When you go away on a trip there is always a certain level of expectation. On this trip the only thing I expected was to hate camping and when we arrived and it was raining nothing changed there. When I woke up freezing in the middle of the night I continued to hate camping and when breakfast was crap I still hated camping.
But something changed in the middle of the week and even though my face is excruciatingly sunburnt, I lost count at fifteen bruises and one of my finger joints looks gross, I have had a great time. I feel like this year more than any other year I have achieved something.
Without fully being aware of this I travelled into the heart of the ‘montagne’ region of the Tour de France. It’s my favourite bit of the Tour de France, where there is the most spectacular scenery and the crashes and I was there. It’s as fabulous as it looks on the telly and I would recommend that everyone go there.
I finally dealt with capsizing which I have managed to avoid every year for the last five years. Although after the third time, my idea of dealing with this was finally to swim away very fast (in my ever so slow way) and get out the lake and vow never to capsize again.
My legs were not shaking uncontrollably when I went to abseil off the edge of the cliff. Maybe it was because we soaked up the mountains and watched the gliders taking off and riding the currents. Maybe it was because the tiniest thing on earth who had sobbed her homesick heart out on the first night advised me to not look down and not be scared.
I was right at the front of the raft when we went into the rapids. After my fabulous show of ‘scardey catness’ the day before I was challenged: “You won’t go to the front when the instructor tells you Miss V.” I was there before anyone else!
I explained very laboriously why a protest is not something you do for the benefit of someone else; you do it because you believe in it.
I didn’t have very many showers and someone told me that my hair was curly. I had never considered that this was something that I hid until Siobhan asked me if I had actually seen my hair. The mirror in the tent was tiny and one second you could see something and the next the wind blew and you could no longer see the bruises on your bum to put the arnica on, so no I hadn’t seen the fact that my hair was growing outwards with each minute of the day. But what it symbolised was that for five days I got
Sometimes it’s good to do something completely different, to let that sail fall on top of you again and again and again and not care; to laugh out loud. To let that icy snow flow wash over you, breathe in the pine air. Swing back on your plastic chair and look at the stars. Watch the mountains appear from the mountain mist in the morning as you stagger down for your morning pee. Let that rain wash it all away.
And now it’s time for a bath, a take out and a nice glass of wine.