The American travel writer William Least Heat-Moon said
When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then.
I can identify. On the road, you are what you are, in your thoughts, feelings, in your person. You are in the present moment. You are the present moment.
When I travel, I’m totally in that moment; I’m busy meeting new people and having new adventures, my senses are being stimulated with fresh sights and smells and sounds, and there isn’t time to miss anything or anyone.
Often, yes. Busy-busy keeps the brain distracted.
But every new experience and person encountered along one’s travels is sub-consciously referenced to your old life – the past – and I regularly make links between travel people, events and moments to the people, events and moments in my lesser travelled life:
Such-and-such would love this!
I remember when I did something similar with Ms. X or
That’s exactly the same way that who’s it does it!
You get the picture.
And so now, after nearly two years away from the UK, every now and then I have reflective moments, moments where beautiful past memories come floating to the foreground and I feel that little twinge in my chest that tells me maybe, maybe you do miss a few things after all.
So what is it I miss about England? Some things include:
- Cosy country pubs and open mic nights with my friends sitting around a blazing fire and listening to a mix of musicians including the multi-instrumental-acoustic-folk-mash-up of the quirky creative talents of Woodford Green.
- Devon cream teas. Hot tea and fluffy, warm scones. Clotted cream, then jam, of course. Why would you do it differently? (Cornish cream teas, I agree, differ, but let’s save that for another discussion).
- Wild weather weekends. Getting rugged up and braving the elements, marching along a blown-out beach or hiking cliff tops as the rain comes in, followed by gathering around a roaring fire and hugging a hot mug of tea. Too many days like this, no thanks, but occasionally, absolutely.
- Van trips with friends in Devon and Cornwall. Surfboards, beanies, sleeping bags, one-pot dinners, makeshift fires, guitars and bongos and all the other clichés. Because it works. Absolutely.
- Snow. Crisp, early morning snow undisturbed, save for a few cat paw punctures and some light bird footprints. And whilst we’re on about snow, you just can’t beat a white Christmas with the family. Warm Christmases on the other side of the world just feel strange to me.
- Spring. The marked change in seasons is something I treasure about the UK, but spring is my absolute favourite time of the year with its signs of new life, lambs bouncing about in freshly green fields and daffodils setting the land alight with a blaze of yellow.
- Cooking for and with friends. So many good, hearty times. Love, love, love. And family cook-ups too, with parents and sister and grandparents and godmothers and aunties and uncles and cousins and houses of chaos and chat. Ah, just writing this makes me want to pack my bags and book a ticket, homeward bound.
- Christmas catch-ups with my Masters crew. Short and sweet, this is usually a day in December in the North East of England where we eat well, stretch our legs for a crisp, winter walk and chat the last year before disappearing off to different parts of the globe once again.
- Summer BBQs and camping by the beach. Waking up to an early morning knock on the van door, jumping into a wetsuit and greeting the day with a daybreak sunshine surf. Lazy time spent between van and beach and water, barbeque and beers in the evenings. Friends and children and smiles; surrounded by fun and good, good people.
- Multi-culturalism. Whilst there’s often talk about population problems in the UK, I love the fact that you can have access to a multitude of cultural events, foods, and so forth in any of the major cities. I’ve not witnessed this level of diversity and acceptance of differences anywhere else on my travels.
And what am I glad to be away from? I definitely don’t miss months of blustery wind and rain, the low morale brought on by the recession and our damaged economy, the threat of redundancy that hangs over everyone, the bleak job prospects for my previous students, the bureaucracy and bulls**t of what could otherwise be the beautiful profession of teaching.
What do you miss when you’re on the road?