Artists Impression

Artists Impression

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

It's Done

Well bugger me that was hard.

If you signed up to the newsletters, have followed our progress on the website, or indeed seen any of the news clips about us in the last week, then you will know by now that our expedition was a success. Feels rather good to say that.

There were some hairy moments along the way, but then it would not have been much of an adventure if there weren't would it?

From my point of view it is great to breathe easy again (literally and metaphorically) in that nothing can go wrong now, it's done. Hopefully we will get the accreditation we need from Guinness, I can see no reason why we wouldn't especially given all the coverage we've received. Even if we don't, the fact is we know what we've achieved, and according to our PR guys, Captive Minds, so do 30 million other people, so I'll take that!

I have spent this morning looking over the photos I took, and all I can really say is that I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the ones George and Will took, as they will be considerably better! A few of mine are scattered around this post, to give you an idea of what we did if you've not already checked them out on the website or Flickr - there will of course be a few more to come now that we have equipment that works without peddling Yaks to supply the power!
I have to mention a few people who I would not have made it through the last three weeks without. Of course Kirt, for everything. No need to say more there. My sister Helen, who played Mum for pretty much the whole time which I was mostly greatful for! Hillsy, who saved my bacon in Lobuche when I hit my lowest point and thought I may have to turn around. G-Man was always around, Jules amused me no end and Glen was the perfect captain. There are others of course, medics Ian and Isla who were phenomenal, and Joe Williams, who's own struggles helped put mine into perspective, but yet he was almost always able to muster a smile.

You'll notice that Helen and I have now hit our £3000 fundraising target, which again eases a little pressure. However I would love to be able to push that a bit higher, so if you have the time or inclination please do log on and donate, it's for a wonderful cause and having now seen the part of the world we're trying to help, I can tell you that a little money will go a long way.

What next, well, I've been asked that multiple times already and I've barely been back 15 hours. Some decisions are already made, some are still to come, but I can assure my avid reader(s) that I shall continue blogging, although it may be at a different address to this.

So for now I shall sign off. There will be a book about this whole trip, from inception to completion and everything inbetween. If this is something you might be even remotely interested in then do comment and let me know.
The story includes front page news, corrupt government officials, massive highs and devastating lows. Throw in some humour, illness and a bunch of people from wildly different backgrounds who all have something different to offer and hopefully you'll have something that may be worth struggling through on a beach somewhere when you have nothing better to do!
Until next time.
The world's highest Umpire.

ps - for anyone wondering, I did not take a boil in the bag curry to eat on Everest, but plenty of rice and veg were eaten, so I reckon some of it must've been curried!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Stash, Cash and Lash

Today we picked up our kit, and it is quite simply AWESOME. So much so in fact, that I have even decided to put a picture up to show all you poor souls who don't have any. I'll skip over the collossal ball-ache that was sorting and dishing it all out, because it was worth it. God I love stash.

I should put that last statement into context. Last weekend Dave Kirtley stayed at my place and very kindly gave me an England training shirt that had previously belonged to his brother James.

I love it. In the nets last weekend I stuck it on and made a point of telling everyone it was a genuine England training shirt. The fact that not a single person gave a damn did little to deter me.

But now I have my own stash, and I have little doubt that after this trip I will have people coming up to me asking for shirts that I may have once worn, and I shall be only too happy to oblige, provided that is, it is not the shirt I'm wearing at the time.

The stash list does not stop there however. One of the phenomenal prizes we managed to source for the raffle at our send off party was a signed Ramprakash 100 hundreds bat. Only 100 of these were done and one lucky person would get to walk away with that little piece of history. That person, sadly was not me.
However, I wanted this thing bad, more than the tickets to the Ashes that were also going. My attempts to cheat in the raffle had been foiled (damn those honest people), as had my attempts to snatch it from the rightful winner before she got her mits on it.

Despite these setbacks I was not deterred, and I decided to hunt down said female winner and offer her cash, and finally my persistence paid off. Today I received the voucher for this little piece of kit, and I intend to get my hands on it sooner rather than later. It only cost me £100 too, bargain.

