Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Time I Climbed Most Of Kilimanjaro – Part 3

Monday 5th June 2017

So last couple of times I told you about how I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, but first a broken leg postponed my trip by two years, then Cyclone Kyrill threatened to derail my journey. Well here’s what happened next…

Having slept fitfully, I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed and finally get on with the task of actually climbing the mountain. I laced up my barely used walking boots, filled my daysack with as much chocolate as it would hold, poured fresh water into my two stainless steel drinks bottles and marched downstairs to meet the others in the lobby.

After a short drive, we were at the gates to the mountain, where most of the morning was spent filling in permits, weighing rucksacks and taking endless photographs.

Eventually it was time to begin and the group of 40 of us set about up the narrow tail ahead of us. The path led us through dense jungle, with luminous green leaved trees lining each side of the path. We were overawed at the beautifully coloured birds, gushing waterfalls and spritely monkeys playfully swinging from tree to tree.

The walk was tough and it wasn’t long before I was questioning my decision to have picked such an ambitious first adventure. My legs felt weary with the heavy boots weighing me down and the heat and humidity of the jungle climate sapped my remaining strength. Maybe this was the dreaded altitude sickness that I’d heard so much about kicking in already.

I had actually for one gone against my principle of never taking any medicines and chosen to take Diamox, which is one of the few things that can help to stave off the effects of the deadly condition of altitude sickness, which is brought about the decrease of oxygen in the air at great heights. The danger of taking it as a prophylactic, is that you are using up one of the only treatments. The only real “cure” being too get down to a much lower altitude fast.

By the time we reached camp for the first night, I actually still felt fine, except for very tired legs. If the first day was anything to go by the rest of the week was going to be torture.

I was pleasantly surprised then, to find out that after the grueling first day, the rest of the week actually got much easier. With the dense hit jungle behind us, the next few days we wound our way up the hillside in a zig zag fashion, through a variety of terrains that included thick gorse bushes, large yuka trees and even a desolate lunar style landscape, too high for any flora or forna to grow.

Looking the part as we make our way up through the clouds.

Apart from having to stop to go to the toilet every few minutes, one of the side effects of the Diamox being that it makes you want to pee constantly, I felt in great shape and enjoyed each day more than the last. Many of the rest of the group were unfortunately suffering from intense headaches, blisters and upset stomachs.

By the time we had passed the last water point and were onto the final day’s walking before the summit push, I was bounding along near the head of affairs, trying to name capital cities and their countries, in a bid to keep my mind sharp, as the altitude sickness easily confused the brain into a drunk like fashion.

I was drinking plenty of water, eating like the proverbial horse and slathering myself in suntan lotion, mindful that we were still dangerously close to the equator, even if it didn’t seem all that hot and tropical at so many meters above sea level. 

With a spring in my step we reach the last water point on our climb.

Supposedly we would burn nearly twice as many calories than we could consume and were warned that the further up the mountain that we got, the more our appetites would wane, as the stresses of the reduced oxygen to its toll on our bodies. If anything, mine had increased and I think I was the only member of the party that gained weight and didn’t lose it!

This was down to the delicious food in camp each night, cooked by our awesome team of local guides, my enormous chocolate supply, that also won me plenty of friends and made for a great trading tool in exchange for essential items such as loo roll, of which I had run out of due to the incessant peeing, and of course my ingenuous stash of croutons.

What kind of posh weirdo brings croutons up a mountain?! I hear you ask. I’m telling you, croutons are the snack of champions and my idea should go down as tip number 1 in mountaineering guidebooks all over the globe.

Firstly, they’re light to carry, uncrushable and don’t melt or freeze in extreme temperatures. Secondly, they’re soaked in fat and therfore tremendously calorific. Thirdly, soup is a staple food on expeditions, as it’s nutritious, palatable and easy to cook over a camping stove, and a sprinkling of croutons make a snack into a meal and add a very tasty dimension to it. Lastly you can eat then alone as a very delicious dry snack whilst walking. They’re the climbing connoisseur’s crisps (or chips if you’re American). Honestly these crunchy little bites of hard bread are like small nuggets of gold and despite a lot of laughs from the rest of the group, I maintain that they were the single best food brought on the trip.

What a sight! Another group of walkers make their ascent ahead of us.

