Me and my kit

The broadcaster and writer Mike Harding treks with Nikon, tissues and fountain pen
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The Independent Travel

I never go anywhere without a journal and a fountain pen; I can't write with anything else and I use a Waterman with an italic nib. As testament to the obsessiveness of writers, I only ever bought oilskin-bound books from Edinburgh's Waverley station - until they stopped selling them. I also went through a spate of using yellow surveyor's notebooks.

I never go anywhere without a journal and a fountain pen; I can't write with anything else and I use a Waterman with an italic nib. As testament to the obsessiveness of writers, I only ever bought oilskin-bound books from Edinburgh's Waverley station - until they stopped selling them. I also went through a spate of using yellow surveyor's notebooks.

Usually I take a book: I must have read Ulysses four times, the first as a bus conductor in Manchester. The Himalaya is my favourite place; three years ago I was the first European to cross the Gangal Wat pass in the Hindu Kush, that nebulous area on the border of India and Pakistan. It's a strange, surreal world, with turquoise lakes and a tribe of blond people who may be descended from Alexander the Great. Eric Newby met them and it was his book, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, that set me off. Trekking does mean carrying bags of equipment but I never forget to take a huge box of wet wipes with me.

Airlines consistently lose my baggage, but the worst case occurred when I was leading a trek in Nepal. A Bangladeshi airline lost a couple of bags, one of which was a 23-year-old girl's entire personal kit. We had enough spare outdoor gear between us, but no suitable underwear and Kathmandu is not famous for its Janet Reger stores.

I don't know why baggage handlers throw luggage. One of my aluminium cases was dumped so hard the corner caved in, and once I saw an Aer Lingus handler lob my banjo straight off the plane on to the truck below. Consequently, I try to carry all my camera gear as hand luggage. I always take my Nikon F90, a spare camera body and five lenses.

The most useless things I've taken have been a £250 world radio which didn't even work in Tunisia and an American glacier sun block which had the consistency of Vaseline and was so strong it blistered everybody's lips.

* Mike Harding, broadcasts from the Celtic Connections festival on 17 and 24 January and presents the BBC's Folk Awards on Radio 2 on 7 February. He leads treks in the Himalaya and is author of 'Footloose in the Himalaya' (Michael Joseph, £7.50).

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