And we’re off!

Holy moly, can’t actually believe that it’s finally come around! We had a great send off at the Crown on Saturday night, a huge thanks to The Mojo Mechanics who donated all the proceeds of the gig to Annie’s Challenge!

Saying goodbye to the family at Harwich was a tough one, although filled with hope!

But, we’re off to a flyer, we’ve managed to put about 20 miles between us and Hook of Holland! We’ve hit Rotterdam and after refuelling with a big lunch of omelette and chips we’re ready to kick on!

We haven’t been blessed with the finest of weather and last night was a little damp… But spirits are high and we’re excited as to what Holland has to offer! Although the idea of no shower until Cologne isn’t filling myself and Henry with much joy…

We’ve uploaded our first Vlog of the walk, exciting! https://youtu.be/if6ZUp-NlGA

We’ll be doing as many of this to show everyone  what we’re up to!

More importantly please please remember why we’re doing this and keep donating, it makes it all worth it!

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India.. is hot…

I’m so very sorry for leaving you on a cliff hanger, although I’m sure that you’ve heard what has happened over the last few weeks! We decided to cycle the rest of Azerbaijan, due to an injury to my (Sam) foot, and toe. After a good start we had made up a good distance, totalling 170 km! After stopping off at around day three of our cycling trip we awoke to find, our bikes had been stolen! We we’re staying at a hotel, and the only conclusion we could come to was that I must have not locked the padlock properly, and someone had taken them.. we checked the hotel CCTV and the cameras didn’t pick anything up, gutted, although probably no more gutted than the people who stole them, as they were really bad bikes Andy by now have probably fallen apart..

Anyway, so where are we now? India! What a place! It truly is stunning and if you haven the got around to coming to this beautiful country then you have to. The people, the food, the culture is just incredible, we have met many kind people and it IT what has kept us going over the last three weeks! When we first arrived, we flew into Chennai and spent Christmas with my cousin and his girlfriend, had curry for Christmas dinner and went swimming in the sea on Christmas morning! That was the last time Wembley properly relaxed, as we’ve just been plugging away to get as many km’s done as possible! We have, been struggling with the weather, it’s so incredibly hot, everyday tipping 30 degrees, meaning we can nevertheless have enough water, but, of course we have to carry that on our backs, which is so heavy! Having said all of that, we have been truly looked after by the Indians, they are so warm and hospitable. We stopped off at a food court this morning and we’re approached by a family, who wanted pictures with us, and a little boy who wanted our autographs! Everyday we get stopped by people, who just want a chat, a selfie and who are just so interested in what we are doing! I think we’re getting a little bit famous, so far we’ve been in two newspapers, from the second paper, we were recognised I think, 16 times? But whose counting…

So, only two months of walking left.. Looking forward to that bacon sandwich and cup of tea…

 

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Oh what an interesting few weeks..

The last time I wrote an entry, we were on the cusp of entering Georgia, not knowing what was lying ahead and we were quite frankly a littlest worried.

The truth? Georgia isn’t scary, Azerbaijan isn’t scary, they’re amazing beautiful places with some of the most welcoming hospitable people I’ve ever met.

First stop of Georgia, Batumi. A resort city with casinos, bars and hotels this is tourist trap of Georgia. The Las Vegas of Georgia I think it’s been referred as, we stopped off for one night in Batumi went out for a couple of beers and hit the road early the next day for a tough 33km day. To make matters worse, I (Sam) had to buy new boots as my second pair had fallen apart in the space of 9 weeks or so, the effects of walking too much I suppose. I then found that not only were my boots falling apart, but so too we’re my feet, and shortly after Batumi I began to feel a sharp shooting pain in my left foot, agonising, I persisted for another week or so, but in the end it was just too much. After having a chat with our doctor the decision was made that the only way it was going to get better was through rest, it was a stress fracture or soft tissue damage.

We got to Tbilisi, the beautiful capital where we then took 8 days, to try and get as much time off our feet, so that my foot would heal (pardon the pun), we then came up with the crazy idea, let’s cycle to Baku? And so, that was the challenge.

