Ginette’s Pre Trip Diary

Dec 29th – Jan 5th

A new year and a new adventure, this one will top all others we have ever done. Gary has talked about cycling the world/Europe for a number of years but I always thought this would be something we did when we retired.  On a whim I emailed Gary last Monday morning and said wouldn’t it be good to jack it all in and go travelling, and from that moment on we have not looked back, the idea has blossomed. I have to admit we have found ourselves grinning like Cheshire cats one moment full of excitement and the next doubting ourselves.

The seed started to bloom after a paddling trip to the Cook Islands, it was amazing and on our return to work we found ourselves despondent, holiday blues may be?  but I think it was more than that although we are both well paid and have fairly secure jobs we do not feel fulfilled in our jobs and we’re  always seeking new challenges outside of the work place.

My birth sign is Libra and one little voice in my head thinks we should count ourselves lucky and we should enjoy our roles and continue to seek out out rewards outside of work, with our paddling and cycling endeavours. The other voice thinks why not enjoy each day as much as you can, you only live once.  This voice is more dominant because I lost my mum last year and I have a friend who is terminally ill.  However around the world cycling trip does feel very indulgent and as I write this I am struggling to justify packing everything up and travelling for a year.

To try and balance out my two voices I have listed below the pro’s and con’s of our trip

Pro’s for travelling

Something we want to do

New experiences

Meet new people

Adventure of a life time

We have the funds to do it

We are both in good health

No grand children

Children independent

No dependents

9 (updated 3rd March)

Con’s for Travelling 

Leave Hayley with no washing machine : )  (or parents on hand)

Leave my sister with no one close by (she can get very down and needs support)

Leave good jobs and this will have an effect on our work teams

Not be able to compete with GB in Canada (dragonboating)

Not be able to compete with our dragon boating and outrigging clubs this year

We have chosen to sell/give away nearly everything we own (storage is very expensive)

We will spend at least 15k of our savings

Not see friends for a year

An element of risk to our health (disease, bike accidents etc)

9 (updated 3rd March)


We have made lists and today I have drafted two important letters. The first to Wateraid, I would like to think we could raise money and awareness on our travels and the second to our employers to request a sabbatical from work. I am not sure either of our companies will keep our posts open but it is worth asking. Of course there is a possibility that we will not want to return to work and may travel for longer or we may be back within a week, or a month because we don’t like living out of a tent. Whatever the outcome at least we will have tried to live our dream, although I have to admit I would rather be staying in lovely hotels and not wild camping.

Jobs before we leave

  1. Prepare the house for renting, far more involved in this than you initially might think
  • If you have a mortgage you need written permission to rent the property out
  • Change the insurance to a landlords insurance
  • Fit mains wired smoke alarms
  • Fit a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen and a carbon monoxide detector in the property
  • Energy Performance Certificate
  • Gas safety certificate
  • Change the fire in the front room
  • Arrange for the oven and hob to be cleaned

And of course make it look presentable.

  1. Inform our employers and agree a leaving date
  2. Inform the GB team that we will not be competing this year (dragon boating)
  3. Contact Wateraid
  4. Tell our families (we have discussed it with our children aged 24 and 25 and they’re both very supportive and not at all surprised)
  5. Decide what to do with my car
  6. Arrange storage for all of our knick knacks that we want to keep
  7. Sell/give away all big furniture
  8. Arrange storage for the boats and bikes
  9. Buy the kit including possibly bikes, lots of helpful sites to help with this
  10. Plot a rough route
  11. Read more, lots of blogs and websites and we have bought a book so we will be OK : )
  12. Apply for visas

I am sure this list will continue to grow as will our excitement and fears.

19th January

Two weeks have whizzed past, we’re busy sorting the house, who would have thought we would have so much junk, several trips completed to the charity shop and lots of painting completed.

We both applied for sabbaticals from work, Gary has been granted one but unfortunately my request was rejected, in fairness they did offer me 6 months but we had already committed to taking at least 12 months and we didn’t want to compromise.

I think we have told everyone about our intentions and no-one seems particular surprised and the majority of people are very supportive.

Bought our bikes yesterday from a specialist dealer – 2 Koga Rand(somethings) £1750 each, they won’t be ready for collection for a couple of weeks so we will need to make the round trip from Nailsea to Crystal Palace again.

We have also drafted a rough route.  Our nephew is getting married in Rhodes, which makes our first leg easy. The second leg will be through/up over Turkey, we have discussed the third leg a lot, I really don’t fancy Russia so I think we are going to make our way to Moscow and fly onto India/China, details to follow.

