Thursday, 5 September 2013

The final curtain

And so what seems to have been a lot longer than it actually was, the adventure talk that Pauline and I organised and toured around Scotland, Sleepless 'til Seattle, has come to an end.  Our final show, in Helensburgh, was a sell out judging by the fact the venue started putting extra chairs out near the start.

Back in 2010 when Pauline was planning her two year cycle adventure round the world, she had a plan to cross the USA, but at that time it was just one part of the itinerary and no details were thought out. Six weeks after Pauline cycled off I met her in Spain to cycle the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. A fantastic experience of 500 miles.

Just weeks after I returned home a plan was hatched, and Pauline very kindly invited me to meet her again in Boston, and cycle across the US together.

Back then I thought it would be a good idea to film the adventure for posterity. I had no idea at that point that I would come back with 117 hours of footage and create a feature film. Despite the additional challenges of making the film it was truly a once in a lifetime adventure. It was only one part of Pauline's bigger adventure, but I felt privileged to have been able to be there for two of the sections.

Like most things of this nature you're so busy doing it at the time you forget to take a step back and look at it from afar and see just how special and unique an experience it is. You don't realise that you'll never do it again. That this is it. Right then. After the physical fitness challenge was overcome and I settled in to the job in hand, looking back I think I lost sight of just how amazing and unique a time it was. So many amazing things happened along the way. At one point Pauline took a photograph on the spur of the moment somewhere in Montana, that little did we know would go on to be the iconic photograph of the entire adventure.

On another occasion we met a fellow cyclist Chet, a musician from Port Townsend. This brief encounter would go on to see us work together on producing the fantastic music for the film. We made so many friends, people we are still in touch with years on. There were stresses and strains along the way of course, and spending five months with just one other person 24-7 would be difficult for anyone. I also produced video diaries every few weeks which I posted online. on reflection this was a mistake as it robbed me of any down time and created a lot of stress and hassle. But despite all the challenges we did it. We reached the west coast after pedalling for over 4,000 miles and had memories that would stay with us forever.

I returned to the UK while Pauline continued on for many more thousands of miles, creating yet more special memories as she pedalled on.  It would take another nine months for me to edit all the footage into a watchable film, which we named Sleepless 'til Seattle due to our irrational fear of sleeping in tents in bear country. I was determined to have the film completed by the time Pauline returned to the UK.

At the end of July 2012, Pauline cycled the last of her 17,000 miles into Edinburgh, approaching from the east having set off west more than two years previously. She was just in time to help with the finishing touches of the film, recording narration and filming a new opening. The finished DVD of the film was then entered many times into film festivals. Though it never made it's way in to any of them, it did go on to sell hundreds of copies worldwide.

Then, one day in December 2012, an idea was hatched to create a lecture, where we could share our adventure with others, to a live audience. There was one over riding lesson from the whole experience, summed up by Nelson, a colourful character we had met on the Erie Canal: "there's something you want to do in life, but sometimes that day comes and goes and you can't do it. If you want to do something, do it". This is what we wanted to share with everyone, and to show that you don't have to be a super-athlete. That ordinary people can do extra ordinary things.

And so the show was born. Though we were both stepping out of our comfort zone and taking on yet another challenge together, it was a great success, with enthusiastic audiences at 11 theatres round Scotland. We had our own private after-show party with a huge pizza then watching the fireworks from the Castle, marking the end of the Edinburgh Festival. Though our own tour is over, it will continue to some extent as the Royal Geographic Society have invited us to give the talk on two dates in November.

But for now, from an adventure that really started over three years ago, from planning, to cycling 4,000 miles with my best friend, to producing a feature film and performing the talk, the final curtain has come down on Sleepless 'til Seattle.

All good things come to an end I guess. Like most of the adventures in my life, none of it would have happened without one very special person.  Thank you Pauline.

1 comment:

Pauline said...

Thank you, Graham, for giving me the opportunity to be a film star and supporting me through the talk tour which, like cycling America, has been a fantastic experience that I'll never forget.