In November 2005, the Messenger reported on Ray and Emily, two local residents preparing for a 5,000 mile trek for their honeymoon. Four months on and happily married, they’re back in Sheffield with enough photos and stories to last a lifetime.
They took part in the Plymouth–Banjul challenge, raising money for chosen charities through sponsorship. It took them through France, Spain and parts of northern Africa, before reaching Banjul, Gambia.
I was truly fascinated by the numerous extraordinary stories they told me; tales of mud-hut hotels, troublesome border crossings, markets selling ‘absolutely anything you could want’ and stolen car mascots, amongst many others. One of the things they were very surprised about involved their experience in Algiers, the capital of Algeria.
“People just came up to us on the streets and asked us if we were OK and did we need any help. One man, instead of giving us directions, actually took the trouble to take us, waving away our repeated thanks. Amazingly, we were also taken to our hotel by the police, who claimed they had nothing better to do! Most everyone we came across was content with what they had, which was not very much by our standards.They had no real desire for anything more. It just goes to show you don’t need all the modcons that rule our life today to be happy.”
The voyage was not without its darker, harder moments and inevitable problems.
“The desert was very hot! But there were some very cold nights there as well.The temperatures were frequently changing dramatically, and often unbearable.”
Ray and Emily raised roughly £2,000 for Weston Park Hospital, and the LandRover they auctioned in Banjul raised the equivalent of £1,700 for local charity Asset. They also gained local support and interest in their trip; The Gardener’s Rest pub followed their journey, constantly updating their position on a map.
When asked if he’d consider doing it again, Ray said: “I’d do it tomorrow.”
Emily was slightly less enthusiastic, claiming she would but avoiding the dangerous parts: “The things we worried about before we went could not have been further from the truth. We had a great time.”
The trip will certainly be something Ray and Emily will remember for the rest of their lives, and the fact it was their honeymoon just makes it that much better.
by Reuben Vincent