Tue 22.01.13 – Mon 28.01.13:
I finally heard back from the Russian visa guy this week. He hadn’t received my original email, so I’ve had to postpone my trip to Kaliningrad for a week until after the Telegraph Adventure Travel Show at which I’m speaking this weekend. But everything has gone through, the visa has been paid for and, well, things seem to be running relatively smoothly. I also got an email from Guinness World Records saying they were ‘considering my appeal’, so fingers crossed there.
On Tuesday night I made Spag Bol for Sally to say thanks for letting us darken her doorstep and moved my kit to Matt The Mick’s gaff a little up the road in Brixton. Matt and I used to live together when we were in Manchester University. Now he lives with his lovely wife Tiff. They were happy to supply me with a roof over my head for a few days, but Casey and I agreed all this Couch-Surfing malarkey is getting a bit silly.
Wednesday saw Casey and I finalise my business cards ready for the Telegraph Travel Show on Saturday. I think you’ll agree they look a particular shade of FRIKKIN AWESOME (they have naked ladies on the other side).
That night, Case, acting as my PA, got on the case (a-ha!) to Paradigm. They agreed to a pow-wow on the moro. The meeting came and went, but I’ve got to play my cards right, so full disclosure of what was said will have to wait for another week, I’m afraid.
Friday was Burns Night and in the grand tradition of things, my Glaswegian friend Anna Burns (yes, Burns… and her birthday falls pretty much on the 23rd January!) came up from Brighton for a good old-fashioned haggis and whisky spectacular at Stan and Helen’s house. Matt and Tiff came along, as did Sally and her fella Peter. We addressed the haggis, gave it a good stabbin’ and I tell you what – the creamy whisky-mustard sauce was TO DIE FOR!!
But Case and I had to split early as we were movin’ on up – to the Olympia Hilton – and the last train left at 11. I’m going to try really hard not to slag off my newly adopted city, but damn it’s a bitch to get around!! What’s with the trains stopping so early at the weekend? Why aren’t they 24 hour like the New York Subway?
The Hilton was paid for by the good folk at The Telegraph, whose Adventure Travel Show I’d be speaking at the next day. After three weeks of couches, fold out beds and blow-up mattresses, it was bliss, and gave Case and I an opportunity to map out our future together… after all, there’s such a lot of world to see…
Saturday was the day of the show. My talk went well, although next time I’ll have a bit more in the way of graphics and video. I got to formally announce that I was going back to Russia, which caused a bit of a stir in the media. Made some good contacts, which bodes well for future events. My mate and feminist travel blogger Natalie “www.girlandtheworld.com” Lyall-Grant was there, as was Adam K who has been following The Odyssey Expedition for years and who kindly donated towards my ‘get me home’ fund last summer. Thanks Adam!!
Afterwards, I had Sky News get in touch wanting to do an interview the next morning, along with journos from The Independent and The Telegraph.
So instead of a nice calm relaxing Sunday morning in bed, it was – once again – up an’ at ’em as Casey and I hurtled over to Sky News Headquarters to be interviewed about my travels on the breakfast sofa. Then we returned to the Hilton, checked out, went out to do something SO FRIKKIN’ AWESOME together that I can’t tell you about it on this blog because the sheer jealousy it would generate could power a small nation, grabbed a coffee, headed over to Brixton to pick up my video camera from Matt The Mick’s, bought a cheap winter hat, gloves and a new bag for taking to Russia, then met up with Lindsey, Amy and Amy’s mum at the pub before staying up until 2.30am talking to Lindsey’s flatmate Deborah while Lindsey washed pots and pans in the bath.
Normally this would all be fine and groovy, but I had to be up at 6 in the morning. Mother Russia is calling…