I like to travel, both near and far, and have clocked up many miles over the years. I particularly love a road trip, and have been lucky enough to travel this way through parts of Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and America. The latter has always been a favourite destination, with memorable trips taken across the length and breadth of this stunning country. ‘America the beautiful’ ... a simple song title, with an honest truth ... America IS breathtakingly beautiful, and the west coast particularly so.
One unforgettable trip began in San Diego following the pacific coast highway all the way to Seattle. I think it took roughly 12 days, and my only companions were a gas guzzling SUV, a Sat-Nav and a variety of country music stations, with the volume turned way up, naturally! Other than flights, car rental and travel insurance, I had planned absolutely nothing else ... no accommodation, no sight-seeing, no route, no gas stations … I was planning to ‘wing it’!
Was I scared? You bet - I was terrified! A woman on my own with no idea where I was going, driving on the wrong side of the road in the equivalent of a Sherman tank? This woeful set of circumstances had all the ingredients of a classic CSI crime drama – the one where they never find the body!!! But I was determined to have an adventure and see the world, so off I ventured!
From vast sandy beaches, to sparkling blue oceans, to emerald wine lands, to bridges spanning golden bays, to red woods and lighthouses, to misty rugged coastlines; from street food to seafood to fast food; from hotels to motels and ‘You’re Welcome!’; from glamorous cities, to quintessential clapboard towns ... it was a trip that I will never forget, or indeed regret.
Over this last year, I have thought about this trip a great deal, simply because for me it embodied freedom. Not only the freedom of choice and decision making, but the freedom of wide open spaces ‘from sea to shining sea’, with ‘purple mountain majesties’ under never-ending ‘spacious skies’.
For westerners, to have freedoms curtailed, not just in travel, but within our very homes, towns and cities has prompted us to consider the unsavoury possibility of a dystopian existence. For many people throughout the world, freedom is an enigma, and it is sobering to think that many women in particular, do not enjoy the freedoms that we ordinarily take for granted.
We have all been given time to think, and I think particularly of our girls and the women they will become. I especially hope that they are blessed with the following: the freedom to make their own decisions and choices; the freedom of wide open spaces, with the chance to breathe and mentally let go; the courage to do things that make them step out of their comfort zones; an abundance of curiosity, and an unquenchable thirst for learning.
From our youngest girls in Reception to our young ladies in Senior School, our ethos, values and curriculum cultivates, nurtures and embeds the very dispositions needed to give every girl freedom in her future. Whether they blaze a travel trail, a business trail, a creative trail, or a seismic trail of new discovery, may they always remember that courage springs from the roots of confidence, and confidence grows with the people who love and care about them most … our Queen’s family.
Head of Lower School