This is the current list of equipment with which I must become familiar by this time next week. And none of these is a simple example of its kind. All of it is geared towards a specialist expedition, and everyone else on the expedition will be pretty expert at all of it. As part of my preparations I have been talking to every expert I can find as I make my purchases, and now my goal is to be able, in one week’s time, to be able to unpack, assemble and use all of it without looking like an idiot (or bursting into tears). This is so that I can concentrate on the real purpose of my trip to Siberia, which is to be able to follow tracks and hopefully see a tiger.
As well as asking the experts, I’ve been trying out the gear in and around my home town of Helensburgh. Yesterday my husband Julian and I took the spotting scope and binoculars up to the reservoir, to practise on the ducks. First you scan with the binoculars (see illustration) then when you have spotted a tiger/duck, you home in with the spotting scope. Now I just have to practise until I can do this swiftly, smoothly, and without slowing the team down!