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Throughout Africa the homepage was kept up to date through mini posts. It seemed a shame to just throw these away, so here's the archive from Malawi back to home.

 

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Latest news

 

29/05/12 - A massive thank you to all who came down last week. A truly great night and I appreciate all who came. No more updates for a while but the book is being written and when something's finished you'll hear about it here first. For the next few months, that is all.

 

                                  Matt

 

04/05/12 - I always knew this day would come, but as I'm writing this it's time to say that this will be the last update of the news feed for quite some time. Several reasons for this, the main one being I'm not on the road anymore! However that's not to say life has stopped - the reason there's been two weeks since the last update is because I've not paused for breath over the last few weeks - however as this is the last update there's a few important things I want to say:

 

1) A sincere, heartfelt and grateful 'thank you' to everyone who has followed the ride over the past four years. It's been the most amazing experience I will ever go through and for so many people to have followed it, to have e-mailed/tweeted/facebooked support has been humbling in the extreme. A sincere thank you to you all.

 

2) I'm still continuing with the Speaking for the foreseeable future - if readers know of any schools that would be interested in this please get in contact at the link at the top of the page.

 

3) As you can see above, I'm also doing a big talk at Banbury Town Hall on the 23rd of May. This is going to be a big event, it'll help raise money for SOS and it's also a chance for me to show what's gone on over the last 4 years - so please, please, please come on down! It's going to be a great night! Tickets are £5 and will be available on the door.

 

4) Some people have asked about the blogs and will I write up the last few months. Alas, the answer is no. However there's an exciting reason for this.....

 

5) Tonight a publisher has contacted me and is going to publish my book! This is amazing news (especially as I haven't even begun to write it yet) but it does mean work must start right away. So if you want to know how the trip finished, you'll have to buy the book when it comes out. (I don't want to give too much away, but long-story-short - I make it home).

 

That's it for now - keep visiting the website as there'll be the occasional post up, keep spreading the word about bicycles as we always want more people on the road and most importantly keep in contact! I've met some amazing people through cycling over the past 4 years and I have no intention of that stopping now. If anyone's ever in the Banbury area then be sure to give me a call as I'll always meet up for a beer and otherwise; see you at Banbury Town Hall, if not then in a bookstore, if not there then on the road.

 

                                Thanks for reading for the past 4 years and keep riding,

 

                                                      Matt

 

19/04/12 - This morning I went back to my old school, Chenderit in Middleton Cheney, and gave a presentation there - it sure was strange to be back (and the kids certainly need more geography teaching!). However there's an announcement coming and all I can say for now is Banbury folk - please keep the 23rd of May free! More later...

 

17/04/12 - It's now 10 days since I've been back and one of the big questions I keep getting asked is 'What am I going to do now?'. Well hopefully this post will answer a bit of that - I've just updated the Speaking page of the website and as I am going to be spending today (and probably the next few days) e-mailing schools up and down the country I'm hoping that some of you reading this will be teachers/educators who are interested in my coming to visit your school over the coming months. As I've been travelling I have to admit I've found speaking in schools to be one of the most  fulfilling activities I've come across and as it turns out that I am actually quite good at it - not to mention the fact it brings in significant money for SOS - then it makes sense for me to be carrying this on over the next few months. So that's it for todays post, if you're a teacher or an activities organiser at a school reading this then please get in contact and if any other readers have friends in the education industry who you think would find this of interest, then please send them my way - I hope we can arrange some visits!

 

Edit - One other piece of business, once again, many thanks to Jane Bleach and all who gave at her birthday dinner on Saturday, the envelopes collected £260, so sincere thanks to all who gave.

 

15/04/12 - Hmmm, this is no fun when I don't get to update where I am and in what condition the bike is. A week at home now and things starting to return to normal, but just a quick post to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone who donated at Jane Bleach's birthday in Birmingham on Saturday. I had no idea there was to be a collection there so it was a surprise to me and I will let you know how much we raised when I've added it all up tomorrow - but again, thanks to everyone who gave.

 

13/04/12 - First and foremost, a massive thank you to the people of Banbury for not stealing my bike today, after I left it for three hours in the town centre with the key in the lock. Other than that, this has been a funny week - I've been on several radio stations and have done several interviews with various people and among other places, this website has featured on BBC Oxord, the areas syndicated press and even the QPR programme! I don't know how many people came here from these sources, but it was enough to crash the site and exceed my bandwidth, so thanks for viewing and it's all sorted now hopefully. Not much to report other than one piece of exciting news - Al Humphreys is a bit of a hero of mine so it is my honour to say that I shall be speaking at the Night of Adventure he is organising in Leicester Square on June 25th. For tickets and details go to the link and in the meantime it's going to be fun seeing how I can squeeze a round-the-world trip into a 6 minute presentation...

 

10/04/12 - It's now Tuesday and due to having family round and wanting to see friends etc, I still haven't managed a night in my own bed - it turns out arriving home has been far more exhausting than any of this cycling malarky was. Hopefully more to come but a) for those who came Saturday, the buckets raised over £500 for SOS Children's Villages so that's brilliant! b) for anyone who has followed the ride, enjoyed it and wants to help, then please donate here - www.justgiving.com/projectbike - c) here's an article about the ride on the Banbury Cake website - click here - and the same article also apparently appeared in todays Oxford Mail - if anyone has a copy please save me on! d) tomorrow I shall be appearing on BBC Radio Oxford from 11am for around 20 minutes, so please listen in via the I-Player at that time and finally e) I'm doing a pre-recorded interview at 2pm tomorrow with Banbury Sound which will be played throughout the day - I'm not quite sure if there's a specific time for that one, but it'll be played throughout the day I'm told. That's it for now, but in the meantime here's a picture of the final odometer - 74,320 km or 46,180 miles.

