Kate was quoted to 'appear to have been a rather erratic shopper'. One might readily agree when informed that amongst her provisions for the journey was enough oil wicks to last her 10 years.1 She also carried with her 40 pounds of plum pudding (18 kilograms), which was apparently given to her by a friend who knew Kate liked the pudding. To create a parallel with Kate's journey we decided against the oil wicks, instead deciding to also take plum pudding – just one, weighing only half a kilo. It was donated to us by The Plum Pudding Company. It arrived to us all very neatly packaged in gold foil in a box. We will be carrying it the whole way and present it to someone at the end of our trip when we arrive in Vilyuisk....... we don't yet quite know who that is going to be..........but supposedly the most important person we can find.......
Take a look at the photo of the pudding – Kate would have had 40 of these to make up an equivalent weight!
Along with the plum puddings Kate also had in her luggage 9000 copies of the New Testament. She was also a bit of a missionary and on her journey she took it upon herself to visit as many Russian prison's as possible, where she gave the inmates a little tea, sugar if she had it, and a copy of the bible.
In order to create another parallel, in place of handing out bibles we decided to take and hand out post cards. Instead of endevouring to spread a religious message, we tried to spread information about who Kate Marsden was and what she did for the lepers of Sakha. Originally 9000 seem the appropriate number of post cards to take. In the end we only had 2500 printed. Thank goodness! 2500 is a LOT!
The plan was to hand out two post-cards per person with the idea that they would keep one post-card for themselves, and post one back to us at an address already printed on the card. We ask people to write on the card where they met us and, depending on the number that are returned to us, we might try and create an exhibition of them. I suspect most people will either bin them or they will be tucked away in that pile of miscellaneous papers everyone seems to have of things they don't quite want to throw away but have no real use for. Out of the 1250 that are supposed to be returned, how many do you think we will get back?…....Maybe 5?........lets see........
To get rid of them all we had to given them out at a rate of 80 per day. That would mean we had to give two out to 40 people. That is quite a lot. After 5 days of giving them out to many of the people we met and who we have befriended, it didn't appear that we had made much of a dent in the bags of cards. We counted out a pile of 100 and then tried to calculate how many we had left. Depressingly we still had 2400. We had given out a mere 100 post cards! At that rate we would be left with about 2000 still at the end of the trip!
1Eric Newby, Introduction to Kate Marsden On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberia Lepers, Great Britain, The Phoenix Press, 2001.