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15, London, One week

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 28 April 2014 | Views [278]

  For my 15th birthday, my family and I went to London for a week - and I know what you're thinking, what kind of posh nancy family goes to Europe for a kids birthday? (and not even a milestone birthday, mind you)

  Well, to put the record straight, no my family is not stupidly wealthy, no we didn't bust the bank just for a holiday, and we certainly didn't stow away on the plane just for the laughs. It came about because I have Cystic Fibrosis - a chronic illness the affects the lungs and digestion of thousands of children all over Australia, and the world. But before you jump to any conclusions (too late, right?) I'm actually quite healthy. Never been hospitalized since I was diagnosed when I was born, and I have better lung function than anybody else in my family, including my 6ft 2' dad. 

  So anyway, I was age 14 when my mum casually mentioned to me that the Make A Wish foundation were searching for children to have their wish granted - maybe it was a slow year for them? - and I near did a backflip when it dawned on me that this was mum's way of asking what I wanted to wish for; I was eligible, and under 18. International travel was my first choice - and London seemed like the best choice for me.

  After the whole process of the wish granting, there we were, July 2007, about to embark on a whirlwind week of sight seeing, stuffing our faces and mastering our fake British accents. My two elder sisters were also allowed to come, as they were both under 18 at the time of application - my eldest sister by 2 weeks, which was lucky.

  We arrived in London, and we were off. The first few days were jam packed with every a tourist could wish for: Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Kings Cross, Hyde Park, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace ... but the big day, my birthday, the Make A Wish people pulled out all the stops.

  They gave us a bright baby pink limo for the day (the same one used by the Spice Girls, apparently), where we rolled on over to Madame Tussauds for a few hours, taking the cliched yet necessary photos with all the great celebrities and world leaders - my personal favourite from the day was of Dad strangling then-PM, John Howard. A long lunch at a secluded restaurant, then another limo trip to the London Eye, where we took in the expansive and spectacular views of the city from above, loving every second of the half hour glorified ferris wheel. Back to the hotel, and after a desperately needed nap and cup of tea, it was off to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner ... if I could have thought of a cool and fun way to celebrate a birthday, then the Make A Wish foundation did it at least 30 times better.

  We had several more days in London after my birthday (including a spontaneous day trip to Paris), but it was just such a surreal blur of famous landmarks, dashing about with cameras and endless, truly endless cups of tea, that it flashed by all too quickly. And before I knew it, we were back in Australia, and on the road to my hometown of Griffith, in the Outback.

  Few people could say that they've had such a kick ass birthday, let alone for something as unimpressive as 15. But I know that no birthday will ever top that in my books - I'm eternally grateful to the Foundation, and urge everyone, should the opportunity arise, to travel the world and fulfill a dream, and let your inner 15 year old have the time of their life.

Tags: birthday, charity, dream, limo, london, make a wish, travel


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