31 March 2013
London. A place which has been home since 2000, when I moved here straight after university, within a few days of my final exam, to start working at Cisco as a part of their graduate scheme. 13 years and countless (and not enough) adventures later I am saying see ya later to London.
Today I move home and (temporarily) leave London - as I type this the car is loaded and read-to-go; there is just time for another cup of tea and chocolate Hobnob, which is what I've been living on for the last couple of days. I then get to spend the next 5-6 hours having a slow and steady drive down to Cornwall; slow if for no other reason than my car is very very full - for all the dejunking, it turns out I just have too much stuff for a car this size.
I'm as certain as I can be that post walkabout London will be my UK home again; my life is very much here. The good (the people, my people; the places; the memories), the bad (the sodding tourists walking slowing in front of me and who can't understand 'stand on the right, walk on the left'), and the uniquely London (night bus adventure and the shared moments of laughter on the tube when the drunk nutter who has been entertaining us all for the last dozen stops leaves) make it a place I want to return to. As much as I like going to other places, London is very much home.
See ya later, London.
25 March 2013
24 March 2013
22 March 2013
A combination of Travcour and Dragoman are trying to speed-up the process for Uzbekistan, the one major unknown in all the visas. If this happens it'll all be good. If not... it'll get interesting.
A bit of a "argh" moment, but not enough to take away from an otherwise really good day.
The folks at the company I've just left now know as I've just sent my "see ya later" email, an email which contained one line - a link to the So I've Just Quit My Job post. As departure emails go I'm hoping that it's up there with the best - if nothing else I'm sure it will be remembered.
To those who've remain at the company I've just left...
I thank you all for the amusement over the last 3 months, it has kept me entertained through some otherwise quite dull days. I wish you all nothing but the best for the future and all it brings - I've got no idea what yours will involve, but lots of change and interesting times are ahead of all of us. Enjoy it.
As for Australia... This trip doesn't currently have that as a part of the plan, but plans can change. ;-)
19 March 2013
18 March 2013
That nagging feeling in the back of your head that says you've forgotten something very important visa related and/or you've made a huge mistake with the paperwork which is going to cause no end of hassles. That.
As I said only a few hours ago, the visa stress will only be over once I've got my passport in my hands again and can see that I've got all the visas needed and that the dates are correct.
It brings me no end of relief that as of about 30 minutes ago the visa paperwork is heading towards Travcour, removing the "I've got to get this done" stress.
Until the Turkmenistan Letter of Invitation arrives I'll have that hanging over me, but there is nothing I can do about that; I just have to wait for the embassy to issue it and then hope they issue the visa in time.
The visa stress will only be really relieved once I've got my passport back in my hands and I can see them and check they are all OK, but it is a huge relief to get everything sent and the process started.
Just when I thought I'd got everything done I've hit one small question I need to check with Dragoman as a part of getting the Uzbekistan visa. A small thing, but checking all of this 2 months ago and then 2 weeks ago would have saved me a whole load of stress and means I wouldn't be up at 1am dealing with visa paperwork. As is all the paperwork I've got will be posted tomorrow morning and I've paid the extra for express/urgent/justdoitnow processing of everything - yes that is money which could be spent elsewhere, but without the visas there is nowhere else to spend that money.
Making the visas work for this trip is something which caused a chunk of headaches back in October (see this, this, this and this), so it's pretty bloody stupid of me to have these issues now. You live and learn.
17 March 2013
It feels really good to have all this done, both in terms of getting it out of the house and getting me another step closer to going, and in that the dejunking of my life is mostly done - something, as I've said many times now, I wish I'd done years ago.
Little brothers - they have their uses. Thank you, AJ.
16 March 2013
I picked the coolest of the three options (t-limit of -5 degC) - the warmest is too warm for most of what I need at the moment, at which point take the cooler bag as it works better in warmer environments and add layers when colder.
I've not had chance to test it for real yet, but the actual fit is great - just enough space around the body to have a bit of a wriggle and not feel trapped, but close enough that there isn't a lot of dead space.
Having slept in it for a few nights (indoors) I'm very happy with the comfort of it.
15 March 2013
14 March 2013
13 March 2013
I say last... I don't actually have a ticket to bring me back to the UK yet.
8 March 2013
"You do the best you can with what you've got" - doc, on discussing first aid in remote areas.
Last week I was on a first aid training course, specifically the Exmed Challenging Environment Emergency Response course, which could be subtitled "first aid for when 999 isn't an option". It could, should, also be subtitled "first aid for ex-forces types who work in Hostile Environments, a precursor to the Medicine In Remote Areas course".
It was a very interesting week where I learned a lot, and thank to Gil - remembered stuff I'd been taught before, which has left me with a feeling that in the event of a Bad Day I know enough to do something useful, although with an acceptance that it may not be enough.
It has also left me with a feeling that I need to learn more basics, as the course covered a lot of things like shooting wounds and IED injuries, but not a lot in terms of bandaging a sprained ankle. It also assumes (to a point) that you've got some basic kit with you (OP and NP airways, for example), which given their target customer is fair.
If I had the time I'd like to do the Exmed Travel and Expedition Medicine course before I go walkabout, but the timing doesn't work. I suspect it is the type of thing I'll do once I return, in part in preparation for my next adventure and in part because I find first response / medicine interesting, although it's not type of thing I could do for a living. Well, not directly.
7 March 2013
4 March 2013
If I had more time (and money) they do a two other courses which look very interesting, if (massively?) overkill for what I'm doing - the inner (medical) geek needs feeding at some point. Although I must point out, I'm not a real doctor. ;-)
2 March 2013
They are well worth seeing them live if you get the chance - just make sure you take your dancing shoes.
Of what is on the list there are a few bigger-ticket items; a good bag and a decent pair of boots are high on the list, along with a good sleeping bag and mat (a good night's sleep makes a lot more things bearable / a lack of quality sleep can make the little things seem a lot bigger). Not so expensive but just as important - a good pillow. Really - a good pillow when camping makes up for a lot.
The last couple of evenings has been some serious looking at just about everything that the glut of outdoors shops in Covent Garden has to offer, where I came home last night with the bag & boots.
The bag. Given my criteria there are very few choices - I wanted:
- Proper backpack - something I can wear comfortably over distance and take of a bit of a hike
- Not a top-loader - they are a PITA to live out of
- Minimum of 65L, ideally 70+ - yes, I know I just said "I'm not planing on taking much with me"
- No wheels - there is a time and a place for wheeled luggage and this isn't it
- (Ideally) with an easy way of carrying a day-sack too
I get home last night with the bag and my flatmate's teenage daughter looks at the bag, looks at the size and asks what it's for. I explain that this is what I'll be living out of for the next year - cue look of disbelief. :-)