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2nd December 2007 - 3... aka These boots are made for walkin'
It's a gazillion miles to Indonesia, we've got a bottle full of smoothie, half a glass of water, it's dark, and we're wearing jungle boots. Getting jungle boots in Newcastle was no mean feat. Even the adventure shops weren't that adventurous; they either had never heard of a jungle boot or didn't have any in stock. Thank goodness for my Mother and her boyfriend; whilst wandering around Newcastle on a trip up they spotted one of the Army and Navy Surplus Stores1 and were kind enough to go and look, unbeknownst to me, whilst I was getting ready to come and meet them.

The store had one new pair of jungle boots in stock, and was getting a different brand in soon. If you are some dainty little flower that fancies a walk in the rainforest then I have the perfect jungle boot for you. They are size six, however they are so narrow no jungle lover has managed to fit in them yet. Even if you can only visit the shop in a few years time then don't worry, the boot will probably still be there because it's so hard to shift.

It would have seemed that my search for jungle boots was not over; however the nice man and woman in the store said they had some second hand army surplus jungle boots that might fit me. Low and behold, when the boots were brought out and I put them on my feet, they were more or less a perfect fit! It was like a children's fairy story that had decided to wander into an Army surplus store to make it different from the other fairytales2... what was even better was because they were used, I got them at a very cut price. Hoorah! And they all lived happily ever after.


1. Says on the bag, "52 Pilgrim Street" in Newcastle, if you are ever interested.
2. Not Cinderella though, it had already been decided that the person who'd fit the first jungle boots would have to be her.


3rd December 2007 - 2... aka I've been better
Being squashed in between the bus doors through no fault of my own hasn't particularly been the highlight of my day. Neither was the fact that the bus driver didn't even say sorry, or the fact that my neck that before felt a little uncomfortable now hurts to move. The driver must have had either a warped sense of humour, a grumpy mood, or extreme butterfingers, mixed with a problem apologising or the quietest apologising voice in the world1.

As for work, I understand even more why it was awkward for me to have some time off around now; for one reason or another this week, there are less people in the office! It seems like my fund-raising will have to come to life sometime after Christmas. At the moment I feel it'll spend most of its time hibernating in the warm apart from the odd time I manage to coax it out for a run. I feel a bit disappointed about that but it can't be helped. Speaking of warm, I wish I was warmer; it's cold at this time of year!

Moving on, I have finally paid the £200 deposit for the trip... at least I hope I have. After making sure that Frontier wouldn't cancel my place whilst my deposit was being transferred2, I managed to get to a bank, armed with a load of information, to undertake whatever this fabled "bank transfer" was. I don't remember having to do a bank transfer before, and hope I never have to do one again. On the whole it wasn't too bad, apart from I found out that I had to do the thing in cash unless I wanted to pay £20 extra, and my name and the expedition code that I got told to use as a reference, didn't fit. It's not like I could win the "World's Longest Name" award but the expedition code itself was too long to be contained within the space the bank lady had to type it in. I rang up Frontier again to warn them of this and to make doubly sure that they knew the money coming was from me. They sounded confident that my money would get through, and said they would contact me when they received the deposit.

Now I just have to wait a few days and voila, it's really time to rock and roll. Until then, well, I'll be relieved when I know Frontier have got my deposit safely tucked away, with the knowledge that it's from me.


1. If he did have the quietest apologising voice, he must have been crazily good at throwing it because amazingly I didn't even see his lips move.
2. since I had the palaver of the online system not working, and the distrust of sending important things via Christmas post ever since a special parcel never reached its recipient, this unfortunately seemed about the only other option. If you can remember all your information and have the kind of account that you can do online banking with, you might be fine and dandy, unless you run into the same reference problem I mention in the next few sentences.


4th December 2007 - 1... aka joy and rapture
I feel happier today. Apart from my neck still being sore I've had a great time considering today was a working day. My colleagues offered me some pain relief tablets, I've been listening to my friend's and my own music while I worked1, and not once did the bus doors try to chew me up again. The only thing I wish I had done that I didn't get to do was buy some orange shoelaces. I didnít get to the shops because I was happy staying a little later at work instead, so I didnít mind; I can get them another day soon anyway.

And after all that, the tall mirror just fell off the wall and smashed when nobody was touching it.


1. It seemed to make me work better because that's how I work in the comfort of my own home. I also believe I get a bit of SAD in the winter, so the happy music along with any sunlight that shines through the big window in work's kitchen is helping to pep me up and battle it with a big stick. Today I've been listening to Waykis.


