Left Luggage

Considering that one of the ambitions I had for the trip is to learn to live with less ‘stuff’, it’s been a challenging couple of weeks.

Having to move out of our house and into a friend’s for 2 weeks (thank you Kate) with enough luggage to ensure we could send the children to school in clean uniforms, plus clothe ourselves and remember everything we needed for ‘the wedding’ (more on this later), plus of course everything we want to take travelling, and having to manage all the overlaps (things that we need for the wedding but not for travelling, things we need for the wedding and travelling, things we need for travelling but only after trekking, things we need for travelling but can’t pack till they’ve been washed and dried, and all possible combinations of the above), has required a level of organisation that is beyond even my spreadsheet skills.

The upshot is that I write this on a train heading from London to Preston, where I will meet my long suffering parents for 20 minutes who will hand me a small box, then I’ll get back on a train to London, get the tube back across town and get a lift back to Ferg’s folks’ place by about 7pm tonight.

The reason for this rather expensive and time consuming journey less than 24 hours before we fly? The guilt that I have packed Jemima’s thumb guard brace in the wrong bag so it has ended up in Preston instead of in a rucksack, and she is beside herself about it. The dentist has warned she may need surgery to correct her bite if she can’t stop sucking her thumb, and the fact is that this thumb guard brace seems to be doing the trick.

Fergus thinks I’m crazy to be spending our last day in the UK on a train all day, perhaps he’s right. And I know we should be preparing the girls for the fact that things will sometimes get left behind on this trip and we have to say ‘never mind’ and live without them. But I just can’t quite bear to spend the day relaxing knowing that I could have gone back for it if I tried. So back I go, this time…!

The Wonderful World

by Evie

I’m not going to believe that we’re going travelling until we’re at Nepal. Or that we’re going to London until we get there. I think we’re very lucky children because we get to go travelling for a whole 10 months or maybe longer! I keep thinking about it and I can’t get it out of my head. I mostly think about swimming with tropical fish and riding on an elephant and trekking in the high mountains in Nepal. I feel contented.

When we left Megan and Susie at school they cried their eyes out but at least we’ll be able to email them and Skype them because I’ve got Megan’s Skype address. I’m going to talk to them about what time of day it is because obviously it might be very different. I’m probably going to ask them what they’ve been doing at school, and what day it is. Also, I’m going to ask them how much fun they’ve been having when it’s the weekend (for them).

I feel very nervous about the flight, also I think it’s going to be very boring. I’m probably going to look out of the window most of the time on the plane, and sometimes I’m not sure but I think we’re going to play games and read Kindles.

I cried when we said goodbye to Nanarara because I was so sad.

What I Think About Travelling

By Scarlett

I feel weird about going travelling. It will seem so strange being out of home. I am looking forward to travelling but I don’t quite believe it’s going to be real. I think I am going to feel travel sick if it’s going to be real.

I’m looking forward to Thailand most of all because mummy and daddy keep saying how good it is. I am looking forward to the views, they will be quite beautiful. I think that the countries we are going to will be a tiny bit the same as England. At the moment I can imagine a picture of 5 people, who are us 5, walking along a Thai beach with big rucksacks on and the shadows are long and the sun is setting over a blue sea, and the sunset is reflecting on the water. There is no one but us there.

I can also imagine big beautiful mountains covered in snow with the sun setting in between them, and there’s a river running up to the sun with ice floating on it. All the snow on the mountains is melting. I imagine it’s so beautiful in Nepal.

There’s a few things I will not be able to imagine until I see them. One of these is a rainbow in Thailand. I can’t imagine a rainbow in Thailand at all. Another one is a car in Thailand. And Thai voices and clothes. I can’t imagine any of the countries voices, but I can imagine all of their clothes apart from Nepal’s and Thailand’s.

I am so glad we were born before our mother and father set off travelling! It means we have more money because we’ve had longer to save up, and it means we (us 3) get to go!

The Wonderful Wedding

Here is what Scarlett wrote in her diary about the wedding.

Dear Diary,

Today is the day of the wedding.

At first we got changed into wedding dresses which looked beautiful. Then, we went to the wedding and explored. After that, us 3 went to the crèche. In the crèche, we ran around and did some colouring. After the crèche, we went outside and played a game where we lived in a bush. My sisters wouldn’t let me join in. After that we saw Auntie Lou Lou in her wedding dress, she looked absolutely beautiful. After that, there was a disco in the crèche, we danced the night away.

