“If you have ever jumped with a parachute you will know how, at first, when the parachute opens, your descent seems slow. It is only as you get close to landing that you realise how fast you are going and suddenly you hit the ground hard. That’s how I feel at the moment. For the past five years that we have been planning the expedition, progress was slow but constant. Now we have only a few days to go, I am in a panic to get everything done before the ship arrives in London and loading begins. I am about to land with a thump!

There are tugs to organise, cargo restraining gear and plywood ‘dunnage’ to get, documents to complete and a million other things which pop into and out of my head – usually before I have time to write them down on my action list. I also have my own business to run but, as far as I can see, it is coping rather better without me than it did in the past when I was the boss.”