James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

Heading Home

“Our train slows to a stop and passengers bustle forth. The platform is consumed in a wave of commuters, we pile out of the carriage, unwieldy luggage in tow. With handshakes and nods all round, new friends go their separate ways to meet again expedition bound. Descending to the underground I see rucksacks bob up and down in a sea of heads, wearily diffusing across London, heading home. The tracks grumble and my train approaches like a roaring piston, unconsciously obeying familiar instructions, I mind the gap. A little further, the last chapter of my book, one more connection, back to civilisation. Shifting the weight of my pack onto the other shoulder, I shuffle through the gates to board the next train.”

It’s Sunday night and after a thoroughly enjoyable few days, I’m on the last leg of my journey home. This weekend marked the final briefing before we depart to the Amazon this summer. It was also an opportunity to meet a fantastic group of highly motivated and enthusiastic young people, who will be joining us. In fact, it is their expedition, to get this far and become part of the British Schools Exploring Society, they have already achieved the hardest part where so many demur at the challenge. Their excitement is infectious.

In contrast to most journeys, on these occasions the return seems to stretch on and on, taking considerably longer. A weekend away is a cause to be celebrated, a micro adventure with fireside conversation leading to fruitful collaborations. Headed for home, head spinning with new ideas, there is that familiar buzz of excitement mingling with fatigue and a mild hunger.

“I lean my rucksack against the foot of the bed, and look forward to the next time wherever it may be.”


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