I have always wanted to travel. From a very young age, when my Aunt was abroad, living and working in London, I knew that I wanted to do it too. There is something magical about London and I just couldn’t wait to grow up and put routes down there. I thought that it sounded glamourous and exciting, to be able to see more than just New Zealand. My cousins and I used to love receiving parcels from her for our birthdays and Christmas. We would see the distinctive writing on the parcel and know that it was from her. There would be a letter or a card and an interesting gift.
Now it’s me that lives so far away from my family. And I am in awe of her for remembering all of our birthdays and sending gifts more or less on time. I only have two nephews and I struggle to get their gifts in the post near their birthdays. She had at least 10 of us to sort. And all of her brothers and sisters in law.
Travelling is in my blood. It is an obsession and a full time hobby. There is always more of the world to see. I feel like I am wasting time when I sit still and I get itchy feet when I have been in London more than six unbroken weeks. I have seen some amazing things, from Dracula’s castle in Transylvania – yes that is really a thing – to the Athenian ruins of the Parthenon, I am used to seeing many amazing things before sunset and then a few after. The novelty does not wear off and the obsession does not lessen.
However, there are drawbacks, some pretty big ones in fact. I will never be at home again, I have a thousand homes with a thousand friends and family all over the world. If only they were in one place. I currently call Clapham South, Londontown, home. I have been in this house for five years and it is where I chill out and hibernate when I need some space. My ten year old nephew routinely reminds me that my home is not here, in fact that it is in New Zealand, with the my family, that I have abandoned. That is some great emotional blackmail from a child.
The hardest thing about travelling has been missing out on him. Sam and I have always been close. It broke my heart the first time I had to say goodbye to him. And every time after that has been like a reopening of an old wound. The scars take a long time to heal. Now that he is a bit older and he understands that I live far away, and that it hurts me so much to leave him, he hates to see me cry. He tells his Mum that he feels sorry for me that I get so upset. She reminds him that I chose this. In the long run, I am a better aunt to him by following my dreams.
I vividly remember saying goodbye to my family in Auckland airport. My Dad was late as he had spent the morning going through my boxes in storage in order to find my Pooh Bear that travels with me. You can see Pooh in a lot of very famous places in a number of photos. His favourite so far has been the Grand Canyon.
Dad found it and a three year old Sam proudly bought it too me at the check in desk. As he hugged me for the last time, Dad told me to grab every opportunity with both hands and to experience all that I wanted too. And I have taken that advice to heart. You see, the way I live in London cannot last forever, this bubble will have to burst at some point. I will grow up, I will settle down and I will have a family of my own.
I have a number of friends the world over, who have done just that, settled down and are enjoying their family life. They often tell me about how they follow my amazing adventures and are in awe of how much I see and do. I always reply the same way, that the grass is always greener, that given half a chance I would love a husband and some children, and whilst those things have not arrived for me yet, I figure I best have the most exciting life that I can. I will one day be boring my grandchildren with tales of the time that I got up at 3am, Christmas night in Bergen, Norway to see the snow fall with my best friend. About the time that I snuck into a closed off garden in Versailles and took some beautiful photos. My children will tell me to stop encouraging them.
It is a very Kiwi thing to do, to have an overseas experience. It is actively encouraged, to get out of New Zealand, to broaden your horizons and to see how people all over the world live. In just about every place that I have gone, I have heard a kiwi accent somewhere along the line. We are a patriotic bunch. There will always be a bit of NZ with us somewhere. I have a kiwi flag key ring that a friend from home gave me. I have New Zealand Christmas decorations and the odd tea towel as well. I guess what we are all saying, is that we are so damn proud of where we are from, and we never forget it, we just need to see more to appreciate that. I have come to realise that I am so lucky to be where I am from. Until you have seen a pub full of Kiwis get choked up singing ‘You Better Be Home Soon’, you have not seen kiwi pride.
Oh unless we win the Rugby World Cup – never have I seen so many grown men crying in public. Kiwi Pride.
So I guess that is where it leaves me, so very proud of where I am from, where I intend to return to, just not ready to head back just yet. Without sounding cliché, there is a saying that I quote and truly believe. I have been bitten by the travel bug. There is no known cure and I will happily be infected for the rest of my life.
Photos: Nicola Whyte
Be sure to follow along on my travels & get a behind the scenes look at the cultures I experience by following my Instagram Account. I’d love to bring you along for #DoTheDaniel!