There’s nothing quite like finally commencing something you’ve been planning for a while. This 50 challenges idea has been bubbling around in my mind for months, although it only really came together in the last day or two before we launched, as these things often do!
It seemed appropriate that I would be the first to set myself a challenge, and make a donation to kick the fundraising off. And, as I was about to join the team from River Thames-bound Onion Music for five days, I challenged myself to learn to drive the boat (Onion), and to figure out the technology required to broadcast my weekly radio show from on top of the boat.
What’s more, I wanted to see if I could take a stream from the musician’s mixing desk into my laptop so that I could broadcast his live performance as part of my show. To some people, this would be a piece of cake, but not to me.
And, you know what? It worked! I did it! Ok, so I had an initial hiccup because the software froze but, with a quick reboot, that was resolved and I was away. I broadcast my usual three hour show but with an hour’s worth of live music and interviews from Archie XN Trick within my playlist. Great!
Now that I’ve done it once, I’m sure there will be more.
Barge life – like park life, but better
As for my first foray into boating, this was a steep learning curve. Onion is a 57’ long steel barge owned by a crazy but lovable American called Bobby Renaud. She weighs 2.5 tonnes and is something of a beast! I love being near water, so this was me in my happy place and I was determined to make the most of it. We had a big distance to cover in a short space of time so days were long and locks were navigated in super quick time!
I’d be awake the minute Bobby started the engine, whether that was 5am or 8am, and I soon realised that mornings were my favourite time of day up on top of the boat. Watching the sunrise, and the river slowly wake up felt like a very special privilege.
I’m not a morning person – at all – so friends won’t believe me, but I have photographic evidence to prove I was up with the lark every day!
While my trip looked idyllic if you were following my adventures on social media, it was actually crazy. Five people living in a confined space with lots of kit tested the patience of all of us at times.
Teamwork really does make the dream work, but it’s not always easy to achieve. And, of course, nothing quite goes to plan when you’re depending on people and locks and river traffic.
It was pure luck that our Thames Tour coincided with a week of blue skies and soaring temperatures. But, with no shade up on deck, it got pretty stifling at times. On day three, I finally plucked up the courage to take a dip in the river with the rest of the guys, only to discover that I couldn’t climb back onto the boat. Urgh! Archie literally had to yank me out by the arm – how embarrassing…
Anyway, I was proud of myself for just jumping in and having a swim. Whilst I adore the water, I love to be on it or by it, but I’m not great in it when I can’t see the bottom.
I took so many photos and I’ve shared a small selection on social media, but that’s my first challenge completed and I’m on to the next one now. Here’s to raising loads of money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. #TEAMARUK
Thanks so much for your support.