Keys

Today we left Leeds – a step that has proved surprisingly difficult.

Surprising, I think, because I have always thought of myself as someone who isn’t too bothered by material possessions. I generally own one pair of shoes which I wear into the ground (literally), I couldn’t care less what car I drive as long as it gets me to work and back, I use the cheapest phone money can buy, and my clothing reflects a natural scruffiness which I long since gave up trying to fight. What matters to me is my family, my wife, experiences. Not things.

Which probably explains my surprise at finding how much stuff I actually have, and how fiddly it has been to disentangle myself from the attachments of everyday life.

On reflection, I suppose it should have been obvious that you cannot reach the age of 39, have a family and a wife and a home and a job and not gain a great number of attachments. A home needs a house, a job needs a car, kids have school (and a pet!), and there’s bills and insurance and mortgages, bank accounts and registrations, lawns and hedges and 10’ trampolines… all of which roll happily along on the assumption that their owners are not going to disappear off around the World for the best part of a year. So the fact that we are disappearing off around the World for the best part of a year has meant disentangling ourselves from all those things.

Over the last month, as we arrange all the necessary letting and selling, storing and donating, dumping and packing, painting and cleaning, and mending, painting and mowing, I have been gauging how successful I have been at disentangling myself from all our material possessions by watching my key ring.

First to go were my 3 work keys, then our house and garage keys, then one of our two car keys. Now all I have remaining is one car key. And after we drive to the airport on Tuesday, my Mum will kindly sell it (the car not the key) and my Lego Gandalf key ring will be all that remains. Then I guess I’ll also have to give that up, too, as there’s not much point to a key ring with no keys.

One of my lasting memories from last time Janet and I went travelling was how liberating it was to have everything I needed in one backpack. In a few minutes, I could be packed up and ready to move on and explore somewhere new, or arrive somewhere and be settled in in no more time than it took to string a hammock. It felt wonderful to prove how much of the stuff I normally surrounded myself with just wasn’t necessary.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to carry everything you need when you’re in a hot country where you can wear sandals every day and never need more than one layer of clothing.

And there’s a certain amount of illusion to the backpacking life. Pure luck and historical inertia gives us the exchange rates that make us relatively rich in other countries, even when just starting out in life. And this money allows us to hire the stuff we need at a moments notice: roofs over our heads, transport, prepared food. It’s just we don’t carry the stuff around.

And I guess youth also helped. Back in the UK, I rented my room in a house, I had no car, I’d just finished university, and, of course, Janet and I only had one rucksack each to carry, not three extra small ones and their attendant children.

So perhaps it’s no surprise after all that it’s proven tricky to get going. But it’s almost done. There’s just that one key left in my pocket (and Gandalf, of course), and in a few days I won’t even have that. It’ll be just us, our rucksacks and the open road (well, Heathrow Terminal One).

Homeless

So that’s it. We now officially have no house. It’s taken weeks to do it but everything we want to take with us is in rucksacks, everything we want to keep is in storage and a lot of other stuff that was filling up our house has been divided between the bin, the tip and local charity shops.

Janet and I sat in our empty house for the last time this morning, listened to the echoes, marvelled at how clean it was, promised not to let it clog up with junk again, left a welcome note and a bottle of wine for our tenants and walked out of the door.

Now we just have two weeks of spare rooms and hotels then we get on our flight to Kathmandu, and the adventure that we’ve been saving up for since the year 2000 begins.

Moving out has been a lot of work – not just  packing up and throwing out, but decorating and cleaning ready for renting – so it’s not until now that I have really been able to have time to feel properly excited. But now the trip is close and we’ve uprooted out family, I can feel it the elation starting to build. It’s here, rIght before me. Nearly a whole year of no work, being able to spend all day with my family, new places, new experiences, opportunities to grow and be challenged… an adventure. And to do it all with kids, while probably more difficult at times, will also let me see everything afresh, through their eyes.

I can’t wait.

Travel preparations if you’re 7 years old

I can’t wait.  We have been practising for Nepal.  We have bought:-

Rucksacks

Royal shoes (expensive walking shoes that must be looked after – Dad)

Royal socks (expensive walking socks that must also not be thrown down a Himalayan mountainside – Dad)

Sleeping bags

Mattresses

The other countries are going to be good too!