As all great adventures do, it started with a pint in the pub. In my case, this was a pint of lime soda as I’d had a long day working at a school and any amount of alcohol would have finished me off in seconds.
This was actually my first proper meeting with the YesTribe apart from the ambassador’s training weekend back in February. Up until Christmas, I was teaching at a school in Dorset and had never been able to make it to any of the meet ups, so now that I had the freedom to be out in the big city ON A SCHOOL NIGHT and meet some like-minded folk in Covent Garden, I grasped the opportunity straight away.
My adventure for the day had been a bit lame to be honest and involved me walking from London Bridge to Covent Garden after the tube station was suddenly shut and I got claustrophobic surrounded by so many people who weren't wearing any outdoor kit.
So, what happens when you ask a table full of YesTribers what adventure to do that night. The ideas started rolling in, ranging from walking down the Thames and getting a boat back to visiting one of the city parks. I was on the verge of simply finding the nearest tree and climbing it so I could have an early night when the suggestions escalated wildly with the proposal of getting to an airport and spending the night partying in Ibiza (This may have been boss-man Dave’s idea).
A new type of adventure this may have been for me had I accepted, but I genuinely can’t think of anything I would less like to do for an evening than consuming cheap vodka from the bronzed body of mankini-clad male stripper. I was so relieved when fellow ambassador Tom Napper presented the idea of simply getting to the airport and picking the next available flight that I accepted the challenge before any more party destinations were mentioned. At least two people at the table had brought me a lime soda at this point and so it would be terribly rude not to now follow through. The game was on.
I was delighted when I extended the challenge to the table and Ian, who I had met about an hour earlier, discovered that he didn’t need to be in work until 10am the next morning. Downing our drinks we took a rapid selfie and said a hasty goodbye to the Tribe. Sprinting out of the pub, we headed in separate directions- Ian to swing via home to grab a bag and myself to make it back to my car in Golder’s Green to pick up my passport and then dash to Heathrow.
Italy, Morocco, Scotland, South Africa... potential locations were reeling through my head at top speed. Where would it be possible to get a flight to at this time of night? Could I meet up with some of the foreign SayYesMore cohort in their home city? Would I survive on just the contents of my rucksack?
A tube ride, a two mile run and a cruise down the motorway later, I dumped the car in the nearest car park and sprinted into the departure terminal. I’d had a very quick look at the flights for the evening and knew that we might make it in time for the last flight to Ireland. As soon as I arrived, it wasn’t looking hopeful- the airport was deserted. My suspicions were confirmed by the final two staff left at the check-in desks who informed me that we had missed the last flight by half an hour.
Catching my breath, Ian arrived from the train and I broke the news to him. We made the decision that despite the disappointment, we would still make the most of the evening and so picked the nearest green patch on Google Earth that wasn’t in the middle of a run-way to go and investigate.
Realising that neither of us had eaten dinner, the plan quickly changed to finding the nearest MacDonald’s to refuel and use the wifi. After a cheeseburger and getting kicked out at 11pm, we made our way to a local nature reserve behind a supermarket depot to bivvy out for the night (luckily I carry lots of spare kit in the car for work and so had plenty to lend to Ian!).
The plan for the morning was for me to drop Ian back at Heathrow so that he could make it back to work in time. It suddenly occurred to me, as I lay warm in my sleeping bag in the woods, that just because the plan had failed for the evening, it didn’t mean that an overseas adventure was completely lost. If I was going back to the airport to drop Ian off anyway, then surely I couldn’t waste the opportunity to still make it to foreign lands and back again before work in two days’ time?
Grabbing my phone, I got straight on Sky-Scanner. I had to make a decision as to where would be the furthest away, most interesting place to visit that wouldn’t jeopardise my career in the outdoor industry if my flight was delayed and failed to turn up to work on Saturday morning.
After a few thumb-scrolls, the perfect location appeared.
‘Book Flights Now’. I hovered over the button.
What did I have to lose?
I released the breath I hadn’t even realised I had been holding and pressed.
I was going to Iceland.