Cien Dias

FIVE years ago, wrote a post 100 days from heading out to Gibraltar for the Trans Africa journey.

And having decided to do the same before heading to South America, first decision was when to actually write it – 100 days from flying out to Quito or from the start of the trip itself?

The decision to go with the latter was partly down to it being a bit neater, a landmark shared by the entire group who will make their own way out to the Ecuadorian capital, and partly due to the 100 days falling on a Sunday.

Bit easier to find the time to write on a Sunday afternoon than a Wednesday night after the delights of getting a paper out and hitting the gym (the ideal post-deadline release of stress). At least that’s the theory.

So where are the preparations as the countdown hits the landmark?

Five years ago, the 100 Days post (spent ages delaying writing by coming up with a different title to distinguish them – while sat watching sport, that may have been a bigger delay) mentioned a feeling of being in limbo.

Not only is the long list of things to do still expanding before real dents are made in it…. but normal life has been skewed slightly.

100 Days, July 2014

There are shades of that this time round again. It’s just been flipped slightly.

Yes, there is slightly a sense of limbo, of life being skewed, waiting for and dominated by what lies ahead. But there’s not the feeling of the unknown this time around.

Not that South America is in any way familiar. Overlanding is, but journeying around this part of the world poses a lot of different challenges to what awaited us in Africa.

But there are two major differences this time round.

First, have a lot of the kit or at least a pretty good idea of what is needed and, secondly, planning is a lot easier with a bit of experience.

Especially if drawing up lengthy (frequently updated) to-do lists is pretty much the first thing you did after booking.

Which is pretty much the state of where we are at this landmark in preparations – the lists are drawn, plans are made and… well, sort of waiting to crack on with it.

Much of the preparations have been split into four distinct sections – three of them weeks off spaced out before leaving work at the end of August, followed by the two weeks between then and heading out of the country, the second half of which will be largely given over to moving out of my flat and putting stuff into storage.

There’s a few things to do and arrangements to be made in between those chunks of time, but at the moment it is all a bit quiet. All on schedule.

Which is all a bit worrying.

The growing pile of kit

Much of the major kit is bought or surviving from Africa, a new camera the largest new addition and – having taken a step up from the simple options which have served me well (at least before breaking) in the past – really need to work out how it works. At least the simple bits.

There is a load of kit sat on the old TV unit in the corner of my front room (makes a difference from dust) which is having the odd bits added every time it catches my eye. More will be added as the battle between want and need plays out.

And then there’s the clothes list.

There is a danger working and living so close to a couple of outdoor clothing and activity shops which have developed a magnetic draw.

Been trying to put off going too deep into the clothes buying preparations which are largely pencilled in for a week off next month, but did weaken with a few bargains online which have shown up one major issue.

Am getting smaller.

Travelling down the west coast of Africa, managed to lose four inches off my waist, forcing a hasty shopping trip in Cape Town to find trousers that stayed up.

Having shed seven stone – with a more conscious effort this time round, having put it all and more back on since the African overlanding weight loss programme – and can fit comfortably into those Cape Town trousers.

With the plan to keep the weight loss and fitness regime going – right calf, hopefully, allowing – until the off, there needs to be a certain touch of the last minute about clothes shopping so that it actually fits.

There are also two big differences to Africa which need to be taken into account ahead of finalising the kit and packing – climate and the fact it has to all come on a flight with me.

There was wet weather (Morocco, talking about you) and cold spells in Africa, but not some of the extremes which need to be considered in South America – the word minus does crop up at times.

So that adds a few layers to my clothing choices which all have to come with me.

Hitching a ride – no cheating with kit on the truck this time around

Five years ago, was able to drop off a few of the larger items – sleeping bag, airbed and mosquito tent mainly – with Oasis and they headed out on the truck before making the return journey with assorted other items picked up along the way.

That is not an option this time around. The mosquito tent is a non starter, but the sleeping bag, airbed and everything else has to squeeze into my rucksack and shoulder bag. Already working out what will be worn on the flight to save room (new walking boots which need breaking in for starters).

It also means a new section on the to-buy list – Quito.

One of the great realisations from Africa – which should not really come as any surprise if you think about it – is you can buy most of this stuff on the road. So a weekend in Quito has a few items inked on to the shopping list, most notably a rug. And toilet rolls.

