Breath Hard

It is something we all take for granted, and something we all need to do every day. Taking a breath shouldn’t be as hard as it is for some. No breath I take is taken for granted. Every deep breath in the summer air or cool winter wind is every breath that I fight for day in day out. From the morning nebuliser to the afternoon antibiotics, I will fight and win each breath, for me and others out there with Cystic Fibrosis.

After being born with a collapsed lung and being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, many people would have never guessed that by the age of 21, I would have ran my first marathon, trekked in the Himalayas over 5000m and through Vietnamese jungles, cycled 430km to Paris, completed the National Three peaks Challenge in under 24 hours and most importantly, raised thousands of pounds for multiple charities. Why? I am fighting for each breath and living wild has given me my motivation and drive to hit my goals and help others. Don’t feel sorry for me, people with Cystic Fibrosis have a beautiful life. From the severe coughing pain, I have managed to see more beauty in each day than most people may in their life. The worse part of my life would be reaching the end and realizing I never truly lived.

Find what gives your life purpose and meaning and chase after it. It is never all fun and games, and to reach my goals has proved immensely challenging both physically and mentally. With having Cystic Fibrosis, people wouldn’t guess you are ill and I repeatedly get people saying ‘but you don’t look ill’. CF has made me sympathize more with people from all backgrounds, as just because ‘I don’t look ill’ doesn’t mean that I am not ill and the same goes for every person, no one knows what you are battling, so do it for you. I live wild for me.

I am most at peace with myself facing the elements. It’s funny because people believe that you need to be a strong mountaineer or an expeditioner to understand that and feel the vulnerable sense you feel facing nature. But some of my best moments have come from leaving my front door for a long run, or choosing to go for a walk at midnight in the dark and bitter hours of a winters night. We choose to take adventures when we decide to go on a different course for a dog walking route or by walking a different route to work which could be cross country and longer. The more confidence you grow, the more you experiment and the greater the adventures you plan. Looking at it realistically, I never lost that sense of adventure we have from when we are children: the only difference being is that I am an adult and I can truly live those greater adventures; we all can, if we believe. Sometimes it’s about remembering who we were before the world asked us to change.

Having Cystic Fibrosis is limiting, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. Although, I am living and chasing my dreams with every day that cystic fibrosis tries to hold me back. We are all human, we are all fragile and I get ill and have set backs as much as the next person but that doesn’t mean I am going to let it affect me and the next person. We are all a sum result of the people we have around us and we are all in a position to motivate and raise the people around us higher in life and in happiness. It’s as simple as Plain Sailor puts it: ‘These are the stories of the extraordinary doing the extraordinary.’ As a teenager, losing ambition, failing at school and acting rebellious, I would have never dreamed that I could become a mountain guide, or even at 19 years old trek above 5000m into the Himalayas, experience altitude sickness and the bitter -15 degrees cold which made me feel more alive than ever before. Plain Sailor is the platform for sharing your story and bringing together a community of individuals strong enough to say ‘I can’, and I am proud to be one of them.


What’s next? MontBlanc in aid of the Oak and Furrows Wildlife Rescue Centre, I am coming for you.

What did we expect?

What did I expect? Well, I didn’t expect to be working 12 hour shifts on a building site up to my nuts in horse shit. Was I foolish to think otherwise? Yes.

The Corps breeds a mindset that tells us we are the best, that we can do anything we want, overcome everything, and become whoever we want to be. All of this is correct, but what it failed to do was tell us how to get there. Time spent before getting out was mainly consumed by thoughts of being a civvy, how long my hair would be, and what would I do with all the women and gold at my feet. This is all we had ever heard, the dits about blokes getting out, leaving for far off lands and smashing pirates for bags of coin. What we didn’t know was the shit times blokes had to go through to get there, and why didn’t we? Because we are too proud.

The mentality that we build in training breeds a mindset which is highly effective and necessary on ops. We are taught to believe that if there is the slightest possibility, it could manifest into a probability, we apply the theory when we calculate risks and when we think about overcoming the almost impossible. And it works. The product of this mindset, is that any possibility of success on the outside is achievable, and that we are purely limited by what Gucci, ally looking character our imagination can conjure up. However, a by-product of this mindset is that anything other than achieving our goals is a failure, but it’s not. It took me a long time to swallow my pride, stick my hand up and accept that I might need a leg up in life.

