A bit of a vent!

When we embarked on this Out Of The Shadows campaign, the main intention was to highlight the need to talk about sexual violence; to bring it out of the shadows and for victims and survivors to understand that there is support out there for them. In the last few months a much bigger campaign came to light with the allegations made against some of the Hollywood elite and how they used their power to sexually exploit women and in some cases men. Goes to show that the same sexual exploitation stories are happening everywhere; this is a crime that can affect anyone, anywhere and at any time. Due to many high-profile cases and the bravery of some incredible people so many more people are now talking about sexual harassment and sexual violence. Millions of people have started to use the #metoo and #timesup hashtags to highlight and share their stories. This is a worldwide problem and we need to keep shouting about it, prising it out of the undergrowth and the murky shadows and into a bright spotlight where it can be seen for what it is. Fundamentally Wrong. Whilst we have made small steps with our local campaign, even turning the fountains green in centre square as part of sexual violence awareness week, it’s positive to see this difficult subject being talked about more and more on a mass level. We hope people will continue to speak out with the knowledge that there is support out there and charities like ARCH North East have the team to assist and help in any number of ways, whether that’s counselling or advocate support as they progress through the legal system. Let’s keep talking and bring this wretched crime out of the shadows for good.

#outoftheshadows – #metoo – #timesup


Right, back to the 500 miles blog and the excuses for why this is taking soo loong!!!!!!!

My knee. I have a really bad knee (Ganglion cyst apparently)! Oh yeah and a job, family and the weather hasn’t been great and this dog is so lazy! (Sorry Buddy but the truth will out!). OK, excuses out of the way we are finally making progress to completing our 500 miles. It has been done in drips and drabs I must admit, but I didn’t say it would happen in a day, did I? Having said that we are definitely on the home straight with a huge event being planned to finish the final 30 miles. For those of you wishing to contribute to the final miles please come along to our event on the 31st March and take your turn on our spinning bike. (Sainsbury’s at Acklam). For full details of the events and rewards on offer please keep an eye on our Facebook page.

Weather permitting, which hasn’t been often, we managed to clock up quite a few miles locally around the Stockton area. We are blessed in this area with the number of fantastic parks. Buddy and I have spent a lot of time recently in Ropner Park, one of the oldest parks in the area, harking back to Victorian times. In fact, a solo performance in the amazing Ropner Bandstand by Buddy Holly Harkin, was a complete sell-out! Buddy’s version of Peggy Sue was lost to three passers-by as it was drowned out by the volume of sound from the crows hovering overhead and a yapping Jack Russell. I don’t think he was that bothered as he devoured a sausage butty from the close by Friends of Ropner café. I had a cup of tea, had intended to have a sausage butty but hey ho!  Buddy and I had a great day out at Preston park recently in the beige snow and semi frozen ponds. The weather was Winter one minute and almost Mediterranean the next, and we still wonder about the phenomenon of global warming. I’m convinced, as is my winter sun burn. Next on the agenda was a long stroll along the length of the Tees walking under, over, across and beside as many bridges as we could in one day. Quite a challenge for a dog that enjoys swimming far more than walking on busy bridges. One of the great walks in Teesside in our opinion is the eight-bridge walk from the Transporter to the bridge in Yarm, right beside the very popular Bluebell Arms (2 for 1 parmo’s) and not a bad pint either. A lot of miles covered again on the static bike in the shed with Buddy looking on – again!


Enough of the lazy dog, my 52-year-old knobbly knee owner! Don’t need to use your knee as a reason for being so long at this challenge, tell the truth about your inability to function before midday! By the way the reason I don’t like bridges is because of the cars and trains that travel at a hundred miles an hour with dodgy brakes and little consideration for wandering black Labradors. Not only is it inadvisable to stop and sniff in such locations; apparently it’s also inappropriate to prop one’s leg on such structural sections due to the potential of doggy induced corrosion issues! And what’s all this nonsense about weather being bad as a reason for not walking! There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. I have the best coat ever, maybe you need to invest in a new waterproof? Might be worth letting people know I never offered to sing on the bandstand, you knew that posh poodle was never going to give me a clap; she never even “paused” to listen! I wish I had a penny for every non- responsive bark, I’d be worth at least thrupence. (I can’t stop peeing, is that an issue, still Buddy here!)

