Yesterday, walking in the NW of Scotland: today preparing for an unexpected trip to The Gambia!
Having retired almost three years ago, I wasn’t expecting to go back to The Gambia this year: I felt it was time to bow out and not be some sort of “ghost at the banquet” although I must admit I was missing the trip. The last couple of years I’ve gone out – free as a bird – on the dubious excuse of preparing the ground for the IRA groups. I suppose the real truth was that I missed the sunshine, the friends, the whole experience that I’d been a part of every year since 2006. Tosh had taken over running the trip when I retired and I know fewer and fewer of the kids going, so it was only natural that I’d first taken a back seat and was now not even intending travelling in the boot.
However, one of the staff who had planned to go on this year’s trip has, at short notice, been unable to go and, faut de mieux, I’ve been drafted in. I am sorry that he’s had to pull out, but must admit I’m delighted that I am going in his place. Mrs M (she who must be obeyed) has charmingly agreed to let me go, the arrangements are being rejigged even as I write and I will have to turn up at the IRA at 2:00am on Saturday morning for the first stage of the journey to West Africa. Even the ungodly hour hasn’t completely dampened my spirits.
In the last couple of years I’ve run a blog while “out there” and some of the parents were kind enough to say they found it interesting / enjoyable / reassuring, so I’ve decided to take it on again this year. Communications can be problematic between The Gambia and the UK, but to my mind it’s good that the young people can have their adventure – which it certainly is, for all of us – without constant reference to home. I don’t know what Tosh’s views on them contacting home are, but I will try to post an entry every day though there are bound to be lacunae in the manuscript.
If you’re reading this as a parent of one of this year’s cohort, please spread the word to others who may not have been given this blog address: it’s all happening so fast that there may not be time to contact everyone. Please also feel free to post comments etc. In the meantime, if you want to while away the time by reading previous entries, you’ll get some flavour of the last couple of trips.
Now, I must go and shake the moths out of my kit.