We were delighted to be joined for ten days by Stephanie, Hilary’s sister. Here she writes about “the truth behind the blog”.
I was happy to join Hil and Roger in one of the gentler stages of their round-the-world tour. Not just for a nice holiday in California and an opportunity to see my dear sister and brother-in-law again – but also for a chance to study the day-to-day mechanics of their trip. Because let’s face it there’s not much personal info coming across in this blog is there folks? The decision has been taken at some stage to target it at that elusive creature the interested stranger. Well sorry, but my post is not for her fickle glance (yes, Hil, I am trying to stick to your feminist preachings) but rather for those who know and love Hil and Roger.
They did one personal post last month about how they were still friends – and some practical tips on how they stayed that way. What struck me anew is their basic compatibility. They are both morning/daytime people. They like hiking, they’re prepared to rough it and are quite happy living spartan lives. They are both positive, energetic people who like to plan ahead and organise. They search out above all the grand wonders of nature. Of course they are interested also in man-made landscapes plus all the human elements, but I think it’s fair to say that above all they like the great outdoors. That’s true especially for Hil.
When I first suggested joining them in California I had planned a couple of days in San Francisco and then chilling out by the beach the rest of the time. But Hil and Roger are really not chilling-out types of guys! I quote Hil’s email: “We loved the look of the Airbnb in Monterey, but just wondering if you want this for so many nights? We could do 4 nights there and perhaps 4 nights somewhere else. Do you want to spend all your time on the beach, once we leave San Francisco?”. Obviously “yes” was not an option here! And in fact I’m glad we went inland and saw the wild interior of California as well as the civilised coast. As well as the wonders of Yosemite.
So a typical day with them is as follows:
1. Rise EARLY – 6.15 am was the earliest – shower and dress
2. Porridge and fruit for breakfast then prepare packed lunch (sandwiches containing avocado and peppers, peanut butter and bananas – plus fruit)
3. Then set off for the destination planned the previous night, taking in all the sights en route. Mode of transport: car if necessary, but preferably foot and/or bike.
4. Frequent stops for photo-shoots. Roger doesn’t hesitate to rope in passers-by to do group photos – normally they seem happy to oblige.
5. Lunch doesn’t usually last long before we’re off again
6. Journeys home are always interrupted by more photo-shoots plus detours
7. Arrive home as late as 19.30 having been on the go all day
8. Supper is quickly prepared. Typical meals are rice or pasta with beans and veg. (though I pride myself on introducing couscous into their diet: even faster to prepare), then fruit. Roger will drink a beer but Hil mainly eschews alcohol now.
9. Not surprisingly after such a long day they rarely go out in the evening as well but Roger settles down to editing his photos. He is a passionate photographer despite being limited now to iphone and ipad, and does wonders with the inbuilt editing tools – though Hil also has taken some great shots under his tutelage. Fascinating to be with someone who obviously looks at the world from the view of potential photographs.
10. Other evening activities: catching up with news and emails, reading, skyping children, updating blog, planning the day ahead
11. Then it’s bedtime around 10.30 – 11pm. I would be impressed if they also fitted sex into their schedule. Roger claims they do, but he would, wouldn’t he?
And this is only a typical day for the easy stages of their trip where they hire a car. Hil pointed out how this changes the whole dynamics. Without a car they are limited to their back-packs and cannot carry food around, so are forced to eat out and live quite differently – and less easily.
“We wanted to push ourselves outside our comfort-zone” is a remark of theirs which remains with me.
Dear Hil and Roger, thanks so much each of you for acting variously as companion, sherpa, planner, driver, navigator and cook: you helped me have a great and memorable holiday.
Bonne continuation to you both.