It’s been a year and a half since the last time that I came back to Europe and with Christmas round the corner, I decided it was time to give my mum one of the best and worst presents that I could – me. The problem of course was going to be arranging everything without my mum finding out. Now, although I live half way around the world, keeping a secret is never an easy thing.


Who to Tell

I quickly decided that the best and only way I was going to keep my trip back to Europe secret was not to tell anyone. The problem was of course was that the closer I got to the departure date, the more I wanted to talk about my plans. So instead of talking to my friends at home about coming back to Europe, I did the only logical alternative.

A Web of Deception

The best lies are the ones that closely mirror the truth. So to keep my departure plans a secret I decided to tell a few white lies to my mum. Given my terrible memory, I decided to keep the lies simple. In my emails and phone conversations I started talking about my plans to go abseiling over a waterfall in Bali in January. I also talked a lot about my recent gold medal winning rowing career, which lasted for just five days.

keeping secrets

Cover Your Tracks

I knew that the only way that I was going to get caught out by my mum was my electronic paper trail. Buying a plane ticket just before Christmas is always going to raise an eyebrow, especially if it’s closely followed by the purchase of a bus ticket from London to my home. So, ignoring my first rule of keeping a secret, I decided to tell just one friend I was coming home. Though by the time I had got back to the UK, a trail of food purchases and bank withdrawals going from Jakarta, through Dubai to Heathrow would have led to even the stupidest detective figuring out my plans.

Prepare Your Arrival

One of the hardest things about wanting to surprise someone without telling anyone your plans is making sure that the person is where you need them to be. Images went through my mind of arriving back at my house in the cold and through the rain only to find there was nobody at home, or even worse, my mum fainting or having a heart attack. Luckily none of these things happened. Though one of her first reactions was to assume something dreadful had happened in my life… So much for the happy Christmas surprise 😉