In two weeks’ time I will be getting on a plane to fly to Longyearbyen, a small town in the archipelago of Svalbard, which occasionally gets in the news when yet another tourist is mauled by a polar bear. I will be joining an expedition cruise there, which for me is the adventure of a lifetime, one I’ve long dreamed of. The cruise will go along the coast of Svalbard, then cross to Greenland, move into Scoresby Sund and finish in Iceland. It holds the promise of seeing whales, polar bears, arctic terns, foxes, possibly some reindeer and much more wildlife that would turn into a long list if I listed them all. To make it even more exciting I have booked the kayaking activity, which means I will be going out in a small group in double kayaks with a chance to observe wildlife even closer. My spare room is filling up with cold weather gear and my biggest dilemmas at the moment are hitting the right weather to do more kayaking training down the coast and deciding between what lenses and camera bodies to take. Do I take the flash or not? Do I take this zoom lens or that one? Choices, choices. I’ve been asking some advice from friends who have done this trip before and who always have sound advice. They suggested I focus on opting for redundancies rather than more lenses and I think that’s spot on. Once I’ve made my choices I know I will be fine and constraints usually focus you more on your photography than having too many options to choose from. Apart from that it will be wonderful to be on a ship with no city noise to distract. No cars, no horns, no buses, no trucks, no deafening car stereos. And once in the kayaks, just the splash of paddles on the water. I have loaded up the kindle with books by Barry Lopez. Of course I have read his Arctic Dreams, for the fourth time at last count. I first discovered it many years ago and see it pop up in every book written about the Arctic. His writing is erudite and poetic, so it’s no surprise that it has become such a reference work. I’ve downloaded a number of his other books and look forward to some quiet moments reading those. The blog has been very quiet for a while and that has mainly been because there has been no travel, but the next few months I will make up for that. This is the first of a few upcoming trips, with a trip to the Antarctic scheduled for November, in between some shorter tropical trips. I aim to write one or two more posts before starting this trip. During the trip it will be difficult to post, due to the lack of communications, but I will write them while cruising and once I’m on terra firma again, I will upload at the first opportunity. And finally, I figured it was time for a fresh look of the blog. I may make a few more tweaks in the next two weeks, but I think it’s already looking better than it was before.