A late winter walk though Tulbagh.

The kiss of the winter sun is joyful.

There have been days of rain, and more rain -when I sit indoors with blankets wrapped around my legs and a prized water bottle tucked beneath, savouring winter soup and wondering how the months slipped away. But the South African winter also offers honey coloured days, warm and thick, gentle and gooey days when being outside, exploring, is a terribly good idea.

The Western Cape, where I find myself, is blessed with winter rainfall, and when the sun does come out, it is to reveal the lushest, verdant space topped by endless blue sky.  The cattle are washed, dirt roads pooled and challenging, and landscape at this time of the year, sings. As I get older, my love for nature grows more profound, or does it circle? Tadpole hunting as a child, now tadpole watching again.

 

Visiting Tulbagh begins with a beautiful drive through wine and wheat country.  This is Paarl and Wellington country, rising and falling between misty valleys, slipping down a gorge and up the other side;  tripping names that clicks on the tongue.  Afrikaans footprints.  Colonial drama. Obiqua history. And Tulbagh.

Tulbagh is known primarily for two reasons.  The first is the charming amble along the oldest part of town, Kerk Street, a visual feast of early Victorian, Edwardian and Dutch cottages … and the earthquake.

Love looking at old photos, don’t you?  Generations of people we tend to forget lived a really long time ago, with hardship, pioneering and discovery.  Without grand hospitals, schools – at times trekking, farming, feeding and raising families. Never to return to the country of their birth.

The tourism museum, which doubles as the Earthquake museum (you heard correctly), pays homage to the early settlers.  I wonder why they always have to look so glum? Even the children here are so serious. Glum must have been fashionable for formal portraits but rather sad, this strict sense of morality and duty. Life was basic, but I am hoping full of romance and laughter too.  Names like Retief, de Vos, de Bruyn, Marais – dutch settlers mainly who were given land to farm in 1699.

Tulbagh was discovered by Mr. Pieter Potter, surveyor for Jan van Riebeeck in 1658, and is the forth oldest town in South Africa.  Can you guess the other three?  Named after a former Dutch govenor, Ryk Tulbagh, the town prospered and officially called so in 1804.

The Earthquake and heritage museums are beside the Tourist information centre and a good starting point.  The staff are most helpful and a ‘pensioner’s’ ticket for R20 will give you access to the church and four museums along Kerk Street.  A poignant visit to the past, unexpected, loss of lives and property, one cannot help but feel for the townsfolk, the farming communities and all those affected by the quake.  This happened on the 29th September 1969, at precisely 10.09 pm –  you will see a clock, time suspended when the earthquake struck.

At the one end of Kerk street is the church and even before entering, I spy the ever important pineapple.  My fascination for pineapples in London and England is well know to many, but to see one here, in the middle of the Western Cape, in Tulbagh, had me at … colonisation.  In the 17th Century, it was the pineapple and tulip that signified wealth in Europe.  Built by the OVC, the Dutch East India company in 1795, the interiors are filled with heritage pieces, an original Bible and here for me, the reality of slavery most felt.  A separate gallery for slaves above the front door, the slave bell at the entrance and a receipt – the buying of a young girl for a few, meagre pounds.

This is why history is so important to preserve – we must never be allowed to forget, the good, and the bad and learn from it.

Camellias bloomed, blossoms pink as we wandered from number to number of house, down the entire street, some converted to art galleries, cafés and restaurants – some preserved in a delighted competition of the gables.  One begins to notice how they change in building style, the further we walked, the more elaborate the gables became.  Times were prospering then, the influence of simple Dutch, to Victorian, and later Edwardian architectural styles, carefully restored after the earthquake to their original form. The Dutch gabled house, so tied to the history of this land, is one of the iconic features in the houses down the road.

 

The walk should be a slow one, each numbered house has a sign with all the information about it, lovely to read before entering and guides to answer your questions. Appreciate the craftsmanship in wood and iron.  My family used to have a farm in the Free State, dating back to the 18th century with window sills exactly like these I found – the walls were so thick that each window offered a little bench to sit and watch the world go by.

Highly recommended and thank you to all who shared their pride in living there with us. To end the day, a glorious meal outside, under the trees, cows close, snow on the mountains and blossoms my kind of happy pink, for spring is on the way.

Discover South Africa, the mystery and magic will hold you close.

 

 

The Widow Bird.

Swirling, long black feathers whipped by the wind.

‘What is it? I asked.

A widow bird. The image remains.

A dance of grief in the air, round and round to quite still, high above the earth. Performing a dance of grief. Movement of pain. Rolling, crouching, arching, twisting. I know that sting of grief, like a cloying, soaked cape you cannot wrench aside.  Or dries and peels. A black sheath around your heart. Few escape the strangling grip of grief. Some get more than their share.

South Africa burned last week.  Hopeless desperation and opportunity erupted into looting, destruction of property amid a frenzy of hatred and entitlement. Told to stockpile, stay at home … oh God, again, and again, for how long again …and wait for a coup.

