Not so Fatboyswim

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Thanks very much everyone who’s sponsored me at

http://www.bmycharity.com/Swim2Bestival4FAN

and helped spread the word about the amazing work Families Against Neuroblastoma do.

And thanks very much to the great people at Swim2Bestival who helped 10 strong swimmers (and me) and their very hard-paddling support canoeists get across the Solent battling a Force 6 gale.  http://swim2bestival.com/

Especially my canoeist Stu who managed to battle the waves without capsizing once, while humouring my deranged dehydrated ramblings…

However uncomfortable the plastic seats… However rocky the boat, I’ll never complain about a ferry crossing again!

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The tricky cold bollock stage

Well… was hoping the weather would be better, but I’m told yesterday’s 3ft waves are subsiding. 

Fellow swimmer Andrew Hudson’s just sent me this photo of what the Solent looks like now:

uh oh

Apparently there’s a swell left from yesterday’s big waves and it’s still choppy in the middle. (Don’t think swell means good.) The canoeists accompanying us tomorrow are discussing conditions right now, as they can’t go out if they’ll keep capsizing. So fingers crossed! The 12 Bestival swimmers should be setting off from GAFIRS lifeboat station, Stokes Bay, Gosport at 11.30AM tomorrow, or if it’s still too choppy, Friday at 12.30PM.

(UPDATE: SWIM’S ON FOR TOMORROW!!!!)

So I should be in my wetsuit about 11AM tomorrow , having handed my canoeist a carrier bag with my asthma spray, a high energy drink or two and a packet of shark repellent. (£8.85 from Amazon. So it must work.)

(You thought I was joking, Andrew!)

Then I’ll be running into the waves, complaining about how cold the water is for a bit, until I get past the tricky cold bollock stage. At which point it’ll be OK as I’ll still be able to stand up for a bit, then, a few steps later, it’s time to swim! Four miles. To Ryde Westsands.

As well as the kayaks, there’ll be a mother ship (called Alice, apparently) driven by Alan who will be communicating with the coastguard, Southampton VHS and the Queens Harbour master, Portsmouth. They in turn inform all the other mariners including ferry and shipping companies as we swim through the busy shipping lane that serves Portsmouth and Southampton docks. And I get a tap on the shoulder with a canoe stick if any shipping’s coming through.

I’ve been told we can’t get insurance for the sea bit, but we are insured for the shore bit. Which will be reassuring as I cross the road to the treacherously pebbly beach. 

So hopefully the gusty South Westerly winds blowing waves against us as we swim to the Isle of Wight will chillax a little bit.

And here’s what you can do:

At 11.30AM tomorrow, please, please, please, please, if you’re anywhere BUT the Isle of Wight, please turn South to face the Isle of Wight, take a deep breath. And then blow as hard as you can. 

(If you live on the Isle of Wight, you suck. Yes you do.) 

I’m no Michael Fish, but there must be a small chance that will dampen the wind down, and if not, at least I might get off slightly at the thought of everybody blowing me.

What else you can do: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN 
– Please help me help Families Against Neuroblastoma help children all over the country battling our deadliest childhood cancer. It needn’t be. Every little bit really counts, and it just takes a minute to click on the link above and help. So please pass the link on!

I’ll be thinking of Ashley Hyde’s family tomorrow (see my previous post below) who have tirelessly fundraised for FAN. Brave Star Wars fan Ashley sadly lost his final battle against Neuroblastoma, aged 7, one year ago, on September 8, 2010.  May the force be with you, Ashley!

Will keep you posted,

Slightlylessfatboyswim x

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.

NB awareness week

Quick reminder of why I’ve committed myself to this marine madness:- http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

(-Yes, apart from clearly having some sort of mid-life crisis involving leaving a proper job to squeeze into rubber suits and go to the seaside.)

This week is International Neuroblastoma Awareness Week, organised by the most single-minded mum I’ve ever come across.

Linza, 35, set up Families Against Neuroblastoma after enduring the most painful loss.
Linza described her son Max as a very handsome, cheeky, loving little boy. At just 5 months old, Linza’s son Max was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. No one in the UK could help, so his family launched an appeal to raise the sums needed to take him to America. Max held on. But by the time they’d raised the funds necessary, Max was declared unfit to fly, and just hours later, as if he knew, he quietly slipped away in his family’s arms.

It is Linza’s reaction to her loss that’s so amazing. Setting up FAN (Families Against Neuroblastoma), she vowed to do her utmost every day to fight to give children like Max a chance to survive, and many have been saved.

Linza has got all kinds of charities all over the world involved to set up INTERNATIONAL NEUROBLASTOMA AWARENESS WEEK this week (find out more & ‘like’ : www.facebook.com/NBawarenessweek )

Linza and familes all over the world fighting to get treatment for children like Max are doing all kinds of interesting stuff this week.

Including this Kindness Voucher, based on an idea by an American boy Braeden Burgess who sadly lost a two-year fight with Neuroblastoma. So print it out, perform an act of kindness and help raise awareness of the charities that step in and help familes let down by postcode lotteries in health provision. There’s some urgent appeals on. In this country alone, about 100 children a year will need help to fight the UK’s most deadly childhood cancer.

For all these children, it’s a race against time.

And if spontaneous acts of kindness aren’t your thing, please sponsor me, then you can help these children fight Neuroblastoma, while having a laugh at my athletic incompetence: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN

Thanks,

Ben x

Swimwear photos – as promised.

Woody concerned about his father

Sigh. So here are some swimwear photos as promised. And that’s the Isle of Wight in the background. Behind all the shipping.

Practising in the Solent was rather different than braving the gently-lapping crystal-clear waters of Ibiza last month, – where the only thing to worry about were ageing nudists on the beach – who seemed to be bending right over every time I came up for breath.

