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

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

Sunday 31 October 2010

Messages from Charlie One

From: Eira
To: Lisa Walters
To lou - Thanks for the message, my first! Houses are going weel - foundations done on all 5!! I'm muddy and filthy but having a good time!!
Missing talking to you, will ring you at changeover next week. Love you Eira xxx

From: Ryan
To: Charlie Porter
Helloo Miss Fitness Freak, you'll be foing the marathon when I get back. this village is amazing this kid is definitely the next Jack Lester. Glad you're having fun back home how's the job hunting? love you loads Rye xxxxx

From: Rosie
To: My fam
You didm't put who's writing! Think it's Kate so love you lots and hope you get my letter soon. Got mg's today :) xx

From: Aimee
Thanks for all the news and messages, much appreciated and read in a monsoon. Will write a proper message soon. Aimee xxx

From: Tessa
To: Marieke
Zusie gefeliciteerd! Er kom & een hele lange verjaardags brief je kant op! Alles gaat tup! Kas

From: Elisabeth
Hi iedereen! Heel erg bedankt voor alle fecicitaties! Ik had een super verjaardag! Details later! Verder alles Top! xxx

From: Caroline
To: Ben
Still having fun and still missing you like crazy xxx

From Caroline
To: Ash
Hi Ash - thanks for your message. I'll email you on changeover (3rd Nov) Really proud of you! Love you x

Thursday 28 October 2010

Echo Three and Echo Four - get the kettle on!

Here at Field base a few of us have been given a release card as myself, Polly B, Doug, Susan and Anna descend on the Environmental projects.

Susan and Anna headed to Echo Three yesterday and this morning myself, Polly B and Doug are setting off to join them there for the day, before Polly B and Doug move onto Echo Four this evening.
Anna will be heading back to Field base this evening but the rest of us have the priviledge to stay out until Sunday.

Armed with blog messages and the tuck shop The Loop we will hopefully be a welcome sight. We're are all looking forward to getting stuck into some trench digging.

Check back on Monday to hear all about our visits.

All text by Polly Carpenter and photos by Polly Baldwin http://www.dynamicpictures.co.uk/ (unless stated otherwise).

Ladies who Lunch: The Pollys day trip to Charlie One

The two Pollys popped over to visit Charlie One yesterday. We were only there for a few hours but happily did manage to fit in lunch. Charlie One have the priviledge of being cooked for everyday by the local community they’re living amongst – most delicious!

Last time Polly B was there, a small cyclone hit the village and today Polly B was blamed for bringing the bad weather with her as the skies opened just as we arrived! 

Not deterred by the weather, the group proudly took me on a tour of their site, showing off their luxury shower complete with drainable bamboo flooring, a very hygienic and sturdy three bowls area and their communal living room.

The group were in great spirits, happily posing for photos and filming the music video which were the purposes of our fleeting visit. I also took the opportunity to catch up with the group and get the low down on their experience so far ...

The group’s arrival last Saturday was a big event as the villagers were excited and intrigued to meet them all. With such a warm reception the group were keen to start working straight away on building the five houses to replace the mud huts that the villagers currently live in.

The first task was to lay all the foundations, this involved digging down a foot and half - tough labour but they told me it was good physical work to do.

After this their next task was to move a small mountain of rock. All equipment and materials are delivered at the bottom of the village and so the group had to form a human chain to get the rocks up to the plot sites. This was hard graft but the group bonded with singsongs initiated by Caroline. I’m told the villagers looked on amused at the group belting out their guilty pleasures and some musical theatre numbers.

Job done and all this rock was subsequently laid into the foundation trenches and then cemented up about a foot from ground level. The group have stormed ahead with their work since their arrival and today at the site they were finishing off the foundations of plot five.

For the group’s final task of the phase they will be putting up the walls of one of the houses on plot one. We’d just missed the erecting of the first door frame into the plot this morning, but the PMs happily posed next to it when we arrived.

It’s not long to go now, as Charlie One only have four more working days left because they’re taking the weekend off. On Saturday they will visit a local tea factory and on Sunday they’ve planned a Sports day with the villagem, where they’re going to introduce them to such British classics as the Egg and Spoon Race and the Sack Race – I can’t wait to hear how that goes!

