My guest today will be familiar to many writers and readers out there. Anne Williams, whose book blog, Being Anne, is award-winning, don’t you know, joins me today to share the five photos that mean a lot to her. I had the pleasure of meeting Anne recently, at the York Tea held by the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and she was just as friendly as I’d imagined she’d be. She’s a huge friend to us struggling authors (and also to some very well-established and highly successful ones!) and her reviews are always well-written and insightful. So, without further ado, over to Anne …
If you look really closely at my blog, Being Anne, you’ll notice it has a subtitle – “Books, travel, and other things that make life interesting”. You can actually count the travel posts on the fingers of one hand – and books ARE what make life interesting, aren’t they? But when Sharon told me about this great feature, I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to share some of my personal favourite holiday photos.
For far too many years really, I had a partner who refused point blank to travel abroad, and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to take their holidays anywhere other than the Lake District. The Lakes are, indeed, lovely – but I always wanted to do something a bit more adventurous, to see the places I’d only seen in pictures. I found myself on my own again just before my 50th birthday, so I decided to celebrate, and booked a tour of the West Coast of America. Oh my goodness, it was everything I wanted it to be – Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park, travelling along Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway. I loved every moment – as it was my special birthday trip I did all the extras, and took my first (of many) helicopter trips, over the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. It was so overwhelming, I cried – and did it again from Las Vegas so I could see it again without the tears.
I’d discovered something I loved, and my next trip was to the East Coast. New York, Boston, then up through New England to Canada (Ottawa, Quebec, Toronto), then down to Washington via Amish country – with a blissful week in New York at the end, shopping till I dropped and seeing as many Broadway shows as I could. There was no holding me after that – my next trip was to China, with Hong Kong on the way back. I walked along the Great Wall of China, visited the summer palaces, saw the excavations of the Terra Cotta warriors – it was a wonderful trip.
There was no holding me back after that. I’ve been to see the wildlife in South Africa, at the Kruger National Park and whale watching at Hermanus – but I’ll spare you the pictures of out-of-focus unidentifiable animals and the tails of whales just disappearing under the waves. I’ve ridden elephants in Northern Thailand (and seen more buddhas and temples than I ever really wanted to), watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and walked in Hemingway’s footsteps around the streets of Havana. Macchu Pichu in Peru was spectacular – my only regret was that I didn’t take off my awful sunhat for the pictures.
In the last couple of years, I had a wonderful holiday wildlife watching in Borneo – with a touch of real luxury in Singapore on the way home. And when people ask me which of my trips was my favourite, I often say Vietnam. The night I spent on a junk in Halong Bay will stay with me forever. And this photo was another one of those magical moments, taken in the early morning from the balcony of my hotel near Hoi An.
For my 60th birthday I wanted to do something really special, and settled on a tour of Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Crossing the Andes was totally unforgettable (but not with crampons – on a coach!), I took to the skies over Rio de Janeiro, and I was blown away by the Iguazu Falls (I passed underneath them in a jet boat on the big day itself, and flew over them in a helicopter).
I now care for my mother, who has dementia, so planning long trips is something I’ve decided not to do. But I do have the most wonderful memories to sustain me – and a long bucket list of other destinations I hope I’ll still be able to get to before age or infirmity makes me unable to do so.
Wow! Thanks for sharing those amazing photos, Anne. You’ve certainly been to some exotic places! Fantastic. Maybe you should write a book about your travels? 🙂