While going through letters – travel memories and discoveries made

The house move is imminent and the cupboard full of letters, cringeworthy teenage diaries and my school books and reports. Memories, good and bad. They have to be tackled.

Hurricane Katy is still blowing everything around, and the news is full of gloom so I decided that this could be the day to do this job.

It is harder than the photos. They took a long time, but I was prepared for the task and knew most were duplicates. The letters, they are a challenge. My mother kept every letter I had ever sent to her. Every postcard. I kept all the letters she sent to me. Every letter my school friends sent. Telling stories of romance, marriage, motherhood, divorce, bereavement. And they have to go. This was the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and then we hand wrote pages and pages, sharing our ups and downs to our closest friends. Now everything is posted daily on Facebook.

Mom keeping everything from her travels and labelling them in shoe boxes. So do I.

I listened to a programme on Radio 4 about Obsession this week. The link to it is here but will only be available until mid December 2015. During the programme they talked about Charles Darwin, his anxiety, insomnia and his passion for collecting things. Cataloging and naming – feeding a system against loss. His great-great granddaughter Ruth Padel wrote The Miser, a poem about this obsession for collecting. Organised, cataloged stuff, is still clutter.

I have old tickets and leaflets to remind me of my travels. Just like Mom.

My first airline ticket. and ID to go to Austria, skiing in 1974 I didn’t have a passport then.

A cabin card from 1971. My first time abroad, to Norway. My school organised a several trips, Norway, Germany, Austria, and my mom worked hard to save up the money so that I could go. Thanks Mom. Sowing the seeds of a life of travel.

Yet every bit of paper has a story to tell.  Like this one.

On Saturday 11 August 1979 I watched The Trojan Women by Euripides being performed in the Ancient Theatre of Epidavros. A play I had studied at school. That 14 year old schoolgirl never imagined in her wildest dreams that one day she would visit Greece see the play in an ancient theatre in Greece. A wet week in Weston in a caravan was her highlight.

I can remember that day as clear as if it were last week. As I had studied the play at school,  I was explaining the plot to my fellow travellers.

Later we went to a taverna where nearly all the other customers were soldiers, who kept sending us wine. Afterwards we went to the beach in the VW camper and had a disco, and almost got arrested. We did have to go to the police station. Fortunately the Greek people we were with, Penny and Antony Marinos, were children of someone important in the government (their parents had met when they were spies in WW2) so all charges against the driver and owner of the VW were dropped. I crawled into the nearest fishermans boat at 2 am to finally get to sleep. It was 1979. I was a student and this was Greece.

Greece 79

School also sowed the seeds of wanderlust. My geography folders were full of tales of travel and tea growing.

I never imagined I would go to a country where I would see people picking tea. But I have.

I dreamed big and it happened. And now the past has been revisited I am ready to let go. Ready for the future. New journeys to make and new people to meet.


Just looked up the Greek family I stayed with in Kifissia Athens – I found the family name on some notes I had made. Marinos. Turns out their father was a bit of a war hero in Special Ops. Themistocles Marinos. He was involved in Operation Harling. An academic, and advisor to the UN and Deputy General Manager of the State Railways too. I remember his wife more than him.

I recall that they kept cold water in a Gordons Gin bottle and had very green lawns in their very elegant villa in the suburbs. The bravest are often the most humble. May also explain why the family were involved in a parachuting scene in James Bond movies……. although I cannot find any links to this. Yet.

I then looked up Penny and found more about the family. I remember the mother telling us she was writing a book about the aubergine. Prospero’s Kitchen. Seems this has been relaunched, how exciting.

All this from sorting through old letters! And yes, some of this pile, the memories that have made me smile, are coming to the new house.




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