The Why Not? Blog

At the tender age of 25 Dave started skateboarding. 14 months later he became the first person to skate the length of Britain. Another 8 months on he had crossed Australia on his board, breaking a world record & raising over £20,000 for three charities. Now, at 27, he's writing his first book, is a motivational speaker and a businessman, and he's only just gotten started on a lifetime of challenges which from the outside look just darn crazy. So, why? You know the answer, don't you. Why not?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Onwards to Bodallin

“Bodallin,” pondered Marie in the Merredin Internet Café, “it must be about 70km away”.

Threw me, that did. I’d planned on Bodallin being our next stop after Merredin but even with that ever-elusive tailwind finally joining my rear end 70km in a day might be asking just a bit much. Ah well, we’ll have to make do with camping just off the road tonight.

And that was how the plan for the day went. Up early and on the road before 8am (even with a 5:45 alarm it’s amazing how long it takes to get ready) we’d gone 25km before the other vans caught up. The road drove on through WA, past the site of the commencement of the famous Rabbit Proof Fence and then into a channel bordered by ten foot high bush. For 10km this channel undulated, the roads smooth and the wind finally edging behind me, I coasted along with barely a push. Heaven! At one point a basking lizard stood in the middle of the road, almost a foot long. I bent down as I rolled by, barely a metre from the little dinosaur and then, thinking the episode was over, the critter started running and collided with my back wheel. My heart stopped, a cart wheeling gecko spun off towards the sideline and to my relief he landed on his feet and just stared at me nonchalantly. Simon, riding the bike just behind, swerved a little to avoid a bad ending, and we continued on our way.

At Coballin Road House two large skinks hovered around the toilet block. Over a foot long and very plump, one of them guarded the Ladies entrance. A little local girl ran over and answered Bev’s questions.
“Does it bite?”
“Is it a bluetail?”
“I don’t know, I’m only five years old.”

At about 1pm I rolled over the 50k mark for the day. Pulled the vans over. “Guys, let’s start looking about for a place to camp, the next Road House is about 20k away so it looks like we’re stuck by the roadside tonight.”

Down the road a km or so there was a wide lay-by peppered with bushes. I looked around, Dim was filming some horses in a nearby field but the place didn’t feel right. “No shelter here, let’s move on a bit.”

And just around the corner, much to my surprise, was a sign saying Bodallin, 2km! We rolled into the station right on the 59km mark and were dismayed to find ‘No Overnight Camping’ signs everywhere. Bugger! Always a group to try it on, though, we approached the lady who worked at the station and she said it might be ok to stay, although it was really up to the council. Twenty minutes later a white car drove up, two women and a man got out, handed us $25 in donations between them and then the chap asked me, “Would you like to stay here tonight?”
“Mate, I’d love to,” I replied, not knowing who the hell he was.
“Good, it’ll be ok then, I’ll let you,” he said, tapping my shoulder.
“Are you from the council then?” I asked. He nodded,
“I have a meeting tonight, I’ll let the rest know.”

And that was that. Off he drove and left us to it. The wall alongside the station was ridden with spiders. Some of the team watched in fascination as a pair of redbacks took down an earwig. Safe to say that although were all in bed by eight a few of us had sleepless nights.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Merredin, WA

The sun is nearly gone and behind me the Pacific National train and its load rumbles by for two minutes. We’ve been kindly allowed to stay at Merredin’s campsite on the eastern edges of the town, by owners Sue and Paul. The site is immaculately clean, well laid out and is home to two delightful pets, a Kangaroo with a vest and Billy the Parrot

This morning I decided to call our first rest day. The vans were a tip and the team stuck their teeth into a big sort-out of kit and clothes while I ventured to the local internet café (Merredin Tourist and Information Centre: and spent a few hours catching up on website and emails. The manager, Marie, and friends kept me entertained with some local stories and seemed happy to let me nestle into a computer desk and get on with my work.

Slightly frustrated with such an early rest day but small blisters on the soles of my feet need some TLC and the early days of the journey have been tiring enough to justify this rest. I think the team are feeling some of my frustrations and there’s been a bit of tension now and then, but nothing out of the ordinary. Looking forward to tomorrow and eating up some more kilometres.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Walking Man

Nearly 60km today between Kellerberrin and Merredin. Holly cycled a good bit of the way and she seems ok. She’s decided to stay with the team and not go back to the UK for her gramp’s funeral. We’re all glad she’s staying and are rallying around.

I can feel the headwind slowly bending round. For most of today it was coming in at an angle against my left shoulder, if the trend continues hopefully we’ll have a tailwind soon!

