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 17 December 2011

The end. Well for 11J anyway.

So the Venturers have gone and now it’s the turn of the Field Base staff and VMs.

The last few days have been spent making sure that we leave Field Base looking spick and span for the next group, so out came the marigolds and with a final burst of energy and elbow grease we cleaned, we scrubbed, we mopped, we dusted, we picked up litter and it’s almost like we’ve gone back in time to late September when we all arrived. Well almost!

In between all the hard work we have obviously found time to relax and celebrate the success of the expedition, culminating in yesterday's Awards Night, where VMs and Field Base staff were asked to propose awards for their peers and these were collected and the best three were chosen. Andy dressed up as Santa and had Hannah as his little elf helper to deliver the awards and much hilarity ensued as everyone tried to guess the recipients before they were announced based on the title of the award. And most were right! So the awards were obviously deserved!

And so we come to today. Lee cooked up an awesome fry-up this morning (sans bacon and sausage sadly) which went down a treat and then it was packing and tent cleaning. The group will now travel to Young Island (just outside Mysore) for the night on their way to Bangalore airport. We have our staff party tonight and then final farewells tomorrow as some are staying on to enjoy more of India’s amazing scenery and hospitality.

I’m sure I speak on behalf of all those left here when I say it’s been an amazing journey and one which we are all glad to have taken together. Thanks for reading and for your support and please spread the word about Raleigh so that your friends and family can find out more about the organisation and how they can get involved in the good work we do and join the ever-growing family of alumni who have been on expedition.

This is Field Base listening out...

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The middle of the end...

Fieldbase resembles something of a ghost town once more as the volunteer manager team bid a fond farewell to all the Venturers earlier today. They were finally shepherded onto their buses – despite some desperate attempts to remain – and will be winging their way to either Bangalore (to catch the recommended flight tomorrow or a different flight that they have arranged themselves) or Mysore (for those few who have alternative travel plans).

But first an update on how they spent their final few hours under a Raleigh roof – and also an update for those who were worried about the missing E4 group...

E4 safe and sound

We are pleased to announce that E4 returned safely – albeit a little the worse for wear – at the crack of dawn yesterday. Their marathon journey, which started with a four hour bus ride to Chiplun, followed by a five hour delayed train to Mangalore (which was where the trouble all started), then continued with an eight hour night train to Mysore, a three hour wait on the bus for daylight and then the final leg, a positively lightning half an hour drive to fieldbase.

They were met at fieldbase by Helen, Hannah and what at first looked like a nurse fresh from the operating theatre but turned out to be Carolyn in her rather fetching pyjamas. The group then proceeded to wake up the rest of fieldbase who were overjoyed to know that their fellow Venturers were back in one piece.

The final day

So what activities lay in store for the Venturers for their final full day? Well other than packing up their belongings it was a pretty fun day for all, with the following all taking place:

Total Wipeout – a series of fun, wet and very messy games to provide a team challenge that was eventually won by Charlie 1.   It was a hard fought competition as hot showers were the prize for the victorious group!!!

Tango 5 at Fun Station 5!

Tango 6 getting competitive

Echo 4 getting their team through the spiders-web at Fun Station 3!

The Winners - Charlie 1 - After the assault course at Fun Station 1!

Christmas Dinner – the dining room was decked out in lights and tinsel and was the perfect setting for the final evening meal, which was topped off with a lovely speech by Helen.

11J's End of Expedition Meal

Hannah, Helen and Carolyn dressed up for the occasion!
Slide Show – Hannah produced a slideshow of photographs from the entire expedition which she put to music and received deservedly rapturous applause.

Disco – yes despite the Dutch Venturers dislike of the concept of music and dancing we had a disco. That’s D.I.S.C.O my friends. Give me a ‘D’...

The end...well for the Venturers at least

And so we come to the final day at fieldbase for our intrepid Venturers, which kicked off in customary style with some wholesome, tasty porridge. This was followed by more packing before the groups were reunited with their Project Managers and went through a final review where they discussed their personal highs and lows for the expedition.

Once the remaining paperwork had been filled out there was time for lunch and some tidying and cleaning around fieldbase before the siren sounded to announce departure time.

There were hugs, handshakes and quite a few misty eyes (but no tears – they are a strong bunch!) as final farewells with the fieldbase team took place. Then they were off to the big city to either return home to tell their loved ones of their great adventure or continue the journey elsewhere.

On behalf of all at fieldbase we wish them a safe flight and onward journey and would like to thank them for taking part in a great expedition. For those of us still here there are a few days in which to complete the cleaning and perhaps toast the completion of a successful journey.

Thanks for reading and for your messages. They are very much appreciated by all. Until the next time...

Monday 12 December 2011

The Beginning of the end......

Although it only felt like a few short moments ago that the 11J expedition began, the end is now in sight. 