This leads me nicely onto my next topic. Cash. I appreciate that the above paragraph may make it sound like I have money to burn, and when I tell you shortly about my shopping trip to North Face, Ellis Brigham and Boots on Saturday, that theory well be backed up.
The truth is I actually am burning money, although not in the KLF who needs a million pounds way, more the, holy crap I'm really unprepared, perhaps if I buy stuff I can hide it way.
Unfortunately, for me anyway, my bank balance is throwing something of a hissy fit. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I was this skint. However, this is not something I want to dwell on, but if anyone has a spare couple of grand please feel free to send it my way!

So, the shopping episode. I met Hillary skipper Glen in Covent Garden and he then proceeded to do a serious sales job on me. As a man who has spent his entire professional life as a salesman (and may I add what a depressing sentance that is) you would think I'd be able to resist phrases like: "you'll really need two packets of rehydration tablets," and "I think you'd be crazy not to get that anti-bug sheet."
Why I didn't think of saying: "how about I just drink lots so I don't dehydrate and I'll stamp on the damn bugs" I have no idea. These things always seem so obvious after the event.

However, I do now feel very equipped for this whole thing now, and I can at least take solace in the fact that if all this stuff I've bought is a total waste of space, at least Glen bought it all too - and I've also told Hillsy he absolutely must buy the same things. Bonus.

Talking of Hillsy, I've not mentioned in much detail the fact that he failed the Umpires exam in February. This, I can only say, was a bit of a disaster. Just two days before we took the exam he had emailed me saying how happy he was about Umpiring and that he held no regrets about giving up a playing spot. Those who know the man will appreciate that he really loves his cricket, well, sport in general. On top of that, he's pretty good at it too, which is where the two of us differ.

Once he failed the exam he was left seriously redundant. No team and no role. Despite the fact that he took the general piss-taking that came his way with a gamely smile, I knew he was absolutely raging so I was incredibly relieved when he called me this morning to say he'd passed.

I did feel a twinge of guilt that Helen is now down to third choice, but then it's where she started and she always knew the deal. I think actually she's quite pleased that she will no longer, provided we both get there of course, have to face the wrath of an angry player whom she triggers. She will of course, be learning how to score on the way up - if she thought the umpires course was dull...

Finally, to lash. Back in September I gave up booze for a full four weeks in the lead up to the marathon and I fully intended to do something similar in the lead up to departure. With that just four sleeps away I can assure you all that this has not happened. However, we'll not be doing much drinking between now and the game on April 21st, so that is just something I'll have to come to terms with!

In other news, we have announced Nokia as our title sponsor, as you may have noticed from the picture above. It's great to get a known brand behind us and the announcement gave everyone a boost at our last meeting, which is splendid. It was also a bit of a relief being able to talk to people about it having been lucky enough to know a few days earlier.

Another great bit of news was that there is now a computer game of us. Yep, you read that correctly, someone has actually made a computer game based on our trip. Crazy. Even if you're not a cricket fan I strongly suggest you click here and have a look at this thing, it'll give you a small idea of what the event itself will look like. A huge thanks to Paul Collins at Stick Cricket for that.

So, we fly on Thursday. I'll try to post again before we leave, but you can follow our trip in some detail on the main website, which you should all know by now is Spread the word!
You may also have noticed a random selection of photos down the left hand side of this blog. These are some of my favourite photos from the trip so far that I have taken or have easy access to. I just thought I'd stick them in for a bit of a laugh. Until next time, whenever that may be!!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Getting emotional

OK, so since my last sense of humour failure the Everest juggernaut has continued to roll, and picked up a few folks on the way, on Saturday in our final meeting at Lord's we were very pleased to unveil Nokia as our title sponsor - at last!

As much as anything this means that Kirt can now chill out and focus on the expedition itself, on top of that I today received an email from Nir with the signed permission attached for the game - cue big sigh of relief.