So basically, everything was going swimmingly, the snow topped peak was in sight and I was feeling fine. That was until some of the suncream started to run into my eyes, as the sweat started to trickle down my face. I tried rubbing it away, and even rinsed it out with water, but my eyes were really sore and started running badly. I must be having a bad reaction to the extra strength factor 50 that had accidently got in my eyes.

So near but yet so far…

By lunchtime, the tears down my face were constant and my eyes were stinging like mad, so much so that I went to see the team Doctor, who was walking with us.

Turns out that it wasn’t actually suncream in my eyes, but the beginnings of snow blindness, which is a very painful condition caused by the super strength sun burning the back of your retinas. Nice! I’d basically sunburnt my eyeballs.

And before you ask, of course I was wearing full protection UV strength wrap around sunglasses, but unfortunately the sun had been reflecting off the bright ground beneath my feet and down over the top of my glasses, as I had a bobble hat on, not a peaked cap. Because of my fat hamster cheeks, the sunglasses did not fit flush to my face and the burning bright light had a small gap with which to penetrate my delicate eyes.

At least my legs, lungs and mind were still going strong, and really that’s all I needed for the summit push, as most of the ascent would take place in the dark, for we were only pausing at the last camp for a few hours before setting off again around 10pm.

By the time we reached said camp, it was early evening, and I could see nothing. My eyes and eyelids had swollen immensely, the pain was excruciating and I was horrified that the eye cream that the Doctor have me, was the same one that we use for horse eye infections!

My eyelids were so swollen up that I could not open my eyes anymore than this.

I naively thought that I’d still be able to join the others on the nighttime jaunt up the steep snow covered scree in a couple of hours, despite the Doctor ding his best to persuade me otherwise.

But by the time the appointed hour rolled around, even I had to concede defeat. I was completely blind, physically sick from the pain, and generally lost and confused. All this way and to be beaten by a bit of snow blindness. What an idiot, nobody back home would believe me. I doubt they’ve ever even heard of snow blindness in Suffolk.

One of the others kindly took me outside to the toilet, for I could see nothing, and then the rest raped and pillaged my rucksack for goodies, such as gloves, walking poles and chocolate candies, with my permission and best wishes of course. Instead they left me guarding a pile of sleeping bags and other unneeded equipment. All I had to do was wait for them to ascend, take various pictures and collect me on their way back down…

I’ll be honest, it was quite scary waiting all alone in what I knew to be the dark, that would remain dark when the sun came up also, due to my condition. It seemed many hours of restless tossing and turning before I heard the first sounds of the life. As I couldn’t see my watch, I had no idea what time it was or how long the others had been gone.

A friendly yet stained voice informed me that it was our Doctor who had returned. He was worryingly ill with acute mountain sickness and informed me that he urgently needed to give me an injection of some life saving medication. Jeez, he must’ve been sick to want a blind person sticking a needle in his body!

I followed his gasping instructions and pretty soon he started to feel a good bit better. He told me to try to help him get the special pressure tent ready as there was another member of our group that had collapsed further up the mountain and was being brought down by a team of guides. After an easy first week on the mountain, the casualties were now coming thick and fast. And with the few of us that were assembled in camp already incapacitated, we were struggling to be of much use. It was a case of the blind attending to the wounded.

By the time the afternoon came, the main bunch of successful summiters were now back in camp, exhausted, elated and completely devoid of energy. They had to get all the way back down to the previous day’s camp though, as getting to a lower altitude is the single most effective way of reviving the weary and suffering climbers.

I couldn’t see how bad they looked, but they sounded dreadful, tales of vomiting, breathlessness, intense headaches, dizziness and ataxia. Maybe my snow blindness had been a blessing in disguise. But to come so far and be thwarted at the final hurdle was still tough to take. And I also had the small problem of getting down the mountain, before the altitude got me too. And of course I still couldn’t see.

The shortcut back down the Mountain.

There’s one fast and rather unglamorous way back down to base camp, and after one of the girls with a very serious pulmonary odema got carted off on the converted shopping trolley, I was determined not to become victim number 2.

The now recovering Doctor recommended the stretcher as the safest option for me, but while my legs were still working there was no way I was being wheeled away, so I found a good samaritain amongst the group of philanthropists and got them to guide me back down, pointing out stones and boulders in my way, whilst I shuffled and stumbled and used my trekking poles as a make shift white cane.