 

 

08/04/12 -  Quite simply: wow. The 26 strong peloton (!) got back to Chacombe at 5.30 yesterday. I then subsequently didn't make it to my own front door until 8 am which gives an indication of how the night progressed. Since then things have been a bit blurry but quite simply wow - yesterday was the best day of the last 4 years by quite some distance. Thanks so much to everyone who came, both those who rode and who didn't. Quite simply, wow, that was an amazing day.

 

06/04/12 - The boy who left four years ago could never imagine this day would come, but tomorrow I ride home....standing on the edge of a dream.

 

05/04/12 - Right, I'm in Kingston and now not only can I keep up with e-mails, I'm also not even going to try and keep up with updating this website over the next couple of days. Just a quick post to say I'll be on Twitter if you want up to the minute info and also - for anyone wanting to ride Saturday - here is the route of the last day from Reading to Chacombe. We're meeting at Reading Train Station at 8 am for an 8.30 start, and shall be also meeting more people at Bicester at 2pm and at King Sutton at 3.30pm - so if anyone wants to join the ride at any stage please do so. We'll get into Chacombe for 5, where there's the party at the pub planned....

 

03/04/12 - Wow - I'm back! First of all, just a massive thank you to everyone who has e-mailed today and over the last couple of days - I will reply to everyone but, to be honest, I never expected this many messages and am not going to be able to keep on top of it for the moment - but thank you so much to everyone who's e-mailed. More importantly - England - I'm here! Safely across the Channel, had my first meal back at a Little Chef this morning (brilliant) and am in Chatham now, about to go to bed. Tomorrow we're getting to Kingston and on Thursday night I shall be meeting friends at the O'Neill's Pub for a couple of beers - if anyone fancies coming down then please get in contact. In the meantime I'm just taking it all in. For the first time, I now feel like I'm close to home. 

 

02/04/12 - Deary me we're getting close now. We ended up going to France, back to Belgium then back to France, to Calais where we are now. Tomorrow morning is the ferry to Dover. I'm surprisingly calm and quite docile at the moment, will see how long that remains tomorrow. A quick bit of housekeeping - the photos from Israel to Luxembourg (3 months worth) are now in the Gallery. In the meantime; watch out England, I'm coming home.

 

30/03/12 - We're in Brakel, Belgium and today cross to France - it's the last overland border of the trip and the penultimate country. Getting ever closer to home and still doing my best to ignore that fact. There's also a seemingly ever growing crowd coming along on the 7th, so it'll be great to see everyone who's coming there. For now, the road calls...

 

28/03/12 - I'll give credit to the old man, he's doing well! We're successfully to the outskirts of Brussels, where we're having a day off. Ma & Pa have gone to Brussels, I'm off to visit an old friend I haven't seen since Summer 2006. But most importantly for now Dad is still alive! Other news, I'm trying to get the website up to date for the homecoming so the blog covering Cairo to Cyprus via Israel is here - Familiar faces - with hopefully one more to follow soon and one other bit of housekeeping: 61 countries, 62 flags and the t-shirt is now complete. I really must be close to home if there's no more sewing to do....

 

T-shirt of flags

 

24/03/12 - Well, QPR being good didn't last - but on a more positive note Dad and I are successfully through our first day of riding. A little over 70k's and we're on our way, the picture below shows us as we left Luxembourg City this morning. His bike looks a lot lighter than mine....

 

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23/03/12 - I bloomin' love QPR. Another truly excellent, humbling and enjoyable week. I've been with Seba and Sarah, a German couple I met in Cape Town and who took a couple of days off to cycle to Luxembourg with me. A great ride and good company not just with them, but also with the people who took us in en route. However they went home today and in their void.....Ma and Pa arrived! Dad's ready to cycle the 400 or so miles home and tomorrow we hit the road. There'll be some pictures up pretty soon and also a certain travelling t-shirt is about to become complete. Oh, one other thing, Dad is tweeting about his ride so twitter users can follow him via @qprandgolf - no idea what he'll tweet but could be worth a look. The road (home) calls...

 

20/03/12 - Yet again time has flown by but a massive thank you to Myles and his wonderful family in Speyer and now it's off to Luxembourg for Friday to meet my own family. I also know this website is supposed to be about cycling and with the end of a four year journey imminent my mind should be on that, but please God let QPR win tomorrow.

 

19/03/12 - Just a quick one today - a massive thank you to everyone who came to the talk at SAP tonight. I hope you guys enjoyed it and if any of you were interested in making a donation please follow this link for the place to donate and information about SOS in Zambia.

 

18/03/12 - Wow, 20 days to home. First up,  a great week and a big thank you to both the man who picked me up in Bad Abbach on Tuesday night and also to Myles, the friend I am staying with here, for helping me get a fully functioning bike back. A lot of parts have simply worn out after being put on in Cape Town almost a year ago, but thanks to these guys I am now fully mobile and heading home on a bike that's in good condition. A particular thank you to the guy from Bad Abbach: crossing the bridge into town my rear hub locked up, meaning I could no longer pedal. Within 5 minutes of turning the bike upside down this kind man had stopped to see if I was ok and then had driven me back to the last town of Regensburg to a bike shop he knew, where a new wheel was fitted immediately. Within 2 hours of the wheel braking it had been replaced thanks to the kindness of others - a truly excellent experience. Other news, I went to Hoffenheim v Stuttgart on Friday and am off to Kaiserslautern v Schalke today so am enjoying a weekend of sport and one final thing - a big welcome to anyone who is here after the article in the Banbury Guardian this week. I've not seen the article, but I've been told that the picture of me in it had something missing. For some reason - I genuinely don't know why - the lion was photoshopped out of it. But for any new readers, this is what the picture should have looked like......

 

alt

 

14/03/12 - What a week that has encapsulated everything I both love and hate about the bicycle. Excellent company, wonderful riding and this combined with a bike that has literally fallen apart. A lot to report but I am in Regensburg, need to be in Speyer for Friday and this means only one thing - time to ride.

 

09/03/12 - After snow again yesterday the weather finally looks good. I've caught up with all my old friends, the bike is fixed and there's no excuse not to go. 29 days and a little over a thousand miles left - let's go home.

 

07/03/12 - In exactly one month today I will be home. Now that is rather scary to write. Other news - a big hello to everyone at the International School of Vienna (and good luck to the girls who are off to Paris for their basketball today) and thank you for making me feel so welcome. I'm still in Vienna and head out Friday morning in the direction of Stuttgart to see an old friend there, before making my way over to Luxembourg. One other thing - a job that probably should have been done around 3 years and 10 months ago has finally been accomplished - look to the the left of the page and you'll see the Twitter box and Facebook fan page! It may have taken a while but this site is finally getting around to looking proffessional (spelling aside). Have been a bit under the weather the last couple of days but resting up and looking forward to the home run....

 

04/03/12 I realised that one of the signs of no longer being in the Arab world is that there are a lot more women behind the wheels of cars here. I had this thought yesterday when for the 3rd time in 2 days I was nearly wiped out by a driver devoid of a y chromosome. First driving, they'll be wanting the vote next. I am in Vienna though, a ride from Zagreb which also included a childishly entertaining 4 countries in a day (Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria for the record) has been and gone and having had only 3 days off since Istanbul, 2 of which were spent rebuilding the bike, I'm looking forward to resting up a bit over the next few days. There should be a blog and some pictures up, but at the same time I'm tempted to spend the days sat around watching cartoons. We'll see.

 

28/02/12 - I'm in Zagreb! Using wifi in a swanky cafe. Haven't showered in 8 days and damn, I smell bad. Getting a few funny looks. Off to meet host now, but a rest day tomorrow and then off to Vienna where I have (hopefully) a week off.

 

20/02/12 - After much thought for the first time in a while it appears common sense has won with regards to routes. I had a choice between going along the coast and through the mountains up to Zagreb - the mountains would have been my preferred choice but with the snow up there over a metre deep in places and with more predicted it's just not going to be worth the risk and I am instead on a 9 day jaunt to Zagreb, from where I'll cross the Alps at the relatively point of 500 metres in Slovenia on my way up to Vienna. The road calls and home is less than 2,000 miles away. Scary.

 

18/02/12 - Well that was just what the doctor ordered - Macedonia and Albania have been absolutely stunning. Greece was a little dull and I also discovered it's no wonder their country's in such a mess when the citizens struggle with looking both ways when crossing the street - the amount of people I nearly wiped out was ridiculous. I was also mistaken for a homeless person when using my laptop in a park - why a homeless person would have a laptop is beyond me but I did feel quite embarrassed. As for Macedonia, I always expected it to be beautiful and it didn't dissapoint. In comparison I knew nothing about Albania but wow - stunning. I have to build 2 wheels today (front rim cracked, back wheel buckled) and then make a decision about which route to take as Montenegro is currently on red alert for snow. Have to admit I feel very privileged to have experienced the last couple of days as Macedonia and Albania really are amazing places, but a little concerned about the snow and ice levels of the forward path.

 

13/02/12 - Miserable weather, bad roads and a rear wheel that's not standing up to the cold. Not the best week - aiming for Tirana on Friday but it's not looking likely. Apparently there's rioting in Greece, but I've seen none of it. It also looks like I may be cutting through Macedonia after all. Ok, road calls, one more thing though - congratulations to the Chipolopolo - champions of Africa!

 

08/02/12 - For the first time it's started to dawn on me that the ride is nearly over and that now, in under two months time, I shall be home. I'm not sure how I can describe the feeling but it's 1 am here and it's been bothering me for the last couple of hours. Melancholy is a good word which I've probably spelled incorrectly. Ah well, moving along, due to heavy snow falls and me not feeling the energy for mountains and cold I've decided to ditch the Bulgaria-Macedona route and shall  be instead going the flatter/warmer route through Greece up to Tirana, Albania. Very sad to miss Macedonia but not much I can do for now. Road calls tomorrow.

 

05/02/12 - Damn it's been good to be here and see old friends again, have been very happy these last couple of days.However more importantly, things are now in place for the return and this also means there's an invite for anyone who wants to come along. On April 7th we will be riding back from Reading to Chacombe, leaving Reading at 8.30 am. This is about 62 miles/ 100 km. Whoever wants to come on this ride is welcome and I'm trying to get as big a group as possible, so if you're a follower of the ride please get in contact and come along. Literally anyone is both welcome and wanted! Second, the welcome home party will be held in the George and Dragon Pub, Chacombe from 5 pm onwards. This is the big event and even if you don't fancy coming along for the riding section then please come along for this part as this will be the real celebration. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in contact and I can help with directions, camp sites in the area and any other info people may need. I've been looking forward to coming home for so long now, so I really hope we can make this a special day. In the meantime I made this video about my ride from Cape Town to Istanbul - enjoy!

 

 

04/02/12 - A bit late but I finally got round to making a Facebook page - please like this link!