However, it's not all that rosy I'm afraid to say. It's easy in these blogs to be very wishy washy and say how wonderful everything is, but actually the last couple of weeks have seen several people come under immense stress, and sadly that proved the undoing of one man.

My only contribution to the meeting on Saturday was to tell everyone what most people already knew, that Charlie Bathurst-Norman has pulled out with just two weeks to go to departure. I honestly cannot put into words how devastating this is.

I had worried about Charlie since he told me his stomach issues, which have bothered him since 2002, were as bad as they had ever been. He dutifully turned up at the door of 24: London for our send off party and did his bit ticking off names, but he wasn't drinking and left pretty early.

That was Thursday 19th, and when he called me on the following Tuesday and told me he was: "a non-starter" I really couldn't think of anything to say to him. We swiftly arranged to meet that night for a chat and on putting the phone down I just sat and stared at my screen for about 30 minutes. I genuinely felt like someone had died.

This may sound like an over-reaction, but Charlie was such a huge supporter of the expedition, and had given so much to it, that it just seemed so cruel and unfair that he, of all people, should be denied the opporunity to go to the place that he had become so obsessed with in the last year.

To give you an idea, he was a key part of the events committee and played a huge role in organising all the phenomenal parties we've had. He is the reason Surrey CCC have allowed us to use their nets every Tuesday, given us a suite for our return party and gave us some amazing raffle prizes. He came to Kathmandu with Kirt and I at Christmas and has helped us with some wonderful contacts over there. He organised a night out at City Golf for Team Hillary and came to Dartmoor for the absurdities that went on down there. Even that list does not do him justice.
It was because of these qualities that we seriously considered him for the captaincy of Team Hillary, but we felt he had enough on his plate already. How right we were. Vice captaincy simply would not have done justice to the man.

I could continue, but won't, I think you get the message. The email he sent out to the Hillary boys was quite something and I hope we have found a suitable way to honour him, which we also announced on Saturday but he is yet to find out about. I want to tell him to his face when I see him on Tuesday.
Now, after that rather morose bit of chat I should go back to all the good things that have happened. Another team weekend in Cornwall came right on the back of the Bath Half, which were both brilliant weekends and both involved a surprising amount of red wine and beer for a group of people who are supposed to be in training!

Mixed in with those we also had the comedy night on my birthday, and the send off bash, which were both extremely entertaining and proved once again how good our events guys are. I also went to The Oval to see one of the Lord's Taverners projects being carried out, table cricket for disabled kids. Quite humbling really.

We leave in just ten days time, everything is virtually in place. I tool delivery of 80 bright pink cricket balls on Friday, which we practised with on Saturday (they swing all over the place!) as well as all the medical kit that we dished out at the meeting, so my office was looking more like a delivery store room than a travel agents.

On that note, why is it that when people see a sealed cardboard box they feel they have to kick it? I shit you not, 6 different people walked passed the medical kit and said: "what's in here?" while putting the boot into the box. It's not like when they bring their mum into the office I would go and stamp on her foot while asking who she was would I??

Anyway, the excitement is starting to build, I for one, just cannot wait to get on the damn plane and be out there. Until next time.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


I just spent an hour typing a very thorough blog post, lots of pictures etc, and as I was reading through it my computer crashed. Despite saving it several times it appears the Drafts function is non-existent. I honestly cannot tell you how irritated I am right now and I shall not be re-typing it.

In short - I passed the Umpires exam, so did my sister. I went speed-dating, it was average but Kiwi raised £1000, well done him. I am not running the Bath Half because I am worried about my knee. Oh, and we got permission to play cricket on Everest.


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Putting The Finger Up

So on Saturday last seven hardy souls from The Everest Test took part in one of the less fun parts of the trip to date…the Umpiring course.

I perhaps did not prepare for this in the way most would, ie by going out for several beers in central London the night before and fitting in five hours of booze-fuelled sleep, which we all know if not real sleep at all.

