There are many places I’ve ended up over the last number of years which have been unplanned and have taken me by surprise, such as Pigeon Forge (home of Dolly Parton!) and every inch of the Atlanta city ring road (too scared to attempt to turn off!). But the most surprising – and scary – place I’ve ended up…
Before: nerves, questions, cautious excitement. Will people be relaxed? Will they enjoy it? Is there anything we’ve planned that’s going to flop?
After: delight, relief, instant memories. People were relaxed, positive and in great spirits from beginning to end. Everything we planned seemed to work like a dream. And, just like that, the three days we had spent eleven months planning, passed.
There’s been a bit of a ritual here in Lewis and Harris over the last number of years. Every Easter, the 40th Reunion takes place for those who have just turned or are about to turn 40. It’s always a fun game looking at the photos to see who you recognise and seeing how people have changed through the years. Only this time, in 2017, it’s different: it’s the turn of my lot!
We’d just had 10 relaxing days in Isla Canela (the bit right where Spain meets Portugal on the Mediterranean) when we drove off towards Seville to spend a day exploring the city before flying home the next afternoon. The drive was pleasant in brilliant sunshine along the motorway, we reached the outskirts of Seville and took the exit towards the city, excited at the new experience that lay just around the corner. Or so we thought, because it was at this point that our straightforward journey turned into the Whacky Races.
There have been strong connections between Lewis and Canada for generations. For myself, I was vaguely aware that I had relations of some description in Canada, but I was pretty hazy on the details. My father, however, has always had an interest in visiting Canada but the opportunity never arose. In summer 2015 things clicked in my brain and I had a crazy idea – let’s go to Canada with my parents! You see, between them they would be celebrating a 70th birthday, a 65th birthday and their 40th wedding anniversary in 2016 and I thought that a trip across the Atlantic would be a fantastic way to mark the occasions.
Our first trip together across the Atlantic was in September 2005, a few short weeks after Hurricane Katrina grabbed the world’s attention. We started in Atlanta and had a rough idea that we were going to drive north-east ultimately towards Washington DC. The first two days of our road trip proved more surprising than we could ever have imagined!