Thursday, 24 December 2015

An Anglo-Irish accord goes travelling (or traveling, if you prefer).

Winter in an English garden (much the same as Ireland but neater)

This blog was written by Andrew Rankin, the Anglo element of this accord, on December 20th 2015. (The Irish element is Barbara Mulcahy, offspring of Risteárd).

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

How exciting it is to be on the verge of a great adventure. I sit, on an unusually warm December morning with daffodils poking their noses out of the ground, thinking about what the next week holds.  We depart on Thursday evening for Christchurch, for te whenua o te kapua roa ma or ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’ and meet with the other group of travellers who will arrive via Auckland, Tahiti, Easter Island and Peru.  The joy and excitement of reunion and chatter about recent adventures is to be eagerly anticipated and as Johnson says, to see how reality has tempered the imagination.

Where we shall spend Christmas day. 
On Thursday evening the AIEG (Anglo-Irish Expeditionary Group) leaves Heathrow at 2035 aboard Singapore Airlines flight number SQ319  for Singapore;  after a two hour stop over we then board SQ297 for the flight to Christchurch where we arrive late morning on St Stephen’s Day.  One of the wonderful aspects of travel in an aircraft is the comparatively short length of times it takes to arrive, in our case, the other side of the world – a mere 12000 miles in just  24 hours flying time.  To arrive in a country that is in the middle of its summer – the light, the sun, the warmth but perhaps my imagination will be regulated by reality in no uncertain terms as regards the warmth aspect.  Yet, Christchurch lies at 43.5° South compared to Dublin at 53° North or London 51° North so it is to be hoped that there is some warmth in the sun.

On December 30th the AIEG meets with the IFEG (Irish French Expeditionary Group) in Christchurch where the latter group will collect their campervans and then off we travel in a convoi exceptionnel to Akoroa to spend a few days over New Year. And then the adventure begins to be blogged about in the coming weeks.

Don't be fooled by the cosy neatness - the results of  tortured reflection.
Packing.  People approach this matter in their different ways.  Some have already packed, unpacked, repacked, reflected on the repacking, unpacked, more reflection and repacked whilst others have yet to locate the suitcase.  Each unto his or her own but I do wonder if, as with a best selling book this Christmas about log stacking, it is possible to gain an insight into a personality by the preferred packing procedure.  But one sometimes forgets a) they have kitchen sinks in New Zealand and b) they also have shops.  Prior to the departure of the IFEG for Peru, messages were exchanged concerning ‘Top Tips for Packing’.  For example, always pack a plug board.  Whereas our forefathers travelled with pens and paper, the modern traveller is accompanied by phones, computers, ‘tabloids’, cameras - all of which require power.  When travelling with anything that requires a battery, turn the batteries around so the torch or clock won’t accidently turn on and waste battery life.  Never fold clothes – roll them up and in case you don’t believe me, you can always find the many YouTube clips that exist on the subject.

The essential item (a passport is handy too).
But above all remember Johnson’s words.  I’m sure that everyone has their imaginary construct of the South Island just as we have our imaginary Easter Island or Machu Pichu.  Yet some of the party will have had their imagination tempered by their reality, their experience and this is the joy of travelling.

To end this blog, I like this from Jules Verne:
“Ah! Young people, travel if you can, and if you cannot - travel all the same!”

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