There’s plenty of time before then – nearly 100 days, if anyone has not been paying attention – and preparations will gradually ramp up, especially come that July week off.

Until then, there’s Inca Trail videos to be watched (with equal parts excitement and dread), walking boots to be broken in (once clearance has been given to push that pesky calf muscle ) and outdoor travel shops to be avoided.

And more lists to be updated.

  • Before my fellow pedants point out what is missing from the title of this entry, it is 100 days to Spanish. Bit longer than that to Portuguese (Cem Dias), Dutch (Honderd Dagan) and a bit of French (Cent Jours). Worryingly, had to look up all but one of them – going to be a long seven months.
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Borders and Visas

Day 26 of the bid to write a blog post a day in May and time to tackle two things which will get in the way of any long-distance travel plans.

Not the standard border – arriving in Whittier, Alaska

TWO things in life are certain, according to Benjamin Franklin, death and taxes.

And however you choose to do it, two things are certain for travellers – borders and visas.

They are (mainly) more of an inconvenience or necessary evil than any great hurdle, but they can delay you long enough to disrupt plans or force a quick rethink when somebody has changed the rules.

But no amount of complaining or arguing is going to change all that – chances are, it is merely going to extend your wait. That guy with the right to say yea or nay is going to be behind that desk all day, it makes no difference to him if you wait there with him or not.

The majority of borders you travel through will be fairly straightforward, your passport acting as the one piece of official documentation you need and it all comes down to whichever security

Some countries will require a little more while others will always come up with that extra piece of paper you never knew existed and which somebody crossing the same border days before had crossed without.

That’s borders (and chunks of travel in general), just accept it, sit back and wait for someone to let you through – sometimes they will eventually become as keen to send you on your way as you are to get moving again.

But to help you along, here is some totally not comprehensive advice on easing your way through the process of securing visas and crossing borders.

The world’s second biggest country, just in case you missed it

Visas

Visas come in three main types – online registration, physical pieces of paper in your passport (both of which you need in advance) and those you can pick up at the border. Most will cost you something so budget ahead.

Online registration such as an ESTA for the USA can be pretty quick and you will get an answer in hours or a couple of days (had an ESTA granted in minutes after filing it in a checkout queue at the airport after forgetting the old passport with my US visa in).

But if you need an actual visa or stamp in advance, chances are the form will be a bit more complicated and require either an appointment at the embassy, sending your passport off or both.

Some (Russia and China, for example) require a letter of invitation while the different picture requirements add extra variety – India and the USA require very definite sizes, other countries need specific background colours (which made for some interesting trips to photo shops in Ghana).

Visiting an embassy differs hugely.

For an American visa in the UK, it means a trip to London for an appointment and an interview. If granted, you should get your passport back in about a week and make sure you take note of what you can and can’t take in with you for security reasons (pretty much nothing goes in).

In the case of Mongolia, the bloke told us we could have it back the next day until we told him we were only in London for the day. For a small fee, we had it back in half an hour.

All this sending your passport off means you can only have one application going at a time, so plan ahead, starting with finding out how long the visa lasts – no point getting the visa before you go if it runs out before you are in (and, more importantly, out) of the country.

Which means for long trips, chances are you will be chasing visas on the road.

If going with a company, they will know the best places to pick up visas (often grabbing two or three while staying in major cities) but for solo travellers it means a fair amount of research before the off.

The process of securing the visas varies, ranging from a few hours to several days and it can be hard to predict.

Our Mauritanian visa in Rabat was pretty much the quickest in a few hours – having all queued up to basically pay and apply through a hole in the embassy wall – while others took much longer.

General rule of thumb is at least a few hours waiting around the embassy, filling in a form and a quick meeting with whoever is making the decision. It may take a while and a fair amount of paperwork so get comfortable.

Always a good idea to have something reasonably clean and smart (embassy shirts) stashed away rather than rolling up in shorts and flip flops. A good book is not a bad idea either.

Don’t get me started on single or double entry visas or officials who take a rather different view to what an expiry date might actually mean.

Eventually, you get those precious pieces of paper or stamps in your passport and it is time to head to the border…

Feeling at home on the Nigeria-Cameroon border

Border

Any self-respecting traveller will have tales to tell of bizarre or nightmare border crossings – 56 hours camping at a remote Nigerian-Cameroon crossing, the whole train carriage being lifted onto new wheels between Mongolia and China, the unexpected air conditioned cafe at the shiny new Sudan-Egypt border or the US border official at Niagara not believing my night would be spent on the floor of a bus en route to New York.