Weather Cold & Wet, Wet & Cold Tropical
Mood Subdued Exhilarated
Total Mileage 500 500
Mileage Complete 404 At least 3 x 404. (1,212)
Mileage Balance 96 ?
Pounds lost

Pounds gained

Plateaued                                           Same

£4,200                                                   Thrupence





So following on from our first blog here’s a brief snapshot of some of the things Buddy and I have been up to over the last month or so.

This month Buddy and I had a few weeks summer holidays so not as many miles clocked up as we could have or probably should have, but at least we had a break to rest our weary feet and paws. Whilst i headed off to Croatia with the family for a few weeks Buddy went and stayed at one of our sponsors “Yappy Days” doggy day care centre in Stockton.  I tried to keep the miles ticking over  by doing a bit of kayaking and running.

Thanks to Nathan and Lynne Binns for dragging me out of bed at 6.30 to do a 3 mile run around the beautiful bay at Zaton Zeiliki, just outside Dubrovnik.

The weather this month has been all over the place, sunny one day and pouring down the next. With the unpredictable British weather I have had to improvise on occasions to get a few miles in. For example I have taken up temporary residence in the garden shed along with my static exercise bike to clock up a total of 30 miles. So whilst it is pouring down outside it’s been quite humid inside so it’s felt like biking in a Yoga sauna most of the time. (An exercise now known as YOBI in the Harkin household) Of course Buddy just laid at the shed door with a strange doggy smile, glad that he still hasn’t learned to ride a bike, not even a static one.

On one of the few sunny days that we did have, we headed off to the South Gare in Teesside and walked along the beach to Redcar. The South Gare is an area of reclaimed land and breakwater on the southern side of the mouth of the river Tees, near Redcar. It’s a particular favourite of ours as Buddy can go in the sea and practise his butterfly stroke. (Some day I will load a video so you can see for yourself what a Black Labrador looks like doing the butterfly stroke). The landscape is full of very large wind turbines which to me enhances the views and adds a different dimension on the beach walk to Redcar.

I also did a different walk around Richmond clocking up around 12 miles mostly up hill (Thank you Ade!) We stopped in Richmond town centre for a bit of a rest and ended up eating fish and chips and mushy peas, not a good idea!

We have also decided to go to as many parks as we can in and around Teesside and ended up in Stewart’s park in Middlesbrough in mid August and had a look around the Captain Cooke birthplace museum, definitely worth a look if you haven’t been before.

Last week Buddy and I turned up to do the Tees Pride 10 km run in Middlesbrough. If possible Buddy comes along on runs  like these but due to the large numbers of people taking part he managed on this occasion to get out of it. It was also going to be hard enough for me to drag myself around never mind looking after a moving trip hazard. Even though i didn’t manage to break any land speed records I did manage to run the whole way without stopping which i was pleased about; shows my fitness is starting to get there.


Thank God for holidays! No dragging me around parks and hills for a few weeks. I was able to crawl up on a sofa at Yappy Days and not move all day, not a foot to be licked in sight – we all deserve a holiday and a rest at least once every 500 miles or so. Managed to get all day cuddles and massages by Jess and her team and even managed to get Francis to fork out on a  spa day and get my nails done.

Was quite funny though when Francis got back from holidays and it never stopped raining for days; he resorted to getting on his bike in the shed and sweated profusely as i lay on the shed floor laughing behind a fake sad face. He got a right sweat on, but then he needs to….

We did get a day out at the seaside  near Redcar. There were loads of other dogs to swim with. Met a really nice mongrel called Molly, I think Francis got her owners number so should be fun meeting up again, I assume we are meeting up again!? Must remember to bring more drinking water next time, i was parched after consuming far more sea water than I intended.

I’ve also been enjoying our walks  and runs around the parks and particularly like Stewart’s park in Middlesbrough and Ropner park in Stockton; some really nice dogs hang out at Ropner Park, saw a really well groomed Poodle with its own pram – i kid you not!

Can’t tell you how relieved I was to get out of the Tees Pride 10 km race last week. Dodging all those humans would have been a nightmare and anyway Francis had to focus on getting around in one piece, and with him carrying all that weight i didn’t want him tripping and falling on me. He did good though getting around without walking as i hid under the Arch North East gazebo munching on a continuous bag of doggy treats; i even tried a few cheesy chips.