A couple of k’s before Merredin we met someone a family had told us about the day before. A mythical creature, The Walking Man! Jeff Hunston is a Canadian, and he is on a mission. Pushing his Chariot in front of him Jeff is slowly inching his way across Australia, taking time off away from his family and job back home to walk across Aus whenever he can. This is Jeff’s second stint Down Under and having walked between Freemantle and Merredin, today’s wander is his last for a while. We just caught him! Jeff presented me with a small medal he had made in the Perth mint, he told me it was for people he met who showed an extraordinary kindness or were in themselves extraordinary. And then he made a $50 donation to BoardFree. Amazing to think, that somewhere in the middle of WA a walking man can meet a skating man, talk for a while and then bid each other farewell and continue in the same direction at different speeds. If people have nothing else, they have journeys to embark on.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Collecting the k’s

Plod plod plod. Almost all roads today were horribly rough. The trees continue to recede and the land continues to level out. The first 8km out of Cunderdin were flat and straight and after eagerly pushing towards what was apparently a sizeable hill for ten minutes I realised the heat haze was playing tricks with me and although it was indeed a hill, it wasn’t big enough to warrant a mention on any other day.

We had a long brunch in a small homestead called Tammin, population 450, area 1800km squared, and picnicked on green grass. After lunch the last 25 kilometres were slowed by an ever-increasing headwind – cause for concern as this wind has been growing in the last two days and we don’t plan on changing direction any time soon – but the flocks of Galahs and enormous kilometre-long trains (the India-Pacific track runs close to the road) and occasional waves from strangers in cars provided enough motivation to see us roll into Kellerberrin by 3:30pm.

Bev and Becs had found a nice little campsite with unequivocally clean toilets and a power supply, and we settled down to a relaxing afternoon with Kate massaging my calves and Becs straight onto a fine tuna pasta dinner.

At 6pm the air was full of screams and wails. I had just taken the lid off my clothes box, searching for a beanie hat to combat the chill that comes with country nights, when it began. I cocked an ear, wondering if a child had hurt herself, trying to determine where the noise was coming from. Stepping back from the van I saw Holly twenty-five metres away from our camp, rocking backwards and forwards cross-legged in the sand with one hand to her mouth. At first I thought she’d been bitten by something but then saw he had a phone to her ear. “Shit.”

Nothing comes close to the sound of death. I ran to her, Becs and Bev and Kate did the same. We held her and hugged her as she cried and spoke to her Dad. Kate fetched tissues and a custard cream, a hoodie to keep Holls warm. It was her Grandad.

For the first time the team becomes a family. Everyone emerges to let her know we’re here for her, doing what little we can to make things easier. In the middle of nowhere, none of us are alone. We’ll all fall asleep thinking of Holly tonight.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A long day, a weird and wonderful ending

It’s not easy getting out of a comfortable bed knowing there’s a long day’s skate ahead, but it’s too early in this journey to get complacent so out of bed by eight we were, and in the jeep by quarter to nine.

A short drive out of Northam back to the Great Eastern Highway back to the point where I ended yesterday. And then off again. Rough roads for a few k’s and then it smoothed out, the Road Train Assembly Point sits just a couple of kilometres out of Northam and their impact on the Highway east of the town is clear to a skateboarder who yearns for a smooth surface. The vehicle tracks became darker and more trodden and my pace quickened. It’s only Day 4 and the team is developing a pattern. Dan and Kate and a cameraman join me on the road early and the rest of the team shop and edit videos and sort photos before jumping in the vans. Today I’d skated 15km before they overtook us, two similar Toyota vans logo’d to the nines, Becs behind the wheel of Kylie and her massive bull bar, Bev driving George, so named after the kind mechanic who put us on the road back in Perth. When the rest of the team meets us someone pulls the bicycle out of Kylie and joins me on the road, today it was Dan and the difference company makes to me is invaluable. Even with a jeep close behind skating from town to town is a lonely game, I can’t thank Si enough for winning the bike in Perth!

It’s Danny’s birthday today. Becs presented him with presents and a chocolate muffin as we gathered at the side of the road. 24 today, probably one of the most bizarre birthdays Dan’ll experience, he opened up his water pistols and a cool little straw that played happy birthday when he sucked through it, and then jumped on the bike and joined me on the road for 40km. For most of the way he had his iPod in, listening to Ricky Gervais podcasts and giggling to himself. He’s a good mate, Dan is.

