The school holidays are upon us once again. The mind automatically turns to travel (even though one is not going far this year!). Everyone is talking about where they are going, how they will get there and what they will see when they arrive.
We know so much about so many places these days. Often, before we arrive at our destination, we have made restaurant bookings, booked outings, even taken virtual tours of our hotels or the sights around the area. There are, of course, many places where you might not know quite how it will be upon arrival, even in these highly internet connected days - the Antarctic, the desert, the jungle, certain bars (!). However, for most people, they do at least have some idea what they can expect once they have booked a holiday. And you tend to want to talk to your travel company if your travels do not live up to these expectations!
Which leads to one to wonder what it must have been like to take months to get somewhere whilst all that time not knowing what you are in for. One of my ancestors joined the army in around 1804, when Napoleon was emperor of France, George III (the one who lost the plot somewhat) was on the British throne and the general population really had no concept of foreign travel.
Joseph was a "staymaker" from London (ie he made corsets!). On the enlistment roll, no reason for joining up is given but he joined the 30th Regiment of Foot, the Cambridgeshires - as mentioned on a previous post. By April 1806 he was on his way to serve in India.
It would have taken four to six months to get there at least - actually the battalion stopped to help with the taking of the Cape of Good Hope on the way! The conditions on the ship must have been awful. And then there was the worry of what awaited him and for how long.
The picture above shows Cannanore (also called Kannur) in South Western in India - in Kerala, actually. The regiment had landed in Eastern India and had lived and worked on that side of India since arrival. However, in autumn 1811, they were ordered to march (!) to the strategically important Cannanore.
It was in Cannanore that Joseph's eldest two year old son, who had apparently accompanied the regiment, died and his second son was born. Joseph himself died in Hydrabad (back on the east coast again) in 1822, having worked his way up to Sergeant and had four Anglo-Indian children along the way.
Imagine taking months to get somewhere that you have not even seen in a picture. Imagine finally making a life there and then being ordered to walk hundreds of miles to start all over again. Actually, it is hardly possible to imagine, for most of us.
The idea of international travel is taken for granted these days. You only have to look at the list of the poor passengers on the Malaysian airliner that was apparently shot down this week. They were (mostly) not on the way to start completely new lives in unknown lands. They were holiday makers, people travelling for work, people visiting family or friends. Short, planned trips that would have been laughably impossible in 1811.
We are very lucky to have such opportunities as those people thought they were taking - to travel, experience new places whilst being able to return to easily to our roots if we so wish. It is unbelievably sad for those families who have lost their loved ones this week that what should have been easy and routine travel has ended in tragedy.