Eventually I made it back to the camp for that night and over the next couple of days, made it back to the base of the mountain, whilst my eye site slowly restored itself. Thankfully snow blindness is a temporary plight, but one that has left my eyes overly sensitive to bright light, meaning I have to wear sunglasses on very sunny days or else suffer from bad headaches. And yes I always make sure that they fit my fat face well!

Although I never made it to the top of the Mount Kilmanjaro, I did make it almost all of the way, and I certainly met some incredible people and made some great friends during my trip too. And on the long drive back to the Nairobi, we stopped at one of the projects that the money we raised went to fund. To see the style of life some of the locals were subjected to was sobering to say the least, and really put everything in perspective. The money was used by VSO to fund volunteers and organisations to help educate, support and improve the lives and welfare of those most in need. It was a trip of a lifetime and very humbling, and who knows, there’s still time to try for a go at second time lucky, if the urge ever strikes me…

The Time I Almost Climbed Mount Kilimanjaro

Saturday 27th May 2017

It was 2004, and sitting on the Underground gazing around at the people filling the carriage, when a sign caught my eye. “Over 12’000 people will read this sign today, but only one will stand up and do something about it.” it said. “Will that one person be you?”. Wanting to be that one person, I actually stood up, waiting for something dramatic to happen.

When it didn’t, I continued to read the rest of the poster, not really sure what it was all about, and thought, “Yes, I’d like to make a difference to the World!” Which was what it was offering and vowed to Google VSO, the company listed, when I got home.
Once at my computer, I found out that VSO stood for Volunteer Services Overseas and they were looking to recruit people to go abroad and teach others their valuable skills. Apparently though, there wasn’t much call for horse trainers or card dealers in the Sudan, and as these were my only two areas of expertise, I would have to find another way of helping the charity. Helpfully their website was full of suggestions that non Doctors, Nurses and Teachers could pitch in.

“100 Mile Cycling Tour of Britain”, was one option. “Weekend in Snowdonia”, was another. But I didn’t want to host some poxy bake sale, so I picked “Climb The Highest Mountain In Africa!” instead. It seemed simple enough according to their instructions. Raise £3’000, get semi fit and jet off to Tanzania to see snow in Africa by climbing a biggish hill. “No climbing experience required.” it said. That’s good I thought, as although I’m an avid reader of climbing books, I’ve never got further than reading about crevasses and ice cliffs, from the comfort of my sofa, safely tucked under a duvet.

I’ve always liked walking! Me doing the Duke Of Edinburgh Award as a youngster (Top Left).

To be honest, the hardest part of the “Challenge” seemed to be raising the money. With a couple of hundred pounds pledged into my JustGiving account, disaster struck, I broke my leg pretty badly and was in hospital for over a week. Excellent, I thought. I can go for the pity angle now. Just think how much easier it will be to raise the money if I can do the trek on crutches!

Well, that was from the discomfort of my hospital bed, before I found out that walking with crutches was anything but easy. I should’ve probably at that point, seen it as a sign that I wasn’t all that cut out for conquering peaks. I’d not actually heroically smashed my leg in a fall from a cliff face, but unceremoniously and tamely tumbled from the side of a badly behaved racehorse, in a pathetic a fall as you have ever seen, but unluckily got my foot caught in the stirrup, meaning that my ankle took the full brunt of the impact.

Despite trying to get up and run after the wayward animal, and obviously crashing straight back down to the ground again, I was still convinced that my ankle was only twisted. Even though my foot was facing in a completely different direction to the rest of my leg. “I’m sure it’s just a sprain!” I said, as I crawled along the grass trying to get to nowhere in particular. Eventually somebody called someone else to come and collect me and about one hour later, I arrived in A & E, pale, sweaty and still in denial.

Horses are crazy! My friend Gill is clearly a much better rider than me and stayed on despite Big Orange’s best efforts to dislodge her and get them in the Australian newspapers ahead of his run in the Melbourne Cup.

I was genuinely amazed that the Doctor’s didn’t even need an x-ray to diagnose my multiple fractures, at which point they began wondering if I’d hit my head also, so obvious was it that my lower leg was now in a number of different pieces. I finally managed to convince them that I was just naive/optimistic, so I managed to swerve a head CT and went straight to x-ray, where they could see the full extent of my injuries.

