So I couldn't leave on that plane tomorrow without recalling some of the highlights:
- 'Stand Up on Everest' comedy night at the Comedy Store on 9 March. Chris Martin lined up a fantastic set of acts not least himself :) and Russell Howard. We raised £6,000 for the Himalayan Trust and the trustees were delighted with the significant donation (we hope the first of many...)
- 'High on Ice' the Everest Test farewell party on 20 March at the glamourous 24:London off Regent Street. All good intentions to stick to rigourous fitness 'my body is a temple' regimes went out of the window as the 50-strong Everesters and 350 of their closest friends partied the night away. The atmosphere was electric and if our friends hadn't appreciated the enormity of the task we were taking on until then, the evening gave them a great insight into the dedication, heart and soul that each member of the expedition has given to this cause.
- Meeting at Lords. It was difficult to believe that after all those meetings over the past year that 28 March was our last gathering together before we all meet in Kathmandu. The exciting news was the Nokia Maps had come on board as our corporate sponsor. The guys from Nokia's media agency commented on the great camaraderie in the group and it was great that they appeared equally excited about the task ahead (if not slightly envious that they weren't getting on that plane with us!).
- Wine tasting at Vivat Bacchus on 2 April. Thanks to the superb efforts of the Withers marketing machine (in the form of Caroline, Lauren, Birungi and Lindsay) about 65 members of the Bar, solicitors (one flew in from Jersey for the evening!) and Withers colleagues sampled some of South Africa's finest wines in order to raise funds for the Himalayan Trust and Lord's Taverners. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and generous support of all those who attended and donations are still rolling in. There was a great atmosphere and even the black out at 10pm didn't stop the hardy few from staying till closing time.
Many people have asked me if I'm apprehensive about what lies ahead. My only fear is that it'll all be over too quickly, although I might give you a different answer by day 8 of 15!
Although we'll be unable to update our blogs online during the expedition, there'll be daily updates on www.theeveresttest.com and I have every intention of using good old fashioned paper and ink to record my thoughts and our experiences along the way. ITN are sending a cameraman up with us to beam back daily reports for the 6pm and 10pm ITN news so there should be no shortage of coverage on our progress.
The Guinness World Record attempt and cricket match is on 21 April ...bring it on!