My mother told me once that Grandpa's favourite writer was HV Morton. I was delighted to hear this, as I had years back, in my twenties, discovered HV Morton at the Compton Bookshop in Islington, and worked my way through all of his books at that time. I loved his mixture of anecdote, history and keen interest in his fellow human beings. Some of my other favourite travel writers include the wonderful Patrick Leigh Fermor, Norman Lewis, and Bruce Chatwin.
In straitened times, when budgeting is called for, our annual holiday is sacrosanct. I'd rather go without meals and coffee out, that extra handbag, or almost anything else than lose my opportunity to explore a bit more of this beautiful planet. My day job is in the travel industry, so from time to time I get to go out with a tour, or visit somewhere on a 'jolly' (familiarisation trip). I have a wish-list (of course!), which includes:
- cycling through the Po Valley, location of Giovanni Guareschi's Don Camillo stories
galloping across the Mongolian plains
whale-watching off the coast of America
finding the birthplace and home of my great-great-grandmother in northern India
travelling round the States for six months on Greyhound buses
visiting anywhere in Russia
taking the Rocky Mountain train tour
seeing the Moros y Christianos fiesta in Jijona, Spain
backpacking round the youth-hostels of Germany
taking a dip in the seaweed baths at Strandhill, near Sligo
watching the Northern Lights over Tromso
Of course, were I never to cross the Channel again, there is a lifetime of things I'd like to do in 'this sceptred isle'. I've never seen the great Abbeys of Yorkshire, the island of Iona, trekked along Hadrian's Wall, or walked up the gangway to HMS Victory (though I have marvelled at Nelson's tomb in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral). I am 'with child' (a term often used in the literature of his day) to look round Mr Handel's house in Mayfair. And although I lived in London for 11 years, I have never visited the Tower of London!
This week I went along to the World Travel Market at London Excel. I did my duty, and dropped by all the stalls I needed to, in order to make or renew relations with travel industry suppliers and colleagues, but I also had a great time wandering round and seeing people from across the world, in all their variety - representatives from all the continents showing the subtle differences in physiognomy, manner, and dress.