Friday, 24 September 2010

Get a grip

I must, get a grip that is. There I was feeling all pathetic and wondering if could do it and then I read about Wim Hof, who featured in a C4 programme called Ice Man:

In sub zero temperatures 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Dutch Daredevil Wim Hof attempts to run a full 26-mile marathon clad only in shorts and a pair of sandals.
Hof currently holds nine world records for exposure to extreme cold, but this awe inspiring act of endurance surpasses all his previous adventures. Exposing the body to temperatures of -25C for more than four hours is an extraordinary challenge, one which experts fear is beyond the capabilities of human beings.
This film follows Wim's preparations in Amsterdam, which include taking midnight dips in freezing canals and meditating in a meat freezer.
I suppose that's my weekend viewing sorted then.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Ice holes

Having watched 71 degrees North this evening I am beginning to have serious doubts about the whole sleeping in ice holes concept. Cosy? Yes, and practical too, but the idea of putting claustrophobic thoughts out of my head has been annihilated by the contestants and judges taking part, who said things like "ice tomb", "buried alive" and "danger of collapse". What am I thinking?! I don't fear the cold, the physical challenge of covering 60K a day, staying on a sled at speed or even my team mates' snoring, but I am terrified of confined spaces. I don't even use the tube for crying out loud. Lifts are a challenge for me.

I really hope the Mark and Steve, our ice hole diggers are good with "all things spadey", which was what Diarmuid Gavin was described as (and then swiftly got voted off). And I also hope that MiloŇ° remembers to pack the spades. Maybe we could build and igloo or even copy some of the Ice Hotel's ideas? Laura and Steve seemed to like the design last time.

I could live in this forever, I don't think I could live in an ice hole for one night.

I don't suppose having cold feet at this stage is allowed...?

Monday, 20 September 2010


It's official, I am better. I have just been for a swim in the sea, and Mark (team member and fitness instructor) has approved my going to my first fitness class tomorrow.

We had a good 'team meeting' yesterday, with entertainment from Milo, Laura's dog, and tapas. Mark, Andy and Laura came over and we Skyped Rob to go through our fundraising targets and events. So far we are planning:

  • A children's activity day with power kiting and dance mat challenges (28th October at St Felix school)
  • Abseiling down Gulliver - the tallest local wind turbine
  • Pulling a fire engine through Southwold
  • Possible further kids activities, including a yoga session.
The East Anglian Arctic Challenge team who are going to raise £20,000 for EACH are:

Mark Nussey: Accommodation adviser and physical endurance expert who will be responsible for digging ice holes, setting up tents and setting our physical goals to prepare us for the trip as well as training us to pull a fire engine.

Andy Deacon: Head Chef, Children's Activity co-ordinator and Freddie Mercury impersonator. Responsible for menu plan, sushi making and providing dance mat instruction to Laura, Rob and I as well as attaching up to 40 children to power kites.
Laura "I'll have a little something in that" Neale: Dog Wrangler
Rob Bevan: Head Chef and designer. Responsible for menu plans and making us look good.

Ooops - I've just noticed that we appear to have 2 head chefs... that should make for an interesting trip.

The rest of the team:

Steve Hubble: Accommodation Supervisor and Entertainment manager, fundraising for his own local hospice. Responsible for Digging ice holes and pitching tents, with special responsibility for digging latrines.

Gaynor Leeper - Voyage Active: The Boss
MiloŇ° Gonda: The "really" Boss (sorry Gaynor)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

71 Degrees North - ITV

Ok, I'm hooked and may have to watch them all now... even if I'm not sure who half of them are. My money is currently on Michelle Mone, who is the only one who I know anything about and seems to have what it takes to deal with the trials of the show: how to get a flattering swimming costume to stay on whilst swimming in frozen fjords, not taking Shane Ritchie seriously, making sure the boys keep the tent tidy and smiling through hyperthermia.

According to ITV's controller, they are in "one of the most alien environments in the world" so how come it's where I feel so at home?

Hopefully we can capitalise on the success of the show to raise the profile of our own challenge to get more funds in for EACH. and funds are coming in again, so hopefully the site is fixed. Thank you Dom for your contribution, you appear to have gone to the Middle East to get away from Mertz, no need to get cold!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

They are all at it...

