Day M77: It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Kiribati

13.12.11: The first and most important thing you should know about Kiribati is that the people of Kiribati, the I-Kiribati, pronounce ‘ti’ as ‘s’. Therefore, the correct pronunciation of ‘Kiribati’ is ‘Kiribas’. The correct pronunciation of Betio, the port area of Kiribati’s capital atoll Tarawa, is Beso. And ‘Christmas’ is spelt ‘Kiritimati’. And ‘I-Kiribati’ is pronounced ‘E-Kiribas’. DEAL WITH IT PEOPLE!! Incidentally, Laos is pronounced ‘Lao’, not ‘louse’, Suriname is pronounced ‘Surinam’ and St. Kitts and Nevis is pronounced ‘St. Kitts and Neevis’. Get it right my dear reader: lives may depend on this knowledge, although perhaps not. And while I’m at it: America, listen up you Shatner-Stealing Mexico-Touchers: Van Gogh is pronounced ‘Van Hoghckkk’ like you’re hacking up a docker’s omelette... NOT ‘VAN GO’. EVER. DUTCH GUY, NOT FRENCH. DUTCH. DIFFERENT COUNTRY, DIFFERENT LANGUAGE (it’s also ‘Mo-wett and Chandon’). And another thing: ‘niche’ is pronounced…

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Day M78: Kiss My Rusty Kiribati

14.12.11: My second day on Kiribati’s main atoll of Tawara started slowly. After having to wait an hour or so for the barge to be ready to go ashore, I (literally) jumped aboard the tug boat and set off for another day of action and adventure. The war relics here are quite fascinating in a morbid sort of way. When this Japanese command HQ was taken by the Yanks, they found over 300 Japanese soldiers inside, all dead. I would, at this juncture, like to point out that reinforced concrete is pretty good for building cheap lousy ugly bunkers, but not good for building anything that you don’t want to look like a cheap lousy ugly bunker. Modern architects would do well to bear this fact in mind. There’s tanks and guns and possibly unexploded ordinance still knocking around the place. In a way, you’d think…

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Day M80: A Hitch In Time

16.12.11: Christopher Hitchens died yesterday. Bugger. Unlike the deaths of John Peel or Douglas Adams, it didn’t come as a shock: it was no secret that Hitchens had cancer and that it was terminal, but it’s a kick in the bollocks all the same. Militant atheists like myself have lost our most persuasive, eloquent and impassioned voice. Richard Dawkins is a great author and a great explainer of science (The Ancestor’s Tale is one of the best books I’ve ever read), but I can see how he rubs people up the wrong way. He often loses his patience with his opponents and gets frustrated far too easily in debates. Dawkins is a clever man, I sure he’s aware of these shortcomings, so it’s no wonder that he said he regarded Hitchens as a (sort of) mentor. With a glass of whiskey in one hand and cigarette…

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VIDEO: The Gringo (2002)

In this eight part series, I take THE GRINGO TRAIL through South America. Starting in BUENOS AIRES, I have a quick look around URUGUAY and CHILE before heading up to BRAZIL just in time to miss the 2002 World Cup Final. But I didn't miss the party afterwards!! Then I head over to Bolivia, the most BRILLIANT country in the WORLD (and I should know, I've been to a few!). From the salt plains of UYUNI to the rivers of the AMAZON RAINFOREST via the Health and Safety-baiting Silver Mines of POTOSI and the CAMINO DE LA MUERTE (the Road of Death), Bolivia is just a powerhouse of nutty hilarity from beginning to end. After hitting the INCA TRAIL to MACHU PICCHU, I head up through PERU and ECUADOR and end my journey in Bogota, COLUMBIA, one of the most dangerous capital cities in the world.…

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VIDEO: Graham and Mandy Down Under (2002)

