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06-05-2010
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01 February, 2010
I love Livia, Lily...and London!
8am
Up and down Ladbroke Grove as usual, with some kind of buggy/bike combo, yesterday’s shorts and a pyjama shirt half-disguised under my trusty duffle.

To the top of the Centrepoint tower for a shoot at the Paramount Club on the 31st Floor. (Does this count as altitude –training? Maybe not in Chanel ankle boots?) I’m styling too so dragging my battered Prada suitcase full to bursting with possible personalities - long velvet Issa, a faded vintage pink poppy-print prom dress, assorted hats). Sometimes a day just makes you happy to be home and I fall in love with London all over again as I climb to the bar somewhere in the sky, from where the view is somehow both shockingly romantic and slightly surreal as the Monopoly board landmarks turn into a playground for the Tonka-toy buses and taxis looping-the-loop.

Waiting for lunch….

4pm
I’m eating for England (a different kind of training…I WILL make it up that mountain!) and lunch was at least two hours ago so where else but Claridge’s for a brainstorming tea. The real deal: scones and cream and jam and cucumber sandwiches and sculptured chocolate galleons like Philip Treacy hats in miniature…with the leftovers wrapped up for later.

Love the idea of Jack Nicholson watching over me at Claridge’s….

As always at a dangerously seductive grand old hotel I fantasise about checking in (or checking out?), extra-tempting as I’m still dragging that suitcase around-with enough clothes for all possible occasions for at least a week. I relax into the alternate golden-mirrored universe of the classic bar where Champagne is offered at teatime as a matter of course - as if it would be rude not to - and the comforting red leather soaks up the caffeinated buzz of pinstriped wheeler-dealers to one side, bejewelled ladies in tight chignons and pencil skirts on the other. Perfect Edith Wharton-esque people watching, whilst I pretend to read the paper and wait for work to jolt me back to modern times.

8pm
To Chiswick and Livia Firth’s Eco-Age for the launch of Lily Cole’s gorgeously cosy new knitwear line, The North Circular:“Knitted by grannies, supported by supermodels”. Love that the navy bobble hat I snapped up is made of wool from rescued Wensleydale sheep! Ethical fashion up Kilimanjaro - a first? At least it will make me smile - and keep my ears warm - when the going gets tough.

Livia,Lily and I.



Me in my bobble hat. And Stella McCartney dress. Snow meets spring.

www.paramount.uk.net
www.claridges.co.ukwww.eco-age.com
www.thenorthcircular.com

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06-05-2010
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Stella McCartney A/W 10




Last edited by cosmocat; 06-05-2010 at 04:59 AM.
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06-05-2010
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08-05-2010
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Thanks hun. I do love her Vogue blog!

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12-05-2010
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Preparation makes perfect
02 February, 2010
A touch of the surreal and a large dose of denial as I stuff my giant North Face duffle with basic survival supplies for Kilimanjaro, still in my heels and Charlotte Tilbury’s high-octane glamour makeup from today’s shoot for Temperley London.

Mountain tips come thick and fast even backstage, adrenaline racing, as I get a motivational pep talk from hairstylist Raphael Salley, an avid hiker, as he twists my hair up and under a hat and veil. And so to work with no complaints about the studio chill from me, conscious that in a day or two London will seem a distant tropical idyll. All fashionable distraction today from the task in hand gratefully received. More on Alice’s inspirational campaign, also starring Liberty Ross, Suzie Bick and Cecilia Chancellor, on my return to civilization in a week or two..

For now, I must focus - mostly on snacks…

A few of my emergency rations. Think the aim is to eat pretty much constantly to fuel the climb and avoid losing weight. Must admit I have dipped into the goodie-bag once or twice this week and the Cliff energy bars are the winners so far….

No, the cafetiere and tin of tea have not made the final cut, though I was seriously tempted. (Do I really want caffeine withdrawals on top of the altitude sickness? But taking coffee to Africa is like taking blondes to Sweden, I reluctantly have to admit.) I have stashed a bag of magic tea (liquorice, fennel, aniseed, cardamom and yarrow) in my backpack though, specially mixed for me by Kinga Karlsson - the amazing woman who gives me a kickass Thai massage from time to time.