Stats up to the 9th September as follows:

Weather A few too many wet days! A few too many hot days!
Mood Challenged Bouncy
Total Mileage 500 500
Mileage Complete 238 Stopped counting at 1000!
Mileage Balance 262 Until I’m told to stop
Pounds lost 12 lbs (total) Don’t need to thanks
Pounds gained £1317.00                                            Getting close to the target o f £2k


  • That  the Redcar  Offshore Wind Farm has a 27 turbine 62 MW capacity – one of the biggest in the UK?
  • That Ropner park is a fully restored Victorian park with a lot of activities, events and a fantastic cafe. Visit for more information
  • That Stewart’s park is a 120 acres of woodlands, lakes and hosts public events all year round. The museum dedicated to the birth place of Captain Cooke is a must visit?
  • That the Tees Pride 10 km run is one of the best attended 10 k’s in the country?
  • That The University of Teesside has won 10 top national awards including The Queens Anniversary Prize 2014-2018 for higher and further education?
  • That The HUB at the students union at Teesside Uni will be hosting the ARCH North East Live music event on the 24th November 2017 – please come along and support this fantastic local charity. Bands supporting us are The Jar Family, Mouses, Head Of Light Entertainment, Talk Like Tigers and an acoustic surprise!
  • That Talk Like Tigers would agree to a photo with me!?


Blog with a dog – And we would walk 500 miles………

“Out Of The Shadows” Campaign

A few words about the campaign….


A few months back after being made redundant, I decided that it may be a good time to take a few months out, take stock and do some volunteer work.  Through my wife Nicky I became aware of the great work of ARCH North East., a valuable but little known charity based in Teesside. ARCH NE carries out very difficult but incredible work in support of those affected by sexual violence. Nicky has worked there now for a few years so I know how difficult it can be to keep things going.

One of the big things the charity struggled with was letting people know about the support they could offer and also bringing people on board to support the cause, whether that was making a donation or volunteering some time.  I thought this is something I could help with and after discussing with some of the team at ARCH NE we decided to launch the “Out Of The Shadows” campaign. I then set a target of raising £5000 for them before the end of the year; with a personal challenge of raising £1000 towards this by trying to cover 500 miles by whatever means necessary with Buddy our black Labrador being dragged along beside me to help with the task. (No engine driven or other powered vehicles allowed to assist with the mileage or indeed any riding on the back of black Labradors!).

Over the course of the next few months I will be organising a few other fundraising and awareness events, so if you can help support me along the way that would be brilliant!

So, apart from raising awareness and hopefully a few quid towards helping Arch NE deliver their vital services I thought this may also be a good opportunity to highlight some of the amazing scenery and facilities we have in Teesside. And to be blatantly honest I also need to lose a few pounds as well! (ok, stone(s))!

On the 2nd July 2017 Buddy and I started our 500 mile challenge as part of the ARCH NE team taking part in the Ali Brownlee Riverside run. Cheers team but I thought you would have waited for us! (You know who you are!)

Hopefully I will be able to log the walks, runs and bike rides and you’ll be able to see some of the fantastic areas we have travelled in and around Teesside.
Buddy and I will cover the mileage by walking, running, cycling and possibly a few miles crawling! I should point out of course that Buddy will be running most of it as he still hasn’t managed to learn to ride a bike!
The intention is to do a regular blog, so you can catch up with our Teesside ramblings and keep tabs on our mileage countdown clock! We will also be doing a number of fun runs along the way (including Buddy where he is allowed) so please come along and show your support; you will know about these via our blog, Facebook page and the ARCH North East website.

At this point I just want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to our sponsors to date; Bow-Tique, Birchwoods Recording Studio, Yappy Days, Mabo Media, Oceanscan, Create Architecture, Emmerson Marketing and Head of Light Entertainment with their new album -Drool. Our Blog will be sharing some more information about the sponsors a little bit later on. If you or your company would like to support please get in touch via or contact me via my Facebook page.


