Welcome to the official blog for Raleigh India 12I | July - August 2012

Welcome to the Official Blog for Raleigh India 12J September - December 2012.

Saturday 31 October 2009

Charlie 1 and the Echos

The school is coming on fast in Multimoola

My last loop trip involved a visit to Charlie 1 and the two environmental groups. I must have jinxed the weather at Multimoola as shortly after we arrived the heavens opened and work had to be stopped. Not that many of the group minded as they'd had a good night the night before at a different village taking part in some tribal dancing and most of the group were pretty exhausted! The school and the toilets are looking great though and it was great to see how much the work had progressed since Moycey did her loop trip out there earlier in the phase.

Nanette and Charles bust some Bollywood moves with the local children

I was lucky enough to spend my birthday there which was a real privilege. That evening we were invited in to a local family's house to watch the children entertain us with some fantastic Indian dancing and singing. Charles was a hit with the kids with his enthusiastic attempt at Bollywood moves and India took one of her CDs along so they could hear her music too.

Later on they treated me to a birthday cake that said 'Happy Birthday Alifoyn' (I think the phonetic alphabet got a bit confused on the phone!) and we all tucked into that as a treat.

Claire kneads the bread at Echo 4

I also visited the Echo groups as part of my loop trip. Echo 4 treated us to some freshly baked bread from the oven they had created themselves - most impressive!

They've also got on brilliantly with renovating the ranger's station, with all the tiles now cleaned and back on the roof and the elephant proof trench is almost fully elephant proof!

Mike, Jamie and Katie with some of the clean tiles

In their breaks they're managing to fit in some well-earned games of cricket and a bit of chilling out after so much physical work.

Boops and Chris take some time out to read the blog

Echo 5 in the meantime have moved out of the forest and are being brought onto the site by jeep each morning. All the more opportunity to try and catch a sighting of those elusive elephants! Their trench is looking fantastic, they've all worked really hard, and the group are all in good spirits with plenty of energisers to get them going before they start work.

Georgie, Frankie and Matt take part in an energiser

And we have some more messages from venturers... just a couple...

From Chris Braggs:

Hi Juliette Prodger, Got your letter, am very pleased, still got to read it though. Ranger station progression is coming along fast. Loads of hard work from whole group. Big caterpillars over here, lost a member of the group, Rehman, but he’s fine and chilling at field base. Speak soon. Is Summer nicking my girlfriend? LOL.
Crimbo x

To Libby, yah un, miss ya lots, it’s a jammy stain keeps making me laugh. Letters have been sent out. Lots of lovage love Crimbo xx RWARR :-)

Johnny-oh. Hey man, how’s Wilkos? Surprised still working LOL. Miss your stories.

To Laura Wren: Hey, how’s things going? Long time no hear. How’s Grace and Luke? Don’t worry, won’t mention Andrew and Ellie. You alright? Run out of money here, didn’t estimate what I still had to buy. Hopefully mother can help out. India is amazing. Crimbo xx

To Ben Prodger: How’s things? Haven’t forgot about you LOL. Hope things are well, write a message back. Haven’t seen any tigers yet. Crimbo

From Jamie: Hey you are going for more walks with cake at the end, I thought that you were both on a diet?! Hmmm, how did you manage to get in touch with the macqillions? That’s pretty cool with Andrew being at catering college, yeah deffo need some tips from him. I’m really touched by Steven’s interest. Tell her to write on the blog, there is nothing stopping her, she can be kept more up to date and I can talk to her. The sleepwalking isn’t dangerous, I tend to wake up sitting bolt upright. The human buckaroo generally involves me as the buckaroo as I am fast asleep and then the rest of Echo 4 balance objects on me and see if I wake up. I’m waiting to play buckaroo without being the buckaroo! The only real danger is the caterpillars that abseil down from the trees because you can have a serious reaction to them landing on you. I don’t know if I will have an allergic reaction but I don’t intend to find out. Cheers for trying to get in touch with Holly, her email may not work, she doesn’t check the email often. You could try sending her a letter and telling her about the blog that way. It could be quicker than email, failing that a call on her mobile, I can give you the number if you don’t know. I’m getting a lot stronger from all the digging and shifting rubble. So if dad needs help in the garden with clearing and cutting, you should be able to trust me with the garden stuff now. Hopefully mum will be more relaxed about it, now that I am doing Raleigh. Echo 4 is playing cricket with tennis balls as I’m writing this message so I’m having to dodge the balls or having very lucky escapes. Better not push my luck any further for now though so bye, Jammy Dodger xxxxx

Now then Neil! Great to hear from you! Bad times about the old swine flu. Hope you’re feeling better and definitely up for that birthday drink when I’m home. Big hello to everyone, let them know about the blog. Mam, got two letters, really nice to get them and the grand prix sounded spectacular. Hope you’re doing ok and you had a nice half term. Will try and write a letter back soon but hear there’s a bad postal strike going on. Love to you all, Luke. PS. Thank you Auntie Jean for her message and our kid. Marie – cheeky monkey – the beard’s awesome ;-)

To the Beveridges. Glad you approve of the socks. :-) Coming to the end of the environment phase here, it’s been amazing. Be in touch at changeover, lots of love Nicky xxx

Hey Sara, Mum and Dad. Thanks for the blog messages – the vehicle from fieldbase brought them round today! Celtic scores from Europa League and SPL will be greatly appreciated, also news on the England vs South Africa series – injuries etc! Power monkey is fab! Will Hilary be more afraid of elephants than cows?! So glad you got to Greece, hope you’re having a brilliant time! It’s amazing here – we’re blitzing the ranger’s station. I’ve been attacked by poisonous caterpillars and a hornet but my back and wrist are holding up well! Played cricket at lunch break today! Don’t want to write too much as someone at field base has to type this all up!!! Loads of love, Tor xxx