There must be absolutely no vanity and certainly no make-up on this adventure at altitude but I can’t resist a few emergency beauty supplies. On a shoot last week, Ruby Hammer recommended Kiehls (fair trade) Argan Oil skin salve as an ideal multi-tasker so I’ll be following her instructions and slathering it on my hair, hands and face at any given opportunity. (Thinking tight French plait all the way?!) I’ll be especially grateful for the Aveda miniatures when I finally get to a shower on the descent - and will admit to decanting a large dollop of Crème de la Mer into a mini-Muji pot for the flight home. Once a model….

I will attempt to blog as I climb, at least until my Blackberry freezes, so forgive the occasional grainy snap of a scruffy greased-up blonde in seven or eight layers of fleece and Goretech. (I’ll overcompensate on my return, I promise) It won’t be pretty, but Africa will be. I travelled so much alone in Kenya and Tanzania before I had kids and, whatever happens, I want to try to recapture that freedom of spirit; be purely present and reconnect with the bravest toughest part of myself. As a wise Kenyan friend wrote to me the other day, “Forget about the summit, and enjoy the view on your journey….”.

A good life mantra perhaps? Wish me luck…

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12-05-2010
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Kilimanjaro Day One - Base Camp Lodge
04 February, 2010

Forgive the quick text-blogs; 02 does not seem to be talking to Tanzania via email.

A reunion with old friends/fellow climbers and even a swim this morning! First a briefing and kit-checking with our leader Raymond, who I'm already hero-worshipping (something to do with life in his hands?!), followed by slightly competitive snack/medicine comparing with the rest of the climbers. “I'll swap you a whisky miniature for a packet of Nurofen Plus!” Already broken into the liquorice Allsorts! Flew over Kilimanjaro this morning and still completely surreal to imagine our footprints in the snow...

One wobble when I opened a letter from my son, “Be brave, try hard”.
Deep breath. More on the gang...and hopefully the monkeys in the forest...tomorrow.

L.x

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12-05-2010
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Kilimanjaro Day Two – The Climb Begins
04 February, 2010
From the sublime to the ridiculous…

A good eight hours sleep in my tent followed by blissful gentle hike through a Disney-bright jungle. Just as were all starting to feel quite relaxed and confident, stripping down to shorts for lunch, the sky was ripped apart by lightening and our path turned into a steep and treacherous mudslide which we navigated slowly step by step, rock by rock, reaching 12,000 feet whilst giant hailstones whipped our faces and hands until they were numb.

We are still laughing (mostly) but the honeymoon is definitely over!

L.x

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12-05-2010
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Kilimanjaro Day Three - Getting Into The Swing
05 February, 2010
We are a somewhat eccentric gang of five - three men and two women. A bit like a dysfunctional family sent off on an extreme outward bound therapeutic challenge. We've found our rhythm, and the day starts early.

At dawn there are bleary-eyed bodies gently stretching, silhouetted against the jagged pink skyline, and I make us delicious coffee to enable actual conversation. (The cafetiere secretly leapt into my backpack at the last minute and nobody's laughing now! Good move!).

Porridge and banana pancakes for breakfast in the shadow of the peak as we study the map and plan kit. At 13,000 feet on the Shira Plateau, I slept in five layers plus two pairs of socks and a balaclava! It's breathtaking in good ways and also bad as the air thins...

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12-05-2010
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Onwards and Upwards
08 February, 2010

High now and harder to sleep, eat, read, anything. Moment by moment...but all in good shape. So grateful for my old friend Kevin Kollenda's ability to see the funny side of absolutely everything - giggling definitely the best distraction from a cliff to crawl up - or even the fashion crisis of losing my precious Prada shades in a mudslide!

Stood still watching the sunset like a lone scarecrow guarding a desolate moonscape. Only the hardiest silver-white plantlife survives amongst the rocks. The silence is eerie. We are far, far from home.

Entertainment in my tent consists of;
Banagrams (brilliant scrabble-on-speed).
Reading Tolstoy's Resurrection.
Fiddling with my Blackberry which only works for about five mins a day on a random designated rock!
Ipod on Shuffle.
Distribution of spa supplies to group!

Think tomorrow it starts to get scary. And seriously cold. Off to count my layers - a new kind of outfit-planning!

L.x

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12-05-2010
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I'm Dreaming Of...
08 February, 2010

My bed.
A huge long bubble bath.
The smell of my childrens' hair and neck as they fall asleep.
A large cocktail.
Large frogs in my tent (delirious?!)
Apple crumble.
High heels.
Warm toes.
...And the top of this inescapable mountain...

