• Mandy Rowe

The Road Well Travelled

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

Susan still travels. Peter Derrett Photography

In a post dated 7 August 2018 I chatted about a wonderful woman called Susan. While on a Rhine River cruise, a few years ago, my mother had taken Susan her under her wing. Since then they had become good friends.

When I was looking for 'senior' women to model for a travel book I was writing Mum suggested I contact Susan.

Fortuitously she agreed to come along to a studio in Melbourne and to be photographed by Peter Derrett.

Her photos were mesmerising. She was ethereal, fashionable and genteel; the perfect face for the heroine in the story the 'The Road Well Travelled' in the book 'Broads Abroad -Worldly Wise.'

Susan's Tips on Travel

  1. Be brave.

  2. Wear comfortable shoes

  3. Research the things you want to see/experience. Know the history.

The Road Well Travelled

I came into the world a seasoned traveller. When I was born, in 1934, it was into the heat and dust of Madras, on the east coast of India.

Father was a District Officer for the Indian Civil Service; Mother filled her days painting flowers from our garden, the scent of frangipani and jasmine pervading the house. 

My earliest memories are of being sung to by Shashi, my amah, an ethereal Indian woman who gently saw to my needs. 

There was always a book in my hands. We had an enormous library and I was encouraged to read. Huddling into Father’s oversized rattan chair on our verandah, I fell into the world of words and the journey of imagination began.

At eight years old I mastered the keys on a clunky Remington and wrote my first journal about the world around me: leathery-skinned old men squatting outside teashops; kuyil birds koo-ooing; the stink of rotting mangoes; the swish of coconut palms in the sea-breeze. 

I keep these journals still, bound by a fraying sky-blue ribbon Shashi gave me as a parting gift. Seventy years later, I still see her wiping away the tears.

The cold, grey landscape of Wales put a sorry halt to my reveries, and the words stopped coming. I took to reading again – Freya Stark, Gertrude Bell, Mary Kingsley. Intrepid women travellers who braved the red sands of Arabia on camelback and climbed Kilimanjaro.

Once I was a young woman of means, I packed my Royal Quiet Deluxe, the portable typewriter of the day, and headed east again. 

The further from Aberaeron I travelled, the more prolific my writing became – I was published in newspapers and magazines, and completed two books. Some say I encouraged a generation of women to travel.

My Royal Deluxe now sits silent on a sideboard: a laptop has replaced it. So much more portable, you see.

#broadsabroadworldlywise #theodoratibbot #solowomentravel #solowomen #peterderrett #mandyrowe

Susan holds the book 'Broads Abroad - Worldly Wise.'



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Sydney NSW 2000, Australia