In 2012 I decided it was time for an adventure.
I resolved to take three months off work and go travelling by myself.
Having merged my own firm into Cubism Law in 2009, I was more than happy that there was sufficient support in the office to allow, even encourage me to take this step.
I had never travelled alone except for business before or taken a gap year when a student.
So I decided to take a leap into the unknown and try something entirely different.
So where to go? South American had always held a great fascination for me and so with the help of a very good travel agent we put together a package, during which I would travel at times by myself, other times with a guide. And sometimes - in different groups that I would meet up with during my trip.
My daughter called it "Daddy's very short gap year"!
I was aware that in reality, I was venturing on two journeys.
One was the outward geographical adventure and the other was the inward internal experience and what I would learn about myself on the trip.
I began by flying to Buenos Aires in Argentina, which is a beautiful very European city.
Strangely, I landed on the anniversary of the commencement of the Falklands war and found the locals, whilst passionate, more than willing to engage on discussions around the pros and cons of that little skirmish!
In truth it was a soft landing, I was travelling by myself but met up with an old client of mine and his family; and we ate drank and I visited the sites for a few days before flying onto Rio in Brazil.
My mistake is that I took a taxi to the International airport .It seems obvious. Buenos Aires is in Argentina and Rio is in Brazil.. Well.. not according to South American custom!
The airlines seem to consider both cities to be part of one country and so I zigzagged in taxis across the city finally catching my plane from the domestic airport with three minutes to spare!!
My trip took me to parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru where I spent the greatest time.
At the end of the South American trip I flew from Lima up to Chicago where I caught the train across the US to San Francisco, stopping at a number of cities overnight on the way meeting a very colourful bunch of people and travelling through the Great West and enjoying amazing scenery.
There were so many high points at that time but space permits me to mention but a few.
I hiked Machu Picchu the holy Inca site with two Australians, spent time down in the Amazon with a guide and a shaman (a local medicine man), where I drank a foul smelling local brew which turned out to be very hallucinatory indeed... That was a strange one!
I spent quite a lot of time on Lake Titicaca the Incan holy lake on the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Andes mountains where they believe the world was created.
It is the highest navigable body of water on the planet, and to me it seemed a very sacred place. When I first saw it I became very emotional and cried! I struggle even now to explain it.
I hiked across various islands on the lake and stayed with locals. I even visited the Reed Islands, which the inhabitants actually build themselves and continue to build by sewing reeds together to form islands.
I was even proposed marriage to on one of the reed islands! I am pretty sure the girl was joking as I had only met her 10 minutes before.
I spent time at Iguazo Falls, The largest waterfall system in the world on the border between Argentina and Brazil – a truly amazing experience.
I suffered altitude sickness on a high mountain in Bolivia which was quite an experience because I did the very English thing of saying "no no I'm fine I don't need this!" whilst grabbing onto an oxygen mask with all my might!
White water rafting and zip lining at altitude by a thunderous river outside the Peruvian holy city of Cuzco and snorkeling in the Galapagos islands with giant turtles and monitors (big lizards).
My last day in South America was spent horse riding for the first time since I was a child in the mountains overlooking Quito in Ecuador and then flying up to Chicago and on the train to enjoy one of the great US train rides through to San Francisco, where I was met by friends.
So that's the geography – what did I learn about myself? I guess I found I was okay – in fact more than okay - by myself (although occasionally a little lonely when not travelling with others).
I had time for reflection and just generally loved all of the different experiences and particularly was invigorated by those who I met along the way including a particular group of Australians with whom I am still in contact with and visited recently.
Before I left a friend of mine told me that she was sure I would have a great time but two months after I got back everything would be just the same again.
Well, I don't think it is. On the reed islands I was given a pendant that I wear every day close to my heart to remind myself of the experiences I had and the difference it has made to me.
I have no doubt that travel broadens the mind and also stretches the emotions and allows one to experience oneself in a different way to one's normal life. I have never forgotten this journey and whilst I travelled I wrote a blog with different photos every day, which I uploaded and still look at to this day.
So get out of the office and begin an adventure NOW!