Saturday 1 January 2022

Hello, 2022

Happy New Year. We've all been saying since 2016 'Let's hope it's better than last year' and that hasn't worked at all, so let's just aim to get to December 31 and be able to say 'Well, that was better than we expected' - ok?

I will also aim to pop in here more regularly, despite not really being much of a travel writer any more, for obvious reasons. I faded out towards the end of last year, waiting for a blog overhaul, but that still hasn't happened, so on we soldier.

One of my Christmas presents was a subscription to Storyworth, which I'd already heard good things about, and my second question to answer (chosen by the Baby) is 'What was your first big trip?'. That's a fun, if frustrating, one to answer because it was a round-world cruise to England, via both Suez and Panama, taking about six months. Fabulous! Except, it was 1957 and I was only three, and remember very little about it - mainly, getting trapped in the outside toilet at my grandparents' house in Farnham.

But, doing a little research, I have found, naturally, connections. Our first leg was the very last voyage of the RMS Mataroa which, after delivering us to Southampton via the Panama Canal, was then sent to be scrapped at Faslane. She had been built in 1922 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, across from where the Silver Wind was moored on our 2019 Silversea cruise, and which had just been closed down. The ship, originally called Diogenes, carried passengers/immigrants to NZ and Australia, was a troop ship during the war, and then returned to tourism afterwards - though in 1949 she carried a contingent of the nearly 600 'Lost Children' from UK orphanages and foster homes who were brought to NZ in one of those shockingly authoritarian decisions that are sadly so common all over the world. (Also sent to Australia and Canada, many of them were maltreated, and, much later, officially apologised to.)

I had thought that our return voyage, on the SS Orcades via the Suez - a trip so hot everyone apparently slept up on deck - returned us to Lyttelton; but it turns out, from a random photo that my father usefully labelled, that we actually got off in Sydney and flew home from there. So that was my first flight, and not the joyride I had on Air NZ's new plane when I was about 14. And the Orcades? Well, I discovered a big model of that bit of my personal history in the Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour, when I arrived there on the Azamara Journey in 2017...

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