Two Eras of Intrepid Explorers

This morning, I was surprised to learn that 241 years ago to the day Captain James Cook started his third and final voyage……………. It only seems like yesterday he left Plymouth, accompanied by a hail of musket fire, well-wishers badinage and the sound of Rod Stewart’s I Am Sailing.

The principal objective of his third voyage was to find the North West Passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans…….. As much as it beckons me, I’m not going to go down the North West Passage route for a gag.

james cook

Cook’s ship HMS Resolution set sail from Plymouth in 1776 heading for New Zealand, via Tenerife and Cape Town. It was recorded as a relatively trouble free journey; the only fly in the ointment having to turn back ten minutes into the trip when the First Officer realised he’d forgotten his Speedos and Ambre Solaire sun cream.

There was far greater incident on the return trip.  As the ship navigated east after skirting the North American Pacific coastline, Cook and his crew were hamstrung by ice in the Bering Strait. As a consequence, the captain and his crew turned back west into the Pacific. Their re-routed journey to Hawaii, where islanders greeted them as heroes.

The crew were feted by the Hawaiians, who idolised these pale skinned men who brought them tobacco, nylons, cola and mother-in-law jokes.

Sadly, this goodwill didn’t last as the islanders, although liking the tobacco, nylons and the mother-in-law jokes, became concerned when they saw what cola did when poured onto a dirty penny in a cup. Cook and his crew fled in HMS Resolution, with the sound of “Book ’em Danno!”  ringing in their ears.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before they had to turn back due to problems with the ship. Back in Hawaii the conflict was renewed, during which Cook lost his life.

After his remains were buried at sea the crew finally returned to London in 1780, under the command of John Gore. This was a low key event, though, after news of the loss of James Cook muted returning celebrations.



Today also marks the anniversary of the death of the broadcaster and latter day explorer Alan Whicker, who passed away on this day in 2013.

Famed for the catchphrases ‘Hello World’ and “Who the f**k’s stolen my watch?!”, the travel broadcaster/journalist spent decades on TV with a reputation of Mr Geniality………… Well, apart from when he utilised the “Who the f**k’s stolen my watch?!” catchphrase.

It’s rumoured, his trademark tortoise shell spectacles were found by a squirrel in an oak tree in Malton, North Yorkshire. But I started that rumour and trust me it’s complete bollocks!

I’m having to inanely fictionalise this because I don’t know a great deal about Whicker, apart from that his trademark tortoise shell spectacles were found by a squirrel in an Oak tree in Malton, North Yorkshire…………. Oh, hold on, that’s a lie isn’t it! ………….. So really, apart from being aware he fronted travel shows and he wore specs, I know chuff all about him.

I know I could google it, however there is no point regurgitating Wikipedia. You might as well read the entry yourself.


Whicker’s broadcasting era witnessed travel exploration shows being fronted by people who undertook that role as their profession. Unlike now, where they are generally hosted by celebrities famed in other fields.

Anyway, I’m bringing this blog to a close now as my latest epiphanies are getting evermore chuffing ridiculous………. Incidentally, does anyone want to buy Alan Whicker’s watch from me?

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