 

03/02/12 - Ieft Istanbul on 21st of June 2008 and I returned to this wonderful city on 3rd of February 2012 (today). It only took 1,323 days and I have now officially circumnavigated our lovely planet. A lot more to update but not at this moment as I'm buzzing from being back somewhere I know. Celebrating with old friends tonight, but as for the ride now all that remains is the small jaunt home through Europe.... Pow pow pow.

 

29/01/12 - A big hello to anyone who heard me on the radio yesterday and welcome to any new readers. I arrived in Ankara in the freezing cold with a buckled wheel and soaking wet feet. I can't change the weather but I've rebuilt the wheel (it really is just patched up and I'm preying it gets home) and to solve the problem of constantly having wet feet I've bought a rather dashing pair of brown wellies. I'll be getting a few odd looks but at least my feet are going to be dry when riding through the slush over the next month or so. Otherwise the road calls tomorrow with Istanbul expcted on Thursday. One other piece of business, a friend out here has asked me to mention the ghost bike that she and her friends helped organise in Ankara. For more info about ghost bikes please visit this blog and look out for the upcoming movie. I'm not someone who  really gets involved in bike politics but these are certainly a topic worth reading about.

 

26/01/12 - Certainly an interesting few days. After leaving the blizzard in Karaman the weather hasn't improved and I've been in snow ever since (as the picture below demonstrates). This was fine when the temperature was below zero, however the last couple of days have been relatively warm which means the snow has melted and basically covered me in wet, slushy  ice, leaving me a very cold boy. I'm in Ankara now for a couple of days and am considering buying some wellies to avoid getting so wet on the next leg of the trip. As for other business - I saw my first sign for Istanbul two days ago! I've been there before and am even more excited to go back. I just need it to stop snowing so hard in the meantime, but otherwise life is good.

 

24/01/12 - Wake up. Open tent door. Take a peek outside. Nope, don't fancy that. 10 minutes more sleep. Repeat.

 

Snow cold.

 

22/01/12 -I'd forgotten just how much I loved Turkey my first time round and after three days here among its mountains I've fallen for the place all over again. Only problem has been today where I woke up in a blizzard. I camped 3.5 km from the top of a mountain pass, woke up to a foot of snow (and it was still snowing) and then had to push the bike to the top on sheet ice. This took an hour and a half to cover 3km, however when I got to the top a Police Officer told me I wasn't allowed to carry on. This was fair enough, but he somewhat bizzarely told me I had to go back to the last town (60k away), that I had to wait there until next Saturday to take a bus and that he was going to arrest me if I didn't do this. As a bus was heading past in the direction I wanted to go I pointed at it and asked if I could go with them, his reaction was to smack my arm down and then take a kick at my panniers. I've met some thoroughly unpleasant people at times over the last few years, he was certainly one of the worst and I'm still not really sure what his problem was. In the end I went 5k back down the mountain where after a couple of hours the blizzard stopped, the ice started to melt and I was free to continue the ride up over the pass to the town of Karaman, where I am now. Fun but tough day and whilst the pic below shows where the snow has started to melt, the icy conditions and blizzard weather have reminded me that crossing Europe in winter perhaps may not be such a good idea.

 

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19/01/12 - Into Turkey where it's cold, cold, cold. Head towards Ankara tomorrow where the current temperature is -14. It's cold.

 

18/01/12 - First up, I'm being interviewed on Cypriot radio tonight (in English) at 5pm English time - it's apparently a pretty big thing and if you want to you can listen along on the interweb by clicking here and going to the International Show. Second, a big thank you to the American Academy of Cyrpus for letting me come to visit today; a big thank you for the donation and also for the hot water bottle they've given in preparation for hitting Turkey. Third, as you can see there is now a Speaking tab at the top of the menu. Preparations for getting home are in full swing and a big part of this is organising some more school talks - so if you are a teacher or know any schools who would enjoy a visit from someone like me then please have a read and get in touch. Fourth, things have been pretty stop-start since Jerusalem. Apparently the road calls tomorrow and I am really looking forward to getting back into the routine. In the meantime here's a picture from the visit to AISC yesterday. It's definetely taking longer to wash my face these days....

 

AISC Visit

 

17/01/12 - There's a reason this site has not been update over the last few days and it's probably time to share it. This weekend - the 15th to be precise - saw my mother turn 60. I hadn't seen her since December 2009 and as a birthday surprise my Dad, Sister and I organised in secret for her to be flown out to Cyrpus to see me. She had no idea until she was taken to the airport and the last 4 days have been here in Cyprus among family. As you can probably work out, I am in Cyprus and whilst we tried to get a boat it wasn't possible and ended up being cheaper and simpler to fly - something which became a neccesity when I had to meet my family. I've been at a school here today (hello to anyone reading from AISC!) and it's another school tomorrow before finding a way off the island to the cold of Turkey. But it really was brilliant to see family again.

 

05/01/12 - A new year and the first resolution is to get this website up to scratch - so the blog is finally up to date and here is the review of the boat ride from South Sudan to North Sudan - The best $20 I'll ever spend. Hopefully some more stuff to post soon but in the meantime no more news on boats - will keep you up to date if anything does happen though and fingers are getting crossed. I'm also re-writing the FAQ's - I think they're up to date but if I've missed any glaring ones please e-mail them in.

 

03/01/12 - True to the last few years 2012 so far has been a year of things happening spontaneously and as such I've spent the last couple of days in the Kibbutz of Glil-Yam with a friend I met in Rwanda a few months ago. Been here for the last two nights and off to Haifa today. Tomorrow is a big day as we'll be at the port finding out just how possible it's going to be to get over to Cyprus.....fingers crossed and happy new year all.

