The Blog was a strange creature, it grew to have a life of it's own and in a strange way became a sort of friend.
It was set up originally just to show the trip progress and give some sort of updates of how the odd day went to those left at home. I was taken aback by the popularity - I didn't really expect many more than a few close friends and my Mum to take a look at it.
In the early days I planned to get things running early and try to write a little about the preparation beforehand, as much for my own records as anything else. Unsurprisingly things didn't pan out that way and as the start date loomed time became a more and more scarce commodity and the anticipated posts didn't really appear as I had hoped. A few days into the trip things settled down though and the Blog became part of the daily routine.
From the start I was going to say it as I saw it; there was going to be no spin or party line, no telling only part of the story - I would tell as much as I could, warts and all. I wanted to convey the full story; the highs and lows, the emotions along with the dirt and grit too. As a trip it was going to have some good times but no doubt there would be plenty of lousy, hard slog, uncomfortable, scary, wet and miserable days too - I wasn't going to pretend otherwise. It would be nice if it turned out to be the Caribbean Holiday that some expected but somehow I wasn't convinced. If I had a shit day you would know about it, if it was a good one I would tell you why. If I was scared you would hear about that too - there was no point pretending otherwise,it was all part of the game. I wasn't going to make out I was superhuman or anything, just a bloke, a canoe and a few miles to cover.
The only rule was that I would say it as I saw it, whatever, whoever, wherever.
I wasn't quite sure how this would pan out with commitments to sponsors though, but happily I took some very good kit. The only exception to the tell it all rule was for my Mum - some days I thought she perhaps didn't really need to read about the worst bits just before bed time!
I began to look forward to writing the daily post, it was a good way to reflect and put a few things to bed. It was also a way to stave off the loneliness at times; in a way it brought me closer to people at home, a sort of one way conversation I suppose.
On the down side, it did take a lot of time. I regularly found myself writing a post long after I should have been asleep. On some of the longer days I really didn't feel like writing, it was a sleep denying chore, but I was getting emails and comments from people saying how they looked forward to their daily fix - talk about pressure!
It was also surprising just where people popped up from. The Antipodean contingent lifted the view numbers on a daily basis, but so did the German Fan Club - getting their daily map update, 'Hallo' to Hubert too and of course Dan in the Windy City - never did track down the Russian contingent though, maybe for the best.
UK 31,864 views
Germany 634 (Danke, Familie Eichenmueller!)
Isle of Man 389 (Joe's spies?)
France 242 (Bonjour, Celine et Yann)
Netherlands 233 (Hallo, Hubert!)
But looking back I don't regret it; the Blog became as much a facet of the trip as the paddling, the planning or the bad weather.
It did bring me into contact with so many people too. I met people daily on the way to or from the water and I was pleased and pleasantly surprised how many continued to watch my progress (Hello Bob and Frances!) and feed me the odd (and very welcome) encouraging comment. New friends and old, the comments made me laugh at times, they just helped to keep me going at others.
It was surprising how many long lost friends stumbled across things and got in contact too: Bob P (still got that same humour but slightly worrying to see he is now responsible for moulding the minds of the future generation in NZ), Andy H (aaah, those halcyon summer days and chilly winters slammin' on the Thames weirs, Bryce's buggy tied to a tree while we trained), Andy F (another blast from the slammin' past and now another NZ resident), Neil P (yet another slammer, last time I saw him he was only knee high to a grasshopper) and so the list went pleasingly on...
But to everyone who followed and to everyone who made the effort to get in touch along the way - thanks, thanks a lot, it did make a difference.
As I look now and see that the numbers have passed the 40,000 mark I'm not really sure what to think, after all it's just Fatboy and his canoe when all is said and done.
I suppose this post would make a natural and tidy(ish) ending to everything, but it's not quite over, I've got a little more to write yet - assuming you want to keep reading.
And, pssst, want to buy a book?....