, ,

Wow. We did it. 1000 miles plus a ten mile victory lap. We have carried the boobie love all the way from South Dakota to St Louis. And boy am I proud of the team and myself.

After leaving university, I went into headhunting and after two years of the city slicker life, I woke up on New Years Day morning and realised I wasn’t happy. I went into the office the next day and resigned. Two weeks later I was pursuing the world of tv presenting. Here came four years of absolutely cracking experiences and stories. Everything from representing the UK on a gameshow, being a stand in contestant for Ant and Dec, presenting a festival in Cape Town, organising Bat Mitzvahs, travelling the world to try and become the next Besr Grylls, working on a McFly documentary, becoming a wedding planner to landing my dream job at a magazine.

I slept on a mattress next to my parents bed. With a train covered sheet and duvet. And I was chasing my dreams. But something was still missing. I would say “I want to be a doctor, a war zone reporter or a North Pole/ space researcher.” But I didn’t have the skills for any of those and didn’t really know why I wanted those. Until I realised I still wanted something more. I wanted something that would take over your life, be tough, mean something and you would work your ass off because you were passionate.

Queue, Dave Corntwaite turning up at my office to load magazines for £50 for a piece in his next book. On this day he mentioned the blogger position on an upcoming expedition that was starting in three weeks – swim 1000. Now this opportunity ticked several boxes –

An adventure
A challenge
Away from a desk
In the wilderness
Say yes more
Don’t wait for an illness or disaster to make you turn your life around. Do it now

I was in.


Look where I am now. On the plane home.

So this trip was not only an incredible adventure, challenge, writing experience. But it also gives you the chance to meet and bond with a like minded team who i will know forever. And obviously you have plenty of time to chat on these trips and my career was a topic I discussed. But it was a 15 minute conversation with Vanessa Knight that I will never forget.

After many career conversations with Ness where we would get each other excited about life? It was in 15 minutes that I realised what had happened over the past four years. Tv presenting. Writing. Travel.

I want to become a full time adventurer.

I can see the business cards now. Em Bell – Adventurer. Ok. Eager but the river gives you a lot of time to think.

Everything I love, am interested in, have worked on, comes together in the adventure world. All this could happen without the creative boundaries. This could be mine. In my own style. Embodying everything I had been working on but in a world of adventure. Fighting against breast cancer. And getting chicks on the map of adventure. This is it. The female version of Bear Grylls. You could say Bear Grylls with boobies. It’s taken four years. But if I were a cartoon character, there would have been a lightbulb above my head. Ting. The Missouri River took me on a cracking journey and showed me where to go next.

A life of adventure is just a life of roses and rainbows isn’t it? Emily Bell, get out of the clouds and get back to reality and live a normal life. The Missouri bubble isn’t real. I say no. Why shouldn’t you do something you love? What’s easy is following the mainstream, following the path you are expected to follow and doing what everyone else is doing. What’s hard is turning that down, running away from routine and stability and instead opting for a nomadic lifestyle of adventure, travel, creativity, sights you will never see from your desk, a Monday to Friday filled with hours you are living and a list of friends that you meet along the way. How can you say no to that. And yes, there will be hardships. Physically in the challenges. Mentally as you spend time away from home without stability in that, friends or a job. Difficulty in finding sponsorship and constantly fundraising. Living on minimum money. But why spend your money on a house filled with stuff that might make you miserable. I’m not saying I don’t understand. I’m just saying I need more than that. At the moment. As soon as I’m off round the world with a tiny rucksack, living in a tent, using human power for transport, I’m at my most happy. So why not do this every day. And when the time comes to settle, I might have discovered a whole different path through this.

As Corn would say, it’s too easy to tap your alarm clock. But it’s also too hard to turn down a life of adventure and a life of meeting people like Corn, Ness, Stiffy, Dizzy, Hancock, Morts, Lou and all the other people I’ve mentioned along the way. It’s never been easy for me to tap my alarm, wait for the train, wish away the day, plan for the weekends and get stuck in a world of mediocrity. I never want to settle and whatever people say, I have found my future. And I have never felt so sure and ready to conquer the world of adventure, fight against breast cancer and share my stories with whoever will listen.

Just before I sign off for the last time, I just wanted to give the team a little bit of river love. And then I’m done. I will leave you alone. Until next time…

Dave Cornthwaite (Corn, Ginge, D*ckhead)
Even though you are ginger, I will be forever indebted to you for coming to load magazines at my office and persuading me to come on the trip. You crack me up, have a readable face, never say no and can do anything in the entire world.

Vanessa Knight (Nessy Monster, Douche bag, Ten Tonne Tessy)
So many adventures to come for us. We will join the chicks on the circuit. You are just as disgusting as me, have very long legs, you can eat like a bloke, you are terrifying competitive and are a damn fine person.

Ben Stiff (Stiffy, D*ckhead, Brother)
I am so glad you were on the trip until the end. You are a giant teddy bear, who looks cracking with hair, has the oddest mind, has a brain linked to mine and knows something about everything.

David Zaple (Dizzy Rascal, Medic, Scout Boy)
My wingman. You now have long hair, you like lists, have a talent for accents, find it hard to grow a beard, hate dramas, have a pocket for everything and save lives for a living.

Annabel Hancock (Hancock, Annie Pants, Love)
You are a little chick with some big ideas. You can’t eat without spilling on your clothes, take longer than everyone, wear your heart on your sleeve, have an addictive laugh, pulled off the river chic and find it hard to tell your rights and lefts.

Louisa Currie (Currie Pants, Slug, Kn*bhead)
Your visit was brief but unforgotten. You have an amazing news voice, a cracking northern accent, an impressive dessert stomach, a false sense of confidence in beating me in an eating competition and some incredible slug moves.

Sarah Mortiboys (Morts, D*ckhead, Boob Queen)
The first to leave. The last to be forgotten. You are one mouthy, boozy, hardcore chick who made ME laugh until I weed myself several times. And I cannot wait to see you again.

The closest you will get to understanding this trip will be through the videos, photos and stories for the team. But nothing can explain the intensity, the bond, the beauty and the utter bubble of an adventure that was out of this world and changed my life.