From Georgie P:
Hi Stacy and Charles. Thank you so much for blogging. Was great to see a message from you. Having such a great time, new experiences and adventures every day! Looking forward to telling you all about it and showing you the pictures, lots of love xxx

Dear M,D,C,A & J. I got all your letters this week, four on Weds and three today. Thank you so much for them all, great to hear from you. Having a great time, feeling really at home in the jungle! But today we got evicted, not all bad though, we just camp outside the forest and jeep it in each day. It was just a slight disagreement between forestry commissions! Oh well. Bashas were good while they lasted. Hope Rome was amazing, thinking of you all. James, I hope Monty was good for you, how was the bed!? Lots of love and hugs xxxxxx

Hey Alice TB. Thanks for the blog, I will write to you very soon! Missing you, hope you’re behaving at uni and working hard! Miss you lots xxx

Hey Mum, Dad and Max. Thanks for the message all is well here, stories to tell of course but having a great time. Sounds like Max is having a great time and I am ‘reight jealous’ about Rev and the Makers. Slightly worried he won’t be my LITTLE bro when I get back, not just height wise! You all seem to be coping great and hope you’re having half as good a time as me. More news will follow once I get back to FB. Much love, Louis, xxx

Hey Polly, loved your message from the Brazilian keyboard! Got it just when I needed it! Hope my letters reach you soon. Hope you are having a great time despite the lack of communications although I’m sure your Portugese is great. Enjoy Brazil, I wonder if it is as warm as it is here and as incredibly hectic (I love India). Enjoy yourself and hope you find a post office soon. Love Louis, xxxxx.

Hi Kate! Project is going well, just been turfed out of the forest for the last four days but it’s all part of the adventure! Have been filming today for the skit, it’s hilarious. Also making a totem pole and have made signs galore etc. Doubt I’ll get the chance online but can you send (email) your London address (and gran/grandpa/granddad etc)? Faustus will be awesome, take some pics and keep all the posters/banners! Have sent mum a birthday card so hope it arrives. Any news of Lindsey or Chris? Keep me posted on how you’re doing :-), lots of love Matt xxx

Hej Martin! Tak for din besked! Jeg far internet Paa mandag! Og har lige skrevet langt brev til alle! Fylder 19 om to dage! Elsker Indien! Haaber alle har det copt! Savner jer allesammen meget! Mange kaerlige hilsner fra Morten!

Hey Mum and Dad, Got your letters this week, was great to get something from home! Hope you had a good week with Paul, Shell and the kids and hope you gave Izzy a hug from me? Having a great time, still it’s going really quick! As you have probably read, our jungle camp is no more, but it all just adds to the experience! Missing you, love Christina xx

Hey G, Still not heard anything from you! I hope work is going well and you’re not overdoing it (like usual!). Missing you a lot, looking forward to New Years already! Love you, Christina xxx

Hi to Mum, Dad, Tom and the whole extended family. We are all having an Indian-style adventure over here after being evicted from our jungle camp. It’s not all bad though – we are now living in a village (civilisation) on the edge of the National Park which is brilliant insight into Indian culture (and further away from vicious wildlife!) and getting ‘jeeped’ in every day. Definitely an experience in itself! Sounds like you’re having a good half term – send my love to all the family and thank the Grahams for their message, and have a great party this weekend. Get Tom on internet-based instruction for Grandma and Val, I’m sure they’ll understand in the end. Lots of love, Amy xxx PS. Please may you send me a letter – I really want more detailed news (including SCD!).

Hey Max, didn’t realise you were off to Cornwall, sounds cool. So I take it you and Libby are going better then? Good! Am currently deciding on which leaf to bring back – so many huge ones! Did some tribal dancing last night, pretty good fun! Can you text nanny for me and say thanks for the card, loved it! Looking forward to seeing you, love you, India xxx.

Dad, Nat and Alice, Thank you for the letters and pictures, Alice looks more beautiful than ever, can’t wait to see her! Dad – you chat rubbish but the Shrek stuff did make me smile! Aus looks gorgeous. Have told the octopus joke a few times – actually got some laughs, shows how crazy the people I’m with are! Made some wonderful friends etc etc. Don’t really want to go home! Love you all, India xxx

Mother, just to say hi. Hope you’re well. Spent last night in a different village which was beautiful, pretty tribal so quite an adventure! I am having a truly amazing time, miss you though! Have you been in touch with Vicky? How is she? Can you ask her to write on the blog? Are all her flights booked? Love you loads, India xxx

Hey Papa! Me rejouis pr Marrakech. Derniere semaine dans la jungle. Je decouvre un tas d’insectes multicolores et je commence a m’habituer aux blattes. Je m’amuse vmt trop ici. Y a deux Hollandaise... suis la seule Belge, on m’a demande tieurs fois “is Belgium in Germany?” haha! Mille kiss a tous – tte phils, Mum, Alix, Joz... PS Joseph serais TMLT heureux entoure de tous les insectes!

Hi Mum, Dad & family & friends!! Sam here, currently sat in our leaking hut in Mutilmoola village! It’s been an incredible journey. We went to a different village for one night last night, stuning views and we got to do some funky tribal dancing with the villagers! Don’t think you got my other blog message?! But please write back. How was Tommy’s birthday?? Hope he’s doing brilliantly, & all’s well with everyone!! Missing you hugely ! I bet he is bouncing about everywhere now. Keep me posted!!! Matthew – thanks for the lovely letter & for helping me out with little man’s birthday. Google maps, haha!! Miss you loads, & hope pub quizzngs going well he he x Steven – thank you for the letter and photos – wonderful to hear from you. Got people laughing with the fancy dress hehehe. I miss you hugely, the P.P.S. was the cutest1, loads of love Sam (Flood) PS keep the letters coming!!!

