How did any of us get here?
Joking. There will be no existential analysis here. No inner musings on who I am, who you are, who any of us are…
This is just a simple blog about trip to the arctic.
And it starts where many of my stories seem to start: with a glass of champagne.
Now, at this point I need to stop you, and explain something. I’m doing this trek with Olivia (more of her later), and she has her own blog. Those of you who know both of us, may be reading her blog https://doesmylifelookbiginthis.com/ . And I need to set the record straight on how this trek came about….
First of all – I went to a Ball keen to bid on something…
The Ball was raising money for CHAS: Childrens’ Hospices Across Scotland. There are many – many – great causes out there. But hospice care for children with life-limiting illnesses and respite care for their families, comes pretty high on our list of important charities.
We (my husband and I) had decided to bid on a ‘big ticket’ item to help with their work. But he wasn’t there (some sort of best friend’s 40th birthday party in Norway. Whatever.) So it was up to me.
Yes, I’d had a few champagnes. These things happen.
But more importantly, I sat transfixed in my seat while one of the bravest women I have ever seen stood up in front of all of us, and talked about their experience at CHAS: their months of hospice care for their baby, and her memory of her baby dying in her arms. Those are the words that stayed with me. All the (far too limited) donations I make, fundraising I do, and awareness I raise for CHAS, is for those who have had such an experience.
So I bid. Just for me. On my own. Joining a team of people I didn’t know on a once in a lifetime trek to the Arctic circle.
Sitting next to me was my friend Sam. During the bidding, he leaned over and said “Mark would want to do this too. You could double it for two places”. And this is where the champagne kicked in.
Of course, Mark would want to do it. Of course, we should double the bid. A nod to Sam, he yells to the auctioneer, and I’m trying to do maths in my head…. the champagne isn’t helping. But I’m pretty sure I’ve just bid the total of: a lot. A very lot.
Then – saving my marriage and my bank account – I get outbid. RELIEF! Sam turns: “Go again?” No Sam. No. My bidding is over. The evening may continue.
And then I hear a whisper in my ear…. “I’ll go with you”. I spin around. It’s Olivia. Kind? Yes. Literary? Absolutely. Fun? No doubt. But an arctic trekker? She was about as prepared as me. Which was not at all. Perfect.
“You sure?” I ask. “No, but are you really, really, really sure?”. She nodded (Your Honour), which I took to be a verbal contract confirming that she was in no way influenced by me, champagne, nor emotional blackmail perpetrated by CHAS.
I spun back, avoided eye contact with her husband sitting on the other side of the table, threw my arm in the air. And we were going. So we did what any two middle-aged women would do at such a moment: with both screamed in unison and started hugging each other. After all, how hard could an Arctic Trek be? Yes, it will be cold (up to -40)…but we live in Scotland. Yes, there will be long walks (72 kms to be precise)…but that’s what training is for. Yes, we’ll be pulling our own pulk…but that’s…. actually, what is that???
Stay with me friends, as I blog my way through this experience and I can guarantee you one thing: by the end of this, you’ll know what a pulk is.
If you’d like to, you can donate to CHAS via our justgiving page.