Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.”
Way back in September of 2021, I wrapped up my recollections of visiting the Beaches of Normandy with an emotional post, stating that I would be giving myself some time away from these harder travel stories for a little while. I have a ritual about writing these types of posts which often means sitting with those dredged up feelings of overwhelming sadness at the incomprehensible loss of life all those years ago. After spending so much time back at the beaches, remembering all the mental anguish I had experienced walking freely and unhindered where so many fell, I needed to focus on the lighter sides of life for a while. Little did I know this would translate into almost an entire year off from blogging.
Well, it’s now been 16 months now since my Beaches blog went live so…I’d say it’s OK to finally return to that unfinished travelogue. That said, I will be easing into it with a little human interest story to start things off.
“But Three Pines itself was a village forgotten. Time eddied and swirled around and sometimes bumped into it, but never strayed long and never left much of an impression.” – Louise Penny, The Cruellest Month
One of the most incredible things about travelling, in my humble opinion, is arriving in a place that seems completed unhurried and unconcerned b the passage of time. You do not even have to go far to discover such a place – even in a country like Canada where 1000 year old ruins may not exist around every corner. Simply walk into the center of your nearest forest, or down to the banks of a local river outside the city center and take a careful look around.
Chances are that while much has changed in the intervening centuries between when Europeans first inserted themselves on this already lived-in landscape, you are looking up at the same, or at the very least a similar, sight as the First Nations people once did before their world was turned upside-down. Many lives have come and gone but the land was here before and will be here long after mankind meets its fate, whenever that may be.
“I picked up The Hobbit. And I began to read. I was swept off to a green, green Shire in a far, far land, and my soul has never returned. I suppose it never will.”
As with everywhere else Kristen and I visited, I could write so much more on the adventures we encountered in Inverness. Considering how long it’s already taken me to tell this story, however, I think it’s best to move on.
My final parting thought about Inverness would be my remaining confusion surrounding the fact that we didn’t visit the fields of Cullodan while there – tantalizingly close as they were. Instead we took a bus out to a small village of no repute and traipsed up to some anonymous farmer’s field for a picnic and reading session in the grass.
I’ve spent a surprising amount of time in the intervening almost two years thinking about why I didn’t insist on a visit. Finally, two Outlander books later, I think I know why. It’s going to sound strange, maybe even ludicrous to some, but here goes. Continue reading “Jacobite Middle Earth”→
“Moments like this act as magical interludes, placing our hearts at the edge of our souls: fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time.” – Muriel Barbery
I’m going to use this post to weigh in on a subject that anyone who travels a decent amount seems to have a very strong opinion on: Whether running in to fellow-countrymen while abroad is good or bad.
First of all, I would like to question why this is even a debate. Unless you are from the tiniest village on the tiniest island in the middle of the Pacific from which no one ever leaves – you will probably run into at least one person from your home country at some point in your travels.
If your reaction to this inevitable encounter is to scream and run in the opposite direction, well…that’s a bit dramatic.
“How maps may look stationary, but boundaries shift, worlds open up, other worlds and civilizations pass away. And none of us is stuck or alone, because coursing through us is everything that brought us to where we are.”
-Elizabeth Hay, Alone in the Classroom
This is a much-belated account of one of the odder experiences Kristen and I had while gallivanting all over the UK and Ireland.
Summer hiatuses from routine are almost mandatory for Canadians. When half the year is filled with bitterly-cold winter and all you feel like doing is curling up with a mug of tea and writing the long, dark night away…the late summer nights heavy with Ottawa’s saturated humidity are meant to be spent out-of-doors, soaking as much of the heat in as possible – however suffocating it can sometimes seem.
Now that September has suddenly begun, and in anticipation of a late-October early-November trip to France which I will undoubtedly wish to write about, I’m going to try and finish chronicling the tales of the Great Gurski UK and Ireland Trip of 2014 as soon as possible.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
– John Lubbock
This is probably the best type of post to write after a month’s hiatus from the world of writing.
For those of you who have done any sort of backpacking, be it of the hardcore hippie persuasion or slightly more bourgeois itinerary-laden type, you know that at a certain point you may possibly hit a glass ceiling of sorts comprised of too-many-new-things-in-too-short-a-time.
It’s almost as if your mind can only process so much wonder at once. If I could offer any advice in hindsight…It would be to build in a little R&R where no learning is required, only contemplation of all the new information jostling for importance in your overstimulated brain.
We found this, rather unintentionally, in the Silver City with the Golden Sands, or Aberdeen if you prefer.
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he comes to see.”
– G.K. Chesterton
There are many different ways to travel, an understatement I know. The options may, in fact, be infinite.
Some people prefer to have a strict itinerary with all the Top 10 lists included. Others prefer the complete opposite, choosing instead to wake up in a strange city and wander out the front door of their temporary abode, completely unaware of what or who awaits them.
What about my own travel style? Well, since you asked, I prefer something in the middle. I usually have my must-see sights and sites (always open to discussion) but I prefer not to plan too much. After all, one has no idea what the world has in store at home let alone somewhere comparatively unfamiliar.
“In the hour before sunset, when the rays of the sun lie across the English fields, the old patterns of the earth rise up and the land seems to return to its origins.”
Peter Ackroyd, Foundation
Travelling is always exciting. Whether you’re going a town over or halfway across the world; for a weekend or a month; for work or for play…there’s nothing quite like it. A chance to leave your day-to-day existence and see what else is out there. Spoiler Alert: What’s out there is usually even more incredible than you think it’s going to be, if you know where to look.