Up until this month my only experience of traveling abroad was my vague recollections of living in Gibraltar & Spain at 5 years old, 32 years ago!
All other travelling experiences I have are with in the UK mainland, and when I say UK mainland I really only mean England & Central Scotland.
I've moved home ALLOT, I've had more homes than Surname changes, those that know me will understand this statement! Before the age of 5 we moved 3 times that I'm aware of, then there's the two moves abroad I mentioned above, another 3 moves back in England, before a massive move to Scotland where we moved 3 times, then that drastically Life changing 4 years in the outskirts of London, my escape back to Scotland where I moved 3 times before meeting my husband. That is 15 moves by just after my 19th birthday! Whilst with my husband we have moved home a grand total of 8 times within 4 years, at 23 we finally found stability of our current home after I had by this time moved a grand total of 23 times in 23 years! Scary thought that!
Perhaps that affected my naivety about travelling, not being too bothered about having not travelled and not realising just how sheltered and naive my life has been living in this British culture. I never understood why anyone would want to up and leave their home country, that instability was everything I fought against. I didn't understand how someone would take a year out to travel not knowing where their home would be or where their funds would come from to survive, that lack of control over ones future was absolutely petrifying to me!
I love Scotland, I felt like Scotland was home, safe, where my roots were finally put down and where I could see my future. My husband and kids are Scottish, Scotland has beautiful breathtaking scenery, lots of opportunity and the culture is alive and constantly changing. I found home, my stubborn set in!
Why would anyone not want to be here? I have kept up to date with current affairs and politics, aware of the austerity and the sinking ship of our current government, but it wasn't enough to sway me, better the devil you know than the devil you don't I would say!
Even when our life was turned upside down recently I never really entertained the idea of moving out of the country. That opinion influenced how I spoke to friends and people I met who considered leaving Scotland and UK especially in the light of "brexit" I understood the logic of their reasons but I was just too naive to fully understand!
The few times I've travelled or went on holiday, it's been to local Scottish coastal resorts, Blackpool last year, 3 visits to family in southern England. The two times I travelled by plane were the two court cases I attended in London, the last in 2006 which was a mortifyingly Painful experience there and back, I suffered severe pain that brought tears to me, I swore I would never step foot on a plane again! Which I didn't, even when it meant suffering lengthy Bus and train journeys to visit family with my kids.
I also never wanted to go abroad with out my husband and kids, especially not for the first time! With my husbands health and travelling issues I had accepted that it wasn't something in my near future, I was absolutely fine with that, I had other things to aspire to, I focused on them, going to college, becoming a photographer, having a career and bettering our families financial position were my focus, we would eventually own our own home I promised!
Ive always been a romanticist, believing in the beauty of people and places, seeing beauty and the positives in life. Even at my lowest moments I've never stopped believing in the positives, the beauty around us and the good in people. I would root for that happy ever after every time!
I studied Classical Civilizations and loved the ancient cultures and myths, especially the Greeks. But was just as fascinated by ancient Egyptian, Mayan, Babylonian, Celts and native cultures. My love of photography incorporated these fascinations. I dreamed of visiting places and photographing the ancient ruins and buildings. Over the years of friendships I would chat about visiting Greece one day among places.
I've always loved Animals, my favourite has always been dolphins, the stories told of them, the nature programs, their character, intelligence and emotions mesmerised me from an early age. I had always dreamed of being close enough to them to "swim with dolphins" a dream I spoke of often. One friend shared these passions and we spoke about one day when the kids were older perhaps taking trips together to do these things together, as friends do!
But as fate has it a life altering event forced my friend and I to reluctantly and heartbreakingly part ways.
After the year we had, my husband eventually convinced another very close friend to arrange a holiday with me as a surprise.
They planned everything, flights, hotel, trips and even ways to avoid my last bad experience on a plane.
I was told several months before that a holiday was booked but not where.
I was asked why I didn't tell everyone, my husband worried that I was not happy because I didn't outwardly express my excitement, I was secretly excited and nervous. But this was something for me and my friend, with out my family. It didn't feel right to make a huge deal out of it. It wasn't that I was ungrateful, it was absolutely amazing for them to arrange this, but I have never ever felt comfortable about being the centre of anything never mind an event or holiday. Having people that love and care for me is enough and Ive never wanted anyone to feel the need to please me or make me happy. But my husband feels the need to do grand gestures a way of expressing his feelings that his depression causes him to suppress most of the time. I've spent years learning to accept this is who my husband is and try to not allow the guilt I feel to tarnish his gestures of love.
He is my "beautiful trauma" we were branded 'doomed to fail' from the start, but we work, he gets me, I get him. Our love is worth fighting for. We are nitty gritty underdogs with a stubborn fight for those we love!
So yeah, I kept quiet, hid my excitement, got on with the nitty gritty that life threw at us, with the intention of making damn sure this little surprise of his would be worth his effort and enjoy the moment when it happened!
Though, I will not be letting him forget his little bribe he made to get my passport photos! I agreed to passport photos in exchange for a promise to renew our vowels in a hand-fasting at Loch Lomond!! :)
On friday 6th we boarded our flight at the bright an early hour of 7am, after having all our emergencies and fails including root canal treatment on the few days running up to our departure! I smiled reassuring to my friend and said "its fine we'll have all the f**k ups before our holiday, thats fine!'
And it was just fine!
All the careful preparations to ensure a pain free flight worked! It was in fact the most exhilarating experience, the whole 2 plus hours was spent in awe snapping photos from the planes window, the view defined the word beautiful! In the last hour I finally plucked the courage to take my DSLR from my hand luggage to get this among many shots!
