I’m sitting with my wife in a rather nice cabin passing through Drake’s Passage on the way to Antarctica. There are privileges to being an international spectacle designer. I’ve been gifted an expedition from Viking Cruises to look at icebergs, penguins and, most excitingly, going on a submarine 400 metres below the ice.

This is our first holiday without our kids. Free or not, choosing where to go on holiday without the kids for the first time is a big decision. We could have gone to the Maldives, but the memories of my kids jumping and splashing on beaches we’ve visited as a family in the past would haunt me. The other idea was to go on a safari, but my wife feared giant spiders would crawl in her ears or one of us would be eaten alive in the tent by a lion.

We both felt we needed a holiday that was totally different to anything we’d ever done and when I met the CEO of Viking Cruises at a charity event for Orbis, I was stunned when she invited us to enjoy her new ship. Viking Polaris is a brand new expedition ship, equipped with a James Bond-style water hanger inside where submarines launch. Well, we hadn’t considered cruising. I always thought a cruise was something for my parents, but then I suppose we all turn into our parents eventually. The opportunity to see the southern lights, trek across icy wilderness, not to mention spending a bit of time in Argentina beforehand was just too exciting a concept.

There was a problem. I’d no time to go on holiday. I lost my chief operating officer two months ago and I’m still chasing my tail doing too many jobs and I’ve not even had time to work on my 2023 collection. A spectacle designer who is not actually doing any designing isn’t going to be in business for very long.

I’d been talking to my wife about needing to go off somewhere to get some creative space on my own. I wanted a kind of work holiday where I could spend some time designing. I know that might sound ridiculous but I’m not able to design easily in London these days. Too many people want to talk to me and sitting in the office or one of the shops with my sketch pad seems to bring out the same old designs in me.

I wanted somewhere with zero internet access so I couldn’t get tempted to see what my competitors were doing or, more importantly, not spend all day answering emails. I might as well be in the office if I’m doing that. I want to find some fresh creativity and challenge myself to make something totally new. After 20 years of my brand, I’ve recently found myself repeating my work. Sometimes there is no problem reworking a winning design from the past but if I’m going to thrive for another 20 years, I need to reinvent myself.

What better way than to totally change my surroundings, see new colours in the ice, experience new adventures and remove myself from the same old, same old.

My wife knows I’m going to spend at least half the trip designing. It’s been delicately agreed in advance. It’s quite an exciting feeling, the luxury of time. The ship will take three days to get to Antarctica and the same on the way back. So, this is six whole days of design plus eight days in between kayaking between icebergs, chasing penguins, drinking and eating fine food. I’ve bought a mini-acetate kitchen with me as I want to design and make the materials for the frames on the ship.

I’m such an optimist. I’m looking out the window at crashing waves. The spa has just opened, I’ve seen that you can have lamb chops for breakfast and there is a submarines training class in an hour. I’m starting to wonder how many glasses I’m going to actually design.