My first ever trip abroad was to Bhopal in India, to visit relatives. I was 21 years old, skinny, long-haired and ready for adventures. I travelled alone and by the time I returned home, three months later, I was a changed man.

A year ago I found myself outside a Jett bus office in Amman, Jordan. My destination was Jerusalem and I had been told it would take a good three hours to cross the border.

In the early 1980s, like many kids, I watched Top of the Pops every Thursday evening at 7.30pm even though there was no discernible style that captured my imagination. I didn’t mind pop songs but no band really grabbed me.

The other-worldliness of the place is compounded by the fact that we are completely cut off from technology. No phone signal, or WiFi, and electricity is only available for a few hours in the evening.

The very name, Timbuktu, evokes a mystique that has existed for centuries. A name fired through the European psyche. Conjuring up an impenetrable exotic city in the middle of ‘nowhere’, harbouring vast treasures of gold and promising a daring sense of adventure.