In this, his 15th article for us from Afghanistan, our columnist makes preparations for his final, long-awaited trip home to Kelso.
Finally, I begin my long journey home. After a week together, my relief has taken over my email accounts and briefing schedule.
I have shown him where to find the essentials on camp – laundry, dining facilities, barber, UK support element, gym, shops and small Afghan market.
It has been a unique adventure. I have met and worked with some highly-dedicated colleagues, all committed to building a safer and more secure Afghanistan.
After seven months, I can focus on routine matters – like today sorting out wi-fi to type my weekly column, rather than the rabbit-in-the-headlights feeling I had on arrival.
When my five-year-old son asked me if I had been fighting baddies, my initial response clearly shattered his playground bravado.
I have been spared the true horrors of war experienced by those colleagues physically fighting insurgents. But, on reflection, I too have been fighting baddies – using my skills and experience to ensure that the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and Afghanistan government messages are delivered effectively to fight the insurgents’ propaganda.
But for now I have done my duty. Seven months is a long time to be away from friends and family. This weekend, however, my focus will be on requests to camp in the garden, help with homework and building a sandpit, rather than living in one.