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Mick Hobday trying to eat corn flakes in every single country around the world
CORN flakes are perhaps not the most exciting meal in the world. But the humble cereal becomes rather more interesting when eaten among the pyramids in Egypt or accompanied by camel milk in Mauritania.
And eating a bowl of corn flakes in every country in the world has become the life's ambition of Mick Hobday from Fareham.
The 33-year-old is ten years through what he estimates will be a 40-year mission to tuck into the cereal in every country.
So far he has managed 60, having spent most of the last decade travelling.
He came up with the idea after falling in love with travelling and deciding he wanted to visit every country.
But having set himself this mission he realised it probably wouldn't be a first, so came up with the unique challenge of having a bowl of corn flakes in every one.
“I imagined myself travelling to all the countries and then finding out that someone else as already done it. I wanted something that was funny and corn flakes you can buy everywhere. I liked them a lot as a kid too so I thought 'why not?',” he says.
“I see myself carrying on like this for another 25 to 30 years,” he adds.
“I have around 130 countries to do to complete my mission (different sources quote there as being between 189 and 196 countries, depending on your opinion of territory disputes). Seeing the world and having cornflakes in every country is what I want to do. It's my mission.”
Mick has always had an adventurous spirit, which he puts down in large part to his being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of nine.
“It instilled a 'I'm here for a good time, not a long time' mentality in me,” he explains.
He went to university but didn't want to embark on a career immediately so went travelling with a friend from Alaska to Argentina.
It was supposed to be a 16-month trip before he settled down but he caught the travel bug.
He realised he didn't want to spend the majority of his waking life working.
He has managed to travel to some 63 countries (three were before he started the corn flake mission) on a shoestring budget, spending on average £3,600 per year, which he says works out as £14 per travelling day, working for short bursts, sometimes back in the UK and sometimes while travelling.
During that time he has had some amazing adventures. He lived in New York for a while and married a tattoo artist at a drive through registry office in Las Vegas, has helped to excavate what are thought to be pyramids in Bolivia and been to some of the most stunning places on Earth, including the Sahara Desert and Machu Picchu.
But surprisingly, the occasion that stands out as a highlight was when he and his then girlfriend were almost kidnapped by a member of Al-Qaeda who had offered to give them a lift from Mauritania to Mali but were rescued by border control soldiers who realised that something was going on.
In fact, many of his favourite memories are of scrapes he has got himself into and then out of, a number of which were a result of his diabetes.
A highlight for him was when he found himself in the street with only shorts and a top and no money in Bolivia with no idea how he had got there but managed to figure out where he had left his possessions and was reunited with them!
Indeed, although diabetes does cause him some problems, he says he wouldn't want not to have it.
“If I did my life again I'd give myself diabetes again. Some of the situations I've been in have been scary at the time but because I've lived them and been able to learn from them I'm very glad I've had them,” he explains.
“And it's shaped my personality so much. Without it I would be a different person. It doesn't matter what obstacles are in my way I will jump over them. It's definitely made me who I am.”
Mick has written and self-published a book about his adventures in the hope of inspiring other people to travel and to show that factors like budget and disease don't need to hold you back.
One person who he has definitely inspired to travel is his second wife, Steph.
The pair became friends at school when they were 11 but after Mick's family moved away when he was 16 they lost touch.
But a chance meeting in London when they were both 31, led to love.
“It was an absolute whirlwind. Three days later we were engaged and I moved in with her!” he says. They married in 2011.
“When we met she was head of resources for a FTSE 250 company so she was one of these people with a blackberry working until 2am. She was definitely a career girl and that's changed a bit since she met me. She worked for another year in that job and we saved up for a trip (seven weeks in America and sic cycling round Portugal). Since she quit her job we sold jacket potatoes from a van and now she's thinking about going into antiques.”
Mick says that being with Steph has modified his travelling plans a little but he certainly has no plans to abandon his corn flake eating mission or settle down.
“I can't imagine ever wanting to settle down and get a job in an office. I think I'd rather die. I don't mean to be shocking. Having had the ten years I've had, the thought of working Monday to Friday and living for the weekend, would make me miserable.
“There's no going back for me. I couldn't stop doing what I'm doing.”
- Mick's book, The Adventure of a Hard-Up, Diabetic Traveller with a Corn Flake Problem is available in a Kindle edition from Amazon.
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