11th December 2007 - We have ignition!
And what a Magical day to have lift off on. There have been several great things going on today; my housemates getting the best marks in the class for a test, my deposit finally creeping through, the anticipation of getting some nicely priced computer game goodies, and some work-related good news that I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you, so I won't, you'll just have to take my word for it.

It took a fair while for my deposit receipt to come through. I received a surprise Frontier phone call on Thursday evening during a meal at a restaurant. They couldn't confirm the deposit had arrived and told me I should hear about the deposit by the end of the week, so I asked about contact lenses and glasses in the rainforest instead to make the call worthwhile1. I think whoever delivers bank transfers trained a slug to personally carry it to its destination, but after poking Frontier today because I hadn't heard a squeak after the phone call either, I found a deposit acceptance email sitting in my inbox.

As for the mirror making a jump off of the wall last diary entry, if you don't believe in mirror-smashing bad luck then you won't be worrying about it, and if do then you shouldn't worry about it anyway; since it did a leap of faith on its own accord, no person actually smashed it. If anything, any luck flying around has been excellent luck; a total mirror image of bad luck!

I'm also working on a special little project of my own that hopefully you will all love, although if it does come into fruition it won't be for a very long time. Secrets, secrets... good things come to those who wait. For now I am off for some food, a bath and some time with my housemates!


1. I have terrible eyesight without my glasses; I'd compare it to a mole looking through jelly, except I've never asked a mole what prescription they have so that might be inaccurate.


12th December 2007 - My Kit list
Just a quick diary entry today; I've spent tonight creating more personally helpful kit list to keep track of what items I have, what I need, how to get them and ideas of prices, using Frontier's kit list pdf that they sent me as a reference. The Frontier list is helpful but I have transformed it into more than a list - it is now a Super Informer! Some of the kit I won't be collecting until nearer the deadline date, for example, I'm not planning to hoard toilet roll for about half a year. I'll be trying to find the best items and prices as I go along. Some bits I have already.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to vacate my bedroom before my fingers get frostbite. The weather at the moment is the absolute opposite of a tropical rainforest and my finger movement is beginning to go on strike!


13th December 2007 - The Orange, Orange Wool of Scarf
Something caught my eye today in The Farmer's Market whilst I was on my way to work. It was soft, very eye-catching and several shades of bright orange; more or less the perfect edition to my cold month fund-raising gear. Doing what I normally do I waited until the end of the day1, and sure enough, by the time the sun had gone down and the sky had turned dark... it was still there. It was the price that stopped me buying it straight away Ė it wasn't super expensive but in case you haven't guessed, I tend to be very cautious with my money. I'd already searched the local charity shop to no avail.

After wandering near the stall2 for a little while like a lost sheep, asking questions and even ringing my boyfriend to see if he thought it was worth it, I decided to try the often forgotten art of bargaining. I'd had a price set in my head and thought if I couldn't get any money off then I would leave the scarf sitting there. I probably could have suggested lower (more like the actual price in my head) but you learn as you go along, and the ideal scarf I had pictured in my head was the scarf at the stall, as if someone had took my imagination and made it real as best they could. I got quite a lot off for my first try at scarf-bargaining, and in return, the sellers know that the scarf is for two good causes; keeping me warm, and helping raise funds to aid the orangutans and their home.

Now the scarf is safely placed in the all new, singing and dancing "Operation Orangutan Adventuring Collection Compartment3", or OOACC for short. If you are concerned about your money going towards helpful yet non-essential fund-raising items like a scarf then don't worry - I buy the fund-raising clothes out of my own pocket with the hope that they will help a lot more in the long run than normal clothes and the knowledge that I will get my use out of them. Your money goes towards things like training, basic accommodation and the like - things I definitely need to get me helping out and about in the rainforest.

This is probably the only time you'll hear me say that I bought a scarf to go with my (future) hair. That's only if I can find a good deal. Well I did say I wanted to be eye-catching...


1. If I see something I'm not sure whether to buy in the morning and am still thinking about it at the end of the day, then most likely I really do want it. Of course this method can backfire when you go back to find the item gone, but it's then you tell yourself that you've saved money to console yourself, find something better, or track the item down.
2. The Shawl Stall to be precise. The people on the stall seemed honest and nice. This is rhyming and I like... rice? To get an idea of what the scarf looks like, go to http://www.theshawlstall.com (ALTHOUGH, 24th Feb 2008 update, please read my 24th February 2008 diary entry about silk and wool first)
3. in a drawer


14th December 2007 - We interrupt this diary to bring you Free Rice (for starving people)!
I earned over 10000 grains of rice for hungry people today! How? Well a while ago a work friend sent me the link to a game which I play every now and again. The game displays a word and you have to choose from a selection of answers what the word means. For each word you guess correctly, some rice is donated. I love word games and helping so here it is - please click on the picture below to play the game:

Link to Free Rice for hungry people game!