Unkindness on those streets. Every good person suffered. Everyone lost a little of their souls.

So I stayed home.

I became a widow to the country I live in.

I have been here before.  No stranger to violence, I shift away, step away a little, time steps between and I forget a little.  Africa is Africa I tell myself, take the rugged, brittle beauty of belonging and try not to fathom the rugged cruelty of poverty, hopelessness and fear. My children have left her shores, living, not a dream, not without deep loss, but thankful they are not here.

I am a widow to the closeness of family, together in the country of their birth.

Followed I have, returned I have … there is something about the pull of homeland that lies so deep within my breast, not the platitudes I read, or the quirky stories told, but it is this bloodied soil that I have stepped from, that holds me forever in spirit. The bloodied soil I gave up, yearn for and cannot hold onto.

The butcher bird impales its victims on thorns, twigs and barbed wire. I don’t like butcher birds, cruel little buggers. I cannot abide cruelty. Saw that so close.

And I think of that Widow bird, swirling over my beloved country.  I know the bird was doing what came naturally to it, but right now, I don’t really know what natural or real is at the moment, and when I saw this picture, taken many years ago, I was drawn – the widow bird.  I am a widow right now, to a country that raised me, and sort of died last week.

It only takes a few to murder so many dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding your place.

 

“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” – Mae Jemison

It is a common belief that when we reach a certain age, the creating of it is done, and the living with the creating of it, begins.  We have schooled, married, sired, buried and built.  Post the half way line, we should be savouring and more importantly, be satisfied.

If you were like me, I don’t think I ever thought a philosophical thought in the first half century.  Nothing like what is going to happen to me in my old age, am I going to be purposeful, leave a legacy, that sort of thing – it was just the daily demands of life.

Until life comes and shakes you like a rag doll in a wolf’s jaw and that sense of belonging is shattered, confidence eroded and directionless is the operative word of the day.  Or you just find yourself in a place of iffiness, it happens to all of us.  When we are of a certain age, finding a place again… that’s tough. Many are feeling just a little left wanton, in need of another go.

Which brings to mind, this afternoon, the time I first became a volunteer for The National Trust, all eleven years ago. Totally out of my comfort zone.  At the time, the only out I could find from a confining flat and a big bump on my soul after moving to London. For someone who prided myself on my English everything knowledge, I had never heard of Ham House, but it was the closest.

The initial ‘hello’s and interviews were concluded and I was accepted.  So began the pages of notes to learn by heart.  Finding a way to get there on public transport and finding myself drenched long before I got to the bus shelter, in some ways so much harder than I anticipated.  Despite all the talk of diversity and inclusion, it has been very difficult to become part of the team, this giraffe of a South African taking tours on English Garden design – those ‘get together evenings’ when you wished you didn’t for feeling so out of place.  Out of place.  Not my place.

When I shifted my focus from feeling excluded to concentrate on what it was that makes me look forward to the next time, I began to find my place.  Engaging with guests, romantically thrilled at the change of season, deeper discovery into the history of the house and the fascinating folk that lived there, it was to own my experience that brought about place.  It was not about making small talk over tea and biscuits, but the deep sense of being part of something that found me in the Orangerie to work and watch the planting of the next season in the kitchen garden.

Others are surprised when I tell them I have been there for eleven years – it as if they are seeing me for the first time.  I yearn for my time there, push myself to be better at the tours, embrace the seasons as if they are my children, for no matter what time of the year, the garden is a magical place to be. I have discovered the underground passages, and those between the walls.  Breathed in the perfume of history and layers of paint in the mess room, felt the texture of the panelling in the buttery, the grandeur of the Gallery ( which for some reason is more dramatic in the winter) and the cheese scones I cannot resist.

Moving to a different country was, at the time, so awful and frightening.  Finding my place at Ham House was the beginning of finding other places, more and more until I can now say that I know the city, that great Lady, as if I have always been a part of her.

Never easy to step outside the comfort zone, or start again, but it is but a step.  And then, it’s your place.  You belong, at times just need to find out where.

 

 

 

Tomorrow, tomorrow for sure.

Magnificent Watercolours by A Paris Breakfast.

 

Pretty … or more appropriately,  P…R…E…T…T…Y overwhelming have the last few months been.  Victor of them all, cherub named Procrastination.  I know I do it, blooming hell, I am the champion of the disease, and yet here it comes, and there it goes.  Tomorrow, tomorrow for sure.  It is the beginning of a new day, a new agenda, a whole new life for me.

To begin with the travel plans. Not so much.

To look for meaning full, financially viable work.  Not so much.

Sell up everything, tell no-one and find my little place I can ‘Escape to Chateau’ in, discovering hidden talent for flytraps and septic tanks amongst the reveal of antique tapestries that tell stories of conquerors and the fates.  Not so much.

