Saturday 25 January 2014 – Our leaving party
It’s the morning after the night before our farewell bash – how should I convey my first thought? Touched beyond belief. We’ve enjoyed what was a dizzying blur for a superb send off. Hosted at The Four Bells in Woodborough, this rustic pub was sectioned off for our private party and what a party it was. Around fifty people were able to celebrate with us, sink a few wines and wish us well on our travels ahead. It was wonderful to be in a sea of close friends and family, who had made the effort to convene from all corners of the UK, from as far north as Liverpool down to the Isle of Wight off the south coast, under one roof for us. Thank you to all that were able to make it, your lovely gifts, cards and warm wishes – you contributed to a very memorable evening.
The pub owner Craig executed the night to perfection, accommodating my requests and requirements against our modest budget for a night that gave folks a good time. A colossal thank you goes to Jason’s father, Terry, who significantly contributed to the catering costs. What a gem! Our private space was decorated with a personalized farewell banner, big, bespoke motorbike and ship shaped helium balloons as well as a rustic table to cater for the peckish. The compliments towards the simple but moorish spread flew in our direction as fast as the thick cut slices of beef and tasty array of cheese flew off the table. Not a morsel left at the end of the evening, which was satisfying to say the least.
Our leaving do started much earlier in the day and became a weekend long affair. We invited those travelling from afar to join us beforehand for a bite to eat and catch up at ours. I love being the hostess at the best of times, although still nursing a sore neck and catering for thirteen certainly tested my stamina and culinary prowess. I opted for pizza and salad and delegated – who wouldn’t adopt the ‘Keep it simple’ strategy with numbers above six? Happy that everyone was fed and watered, had set up their station in what I’d describe as a communal dorm-style arrangement in our two-bedroomed terrace, we could finally return the social gesture towards these people who’ve shown such generosity and unwavering friendship over the last couple of years.
The evening was brilliant fun; full of intensive conversations, recommended ‘Dos and Don’ts’, thoughtful advice and helpful pointers – all dispensed with heartfelt concern and enthusiasm. We managed to capture everyone’s individual sentiments on film by leaving a GoPro camera on a stick in the corner with an instruction attached on it for people to ‘Switch me on and leave a message’. The start of some pre-departure shots taking shape – fantastically funny.
A lot of love has been sent in our direction over the last 24 hours making us feel pretty special. That warm, fuzzy feeling has been in abundance. I’ve relished every minute amongst people that are close to my heart and with whom we’ve built long lasting friendships. Friendships that are underpinned either by a common interest or years of history going back to when Jason and I were in our early thirties and twenties, respectively.
Last night we were asked what we envisage a pinnacle moment might look like for each of us on the trip. Jason anticipates the salt pans of Bolivia to fulfil one of those truly special moments whereas I responded with a hope to turn around to Jason after conquering a tricky river crossing or some other technically demanding ride with a comfortable ease, at some point; that excites the big banana out of me at this stage.
This morning we were also asked what we were dreading most about our trip. My thought processes led me to show some apprehension about holding us back in terms of my riding ability. Jason, however, is a little nervous of the trip not living up to his expectations. It will be interesting to reassess our responses to those questions half way through the journey and then again at the end. What will we think later down the line I wonder?