Hi Mam, Pap, Daphne en Rogier (en Mango,) Nog 3 dagen en het ste project zit erop! Op de eerste mpaar dagen na, is de tijd voor bij geulogen! Net voor het eerst seen wacnzinnige bui gehad, ‘overdekte’ veranda lekt verschrikkelijh. Fantastische uitstapjes gehad, ih hoop dat je mijn uorige blogmessage ooh gelezen hebt en zend plz veel brieuen (al 3 weken hier en nog geen bericht ontvangen.. zijn jullie nog in leven? Nanette xxx PS stuur wat foto’s plz! Ipod altijd leeg xx

Hi Mum, Dad, Leanne, Jenny, Maria, Gareth and the rest of the Waltins – Missing you all like crazy, but have loads of stories to tell you over Christmas! I am back at Mutilmoola helping to build a school and toilets along with bathrooms. How’s me nephews and nieces doing – give them big hugs and kisses and can’t wait to see them when I get home for Christmas! Hope you’re all fit and healthy and its not too cold. Let me know if I am going to be an auntie to another niece or nephew when Gareth and Louise find out – I miss you all lots and lots but I am doing you all proud out here for the Ali family lol!! That’s enough for now Love me xxx Charlotte Ali xxx

Hello Women (and all the family!) Just coming to the end of the community phase. We have most of a school built (who needs a roof?!) and some toilets and washrooms are beginning to look recognisable. We’ve had some great trips out to visit other projects and be entertained by other villagers. I’ll try to put some pictures on the blog or youtube at changeover (we go back to Mysore on Monday) Then, who knows...? Lots of love David x (the group all call me Big Dave – something to do with the waistline I think)

Hello Emmerson family, Just saying India is fantastic lovin it loads. Staying near a place called Sulthan Bathery, look it up. Almost finished building the school. Also can you try and tell Douglas or Farran about the blog so they can send me a message? Big love, signing out. J Emmerson.

Hi Mum and Dad, Katherine, John and Sophie. Having a really good time. Tent broke so I‘ve moved out. We’ve been on a couple of trips including yesterday to another tribal village previously helped by Raleigh which was interesting and we got to do some native dancing, luckily we managed not to get eaten by elephants despite them being on our doorstep! Funny to hear about Grandma – sounds pretty major but rather funny. Still moving tonnes of bricks daily, had a shower in the rain. Loving dancing to Indian music with the very accommodating locals (I look like an ape!) Food is still brilliant, I had a pineapple yesterday. I should really wash my clothes. Looking forward to the next phase. Missing you all, but not too much! Love x Smiles :-) x PS John says whagwan. Charles Lockhart.

Important message!

This is a message to all at home who are using the blog to send messages to their friends and family on expedition. Thank you for keeping up to date with what we're doing, we hope you're enjoying reading it as much as we are enjoying putting it together.

As you know the comms team of myself and Ali are often out on loop trips to the project sites, which means we can't update the blog all the time and there is often a short delay from when messages are submitted to when they can be approved and posted.

Some recent messages have had inappropriate words in them which have to be edited (or deleted if we can't edit them) before they can be posted, and if they are not in English, this can be more time consuming. Messages with sexual content, swear words, references to drugs etc can not be published.

As a reassurance, if we can't post the messages on the blog, we will be printing them out and passing them on to the venturers when we see them. However, important messages will be passed on over the communications system.

We are aware the Danish messages have been taking longer to approve and unfortunately on this occasion they were submitted while we were on a loop visit. They will be passed on on Monday when the venturers return to Fieldbase.

With all that said, keep checking the blog, we have loads more to tell you as we gear up for changeover and loads more messages from the venturers which are being typed up as we speak!

Friday 30 October 2009

Pizza Trexpress

Claire and I were lucky enough to venture down to Kerala this week to join Tango Six for a spot of trekking.  Out of all the groups we've visited, Tango Six were the last group I expected to be serving up pizza for dinner!  Armed with some flour, tomato puree, a tin of cheese (don't knock it til you've tried it!), a couple of onions and tomatoes, the group rustled up no less than ten pizzas which they cooked on an open fire in true rustic style.
Pip - aka Delia Smith

Tango 6's own Jamie Oliver!

The following morning with the additional armour of leech socks, we headed off early in thick mist to start a day of steep hill climbing.
As always the pay-off was the spectacular views across Kerala before we descended through plantations and farms to the village of Shantampara where we spent the afternoon and evening camping beside the church.  Dinner that night consisted of cauliflower and green bean curry and was made even more delicious by the addition of parotha made by Leti and Colin in a nearby restaurant. 

  Tango Six enjoying a brief rest before the descent to Shantampara

After another early start and a stop off in the village for a second breakfast (yep more food!), we began a long 9hr day of trekking. 

Tina, Maddy, Pip and Alain start the climb!

Starting in the village we headed up through cardoman plantations where we had to walk in silence due to the earlier sighting of elephants.  We eventually emerged at the top of a hill which overlooked our evening's destination of Lakeside.  Due to high water levels however our route had to be changed and we walked an extra 8k around the lake through several villages to reach our campsite just before dark.

