A Travellerspoint blog

Approaching 1995

Mainly France - and a month in Zimbabwe

sunny 29 °C

We took to taking the car to France in July and our trips included the Eastern Pyrenees, Alsace, Normandy, Brittany, Languedoc and Doubs. That sounds a lot but just glance at a map of France and it will be apparent that there are huge areas we barely touched.

The trip to Zimbabwe was made by pam, our daughter Rebecca and myself and we stayed with a former student of mine and his wife. I avoid being too specific here because I guess friendship with Brits is not something highly esteemed in Zimbabwe at the moment and I don't want to land my friends in trouble. Sufficient to say that as well as harare we went to Bulawayo, Masvingo and Great Zimbabwe, Matopos, Hwange, victoria Falls and Mutare. We only had any dealings with other whites in shops and casually in Hwange National Park. Hence we really felt we were getting to know a bit about the country but it would have taken a lot longer and a variety of seasons to know it well. Some creatures that I had never previously seen in the wild became more or less familiar but I never lost my thrill at seeing elephants or rhinos - and we did not see enough lions for them to become familiar.

Posted by davidx 07:31 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Late 60s and 70s

sunny

I was involved with week-long courses for students of the college where I was teaching in Manchester, in North Wales, the Isle of Skye, Torridon and Ullapool, Scotland and thus came to know a lot of UK mountains very well. The family went to Scotland as well.

In 1976 we had a major European holiday, going through France, where our youngest son, then eight, insists we lost him in Rheims Cathedral, over the Great St Bernard Pass and through Switzerland to Italy. Then we drove to Rome where we camped near the Tiber. We were very much aware of a police drug raid on the site one night - such things were still far less familiar then. I also have vivid memories of the row made by frogs croaking from the river.

Then to Sorrento and Vesuvius before heading south-west to Bari and a ferry overnight to Dubrovnik. Tito was dead but the country of Yugoslavia still existed and we found Dubrovnik wonderful, even though Pam and Rebecca, aged 9 had developed some sort of stomach problem. Next we went to Kotor, where we drove out for a day in what is now Montenegro before being flooded out. The Mediterranean may be a tideless sea but that does not stop it rising during an electric storm. We had to strike our little camp and set out late in the evening. We tried to sleep in the car on a mountain pass during a ferocious electric storm.

Our tents dried out very quickly at Mostar, now in Herzogovina. I remember that our impressions were of an eminently peaceful place. I particularly remember an old lady strolling along a main road with a cow on a lead! The bridge looked destined to last forever. Image40.jpg Since then it has been destroyed and rebuilt. One day we drove up by the Neretva river and over to Sarajevo, seeing some old Muslim tombs on the way.
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Back into Croatia (as it is now) where we camped in mud near the Plitvice Lakes. I suppose all that water and greenery must have some adverse side effects. It's pretty wonderful! Plitvice.jpg Then into what is now Slovenia to visit the caves at Postojna before returning to Italy and camps in Venice and the Dolomites.

Lastly we went through Austria and Germany to Koblenz before entering our final country, Belgium, where we camped near Bruges.

Posted by davidx 08:08 Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Pre-1995 background

Early days

I have always liked the idea of travel. At the age of 17 I went to the International Scout Chalet at Kandersteg, Switzerland and during National Service in the RAF I took many chances to travel for weekends from the station where I was stationed in Germany. I took one full leave abroad and had a free travel pass to the Austrian-Italian border. I managed to get round Venice, the Dolomites, Rome, Naples, Sorrento and Capri by public transport. While I was studying for a degree in Oxford I took a party of Scouts to Germany for just over a week.

The year after I finished at Oxford I married Pam and we were pretty hard up - to put it mildly. We were at Exeter for a year and were quite happy to see local plaes, particularly on Dartmoor and Exmoor at weekends. After the year we moved to Baildon, Yorkshire (near Bradford where I had my first teaching job.) Again we were happy to get to know the Yorkshire Dales. After another year we had our first holiday in Scotland - an experience that had to last us a while

Almost before we had time to think we found ourselves, through adoption and home production, with five children under 5 - travel for any distance had to wait a while. When we had three children, all adopted, we spent a week in a house near Nefyn, Lleyn, north Wales. Our first home=produced child showed first signs of her impending existence The following year we took a farmhouse in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, South Wales, for two weeks. This proved so wholly suitable for children that we took it again for three weeks in each of the next two years.

Posted by davidx 14:11 Archived in England Comments (0)

Why 1995?

Major change in expectations

At the beginniing of 1995 I was a trade union official, reasonably fit, planning to retire at age 62 and then increase my travels. One day I was driving to Sheffield and had strange feelings as though I might pass out. I pulled into a motorway service station and rested briefly - then drove on and did what I had gone to do and drove home. I had no idea then what that was all about. I had a previous warning in December 1994, which again I failed to understand - extreme breathlessness after scrambling up a steep hill in the Alpujarras. Isn't hindsight wonderful? I can now see clearly two warnings long before that.

In early March, 1995 I was covering for a sick colleague in the home counties. I developed what proved to be flu but I still rolled into my own office near Leeds on Monday 6 March. I left early as I felt really rough. After several days I was clearly not recovering and was having breathing difficulties. A doctor visited and phoned an ambulance which arrived shortly.

'Don't worry if you hear the hooter,' said the driver. 'I'm just in a bit of a hurry.' I never see an ambulance now with blue lights flashing and hooter blaring without thinking of those words! I was put into a hospital bed and was wheeled away. The next thing I knew was coming to after an anaesthetic with wires sticking out of me. I spent several days in coronary care and was then moved into a medical ward where I waited to be sent to Manchester for an angiogram. I was astonished to be told that I had suffered a silent heart attack which had irreversibly wrecked one of my three main arteries - nobody knows quite when.

Having been pretty near death in the first days, I have never found spring flowers so exciting as in April of that year - when I had not expected ever to see them again. However I knew it meant premature retirement over five years before I had intended and I thought it would place a major restriction of my travel plans.

My next entry will give a short background to my travel prior to 1995

Posted by davidx 10:33 Comments (0)

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