For many this time of year would usually be for Summer holidays and travels to sun and discovery. Kiki’s love of travelling has always been a source of inspiration for her, and while our holidays may be a little different this year, planning our future adventures has also meant reminiscing about some rather notable past ones.
TRAVELLING ALONE IN SOUTH AFRICA
When I was young, my parents suggested I go to South Africa and travel. They paid for my return flight, but I had to find work there to pay my way. With the optimism of a 20-year-old, off I went. I stayed in Cape Town with a cousin for a month and then earned money selling Pernod (not my favourite drink!) in hotels and working in a steak restaurant. I went to Durban, Johannesburg, Botswana and Zimbabwe before running out of money and coming home. I managed to survive five months on my own, meeting people and making friends, and I am sure this experience made me more intrepid and independent – that, and a girls’ boarding school in the late 1960s.
WHITE WATER RAFTING IN AMERICA
About 15 years ago I booked to go white water rafting for the simple reason that I hadn’t done it before. I went down the Wild Salmon River in Idaho – the scenery was astonishing and the white water in turns, exhilarating and scary. I later took my two sons there when they were 12 – their eyes were on stalks. We camped on the side of the river at night (rather intrepid, as tents aren’t really my thing) and the following day we were in the rafts going through sections of water with names like Devil’s Dyke and The Corkscrew – they certainly lived up to their name!
BIG CATS IN INDIA
When I got divorced, I decided it was time to be impetuous again. I had received an email about a tiger safari and for some reason never deleted it. One day I opened it and I took off to India two months later. An advantage of travelling on your own is that you are free to meet people without your other half getting bored! Our group of 16 went to Delhi then the Ranthambore National Park where we saw two leopards; they are truly majestic animals. The National Geographic had gone a week before and didn’t see any, so I felt very lucky. Jonathan and Angie Scott – the famous wildlife photographers and a truly lovely couple – were on the trip and we have remained good friends to this day. We went to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise and Jonathan knew the exact place to stand to see it at its best. For all the pictures and things written about it, the Taj Mahal doesn’t disappoint.
BALLET AND CADILLACS IN CUBA
When I was at school, I didn’t have a clue who Che Guevara was, but we all had pictures of him on our walls because it was ‘the thing to do’. Our housemistress used to take them down as quickly as we could put them up! Around 5 Years ago I decided to go to Cuba to learn a bit more about that picture on my wall. I went with one of my sons – we met some fantastic people, and I found the trip really inspiring – so much colour! Ballet is one of my great loves, I went to the ballet school there and saw some very talented dancers. We also went to Ernest Hemingway’s house, which was truly evocative of a time gone by. Legend has it that Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra swam in the pool, and it wasn’t difficult to imagine. I loved walking down the street, listening to all the music coming out of the bars, and riding in a gorgeous pink Cadillac. I did come back with the full knowledge that Che Guevara was definitely not ‘up my street’!