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Urban Adventures

Dear Sean,

We see you’re in London and have an adventure idea that you might be interested in. Sam (Branson) would love to meet you to chat about it. Can you pop in?

Regards,

The Sundog Team (Sam Branson’s company)

My goal in life is to fill it with as many of these experiences as possible. Not all of them will be fun or enjoyable, in fact often the worse ones become the most memorable but the more things I experience the better memories I’ll have sitting in the old age home, sipping my daily allowance of whisky while sneaking a few more glasses while the nurses aren’t looking. Getting an email from Sam Branson’s team could result in a pretty incredible experience.Naturally I replied straight away.

I said I could get there in 2 hours. (I could have been there in 30 minutes but wanted to play it cool) I also decided that instead of taking a bus or train I’d walk to their Kensington offices, which would involve a good section of the Thames Path. I jumped in the back of my Landy and got my hiking stuff out (which I carry with me at all times for all outdoor emergencies) and set off after a quick coffee on the Jetboil. It was 11am on a Wednesday and the first thing I noticed was the number of people not at work. Not surprising for a big city and with the sun out I’m sure a few of them were off ‘sick’.

I then walked past some rowers preparing for a training session and instantly felt less of a human standing next those ridiculously impressive human specimens. Also since when do rowers shave their legs?

A bit further along I came to a marina and because I live on a boat means I also love spying on other people’s barges. My boat is very cool, but some of those Thames ships were out of this world. Boat envy was at an all time high. Bear Grylls has his boat somewhere along the Thames so spent at least 2-3 minutes wondering if I might bump into him. I didn’t.

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I stopped a few times when there was a slipway down to the waters edge and after many, many flops, I eventually managed to get 12 skips from a stone along the water, a personal best. Feeling quite smug I started to head back to the path when I felt a warm squelch on the top of my head. I put my hand in my hair and felt something warm a sticky. I looked up to see a pigeon fly off. “Little shit!” I said out loud and then apologised to the mother and child walking past me. She looked annoyed at me for swearing. Her kid should have been in school anyway.

I didn’t let some bird poo ruin my urban adventure though and after washing it off with a bit of Thames water, which was arguably less hygienic than the bird shit, I crossed to the north side of the river for a change of scenery before wondering through some affluent West London suburbs admiring some of the architecture before arriving at my meeting on time having clocked up 8.2 miles. I felt in a good mood and my brain was full of ideas, something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I had taken the train or bus, although I have to admit after my strong coffee I was holding in a pee for the last 1.4 miles. One disadvantage of urban adventures is you need to plan your toilet breaks more carefully.

Doing an urban adventure along the Thames was very different from a countryside adventure but not in a bad way at all. Yes there is the constant sound of overhead aeroplanes, (something we all block out our mind but next time you’re in London, listen, it’s constant) and police sirens but there are always places to discover if you take time to look through the metaphorical, and often actual, smog and white noise.

Adventure isn’t all about climbing mountains or rowing oceans, adventure, in its purest form, is simply a way of thinking. There are always things out there to experience and it’s the way you process those experiences, the way you decide to see them, that can turn anything into an adventure. Today, mine was: The day a pigeon shat on my head!


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