The alarm went off at 6:30am, and I was indeed alarmed. I shortly received a text of rage from sister Helen who had already hit her first stumbling block when she discovered there were no trains to Wimbledon and had to get a bus. The plan was to meet Charlie BN at Fulham Broadway and then drive to Caterham for a 9:15 start where we would also meet Mark Waters, Hillsy and Hillsy’s dad.

I first realised that everyone’s preparation was along similar lines to my own when Charlie said he would pick us up from the station once he had collected Kirt, who he as currently waiting for. Worrying this, since Kirt was not on the course and had swapped his place with Paola. Equally disconcerting was that at this stage Charlie must have been thinking that myself, Kirt, Helen and Paola would have all fitted into his car. Having spent much of the weekend inside this vehicle, I can assure all readers that we would not have done.

Anyway, the journey began and Charlie said we needed to pick up Paola from Battersea. As our journey began I began to become suspicious, and my fears were proved correct as the journey continued and we in fact drove literally passed my house at 8:30, and not far from Helen’s 10 minutes later. After much chastising, Charlie agreed he would collect us from more suitable locations the following day.

At this stage I must take my hat off to BN, he in fact got us to our destination despite three differing sets of directions, and got us there early. I am always hugely grateful when I get lifts as I am one of the few people in this country with no drivers license, something Charlie was decidedly upset about later in the weekend!

So, we arrived and our journey was topped by that of the Ginger Rocky who, predicting a journey from hell, had arrived at 8am and sat in the car park for more than an hour. This lightened my mood no end, as did finally seeing Hill Junior and Senior, the latter of which I hadn’t seen since Reading days and the former may as well have been as long since he is now the invisible man.

After much hugging high-fiving in a way that all real men do, we went into our separate classrooms and began what was to be the biggest snooze-fest since Kinsey last told a story. Fortunately, we were in the speedier of the groups, thanks to not having slightly less super geeks than the other one – although we did have someone asking what would happen if a bowler was to choose to bowl from directly behind the Umpire, thus throwing the ball over his head. What a tool.

Anyway, I think the less I talk about the days events the better, we went and saw England play Wales in a pub before dashing off to Putney for more alcohol. So much for giving up that stuff. The excuse this time was a combination of an Everest singles Valentines evening and Toovey’s birthday.

Dave Kirtley kindly pointed out that if ever there was a weekend to hold an umpiring course then the Valentines weekend would be it – I would have liked to stand up for my soon-to-be colleagues of the umpiring world, but the fact that our particular course had a record number of people on it did little to back up any argument I might have come up with.

A rather civilised evening was had where I think we only offended some of the couples dotted around the bar and off we headed at last orders.

Sunday was a far easier journey in and the course passed without too many hitches, we all passed the mock exam at the end with at least a 90% score and can now eagerly look forward to Tuesday 24th when we have the real thing. Of course, if I were to fail the actual exam my entire purpose of this trip becomes slightly irrelevant, which is actual a bit of a worry. Still, best not to think about that eh?

Tonight I have to go to Wandsworth to take part in something I never thought I would do. No, not a tap dance class or an hour long lecture on the skills of knitting, but close. I am speed dating. I can’t believe I am actually making this public to the world. In my defence, I am helping out a mate – Kiwi has (I hope) put much effort to this event and is in need of some blokes after several ladies signed up very quickly. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that, but let’s see how the evening pans out shall we?

For those of you hanging out for a Stick Cricket update I can inform you that I have moved away from the World Domination part of the game and am now just taking part in the 10-over slog-fest. This was prompted by a discovery that Hills had a high score of 195/3 from 10 over’s which I knew to be higher than my own (189/7). After about an hour I managed to finally surpass his total and post 203/5, and sent a suitably gloating text message which I am sure brought Hills to his knees in despair. Judging by the enormous gash in his hand, Stick Cricket has caused him rage in the past….

Monday, 9 February 2009

Walking the Walk

Where to start eh? The Everest Expedition continues to go from strength to strength, as does my Stick Cricket ability having last night seen off both Zimbabwe and Ireland, and I have recently discovered I have an audience in Japan – marvellous!

