Madeleine - that's me!
My love of geography goes back to my childhood when it was my brother's and my chore to clean up after tea every night. On the wall in the kitchen there was always a world map, and so to pass the time whilst doing the dishes, Eugene and I would quiz each other on countries and their capital cities. We started off with Europe, and then moved on to all the continents of the world: North and South America, Asia, and Africa. We never did manage to get all the capital cities of Africa learnt, but we knew the country names at the very least.
As a result, we often took a couple of hours to do the dishes by which time the water in the sink was cold and the dishes were so greasy that we needed to start over. Our mother wasn't impressed with the length of time it took us to complete this chore, but the information we learned along the way was invaluable.
When I got to High School, I wanted to study Geography, but there was no class, so instead I took History, then went to university where I studied more History, and the rest is, well, history. I did my teacher training, and then headed to the North Island to attempt to impart some historical knowledge to the teenagers of central Taranaki. I succeeded with some!
Then in the mid-80s, I bought my first computer. I could instantly see what a boon it would be to be able to type up notes for a class one year, and then recycle it the next year, amending and changing as necessary without having to re-type the whole programme. I taught myself how to use it simply by using it. I had a bad habit of thinking "I wonder what will happen if I delete this", and doing it only to realise that I had removed a file that made everything else work. But I also learnt how to put it all back together again, and that was a very valuable lesson.
Eventually, the principal heard that I knew how to turn on a computer, and the following year, I was teaching students how to use them. By the time I quit teaching, I was in charge of the entire computer system for the school, and was even an MCSE (Microsoft Systems Certified Engineer), but that was in the NT days, and along with everything else, if you don't use it, you lose it. I have retained almost nothing of that knowledge.
Then I moved to Christchurch, and found a job as a retail manager in a shop which is devoted to maps, guidebooks, globes, GPS and digital mapping. My geographical knowledge has come in good use, and all those hours spent letting the water in the sink grow cold were not wasted.
Along with the move came the freedom to do the travelling I've wanted to do all my life. So many places to visit, and so little time!
For someone who started this travelling lark so recently, I think I've done well. At the time of writing this in January, 2021, I've visited 64 countries. The only continent I've not been to is Antarctica . . . one day.
Life changed for every Cantabrian in February 2011, and it changed for me. The earthquake of February 22 destroyed MapWorld and my place of employment forever. For a month, we operated out of my living room, and then, having obtained a new location, we spent a month in a "hole in the wall" whilst waiting for our permanent premises to be vacated by the sitting tenant, and then made habitable for us.
One of the first things I did after the 'quake was to cancel my planned trip to China and take a hit on the airfares. I knew that I couldn't be missing in April when we were starting over.
2018, I volunteered to look after my 2 grandsons while their parents went storm-chasing (amongst other things) in the USA.
2019, I filled in some gaps on my European map: Spain, Portugal, (and Morocco) Gibraltar, and then Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. And then in November 2019, I went to India. I'd never expected to love India, but I did. And what's more I didn't get "deli belly".
What a year 2020 turned out to be! To quote Queen Elizabeth 11, it was "annus horribilus" for the entire world.
Who knows what will happen in 2021? I'm certainly not making any travel plans.