Expecting to be let go later that morning with bit of plaster of paris around my wounded paw, I was gobsmacked to be told that I would require first sedation to relocate my dislocated ankle, and then surgery later in the evening, to repair all the broken bits inside my leg, which included three separate breaks and a completely torn tendon.

Honestly though, for me, the worst part of the whole affair was when they cut my ridiculously expensive riding boots off, after trying and failing to convince them to pull them off in the conventional way. At my insistence, they had given pulling them off a go, but when I realised that all that did was pull my already mangled foot further away from my battered leg, whilst still leaving it inside the boot, I gave up, and for the first time felt like crying, as they went to work with their fancy scissors on my treasured boots.

If only I’d kept both legs on the same side…

It was 2 operations and 8 weeks later before I could put any weight on the affected area, taking me right up to the day of my intended departure, so VSO kindly benched my trip, offering that I could take opportunity when I reached full mobility again. My sponsors generously offered that they would still honour their pledges, which gave me the momentum to try again two years later, when my pronounced limp had finally faded.

I put up the cost of the trip myself, not wanting to waste anybody’s money on my “holiday”, and held an auction at the Hard Rock Cafe in London, and a Wild West Themed Casino night in Newmarket, to help raise the rest of my target.

With Newmarket being quite flat, my training was definitely on the light side, which is more than can be said for my backpack, which was filled with sweets, chocolates and croutons plus half of the camping store in town’s best gear. Everytime the guy behind the counter would see me coming with my “Kit List”, I could audibly hear him groan as I reeled off all the essential items that I would be needing for my trip. His face was another telling sign that I wasn’t really cut out for the world of mountaineering, but I blindly blundered on, right up to the day off departure, when I woke up to another huge disappointment…

Which I’ll tell you all about in Part 2, next time. I think that’s quite enough excitement for one day!

Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s Off To Work I Go.

Tuesday 23rd May 2017

Well, my vacation is nearly over, and honestly, I can’t wait to go back to the ship! My time off has been great, but also exhausting, as I seem to have been everywhere and done everything, so I’m really looking forward to getting some rest and relaxation by working 7 days a week instead.

You see, once I’m unpacked in my cabin, that will be it for the next six months, no more packing, suitcases, airports or train stations. Just routine, work and weekly boat drills. Ok, so the last bit I’m not exactly looking forward too, but roll on the free rice, room stewards, and warm sunny weather…

I’ve certainly packed a lot into my time off and in the last few weeks, since I arrived in Europe, I’ve been dashing around everywhere in a bid to catch up with friends and family.

Some of the highlights include being welcomed with open arms back at my favourite Thai Restaurant in Newmarket, the Khobkhun. When I phoned through my order and said it was Amy calling, Pom, the manager, nearly burst with excitement. “Amy? Amy? It’s you!!” she shreiked. “Oh Amy, see you very soon, 10 minutes!!” she squealled.

As I made my way down the street, I could see her jumping up and down at the glass door, awaiting my arrival. Upon opening the door, she flung her arms round me and gave me a big hug, with so much commotion, that all the other dinners turned to see what was going on. They must’ve thought that I was a minor celebrity, or Pom’s long lost daughter, such was the embrace that I was entangaled in, but no Pom was just very excited to see her long lost best customer, back after over a 3 year absence.

Pom and I and a whole lot of seriously delicious food!

And the food was evey bit as tasty as I remembered. After that I managed to train it across country to call in on various members of my family, where I quickly regressed to my youth and showed myself up by cycling laps of the park on a childs tricycle. Apparently, I haven’t changed at all!

Just call me Petra Pan!

Then it was back down to the South Coast courtesy of the Great British rail network, where at Southampton, I was tasked with waking some random stranger’s future mother in law at her designated stop, as she was too inebriated to know what day it was, let alone where she was. “Sure!” I said, and happily ticked off my random act of kindness for the day, safely depositing the slowly sobering up woman on the platform of the pre-determined station. You’ve got to love England, and the drinking capacity of it’s residents at 4pm on a Tuesday…

I knew I should’ve stowed away on this freight train instead!

Back down in the beautiful town of Arundel, I was elbow deep in “Wedding Central”, as the friend who’s Hen Do I had attended 10 days before, had enlisted my help with jobs ranging from painting a wheelbarrow…

Ta da!

To wrapping 100 “favours”, which took me and entire evening and nearly left me with arthritis…

I wanted to stab myself just to end the torment by the time I was finished.

