In early 1995 I visited a friend who had just bought a new house. I remember it quite clearly: at the top of the stairs he had a perfectly formed bathroom in which I had what can only be described as a religious experience.
The bathroom was one hundred per cent peach. It had a peach-coloured bath, a peach toilet, peach tiles on the wall and a peach basin on which sat a bar of peach-scented soap. Hanging on the racks were fluffy peach hand towels that neatly matched the peach carpet below, and sitting on the windowsill was a bowl full of peach-coloured potpourri. I realised then and there that if I didn't do something pretty radical, I was going to end up with a peach bathroom all of my own, and the thought filled me with dread.
I never wanted to travel; I just fell into it one day as I was looking for an escape from the seemingly unavoidable world of peach bathrooms, Sundays spent cleaning the car and taking the kids shopping at the weekend. One minute I was typically British and clinging onto nostalgic and irrelevant images of Empire, and the next I was planning to run away. I set a date for departure, bought a one-way ticket to Sydney and quit my job before I had time to think about whether this was a good idea.
In the event I stayed away from home for just under three years, wandering aimlessly through Australia, Oceania and Southeast Asia in search of an alternative to the life of suburbia. I did indeed find such a lifestyle, but this site isn't the story of how to avoid the peach bathrooms of life. It's the story of a journey which was challenging, difficult and amazingly rewarding, a 33-month journey through one corner of the world, a journey that, even when my health had failed and I was stewing in my own juices in the middle of absolutely nowhere, made me realise that however bad life got, at least I didn't own any peach-coloured potpourri.
That bathroom kept me going through thick and thin, and for that I owe it a serious debt of gratitude.