Said Yes More: My Year in Review 2013
(Re-posted from previous blog)
Ah, finally. For an entire week other annual reviews have been posted with scant regard to the potential of the final days of the year. It’s almost as though so much will be consumed at Christmas that physically moving, let alone creating outstanding memories, will be totally impossible.
Still, I thought it prudent to wait until the year turned, seeing as my Christmas dinner was a tasty yet flimsy beef taco on an African beach and learning to kitesurf carries a daily threat of either amusement or pain. So without further ado, I’m going to kick off 2014 with a look back at 2013.
Things started in unique fashion. I’d accepted the offer of accommodation in Newport Beach, California for Christmas and New Year, as well as the price of said shelter: looking after a loveable labradoodle named Max who was very fond of destroying entire rolls of toilet paper, and my underwear.
The next stop was Memphis, Tennessee, where I distributed the first batch of Say Yes More headwear amongst a group of people for whom I have great fondness.
We were brought together by a big river the previous year, and down that river was paddling another friend, Rod Wellington, who having kayaked the entire Missouri River was now moving slowly towards the Gulf, en route to becoming the second person and first North American to paddle the 3800 mile Mississippi Missouri waterway. We popped him back into the chilly river in Cape Giradeau, Missouri, and I caught a lift up to St Louis with Donn Ganim, who had looked after both Rod and I when we passed through on our journeys.
I’d been invited to give a short address to some students at the New City School, St Louis, an innovative hotbed of education that was also home to some of the tiniest people on the planet, if the furniture was to be believed. One of the teachers, Claire Reinbold, seemed to be at a crossroads, a desirous time where adventure is often the best medicine, I advised. A few months later she crossed the USA on a bicycle.
And then to the UK. January and February is Outdoor Show season and it was time to deliver some adventurous tales and officially launch Say Yes More as a brand in the UK. With the help of my adventurous head intern Oli Milroy, a satisfying clutch of patrons left the Adventure Travel Show in Kensington Olympia wearing a big fat YES!
I’ve never been so good at Winter in the cold sense, so a plan began hatching. I needed to write a book so I decided to go somewhere I couldn’t speak the language, I figured this would reduce the chance of distraction. On my first day in Malaga, Spain I found what I was looking for: a coffee shop with attitude.
El Ultimo Mono Coffee and Juice became my haunt. For 8 hours a day I tapped away, slowly completing my third book with the support of Victor and Sergio, Chief Monkeys Nos. 1 & 2, who sponsored me with a coffee and a muffin every day.
Not long before I left Malaga an email appeared in my inbox. ‘It’s ready,’ wrote Miguel Endara, who had been editing a short film about an expedition I’d completed in mid 2012. The resultant Swim1000 was 9 minutes of genius, a beautiful legacy to what was a pretty tough trip. If you get a chance to watch it please leave a comment and give Miguel some virtual applause.
In late April two things happened. The first was reported to me by my good friend Danny, who once drove behind me for five months when I was on a skateboard. ‘It’s Number One!’ he texted. My third book, Life in the Slow Lane, had been released on Amazon Kindle and before the day was out had climbed to Number 1 on the Adventure Chart.
A couple of days later, face still wide with smile, I began the 8th expedition of my Expedition1000 project. Everest Mountaineer Squash Falconer and I left Everton Football Club on ElliptiGO elliptical bicycles and made our way across Europe.
In Switzerland we went our separate ways after I ruptured a disc in my back carrying the ElliptiGO down some steps. A silly, innocuous incident that meant that my own expedition would be cut short. I battled on, slowly losing energy, and eventually succumbed to pain and common sense after 1970 miles. Liverpool to Nice by ElliptiGO, Journey №8.
Recovery began with the lady in my life in the glorious Swiss mountain village of Vals. During her days as an architecture student, Emily had always wanted to visit the famous Therme Vals baths, created by Peter Zumthor. Typically, the week we visited the Therme was shut for refurbishment but the view from our second-choice hotel wasn’t too shabby.
Later in the month my brother Andy would visit Zurich and complete his first Ironman Triathlon. I just love this picture, with my Mum in the background about to jump skywards. Such a proud moment.
It’s happened before. Children’s TV show wants the most bizarre of nautical contraptions to feature, and my phone rings. ‘Would you be able to come and ride an Aquaskipper for us?’ Of course, I answered in the positive and off we went to Hunstanton to film an episode of WILD with Tim Worwood, Naomi Wilkinson and Radzi Chinyanyanya.