I’m gutted that when the big day rolls around later this week, that I will already be back on the ship. It seems such a shame to miss the big occassion, especially as I have seen so much of the organising taking place, but at least I know that they will have a superb day, and I hope that the sun shines on Samantha and Matthew, not just this Friday, but for the rest of their marriage also. You guys are great and may I wish you all the best.

My penultimate flight took me to Ireland, where I’ve already travelled to North to capture photographs of practically every blade of grass (see Post https://downtokokomo.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/a-gigantic-day-out/ ), to the Wicklow Mountains to visit my Aunt, down to the West to play with puppies…

So cute!

And enter Poker tournamnets…

The WSOP Clare Classic.

I was woefully bad at the Poker, which was especially disappointing after all the locals were so excited at the prospect of a real casino dealer from overseas coming to play in their annual tournament. I have to say that despite winning the prize for top lady player, I also won the wooden spoon for first player out… Yes I was the only girl in the competition, clearly I’d missed the memo about it being a gentleman only tournament, either that or the girls of Ballyvaughan have better things to do on a Saturday night.

At least there was freshly caught local lobster for the losers!

I won’t bore you all too much with my “bad beat” story, but basically I had a strong starting hand of trip 10s, went all in, only for the guy next to me to buy a Jack and beat me with his three knaves. 

Unbelievable! Who plays 5 card stud poker these days anyway? I’m a Texas Hold ‘Em girl every day of the week, and clearly that night was not my night.

Breakfast of losers.

In between all of this, I’ve also managed to fit in plenty of dog walking, horse admiring and cow taming. I’ve kind of fallen in love with the cattle on my friend’s farm, but my adoration appears unrequited, as despite my best efforts the cows appear to be immune to my charms, no matter how hard I try.

Here lovely cow…

Or how long I lay in the grass waiting for them to lick my feet…

Mission nearly accomplished.

Or how fast I try to run after them…

Come back, I just want to play!

So as you can see, with my ranching exploits, trip to China and European tour, it’s been a fairly action packed few weeks since I left the ship in the Caribbean. Oh, and of course I’ve been working like mad on my toy invention and getting it off the ground in between times, but more about that very soon…

County Clare in the West of Ireland is very pretty!

A Gigantic Day Out!

Friday 19th May 2017

I thought that I’d make the most of my rapidly diminishing vacation and make you a video instead of all the usual typing…

And here’s the conclusion to the day…

And here are all the photos that I promised!!

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It feels just like home! A Princess Ship docked near the Titanic museum in Belfast.

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A third class passenger’s cabin on the Titanic. A bit fancier than current crew quarters!

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On the way to Carrick-A-Rede

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The views from Northern Irish coast are simply stunning.

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The famous Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.

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It is a lot higher and scarier than it looks!

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A veritable blue lagoon cave.

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Making friends on the Bridge Over The River Kwai.

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The rain finally stopped sort of, so we decided to set out in search of the Giant’s Causeway.

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Like a true hiker, rucksack and all.

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All smiles with the Love Hearts for sustenance.

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Sally Ann striking a pose!

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All happy because we thought it was only 5km to the Causeway. We forgot in Northern Ireland that they use miles. 5 miles is 8 kilometers. A LOT further!

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But the views were worth all the walking and complaining.

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Simply stunning.

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And the unpredictable weather meant we got changed a lot.

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We’re on the road to knowhere. Quite literally!

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Wow!

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Finally, we were nearly there.

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We decided to take the long route down to the stones.

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I can’t get enough of the beauty around here.

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The visitor’s center at the Causeway.

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And the deep blue sea.

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By the time we reach the stones, it was raining again.

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And then the sun came out again!

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Finn McCool, Oonagh, and a random stranger!

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Finally I’ve conquered the stones!

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Now we just had to walk back to the not so nearby Portballintrae. But what a walk!

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Let’s hurry back before the weather closes in.

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Taking a long/short cut.

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And finally we made it. What a day!

So thanks Sally Ann for an awesome day. I’ll forgive your cunning plan to scare me back to land by taking me to the Titanic museum, because it was really interesting and the afternoon was AWESOME! Yes, there was a LOT of walking but I made it across the rope bridge and back safely, and the walk to the Giant’s Causeway and back was breathtaking, both literally and figuratively. Let’s do it again sometime, once my ankles have recovered…

I’m Thinking Of Starting My Own Countryless Nation.