Have fun!


15th December 2007 - TOC Aromatherapy by Maggi Dearmer - first prize!
I have had an excellent day today walking round Newcastle's1 Farmer's Market. If you go there you should meet the lovely, wonderful people who have a stall selling TOC Aromatherapy soap and skincare products. The products sound amazing; natural, handcrafted, organic, no SLS or parabens, and no animal fats which mean vegetarians like me can use them. They test their products on themselves, not animals, and they don't fund other companies to do any animal testing for them either. Just the kind of stuff I like to hear! I asked about if they use palm oil and they donít even use that, which is very good news for orangutans, since many orangutans are losing their homes and being killed off because of the palm oil industry. Just type "palm oil orangutans" or even just plain "palm oil" into a search engine of your choice and you'll see what I mean, in fact I urge you to do so, because then you'll see just part of what the orangutans and rainforests are up against.

I bought some bits and pieces from TOC Aromatherapy for Christmas presents, whilst chatting about my orangutan project. The people seemed very interested, and I have a great surprise - they very kindly donated a luxurious bottle of Bed of Roses bath and shower gel as part of a prize for my up and coming orangutan competition! This is the first competition donation I have received; I'll keep you posted on the rest as they come so you can see what goodies you can win. The plan is that there will be a little competition entry fee - the money will go towards funding my trip - but the goodies you can win will be worth a lot more than a single entry fee. Expect the competition to start around January.

As for TOC Aromatherapy, the people I met were really friendly, and I think I've found where I'll buy my supply of soap for the conservation trip when time draws nearer...


1. Monthly, I believe.


21st December 2007 - Find a penny...
It's creeping up to that time again, and to celebrate, I had my first Work Christmas Party! My company was in the giving mood, as there was free food and drink, and a Christmas present for each of us. Despite walking around like Kryten out of Red Dwarf for a few days due to my almost-healed neck twanging again, I've had a merry week; one of my housemates retrieved a passport application form for me whilst I was at work, and I have collected my first penny for my conservation trip. It was sitting gathering dirt on the street, so I thought I'd go with the old saying and give it a home. Who knows where it came from, but now the abandoned penny is the first intrepid explorer to venture into the conservation fund - hopefully a lot more money will follow. It may just be one penny, but it's the marks the beginning of great things and another chapter in my orangutan saving story. Time to see what one young woman and one little penny can start...


23rd December 2007 - Average Jo
I'm no athlete. I may not be totally unfit - I used to go horse riding then Martial Arts - but being in a job where you sit at the computer a lot takes its toll. I have a few redeeming features; I'm rather flexible and I can stand on my head1, but from a fitness point of view I'm more or less, funnily enough, an Average Jo.

For rainforest work I have to be fit. I've already been making myself walk up and down work's five, high ceilinged floors on average at least once each working day, in fact I started doing it twice before my neck played up again, but that won't make me superwoman. Time to up my training.

Newcastle city isn't exactly the most naturally picturesque places in the world, so I'm making the most of being away from it. Iím not keen on most cities I've seen. Today I went for a walk with my Dad and his friend Marj in the seaside town of Saltburn. We walked from a car park to a woody and very hilly area called Riftswood, then up the hill past a plants and ammonite-shaped rocks everywhere.

Near the broken bridge
This is near the car park. My Dad, brother and I walked on what used to be a bridge here, during high waters years ago. Dad started removing branches that had been washed along with the current, putting pressure on and endangering the bridge, and my brother and I started helping. Soon enough we had a large group of people helping out and we saved the bridge... unfortunately a few days later the bridge collapsed when it flooded again yet this time nobody around did what we did. Hopefully in Indonesia, people will continue what is accomplished when I'm there, to keep up our good work. The rainforest and orangutans will need a lot more aid than just that if they are to survive, but every little helps. If I can get many people to do at least a little, and carry on with it, then maybe we can accomplish a lot.


