Saturday, September 4, 2010

You can turn this world around and bring back all of those happy days. Put your troubles down, it's time to (Madonna)

A recent blog catalogue theme that various bloggers posted on was about 'My Favourite Holiday'.

Co-incidentally, I've actually been thinking about family holidays to Taupo since we went down there to see Ross and Lynda recently.

These Taupo holidays came in two formats. Family One (my mother - Dulcie, father - Graham, me and Ross) at a Te Rangiita house owned by the Jackman family. These happened after we'd had years of holidays usually combined with dad's work trips to The Chateau Tongariro, Sydney, Wairakei, Rotorua, or north to Tutukaka.

Family Two (my wife - Jacky, me, and children - Keegan, Adam, Samantha, Jade) holidays took place at 'The Taupo House' owned by mum and dad.

My memory is a bit shaky on this (Ross will correct me I'm sure) but Family One was from about 1970 (I was about 13) to about 1976. Family Two was from 1984 to about 1999. Does that sound right?

Family One holidays were about getting up early to go fishing with dad, rowing a boat up the Tauranga/Taupo river with Ross, the white horse game, reading books on the beach or on my bunk while the rest of Family One went to Turangi without me and happiness.

Family Two holidays were about cricket on the sloping front lawn, mowing said lawn, playing 'Donkey', watching videos faded by the sunlight streaming into the lounge, Lion walks, the Cobb 'n' Co mini train and swings, the white horse game and 'minus ten cents' for indiscretions, mini golf and much laughter and happiness.

But every single one pales when compared to my favourite ever holiday.

That would be the July 2003 holiday/conference in Edinburgh/UK. My then boss, Alison Annan, was instrumental in kicking off my OE at the tender age of 45!

I'll never forget her words as she 'suggested' I attend the 2003 World Principals' Conference in Edinburgh. I had not travelled due to my fear of flying and this suggestion sent me into complete white hot melt down mode. I immediately rang Jacky (who was delighted dammit) and she said the prophetic words, "What if you love it?". That was enough to spur me on. The school covered my PD costs and we paid for Jacky to attend.

The trip was so memorable on so many levels. Professionally, the conference was superb and, yeah I know it's a cliche, but it inspired me to reach for new heights. The UK (including Edinburgh) was in the grip of a heatwave and Jacky was sick after the flight. Nevertheless she explored Edinburgh and fell in love with it too.

It was a trip of firsts in many ways: first long haul trip to the UK (been back to the place I love four times now); first visit to a Hard Rock Cafe; first visit to Beatle shrines like Menlove Ave., Abbey Road, Penny Lane; first visit to Rochdale and the area of Rochdale where my grandfather spent his first 8 years of life; and most important of all - the first meeting with my cousin, Christine Kirkham (nee Purdy).

Only one person on the planet has known me longer than Christine has a (aside from my parents' friends) and that's my brother, but it took about thirty years to actually meet my beautiful cousin Christine.

When my grandfather returned from a trip back to the UK in 1967 he gave me an address to write to in Rochdale. One of my cousins.

I started writing and Christine began sharing my life. Mainly we'd write about family, football and music. We grew up together in a weird parallel. She in England and me on the other side of the planet in New Zealand. I was ten and she was a bit older. Along the way she got married, her three spectacular children were born. I also got married and our four spectacular children were born. They've all grown up now and have turned into fantastic people.

Music fads came and went. My collection was enriched by Christine's care packages of punk cassettes, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa and lately by Black Sheep Boy.

But still we hadn't met.

In July 2003 we hired a car in Edinburgh and drove to Bury (a little north of Manchester) via Biggar to meet Christine. It was at times an overwhelming experience meeting someone who had morphed over the years, from a pen pal, into the big sister I'd never had. This was coupled with a real feeling of finally belonging that I experienced when I went to the northwest of England. It's hard to explain, but akin to that feeling of rightness and belonging that I had when I first met Jacky.

One of my greatest joys was travelling around Rochdale with Christine and people mistaking us for actual brother and sister. Those Purdy genes are powerful!

After meeting Christine, our trip continued to London. We stayed with our friend Tina and her then partner, Paul, in a one bedroom 4th floor flat in north London - close enough for me to visit Highbury for a look (no games in July obviously). Jacky and I loved staying with them and Tina gave us a grand tour of London that has stayed in my memory, along with everything else about this holiday of a lifetime.

The intensity of that first major overseas trip has stayed with both Jacky and me. It has largely fuelled our wanderlust since then and made us hungry or more.

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