Days 368-371: The Whirling Dervishes

03.01.10-06.01.10: So Mand and I had a few days kicking around Hurghada. Our hotel had been pre-booked up until the Tuesday night, so we thought we might as well make the most of it. We didn't do much (there ain't much to do!) but we managed to keep ourselves occupied. God it's nice to be back in the arms of the one I love. I don't want to get too mushy about all this, but I seriously appreciate just how bloody marvellous Mandy has been all year putting up with all of this. It's one thing disappearing off into the wild blue yonder for twelve months, but when you leave behind the one you love, it really makes the whole thing that much more of an ordeal – for both of us. When I was locked up in Cape Verde and the Congo, it wasn't what…

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Day 367: Brookes Was Here

02.01.10: To say that our hotel in Hurghada was a bit lousy would probably do insult to lousy hotels. My general dislike for large-scale tourist hotels was not helped by the unhelpful staff, the twin room we were lumbered with or the remarkably bad breakfasts they doled out, much in the manner of an African prison... and I should know! But we made the most of it, fighting our way through the throng of German and Russian holiday makers and out into the bright light of Hurghada. I was in Hurghada about ten years ago, and I found it a dusty, unfinished mess of litter and concrete and I'm sorry to say nothing has changed. One of the first Red Sea holiday destinations, insensitive planning and an unbridled frenzy of concrete tat means that of all Egypts cities, it is possibly the most unattractive. Plus it's…

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Day 366: That Was The Decade That Was… A Bit Crap, Actually

01.01.10: Welcome, friends, to our newest, shiniest decade in years. And, might I say, good riddance to the old one, the rotten turnip that it was. The decade in which being clever was a bigger faux pas than turning up at a Jewish wedding decked out in full Nazi regalia. The decade in which people BRAGGED, yes, BRAGGED about how stupid they were – and, what's even worse, made a skip load of money doing it. The decade in which it was deemed sensible to believe in anything as long as one other nutter on the internet agreed with you. At the first point in human history when all the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the ages are available to everyone, everywhere at the touch of a button – a great leap forward in a world where knowledge is supposed to be power – we find…

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THE ODYSSEY: Review of 2009

I guess now is a good time to look back over what was the year that was, the highs and lows of life on the road. If you can't be bothered reading my blogs for the whole year (and who could blame you?) here's 2009: An Earth Odyssey in a nutshell... January 2009 Ah, January – the whizzbangshebang through South America... for the first two weeks I was on target and on schedule. But then The Caribbean reared it's ugly head and well and truly stuffed me up for the next couple of months. Countries Visited: 19 Running Total: 19 February 2009 February was a difficult month – just getting from St Vincent to Mexico required all my skill and dexterity, of which I have neither, which is probably why it took me a month, not the week I expected it to. Countries Visited: 10 Running…

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Day 365: We’re Here

31.12.09: Egypt. Ground Zero. My first backpacking adventure was in Egypt ten years ago, an adventure which introduced me to the joys of backpacking, the love of deserts and the open road and a certain Miss Amanda Newland. This is my favourite country on Earth (after Great Britain, of course rah rah rah) and it's where I was happy to sit and watch the millennium tick over from 1999 to 2000 with Mary and Paul at the Jean Michel Jarre gig at the pyramids. Yeah, Jean Michel Jarre. The penguin guy. A more perfect spot to be reunited with my erstwhile lover I could not imagine. The KFC by the Sphinx for sunset. Nice. But logistics, ah, logistics... the MV Turquoise did, to be fair, arrive in Suez before sunset. But then I had to wait – we were not coming into port, the Suez officials…

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Day 364: This Is A Drill

30.12.09: Yesterday's little incident was soon forgotten and we were now making our way pell-mell towards the Suez canal – possibly the most famous canal in the world. You know the Statue of Liberty? It was originally intended to stand at the Mediterranean entrance to the Suez canal – TRUE! I mooched around the ship, making mischief and chatting with the Cook, the Chief and the Boson. I was summoned up to see the captain at one point, and I thought oo-eck, am I in trouble for yesterday's little misunderstanding? But all was groovy – he just wanted to let me know there would be an emergency drill later today and what to do when the alarm sounds. The drill was really cool – my job was to head up to the bridge (and not take the lift). Oh yes – I may have failed to…

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