Thursday 11th May 2017

Now that I’m well on my way to conquering the toy inventing world. I thought I’d start taking over the real world, by creating my own empire. It’s not quite as narcissistic as it sounds though, it’s actually born out of practical reasons.

You see living at sea, for over ten months of the year, I have no official country of residence. I was born in England, but more recently lived in France. I technically have no fixed abode, and therefore no home nation. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s quite tricky when it comes to filling in forms or worse, trying to explain to someone in person how one can be countryless.

Surely it can’t be so hard to add one more little tick box to a form or drop down menu, with the words “At Sea” or “Mariner” on it, can it? People always say, “Yes but you must live somewhere.” And I answer “Yes, I do, in a cabin on a ship.”. I could always use the last port of call as my “home” but as that changes on a daily basis, and my memory is not the best anymore, it seems an overly complicated choice.

The next question people usually go to is “Well where do you stay when you’re on vacation.” Another one that gives me the option of a multiple choice answers. “Well, that depends. This time, 2 weeks in the USA, 2 weeks in China, 10 days the UK and Ireland plus overnight stays in Hong Kong, Canada and Russia.” It hardly de-muddys the waters.

Please come in. But don’t forget to wipe your feet.

You see I generally stay with friends for a few days at a time to spread out the crazy, but that could be anywhere from New Zealand to New York to Newmarket, a little equine filled town on the East of Anglia.

“Well where is all your stuff then?” They enquire. Usually by this point, starting to get a little annoyed at my obtuse and evasive responses. “Er, well, this is it.” I motion to my 23kg baggage allowance. “Yes but what about you’re other stuff? An apartment? Furniture? Belongings?” “I’ll say it again. This is it. There is no furniture, apartment or belongings.” Save a small box of crap that Sally Ann kindly took home from France to Ireland with her.

“But you MUST have an address. EVERYBODY has an address!” comes the sharp proclamation. “Not me, I’m as homeless as an urchin living under a bridge.” And quite content with my nomad existence. Just tick wherever it says no fixed abode please and I’ll be on my way, thank you very much.

Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home.

I must at this point thank my friends for not just putting me up and putting up with me every time I choose to descend, but also for allowing me the use of their addresses when filling it various mandatory forms. I actually have a nice little selection of faux places of residence in my armory, in an assortment of different nations, ready to use at the appropriate time. The difficulty is though, trying to remember which location and which abode that I gave the last time that I was questioned by a particular association.

It can be quite embarrassing and very detrimental when quizzed on your particulars by a certain organisation, and you have to take ten guesses before getting it right. They’re usually less than amused when I ask them to narrow it down by giving me a clue, by telling me which country at least that particular identity of mine is linked to.

It definitely looks more than a little suspicious and I’m half expecting to get arrested and interrogated one of the days. That and the fact that somebody helpfully labelled my passport with a huge white sticker on the front with the words AMY WEAVER. DEALER. on it. Great, thanks guys. That’s REALLY helpful.

Entering some countries, it’s not just the connotation with drug smuggling that I have to worry about, but places like China and Dubai have very strict no gaming laws, and I was nearly deported from the latter a few years ago for attempting to bring poker chips into the country.

It was actually an innocent gift for some friends, who were residing there for the whole winter, and before I had a lack of address, but it landed me in hot water nonetheless and I was subjected to a few hours grilling, in some far away dark room in the depths of the airport, before being released with a stern warning, whilst being made to watch my “gambling tokens” melted into a pile of plasticy goo.

To solve any future distress for myself or government officials, I therefore purpose an islandless nation of vagabonds and vagrants. Of which I shall be president of course. Technically, as the founding and only member of Sealandless, I think that I deserve and have earned the right to my role. Plus as the only candidate, I was forced to vote for myself at the recent elections.

Please sail carefully through our waters.

Benefits of becoming a member of this Stateless State have yet to be determined, but if you want to apply for residency, I’m currently on the look out for applicants that would be suitable to join our Olympic teams or anyone with any talent that could represent this wonderful band of bandits at forthcoming International events. I must warn you though that the government here is hugely corrupt, the taxes are extortionate, but you will of course be entitled to an offshore bank account.

Welcome to our waters.

Yes I think I’m going to like being a ruler of the waves. I’m probably going to change my name to Neptune while I’m at it… Oh and thanks for reading my rambles guys. Yes I do admit today’s effort was a little random, but when you lead a life as miscellaneous as mine, the struggles with form filling in is real!

