I blame my love of travel on my parents, who instilled in me an appreciation for exploration at an early age. Every year, we’d go the Greek side of Cyprus, where we’d eat good food, swim in the sea until the light faded and run back dripping to our rooms and make friends with the local cat population.
These holidays punctuated the routine of school and returning home always gave me a serious case of the post holiday blues. I was always dreaming about where I could go next. Holidays have always felt like freedom. You get to live another life, live in another world, for a while.
If I reflect, there are certain travel heroes who helped my dreams of travel flourish.
Xena The Warrior Princess
I’ve always been attracted to shows where there is a voyage, a sense of momentum. Before the agricultural revolution set in, humans were nomadic and this sense of movement appeals to me in a primal way. It’s the idea of a moving community changing scenery often. I grew up watching Xena Warrior Princess every week on channel 5. She was such a well-written character who grew over the course of the series accruing friends, enemies and adventures along the way as she embarked on many madcap journeys, some serious, some silly.
Set in New Zealand, to me as a child, I was romping through Ancient Greece with her, encountering Gods, warlocks and magic.
This one might sound silly, but you can’t control where inspiration comes from! Pokémon encapsulated the same sense of community and movement that I gravitated towards as a child. Ash and the gang explored endless cities and towns whilst perusing for Pokémon. I liked the idea of every day being a new adventure packed with discoveries. It seemed possible that adventure could be an in-built part of every day.
A former work colleague…
It’s all well and good being inspired by fiction, but there is a certain unreality to it. Back when I worked as a temp for Balfour Beatty, I worked with a pretty cool chick called Lucy. She and I were pretty similar, we were both Gemini’s and called each other our hand twin (Friends reference there.) She was so inspiring. For starters, she’d travelled alone to China which seemed formidable and unthinkable. I think seeing someone I could relate to and see myself in doing such brave and exciting things, made me able to see myself doing the same. I didn’t actually go travelling solo until about a year and a half later (I needed to save) but the seed had been planted.
I’ve never been a fan of Lara Croft. I played the game for about half an hour, got scared by the butler, stuck in a cave and eaten by wolves, so success was limited. Nonetheless, despite my lack of proficiency with the game, I liked the premise of the series (more adventure) and Lara was pretty cool. She’s basically the female 007, which leads me onto…
I have HUGE nostalgia for James Bond. I grew up chasing my brother and cousin around the temple with rocket launchers and grenades (if you know, you know) whilst my aunty amped us up with copious amounts of coke (the drink…)
Bond was a character who had agency and lived life on his terms. He had a life of danger, glamour and shaken not stirred martinis. Who doesn’t want that?
She’s been called a self-loving navel gazer, but who doesn’t navel gaze? Her book Eat Pray Love is the bible for travellers the world over. I found Liz’s book at Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand where I was volunteering. It resonated with me. Liz had essentially shed her conventional life, complete with husband and house, to go on an adventure of self-discovery. The choice came all mixed up with a great degree of guilt and pain. On the road, I’ve met many travellers, men and women alike, who have made similar decisions.
Inspired by her candour, I didn’t really care about the ‘navel gazing.’ I just connected to Liz.
Often fantasy can be even more inspiring than reality but Rowling’s real life is just as inspirational as the magical world she has conjured. She’s the embodiment of living your dreams and going after your goals even when the hardships of reality, poverty, divorce, domestic violence, motherhood and unemployment, hit home.
I’ve always loved English. Words are an escape. You can conjure worlds with words, make up new people, beautiful names and intriguing animals. Words have power. Words also enable you to tap into your most creative side. Novels, poetry, short stories, I love them all and English has always been my favourite subject. Back in secondary school, my English teacher Mr Griffin was my favourite teacher. He had a way of bringing the written world to life, of connecting to the literature and of encouraging critical thinking. I credit him in part with my own ability to look at things from multiple angles, to not take things at face value and to form my own opinions regardless of what others think.
He helped me decide that I wanted to be a writer. I needed to write. It just had to be part of my life. Thank you Mr Griffin.
The support of family is so important and as I mentioned at the start of this entry, my parents started my journey when they took me overseas as a child. Some of my happiest memories are of us together, feeling the world was an open book before me and that I could do anything. The world was as big as my dreams. They’ve encouraged me to go exploring ever since.
There are plenty of other people who have inspired me, and it may warrant another blog! For now, I’ve focused on just a few.
It seems to me that inspiration can strike at any time and can come from many places. Some of the most powerful influences are the things and people we are exposed to from childhood, others come from the ordinary, some from left field and others are always in us, like a quiet voice guiding us in a certain direction.
Who or what inspired you to see the world?
All my love