I’ve talked about my travel origin story before – about the time I went to Italy at fourteen, about that fateful night at Rangers in 2008 that resulted in me going to Helsinki. But I’ve skipped a link in that chain.
I’d recently watched Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman’s Long Way Down – their trip from Scotland to Cape Town by motorbike. And then I watched Long Way Round – London to New York via Russia. And then I discovered that the production company behind them had done another couple of adventures. Charley did Race to Dakar without Ewan and the crew did a trip around the Caribbean with Pamela Stephenson called Murder or Mutiny, which I’m pretty sure no one else has even heard of.
(There are affiliate links to the relevant DVDs in that paragraph. If you click them and buy something in the next day or so, I get a few pennies.)
And let’s pretend no longer. I wanted to join Big Earth. I wanted them to be impressed by me, to show that I was made of the same kind of stuff as them. Of course, six months into my first job, my solo adventures could never have the scale theirs did. And in under two years, I forgot they even existed. I forgot why I started doing this in the first place.
Hello, Russ. Hello, Lucy. I’d still like to join you but I can’t afford to live in London.
It’s weird to think I’ve been doing this for nine years now. I thought I’d be at the stage by now where financial commitments had me tethered firmly to home but, well, we all know about property prices. So while I can’t afford a mortgage I may as well be sinking my salary into plane tickets while I’m still enjoying it.
My adventures still aren’t as big as Big Earth’s adventures. But I was an office drone looking for a bit more and now I’m a travel blogger and a researcher who really should one day visit the continent she gets paid to research. And look what I’ve done in the last nine years.
I’ve been as far north as anyone can without being an actual polar explorer.
I’ve been paragliding thousands of metres above the Austrian Alps.
I’ve taken selfies with the Northern Lights.
I’ve been caving in a lava cave under the snow.
I’ve learnt to snowboard (sort of).
I’ve walked along the beach to where two seas meet on the north coast of Europe.
I’ve climbed mountains and forded glacial streams in sandals despite being told they’re unsuitable.
On my birthday at Holuhraun, the youngest patch of earth on the planet at that moment.
And finally, from just last week – at Sigulda Castle in the Gauja National Park in Latvia, with Turaida Castle in the background, just because it’s new.