Many months planning.
Many meetings had.
To get to the start line was a real pain in the ass!
5 months of prep time.
3 months of training.
Would that be enough?
Who cares? Let’s get on and try it!
165 miles from Bristol, it was
To London: our destination, our homes and relaxation.
Our journey fraught with many challenges,
Not to mention: locks, Devizes, illness and capsizes.
The river was long and winding.
It felt like London was never arriving.
We battled against the wind, rain and changing terrain;
Finding some hidden gems along the way:
islands, inlets and sunsets we did;
Little presents to reward us for the miles that slid.
The repetitive motion of paddling this air-filled beast;
Was beginning to take affect on our bodies towards the end of the week:
Blisters, chaffing, cuts and bruises.
A little discomfort for the pleasure to do this.
It wasn’t much longer until London was in sight.
An urban metropolis with lights so bright.
The river was wider with more and more traffic,
slowing us down as we got excited.
It wouldn’t be long until we met Putney Bridge.
The final destination of this 9-day trip.
With a mile to go, the finish line in sight.
We grouped together and held our paddles up high.
The journey was finished.
The challenge complete.
We deflated our boards and put them to sleep.
Marcus Samperi / Feb 2017
It's my absolute pleasure to finally unveil: 'PaddleCrawl: Bristol to London' - a short adventure film about last summers expedition which saw us travel from Bristol to London on stand up paddle boards:
We would like to thank the following companies, without whom this expedition may never have happened:
Wild Inspiration Boxes
Surrey Outdoor Learning & Development
The Primal Pantry
Bounce Energy Balls
Rotary GB & Ireland
Pro Motion Hire
And, the following individuals:
Lucien Alberto De Vivo
We did this to raise funds and awareness for:
Youth Adventure Trust
Wild Night Out
And, finally the teammates, a bunch of awesome folks:
Marcus Samperi (Me)
In this fast-paced world too much emphasis is placed on getting to a destination without delay. But isn't it these delays that make a journey memorable? Isn't it these delays that make you actually stop, have a look around and notice things that you never realised were there? What if you could take that same journey but instead of focusing on the destination you immersed yourself in the journey itself? Take the journey from Bristol to London: 1hr 40mins by train, a regular commute by many. What if you decided to take that journey again but this time it would take you 9-days and instead of using a diesel powered locomotive, you used your own body power: how different would that journey be? How would taking life in the slow lane affect you physically, mentally and philosophically? How would the slower pace of life affect your outlook, your opinion of the country that you live and how you interact with people around you?
We did just this very thing. A team of 4 of us took to the waterways on inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards and did this very journey! We were shocked by what we found. If you're interested in finding out what happened on this journey then we are giving our first ever talk at the Explorers Connect social this coming Thursday (9th February) at the Prince of Wales in Covent Gardens - tickets are available below. We will also be unveiling our documentary short that was filmed along the way. For a sneak peak check out the teaser below:
Come join us for a night of chatter and find out what it was really like to ditch the machine and regain control of our journey!
Join the SUP revolution!
"...we began our summit attempt at midnight on August 18th, our bodies starved of oxygen, every step emptying our lungs of the little air that was available to us, our hearts beating faster and faster to keep our legs moving; silence enveloped the entire mountain-side only broken by the sound of tired bodies moving slowly in the same direction with the odd groan, grimace of pain or slurp of water. All we could see was the beam of light provided by our head torches illuminating the ground in front of us, our world was a void of blackness outside of this beam. All we could do was follow the boots of the person in front as we trudged upwards and seemingly into the abyss, breathing heavily as we went unable to fully satisfy our need for air. But after 6 hours 20 minutes the summit was in view. Within minutes a ring of orange glow began appearing on the horizon, surrounding us in all directions, with it bringing much-needed light, warmth and unveiling the landscape that was hidden from us by the darkness of the night. It was now that the full beauty of where we were became reality. We were in a stunning place, high enough to see the curvature of the Earth and, at 5895 metres, standing on the roof of Africa..."
As you're probably aware I've been busying myself over these last few months with all things to do with stand up paddle boards and mountain trekking. With this being the case, I have completely missed the phenomenon that is: Pokemon Go, a mobile phone application/game that sees the player wander around the streets finding and capturing Pokemon characters. Being that I was an 80's born child then I'm aware of what Pokemon is even though at the time I barely took any notice. Being of University age, I had other things on my mind then cartoon characters! However, I'm not completely out of touch to know that this new game has swept the world like wild fire. There are stories of people so transfixed with the game that they are putting themselves or others in dangerous situations. The extreme ones include a man who almost stood onto a live railway line but realised before it was too late; and, a couple in America who left a toddler home alone whilst they went driving around the local neighbourhood in search of Pokemon characters. Thankfully these stories are the extreme and are few and far between with the vast majority of people playing with an awareness of what is around them. As with a lot of new trends or fads I was quick to dismiss the idea and barely gave it a second thought. However, I was sat in a pub earlier this evening chatting to a friend (who is somewhat obsessed with the game) about the positives that it can have. Some of what he said actually did make sense and did give me food for thought.
"...childhood obesity is one of the most serious global public health challenges of the 21st Century..."
In July, I took part in an expedition to stand up paddle board from Bristol to London to raise funds for the Youth Adventure Trust and to help develop Explorers Connect founder Belinda Kirk's initiative to create a dedicated day of adventure once a year, aptly named: 'Wild Night Out'. The idea behind this initiative is to encourage as many people as possible, adults and children alike, to turn off there electronic devices (whether that is TV, smart phone, tablet etc...) and to explore the great outdoors. It could be a new walking route, a wild swim or just a camp out in the back garden, anything that involved getting out and about and, hopefully, re-discovering the local area.
During the preparation for the paddle board expedition we were astonished to hear that those numbers who actually spend time exploring the great outdoors had dropped drastically over the past couple of decades. When I was a child we used to play from dawn until dusk whether that was climbing trees, exploring new areas of the village/town, building dens and general exploration and adventure on a local scale. It saddened me to hear that fewer children are doing the same and are choosing to consume content on digital media platforms instead of making use of what is around them. This is leading to more and more children battling weight issues than ever before. The World Health Organisation 'regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century. Obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk of developing various health problems, and are also more likely to become obese adults'. This can only really be put down to our somewhat sedentary lifestyle and our addiction to the digital world.
The only way to reverse these obesity figures is to encourage more and more people to ditch this sedentary lifestyle and to encourage activity and fitness. I hadn't realised before but games like Pokemon Go may actually help to achieve this, The whole essence of what the game is about is to get the player to explore the world around them by searching and capturing Pokemon characters. It does this by mixing the virtual and the real world. It encourages players to walk many miles in order to incubate new Pokemon and challenges them to go further to find rarer breeds. On top of this, it is encouraging a social aspect as people arrange to meet up in groups to search for Pokemon characters together, thus encouraging social relations and group exercise. It may only be scratching the surface of what is now seen as an obesity epidemic but it is a start. This maybe the small step that people need in order to get active, lose some weight and become fitter. If by playing a mobile phone game can help an individual realise that by keeping active can have a positive affect on the body and mind then it may spur on future positive changes. We didn't get into an obesity crisis overnight and there is going to be no quick fix. If we can find small steps in the right direction, even in the most unusual places, then that has to be a positive. An active body is a happy body. So, the next time you see someone walking around the streets holding there mobile phone aloft in front of them, don't judge, see it as a positive (yet small step) to making the nation fitter and hopefully, in the long term, reducing the obesity rate the world over.