You might not have heard of Kiama, a delightful seaside town about two hours south of Sydney by road. It will be my first proper stop in Australia with old friends Rosemary and Ken.
Ro and I first met many years ago when she was working at St Dunstan’s charity (now Blind Veterans UK). She madly volunteered to accompany me to a European Blind Union conference in Athens and we had a true meeting of minds over enjoyment of good food, much shopping and great fun. We left loaded with leather goods, shoes, crystallised fruit, jewellery, pistachio nuts and more – and still enjoyed meeting all the blind delegates from all over Europe too.
We’ve kept in touch over the years and even went on a cooking holiday in Umbria, Italy last year. For the first time, I’ll be able to visit her new home in Kiama and get a sense of living in a small Australian town. She’s working hard at arranging a great variety of cooking opportunities so that my Baking Blind adventure (www.bakingblind.com) includes the less well-known aspects of Australia.
And, of course, none of this could happen without the support of the Holman prize being run by San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
You can keep up with my trip on YouTube.
How can you make a journey of discovery nowadays? I cast my hopes to the winds of social media and found new people around the world.
My goal with the Holman competition was to cook with new people wherever I could find them – through e-mails, social media, interviews and every other way I could think of. My thanks go to the outstanding group of new and willing supporters spread far and wide: from Noam in Costa Rica who runs his own speciality Jungle Culinary Adventures. To Stephen in Malawi who supports local women through re-recycling projects (Our World International), from Jo in Virginia Beach with whom I haven’t had any contacts since our paths crossed in the Women’s Royal Naval Service nearly 40 years ago to Colin in Melbourne who used to cook in the Royal Navy too; others welcoming this complete stranger such as the Rotary Club in China plus Tom and Fran in Dover (New Hampshire, USA); Rosemary in Kiama (Australia) is the sole previous regular contact – she took me cooking in Umbria last year.
If I’m lucky enough to win, all this generosity would enable me to travel through six continents meeting even more new people, cooking in amazingly different places and having the adventure of a lifetime. I couldn’t have got even this far without all the help and enthusiasm from so many distant places and many others closer to home. Just putting together the plans has been an exhilarating whirlwind so, fingers crossed, for the future. The prize winners are due to be announced on 1 July.
Penny Melville-Brown OBE
Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk
Helping disabled people to work since 2000