The groups started arriving back in this morning from the project sites and spent the morning greeting what now seem like old friends, reviewing the last phase and sorting out all the equipment that has been used to do all the hard work of the past 10 weeks.

The fieldbase team have been working hard to ensure that the last few days of expedition are packed full of fun!  Tonight we have the skits so the groups can show us what they have all been up to and usually this has a large comedy element then tomorrow we have prepared some Fun Stations for the groups to go round before we have our final slideshow and meal together and dance the night away!

For followers of the Echo 4 group, don't worry - they are on their way back but have been slightly delayed due to a late running train, they will be with us soon though! 

Keep a look out for the last blog and photo's of all our final fun which will be coming soon.....


Friday 9 December 2011

Off to the beach!

Guest bloggers Lee and Hannah here.

We have just got back from our trip up to Velas visiting Echo 4.

Our journey started with an overnight stay in Bangalore with an early flight up to Mumbai. After a 7 hour journey from Mumbai we arrived with Echo 4 feeling a little tired but ready to get stuck in.

Echo 4 are at a beautiful campsite contained in a small cluster of pine trees on the edge of the beach. The group made us feel welcome by preparing our ‘beds’ for us and making us dinner. The menu was chips and omelette which went down a treat. Following dinner we sat around a bonfire on the beach and did a quick shift on turtle watch. Unfortunately we didn’t see any turtles but we haven’t given up hope.

The following day after a good night’s sleep we were awoken with pancakes and the prospect of a hard mornings work.  We set out to work carrying bricks and cement for the building of two gates along the path to the beach. The group had built a stretcher to make carrying the 30kg bricks a lot easier as Anna took her place as cement mixer.

After lunch the group took us on a brief tour of what we were missing out on by being nowhere near a beach in Mysore. We went to a nearby rock pool and relaxed before the group set up a slip ‘n’ slide down the beach. The slip ‘n’ slide consisted of some plastic sheeting with some soapy water poured on it and was aimed into the sea. It was amazing. We also managed to fit in a game of cricket followed by a game of football with the locals.

On the menu in the evening was chicken with cheesy potatoes and cauliflower. This was followed by a review and then an unsuccessful search for turtles before bed.

We left Echo 4 at 7:00 and began the 7 hour drive back to Mumbai. We both really enjoyed our time at Echo 4 and have massive envy towards their camp.

We have a blog message from Lisa:

To Nan, Pap’s, Bernie, Jo, Kate, Mel, Tina and Stephen. Thanks for the messages guys, miss you all loads. Having a good time out here but can’t wait to come back and tell you all the random stories. I will be home in a week, Thursday 15th, see you all soon. Love Lisa xxx.

Monday 5 December 2011

Out of Field Base and into The Loop

Hannah FB medic here.

I had the good luck to join Helen on the last loop of 11J visiting Tango 5, Echo 3 and Charlie 1.

Helen in Top Gun attire working hard in the office before heading out on loop

Please find below, in true Raleigh review style, the highs (and very few lows) we experienced on the way....

Tango 5

  • Johnny and Lavinia singing Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" - amused by hearing that Johnny strums team sing-a-longs along whilst trekking
  • Charlie's chuffed-ness after her request for binoculars to spot the wildlife from FB was fulfilled

  • Lavinia's camp cooking - of course it wouldn't have been half as good without Jake's chopping and Steph's stirring! 
  • Ambience generated by team spirit - made me feel fuzzy inside.
  • Sinterklaas parcel from Esmee's mum including a packet of pepernoten for all trekkers and loop members - thank you!  Confused?  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas
  • Another parcel - this time for Lavinia from home with birthday goodies
  • Pamper evening for loop members including beautiful henna hand-painting.

Esmee showing the loop how to draw beautiful henna designs


  • Leaving Tango 5 - I miss trekking with Muddy Boots!
Tango 5, Helen, Hannah and the guitar!

Echo 3


  • Awesome campsite!  Two-tiered amphitheatre built from bamboo around the campfire.  Brilliant.

  • Blind Date hosted by Robyn and Victor with the loop members doing the choosing from 3 screened-off venturers - answers a little too risque for the blog but suffice to say the first dates went well.  
  • Food - sweet and sour one evening, followed by banoffee pie with dessicated coconut.  Next evening treated to egg noodles with a delicious satay sauce.  Innovative use of Raleigh food!
  • Music - 80s cheese and Mumford and Sons 
  • Escaping without head lice
  • Again great team atmosphere in a homely environment
  • The Safety game - yuk - Andy has a lot to answer for!
  • The long drop - yuk yuk.
Charlie 1

  • Tangible hard graft had been done by the team in the first half of the phase with all 10 toilets nearing completion - good work guys!

  • Shafi's chicken curry, fish fry and parothas - outstanding.  The hours he spent in the kitchen were much appreciated.

