Does anyone else have a travelling buddy?
I bought Rupert the Travelling Bear from the Butler and Wilson boutique in Neutral Bay, Sydney, in 1989. Not long after we set off on our first overseas adventure together with a Sydney Uni archaeology tour of Egypt and a jaunt to Kenya.
What a great opportunity to fulfill a dream I’d had since I was 11 years old, with Rupert cutting a very dashing figure exploring the monuments, small villages and markets to collect homespun textiles which I have to this day. Together my trusty companion and I marveled at The Sphinx, climbed through pyramids, explored temples & museums and sailed the Nile in a felucca.
Following several weeks in Egypt my intrepid buddy and I flew to Nairobi. I was very keen to see Karen Blixen’s house (made famous by the movie Out of Africa with Meryl Streep in the 80s) and to spend time in the Masai Mara Game reserve observing the wild animals. More adventures were to follow on this life changing trip, seeing lions and other big cats and wild animals and meeting Daisy Rothschild (the famous giraffe) at the Giraffe Sanctuary. As I stood on a platform, eye to eye with one of these magnificent creatures and making direct contact, whilst feeding her a carrot, was a deeply moving experience which has stayed with me to this day.
A night spent at Treetops Lodge, made famous as the place Queen Elizabeth II visited as a princess and left as queen, was in the 80s, like staying in an overgrown tree house. Sitting quietly on a dark open balcony, waiting to spot a passing elephant or rhino visiting the salt lick, was made more memorable by a cheeky baboon swinging in to steal my unattended gin & tonic. Never stand between a baboon and his G&T.
I knew I’d chosen the ideal travel buddy, as Rupert was game for anything I wanted to do.
The grand finale of this trip was a hot air balloon trip, setting off at dawn over the Masai Mara Game Reserve to spot giraffes, zebras, elephants & friends, then landing in the game reserve for a champagne breakfast. I have since referred to this hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara as a life changing event, which it most certainly was.
Of all the travelling I have been lucky enough to enjoy, these weeks on the African continent remain one of the most significant experiences of my life. Being up close and personal with ancient Egyptian monuments, pyramids and the Sphinx, lions, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, leopards and meeting a baboon with a shared love of G&Ts.
Upon my return to Sydney, I returned to work and announced I was going to resign, move home to Melbourne and make costume jewellery for a living. Three months later I was home and Rupert began his new life with me, in Melbourne. Finally I was home doing everything I loved!
Rupert the Travelling Bear and I have since been on many voyages together since 1989, my trusty and intrepid companion, as adventurous as the day he arrived in my life. This image was taken 30 years later at the flea market in Paris (2019).