Feeling a mixture of anticipated excitement with a mixture of complete fear – who in their right mind gives up a 58k secure job to travel the world??

25th January

Another week has flown by the house is nearly ready for the rental market and we have gone completely public, even put a notice on facebook.  On the whole people have been really positive and supportive however a few have opening said they think we’re crazy.

27th January

Hayley’s birthday (I will really miss celebrating this with her next year)

We went to the cinema to see a film called in the Wild with Reece Witherspoon, the story line was about a woman who following the death of her mother, and a period of being a drug/sex addict  goes walking 1000 km to find happiness. It was a good film but left both of us in tears, it reminded me of my mums death last year. It also provided a lot of food for thought as the woman was camping on her own for the 4 years she was away. I don’t know whether Hayley deliberately picked the film because of this content (she and several other people close to me think I will struggle with the camping aspect of the trip- I think they’re right to be concerned) or because she genuinely wanted to see the film??  Either way it has given me some ideas, like making up some goody boxes to send ahead of us on the journey/adventure.

1st Feb

We have brought our leaving date forward! We will now be leaving at Easter

Plans are going well bit I have a few little niggles

  1. where/how am I going to go to the toilet in the middle of the night or middle of the day? I have wild camped before but with a big group, the idea of getting up in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and going to the loo does cause me some concern (hopefully I won’t have to)
  2. Is my hair, it is short and I would ideally like to keep it that way, it also needs colouring every 4-6 weeks! I really don’t want to come back with long, grey, kinky, thick, dull hair.
  3. what are we going to do with our evenings? I just hope we don’t get bored of each other.
  4. The idea of being kidnapped/robbed/killed – too many nasty stories in the media

22nd February

What a month, Gary has spent a lot of time (probably  too much time) scoping which visas we need and how to get them.

We’ve spent a fortune on kit, I think the longer you have to plan the more you buy and spend – it is almost as if subconsciously you think if you research enough and spend enough you can make the experience luxurious but at the end of the day it is camping. I am however hoping all the kit will make a difference because the reality of camping for a year is finally settling in and I am more than a little bit worried that I won’t be able to live out of a tent for a year. We have discussed my concerns and we’ve agreed some contingencies i.e. staying in hostels and/or buying a camper van. We’ve got a year off of work we’re not going to waste it.

The kit is laid out on the table taunting me.  I keep asking myself how are we going to carry all of that??

On the up side we have our new bikes, they’ve got lots of gadgets, including a turbo charger for charging the lights and other electrical equipment whilst we’re cycling, lock for the back wheel, snazzy handlebars that can be moved to a multitude of positions and lots of gears to help us get up big hills including the Himalaya’s.  It rides like a tank compared to my carbon fibre road bike, but for this trip we’re going to need comfort over speed.

Final update for today we have both been ill this month Gary had a viral infection which laid him up for 2 days and I have bled for over a week (not had a period for months!!) At least it focuses our mind on what we will do when we’re on the road and we’re not well.

26th February

I felt a real pull to go to Halifax to be near my mum, her ashes are scattered there, I have discussed every big decision I have ever made with her and I miss not having her to talk to. Strangely I know she would not approve of this trip, she wasn’t very adventurous and she would be worried about the risks we were taking. Of course she would say ‘whatever makes you happy’ but I know deep down she would not understand or approve.

It was a very strange feeling going back to Halifax it felt like going home (although I only lived there until I was 7 years of age) but I didn’t feel anything whilst I stood where my mum’s ashes were scattered other than regret, I wish we had done something a little more ceremonial, placed a plaque/bench or something somewhere we could go and reflect and share time with her.

I had hoped to spend some time with my mum’s brother and sister and for us to reminisce about her and for them to share memories (lost to me and my brother and sister) of our childhood. But It was not meant to be I was a little raw (very tearful), my uncle was away for many years with the Navy so had limited memories and my Aunty Jenny was not very talkative. So instead I drove home, it was a long and emotional day.

March 4th  – 2.20am

Can’t sleep!  Too many things going round in my head, work and trip stuff.

Only a month to go and the reality is really setting in.

I have finally set up a blog, but it is far from perfect, I’ve spent hours doing what a child could have probably done in minutes. I am kind of hoping it will help us to raise a little more money for WaterAid. I am a little confused by how little we’ve raised to date, when we’ve completed past challenges the donations have rolled in, but this time the sponsorship is really slow. I am not sure whether this is due to the nature of this challenge (although our other challenges were always primarily about having fun) or whether it is our chosen charity. I suppose on a positive note any funds we raise are better than none.

