In a week we will be on our way to Japan. When I was a teenager I dreamed of travelling overseas. But Japan was not on my list. I was more interested in Europe and the United Kingdom. I got my wish to travel when Robert and I spent two years on a working holiday in the UK, working in hotels in England and in Scotland. In the summer of '78 we travelled through Europe in a VW combi van (called Herbert by previous owners.) Looking back it seems that we were young and fearless making our quiet way through Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain ... freedom camping wherever and whenever possible and existing on a meagre diet of bread, cheese, salami, pate with some fruit and vegetables so as not to get scurvy. (We did try sausage in Germany - wurst - but being kiwis brought up on farm meat and three veges. followed by milk pudding, we weren't impressed by their so-called 'sausages'. Neither were we impressed by their heavy, black bread! It's different now that we have, along with other kiwis, been educated in European fare.)
So it is with some surprise that we find ourselves now, some thirty years later, off on another overseas 'adventure'. Very different this time though because it's only for three weeks, not two years.
We always meant to travel again, but family and life got in the way, as it does, and the money was never there for overseas adventures. Little did we know that our oldest would travel to Japan to teach English (his famous, comforting words to me crying at the airport, "It's only for a year, Mum," still ringing in my ears!) After that year was up, he managed to get work for another year and then another. Then he fell in love with a young lady. In no time at all, the year had turned into four. His wife E is adorable, and so is their daughter, our awesome granddaughter, so we couldn't be happier for him. S loves living in Japan, with its safe and considerate society and we are over the moon to be taking the opportunity to go over and visit them and see Japan for ourselves.
We do look back at the young travellers we were back in the '70s though and realise how fearless we were. This time we find ourselves fretting a little more. We seem to be a lot more nervous (and this is only for three weeks - not two years!) We didn't have to worry about liquids in our on-flight luggage back then. We didn't have to think about whether or not to take laptops. Mind you, taking photos will be a lot easier this time round. No film to worry about. Or expensive one-day developing.
A faded, blurry photo of us taken by a lovely, kind, middle-aged couple (our age now!) from Huddersfield, who picked us up hitchhiking. We still send Dot a Christmas card each year. (I'm sure these days with that beard, Robert would be in danger of being arrested as a suspected terrorist!)
This time we have expensive, new suitcases, rather than two red rucksacks with the NZ flag sewn on the front flap. We are much older and no doubt sleep will overtake us much more quickly than it did when we were twenty-three. I hope our snoring doesn't keep our travelling companions awake!