Saturday, 7 March 2009


  • Is it the arrival of spring, sap rising and that malarkey?
  • Is it because many friends are having career breaks and travelling?
  • Is it because I'm 45 in 3 weeks?
  • or is it because I'm sorting out some photographs?

Apologies up front, this posting isn't about wildlife, Wessex or anything other than me rambling on...... today's theme is why do we want to travel?

Take the picture of this eejit in an overly bright shirt, sun glinting off his head. Why is he standing on a cliff and spoiling the view. I love the UK and all it has to offer, but now and again my mind becomes focused on getting away from it all. By the way, this was taken in 2000 en route to the Dolomites, in the good old days before digital cameras. What did we all do before digital cameras?.... I know, because I have about 3000 photos in drawers, unlabeled and some I don't even known where they were taken.

Back to the eejit. I'd met an Italian lady (married before you begin throwing nasturtiums) through work on the Internet. We conversed via e-mail and she asked me to come and see her and her husband; so following a crash 1-2-1 course in Italiano ( ahhahh Claudia, where are you now??) in June 2000 off I went to Lake Garda, met with and got on splendidly with said friend and her family, and have visited them again. I also met another woman on the trip who hailed from Dorset, and the rest is history. People often said, how did you and Thelma meet, and I say by a Lake in Italy while visiting another woman, which often throws them.

As it turned out like many journeys, it was fabulous, I absolutely fell in love with Italy, especially the Dolomites. I remember standing somewhere by a cable car station and all I could see were snow covered mountains all the way to Austria. It was like being on top of the World, literally.

So what makes us travel. Is it an adventure? Is it for rest and relaxation? Is it to visit new places? Meet new people? Well actually probably it's all of these things, but I wonder what it is that actually says in our brain. Today I'm going to leave the comfort, warmth and security of the family home and visit that place I've never been to before, arrive hot and flustered, not be able to speak the language, and have a wonderful time.

For me it's the actual travelling I love, which is one of the reasons I've never flown (until later this month, off to Jersey). Finally getting there is good, but actually the process of getting there is better. I'm a huge fan of long distance driving, despite this being seen as environmentally unsound, the open road and no deadlines is a real boon to me.

In 1999 I was asked by friends who were holidaying in Gairloch, in November, if I'd like to visit. I live 20 miles south of Bristol and only had a long weekend available. I drove there and back in 3 days, just shy of 1400 miles and it was the best one night in a cottage stay I've ever had. Great journey the length of the UK, great and sociable friends and just stunning scenery along the way. Totally mad, but absolutely fulfilling. I have a quote on my mobile phone, "what is a destination without a journey" I can't remember where I found this now, but for me it makes sense.

These feelings of wanting to travel must be strong in all of us. Maybe it's basic instinct of the Hunter Gatherer in all of us which lies dormant for a while, then when the sun is high, the wind from the sea, we don our backpack and can not resist an adventure out into the unknown. I also know for me, although I'm very sociable, I'm basically a private person who loves to be alone. Travelling to a crowded beach won't appeal to me, but standing on a mountain, the only person for 1000 miles does.

February has been a strange month as I'm getting itchy feet, which is unlike me, either that or the old medical condition has returned. I could have been in Tenerife this last fortnight, for reasons best left unanswered I wasn't. A lot of friends are taking time off from work now and travelling the World (mind you most seem to be in New Zealand - must be the most crowded Island in the World).

I've also been chatting to my second cousin, half removed, twice round the block in Canada (Hi Judy, I know you read this) about visiting my errant family there, and hopefully in August her daughter and a friend will be visiting the old country (Andrew has been told to be a Father figure to them....!) and this week I've been researching Norway.

In particular as my ancestors are Norwegian I'd like to visit Skein near Oslo but while I've been doing some research, the Atlantic Road north of Bergen intrigued me. (image above from visit-norway website) I can feel a road trip coming on.... apparently if one travels it in an Atlantic storm in the Autumn, it is quite exhilarating as the car is swept off the road. Where do I sign?....... and of course north of there lies the Arctic Circle. Watching Joanna Lumley visit the Northern Lights on TV last year was just glorious.

2010 is going to be, 3 months off work and answer the call of the Vikings, well one of my ancestors was called Thor.


  1. We search not knowing what we seek when perhaps what we seek is the search.
    You should have called your blog Avian Asgard or Tales of a Thunder God.

  2. That all sounds wonderful Andrew, and how your comment about crowded beaches resonated with me! I have always said don't put me in a shopping centre or a fairground, just put me in the middle of a field with only Nature for company and I will be happy.

    Happy travelling.

  3. Hi Andrew - sounds like you're having a good weekend... reading this just makes me want to go on holiday - the North of Scotland is wonderful - the remotest areas of the Isle of Skye one of my favorites as well as a wonderful spot - near Glenelg - infact where Gavin Maxwell (Ring of Brightwater) lived in a wonderful little secluded bay - the remains of the house is still there!

    Been cutting back lots of brambles today and planting veg! Have fun - Miranda
    ps 45 isn't a bad age - am not far away myself! You're as young as you feel!

  4. Alan, Tales of a Thunder God sounds just the thing.

    Shysongbird, have you been watching Monty Hall on the BBC. Worth it if you like remote places.

    Miranda, thanks, I'll be about 68 then. Hope you get that brambling done.

  5. hi Andrew, worrever this Wanderlust is all about, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do...
    Just make sure you send us a postcard, please! rx
    PS Howsabout a world tour of pudding combos?

  6. I can relate to those feelings of wanderlust Andrew - follow your dreams if you can :D

    (and yes - those Northern Lights were magical)

  7. Hi Rosy, I'll make sure you get more postcards than you can shake a stick at :-)

    Tricia - I once saw the northern Lights in North Northumberland, nothing like as spectacular as you'd see north of the Arctic Circle, a feint red / yellow shimmer - never forget it.

  8. I think we travel to find ourselves if that makes any sense...I, too, have always had the wanderlust...

    My maiden name originates from Norway...it means the pastures at the top of the mountains....so we share a Norwegian connection :)

    For me the wild things of Nature and the outdoors always seem to call me. My parents were from the Orkney Islands...so, formerly Norsemen...

  9. Hi wildlife gardner, a Norse Orkadian is a great mix of ancestry. And well travelled too.