This holiday was easily the most sentimental of all my trips. It was a return to some of the places I had visited on my first overseas trip but more importantly it was my first time back to England since my Grandpa passed away. Back in 2010 in the months leading up to the day I was due to leave he had been very ill but as my departure date approached he seemed to be doing a lot better. There was no doubt in my mind that I would see him when I got back. I still remember saying goodbye “I’ll take lots of pictures to show you everywhere I’ve been” I told him, “don’t worry about photos” he said “just go and enjoy yourself, appreciate it and make memories” That was the last piece of advice he would ever give me.
My Grandpa’s family was from England, he didn’t really speak about his family too much but he was always strict on proper pronunciation. Growing up in a big family I was an introverted child, my observing in silence sometimes made the more talkative family members uncomfortable because they didn’t know what I was thinking or how I was feeling. He didn’t need me to talk; he understood and would often say “unlike those who have to voice every thought that enters their head, we know that when you talk, it’s worth listening to” and “You can always tell when she (me) compliments you she has actually thought about it and genuinely means it, she’s not just blowing smoke”. They’re two of the things he said that have stuck with me and I still try and live by today.
When I first arrived in London in 2010, I felt instantly connected to the beautiful architecture, the relaxing country side and the classy accents. I just wanted to be around it all. I was so excited I remember thinking ‘when I get home, I’m going to ask Grandpa everything he knows about England!”. I picked out a scarf made of lamb’s wool while I was in the country and I couldn’t wait to get home and give it to him. I still remember my parents calling me half way through my trip and my heart just sinking, expecting the worst! “What’s wrong?!” I asked in a panic. “Nothing” my Mum replied, “We just wanted to see how you were going”… from that moment I banned all phone calls while travelling. Texting was fine, but I couldn’t deal with the thought of being miles away and not being able to help if something had gone wrong.
Once I arrived back home I remember my parents telling me my Grandpa was back in hospital and it wasn’t looking good. They took me to see him the next day and I stood by his bed and lay the scarf I had brought alongside him. I said my goodbyes and we left. He passed away that night. My Mum told me they were pretty sure he had been waiting for me to come home.
So when I returned to England all those emotions came back. Throughout the whole trip I made sure I made memories first and took photos second. In every location I took time to stop, look around and take it all in. I made sure I took things slower this time and as I walked through the various towns and cities I was mentally present in where I was, looking around and taking in all the sights, smells and sounds. There were a few times where I just started wandering and forgot to take photos but I still remember every detail of what I saw. So now I will write down all the memories and feelings to go with the photos I took.
I appreciate his words of advice more than ever now and one thing I know for sure, it doesn’t matter how many photos you take. If there is no memory that excites you enough to go back to that moment when you look at it, then what’s the point? You may as well of just bought the photo from a store and stuck it on the wall.
Don’t just live life, appreciate it