Monthly Archives: August 2015

Bags packed… No going back now….

MARK:  As Joe’s little black Corsa disappeared round the corner from the Drop Off Point at Heathrow T3, we just looked at each other.  Tears welled up. “So that’s it” I whispered to Sarah, “no going back now”…

Bags packed - wonder what we have left!

Bags packed – wonder what we have left!

Dawning realisation I guess.  750 hours of planning over 18 months, a few shouting matches along the way and suddenly all the bravado of nonchalantly saying “yer we are going to travel the World” has finally hit home – perhaps I am not Michael Palin after all!?   This is not a two week holiday.  It is going to test us both from a logistics point of view and also from a personal/relationship point of view.  Sarah has joked that we are leaving on the same flight from Heathrow, but is “not so sure” we will be coming back from Rio next May on the same one. She has a real point.  How many couples in their married life actually spend 250+days together 24/7?  When I throw a little paddy or go off on one, how do I manage that, when I’m bitten all over by mosquitos and have used my last sachet of Imodium?

Can we do it?  I hope so…

As a planner – ney, control freak, I have thought many times what my last posting would be as I left UK shores.  I resolved weeks a go to leave that bit of planning to the end to see what came in to my head on the day – wow a little bit of spontaneity!  So, as we sip our Bombay gin and tonics in the quiet, Executive Lounge and mentally prepare for the sensory overload of down-town Delhi, I have to thank my Mum for sending me these wonderful words which really strike a chord and mean I need say nothing more….

As you journey through life, choose your destinations well but do not hurry there.
You will arrive soon enough.
Wander the back roads and forgotten paths, keeping your destination in your heart, like a fixed point of a compass.
Seek out new voices, strange sights, and ideas foreign to your own.
Such things are riches for the soul.

And if upon your arrival you find that your destination is not exactly as you dreamed, do not be disappointed.
Think of all you would have missed but for the journey there, and know that the true worth of your travels lies not in the journey’s end, but in whom you come to be along the way.



No longer at the crossroads – time to jump in the deep end


Categories: Countdown Blog

Packing… better get used to it!

SARAH:  Thought it about time that I “wrote” a post, as packing (so I am told) is my domain!!

I now realise how good that salesman in Cotswold Outdoors was.  How on earth will we get all of this into two 15kg back packs?  The biggest challenge though, as you ladies will understand, is the prospect of not having things like a hair dryer, make up and all the little extras that you normally take on a two week holiday.  It’s now hitting home that priorities have shifted from perfume and outfit accessories to mosquito nets, first aid kits and deet!

Thank you to everyone who has provided a range of packing “top tips”.  You can probably see from the photos below that our kit now includes, door stops, duck tape and ear plugs.  However, I am still having a debate with Mark about him taking tennis balls so he can play cricket with the locals in India.

The next time you see all this gear, it will I hope, be safely packed away ready for Joe to take us to T3 at LHR.  Now, back to the challenge.

A few items to pack!

 A few items to pack!


Ready for anything.

 Ready for anything

Categories: Countdown Blog

Flypast, Fireworks and Cake!














MARK: It’s not every day you travel the World. It’s not every day your friends organise a low level fly past, fireworks display and create an amazing cake – to say good bye!

But that is exactly what happened when we were invited down to Bournemouth courtesy of James and Trisha Duckworth. First up on Saturday afternoon the Red Arrows flashed by tipping their wing tips in salute as we stood watching them over the sea. Then as dusk arrived, the sky was lit with a fantastic display of red, gold and silver.

And then we were caught cold. Truly shocked, stunned and humbled.

Invited through from the balcony, we were amazed to see on the table a beautiful cake with many friends gathered around admiring what was a true work of art. But it wasn’t any old cake as the photo shows. It was a brilliant reproduction of our Osprey Back Pack, complete with safety fastening and logo.

For once I was lost for words and it was Sarah who responded with a brilliant “off the cuff” vote of thanks to our generous friends.

Reality is hitting home now – and it all seems a bit strange to say the least.

Nervous – a bit, apprehensive – a bit, excited a lot.

Categories: Countdown Blog

Chinese “take away” last hurdle – now let’s WOK and roll!

MARK: I’m a control freak.  Those that know me will testify to that fact.  The only problem is that after 52 years I have realised you can’t control everything in life.  The weather, Middlesbrough FC’s rise and fall, erupting volcanoes in Ecuador or terrible terrorist atrocities like those witnessed in Bangkok on Monday…

And the same goes for Chinese Visas.  The process is the process and there ain’t anything that mere mortals can do to change it.  As visas are only issued for three months from date of issue, we had to leave this part of the planning right until the end.  Part of me wanted to plan contingencies in case we could not get that all important bit of paper.  But where do you stop?  Just the thought of getting a new Passport plus an Indian and Vietnamese visa and the rescheduling of six internal flights, four trains and two buses in India was bad enough never mind the actual nightmare of doing it!

So when the email came through yesterday from Dora @ China Travel Service with the good news that we had been granted visas, we both breathed a collective sigh of relief.  This morning I jumped on a South West Train and headed in to London town for the last time to get the Passports/visas from Euston Road.  No chancing this last hurdle of delivery by a courier.