I suppose I should start with the expedition. The last three weekends have involved people going up, down and across the country in search of hills to climb and heavy objects to move.

January 24th was the Weekend at Kinsey’s farm in Hereford(above left)) which I sadly missed due to having to work on the Sunday. Honestly, my work really does get in the way sometimes! Everything I’ve heard and read suggests this was a thoroughly entertaining weekend, although perhaps not one where I would have excelled – so I can take some solace in that!

Having missed out on that I decided to get some walking time in so Jules and I hopped on a train to Guildford and wandered around for about 16 miles(right). It was a decent outing and served as good preparation for what was going to take place the following two weekends. Most pleasingly my boots caused me no problems and came through some rather stern tests in the shapes of melted ice puddles and suspect piles of mud that could quite easily have been some animals dinner the night before.

On January 30th I jumped in the car with Woodsy and Blade and headed down to Dartmoor for a Team Hillary weekend organised by Jamo. This weekend was actually organised a ridiculously long time ago and it was good to meet the previously invisible man that is Russell De Beer, who it turns out is quite a good lad and exceptionally good at carrying heavy objects up tall hills!

Saturday was an early start and again we covered somewhere between 16-18 miles, but this time it took considerably longer and there were several proper hills, not the little bumps that get called hills in London. I was pretty knackered by the end of it and felt fully justified as I, along with all 13 others, supped pints of Badger in the local boozer while Jamo fell asleep mid-story. This is the man who once fell asleep while on a date…in a restaurant. Brilliant.

The next day Sir Sleepsalot had organised four contests – Earth, Wind, Fire and Water which were, well, pretty odd. Earth involved carrying fertiliser to the top of a Tor in teams of five (I had Russell, Glen, Woodsy and Charlie) and back again, an event we dominated thanks to the afore-mentioned carrying skills of the South African sounding Englishman.

Wind was another jog up a tour to fly a kite, with one member in a Gorilla suit – we had a proper shocker here going across some private land and getting screamed at by some angry people. We also failed to get a bonus point for this as the photographical evidence required did not have all of us in the picture…due to yours truly lagging somewhat.

Fire involved cooking two fried eggs at the top of another Tor. Yep, stove, chair, tables and apron were all packed and while Russell again picked up all the heavy stuff I got off pretty lightly with just two eggs – and even managed to keep them safe. Well done me. I think we came second in this one.

Water was the real killer and due to our team being a man up after Kiwi was sitting the day out I decided to take the magnanimous step and sit out of carrying two massive buckets or water up another absurdly steep hill. Due to my brave sacrifice my team came in first by some distance, thus grabbing a share of the spoils as all three teams finished level on points. Well done us and thanks for the weekend Jamo, one that’ll live long in the memory for a special brand of chat and plenty of rambling and walking. I won’t lower the tone by discussing the amount of methane that lesser beings may not have survived.

And so to the weekend just gone. Severe weather warnings and falling shards of ice may have put off less hardy souls, but even the closure of the Severn Bridge could not stop 12 hardy Everesters heading to Cardiff and on to the Brecon Beacons for a weekend of snow, waterfalls, curry and a cricket pavilion…with no electricity.
Saturday once again had an early start and after sharing a floor with two Kirtley’s and a Butler I think all four of us were ready to get out of there! A rather twisty drive later and we’d found Kinsey, just the 90 minutes after we were supposed to, and after planting a few snowballs on each other we began our walk up Fanny Big(I don’t know if we actually were on Fanny Big, which is I am sure spelt more like Pen-Y-Bigg, but it caused many an immature chuckle so I've thrown it in). As the pictures show we were often waist-deep in snow and while one part of the walk was absurdly steep, it was also great fun and we all made it up and down without too many problems and again the boots held out and stayed dry over the ten miles or so. Definitely one of my best UK experiences.