Flying over Spain was an experience in itself, seeing the different terrain from that height. how different the landscape looked to the familiar landscape of our tiny little land mass we call Britain!
The most apparent thing I felt when we landed was the heat, but not that stuffy heavy heat of a southern Englands hot day. But a refreshingly bearable heat, that I enjoyed from the moment I arrived, all indoor buildings equipped with air conditioning ensuring windows never created the unbearable heat we often feel in our own homes on those rare hot summers days.
We dumped our suitcases at the hotel and took a leisurely stroll in the general direction of the beach! With out the aid of google maps I might add!
I was immediately struck by the difference in streets and architecture! The paths paved with the beautiful igneous type materials or tiles. Well kept and loved. Clean and tidy. You get a sense of pride in their town just by how well looked after it was. No derelict buildings. Even old buildings were made use of and loved! Bright colours of stalls filling up the streets outside each shop. Beautiful walkways and shops weaving all the way down to the coast which caused an intense case of deja vu!
I had memories of these pathways fairly steeply going down with all the stalls and souvenir shops but I had always thought it had been somewhere on the south coast of England. But seeing these pathways felt too familiar!
I captured every fascinating moment of the walk.
The beach and coast line was a piece of paradise!
I was walking along a beach with the rich blues of the Mediterranean, sun smiling down, the soothing sound of the tide and waves crashing on the steep hidden sand banks but not a single breeze. All the way allong were rows of Palm trees which the local parakeets used to demonstrate thier flying acrobatics while gifting the world with their songs.
I soaked in the peace and tranquility
I can not put to words the feeling of peace, calm, tranquility and beauty that I felt, like I was breathing it into my very soul with every breath and step!
We relaxed, snacked and planned our activities by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
The following day we took a leisurely stroll along the beach and I got to live out a bucket list, in a pool with dolphins, swimming around & allowing us to feel their tough but smooth skin. The experience was yet another eye-opener of my naivety. A mix of contradicting emotions. The selfish human pleasure of experiencing something you've dreamed of for so long, but there was this deep rooted melancholy I couldn't identify with in the moment. It wasn't til later that evening that I finally realised the issue.
I spent 4 hours that evening enjoying the sounds of night life from the balcony mulling over the days experience.
Travelling is an eye opening experience of how naive and secluded life in uk is and how beautiful and diverse life really is.
The dolphin experience was life altering! I had a combination of emotions, absolute awe of being so close to such a beautiful animal but I was close to tears with a lump in my throat the entire 45 minutes.
It was an absolutely breathtakingly awesome experience that has made me love dolphins even more but it was a powerfully emotional experience that has completely changed me!
One of the many reasons I've always loved Dolphins is their intellect character and individual personalities, Ive often felt they are superior to humans in spirit/soul
There is nothing in life that can prepare for that emotional experience...
Its only now I understand how little I did understand!
Dolphins are a free spirits, the beautiful and wild spirits of the sea, the untamed open ocean their home. They are kind caring intuitive, playful adventurous and the very meaning of free! Their eyes express an abyss of complex emotions. Seeing them in captivity was not the experience I expected, but it was not an experience or knowledge you can be taught or told about! I will treasure the experience but not for the reasons I first thought. My new bucket list, to be able to photograph Dolphins in their natural free habitat as unobtrusive as possible.
Our third day was another intensely emotional day, full of mixed emotions! I visited the areas close to my childhood homes in La Linea and Gibraltar. Experiencing the huge difference in ethos just from a few steps of a border. From this sad subdued almost hopelessness, to this culturally diverse mish-mash of cheerfulness crammed into a small area seeping into the sea, proud and living in symbiosis.
We arrived at Gibraltar and took a boat journey around the rock to sea the Dolphins. We were explained that there was no guarantee of seeing them, that they do not believe in feeding them to encourage them to come to the boats it puts them in danger, they would keep a keen eye for a school of Dolphins, when they were near, they shut the engines of and hope they were curious enough to say hello. We had the absolute pleasure of seeing multiple close sighting, an absolutely awesome experience, no melancholy! Freedom and blissful happiness. Seeing the free Spirits of the sea as they are truly meant to be!
Our trip up the Gibraltar Rock gave us more than photos & memories. We walked away with a funny story to tell our Children when we retuned!
"My friend sat down to take a photo of the cute baby monkeys.. The first cheeky monkey ran up to her slipped the strap of her shoulder pulled the bag away slightly, my friend tried to keep hold of it but monkey was having none of it, I was standing close watching helplessly worried about the monkey going off with something important as the monkey checks out the bag to open it.. I spot an opportunity to carefully reach over and grab the handle
sitting out of reach, and pulled, that monkey was strong, two arms hugging the bag to stop it going and then teeth bared an a hiss because I didn't get the message.. At which point I got the message stood helplessly watching, rather relieved when monkey found the cereal bar box half full and bolted with it over the side took the bars out easily opened them and scoffed the lot! One of the guides was made aware ran over asking if we were ok, which we were short of laughing hysterically at the whole situation, he ran to the side I presume to see what monkey stole tsked and put his hands up helplessly and walked away!
As we were leaving a monkey jumped on my backpack, I stood still and waited for monkey to move on, but
monkey took a liking to my hat.. No one steals the hats!! 😂 so I grabbed the front of my hat to keep it secure.. Monkey tried determinedly two or three times til another monkey seen it and chased the cheeky monkey of me by jumping on me and jumping of as a tourist guide came to assist!
On our forth and final day, we took one last walk to the beach and watched a beautiful sunrise before travelling to the airport and home again. It is amazing just how refreshed and recharged you can feel after a few days in the sun by the sea, spirit lifting and peaceful rejuvenating feeling! I understand now why a holiday in the sun is medicine for the soul!