At the very outset of the Arctic Camel Project I had it in the back of my mind that there was a likelihood someone would drop out for one reason or another, and because of this I had given everyone a deadline of February 2nd 2004 to confirm that they would definitely be coming a long and that they would have all the resources required.
Two weeks prior to the February deadline we had a training weekend in Derbyshire; my patience was wearing a bit thin at the time because I was receiving little or no constructive help from the rest of the group. Martin had compiled a fairly comprehensive fact sheet on Scandinavia but that was about it. In a damp and very cold bunk house on a snowy hillside I expressed my frustration without too much diplomacy. At the end of my enthusiastic tirade I asked if there was anyone planning to pull out of the trip, not one person expressed any reservations at this point, two weeks later it was a different story!
A couple of days before the end of January I found a small envelope post marked Staffordshire waiting for me on the door mat. It was from Andy confirming that he would be joining me on the trip and that all the necessaries would be in place. On February 3rd Andys letter still remained the only confirmation, I was devastated to say the least; everyone knew the deadline and only one person had bothered to let me know their intention. I called Martin, Adam and Herm, each one had decided to pull out but hadn't had the balls to tell me and all of whom stated their other halves as the main reason for the change of heart, this drew absolutely no sympathy with me, not only was I the only married one of the group but Jen was expecting our first baby in March 2004.
The next few days were agony as I tried to come to terms with the news. I felt it was only fair to give Andy the option to pull out of the trip given the change of dynamics. Andy assured me that he was up for the trip whatever happened, this gave me a much needed boost to dust off the disappointment and rethink the trip. It was no longer going to be emulating the Mondo Enduro adventure but at least it would still be going ahead!
Now that there would only be Andy and myself heading off on the trip, we re-evaluated what was achievable. The imminent arrival of a bouncing baby was also weighing heavily on my mind; Compromises would have to be made!
The biggest change to our plans was to reduce the length of our trip from three to two months, in the main this was because of the baby and me struggling to justify abandoning Jen for three months when the baby would be just over a year old. The other reason was that now there would be only two of us things would more expensive individually; we were less enthusiastic about rough camping and now intended sleeping under canvas on campsites where possible and no doubt the occasional night in a hostel, cooking for two was not going to be that much cheaper than for five.
With the change of time scale came the change of route, I spent many hours pondering what was possible before finally deciding we would need to omit North Africa completely, with this the new route would be:
Norway Russia Turkey Greece Macedonia Albania Croatia Slovenia Austria Switzerland France - Belgium
I consulted Andy, he gave the new route the thumbs up and we were back in business. I buried the hatched with the Jibbers and we arranged to meet up for another trip to Derbyshire
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