Group highlights:
  • Community party where they taught each other their culture’s dancing – for the Raleigh group this consisted of limbo dancing and the Macarena!!
  • Finding a frog with wings in their ‘living room’
  • James amusing the villagers by digging like a dog with his hands!
Working alongside local Masons and the Villiagers themselves, it’ great to see Charlie One are truly part of the community. They’re a well bonded and fun group, I hope they enjoy the final week of their Phase One and looking forward to catching up with them all at Changeover.

All text by Polly Carpenter and photos by Polly Baldwin http://www.dynamicpictures.co.uk/ (unless stated otherwise).

Monday 25 October 2010

Messages from Tango 5

From: Lucy
To: Flint Family
Hello everyone! Thank you so much for the message, it is lovely to hear from you. Thank you for changing my flight, that is a relief. I am having fun meeting so many new people and am on a trek phase at the moment. postcard is on it's way. Al my love, Lucy xxx

From: Isabelle
To: Bonnie
Hey leieve Bonnie! Wat super leuk om een bericht te urygen verhalendyn er zeher! Ben met de zwoorsle trek begonnen en een koude emmer douche is een luxe! Ben opplekkengeweestwaar je andersniet kont! Alkke kus en & knuffe aan iedere iedereen.

From: Kasia
To: Rodzina I Przysaciele
Czesc nadal zyje, choc dzisiaj miatam 2 pijawk na nogach. Przesszlismy ok 50km, widoki sa niesamowite ale padl mi aparat. Z kazdym dniem jest coraz lepiej. Nie martwcie sie o mnie, bo wszystko jest super i bawie sie swietnie. Kocham I Pozdrawiam

From: Kate
To: Studley family and friends
Hey everyone! Thanks for your messages, its nice to hear from home! I am currently on the trek, we have climbed the 2nd highest peak in India! Please write (I am looking forward to letters & blog messages!) Thinking of you all, love from Kate xxx

Messages from Charlie One

From: Elisabeth
To: Caroline & Carlyn
Hee lieve cacie & ninja! Het gaat heel goed! Ik struggle een beetje met de tenten want die zyn verschrikkelyk. Het dorpje is echt superleuk! Ik ben byna geadopteerd ha ha. Mis jullie! Xxx Liz (mn nieuwe naam)

From: Aimee
To: Mum, Dad, Max, Craig, Pippa, Poppy & Ginger
Hello from a very muddy campsite in india. I am fine having a lot of fun and sculpting the guns after digging 5 foundtations and moving tonnes of rock. Hope you are all well in cold England. Lots of love Aimee. P.s. What's the traffic cop gossip?!

From: Ryan
To: Charlie, Mum , Dad, Craig, Jordan, Nana & Grandad
Hello everyone. i'm having an amazing time we've dug 5 foundtations already. We're living with a tribal community and they're all really friendly. I've been teaching some of the kids some football skills! Hope everyting's good at home. Ring you soon  Love Ryan & Charlie x

From: Rosie
To: Ma, Dad, Kate, Shannon, Hazel, Bev & all my friends
Hiiiii! We are digging foundations in Ula Vadu and I feel like I'm in a documentary. We were all dancing with the villagers the other night so surreal. They are all lush. I would love a letter miss you all xxx

From: Phillip
To: Family and friends
Having a great time. Hope you are all well and Yorkshire life is treating you well!

From: Caroline
To: Ben
Hello Helmand! Thank you for your messages and letters - always puts a smile on my face. Life is good here - i'm even getting used to the mud especially getting covered in it! I miss you everyday. Lots of love xxx

From: Caroline
To: DE
Hi guys, thanks Shaz for the blog messages - big morale boost! Life is good in India. I'm really enjoying getting hands on with thi construction lark! Not a change order in sight!! Hope you are all well. Missing the office craic. Love Caroline x

Tango 5: Nature's Calling

I’ve just returned from a week’s trekking with Tango 5, and what a privilege it was, beautiful scenery and fantastic company. Disappointingly my camera ran out of battery on day three so my images are limited until the rest of the group returns at changeover.

Last Saturday I set off with Tango 5 on our day and a half’s drive down to the southern western ghats of Kerala to where the trek begins. The journey down took us from the paddy fields of Karnataka, through the plains of Tamil Nadu into the lush forestry and mountains of Kerala. We were even lucky enough to spot an Elephant whilst passing through Chinnar wildlife sanctuary.

