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News > Lifestyle > John Kirkaldy takes a late onset gapyear

John Kirkaldy takes a late onset gapyear

John Kirkaldy (FH 61-65) proves it's never too late to plan a gap year; even in your seventies
16 Nov 2018
Written by John Kirkaldy
You are never too old to take a gap year! This is the verdict of John Kirkaldy (FH, 1961-65), who has just come back from a year's trip, going around the world.

His itinerary was: France, Spain, Mellila, Gibraltar, Egypt, Turkey, India (where he taught for three months on a scheme for poor women of low caste and class), Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Jamaica.

He was lucky to have generous hospitality along the way, including from OTs, Howard Davies in Australia and Tom Stephens in Canada. 'I did the world's worst gap year at 18 explained John, 'working in the City of London as an accountant. As a veteran of Bug Wheeler's duffers maths set, I was not well suited. I wanted a second chance.'

He worked for short periods of time on the Willing Workers on Organic Farm (WWOOF) project in France, Australia and the United States. 'It was a great way of being integrated into a local community. I learnt a lot about the organic movement and I never thought that I would sell cacti in an Australian market.'

The most frightening experience was doing a bungee jump from a very high bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Other highlights were: talking to visitors at Oscar Wilde's grave in Paris; visiting battle scenes in Spain, Vietnam and Cambodia; walking the sites of Galipolli and Troy; seeing the Pyramids and the Sphinx; playing dominoes in Jamaica (a national obsession); and eating Fish and Chips beneath the Union Jack in Gibraltar.

Sites visited included: the Niagara Falls, many vineyards and art galleries, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Casino at Monte Carlo. If you are thinking of extensive travel in old age, the advice is: Just Do It!

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