Home, Sweet Home!

And so the journey ends…I have finally returned home and sitting here comfortably in Wandsworth, London, I am a world away from the life I’ve led over the past two months.  Team Le Cheile achieved what it set out to do, reaching the South Pole safely on 3rd January 2009.  Over 41 days we faced most of the conditions that Antarctica was able to throw at us, including white-outs with viciously chilling winds (wind chill of minus 45c or more) where we could see virtually no further than our skis and couldn’t even tell which way was up, to gloriously sunny days with no wind and balmy temperatures of -8c. 

The hardest part of the journey was definitely being away from my wife Anne and my son Conor – our reunion was a happy one indeed. Conor even remembered me, despite a bushy beard! Being away from home was made much easier though by a great team, so my thanks again to Eric, Doug, Jeremy and Luc – I couldn’t have asked for better travelling companions.  Congrats to Jeremy who heroically decided to kite back from the Pole – he returned to Patriot Hills a few days ago.

Hello too to some other intrepid Polar travellers, with whom we shared a beer (okay, several) at base camp in Patriot Hills: Ross Maxwell, Steve Gates, Kari Gundeso, who all also man-hauled their way fromthe coast to the Pole and to Mark Langridge, who succeeded in a solo-unsupported trip from coast to Pole. 

It would be very easy to return from a journey like this and claim to be a new man, a different person, but that wouldn’t be true in my case. A fair assessment is that I’ve confirmed a few things about myself and have reassessed some of my priorities. But sadly for everyone concerned, I’m still pretty much the same old me! My only real philosophical insight (and even this is not particularly original), is that we determine the sort of people we are by the choices we make and we determine the lives we lead by the way in which we bring about those choices. (As you can see from the rubbish I’m talking, I’m still the same me.) 

I have however returned a changed man – having shed some 24 pounds over the course of the journey, despite consuming in excess of 6,000 calories a day; I have also grown a rather bushy beard, which, because it matches my hair colour, has the effect of making me look older than my dad! Anne can’t work out if she prefers the ruggedness of the beard or the ‘youthful’(!) charm of a clean-cut. Conor is very definite – he loves tugging the beard, so to humour him it will probably stay on another week.

Again, many many thanks to everyone who sent messages of support – your kind words really did help!  And huge thanks too to all of you who sent donations to our charity SPARKS, which does such great work for children’s medical research. Contributions are still coming in, which is fabulous, and once the dust has settled we will have raised over £20,000 – a tremendous amount, which will be put to great use by SPARKS. 

I hope to see as many of you as possible over the next few weeks. In the meantime I have plenty of photos from the journey, some of which I’ll be able to upload to the site in the next few days, so please check back for those.

- DH