Modern technology is transforming many borders – that ESTA you applied for will pop up on the border guard’s screen when your passport is scanned and, increasingly, you can do all that yourself at self-service passport desks.

But it is not all time saving, as border crossings away from the tourist trail will quickly prove.

One of the joys of Africa is its ability to make things unnecessarily complicated, so every new piece of technology to deal with border arrivals merely adds a new level of bureaucracy.

Yes, they use computers to deal with the details, logging all the information. As well as entering them into the old-fashioned ledgers by hand which they have always done.

Remember, each crossing involves going through this process twice – into one country and out of another, sometimes yards apart, sometimes miles. They all like to be a bit different.

And there could well be the odd health check or extra paperwork to worry about – we headed through West Africa on the heels of the 2014 ebola outbreak so getting our temperature taken (via the ear) was pretty standard, as well as producing your yellow fever vaccination certificate.

The record for all this, for a group of up to 20-odd people, was inside two hours (they wanted to go home as much as we wanted a beer) but chances are you can box out much of the day for getting through the whole border process.

Simple rule of thumb, more tourists and travellers they get coming through, quicker it will be. They are just more tooled up to deal with it.

Again, it is best to accept it, settle back and await your fate – getting frustrated is not going to help anyone or make the guy who always seems to be waiting for that final clearance to do anything to get it sorted quicker.

Sit back, read a book, change some money (if anyone asks, didn’t tell you that), play cards, relax before you head off on the next leg of your journey. Best to leave the camera alone.

And that piece of paper in your passport is a pretty good memento of the trip.

The border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The one that’s not a big waterfall
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Overlanding: The Things They Don’t Tell You

Day 22 of the blog post a day in May and back to overlanding – those little snippets of information which don’t really fit anywhere else

HAVE written a few pieces about overlanding over the last few weeks, but there is still plenty of ground to cover (hey, they were long journeys).

And there have been a fair few bits of wisdom, picked up over a couple of differing trips, to share which do not really come under a specific heading.

Unless you lump them all in one place.

Life On The Truck

  • The further back in the truck you sit, the higher you bounce when you hit a pothole (Oasis Overland recommend you wear your seat belt at all times).
  • Cool boxes (eskies, chillies or any other bizarre Australian term you use) are very useful for foot rests and card tables. Preferably not both at once. Also useful for preparing food on the truck, holding ice – all important – and as punch bowls. Also for storing food and drink, supposedly. Lids not so good for sand boarding. Trust me on that one.
  • If you choose to sit under a speaker, the music will be louder. Sounds obvious…
  • Falling asleep comes with the risk of being photographed or filmed.
  • It is possible to fall asleep standing up while holding on to the luggage rack. It’s just not that advisable.
  • Not being able to see the sea does not mean we are nowhere near it. It might have been behind you for 100km.

Camping

  • People snore, accept it and move on, you going on about it will not make it any better. Let them pick their tents on the edge of camp – we are happy to help out – and work from there. Don’t go the far end of the campsite and get upset when the snorers pitch their tent next to you to keep away from the bulk of the group.
  • That hot water in the kettle may be needed by the cook group – check before using it to make yourself a cup of tea or a bowl of noodles.
  • Moving something off the heat on the fire to cook yourself some sausages will not go down well with food group (take it from one of cook group on those last two).
  • When someone is cleaning the truck, it is not more important for you to get on board to get something you might need in a few hours.
  • Warnings of bears or the sound of lions leads to a huge reduction in people’s needs to go to the toilets overnight.
  • Bodily functions quickly become perfectly acceptable topics of conversation.
  • Take a torch with you – relying on your instincts may not keep you from the cliff edge.
  • It is acceptable (and at times advisable) to, ahem, nip round the back of the tent during the night when bush camping. At an organised campsite, the dilemma of whether it still is can be settled by whether there are men with guns on guard – if so, best not to risk it.
  • Make sure you know where your tent is pitched, especially before a few beers. It might just save you from climbing in the wrong one or getting totally lost on the wrong side of the truck after a late-night pitstop.
  • When heading into the bushes during the night, be aware of where people’s tents are – particularly those sleeping in mosquito nets. They can see what you are doing. And will never be able to unsee it…

Hygiene

  • It is perfectly acceptable to wear the same clothes several days running.
  • If you do find a shower out of the blue, don’t wait until the truck is leaving before telling everybody else (you will never hear the end of it).
  • When you have the chance of a shower, take it.
  • And when you do have the chance of a wash – be it in a shower or a river – do scrub off what somebody has drawn on your back in mud.

