Full of confidence after my first solo trip, the following year I decided to do something which been a lifetime’s ambition. One of my all-time heroes, since I was a child, is David Attenborough. I can remember watching his very early TV programmes such as “Zoo Quest” in the 1950s and I wanted so much to go with him to the amazing countries he visited and see the animals which live in them. I never really thought that I could do this so I just soaked up all of David’s series and, in fact, any nature programme I could find.
Many, many years later, Richard and I were watching a travel programme (yet again!) when we saw a group of people going off to Borneo to see orangutans. And not just any people but older people, for this was a holiday organised by Saga! (For those readers who are not familiar with the company, it operates solely for travellers over the age of 50). Travellers over the age of 50 were going to Borneo?!! Not only that, they were out in the jungle watching orang-utans. I couldn’t believe it!! We talked about the possibility of doing this holiday and I was very keen but it didn’t appeal to Richard at all. He had a fear of flying and, although he had managed to overcome it to attend conferences in Europe and one in the US (representing the British Epilepsy Assoiciation), it gradually became worse and he preferred to travel by land and sea. Our holidays were limited by this but we did have wonderful holidays all over Europe together.
I parked the idea but never forgot it. After Richard died in 2003, I decided that I should try to see all the things which I had been longing to see all my life. There would never be any thoughts that we might have been visiting these far flung places together, so no regrets. Anyway, I did have one small memory of Richard with me on those early travels, in the form of a fairly basic video recorder. I had bought this for Richard’s birthday just a couple of weeks before he died. That morning, he had told me that he was going to try it out for the first time, so I decided that it just had to be used. Looking back on those little films, I was a terrible camerawoman, the zoom worked overtime and I lingered lovingly over bland scenery. Still, they have woken some great memories for me.
So, in June 2005, I chose adventure and I chose Saga! Besides, back then, they didn’t charge a single supplement on most of their holidays. (Unlike Cosmos the previous year)
I had to call on my daughter for a bit of moral support and packing advice a few days before I was due to set off but, come 2nd June, I was on my way from Leeds to London and an overnight stay at a Heathrow airport hotel.
(This holiday involved a stopover in Brunei, which is just next door to Sabah on the island of Borneo and a 3-day extension there on my way back. I had intended to write about what was a memorable stay but, having read today’s news about the vile laws which have come into force there, I will not give this country even the slightest breath of publicity)