You know what? The Trust DIDN’T say no. Instead, in November I received a request for more information about what I wanted to do, this time with costs. And two references.
It was only six weeks since I’d put together the initial application, so it came as a bit of a surprise to realise how far my thinking had moved on. The problem now wasn’t deciding what I wanted to achieve, but trying to cram all I wanted to do into the limited space on the form – and I’m still not sure I managed it!
The references weren’t a problem, thanks to my fabulous current employer and my legendary former chief exec – forces of nature both, and both passionately committed to international collaboration and improving policy and practice.
I started contacting people in the countries I was interested in, putting out a few feelers and seeing what kind of response there might be. Of course at this stage it was a bit hit and miss, but enough people seemed interested to convince me I could put together a programme that would cover all the bases I needed.
And of course, nothing focuses the mind quite like spending an hour on Rome2Rio online, working out the many different ways you can travel from Prague to Ostrava before giving in to temptation and seeing what they suggest for going from Paris to Patagonia.
The second submission to the Trust went to the wire. I seem to remember I returned it with about half an hour to spare. But by that time, I was in no doubt – I was absolutely sure this was for me.