It has been a while since I have spent time at A Crowded Hour. Thank you to the loyal three who have continued to do so. I hope to repay your diligence with regular posts.
Since last writing in December I have spent a great deal of time at LaineyGossip.com, missed my first Meredith Music Festival since starting out in 2006, danced my shoes threadbare at The Drunken Poachers gigs, quit the best job I have ever had, watched my sister be wed, and left on an overland winter holiday en route to London, where, as of a couple of weeks ago, I now live.
So here I sit, in front of a lap top, a resident of the Mother Country. At home in Bethnal Green. In love with London. But before I extoll the virtues of this city – we’ll save this for another day – a brief recap on where I have been and what I intend to do now I am here.
We, the Great Love and I, spent a brilliant six weeks visiting nine countries in Asia and Europe as we travelled overland bound for London. The holiday, quickly, was planned around a Japan snowboarding trip and destination London. We decided to bridge the two with the Trans-Siberian Railway and booked ourselves into a tour called the VodkaTrain which commenced with a day in Beijing, ahead of an overnight journey to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on the train. We would then spend three nights in a nomadic ger camp outside the country’s capital, before another two nights on the train which would see us safely to Irkutsk, Siberia. From Irkutsk we would travel by mini-van to Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume, where we would spend three nights, and an hour dog sledding. After returning to Irkutsk, we would then return to the great rail for an epic five night stint crossing Siberia, bound for Moscow and tour’s end.
We needed some fillers betwixt our book ends and the bridge, so we also booked a stay with friends in Shanghai and a visit to X’ian and the Terracotta Warriors, ahead of arrival in Beijing. Post-Moscow, we continued our hunt for Vladimir in St Petersburg; we caught another train to Helsinki in Finland; a cruise ship to Tallinn, Estonia; planes to Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark, before arrival in London.
We are now out the other side and looking back, the trip, the train particularly, was an epic adventure. We saw amazing parts of the world, and were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of a style of life, being that of the nomadic Mongolian, which is foreign to anything we know. We took in world wonders, old quarters, snow fields, famous churches, artworks and armouries. I also bought a beautiful black coat.
The time, albeit brief, was one of expansion, particularly for our relationship. I spent more time solo with the Great Love than ever before. And as a couple we responded with growth. More on this later.
We also turned much of the travel component, into part of the journey. The Trans-Siberian was epic and I am so glad we took the time to see it, as opposed to flying across the top. The days leading into the train journey were marked by fear for what we were about to do and that we had made a huge error of travel. Why on earth were we taking a train – for a peak of five nights – when aeroplanes existed? Would I be able to sleep on a narrow, hard bed for that long? Share a room with others? Use the toilet?
Looking back, the Trans-Siberian was an incredible experience, made better by being part of a group. By slowing travel, compared with flight, we turned the getting there into part of the holiday. Rather than travel time, the train across Siberia in particular, became an event in itself. I think this will go down in our lives as a remarkable and memorable time.
And the countries? Well, we are both keen to return to amazing, amazing Japan. China, it’s completely chaotic and incredible. And I wish I had bought more knick-knacks while there. The ‘international’ Mongolia was vast and stark and beautiful and the people incredible. Russia was such a surprise package and its cities stunning, interesting, creative. Scandinavia was a group of countries befitting such an incredible reputation for design – sleek, sharp, innovative. Expensive too.
And now London. London is going to be home for a year or two. And it’s also going to be the inspirational setting for regularity here. A Crowded Hour would like to welcome you back on a frequent basis with the promise of posts which will inspire, challenge and make you laugh. There will be something thoughtful on a weekly(ish) basis, and something exactly the opposite on a more regular basis. Such as Kim Kardashian in bikini, in Phuket.