By: Blonde Two
As you can imagine, having cousins in such wonderful places as Guernsey and New Zealand was of great interest and excitement to a girl growing up in very nearly the middle of the UK. These days I love visiting Malvern but back then I knew Guernsey was wonderful and New Zealand was an exotic mystery, described to me by my cousins but mostly incomprehensible. My first visit to New Zealand as a shy 18 year-old (I wasn’t anywhere near as shy by the time I came back) was still in the days before gap years and travelling became the norm for UK youngsters. Dad paid for my ticket on the condition that I organised everything myself. That in itself was scary enough, no internet then so I had to make phone calls (I still dislike the phone today) but as I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do at university and was far too scared to apply for A JOB, somehow travelling to the other side of the world seemed far more doable!
That first trip was meant to be for three months and ended up being nearly a year. Thanks to my cousins and family I did a lot of growing up and had some experiences that have lasted me at least half of a life time.
- I worked at McDonalds (where I discovered that I was actually quite good at talking to people)
- I learnt to ski (and I discovered that misplaced rocks can give great black eyes)
- I learnt to pick pumpkins (and I discovered that farmers quite like pretty English girls)
- I learnt to pack pumpkins (and I discovered a waist slimmer than I have ever known since)
- I learnt to rear calves (and I discovered that calves have very sharp feet)
- I learnt to groom my own horse (and I learnt how to fall off slowly and gracefully)
- I learnt to judge the size of kiwi fruit (and I learnt some Dutch folk songs)
- I climbed my first mountain (Ben Lomond in Queenstown)
- I snorkelled in my first river (and met some trout)
- I eventually remembered that I missed my family in the UK
I have visited (I think) five times since but there was a big gap while I married Mr B2 and raised a family. My second trip was a treat to myself after finishing my degree (I did eventually manage to go to university at the tender age of 35). I travelled alone, stopped off in Singapore on the way there and Hawaii on the way back and set myself such high adrenaline challenges as dining out on my own, bargaining for a souvenir and taking a bus ride somewhere. By that time my grandparents (in their 80s) had emigrated to New Zealand themselves, they aren’t there now but they had a comfortable last few years.
I have been very lucky I think to have had such wonderful opportunities over the years and it was a great pleasure to introduce Mr B2 to New Zealand once the children had grown up. On that trip we travelled around the South Island and enjoyed glaciers, mountains, lakes and flat white coffees.
It has only just occurred to me that maybe the reason I love travelling so much is my adventurous relatives. They all started off in good old England… and ended up all over the world.