The stretches are getting longer and straighter; the countryside visibly changed this morning with tree-cover becoming sparser and the green fields starting to dot with red patches. The Golden Pipeline running from Mundaring to Kalgoorlie has snaked nearby since the day we left Perth and today it left the hills in the distance and joined the roadside.

I was warned about a few things by knowing locals in Perth. “Don’t end up on a Road Train bullbar” they told me, and I don’t plan on it. These trucks are enormous, sometimes reaching 45 metres in length and stopping for no one, their sheer size creates a draft that sucked me along the shoulder, it’s like being blasted in a wind tunnel for 5 seconds. Reassuring though that almost all of them raise a thumb to me, pull down on their horn or show a palm of appreciation – making friends with the largest beasts around is the first rule of survival.

“Boredom,” they also said, “it’s very boring out there.” But actually, it isn’t that tedious. Sure, the long straight roads begin to merge into each other after a while but I think it’s probably harder for drivers to keep their concentration. Despite the constant pushing things aren’t so monotonous for Elsa and I. Every little change in the road surface, every time the Golden Pipeline gets a little larger or smaller or splits into two, every time a bright green parrot flies across the road or we pass a field containing hundreds of stock-still, staring sheep. Something happens every minute, and the little things keep us going.

Even this far out, almost 150km from Perth by lunchtime, people have read about the journey or seen us on the TV. Becs, Bev and Si had driven on ahead to find some accommodation for the night, so I sat on a Road House bench with Kate, Dim, Holls and Dan and munched on a peanut butter sandwich. A couple of families came up with donations asking for autographs, I signed a young lad’s skateboard and got back on the road, comfortable in the knowledge that there was only 25km left.

Dan rode for another 15 or so and then Dim jumped on the bike. Cunderdin was the target for the day and we rolled in at 4pm, another 62km down. Becs and Bev had done an astounding job finding accommodation for the night, we’d been granted permission to spend the night in an old vehicle museum! An amazing place, we were shown around by Chum, a sprightly chap in his late sixties/ early seventies, who explained a bit of local history and invited us to sit in the Earthquake House, which shook around just like a house would in an earthquake.

Chum left us shortly afterwards, Bev and Becs made a fine dinner and here I sit, in Chum’s chair, with a museum all around with antique cars and tanks and old train carriages. Probably the most bizarre accommodation we’ll be given this journey, but what a place! We’ll sleep happy tonight. 179km down, about 5800km to go.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Northam, 100km down

Hi all. I'm tired, it's late and I need some beauty sleep before tomorrow's skate. It has been a marvellous two days, getting back on the road yesterday was amazing and the Australian public just keep outdoing themselves on the generosity front. From donations in petrol stations to kind gifts of Coca Cola and a pop-up tent to construction workers taking photos to a roadhouse manager offering us free food and gas. And that was just yesterday!

The team and I are now in Northam, 100km down the Great Eastern Highway from Perth. We're staying for free at the Avon Bridge Hotel and are recovering after being mobbed by Northam's schoolchildren this afternoon.

I have pages of notes upstairs and will turn these into full blogs in the coming days, but for now I have one thing to say: for two days I've been skating along a wide highway bordered by red dust. The roads have gone from smooth to rough to smooth again and I know that tomorrow will be the same, but with our three vehicles running up and down the road, at least one member of the team always on the road with me on the beat-up racing bicycle that Simon won in Perth and every single Road Train driver honking his horn and sticking up a healthy thumb, this journey has begun in style and it goes to show that we really are living a dream.

To date over 20 national newspapers around the world have covered the story, I've completed over 35 radio interviews since landing in Perth and absolutely everyone in Australia thinks I'm crazy, but they still show their support. Yet back home in Wales yesterday a paper printed a story that was plain derogatory. I'll give you the weblink to the story because myself and the team are pushing ourselves to the edge, this goes to show you just never can win some people over. And I can guarantee you that the people we can't win over have done absolutely nothing with their lives, if they had they'd appreciate the sheer effort that we're putting in over here. My team are not here for a holiday, everyone is working their behind's off. Check out the article here.

Will try and get back on the web tomorrow to give you guys some photos and video. Only a little blister on the top of a right-foot's toe so far. Sweepstakes being taken on how long it'll take for the big ones to surface. Onwards and eastwards, we will make it to Brisbane if we have to crawl. Cheers all, Dave

Monday, August 21, 2006

And so it begins…

BoardFree Australia started today and it ended today. But of course I’m only joking about the ending bit!

For the best part of a year and a half I’ve been talking about skateboarding across Australia. This morning I found myself standing by the north shore of the Swan river, looking across the water at a hazy image of Perth’s now familiar skyline, eating my last breakfast before stepping onto Elsa and beginning a journey that by the evening would be national news.