Baz stops to admire the view

The group enjoyed some well earned time off the following morning but still got up at 5.30am in the hope of seeing elephants drinking by the lake.  There's no doubt this group has got stamina; as Claire and I left them (slightly stiffer and decorated with leech bites), Tango Six were unfazed by the three days of climbing ahead of them.  Their main concern was what was in their food drop at their next camp! 

Well done and thank you Tango Six for your hospitality and some of the best expedition food ever!  Here's some messages from them to you....
Rob, we've got 4 days left trekking and it has been hard work but amazing.  Here are a few things that have happened: leeches, mountains, pain, sunburn, dogs with rabies - I will write you aletter to fill you in with the rest.  Anyway hope things are okay at home - say hi to Jim and Matt - miss you and love you lots, Pip xxxx
M & D & S Crockett, Justa quick note to let you know I'm still alive and having a great time!  Will write a letter when I have a minute.  Hope everything's okay at home, missing you all.  Lots of love from Booey xxxx
Hi to everyone back home in Chorley! For the first phase I'm part of Tango Six (one of the trekking groups) so far we've walked 150km and kayaked for 2 days.  The views have been amazing but I have not been able to shower since the start resulting in a very smelly Maddy.  I'm enjoying the many stops we make in villages for local food but I am definitely craving a Jope Hall's pie.  Will write a letter at changeover and fill you in properly - love to all, Maddy xx
The Gurneys, Hope everything is okay with you back in the homeland and that the warriors are dominating the premiership (I haven't seen any results).  We have now completed approx. 150km of our 200km trek and kayak and except for a few escapades with King Cobras (unconfirmed!), a raging bull, 2 rabied dogs, a bear and a plethora of leeches (5 on 1 foot today before 9am!) everything is hunky dorey.  Will write a letter at end of trek in 4 days.  Lots of love, James x

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Big up the FB crew

While we're waiting for the next news feeds back from the project sites, I thought it seemed like an appropriate time to point out what a fabulous job all the field base staff are doing and what attracted them to their respective positions. Raleigh is always looking for new staff members and there are plenty of jobs to fill away from the project sites. And India has so much to offer!

Our newly appointed Country Programme Manager Anna, kicks us off.

Why did you choose India?
India chose me. An opportunity came up over the summer for a bespoke expedition - and well, I've pretty much been here ever since!

What has surprised you about India?
Pretty much everything. I still can't get over the scenery and how beautiful it is. I expected the stereotypical cities and slums and am so constantly amazed at the natural beauty of the place. I especially love the forests and the tea plantations.

What's the best part of your role?
I just love getting to know the venturers and supporting them to have a life changing experience. And no two days are ever the same!

One half of the logistics team, Mutley, feels similarly...

Mutley conquering Chamundi Hill

Why did you choose India?
For the diverse cultural mix and to see the real India, out in the villages. It's a land of many contrasts; mountains and beaches. The people are also very friendly and helpful.

What has surprised you about India?
How green it is! And the order and structure that exists beneath the chaos. Everything seems to work most of the time!

What's the best part of your role?
Trying to buy equipment and tools etc in the chaos of the market! The job is quite varied. You can be moving around from project site to project site to project site! It's great seeing the venturers change through the phases of the expedition. Oh and the peanut brittle is pretty good too!

Andrea takes part in the trek training

And here's the other half of the logs team, Andrea:

Why did you choose India?
Many reasons! Some due to time and the length of expedition and the rest for the culture and wildlife. I wanted to have the experience of being able to participate in the culture from the inside out and I think India is one of the few places in the world where you are truly accepted by the community and you get to see the many religious festivals that happen throughout the year. To be able to see animals that are on the verge of extinction and to be a part of a programme that could help turn that around is amazing.

What surprises you about India?
India surprises me on a daily basis from the lush green environment to the beautiful saris the ladies wear to the hustle and bustle of daily life. But what has surprised me the most is the people; their openess to share, their happiness and ability to help you in any way they can.

What's the best part of your role?
Helping the Project Managers with every aspect of their project from sourcing nails down to a pair of wellies and condensed milk. In addition, being able to go out on the loop vehicles and see firsthand the progress in the community and environmental projects from start to finish.

We'll be putting on some field base staff info from time to time and if you know anyone who might be interested in one of the voluntary staff positions in India, see the main Raleigh website.

Myself and Andrea have an early start tomorrow to visit Charlie 1 and the two Echo groups, and Moycey and Claire are currently with Tango 6, so when we all return we'll be adding much more to the blog. In the meantime, a few messages from venturers have found their way back to FB, stand by for more when the loop vehicles return!

To Mothership

Got your letter today! Thank you I LOVED IT! My letter to you was sent three days ago so they overlapped but will reply properly to you letter soon! Loads of love, Vole xxx

From Chris Braggs:
To Libby
I’ve written a letter – hopefully you’ll get it soon. RWARRR!
To Juliette
Hi, I’m writing a letter, hopefully speak soon. X
Mille mercies pour tous gentils meg Maman, Papa & Alix! Et Livia quelle suprise J trop sympa
PS ils ne publient pas les msg “rude,” ils en out censue un qui m’etait dedie! (vi, Matth?) Kisses to all x Claire

Friday 23 October 2009

Digging Deep and Aiming High

Hello, it’s Moycey here again. I have just come back from an amazing five-day loop vehicle trip to visit three of the project groups and as promised here are some of the many highlights.

