Role: Mongolian Logistics
Year of study: 1st Year
Kayaking Background: Apparently I first went in a canoe when I was 3 weeks old, not that I remember much of this mind you. Then, while still a nipper, I was dragged out on canoe trips trying to keep up with my big brothers and protested wildly. Suddenly I realised I actually quite enjoyed the whole paddling malarkey. I’ve been tagging along on trips ever since my mother reluctantly decided I was old enough to go on them.
Previous Trips: All over the UK and Europe on family/club trips, but my first proper expedition was to British Columbia with Imperial CC when I was 17. As I was not at Imperial and eligible to be a bona fide member of the expedition I was regarded as the mascot! However, this meant no driving responsibilities – bonus! I guess as a result I was the only person to paddle every river. Since then, I’ve been able to stick paddling pins on the map in Africa, India, Nepal and Norway, but there are still many places left on my wish list…(such as Corsica where I’m heading off to this Easter).
Favourite destination so far:
For the Culture & Scenery – Nepal
For the Kayaking – Canada
For the Parties – Zambia
For the Women – Norway (although listening to Ben and Graham’s stories with 5 Mrs Worlds – it seems Venezuela is the place to go!)
Other Interests: I’m quite fond of knitting actually.
Music of Choice: Anything with groovy vibes set to the sound of the psychedelic swinging 60′s, with a dollop of kitsch rock ‘n’ roll thrown in. Salute the Woodstock Generation!
Most exhilarating boating moment: After 2 and a 1/2 months working in Namibia, rocking up into Zambia alone with absolutely no kayaking equipment, blagging a boat and all the gear, then Saftey Kayaking for one of the rafting companies was awesome. The feeling of finally getting onto the water on the kayaking Mecca of the Mighty Zambezi is pretty sweet. Duuuuude!
What has been your worst boating moment? On the Caribou in BC. Young(er), fearless and having recently purchased my first creek boat, I was intent on improving my boof stroke…by paddling over any rock or pour-over I could find! So, looking down stream, I picked my target and set up for the satisfaction of that ‘oh so sweet’ landing – you know the feeling. Off I went, accelerating as I neared the lip. But what’s this? There’s already a boat in there! I was too close and going too fast to paddle round the pour over, so I did my best to stop myself from landing directly on the poor person’s head. Unfortunately, all my best efforts resulted in lamely dropping into the stopper sidewards. Sculling madly for support I glanced at Claire’s freshly bailed boat drifting off downstream. At least I wasn’t going to get a mouth full of uncontrolled cartwheeling plastic! So there I was, trying to paddle out to the left, then to the right, and back again. I was in there for around 30 seconds when next to me appeared a head! Claire been pushed underwater by the force of the water and had only just reappeared! Fantastic – now all I could think of was that if I swam, I was going to suffer that same fate! She clung onto the front of my boat to save another 30 seconds downtime. Fortunately, my brother was quick off the mark and managed to get a line to her. Eventually I bailed, but because of the warning I had the presence of mind to hold onto my buoyant kayak and then use it as a board to push me out of the tow-back. Scary times though! But team, don’t worry – I learned my lesson! Pourovers are no fun!
When and where was your last swim? Hmmm…could it be…? Yeah I think it was. See above!
Most random / unusual thing you have ever done? One of the most random experiences I have had was in India after our group triumphantly completed the Tsarap – Zanskar multi-day expedition, then hitched into Leh. It was here we found that river levels were the highest they had been since the 70′s, which explained the mysteries of why we didn’t recognise any of the descriptions of rapids we had just paddled! So, you’re in Leh, and all of the classics you had planned on paddling are too high. What do you do? Go and discuss your options with a local raft company, have a whisky or two, then a few more, challenge some Nepalese Raft Guides and a 6ft 6 legend of a German to a drinking competition and voila! Early the next day bags are packed and we’re on a road trip to Nepal for some monsoon boating in the ultimate kayak wagon!
What part of the expedition do you feel will be the biggest challenge? The unexpected. Things are bound to go wrong at some point, no matter in how much detail you plan. Things beyond your control. Its how we deal with these situations and get around the problems that will shape how much we can accomplish in those few weeks.
What are you most looking forward to about the expedition? The unexpected…as long as its not too serious. The most interesting parts of life, where the most memorable events occur, seem to be when things don’t quite go how you were intending. They may not be top of your wish list at that moment, but in the long run you learn many of life’s lessons looking back at times. Those diamonds are simply lost in the post, I’m sure of it…
What will you cook when it’s your turn to feed the team? Well, the team really are lucky to have me on board. Runner up of Junior Master Chef in 1998, I have the culinary skills of Delia mixed with the imagination of Da Vinci and the versatility of Troy McClure. Who knows what tasty little delights these nimble fingers might conjure up?
What piece of kit will you be sure you take on expedition? A roll of Twine – a little pearl I picked up from a summer away with the one and only Dave Fairweather. I never leave the house without one now-a-days!
What made you chose Siberia and Mongolia? After reading some of the stories from Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman in ‘The Long Way Round’ I found the culture of Mongolia really interesting. Couple this with how relatively untouched many of the places were and I was sold. And in Terms of Siberia, see for yourself… http://www.shivaoutdoors.com/boathouse/siberia.php
As a team, you have a lot to live up to after the success of the 2005 Kyrgyzstan trip. What do you think makes The Four Borders Expedition so special? Hmmm…well, for starters we have representatives from Scotland, Wales, and England, plus we have a girl! Beat that BUKE 2005! (Plus *ahem* we have the better looking of the Burne brothers…)
How do you think the team will get on since most of them only met for the first time in November? Realistically there may well be arguments, but that has to surely be expected being in such close proximity with the same people for 6-8 weeks. I mean, last summer on the plane over to India I was already sick of Patrick’s snoring by the time we passed out of Europe into Asia! In all seriousness though, from the selection event the team chosen could not really be improved upon. Everyone seems really easy going and many of us have paddled with each other before at some point along the way. Also, the majority have been on longer expeditions before so are prepared for the strains that are often experienced.