I remember the April morning in 2005 when I woke up in Swansea with my beloved kitten Kiwa pawing at my head asking for food, and I realised that I was just an unhappy guy living a life he didn’t enjoy. There and then I decided to make a change, I decided to go on a journey on a longboard. I’d been skating for two weeks and it felt like the most natural decision in the world, I haven’t looked back since.

Fast forward 16 months and 7 other people have put a hold on their lives to join me in Australia and help make the project a success. They’re all behind me, figuratively and literally, as they buzz around the Dinghy Division at the Royal Perth Yacht Club speaking to people, selling t-shirts, collecting donations.

40+ people turn up, buying breakfast, chatting, listening. Rachael Cox, Sailability’s head in WA, is much respected here and it’s easy to see why. She has made this event happen, she was in a wheelchair when we arrived here last Tuesday, she walks with a leg brace and no crutches when work needs to be done and she does everything with a smile and a wonderful dry wit. There are people here who are blind, without limbs, sometimes both. Yet they are active and happy and capable of great achievement, and in many respects this is down to Sailability’s work. Here, on the back of a bizarre pursuit of an unpredictable dream, myself and my team are in the presence of some remarkable people. I haven’t spent much time at the Royal Perth Yacht Club, but the time I have spent here has left me humbled. I’m not sure that 6000km is enough.

But 6000km is all I have for now, so let’s give it our all.

The RPYC Commodore, Mark Fitzhardinge, gave a kind speech to the assembled, wishing us good luck on an inspirational journey. ABC, Channel 9 and Channel 7 TV turn up to cover the launch. Groups of skaters, 11 or 12 of them, appear towards half past eleven with boards under arm, bright eyes and a handshake for me. They are kitted out in our official reflective jackets ( and pause at the bottom of the Sailability pontoon, where Access Dinghies - the main boats used by Sailability here – were rigged with bright sails. I place Elsa on the top of the ramp, speak to my in-hand videocamera, pose for photos and then say something along the lines of ‘Let’s go to Brisbane!’ And away we go, a grating of skate wheels rushing up as I reached the main drive and the assembled skaters pushed off behind me. BoardFree Australia began beneath fine skies and soft breeze, and I will never forget the dolphin that came into the club half an hour before I pushed off. It couldn’t have been written.

The other skaters, a brilliant bunch, left me a couple of k’s in, the section alongside the city centre took over an hour as photos and video were shot. And then I pushed on, Dan on the bike next to me for most of the way, then Dim, then Kate. Honks from passing cars confirmed that yesterday’s West Australian newspaper was widely read. I’m back on a board, back on a journey, this time with more support, more purpose and let’s face it, a helluva lot more skating!

The day ended at the 30km mark, at Midland. Minutes later the Jackaroo, our first support vehicle purchased yesterday, started squealing and leaking fluid. It was overheated, there was no explanation, and yet again a BoardFree journey had been touched on the first day by a mechanical breakdown. With red dollar signs in my eyes, we drove off to Perth in the second support vehicle (which had been bought and paid for earlier) without Dim and Dan, who stayed with the jeep.

George, who is selling us the third vehicle of three and servicing the other two, took the news in his stride. He inspected Kylie, our second campervan, and said it was a good buy. That means, quite simply, that it was a good buy! Then we chatted for a bit, I laid our needs on the table, he offered advice, then saved our day by driving the Toyota he is selling us (and, by the way, the Toyota that we are now going to call George) to Midland and towing back the Jeep, Dim and Dan. If anyone can fix it, George can.

Three excellent evening news reports on the TV eradicated the disappointment in the breakdown. The ABC report went all the way across Australia. Unbelievable.

Because of the breakdown, the lateness of our acquisition of vehicles and the subsequent need for more preparation time, we’ll be remaining back in Perth for Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully then, by Wednesday, we’ll be on the road for the long haul. Here’s to a new journey. We’re excited, are you?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I’d never owned a vehicle, until today…

Alarm at quarter to seven. Tomorrow I skate, there is no time for rest. With the clock ticking and a large pile of dissatisfaction lying in a bin somewhere in the form of discarded campervan adverts, our options are exhausted. Except for one. Everyone bar Kate, who has slept just as little as I have in the past two days, shoves in a brekky and then walks to the train station. On the way I pick up a copy of the West Australian, WA’s major newspaper. There I am, cheesy and grinning on page 42, lovely! Aiming for the front page by the end of all this! A problem though, apparently I set off yesterday.

