Tuk to the Road

The trials and tukulations of Jo, Ants and Ting Tong the tuk tuk and our three-wheeled odyssey from Bangkok to Brighton...in aid of the mental health charity Mind. For more information please see www.tuktotheroad.com

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Oh What a Year!

Norfolk, UK

2006 is nearly at an end so I feel the urge to write a final blog for the year, a year when so much has happened. It is odd to think that this time last year Ting Tong wasn’t even a glint in her Daddy’s eye and Jo and I had only just committed to doing our trip. Now twelve months on we have raised £36,000 for Mind, completed the longest ever journey by auto rickshaw, spoken at the Royal Geographical Society and are having a book published about our three-wheeled adventures. Hopefully in 2007 we will reach our £50,000 target and the book will be followed by a documentary.

We’ve been quite slack about our blogging recently – Jo has been horrendously busy getting through her first term of medical school and we’ve both been working hard at raising more money, getting the publishing deal and preparing our talk at the RGS. We’re really excited about getting the book published, and thrilled to be working with www.the fridayproject.co.uk. Only set up a year ago, they have already published around 30 books including the best seller Blood, Sweat and Tea. Having never had a book published before its fascinating to see how the whole process works. Even though we won’t be handing in our final manuscript to the publishers until January 30 and it won’t be on the shelves until the summer, Tuk Tuk to the Road will shortly be on Amazon and in the next few weeks Waterstones et al will all be placing their orders. It just shows the power of marketing – the bookstores are going to be buying (hopefully) our book on the power of its front cover, some AI (advance information) and some marketing spiel. They have no idea whether what is inside the book will be any good…..

Now back to the RGS talk. Its funny how sometimes you can get your knickers in a real twist about one particular thing, your mind transforming it into a vile ogre. Well that is what I did with the talk. I’m not joking when I say that when we were driving through Russia I used to worry far more about standing up on that stage than Ting Tong breaking down or getting jumped by the local mafia. When we got back to England I seriously considered cancelling it, so terrifying was the prospect of speaking in front of so many people. So it was a great relief when on the night I neither fainted nor broke out into a cold sweat, but remained surprisingly calm. About 300 people came to the talk and it was actually very enjoyable, and a great honour to stand on that hallowed stage and speak where the likes of William Dalrymple, Pen Haddow, Sir Ranulph Feinnes and Benedict Allen have gone before. Even better was the feedback we had. Toby, their technical expert, said it was ‘the most amusing talk he had heard at the RGS all year’ and some Fellows of the RGS who were there said it was ‘as good, if not better’ than most of the talks they see. So that was really nice to hear and has given Jo and I the impetus to do more public speaking. Not only will it enable us to get to our £50,000 target but its also a great tool for raising publicity for the upcoming book.

So with that out of the way Jo and I are now working hard on the book, putting the finishing touches to it before D Day on January 30. We’ve got to edit this blog, write introductions, choose maps and photos, write an epilogue….the next month is going to be very busy. I was thinking of going to India for the month to sit by a beach and write, but have decided against it for various reasons so am going to go into hibernation in Norfolk instead.

As a non Tuk to the Road aside, I’ve just spent Christmas in Florence with my father and sister. What an incredibly beautiful city, so full of treasures. In one church alone we saw Donatello’s, paintings by Ucello, frescoes by Giotto and the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and Rossini. If you are into art and culture in any way then I urge you to go.

In two days we will say goodbye to another year and herald in 2007. I wonder what the next twelve months will have in store for Jo, Ting Tong and I. They’ll have to be pretty good to live up to the last 12 months in any way, which has been quite a trip, in more ways than once. I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to do this trip, to have seen all the places we saw, met all the people we met. There are so many people I would like to thank but for now I’ll leave it at saying a very special thank you to Bob, without whose support none of this would have ever happened. Thank you Bob and a very Happy 2007 to you. Xx Ants


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