Getting medically discharged is a stinker for anyone, but I was fortunate. My body was intact, albeit with a couple of unsalvageable knees, I couldn’t drip about my situation. When I entered the remits of career transition, trying to get my head around transferable skills, writing CV’s and interview techniques was challenging. For the past 8 years my literacy skills had only reached the dizzy heights of a route card, and so trying to muster up a cover letter and a CV that didn’t sound like a set of orders was hard work. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. My heart was in the Corp, so deciding on which route to take on the outside was tough. I knew that cyber security was a decent industry to get into, so when I rocked up on a course dominated by former sigs and Int boffs, this solid Tankie was out of depth. I cuffed the course, but I wasn’t sure if it was for me.

Time was running out and I really started to question what it was I wanted to, then before I knew it I was a civvy. Shit. Ok, everyone else was smashing it now it was my time to do so, and I didn’t have a scooby where to start. Luckily for me, I managed to land a job building stables. It was the summer and I could get some Phys done whilst getting bronzed on the building site. Weeks turned into months, and before I know I was wearing a softie suit carrying 100kg sections across bogged up fields, wielding a pair of sparrow knees. This wasn’t what I had in mind. It wasn’t just the hard graft, lack of 2-hour lunch breaks and time off to do Phys that hit me like a truck of reality, it was the realisation of me as person.  Overnight I was transported into a world where Jimmy Saville jokes went down like tonne of bricks, drinking every night was deemed ‘excessive’, and swamping on colleagues on a night out wasn’t funny. My dits of war were wasted on people who couldn’t relate, the look of shock in their faces signalled for me to wind it in and it wasn’t their fault. I wasn’t in the Corps anymore and I had to evolve, or I’d become a dinosaur. I’d become extinct.

It wasn’t that my jobs were at all bad, or poorly paid, it was the realisation that I wasn’t growing into the person that I wanted to become, and I had no idea how to change. Feeling alienated was an understatement. How could I share my dissatisfaction with my life with the people around me? The first thing that hit me was my social life, I had lost touch with friends and I couldn’t make the re-unions because summer leave didn’t exist, and any chance of a catch seemed impossible. After the first winter as a civvy, I knew it was time to move on, but I couldn’t do it on my own. Monster’s local job search wasn’t inspiring and most of the positions required years of experience which I didn’t have, even the words within the adverts were alien to me. It was at this point in my journey that I hit rock bottom, swallowed my pride, stuck my hand up and asked for help.

I finally reached out to the RM’s charity, and after a great deal of effort on their part they secured me a ‘CV push’ on a graduate scheme for one of the UK’s biggest defence contractors. Feeling way out of my depth again I gave it a shot. After weeks of interviews and a final assessment day against 25 other grads, I was surprisingly offered the position. Without even having a degree, I managed to achieve something that was unthinkable at a time, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t become conscious of what was going on around me and asked for a helping hand. The role challenged me mentally, it taught me a lot and it showed me that we as veterans, do add value where we think we might not.

Whilst we are geared up in the forces to achieve everything we want in our military careers, we are never really taught how to adapt once we leave, how to fail and accept we might need help. For some the realisation comes too late, and for others it doesn’t come at all. Remember we are not alone, that someone out there has been through the same shit and someone out there has made it out on the other side. For us a community, we have a responsibility to look out for one another. Reach out to your oppo’s, go for a wet and keep dreaming big, because it will come.

Stay frosty sailors.


To find out more about the RM charity, the support that they offer or even career opportunities, visit



Corps to Coffee


Danny Lomas Isn’t your stereotypical hipster Barista. He is the Founder and genius behind Zombie Coffee Co & Roastery.

After 3 tours of Afghanistan, 3 Norway trips and a jolly to the jungle, it was time to slow the pace. Upon Leaving the Royal Marines, Danny like many others saw the financial benefits of the private Security Industry, and jumped on board the very much now sailed, Maritime protection boat. Danny’s slowing of pace involved protecting both commercial and civilian vessels from Pirate attack and kidnap attempts, through the Indian ocean to the Gulf of Aden.

‘I would like to take it upon myself to redefine a person’s perception of the word quality in the form of a truly delicious and aromatic cup of coffee’

Long stints on ship required a caffeine kick and Danny’s passion for Coffee beans grew. Spending time away in Kenya and Tanzania, he was able to visit plantations and get first-hand experience of the beautiful farming communities and witnessed each individual harvest process. Whilst travelling he was able to take samples of green beans which he roasted on a home roaster. Starting to understand the chemistry behind the art, Danny experimented with each unique type of bean to better recognise the application of a roast profile to maximise the taste, flavour and aroma. Coffee become his passion.

For 4 years he continued to sample roasted beans. Gaining popularity from friends and family, Danny made the decision to develop his passion and create his very own specialist brand of Coffee. To start his dream, he enrolled onto a business course, studied book keeping and learnt as much about the world of Coffee as he could. With no loans, no investors and no partners and only his personal money set aside, his aim was to prove passion, coupled with hard work and perseverance is enough to develop a successful business.