Dad had said when we'd started walking that "you won't get any real good from this unless you walk brisquely2", and so we did, until we reached the walk's winter danger zone, or Dog Poop Sheet Ice Alley as I call it. It wasn't really an alley, but it was steep with sheet ice on the path, and dog mess along either side both hidden and not so hidden in the grass. Slipping in any place along it would have been embarrassing and disastrous, but escape it we did, and soon we went up and down the pier, then along the beach3.

Me at Saltburn beach and what's left of the pier
Here is the sand in not very much of its glory, because most of the sea is covering it.


I stopped timing when we visited a warm pub near the carpark for a drink. The main adventure had taken an hour but we would have walked for a bit less than that because of the photo taking and looking around. A small and easy walk in comparison to the jungle, but a good start. Well worth it!

Saltburn sunset with moon
There may have been some places where people should learn to tidy up or cleanup after their dogs, but this looks nice


1. although not literally; that would hurt.
2. or similar words to that effect. Maybe I shouldn't use quotation marks!
3. which had spiralled metal designs of more ammonites nearby; they like ammonites, but Dad says most of the real ones are still in the rock. I didn't get to see the rock up close though, and I didn't get to see much of the beach either. The pretty sea made up for it.


24th December 2007 - More training, drawing and family time
It's Christmas Eve, and I've been up and down a big steep hill called Roseberry Topping with my Dad and his friend, but also with my brother whoís come up to celebrate Christmas, and one of my uncles. It was more tiring than the Saltburn walk, with steepness on the way up and slippery leaves and rocks on the way down. Luckily we missed most of the rain so chose the perfect time to go up. I didn't time how long we were up there this time but it was definitely a longer walk than yesterday.

Top of Roseberry Topping, from the bottom!
A view of the top, from the bottom. Not the prettiest of days but then it is winter!


Siblings in army trousers a-go-go.
Wind-swept brother and sister posing for a picture. I look as if I'm going to fall over!


See, I reached the top!
The top! I've edited the photo a bit to lessen the amount of graffiti on the stone... I have stood on top of that before, but not today.

Today I learnt even more of the importance of water1, good footwear2 and looked-after feet3 when out adventuring. I have also been working on a piece of art whilst spending time with some of my family downstairs. The main pencil lines have been drawn.

Now the clock upstairs says 6:45pm but I know it's way later than that; goodnight!


1. because I left my drink on the kitchen unit after an increased effort to try and remember it.
2. thank goodness for tough boots with good grips.
3. I have foot cream and deodorant powder. Powder for my feet to keep them drier was not on the list but I was told by a nice man in a Newcastle shop a bit ago that I should take it with me to the rainforest, and I definitely agree.


26th December 2007 - Charity begins at home
I hope you have had a Merry Christmas! I have more or less had a jolly time, and have still have more celebrations to come. It was great to see my Dad and his side of the family again. My brother brought me a wonderful picture frame full of lovely sentimental photos1. My Father and Marj amongst other goodies got me exactly what I asked for. This is about the only time you would be ecstatic about getting socks and gloves for Christmas, because they are special socks and sock liners for helping keep my feet dry and safe in the rainforest, and waterproof and heavy duty gardening gloves for doing reforestation work. Just what I wanted! Dad and Marj also donated some money to go towards my conservation trip which I also thank them for.

Good will to all men, women and creatures including orangutans! P.S, my artwork is coming on well...


1. although none of him Ė I'll have to get another made to go with it, even if including a photo of him does make him embarrassed.


28th December 2007 - Old, new, borrowed, green, aka Charity begins and home II
I'm on a lappy1 today! Unfortunately it's not mine so I have to make the most of actually being able to spend time with people whilst being on a computer. Yesterday my Mother, her friend, my brother and I opened our presents to each other, sort of like a second Christmas. Amongst other lovely things I got some more goodies for my trip; a head torch, a swiss army knife and a special antibacterial towel that dries super quickly and fits really easily into a small space.

For a few hours today we went to the new Derby shopping centre. It needs more plants2 but it has nice food. We thought the sales would be the perfect time to scout for part of my kit list so we scoured Mountain Warehouse, Trespass and Blacks for a sixty five litre backpack suitable for rainforesty adventuring.

In Blacks I hope this doesn't sound unkind, but the leaflets were more useful than the staff3 because the person I talked to hardly told me anything about the different bags at all. All I was told was that all the bags would be good for what I wanted as long as they were comfortable, and that none were waterproof, so why the prices differed so much was a mystery to me. The guys in Trespass and Mountain Warehouse did demos of the bags, compared them and told me some of the main features that each had.