We gave ourselves £100 each to go and find bicycles and after much struggling we manage do to find two suitably rubbish bikes, which we then decorated and made them look ridiculous, oh the fun.

The day came to leave on our trusty steeds.. never ever choose to cycle with 20kg packs on your back, it’s rubbish, so so rubbish. The first day, we managed to cover an impressive 60km. But we had crossed the border into Azerbaijan, exciting, they thought we were mad… We were beat, the next day was horrendous. The bruising and the pain, well, we don’t need to go into that… Despite the pain, we managed to cover 75km, reaching the town of Tovus, where we settled down in a hotel for the night. Then, the morning came… To be continued.. because it’s in our next vlog and I don’t want to give it away….

 

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A new challenge awaits..

 

As we draw ever closer to the Georgian border, we are faced with new challenges, which will certainly pose new problems.
Turkey has been a relatively easy country in regards to the people, there has been no evidence of any political issues or any threat from groups such as ISIL who have caused so many issues for the Turks. Camping and walking has been easy and with only one issue involving police and the odd gun shot here and there, we’ve not been given any bother whilst sleeping out under the stars.
Georgia, however is a different proposition. We are lucky enough to be working with a risk analyst firm back in the U.K., and having received their latest report on Georgia it seems that crime is high, especially along the route that we’ll be taking. We seriously questioned whether we should go through Georgia, but after out weighing the cons with the pros, we decided to take the route. I know, that if we hadn’t decided to go through Georgia, we would regret it in the future and whilst there are threats to worry about, you can’t worry, because wherever you go in the world, there will always be people who want to do you harm, but we like to think that there are more people who want to do us good

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P.s if anyone who is reading this is Georgian, please please get in touch!

I’ve acquired some pets…

I’m aware, that this is particularly vile, but I feel as if I should probably share it (it’s Sam btw).. 3/4 nights ago when we last slept in a hotel, I decided to get my sleeping bag out for some extra warmth. Now, this hotel was, let’s say, a fairly low budget one; cold showers, no heating, scratchy sheets and apparently, bed bugs.
Having got my sleeping bed out, it appears that it is now infested with something that enjoys biting me, an awful lot. I’ve got marks on my feet, my ankles, my torso and my arms and they itch like hell! I don’t really know what to do, the bites are driving me mad and actually a little bit sore.
Our next stop is scheduled in a couple of nights time, at a relatively nice hotel, so I presume they’ll do laundry and will be able to wash my sleeping bag. Will washing it get rid of any nasty bugs? Heaven knows, all I know is that I’m itchy and sore and it’s just another problem I really really don’t need..
Oh well at least someone’s getting a good meal tonight (me being the meal and the creatures having a jolly good feed..)

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P.S, we’re wet at cold again and are DEFINITELY trespassing on someone’s land.
PPS. On last pair of dry socks.

Could do with a cup of tea..

I’m sat here, in my hammock writing this entry with a definite shiver on. We’ve had a 29-30 km day today, so nothing out of the ordinary, but at about 3 pm when we set off after a nice restful lunch break, it began to rain, again. Shock. Horror. Honestly, I thought Turkey was meant to be a warm country, I know that it’s autumn, but still, rain? Shivering? Hello hyperthermia.. Both of our jackets are soaked, and normally we’d sleep in them but that can’t be done, so I’ve had to delve deep into the depths of my rucksack to find multiple layers, to keep me from dying. Maybe I’m being dramatic? Did I tell you that we had a loaf of bread for supper? Although it all sounds rather tough now, the walking itself, just seems to fly by. It hurts, yeah sure, but we’ve got our routine, a system. It makes it easier to deal with, up at 7- 7:15 away from camp 8 am latest, so not the most anti social start time especially after going to bed at 7 pm, apparently that’s what you do when you camp..
Might I add, that our campsites aren’t the most glamorous set ups in the world. We’ve pitched up behind what I think might be a building caravan where the workers have their tea and just beyond that the equivalent to the A12. We had found a lovely campsite about half an hour before this one, but a gentleman strongly advised us not to sleep there for three reasons, murderers, robbers and the third? Well. Maybe that’s a little unsavoury to be posting on here, but you get the idea.. Anyways, time to curl up and try and stay warm, enjoy your beds!

