With less than 48 hours to departure this trip continues to keep us on our toes. However small hiccups like not having your child's passport in your hands the day before you leave are put into perspective with some terrible events in the last 2 weeks, namely the tragic death of Jo Cox and the senseless murders of 50 people in Orlando.
Brexit vote is tomorrow and we're voting for the inclusive society we hope to experience on our travels - I've no doubt that at times the success of our trip will depend on the kindness of strangers and communities who chose to welcome not rebuff us. It is this kindness we have experienced since we moved to Newark 10 years ago, the places that Dean and I have worked, and from the community of Barnby Road Academy where Fred goes to school.
All of us will be going to new things in the next 12 months; new places on our travels, new jobs on our return, new schools as Fred moves up to Senior School, new friends and maybe new family members. Of course as we say hello to new things we also say goodbye to some of the things we are leaving behind (please don't die Mum and Dad (at least in the next 6 months) it would be really, really inconvenient!).
Work has been a dominating, exhilarating, challenging and a terrifically fun place to be for me. I've indulged my workaholic tendencies, learnt an enormous amount, and found energy from the people I've worked with. After 8 years with NHS Supply Chain it was with a churned up tummy that I walked out of the doors of our Alfreton depot yesterday. It is a family of fabulous people committed to delivering absolute value to the NHS and their customers. Having been fortunate enough to work with a large number of the teams in the business I sent out a blanket email of thanks for my time with them. People I know really well, and those that I still cant place (to my shame), sent emails back. I've saved over 100 of the many emails that had really special and moving comments, so that when my resilience may drop I can dip into them and re-charge my batteries. So a very deep 'Thank You' to those at work who took the time out to send those notes. They mean a lot. In this well of generous words there are always some gems, the best of which I feel obligated to share. As it came from a member of the legal team it will have to be anonymous due to the hilariously fearsome caveats below:
"Legal advice for DHL Supply Chain Limited only. Not to be relied upon by, or disclosed to, any other party. Confidential and subject to legal privilege.
All the best to you and your family Rachel. I am looking forward to reading your blog and living vicariously through it for the next 6 months!
Please do not replicate this legal advice without my express written approval."
you couldn't write it could you?!
Fred has also had the most amazing send off from his school. Ms Greeley his form teacher drew the most stunning picture and organised both Year 5 classes to sign a card (see pic) of their recent residential trip to Hallam. Naturally there were a lot of "have a great time Fred" comments, however the prize for the best comment goes to Harry inFred's class who wrote :
Couldn't have put it better myself!
Going on an adventure that leaves the familiar behind and steps into the strange and unknown will trigger a level of anxiety in all of us with normal neurological activity. The passport issues prompted Fred to ask a couple of days ago "Will things go wrong Mummy?" to which I replied "Of course, but that's part of what this trip is all about and what makes it exciting. Stuff happens and we need to fix it. We expect to do A and end up having to do B". This clearly put the issue to bed because the next question was "So what happens if the plane crashes? Will we die?" Expert parental response (listen and learn) "Its unlikely to happen (then lots of stuff about most likely to die at home in a freak Nerf Gun accident in your Tree House, crossing the road to school, bouncing on the trampoline, hanging yourself on a curtain cord......), but if a plane crashes we might be ok or we might die". Fred: "I would be really upset and angry if I died" read and learn fellow parents.... "No you wouldn't darling, because you would be dead". That killed the conversation and I saw his anxiety flood away. Delusion is a state that more parents should master!
So with adventure comes the fear of death. Or maybe not to fear it? My response is to plan for it. Therefore with the gentle and subtle touch I have in all these matters, I decided that we should read through our Wills and Letter of Wishes at the BBQ that the kids threw for us. to celebrate both Fathers Day and our going away. My thinking was if they don't like whats in it, lets get it out now. What could be worse than to lose key family members and then get the shock of a Will you don't agree with. I thought it was a nice touch too :-)
So back to our friends and family who we fear losing because they make our life rich....Inevitably people have been kinder and more thoughtful to us than we have had time to reciprocate. So we say thanks: to Heike and Sarah for the night at Oscars; to Pablo and John for dinner and cocktails on a school nigh; to Fred's school, his Headmaster and his teacher for the effort to make his leaving special and positive; to George at Koinonia for helping us with our visas and organising part of our Kerala visit (including staying with his mum!), to my work collegues for shaming me with their thoughtfulness and great advice (some of which was subject to legal privilege.....); to Charles Street Methodist Church (especially Marilyn & Colin, Carole Rhys & Hugh); our friends who have dropped cards and presents in; our Facebook connections who found a home for Nellie and Patch our Jack Russells,and connected us to people in places we will be visiting; Victoria at The Edge who came in on her day off to dye Fred's hair blue on his Birthday (see pic); Daisy, Barney, Poppy and Chris for a fabulous BBQ, help for the trip and loan of stuff.... the list could go on and on.
We expect to find the world a kind and generous place with the odd aberration (but hey I'm an aberration sometimes too!). How we experience the trip will be all about how we approach it and our own attitude to others. Its up to us now because those we love, those we know well and those we know less well have all done the most they could to give us the best start to this adventure :-)
My reflection is that as we see from Orlando, Jo Cox and other tragedies, much is outside our control. Ultimately I remember 2 much loved NHS Supply Chain collegues; Clare Gardiner and John Vinuesa. Clare died aged 28 of a brain tumour she didn't know she had within 48 hours of becoming ill. John died aged 52 five months after he got a bad back from secondary spinal cancer. They were vibrant wonderful people. So Carpe Diem - we don't know what's round the corner so sieze the day! To John and Clare - I shall raise a glass to you on every contient we visit xx
For me this trip is all about having a great adventure with my family. Its taken years for us to finally stop talking about it and do it - simply because it both excites and frightens the life out me! So I'm stepping out of corporate life, where I singularly failed to achieve a work/life balance....to experience different cultures and spend time with those I love xx