Saturday night arrived and after an unconvincing win in the rugby and a shocking defeat in the cricket my misery kicked in, especially when Chelsea drew with Hull and I decided the best course of action was to sink God only knows how many pints of Brains, bottles of Magners and Tiger and Cobra, eat a curry and then make Kirt do some Jaeger Bombs with me. I must add that I’d been told that the walk on Sunday was going to be a: “nice scenic walk around some waterfalls” and was not expecting the six hour hike that actually took place!

I did feel like I’d dodged a bit of a hangover and only cringed slightly at showing off my Lightsaber feature on my I-Phone while everyone was in bed (I should point out that I don’t even like Star Wars). So off we went - again picking up Kinsey more than an hour late -with Dave and BJ manning the maps and a very pleasant walk began. We started to become a bit unstuck when faced with a river to cross. After 45 minutes of getting nowhere we decided the best option was just to run through it.

Two and a half hours and very wet feet later we got back to the start, and nobody died – which is perhaps our biggest achievement, although being the perceptive man I am I could sense that Mr Butler was beginning to lose his sense of humour. This suspicion was aroused by his response to being asked why he wasn’t wearing his hat being: “Because the fury building up inside me is about to explode through my head, so I don’t need one.”

So all in all the expedition is going very well, although I could use some more sponsorship – the link is above know you want to. Throw in the launch that we had two weeks ago and a few other bits and pieces that are brewing and we’re looking rosy.

So to my addiction. Despite being barely able to see straight last night as I was so tired from Wales I still decided I could get a quick game in. When I nearly beat Zimbabwe with my first effort I decided to persevere and it was all worthwhile. Dave K registered his first hundred and Blade got another a few games later, although neither were in the winning causes. Instead it was skipper Glen with a fine 98 to vanquish the Africans while BJ, recalled to the side, struck a marvellous 50 from number 10 to beat the Irish after splendid 70s from Charlie BN and yours truly. Bangladesh are next – real Test oppo, I reckon I’ll dispatch them in no time.

So I also had an interesting text exchange this morning with my mate In Japan Right. He tells me The Everest Test has quite a following over there, which is marvellous news. I was particularly impressed with Robert Swan and Anthony Willoughby. The former being a bit of a legend and the first man to have walked to the North and South poles, while the latter is a founding member of The Cock Up Club, although I’m sure he has done several more newsworthy things as well!

So thanks Darrell for spreading the word, please continue to do so, and if you’re reading this from some far flung place do let me know!
Until next time, good evening.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Still Hooked

A little while ago I did a piece on being addicted to things, and here I am still struggling with the same issues.

Now, it's not like I'm addicted to crack or anything, but it would be nice to be addicted to something that is good for me rather than computer games or TV shows. I never became addicted to running or exercising, as many people told me I would when training for the marathon, and my latest fad is a slightly random by product of The Everest Test.

Yep, Stick Cricket ladies and gents. It is ruining my evenings and I can only say that it is a huge benefit to my professional life that it doesn't run very well on my system at work.

So I have set up Team Hillary and begun my quest for World Domination. After many efforts I finally chased down the 200-odd set by Bermuda, and once getting that first win under my belt I swiftly saw off the challenges of Holland, Canda, Scotland and Kenya, big wins all. Zimbabwe are currently posing a tougher opposition, but I am confident with hard work and single-mindedness I can beat them and move on to the big boys. Don't worry, I'll let you know how I get on.

Of course I have created all the members of Hillary and an interesting battle has been who would score the first hundred. This happened last night and I can imagine that everyone reading this blog will be disappointed. I came close myself, smashing 89* batting at six, then Kiwi hit 94 and Glen 91, but it was a man coming in at number 10 in a completely lost cause who struck a quite brilliant 111. I can tell you that Blade has now been promoted up the order.

So, other than that life is still pretty busy. Tonight I need to read everyone's blogs and decide on Blog of the Month, something I seem to have gotten myself into and really need to get on with - but it doesn't half take ages. Still, I need to find a good reason not to give it to Tooves, just to amuse myself. There's been a lot of good entries this month too.

