It was the 29th of October, 2004. It was my birthday tomorrow. I went to work thinking how had I got to the ripe old age of 33 and accepted it's ok to work on my birthday and to celebrate, probably with a meal out and maybe some drinks on a friday night.
I normally went straight to my room to set up for teaching but a few other instructors were in early and standing by the reception door. Intriguing? So I diverted to go through the double doors to see what was going on. They were standing next to a big rucksack and chattering and laughing. As I came through the door they looked startled and then all raised their voices ....Yay...birthday girl...!!
Andy stood there in the background smiling at me. "C ' mon old girl we're off!" It was a daze. All the kissing and hugging and turning me round to put the back pack on. The walk from Bank, west towards Euston, berating Andy to tell me what was going on? How did he book a day off for me? What's in the back pack? Where are we going?
He just said "trust me, enjoy this". And so I did.
We parked the bags and shopped a little, drank coffee, chatted, marvelled at buildings (architecture geeks) and laid on some grass to hear the London buzz all around us and then towards the evening had a meal.
I looked across at him and said "I loved today it's been beautiful....but you know, my birthday is tomorrow".
Laughing out loud, he said "I know that stupid, this is just the beginning. What do you think your bag is for?"
I had been carrying it on and off for most of the day and felt my mouth drop open. Looking at his phone he said it was time to go and he held my hand steering me across traffic lights and crossings to be suddenly in front of Euston running for a train! The sleeper to Fort William.
I have 100's of joyful memories but this picture sums it all up...waking up early at dawn, with the beautiful light, mist, landscape and stags in the distance. I felt reborn and free. And loved.