Research, revision, studying - call it what you will, it all amounts to the same thing - trying to cram as much information into the 'long term' memory part of the brain as possible in as short a time as possible. Rest assured the other finalists will have been swotting up on their Queensland knowledge with the possible exception of the Aussie entrants as its their bread and butter, so I thought I'd better do the same. One way is to scour the internet meandering from page to page, another is to fall asleep into the pages of a good book but instead I thought I'd get out of the house and pay a visit to one of the most respected Society's in the UK - The Royal Geographical Society.
Established in 1830 they are located in a stunning building in Central London, have a membership of around 15,000 people ranging from professional geographers to expeditioners and enthusiasts and offer a wealth of advice and library services to anyone interested geographical science and associated subjects.
So imagine my delight when I spotted on their website a talk taking place all about Eco-Tourism, a subject which I've been asked about by a number of people since getting involved in this campaign designed to bring potentially thousands of new people to a location as environmentally sensitive as the Great Barrier Reef!
I contacted the society and booked a place ready to fill my grey matter with the additional information I'd need to have a balanced opinion on the effects that increased tourist numbers may have on this amazing eco-system.
I pottered up to London on a stunning day, with the now ever-present BBC crew in tow to film my every movement, and arrived at the building to find the speakers all expecting our arrival prior to the event taking place; a chance to ask some questions myself before they gave their presentations to the rest of the room.
Speaking with Professor Andrew Holden from the University of Bedfordshire was my first introduction to interviewing on camera and as I had no script prepared launched into a volley of questions which had been floating around in my head ever since I'd found out about the presentation. His answers were informative and gave me a much greater understanding of the effects which tourism can have on a global scale as well as with much more localised issues relating the the GBR itself.
Another quick interview with both Roger Heape - Chairman of the Travel Foundation, and Tricia Burnett - Director of Tourism Concern this time in front of the entire expectant audience for that evenings event (it went surprisingly well!) lead us comfortably to the start of the evening itself where I could sit down and relax for the first time that afternoon to listen to what I had come to learn about - The Environmental Effects of Tourism.
Interesting fact from the day - The water used on all of the world's golf courses in a single day provides enough water for 4/5ths of the planet to drink in that same day! YIKES showing why golf really isn't that green!!
Farewell Party - Saturday 25th April 2009
To celebrate heading off to Queensland and making it through to the final 16 I'd decided a few weeks ago to throw a leaving party to thank all of my friends for their support and last Saturday 25th April the extremely generous crowd down at the Mill Tavern in Haslemere hosted what can only be described as a fantastic day out for all....the only person who was missing was my girlfriend Bre, horribly far away on the other side of the world in Vancouver :(
Pierre Loup De Cam and Lee Forbes are the very active hosts there and together with the marquee which we've recently acquired for Onionfest ; the charity music festival at the end of July which I manage, we built quite a large hospitality environment for the gathering!
Saturday dawned cloudy and wet, so I went for a long run to help focus my thoughts on the day ahead, the coming week and the excitement of the next few weeks. By the time I'd finished another good 7 mile run the heavens had opened, closed and started to clear up so my optimism for a good afternoon in the sunshine was more justified, there is a reason that my friends call me their 'Sunshine Friend' after all!
The Mill Tavern has a fantastic garden in which we'd assembled the marquee the night before in case of inclement weather, the hog roast was turning and smelling particularly edible already and there was very little to do apart from help the bands haul there equipment from the cars to the stage area.
Its so difficult for me to sit down and do nothing so the 'waiting for guests to arrive' stage dragged by as I sat and listened to the bands tuning up. A few familiar faces started to appear and before I knew it the garden was filling up with loads of people I hadn't seen for ages - with my expedition last year I'd been away from some for 18 months and it was fantastic to catch up and socialise.
By mid afternoon there were nearly 200 people all milling about in the garden with awesome music, scrummy food and great weather ensuring that everything went brilliantly well and was the success I hoped it be when it was being planned. The final few drifted away by 23:00hrs leaving the remnants if cheese and wine for us to clear up. What a superb day out! But it did suddenly bring home just how close this is all getting now....
London Marathon 2009 - Sunday 26th May
As the date for departure out to Australia has drawn closer the number of interviews and questions I've had to answer has increased hugely and with it my confidence levels.
It's quite an experience trying to honestly and professionally answers questions with a microphone or lens is thrust in your face and now the exposure is about to hit a peak with the media spotlight firmly fixed on us 16 gophers as we vie for the position of Island Caretaker. Here's a few pictures of the various media interviews I've given with the final one for now happening only a few hours ago at the ITV studios in Hampshire with the very famous Fred Dineage! Enjoy....
The support I have received from both friends and family has been overwhelming and as I enter the final 24hrs before I fly off to the other side of the world to experience one of the greatest continents on the planet my head is awash with questions and thoughts of what the next few weeks will hold. I'll be keeping this blog as up-to-date as I can for the sake of all those who are interested which hopefully includes you!