The Titan Traveller Stories: Ruth Derrick
In an imaginary parallel existence, I own a Park Avenue apartment, a beachfront property in Santa Monica and a jewellery store in Sedona.
After a high-flying career, Titan regular Ruth Derrick made a decision: to grab the future with both hands and see the world, most of all, her beloved America.
Hi Ruth, what’s your story?
I was born in Bath, but relocated to London in pursuit of my career. My working life was interesting, but it became increasingly demanding. When the opportunity came to apply for early retirement I grabbed it with both hands. I returned to live in Bath, and decided that what I most wanted to do in the future was to see a lot more of the world.
What started your love affair with travel?
Childhood holidays passed in a happy blur of sand, sea and paddling sandals. Not that much sun, as we invariably spent those holidays in the UK. For my parents, this meant moving three small girls and a squirmy dog into a tiny caravan (usually in Devon or Cornwall) for a joyous (to us, anyway!) period, when the normal rules no longer seemed to apply.
I didn’t go abroad until I was well into my 20s, when a sister and I excitedly applied for our first passports and collected a handful of exotic currency, before setting off on a five-day coach tour around five European capitals.
How has your experience with travel changed as you’ve grown older?
During my early working life, most holidays involved flying somewhere guaranteed to be hot or snowy to share villas or chalets with groups of friends. As I became older, my changing tastes led me to venture further afield. Although perfectly able to tackle most destinations alone, I have also discovered the joy of the escorted tour, where someone else is responsible for getting me where I want to go.
I’ve met fellow travellers who take pride in bypassing ‘tourist sites’, even on a first visit. Not me. I simply don’t have that level of world-weary sophistication. I will queue to tour the Vatican; gawp at Faberge eggs behind the dusty glass of a Kremlin case; climb the CN Tower; sob at Ground Zero; half-drown myself under Niagara and crick my neck under any decorated ceiling that comes my way.
What’s the best bit about Titan?
The point at which I really decided that Titan would be my default long-haul escorted tour provider for the future came as I staggered off the overnight flight from LAX.
Still half asleep and dazed with jet lag, it was sheer joy to be taken in hand by a clip-board-wielding woman who beckoned over an angel in a blazer. He grabbed my bag, trotted me outside the terminal, tucked me in the back seat and took me all the way back to my home in what seemed to be the blink of an eye. I think he even offered a mid-journey coffee stop and the opportunity to do some food shopping on the way – but I only heard all this through a sleepy fog. I realised that this was the way of the future…and it now so often is!
Where’s your favourite place to visit?
My very favourite destination, since my very first visit, is the USA. This triggered a love affair that is still going strong. Although I do go elsewhere, my on-going aim is to tick off every State while I can.
From the moment I first arrived in the US, I felt as though I had come home. Particularly when travelling alone, I would rather be in the States than anywhere else. It is so easy to strike up a conversation when waiting in line or having a coffee, or simply looking around. They love that I live in Bath and I love pretty much everything about their country. I wander their supermarkets with the same sense of awe that surrounds my exploration of their museums, their casinos and their restaurants.
In an imaginary parallel existence, I own a Park Avenue apartment, a beachfront property in Santa Monica and a jewellery store in Sedona. I hang out with friends in Georgetown; go on crazy weekends to Las Vegas; stay in cabins on lakes and ranches near Dallas and understand baseball. I eat s’mores on Westhampton Beach and lobster in Maine, I dress up my dog at Halloween and eat string cheese and fluffy marshmallow from a jar…so yes, I do rather like the USA!
How have you found travelling with a tour guide?
I am well aware of how difficult it is to manage a group of disparate people with different requirements, attitudes and expectations. When one adds to the mix the unavoidable problems and delays that can beset even the best planned schedules, I have often marvelled at how tour guides manage to glide swan-like through difficult situations without murdering (or at least maiming) some of those in their care.
I would also like to comment on the local hop-on guides. More than one of these over the years has contributed massively to my understanding and appreciation of the location. I particularly recall the young man in New Orleans who had experienced Hurricane Katrina, and the one in New York who had been working on the morning of 9/11. They both brought their experiences vividly to life for us.
Do you prefer to keep to yourself or mingle with the rest of the group?
When I do travel alone, I make every effort to integrate with the group as quickly as possible (not least because I should like someone to notice if I have been left behind!). I do, however, also enjoy making my own arrangements on free days without needing to take anyone else’s wishes into account. I have made friends on trips, and still communicate with a few (albeit mainly by Christmas card).
Some friends want to see a fjord, so I’m off to Norway with them in a month or so – but then I am booked for my first trip to Australia (with Titan). And after that? Well, I have the fancy to see Mount Fiji through cherry blossom; to walk on the Great Wall of China; to sleep in an ice hotel; to see a flock of flamingos taking flight, to walk through those rose-red archways into Petra; to dance the tango in Argentina and visit a penguin rookery in Antarctica.
Or maybe (just maybe) I will sell my house, book onto a cruise ship, and spend my declining years propped up on a lounger, daily eating my body weight in exquisitely created deserts and waiting whilst they bring a never-ending parade of exciting locations to me. Yes, that could be a plan….
Thanks, Ruth. It’s been a pleasure.
Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.
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