Most of us collect remembrances from our travels. A sniff of sachet brings back summer, soft skies and heathery lavender fields. A pearly conch is the week it rained on the Cape. The pile of Ordnance Survey maps are to gaze at on winter nights recalling walks taken and those awaiting possibility.
We stash ticket stubs and brochures and postcards we will never mail in little paper bags that rustle up entire trips long gone. I have a small mesh bag full of what even I can now see are slightly revolting bird feathers that appeared one by one on every path I took in an Irish autumn. Baskets and bottles hold pebbles and sea shells from distant coasts.
Mostly what we cram into our overful bags is stuff for friends back home like beer mats and pencils, book marks and tea in a hopeless effort to share a trip uniquely ours.
Here’s what I brought home as souvenirs from our recent two weeks in the UK:
- 1 black fleece jacket purchased due to cold (too big—gave to son)
- 1 Oyster Card with £3.35 left on it
- Charity shop must-haves: 1 flouncy black skirt, 2 blouses, 3 books
- 5 David Hockney Royal Academy Exhibit postcards and 1 poster (rolled and squashed).
- My own box of tea (Yorkshire Gold Rwandan)
- 3 boxes Boots dental sticks
- 1 bag Cadbury Milk Minis (3 eaten on plane)
- 2 Hello magazines (1 read on plane)
- 1 Small Horse (large pony)
Like the space-challenged tourists we saw haggling for suitcases at I Love London, we had to buy a small zippered duffel in Edinburgh to accommodate our woeful ways. The pony of course didn't fit so he’ll have to take a later flight.
Acquiring a hairy pony is not quite the same as collecting shells but like all good souvenirs its the serendipity that makes it a story. This pony with his strong sure legs, dapper feet and glossy coat is a Dales whose origins are so ancient they go back to the Galloways of Roman invaders who worked the Yorkshire mines. Endangered now, Dales make coveted riding and driving ponies with great stamina and sensible minds. Their long manes and tails curl elegantly towards feathery fetlocks.
Tea shared, hands shaken, the pony has headed south to Devon for a few weeks course in How To Carry A Human. Once he has his diploma I will return for my own training in How To Ride This Horse. We will then set sail to Amsterdam where we will insert our hairy, short selves into a crate between svelte Olympic equine jet-setters and cross his Atlantic for mine.
A Tottenham Hot Spurs Wind-Up Alarm Clock.