(What is it with naturists? They seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time bending right over, as if they’ve lost something very small in the sand that takes absolute ages to find. That’s not natural. That’s what my nine-year-old Rocky would refer to as pulling a moonie.)

I'll show you how it's done Dad

Anyway at least Rocky has finally stopped insisting on joining us on the 4 mile swim across to Bestival on the Isle of Wight, after swimming his heart out – and going backwards in the fast currents of the murky Solent.

He will be joining us by ferry on the day, as I feel it only right my boys see what may be their father’s final resting place.

We’ll be setting out just after midday on September 8 from GAFIR’S Lifeboat station, Portsmouth for this year’s event, hoping the tide will carry us to the left, then back in to land at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, rather than Zakynthos.

http://swim2bestival.blogspot.com/

The lifeboat guy looked less than impressed at my swiming prowess on this visit to the Solent. As we chatted, he looked me up and down, asking, ‘so are you a STRONG swimmer?’ ‘You’ve down this sort of thing BEFORE, right?’ Then as we parted his eyes went misty and he nodded ‘GOOD LUCK, MATE,’ in the sombre tone monkey keepers must’ve sent the first chimps into outer space with.

I was out of breath just struggling to squeeze into my wetsuit. My pal Andrew,- who’ll be doing the swim too, tried his best to hide his exasperation.

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Well I did promise swimsuit pix.

Eight weeks to go! There’s still time to sponsor me and help Families Against Neuroblastoma: http://www.bmycharity.com/swim2bestival4FAN – splash the cash and I’ll post even more swimsuit photos!

And there’s still time to book tickets for Bestival and smugly appreciate the convenience of boat travel: www.bestival.net/

I’m off now for a serious sporting endeavour. School sports day and the dads’ race. Some of the dads were limbering up this morning and were bringing starting blocks and everything.

Wish me luck!

Ben x

Why I’m fundraising for FAN – urgent appeal: Alex Noble

Urgent appeal on behalf of Families Against Neuroblastoma: Alex Noble

Alex is a beautiful, happy, cheeky, 2 year old boy who loves Buzz Lightyear, the Gruffalo, Lego, playing in his garden and having fun with his little brother.

News image oneHowever, he was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in June 2010, aged 20 months. After various treatments, he relapsed recently.

Alex now faces further surgery and chemotherapy to try and battle this awful disease, but unfortunately Britain lags behind other countries in introducing the latest medicines and procedures. This means that to have the best chance of survival, his desperate family needs to look abroad for help and this comes at huge financial cost.

Alex is a precious son, big brother, grandson, cousin and nephew, and his bravery and strength have been an inspiration to them. He’s never stopped smiling even when enduring the most gruelling of treatment and touches the hearts of everyone he meets.

Please help give Alex the best chance he can have by helping FAN raise £150,000 for a therapy called RIST in Germany that is showing amazing results on other UK children in Alex’s situation.

Thank you:

http://www.familiesagainstneuroblastoma.org/FamiliesAgainstNeuroblastoma_alex_noble.html

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

And this is what FAN do – Madison’s story

Why I think FAN are a brilliant charity:
 

Madison

Madison goes to school

Brave Madison Allan, 6,  is back at school after responding well to treatment in Germany.

Her family said the return to lessons was a ‘great sign’ and said that she would now undergo therapy at the new Manchester Children’s Hospital until returning to Germany.

After a relapse, medics in this country had said her cancer was terminal, but Madison has been undergoing hi-tech treatment in the city of Greifswald on the Baltic Coast, currently not available in the UK.

The treatment involves a drug course similar to chemotherapy designed to shrink the tumour wrapped around Madison’s internal organs.

This could be followed by an operation and course of anti-bodies to hopefully clear the cancer altogether.

It is thought that a full range of treatments on the tumour, which Madison has had since the age of 10 months, could cost around £250,000.

At last count the appeal had raised £65,000 but mum Samantha said: “There is money coming in all the time.”

Their are plenty of hurdles ahead for Madison Allan. To find out more about Madison:

http://www.familiesagainstneuroblastoma.org/Latest_News_madison_school.html

Wishing Madison and her family all the best,

Ben.

Swim, fatboy, swim!

Welcome to my one and only attempt at blogging. And it’s about my one. And ONLY. Attempt to swim 4 miles across ferry-infested waters to get to the Isle of Wight and Bestival.

I’ve raised the grand total of £50 so far, and I should be spending more than that on goose-fat to smother myself with when I swim over this September, so I’m hoping this blog will help me raise some much-needed funds and awareness for an amazing charity that helps save children from Britain’s most dangerous cancer for kids – Neuroblastoma.

Take a minute to look at the urgent appeals they have on right now: http://www.familiesagainstneuroblastoma.org/

And here’s where you can donate & wish me luck: http://www.bmycharity.com/Swim2Bestival4FAN

And here’s where you can find out more about Bestival & the swim & buy tickets if you fancy joining me for a weekend of great acts & a fishy smelling Ben Gelblum: http://www.bestival.net/

This isn’t what a blog’s meant to look like, is it? Anyway, I shall be updating you on the event, on my rigorous training regime. (So far, I managed 7 lengths of my hotel pool in Ibiza before being sick in my mouth. Which I had to swallow as I was still in the pool.) And imparting any wisdom I come across on my journey. (Though it will be mainly the W7 to Park Road lido , not a trek to Dharmsala.)

So please comment below with any encouragement or advice – advice on swimming / doing the whole exercise thing / advice on what a blog is meant to look like / much-needed career advice / advice on where on earth to buy goose-fat? Do I really need it? Will it make me swim faster? Or just taste nicer for sharks?

Um, cheers, then.

Ben x

Dive in & comment: http://wp.me/p1Dy4r-1