We’re going to jump on a half hour train to Fremantle. Becs and Si discovered a 2nd hand Saturday morning car sale a couple of days earlier, it feels like our last option, a last chance for the vehicle world to redeem itself and help us out!!

Off the train, we wander down the road towards the market, past a closed café called Captain Munchies into sight of a car park which is populated by a handful of cars and one dodgy-looking campervan. So you can imagine the scene. It’s raining heavily, seven weary soles trudge towards a market in the last throw of the dice in their hunt for a camper, and there is one camper, which turns out to be the office for the people running the market. Simon, the discoverer of said market, receives much disrespect for dragging us half an hour south of Perth to look at some non-existent campers.

But we persevere, us BoardFree lot. A small Toyota van was tucked away in the metal rubble but it was so small we couldn’t even see it past a normal car. No chance. Then some fortune – it had to come eventually – when I asked if any more vehicles would be turning up. The lady, from Birmingham funnily enough, said there was one van, a poptop Toyota Hi-ace, and that she’d call the owner and get him to bring it down. 10 minutes later the van appeared. It seemed clean, in good condition. It had comfortable cushions, a well laid out interior, wardrobes, storage space, a sink. And a canvas annexe attached to the upper outside of the van which creates a good spaced awning for shade or sleeping purposes. My mind was working, is this van big enough to be our second vehicle? Is this our last chance to get a half decent vehicle? And then, a white Land Rover-type thing drove by and parked a few spaces up and our luck changed. I told Tim, the van’s owner, that I’d call him by two with a yes or a no or an offer. And then we walked over to the Jackaroo jeep that had driven in a few minutes earlier and I did a quick circumnavigation. The price read $3500, the owner walked over and said that the price was actually $2570. That’s not much over a thousand English pounds. It ran on gas, a much cheaper and more economical option than diesel or fuel, and it suddenly dawned on me that this Jackaroo would be perfect to drive along behind me on the road. Keeping myself to myself, I told the owner that I’d get back to him by 1pm, walked with the team to shelter from the pouring rain and revealed a cunning plan. Why don’t we buy three support vehicles, the Jackaroo, the other camper we saw this morning and the Toyota George brought round to the hostel last night? It all seemed to make sense. Two smallish campervans just weren’t big enough for 8 people AND their belongings, plus all of the skating kit. Plus the uneconomical fuel usage of a campervan cranking along at 15kmph didn’t make much sense now that we’d seen an alternative option. So, with time knocking on the BoardFree door and not much time at that, we put the wheels in motion, did some research, and acted.

I write this at half nine at night. Tomorrow morning BoardFree Australia begins in earnest from the Royal Perth Yacht Club, and what else has happened? Ummm, what else has happened? Oh yeah! I bought my first ever vehicle, the Jackaroo! George returned last night’s call and said he’d be able to fit out the van from yesterday in time for Monday night, but also said that he’d found an almost identical van that was just a bit longer, was in good condition and he would give it to us for the same price. So I said I’d have that one off him instead. And to seal the deal and kick the backside of yesterday’s frustrations fully out of everyone’s mind, I made an offer to Tim in Fremantle and bought his van for $3800.

So, for a non driver and a virgin vehicle owner when I woke up this morning, I’m now the proud owner of not one vehicle, but three! How mad is that! Please bear in mind though that money has only exchanged hands for one of them, and although Tim and I made a verbal contract and I would trust George enough to let him take Kate out for dinner, I’m not counting my chickens until I’ve handed over the cash in return or the keys.

So, it all starts tomorrow. We’ve had unbelievable media coverage thanks to Kate’s hard work, Romania, Germany’s major national papers, Turkey, South Africa, you name it apparently they’ve covered it! And something that really made me happy earlier, Transworld Sport want o cover BoardFree! I grew up with that program always wishing that I could be on the other side of the screen, and very soon I will be, incredible feeling. The team are on the ball, ready for tomorrow’s launch at Sailability and working hard. I’m about to sticker up Elsa, Eddie (the spare board) and my helmets with Dan, do one more interview with Radio 5 Live at 11pm and then get some kip.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bags, both of disappointment and tiredness

04:11: The Knight Rider theme tune blasts out of the mobile phone on my bedside table. Not expecting a call until 06:50 Kate and I woke with a start. As always, when a noisy telephone wakes me from a deep sleep, I take as long as I can to compose myself. Kate was still looking for the phone when I answered.
“GOOD MORNING DAVE, MY NAME’S BRUCE!” boomed a horribly chirpy Australian voice, “I’M CALLING FROM ABC RADIO QUEENSLAND AND WE’D LOVE TO GET YOU ON THE BREAKFAST SHOW IN A BIT MATE, WOULD THAT BE OK?” I paused, trying to get my head around why anyone would be this happy at this time of the morning, and then I realised it’s a few hours ahead on the other side of Australia.
“Erm, yeah mate, of course it’s ok!” Bruce must have noticed a bit of bewilderment in my voice as he followed up by asking where I was. “I’m in Perth, mate” I said gently, not wanting to sound too bitter.
“OH SHIT! I’m really sorry mate, we read about you in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and just assumed you were in Sydney, man it must be really early in Perth!” I glanced at the clock,
“Yeah mate, it’s about quarter past four.”
“Jeez I’m really sorry again Dave, I’ll let you get back to sleep. Would you mind if I called you up in an hour to get you on the show?”
“Not at all Bruce, speak to you then.”
“Good on you Dave, in an hour…”

And so it began. By 9am I had done three live radio interviews, two in Queensland and one in Perth. Paul Kane from Getty Images swooped Kate, Dim and I around Perth in a shoot which resulted in some outstanding photos, and included a session in a sanctuary where I crouched with a mob of kangaroos and pulled some cheesy smiles.

At 12pm Triple J (JJJ) from the East coast called for an interview, they’re a cool station linked up to ABC and the interview will go out on Sunday morning.

And then back to the van business. A cross-Aus vehicle hire company had expressed a potential interest in sponsoring BoardFree but despite my pleas for a quick resolution I hadn’t heard from them in three days. Pissed off and desperate I called the office in Sydney, where I finally reached the Marketing Manager. After a yo-yo session of calls the final answer was “No, sorry we can’t help, good luck and goodbye.” Just up the road from our accommodation (, the company had a vehicle hire office with five un-hired vans in. They would have been perfect, but having waited for an answer for three days and coming out with nothing I wasn’t in the mood for any more rejection.

Hopper, the owner of our accommodation, then suggested a friend of his who ran a 2nd hand car business. We gave him a call and an hour later he drove to us in a Toyota High Ace van.

George was like an uncle you could trust. The van was bare but spacious, and his complete unwillingness to sell it to us until he’d serviced the brakes was fully reassuring. He was willing to put a bed in it, and curtains and storage space for barely much more than the $3000 asking price, and by the time he had driven away I was confident we’d found a van, finally! I called him two hours later after talking to the team, telling him that we’d like to take him up on the offer of the van and furnishings. He didn’t call back before bedtime, but we’re sure he’s not the type to let us down.

Having met George and seen his van, I was confident that we had found our vehicles, at last! Yesterday we had seen a superb vehicle, a Mazda E200 which was a home on wheels. The owners, a young English couple, had seemed keen about BoardFree and very straight up and honest about their van. I told one of them Jake, that I was very interested in his van and that I’d like to know if someone else made an offer on it. He agreed wholeheartedly.

With this is mind, and without a call from Jake to confirm he had found any other interest, I was ready to make him an offer. I rang, he answered, he told me he had promised the van to someone else and that was that. I swore to the camera that had followed me around all day, and slumped against a wall, exhausted from a long day and furious at being let-down by someone I thought I could trust. If there’s anything that gets my goat, it is being let down. I was gutted and we were back to square one, again, with less than two days until the journey began. Delays began to loom.

The team was completed tonight. Holly turned up soon after midnight following a long flight from New Zealand, all smiles, nice and tanned, camera in a hard case. We have a photographer and BoardFree is ready to be snapped.

Friday, August 18, 2006

We're not only in Australia, but Australia knows that we're here!

This afternoon, leaning with my back against the railing which surrounds a memorial to Western Australia war victims, Dimitri asked me another question as he adjusted his zoom. “What does it feel like to be in Australia, and how are Australians accepting BoardFree?”

I turned my head, looking down from our vantage point on Kings Hill over Perth’s towering business district and the Swan River, and shrug. “It doesn’t feel like we’re in Australia yet. We haven’t had time to breathe, let alone take in this city.”

But it is a fine city. A scenic, Los Angeles-like spread of low-level urbania (bar the few skyscrapers in the CBD) bisected by the glistening Swan River, it’s easy to understand why Perth defies the ‘most isolated city in the world’ label and attracts people from all over the world with its easy-going, lifestyle-driven atmosphere.

We don’t have long left here, a shame because we could do with some quality time in this city, but that isn’t on our minds right now. We have other things keeping us busy.