The Things Overlanders Obsess About

1 WiFi
2 The WiFi Password
3 Ice
4 Cold Beer (or cold Coke to go with Captain Morgan Spiced Gold Rum)
5 Electricity
6 The Rules of Uno
7 Food
8 Showers
9 Beds
10 Laundry

Things You Absolutely Must Pack

  • Sense of Adventure
  • Open Mind

Things Not To Be Packed

  • Preconceptions
  • A Spear Gun
  • A Cow’s Head

What To Do When Lost

  • Ask a local if they have seen a big yellow truck. It tends to stand out.
  • If near camp – stand on someone’s shoulders (if not alone), shout or remain really quiet and let the snorers guide you in. If nobody notices you had been gone, keep quiet about it for weeks to avoid ridicule.
  • If in civilisation (or somewhere close), log on to the company’s website, go on live chat and ask the office back in the UK where the hell you are supposed to be. Has the dual benefit of reuniting you with the rest of the group and giving everybody a really good laugh.

Things Learned About Nationalities While Overlanding

  • Ay carumba is not an everyday Spanish phrase. However much you try to make native speakers say it.
  • Germans cannot pronounce the word squirrel.
  • Being fluent in several languages will not stop people stuck with just one teasing you about an inability to pronounce squirrel.
  • Relying on Portuguese being similar to Spanish is not likely to help you get directions.
  • MEPs are elected at European elections. Or what New Zealanders use to navigate.
  • Brits cannot roll Rs. Apologies if that means we keep mispronouncing your name.
  • Asking some people what nationality they are can be complicated.
  • Africa and avocado can sound similar in a Dutch accent.
  • Brits and Australians speak a totally different language.
What happens if you let someone near your camera. Could be worse, could be your watch.

General Advice

  • Asking someone to take a picture of you or hold your camera is likely to produce a few surprises when you check your pictures.
  • Before locking the door on a toilet, make sure you know how to open it again. Or that there is room at the top for someone to climb over if you have had a bit too much to drink (had to do this twice for the same person).
  • When taking a picture of the place you are staying to show a taxi driver for the journey home, make sure it is not next to the German embassy with armed policemen watching. They don’t like it.
  • The same is true about selfies near to an African dictator’s palace.
  • Leave the whisky alone when you are on cook group duty.
  • There is only one sunset. Whatever the oil rig flames may look like.
  • Missing truck clean is likely to get your tent let down. With you in it.
  • When you leave the truck and padlock the door behind you, make sure nobody is left on the truck as you wander off to join the others watching the spectacular sunset. My bad.
  • Do not leave your watch lying around. Changing the time on it may not get boring to your travel companions all the way from Gibraltar to Cape Town.
  • Being able to see the sea is a good gauge for how close to sea level you are.
  • Pescetarians eat fish. Presbyterians have a more varied diet.
  • It is not always Christmas somewhere.
  • If you are entrusted with a key for anything on the truck, do not leave it in your room or pack it in your kit.
  • When you get home, you will try to press a button to stop a journey for a comfort stop. It is unlikely to work.
  • Get ice. Whenever you can, get ice.

And finally one final piece of advice for anyone wanting to chronicle their adventures – you are blogging because you are on an adventure, you are not on the adventure to blog.

Don’t miss doing something because you think you have to write your blog – it can wait.

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Lying Down On The Job

Day 20 of the blog post a day in May challenge and it has all gone a bit off schedule again.

TODAY was supposed to be the easy one. The last day the subject matter had been scheduled in advance and the first of a week off.

So the plan was simple, rattle on about the chosen subject matter – the latest A-Z post if you need to know – in the extra time available and draw up a schedule for the remaining 11 days of this idea (suggest the last day may be a piece on the wisdom, or otherwise, of trying this).

It started to go wrong when it became clear was not going to reach the end of H on the A-Z Challenge, the intended stopping off point for the next post. That’s one for tomorrow.