Charlie 1 - 'Magical Multilmoola'

My first stop was Charlie 1 in Multilmoola where they are making fantastic progress on the school building. I had a great time helping out for the day and working with the group alongside the villagers to shift concrete bricks and sand down a steep hill into the village. I was blown away by the strength of the women in the village who carry huge rocks on their heads without even breaking into a sweat; I was struggling with a bandolee (shallow Indian bucket) of sand!
Sam and India have done an amazing job of painting the toilet and the children in the village are loving playing cricket, and even henna drawing, with the boys! One of my high-lights was seeing the young boys in the village applying Laura’s bright pink nail varnish to their toes!

During the day the group are provided with fantastic chai and simple but delicious meals complete with poppadums and chutney. It’s safe to say I was sad to leave but will be looking forward to returning later in the expedition to see what it such a worthwhile project in a truly wonderful community. 

Charlie 1 next to the foundations of the school

Echo 5 - 'Abseiling caterpillars and a lizard in the long-drop!'

Echo 5 meet an elephant calf

After leaving Multimoola, I joined Echo 5 on the second day of their outing to an elephant sanctuary and returned to Bandipur National Park with them to spend a night in their bamboo basher camp. Despite the small area in which they are living they have done an amazing job of turning it into a liveable space and make ongoing improvements and renovations to their communal areas with hand painted signs, bamboo benches and toilet seat transformations!

Matt and Louis working in the EPT

The forest where they are based is more beautiful than I imagined it would be and it felt such a privilege to be allowed to work and stay there. Although we didn’t see any elephants while I was there we heard them during the night so it’s a good job the group are working hard digging out the Elephant Proof Trench around the camp! They have already cleared and deepened one side to the front of the ranger’s building and have also started digging foundations for the toilet block at the rear.

Left to Right: Andrea, Georgie Page, Kate, Christina and Morten

I absolutely loved this project; the group are working so well together in what many people would find a difficult and challenging environment but they make it look easy. No one was phased by drinking lake water or having to dodge the poisonous caterpillars that abseil down from the trees. I on the other hand am hoping the lizard in the long drop has found a new home by the time I return!

Echo 4 - 'Snakes and Bamboo Ladders'
My last night in the forest was spent with Echo 4 who are renovating the 100 year-old guest house so it can be used as a Ranger's Station.

Myself, Claire and Andrea, who came to join me from fieldbase, were greeted in amazing style by the group whose faultless hospitality extended to collecting us water from the nearby pump so we could ‘shower’ whilst watching the sunset behind the trees (a personal high-light for me!).  That night we had games of mafia and beautiful music provided by Luke and Amy. 

The next day saw massive progress with the careful removal of all the original tiles from the roof of the house by a chain of steady hands. The original plaster had already been stripped away prior to us arriving.
Meanwhile another group were deepening the Elephant Proof Trench around the camp (Below left: Tor, Amy and Jamie).

Although the elephants didn’t put in an appearance we did see some beautiful deer and a troop of monkeys swinging by high up in the trees. Despite the hot and sticky conditions and the ever present danger of snakes and scorpions, Echo 4’s enthusiasm for their project doesn’t waiver and they are clearly enjoying and making the most of every day to each and everyone’s credit. 

That’s all from me for a while so I’ll hand over to those doing all the hard work for their messages to you at home…….

Hey All, Just to let you know I’m alive and stuff, having a great time in a village at the moment building a school. It’s lovely. Never done so much exercise in my life! Max – am working on your list of goodies, it’s going well! No etcots though (!) just lots of cool people. Steels man, write me a message, I miss you! And Vicky hurry up and get here. Thanks for messages Mum & Dad. Boots are great. Love you, India xxx

Til Alle, Hej fra Morten her I Indien. Alt fantastisk og kan umuligt skrive alt her. Bor lige nu I midten af jungle I tre uger uden kontakt med omverden. Er faerdig circa 4 November, saa taenk paa mig den 30! Skal nok skrive mere til den tid, haaber alle hard et godt. Massere af kaeruge hilsner fra Bandipur National Park fra Morten. P.S. Der gaar vilde elefanter rundt bare 100m fra lejren! Kys og kram til Mor, Far, Anders, Martin og Niki, O.S.V.

Hi Mum, Dad, Tom and any other friends / relations reading this blog. I’m having a great time in an anti-poaching camp in the middle of the jungle, living in harmony with elephants and even tigers! Hope you’re all impressed. Lots of digging and carrying and have learnt some Kannada (the local language). Have a great half term and party; have written you a letter but it won’t be there for a while. Lots of love, Amy xxx

Hi Mum, Dad, Kate, Lindsey and Chris, Having a great time, very hot though! Living in Bandipur National Park, pretty amazing, elephants a plenty and potentially tigers. Drinking lake water, mmm! Have been into Mysore on rickshaws, swam in a reservoir and drank some insanely sweet coffee and chai. Hope you’re all doing great, loved the message Kate, keep ‘em coming – Faustus info! Lots of Love Matthew xxx

Hi Mum, Dad, Suzanne and David, Just a quick note to say I’m fine and currently based in Bandipur National Park at an anti-poaching camp which is literally in the middle of nowhere. Our group and the rangers are the only people allowed in the park so it is pretty humbling as you can imagine. I have seen and heard so many wild animals, particularly wild elephants which are really intriguing and slightly menacing especially when they stare straight at you! I have so many things to talk about so will attempt a letter (apparently it takes ten days to send a letter to the UK). Hope your all well and keep checking the blog for news! Lots of love John xxx!

