Presenting “The Banana Boys” – The #Expedition #Book excerpt 5

Chris Tipper (L) and Hugo Burnham (R) stapling hardwood veneers

With Chris and Hugo working in Exeter, surviving on the dole and the proceeds of loose change thrown into a donations box outside their workshop, Steve and I based ourselves in London, also surviving on the dole, a target of endless abuse down the pub.
“What the bloody hell are you two thinking?“ roared Lofty, our six-feet, six-inch Yorkshireman friend over a beer at The Dove in Hammersmith. Tears were streaming down his cheeks from laughing so hard. “I mean, thirty-five quid a week on the Rock ‘n Roll isn’t going to get you around the world now is it? Word of advice lads, forget the whole pea-brained idea.” Continue reading

Raising the Dream – The Expedition Book excerpt 4

By ten o’clock, there was still no sign of Chris and Hugo. The two photographers were trading anxious glances, perhaps wondering if they were the unwitting victims of a prank by their picture desk editors: “I need you to drive to the Arse End of Nowhere and shoot a story about a couple of nutters planning to use a pedalo to go around the world. You know, one of those things they rent out for five quid an hour on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. Come in number ten, your time is up!
It certainly sounded like a hoax. Continue reading

Raising the Dream – The Expedition Book excerpt 3

One year later… Ardleigh reservoir, Suffolk
The morning air was clear. A stiff northeasterly blew unchallenged across the Broads from the North Sea, slicing to the bone through our meagre wool jerseys. We’d been at the reservoir since dawn, waiting for the boat builders to arrive with the recently completed hull. Today was a big day. By the end of it, we would know two things: whether the strange-looking contraption floated, and whether a customized propeller could move it though the water. Continue reading

The Big Idea – The Expedition Book excerpt 2

Thirteen years earlier. Paris, August 1992
“It’s incredible isn’t it,” Steve exclaimed, “how no one’s thought of it yet?” As he’d already pointed out, the Earth had been circumnavigated using everything from sailboats, to airplanes, to hot air balloons. Yet the purest, most ecologically sound method of all and doable for centuries, without using fossil fuels, was still up for grabs. “It may even be an original first!” he continued excitedly.
My old college pal Steve Smith and I were slumped on the kitchen floor of his flat in Paris, drinking Kronenbourg 1664 at two in the morning. A map of the world lay between us, paddled by the slowly revolving shadow of an ornate ceiling fan that gave the apartment an air of French colonial panache. Continue reading

Croc Attack – The Expedition Book excerpt 1

Cape York Peninsula, Australia. May 13, 2005
5:17 pm: Rounding the southern edge of Lookout Point, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, like whenyou know you’re being watched.
I glanced behind.
Two lidless eyes and a snub nose, gliding behind my kayak.
Fear gripped me instantly. Not the jittery type like when you come across a large spider in the bath. But the primal, fundamentally hard-wired horror of being hunted, considered prey. And the last fifty yards to shore, which should have been a winding down and quiet reflection on the entire Pacific crossing, instead became an adrenaline charged eruption of pumping arms and hammering heartbeat.
If it takes me in the water, I thought, I’m finished…
I tore frantically at the surface, snatching occasional glimpses behind. The predator was gaining easily. Continue reading