Tuesday, 1 February 2011

"After the rain, comes fair weather" (Aesop)

Financing my round-the-world trip has had to be based around a finely measured and calculated agenda, as well as forecasting a weekly budget and factoring in contingency money for any possible emergencies, as well as for those hidden extras that inevitably creep up on us. It should get me around the globe but I still have to be careful. I will have to rely on cheap accommodation and constantly watch my pennies throughout the trip.

I knew it would take the best part of a year to plan and research the journey, but I also worried that the longer I spent in the UK before travelling, the more it would eat into my savings. I had planned to leave in May this year because I didn't want to cross Europe in winter. But the length of time before departure meant that I would inevitably be open to the possibility of things going wrong.

And everything was going so well. The planning and research for the trip was on schedule and as we turned the corner into the New Year, things were ticking along nicely. I have been managing to live, modestly, off the fees from my talks and photographic courses, along with the kindness and hospitality from my friends and family. In fact I can't believe how fortunate I've been. But life has a nasty habit of breaking a spoke in the wheels of our dreams. With only four months to go and everything going to plan, fortune abandoned me. The cost of travel essentials, such as my inoculations, travel insurance and all the expenditure that goes with planning such a trip, has left me keeping a very strict and wary eye on my ever decreasing bank account. Things were ok, but I was starting to feel a little uneasy:my finances were beginning to get a little stretched.

Then, one of my worst nightmares happened!My trusted and faithful workhorse, my car,which hasn't let me down once in the past ten years, had to be garaged, twice, in the space of ten days, culminating in two rather hefty garage bills. I am planning to take it off the road at the end of March but the car is essential for my work and as I wind up my talks and courses in these remaining months, it's important to keep the car going. It seemed this extra expenditure, at this particular point in time, was a cruel twist. I couldn't believe the timing of it! To make matters worse, I had just booked and paid for the first of my 'holidays'; a few days in Paris, where one of my friends is planning to come out and join me. I wasn't best pleased. The garage bill, along with a few other hidden extras that I hadn't anticipated, had bitten a bit too deeply into the finances and my spirits were low; so low, I seriously considered cancelling the whole trip. I'm not usually one for giving up and I nearly always go all out for something I've set my mind to, but this did make me feel that the wheels were coming off the bike.

But in life, as Emerson once wrote, 'difficulties exist to be surmounted'. After my initial dejection, came calm reason. Instead of getting depressed about it, I just had to change my thinking. I changed my perspective and instead of cancelling the trip, I convinced myself it wasn't that bad. It was just a case of adjusting and realigning my plans. I worked out that I could still afford to get around the world but I would have to cut a bit here and nip a bit there. I may even have to cut a few days off those 'holidays' I had planned and possibly leave out one or two of the countries I was hoping to cycle through. But with the reduced finances I wasn't feeling so at ease with the trip as I was before and the worries and the 'what ifs'
were beginning to set in.

So, to lift my spirits, I went cycling. It was one of those rare, blue-sky winter days. After only a few miles in that soporific, afternoon golden sunshine, that treads on the heel of a bright, winters day - where you breathe the heady, crisp, hoary air, and the weak sun warms your back, and while the only sounds are the humming rhythmic motion of wheels on tarmac that lulls you into that hypnotic, stress busting lightness of mind, that only cycling can do - my spirits were beginning to lift again; my reverie suddenly shattered by the realisation that I couldn't stop! The rear brake cable had snapped!I managed to get back without incident but rather than get it repaired there and then, I thought it better to wait until the beginning of March, when the bike is due for a full service and everything can be done at once by the same mechanics. Meantime, I have borrowed an old Raleigh mountain bike, which will do fine for the interim month.

Apart from these minor calamities, preparation wise, it has been a quiet month. But that has given me the chance to catch up with my reading. My journey will follow ancient routes; the theme being the art and artists(ancient and modern)of the countries that I am travelling through and I've found time to re-read some of my favourite ancient poets.

One of those is the Roman poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, more familiarly known as Horace. I really like Horace with his lyrical style and positive thinking. And he loved his wine! There's a person after my own heart! In nearly every one of his Odes, he is forever lauding Bacchus -(the Roman adopted name for the original Greek Dionysus - God of the grape harvest, wine making and wine) -The God of Wine. Forever the optimist, his answer to the pits and troughs of life was to tell us, not only to relax but also to enjoy the moment and not to trouble our minds with things we can't control, but also to indulge in the odd tipple or two! As he writes in his Ode, 'Enjoy the Hour', "why, with planning for the future, weary thy soul?
Why not rather quaff the wine, while yet we may, reclining under this lofty plane or pine, in careless ease....Bacchus dispels carking cares'.
(Horace: Ode X1)

He even titled one of his Odes, "In Praise of Wine". And in another,.."take delight on holidays in some choice vintage Falernian wine".

Cheers! Horace, I shall do just that!

(all postings on paintsandpedalsworldbybike.blogspot.com are copyright of Deborah Anne Brady)

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