Hello Mum, Dad, G, Gill, Alec and anyone else I know reading this blog! Having an amazing time, I’m loving living in the jungle (surprisingly!) Our group have bonded really quickly and everyone is getting on really well. G – I hope work is going alright and you have had some spare time for your bike! I’m missing you loads and looking forward to a letter? So get writing…. Frog – missing you Hope schools been alright, you will have to let me know how hail and Nathan are getting on? I am writing letters it just seems to be taking me ages since we have been so busy. Miss you all, lots of love Christina xxxxx

Dear M, D, C, A & J, I have just read all your blogs, it’s so nice to hear from all of you. Have already seen several elephants quite close but no tigers…. Yet! Really want to see one but not sure for how long! Our bashers are very comfy. Digging elephant trenches has been hot, sweaty and muddy work! For Divali we have gone away for the night and the food was amazing and the shower very much needed! Echo 5 is an awesome group, I get on so well with them. James – I hope 19th was ok wish I could have text. Say Happy Birthday to your mum for 20th. Hands off my wardrobe! Love you all loads, Georgie P xxxxxx

To Mum, Dad, Max and Polly, Missing you all loads and looking forward to hearing from you. Having a wicked time here and making the most of it all. Hope your individual ventures are going ok. Had a luxurious night with a roof and some great Diwali food, along with a real shower! I also love my basha in the jungle, surprisingly comfy. Hope my letters don’t take too long to reach you. Missing you all and lots of love, Louis xxx PS Happy Birthday dad! Hope it’s awesome and enjoy yourself lots.

Hi all, Hope you are all well. Having an amazing time out here in the depths of the forest. Seen elephants everyday. Our camp is getting really homely now, we’re working on a basketball net at the moment!! Missing you all, any football news?! Love Kate xxx

Hey Dan, we’re living in a funky jungle camp, sleeping in bashas and dodging elephants! There’s wildlife everywhere and we’re working really hard on the trenches. I’m so muddy! I miss you lots, can’t wait to see you again, Love Frankie xxx PS There’s a lizard in our longdrop!

To Webbie Parents and Sister, Having a wild time in the jungle digging trenches; we are almost elephant proof. It’s quite similar to living at home with all the trees except with dangerous animals. Not to worry though. Missing you all. Much love, Georgie W xxx

Hello Mothership, Sara, Dad, Hunter Townleys and Egg-Heads, I’m having an amazing time here – saw first elephant yesterday! Maybe it was Ellie in disguise!! Missing Sultana Bran for breakfast most out of everything, but having a shower and toilet in our camp that is open to the forest is unbeatable! Speak soon, Love Tor xxx J P.S. Wish Ferdy luck with the trials and Lauren with the operation. P.P.S. Everyone in Echo 4 thinks I eat a hell of a lot – I’ve become the camp dustbin – it must be the Jewish mother in you feeding me up!

To Mum (Juliette Prodger), Hiya, been getting all blog messages – so many LOL. Keep going – very uplifting when receiving them. India is good, doesn’t feel any different apart from no-one to turn to. Enjoying myself truly. Good experiences and I’m glad I managed to be able to be part of it. Run out of money as well LOL, Help! Don’t have to though. Missing everyone lots, can’t wait to get some of my groups pictures on blog. Lots of love Crimbo.

To Mam, Thank you for my birthday card and the messages/updates. I can’t describe what India is like in words, you’ll have to wait for the pictures. Hope you are ok and say hello back to the boys for me. Get them to write a message on here. Let Jamie and Co know about the blog, as I didn’t tell them. Looking forward and all to your letter J - Dad, glad to hear the operation went well and hope you’re back surfing soon. Hope you had a nice birthday and everyone is ok your end. -Thanks to both of you for the birthday messages – it was amazing. Love to you both, Luke x

Hey I’ve finally managed to get a message on the blog. I read your last message the 3 miles sounded very stressful particularly the chocolate cake at the end. I’m sure you managed to force it down. Hmm you should be more easy on Caleigh I’m sure she was being dragged by the end. I have now discovered that I sleepwalk and have started to play human buckaroo. It is so cool to be out here, I’m having the time of my life. I don’t need more shorts I can manage fine without them! Pass my love to Holly see if you can get her to post on the blog. Love Jammy Dodger x (I can convert trousers to shorts J )

Hi Hamiltons, India is amazing. I am writing this in a little book by the campfire in the forest – and the message is electrically sent to you – how clever! Hope you are all well, let me know the news from home (via blog) Lots of love, Amy xxx

Hey guys, This is gonna be my last message for a while... The PR team are here now so you’ll have lots of pictures soon! The work is going really quick... we’ve been told we might have to slow down!!! Gotta run – the ricebags are ready (our daily lunch...) Much love to you all, Mikey

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Star trekkers

I was lucky enough to join Tango 7 at the beginning of their trekking adventure. They were all in good spirits, albeit slightly uncertain as to how they were going to manage carrying all of their gear on flat bits, let alone up a mountain! After a long two-day journey down to Kerala, they were keen to stretch their legs and welcomed a short break at a waterfall. For those that dared to go under, it was the best power shower they'd had for a while, and for some time to come!

Top, the group stop at a waterfall and above, they find a strategically placed number 7 in the middle of a tea plantation

When we finally arrived at our starting point - right in the middle of a tea plantation - there was only a short trek (much to the surprise of the group) to the first campsite where we could set up camp, ponder the big day ahead and eat as much food as possible in order to bring the weight of the backpacks down!

The next day saw a crack of dawn start, and Tango 7 began to trek up India's second highest mountain outside the Himalayas (2,650m). It was a steady climb at first, watching the sun rise over some of India's most spectacular scenery.


Above, Adam and Pik are all smiles and right, Ben and Emma take a break to admire the view

The ascent was pretty tough with lots of climbs and drops before we even managed to catch glimpse of the summit. But then after a jump across a stream and yet another steep bit, we were able to have a quick water break before heading up to the top. Everyone was elated when they got there, immediately forgot the strain climbing up (for a bit anyway), and, as Pik put it so well, it was like swimming with the clouds.

