Minister swaps Belfast for Mongolian wilderness
Forget photo opportunities on a rainy British beach. One Cabinet minister is about to set off in the hoof prints of Genghis Khan on a gruelling race across Mongolia for his summer holiday.
The Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson is to compete in a horseback race across the steppes of one of the most sparsely populated countries. Conditions will be primitive: according to Paterson, he and his wife Rose will be eating "something called koomis, which I understand is fermented mare's milk".
Swapping inner-city Belfast for Ulan Bator to take part in the Mongol Derby, the couple are to cover more than 600 miles in 10 days. The race is based on the route of the horseback messenger system established by Genghis Khan to communicate across his vast 12th-century empire.
Mr Paterson said: "It's going to be quite rough – in 10 days the only place we get to wash is when we cross a river."
Preparations for the trip, which will raise £50,000 for charity, have not been without incident. In his efforts to lose weight – he has lost 11 pounds – he came off his bike last weekend, giving himself a black eye.
The route involves traversing mountains, marshes, forests and desert, and they have been warned to expect rabies, ticks and severe chafing, among other hazards.
Paterson said: "It is starting to sink in that we are going to be riding 60 miles a day for 10 days on semi-trained horses, which is quite a daunting prospect."
The Mongolian horses they will be riding have been described as "semi-wild, diminutive, fearless, exceedingly tough, and have changed very little over the centuries".
Such characteristics may remind the minister of some of the rioters in Belfast this summer.
- 1 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
George Clooney and Amal fail to get special treatment at New York restaurant
Cindy Crawford 'un-PhotoShopped' viral Marie Claire image was doctored, photographer claims
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant (ACCA, ...
£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has an exciting op...
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Freelance AutoCAD Technician is required to ...