What's this all about?

A new adventure beckons, and this is once again about my personal journey to make it happen.

It might make you laugh; it might make you cry, but by 'eck lads and lasses, it will be worth a quick skeg every now and then, tha's for sure.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Now only 10 weeks; lots of photos & Oliver Shaw

It is starting to feel VERY close indeed.

Yesterday (Thursday) a sled (known as a pulk) arrived for me to use in a photo shoot with The Victoria Quarter in Leeds; "... housed in elegant Grade II listed buildings and home to 76 of the worlds leading fashion and lifestyle brands such as Louis Vuitton, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Mulberry, LK Bennett, Reiss, Liz Earle and of course Harvey Nichols, the Victoria Quarter is justifiably renowned as one of the country's finest shopping destinations"

The management team of this beautiful retail arcade heard about my #ontheflag Twitter promotion and offered to donate all the money thrown into their fountain from November 2011 to the end of March 2012. I offered to turn up looking 'a bit Polar' for a photo opportunity if they thought it would be good PR for them.

Here is an informal shot of John (the Centre Director of VicQtr) and I BEFORE he climbed into the pulk and sat down. I think they'll be using the in-pulk shot in their press release to two 40000+ circulation magazines.

My thanks also to www.snowsled.com for providing the pulk at such short notice for this & other photo opportunities, as well as for my stand at the Yorkshire Mafia 2012 Conference.

To be honest I'm not sure the pulk will impress people as it's a bit of moulded plastic with a posh sack attached for my supplies, tent, clothing and 'stuff' but it is what it is and it meant a lot to me when it arrived and in the next 2 weeks all my polar clothing should arrive too.

The visit to Victoria Quarter also took me to a shop called ShadeStation (after a recommendation from Cotswold Outdoors bless them) where I parted quickly with £166 for this pair of handy-sized polar goggles.

Darling, does my bum look big in this?

I also booked my train tickets to Haugastol in Norway (our training camp for a week) and, well, the Trek will be literally just around the corner after that. Of course there's the Yorkshire Mafia Conference between the training week and my departure; I have stand #24 at the Conference and am crossing my fingers that a company will loan this (see below) to me for the 2 days ....

Wonder if the real ones look this harmless?
To prepare for the Trek I've also re-started skiing but this time I offered to take my girls too. Now before I continue let me clear up a couple of things: -

a) Yes I've skied before insofar as my first lesson was in Chamonix in 1975, when I was 14; my second lesson was in Austria on my honeymoon in 1987, when I was 26. My third lesson was early in 2011 when I was 49 and my fourth lesson was last Tuesday night.

In 1987 I had plenty of hair
b) My girls have NEVER had ski's attached to their feet (or anywhere else for that matter) but they did flippin' brilliantly even if I do say so myself (as a proud Dad). The two clips below show what they were able to do after 20 minutes and what they could do after 45 minutes.

So we've now booked our 2nd family lesson and that one SHOULD get us up onto the big slope. Oh crap !!

That reminds me, the PR team for SnoZone went really quiet after the SnoZone Marketing team said if I could get them some exposure I could use the slope for free. Well after £120 last night I think I'll try to re-contact the PR team and say "Excuse me but I started with this teeny tiny mention but can get you more, so ....?". I mean a deal is a deal right and Beyond Magazine were kind enough to put this mini feature in which refers to SnoZone so it's a start.

Somewhat surprisingly Beyond Magazine put Daniel Craig on the front cover this issue, not me. Last time they put Johnny Depp ahead of me and now this. Insulted? Moi? You'd better believe it.


Turning to the #ontheflag Twitter promotion, there are still spaces in case you know of any company who wants to be involved. It's £50 minimum donation or goods/services in kind. I've even got the Co-operative Banking Group to give their logo as they are my client and have today put me on their intranet to see if we can get some more donations or some more tickets sold for the event at Zinc on the 28th March. Below is a copy of what's on their intranet; an excellent piece of work by Peter Matthews.

Peter emailed to say "I was a bit unsure about using the Captain Oates/gallant gentlemen image at first because I didn't want to send people the wrong message about your expedition" aka sorry if I've just cursed the event
Of course the one thing that's still missing from my training is the cold. It appeared briefly a week or so ago and my usual haunt for dragging tyres looked remarkably different.

Still it's only a small step forward even though it hit -5 on the thermometer. I should really be with Lucia who has gone back to Slovakia to see her parents and sister this week; it's currently -18 and there's 2ft of snow right now, with a forecast of -28 next week. Now that WOULD be preparation. Here's a photo she sent me today:

Alternatively I could go to Canada which is where my eldest announced she's going to live for a year, flying out the day before I fly to the Pole. Looks like April is going to be heavy on the travel for the Major family.

Mind you NONE of them are comparable to this (my sincere thanks to Sean Chapple who's photograph this is; he's a guy who CAN say "Been there, done that")

Actually, I think this is the South Pole but hey, it's still a Pole and it's still bl**dy cold.


This week also saw the launch of a bespoke 'North Pole Trek' cheesecake (courtesy of @Very_Delicious_ from Twitter); looks so yummy. Let me see if anyone wants to order in bulk!

This blog is also an entertainment channel you know so to brighten up your day (perhaps) spare a thought for the Marketing manager who was brave enough to commission this billboard. Either he/she gets a round of applause .... or he/she was fired. I have no idea 'what happened next' but it made me chuckle.

But finally, I want to finish on a sobering note.

Seth Bennett (who interviewed for an hour me on BBC Radio Leeds in Autumn 2011) invited me on to BBC Radio Sheffield over Christmas to update him, his listeners and his 7500 followers on Twitter about my preparations for the Trek. One listener was Isobel Dugher who's grandson Oliver passed away after a brave 4-year fight with leukaemia.

She contacted me via Twitter after the show to tell me she wanted to sponsor a photo of Oliver #ontheflag, as a tribute to his bravery and (according to Isobel) to mine, so this message is for Isobel.

I am honoured to be carrying a tribute to Oliver; my efforts are merely a drop in the ocean compared to that young man's bravery and heart. I will take his image to the Pole and do my best to ensure you get a photograph of the flag to remember him by.

For those who cannot fight alone, I'm going to get to the Pole.

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