October 2021

I’ve been going through some of my mother’s files; she’s been gone almost 11 years now.

This is a photo of some bits and pieces from an epic journey she made in 1968. She booked a first-class ticket on the Oronsay, cruising the P&O line from Vancouver to Southampton via the Panama Canal. Bought a car in Marseilles and spent the next couple of years staying in youth hostels and campgrounds and visiting friends in Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Italy. She even travelled solo to Morocco.

I was invited along for the ride, and we spent a couple of months in the Algarve, hanging out with some of her fellow expats from Dublin. She kept detailed records of the minutae of daily life on the road – what she spent, where she spent it, how many kilometres she travelled, how much gas in the tank, etc. – and without these little clues, I wouldn’t be able to piece together the rest of the story, because she didn’t have an Instagram account.

These tangible physical things are treasures. Always keep the menu!

Archival footage of landing in Lisbon on the ferry from Southampton.
I’ll never forget the heavenly scent of the mainland from miles out to sea as we approached the port.

Algarve Lunch 1969: Paddy and Oonagh Swift w/ John Ryan
and Eithne looking stylish

Back to top