Vogue, Tatler, ITV, why has the Arctic suddenly become fashionable?!
Somehow I don't think our team will be looking quite as glamourous as this, or indeed the celebs on ITV's 71 Degrees North, who have (apparently) been struggling with their tinted moisturizer freezing. But I may only be speaking for myself, maybe the others have different plans, I know my main fashion statement will be trying to make sure that my long-johns stay up. Not having a telly I can't comment on 71 Degrees, but I'll check it out on the i-player this evening so that I can at least be informed bitchy, rather than just bitchy.

My recovery is going really well and this afternoon I walked to the sea and almost felt human. Hopefully by the middle of the week I'll be allowed to go to yoga (if you are reading this Anna - it is my aim to be able to do a standing up tree, rather than just lying in bed with my hands above my head). The first question my surgeon asked me was "Are you going back to the Arctic next year?" and when I told her that I had every intention of doing so she rubbed her hands and said "Well, I'd better get you better then, hadn't I?" Looks like she's done a pretty good job so far. The only set back so far is my own stupid fault as I put Germaline on the wound last night and I must remember to never, never put Germaline on a nasty wound, even if I am still fuzzy headed. It's gone a bit icky, but nothing too serious. Mertz is determined that I'll be swimming in the sea by the end of the week and that might do the wound more good.

My task for tomorrow is to investigate our fundraising site, I had problems trying to sponsor someone on the same site a couple of weeks ago and I've just had a friend let me know that the site crashed when she was trying to sponsor us today, so I hope it's not going to cause problems. Hopefully people will let me know if it's not letting them donate but there will, no doubt, be some who get put off at the first hurdle, which is very frustrating. All we can do for the moment is apologise and keep an eye on it. There is also a glitch with their widget, which won't let me attach it to this blog, hence the link below.

One of the team members is going to look at getting an outdoor clothing company to provide us with kit and someone who considered joining us may be able to help with military issue First Aid kits, I wonder if Channel fancy sponsoring our trip...

Saturday, 11 September 2010


Our fundraising site is up and running and already I have thanks to give! I'm really grateful to Carolyn, Anthony, 'Uncle' Andrew and Andy for getting the ball rolling, as well as Richard for supporting us from the beginning, even though he won't be able to make it with us as planned.

By donating to EACH donations will be helping to support children and their families with the challenges that having a life-threatening condition can often bring. Services may be provided in the family home, the community or the hospice.

The range of services include...

  • Day care in the family home or hospice, or both
  • Overnight breaks in the hospice
  • Support for parents, siblings, grandparents and others close to the child
  • 24 hour telephone support and advice
  • Therapies - music, physio, occupational and specialist play
  • Family information service
  • End of life care in the family home or the hospice depending on family preference
  • Annual Memory Days and ongoing support for bereaved families 

It feels great to be able to support this valuable charity.

Friday, 10 September 2010

It's official!

As you know last year I undertook a challenge which, thanks to you, led me to raise just under £5,000 for Dog's Trust funds and meant I lived up to the name 'verycoldclaire'. It was a huge adventure and pushed me to my limits, but that's what limits are for isn't it? So, with out further ado I'll explain the next challenge: further, faster, colder.

Now that I know what I'm doing in April 2011 I will be setting off with a hand picked team of like-minded fools to Northern Scandinavia where we will travel further north to start our journey. Each day we'll cover twice the distances, which will mean we need more dogs in each team and as we are further from civilisation there will be no strategically positioned cabins to use overnight. We'll be sleeping in tents or digging ice holes for the human and canine members of the team to shelter in. Our aim is to make it to the northernmost shelter of Per Nils, the Sami Herdsman who I had the pleasure of meeting on my last trip and who featured in this blog.

Whilst this may seem hard enough in itself, our real challenge is to raise £20,000 for EACH, the East Anglian Children's Hospices and to cover the costs in the Arctic (we will be paying all our own personal expenses). EACH supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. They provide care and support in families’ own homes, in hospital or at one of their hospices in Ipswich, Milton and Quidenham. They are a registered charity (no. 1069284) and this year need to raise £4 million in donations to deliver their services. This amounts to £11,000 a day, every day of the year.

As a group we hope you will support us by sponsoring us here: Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit company, so all the money will go direct to EACH. (You can also search for my name.) Please put a note so that I know who is donating - I'd like to thank you individually!

I'll be introducing the team here over the next couple of weeks and asking for input on how we can raise our target, as well as charting my progress on the fitness levels. As I have just had surgery, which has had me laid up for a few days, I'll be starting off gently, but the aim is to be as fit as my team mates by Christmas; so that we can pull a fire engine through the local high street... eek.