Thursday, 26 November 2009

Inspiration (III/VI)

written 22nd November 2009

Just a note about the "1000 places to see before you die" book.  As I said, this was given to us by Mary - sadly no longer with us - who, had she not suddenly left Arm at just the wrong moment, would have been overseeing Will's secondments to both China and Austin and a much richer experience I believe they would have been for him.  As an Austin native though she was still very welcoming to us when we were there.  She definately believed that you should take life's opportunities, and impressed with our expeditions and our willingness to embrace the adventure that is Texas and beyond, gave us the book as a leaving present.  It has sat on a shelf at home since then and is only really with us as an addition to the travel books, in case, as with Ile de Re, it suggests something interesting nearby, which is not mentioned by Lonely Planet.

The cover blurb promises "At last, a book that tells you what's beautiful, what's fun and what's just unforgettable - everywhere on earth".  And the author promises to

We are not using it as a must-do checklist - some of the things in it are expensive hotels, restaurants and golf courses, included by the author, not because they are all things which appeal to her particularly (although she is a self confessed hotel buff) but because the concept of these things will most certainly appear on some people's dream lists - just an extra source of information, and on further reading, I find that I have already been to 18 of the 41 things listed for England (in case you're interested; Windsor Castle, Lands End, St Ives, Lynmouth/Lynton, Royal Pavillion Brighton, the Costwolds, Winchester Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, Leeds Castle, the Lake District, London, Chelsea Flower Show, Hadrian's Wall, Cambridge University (she also mentions Oxford pah!), Bath, Stratford Upon Avon, Stonehenge, York Minster which indicates the types of things included) and some of those in other places as well.

As a seasoned traveller and travel writer, her advice is as follows:  "Any trip can be fraught with disappointment: Expectations are always high and anything can go wrong... More important than packing a bag full of money, pack a bag full of patience and curiosity; allow yourself - encourage yourself - to be sidetracked and to get lost.  There's no such thing as a bad trip, just good travel stories to tell back home.  Always travel with a smile and remember that you are the one with stange customs visiting someone else's country."

And in the words of Mark Twain, also quoted

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trades winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover."

I know that most of you are not, for many and various reasons, in a position to do what we have done and are doing, to the extent that we are doing it - and believe me, we do appreciate every single day how lucky we are (with the possible exception of last sunday *grin*) - or don't necessarily have the desire to do quite what we are doing - it is a particularly special way of living :) but I hope you enjoy the ride along with us and are inspired in some small way to take some time to get out and do something different or go somewhere new, on a whim, just because it is there.  That's how I feel today.  Your destiny is in your own hands!

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