The support vehicle hunt goes on, and I write this on Thursday night with a slight swell of panic rising through my torso. This panic has been averted somewhat by the viewing of an excellent van earlier, it was called Bruce, it was in great condition and unless sponsors come through early tomorrow I’m going to have to make an offer on it. Still though, one van isn’t enough. The clock is ticking.

The list of things to scrub out before the launch this Sunday is going down slowly but surely, the team have come into their own and it took no time at all. Becs is searching out every option we have to raise charitable funds, coming back last night with a box of cash after a pool tournament, which was won by Si who contributed his $100 winnings to the BoardFree pool. Legend. He won an old bike too (don’t ask), and Bev is searching for another one to enable the team to get some exercise on the road beside me. Our little angel is also keeping our spirits high with some hand didge, and Kate is pushing open the door to Australia’s media. We’re getting some major coverage. Not just a few interviews, EVERYONE is wanting to feature BoardFree. Dim and I jumped in a taxi earlier and the taxi driver had heard about the journey, it’s becoming a regular occurrence around Perth. Dan is on the case, helping search for vehicles, mechanics to service the vehicles, signwriters to logo-up the vehicles.

Dim and Si are filming everything and all day Si has been working on a video to show exactly what we’ve been up to in Perth. Expect it online by the end of tomorrow (Friday).

To everyone out there reading this, it all goes to show dreams can come true. At the moment seven people are absolutely knackered halfway around the world from their homes. But we’re happy. We all know the real hard work hasn’t quite begun, but a spontaneous idea cooked up in a Swansea bed 16 months ago has turned into a project that millions have heard about. To date we’ve raised thousands (we’re within touching distance from the £5000 mark, please please help us go over this by Sunday morning, it’ll boost everyone here) and over the next few months we’ll raise thousands more.

I’m proud of the team, I’m happy for them because they’re just as much a part of this as I am and it’s working, it’s bloody working!!! We’re a small bunch of people in a big city at one end of one gigantic country. In a few days we’ll be a dot travelling east, keep watching that dot, people. Your support will get us through this.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lagging, walking, searching…

Eventually, with much turbulence in the approach, we landed in Perth. The common stereotype of Australia according to your average Brit would be ‘very hot, very dry, a bit red.’ We Brits are wrong quite a lot of the time, as the plane touched down horizontal streaks of rain marked the windows, it was tipping it down. Sat in an overloaded minicab heading towards central Perth the wind gusted violently around, this was monsoon-like. “There’s a storm front coming,” said John, our friendly taxi driver, “it should be here by ten.”

Welcome to Australia.

Our accommodation, the Emperor’s Crown on Stirling Street in Northbridge (, is perfect. Spacious, very clean, well designed, our home away from home for a few days. The flight had taken it out of us but we decided to fight through the day. Team meeting, then a two-hour wander through nearby neighbourhoods, alongside wide streets bordered by confusingly inconsistent architecture. None of us could quite get it into our heads that we were in fact walking around an Australian city, let alone with the objective of visiting each and every backpacker’s hostel and scouring the notice board for Vehicles For Sale. A fair bit of paper collecting later and we headed south to the Royal Perth Yacht Club, where BoardFree Australia is due to start on Sunday. Rachael Cox, Sailability’s chief in WA, greeted us warmly and showed us around. She bears bad news, revealing that the weather isn’t looking good for the launch, but she’s buoyant at the fact that it’s looking bright for tomorrow, a chance for the team to join Sailability’s regular sailors on the Swan River. Looking forward to it.

I write this at 7pm local time, sprawled on a bed with big eye bags and a thirst for pillows. Downstairs in a minute to upload this blog to the net, and then a search for online vehicle sales. Dim asked me today when I’d start to panic about support vehicles. “Thursday,” I told him and his new camera, “I’ll panic on Thursday if we don’t have vehicles.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hello from Singapore!

Security at Heathrow was somewhat heavy. Safe as houses. The downshot is that it takes planes a little longer to take off than usual, the ripples are now being felt by the BoardFree team as we predictably missed our forwarding flight to Perth (they did only give us 50 minutes transit in the first place) and are now hanging around in Singapore airport for the next flight, which is thankfully only 6 or 7 hours after the original one.

It will mean we're absolutely shattered on Tuesday - great as we only have Tuesday - Saturday to sort out vehicles - but hey, BoardFree Australia is probably going to follow a theme of fatigue anyway, no?!!

The team are in a sports bar, it's time for me to go and join them. Singing out...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It was so nearly Eddie I: the story of a......

