This is the third working day since our trip to Paris. Memories dim all too easily, no matter how intense the experience at the time. I have posted my account of our trip (see the page Paris 2007) and I will read it myself from time to time in the hope of keeping the memories alive.
In the meantime, we have other trips planned for later in the year, though they haven’t been finalized as yet and so I will not give the game away yet.
So far our field of action has been Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and France but we are hoping to venture further at some future point. On the list are Greece and Italy and Tigger, who went to Berlin years ago, would like to make a return visit to that city.
When you live in a country – Britain, say – you tend to take it for granted and to think that it cannot hold any more surprises. Yet the truth is that our little island is far more varied that one might think. Look below the surface and all kinds of differences spring up to meet you. In Cornwall, for example, though people look the same as in London and the shops sell the same goods, the rhythm of life is different. It is easy to talk about “Cornishness” but it would probably take a lifetime working out exactly what it is.
People go on holiday for many reasons. For some it is enough to find sunshine, a nice sandy beach and a fish and chip shop within easy reach. Others are not happy until they have “done” the place thoroughly, checking the Rough Guide to make sure they have seen everything. Still others strike off over hill and dale with a rucksack on their backs and stout boots on their feet. Tigger and I are townees. We enjoy the countryside in moderate doses but we are happiest wandering around the streets and alleys, the shops and markets and the docks and museums of some old town with a bit of history behind it and a comfy lived-in feeling. If we do explore the landscape, it’s probably aboard some country bus that links two towns but diverts through all the small villages on the way. But that’s us: perhaps your needs are different.
It is said that travel broadens the mind. The sons of the rich used to go on “The Grand Tour”, though one suspects that was less for the educational benefits than for the sowing of wild oats discreetly abroad to avoid embarrassments at home. These days we have unprecedented opportunities to travel, though ironically, political upheavals are making more and more countries risky to visit.
One of the benefits of travel for me is that it helps me appreciate my own country. I don’t mean that in any chauvinistic sense. I don’t believe that our culture, language and politics are better than any one else’s. Spending time abroad – even a relatively short time – gives you a new perspective in looking at your own nation. There are probably a lot of countries I could live happily in but there is always a certain pleasure in returning home and seeing the familiar sights and hearing the familiar sounds, in knowing where everything is, how things work, but also in seeing it – briefly perhaps – as a foreign country and thus realizing its differences and similarities to other countries.