I am also looking ahead to going down to the Brecon Beacons this weekend, as a follow up from Dartmoor. The latter trip was Hillary only and provided the kind of banter you can imagine when 14 lads get together and it was absolutely brilliant. I imagine with a slightly different selection of people we may tone down the chat slightly, but not by much.

Loads of stuff has happened since I last wrote here, the launch being the biggest thing as well as Kimbo's weekend, which I missed. Safe to say all things Everest continue to snowball and I also just finished reading "Into Thin Air". I strongly suggest you either buy the book or click on the link and read the short version - it's amazing and forced me to go and buy four more Everest-related books immediately afterwards.

The story itself is gripping and I can tell you now that when I lay my eyes on that mountain for the first time I will respect it even more now that I know and appreciate the true power it can wield.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


That's right, I've bought a one way ticket to Grumpsville, and I'm bloody well staying there. Why? I'll tell you bloody why.

So, last night I decided that today I would run home from work. My training has dropped off significantly in recent months due to holidays, Christmas and illness, so I need to get back on it. I managed a couple of runs last week but they need to become more regular.

Inspired by Zooby running home, Vicks running the world, and Dave making himself sick through physical training, this was my chance to get back on the wagon - yet I failed...miserably.

How did I achieve this you may muse, well, through a combination of incompetancy and crap technology that's how.

My bag was packed and my stretches done and as I left my office on the North End Road I had hopes of getting home by 7:45pm, 5.5 miles in 45 minutes was not beyond me I thought, and yet I ended up boarding a train at Parsons Green at 7:50pm.

Those of you who know this part of London will know that Parsons Green is not particularly far from my work. I got lost.

After about 15 minutes of running I realised I had missed the turning for Wandsworth Bridge Road and was heading full steam down the New Kings Road. The reason for this is that the mapping system on my I-Phone was telling lies.

At this point I had my first sense of humour failure, but figured I could get round the problem and, rather than turning back, tried to work my way through the back streets to join up with where I needed to be.

Now, there's a reason I have not run home before, I have the worst sense of direction in the world. After another 15 minutes or so my sense of humour collapsed altogether and I tried to re-trace my steps to Parsons Green, which took about another 15 minutes.

I have now decided to stick to the Trim Trail, Richmond Park and the treadmill, as even I can't get lost when running on the spot.

Yours Furiously,


Sunday, 18 January 2009

Hanging With The Chef

It has certainly been a busy couple of weeks.

Last week alone I had five meetings in five days about this trip and, if it hadn't already hit home, I now really know just how big a deal this whole event is. Since I have taken on more and more and begun really working alongside Kirt and Wes it has really hit home how time consuming it all is and I am in awe of the amount of time those boys have put in and how much work is involved, so it's great when all that work starts proving worthwhile.

As was announced at the meeting on Sunday, we now have Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook and honourary captains of Team Tenzing and Team Hillary respectively. For that we can thank the Lord's Taverners, who are quite simply awesome and are so behind our project that sitting in a room with them can only boost your confidence.

On that note, as you can see, Kirt, Wes and I got to meet Alastair Cook(aka The Chef) on Thursday and signed him up for Team Hillary. I'm told that it's often a massive disappointment when you meet people you look up to, but in this case I can safely say that he was a really nice bloke and totally humble, which was awesome.

On top of that, we now have Stick Cricket making teams of us on their website. Seriously, check this link and you'll realise how goddamn cool this is:

They are also donating a trophy for the man who hits the most sixes on the mountain and will help drive traffic to our site. I am meeting their man Paul Collins(not Phil) some time next week and he, like everyone it seems, totally loves our project.

Along with that we've got our press launch to look forward to, thanks to Alex Rayner at Captive Minds on Tuesday 27 January which will hopefully get us the kind of media attention we need to find a title sponsor, so fingers crossed.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Kathmandu Christmas

Tom: "No can do I'm afraid"
Nick: "No can do, what's that, place near Kathmandu? Meet me halfway mate."

So goes the line from Lock, Stock and two Smokin' Barrels. Needless to say when I told people I would be spending Christmas and New Year in Kathmandu they immediately repeated the name of Nepal's capital back to me, to which I replied: "yeah, place near no can do".