In the end I bought a leopard from Mountain Warehouse... don't worry, thatís the name of my bag - itís called a Karrimor leopard - and my Mum has heard that Karrimor make very good quality bags. It has lots of fancy doodads including expandable sides4, a place to pass a water pack's straw through, a pull out rain cover, a "system" to help keep my back cool and a guarantee - I won't tell you everything because I'll be here all night, but above all it looks like a very sturdy bag, sturdier than the other bags I had seen. I managed to get about forty pounds knocked off the original price due to the sale and my student card. Even one of my fussy cats likes my new bag and she's hard to please. I bet it's because it's named after some of her family members.

I'll have to start training with a partly-filled bag on my back because I've only just now realised how much of a difference it will make when I have to carry around all my equipment. Sounds silly I know, but investigating bags had made me understand how much weight I'll be bringing with me, even with the lighter towel. Talking about light things, I also bought a bandanna that can be worn in many different ways. It is super light and should help keep me protected and dry in the rainforest environment without making me boiling hot.

During bag searching I was given bag packing tips. I've listed them below, for my own use as well as yours:

- Make sure the weight is evenly distributed between both sides
- Don't put the equipment you will need the most at the bottom of the bag!
- Try and pack the heavier equipment nearer the top of the bag. It's something to do with balance and weight distribution and not hurting yourself.

I've also been doing some exploring of my own, and have discovered my old green pumps and a pair of sandals so I don't have to buy either for the trip. Creative relics from my childhood have been unearthed too. Surprisingly I have a very good use for them too...


1. laptop!
2. To me most places need more plants. My dream house has a grass-covered roof like a mini meadow, which I saw on Autumn Watch, and my perfect city has flora on more or less every roof. Call me eccentric if you want but that's what I imagine!
3. actually I liked the leaflets so I took some to read
4. so it's actually sixty to eighty five litres


31st December 2007 - Mystical Countdown aka Charity begins and home III
It's almost the New Year, and fun and generosity have been flying around again! My Nanna and Grandad have come for New Year and we opened presents together yesterday like a third Christmas. My Mum gave me some zip-lock bags so I can tick them off my kit list, and more family members have been giving donations. I haven't seen my Nanna and Grandad for a while so itís excellent to see them again.

I also wandered into a crystal shop in Derbyshire called Mystical Crystals. After Dad bought me some crystal stones for Christmas I'd wanted to add some to my collection and thought an orange or green stone would also make a nice addition to my orangutan competition prize. Different gem stones are said to have different powers so I wanted to choose one with a nice power, that way if you believe in the powers you will be happy with the prize, and if you don't then you still should be happy because you will have a pretty looking gemstone! I was going to go to the stone centre but we ended up stopping near Mystical Crystals while certain family members went clothes shopping1.

There were loads of stones in the shop of all different colours, ranging from ones I can recognise easily myself to ones that I hadn't heard of before. I didn't know what they all were supposed to do so the man inside the shop kindly gave me a leaflet to keep. I fancied a green stone for myself, but an angelite stone - one of the stones not on the sheet - caught my eye. I asked about it, and then picked up a book Iíd wanted for ages2. Bizarrely when I opened the book, out of the four hundred pages it could have opened up on, the pages fell onto "Angelite", so I picked up a green stone I believe called aventurine and an angelite stone along with the book, for me.

It's scary asking people for things. You'll have to tell me what image I project through my diary entries because I don't know, I hope it's a good image, but I am actually a rather shy thing. I was hoping the man in Mystical Crystals might donate one or two little gemstones to my competition prize if I was super lucky. He could have said no. I was trying to stop my voice from going all over the place when I asked, but it was worth it. Instead of donating a stone, he said he'd discount some money off my purchase which I should put towards my fund. I added an orange calcite to my purchase to be the prize stone because no matter what I thought it would be a nice prize. Fair enough, I thought, he might discount the same amount as the little orange calcite, and went to pay.

I was wrong... he discounted more than that! Now I have four pounds more in my conservation trip fund, and the orange calcite that I bought to add to a competition prize. It sounds like a very joyful stone because itís supposed to take your fear away and make you less stressed. Plus it's bright orange like an orangutan! Iím going to make an orange decorative box for it to go in, using a craft kit I found at home. You should see the finished article in my "Competitions" link when the competition comes up, along with the other prizes you could win!

Have a Happy New Year!


1. Clothes shopping tends to bore me; I've hated it since I was young. This is one of the reasons why I am a nature girl, not a girly girl.
2. literally, for a year or maybe more. I have been sighted in many bookshops, picking it up before placing it back down


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