I’ve always, well for a very long time, wanted to visit Iceland. There’s something about the island that is ‘reaching out’ to me. I don’t know what it is, but it is a very strong feeling that I have to go there someday. It’s not an urgent feeling; it’s more like something to look forward to. And I haven’t gone yet as I like the feeling, if that makes sense. Since the Eyjafjallajokull volcano started erupting back in March, Iceland has been in the news quite a bit, and it has also been in quite a few documentaries.
I love places of interest, and historic places. I’ve been to Nazareth, which really had an amazing feel to it, although it didn’t look like I expected it to. I’ve been to the Pyramids in Egypt, the ones near Cairo, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Stunning is an understatement considering their size and how old they are. I’ve been to Conway Castle in North Wales (and other castles around the country) and try to think of how they were when they were newly built – I also try to imagine how the people who used them went about their day.
Years ago, when I was at school, I was doing a project on the USA, for some reason. I’m sure it was in my French lessons too, which seems a bit bizarre, but that’s the memory I’m getting (school was a bit of a just go and get it over with place. I loved the learning, but didn’t like the speaking in front of the class sessions, the PE, or the bullying.) I gathered loads of brochures on the USA from some travel agents and cut out various pictures for my project. Like the feelings I’m now having for Iceland, I was having similar feelings for New York. The Empire State Building. The Statue of Liberty. The twin towers of the World Trade Center. I made these the centre pieces of my project, and then other things related to the USA were sub-topics around them. I don’t think I wrote the project completely in French either, but there must have been some French words thrown in. I can’t speak a word of French now, but always remember ‘listen and repeat’; ‘écouter et répéter’ or something like that. Apologies if that’s wrong, but it’s how I remember it! Anyway, in the early nineties I had the opportunity to go to New Haven in Connecticut, which is the state next-door to New York, and of course we went to New York City. We went via the train, which ended up becoming the underground in NYC. Got off at Grand Central Station (the one with the big clock) and then walked out of one of the doors into a side street. It reminded me of Manchester. A side street in Manchester. I thought ‘I’ve travelled all this way to come to Manchester’ and I remember feeling underwhelmed. Absolutely underwhelmed. (I love Manchester by the way, but was expecting New York to be the New York from my project.) We then walked round a corner and we were slap-bang in the middle of the New York as I imagined it. The wide roads, the long straight roads, the yellow taxis, the very tall buildings, more yellow taxis, the hundreds of people walking about – I was blown away by the fact that I was actually there. It was as though the universe was teasing me with that Manchester side-street in New York so I would be even more surprised by what I experienced. And I’m glad that it happened that way, for that is one amazing experience I will never, ever forget.