Getting ready…or not!

OK, where’s my passport?

Right, I put it in my messenger bag with the company euros and my euros.

So where’s the bag? Ah, I see it, next to my rucksack for a day’s supplies of food and my clipboard. Is my itinerary still in the clipboarc? Yes, and my notes and the ferry booking and the sweet factory booking. Calm down, no one has touched them.

Where’s my phone? Where’s my freakin’ phone? Like I said, calm down, it’s in the other room charging up.

Company motto: P.M. T. It stands for Passport, Money, Tickets. If you got those, everything else is irrelevant. Actually, it’s the informal motto. I don’t think we have an official motto. It also stands for Pre-Menstrual Tension which about sums up the state I get into immediately before a trip.

I panic, briefly and quietly about everything. I’m full of what ifs and anxiety. I check things six times. If I do this I may have a chance of dropping off to sleep tonight, because my working day tomorrow starts at 1.30am and ends at 2.30am on Saturday. So I’ll be off to bed around 7pm tonight, having hung up my clothes ready in the spare room, and packed everything but the perishables in the rucksack. When I get up at 1am, I’ll fill my flask with boiling water, stuff my sarnies in the rucksack, slap on some makeup and be on the doorstep in time for my boss to ferry me to the coach depot. I aim to have a doze on the coach before we get to the school I’m escorting to Boulogne for the day because once we start, I can’t sleep; I’m on duty then.

So shortly I’m off down to Tesco’s to get my supplies (the budget for day trips is so tight there’s no spare for food; this isn’t a problem but it does mean I need to take what I need) then I shall transfer all I need from my usual capacious handbag into the rucksack and messenger bag. The messenger bag is for vital items I won’t let leave my body, like passport and so on, and the rest of the stuff is made up of things that make travel more congenial, like wet wipes and so on.

I’m going to be away from home about 26 hours, all told, maybe a little less. I do enjoy these trips; I wish I got more of them and the plan is that I will. I’ve got an overnighter provisonally booked for November already, and others that are in the pipeline, like a five day trip along the Rhine next year. They are exhausting in the extreme but very rewarding.

The trouble is I run around like a blue arsed fly the day before as I make sure I have everything. I’ve even asked my boss to get me to show her my passport before we leave my road. I like the belt and braces approach; I’d hate to end up with an involuntary debagging because of lack of forethought.

So wish me luck!

The Road of Bones

The Road of Bones


There is a zone between here and there,

Where few would choose to tread.

The baking ground shines bright

With the teeth and bones

Of those who lost their way,

Wandered long without a map,

And starved and lonely lay down to die.

The clean white bones, picked bare

Of flesh by wily carrion birds,

Lie as their owners fell.

And if you can but bear to look,

To stare long at the path they make,

The way ahead comes clear.

My path is made of ancient bones,

Holding still their unspoken words,

Waiting for kind and patient hands

To lay their jumbled lives anew

And read the way their bodies made.

I cannot tell which way to go,

Which path to follow, where to roam.

Beneath my feet is only sand

That’s made from bones returned to dust,

Gleaming silver under noonday sun.

No limbs stretch out, no fingers point,

No laughing skull grins at me;

Just pure white sand of powdered bone,

Stretched out till sky meets earth.

The sun is hot, the nights are ice,

But while the sand beneath my feet

Remains this eggshell textured sand,

Then I will know that others long ago

Have trod this road and lie here still,

Guiding my witless feet from harm.

The road of bones leads surely on

To what end I cannot guess;

Its end in sight, then I myself

Will lay my bones along the road,

To mark the way, while I go home,

On silver sand and joyful feet,

And leave the road of bones behind.

Here Be Dragons!

Here Be Dragons!


The beaten path is very wide,

Trodden smooth by countless feet,

Wearing it deeply into the land,

And cutting a track through time.

I was content for many years,

Happy to follow where others led.

Then one day the path ran out,

Ended abruptly with a sign,

Rimmed in red, that ran:

“Warning! Here be dragons!”

I stood some time alert,

Watching for flames and wings,

And yet none came in sight.

I waited on, still unsure

Until a single step I took,

Passed into blank uncharted lands.

And still the dragons didn’t fly,

Eager to devour my presumptuous soul.

A second step and then I found

My feet were on another path,

Thread-thin but strongly felt.

And then I knew beyond a doubt

What the warning sign had meant:

Beyond this point, you become

Those very dragons that we fear.