Monday, 15 April 2013

An update from Les currently in Budapest

Hi every body, it has been a few days since I wrote anything for you, what with one thing and another I haven't been able to get around to it. However, you will have a pretty good idea as to what we have been able to achieve as we've travelled through Europe through the updates the team at home are putting online for you.

First I would like to say what a pleasure it has been to have Roland Spencer and Keith Twyford as travelling companions on the first stage of our journey, it has been a laugh a minute. As an aside though, you do not want to get lost in their company, they never let you forget it, trust me I know.

When putting the itinerary together I thought it was a bit ambitious and deep down did not think that I would actually tick all the boxes, but so far I have. To this point the journey has been one of laughter and sadness. I have been nearly frightened to death driving around the Nurburgring, delighted to receive a 1,000 Euro donation from Suzuki Europe and exhausted on the long drive to Gdansk in Poland to meet Mr President Lech Walesa. Who would had thought it, a lad from Hackney East London shaking the hand of Lech Walesa. My mum would have been proud of me.

We then drove south to Poznan and the pleasure of meeting my friend Iwona who has been helping to put the Polish part of the journey together, then further south to Katowici and the sadness when we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. It is difficult to imagine the suffering that took place there, it is a place everyone should visit as reminder to the atrocity war creates and how we should constantly fight against anything like that happening again. It was absolutely chaotic when we arrived and I have never seen anything so disorganised. Never the less, it is an incredibly sad place and a visit that I will never forget.

At this stage we had some time to spare so we decided to divert to Bratislava and Vienna for a short stop over and then drove on to Budapest in readiness for our visit to Magyar Suzuki Corporation. Mr Hisashi Takeuchi, Managing Director, and his team made us very welcome. We were given a tour of the factory and received a box of gifts to hand out to the children that we will meet as we travel through the Ukraine.

To some up, it has all worked out fine so far and I am thankful for the team at home, my wife Vi, Maureen and Keith, who have been keeping you posted on the web, then to the reprobates travelling with me and Gary behind the camera.

We are waiting for Gary to receive his new passport with the visa's for Russia and Kazakhstan, we hope to receive them when we are in Kyiv in the Ukraine. Time is getting short but we've got our fingers crossed they arrive in time. While we are waiting I am going to try and organise a visit to Chernobyl, another visit which I think will be both sad for what has happened and hopeful for their future. I will let you know what happens there.

I want to end this with a quick reminder to everyone supporting us now, that all the costs for the Ultimate Challenge journey are paid for by the people taking part and every penny we collect along the way and online goes directly to the charity. So if you feel you can spare a little click here to donate. Every penny is gratefully recieved.


P.S. I've been asked for an update on the fruit cake.  It's still hidden underneath me and is not coming out until the first camp, I've still got my razor blade to sharpen, I don't want to see it disappear the first time it's out!!

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