 

31/12/11 - Greetings from Tel Aviv. Not a lot to report (still no boat news - again, if anyone can help with a boat from Haifa to Cyprus then we are desperate) and in the meantime my New Years Resolution is to get this website up to date and keep it up to date. It's going to take a while but a) the South Sudan pictures are now up in the gallery, as are the Sudan and Egypt pictures (but the South Sudan ones are better) b) The Route is now up to date and I'll also be adding and editing a lot more over the next couple of weeks. 7th April has now been confirmed as the home date and I really want to get this place organised in time for that, so here's hoping I can pull my finger out. I'm on the cusp of achieving my 2011 resolution of 'no chain fastfood', so if I can do that then I can do this. Just need to focus....therein lies the problem.....

 

27/12/11 - So that was Christmas for another year and as per usual it's back to the day to day of real life, which in this case means beginning to work out a way from Israel to Cyprus. Desperate not to fly and this means a boat, unfortunately no public boats currently running and we start trying to solve that problem today. The first small step is trying to raise awareness of the problem and to boost my profile a bit in the hope that someone who can help will get in contact, so we're trying to get some media coverage. I'm hopeless as a self-promoter so this won't be easy but here goes nothing. Also if anyone knows any contacts at all in the boating world then please, please, please get in contact asap, which you can do so by clicking here. Still in Jerusalem and off to Tel Aviv tomorrow...

 

25/12/11 - Ok, so that didn't actually happen but we are in Jerusalem. Got in late last night in the pouring rain (I don't remember the part of the nativity where it was hooning it down when they arrived and the Kings would have had difficulty following a star with the ammount of clouds that were in the sky) but we're here now. Had an excellent day before the rain yesterday with a bathe in the sulphur springs and a float in the Dead Sea. Now in Jerusalem staying with Roi, a cyclist I met on the road in Aktau, Kazakstan in August 2008 and today we're braving the still-miserable weather to go for a walk round Bethlehem. On a more serious note the last year has been the hardest on the road by quite some distance - particularly since arriving to Africa - and whilst still brilliant the best word I can think of for the last few months is 'tough', so a massive thank you to everyone who's contacted me and followed the ride over the last year and here's wishing everyone out there a very Merry Christmas. Already looking forward to next years when I'll be able to celebrate it with you all! Happy Christmas everyone!

 

24/12/11 - Due to a mechanical failure we had to arrive in Jerusalem in the dark, luckily a star appeared and guided us to the city. Unfortunately all the hotels were full but we've met some guy who said his mate in some town 10 miles down the road that begins with a 'B' has a stable we can stay in. Off there now, just as well as James' stomach has swollen up massively and whatever's inside looks like it'll be coming out tomorrow. Merry Christmas all!

 

21/12/11 - Our plan was to get the boat from Nuweiba to Aqaba, Jordan and from there visit Petra before going up to Jerusalem. Instead, we went to the ticket office this morning and next to a sign that said $70 for the fast boat and $60 for the slow boat we were asked for $85 for a ticket for either boat. Once again, since leaving Cairo the Egyptians have continued to be kind people until any form of even the smallest ammount of money is involved. Not paying the bribe we instead rode along the coast to Israel border and - after me being told I had 'a very interesting passport' and having background checks ran on me for an hour - crossed into Eilat. Hoping to be in Jerusalem for Christmas Day, which should be doable at this rate. Israel seems pleasant so far, whereas the best adjective I have for riding in Egypt is 'wearying'.

 

20/12/11 - A mystery illness and a load of mozzie bites for James, but after 2 rest days in Dahab (pleasant place) we're back on the road heading to Israel. Not sure of the plan yet but if we think we're heading to Eilat and then beyond! All good otherwise but have to admit this still doesn't feel like Christmas yet!

 

16/12/11 - Wind assisted but we have a new 'longest day'  - 193 kilometres! In Sharm El Sheikh now surrounded by Russian package tourists (which is bizarre for a whole number of reasons) but onto Dahab tomorrow where a more thorough update will come.

 

12/12/11 - A good days ride (although don't want to get get up at 5 am anytime soon again)  and we're in Suez. James is doing well and I'm enjoying the company. As for us, tomorrow we cross the Suez Canal - officially leaving Africa in the process - and shall be going south around the peninsula via Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab, then up to Jerusalem for Christmas.

 

11/12/11 - Two years away from family and in 3 hours I remember why I went away in the first place. Just kidding! Mr James Blake has arrived safely and is settling into life in Egypt. Last night we had a few catch up beers, this morning we went to the pyramids (a visit to the pyramids is the perfect metaphor Egyptian travel - pretty darn impressive but at the same time while you're trying to enjoy it you'll have twenty people at a time refusing to leave you alone) and we've also been down to Tahrir Square and had a look round at the protest sites. Neither of us massive tourists so instead we're getting up early tomorrow (5 am apparently, will believe that when it happens) and trying to get to Suez in a day before heading  around the Sinai Peninsula, where we'll go for some snorkelling. Really looking forward to the road now; the road into Cairo was full of stresses and it was pretty obvious I didn't cope well,  whereas Cairo continues only to impress me and I really like it here. Will be interesting to see how we cope on the ride in Sinai, but definetely ready to ride.

 

10/12/11 - Ok, it's a bit of a long winded effort but as I'll be accompanied for the next 6 weeks and as there won't be many other chances to get this done here's the latest effort covering Sudan up to Cairo - Anything, Not To Be Alone. Other news, off to airport in about an hours time! Just as well really as my cousin is bringing some new shoes, which really look like they're needed!

