Playing 18 holes of golf hours before embarking on a long-haul flight, having not packed, might not have seemed like a good idea looking back on it, but it turned out it was just what I needed. Chris invited me to play at Malkins Bank near Sandbach with himself and his Dad, Martin, (along with scorer, ball-retriever and emerging superstar EJ!). Ever since Meg departed for Devon on Friday morning, with Izzy sat proudly in the passenger seat, I’d been itching to get going…I needed something to do, anything to avoid wondering back and forth, up and down, around the lonely, empty house waiting for Sunday morning to arrive. A steady and surprisingly-strong front 9 was rightly wiped out by a dreadful back 9, resulting in a scorecard bearing familiar inconsistency.
This was just the start of what was to be a very busy weekend, as I prepared to depart for South Africa for the biggest assignment of my career so far – the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
When I got back from golf at about 5pm, I proceeded to mow the lawn (front and back), do some weeding and edging in the front garden, take out and organise the washing, do the washing up and then tidy the house a little. With ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ providing some easy viewing in the background, I then got to work on my bags…
The living room floor was covered in piles of clothes, cameras, lenses. Trying to fit in 3 cameras, 6 lenses, 6 batteries, a flash, Pocket Wizards, memory cards, a monopod, a seat, laptop, chargers, screen shade, waterproofs (I could go on) as well as 6 weeks’ worth of clothes (for both summer and winter climates), insurance documents, ID, accreditation details and so on proved to be a tricky task. It was a pile that took the best part of three hours to squeeze into a single holdall, ThinkTank bag and rucksack, and was zipped up and ready to go precisely three minutes before Chris arrived to pick me up at 1:15am sharp.
Forty-five minutes later, and we’re pulling up outside Matt and Cath’s house in Shrewsbury, ready to pack up the Passatt and head down to Heathrow for our 9:20am flight. That was, until it became apparent – very quickly – that not all of our bags – plus ourselves – would fit into the car, and that we would have to find an alternative method of getting to the airport. Why not ring Marc, the fifth and final member of our flight party who lives in Milton Keynes? Could he help in any way? A muffled response on the phone at 2am suggested not. We’re still not sure exactly why we rang him, or how we expected him to help, but we soon decided that paying for another car to park for six weeks was the only feasible option, and so we headed down in convoy and met up at Heathrow’s T5 three and a bit hours later.