The first challenge we had was a day’s hike up and over Misappuli Mala, India’s second highest peak outside the Himalayas. It was an early start as we set off at 5am in the dark but we were rewarded with a beautiful and enchanting sunrise. 

The scenery was stunning and our guides, Eldhose and Abeet, informed us that we were in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The area has rich and diverse flora and fauna including Shola forests (high altitude evergreen forests, unique to Southern India) and Nilgiri Tahr (Mountain Goats) that are endemic to this area. We were lucky enough to spy a herd running down the mountainside.

Reaching the summit of Misappuli Mala we were enveloped in thick cloud but then suddenly the clouds parted to reveal the awe-inspiring drop to the valley below, to quote Lynne, ‘it was truly mystical’. From here it was a steep incline down off the Mountain but we were rewarded with a delicious cup of chai at Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, the world’s highest tea plantation. Tea enthusiast, Robbie, was in his element!

The next two days were ‘Survival’, as the group were stripped of the luxuries in their backpacks including food rations, mess tins, tents, sleeping bags and aqua tabs. The challenge was to live off the land for 36 hours, boiling any water we wanted to drink, building our shelter for the night and only a bag of vegetables and two live chickens to feed us.

It was a long and cold night in which no one got a lot of sleep but I’ll never forget waking up around the fire the next morning. We’d each individually migrated up there throughout the night when the cold had got too much. So we awoke covered in ash and exhausted but all bonded and humbled by the experience of braving out the night.

The second Survival day was taken up with building our rafts to use the following day, followed by a big feast to celebrate the completion of Survival – food has never tasted so good!

On Thursday it was an early start to raft across the lake and then we set off on a 15km trek. The scenery was really diverse this day as we hiked up through a tea plantation and down into forestry with a few welcome chai shop stops along the way. It was this day that the group discovered Tapioca Bondas (a deep fried Indian snack). Beth, with her love of all things bread like, was a particular fan.

The special moments of this day were walking in silence, single file through the forests on elephant watch. A roof of cardamom plant leaves overhead and the noises of the jungle sounding like a ‘relaxation tape’ in our ears. Our adrenaline was pumping from a mix of excitement and nerves at the possibility of spotting a herd of elephants, but sadly to no avail.

My last day with the group was Friday where after another early start we had a 15km trek. As one of the only members of the group with an alarm clock, Arthur has the job of ‘Morning Motivator’– a hard task at 4am with a bunch of exhausted trekkers. But Arthur’s positivity manages to awaken even the grumpiest members of the group with a smile!

Friday’s main challenge came in the form of the windiest mountain in India*! The group gave each other incredible support, holding hands to get everyone up and over. As we gripped onto each other for dear life fearing being blown over the Mountain edge, Eldhose, our lead guide was running up and down our human chain offering support and steadying where need, sturdy as a mountain goat – what a legend!

There to greet the group at the campsite on Friday afternoon was The Loop delivering Del and the very welcome tuck shop and also Denise, the eleventh member of Tango 5 who’d had an ankle injury that stopped her from deploying with the group initially.

Then all too soon, on Saturday morning I bid farewell to Tango 5. I’ve had an amazing experience with them with some funny, illuminating, educational and at times surreal conversations that went on amongst the group.

I’ve no doubt they’ll go on to have many more fantastic experiences over the next couple of weeks out there in amongst India’s beautiful nature, and to coin Tango 5’s tag line: Nature’s Calling!

* Please note this may not actually be fact!

All text and photos by Polly Carpenter (unless stated otherwise).

Sunday 24 October 2010

Flying visit to Echo 3

GUEST BLOG by Del Roberts

I popped in on Echo 3 the other day to deliver some equipment they required.

Echo 3 are hard at work on digging the elephant-poof trench and will soon make a start on erecting the solar-powered fence.

They were all in good spirits and had completed building their campsite and they were very proud of their shower and long drop.


Polly Comms is heading out for a longer visit to Echo 3 next week, so will bring more news and pictures when she returns. If you want to get a message to anyone out on Echo 3 just add a comment to the blog and we'll take them out on The Loop.

Saturday 23 October 2010

A taste of Hurkurhadi life

Welcome to Reservoir Digs

A fleeting visit from Project Manager Stirling Grey has left us here at field base green with envy of the stories and photos that are coming out of Huskurhadi.  This group has got it sussed.  Waking early they head to their work site, a mere 2km walk away, to get most of their digging done before the heat of the day sets in.   So focussed are they on the digging that they were totally unable to tell me just how much they had dug, I shall keep you posted.

