Losing your photographs and your writing has to be one of the worst things that can happen to you. Losing your money, your camera, your netbook and tent poles rank pretty highly in bad things that can happen, beaten only by fatal diseases or being killed by a mad driver.
World cyclist, Peter Gostelow has been cycling through Africa for many months now and he has been writing an exceptionally good blog about his experiences. He has also raised over £11,000 to help fight malaria in the continent and was distributing mosquito nets when he had most of his possessions stolen from his room.
He has asked for help by way of donations to help him get his journey back on the road. Please help him to get going again and raising money for fighting this terrible disease. You can read about his recent experience here and donate to his cause too.
Sometimes I read an article which just make me laugh with their great sense of humour, mixed with the delight of just doing something different.
Ants Bolingbroke-Kent got in touch with me about an article she wrote about a journey she made around the Black Sea on a Honda C90 motorbike. Honda C90s have been around for years and you can find them all around the world. They have great bikes.
So, while most people are doing motorbike tours on monster-sized BMWs, Ants was doing it on something whose engine was probably 80% smaller than most tourers on motorbikes.
Read the article here. It's a good one!
It's a frustrating morning if you are trying to get hold of tickets for the London 2012 Olympics unless, of course, you are into niche sports. If so, then I expect you are having a good day!
Well, my mind is elsewhere when it comes to the near future, to be honest. To get back into the swing of the life of adventure I knew long ago, the four of us are working on a mini-adventure in Scandinavia in the next few weeks.
We are heading into the middle of Sweden to canoe around the lakes in the Rogen Nature Reserve where is nothing but wilderness, water and wild beasts (perhaps a few other mini-adventurers. Wild camping for five days.
I'm really enjoying reading Peter Gostelow's blog, Big Africa Cycle, as he makes his way south in this incredible contient. He's in Uganda at the moment avoiding the tourist trap backpavker hotels and trips. His photographs of Uganda have been amazing. You can see some of them in this post.
Reading his blog makes me want to go back and do more cycling in Africa!
I saw this video on Tom's website and I had to share it.
Our journey through Africa was fairly physical. But, nothing like the journey that Roz Savage is carrying out now. She is currently rowing alone across the Pacific raising awareness about the damage we humans are inflicting on the planet. Take a look at her video.
It's been a few days since I updated my diaries on the website solely down to the fact that I have been away on business with the company I work for in Philadelphia for afew days.
As usual at these events, there is not much time for seeing the place because of the number of meetings I attend, the socialising (it's not all bad) and the travelling to and fro (helped by the fact that a friend of mine is a British Airways pilot and managed to get me a more comfortable seat across and back over the Atlantic!).
The main reason I have not updated my diaries is the jet lag and lack of sleep for the last few days. I got back on Thursday last week from the US and I have been in pieces since then. Air travel is necessary for my work but my body thinks different.
Anyway, I will start updating my diary on the website tonight and continue the journey through Morocco.
If you are following my daily blog posts from my cycling diaries, you will know that Dan and I are now in Morocco. It's quite a place. I saw this video (via @worldcyclevideo) by a couple that cycled through the High Atlas there last year. It's a fabulous snapshot of the country.
This is the only video of Dan and I on our journey to Cape Town. It's not exactly thrilling stuff but it is a record nonetheless of us, our bikes, kit and those who were there to say goodbye on 16th August 1991.
What is striking is not the content of the video but more the quality of it. The technology has improved so much since then. The videos I watch made by Alistair Humphreys, for example, are so darn good and the photos are so clear that they make our photos seem like ancient history.
The clothes we wore, particularly our shorts, were terrible. We were more concerned about not looking stupid in lycra than we were about being comfortable. The shorts we wore gave us terrible sweat rashes for the first month!
Nonetheless, despite our technical kit seeming primitive to what's available today, the journey is not made better by the technology. It's just better at helping to share the journey you are on.
Airmail letters to home
There's something wonderful about airmail letters. The image to the left shows the outside of some of the airmail letters I sent home from Europe and Africa between 1991 and 1992. When you hear that in the UK alone, there were 400 million less letters sent through the Royal Mail in 2010 compared to 2009 that you can quickly see how email has taken over as the main form of written communication in the UK, at least.
And yet, looking over those letters I sent home, they invoke a lot of nostalgia because of their sheer physical presence. They are battered from their journey from Morocco, Algeria, Spain, Ghana, Zimbabwe or France, usually by way of stains and greasy finger marks.
They have the stamps from the country, such as the King of Morocco, or Arabic lettering from Algeria, or the black star and national airline of Ghana on them. All have red and blue edging to distinguish them as airmail too. Airmail letters are light and flimsy but they have character. They have travelled as hard as you have to get back to the recipient. They are exciting to open and, as so well illustrated, they keep well, unlike their digital equivalent.
I do like email. It's efficient and cheap. And yet, at the risk of sounding like an old fart, airmail is more romantic than email. It is special because someone has taken the effort not only to write the letter but also to find the airmail and take it to the post office. It brings back a little bit of the spirit of the country you sent it from and people have waited patiently to receive it. And that is the essence of airmail for me. Airmail is slow in our fast paced world. It captures something intangible which an email can never deliver which is the time you have lived through and experienced to be able to sit down and share your journey.
Do they still print airmail letters or 'blueys', as we called them in the Army?
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family and is now a magazine editor and occasional adventure cyclist.
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