Cloud starts to cover the group as they make their final push to the top

And they make it!





Tango 7 at the top!

After a steep descent, which proved to be more problematic than the ascent for most, a dense jungle trek and a few leeches, we were whisked off in jeeps to Anthony's Camp, a campsite with outstanding views. We even had a few fireworks and sparklers to celebrate Diwali.

From there we could see our destination, and washing opportunity, for the next day, the lake. The trek down to the lake the next day was short but hot, which meant we could work up a sweat before cooling off and trying to get clean. The afternoon was spent relaxing, catching up on journal writing and for some, spotting Loch Ness-style monsters in the lake! Our campsite had to be guarded in the night in case elephants (not monsters) got close, but although some of the group heard them in the trees, we didn't get to see them. However, after I said goodbye to them as they trekked off from Lakeside the next morning, Field Base did get reports of Tango 7 spotting elephants from a distance...

While the group chilled out at Lakeside they also got the chance to write some messages home:

Hi Granny & Granpa
I'm still alive! I sent you a letter but it's going to Cosgarne as I forgot your address. Trekking at the mo, got some pet leeches as well! Love you lots, hope you're well, my socks smell. Love Emma xxx
PS. Ask Mum and Dad to check if I left my hair straighteners on.

Hello again
Our trek has started, scenerys is beautiful but the mountains are better in the distance than up close! We mounted the second largest in India (outside the Himalayas) yesterday - few tears on the way up, but that's the name of the game. We're camping at a beautiful lake tonight and onto a few more thousand km tomorrow... It's so surreal but I do love it. Hope all's well at home, Hol xxx
PS. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICCOLPOPS for the 27th, have a fantastic time pretty lady - loves you xxx

Hi Mum and Dad
Hope you're both well! Day 3 of the trek and all great so far - we were above the clouds yesterday on the peak of a mountain, and by a beatiful lake now! Have decided to get other people to carry my rucksack for me if I ever go trekking again! Haha. Seen leeches but no elephants yet, if only the leeches were elephants! Feel a world away from London, very odd! Lots of love, Helen xx

From Pik:
You, you and you!
Why you folks don't leave me any message?!
I am now working on my trekking phase and I have just climbed to the summit of the second highest mountain in southern India which is 2,650m high. The view up there is really amazing, I felt like swimming with the clouds. But it was really exhausting going up and down from the summit, and guess what? I still have 13 days to go! Yay! There is no computer access so I will try to catch up with you all in this blog. Miss you all, and hope everything is going well with everyone in Hong Kong.

Hi Mum, Dad, Chris
Having an amazing time out here. Am trekking at the moment and yesterday climbed to the summit of the second highest mountain in India. Views were brilliant and was strange being above the clouds. It was so tiring but a great feeling once at the top. Well done for finding the blog if you are reading this! And I will try and write soon. Keep me posted with Bristol City results and hope all is well at home. Not too good though, as you remember last time, "bluff"! Miss you, Daniel.

That's it from Tango 7 for now, we'll keep you informed of their progress as we hear back from them, and keep the messages coming in for them!

Sunday 18 October 2009

Looping with Charlie 1 in Multimoola

Well the looping has begun, and yesterday some of the Fieldbase team loaded up their Bravo vehicle and headed out to the wonderful community of Multimoola, situated some three and half hours from Mysore. Our mission was not only to visit Charlie 1 but also to drop off Ali our roving reporter who will spend the next couple of days out and about.

As a newcomer to India the scenery continues to blow me away, and yesterday was no exception. The first part of our journey took us through the majestical Bandipur National Park, known for elephants and tigers, before we headed up to the mountains and into tea plantation territory. It was quite simply stunning and literally took my breath away. India never ceases to amaze me!

Charles leads the way in the digging stakes

When we got to Multimoola we were greeted by Charlie 1 who were hard at work digging in the toilets which will be attached to the houses Raleigh built over the Summer. Interestingly the girls, India, Laura, Nanette and Sam had finished their digging and had moved on to glamming up the existing toilet with paint they themselves purchased from a nearby village. The boys on the other hand, had called in PM Charlie to help them and were still hard at work (of course their hill was bigger, their ground harder etc etc!)

Everyone has settled in well, cleared out the creepy crawlies that inevitably inhabitat houses in small Indian communities, and set up a great campsite. 

The local people are clearly delighted to have Charlie 1 to stay and are working incredibly hard right alongside them.  Of course it is not all work, the cricket set is being put to good use, as is the nail polish brought by Laura and there is a constant background sound of laughing and giggling from the children as they get to know their foreign guests.

 It was heartening to see just how much this group has accomplished in a very short time and how brilliantly they are doing as a group.  You will have more updates from Charlie 1 in a couple of days when Ali gets back, until then keep the messages rolling in. 

Country Expedition Manager 

PS. As a late edition to this post, Charlie and David want to say a personal thank you to all the young people who are currently helping in Multimoola.

Lunch time - eaten on the veranda of the girl's house

Come on boys! Keep digging!

Charlie with the local Leader

Dave gets involved with henna - maybe stick to the building Dave!

Charles and Kit - hanging with the kids


Friday 16 October 2009

09J have left the building!

Alison our PRO Officer deployed yesterday to go trekking with Tango 7 for a few days so I‘m very excited as the other half of the Comms team to get to be guest blogger for the day!

After a long day and night spent counting, packing and repacking we finally waved off the Venturers at the crack of dawn yesterday. 

