So my trip finally gets underway after months and months of waiting, delays, cancellations and changes I finally got myself to Manchester Airport, armed with endless forms, test results and declarations ready for the inevitable questioning to leave the UK, would my trip end before it started if my forms weren't acceptable? Slightly panicking, like I'd just committed some sort of criminal act I checked in and headed through security and on my way to Kathmandu via Doha.
A surreal start to my expedition wandering around a deserted terminal 1 in Manchester, no last minute shopping or airport lounges this time, a coffee and a sandwich from Pret would suffice as I sat at the virtually empty gate waiting for my flight as security roamed around checking peoples forms - the gate opened and I was first on the plane and finally beginning to let myself think this was actually going to happen and I was going to climb Mt Everest and Lhotse.
I think there were only 40 people on the flight that was an easy 7 hours watching movies and relaxing, something I've not had chance to do in the lead upto this trip, a change of planes in Doha and back to the more usual scene of a bustling airport filled with everyone shopping like they are on Oxford Street and then onto Kathmandu.
On arrival in Kathmandu, Nepalese efficiency meant my declaration form was swiped away in a flash and I was waved through customs, collecting my enormous amount of baggage was made all the more harder by the occupants of the flight in front of me having been on a TV shopping holiday - literally everyone was carrying a wide screen TV and they were piled up around the carousel like a wall even Trump would have been proud of!
My guide Sherpa, Mingma David (who also guided me on Manaslu) and cameraman Sandro were at the airport to greet me along with Ashok who co-ordinates everything for us, I met a couple of my fellow climbers, Dan Dowding, Ed Hill and Gareth Jones briefly whilst we waited for the vehicle's and then off to the hotel for a coffee and catch up with Nimsdai - as usual Nims looks stress free and smiling - for a man who along with 9 other Nepalese Sherpas summitted the first winter K2 a short while ago he looks totally relaxed, I don't think anything phases him!
Mingma and I do a gear check in my room and I inwardly weep a little looking at all of my kit strewn around my hotel room that I meticulously packed and repacked at least 10 times before I left wondering why I follow the list but always still have so much stuff and how will it all go back in those two ting XXL bags!