Thoughts

Generosity Comes at the Strangest Times

Sunday afternoon training - beautiful The JustGiving pages are live:

Royal Signals Benevolent Fund - https://www.justgiving.com/NorthPoleLastTwoDegreesRSBF

Diana Award - https://www.justgiving.com/NorthPoleLastTwoDegreesDianaAward

Walking with the Wounded - https://www.justgiving.com/NorthPoleLastTwoDegreesWwtW

As you can see, there are already a couple of donations courtesy of a work colleague and a friend. Still a long way to go before we hit the targets, but it's still early days.

I am happy? Yes, and no. So far I've notified several hundred people of the trek and the reasons why. The responses have been a little lacklustre - maybe I'm expecting too much too soon - and I'm hoping the donations will increase dramatically closer to the event. But, what did surprise me was the generosity of people who have never met me before and are prepared to take me at my word. I'll explain.

Yesterday, Sunday 23rd August 2015, I decided to get a couple of hours training in on the Chiltern Hills. Dressed in my walking gear, I drove up to Beacon Hill, unloaded my makeshift pulk and set off for a planned 10km training session. Whilst climbing one of the gentler hills I ran into an older couple who were enjoying the views. You can imagine the looks of surprise as I traveled huffing and sweating past them.

Their interest piqued, they inquired as to why I was voluntarily torturing myself on such a beautiful day. Long story short, I gave them a brief outline of the plan of next years trek. Imagine my surprise when the lady reached into her pocket and pulled out the last of her money (she'd been saving it to buy an ice cream for her and hubby) and asked me to donate it Diana Award

The sum wasn't huge, but the gesture was significant. They don't know me, but they trust me. The lady and her husband declined to leave their names and set off down the hill. I don't know who they are or where they went. I sincerely hope they read this post and get in touch with me.

In the meantime, I'll be donating the money to Diana Award.

Strange how you find kindness in the most unusual places.

Why Bother? The Arctic Has Already Been Explored

Why bother when the north pole has already been explored? That was the question one of my friends recently threw my way.

At first, I had to admit he did have a point. Man has already reached the highest and lowest places on Earth. The human race has explored the very darkest depths of the jungles, trekked across vast, inhospitable swathes of desert. Walked, skied and cycled to the heart of the coldest places on the planet.

Many of these achievements were made in the late 1800's and early 1900's; extraordinary expeditions without the benefit of modern technology. Think about it: trade in your GPS for a sextant; shrug off you Jack Wolfskin cold weather gear and don some beaver pelts; sail a wooden hulled ship to the Arctic and risk death before you even get to the ice. That's pretty much how it worked back in the 'bad old days'.

I'm merely following in the footsteps of truly great, and incredibly hardy, men who have gone before me.

I don't compare myself to them. Well, okay, I do, but only in a self-deprecating manner. Given my first trip with cover 220km, it's nowhere near the full 600km covered by those early explorers. In 2017/2018 I will go back and complete the full tour.

For a few moments I felt an unusual sensation; uncertainty about the reasons why. I mulled over the question, smiled and said, 'What else are you going to do  with your life? Spend forty years working in an office, retire and wait for the last day?'

Yes, the answer was pretty harsh. Those were my thoughts. I'm not chasing those iron men of yesterday. I'm not seeking to become a demi-god like Ranulph Fiennes. I'm not even interested in the fame that comes with celebrity status in any chosen field of work.

No, for me the answer is simple (and I've covered some aspects when I wrote about the urges that drive us: this is about a new way of life.

This is about what I want out of life and the difference I can make to the lives of others.

Will I scale the lofty heights of those who have gone before me? Yes, but I don't see myself as being the equal of those hardened explorers who have blazed trails so long ago. Instead the intention is to prove that, even though the trip to North Pole is a pretty arduous journey it can be done by ordinary people like you and me.

That's why I bother: to show the world that, even though this journey has already been completed by many, there's still room to fit a little adventure into our lives. Maybe I'll even inspire a few of you to get out there and see the true beauty of the world and embark on a direction in life.