When recently discussing going to Fraser Island and walking through rainforests, a memory from my childhood sprung into my mind and I thought I would share the tale with you all (and to remind my family, who of course are the blogs biggest fans, of that one holiday).
Approximately 14 (blimey has it really been 14 years since I was 10 years old?) years ago my Mum and Dad planned a holiday to Bala Lake, in North Wales. They had rented out a lovely cottage for the week for themselves, myself, my sister and my Nan.
This was an upgrade from the camping holiday we had gone on the year before. I reckon they decided against camping seeing as the last holiday got hit by the unpredictable English weather…but that is another story.
Growing up, my parents took my sister and I to many different places around the world. I feel very lucky to have been able to experience all these different things and for the majority of them I have my parents to thank. My point being, that although they have taken us to various places, that allowed us to see how other people around the world live, it is this holiday in the UK, that I (maybe all of us) have never forgotten.
It was a holiday filled with days spent by the lake and evenings playing board games. On one particular day my Dad planned for us all to go on an hour long walk with the promise of a picnic and an ice cream.
‘It will be an adventure.’ is how he pitched it to us, so by the time we left the cottage my sister and I were very excited.
I cannot remember where we walked or what everything looked like but I do remember walking through what seemed like a jungle, to a child of ten years old, on this very thin muddy path. On one side there was a forest with tall trees and grass growing up to my knees and on the other was this beautiful lake.
The ‘jungle’ part of the walk seemed to take an hour in itself and it soon became apparent that my Dad had taken a wrong turn. When I look back at my Dad’s mistake, I find it hard to believe that he managed to get us all lost. Knowing him as well as I do now, making wrong turns is not in his nature. He is a stickler for reading maps, directions and instructions, almost to the point of annoyance especially when you have recently purchased a new ‘gadget’ and he has to read the instruction manual from cover to cover before turning it on.
To keep all our spirits up my Dad began to a shout military style march songs (which I have recently discovered are called military cadence calls and are used to instil a sense of teamwork and camaraderie amongst the soldiers). I wish I could remember what he had chanted but in any case, every line he shouted, the rest of the family would repeat. This kept my sister and I amused whilst we trekked through the jungle with sticks we had found and were now using as hiking poles.
After a couple of hours, our water supplies had run out but luckily we stumbled upon some form a civilisation…a lonely old house out in the middle of nowhere. I remember thinking, as my Dad knocked on the door to ask for some water, that the house looked like a place that would feature in a horror film. I am also pretty sure I remember the curtains move upstairs as though someone was watching us…but that was probably just my vivid imagination exaggerating reality.
However, what happened next does not need any amplification to spice up the story. As we continued on our journey, desperately trying to get back on the right path, we met two army men who kindly pointed out the right way.
‘Be careful of the farm up ahead. They have some dogs guarding the property.’ said one of the guys in camo.
I have never been very fond of animals, perhaps as a result of witnessing my sister get bitten on the ear by a small dog earlier on in my childhood, so the sound of dogs guarding a path we had to cross was not something I was looking forward to.
Soon enough we started to hear the sounds of relentless barking. With every step the sounds got louder. My sister and I were stood by the side of my Nan. My Dad was up ahead leading the way and my Mum was braving it on her own somewhere in the middle.
There was no other option than to walk past these dogs. I was in a panic, clinging to my Nan’s arms as she held my stick out in front of her incase the dogs dived for an attack. I remember the fear I felt due to the way the dogs were baring their teeth at us. Snarling, growling and barking loudly. I also remember my Dad’s laughter and the way he goaded the dogs by shaking my sisters stick at them. These dogs were not to be messed with but luckily we all made it to the other side in one piece.
On reflection, the dogs were just protecting their owners property but the experience was still a frightening.
My Dad did promise us an adventure and he definitely did not disappoint. After four or five hours walking we finally returned to the safety of the cottage.
Another funny memory I have of this holiday is of my Nan jumping from bed to bed trying to kill a moth in our room. Picture a slightly overweight Nan in her nighty bouncing around the room waving a slipper in attempts to hit a moth. It had my sister and I in fits of giggles and probably prevented us from falling asleep as quickly as my Nan had hoped.
It is these types of memories that I hope to create whilst I am traveling Australia, to get lost on roads that create everlasting memories that we will talk about for years to come.
‘We didn’t get lost, it was just more uphill than I expected.’ – my Dad’s justification for turning an hours planned walk into four.