Wanderlust: “a strong, innate desire to travel”
I had the realisation recently that my husband and I approach holidays in completely opposite ways. After twelve years together you’d have thought I’d have picked up on this before now! At the end of July we had a wonderful week in Jersey with our three girls – exploring, adventuring and making memories. I have to be honest though and say that I came home more tired than before we went. We packed so much into one week and there was still more we could have done, more we could have seen and more we could have discovered.
A week or so after our return we started thinking ahead to our next trip. We’ve not been abroad for three years (for various reasons – finances and work commitments being two of them) and my husband tentatively and hopefully suggested that perhaps we could have an “actual, proper holiday” next year.
I looked at him, surprised, not quite understanding. “What do you mean? We do have proper holidays.”
Turns out he meant a lying-by-the-pool-sunbathing-on-the-beach-not-doing-anything kind of holiday. My freckly skin and low boredom threshold mean that this is not my kind of thing at all.
Eventually I figured out that he likes to go on holiday to relax, whereas I like to go on holiday to travel. And we have four children between us. Hmmm….
This left us with a bit of a dilemma. Whilst of course we’d love to have lots of different holidays every year, it’s not always possible (because, you know, life and work and kids and school and money and all the things that we let get in the way). So really we need to figure out a way to combine the two – a holiday that incorporates both relaxing and travelling. Or, as a different alternative, have a ‘proper holiday’ to relax in the sun and then a couple of mini-breaks or family weekends away in the UK to travel and explore.
The latter seems like the most realistic option for us, plus it means I don’t have to wait a whole year to satisfy the wanderlust that hasn’t quite gone away since I travelled to Australia and New Zealand when I was nineteen. My thirst for experiencing different ways of living, seeing different sights and feeling all the emotions that travelling creates, even if the place you travel to is only just beyond your own doorstep, is unquenchable – I’ll never tire of it.
There are so many places in England I’d like to visit, let alone Scotland, Ireland and Wales. We live in such a beautiful country and while the weather can be a bit hit-and-miss at times, there are still so many incredible places that I haven’t been to: The Lake District, the Jurassic Coast, the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Isles, the New Forest. Pretty little almost-unheard-of villages in the middle of nowhere. The awesome coastline. The hills and valleys. The list goes on… I want to show our girls all of them.
And the great thing about the UK is that nowhere is really too far to go (relatively speaking) – you can experience the majority of places, whether it’s a city-break or a countryside retreat, in a weekend. When we went to Jersey it only took us 50 minutes on the aeroplane. Obviously driving to most places takes longer but we either try and make the drive part of the travel experience or we leave at silly o’clock in the morning so we can arrive early and go and explore before we get to whatever accommodation we happen to be staying in.
I guess for us the ideal family weekend away would need to include plenty of time outdoors, preferably by the sea. There would be spectacular views to lose ourselves in and help us put things into perspective. We’d eat ice-cream every day (because that’s a family holiday tradition of ours!). We’d go on adventures, exploring local landmarks and seeking out hidden treasures off the beaten track. One of my favourite poems is ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost. The last two lines give me shivers every time: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference”.
And once we’d explored as much as we could, we’d settle down to watch the sunset, letting the girls stay up late because it’s ok to relax the rules whilst you’re on holiday. We’d slow down, playing cards and scrabble long into the evening, doing things that are out of the ordinary, stepping away from the routine. We’d talk. About our hopes and dreams and plans for the future. About the best bits and the things we’d do differently and what we’ve learnt along the way. And then we’d sit in comfortable, cosy silence, each of us alone with our thoughts and at peace with where we are in the moment.
It doesn’t matter where we go as long as we go there together as a family, making memories along the way.
(*This is my entry to the Joules Explorer competition. Please note that although it’s a blog post written specifically for this purpose, every single word is true and written from my heart. Because that’s what this blog is all about – capturing the calm, the chaos and all the moments in between and writing about it as authentically as I can, documenting our family adventures and memories)