The view that greets Echo 4 each morning making the 5am wakeups bearable

Swim time - what a way to wash

After lunch the main focus is on camp building, ensuring that Reservoir Dig lives up to its 5 star rating.  A fully equipped gym, long drop and shower with view and an oven are just some of the features that sets this camp apart.  

But it's not all work, these guys know how to have fun, they certainly sound brilliant on the daily comms check, full of stories of swimming, yoga, themed parties and great food.  We can't wait to visit next week and we promise to bring you more photos and stories then. 

The human face of our work here - the elephant proof fence will protect this little girl's family land, increase their income levels and boost their living standards. 

Words by Anna.
Photos by Stirling Grey

Friday 22 October 2010

Trekking with the Tangos

The spectacular Irupu Falls marks the beginning
 Just six days ago I deployed with Tango Six on the brand new Demon Trek, so named not for its nastiness but rather for the local name given to one of the several peaks the group will summit over the 18 day phase.

And they are away

The Demon adventure circumnavigates the region of Wayanad in the north of Kerala. Known for spices and its incredible scenery, Wayanad is a well kept secret of this popular tourist state. In fact, Muddy Boots, Raleigh’s project partner, are one of the first adventure companies to begin working in the area and as such we are visiting places few have seen before.

Sam lends Jen a helping hand

After an incredibly intense packing session where Tango 6 were tasked with packing 3 weeks’ worth of pasta, noodles, porridge and peanut crunch, we headed out in the early hours of Sunday morning. First stop was the Kuruva Islands, a 900acre collection of some 64 islands in the Kabini where we practised our river crossing skills no less than 7 times. A delicious Keralan lunch served on banana leaves and we were on our way to camp before heading up over the Western Ghats.

The Western Ghats in all their glory

The first day was tough, our packs were at their heaviest, our bodies at their least experienced, it is to the credit of the team that we made it to the top of Brahmagiri hill, a peak of 2100m. Monday was also our first taste of leeches, an animal which despite having 32 brains failed to win the admiration or respect of Tango 6. The very fashionable leech socks did however provide protection and we continued on undettered, crossing over the grasslands and ridges before dropping down through the forest to Kerela.
Regu takes a time to enjoy the view
No view but still happy to have conquered Brahmagiri

An early morning wake up call for birthday boy Kane was followed by a Hindu blessing at the 1500 year old Thirunelly Temple, before we began winding our way through the stunning paddy fields and coffee and banana plantations. Lunch by the river followed by a steep uphill brought us to our campsite and our birthday celebrations began around the campfire.

Birthday boy Kane - an 18th celebration he is unlikely to forget
Post lunch siesta

Ian receives a blessing from our Muddy Boots guide (hero) Ram
Paddy fields are plentiful in India - second biggest exporter of rice.....fact!

Camping amongst the coffee
Preparing to carb up - Anna, Reg, Liv, Sarah and Dr Phil
And then came the cycling, and wow what an amazing experience. Begining in the paddy fields, we continued on through the most stunning forest, the tough uphill rewarded by some incredible down hills leaving everyone on a high. A taste of Indian townships an incredibly spicy lunch and we finished our final section deep in the heart of tea country. Amazing!

Practically the Tour de France

Anniek, Katie & Phil

Jen in the jungle

Mikheil shows his skills on the corners

Sarah, Liv and Phil

I may be gushing, but I am still bouncing after my mini adventure.  I have lived in India for over a year now, and yet the beauty of this country never fails to take my breath away. Equally, I have worked with countless Raleigh groups and the determination, team work and sense of achievement displayed by each and every person never fails to inspire me. 

Full credit to project managers Olly, Phil and Rachel who are doing an excellent job in supporting what is a remarkable group of venturers from four different countries. Tango Six supporters you should be very proud of your people, they are doing brilliantly!

Katie enjoys a well deserved local lunch

Olly - mountain leader and allround great guy
A massive thank you to Polly who was not only a brilliant member of the trek but also took over 2000 stunning photos.

Anna - Guest Blogger  
All photos by Polly Baldwin http://www.dynamicpictures.co.uk/ (unless stated otherwise).