To the Moon and Back, James McKeown

James was born in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim, and had a spirit for adventure. Enlisting in the British Air Force provided him with an income and the chance to explore more of the world.

On a pit stop in Italy, as the plane refuelled, James wanted to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but his mates decided they would go to the pub instead. So, years later, it was with Berta, his Argentinian wife, that he finally got to see it!

James and his wife Berta had a shared love of travel. James said, “The best thing we ever had in life was travelling”.  

James met Berta, the love of his life, during his time working at Caltex in Botany. “We met in a club and I started talking to her. I ran out of money, so we made a date to meet again,” James remembers sweetly.

“Caltex was the best job I ever had - good money and conditions. I was there for 23 years and just missed out on the special 25 year long service dinner,” said James, a little regrettably.

James and Berta’s travels spanned continents, from South America, to the West Coast of America, and the Middle East. But it was Asia’s allure that captivated them most, particularly China, visiting many times, they savoured local delicacies and scaled the Great Wall.

Regrets lingered for roads not taken - Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark - each a missed opportunity to explore. Reflecting on his journey, James offered sage advice to his younger self: “Keep travelling.”

James said,“My father once told me I’ll end up on the moon,” and I’m sure, if he could, he would.

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