It's been a while since my first blog - OK, my only blog - so rather than talk about everything that has passed in my life I will pick out some personal highlights and observations from the last few months...
First and foremost
Pretty much since January 09, The Everest Test has dominated my life. I have tried to train 4-5 times a week, spent most Thursday nights muddying myself in Battersea Park (that sounds more pervy than it is meant to, I was circuit training at the mighty Trim Trail), spent a majority of weekends travelling to Everest training camps, and received 20 emails a day of expedition admin/Toovey's jokes. Physically and mentally it has been quite tiring at times, but my attitude has always been to make the most of these one-off opportunities, knowing that this time next year the mundaneness of working life followed by sitting in a pub/on my ass/lying in bed will surely kick in. So, it has been a 9-hour round trip for two nights in Cornwall over a weekend on the sofa nursing a hangover after the send-off party, and a weekend in Hereford running around a farm and how can I put this, getting in touch with nature, over a weekend in bed (being bear-like, I love sleeping).
The Everest Test has become a lifestyle for me; not just an event.
Twice a month since the turn of the year I have made the journey down to Vauxhall for some nets at the Oval on Tuesday nights. They have been a good laugh and I got some beneficial practice under my belt for the big game. The format was always the same: go for a half-hour run to get the heart rate up to replicate the breathlessness of Base Camp, bowl a variation of outrageous, fizzing out-swingers (if we had the brand-new pink balls) or medium-paced pies (if we had normal cricket balls), avoid some bouncers from Butler off 18 yards, and then head home looking like a twat. The post net journey from deepest south to the northern suburbs of London where I live was always characterised by a number of questioning glances at my attire. With the classic look of running trainers, tracksuit bottoms (occasionally, on a bad day, this was shorts), sweaty t-shirt, and long black work coat, with old bag draped over the shoulder, I epitomised the sport/work look which I like to call 'trampytwat'. There were definitely some people on the tube who thought I was homeless, with such a random assortment of clothes that could have been picked up from outside a charity shop, and all of them thought I looked like a twat, that bit is guaranteed. At least after picking up our MKK stash today I know I will look great up the mountain, it is quality kit...
This is the slightly soppy part, but it was a poignant moment for me over the year building up to the expedition and really encapsulated how important the trip has become for everyone involved. It was after Saturday's meeting at Lord's (March 28), where if you take a step back from what we did, you had 30 guys who a year ago barely knew each other, now spending a Saturday evening finishing off the best part of a 2 and a half hour net session with no one questioning the need to be there. I'm not trying to take you all on a visit to Pete and Bernie's Philosophical Steak House (one for Alan Partridge lovers out there), but it was just essentially an odd thing for some lads to be doing but everyone was committed and putting in the effort; the determination to 'beat' altitude and produce a decent game of cricket up on Everest has defined a lot of the training sessions together.
Then we went to a cracking Thai restaurant and I ended up in a Walkabout drinking snakebite with two married men in their 30s (big up Mike and Mark) and a man in a tweed jacket (Kinsey, you're a gangster). It was a pretty normal day all round.
Being a character on a computer game
My excitement at receiving an Everest related email that wasn't slightly pointless and admin heavy was made even better by the fact that it was informing me of the Everest computer game, the Stick Cricket special. A massive shout out to Tooves and Curry on this one, what a joy to behold it is. Just played a cheeky game, and I see we have had nearly 2 million games on it now; that is legendary stuff. Seeing yourself on a computer game screen is definitely amazing, well done lads for making it happen.
Now only 4 days until we leave, the reality still hasn't fully kicked in at all, but I am an excited little man...