‘It is my aim to provide our clients and customers with the highest-grade coffee at a truly great price and to open up the British coffee cultures awareness of truly outstanding coffee’

Now nestled within the beautiful rolling hills of Lancashire’s countryside lies Zombie Coffee Co Roastery. On any given day the roaster is producing around 200 packages of roasted/ground beans using their Besca Drum roaster. This year, Danny plans to expand his Roastery and develop a unique specialist coffee shop.

If you enjoyed Danny’s story, head over to to find out more.

Mindset for Minors

‘99.9% need not apply’, and that’s not just down to the physical requirements, but the mentality. Indeed, many would argue that the latter is more important than the former. Time as a Royal Marine builds a unique mindset, which not only creates an elite soldier, but persists as a standard which transitions over to the civilian world. This mindset becomes ingrained for life. A vital part of this mentality is a strong ethos towards work, understanding how hard work and commitment achieves results, simple. Another trait is respect for your peers, learning to recognise strengths and weaknesses, and playing on that to bring the best out in yourself, and those surrounding you. Former Marine, Dean Kirk knows all about this, and he has taken it upon himself to implement certain aspects of this mentality into kids. His company, Apex Commando have developed unique programs designed to teach the younger generation how to utilise this way of thinking to excel in their studies, build their confidence, and actively create a positive learning environment.

Apex Commando’s founder – Dean Kirk

Before joining the Royal marines in 2007, Dean spent his life growing up in Germany with his family and brother, Kris Kirk, a fellow Former Royal Marine and now business partner. After their service in the Corps, Dean and Kris spent time working in the maritime security industry.  Ample time over night shifts on board ship allowed them to formulate ideas as to how they could utilise their experiences and mindset gained in the Royal Marines, to build a business helping others achieve their goals. It became apparent to them both, that their talents could greatly benefit today’s younger generation, showing disengaged students how adopting certain aspects of a Royal Marines mentality could be used to excel in their studies and overall growing experience. In 2016 these ideas and aspirations became reality; thus, Apex Commando was created.

Today’s younger generation live in a time where mental health issues are increasing at a drastic rate, with depression and anxiety cases alone seeing a 70% increase in the last 25 years. A quick search through social media will highlight the pertinence of the problem in our young generation. In the past three years alone, hospital admissions for teenagers with eating disorders has doubled. It would be impossible and wrong, for an unqualified person to try and list the reasons why this has happened, but we cannot overlook the dramatic effects that the mental and social pressures that school has on children. Research claims that exam stress is a significant trigger for mental illness in young people, and is often something they don’t understand how to deal with productively. We’ve all been there, and can all surely empathise. Low self-esteem and online bullying is often cultivated through the pressure of social media today, and is a core subject that Apex Commando’s program aims to address.

One of Apex Commando’s two main campaigns—Project Growth—tackles five core subjects relevant to the issues today’s children face. Pupils are educated weekly about nutrition, first aid, bullying, career aspirations, and substance abuse. The course takes place over a ten-week period, with the aim to tackle the subjects using a variety of methods. The team at Apex Commando couple discussions with physical activity, specifically targeting children who may have become disengaged at school, or those who lack self-confidence. In some sessions, the students will engage in physical activity, not just for health and well-being, but also to comprehend how effort achieves results. It is a simplified and fun way for the kids to understand the direct correlation between input and output.

Dean and brother Kris Kirk


By bringing children into discussions over bullying, Dean’s team, have been able to significantly change their mentality, highlighting the impact that words can have on each other. The change in attitude isn’t only applicable to the classroom, with the campaign not only realigning their attitude towards peers, but towards teachers and parents as well. The team became aware that much of the time kids will be completely unaware they are even bullying, and simply need the issue brought to their attention. Apex Commando are effectively trying to ‘reprogram’ their minds into a more open-minded way of thinking, which encourages mutual respect, and in turn leads to mirrored support between the students. Dean’ s students are taught not only be the best version of themselves, but to recognise the strengths and weaknesses in their peers, and use this to create the best versions of themselves.

So far Dean and the team at Apex Commando have received great feedback from the programme, not just from teachers, but from the pupils themselves in the weekly sessions. Here at Plain Sailor we are looking forward to the future for Apex Commando and ultimately the youth of today. We believe that Dean and the team are inspiring role models for our younger generation, with a simple but hard hitting message for all, and we at Plain Sailor are proud to support them with their endeavours. The familiar tone resonates throughout this article that what you put in, you get out. The issues presented are not something that can be fixed overnight, but we believe this concept is a healthy, fun and sustainable way to contribute to the well being of kids today.

