bert's and Bert Wannabes.

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    1. Cheers Elton. Everything you say is correct. And when you offer to help someone the result is the stupidity posted above in these comments, for all to see. Have a great TGOC my friend.

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  9. The funny thing Steph is that Geoff's blog post was not even aimed at or remotely about you! Must have pushed a few buttons though.....

    And as Geoff said, what you did to Chrissie was beyond spiteful. Totally unforgivable.

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  10. At the age of 10 I had a school friend who used to impress me no end with his automotive expertise. He'd stand beside the main road and as a car rounded the corner, 200 yards distant, he would instantaneously reel off the exact model, engine size, top speed and 0-60 of the vehicle....just from seeing the front grill and headlights. Then he'd give a convincing opinion of whether the car was any good or not.

    It wasn't until years later that I appreciated this skill didn't stem from a lifetime involvement in junior motorsport, but from a few too many hands of Top Trumps.

    However much I learn, it simply reminds me of how much I didn't know. So from a tenderfoot age, when the extent of my outdoors knowledge was gleaned only from Ultimate Phaser Dome adverts in 'Practical Camping', I've always assumed that if I act the guru based on my limited experience, somebody will see through it.

    As a novice mountaineer I was climbing Khan Tengri from Kyrgyzstan back in the 90's, and descending cockily from summit camp I spotted a lone figure sat on his pack in the snow at camp 2. I wandered over, dropped my pack, and planted my axe in the snow in the manner of the seasoned mountaineer I'd instantly become that very morning.

    'How was it up there?' the man asked.

    Aha, that was my cue to impart every last scrap of recently overheard knowledge and insight I could muster; about the snow conditions, that ice cave, the crevasses and that tricky rock section...all of which I experienced from the novice end of a rope but delivered in the manner of Gaston Rebuffat. He must surely have been impressed, he just sat there grinning as I waffled on.

    And at the end of my expert mentoring session he simply said;

    'By the way I never did catch your name?'

    'John' I replied in a self satisfied way.

    To which he extended his hand and said, 'Nice to meet you John. Simon Yates'

    Ground, swallow me up!!!

    Take note Bert.

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    1. What a wonderful story John. A salutary lesson eh? Thanks for visiting.

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  11. Geoff, I've held back from commenting, out of curiosity to see what comments appear.
    I've made my mistakes like many others, but I've listened and learned from people like yourself,
    Sadly, Bert is a very common person in our hobby, and increasingly so, as many online Mountain Rescue logs show.
    I fear Bert is a common person in many, if not all hobbies.
    I need not comment any further, you, and Chrissie, know my view.
    Om a more humorous note, I had to Google what the ex-politician Michael Portillo and your good self had in common.
    You on to a winner. :)
    ATB Mike

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    1. Cheers Mike. Annd you're right of course. There are Berts in all walks of life. I don't mind Michael Portillo. He has great dress sense πŸ˜‰ Take care.

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  12. Interesting post Geoff. As you know, I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to hillwalking etc. when I first started searching for info on outdoor stuff, I did come across a few Berts. I'm pretty fussy now as to who I follow on social media, blogs etc. I tend to do a bit of research on them before I'll take advice. Yes, you and Chrissie were vetted and passed the test. I won't tell you who came first though...lol. Funnily enough, there are plenty of Berts in my profession too. They have travelled all over Europe and Scandinavia on the strength of a trucking magazine and internet forum. I'm 30 yrs at it and I'm still learning, still asking, still watching others. Thanks mate. I Feel better now for getting that of me chest....lol

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    1. Cheers Andy. Pleased we passed 😊 Also interesting to hear there are Bert Truckers too. They must be a pain!
      I also note with interest that, in the many responses on here only one seems to disagree with my thougts. Funny that πŸ˜‚

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    2. Yes, I did notice that Geoff.πŸ˜‚

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  13. Hi Geoff, how do you fell about inexpert advice? Reading this has reminded me of a post I did a few years back...

    https://ossroad.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/the-idiots-approach-to-choosing-a-new-camera/

    The content has long since been overtaken by technological advances (compacts with viewfinders and long zooms, etc.) but it's a reminder of why I'm generally reticent when it comes to offering advice, let alone claiming expertise...

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    1. That tells its own story - a mistake by word six (should have read 'feel')

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    2. Yep. Well it's an interesting technique. Reducing choice by waiting for stuff to go out of production. But I'm afraid you fail to make it as a Bert due to your complete lack of dishonesty. No prize!
      It was an entertaining read though and thanks for visiting πŸ‘

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Comments are always welcome but please be patient. I always check comments before posting having been the subject of some unfortunate abuse in the past.