From ever since I can remember I wanted to travel.
When I was a girl my dear father would spend half the year working overseas – in stints of a fortnight in Germany, a week in Norway, a few weeks in France or the United States of America. I only have happy memories of those years. As a parent I now marvel at how amazing my mother was in often having to look after my sister and I single-handedly, whilst missing her husband.
My father would bring back a token gift from the country he visited. I gathered a wonderful collection of dolls in national costumes. I loved having the opportunity to drop him off at Heathrow. The emotionally charged air filled every cell in body with excitement.
I loved ‘Geography’ at school and read with fascination the way in which people lived around the world. I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. National Geographic photographs and documentaries filled me with awe.
As a family we didn’t travel overseas much, but travel we did. From the Lake District, Peak District and Wales to Cornwall, Devon, the Isle of Wight and everywhere in between. With a large family in Liverpool and Grandparents in Wales, we made regular trips across Britain from our home in Hampshire. We stayed with family, in holiday homes, on farms and in tents. We walked the countryside, immersed ourselves in the history, drove the scenic routes to avoid the traffic (even though this was the 1970’s and 80’s and ‘traffic’ was nothing like it is today!).
Even our weekends were filled with adventure. Most Sundays my family would have a day together, walking, exploring, venturing to so many gems within an hour’s drive of our home. It was a wonderful childhood.
When we were well out of nappies and old enough to appreciate and remember more of our travel experiences we often holidayed in France, trying out our schooling in French to order ‘pain au chocolat et un verre du lait s’il vous plait’. We spent an amazingly memorable summer in Germany. My father had to work there for six weeks and managed to arrange for us to accompany him. We lived in a rented apartment above a chocolate shop – a child’s dream!
My first taste of real independent travel, away from my family, was at the age of ten. I stayed in Paris for a week on a school trip. We travelled there by coach and ferry, staying in the ‘Lycee’. I LOVED it.
A few year’s later I travelled to Norway. It was only my second time on an airplane and my first time independently. I went to stay with a pen-friend – who I am still in contact with today (only we no longer hand-write letters, with coloured in margins and decorative envelopes, stuffed with stickers and erasers!).
My childhood wired my neurons to explore and I couldn’t wait to set out further afield as soon as I could. Travel, for me, was driven by curiosity. I had the most loving, caring family and home. I had no need to seek ‘more’, but I had a thirst for experiencing everything unfamiliar, with the inner security that my family would be there waiting for me on my return. I wanted to feel an explosion of ‘new’ with every sensory organ of my body.
My twenties were spent travelling Europe, getting a taste of British Columbia, a slice of Florida, a shot of Thailand and a great deal of New Zealand and some amazing experiences in Australia. I fancied living and working abroad for a while, to really immerse myself in a culture, but I didn’t know then what cards fate would deal.
When, at twenty-two, my then boyfriend (now husband) received the opportunity to work in New Zealand for two years I jumped with excitement and said, ‘Of course! Yes!’.
I never, ever, considered we’d end up living in New Zealand for many more years and have three ‘Kiwi’ born daughters!
The photos above are mostly from my twenties, a snapshot of memories and beloved family. They are the ‘BC Days’ (before children). We were fancy free and money went a lot further. We’d journey back and forth, between the UK and NZ, exploring the world on our way. Family overseas were easily accessible when a long-haul flight didn’t cost the extra dollars that children entail. Our weekends were packed with new discoveries too, from skiing Treble Cone and tramping in Tongariro National Park, to kayaking the Abel Tasman and exploring volcanically active White Island.
I remember those days fondly and look forward to them returning, in time (with a few silver hairs to grace my locks). Occasionally I pine for the freedom of those days and wish I could jump on a train, plane or bus to ‘anywhere’, ‘just because…’.
The pin board of photos is hidden in our little ‘study’ – a little room I occasionally hide away in (more often to print off something or other for one of the girls or look for an old bill or forgotten form that needs to be filled in).
One glance at those photos reawakens my senses.
I love the photo of me with my head tossed back, long hair flowing, young, carefree, laughing. That girl is now a woman grown, a mother. My eyes have a few extra lines, my hair has a few flecks that hint at my age, my hands are a little more worn and my feet no longer free to roam carelessly. But inside that smiling, laughing girl is still very much alive and kicking. She’s not gone anywhere. She’s simply waiting. Her time will come again!
Linking up with ‘The Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers blog, where the theme this week is ‘Travel‘.