By: Blonde Two

With the return of Blonde One from Morocco next week, the Two Blondes will have come to the end of this year’s expedition season.  With the addition of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and World Challenge to our repertoire, this season has become extended in recent years. Although this has meant more days away from home, more worrying and a lot more route card writing – I know that I speak for both of us when I say that we wouldn’t have had it any other way.  August and September will hopefully bring us some opportunities for “adult walking” (this is usually a bit sillier and definitely involves more Foxtor Cafe time.

I took some kit back to our outdoor equipment stores on Wednesday.  It is a dirty, sometimes untidy place and is much too small for our needs but it has a smell and an atmosphere to it that make me very nostalgic.  I have a feeling that like Subway – outdoor education stores smell the same wherever you are in the world (my subway research is extensive, Iceland, New Zealand and the Philadelphia – they all smell exactly the same!)  I did a little tidy around and then it was time to lock up and hang up the key for a few weeks.

You will have to forgive me for being a bit Blonde and a bit fanciful just for a moment. As I closed the outer door, I glanced back and imagined that I could hear echoes of all that had passed this year.  The packed away tents were maybe sharing memories of giggles and camaraderie, the now empty rucksacks perhaps told their tales of exhaustion and triumph and it is possible that the boxed up maps and compasses were murmuring about new skills learnt and old mistakes made.

Whatever it was that I thought I heard, stirred something in me and I have to confess to a tear or two.  For all involved, it has been a year of memories made, personal challenges met and arguments mended.  I have a tiny card on my kitchen table that reads “Thank you for all your help and support during our expedition.  We wouldn’t have been ready without it.” – it will probably stay there for a long time.

Blonde One and I have a saying that we use just between ourselves at the end of expeditions.  It sounds a bit big-headed but think it is an encouragement to ourselves to keep going.

As I locked the store door yesterday, I whispered it to myself – “We did that!” but the truth is, of course, that they did that.  The fun, the laughter and the tears, they did it and they will have precious memories to prove it.