With a little over one week to go, we have set up this new blog, which we hope you will enjoy. We have abandoned our original site but this is what we had posted so far.
11 May 2018:
We have come a long way since our last post. Flights booked, visas sorted (well, some of them), vaccinations jabbed, rough itinerary mapped out. We fly to Bangkok on 1 July, so that we take in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka before arriving in India and completing our journey in Nepal.
We have also, importantly, quit our jobs. We are just working the last few weeks and preparing the household for when we leave. When you are a gap year student in your teens or early 20s, you just up and go. When you are in your 50s, however, you need to do all sorts of planning to make sure bills are paid, pets are fed and walked, and the house is still standing when you return.
Truth be told, we cannot wait!
The planning is half the fun. The map is out, a guide book bought, the dreams taking shape. Heck, David has even got a suitcase out! We have been in touch with British Airways in order to map out a journey, what can only be a guessed outline… but you have to start somewhere. Turns out they think it is too early to book.
We realise that this time next year we will be half-way through already. It suddenly dawns on us, will six months really be enough?
We are enjoying Sue Perkins’ TV adventure following the River Ganges and we long to return to Varanasi, possibly our favourite place in the world. At the end of the first programme, as the narrator says that next week Varanasi will feature in the programme, we are welling up, and just look at each other, and say it never felt so right that our own house is named after the city.
‘I can never have enough of India. I long to return’
These are the words of the same woman who welled up at her first sight of the Taj Mahal, saying: ‘There are no words… for THAT.’ Miriam Margolyes was one of the ageing celebrities who appeared on the TV experiment that was The Real Marigold Hotel. We fell in love with the idea, but it wasn’t until the second series that we simply said: ‘We must do this.’
We got jealous as we watched the likes of Lionel Blair and Dennis Taylor living for weeks in Kerala. An idea began, a plan started growing, a dream may yet become reality. Before we knew it, we could talk of nothing else.
1 July 2017:
The great countdown begins. One year today, we want to be flying to New Delhi. It is really the only fixed point in our schedule for the following six months. That, and the fact that we would like to be in our favourite restaurant in Pokhara on Christmas Day.
A large map of India now has a permanent place in our ‘summer room’ [extension]. We occasionally get it out and put a sticky dot on the map where we really want to visit. Having watched more TV programmes like Great Canal Journeys and Joanna Lumley’s India, we keep adding more ideas.
We also have to work out the practicalities of budgeting and household bills and what our adult children need to be doing in our absence. But all that is part of the fun.
I first visited India when I was 19, as part of a London to Kathmandu overland trip. I loved it. I still remember how I felt when I stood on the banks of the Ganges at Varanasi. Now it is time to go back to this intoxicating country – and this time I have Imodium tablets and rehydration sachets – and I am not broke.
Bring it on!
In November 2014, the first year of my retirement as a paramedic, we treated ourselves to an all-inclusive tour of North India – Delhi, Agra, Varanasi.
Caroline had been before many years ago and was desperately keen that I would share her love of this magnificent country… and I certainly do.
India, bustling, manic, dirty, fragrant in a good and bad way, colourful… so full of life… It is in my blood. I am at peace here with my beloved (Canon 70d) and my beautiful wife.
During that 2014 visit (in fact, I think it was the second day) we agreed we should bring our grown-up kids to see India and Nepal and so in April 2015 we returned with James, Ben, Seb, Anouska and James’ lovely new wife Ellie.
Seven extended step-family members in a minibus could have been a recipe for disaster – but it was brilliant fun. How much more magical can it be, sharing the Taj Mahal at sunrise with your whole family?