It has been a very long time since I have contributed to this. There are several reasons of which I will not go into, but its safe to say I am back with a new trip up my sleeve! There is a personal background to my next trip. My dad passed away quite suddenly a couple of months ago, followed a few weeks later by the sudden death of a very good friend. When I was a child my dad often talked about cousin’s he had lost touch with that had emigrated to Australia. He had quite specific details about their names and what part of Australia they moved to, even down to the name of the road they lived on. I always wondered who they were and more importantly, where they were. After several unsuccessful attempts to find them online, I came to the conclusion that maybe the more modern way to search for long lost people, was not the most appropriate. Being that they were of my dad’s generation I figured that their presence online would not be the same as my generation’s. In late 2014 I was working at Pinewood on a series for Ch4 and I was telling my Australian assistant the story and I mentioned I was thinking of trying to see if any newspapers would be interested in helping. She suggested the names of four newspapers including The West Australian. Out of the four papers I contacted this one said they would run the story. They ran it the weekend before Christmas that year and I woke up to an email from my dad’s cousin in Aus on Christmas Eve . We had found them. He was still living in the same area and his brother had emigrated to Thailand where he still resides. After several Skype calls I managed to get my dad to a place with wifi – by this time he was living in sheltered housing – and he spoke to his cousin for the first time in decades. Apart from a brief meeting in Paris with my cousin (part of the same side of the family who lives and has grown up in California), we have only contacted via email and Skype since. Ever since I made contact I wanted to meet with them all and bring back the photos of everyone to show my dad. I never got the chance to do it.
Last week I was walking with Lyla past The Flight Centre in Brighton when I decided to go in to just enquire about flights in March 2016. I asked about Thailand, Singapore, Australia and home again. I have a good friend in Singapore who has a daughter Lyla’s age. The two girls get on very well and we promised them this summer that we would come out to see them as soon as possible. As they were on the way, I dropped Singapore in too. When the guy had finished putting in the details he looked surprised at the result. He said ‘This looks really cheap, but I’m not totally convinced because although Emirates do have sales they also sometimes list their prices wrong.’ It was right. We were offered a complete price for both of us, including all of our flights, of £1911.00. It was a price that was difficult to refuse. He told me he could hold the price for 24hrs. I walked out with his card and contacted my friend in Singapore immediately to find out if she would be there on the dates we would visit. Because of the time difference, it took her some time to get back to me. Eventually she did – she would be there! Yay! So I booked it!
A few days later I spoke to my dad’s cousin in Australia to tell him of our planned trip. He confirmed that he would also be there and that he would get in touch with his brother in Thailand so we could arrange to meet him too whilst visiting.
Now I just need to fill in the gaps. This is the fun bit, the bit I relish. Creating an itinerary that is exciting, educational, fun and also flexible. Something that both Lyla and I will enjoy. I always start here;
Travel brochures can offer a lot of ideas even if you decide to book alone. My personal preference in travel guides are the Eyewitness travel series. I know some prefer to look online (I do that too) or prefer the Lonely Planet guides. I prefer Eyewitness because they incorporate more images and I like to see where I am going as well as to read about it. And of course the wine is essential ;).
So here goes watch this space…