Day 1,379: No Surprises, Please

Thu 11.10.12: With confirmation from the owners, charterers, agents, customs, immigration, the international war-crimes tribunal in The Hague and the ghost of Jimmy Stewart, the stage was set for what would be the final leg of The Odyssey Expedition. Sri Lanka to South Sudan, over land and over sea, without flying. However, after last week’s emotional roller-coaster I tried my best to put it out of my head as far as was possible: I didn’t want to get crazy excited that I was set up to finish this adventure JUST IN CASE my hopes and dreams were once again crushed by a Vogon sitting behind a desk who doesn’t like the look of me. But first… Unawatuna beach!! Lovely place, gorgeous clean sand, turquoise waters, great tunes, cheap beer and, most importantly, TURTLES!! This weekend I decided to be a bona fide beach bum. Last weekend in Una…

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Day 1,374: The Last Roll of the Die

Fri 05.10.12: Steam shooting out my ears, I spent the remainder of the afternoon writing passive (aggressive) emails to every shipping company operating out of Sri Lanka pleading (demanding) to be put on the next ship outta Dodge. I’ve never typed so furiously or passionately in my life. I don’t care what I have to do, what I have to pay, just somebody – somewhere – pleeeeeease put me on a ship!! Last weekend in Unawatuna, I met a lovely British couple, Shaun and Debs, who recognised me off the telly and told me that if I was ever in Colombo I was welcome to stay at their gaff. Rather not looking forward to the cramped 2 hour bus journey up to Negombo with all my bags after a day like today, I called to take them up on the offer. Be warned, Graham Hughes: terrible…

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Day 1,371: Icarus, Not Daedalus

Tue 02.10.12 My incredible plan for Sunday night was stay up all night drinking and partying at Chili’s Bar in Unawatuna. Then I was to take first express bus back to Colombo at 6am AS I HAD WORK TO DO!! I had to take my passport, photos, application form, cruise tickets, air-tickets, bank statements, itinerary, inside trouser measurement and father’s maiden name to the Madagascan Consulate in order to get my Madagascan visa (third time lucky!). Then I had to go to the Indian High Commission and ask them (very nicely) if they would be so kind as to give me my visa a little bit quicker. All went surprisingly swimmingly. I got the Madagascan visa there and then. The lady at the Indian High Commission told me to come back in the afternoon. I headed over to the shopping mall’s foodcourt and hooked myself up…

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Day 1,369: Amelia’s Final Farewell

Sun 30.09.12: "Raggedy Man: Goodbye." So there’s me, on the beach in Unawatuna, watching Doctor Who on my laptop and sobbing LIKE A LITTLE GIRL. It's over. She’s gone, the Doctor’s assistant, Amy Pond, the girl of my dreams. When this expedition is over, I’m going to have a Pond of my own. We will raise a ginger army, travel through time and space AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD. You’ve been warned. So then, a relaxing weekend in Unawatuna, THE beach destination of Sri Lanka. Sat in the shade of the trees outside Happy Banana, yammering away to all and sundry on the internets and trying not to worry too much about the impending DOOM that awaits my attempts to get to India on a ship. But then on Saturday night I get a call from my man Dino in the UK. You want a ship…

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Day 1,367: Throw Yourself At The Tide

Fri 28.10.12: Shaking off the inevitable hangover, much like a dog shaking itself dry after a paddle in the stream, I headed back over to the visa department of the Indian High Commission. Got all my forms filled out, new photos taken (I lost the ones I got in London somehow – since they require oversized 2” x 2” pics and they cost me £1.75 EACH, this annoyed me no end). Then I headed over to Carl’s place of work to meet Nilan Jayawardana, the General Manager of McLarens Shipping Ltd. After a chat and a cup of tea, we resolved to find a clever way of getting me to India without me having to swim. Only, as always, it’s not up to Nilan, it’s up to the parent company in Taiwan who don’t know me from Adam. But hope springs eternal. There’s ship that leaves…