A relatively chilled month in the UK was rounded off by a day on the Thames building a raft out of bamboo, with none other than the CEO of BAM Bamboo Clothing Dave Gordon. Although our final product wasn’t quite seaworthy, a long journey might have had its seed sown on that day.
Finally, the Life in the Slow Lane Paperback was released and, like its electronic sibling, went straight to Number 1 in the Amazon Adventure chart. In the scheme of things, as charts are largely based on recent sales, there was only so long we’d hold onto the top spot, but it was vindication of the decision to turn down offers from publishing houses and self publish again. One of the most satisfying moments of my life. YES!
With hindsight, I needed to give my back more than 7 weeks to recover but still, I gingerly partook in Game for a Future to help raise over £6000 for mosquito nets and educational facilities in East Africa. After 46 hours of non-stop football, we had a new world record!
‘I want it to be a high brow afternoon,’ my brother requested of his stag do. I duly forced him to dress up in a chimp costume and punt down the Cam. He later danced in front of a dustbin that contained a busker. Standard.
The Adventure Travel Film Festival in Dorset was a bit unlucky to have an entire day of rain, and although Ben Fogle’s opening speech was great and the general atmosphere of the event will have me returning year after year, the highlight was a storming introduction before my own lecture by the Show’s overall’d curator Austin Vince, who said, ‘If Dave had charged us what he’s worth he’d be sitting at home right now with a pot noodle.’
Off to Greece for a small family wedding in a villa with a swimming pool and a tennis court. Thank god my brother turned out to be marriage material. Beautiful day, beautiful week.
In thanks partly to a dodgy back and my brother’s wedding commitments meaning I couldn’t organise a big old expedition this Summer, a smaller project began to take shape. 50 Ways to Make £50 was all about showing that one person with an open mind can make money in a lot of different ways. Thanks to Kirsty Cavill and Donna Jordan, a few jobs started to flow, and my odd summer was summed up in mid September when I was a bootcamp instructor one day, and a zookeeper feeding bears jam sandwiches in Dartmoor Zoo the next.
Having been taking a photo of my face since the first day of January 2011, the 27th September 2013 was momentus, Day 1000, spent en route to a festival in the Peak District with my better half. The memory-creating project was complete, and although I decided to carry on the project for, well…forever, the video of the first 1000 days was a treat.
A long standing offer to go and visit our friends in Poland was finally accepted, and mainly involved a fortnight of being looked after very well, plus a bit of football with Nelly the dog.
My friend Sean Conway was swimming the length of Britain, along with the marvellous Emily Bell who had looked after me on my own swim the previous year. After 4 months of making their way up the coast they were closing in on their finish point in northern Scotland, and I decided to go and find them in the most remote spot possible. SO worth it! They finished a week later, incredible effort.
I continued my quest to find 50 Ways to Make £50 with a few more jobs, including cleaning an airport, making some bricks, tidying up a garden, being an accountant for a day, stand up paddle board instructing and possibly my favourite (and definitely most nerve-wracking) job of the month, Karate Sensei.
A week later I finally had the chance to speak at the Lost Lectures, a creative gathering for which the location is kept secret until the last minute. It was definitely a first for me, entertaining a crowd of 700 from a boxing ring!
The year has ended in wonderful, unique fashion. A good recharge was necessary and we found the perfect spot, Zanzibar. Staying at the effortlessly cool Red Monkey Lodge in Jambiani, we’ve been building up our sleep credit, polishing off old projects and starting new ones, enjoying being part of a barefoot community and all the while sharing the habitat with Red Colobus monkeys as they swing and jump above us. Sometimes, they even come into the office…
2014 has much in store. There doesn’t look like much resting time, and I’m particularly excited about some new expeditions. In April I’ll be taking on the Atacama desert in Chile by Whike…
…and then, assuming I make decent progress in my training these last weeks in Zanzibar, a couple of months in late 2014 will be spent kitesurfing at least 1000 miles along another South American coastline, in Brazil.
So, enough looking backwards, it’s now time to make another epic year count. Keep saying yes more, and if you have the time in between your own adventures you can follow mine on Facebook, Twitter, through my monthly email newsletter and on my website.
Have a brilliant 2014, start off as you mean to go on and if there’s anything I can do to help you set off on your own new adventure, just drop me a line.
Originally published at davecornthwaite.tumblr.com.