I had to write an official letter today to explain myself. My strange behaviour that needed to be justified? Not having a current passport. I had other documents - driving licence and so forth - that served the purpose of identifying me, but apparently being a grown adult and not having a valid passport is enough in itself to arouse the curiosity and suspicions of the powers that be.
This got me to thinking if it really is so strange to be lacking in this area. I have had passports before - the temporary ones you used to be able to get for short, cheap, trips with student friends, and a proper one that proudly bore my new married name. I've never been a huge traveller, but I've made a few trips, seen a few sights. But this of course was all B.C - before children.
Since becoming a family, the idea of foreign travel started to lose its appeal. I know lots of people manage perfectly well to explore the world with small people in tow. But whenever we sat down to plan it we could only think about all the disadvantages: the possibility of being stuck for hours on end in an airport lounge with two hungry, shouting, rowdy boys; the endless sun-creaming of fair, eczematous skin; trying to persuade them to eat the beautiful local food when all they wanted was a jacket potato and baked beans.
Why, we thought, would we want to do that when we can pile everything (and I mean everything) into the car and head off to the beautiful places that good old Blighty has to offer?
We're fortunate in that we already live in an attractive part of the country - the capital of city-breaks and a surrounding area that draws those hoping to find the magic of Heartbeat/Herriot/some-other-heart-warmingly-northern-tv-show country. So even a camping trip not far from home can offer outstanding views. But so many corners of the country have offered us wonderful experiences.
We've climbed misty hills in Wales; body boarded in Cornwall; hand-fed deer in Devon; tracked dinosaurs and spotted seals in Norfolk; sunbathed and skimmed stones in Sussex; big-wheeled over London; visited zoos and played crazy golf pretty much everywhere. And yes, sometimes its rained. Often, to be fair. But the boys don't care, and neither do we if we have a warm Aga and a glass of wine to go back to.
We have a map of the UK pinned up at home that shows all the places we've been and what we've seen. And when I look at it I don't think how small it is, but how big, and how much of it we've still got to see.
But now I have started thinking about the world outside these shores. I've started to remember the joy of sitting in a small taverna in a quiet Greek harbour eating feta and olives; the experience of standing in the ruins of Ephasus and imagining all those who had stood there before; the eternal magic of wandering hand in hand through Paris with someone you love. I can almost taste the food and feel the sun on my back.
And there's so much more I'd love to see - Italian cities, Norwegian ffjords, ancient ruins. I'd like to drive huskies and see the Northern Lights; to ride the train from one side of America to the other; to sit on an endless white beach and look out at an aquamarine sea.
So maybe, just maybe, I'll be finding out about renewing my passport. But I think a part of me will still always be happiest eating fish and chips on the end of the pier.