Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there


So next week looks like this…
14/08/2009, 22:59
Filed under: twitchhiker challenge | Tags: ,

So there we go. The fate of the Twitchhiker Challenge is complete. If you voted, then thank you. You’re lovely and one day I’ll buy you a pint. That’s if I live through next week, obviously. All week, you have decided what activities I should attempt, and they look like this:

Monday: I have to climb to the peak of Roseberry Topping

Tuesday: I’m bouldering in Durham

Wednesday: I’m conquering my fear of heights in a hot air balloon above Durham

Thursday: I’m going to walk on water in Hartlepool

Friday: I have to Go Ape at Matfen Hall - that means swinging through the trees like a big monkey. Which I sort of am already.

Next week you can follow how I do through the blog as I bring you every nook and cranny of my time mucking about on your behalf. And if you’d like to choose your own adventure in North East England (and who wouldn’t?) then try your hand at the Adventure Generator. It’s really quite fun.



Hanging on by my fingertips
11/08/2009, 20:52
Filed under: twitchhiker challenge | Tags: , , ,

A great effort by everyone today in voting for next Tuesday’s Twitchhiker Challenge.

Today’s choices coughed up by the Adventure Generator were bouldering, horse-riding and off-road driving. After 160 votes and plenty of tweets, the Twitter masses decided to send me to Durham Climbing Centre:

I’ve been bouldering once before at the excellent Climb Newcastle in Byker, in a post-New Year fit of good intentions. The main climbing room is built in the empty hulk of Byker swimming baths – great team, excellent facilities and more exercise than I’d had in a month. And heights, too. Nothing too stratospheric, but enough to induce an unsettling knot in my stomach.

Still, at least I know what to expect next Tuesday, and it’s not parachuting so I’m blissfully happy with the outcome.



The Englishman who went up a hill

Today was the first day of voting for The Twitchhiker Challenge – five days of what is likely to involve strenuous exercise, blisters and occasional loud swearing. Every day next week I’ll be attempting a new activity in North East England, and today the good people of Twitter voted on the first, which I’ll turn my hand to next Monday.

From my time travelling in March (that should read time spent travelling, disappointingly), I learnt that if there’s an easy way to do something, and a way that’ll cause me the most pain and suffering, then Twitter prefers to choose the more “life-enhancing” of the two. So when the Adventure Generator provided the opportunity to shoot guns, drive like a maniac or spend three hours walking up hills, it was obvious which would top the list:

The Twitchhiker Challenge - Monday's vote

Next Monday I’ll be hauling myself up Roseberry Topping in the Tees Valley, and in all honesty I’m looking forward to it. Growing up in the South of County Durham, I’ve spied this thrusting jut of rock on the horizon since I was a kid but never climbed it.

Older than the dinosaurs by a clear 100 million years, it’s been inhabited by mankind since before the Bronze Age. Roseberry Topping was named by the Vikings who settled in the area, and formed part the landscape enjoyed by Captain James Cook in his childhood. The history of this place is as breathtaking as the views:

Twitchhiker - Roseberry Topping

It’s not a particularly difficult climb, and the suggested route is only four miles long. Having said that, I’ve already started training this afternoon, by having just three sausages for tea, instead of four. I’ll be jogging to the summit, don’t you worry.



Next week. My life in your hands. Again.
07/08/2009, 15:15
Filed under: twitchhiker challenge | Tags: ,

Twitchhiker - the Twitchhiker ChallengeThe page for what’s now called The Twitchhiker Challenge is up at Visit North East England‘s website – you’ll find it here.

Every day next week, the Adventure Generator – a giant fruit machine packed with things to do in the region – will randomly select three activities for me to undertake on the same day the following week. Some of these activities may be very pleasant, while others may will require a second pair of trousers.

Twitter will decide my fate – each afternoon I’ll set up a TwtPoll for you to choose one of the three activities. You don’t have to follow @twitchhiker to vote, so feel free to retweet the poll. I’d ask you to show compassion when voting, but experience tells me you’ll choose the most stomach-churningly terrifying ordeal for me that’s available.

Five activities will be chosen by the end of next week, and I’ll then try my hand at all five the following week. I’ll be tweeting as I go, along with a mix of TwitPics, AudioBoos, photos and video. It should be good fun and hopefully inspire you to visit this part of the world.

Your first chance to vote will be on Monday afternoon. If we could start off with a nice walk along a beach collecting pebbles or something, that’d be very much appeciated.



Choose your own adventure… in North East England

Twitchhiker - choose your own adventure

Do you remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? I collected them. I adored them. They. Were. Brilliant.

If you don’t recall them, they were children’s stories that asked you to determine the narrative. You were presented with several options, each leading to a different page of the book. You’d choose one, turn to the corresponding page, continue the story and then have to choose once more. You could enjoy the books again and again and experience a different adventure every time. Magical.

I mentioned recently I was going to be part of the world – North East England – over August, and that I’d be sharing my travels on Twitter. Well now, with a doff of the cap to my favourite childhood books (and the Twitchhiker project, obviously), I’m going to be handing over control of my adventures to Twitter.

The regional tourism agency has an online Adventure Generator packed with all the activities North East England has to offer. There are some very pleasant jaunts to be had – clambering up lighthouses, stargazing etc – and then there are activities that scare the living daylights out of me – bungee jumping, abseiling and other extreme nonsense that has no place outside of Queenstown.

So every day next week, the Adventure Generator will randomly spit out three suggestions for me to tackle on the same day the following week. You’ll then get to vote on which adventure I have to attempt, through a poll I’ll tweet through my @twitchhiker account. For five days, my life will be in your hands.

I’ll tweet during each adventure and provide plenty of TwitPics and AudioBoos – they’ll probably be of me screaming like a girl. Bloody hell, I’ve just looked. There’s parachuting too. I ain’t getting on no plane.

It’ll be a (mostly) fun way to promote the region and what it has to offer. I’m North East born and bred so I’m quite looking forward to showing off what a brilliant corner of the world this is. Quite. So long as you remember I’m scared of heights, water and certain death. Which, coincidentally, is how nearly all my Choose Your Own Adventure stories ended.




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