Ruler of the waves!

My Famous Friends & Other Animals.

Monday 15th May 2017

Being lost at sea for the last 20 months, I’d forgotten about the fact that I used to be semi famous in the world of racing. Not recognisable on the street type of thing, but in a more backhanded type of way. You see my fame came the way of my actually quite famous friends.

My friend Hayley Turner O.B.E. (still sounds funny saying that!), I met when she was just a scrawny jockey in the making. I was assistant trainer in the yard where she worked, and as two youngish girls of a similar age, we bonded over our love of dogs and other things, namely horses.

Over the years, I’ve watched her get recognised, taken many a photo of her with a fan, and seen her awkwardly yet politely talk on the phone to some random stranger’s relative, so excited are they to have Hayley Turner in their taxi cab or wherever. (For the three people out there who haven’t heard of her, she’s known as the 1st Lady of British Racing, due to her excellent achievements on the back of fast horses).

Made famous when really it’s the horse who does all the running while you just sit there!

My other bestie, Sally Ann Grassick, appears regularly on TV in not just France and Ireland, but also in the UK, as a presenter of Horse Racing Shows in both English and French, so it’s common for her to also get spotted and approached by her avid viewers.

“Look at me! I’m so lovely and famous. And modest too!!”

While all this is great, and often comes with perks like free tickets to other sporting events, backstage access to various otherwise impenetrable places, and complimentary drinks, it also has some quite strong negatives as far as I’m concerned.

#AccessAllAreas!

Not only do I get a sore finger from all the camera snapping that I’m entrusted to do, and am left standing patiently waiting to the side, whilst an enthusiast extols about the time he backed her when she won on some horse or other/or Sally Ann looked resplendent in some outfit on the telly, but my main gripe is the fact that there stalkers then decide to stalk me.

I think I’m basically seen as a “soft target” or easy access to the star that they’re really interested in. When I was training horses, my phone number, address and email were all plastered over the Web, allowing a very inviting way in for all the “admirers”. My inbox was regularly jammed full of requests for signed photos, anecdotes of chance meetings with one of the girls, general adoration or quite often some seriously weird stuff.

Oh look somebody take a picture, I’ve a fan that wants a photo with me for a change!

Whilst a lot of it used to amuse me, and sometimes even include me in a small way, mostly as a kind of faux flattery incentive to encourage me to pass on the messages (I’m talking a little “P.S. I think you’re OK too.” at the end of a 13 page handwritten scrawl about their undying, unrequited, and fantasy love for my best friend.), generally it used to disgruntled me greatly. Where are all my stalkers?!

Whilst I’m relying politely to lovestruck octogenarians, and mailing autographs and photos in response to requests from fans, charitable organisations and lonely prison inmates, my two friends are obviously off conquering the world! Thanks a lot guys.

Every now and then, I’d get a small glimmer of hope that I too had found a fan. A letter or email would arrive that started “Dear Amy, I saw your interview on the TV the other day, after your horse won at Lingfield. I was so interested to find out that you’re housemates with Hayley Turner. She’s my favorite jockey. I first backed her in 2002 on a horse called…” You get the gist. One line about me, seventeen hundred about Hayley.

Sometimes I’m on the TV too!

Go away you crazy fanatics! She’s too busy to be reading all your essays about your obsession with her. Even visitors to the yard would politely look at a few of the horses before saying, “Oh aren’t you friend’s with Hayley Turner? I love her, she’s brilliant! If I have a horse in training with you, will she be able to ride it in races?” “No she won’t, now go away!”.

Being far away in far flung places for the last couple of years, the crazy groupies had drifted away, disinterested now that I wasn’t physically close to either of my celebrity friends. But after just one week staying in Newmarket, they’re back with a vengeance. Some have even cottoned on to this blog!

How dare they? This is my blog and if you’re going to read it, jolly well have the decency to stalk me before you stalk my friends. Whoever searched “Sally Ann Grassick HUSBAND” the other day, ought to be ashamed of themselves. In two years, 275 posts, and 41’469 views, not one person has bothered to search “Amy Weaver Husband”!