  • Playing "In The Box" and the team putting up with my being a stickler for the rules
  • Wandering through Maligali and soaking up village life - seeing the process at the dairy whereby locals brought along their pails of milk, it would be assessed and weighed, a receipt for volume given and decanted into churns to be taken to town for sale

  • The team having an arts and crafts session with the local kids during which they made an advent calendar


  • Charlie 1 being the end of the loop and heading back to Fieldbase for the end of expedition!!
Hannah, Fieldbase Medic

Here are some of the messages we picked up from some of the venturers on the loop. Apologies if the Dutch is wrong, I tried my best to type it up. Helen 

Blog Message from Elizabeth Gattrell – Tango 5

Dear the Gattrells!
Hi Everyone! Sorry I haven’t been in touch much.  I am trekking in the jungle, it is really hard and I still can’t believe I am doing it. You would be shocked at the things I am doing and my manly attire.  Can’t wait to come home for xmas and see you all, especially your outstanding progress mum, am really proud of you and thankful to all the family for taking care of you so well.  I miss you all dearly.  Met some wonderful people here, we all help each other through the hard times but sometimes you just want your family.  Know what I mean!  Anyway off to do some raft building and then onto the lake with the help of the FIT Indian guide lad!
Love and miss your kangaroo mum, all my love always, in all ways,
Lizzie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Just wanted to say how happy I am to hear you are doing so well.  I really can’t wait to see all of your progress in action and to finally see you settled at home.  I am missing you so much here but will have lots of funny stories for you to make even funnier.  Have sent another letter home but I may get there before it.  So just to tell you I’m fine and that I love you! Your braveness is living on in me throughout this, anyway i’ll be seeing you very soon, Lots of love
Jungle Lizzie xxxxx

Blog message from Emma Christopher, Tango 5

Hi Mum, Dad and Freddie,
Thank you for your blog message, it’s so good to hear from you and it was delivered to us on a day when I really needed a pick me up!  I’m glad to hear everyone is well at home.  I’m missing you all so much but not feeling homesick as there is so much going on here.  It’s not long until I come home so I ‘m going to enjoy every day I have left.  We are well into our trek now... it’s killing me! No , really! It’s such a physical challenge but the mental challenge is even harder.  I have never felt so gross in my life, I stink!  But so does everyone else so all is good!  I cannot wait to see you all soon, lots of love Emma xxxxx

Blog message from Esmee, Tango 5

Ome Ab & Tante Nel,
Lieve ome Ab en tante Nel, Huub & Meckel,
De loop bracht vandaag onze post en bericht jes en daar zat een kaartje wan jullie by!Heel erg lenk bin wat van jullie te horen en bedankt voor het kaartje.  Hier jchat alles prima, neg 7 weken en dan ben in alweer Heins :) Dikke kus Esmee

Lieve pam,
Ik heb miet veel tjd wu.  Maar heel erg bedankt voor je lenke terberichtje Tim een vriendin, dat was een verrassing! Haha! Wel heel erg lenk. Graetje dan de fam en een dikke kus, Esmee

Lieve mama, papa & Lieke,
De pepernoten en het godicht zyn aangekomln heer! De gruep heeft ervar genoven. Ih wilde je een rief sturen maar die ben ik vergeten. Das die krijj je Vals in terzeg ben. Ook die van lieke is kwijt. Is die oor papa al gearriveerd? Ik sturr welee brief voor de meiden via jullie. Er zitten foto’s bij, dus dan kumnen jullie die bekjken! Ook een klein cadeanje voor fiek zik erbij.  Alles eped hier. Na 2 dagen rash, want Stef kar niet verder en heeft even tydnodig I om bj te komen. Hert is eigenligh neit nwaar, meevalle dus, haha!  Otja, kurinen jullie pepernoten mix bewaren, biodat ik die kan bakken als ik terug komi? Hopeligh gaat daar ook alles good , maar daar twigfel ik eigenlijk wief aan!  Heel veel liefts en kassen! Esmee

Lieve Elien & Nienke, & nateuertjk de andere meiden,
Jullie kaartjes vyn helaas (neg) niet aangekoman (voor eline en Nienke) Ik ben nu 7 dagen op trek en het is echt heel erg leik. Ooh een dag gefitsk.  Bergopwaards en dan racen naar beneden. Beetje eng wel, haha! Over 2 weekjes al weer henis, kan niet wachten on jullie allemaal weer te zien. Eline, is net gelukt met kaartje voor rauw & lauw? :)
Ik heb jeen tyd meer schatten! Dikke kus Es.
Ps eln nieuwe brief & foto’s is onderweg.

