Tonight, my friend came over and cooked us an amazing sushi feast: She spent Christmas and New Year in Japan with the same friends I visited last August and I couldn’t wait to see her photographs and hear all about it. At the end of the month, she is moving to Madrid. All of my friends move abroad! I have a couple in Australia, the ones in Japan and now one in Spain. In fact, everybody seems to be jetsetting at the moment – my sister has just been given the opportunity to fly to Australia for a ridiculously low price with her friend, who works for an airline. For a moment, I felt jealous, but then I remembered the amazing travel opportunities I have had over the last few years.
My ten year passport expires in June. Before I got it, I had never been abroad. As children, we always holidayed in the UK: Everywhere from The Lake District to South Wales to Sussex. I hated it because friends at school were always jetting off to exotic places and we never got the chance. I got my passport in 1999 because we went on our first family holiday abroad, to Majorca. Since then, I have visited ten countries in ten years: Spain (x4), Greece (x3), Turkey, Cyprus (x2), America (x3), India, Jamaica, South Korea, Australia and Japan.
I was lucky enough to get a part time job in travel while I studied, enabling me to get quite blase about going abroad. My passport is crumpled, dog-eared and full of stamps and the gold emblem on the front rubbed off long ago. In my opinion, the ability to travel is one of life’s greatest gifts and I have been lucky enough to have more than my fair share over the years. I adore the feeling of taking off on a plane, embarking on an adventure, grappling with local languages, immersing myself in the culture of a place. As Bill Bryson says: “I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”
In the current financial climate, I can’t even afford to renew my passport, let alone book any flights, so it looks as though Tom and I are grounded for the time being.
Still, we already have plans for a week in Devon in June, as well as a weekend in the Lake District. In the past ten years, my obsession with travelling the world has made me forget the joy of holidaying in the UK. I can’t wait to rediscover a different kind of childlike wonder: One of rock pools, ice cream, Beatrix Potter and Kendal mint cake. I can’t wait to explore Britain with Tom, but not before I have slipped in a weekend visiting my friend in Madrid before my passport expires.
In other news, Tom had his first hair cut yesterday. People kept mistaking him for a girl. I have no pictures of the results because he wouldn’t sit still but I couldn’t bear to have them cut too much off so it is still quite long. He was a joy and sat really still like a little man in his special high chair, then when it as finished he kept posing in the mirror. I love this photograph of him looking very serious in his cape…