The first step

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

I am sure that there are those who are able to organise going away on a trip with such flair and panache that they savour the final few hours before departure in an oasis of calm. Unfortunately we do not seem to have mastered this art quite yet, although there is hopefully time left to hone our skills. We had thought that with nine months of planning behind us that the last 36 hours before departure would be plain sailing, but it was not be and we ended up working right up to the arrival of the taxi at 1345 to take us to the bus station in Chepstow. As Jack Hunter had remarked this morning, knowing that the taxi was due ‘certainly focuses the mind’.

The last minute cancellation of two bed and breakfast slots had caused some consternation, demanding time to select and book alternatives. This successfully accomplished by Monday night, but delayed the production of the up to date itinerary.

Final adjustments to packing, weighing and reweighing suitcases and hand luggage, ensuring that all the details of flights, buses, ferries, car hire, transfers, tours and accommodation were easily available both in printed end electronic, closing up the house and arranging short term catering (ah the delights of ham sandwiches for lunch and hot cross buns for breakfast as well as journey snacks) all took longer than we had allowed and we had just finished as the taxi arrived, although Eric had to put departure on hold for a final cup of coffee.

Well trained by his father Eric managed to get to the largely seatless Chepstow bus station a good half hour before the coach was due, but the early autumn sunshine was extremely pleasant and reminded us how wonderful our own country can be, not that any second thoughts about the up coming trip were anything other than fleeting.

The coach finally arrived 20 minutes late with the news that the M25 had been closed all morning and that we would arrive somewhere at sometime. The trip was quick and uneventful as far as Heathrow but after a tour of the terminals we found the traffic jam, which at last began to move and we arrived at Gatwick North terminal only 30 minutes behind schedule.

A quick and easy bus transfer to the Travelodge ensued and we then walked to the Black Horse, on the Reigate Road, for an excellent meal before retiring for the night. The flight leaves at 1425 tomorrow, which allows us a lie in and time to catch our breath before the adventure really begins.

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