Tuesday, 15 February 2011

My travels over four decades

  While planning a holiday with my wife a few weeks ago I was left wondering where in the UK I had yet to see. She doesn't hail from these shores, so I wanted to show her something new.
   I started with a map book, but soon realised a broader stroke was required. I can get too engrossed in maps. So I found a blank topographical map of the UK, loaded it into Paint Shop Pro and started work with a virtual marker pen. I had to rely on memory because I haven't kept a travel diary over my lifetime, but over four layers I was able to arrive at a pretty comprehensive itinerary of my life.

(1)The complete picture:
    No prizes for guessing from this map that I've spent my life based in the south Midlands, or that I've spent a lot of time in Yorkshire. Growing up near Oxford and attending Hull University explain those two. You can also trace some of my childhood holidays in Devon, Dorset or South Wales. But the rest is a surprisingly disjointed array of trips to see friends and relatives, plus road trips to seek out interesting places. This map might be a lot less diverse if I didn't own a motorcycle.
    Surprises: I've never been to North Wales, or central Devon. Somewhere to take my wife on holiday, mission accomplished!
(2) The 1970s
Childhood holidays and trips to see my aunts. Memories of sticking to the vinyl seats of an Austin Allegro or British Rail in the Age of the Train.
(3) The 1980s
    Confessions of a teenaged train geek. Four kids with a Family Railcard. Plus yet more family holidays to Yorkshire, this time in an Allegro with velour seats. That's progress, that is.
(4) The 1990s
    Someone gives me a driving licence and a succession of tatty old gas-guzzlers take me further afield. How much petrol did I burn in that decade?
(5) The 2000s
    Finally I'm old enough to afford a nice car and I've got an entire country to show my wife. So how did I manage to miss out North Wales, most of Devon and the Scottish Lowlands?