I announced yesterday that I had posted four more blogs on my recent travels. Together with the previous posts, it meant that I had posted altogether nine blogs on this the first trip we had taken after a break of more than three years. I have never meant these blogs to be travelogues, and as such I doubt whether those blogs would attract too many followings; and I was right.
But I have never intended to attract a following since I started writing nearly a quarter of a century ago. Since back, friends have asked whether I had enjoyed the trip. I would always reply by reflex, “Of course I did,” when what I really meant was that it was the wrong question. Do people only enjoy themselves when they are traveling? Or should we seek to practice mindfulness and learn to live in the present moment?
Su had told me in the face shortly after we were married that I was not a good or pleasant travel companion. I had never disagreed. The theme came up after she had read the first blog on Loire Valley, which she read as suggesting that I had not enjoyed the trip or treasured the experience. I had never thought about the situation in that light; and I was grateful that I had accomplished the mission, which brings me to the famous poem Little Gidding from Four Quartets by T S Eliot (1888 – 1965), to which I think I had referred in my previous blogs or in my memoir –
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Little Gidding actually begins with, “What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from…”
That sort of sums up my thoughts on traveling or going places generally. Yes, while one should not stop exploring, or always remain in the same place, one must be ready to arrive where one started and know the place for the first time.
I wonder whether people would enjoy travelling alone. I had done it more than a couple of times before, particularly in my younger days, and I had sort of treasured the experience. But as I get more elderly and hence potentially more accident prone, I would not like to travel by myself, lest no one knew where I ended up. Which is why I enjoy travelling with Su who would do a lot of research before each trip, work out alternatives, in particular exit plans, and plan all the logistics. I am not a planner as such; and I enjoy having others work out plans which I would follow, according to the ground rules.
Back to Loire Valley, I began by referring to my first visit 18 years ago. In the last trip, I certainly had arrived at spots and places I came across 18 years ago and found that I was getting to know them for the first time.
Su had asked Photomax to produce an album of selected photos we had taken – mainly by her though – which she had shown to friends. They all enjoyed leafing through the pages and were typically overcome with awe, envy or admiration at what they saw. That couldn’t be bad, I thought.
But no two persons would react the same in any given situation to what they see or experience together, with the same intensity of emotion or magnitude of mental formation. Indeed, two persons arriving at the same site with cameras to take pictures would probably end up with two different scenes and photos. I have said that my blogs are not travelogues. They are more like travel diaries or journals which dwell more on first person reactions and response to situations, instead of focusing on the more glamorous aspects of the sites with a view to attracting readers to repeat the experiences.
In the last trip, Su had booked us accommodations all of which I had no problem with, except that I would have liked to stay longer in some of them. My ideal holiday is one in which I would arrive at a site with no agenda on what to do next, so that I could bask myself under the sun with a glass in hand, seeping champagne, whisky or even coffee, until the sun comes down or until I fall asleep. I would eat when I feel like it and as much as what I like, and so on, which is not exactly a tall order.
Su asked me whether I would do it again, but I didn’t think she expected a reply. Well, since we were together more than 14 years ago, I have been following her wherever she went; and I rest my case.
I hope to talk to you again on another topic, soon.