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On the road again

So here we are, off on another tough stint after a couple of days rest. On the three occasions we’ve had people come out and visit us, it’s been great. There is however a downfall. You get back into the swing of ‘normal’ life, you kind of forget that you’re going to have to go back to sleeping in a forest, eat bread for dinner and walk 30 + km a day. It’s tough, but having said that, we’ve kinda got used to it.
After a few days rest and a road trip down to Cappadocia with my Father (Sam’s) it’s back on the road. I must add though, Cappadocia is one of the most beautiful places, I’ve ever been to. Our first morning consisted of a 4:30 am wake up call to go and see the stunning hot air balloons rise above the gorges of Cappadocia, it really was an incredible sight. Cappadocia is a maze of caves and underground cities that were inhabited by all sorts of people. We even got to stay in a cave hotel, (it was a lot comfier than it sounds, there was a bath…) but nonetheless it was a cave!
After exploring the sights and catching up with news from home, next thing we knew it was time for my father to go home! Three days rest was plenty, and our feet were given a bit of respite.
Our next stop, Rize. A solid three week walk away from where we are now, we’ll hit the town of Samsun in a couple of days, where we’ll probably take a night in a hotel, to reorganise and regroup (and most likely dry out all of our kit, rain seems to follow us). It’s crazy to think that we’ll arrive in Georgia in under a months time, although the days are long and tough, the time spent on the whole, goes so very quickly. Time flies when you’re having fun? Pah! Yeah right…

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Plugging away..

It turns out that walking in the rain, is probably one of the most soul destroying things that you can do, especially when all you have to look forward to is setting up a camp, in the rain.
We’re in the middle of a pretty savage 8 day stint at the moment, involving 40 km days, so we can get to Sinop for Monday. I’m not sure as to where we are now, but what I do know is that the weather is treacherous. It’s cold, windy and wet. Last night was dire, so dire in fact that tonight we’ve had to find a hotel in order to dry kit. Poor Henry had a pretty vile night, the rain started at about 4 am, and to say it was relentless is an understatement, I managed to curl up into the foetal position and stay dry (ish). But Henry’s sleeping bag was completely soaked through, luckily the kit in our bags managed to stay dry.
As we were walking today, the rain was coming in on us on an angle, hitting us with some pace, it was just so cold! You get to the point, where you can just laugh, after that you get to the point where you’re a little angry. After that, who knows, madness perhaps.
Right now, we’re sat drinking tea eating chocolate cakes and Baklava, healing our minds with sugar and additives.
When we arrive in Sinop, we’ll have a visitor, my Father! He’s coming out for a week or so, we’ll take a few days off and go down to the beautiful Capadoccia, I’m fully expecting multiple history lessons from Mike (father) who seems to know everything about everything.
When he goes home, we’ll then be back on the road again, and actually, we won’t be in Turkey for much longer! Another 3-4 weeks and we should be hitting Georgia! Exciting times! Georgia into Azerbaijan, then a flight down to Chennai! We’re slowly but surely getting there, and the donations continue to come in which is great! Please carry on watching our vlogs, and keeping up to date on social media! http://www.kathmandu-it and Kathmandu-it (on FaceBook)

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Where does the time go?

Seriously though, where does the time go? Looking back over the blogs, it’s pretty much been a year since we started planning ‘Kathmandu-it’. I remember sitting in my kitchen, with tea and biscuits going over countless ideas with Henry; routes, kit, sponsors.. In that moment you don’t really think as to what it’s going to be like when you’re actually doing it.. I was so naive as to what the expedition was going to do to me, I think Henry was too. Mentally, we’re as used to it as we can be, physically, it’s as tough as ever. We tend to do 2/3 week stints before a proper rest, no matter how fit, how strong or how tough you are, this routine is going to cause problems in some shape or form, mainly in the form of aching bones.

Since the last blog, we have seen and experienced so much, straight after writing that blog, we set off into the mountains, which if you’ve been watching our blogs you’ll know was a pretty horrific few days, although we did make a few friends, Pablo and a crazy shepheard…

We ventured through Bulgaria, which was eye opening in many respects, from poverty to holiday destinations it was a place of many contrasts. We’ve continued to sleep in strange places, meet new faces and live receive incredible generosity, too many for me too reel off on here.

