Ready to go / by Jerry

It's almost time for departure. My bags are packed and I've said all my goodbyes. I'm spending my last few days visiting friends, couch surfing, and occasionally popping into the office.

In the last few weeks I've been sorting out those last-minute jobs like banking and phone cards. I haven't had to do too much panic buying, though there's been a few additional requests to take more stuff with me - either goodies for those already down there or bits of scientific equipment that we'll be needing.
A rare nice day in the Lake District with plenty of autumn colours.

I managed to have some time back in the Lake District. Unfortunately the weather was Bird Island-like; wet and grey, so I wasn't able to do much in the way of exciting walks. Instead I managed a few muddy runs and had plenty of time to pack my bags. I also took my new camera out to try and get some practice before going south.

Dipper and Blackbird by the River Kent.

As someone who isn't really bothered about Christmas I wasn't too fussed about missing it, but I had a very enjoyable evening as my Mum cooked an impromptu one for the family. I found myself packing a few wrapped gifts and leaving a few too - the earliest I've ever prepared for Christmas by about two months.
 November Christmas.

I had an enjoyable weekend in the land of car-parks and roundabouts that is Telford. From there we were able to get out in the sun to the Stiperstones (where we found the first snow of the year), Ironbridge and Wrekin.

 Stiperstones and old mining buildings.

I feel alarmingly laid-back about the massive adventure I'm about to go on. I don't know whether it's because I've been preparing for it for so long or because I still can't really believe it's happening

One of my last meals out with my parents - sandwiches in the back of the van in the wet, grey Leighton Moss car park.