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Day 1,365: Now, Voyager…

Wed 26.09.12: And so back to Sri Lanka. Exactly one year TO THE DAY that I rebooted The Odyssey Expedition in Wewak, Papua New Guinea. That was Day 1,000. Now I’m on Day 1,365. I added the ‘M’ prefix in an effort not to scare away new subscribers, but I really need not have bothered: it now takes up more space than a simple ‘1’ would have done. Humph! I flew Kuwait Airlines again, on the return ticket. Kuwait airlines cannot be given a good review by any objective commentator. The TVs don’t work, the babies scream and there’s no bleedin’ alcohol on board to smooth off the edges. Ygads. But, you know, airplanes do get you where you need to go, and FAST! Blimey, in the time it took me on a coach to go from one city in Turkey to another, I flew across…

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Day 1,364: The Measure of a Man

Tue 25.09.12: I can’t enthuse about these last six weeks enough. I’d be a fool to pretend that everything was rosy in my personal life: most of my family aren’t talking to each other, my dad is going in for some risky heart surgery next month (and – my usual bad timing – I’m not going to be here) and did I mention Mand and I split up? I probably should have. But on the other hand – The Olympics, The Roundhouse, Blur in Hyde Park, Dino’s Wedding, Hugh’s Wedding, The Paralympics, Noel Gallagher, Festival No. 6, Danny’s Wedding, coming third in the film quiz… INCREDIBLE!! And all of it, everything I saw, everything I did, everyone I met, I did so because I have the most amazing friends in the world. Friends who have been there for me through thick and thin, though this whole…

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Day 1,363: I Am Not A Number

24.09.12: Just before I jumped the train back to Liverpool, I met up with my top mates Dan and Stan for a swift half around the corner from Euston Station. Out the blue, Dan invited me to this weekend’s Festival No. 6 in the quaint Italianate town of Port Meirion in Wales. You know, where they filmed The Prisoner. This was pretty immense as Dan hasn’t invited me to a festival for years. Possibly because I made a drunken arse of myself a couple too many times at Glasto, V, Leeds, Download, Roskilde, Bestival, a billion free gigs where I was his +1... or possibly because (many moons ago) I thought it would be hil-arious to send him a text from his sister’s phone informing him that she was pregnant when she wasn’t. Would have been a hoot, that… had he not immediately rang his parents……

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Day 1,351: High Flying Birds

12.09.12: So the last two weeks have not been particularly merry ones. But, on the bright side, I’ve been able to spend time with my dad (and… er… let him beat me at Trivial Pursuit) and I’ve been able see my friends and have a good mooch around my city. I was invited by my mate Steve to the annual Hollyoaks barbecue, Brian and I came third in the infamously difficult Fact Cinema Film Quiz (sample question: “Who Directed Caddyshack 2?”) and, let’s face it, the Paralympics were BRILLIANT. Last Sunday morning, nice and early, I made my way down to the Big Smoke, London, or ‘Kings Landing’ as I’ve decided to call it from now on (a place awash with incest, vice and vile plots). I arrived in time to catch the end of the marathon and met up with Matt Eland and his mate…

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Day 1,338: We’ll Always Have Paris

30.08.12: Let me just say this: I have the best mates anyone could ever hope for. Within 5 hours of my arrival on Saturday 11 August 2012, I was celebrating my return with Dan and Stan and Matt at an exclusive Olympic athletes party with free booze at the Roundhouse in Camden. Dan got us all in for free through his press credentials (ever read a review of Doctor Who on the Guardian website? That’s my Dan!). I got to see some actual gold medals. It was very exciting. Within 24 hours of my arrival, I was in Hyde Park watching New Order with me auld mucka Lindsey who works for The Royal Parks. Free entry and, again, free drinks. Later that evening (and a little bit tipsy) I ended up randomly meeting Jude Law: And have Damon Albarn practically sit on my knee to sing…

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