When I was a kid my parents never used to tell me I was going on holiday… I’d just become over-excited and unbearable for the days or weeks before departure. I remember, on several occasions, getting home from infant school and being asked if I’d had a wee and a poo – then being bundled into the back of the family VW Beetle, falling asleep almost immediately and waking-up, hours later, in a campsite in Scotland or North Wales, or at my Grandparents house in Liverpool. 40 years later and I haven’t changed… I still get very excited about travelling and I still make sure I’ve used the toilet if I know I’ll be in a vehicle for more than an hour. There’s something in the planning of a trip that’s nearly as satisfying as the journey itself, don’t you think?
In exactly 4 weeks I’m heading to Canada to embark on a 3 month road-trip across the vast continent that is North America. I can’t tell you where I’m going, because I don’t know. The only firm plan is that I’ll be landing in Calgary on the 8th of September, making my way up to Yellowknife in the far northwest, staying there for a couple of weeks (or until I out stay my welcome… ) and then I have to be at Toronto airport, 5000 km east, for a flight home on the 7th of December. I’m not sure yet exactly by which mode of transport I’ll cover that 5000 km, but it won’t be by air.
Part of the excitement of going on a long trip is buying new stuff. But, when I went on the internet, I realised that I don’t need any new stuff… I have cameras, a valid passport and a cash card. I thought I might need a new bag to put all my clothes in, but I don’t – the one I have is perfectly good and it even has wheels. All I need to buy is film – lots of film. On the subject of film, something that has always caused me a huge amount of anxiety is the actual logistics of using it: getting it there and getting it back. To get it there I’ll be ordering from B&H in New York and having it sent to Yellowknife. I’ll just pack a few rolls in my hand luggage on the way over to keep me going in the meantime.
Getting film back in the past has been a bit of a nightmare. A couple of years ago I returned from shooting a project in Canada with 118 rolls of undeveloped film… I had to split the packages between me and my friend Trevor Gibbs – who was writer for the project – I then had to bag it all up in a cafe at Euston Train Station in London and send it to a film lab in Sheffield, then wait two weeks for the whole lot to be developed and sent back to me on the Isle of Man. I then had to scan it all, which took several weeks and had me locked in my basement almost as long as Elizabeth Fritzl… not so this time. On this trip, I’ll simply pop my films into a pre-adressed Jiffy Bag once a week to the excellent UK Film Lab where they’ll be processed, scanned and uploaded for me to view whenever I hit somewhere with wi-fi. Bliss.