Back in the heady halcyon days of 2002, I travelled to Australia to meet up with Mandy, an Aussie girl I had met 3 years earlier while backpacking around Egypt. We teamed up and took a beaten-up 1982 Holden panel van called MONTY on an epic drive across the red heart of AUSTRALIA. From MELBOURNE we drove along the GREAT OCEAN ROAD, popped into ADELAIDE to feed the koalas, visited LAKE EYRE and COOBER PEDY on the way up to ULURU (AYRE'S ROCK), THE OLGAS and KING'S CANYON. After a little, erm, car trouble we found ourselves in ALICE SPRINGS, went UFO hunting at the DEVIL'S MARBLES and swimming in the crystal clear waters of KATHERINE. Up to DARWIN to search for the mangroves and then across to KAKADU NATIONAL PARK in search of crocodiles and cave paintings. After a near-fatal collision on the way to…

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VIDEO: Graham and Mandy’s Greek Odyssey (2004)

In the spring of 2004, when The Odyssey Expedition was still a pipe-dream, my girlfriend Mandy and I took a trip to the mainland of Greece. We visited the Oracle at Delphi, the monasteries of Meteora, the walled city of Ioannina, the slate villages of Zagoria, the Perama Caves, the forts of Corfu and the Acropolis and old Olympic stadium in Athens. These two videos are not really 'travel' vids as I usually make them, they're more like personal photo albums (ones that move!), but I hope in these two short videos we managed to capture a taste of mainland Greece that is all too often ignored for the beaches of the islands.

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VIDEO: Last Exit To Serbia! (2007)

In the summer of 2007, myself and Stanley "Stan" Stanrydt, two grown men with the mentality of 13 year olds, set out on an epic journey across the heart of Europe in search of music, beer, broads and a decent sausage. In a Mazda sportscar we christened 'Traci Lords' (she was underage but could still squeeze us both in), we shot through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Croatia in order to arrive in Novi Sad, Serbia, for the rather epic Exit Music Festival, held in an ancient fort on the Danube river. There we watched the likes of the Beastie Boys and many other bands that I vaguely don't remember. After four days of drunken debauchery, we sobered up and decided to take the long way round back to the UK. So we went to Sarajevo and Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dubrovnik…

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Day M81: BOOM! The Marshalls!

17.12.11: When standing for election in for Manchester University Student’s Union back in the late 90s, you were not allowed to have your name appear in the student newspaper in the run-up to polling day, even if you had written an article, supplied a photo or even edited the damn thing: you’d have to use an alias. It may have been perfectly acceptable to send an email to every Muslim student on campus implying that your opponents were both gay and Jewish, (two things I’m told will not speed up your visa application for Saudi Arabia) but having your name credit in the student paper was a big no-no. To get around this silly no-name rule, Mr. Julian Marshall (now chief newshound at the NME) added the question “Pacific Island Nation (3,8,7)” while compiling the weekly crossword so that he could get his surname into the…

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Day M82: There And Back Again

18.12.11: The hard part done, the crew of The Southern Pearl could now afford to let their hair down for the five day sail back down the Pacific Ocean to Fiji. It was time to fire up the barbecue! With pork, steak, lamb, chicken, fish and sausages on offer, it was not a time for going hungry. Unless you're a vegan or something.            

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Day M83: How To Write A Blockbuster – Part I

19.12.11: I’ve been spending my days and nights (mostly nights) on board the good ship Southern Pearl practicing the ancient art of writing. I’ve been writing my blog (of course) which will one day become my book (it’s now pushing 750,000 words, so it’ll have to be edited down somewhat – James Joyce’s Ulysses is only 250,000 words). I’ve been writing Programme Bibles for TV shows you may never see and writing film scripts the names of which you may never see in backlit marquees. I don’t mind, I just enjoy writing. And then inflicting said writing on my family and friends. Writing, especially fiction writing, appeals to my love of two things: puzzles and logistics. Since I was a kid I’ve loved puzzles. It’ll come as no great shock to anyone that my favourite video games when I was growing up were the point n’…

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