Thursday, 24 August 2017

Travel And Its Importance To Me

My very first holiday was at the age of about 18 months, when my Mum, Dad and I went to Majorca. I talked about it incessantly in the run-up, confusing all of the staff at nursery as I told them I was going to "Mummy's Yorker". I had heard Majorca as "my Yorker" and clearly thought that wherever we were going, my Mum was in charge. I don't think I really remember it, but I have a vague memory of going down a water slide with my Dad and it being the most incredible thing. I was a water baby from about four months old, and there are many photos of me in the local pool bobbing around having the time of my life in a little inflatable baby seat thing. 

Rivington Pike
From my post about Rivington Pike

I don't remember many holidays after that; my brother was born, my parents divorced, we moved to another town and then my Father died. It's a good while before I can remember a holiday that wasn't the usual half-term trip to Scotland to see the fam. There was a caravan holiday that I remember going on alone with my grandparent because my brother had chickenpox, but my mother insists this holiday didn't happen, EVEN THOUGH I REMEMBER IT. I remember a lot of things that didn't happen from my younger years, such as my being convinced that I was allergic to Bonjela and the one time I used it my whole jaw swelled up; after years of telling people this very seriously, it turned out to be bullshit - whoops.

Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington, from my Why I Want To Go Back to New Zealand post

The next holiday I really remember was a truly dreadful weekend at Butlins in Skegness. We were supposed to be there for a week and left after one night; I don't remember why it was so bad, but my Mother's face darkens if you even mention so it must have been bad. My only memory of the brief trip was falling in goose poo while chasing my brother. Not the greatest holiday in the world.

Aylesbury Fields
Fields in Aylesbury
That same year, my Mother booked the three of us onto a cruise, along with my maternal grandparents. This was the holiday that created a pattern in my life and actually had a huge effect on who I am. I got a taste for travel and the high life aged 7, and I absolutely loved it. I ran wild on that cruise ship, running laps around the promenade deck on sea days, joining in with the kids club competitions, and every other day I would wake up somewhere new. I loved getting off the ship by tender, exploring the different streets and alleyways of new places and hearing different languages. I learnt how to politely ask for a chocolate ice cream in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese before I was ten, even if that was all I could say. At the end of the day, I'd go back to the cabin I shared with my Mother and brother and get to put on a fancy dress and go to dinner. I learned how to eat politely and carefully so that I didn't make a mess of my favourite dresses, and I learnt which knife was used when, which glass was used for which drink. I sipped my family's drinks, pulling a disgusted face after each taste. I befriended the waiters, one to the point that he legit named his child after me, and I generally had the time of my life. 

Liverpool Town Hall
Shot of Liverpool from a day out there

At school, I was quiet and bookish, never really fitting in. On holidays, on the open sea, I was someone else. I had the confidence to be like I was at home and before my Father died; I was confident, cheerful and friendly. I got to be myself on those holidays in a way I didn't feel I could at school. Travel became, for me, not only a way to see and experience places unlike my home, but also a way to be ME. It's all tangled up with freedom of expression and self-confidence, meaning that whenever I travel I feel like a weight is lifted from my shoulders. These days I don't spend my time subdued and afraid to be myself, but nevertheless, travel feels like freedom.

New Zealand South Island
Final shots from New Zealand, the most spectacular place I've ever been

Did that make any sense at all? Probably not.


This post is part of All-in August, where I attempt to post every single day in August, despite it being one my busiest months. Keep up with it here!

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