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Published: July 20th 2009
Hushed silence on the email. All quiet on the blogging front. What’s happened to her? Has she been sucked back into the real world? Is she somewhere so remote that even her usually pretty resourceful ability to find an internet connection has failed? Or is she struck down by some ghastly lurgy somewhere?
No, strange to say, there have been multiple sightings of one Elizabeth Weir in the United Kingdom over the last four months. Most of the reported appearances of this rare migrant have been in the central London area, although we are hearing reports of sightings at various locations between Devon and the Midlands. She may also have been seen in Edinburgh, although those reports are now some months old and experts are waiting to see if there are any further sightings in the next couple of weeks before they are prepared to confirm this.
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Such an extended stay in the UK was not Part Of The Plan… but then, as I often say these days, no plan is definite until it’s happened. In the afternoon of Monday 27 April, I checked in online to my next day’s flight to Miami, and then
went upstairs to finish collecting what I needed for two months in north-central America. I was to meet an Australian cousin in Miami airport on the Wednesday morning, and fly with her directly to Cancun to spend the next three weeks exploring the Yucatan peninsula, Belize and Guatemala. When she left me to visit friends in North America, I was going to carry on pottering around Guatemala and Honduras, before flying to Chihuahua to hike the Copper Canyon and make my way to the Pacific Coast where an old travel-friend was to join me for a gentle meander down the coast, and thence home. But, yes, you’ll have guessed it: swine ’flu happened. While I was bullish when it first hit the headlines the preceding weekend, I couldn’t really argue when the British Foreign Office changed its advice at midnight on 27 April to advise against “all but essential travel” to Mexico. Contravening this kind of Foreign Office advice invalidates travel insurance, and, no doubt, would have caused my family all sorts of palpitations. It was a no-brainer. I cancelled the trip.
Yes, I could probably still have flown out to Miami and made alternative plans on the hoof,
a lone rider
...this time in Nottinghamshire, not Mongolia
but this would almost certainly have meant quite substantial additional expense, and exacerbated the logistical difficulties of processing the cancellation of my original trip. Also, in those early days of the disease being reported in the media, it looked as if we were heading towards some extraordinary twenty-first century version of the Black Death, and it wouldn’t have been immediately clear where I should go instead, viruses not being known for asking that their passports be stamped at international borders. Besides, contrary to what some of you might believe, I don’t actually just travel for the sake of it! I like to know at least roughly where I’m going, and have done at least some small degree of preparation, never mind only travel to places I really WANT to see… not that that limitation narrows down my options too far, it must be said.
Instead, I settled down for a few months in my own country, content that I had more than enough to do to keep myself out of mischief for a while. I rejoined my local gym, started tackling the large pile of books about places I have visited in the last few years and which has
a very British barbecue
...but none the worse for the weather...
been accumulating in the interim, typed up some of the journal I’ve been keeping in the last three years, organised decorators, joiners and nukers-of-wasps’-nests for the benefit of my recently-neglected house, and kick-started my social life… and now I’m looking forward to heading off on my travels again for a break! But it’s been a tremendous blast and, completely contrary to my expectations, I’ve really enjoyed being back. From “culture” such as the Royal Ballet, Mozart’s Requiem, Jude Law’s “Hamlet” and the superb Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in the deliciously quirky “Waiting For Godot”… to the inaugural performance of the Beverley Sisters Of Mercy (aka my sister-in-law’s renamed band) at a party to celebrate both her amazing endurance in remaining married to my brother for twenty years and “some holiday in our rebel colonies” for which a life-size cardboard President Obama was procured… to barbecues in the sunshine (Devon) and rain (Sussex)… to house-, dog- and chook-sitting in Nottinghamshire, and babysitting in London… to a posh champagne-fuelled launch party at Harvey Nichols courtesy of a university friend I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years… to an extraordinarily lively and entertaining talk on the Zulu Wars by the wonderful Rob
two of the reasons I'll keep coming back to the UK...
Steph and Angus of my four-strong collection of nephews and nieces
Caskie of Fugitive’s Drift in South Africa… to my relations and my friends, most importantly, seeing them more often and in greater number than I have ever managed, including ex-colleagues from three firms, ex-clients now friends, and those who have known me all my life or only a few months. I even managed to have a birthday party.
But what next? No end to the travelling, that’s for sure, though I am starting to think about ways of replenishing the funds from time to time. To this end, I have started to look at the options for legal locum work over future summers… but I was enchanted to find that two former colleagues were only prepared to be cited as referees on my CV if I promised to continue my travel blogs (even if, as one of them suggested, I had to make them up!). Such practicalities apart, I still have heaps of ideas - ever-multiplying heaps, it must be said - of things I want to do and places I want to go…
Most immediately, I am off to Africa in the middle of next month and Australia in early December. I’ll be back in the UK
at the end of February for the first in what might be a year of travelling to fortieth birthday celebrations (I’m in irrefutable denial about my own - I will be 38 next year and 37 the year after… just so as you know). As for what happens between mid-August and late February? Once again, I have lots of ideas, but, as I’ve said, nothing’s definite until it’s happened…
I was asked recently whether I was happy doing what I’m doing (or not doing, as the question seemed to imply). The answer is an emphatic, decibel-breaking and exclamation-mark overdosed “YES!!!!”. I am happier (and healthier) than at any other time in my adult life. I fully appreciate I am immensely lucky to have this level of freedom, and, absolutely, I am loving every minute. So let me know when you’re free and in what country you’d like to join me, and I look forward to seeing you soon!
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