 

Pic Removed

 

09/12/11 - Just a quick one today - the blog about Egypt and Sudan is nearly finished and should be up by tomorrow (it looks like the South Sudan one will have to wait though, hmm) and the main message today is to say a big 'thank you' to Miriam from the 7th grade at CAC school here in Cairo. As you can see from my posts a couple of days back the frustration has got the better of me during my time in Egypt (again, sorry for any offence caused) but I'd like to thank Miriam, who has been e-mailing me, challenging my views, helping me understand the current situation in Egypt and making me see a different point of view here in Cairo.  I'm grateful for her help and she's also invited me to come back in the future to see what Egypt will be like when the real changes have taken place, so it appears I'll have to come back here in a few years to see what has happened! A big thank you to her though and after a few more days in Cairo - which still seems so calm compared to the rest of Egypt, which is just bizarre - I'm now really looking forward to tomorrow. For the first time in two years I'll be seeing someone I know, really looking forward to this....

 

08/12/11 - Morning all, it seems quite a few people have got in contact about the post I put up the other day regarding my time in Egypt (I genuinely didn't realise so many people were reading this website) and as I read it back I can see the ammount of frustration I was feeling at the time pouring out so just wanted to clarify a couple of things regarding it. First, the post will stay up as the feed is as much a diary for myself as it is for anyone else to read and the post represents how I was feeling at the time. Second, regarding Egypt - it doesn't take much to see that I wasn't having a good time here; in every place I have been I have been over charged for everything, whilst on my bicycle I have had people throwing rocks at me, I have had people & children on motorbikes coming and kicking me whilst riding, I have had people coming up and grabbing hold of me in the street and I was also stolen from - by people who took me into their own place to stay the night. These things have rarely happened to me anywhere else - & in the case of the style of theft, never - whereas in Egypt they have been consistent. It has been, to say the least, frustrating. However what my post the other day did, as you so tend to do when letting off steam, is overlook the kindness I have recieved; I've met several kind people, have enjoyed good company and  had laughs with the local people.



I have come across good people and I have come across bad people, much like I have in the rest of the world. However unlike the rest of the world, what I have struggled with in Egypt is seeing the gap between the two. In Central America for example, there were often places in Honduras & Guatemala particularly that I didn't feel safe, however the gap in society also became clear pretty quickly and it was easy to tell who I could trust and who I could not. In Egypt this has not been the case. As I have written above I was stolen from by people who were hosting me - they were kind to my face, we had a laugh and joke around, I trusted them and then they robbed me whilst I was asleep. In contrast, on the ride from Beni Suef I stopped for lunch in a town and a local asked several times for money. An annoyance but nothing unusual and I told him politely no and to go away. He went away and a few moments later he came back from a grocery with a bag of date rolls for me to eat, which he had gone and bought and wanted me to have - a pretty humbling moment of kindness.



It's moments like these that have made Egypt a hard place to travel - I always thought I was a good judge of character but in Egypt I have been really struggling to work out who to trust at times and it has left me feeling frustrated and isolated, which is sad because it takes away from the positive experiences I have had.



That's probably all there is to write for now (apologies for any offence caused), I continue to be thoroughly impressed by Cairo and I have a free afternoon to finally try and get some writing done so will see what I can do today.

 

07/12/11 - Greetings from Cairo - an interesting few days here and again, hello to everyone from CAC and I hope you enjoyed the visit (and see some of you tomorrow). Just to give a quick update I've still not done anywhere near enough work so the blogs are on hold indefinetely, although I will try to get some South Sudan and Sudan pics up soon. As for Cairo - wow! - it's been a culture shock! We have a metro, we have brand name shops, we have non-generator based electricity 24 hours a day and just wow, the size of the buildings, the lights everywhere, the bustling social scene - I haven't seen anything like this in a while and I've really enjoyed the city! I've also found myself somewhat surprised at how relaxed it's been here; don't get me wrong, it's vibrant and lively, but at the same time the problems I had on the ride up have dissapeared and for the first time for as long as I can really remember people don't seem to care (or even notice) that I'm not a local! Very happy here and thoroughly enjoying it. One last bit of business, I also met with these guys - http://www.cycleafrica.org/ - a couple of days ago and justed wanted to plug their ride quickly. Thoroughly nice guys.

 

05/12/11 - A big hello to everyone at Cairo American College - I'm visiting you guys tomorrow. Slowly getting things done and the rest of the pictures from Rwanda and Uganda are now in the gallery.

 

03/12/11 - 11747 Kilometres, 236 days and I'm in C-C-C-Cairo. Cape to Cairo done. Pow pow pow.

 

02/12/11 - After a lot of thought I have decided to take this post down. Several factors involved but the main one being I don't like to see myself being so angry. For those that did read it apologies, for those that didn't all you need to know is that Egypt is officially the first country to 'break' me.

 

26/11/11 - Leave Aswan today. Nice place but the people are pushy and to be quite frank, dishonest and as a result having spent the last 2 days attempting to not pay double for every little thing I can't say I'll miss the place. Have been with www.siyashova.com for the last few days so sad to be leaving them but also looking forward to Cairo as this is where I'll be meeting my cousin for 6 weeks. Let the good times come and here's hoping the wind is less on the ride north....

 

24/11/11 - I made it! Hoorway! Safely into Egypt and am in Aswan now. A day off here then off on the road, hopefully arriving on the 4th in Cairo (wind permitting).

 

23/11/11 - Well, here goes nothing....hopefully next stop Egypt. Also happy birthday to my little sister! Leaving for the ferry now....