And then it went a bit haywire when the available time was lost by a fair chunk of today spent lying on my living room floor.

That’s not totally true and, thankfully for somebody who has had to do just that a few times after his back gave out, not down to health reasons.

Yeah, it definitely needs a clean

Was actually lying an inch or so off the ground on the air mat which has been retrieved from the cupboard where it has sat since returning from Africa getting on for four years ago.

And the lying down did have a purpose – an ongoing one at that, give me a second…

… sorry, just had to have another quick lie down, checking to see whether the mat is staying up sufficiently.

The need for this was to check whether the air mat is in a condition to come with me to South America, one of the bigger items needed for 31 weeks on the road and among a few key decisions to kick off the process of working through the kit list.

Apart from the state of the air mat, learned a few interesting things while lying there:

  • It needs a clean. Not sure quite what some of those stains are or even if they will come out. But suggest it has only been cleaned when dunked in swimming pools to find leaks and it got used a lot in Africa after a day of getting dirty and sweaty with no chance of a shower. Wet wipes can only do so much.
  • Need to get another repair kit if it is coming to South America with me.
  • The complete break in the chair at my desk is pretty impressive through pretty much the thickest part of the structure. It has its upside – having to sit straight rather than lean off to the right to watch the TV is keeping the weight off the crack and helping my back.
  • My floor needs a vacuum. Slight issue there as don’t own one so my sister likely to be getting a begging phone call.

And the mat itself?

It is pretty battered – one of its valves is blocked up with a patch and a load of adhesive from the original repair kit – and after about eight hours of inflation, it has gone down a bit (which is pretty much how remember it in the last days of Africa).

But it is most definitely still inflated enough to sleep on.

Would have been easier if it had gone down rapidly (or not at all) as the decision would have been made for me. As it is, it is fine to take – but what will it be like by the end of the trip?

May need some more research. And some more lying down.

The air mat is one of three key decisions to make which shape a lot of what follows in building my kit, joining my sleeping bag and rucksack.

In an ideal world, all three would come with me again but question marks hang over them all.

The sleeping bag is possibly not warm enough for the colder extremes of nights in the mountain (to say nothing of the puzzle of zipping it up after it was always opened up as a quilt), but it packs down much smaller than all the options found so far.

And packing down small is key – unlike Africa when was able to dump the bigger items on Oasis for the truck to carry it out to our starting point in Gibraltar, everything has to come with me on a plane to Quito this time.

Which, with full sleeping kit wedged in, limits the room for other stuff and adds to the importance of the rucksack.

It is a bit battered – it has been around the world, Africa and the USA – and one of the zips needs repairing (again) but my existing bag fits the bill in many ways.

Mainly its size (70L in the main bag) but also its 20L detachable part which can double as a day bag and back pack on days or longer away from the truck – the Inca Trail springs to mind.

The growing piles of kit

Like the air mat, the sleeping bag and rucksack need a bit of a clean but suggest one or two – probably not all three – have more life in them yet.

Some kit decisions and purchases have been made – need to break in the new pair of walking shoes and the camera basically comes down to the best deal out of three options in tomorrow’s main job on the to-do list.

Other big decisions need to be made – will my iPod Classic make it through another overland trip or does it need replacing? – but after that it is down to balancing want v need, what shiny things catch my eye and how much of it will fit in my bags.

All adds up to more updates to the kit list.

Just might need another lie down first.

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Overlanding: Frequently Asked Questions

Day 19 of the blog post a day in May and time to let somebody else do the heavy lifting

HAVE spent a lot of time over the last nine years or so writing or talking about travel, overlanding in particular (apologies about that).

A lot of this site has tried to explain aspects of the trips which are difficult to understand without actually being a passenger, but still get asked a lot of the same questions.

So time to answer a few of them, both from people have chatted to about them and people enquiring about trips during my time working for a travel company.

What are you doing?
The most common question when people first hear about a trip. Put simply, jacking my job in (again) and, this time around, heading off to South America for 31 weeks on a big yellow truck.

No, seriously, what are you doing?
The follow-up is usually a variation of this which leads to some sort of explanation of overlanding. Or ‘which part of South America?’ to which the answer is pretty much all of it.

