Impressions of Time

“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.

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Jacobite Middle Earth

“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.”

-Steve Bivans

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.

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On to the Wilds of the Highlands

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”

My Fellow Countrymen

“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

 

 

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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.

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Crazy Eights and Scottish Independence

“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

Kristen by the Locks
Discovering Inverness with only the best of travel partners.

    This is a much-belated account of one of the odder experiences Kristen and I had while gallivanting all over the UK and Ireland.

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From hence to Inverness

“But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine

On all deservers. – From hence to Inverness

And bind us further to you.

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1.4.47-49)

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The Scottish Highlands – Wild, Untamed, Extraordinary

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.

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Rest is not Idleness

“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

  Aviary Photo_130799895008737308This 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.

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To See or not to See

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he comes to see.”

– G.K. Chesterton

Aviary Photo_130775152328001027There 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.

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In the Hour before Sunset

 “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

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Actually taken years ago in Oxford, England. But it demonstrates Ackroyd’s point well, does it not?

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.

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A Wilderness of Towering Stone

“The immensity of Durham Cathedral engulfs the wanderer within a great wilderness of towering stone.”

Peter Ackroyd, Foundation

Imposing PresenceWhen travelling with a loved one, there’s a certain sense of excitement at the chance to share a beloved haunt. This is how I felt about bringing Kristen to Durham Cathedral. 

I can still remember the overwhelming sense of awe I felt the first time I visited this beautiful building. I was just me and my Dad, my friend choosing to stay at the hotel for a nap. Spending time alone with my Dad was a treat, one exciting enough to make me want to talk non-stop, but my usual unending stream of senseless conversation was suddenly halted when we turned the corner and I was faced with the soaring stone towers of the cathedral. 

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Dad had suggested the visit in the first place: to earn some peace and quiet for a few moments.

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