And where are we now? We find ourselves on the Black Sea, Turkey. We’ve passed through Istanbul, which was probably one of the most beautiful and vibrant places I’ve ever been too. From the Grand Bazaar to the Hagia Sophia, it’s somewhere which I could go back to over and over again. Whilst in Istanbul we had to invest in new boots, which, to say the least have been causing issues… Blisters galore! Both of us have also been hit with some pretty grim sickness, violent you might say..

It’s been a while since we haven’t had a day of walking, on Friday we’re looking forward to three days off at a hotel in the beautiful town of Amasra, sun, sea and a whole lot old of sleeping!

Although, we’re tired, smelly and aching there is one thing that keeps us going, the hospitality and generosity of people. We’ve especially noticed the Turkish hospitality and friendliness, walking along the street, we’re always being offered tea, coffee or people just stopping us to ask our names and where are from..It tends to lead to a lot of miming though, our Turkish is not good…

Right, we have to go and walk! Another 50 odd kilometres and we’all be at our hotel for a nice long rest and maybe a beer… Remember, keep checking out our Facebook Kathmandu-it where you can see vlogs, pictures and updates! More importantly, please donate! http://www.annieschallenge.org

 

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Europe is almost at an end..

Firstly, you must be thinking, how rubbish are these guys at keeping blogs? Yes, yes we are. I dare you though, to walk across Europe and stay disciplined, trust me it’s harder than it looks..I sit here at the foot of Romanian mountains outside of a small village called Borlova, looking forward to some traditional Romanian soup and other delights. There’s one thing that I never expected to say, that Romania and its people is/are beautiful. We’ve been shown nothing but kindness and generosity whilst we’ve been here, from being invited into family homes to a guided tour around Timisoara (with beer), it’s been an incredible experience, we’ll miss this place for sure… Although, we’ve got the prospect of two days in the mountains starting… This afternoon. Joy. Did someone mention something about bears? Yeah there are bears here. Not so cuddly though.

It is true that we love Romania, and Bulgaria will be great as well but we cannot wait to hit Turkey, it marks a huge achievement for us, we will have walked the entire length of Europe. But it’s another change, in culture, especially in Hungary and Romania, we’ve seen many changes in culture, from horse carts still being used for work to boarder line poverty in some places. Turkey, Iran, India are going to provide something completely different however, something we can’t wait for.

So, I promise to try and do this more often, I really do, but if I don’t with hold this promise check out our Facebook, where we have vlogs! That way you can see our lovely faces… One more thing, go to Romania! You will not be disappointed!

 

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Long time no speak but we have made it to Austria!

One of the hardest things about this trip is keeping up to date with; diaries, social media and blogs. The last thing after a long day of walking is to sit down and use your brain. Sleep is the only thing that either of us want to do when we’ve set up camp. So apologies to our avid blog readers, about the lack of reading material.
So, here we are! We’ve arrived into Austria! After a month long trek in Germany, passing through cities such as Cologne, Frankfurt and Nuremburg, we have finally conquered one of the biggest countries in Europe, and it feels great!
We are now resting in Linz, where we have rented an apartment for a couple of days, so we can refuel, sleep and wash. Wash being the main benefit. We’re lucky enough to have a couple of visitors as well; Kitty (Henry’s sister) and Lucy (friend of kitty) to come and keep the spirits high!
Next stop? Vienna! We think it’ll take about 6 days to get to, where we’ll then take another couple of days and then on to Budapest! It’s amazing how quickly this is all going, although the days are long and hard, the weeks seem to be flying by!
We’ve really got into a rhythm of walking now, the first couple of weeks were so tough, but physically we’ve got used to what it feels like to walk 20+ miles every day! What we haven’t got used to though, is the lack of shower.. Every time we stop in a city all we can ever think about is taking a shower; to all of those back home please, please be thankful of both shower gel and hot water!
I can’t promise you when the next blog will be, but in the meantime keep watching our vlogs, keep up to date with our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram! Oh yeah, more importantly, keep donating!
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