Fylde travellers locked down in paradise

Ever since lockdown began, we have all had little choice about where to stay and where to go, with the vast majority of us confined to home and travel severely restricted.

Monday, 1st June 2020, 3:45 pm
Chris and Gabs on their island paradise

But what if you are miles away anyway and the question of returning home in the midst of the global crisis isn’t really an option, even if travel circumstances permit?

How about Lockdown in Paradise? As much as we love our own little corners of the world, it certainly rolls off the tongue better than Lockdown in Poulton, Pilling or Plumpton and it’s exactly where intrepid travellers Chris O’Hare and fiancée Gabriella Gratrix are settled down for the next couple of months.

As we reported earlier this year, the couple left behind their careers and home in Thistleton, near Elswick, in July 2018 to embark on a seven-year trek across the globe.

Chris and Gabs are on the Thai island until at least the end of July

They aim to finish in Madagascar in 2026 - and there is going to be a wedding at some stage, as the couple plan to tie the knot while on their travels.

They are no strangers to travelling with little more than their bikes and a tent -but their preparations for their mammoth adventure were thrown off course when Gabriella was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.

She underwent treatment, including a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, and the couple set off on their incredible journey from the Nightingale Centre, in Manchester, which supported her recovery.

The centre is home to the charity Prevent Breast Cancer, and the couple are raising funds and awareness of the cause on their travels.

They were enjoying the delights of Thailand, their 27th country so far, when coronavirus swept the world – and they now are locked down on Phi Phi island off the Thai coast – population 2,500 – until at least the end of July.

But, with the help of the friendly locals and some of the best nature imaginable, they have all the food and water they need, and an added bonus is that the island where Chris proposed to Gabs four years ago is just a short distance away – and they have already paddled there for old times’ sake.

Chris said: “We are both very well, and in a safe area living from our tent on the beach with the locals known as the Sea Gypsies.

“They have been teaching us how to live off both ocean and land – off the fish we catch and the fruit we collect, while we purify the sea water to drink and there’s also a nearby well.

“The Thai government stopped boats coming to the island some time ago, as no-one is allowed to come here or leave for the foreseeable future, so far July 31.

“Once we can move again we continue our world cycling tour, next stop Malaysia.

“The only slight downside is we cannot cycle our bicycles on the island as there are no roads or anywhere to cycle, so we keep ourselves fit by doing our daily run from one end of the small village across the beach and back, when the sun is going down and the temperature is slightly cooler.

“We also do a lot of snorkelling as the water is so clear a lovely shade of blue and the temperature is like being in a warm bath.

“And we paddled to Bamboo Island, which brought back so many happy memories. There are certainly worse places top be.”

Details of the couple’s progress and how to donate to Prevent Breast Cancer are at www.chrisandgabsworldcyclingtour.com