The Goodbye Tour

With his adventure of a lifetime potentially lasting years, Ben was never going to leave quietly

With 70 weeks to prepare for this trip I purposefully made sure that everything was in place a good two weeks before my planned departure thus allowing me to relax and enjoy my final few days whilst I said all my "goodbyes"...

"The Goodbye Tour" as it became known lasted some two weeks and got to see the vast majority of people I had hoped to though some did unfortunately fall through the net.

The Goodbye Tour started with my last day at work in Dudley on the 9th of March. It probably doesn't need to be said but I will not miss Dudley, the NHS or planning for emergencies. Whilst the job has been an incredible experience and a great opportunity to develop skills it became clear to me quite early on that it's not for me. So whilst I wont miss the job or the place, I will miss some of the staff who over the last two and a half years have throughout been so incredibly supportive and genuinely hope to keep in touch.

Most touching was during a fairwell presentation when I was handed over $200 as way of a leaving gift! I really can't thank them enough for everything!!

Leaving my job for the final time was made all the better for it being my birthday the following day and with all the potential that my 25th year promises I've vowed to prove that life actually begins at 24; not 40! To celebrate I had a great meal out with Alex and James and just enjoyed what was a pretty chilled out day.

Back home in the south of Devon I paid a visit to see my Dad along with my good friend Jasmin whose Dad took me on my first ever flight in his microlight (see my earlier post: Time Flies When Your Having Fun).

I had a great night with Jasmin and spent the night talking about this, that and everything. It was really nice to also see Sophie who paid a visit bringing much needed cake and crisps.

I spent three lovely days with my Gran who has been by far the most supportive of my plans right from their very conception. For over a year now we have spent at least an hour every Saturday and Sunday morning talking over every little development and if it weren't for her I can confidently say there would be very little chance of me embarking on this big adventure. She is in a word quite simply perfect and forever grateful of everything she has done for me.

Whilst in Exmouth I got to see my Uncle, Aunt and Cousins which having not seen them in well over a year was really nice to see how they were getting on.

True to form of course I was fed like a king with an amazing homemade curry, cheese straws and sausage rolls from my favourite bakers and of course the best fish and chips from our favourite chippy!

From Exmouth the next stop on the tour was Exeter where I spent 3 nights staying with friends, David and Oli. As always I had a great time with them both watching films, plenty of episodes of The Office (US version) and of course several trips down to the pub!

Excitingly, Oli is considering the prospect of meeting up with me in San Francisco before going together into Latin and South America. Now a lot of people over this last year have suggested joining me at one place or another but realistically know the chances of it actually happening are slim at best... However, of all those suggestions to date I expect this to have the greatest chance of becoming reality and hope ever so much it does.

Next stop: Nottingham to visit my friend Rory. I last saw Rory a little over a year ago and remember spending a great deal of time discussing the then idea of travelling the globe so seemed quite fitting to see him just before leaving. And so glad I did because it was good to see him doing really well living in the centre of town with his girlfriend.

I unfortunately only had time to stop the one night with Rory during which we went for a killer Indian and a few drinks in the oldest inn in England.

My wonderful Sister, Hannah
My penultimate stop on the tour before returning to Coventry was in Leicester to say goodbye to my sister Hannah.

Hannah pulled out all the stops for me whilst I was there and most noteworthy was the meal she took me out for at her work, Hotel Maiyango. Given the fact they had catered for the Queen, Price Phillip and Kate the week before I knew I was in for a treat but it still way surpassed my expectations. Never before have I had beef that was so tender nor a dessert that consisted of a menu's worth of individual sweets. Simply divine and well worth a visit if you're in town.

For the rest of my stay in Leicester we sat on the canal in the Sun, played in a pub quiz and generally had a great time.

Massive thanks to Hannah for everything... You're the greatest sister a guy could ask for!