First of all I want to say that it’s taken me ages to learn how to type so I hope you all appreciate the efforts I have gone to in order to do this blog it’s not easy with paws. I would also like to point out that learning to ride a bike isn’t something that comes naturally to a dog so I hope you will forgive me if I disappear when it comes to doing 20 to 30 mile bike rides, especially with my sense of direction and tendency to get my tail caught up in bike spokes. It was also not my idea by the way to do 500 miles, I thought doing 100 would be enough, but no, no one ever listens to me; I’m just a dog. I just get dragged along and asked to jump in rivers, fetch balls and lick sore feet.

I have to say though that it’s been great going to new places but I’m not sure what this GPS watch thing is tied around my neck, seems I’m logging a few more miles than my human companion.  I’m not sure jumping into the Tees with this watch on was part of the plan as I am no longer allowed to wear it and Francis seems a bit annoyed; I’m sure it will get fixed (and dry out) at some point though!

So far, we have managed clock up 134 miles strolling in and around Yarm, Eaglescliffe, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Richmond and my favourite place for a swim, Cod Beck. (Dogs only though, too dangerous for humans). Next month we are going into the hills apparently; hope he remembers to bring my sleeping bag, loads of treats and a few other people (he can be quite boring, don’t say I said that though.)

A big thank you to Ade Fletcher for his company last week in and around the Richmond hills, nice views, pity about the rain and those pesky sheep as I had to be kept on a lead.

Stats up to the 2nd August as follows:

Weather Very wet Awesome
Mood Tired (really sore feet) Awesome
Total Mileage 500 500
Mileage Complete 134 Loads more than him
Mileage Balance 366 Are dog miles the same as human miles?
Pounds lost 6 lbs No thanks
Pounds gained  £790.00                                              Half that’s mine boss!
Mood end of month 1 Contemplative Still Awesome


  • That you can go water skiing on the River Tees?
  • That the Tees Barrage is one of the fastest and steepest white water rafting facilities in the UK?
  • That the Air Trail at the Tees Barrage is the biggest of its kind in the UK
  • That Teesside has some of the best restaurants in the UK according to quite a few of the Good Food guides!
  • That there is an extensive cycling network with cycle paths stretching hundreds of miles in and around Teesside.
  • That Teesport on the River Tees is the third largest port in the UK?
  • That the Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) is one of the largest open air festivals in Europe.

     Let me have your “Who knew….”,  for the next blog!

White water rafting at the Barrage     100’s of  miles of cycle paths


The Air Trail in Stockton             The Derry, one of our favourites


Thanks again to our sponsors for your donations and lovely T-Shirts


                     Don’t forget to put all that loose change into an ARCH NE money jar!





“Anyone for a swim?”

“I really want to bite his ear”

Spinning bike to the rescue!

Buddy Holly Harkin and his solo Bandstand performance!

Snowhere to be seen! (sorry)

Beige snow in Teesside!

Buddy “pawsing” in Ropner Park

Eight bridges Way

Newport Bridge in the cold and wet!

Tees Barrage walk

BLOG 4 coming soon

Nearly at our target!

Don’t forget our event on the 31st March at Sainsburys Acklam!

The  beautiful Zaton coastline run

Improvising to get some miles up in the shed

Buddy in Redcar enjoying the weather

A really nice 12 miles in and around Richmond

Stewart’s Park

Tees Pride 10 km run

The Arch runners before and after

 Buddy on holiday at Yappy Days

Don’t forget about our live music event on the 24th Nov

“I’m starting to think this world is just a place for us to learn that we need each other more than we want to admit.”

Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

Some photos along the way of places we visited along with Buddy and sometimes his mate Poppy Lax!

Buddy taking Poppy for a walk into Yarm

CEO Nicky Harkin presented with BACP award by The Mayor of Middlesbrough, David Budd

I’m ready when you are….

The start of our 500 mile journey at the Ali Brownlee run on the 2nd July

The Arch NE “fun-run” team

Having a rest at Preston Park

A cold wet morning in Richmond but still a stunning place

A very hot day at Cotham Woods, a doggy paradise!

Cod Beck – the best place in the whole of Yorkshire for a swim (dogs only)!

 The Tees Barrage – so much to do!

Along the banks of the River Swale near Richmond

Finishing our first fun run – (498 miles left)!

Some views along the banks of the Tees in Stockton


How lucky are we to live in such a multi cultural, dynamic, inspiring and stunning place?!

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style”.

Maya Angelou