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Final score…

So it’s official.
The votes have been counted, the totals tallied and the ‘taches tittivated.

Faces have been palmed, donations handed in and awards handed out.
Posts have been polled, opinions have been opined and I will finally feature a physiognomy free from facial fungus.

That’s right, it’s results time folks and first of all I’d like to doff one final congratulatory cap towards Mr Adam Pain for organising such a top event last weekend.

Only today A World Of Pain posted a message of thanks to all those involved which I have his kind permission to reproduce here.

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Next up is Movember.
I’d like to thank everyone who has donated money or posted words of encouragement, and to pay tribute to fellow Mo Bros and Mo Sistas whose sheepish thumbs-up whilst indicating their own top lip topiary has become the international salute of Team Movember.

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My own modest campaign has made £70, contributing to a worldwide total to date (involving 964,862 fundraisers) that has reached the astounding sum of, get this, £54,241, 979!

Amazing effort all round I think you’ll agree, one that will allow charities around the world to continue the good work they do in the research and treatment of prostate cancer and other men’s health issues.

Oh, and special mention to honorary Mo Sista and Diary of an Internet Nobody Movember mascot, Queen Audrey of Michigan.

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Which brings me to the results of the first Readers Choice Award for most popular blog post.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to try polling my readers to find out their top three favourite posts.
What I found is that people like reading but they don’t like voting, so I had to put together a shortlist myself.
I would have liked to have got a few more people engaged in voting, but I’m happy with the result none the less.

Drum roll please.

With 27% of the vote, the runaway winner of my first ever blog poll is Dog days. (occasional tales of life with my people)… the episodic life stories of our much-missed dog Karla, told from her own unique perspective.

A fitting result, as it is almost exactly two years ago that we lost her, and one which has prompted me to “translate” another chapter of her memoirs for my next post.

Karla loved being made a fuss of, so I’m sure she would have appreciated all the attention from her new fans.
I can just see her happy little face now…

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I shall leave the poll on the Greatest hits… page active for a while, just in case anyone new to the blog fancies checking out the others on the list.

So that’s about it, thank you again to all who got involved and watch out for my review of the year, coming soon…

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Charity begins at work…

I’m a sucker for fundraisers.

Um,… I don’t suck things for money, that’s not what I mean, let’s clear that up right now.

Ever since discovering the power of fundraising activities as a simple and effective way of getting people to part with their money when I was still at school, I’ve always had a bit of a weakness for doing daft things for charity.

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Back then, it was sponsored walks for the school, “Bob a job” week for the scouts, and once, (that was enough) an army assault course for the British Heart Foundation which very nearly resulted in me having an ironic heart attack.
That was a good few years ago however, and it hasn’t been until relatively recently that I’ve renewed my involvement with more direct, hands on activities, so to speak.

All of these events have taken place either at work, or with friends from work, and take the form of a lot of walking around in the dark, or dressing up like idiots.

The one annual event that takes place outside work is the Rotary Club’s Exmoor Startrek Challenge, a 16-18 mile nighttime orienteering hike across Exmoor national park, and not, as the name suggests, some sort of nerdy Sci-fI costume adventure for the Devon Trekkie Association.
A team of 5 or 6 of us have taken part for the last three years, and it’s no walk in the park let me tell you.

The event is extremely well organised, and has now been going for twenty years.
The people who go out and set the course each year clearly think along the lines of, “Ah, yes, but that gate over there has a two foot deep, impassable lake of liquid sheep shit in front of it, send them out of the field that way instead” and, “We’ll make the clues so cryptic that they’ll need to be Times crossword champions to work out what the bloody things even mean”

Because it’s not just a nice stroll around the countryside. In the middle of the night. In March.
No, you also have to be able to find, and then work out, a series of hidden clues, given to you at each checkpoint on the figure-of-eight shaped course. All of this, and having to finish each leg by a given time in order to not lose possible points.

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This year’s dream team. Knackered.

We discovered fairly early on that the later the hour, the less inclined you are to try and work out that the six letters you have collected make up the word “Enigma”, which somehow ties in with an obscure reference to “deciphering” a clue, which in turn will gain you an extra hundred points, and the more likely it is that you’ll just get on with slogging through the mud/fog/rain/pain barrier in order to get it all over with as quickly as possible.

It really is quite amazing how fast the human body can forget the discomfort that we put it through sometimes. Every year, you find yourself thinking “This is bloody awful, why do we do it”, and yet, the next day you’re telling everybody that’ll listen how brilliant it was, and what a great team you’d had, even though you did get lost in the fog and had to scale an unnecessary bracken-covered near-vertical slope at one o’clock in the morning.

Some teams –  nearly a hundred usually take part – take it very seriously indeed. Despite the fact that both the map reference for the starting point of the course, and each team’s start time is a closely guarded secret until just a few days before the event, some unsporting types have been known to take a day off work to go and scope out the terrain’s most likely routes as soon as the details are released.

We have a more relaxed attitude to the “race” element of the hike. A good thing really, as, due to our slightly lacklustre attempts at the clues in the latter stages of the trek each year, we have not manged to come in the top fifty placed teams.
Although we usually are among the fastest

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The official team photo. Note custom made t-shirts. (Lady with chain of office not in team)

It doesn’t help when they make a mess of the directions of course. Last year, starting in the insanely steep village of Exford, we came upon an instruction that said “Take a bearing of 150° and continue until you reach a stone bridge” Now, a bearing of 150° is pretty much going back the way you came, which we duly did. Two or three times. Each time, we met other puzzled-looking teams, coming back the other way.
Eventually, using our initiative, we ignored the bearing, finding the way on our own.
Sitting in the marquee with a coffee and a bacon roll, a few hours, and several gruelling miles later, we met a bloke who told us, “Oh, when we got there, there was a sign saying to ignore the bearing on the sheet at this point, as it was a misprint”

Nice to know.

Anyway, we never take it too seriously. After all, as Smashey and Nicey always said It’s all for charidee mate.

One thing we do take seriously is dressing up, which us why we have a bespoke team shirt each year, artwork courtesy of James, an old friend of mine.
Here is this year’s Star Wars themed design. And yes, ok, I am princess Leia;

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…and here’s the original rough draft of the artwork and caption;

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©Ho

But our most entertaining money making efforts are done at work, on randomly chosen Friday mornings simply by spending a few hours dressed up like fools.

Here are a selection of my favourites.

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Elvis day. Thangyouverymuch.

…and

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Village People day.

…and

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Nautical care in the community day. (possibly)

Most of the money collected goes to either the fabulously deserving North Devon Hospice, and in what I can only think of as sensible forward planning, given our propensity for stumbling around the wilderness in the dark, Devon Air Ambulance Trust.

So, unless you’re the bloke at work that said, in all seriousness, “My new years’ resolution is to not give anything to charity this year” then click on the links and see how you can join in.

Thanks to Brand it in Barnstaple, for printing the t-shirts.

(Honourable mentions for Mike Gill and Shane Gregory, both of whom appear in all events)

Update
17/01/13

Bob, (second right, back row) our shy and retiring quality inspector shyly retires.

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8 Comments

Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Personal anecdote, Photography

 

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