The alarm sounded and an hour later we were leaving the house. The fear. Did we switch everything off? Have we left in in a suitable state for Lindsey's sister and husband who will be moving in. Too late now, we are on the Trip. It was never meant to be like this. The Trip was supposed to be done authentically. I am, or was a travel snob. The thought of being a backpacker smacks of student loafers, with a list of destinations to tick off a list as a check in and out of travellers hostels on the round-the-world circuit, ticket bought from STA travel... The backpackers who have 'done' India. Yeah yeah, they've flown into Mumbai, popped down to Goa then headed up North to spend a month in Rajasthan before going to Delhi, Agra and Varanassi. Their India experience ends there, crossing the boarder into Nepal with another country to 'do,' and maybe trek around the Himalaya and raft the rapids to boot. Back packers? Bunch of arse.
So this travel snob had a vision of wandering the globe in the style of Dick Whittington. Just a stick and a small bundle strung at the end of it, over the shoulder and on my merry way. Never scrounging, maintaining a wardrobe appropriate to the local custom and discarding it on entering new habitats.
Not that this was every really a probable or realistic mode of travel, but the dream all the same. What killed this dream? The female of the species. Whilst all a man requires to travel is a toothbrush, tooth paste, bar of soap, change of under wear and change of clothes, the woman demands far more. And so I find my pack mostly filled up with products for the woman, because if you can be sure of getting anything else overseas, you cannot rely on local feminine sanitary products. And who am I to question this assumption having never needed to rely on such things. Stop. I am not being entirely fair, we are travelling through many different temperate zones, Scandinavia will be cold, Siberia will be freezing, how can it be anything else? And then China. And Vietnam. And decisions. Sleeping bag- yes. Mosquito net - no. And a list of necessities that would never have fit into the dick Whittington dream. Anti-malarials for six months, first aid kit, needles, and the technology.... And before I knew it my pack was full and weighed in excess of 20 kilos, but as we walked to the train felt like fifty. Lindsey's pack was similarly full, and despite packing and repacking this was the most efficient use of space with the minimum number of items we could manage.
There is something refreshing about leaving your house, switching on the alarm, locking the door and walking to the local station to begin an adventure. And starting at the railhead makes life much easier, you get a seat immediately. Leaving early in the morning meant that we were soon in the chaos of Monday morning suburban rush hour. Ha! to think I used to do this every morning, (to think I will do it again when we return in January). I felt aloof and smug, and Lindsey felt claustrophobic, unused to the battle of getting a seat on the 07:38 and the angry rebuttal of "I can't go any further" to the request of 'can you please move down' about the only conversation that is entertained amongst strangers on the early morning commute. And we didn't make matters any easier with our giant packs, swinging into all and sundry (another reason for disliking backpackers). But ho hum. And suddenly fatigue sets in.
Sleep eluded me last night. I wasn't consumed by fear and boding of the impending trip, or sadness as the realisation that this was the last night in my bed, such a comfortable bed, for quite a few months. I just couldn't get to sleep. And no sooner had I fallen into my slumber I was awake again. I wasn't alone, periodically Lindsey would nudge me and quietly enquire whether I was awake. To be honest, this lack of fatigue wasn't entirely a bad thing, it meant that I could complete the monumental task of recording the soundtrack to our trip on the mini disc player, a birthday present my brother had kindly, if belatedly brought me earlier in the day. On the hour I found myself walking a slow somnambulism down the stairs to switch the CD to copy.
So we cross London on the tube (nightmare) and hit Kings Cross. Early. An hour to wait. But the hour passes, watching the people go by- something we are going to have to get used to... And then we board the 09:30 GNER train to Newcastle. Obviously not at half past nine. No, as the intercitying on trains commences we get off to an inauspicious start. We regret to inform you that the train will be running twenty minutes late. Late. We are late. I am now writing somewhere between York and Darlington. Storm clouds loom large out of the window. The paper confirms what I thought I heard in the shipping forecast last night- North Sea- Strong west winds. Heavy showers. Moderate visibility. And most ominously- Rough Seas. It's going to be a pleasant crossing. I forecast Technicolor pebbledash in the toilet later tonight. ho hum..
But for now I will try and do the remote thing and get this off the palm pilot and onto the web in a wireless interconnected style. And so ends the first of a few pages of burble. n-joi.