Thursday 22nd April. Bletchingley, but not for much longer!

In a couple of days time, it's 'bye-bye Bletchingley'. That's right, after thirteen weeks of painting and plasterboarding and glazing and coving and insulating here in this sleepy little village, I'm ready to hit the road this weekend. Will it be sad to say goodbye to the friends I've made here? Yes. Am I looking forward to packing everything back into my backpack, knowing I'll have to carry it everywhere I go? No. But I can't wait! I sent out an email this morning to the people I want to visit around England. Below is a copy of that email...

G'day all. Well, spring is in the air and it's time for me to come out of hibernation. Bletchingley has been a great place to hide away from the winter, but the time has come for me to spread my wings (like the mixed metaphors?) and see a bit more of the country. I'm sending this email to the people who've offered to host me while I'm tripping around. Plans are falling into place rapidly, and the tentative itinerary can be found below. It's a fairly flexible schedule, and I may be able to make changes if necessary to fit in with your plans. Having said that, I've learnt from past travels that a schedule can sometimes change all by itself! But for now, here it is. Please let me know how this would fit in with your plans.

This weekend, I'm hoping to be able to take Mai into London. With luck, we'll catch up with our friends Rob, Andy and Michelle, and also a new friend Mark. I've been contacted by another world traveller who's just arrived in London, and he and I are hoping to meet over the weekend. I'm sure we'll have plenty of stories to swap. Check out

After the weekend, the trip could look something like this:

Sun 25th and Mon 26th - Oxford, to catch up with my long lost cousin Matt, and complete the Winston Churchill challenge!

Tues 27th and Wed 28th - Northampton, to stay with Penny, a fellow Couchsurfer and friend of my mate Casey in Alaska.

Thur 29th and Fri 30th - Stoke-on-Trent, to visit Tim and Suzan who invited me to stay with them!

Sat 1st and Sun 2nd - Warrington, Cheshire, a reunion with Mike, a friend from Banana Bungalow, Hollywood twelve years ago.

Mon 3rd and Tues 4th - York, to stay with a reader whose details I've lost!

Wed 5th and Thur 6th - Newcastle, to stay with a reader whose details I've lost!

Fri 7th and Sat 8th - Blyth, to surprise James and Steve, who I met in a bar in Memphis, Tennessee. James owns two pubs in Blyth!

Sun 9th and Mon 10th - Alfreton, Derbyshire, to visit my ex-girlfriend's parents, and watch videos of her recent wedding!

Tuesday 11th - London, to visit the Queen and twist Charles' ears!

Wednesday 12th - back to Redhill, where I have a couple of small jobs to complete before heading to Spain and Morocco for a long overdue suntan!

So I've been busy organizing things, making phone calls and sending emails, and sifting through my junk, deciding what I need to take with me on the road, what needs to be posted home, and what can be left behind. I've bought a new pair of sunglasses, and my hiking boots are washed, waxed and ready to go. One more sleep...

Last night, I printed out the second draft of my book- all 166 A4 pages of it, over 120 000 words! The chapter sequence has now been finalized and I've definitely decided on a title. In fact, I'm very excited about the title, but of course it's a secret for the moment. The next step, after a little fine tuning, will be to investigate printing costs. The biggest challenge, I think, will be the artwork for the cover. I have a picture in my mind of exactly what I want, but where does one go to have such ideas turned into reality? Stay tuned.

One thing I need to do before I waste any more time, is to give a big juicy plug to World Nomads. They are the travel insurance company that I promote through my website. When a reader of my website purchases a policy, by following the links in my site, I get a commission. This only works if you visit them through links such as the banner link below, or text links like this. Well, my friends at World Nomads emailed me the other day to let me know that another cheque has been sent to me c/o my Mum's address. It seems that readers of this website have been appreciating the value for money that World Nomads travel insurance policies represent. My readers have spent over a thousand dollars on policies in the last month or so. Thanks to those readers and thanks to World Nomads, the only insurance company that caters specifically to backpackers and independent budget travellers.

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World Nomads, carefully watching what I ate at this market stall in Juarez, Mexico. This could be you, if you don't have World Nomads travel insurance!


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