L.X

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12-05-2010
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The End Is Near
08 February, 2010
The end is near. Thank God.

Golden moments punctuate intense fear. A flash of blue sky. The perfect cup of tea; even powdered milk tastes good at this point. A game of Scrabble by torchlight. Getting lost in Tolstoy in my tent when altitude-insomnia strikes. Giggling like a child at the three guys' nonstop banter.

Now camping up in the snow at 16,000 feet. Resigned to the cold. Wearing absolutely everything I packed at all times. Even contemplated curling up in sleeping bag to sleep inside a giant duffle bag at one point. All being well, we'll be at the top at dawn on Tuesday....Looking down on the clouds and up to the wild unknown for now...

I love my Brasher boots.

Lava rock.

Clouds come in.

Zero visibility in the snow.

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12-05-2010
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The Summit
09 February, 2010

We all made it: Hit the summit at sunrise after a night camping in the crater at 18,500 feet. The joy of reaching the top was surreal after a hellish night and 24 hours straight out of a disaster movie.

Long, long story - which I'm still too emotional to tell - but our guide got seriously sick on the climb yesterday leading to an emergency rescue mission (successful, but it was close). Later at camp - as a man lay, perhaps dying, being pumped with oxygen on the mountain - we were virtually alone in camp, in the most remote place any of us had ever been, hearts racing, heads pounding and making emergency contingency plans for descent should one of us get ill or if the rescue team never returned.

Breathlessness compounded by fear is not a recipe for sleep; three of us in a tent relying on body heat and wishing the night to pass...

One last push and we were at the top, all literally on our last legs. Down we go, and the long slow journey home begins.

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12-05-2010
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Kili and Beyond...
15 February, 2010

The Plan…

After the emotional and physical rollercoaster of the 24 hours leading up to those few precious moments under the stars as dawn broke on Uhuru summit, the plan was to sensibly descend, camping halfway down the mountain before racing off to our various planes, trains and automobiles…

The Reality…

So determined was our intrepid gang of five not to camp ONE MORE NIGHT EVER AGAIN that we decided to walk twelve hours straight from top to bottom, only pausing briefly for more of the (by now dreaded) stale bread and fake cheese sandwiches. Strange to encounter a stream of tourists after our lonely (but infinitely more beautiful) off-piste ascent. Much later that night, back at our base camp hotel, I had the best shower of my life - on the second attempt… When I first finally stripped off my layers of Lycra and fleece I stepped into the tiniest trickle of cold water and could have wept. Needless to say, the maintenance men acted fast in the presence of a semi-hysterical woman. I now slightly regret showing off over a glass of wine and an omelette and chips that nothing hurt at all as sadly, three days later, I can still only shuffle downstairs, sideways, crablike. I think my very blood has turned to lactic acid….





The Good News

Our guide was rescued and recovered from acute pulmonary oedema (just about the worst thing that can happen on a mountain), and we are forever grateful to Herman who led both the emergency operation and then us to the summit...

I’ve quickly and quietly raised about £15,000 to be split between Kids Company and Bibii, a tiny school in Kibera - the vast sprawling slum which swirls around Nairobi.

www.kidsco.org.ukwww.made.uk.com (for more info on Bibii)

I must thank a few of my gorgeous and generous sponsors (sorry - a bit Miss World, I know… but), OCADO (also for filling my fridge with my children’s favourite things in my absence), Sir Harold Tillman, Nick Haddow, Sir David Tang, WORKING TITLE FILMS (aka my boyfriend), and others too shy to mention. Thank-you for turning my crazy dream into cash for kids…

I also feel I’ve gained a new and different kind of family in my fellow climbers. Now that my fingers and toes have thawed and my sleeping-bag is packed away in a high, high cupboard, probably (hopefully), forever, I start to remember the surreal laughter of those intense moments at extreme altitude. As I curled up last night at home in my heavenly bed to watch Up with my five year old, I thought of the legendary Kevin K spritzing my pillow (a small pile of dirty gloves), with lavender water and conjuring up Bach on mini-iPod speakers (marry me!), as three of us cuddled together on that freezing last night in the shadow of the glacier praying for dawn to come.

www.kevinkollenda.com/blog
www.africansolutions.org

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21-05-2010
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Oxfam Curiosity Shop Launch

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22-05-2010
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That dress is divine! Anyone know who it's by? I'm guessing perhaps Erdem?

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