Friday, 27 February 2009

Gratuitous plug for Berghaus

So here I am in Bombay, and my rucksack came too - well done BA. The Berghaus Pulsar 65BC is a veteran of my travels. It first came to the US in 1988, and I think made the same trip with my brother Michael a few years later. It Eurorailed in 1992, and walked the West Highland Way in 1997. It got supplanted by kitbags for Peru and Nepal, but seems to have forgiven me, perhaps because I've bought it a little brother, a new daypack, also made by Berghaus. But there's been one deserter. A Scottish flag badge attached to the rucksack was caught and deftly removed by a projecting beam in a pub in South Kensington where I was having a last-drink-in-the-UK with my pal Anthony, and flipped into the hands of a Scot who works there. He was very keen to have it, and as he had some tough looking Cockney mates I let myself be persuaded. After many years service was sad to see the badge go, but no doubt the rucksack will acquire some new souvenirs in the months ahead.

Bombay! Well, it's hot (who'd have thought...) but very welcoming. Mrinal and his sister took me to a showing of his new (well, made 2 years ago, before he worked on Slumdog Millionaire) film Siddartha last night. With M's help it was surprisingly easy to follow, and quite gripping though maybe a little slow at times. Sadly the local press haven't been kind to the film, but the cinematographer (mein host) has escaped with his reputation intact and maybe enhanced.

Still feels like a holiday right now - the whole "I'm going to be away for 6 months - 6 MONTHS!!" thing hasn't quite sunk in yet. But learning to take things at a more relaxing pace, this morning's been disgracefully lazy.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Vulture and his culture

Last day in UK for a bit, though at the British Museum yesterday I had to remind myself that I hadn't left yet. Few of my fellow culture vultures sounded or spoke English. Which may mean the Pound's weakness is bringing in the visitors, good news for the UK economy, if not for me. Babylon exhibition at BM impressive but crammed into too small a space, Darwin exhibition at Natural History Museum better. Thanks to Catherine Briggs for company at the latter and subsequent drinks (IOU one fish supper...), and to the Teddington Mackenzies for all their hospitality the last couple of nights.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

I'm outta here...

Half an hour till I shut the door at Airlie Street for the last time in 6 months. Three quarters of an hour till I get to the airport. 1 hour till I start remembering and listing all the things I've forgotten to pack. Thanks to Mum in advance for the lift to the airport, for keeping me sane the last couple of days, and for finding my glasses this morning. Bit of a role reversal, that...

Sunday, 22 February 2009

I'll be back...

Why am I leaving again? I've had a great time in Glasgow the last few weeks. Farewell lunches, dinners, and drinks, lots of "I can't believe I won't see you again for 6 months" to people I probably only see once every 6 months as it is! It's been mad but very enjoyable. I've tried to maintain something approaching professionalism in the office, but am assured I've been alarmingly demob happy since xmas.

Friday was the big blowout with colleagues. The attached is how they think I should be dressed for my travels - all the tat you bought is on show guys! And you'll be seeing some of it again in later photos. Was a memorable night, and not just for me - one individual laid eyes on an old flame he'd not seen for 20 years. And some other stuff not for printing in a family blog, though hopefully everyone concerned will be able to laugh about it next week!

Packing nearly complete, some of it generously provided by friends and family. Many thanks to colleagues for what's in the photo, to Mum for my daypack, Mike and family for the travel towel and the dinky wee torch, Jo for the travel chess set, George for John O'Farrell's Impartial History of Britain, and Ronnie for the Xenophobe's Guide to Australia which should be a big help in making enemies when I get there. And Rita for the cap which identifies me as a member of the Scottish team from the 2002 Commonwealth games. Suggestions for what sport I should pretend to have participated in gratefully received.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Grand Design

I guess since this is to be a blog of my travels I'd better describe what these are going to be. Here's the flightplans right now:

24 Feb: Glasgow-London (Darwin and Babylon exhibitions)
26 Feb: London-Bombay (Whatever my pal Mrinal has lined up.)
5 Mar: Bombay-Melbourne (If it isn't a pile of ashes by then.)
12 Mar: Melbourne-Hobart (Van Diemen's land. Voluntarily...)
27 Mar: Melbourne-Christchurch (Super 14 games, the Milford Track, folk I haven't seen for 29 years...)
8 July: Sydney-Honolulu (Well, you have to, don't you?)
15 July: Honolulu-San Francisco (Yosemite, the Rockies, the Pacific coastline, Seattle, Vancouver Island, will I have time for Alaska?)
21 August: Vancouver-London-Glasgow: (And if I'm not back at my desk by 24th, HR tells me I'll be assumed to have resigned!)

But plans are for corporate drones, and I'm raging against that fate. Besides, I'm awfully easily distracted, so don't be surprised to see a few changes to the above. In fact, you may be the cause of them....