Blog message from Robyn Brooks, Echo 3

To Mum and Pops,
Hiya! Was so nice to get blog messages off you all last night, really good to know that you are all okay!  Miss you both millions! Was thinking the other day about how nice it will be to come out of the Airport and see you all, I cannot wait!  Hope your arranging my homecoming party;)  Although, when you pick me up, no matter how far or close it is, we are stopping at McDonalds!  Honestly cannot wait to see you, have so much to tell you all! Tell fat head I got his blog message, it’s taken him this long to write that one sentence!  Some things never change, HaHa!  Send Grandma and Bob my love, tell them I got the millions of messages and letters and I cannot wait to see them! Give Lucas and Lilah a HUGE kiss from me and I will see you all in 14 days! GET EXCITED! Love you all so much Bobbin xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Blog messages from Lucy Shipp, Echo 3

To Mum,
Hello! Sad not to hear from you on the blog, but thank you for the mini birthday parcel.  Am being very restrained and saving the post until tomorrow – it’s quite hard, they are snuggled away under my pillow!  Having a lovely time by the reservoir; lots of swimming, a little yoga and massive amounts of digging.  It’s nice to have a bit of personal space after the school in Malligalli.  Our camp is really incredible – we even have a swing.  Hope things are going will at home, not long now until I’m back – we already have Christmas decorations in the camp! Miss you lots, Lucy xxx

To Ekta,
I was so happy and surprised to see that little envelope from you! I’m being really disciplined and not opening anything until my birthday tomorrow – I’m so excited to read what you’ve been up to! I’m also hoping that tomorrow might be my first hot and sunny birthday – wahoo.  Went swimming in the lake today and bobbled like a mushroom should.  Miss your face xxx

To Alice,
So excited for your new dance moves, I’ve been inventing some too. Loved hearing from you, missing your killer sneezes and happiness lots, but London not so much.  Really happy to be here. Looking forward to seeing you in the soon-ish New Year. Love xx

To Sarah,
Ahh! 2 parcels from you at last changeover – so good.  We have pimped our camp and decced it for Christmas, with a lot of help from the advent calender.  Fantastic.  So much to tell, cannot wait to get back and plan some more adventures.  Hope home is not as frustrating as it sounds, I’m sure you are remembering to have lots of fun too – look forward to hearing all about it lovely. Love xxx

For Julie Scheer’s Fam. Echo 3

Allerliefsle Fam,
Wat heerlyk jullie berichten en qedichten (mam) le ontuangen. Ons kamp hier is AMAZING! We hebben onze eigen chillroom gemazkt: I banken haha, so fyn.  Ons bad her is in enorm lake, wat helaz ook ‘t bad is van de koeien, re wordt hier letterlyk nooit schoco.  India is noq steeds waanzinnig, masr allos is zil redelys nokmaal wen it worden: koeien ipu auto ‘s Ryst, Smbar and porridge, Regenbuien die rivieren veroorzaken en de zon die meet zoeken, ‘t slepen in een hangmat onder in klamb de, engels and NI door elkaar (praat Englesin min slaap) muziek zu/7. Pieverds meet it kori howden, mzzr mail julie zondag.
Dikke x u jullie nzzns wit India.

Charlie One

Guest blogger Lee again, this time reporting from Charlie One.

I have just got back from a ten day stint with Charlie One building Eco-Sanitation toilets and am here to keep you updated.

When we arrived we set up our camp, the venturers slept in a classroom in the school while the PM’s were banished to tents outside. After we had set up camp we played a quick game of cricket and then had a tour around the village to look at the work of the competition to see what we were up against. 

After cricket we met our cook Galesh. As we were a community phase we had the pleasure of not having to cook for ourselves 99% of the time which was a welcome break from noodles for some of the venturers.

During the day we would build the toilets. We were helped by several experienced masons who were always on hand to correct a wonky brick or a bodged plastering attempt. We finished the structure of ten toilets whilst I was on Charlie One

On one of the days we were lucky enough to get invited to a wedding that was happening in the village. So we rocked up, covered in cement and dirt and hijacked the service. We posed for photographs and acted like the minor celebrities that we knew we were born to be. 

After probably ruining the couples day, although they seemed very pleased we were there, we went back to work and continued to make the toilets for the village.
Friday was a special day in camp; it was Gemma’s 18th birthday. We wanted to make the day special for her so we took it off work and went into the local town and spent the day relaxing and sari shopping. Back at camp the group had prepared a surprise cake for Gemma to celebrate her birthday. She didn’t cry but I could tell at points she was close, it was beautiful. 

We had an extra member of the group from time to time, a puppy called either ‘Charlie’ ‘Manni’ or ‘Dog’. The group decided to buy him for 100INR only to find out that the dog was free at heart and left our camp soon after we introduced him to his new home 

None of the locals knew me by my name in the village; I was ‘John Cena – WWE Superstar, World Champion’. I think that I will leave you to be the judge of similarities.


John Cena

That is all from me.