I actually smelled her before I saw her.

I was on a flight from Nice to Gatwick, and was seated peacefully on my seat, when a late-boarding passenger burst into the place. I smelled the cheese. Rich, pungent French cheese.

I looked up and saw a glamorous older lady tugging her rather large carry-on luggage behind her. She stopped by me with a beaming smile.

“I am on the window seat,” she said, and began lifting her case up.

I jumped to my feet immediately to help her. That blooming bag was heavy!!! She refused to allow me to help her, “No, no, no,” she admonished me. “It’s too heavy for you!”

The flight attendant came over and helped us. Even he struggled.

“That bag is too big and too heavy, madam,” he said sternly but with a twinkle in his eye.

“I am so sorry,” she apologised.  “I have been traveling for a month.”

We talked for the duration of the 90 minute journey, because she was interesting to talk to. She was so full of life. She said she travelled all over the place to spend time with her children, so that she does not burden one child overly.  She had been in France for a month, now to Surrey UK, then Milan.

“Please don’t carry such a heavy bag next time,” I said with a groan.

“Oh, my checked-in luggage is 22kgs,” she grinned. “I smiled at the lady in the checked-in desk and she let me on with the extra kilos.  But you know what’s in my carry-on bag that’s so heavy? Gateaux fromage!”


“Non,” she shook her head. “It’s a special type of cake made of cheese. Let me cut you a slice.”

She’s had lots of adventures. She lost her money in Germany and as she left the restaurant in panic, the waitress came running with her purse: “This young girl chased me down the street and she still had a smile on her face – so don’t believe what you hear about Germans being dour.”

She lost her purse again in the US and some tourist said to her, “I have plenty of US dollars, here, take it.”

“Why do you think people are so nice to me?” she asked with a beaming smile.

“It’s your face,” I told her without hesitation.  Yes, definitely the face. She was smiling happily at me, eyes sparkling, face shining.

She looked surprise. “That’s what they all say! Each time someone does something nice for me, I asked them the same question, and everyone said the same thing!”

It is indeed her face.  Her energy. Yes, she has that good positive energy that makes you happy just talking to her. And most of all, there is only anticipation and excitement in her. No fear. I have met so many younger people who are beset with fear, even if it is just traveling to a neighbouring country – simply because it means stepping out of the comfort zone.

“The most important thing is keep moving,” she told me earnestly. “When you stop, you stop. There’s so much of the world to see. You know what I mean? And SMILE!”

Yes, I will tell my mother that.


I asked her permission to take this photo and tell the world about her advice. This amazing lady is 85.

Travel safe, Vivienne, and may God go with you ❤