It has proved exactly the right decision to use a third party to get the Visa on our behalf.  But one word of warning.  If you are ever applying for Chinese Visa, do ensure your signature on the Application is EXACTLY the same as the one in your Passport.  Mine only had a line “partly” under my signature and it took a black pen to add a one cm line to make it look the same as my PP.  That seemingly insignificant thing could have been the difference between getting the Visa or having it rejected.  Dora earned her money with that spot!

So attention now turns to packing and preparing the Household Action Document (HAD) for Joe which now runs to 25 pages of do’s and don’ts.  A half day training session and one hour multiple-choice examination is being held on Thursday 27th August, should you be in the Frimley area.  FOOTNOTE – Joe sailed through the multiple-choice questions scoring 36 our of 40 – A* – BUT his practical he only scraped a C and must do better if he is to go on and study House Cleaning at Masters level – like the pun??????????

Getting close now – just 12 sleeps and then wok and roll, India here we come!



Categories: Countdown Blog

Bailey’s Bush Tucker Trial Boob – just no BROCCOLI!

MARK: You know when you say something and then next day live to regret it? Um, well that’s exactly what’s happened to me. And in the cold light of a grey Frimley Monday morning, perhaps I should just have kept my big mouth shut!

Yesterday afternoon, the sun was shining and the fizz and beer were going down a treat. Guests of the Duckworth’s at their lovely garden party, conversation swiftly turned to international cuisine on our trip and what I was looking forward to eating most. “Street food” was my answer and then for some obscure reason (perhaps to do with the empty bottle in front of me) I asked the group to write down what they would like me to eat as part of a Foodie World Challenge. Big, big mistake!

As you can see from the photos below, some of the items I can do standing on my head – for example a gin in every country. Guinea Pigs I am told are not too bad. Even Kangaroo Penis’s I can handle, (if you pardon the expression) – if well cooked. But Broccoli – OMG! I hate the stuff with a passion, ever since I broke a tooth in Florida ten years ago. That is going to be a real problem.

Any way, if you want to add to my horror list, please feel free to add your food suggestions and I will try and do my best to deliver with a photograph as evidence. Just nothing green please.   IMG_7142 IMG_7143

Categories: Countdown Blog

Blame Ted the Camel…

MARK: “So where did the inspiration come from, for this hair brained idea of travelling the World?”  It’s a good question and one we’ve been asked a lot recently. The answer is, underneath the stars whilst sleeping out in the middle of the Wadi Rum Desert, where we met Ted the Camel.

Ted isn’t really a camel – he’s a lovely chap, whose married to an even lovelier lady called Lesley. They were our travelling buddies around Jordan a couple of years ago and regaled us with loads of stories of how they had travelled around the World, having decided to simply “take off” from their Cornwall home, a little later in life….

We were impressed! So much so, that we said then and there, “that’s what we’ll do!”

So where does the camel come in? Well, truth be told I sometimes get the hump – hard to believe, I know! But there were a couple of people in our travel group, who let’s just say were a bit of a pain. Ted kept winding me up about this. So enjoying a couple of G and T’s on the flight back from Amman, my new friend with a glint in his eye presented me with a small present – a fridge magnet…

Ted the Camel!

Ted the Camel!

I promptly named him ‘Ted’ and @ 35,000ft, promised that if we ever did travel, our little friend would come too – a promise we will fulfil over the next nine months – watch out for the photos of Ted on Tour!   Meanwhile, if you are ever in Cornwall – go and say hi to Ted. He’s the skipper of the boat that takes people from the Cornish mainland across to St Michael’s Mount when the tide’s in. A top bloke – a real inspiration!

The first time Sarah has ever listened to a man.   IMG_4916   IMG_4956

So you know what Ted looks like – here he is on his boat with Sarah, with Ted the Camel and with his lovely wife Lesley


Categories: Countdown Blog

The “end” of the Grand Depart

MARK – The end of our Grand Depart 2015 around Yorkshire and pleased that our trip coincided with Yorkshire Day! It’s all been a bit strange really. Seeing family and friends for the last time. Visiting areas of the County that I have not seen for many years. Eating and drinking too much, culminating in a visit to a wonderful Indian restaurant in Leigh (Lancs) – will this be the taste of things to come, next month?

The taste of things to come - Lancashire style

The taste of things to come – Lancashire style

Next week, we have some serious organisational things to do. That all important Chinese Visa needs to be obtained. Trouble is, you can’t get it until three months before you enter/leave China, which gives us only a small window as we leave for India in just a month’s time.

Looking forward to see Joe after 10 days away. Sarah is preparing to inspect the cleanliness of the house and will be using this a yardstick for next week’s housekeeping training programme – poor Joe me thinks.

As I write this short note, the sun has come out. How is it, that the temperature today is nearly ten degrees cooler in the north?

Categories: Countdown Blog

Going Live!

Training over.  Going live.  Follow the link below and check out the pandas!

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