AS adventures go, this one is as daring and daunting as they come. Three thousand miles across India in a doorless, cloth-topped, 37mph-maximum motorised rickshaw does not fall into the category of luxury voyage.
But for Fiona Lees-Millais of Haltwhistle and her friend Dawn Boys-Stones, who lives in Morocco, next month will be the road trip of a lifetime.
The two mums are setting off from Cochin in India to drive between 12 and 15 hours a day for a fortnight to Shillong in the country’s north east. All to raise thousands of pounds in sponsorship money for water projects in hard-hit areas of the country.
“It’s a huge, huge adventure,” said mother-of-two Fiona, 50. “The rickshaw is like a lawn-mower and starts with a pull-cord, it has two wooden benches for seats, handlebars and a throttle, and overheats approximately every two hours. We’ve been advised to wear gloves for protection against blisters – and I’ve had to go on special training to learn about engines.
“What’s more, I’ve never been to India before. The closest I’ve ever come to India was having a curry the other night before going to watch Judi Dench’s new film, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
The fundraising voyage has been organised by a Bristol-based company, The Adventurist, who warn of the vagaries of the trip on their website.
It says: “This is not a glorified holiday, it’s and unsupported adventure and by its very nature extremely risky.”
Suitably encouraged, the daring duo team up in London on April Fool’s Day – “the afternoon, not the morning,” emphasises Fiona – and after an early-hours flight to India via Dubai will begin the drive without support, but plenty of repair tools and water.
“Each morning we will get up about 5am, and as we go through villages we will beg a bed.”
Sponsorship information is on the website www.justgiving.com/2posh2push
So far, £13,000 has been raised, and after LTS Refurbishment of Allendale stepped forward with £1,000, the following companies have also contributed:
David Dixon, Hexham (with mechanical lessons thrown in); Tesco, Henderson & Harrison, Rowlands, J & G Swanson, all Hexham; Hexham Racecourse; Philip King Charitable Trust; Stackhouse Poland, London; Hiddleston Joiners, Dumfriesshire; Marble Arts, Durham; Pumphrey’s Coffee, Blaydon; Arisaig House Hotel, Inverness-shire; Eban, Hong Kong.