Husband? I can’t even get some bored, lonely, delusional stalker. KanoBoy23 on Instagram, I hope that you like the video message that I sent you of Hayley, for your best man speech at your brother’s wedding, and I hope that they have a very happy marriage, but you’re the last. From now on ladies, keep your stalker’s to yourself, get your own blogs for them to follow, or just stop being so downright lovely and successful, so that they won’t bother me anymore!

Gill, Sally Ann, me and Hayley. They’re not even so great. I can tell you loads of bad stuff about them!

P.S. Genuine Amy Weaver stalkers always welcome.

Home Of The Racehorse And Other Shenanigans.

Saturday 6th May 2015

This week has been great, as I’ve been able to catch up with lots of old friends. Newmarket is the the closest thing that I have to a home town, as although technically I was born and grew up somewhere else, Newmarket is the place where I’ve spent the largest chunk of my life, and when pressed, it’s where I’ll tell people I’m from, as it’s far easier than trying to explain the whole living at sea nomadic existence.

I live on a boat!

I haven’t been back for nearly two years, and I was half worried that nobody would remember me, but seemingly I must’ve left quite a mark on the place, as everybody was quick to come and say “Hi!” and ask where I’ve been, and what I’ve been up to. Except for the few that smiled and smirked and said that they’d been reading my blog.

Oh God! I forget that sometimes people actually read this. It always leaves me feeling quite embarrassed and exposed when I meet a subscriber face to face, as I rack my brains trying to remember what nonsense I’ve been penning lately.

Anything could happen in my crazy life.

Newmarket has to be one of the most unique places on the planet. It’s a small town in the East of England, bordered by gorgeous countryside and filled with more horses than humans. It’s the racehorse capital of the world, and steeped in a rich history of the sport of kings.

The town is completely under the magical spell of the thoroughbred racehorse, with designated horse paths and equine road crossings lacing their way through the streets, making it a wonderful sight in the mornings, but a complete pain in the backside if you just want to drive across the town.

Back in the day in my former incarnation as a trainer.

Nothing can come close to witnessing this fabulous place in person, early on a sunny spring morning, when all the hopes and dreams for these potential equine superstars are still alive and well, feeling the power of a strong, athletic thoroughbred as it bounds effortlessly past you, but for those of you unable or unwilling to get to East Anglia and get up at the crack of dawn, this video sums up pretty well what a marvellous and majestic place it is.

Newmarket is the largest area of managed grassland anywhere in the world, sprawling past the neighbouring villages on both sides of town, even trespassing into the next door county of Cambridgeshire in places. But enough about the green green grass and the highly strung horses, this time I was here to see the people.

On Tuesday, I enjoyed another day at the races, this time at Yarmouth, where I managed to stay behind the camera and just watch my TV star friend Hayley, who I’d forgotten had been honoured with an O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire, which I believe is some kind of Girl Guide badge, bestowed by Her Majesty the Queen) in my absence (Well done with that by the way!).

On my summer holidays at the seaside venue of Great Yarmouth. It was bloody freezing!!

I kept bumping into people that I knew, and it wasn’t long before the old rumour mill started as to why I was back. “I hear she’s going to start training again!” said one. “I heard she’s going to join her two friends presenting on the TV.” said another. “Well I heard she went away to have a baby!” said the third.

They do love a bit of a conspiracy story in Newmarket, with a big dollop of scandal thrown in for good measure. Guys, racing has enough gossip to talk about, without worrying about someone as insignificant as me. And I can categorically say that “I’ll never come back training again, I have no media aspirations, and there’s definitely been no baby.” Sorry to disappoint you all, but I’m genuinely here on a holiday to see old friends and I’m heading back out to sea in less than three weeks.

Sorry Newmarket but you won’t be seeing anymore of these shenanigans!

On Wednesday I caught up with some of my former employees for dinner, and we had a great night catching up on what’s been happening and reminiscing about old times, mostly about when we used to fall off the horses, or when they used to gallop off with us completely out of control. Fun times and a good reminder if why I no longer do that job anymore!

The girls all looked great though and it was nice to see them all flourishing in their post Amy Weaver Racing careers. I was incredibly lucky to have a brilliant roster of staff when I was training horses.

Yesterday I went to the big auction at Tattersalls, where young horses are traded at high prices. It was another chance to catch up with some former colleagues and industry professionals, and helped greases the wheels of the rumour mill still further. Nope, still going back to the ship I’m afraid. Less than three weeks to go and counting…

Thankfully I managed to keep my hands in my pockets and not buy anything.