Africa has been conquered and enjoyed by The Thumb, disposed entirely to the generosity of the fine people who populate its lands. The Thumb was carried there and back again without a hair missing and a million more smiles to lock away in the bank.
This time, The Thumb is off without a trusty cameraman by its side and hitching as real as it can get, with just me, myself and all the peeps I meet along the way. No visas, no ordained route, just a dodgy sense of direction, a twinkle in the eye, and the generosity of my fellow earth inhabitants to get me from Perth (Australia) to London in time for that global Jamboree they call the Olympics.
I have £1000 - no more, no less - to rely on and 80 days to do it in. Whether its a cargo ship or rowing boat that gets me across the waters, be it a truck it or moped, a backy on a bicycle, it all has to be at the generosity of others, and I know only too well it is out there in abundance.
So, lets begin; The Thumb was all set to head off last Wednesday after a magic charity event on Tuesday evening at the Westbourne Studios. After failing to get a sponsored flight, enter Scotty and Tonks, a couple of good friends of mine. I informed them that I was about to pay for the flight in the morning when Tonks, true to form, says: "I might be able to sort that out."
I put the flight on hold and get a call the next day from a South African woman, who has a truly fruity way of talking. "I'll get you that fu**ing flight darling, leave this with me." After a quickfire round of emails bouncing to and fro I get an email from a guy called Mark who owns Simplexity Travel, who, romanced by The Thumb and the mission, left an email saying "leave this with me." So I did.
So thrilled was I with this possibility, I felt inclined to invite Scotty,Tonks and Stevie down to my boat sitting on moored opposite Kensal Rise cemetery.
Saturday afternoon I get a call from Stevie informing me she's 10 minutes away from Sainsbury's round the corner – now, I had never met Stevie before but it didn't take long before our food and wine from the biggest Sainsbury's in England was laid out, and we were basking in a rare day of sunshine on deck after treading carefully past the hissing mothers of the newly born goslings on the toe path. Scotty and Tonks join us and a beautiful afternoon crosses over into evening with merriment and some fantastic stories of travel.
Much to my pleasant surprise it turns out Tonks, a fine English lass, had lived purely off the land and developed a life long relationship with a Bedouin community of the Sahara for two years, crossed the Namibian desert on horseback, just her and a friend. I would never have guessed if she hadn't told me, but that’s what chatting is for!
Then there’s Stevie, also quite the woman. She has an amazing singing voice and a collection of number one hits in America and England under her belt. She's also worked with legends like Marvin Gaye, Elton John and Robbie Williams just to mention a few! I was in the company of a sterling bunch, and just to top it off with the cherries of cherries to go on top, Stevie is the 'voice' of the 'Bodyform' and 'Trio' adverts, which to my hilarity she was more than willing to belt out numerous times down the canal.
A beautiful day and a new friend in the bag – and I haven’t even left yet...
Sunday quickly melted into Wednesday morning as the amount of organization and briefings for everyone involved in this adventure left little time to relax. As promised, Mark - the owner of Simplexity Travel - had come up trumps and I was to board my one-way free flight to Australia at 10pm Wednesday 16th.