Perhaps understandably, nobody got it - hence I am taking this opportunity to explain my gag - you will be pleased to know however that I persevered with it throughout the festive season, perhaps to the detriment of several friendships.

You may ask how it was, and those of you who have read Kirt's blog will know two things, it was busy and we got ill. To put into perspective quite how ill we seem to have got, I am still suffering now, and Kirt only went back to work yesterday - so the lesson to be learned here is avoid the burritos. We also met up with Charlie BN who was out there, which was an added bonus as it meant we could visit the Yak & Yeti.

I do have a couple of fairly amusing stories however. First of all, for those who don't know, Kathmandu is mental. Honestly, the place is full of motorbikes(which incidentally, drive where they please - so be careful on the pavements), you can't go two seconds without someone beeping their horn or someone offering you some form of smokeable product.

That is on a normal day, on Christmas Day at about 7pm when we arrived in Thamel, the craziness was increased ten-fold. We had to stop our cab a "five minute walk" from the guest house as the roads were closed off due to all the people partying. What ensued was quite an experience. I had no money in my wallet after some chancer persuaded me to pay him for doing nothing at the airport, so was very much in the hands of our guide Nir, and his mate Billy - who at this stage appeared to speak no English.

I soon found myself battling through what can only be described as the central line in rush hour - except in the middle of the street. I was also at the back of our team of four, which I decided to rectify as quickly as possible - particularly as Kirt and the guides actually knew where they were going and I had no idea, and no money to pay anyone to show me.

This proved a very wise move as Kirt and Nir soon vanished into the abyss and I was left with Billy, who simply uttered the word: "gone" after we had waited about 10 minutes. Fortunately we found the others swiftly enough and had a great night in a few bars with some wild boar curry and Everest Beer...obviously. After a few drinks it became evident that Billy spoke considerably more English that I thought, funny he chose to demonstrate this several hours after my moment of sheer panic, I have no doubt he was chuckling to himself the whole time.

My other rather amusing episode took place the following day. As some of you will know, I was fairly bearded by the time I left these shores, and as we discovered we would be meeting some fairly important people I decided to sort my face out with a beard trim – but got a little more than I bargained for.

There’s a barbers in the hotel – which is rather convenient, so in I went. There were about five people crammed into a tiny room and after rubbing my face several times the chap got the point. So he went to work and did a generally decent job – apart from the fact that he kept pulling the scissors away before closing them fully, thus pulling out a few hairs and making my neck bleed – but I guess you just accept these things.

Anyway, it was all going rather well and just as I thought he was done I went to stand up and he pushed me back down in my seat while saying something I didn’t understand. He then began rubbing some stuff into my red-raw neck which, let’s just say, burned. He then started giving me what was, I think, supposed to be an impromptu face massage. Without wanting to go into too many details – it was hell on earth. This burn-juice was rubbed into my neck three more times and he kept pressing his hands onto my temples and squeezing. Why I am not quite sure and I fail to see why anyone would enjoy such an experience. Still, he did succeed in waking me up before the meeting, so that was good.

As for the rest of the trip, you can see from the main blog and Yak Yak Yak that we were busy. Lots of meetings, all jolly good stuff but I won’t bore you with the admin side of things. The important stuff is that we managed to check out several bars and restaurants, hang out with several of the chaps who will accompany us up the mountain and learn a few new card games. I strongly suggest everyone gets well equipped with these games, the Nepali people love cards.

The illness that got us on New Years Eve made for an interesting start to 2009, and I genuinely hope that it’s not a sign of things to come. However, since coming back things have really gone into overdrive. There’s loads of really good stuff going on, most of which is courtesy of the Lord’s Taverners, but I cannot go into too much detail here. There’s actually a whole load of other things I could blog about but am aware this is getting a bit long so will tie it off now and save my other topics for a future date…by when I would have almost certainly forgotten them.

Thank you and come again.

The Everest Test