To enquire, support or even find out more, head over to

Fractured Fractions

After last night’s attacks, I wanted to write a poem. This is my first ever poem, so  I hope that it’s intentions are understood, and its serves as a tribute to all the innocent lives lost.


Soon my body will be nothing, but my soul will live on,

Bathing in heaven with virgins, forgetting all done wrong.

Tomorrow I will kill infidels, and send them to their deaths,

Sinking to the depths of hell, after their final breaths.

Allah will be proud, rewarded with eternal glory,

holding untouched women, in a twisted airborne orgy.

Inshallah my brothers, until death do us part,

A martyr I will be, When I break the northern heart.

I will hit the concert tomorrow, and all will remember the day,

One man from Manchester, caused terror and havoc in May.


Tomorrow is my birthday, it will be better than the rest,

One thing left to do, just pass this final maths test.

Abdul’s in tomorrow, I will catch him on my break,

Down by the small rocks, on the shore of Hollingworth lake.

My friend from the east, my next-door neighbour,

Selfless and kind, a guaranteed math’s test saviour.

Fractions weren’t too hard, thanks for helping me out,

I will get you in tomorrow, just find a ticket tout.

Now I’m feeling tired, I’m struggling to stay awake,

Watching her on TV, but I’ve eaten too much cake.

We will go to the concert tomorrow, and we won’t forget the day,

my best friend and I had tickets, to go watch Ariana Grande.


God bless Manchester









App of the month – Blinkist

Written by Emily Barleycorn

Back in 2008, soon after the emergence of the Iphone, I was debating with someone over whether or not it was healthy that this new access to technology simplified so many everyday tasks. This particular debate was arguing that Iphones make people lazy, especially with languages, and that people would eventually no longer spend time studying a new language when an Iphone offered such an accessible translation service. However admittedly, now I’m no longer lounging on beaches teaching windsurfing and claiming it was my college diploma, with ample time on my hands I might add, I can fully appreciate the time that an iPhone can save you on a daily basis.

Blinkist easy to use GUI, makes reading books fast and easy

We now have an app to simplify almost everything. My current favourite is called ‘Blinkist’. The concept is simple, and brilliant. The app is full of books which have been summarised into ‘blinks’. These blinks contain the crucial information from the book, often using bullet points, and easily comprehensible language. It takes around 10 minutes to read a book, and with thousands available you can read a myriad of topics.

Blinkist has an audio book function for the really lazy reader

There are several reasons I love this app so much, and want to share the simple genius of it. Firstly, one thing University has taught me, is that a large part of studying consists of reading hundreds of pages of your lecturers college mates demonstrating their fabulous literary skills. I’m often reiterating in my head ‘I really couldn’t give a fuck,  just give me the facts so I can pass this bloody exam’. Secondly, I believe having access to such a variety of topics is an amazing thing, which will broaden readers minds and interests. Thirdly, I sound really intelligent when I say ‘I read 5 books before bed last night’.

The app offers a free version, which allows you to read one book a day. The next tier costs $49.99 for the year which allows you to read unlimited books even when your offline. Finally you can pay $79.99 which allows you to sync highlights with Evernote, listen to the blinks as an audio book, and also read the blinks or a kindle.

To download our app of the month, click the logo below













Everything about Interstellar is beautiful. The mystical space music, the confusing order of time and dimensions all contribute to the allure and mystery of such a powerful masterpiece. Throughout 3 hours of film perfection, one image can’t be removed from memory, and it’s not Anne Hathaway for the bank, but rather Matthew McConaughey’s Carhartt Jacket.



Simple, suave and purposeful. Even the front pocket to hold an unused notepad will make you feel like you walk with purpose, the unapproachable clipboard holding illusion we all try and crack. Imagine rocking this jacket and feeling like a real space engineer around town. The team at Plain Sailor like this one, if you do, head over to Amazon and purchase it here. (Nothing to do with our commission, obviously)

Jago Hartland

I am fighting one of the longest battles known in terms of a genetic disease. Incurable, Cystic Fibrosis slowly shuts down your organs, your lungs and digestive system. I was born with a collapsed lung and spent my first five months in hospital, a start like this in life, no one would have predicted that I would go on to trek in Vietnamese jungles, climb mountains and run competitively by the age of 18.

