Moleskine entry: August 10th, 2009

Cruisin’ through the Zimbabwe highways (strips of tarmac laid through bare and dry surroundings), Chemical Brothers on the radio (thanks Nokia), the African outback goes pretty well with The Salmon Dance, who knew?

Today we’ve been out rafting on the Zambezi.

Hungover like you wouldn’t believe (we got in at 4am), we left the hotel at nine to traverse the gorge back down to The Mighty Zambezi (to give it its rightful name) which as well as being some 2500k long, also doubles up as the border between several countries, including this one that we’re driving on, Zimbabwe and that one over there – Zambia.

We start our descent 750ft up…

August 10th was a pretty special day for lots of reasons. But bizarrely I haven’t mentioned it anywhere in my Moleskine. Maybe I’ll put it together for another post. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do…

For the record, Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to and I would go again in a heartbeat.

No need to be afraid. No need at all.

Entering Zimbabwe

Road to Zimbabwe

Moleskine entry: August 7th, 2009

We’re headed there now.

The name itself resonates in a certain way.
Say it, out loud…  Now.


What does it do to you?

I’m ashamed to say it but at the time of writing, the very word strikes fear into my heart. The recent history of the country has been tumultuous at best and at worst, close to civil war.

“That’ll never happen.” says Ralph, owner and chief guide of Ichingo lodge, our place of rest the night before. “The Zimbabwe people are peaceful and intelligent. That’s one of the reasons this whole thing has happened; they’ve been taken for fools and their reluctance for confrontation has meant this [situation] can carry on.

If you would have told me ten years ago that this was going to happen, I would not have believed you. Mugabe is smart. He’s a cunning politician-cum-dictator who has played the system and now isn’t going anywhere…”

Having just turned 86, one has to think that Mugabe’s reign can’t go on much longer.

“The trouble is… the smart ones. They leave, they don’t want to be here. The money they send back is the only thing that’s keeping the country going right now. But with no smart ones, there’s no real chance of opposition.

The only good thing is, Mugabe has no pretender; no protégé to carry on when he’s gone. I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens when he goes.”

Ralph explains that the average time in power for Africa is something like 18yrs; “When they get there, they stay there” he says.

As we head into Zimbabwe the following morning for four nights at Victoria Falls, staying anywhere is the last thing on our minds.

Africa: 789

Moleskine entry: August 7th, 2009

Thank the lord for the wonder that is the iTrip. The journey from Botswana to Zimbabwe just got a million times better thanks to the addition of some Kings of Leon.

Stan, our driver, is cool.

My passport is filling up, the amount of times we’ve crossed the border it just crazy.

SA, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia (strangely quite comforting to be back there), and back to Botswana again.

Now we’re en route to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Bring. It. On.

Air, land and sea

Moleskine entry: August 6th, 2009

Plane: England -> South Africa
Plane: South Africa -> Zambia
Bus: Zambia -> Chobe River
Boat: Chobe River -> Botswana (for 45mins)
4×4: Botswana -> Chobe River
Boat: Chobe River -> Namibia

When we were told this challenge was to ride the Zambezi, all of the information we had been given (before our itineraries arrived), implied that we were to be staying in Zambia.

As it turned out, we were actually to spend the majority of our time in Zimbabwe. Not before however, we returned to Namibia for one night of relaxation at the Ichingo Chobe River Lodge, situated right on the banks of the Chobe River itself.

Tonight’s treat? Speedboat Safari.
I’ll hopefully get some good photos… I can’t believe how much I’m really enjoying this camera.

Ten days back in time

Moleskine entry: August 5th, 2009

Today’s date is August 5th but I need to go back a bit and write up some things that have happened since July 24th. Friday July 24th to be precise. I woke up at the Upper Hideout, some 8500ft up in the Big Horn Mountains in Shell, Wyoming. I’d been without internet and mobile signal for the best part of four days and I was very much looking forward to getting back to civilisation.

I love my girlfriend very much and, aside from Sam making sure that she was cc’d into an email that he’d radio’d back to base, she hadn’t heard from me and of course, as anyone might be, I thought there might be a certain amount of worry. I had work to do; photos to upload, videos to edit, posts to submit but the emphasis, the excitement was all about speaking to my love.

So, at 10am that morning we saddled up for the last time and headed down the mountain. Taking in valleys, hills, canyons and viewpoints like such we had yet to see.

But the ride down is not why we’re here. It was the arrival back down below that is of interest. I dropped my steed at the barn and raced back to my room to jump online and get to work. I’m not entirely sure what order things happened but, upon opening my MacBook it became very clear that something had definitely happened.

But my plane is coming into land, damn. I’ll have to return to this another time.
Short entry I know, but I need to get a move on.

Back to Africa

Moleskine entry: August 5th, 2009

Lucozade Energy Challenge number three begins. It’s about 9pm at the time of writing, the plane is taxiing to the runway and we’re very nearly on our way.

The task this time round is white water rafting on the Zambezi river. First stop: Cape Town, South Africa. From there, onwards to Livingstone, in Zambia. After that? God knows.

Wherever we end up, I can not wait.

The challenge is different in oh so may ways from those that have gone before. First of all, this is the first challenge that we’ve had any official Lucozade presence with us. Sam and I both report into our respective agencies who, in turn, report into Lucozade/GSK. Their main contact there? A guy named Nick.

I first met Nick during the final stage of my interview process for the gig that I’m writing to you from now. An Aussie and all round nice chap, he’s a welcome addition to the team.

Speaking of ‘the team’ I’ve already mentioned Sam and I are back on the case, this time however we’ve been joined by four freshl graduates from Scotland. Kenny, James, Wullie and Stuart. All good lads and all, it would seem, on the trip of a lifetime. Our first video is already in the can and I think after a small amount of coaxing, they’ll be talking and playing up to the camera in no time at all. After all, the more personality and energy these guys have, the easier my job gets.


We’re flying over Brighton now, crossing the English Channel. At last my mind has found peace. I mentioned that this trip was different; we’ve had a longer gap between this and the the last. Ten days in fact.

Quite possibly the longest ten days of my professional life.


Interesting times

Moleskine entry: July 27th, 2009

262 new emails in my personal inbox.
178 in my work inbox.

Something has happened. A look, a search and lo, some rather vexed ex-employees have attempted to ‘blow the lid’ off the operations at SVHQ.

On retrospect, I’ll maybe look back and wonder why the company’s founder and masthead kept quiet throughout. For one normally so passionate, up front and inspirational – all was quiet.

Rather naively it would seem, I took it upon myself to get the fire out, fast.