 

22/11/11 - And with the first (and hopefully last) bits of cheating in Africa done I am in Wadi Halfa. The boat leaves tomorrow, however despite reassurances from several government officials in Khartoum I've been told I may have trouble leaving the country as despite jumping through all the bureaucratic loop holes I don't have an entry stamp and as such, may have problems getting an exit stamp. Despite the fact I've had reassurances from the people in Khartoum that this should be no problem (as I am legally resgistered here) I've arrived in Wadi Halfa to be told that someone in the same position was not allowed to leave 2 weeks ago and was forced to return to Khartoum. I would usually have faith it would be fine, but I've found dealing with officials here to be thoroughly unpleasant (with most of the rules either being unclear or enforced by people who don't know them) and if there's one country in the world that would actively go out of its way to prevent someone leaving over a minute detail of bureaucracy then it's Sudan. Common sense does not seem to exist here. I will leave it at that for now before I go off on a rant. If I don't post tomorrow I'm either on a boat or plotting revenge.

 

20/11/11 - Sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and say 'this isn't going to happen'. Time has been slipping away over the last few weeks - 3 weeks in Kampala, 2 weeks more than planned on the boat, a weeks delay in Khartoum because of Eid - and needing to be in Cairo for the 10th of Decemeber means I have to be on this boat on Wednesday. 1,100 kms in 9 days was always going to be a tall order however add into that an illness and also, far more importantly, a headwind and it's just not been possible. I've needed to do around 125 kilometres per day - this shouldn't be an issue however the wind has been incredible and for most days I've been lucky to manage a 12 kph/ 7.5mph average speed. With only 11 hours a day of daylight it soon becomes clear the numbers don't add up and it looks like I'm on a bus for the last 400km to Wadi Halfa. Half of the problem has been my poor planning, half of the problem has been that things out of my control have just transpired against me but the sum total is that Sudan is esentially turning into a write off. It's not been fun.

 

One other thing - last New Years I gave up chain store fast food as my resolution. I'm still on for it at the moment but given the truly woeful food they've been serving in the truck stops on the way up here I could really go for some right now. Or just anything that has even an ounce of flavour.

 

13/11/11 - Right, I am finally legally in Sudan. It looks like I'm leaving Khartoum tomorrow and to be honest with the heat and the headwind coupled with my desire to not be in heat or a headwind means I think the next few weeks to Cairo could be some of the most testing over the last three and a half years. I've not been well mentally lately and I get the feeling I could be making some personal discoveries over the coming days. Meanwhile, in regards to the blog, my draft of the boat trip ended up being 7,000 rambled words that lacked style and coherence, so a lot of editing will be needed before any publishing goes on. A boat leaves Wadi Halfa next Wednesday for Egypt - I need to be on it. Let's ride.....

 

07/11/11 - Not a good couple of days. I am in Khartoum via a bus after a bike problem and as it's getting to the stage where a lot of my gear is beginning to give up the last thing I can afford to be doing is losing the bits of kits that are working, which is exactly what I've done; the Primus Omnifuel has been my best bit of kit over the last couple of years but it dissapeared out of my pannier shortly after leaving Kosti (entirely my fault entirely for not locking the pannier down tight) and so it looks like I won't be cooking for a while. As luck would have it I'm also in a country where making an alcohol coke can stove is going to be a non-starter due to the alcohol ban. A very stressful couple of days to be honest and I am not coping well with the heat, but hopefuly some blogs up soon as whilst it may not have been simple (and certainly not fun at times) the last few weeks have most definetely been interesting. In the mean time here's a picture of where I've been living for the last three weeks.

 

South Sudan Cargo Boat

 

03/11/11 - Someone's in Sudan! Someone also got arrested and detained for 16 hours at the border! A lot of stories to tell but they'll have to wait until I get to Khartoum this weekend, but certainly an eventful few weeks!

 

12/10/11 - Departure has been confirmed for Thursday afternoon. Hope to not be back online before then but if I'm posting on Friday then you know something's gone wrong....

 

10/10/11 - 4 kilos of rice, 24 packs of super noodles, a tonne of bread, 2 pots of jam, 15 onions, 10 tomatoes, 14 packs of biscuits, 2 cloves garlic, tang, 50 tea bags, a kilo of sugar, 4 tins of tuna, 8 tins of beans, 3 pineapples, bunch of bananas and I reckon I'm ready for the boat! 9-15 days from here to Kosti with the hippos, mozzies and crocs and then it's goodbye South Sudan, hello Arab world. Another milestone as sub-saharan Africa is completed and another step closer to home....

 

09/10/11 - Right, interesting few days. The long and the short of it is if (and that's a big 'if'') the barge gets clearance to leave port here I should be on the river tomorrow and into Kosti in 9 days. However I'm being told to take 15 days of food (which it turns out is a lot of food!) just in case and if you don't hear from me in the meantime then this is why. Pretty exciting but itching to get moving. Juba is also the hottest place on earth. Don't know if I'll have to time to post tomorrow but if you don't hear from me I'll be on the water with the crocs and the hippos!

 

05/10/11 - J-J-J-J-J-Juba, South Sudan - country number 50 of my tour! Eventful week which including - among other things - coming across a fully grown python, having the front half of the bike fall apart (again) and entering the worlds newest country. Have to say it's stunningly beautiful here. It's hot too. Very hot. Off for a relax but hopefully some news on the boat soon....

 

30/09/11 - I'm safely to Gulu, having a day off so as to have time to watch the rugby tomorrow and then out on the road to North Sudan. All going well and I owe a massive 'thank you' to Johan and Angie at http://www.rhinofund.org/ who kindly took me in at the rhino sanctuary a couple of days ago. Rhino's have been extinct in Uganda since the 80's and these guys are trying to bring them back, good luck to them and their website has all the info you'll need - I'd recommend a visit if at all possible!