How many other people are there on the trip?
No idea, will find that out in Quito in September. The truck holds up to 24 and people may come and go – the Oasis trip to Africa varied between 14 and 20-odd (plus a couple of crew) as people came and went.

Who are the other people?
Again, will find that out come September and spend the next seven months learning it in more detail. Over two overland trips have travelled with people aged 18 to 81, from more than a dozen countries and a pretty much even split between men and women. And out of about 40 people, probably only one, two at most, just could not get on with.

Can you get some time to yourself?
It is not always easy – hard to escape people during a long day on the back of the truck – and you can be reliant on each other when out in the wilds, but reach some form of civilisation and you get some breathing space. However well the group gets on, it is advisable.

Can you leave the trip and come back?
Yes, it’s your trip. There may be an optional side trip you may want to do or you need to head home for some reason or head off for a day or two. If you know beforehand, you can work it out with the tour operator – who can advise what alternative start and finish points are available – and on the trip you just need to be at an agreed meeting time and place. The trip will not wait for you.

Have you got to follow the itinerary all day, every day?
If you are travelling then yes – you are on the truck – and certain things (National Parks or attractions) are included. But nobody is going to make you do anything and it is up to you what you do and where you go when you reach a destination.

How long do you spend travelling each day?
There can be long days – there are a lot of miles to cover and there may not be many places to stop for a day or two. Other days may be shorter with a stop somewhere along the way while you may not travel for a day, two or longer.

What’s included in the price?
It depends on your tour operator, but the standard cost is accommodation, transport on the truck, crew and included attractions. A local payment in cash as part of the cost will cover food when not eating out (and maybe the odd restaurant meal).

Will there be WiFi?
One of the first questions at any stop is “what’s the WiFi code?”. One of the delights of bush camping is you are off the grid.

What is the food like?
The group will be cooking when out in the wild, so it is up to you – if you can find it in a market. And most major stops will have a wide range of options – street food always a good, cheap option. Vegetarians or food intolerances can usually be catered for, fussy eaters may find things a bit more difficult.

I don’t like Chinese food, will I be able to find food I like in China?
Seriously, got asked that one. Not sure he quite got the gag that Chinese food is just called food in China (original joke courtesy of Friends). Simple answer is yes, in the cities, but it would be a crying shame to limit yourself.

Will I be able to find a KFC?
Same person. Was able to assure him that you can give directions around Tiananmen Square using fast food joints. Service is better than back home as well.

What’s the weather like?
You are away for months, travelling through thousands of miles and entire seasons. Work it out.

Do I need to be fit?
If your idea of activity is picking up the phone to order a takeaway, you may need to put in a bit of work. A certain level of fitness is not a bad idea, but how fit you need to be depends on what you plan to do. Was not as fit as planned for Africa but was rarely too much of an issue, will be fitter for South America.

Can I arrange this trip myself?
Yes, probably. If you are really, really organised and have the time, cash and energy to throw at it. These guys know what they are doing so unless you have a distinct urge to go it alone, this is the easier way. Although it may not seem like it working through the to-do list.

Is it safe?
Any travel comes with a touch of risk and, yes, you can hit some places that may seem bordering on the dangerous, while some spots may be lacking in the sort of infrastructure we take for granted. You can never remove the risk but take the usual precautions and there is not too much to worry about.

Did you ever feel in danger?
Ten months in Africa and only a couple of times – mainly when debating which would get me shot quicker, being sick over the man who had just come on the truck with a gun or jumping off and giving him a nice easy target. Scariest moment (not including lying in a tent in the Serengeti listening to lions roar) was a late-night car ride through Bulawayo. Largely on the wrong side of the road.

Did you get ebola?
No, it was possible to journey through Africa without contracting ebola, whatever people had decided before the off (and while there). And no, we were in absolutely no danger of catching it in Papua New Guinea, what with it being nowhere near Africa. That was a serious question.

You won’t be going to Venezuela, will you?
That’s the current favourite. Simple answer, don’t know. It’s on the route but not until next spring so we’ll worry about that one nearer the time.

Will I get voted off the bus like on Coach Trip?
Seriously, got asked this by a prospective customer. Not sure whether she wanted it to be an option or not.

What are you going to do when you get back?
No idea. Last time pretty much replaced myself in my old job. As for this time, who knows?

But if anybody’s got any writing, subbing or travel jobs starting around next May…

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