Part 1: Travel Journaling, A Way To Preserve Our Memories. An Extract From Our Client
Travel experiences may be fleeting right now but we all have memories that last a lifetime, we share an extract from one of our client’s travel journal.
“Not all wanders are lost”.
I bought a postcard of this Tolkien quote not that long ago, after coming to the realisation the innate desire forever be packing my bags and ‘going away’ was not a ‘condition’ that needed to be fixed, but something that was destined to be the way I lived my life.
Whilst I feel I could write a book on travelling, I never did start a travel journal. So, I guess, one of a number (I hope), of positives to come out of my lock down journey, will be taking this time to write it all down. I know that by sharing my travel stories, I will be embarking on a different journey, experiencing another form of travel. Immersing myself in the countless memories of various trips, places and experiences I’ve been on, and where I’m yet to see. Trust me when I say, it’s certainly not over yet, there are many more places to visit!
I guess you can say travel was bound to be in my blood. My father was in the army for over 30 years, a career I also followed. It was intrinsically woven into the lives of my mother, my two sisters and I, as we created our own tapestry of shared travel experiences over the years. It’s something that continues to transcend into the lives of our family. My travel tales are also strongly connected to music, it’s all entwined with places, people, family, love, loss, laughter, tears and dancing. Life without either travel or music, would paint my life on a very different, less colourful canvas.
My earliest memory is Bavaria. Army cross-country skiing with my father. The cold snow, the wooden chalet with red gingham curtains hung across the beds. We would wake up early to the sound of the cows and help milk them. The jangle of their bells ringing across the farm like a festive soundtrack to our work. It was in Bavaria that I was convinced that I felt Father Christmas place my stocking at the end of my bed on Christmas Eve, and I’ve never been so terrified.
Next, is Kenya aged 12. My first ever experience of Africa (though it still firmly remains a place of constant adventure and places yet to explore). Seeing the ‘Big 5’, almost being charged by an elephant whilst our land rover was stuck in a ditch, staying in a ‘bandha hut’ with my sister one night but being terrified of the animals outside in the middle of the night and legging it over to our parents. Markets, cashew nuts, local life, warm seas, Mombasa, Malindi, Kilifi Creek.
Returning to Africa again; I spent my honeymoon in South Africa and Mauritius, a short work trip brought me to Lagos in Nigeria and gave me a taste of the most populated city in Africa enriched with culture, pride, extreme poverty, a love of ‘Afrobeat’ music, welcoming and friendly locals and an unquestionable loyalty to their country. I hope to return again this year as much was left unfinished and I was just getting to know how to ‘live life’ in Lagos, with a healthy combination of work & play. It was the first time ever in my career that the two were possible.
Inter-railing at 18 with a girlfriend – spending too long in Greece but beaches and fun were more important for us then than history or culture; staying in a villa for £5 per night with a landlord who made amazing cocktails in a watermelon! Thirty years on and my ‘partner in crime’ for that month remains a dear friend.
My 20’s brought with them a summer in Turkey, near Bodrum as a maid; hiking up rugged hills with my cleaning gear, setting out the food basket for the ‘soon to arrive guests’ – evenings spent on the jetty with a local crew, evenings when we’d stroll down to the beach bar with the sound of Bob Marley & Eric Clapton (It’s in the way that you use it) ringing in my ears. I can still picture it so vividly (if you ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday however, I couldn’t tell you!).
There were two winters in Verbier; the most carefree time of my life. My cooking skills were (still are?!) well below average so again I was the gofer, the sous chef, the log collector, the bed-maker but wow was it worth it. I also made five of my dearest friends who are my go-to for a lock down weekly houseparty.
I spent six months in New Zealand before I joined the Army – the trip was meant to be 6 weeks to complete an outward-bound course at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds in the South Island, which I did and then returned to Queenstown to work in a local café and lived as a local for 6 months. A bungy jump on my 21st Birthday (a gift so I couldn’t back out!) and I lived with the most wonderful family who adopted me as one of their own, and welcomed me into their home. They let me go off to Auckland to see Split Ends in concert, which was so memorable. (And still has me dancing in my kitchen which is pretty good for morale during this solo lock down).
Hong Kong, Bali, Greece, (I haven’t yet been to Santorini which remains firmly on my list of ‘still to go to’ places), Barbados & Grenada added a lot more colour to my life.
Meeting an old boyfriend in Hong Kong as he had completed his Jungle Warfare Course in Brunei. Two young officers living on the high of sharing adventure, finding ‘Sam the Tailor’ who had made some shirts for my Dad back in the 60’s when my parents were posted there.
A visit to Jordan during my time at Sandhurst was a phenomenal experience. A night camping (would definitely now be known as ‘glamping’ nowadays) in Wadi Rum – like a film set as we drove over the desert with a large fire in the distance to welcome us, individual tents, a large tent to gather and enjoy local delicacies, riding camels (note to self; not something that needs to be experienced more than once!). Visiting Petra, swimming in the Dead Sea. I didn’t know then that the Middle East was to become such a defining part of my life.
My military service took me to Bosnia in 1995 as part of UNPROFOR. Supporting UNHCR after the Srebrenica massacre; working with a wonderful team who guided me as I was learning as a young Officer, delivering critical supplies. My first Commanding Officer taught me the value in Servant Leadership, team work, getting the best out of people and contributing. He continues to do this 25 years on. Looking back, this time impacted my career so much as I worked with those living through unimaginable times. Learning the value of humility and feeling blessed with much to be grateful for.
We will be sharing the second part of Bex’s lifetime of travel, as she shares memories from her thirties.