Week 1: Wolves, thieves, a four legged friend… and the adventure of writing
1st December, 2020. By Tim Cope
Have you ever woken with a fright?
If you are like me, then it has probably happened many times. Thankfully it usually turns out to be nothing more than a bad dream. Every now and then, however, worst fears are realised…
In 2004 I had one such night.
At the time I was camping in the middle of the vast plains of the Mongolian steppe (you might need to look up that word if you have never heard it). It must have been around two or three o’clock in the morning when I was suddenly woken. By what you ask?
Well at first it was the feeling of the earth vibrating underneath where I slept. I thought it could have been some kind of mini-earthquake. But then came the sound of horses galloping away into the night…and someone sniggering.
For a moment I lay still, my mind racing. Could it really be?
I came to my senses, kicked away my sleeping bag and leapt out of the tent into the dark. Before too long I reached the place where I had tied my horses up. They were nowhere to be seen.
As I stood there trembling, barefoot, and screaming into the night reality sank in: just five days into my dream adventure to ride horses 10,000km from Mongolia to Hungary my horses had been stolen.
Only days earlier some friendly Mongolian nomads had looked on at me with concern.
“Why are you not travelling with a gun? What about the wolves when they attack in the night? What will you when the thieves steal your horses.”
I had laughed at them. Lots of people had tried to scare me before, but wolves and thieves were way down my list of worries. What scared me most was that I couldn’t actually ride a horse…in fact I was terrified of horses (a story for another time).
I couldn’t know it yet, but this would not be the last time I would be left scared and cold out on the middle of the steppe. My journey to Hungary would take me more than three years, and in that time my horses would be stolen many times to come. Then there would be the wolves, the freezing cold – yes it does get to -52 degrees Celsius on the Kazakhstan steppe- and the searing hot deserts.
But in the end I would get my horses back, I would survive, and I would look back on these adventures as some of the most memorable and exciting times of my life.
It was during times of adventure after all that I learned the most. For example:
the importance of making friends
being brave but careful at the same time
listening to others but also trusting in myself.
Most importantly it was in times of adventure that I made many new friends. One friend in particular would stay with me for fourteen years and completely change my life. You will meet him soon, I promise – his name is Tigon, and one hint, he is definitely of the furry, four-legged variety.
Oh I forgot to introduce myself, by the way.
I am Tim Cope, and I’m an adventurer, and a writer. I have actually loved writing since I was in grade two, and my dream was to be an adventurer since I was about fourteen years old. I have had many adventures, including riding bicycles across Russia to Beijing, rowing a wooden boat to the Arctic and of course riding horses across the steppes from Mongolia to Europe.
I have recently written my first young reader’s book, ‘Tim & Tigon’ and its this story that I am most excited to tell you about over the next couple of months.
So am I a writer who goes on adventures, or an adventurer who writes? Well, what many people don’t realise is that for me, the biggest and longest adventure of all has actually been writing.
Someone once told me that ‘you would never write a book if you knew what it was going to be.’
Writing, and reading, is afterall an adventure – you have to challenge yourself, navigate the unknown, and you just never know what surprise is waiting around the corner. For me writing is all about learning about my personal experiences, internalizing and externalising, expressing to others, and getting to know myself and the world better.
During my blogging I can’t wait to hear about your stories. Hopefully by the end you might agree with me that writing and adventure are actually very closely joined together.
For my first challenge: