BEST friends who met at an Aberystwyth school are racing across Canada in a bid to win £20,000.
Cathie, 49, who now lives in South Wales and Tricia, 48, who lives in Devon, struck up their friendship whilst both were pupils at Penglais Comprehensive School and are currently starring in the BBC One show Race Across the World.
During the third episode, which aired on Wednesday, the pair revealed how they met at school in Aberystwyth, aged 13, when Cathie’s family moved to west Wales from Plymouth.
In the show, Cathie says: “I was really worried about that first day in the new school because I’d been bullied previously.
“I didn’t know whether I would make friends and I remember I went back home and I just burst into tears and my dad was mortified and he said what’s the matter.
“And I said ‘I had a really nice day’.
“And obviously with Trish it became a very special friendship.”
Tricia added: “It was a magical time.”
The third instalment of the BAFTA-winning series from Studio Lambert is the most extreme to date.
Five pairs of intrepid travellers will race across Canada. Ocean to ocean.
Starting out at the very edge of the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver – the teams will travel over 16,000 kilometres across six time zones all at ground level to the finish line perched on the rugged Atlantic coast, North America’s most easterly city - St John’s Newfoundland.
Without the use of air travel or any of the trappings of modern-day life, the pairs must navigate their way through the very edges of civilisation, taking in vast prairies, untouched wilderness, and great lakes, with only the cash equivalent of doing the same journey by plane to their final destination.
Taking place against the stunning backdrop of Canada but with no mobile phone, internet access or credit cards to assist them, the competing travellers will discover that to reach the finish line quickest, and win the £20,000 cash prize, they need to rely on their travel skills and ingenuity as well as the kindness of strangers.
Following the third episode on Wednesday evening, Cathie and Tricia are in first place, but there are still many miles to cover and budgets are dwindling.
Here is what the pair had to say before setting off on the trip of a lifetime
What made you want to take part in the series?
Cathie: Initially, when Trish asked me if I fancied doing something completely bonkers, I said ‘yes! That sounds great’. I love to travel but it was very much as a support to Trish. As time has gone on and we've got further and further into the process, it's become much more about me having a break from being something to everybody, and just having some time to be selfish and do what I want to do. The timing is fantastic for me, my children have both left home now and don’t need me 24 hours a day anymore.
Tricia: Firstly, because I like doing bonkers things. But for me, it's to prove to myself that with my sight loss I can still do stuff and that I'm not sight loss Tricia, I'm Tricia with sight loss – because a lot of people do label you. I also want to get it out there that people that have got sight loss can still do whatever they want to do, obviously, apart from driving. So, for me, it's proving to myself that I can do it, getting some of ‘me’ back and trying to get that confidence back.. I wouldn't want to do it with anybody but Cathie because she's the tonic to my gin..
Cathie: We give each other confidence. I'm not as cheeky normally, but I am when I'm with her. We bounce off each other.
Have you picked up any valuable tips from watching previous series?
Cathie: Yes. Bringing a notebook and pen, it wouldn't have occurred to me initially, I don't know why but that’s the first thing I’ve picked up. Also being careful with money and spending it wisely. Not necessarily always going for the most expensive, fastest option. We initially said we will try to work quite early on while we've still got plenty of energy, but I think we may just see how that goes.
Tricia: To make sure that we hold enough money back for the end leg, and don't be afraid to ask for things. I think you've got to come out of your comfort zone and do it. Oh and a day bag, because I wouldn't have thought about that but it’s room to put things in like a camera.
Have you got a strategy?
Cathie: Yes, we have. We want to move at night as much as possible, so saving on board. Work for food. And we're both cheeky enough to just go up and ask people for help. I think people are inherently nice and want to help you, particularly in Canada. The Canadians are so friendly so I think asking people for help will be a big thing and we certainly won't be afraid of doing that.
Tricia: We want to get as much experience out of things as we can. Trying to stay on the move, not getting stagnant working in one place, enjoy being in the moment and holding money back for the last leg if we get there.
Cathie: Yes, I've got a code word book. I like to do code words. Where you get three letters, and you have to fill in the blanks. That's a weird thing to pack but I've got images of being on a bus for 36 hours, so I think I'm going to need something to do. I’ve also packed post-it notes so we can have a game of Heads Up! in case we’re stuck on transport for hours on end.
Tricia: A pair of headphones without any music to go with them. I just bought the headphones, and then thought – “Oh, yeah, I've got nothing to play music on!”
What essentials that you couldn't travel without will you take with you?
Cathie: I've got my St Christopher that my husband Gareth gave it to me. It was given to him by his mum, who we sadly lost 10 years ago. She gave it to him when he was quite young, to protect him on his travels. He ended up backpacking around the world before I met him, so I've got that and that's very special to me.
Tricia: My white cane and Cathie.
Why did you decide to travel with one another?
Cathie: I can't imagine doing it with anybody else. We do lots of challenges together. Even when we were younger, she was always getting me into trouble by getting me to do mad things that I would never have thought of doing on my own.
Tricia: We've done a lot of crazy stuff together. I think because we know each other inside and out. We just had to look at each other the other day and both knew exactly what we were thinking. Cathie is just fun, but also sensible, she's got brains but can also be a bit bonkers.
How do you feel about travelling without your mobile phone and credit cards?
Cathie: The only reason not having my phone will bother me is because my instinct is to find things out. It goes against the grain because I'm normally the one sorting things out, organising people, and thinking for other people. Relying on someone else to do that for me is quite difficult. The money side of things and budgeting will be difficult as it’s hard to anticipate how much we will need when there are so many unknowns.
Tricia: I’m fine without my mobile phone. I think I’ll find not having a credit card or some money of our own really odd. You’re at everyone else's mercy. I’ll miss being able to contact my husband and sharing stuff with him. But it will be really quite liberating not going on social media and not getting 300 emails through. I feel a little bit, not isolated as such, but at somebody else's mercy not having money.
What do you think you’ll miss the most from home?
Cathie: Oh gosh, lots of things. I will miss Gareth and my boys terribly, and cwtches with my cat every evening. It will be hard not to have my usual phone catch up with my Mum and Dad on my way home from work too and I will definitely be craving chocolate by about day two!
Tricia: I’ll miss a few things. My kitten, Wonky, my bed, and of course chocolate. Oh yes, not forgetting my husband!
How have you prepared for the trip?
Cathie: Quickly! I’ve been working right up until the last minute. Trish and I have been talking every day so as far as packing and things that we need to make sure we have, it’s been fine. We talk about the practicalities and mentally prepare every evening.
Tricia: I haven’t really, although I have been doing a lot of walking. I do have a plan, but I imagine we may have to change it as we can’t predict what’s to come.
The first three episodes are available on BBC iPlayer, with the fourth installment airing next Wednesday at 9pm