Our last Goodbyes in the UK
A corner of the Trafalgar Tavern today, held a gathering of our family, neighbours and friends from our life in South East London. Our heavily loaded Toyota Landcruiser was parked outside as if waiting for something to happen. As indeed, soon it will now, Inside, out of the freezing cold, as the sun began to set with an orange glow in the clear cold sky, there was lots of chat, queries about the route, incredulity about the plans, tinged with a smattering of envy. The real chats you would like to have had with everyone there, proved to be impossible as we moved from group to group saying our goodbyes.
A friend whose shoe had broken on the way over was in need of gaffer tape and I dipped into a box in the back of the car to find it and a pair of scissors. In the cold and dark, I rummaged and failed. If I couldn't find the tape yards from the warmth of the Tavern, how would I find it on the road in harsher conditions? A note to self - repack that BOX! In the event, I found it later at home where it should not be.
The house, when we go home, is very empty and sort of echoes, as there are no pictures or chairs to absorb the sound. The fridges are empty and the cupboards are bare. The dog has gone to a friend and is already settling in with her new friends. The cat too is ready to go, with the potted plants next door. And communication with the girls has already started on WhatsApp, as they have gone away on holiday. And Ben, Kristjan and Aliya are representing the family send off.
Everything we think we need for the next year or so, is in the car or on our backs. Piles of bags wait to be loaded into the second car, to go to our place in France. The small convoy from Old Woolwich Road is nearly ready to depart and a small, number of early risers have pledged to see us off on Tuesday morning when no more chores can be done.
So this week we will fill up with fuel, do a final check on our packing sheet and pop the key in the ignition and point in the direction of the Silk Road.
Jeff and Jim saying their goodbyes