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!!

The Everest Test