Honestly, the country! I'm just enjoying the early autumn sunshine on top of the grassy ramparts of the Iron Age fort when I hear the yelping of a pack of dogs. Oh God. I rein in my three in the nick of time. Thundering hooves, blaring horns, a baleful wail from the huntsman. As I hasten out of the way, I skid in some sheep poo and go flying. Well, that puts paid to my carefully structured training regime. My knees are now knackered.
Have realised I must treat myself like a marathon runner and rest now until the big day. I'm sitting with my feet up, browsing the emails from Raleigh to see if there's anything I've missed. Oh God. In the small print of the most recent one (after the bit about putting our lives at risk and personal accident and liability cover), it says:
Pre-weekend task! We ask that you spend 10 minutes preparing a ‘doodle’. The 3 questions that we need answering… are:
1) How have you reached where you are in life today?
2) How you see yourself and life on expedition?
3) Where do you see yourself in the future, after your expedition?
Argh! Feel like CJ in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin: ‘I didn’t get where I am today by doing doodles about how I reached where I am today!’ But I suppose that’s not what they’re after.
How did I reach where I am in life today? Via a series of poor choices and lack of ambition? Through supreme distractibility and lack of focus? Hmmm. Must try and put positive spin on where I am in life today. Through an unquenchable thirst for exploring the world! Which is why I’m homeless, jobless, penniless and looking after an old dear’s cottage in the middle of nowhere? Hmmm…
Let’s try Question 2. Ah, that’s easy. I see myself lounging on a bed at field base, gazing at the tropical sunsets of Tanzania or Costa Rica through the gauzy haze of my mosquito net, sipping on a rum punch or whatever the local tipple may be. Oh, but I’ll be grafting too, plotting the expeditions like a WAAF officer, headphones on and twiddling knobs like Radar in M*A*S*H*, taking pride in typing important documents for my handsome boss like Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. A dash of Out of Africa, a pinch of Australia, mixed up with It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and a splash of The Year of Living Dangerously. It’ll be thrilling and fulfilling.
Question 3. Hmmm. Married to my boss? Married to the Tanzanian house boy? Again, probably not what they're after. I know. Manager of Gray’s Tours, an upmarket adventure tour company for the over 50s!
Question 4. How do I put all that into a doodle?