Time To Travel
Jess: I’ll level with you, I’m missing having a holiday booked in the diary, a circled date with anticipation growing. I’m not desperate to travel right this minute, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than here in the British summer time. We’ve got used to enjoying a bit of a ‘staycation’ but I long for somewhere exotic - that family adventure we’d been dreaming about for years, undermined by the lockdown. Holidays are an opportunity for exotic adventure for us, for getting pushed out of your comfort zone and getting some perspective. And boy have we had some good ones, both in the UK and abroad. We had an awesome walk on Exmoor earlier this week and I felt seriously lucky! We could have travelled to New Zealand and had just as spectacular a view. But the loss of feeling like I’m a citizen of the world and the globe is no longer my oyster, somehow feels restrictive. I’m not sure it’s entirely right that we should have got into the habit, but having had no limits to our territory for adventure, isn’t it unsurprising that we might all be feeling a bit caged. Why is travel a meaningful activity for you? Given the trials we’re facing worldwide this is fairly far down the list of priorities or necessities. Nevertheless, I feel a bit trapped - don’t you?
Bethia: OK - let’s go anyway. A trip for a trip - you start.
J: I’m going to take you to Corsica, hold on tight….
It was our honeymoon, not the most (traditionally) romantic of trips I have to admit, but an adventure fitting for us, a journey to start a lifetime together. From the moment we stepped out of the door, the Eurostar beckoning, this was proper travel. No flights, our overland trek had begun. Our rucksacks meticulously packed, hand in hand our adventure had started - remember those pre-child days? Over the channel and traversing France, the next stage was the ferry. Beautiful Mediterreanean seas, inky blue and warm, glistening in the sunlight. A magical start! Our plan was to conquer the GR-20, a two week mountain trek.
B: Two weeks trekking - that’s intense. Did your toenails fall off - now that WOULD be romantic.
J: I can see I’ve transported you to the nitty gritty reality!
High up in the peaks we camped, following the red and white markers to the next refuge, the seemingly impossible made possible. We were a team, invincible, ‘mind over matter’ was our motto, and we seriously adventured and achieved. Such solace as soul mates and partners looking over from high mountain tops to the sea on both sides. We hiked, we climbed, we travelled, we were free and in love!
B: I don’t think you mean ‘WERE’!?
J: Hahaha! We still ARE, it just looks a little different.
A tiny tent, punctured rollmat, no matter, these were memories in the making. Eleven years later and I can still remember the feeling of the warm sunshine and the gentle breeze, the elation of making it at record speed, the giggles we had, the wildlife we saw. This was real travel! For a few days of luxury at the tail end of our trip, we spoiled ourselves to diving in that magical inky-blue sea, delving into a world unknown. The peace, the silence, the excitement, it’s still there in our heads, ready to revisit whenever we choose.
B: It sounds incredible. I am transported!
J: Oh it was, a journey of a lifetime, that I can revisit as many times as I fancy. Hurray for memories! I know you have LOADS of adventures in your head too Beth. Come on, let’s hear it! Where are you going to take us?
B: So the July box this month has an illustration by one of my oldest and greatest friends. We lived in the States together for a year and during that time we did a two week train journey all the way up the east coast and across to the west coast and all the way along the southern border states.The US is such a diverse country - I totally recommend seeing it all in one go. It’s fascinating how many different landscapes and environments there are all in one country. We bought a ticket that let us go anywhere - we had two weeks - get on and get off where you like. We slept on the floor under the seats and travelled at night and then got off wherever we were at breakfast time the next morning.
J: I loved those carefree days, being excited about roughing it. You’ve made me hungry for the next adventure!
B: One of the things I love about travel is when my preconceived ideas about a people or a place get blown out of the water. Lots of places fit their reputation - Chicago was windy, New York was exciting. We went to Los Angeles and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Instead of being a place full of film stars and success stories, it felt like everyone I met was a waiting-to-become. The bus driver was “waiting to make it big”, the guy who sold us a smoothie was “waiting to make it big”. It was a city full of people with dreams - I wonder how many of them did ‘make it big’.
J: I bet as a geography teacher, you had some pretty amazing field trips too?
B: Oh yes - Iceland was one of the best. I LOVED how uninhabited it was. Living on such a populated island as we do, it was really interesting to go somewhere so wild. Ironically though my strongest memory was in Reykjavik. We went to the city hall (I think it was). Inside they had set up large boards and there were post-it notes and pens available. Each board had a theme like ‘work and pensions’, ‘transport’ or ‘education’ and people were invited to come in and add their thoughts and ideas. It was mind blowing - society being given a voice on the detail of how things were being run. In a country where the population is small (360,000), you can actually ask people what they think and feel about how things are run.They even provided coffee!
J: I went to Iceland on a (biology) field trip too, but it was more like stinky Minkes and whaling ships, volcanic rocks in the air and bubbling thermal pools - utterly out of this world! Didn’t you go up Kili for the second time with a group of kids? What a hero!
B: Yes, a group of teenage girls no less. On the way back down we were walking longer than we planned and it got dark. It was worrying to be walking through pitch black forest but the girls were looking to me to gauge the situation so I had to stay lighthearted and confident. We walked through a nest of biting ants and we were all hopping around in the dark screaming and yelling. It took ages to calm everyone down and persuade them that they weren’t being eaten alive by deadly African wildlife.
J: Wow! Aren’t we lucky to be able to travel to all these places, both physically and in our minds. I’ve been taken to several different countries and all before breakfast.
B: Back to earth with a bump. That was a great way to spend a Friday morning. Thanks for that! Hopefully the July GROWbox will give kids a chance to do the same - travel is an awesome privilege.
July's GROWbox will be focussing on world food, places around the world and nature that we need on every continent - Order now!