The house is still on the rental market, I am a little concerned it is taking a while to shift, I’ve spoken to the agent and they’re really positive. We’ve had a number of viewings and the feedback has been good, however I feel people may be put off by the fact that we are travelling. I think in their shoes I would be a little concerned that the owners might come back early. I would also imagine most people are looking for a longer let than just one year. We rented for a couple of years when we first moved to Nailsea and it was a nightmare, we felt really insecure and had to move several times because the owners only let the properties on short lets.

We had our second lot of vaccinations today, rabies and Japanese encephalitis (£437) and apparently we need to pay more because we need a prescription for a further shot of the Japanese encephalitis.  I’m pleased we had the yellow fever and hep A and B done when we went to South America otherwise I would definitely be feeling like a pin cushion by now.

The cost of this trip just keeps increasing, Gary is keeping a spreadsheet, but I think we must be up to £5,000 easily.

Signing off so I can go and get some sleep, busy day at work tomorrow.

8th March

another crazy week, went out for dinner with a friend who has terminal cancer, it was a lovely evening but really difficult we were both really aware that this maybe the last time we see each other.

23rd March

time is flying by, we’ve rented the house and bought everything we could possibly need, although I still have to convince Gary that we need some plates and bowls, he is suggesting we eat out of the mess tins we cook in! Really

It is all feeling really surreal and I don’t feel anywhere near prepared. The idea of living in a tent for a year gives me the real wobbles.

On a count down now only 11 days to go….

10 days to go – went out for another goodbye meal with friends, it was a lovely evening but the more we talk to friends and family the more we realise we are so ready to go. I am sure everyone is bored of the ‘corrs’ and their cycle trip but it inevitably becomes the main topic of conversation.  The more we talk about the trip the more detached I feel from the adventure.

Everyone naturally wants to know the route and it is becoming more and more apparent that we don’t really know where we going in any detail and we like it that way, we don’t want to know the route mile by mile, a general direction will do.

Work is really stressful, part of me feels I should just do the bare minimal, whilst the conscientious part of me can’t let colleagues or the tax payer down. As time goes on I feel more and more peeved that I wasn’t offered a sabbatical (even though on balance I am glad I don’t have on), I am getting slightly fed up of trying to justify it to people, because it isn’t really justifiable given the fact that someone else in the organisation has been given a sabbatical (apparently their role is not a senior role) and if I had taken maternity leave they would have had to find cover. Oh well rant over, it is Wednesday the 25th at 7.49am and off to work I must go.

3 days to go and my last day at work!!

the house is a mess, we have lots to do before we go, but nothing we can’t manage

Gary was very stressed yesterday but was saved by a call from my special friend Sam, she happened to be in Somerset and called to see if we would like to go out for a meal. We had a lovely evening, it is great to catch up with friends who you’ve known for so long. Sam and I became friends when we were pregnant with Ashley and Hayley – happy days.

I loved her parting comment to Gary ‘look after her, bring her back in one piece or else..’

2 days to go

hectic day cleaning the house,

in the evening we met Rob and Helen in the pub, it was great to see them, it is hard to believe that we will not see close friends and family for a year

I had an awful nights sleep, it was our first night  trying out the air beds and sleeping bags. I failed miserably and this was just in our front room. I sleep naked, I am only sharing this information so that you can imagine one hot sticky body trying to sleep on a cold plastic airbed, as you can imagine I was hot and uncomfortable and to top this Gary had purchased mummy sleeping bags which mean you are all tucked in, with very little room to move. I spent the whole night tossing and turning and at one point throw the airbed across the floor.  I have heard Gary tell people it was like watching someone on a surf board having a wipe out!!! I woke very grumpy and with a mission….

1 day to go

more cleaning and more importantly bedding to sort out…

I can cope with most things but not no sleep

Gary informed me that we have a cover for the very slim air beds (purchased so you can place them IN your sleeping bag. This resolved the sticking to plastic issue but did not resolve my issue with the mummy sleeping bag, (I have always hated being tucked in and especially hate it when I can’t move my feet). To address this… in haste I cut the feet off the sleeping bag (a £360 down sleeping bag) Gary’s face was a picture but I did sleep much better, but I think in the long term we will need to find a seamstress because sewing is clearly not my thing.


1 thought on “Ginette’s Pre Trip Diary

  1. Pamela Bennington

    I really hope that after all the stress and strain of getting on the road you have the adventure you are searching for. There is every reason to believe this trip is one of a lifetime with lots of wonderful memories made. Sure, there will be some down times, life is like that, but you would have those times if you were still here in Blighty too. Go have the adventure as life is short.




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