The Importance Of Memories
As I enter my seventy fifth year I have become more aware of the importance of precious memories. I am grateful that I have recorded two special periods in my life in my books ‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’ and ‘Back of Beyond.’ (www.jennyold.com) However, there are many more memories in my heart and my head, and I pray that they remain there for my pleasure and enjoyment.
Whilst Covid has prevented overseas travel, and indeed, a great deal of domestic movement, I reflect on the wonderful experiences I have been lucky to have enjoyed. When we sold ‘McAllister’ in 1986 (the story penned in ‘Back of Beyond’) I was determined to take our two sons, aged 16 and 12, on an overseas trip. Both boys were attending boarding school in Toowoomba at the time but were granted an extra two weeks leave enabling a five week adventure. I carefully planned the itinerary to include two weeks in California, and three weeks in France where we planned to meet up with Rick’s sister, our beloved Auntie Ro who would share rooms with the boys. What a saint she was.
California was a huge success but when the time came to fly to Paris, an air strike throughout Europe created chaos with our plans. Somehow we managed a flight to Geneva, then a train to Paris and an eventual re-union with Rick’s sister. The memory of our time in Paris was not as planned. Shows were cancelled and our accommodation in the luxurious Hotel Balzac, which was to be a special treat, came down to one night without sleep.
By now my dear husband’s sense of humour had deteriorated into serious grumpiness. The coffee was too strong, the crisp bagel cut his lip and no-one spoke English! I promised him that things would improve once we were settled on our barge and drifting down the Canal di Midi for a week. He didn’t look convinced and continued to grumble. I, on the other hand, love every hiccough in Europe. It’s all part of the adventure and somehow, being in the northern hemisphere brings out the best in me! The boys and Ro were happy to go with the flow.
Finally, we were settled aboard our comfortable barge and our week of relaxation began.
‘A loch,’ Rick called out from the helm.
We all gathered and watched with excitement and a sigh of relief as we passed through without incident.
We maintained our enthusiasm for lochs for the first ten, but by number seventy six our interest had waned, and it was left for Rick to negotiate.
We each had a bike on the barge. It was great fun to tie up and ride into the villages for provisions. Rick looked the part with his beret from Pebble Beach (not very French!) as he cycled along the pathways. The villages were remote, and no English spoken. This did not deter Rick, but Ben refused to go with him following one experience.
‘What happened?’ we asked.
‘He bellowed at the poor lady saying T.O.M.A.T.O.E.S as if she was deaf, then tipped all his money onto the counter for her to take what she wanted.’
No matter his method he always returned with the goodies, French sticks, cheese, and fruit from the beautiful local organic produce. We lived on cherries, peaches, apricots and other stone fruit, fresh bread, delicious cheese, all accompanied by red wine. We adults found this blissful, however the boys thought the barge was far too slow and later admitted to us that it was the most boring week they had ever spent! Thankfully, things improved for them when we travelled in a car through the beautiful French countryside and quaint villages to Paris to stay in economic accommodation this time before crossing the English Channel to Dover and on to London. The boys were delighted to be back with the language they understood and revelled in the historical points of interest. Their father had ceased to embarrass them.
Many special memories were created during the five weeks with the boys. The trip gave them an insight into the value of travel. They continued to make their own memories in the following years.
I hold a vivid memory of waving the boys goodbye at Heathrow Airport as they boarded their Qantas flight back to Australia to return to boarding school while Rick and I continued our travels for another five weeks. They had an eight hour stopover in Singapore. As we said our final goodbyes, Anthony tuned to me and said,
‘We’re going to catch a bus into the city of Singapore.’
‘NO you are NOT,’ I responded firmly.
And with that, they boarded, thankfully escorted by the hostess who pinned a badge on each which read ‘Unaccompanied child.’
It was a great relief when we phoned the school to be informed that they had arrived.
As a family we each have our own memories of this time abroad. We often laugh together and that is the beauty and importance of memories. They can be shared or stored privately to be enjoyed at any time. I cannot express enough that memories need to be recorded.
Have you written yours?
Jenny Old AUTHOR
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’ Facebook