2007 April. South America

A couple of rubber zodiacs pick us up and ferry us out to the main boat and we motor along the edge of the glacier without being so close as to be hit by calving icebergs. You can hear the groaning as the ice splinters and breaks before dropping into the lake. Global warming at its finest. The guide leans over the edge of the boat and chips away a chunk of blue ice. perfect he tells us for chilling down our Pisco sours, we raise our glasses and salute what has been a few days of magnificent walking in pristine country.

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2005 December. Morocco & Majorca.

The guide has done a deal where the local baker cooks the camel patties and a nice burger bun. Meanwhile the group linger around a pokey tea house where locals sit in a cloud of smoke pulling hard on shisha pipes. Us out-of-towners cough and splutter like we know what we are doing ! Finally the camel burgers are ready. They aren’t bad or is it that what we are smoking clouds my judgement.

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2004 May. Cycling West Coast USA & Canada

hero of the boat, well with the 2 chinese families that said “You have very good eyes….” The black bear was lifting rocks searching for crabs whilst junior practised his climbing. Later in the summer they convert to eating berries and are much harder to see from the water Crab and berry diet, no wonder they sleep for 3-4 months.

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2002 February. Cycling Queenstown to Auckland

I find a quirky bed in Murchison at the rickety ‘Lazy Cow hostel’. It’s full of kayakers, theirs is a world I know little about. They are all University age drifting between New Zealand and Europe each Summer. None of them seem to have a dollar to their name but collectively can buy a jug of beer. They eke out a living river guiding and working wherever they can but really they’re here chasing an adrenaline filled day on a wild river. They have same fresh, wild eyes you see in surfers back home, I’m guessing it’s a similar buzz. The strength of nature lurching their short missile shaped kayaks through frothing wild rapids.

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2001 September. Prague to Zakopane. Mostly by bicycle.

As much as I feel terrible, listening to a room full of very ill patients calling out, crying and groaning last night put it all in perspective. I was going to survive, mend and leave this hospital many of them wouldn’t. The surgeon comes around to visit and tells me in perfect English that I can leave. He had arranged for my bike to be taken to the basement after being told it was leaning against the front entrance. Robyn arrives and is happy to see me moving although slowly. We gather the bike and our bags and slowly work our way to the station.

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2000 October. India Rajasthan & Kerala

Our plans of taking the train to Kurukshetra are thwarted at every move. “Sorry, It’s a public holiday, my friend can get a better price, the trains are all booked out, the buses are too crowded.” It goes on and on. Why not take my cousin’s car he is a very good driver and we can do a good price. Getting angry which is my fallback instinct when I feel I’m being done over doesn’t work with this lot. How can you be angry with someone who is totally oblivious to your frustration. In fact revels in your red face and wringing hands ? Their lives are hardwired to embrace frustration, they seem to revel in complex situations, often of their own doing and the acceptance that it will happen in its own good time. Nodding yes and no simultaneously with this unique head wobble encapsulates the whole philosophy… and I want to scream. So I wasn’t surprised when I find myself with the girls in someone’s cousin’s car zooming North to Kurukshetra. Four hours of horn blasting bedlam and I am only able to identify one road rule ? Our driver gives way to large oncoming trucks everything else is fair game.

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1999 June. Cycling America’s East Coast

There was something going on two doors down from mine. A woman stood in the hallway till late into the night whilst people came and went. Meanwhile my air conditioner wheezed, coughed and spluttered like an asthmatic drinking too fast. I’m out of this fleapit real early the next morning, well before any of the other occupants rise.

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