As some of you know, I travel independently. And I don't just mean organising my own flights and hotels, I mean I travel on my own. Without going into detail, it just worked out that way. Now I've got the hang of it, I love it.
But it does raise issues with travelling men. Now, I'm no spring chicken. I've got a bus pass, if you must know. Wrinkles to prove the years of experience. (Botox? Why would it want to do that? I'm getting on a bit. Get over it!)
In most western cultures I enjoy the invisibility of older women. Where youth and wealth are valued we are also-rans. We slink into the shadows, from where we can see and hear much more than you can possibly imagine. There are, I have discovered, advantages to being invisible.
In many Far Eastern cultures older people are revered. Once people get over the fact that many of my contemporaries are already dead, I am treated with great respect. There is always someone to help with the rucksack, or steer me in the right direction if I'm lost. Plus countless young people wanting to practise their English, so I am never without company if it want it. Occasionally a young man will show 'interest' but he knows I have a British passport and he lives in poverty. I try to be kind.
And then there is Ireland. I love Ireland. I love the lakes and mountains, the music and the Guinness. But there I was, tapping my feet and sipping the black stuff, when up came a beery bloke about 10 years younger than me and asked if I was dating!! The first time it happened I just laughed, as you would. Every night, someone sidled up to me, would l like another drink - I often had another half, as the music was wonderful and I needed little encouragement to stay. But what was going on? Just the craic? A bit of fun? That's how I looked at it, though I haven't been hit on like that since I was 16. I confess to being a bit clumsy in the being-chatted-up department.
(I can only assume that many Irish women are chained to their sinks, have taken their intelligence and humour to work in the cities, or have more sense than to go near any of these beery blokes. But I'm guessing - if anyone knows where Irish women are hiding, do let me know.)
The daughters might be pleased to know I haven't come back with a toy boy.