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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

"Let's Go To San Francisco..."

I can now. I have my new ten year passport. Valid, when the time comes, to allow me entry through  those "Pearly Gates".

As I think I explained this all arose because my mate invited me to visit the Northern Lights with him as a alternative to him spending a lazy winter's break in sunny Spain with his missus. Now all we have to do is agree a destination and date.

I don't suppose our trip will be as exciting or as magical not to say  as dangerous as young Lyra Belacqua's trip to the Northern Lights in the opening book of Philip Pullman's majestic trilogy "His Dark Materials". In the USA the book was renamed "The Golden Compass" and the film was a lesson in  how not to adapt a novel for the screen. Unfortunately, I doubt we'll meet up with  Iorek Byrnison, the wonderful armoured polar bear or be enchanted by the beautiful queen of the Northern witches, Serafina Pekkala.

Besides Lyra, my favourite character is Pantalaimon Lyra's Dæmon, who, like all dæmons of children, changes from one creature to another constantly. There is little chance that we will be able to follow  Pantalaimon and Lyra when they travel to the world of Cittagazze over the "Bridge to the Stars."

I will most certainly be taking Philip Pullman with me when we venture out into the frozen, white wilderness of the Far North and will be wishing and hoping very hard that we'll meet a few fantastical characters while we're exploring the Northern Lights.

The trouble is friends of ours have been to the North Pole or thereabout and while their trip wasn't as uncomfortable as that of say,  Rear Admiral Sir William Edward Parry, RN, FRS in the early 1800's they did find the experience rather "inconvenient". Mainly because of being stitched into their clothes and sleeping bags with little opportunity to relieve oneself in a civilised manner. But what does it matter if constipation sets in when you can gaze into the clear Northern night sky and see for ever. Making sure you don't travel when there's a full moon as this may dramatically limit the sky scape.

No, this will be an adventure of a lifetime, and in our case very late in our lifetimes. Do we seek out the forests of Lapland, or the volcanic fields of Iceland? What chance of glimpsing the leviathans of the deep as we kayak our way round Bellsund  Head on Spitsbergan  chasing our next meal of seal blubber and salted puffin's toes?

All these possibilities because of the efficiency of the Passport Office in Peterborough. It makes one's chest swell with pride!

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