Today is the day we fly away. Kate and I left Swansea on Thursday, waking up that morning with a terrible feeling that perhaps the most important member of the BoardFree team wasn't going to make it to Australia. Elsa, the transport, the only board to have travelled the length of Britain and the only board I had ever earmarked for the Australia journey, she wasn't with us. Sent to Poland after BFUK to get a new coat (the old one decidedly battered after 900 miles of Scotland and England) Elsa had been en route back to the UK for 3 weeks but had gotten lost in the black whole of the Polish State postal service.

And then, barely an hour before we stuffed the kitchen sink on top of everything else and drove east with Kate's brother, Elsa arrived. A smiling postman, well up-to-date on the BoardFree saga thanks to the local papers, handed over the box as another neighbour walked past saying, "I thought you'd gone, well....good luck!"
"We're flying on Sunday" I tell the postie.
"You might not be," he cringes, "you should go and switch on the news."

So we did. Kate and I side by side, Elsa downstairs safe in her box. And thousands of people across the UK stranded in airports as security shut-downs follow a foiled terrorism plot to blow up 9 aeroplanes over the Atlantic. That was Thursday, three days later flights are still being cancelled, we face a 22-hour double haul via Singapore with minimal entertainment due to a red card to all hand luggage.

Now, to an update on the shoe saga. The very same pair of shoes that I was very close to accepting as my skate companions nearly broke my ankle on Tuesday. A bad turn wasn't helped by the angled running trainer-like sole, and as the edge of said shoe caught and my ankle turned sideways I experienced a still-frame in time. Looking down from a standing position and being able to see the bottom of your shoe isn't recommended. Especially if you're 12 days away from beginning a long distance skate journey. I cranked my ankle back into an upright position breathing heavily. Minimal bruising. I'm a lucky boy. I called Kate who was sat at home calling potential sponsors. "We can't have these shoes babe, back to the drawing board."

The drawing board got drawn on very quickly. By the end of the day Project Skate from Bristol had joined forces with C1rca and 8 pairs of shoes were on the way. The next morning, the morning before we left, they arrived. Tried them on. Too small. Will we ever get shoes?

We will, Bristol rests halfway between Swansea and Basingstoke so we merely dropped by the Project Skate warehouse, swapping size 10s for size 11s, and drove away. New, amazing shoes which even have a little message on the side, "It's Time."

Friday: Kate and I meet up with Dan in a busy London and collect some of our team kit from Kangaroo Poo, they're sending the rest of the kit on to Perth next week.

Saturday: A day in front of the computer, revamping the website in preparation for Australia.

Sunday, now: It's quarter past 11 in the morning. Our flight is at 22:15 tonight, we have to be at the airport by 17:00. Must pack. Shall write from Perth.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Barefoot to Brisbane, the harrowing tale of finding sponsors for a board journey....

Hello all, long it has been since my last blog. Two reasons for this; the first is the curiously speedy passing of time when time is the only thing you need more of, and the second is simple. If I wrote a blog whilst preparing for these journeys no one would buy the book. I'm not fooling myself, the daily plethora of emails and telephone calls certainly adds some padding (and frustration) to the overall BoardFree story, but you guys are reading this blog for one reason and one reason only, you're reading because you want to know how big my blisters are.

And this is why I begin my blogging routine here. Today, in a re-creation of our first dinner date, Kate cycled and I skated around Swansea Bay to Mumbles in search of a Welsh Rarebit Burger. Some things have changed since that blustery December evening so many months ago. The weather has improved, the team has grown, I've been through several pairs of shoes and along many more roads. John o'Groats to Land's End has already been skated and now I'm a record holder. But enough about that, more about the shoes.

On my feet this afternoon were some bright and clean trainers, fresh out of their box only yesterday I am wearing in my shoes much later than I would have hoped. My BFUK injuries have healed to some degree but I now have an achilles heel. No, literally, the skin that so kindly disappeared between Biggar and Southwaite either side of the England-Scotland border has been repaired. But it is now weaker than before, and my new trainers are causing some friction. Luckily, though, my riding partner is not afraid of a bark or two, and she has been forcing me to push with my other foot. I skated all the way home with my left foot and slightly undersized calf, partly through the need-for-practice, but mostly because I didn't want my achilles heel to be raw before Perth.

One week today we fly. In the last week the postman has been a-knocking. Bearings from Bones, Medical Pack from the Lifesigns Group, Satellite Phone from Applied Satellite Technology, Cobbers from Bodycool UK, our luminous jackets are now sponsored by The Magic Touch and the BoardFree girls can even pee standing up now thanks to Shewee! A couple more packages expected this week and then when we're away. I'll fill you in on goings on throughout the week, man I can't wait until we get to Perth.

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