Around the world in 80 days

PUBLISHED: 11:50 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:40 12 May 2010

Eric and Audrey on board the Aurora

Eric and Audrey on board the Aurora

ERIC and Audrey Gurney pushed the boat out for their 50th wedding aniversary. The semi-retired farmers, who have been at Ashridge Farm at Ashwell for 42 years, have returned from a lavish cruise on the liner Aurora. While on board they indulged in 80 days

ERIC and Audrey Gurney pushed the boat out for their 50th wedding aniversary.

The semi-retired farmers, who have been at Ashridge Farm at Ashwell for 42 years, have returned from a lavish cruise on the liner Aurora.

While on board they indulged in 80 days of luxurious travel and explored some of the most fascinating cities in the world.

They also celebrated Audrey's 70th birthday while they were away.

The childhood sweethearts met when they were both 15.

Eric was born in Ashwell, and Audrey moved there as a four-year-old.

Their daughter Claire suggested Eric book the trip for the double celebration

Audrey said: "Unlike Eric, I'd never really wanted to go on a cruise, but we both agreed it would be the experience of a lifetime."

So the Gurneys set off, stopping at 21 countries and 28 ports, sampling life in St Lucia, Acapulco, Sydney, and Mumbai, to name but a few.

Eric said: "It did cost a lot of money, but was worth every penny, it was a holiday we will never forget.

"We always have great birthdays and anniversaries, spending them with the family.

"But this year tops the lot - we will never have another one like it."

Audrey said: "If you can afford it and have the opportunity to do so, then I would recommend it to anyone. The whole experience was a real eye opener."

As the weeks progressed, the couple became more adventurous, especially on arrival in Australia, where they trekked through the Brisbane rainforest, home to deadly spiders and venomous snakes.

"We went on a tour through the rainforest where they filmed I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Thankfully we didn't have to do a bush trial," said Audrey.

They did not come across any dangerous creatures, although Eric did overcome the daunting task of bravely managing to hold a baby crocodile, albeit one that had its mouth taped up.

Eric chose Auckland in New Zealand as his holiday highlight.

He said: "It was such an interesting place. I walked around and talked to so many different people.

"The place has such a diverse population, with so many nationalities interacting and working together."

Hong Kong was Audrey's firm favourite, a far cry from the peace and quiet of Ashwell village.

She said: "I'm not normally a city person, but this place was incredible. There was so much going on and it was really busy.

"Some of the views of the city and coast were fascinating and I would go back tomorrow if I had the chance."

The couple have savoured every moment of their trip, through photographs, brochures, and travel maps.

Audrey wrote a diary at the end of each day, a skill that was picked up from her days as a volunteer accompanying children on school trips.

She said: "Diaries have become second nature. I've always done a holiday diary, whether I've been in France, Spain, or on a school trip."

The diary recorded every step of their adventure. It even recorded Audrey's feelings the day they set off.

She said: "On the way down to Southampton I was extremely excited, but at the same time also very scared.

"We had never done anything like this before. We would be at sea for such a long time."

Eric said: "It's true what they say - it's such a small world.

"One night we got chatting with a couple, Ian and Mary Kersley, and Ian looked very familiar to me.

"It turned out that we were both based at the same air force barracks in Bassingbourn more than 50 years ago.

"There was another couple whose son worked for Royston police, and we even met people who had stayed at the caravan park in Ashwell.

"To go all that way and meet these people is astonishing."

After such a long time away, both Eric and Audrey became used to life on the open sea.

They travelled a total distance of 32,221 nautical miles.

"We didn't want to come back, it had been our home for 80 days," said Audrey.

But it was nice to come back to all the family again. They had organised a welcome home party."

Since returning, the couple are already planning their next cruise, with Audrey now a true enthusiast.

But for the time being, Eric insists that they are quite content with their usual caravan holiday in the summer.

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