Living the Dream 32. Travel

As this post publishes, I’ll be setting out on a trip back to the UK. Travel was always going to figure in Living the Dream. I have two businesses based in the UK and though much can be done remotely, sometimes, boots on the ground are required.

The attack on Margaret and Nero led to a reschedule of plans, but as February begins, it’s time to get on the road. Or at least on the plane. I’m visiting my Mum, then off to a pen show to sell notebooks, before coming over all-corporate cobra and meeting some clients for my consultancy business. The trip is as short as I can make it; Margaret remains nervous and even though her sister is here, she will feel better when I’m back home.

Throughout the nineties and the noughties, I travelled extensively for work and developed a love/hate relationship with it. Mostly, I love a little travel, am comfortable with more travel and hate lots of travel. As with so many things, it’s about balance. It has been four months since I boarded a plane, so I am looking forward to this trip.

Cyprus to London is a five hour flight or thereabouts. Add on check-in times, transfers then the whole exercise takes nine hours. I’m flying in the evening and will either catch up with some work or some reading. I’m hand luggage only, so that cuts out some of the inevitable hassle of checking in, waiting for bags etc. Living from a small case, is, I discovered, liberating. I have made the decisions ahead of time, when packing. I’ll know what I’m wearing each day, weather and changes of plan be damned.

My last meeting is on Monday afternoon in London and I’m not flying until Tuesday morning. It may be that I catch up with some people, or perhaps not. A quiet evening in London might be just the ticket. If the weather is fine, I’ll walk around town, enjoying the shops, the wine bars and some food. If it’s wet, I’ll nest in the corner of a warm restaurant with a bottle of wine and a good book. As a young man, I loathed eating alone in a restaurant. Now, firmly middle-aged, I rather enjoy it.

Short trips focus the mind too. Having invested time and money to be somewhere, there is a natural inclination to want to make the most of the opportunity. I find myself more determined, persistent and absolute when travelling. There is a certainty about need to make a deal there and then. One thing that I have learned and integrated into my approach, is that I endeavour to complete all trip follow-up before I disembark the return flight. I compose E-mails, formulate offers, ready to send once I have had a chance to review them the next day. This contributes to maximising value from the trip.

Once off the plane, I’ll soon be back at home, playing with Spice and relishing the warmer temperatures.

Living the Dream – 15. Packed

Packed

Packed. Our entire house has been packed. As this post is published, the container is on the truck, on its way to the ship.

Late Saturday night, I returned from the Camino , having walked 130 miles in 6 days, tired but happy.

On Tuesday morning, three cheery guys, well, two cheery guys and a moody, quiet one, turned up ready to get the house packed. The challenge is to stop them packing stuff. Let your attention drift for a second and your hand luggage is beautifully encased in cardboard and packing-tape.
They have accounted for two short packing days and then to load the container itself on the third. This includes the car, which needs to be valeted before it goes into the container. Well, you wouldn’t want any English dirt getting into Cyprus, would you?

If anything, it’s surprising how quickly the house is broken down into cardboard boxes and furniture components.

Powerless

Margaret and I are alternately excited and growling at each other. So much to do and yet such a feeling of redundancy. Things are happening around us. Tenants move into the house next week.
Nero, the beloved miniature schnauzer, begins his journey on Friday, when he goes to spend a few days with the agency that are shipping him to Cyprus. We have a car booked for 4am on Saturday. We will arrive on Saturday afternoon, with plenty of time for some sunbathing and a dip in the pool before dinner. Nero arrives on Tuesday lunchtime, completing the family again.

Holiday

Margaret has declared us ‘on holiday’ until the container arrives a couple of weeks later. Time to recharge before taking on the task of unpacking and rearranging everything. There will be some admin to get started – applying for residence permits and the like, as well as dealing with the aftermath of the burglary.
That said, I’m looking forward to some swimming, some golf and frankly, some rest.

T minus 2!

img_0561

Good Grief.

It’s happening. T minus 2. Too late to back out now.

Although – not too late to make a donation.

24 Hours from now, I will be waiting for Stuart Smith (it was ever thus) at Bilbao Airport.

48 hours from now, I will be toiling through the Pyrenees, closing in on Roncesvalles, gasping for a beer and a lie down.

“ANDERSON!!! I bet you are laughing your head off!”

The bag is packed. (5.2kg if you are interested.) Hanging from the bag is the obligatory scallop shell, the symbol of the Camino. Mine was picked up on Malahide beach when I came for a practice walk earlier this year.

Anyone called Stuart on this walk wants to thank the French for being French…

“Ah, a walk? For Terry? Of course. We’ll be there.”

Thanks also to everyone in Ireland and the UK that has helped get us ready; and most especially to our long-suffering wives. Every year we find new and exciting ways of exasperating them and yet they soldier on, to date, with minimal violence. Ger, Mags – you are saints.

We’ll see you in a week or so.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

No Sherpas?

img_0545

“So, just to confirm. We walk twenty plus kilometres each day. On our feet. We stay in hostels. Not hotels, but hostels. We wash our own kit and carry it with us every day.”

Sitting in his dining room in Malahide, Stuart sensed this was a key moment.

“Terry was like that. Determined and self-sufficient.”

I whimpered, defeated.

“Fill that glass up.”

The die was cast. We were walking, with everything that we might need on our backs. A line was drawn at camping. No front row forward has the intelligence or manual dexterity to put a tent up.

A quick glance at the many “Camino” internet fora yielded up hundreds of threads on the importance of keeping the pack as light as possible.

In the picture is my life for a week. I’ll be wearing some of it and carrying the rest. Traditionally, I would now list every item along with its weight in grams. Unless you start donating – I may well phone you personally to talk you through each element and its weight dry and wet…you have been warned.

Threats notwithstanding, thank you for donating already. Four middle-aged Barbarians are very grateful.