We done it

28 knot winds against us, 8 knot currents, sea sick three times, big fish bumping me half way , playing chicken with ocean liner in the shipping lane, would I get the ferry next time?

Yes.

Advertisements

Uh oh…

Severe weather causes ferry cancellations – Transport – The News.

Uh oh…. three foot waves …. ferries cancelled… safety grounds….

Fingers crossed – Thursday we’ll be setting off from Gaffirs Lifeboat station at 11.30 AM… Or if its still too blowy Friday at 12.30 PM. Might be a LONG swim…

And only £40 to hit my target for Families Against Neuroblastoma:  http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Get in!

ferries are for wimps!

Just ONE week away!!!!!! – at 11.30AM next Thursday morning, I’ll be bobbing up and down on the Solent waves like a vegan’s turd.

Trying, as I look down into the cold, dark depths beneath me, not to think about the marine conservationists who have rarely been out of the papers this summer, banging on about the wonderful species of shark and jellyfish who have immigrated to our unusually warm shores.

Instead, my motivation, like the road-crossing chicken in all the jokes, will be to get to the other side. My other motivation, and here you can help me, will be to help children fighting a cancer that claims more little lives than any other in this country: neuroblastoma.

Today is the first day of September, and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. So help me help Families Against Neuroblastoma help children battling the disease all over the country. Click on this & pass it on too: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN , and let’s hope September sees some rays of sunshine for those fighting childhood cancers.

Thanks very much everyone who’s supported me, sponsored us, and offered helpful advice on how not to swim like a dick.

Especially my sidekick Sharkboy (my son Rocky, 9) who’s accompanied me on many swims.

If the swim goes well, yes, you can do it in a few years’ time, Rocky. In the meantime, like all the normal people, who I’m secretly quite jealous of, you can get the car ferry.

Ashley the Jedi Knight

Two weeks today as normal people get the ferry to Bestival, the summer’s last big festival, on the Isle of Wight, I’ll be dipping my toes into the Solent, wondering why I ever thought it was a good idea to swim there. 

September 8 will also be an important date for Ashley Hyde’s family.

Ashley, 7, was a happy young boy whose love of Star Wars and big smile made him a great character to cover when we ran his story in Chat magazine when I worked there.

On June 9, 2008 Ashley was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Ashley battled through months of treatment, endless rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a complex operation and endless procedures.

Throughout Ashley’s gruelling battle with cancer, the Hyde family kept his spirits up, doing lots of fun things with him like training as a Jedi Knight.

‘May the Force be with you,’ Ashley’s parents would reassure their little Jedi Knight. And it seemed it was. In July 2009, Ashley was in remission. 

Ashley described himself as a young Padawan Jedi in training for battle. But sadly the battle was just too big for such a little warrior.

After just six months, in December 2009, Ashley relapsed. Ashley’s family and friends constantly fundraised to send him abroad for treatments not available here. But the disease was too advanced and too aggressive, and despite all the treatments they tried, on September 8, last year, Ashley finally lost his last battle.

Ashley had touched hundreds of people with his unique personality, staying in touch with many schoolfriends with Skype, whatever gruelling treatments he was having. And hundreds of people, including four Star Wars storm troopers turned out to pay their respects to him last September.

Ashley’s family continue to honour him by fundraising in his name to help other children in his situation. Neuroblastoma takes more children in the UK than any other cancer. It can be treatable, and as I write this, there’s many urgent appeals. Families Against Neuroblastoma help families like Ashley’s get urgent treatment. Often abroad and often expensive, and campaign for all the treatments to be available for everyone here too.

FAN is run by ordinary parents, like Ashley’s, who have gone to extraordinary lengths to help these kids. I’ve always been touched by their enthusiasm.

One year on,  this September 8, as Ashley’s family remember him, I’ll be thinking of him too as I set off on my fundraising ferry-dodging swim across the Solent.

Ashley, may the force be with you!

And if you’d like to help Families Against Neuroblastoma battle our most deadly childhood cancer, please take a minute to sponsor this swim: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Thanks,

Ben x

All the gear and no idea

Gimp my ride

This is the simple 16-step process of squeezing into a neoprene triathlon swimsuit:

Half an hour squeezing my lardy self into the first swimsuit and I did indeed feel like I’d done a triathlon.

The second one I tried on in the triathlon shop cut off circulation to all kinds of important parts.

And by the time I’d struggled into the figure-hugging third suit (which had already broken the £150 mark) I had to ask the shop staff to help me get out of it again. As I had lost all strength in my hands.

Still, flattering aren’t they:

After trying on half a dozen swimsuits, I was beginning to turn blue, could no longer lift my arms, and my testicles had been squeezed back inside my groin.

The patient staff at Bike and Run in East Finchley had by now watched their lunch from the chippie go cold, and looked as if squeezing me in and out of these suits had kind of killed their appetites anyway.

Swimsuit number 7 was definitely the one, they all agreed. A perfect fit. And hi-tec enough to keep my whole body not only warm – but streamlined as I’d bob across the Solent waves like a rubber duck. 

I was too exhausted to disagree. Let alone speak.

I won’t reveal how much I spent, to purchase something that makes me look rather like a gimp who’s lost their mask:

Batman Begins... in East Finchley

Batman Begins... in East Finchley

Somehow I was happy to pay all that for the staff to just let me out of the rubbery torture costume. I’d hoped it would accentuate my athletic physique somewhat. But for some reason I resembled the unironic rubber-clad people I’d glimpsed the only time I’ve ever wandered (BY MISTAKE) in – and straight back out again – of an S&M club. Funnily enough Bike and Run didn’t seem to sell many bicycles with me staggering about the shop stuck-fast in waterproof neoprene…

Now to don it for a trial swim at the lido in Hampstead Heath. My outdoor swimming pal Pat insists it’s the best place to put me through my paces.

That’s if I ever manage to squeeze myself into this ridiculous thing.

Not sure how it’s going to go down on the C11 bus to Hampstead Heath.

Love,

Sportacus x.

PS: While I’m mincing around Hampstead Heath like a fat Sportacus, help FAN help some kids with Neuroblastoma:  http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN