Journey of a lifetime has ups and downs

Camping in the harsh terrain of the Gobi Desert, negotiating for two days with border guards in China and being robbed in Russia - not exactly the quiet retirement that many people would be hoping for.

Camping in the harsh terrain of the Gobi Desert, negotiating for two days with border guards in China and being robbed in Russia - not exactly the quiet retirement that many people would be hoping for.

For Robert Croydon, the 10-week journey from Beijing to Norwich in a 4X4 Toyota Landcruiser was not only a welcome trip of a lifetime but also a personal quest to raise money for charity.

And when the recently retired managing director of Winsor Bishop jewellers in Norwich returns today, he will have raised more than £7,000 for the International Red Cross.

"The route has taken us across China, the Gobi Desert, Mongolia, Siberia, Russia and into Moscow and St Petersburg. We then continued west through the Baltic States and back across Europe up to Norwich," said Mr Croydon, who was accompanied by his Dutch friend and respected jeweler Jaap Fabery De Jonge.

"This is a personal voyage for me and the journey of a lifetime but I felt it would become even more meaningful if I was able to raise funds for the International Red Cross."

But the trip has not been without incident, as Mr Croydon, 63, details in his online journal.

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On June 12, he wrote: "Border crossings are clearly not our thing. We arrive at the Mongolian/Russian border and for no apparent reason the Russian border is closed. Not even Russians could get into their own country. We spend another night in Mongolia, this time sleeping on a floor next to 10 Russians. Actually we had a fun evening with them, aided by liberal quantities of vodka."

There have also been some sour notes, as he writes on June 29: "After the early excitement of the Altai mountains in Siberia, Russia soon became a place to get through rather than enjoy.

"I was robbed in a metro station in St Petersburg (lost $100), which took the shine off the place a bit."

Mr Croydon is due back at Norwich Cathedral at 12.30pm today.

There is still time to donate at www.justgiving.com/rcroydon or send a cheque to Winsor Bishop, 41 & 43 London Street, Norwich, NR2 1HU. To read more of Mr Croydon's diary visit www.winsorbishop.co.uk

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