I wasn’t diagnosed with CF until after my brother and sister had been told they had the same disease. At the age of 13, 6-foot-tall and a healthy 80 Kilos, this surely was a mistake. I was in shock. Even though my attendance at school was below 60% due to chronic chest infections and constant stomach issues, it would never have occurred to me that I had a genetic illness. As much as I believed that it was poor luck, I realised whilst growing up that I had to do up to two, or three times as much exercise as my friends to keep up with their level of fitness. Coming to reality with disease I learnt to understand what I was fighting, and how to keep winning the battle.

Keeping a high level of fitness and a clean diet keeps my condition under wraps. I have used my CF to motivate me beyond achieving my goal, it has been the driving power for me to achieve my own personal greatness. Keeping track of medication has always been difficult, trying to keep a clean diet whilst consuming up to 5000 calories to stay fit and healthy can be a challenge itself. In most CF cases, an average person would have to consume up to 50% more than an undiagnosed person in order to keep their body functioning at a normal level. Back in October 2015, I ran the Great South Run in Portsmouth; three days later I was climbing Scafell Pike in the Lake District whilst consuming an average calorie amount. As my digestive system couldn’t regulate my calorie intake, a couple of days later I was medicated for compact stomach syndrome. Illness aside, I was pleased to raise over £1000 for the Starlight Foundation. This race was the catalyst in understanding my condition, respecting it, but never letting it limit what I can achieve.

Since that race, I have managed to understand my body better and have competed in multiple races in 2016 without dramas. Being able to understand my condition and medication has always been key, yet my circumstances have often made it difficult. Carrying up to 4 extra kilograms of medication on treks or expeditions can be exhausting. On my DofE Gold Expedition, I needed to try and ensure I’d be nebulising my medication twice a day and creating an extra 20 minutes between cooking and setting up camp has taught me to be more efficient than others around me. It was later in July 2016, on a Sixth Form expedition in Vietnam that this was more of an infuriating issue- having to do medication that was drying my mouth out in 40C degree heat wasn’t the most enjoyable. Let alone not keeping regular bowel movements out in the jungle where many insects and animals are very interested in you.

With 2017 underway, I have many more challenges planned. I am currently the organising leader of a three peaks team in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, helping to fundraise for a charity working to beat CF. In June I shall be trekking the Western Himalayas through a work scheme, and I am hoping to catch a glimpse of Everest, you never know, possibly a future goal. The small goals are as important as the peaks in life, day to day routine. Another goal on my list is to get the award for Runners Run of the year with my small local running club, only a handful of the club runners will see me get given this handmade, wooden yet inexpensive trophy. Even still, if you create a goal for you then you are the one getting the gratification from it, from Everest to the small running club trophy.

I have certainly gained support and attention from doing the things I love whilst fighting Cystic Fibrosis. Many people have asked ‘Why you!?’ or ‘are you angry for being diagnosed? My first initial thought has always been that life could be a thousand times worse than it is. I could be in a much worse condition than I am currently in and CF has opened my eyes in many ways. I often reply: ‘like everyone, I have my angry and upset days; you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t’. Whether you have Cystic Fibrosis or not, I believe it is important to be grateful for what you have and make the most out of today, because you aren’t always promised another.

If you were as moved by Jago’s story as we were, you can visit his Justgiving page below and help raise money to fight CF

Heli-skiing NZ

There is no that doubt Heli-skiing is an incredible experience, which most ski or snowboard enthusiasts would love to tick off the bucket list. However, for the majority it is quite simply too expensive, with a Heli-ski experience in Europe setting you back skywards of around 800 euros. However, if you’re planning on visiting New Zealand to jump out of a Helo on a board or ski’s, then it would be worth your while to travel towards the end of the snow season, as a Heli-ski then can be experienced considerably cheaper. It’s no secret that the snow in New Zealand is nothing comparable to that of Europe, Canada or the USA, so you wouldn’t be missing much by visiting late in the season, plus the parks will still be open and maintained.

This comes with a few compromises…… you will be in larger groups, and the runs won’t be as long. Realistically you won’t be waist deep in fluffy powder, but you get the full experience of the helicopter, being taught about landing on the top of a mountain with your skis or board, and skiing a powder field big enough you won’t have to cross over anyone else’s path. The sunny end of season weather allowed us to have a BBQ and bar set up at the end of the run where everyone could socialise between trips up in the helicopter, though understandably the alcohol was limited until you had finished your final run.

Due to the nature of the runs being shorter than a typical heli-ski, it was possible to purchase as many more trips up as you liked, all at a decent price. The trips don’t tend to be advertised until the end of season, and even then only locally, so you will need to get in contact with the operators to ask. We’ve managed to get hold of a company in Lord of the Rings land that will be able to sort you out a decent package for a fair price.