James and Shamnad (Tango 6)

Charlie 1 leaving for Multimoola

Echo 4 and 5 both made it safely to Bandipur National Park and trekked in with their kit to their separate camps.  Echo 5 had the added excitement of seeing elephants on their way to their project site.  They have now set up all their bamboo bashers and have made it through their first night safely despite hearing some unidentified jungle noises.  Echo 4 however woke up to the realisation that they had left their porridge supplies at fieldbase.  That is of course unless the bears in the forest didn’t find it in the night!

Elsewhere, Charlie 1, who also saw elephants on their journey, reached Multilmoola to be greeted by the villagers who presented them with traditional jasmine garlands.  Although shy at first the local children are now loving having new friends to play with.
Tango 6 and 7, who had the longest journeys down to Kerala, reached Thrissu and Udumalpetti respectively where they spent their last night for some time under a roof.  Both groups reached the start of their adventure challenges earlier today.  Tango 6 start in Nerimangalam with the challenge of building rafts that will carry them down the Periyar River, while Tango 7 will start at Silent Valley, bracing themselves for the second highest summit outside of the Himalayas.

Here at fieldbase we are somewhat lost without the rest of our family.  It’s eerily quiet but we’re looking forward to speaking to the groups every day and finding out their news and progress.  We’ll be passing on your messages to them as we receive them, and posting messages onto the blog from the groups.  I can’t stress how much the messages and words of encouragement from home mean to everyone here so do please keep them coming.

Alison and I between us are lucky enough to be getting the opportunity to spend some time with all of the groups during this first phase to get photographs for the blog and the expedition magazine.  We will post some of the shots at the first opportunity so that you can see the stunning environments and truly amazing places the groups are living and working in.  We’re aware that not everyone has been in a photo on the blog yet but we’ll do our best to capture everyone as the expedition progresses so do please keep checking back.

Tomorrow I am going out to see Charlie 1 in Multilmoola to join in the local celebrations for Diwali, the festival of light, and then will be continuing on to see the Echo 4 and 5 in the forest and hopefully spend my first night in a basher!  Alison will also be returning from trekking in Kerala so we will have lots to report on and show you next time.   

Ali (aka Moycey)

Wednesday 14 October 2009

And they're off!

The trek training was a complete success! Jet lagged, the venturers set off in groups to complete a 20km trek in searing heat.

Hotel 4 are greeted by local children at the halfway point

But everybody made it and reached the site to set up camp, which was to be their base for the next two nights. The second day they completed their swim test and were given a snake safety talk and the chance to hold some of the less dangerous varieties!


On returning to fieldbase the venturers were allocated their project groups for phase 1 and are ready to set off tomorrow. As you can see from the pictures, the Project Managers each chose interesting ways of announcing the news...

Amy, Katie, Vijay

Davina and Leti

The groups are:
Charlie 1 - Building the school in Multilmoola
Charlie Elgy
Kit Hei
India Letcher
Laura White
Sam Flood
David Hildreth
Charles Lockhart
Nanette Vrinjenhoek
John Emmerson
PMs: Charlie and David

Tango 7 - Trekking then rafting
Pik Yan
Lee Qua
Beth Grainger
Daniel Sellars
Ben Strachan
Holly Dunlop
Adam Russell
Emma Morgan
PMs: Helen, Jeff and Miriam

Tango 6 - Rafting then trekking
Chloe Stephenson
Colin Thorburn
Baz Murphy
Tina Boden
James Gurney
Philippa Crockett
Maddie Oakes
Alain Eisma

Echo 4 - Ranger Station
Chris Braggs
Nicky Beveridge
Michael Stern
Bill Murgatroyd
Victoria Begg
James Eyles
Claire d'Ursel
Luke Argall
PMs: Amy, Katie and Vijay

Echo 5 - Fire Lines and Anti-Poaching Camp
John Springate
Christina Ambrose
Matthew McDonnell
Georgie Webb
Morten Jacobsen
Georgie Page
Louis Nerurkar
Amy Whetstone
PMs: Frankie, Neil, Kate

And here's everyone together before they all set off in different directions...

Raleigh 09J

That's about it until the groups get settled and we have some stories from the project sites. But we do have some messages from venturers...

To Mum
Hiya. Having a good time. Going to write a letter hopefully when can get time. My first project is refurb on a rangers' anti poaching camp. Say to Libby I really miss her and RWARRR. Been thinking about her loads.
From Chris Braggs

Hi to Everyone
Just been assigned my first project and it's the one I wanted. My back is annoying me but the medics have been really helpful. Gotta run for group games, I leave tomorrow but just wanted to check in and send you all lots of love!
To Tai - It's bugging me that I can't speak to you now, will try and get a sim card asap.
Much love, Mikey

From Holly D:
Hi Mum, Dad and everyone - Greetings from India!
Had a good journey here, the place is amazing and the people are great. There's been lots of sun, thunderstorms, training trekking, sweating, laughing, spicy food, tuk tuks and even shopping!
Hope everything's fine at home, missing you lots but it really is awesome. Start my first project tomorrow - the 200km trek and rafting. Keep checking for my progress but it's all smiles for now! Lots of love and kisses, Hol xxx

Hi Mum, Dad, Charlie, Abbie and James
Been into Mysore today on the tuk tuks which was so much fun. I wasn't a very good back seat driver, they go quite fast!
I leave for my environmental phase tomorrow which I'm quite excited about, sleeping in bashas!
Hope you're all well, I really miss you all.
Lots of love, Georgie P (now known as Page as I have another Georgie in my group who is called Webb!) xxx