That really reminds me of this time on my Gap Yah...

A lot has changed in a year. I remember a conversation I had with Ed Pilkington in May, we were trying to make sense of our time in Pisco and we came to the conclusion that perspective only comes with time. Why things happen a certain way might never be understood but we often get a better grasp of things when we are able to look back in hindsight.

I've just come back from a really encouraging time at Momentum and one of the quotes that resonated with me is the following: "Rejection is something that others do to you, bitterness is something you do to yourself"When things don't go the way you planned it's easy to be resentful or feel as if there is nothing as worthy to aim for. The truth is you never know what God has planned and in order for him to build you up, often you need to be broken down first.
Ed, Joe, Tim, Rupert, Helen, Lucy, Laura and Poppy

This time last year I was boarding a plane for Samos where I would be spending the next 2 months working on the waterfront. A beautiful place with beautiful people, I will always be grateful of my time here.

The 25th of October 2011 was one of the most significant days of the year. It started with a phone call about not doing the ski season with my old company and it ended with a rough plan to travel the world with one of my closest friends. In the months that followed we bashed out a plan for flights, applied to an organisation for volunteering in Peru and had multiple injections protecting us against all the exotic diseases that we would come into contact with.

In this time I had the privilege to work for Boodles; A special company who are doing great things. I also had a month of family time in Sydney, chaired an MUN conference with an old school friend and completed my SATs for America. 

Inca Trail

I've already said a lot about the 20 weeks on the road. It was the focus of the year and I often jest that I've come back like an old man. I don't want to come across cynical just because things at home often seen trivial in comparison to what I've experienced. It's easy to criticise things for what they aren't and not appreciate things for what they are.

Here is a jumbled mess of the highlights from my travels:
Pisco Sin Fronteras, living in Hollywood, Machu Pichu, 'The Slingshot' in Cusco, eating dog in Laos, Coke World, elephant riding, sunsets in the pacific, building a park, Halong Bay, Six Flags, Chungking Mansions, American food, Fijian rugby, Ugandan church, NBA Playoffs, the Inca Trail, making bio diesel, learning to motorbike, sand boarding, Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, white water rafting, Pisco Sours, War and Peace, red neck football, Hong Kong skyline, descending San Salvador volcano, the Amazon rainforest, San Francisco, riding a Mutatu, an alleyway haircut in Vietnam for 75p, the boda boda tour, colca canyon, tubing in Vang Vieng, rickshaw rides, papusas, Tuk Tuks, Inca Kola, overnight trains, getting lost multiple times, paragliding, crazy temples, Lake Titicaca, Fijian beaches, dorms for $3 a night, the Golden Gate Bridge and of course, meeting many strange and wonderful people.

It went fast. You start to expect strange things. 5 people on one motorbike is acceptable transport. Barbecued snake is a good Sunday lunch. Typhoid is treated like a common cold.

Returning home seemed sudden and within hours I was on a train to London to pick up my uniform for the Olympics. I remember as a 7 year old trying to stay up as late as possible so I could watch the Sydney Games in 2000. I've been hooked ever since and when I realised there wasn't really a sport for me to compete in, I happily applied to be a volunteer. The two year application will probably be the longest of my life but it was worth the wait.

My 3 weeks at Eton Dorney stood out in the 12 months. It was a rare honour to see the depth and integrity of the athletes behind the television screen. I have many enduring memories of my time there. The humility of Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase after winning their Silver will never be forgotten and I hope to one day understand the nature of committing to something that much. It wasn't just British athletes, it was great to see the USA W4X medal after getting to know them over the previous weeks. With Eton hosting the Rowing World Cup next year, I may well be seeing a few familiar faces again.

The whole year still feels raw and fresh. I feel equipped for the challenges of university but mainly for the challenges of life. Life is rich and too often we let ourselves get in the way of realising that.

Final thoughts?
Live adventurously. Live humbly.

Joe and Myself