Well it’s over. After 92 days and just over 7,000 miles, we’re heading home.
It’s a multi phased journey. Swapping hire cars, dropping off the motorhome for storage. And a long, long drive to Heathrow that takes most of the day. It’s the only drawback using Cornwall as a base. For all its beauty and green charm, it’s a long, long way away.
We’re lucky this time that there are no time pressures, the freeways are clear. Last year was nail biting to the finish with one delay after the other.
Cornwall’s beautiful hedgerows and patchwork fields give way to the concrete of the freeways. Cows and black faced sheep pass by on speed dial then disappear. It seems impossible that we will be halfway around the world in just over 24 hours.
This was our fourth journey in the motorhome. Over the past four years we’ve spent a whole year traveling. I feel extraordinarily lucky to have had the opportunity to do that. It’s given me the fiercest of travel bug bites, one that won’t be easily quenched.
This trip introduced us to the stunning countries of Scandinavia, their breathtaking wild landscapes, ancient histories and modern, endlessly cool cultures. Yet more countries to add to the places we love.
I’ve kept a diary from the start of these long journeys. This is the first year I’ve kept a blog. It’s been an interesting experience. I used to email the diary to a handful of friends every few weeks, meanwhile, the blog is posted (almost) daily on line via WordPress in Facebook, Twitter and Google. From the diary having a handful of readers, the blog has had almost 1,700 views from over 30 countries.
This trip, I also became a Google Local Guide, posting photos and reviews. If you ever wanted proof that we live in a visual age, this is it: as a Google Guide, I’ve posted 395 photos. They’ve had over 42,900 views in the last 90 days. And that kind of blows my mind.
With the help of a friend, I’m recreating the prior diary entries to blog entries. They’re written in the same manner but I have to match and insert photos: I used to post these separately, to Facebook. It’ll take time – I have over 30,000 photos to chose from in my back catalogue from these journeys. Having come to photography late, I’ve taken to it with a surprising appetite.
I’ve had some wonderful feedback on my blog, which I’ve been quite humbled by. I gives me a deep pleasure to think that my words have the power to move people. They allow me to share but a glimpse of what I see. I can only hope that the people who enjoyed the blog this year might continue with our prior travels as they’re posted. Or that it might inspire them to travel if they haven’t already. Even better.
And as always at the end of these trips, I’m left to ponder as to what I’ve learned. You know, this year, it’s a lot.
I’ve learned that the blond wood Scandinavia is famous for might well be more about the materials to hand less than the hipster cool it’s known for. I’ll never be able to see a silver birch or a pine again without thinking of Norway. I learned that Viking fierceness can still be seen in the cheekbones of today. I’ve learned, to my extraordinary surprise, that I like a rather bewildering array of fish…as long as it doesn’t taste like fish.
It was never going to be a surprise, but I’ve learned that watching reindeer trot across the road or finding a squirrel will always be utterly exciting, and make me squeal like a three year old.I’ve learned that there is scenery in this world so spectacularly beautifully, on such a grand scale, that it leaves you breathless, robbed of words and longing for a better way to capture it.
I’ve learned that for all my love of the restaurant and cafe culture, a fast pace, little black dresses and high heels, there are times where I wonder why we have cities and why it is that I don’t live on a farm, complete with gingham apron and home grown fruit on hand. Perhaps with some bunnies, squirrels and deer in my yard. It seems familiar somehow….
But most of all, in this year of loss and reflection, I’ve been reminded that we only get one ride on this thing called life. I plan on grabbing it with both hands and holding on tight.