Sometimes our destinations were unexpected. My parents, never planned their trips, so we often found ourselves at night in the tiny hotel of some lost mountain town. We all had our assigned chores once we hit the road. My mother was in charge of the map-reading and, because of her absent-mindedness, we usually ended up in the middle of nowhere. It didn't matter. We'd head for the nearest town, buy some food and have a picnic in the countryside.
Because of the nature of my work, I'm forever packing my bags en route to some place or other. 1 love to travel and think that this planet of ours is a fantastic place. So many countries, entirely different from each other and yet so similar. But this passion for travel is an old one, it dates back to my childhood. My parents were very keen to show us the world and somehow they always managed to turn it into an adventure for us.
When the holidays came along, we loaded up our little car (I still don't know how) and we headed off to some unknown place. One of our first destinations was Holland. There we stayed with my grandparents. We were all three fascinated by the magic of the windmills.
And that's how we spent our childhood, taking our little car and our suitcases all over Europe. And we're still doing the same thing today! My two sisters love to travel and they do so whenever they can. Sally works for an airline company in London, so she has access to cheap flights. Because of my work, I also have some advantages, so between us we try to give our parents a good time, now that they can take time off from their work. I try to do the same thing with my children. Both of them have come with me to filming sites the world over. And I think this is very good for them. They have the opportunity to get to know different places, different people and different languages. It will all be useful for them later on. I'm just passing on what I learnt from my parents.
Things were going really well for me professionally by now. I went to my classes daily. I had good grades and every now and then I took part in a play m some theatre.
Then, out of the blue, I started being bothered by my knees. I ' didn't dwell too much on this. Any ballerina, any sporty person who works with their body every day feels a certain type of pain. And we never attach much importance to it. It's part of the training. But that pain was too persistent...
My mother started getting worried and she took me to see a doctor. He studied me carefully. "You have a cartilage problem in both knees, We're going to try to cure you, but I don't promise anything," he said.
Those are the most frightening words for anyone who uses their body to breaking point. I really had a problem. I started going to the hospital for two hours every morning and I did more tests and then more. The rest of the day I went around with my knees bandaged. I could hardly walk. I didn't like the situation at all.
At first I thought it would be a matter of days, that I would be well soon. I just didn't want to miss the boat. A ballerina can get to do certain things with her body because of practice: And if you stop doing certain exercises, then you've had it. So as not to miss the boat, I slept with my legs in different positions. I know it's crazy, but I felt such a passion for ballet, that I wasn't willing to lose a minute of what I had achieved up to that point.
I carried on like this until one day the doctor said, "We can't fix your problem. We could operate but there's only a fifty per cent chance of success." Perhaps it would have been different today, but then I only had half the possibilities of being completely cured, and even then...
He didn't have to tell me anything else. I realised that my career as a dancer was over. And that day, that instant, was the worst one of my life. I felt empty. I had given my childhood and the best part of my youth to ballet and, at 17, with a good career ahead of me, it was all over. I didn't know anything else but dancing ... and this had been wrested cruelly from me. Life is sometimes terribly tough for a young woman with ambitions.
But life isn't really as hard as it may seen at a given moment. Every cloud has its silver lining, although we may not see it.