 

26/09/11 - I can't believe I'm typing this but  for the first time since, hmmm, probably Christmas 2009 the blog is up to date! A bit of a rushed effort but A Way Out Of A Dead End covers Tanzania to Uganda via Rwanda. I'm on the road today heading up to Gulu and then on into South Sudan. Thanks to everyone in Kampala for the last three weeks and I'm looking forward to going on the road again......

 

25/09/11 - The next blog is written but I'll publish tomorrow as I'm tired and want to re-proof read it first. I hung around an extra day to watch the QPR game (good Lord that Ref was a joke) and am now off on the road tomorrow. I bought a malaria test kit and medication today - for £20 I'd better bloody catch it now.

 

23/09/11 - Ok, one of them is finally published - Things You're Not Prepared For covers the ride through Tanzania. Possibly should come with a warning that it isn't for people who don't like reading squeamish stuff. Other news, will get the Rwanda to Uganda blog posted asap and am meeting my friend from Sudan tomorrow morning to go over all details of the trip north. One other thing, I finally managed to catch up on missing flags and it looks like I may have to stop travelling soon as I'm running out of room...

 

Pic Removed

 

21/09/11 - Two days later and I have my visas for Sudan and South Sudan, I've got my flag for Uganda, the bike is (nearly) ready to ride and there's not much else I can do until I get to Juba. So let's hit the road.....on Friday. In the meantime two blogs should be up by the end of tomorrow and I also realised I never got round to posting this.....a Nile Perch on the back of a motorbike in Kampala a few weeks ago....

 

Nile Perch

 

 

 

19/09/11 - A decision has been made and the choice is................South Sudan! I've found what looks to be a safe route through (I am indebted massively to Peter Schuurs and George from the Acrople Hotel in Khartoum for this) and the wheels have been set in motion. I collect my North Sudan visa tomorrow, should have South Sudan as well by the end of the day and as I've even impressed myself over the last few days with my mechanical skills I also have a fully functioning bike. When all's ready I ride from here to Juba, then on a steamer up to Kosti in North Sudan, before riding up to Khartoum. Things are springing back to life and I have to admit I'm very happy. 

 

18/09/11 - Apologies for the quietness out here, things are still a bit up in the air. First of all (and the good news), the bike has new parts and is raring to go. The not so good news is that with political instability, widespread unrest and visa issues in front of me I still don't know where to go. Looks like I have a straight choice between South Sudan and a boat up to North Sudan (obvious risks) or Kenya, Ethiopia into North Sudan (still a lot of risks). No idea what to do at the moment and need to do some serious thinking.

 

06/09/11 - 359 days, 20,300 kilometres and I'm back in the northern hemisphere. I crossed the equator today and it's good to be back the right way up again. A fair bit to report from the last few days and as I'm in Uganda until at least next Tuesday there's plenty of time to get stuff done. In the meantime let's hope it stops raining....

 

31/08/11 - A big hello to everyone and anyone who's here after my visit to the International School of Kigali today - welcome. It looks as though things won't be getting any more updated than they are on the website and tomorrow it's off to Uganda on a bicycle that's on its last legs - but new parts await in Kampala. It's going to be a nervy few days so let's see how it goes...before I go I must say Rwanda has been excellent though. EDIT: We've also just passed £7,000 on the JustGiving site too - excellent news and you can of course still donate!

 

30/08/11 - Quick one today - The Gallery - is now up to date with pictures from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi & Tanzania now posted.

 

29/08/11 - And that's 3 years and 4 months now to the day since leaving. Work gradually getting done here and happy to say two more blogs up; Lions don't hunt between 9 and 5 covers Maputo to Vic Falls and Revolution in the air does Vic Falls up to Malawi/Tanzania border. Hopefully more pictures and the last blog up by tomorrow and then........we're up to date!

 

28/08/11 - Just a quick update - the pictures from South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique are now up in the gallery and there should be more up  soon. Furthermore we also now have a Cyclists I've met article for Africa. Still loads to post but quite a few headaches at the moment including an immobile bicycle.

 

24/08/11 - Apologies for the delay in updating but it's become apparent that  - particularly in rural areas - finding good enough connections to log on to my web server simpy isn't going to happen, so in the meantime if this page doesn't get updated so much it'll be best to check the twitter feed. In the meantime I've conquered Tanzania's hills, dust roads and tse tse flies - whislt also managing to catch QPR's glorious performance against Everton - and am now in the land of a thousand hills; Rwanda. And yep, there's at least a thousand of them. I have a) internet and b) a few days off, so watch this space and hopefully some pictures and blogs to be posted soon.

 

08/08/11 - Safely into Tanzania and lots of altitude so far (was up around 2,500 metres yesterday and am expecting more to come). Still undecided on Burundi and am more focused on finding a tv for Saturday's QPR game. Onwards and - judging by the mountains all around - upwards.

 

06/08/11 - Tanzania here we come! 40 k south of the border and cross today. It also looks like a detour to Burundi could be on the cards. In the meantime the revolution in  Malawi is planned for the 17th of August. I like a country that plans its revolutions 2 weeks in advance

 

03/08/11 - Well it's been a funny week. I spent a few days with a friend at a refugee camp in Dowa and have since been making my way along Lake Malawi. To be honest I'm a bit behind schedule and also a bit homesick so it looks like I could be heading right through Tanzania without stopping much to Rwanda. Have to admit I'm ready to go home. In the mean time; mice for dinner, anyone? A real local delicacy...

 

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