I have mentioned more than once recently that I have itchy feet. Wanderlust. A desire to travel and experience new places for myself. I have always felt a kind of restlessness if I'm honest. For much of my late teens and twenties I was almost constantly moving house, every 6 months to a year I would live somewhere different. For years this satisfied my wanderlust because there was always something new to experience. Since then though I have grown to love having a more permanent base - but it doesn't satisfy the need to wander.
Up until fairly recently my holiday travel destinations have been what you may call 'local'. Often accessible by car, because I guess I've found the thought of travel with my family of 5 a little overwhelming. If we can take the car, I can pack for every eventuality. And so we chose destinations like France or Guernsey and have taken so many holidays here in the UK.
Then last year I really began to scratch that travel itch properly after a very last minute decision to travel to the Mediterranean on my own. Well, just me and a then-four-year-old who had never even been on a plane...
Its funny how those impulsive moments can lead to something wonderful isn't it? The decision to travel seems to have awakened a desire to explore in a way I haven't felt before.
I have often wondered since whether my turning 40 last year had something to do with it. Realising with a kind of clarity that time doesn't stand still and I just don't want to waste it. There are places I would like to see and experience for myself. So when there is the opportunity, why say no? In the last 12 months I have travelled to the Mediterranean visiting several of the Greek Islands. Then Amsterdam, Venice and Scotland. Soon I will be travelling to Paris and Austria too. But ask me which memory stands out and I will always answer with this one.
The holiday that started everything. Anna and I. Early April 2016. After a long journey we had just arrived in Crete to a glorious welcome. The weather was beautiful - they were experiencing a heatwave and it was mid 20°s. It felt a lot like a summer day in the UK does, except for the clear, unbroken blue sky above us - a definite sign that we were not at home!
We were on a day trip visiting the village of Kritsa which is tucked up in the Lassithi mountains. Now I don't know about you, but in my mind before I travelled, I had visions of the Greek islands being filled with white washed buildings and bright blue doors. I guess the idea comes from islands like Mykonos and Santorini of which I had seen countless images before. While Kritsa is not entirely like the stereotype I had imagined, it definitely didn't disappoint as it is full of buildings with crumbling facades and weather worn paintwork.
Being at the very end of off-peak season, it was relatively quiet in the streets before the tourist season really began. We wandered through the alleyways and lanes soaking in the warmth and quiet bustle of daily life. Taking photographs of the ordinary, because to me this other version of ordinary seems charming in it's humble way. The multi coloured accents against the simple architecture, faded shades of turquoise and blue, were everything I had hoped to see.
Anna was tired after travelling and, coming from a relatively cold England, the heat was a bit much on that first day. We found a beautiful blue door and paused for a minute beside it in the shade. Before I knew it Anna had pulled off her shoes and sat herself on the doorstep to watch the world go by. That is the moment I will always remember. The one captured in the photo at the beginning of this post. My youngest with her beautiful blonde hair looking a little bit tired. That old blue door in the warm shade and the first time we travelled so far from home together.
It turned out to be a holiday full of new experiences and memories made. I have always wanted to visit this part of the world so for me it was a huge encouragement to travel. To visit the places I've always dreamed of visiting. To cross them off the list as it were. It wasn't all perfect, we had our moments of tired, grumpy, homesickness for the three we left at home. But it was absolutely the best thing I did last year because it opened my eyes to just what we have been missing.
I want to make these memories for my family, for them to experience broader horizons than I did at my children's ages. I firmly believe that the incidental holiday moments like these are the ones that stay with us the longest. They create a rich library of memories. I learned far more through travel last year than I learned in any other way. Experiencing different cultures, however briefly, is a wonderful thing. Yes I may have started small but theres a whole world out there and I, for one, want to explore more...