Yes, I know, I’ve been a bit quiet on the volcano front. That’s mainly because it’s been, shall we say – slow.
Last year’s grand adventure plans were put to the side after I decided it was in my best interests to apply for British citizenship, meaning I technically couldn’t travel – or book travel – during the time it took to process the application, which I was advised was up to six months on average.
But I didn’t let that completely stop me in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40).
Instead of popping overseas to climb a lava-spewing beast, I thought why not look at what was available in my backyard. And it just so happened that the UK has several ancient volcanoes.
What appealed was the thought of spending two days walking over the barren Cheviot Hills in Northumberland National Park. These hills happened to exist as a result of volcanic activity some 350-400 million years ago when the two continents (what is now Scotland and what is now England) collided. Perfect! Volcano number nine was ticked off in boggy English fashion.
But I was still twiddling my thumbs while I waited for the citizenship application to go through. I was hesitant about booking anything in case there was a stuff up – and so I waited.
Then just before Christmas the news came through – hurrah, my application for British citizenship had been accepted. I was, of course, over the moon. A citizenship ceremony and several weeks later, I had the burgundy passport in my hot little hands and the world again was my oyster.
Excellent, I thought. Time to book some volcanoes.
El Salvador, in central America, was my target. I’d found the perfect tour climbing eight volcanoes in two weeks. How good would that be to tick off eight in one go.
I was all ready to push the pay-now button when a little voice in my head said maybe just double check the availability of the tour first.
So, I did.
And what do you know, no one (as in zilch, nada) had booked the tour and, as a result, they were going to pull it.
I know, right. I couldn’t believe it.
In my mind’s eye, all I could see was this image of volcanoes in the distance and no matter how hard I tried to touch them they were always just out of reach. An overwhelming sense of frustration enveloped me.
But I pulled myself together and went back to the drawing board. I’m not going to be beat just yet.
The new plan – very much in the developmental phase with a high chance of failure because I bought a guide book in French, a language I don’t speak – is to visit the Auvergne region in France famed for its dormant volcanoes and impressive views.
A mountaineering friend is studiously (hopefully) translating my desired route, while a friend from New Zealand is visiting in June and is keen to take in a volcano or four.
Slowly but surely the cogs are moving…