Instead, of late, I watch them, dream about them, listen to men with gravelled British accents reading books by John Le Carre whilst calming the inner tantrum child that is still unable to get to my children, drop tales of english history in the cobbled streets of London and my destiny at the Italian lakes.  I have tempered my own rhythm and quelled my own storm.  And I am now officially a member of the Bennet family. Thank you Jane Austen.

I am embroidering.

The mind continues to unravel like the threads on my desk. The concentration on the physical doing helps though and the hours pass quickly, endless cups of tea, endless, endless cups of tea.

We all wait.  Make the most of it. My relationship with Boris is tenuous at this point. A fully vaccinated British citizen who must face the hell of hotel quarantine and watch in disbelief as the favoured escape restrictions to enjoy Wimbledon.

I am embroidering and dreaming of that French patisserie. Summer in London and cow parsley.

‘At the still point, there the dance is.’ T.S.Elliot

At the still point is where I find myself.  Am teaching myself that it is what is needed to be safe and wait for the world to heal.  At the still point I am flooded with memories of the past. It has been lovely, and it has been good and I wait for it.  There is much to be said for the calming of life, but then again, at my age, there is this little window of now and before I have no option but to sit in a ray of sunshine and not able to get out there and really do the things I put off for so long in life.  Am I the only one?

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow for sure to muster the energy and make the plans.

To all those who have suffered from Covid, or have friends and family who have, have succumbed to it, my heart goes out to you.  We have lost too many good people, so my little rant seems petty and small, I feel it, but it has also fostered in me, a desire to really live, fully, without procrastination or fear.

War is like that not so?  In the losing, in the chaos, we yearn to live. And thrive. To love and be loved.

Sending love xxx

Image:  Paris Breakfast

 

 

 

The Wild Geese

As May draws to a close, we still wait for the world to welcome us all to new ways of travelling.  We will have to wait a little longer, but the pandemic has been a great master, and we become a little more patient.

This poem touched my heartstrings.  I am to wait, and watch the Wild Geese fly.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

The other day, I saw the swallows fly.  I was up high, high on a hill with a view spilled below.

Like them, I could not go. I could not be them in somewhere soon.

Like the smallest of them, on the earth, in the earth, of the earth

I knew my journey was undaunted.

Image: anythink.

 

Chelsea Flower Show dates for 2021

SEPTEMBER 21 – 26TH 2021

The Chelsea Flower show may have been postponed in May this year, just like everything else, but the good, no, great news is that it has been re-scheduled for September this year. That is optimism personified, and by the looks of things, tickets are selling very fast.

Events are beginning to pick up again.  England is opening up, perhaps to locals at present, but it sends a clear message that travel and tourism, events and festivals, are back in the dairy.

Prior to The Chelsea Flower show, will be the Hampton Court Flower Show.

There are times, I must confess, the Hampton Court Flower Show, or Garden Festival, is a personal, better choice.  The venue is fabulous, at the famous Palace, built for Cardinal Wolsey  in the Sixteenth century, taken by Henry VIII when the former fell out of favour.  King Henry VIII brought all of his six wives to Hampton Court.  

The grounds are worth seeing, and site specific too many film locations, the latest being Bridgerton.

So your planned visit will be made even more special.  Visit the show, walk along the large pathways between unusual and legendary Yew trees, the sunken garden, all along the beautiful Thames.  Getting there by car, or train is a easily done, or better still, stay in one of the lovely hotels close by.

Back to The Chelsea Flower Show.  It promises to be so much more interesting this year.  Few people understand how much preparation goes into the show, the meticulous planning by growers and landscapers to produce the ultimate flowers, just at the right time – and now, the date has been moved on, so what should we expect in the late summer season?  Garden lovers will not be disappointed.  For those truly immersed in all things gardening, your favourite garden designers will back.

PS. The pictures of the proteas you see, were actually taken at Chelsea a while ago.

If you are planning to visit the show, why not stay in London for a few days?  There are many gardens and parks that will be at their best in September.  Make it a Garden lover’s delight, immersing yourself in everything garden beautiful that London has to offer.

Hopefully, even some International Travel will be open to those who yearn to visit London.  We continue to stay safe, take precautions, but equally, continue to dream of destinations and holidays.

Knowing that The Chelsea Flower Show, is happening this year, hold thumbs, is a great way to get in touch, and plan a brilliant trip.

And who knows, perhaps next year, we can help you plan the ultimate trip around some spectacular English Gardens, including The Chelsea Flower Show.  One of our favourite itineraries.

#thechelseaflowershow #travel #london #travelplanner #englishgardens #thesilvertravelcompany

You shall be missed.

The death of Prince Philip is one of those moments I shall remember, exactly where I was, when I heard the news.  As it was with Princess Diana.  I shall not cry as much as I did when then. The days of tears for a lost princess, taken so young – not this time, for a race well run, a life well lived, though sad, is not as heartbreakingly tragic.

Yet, the news draws opinions.  We are all so lovingly important in our views of a family thrust into the limelight.  All the more when flaws, and family dysfunction is ours to comment upon, being the experts on it all.  We love to love, and hate, and criticise as we feel, is our right, for after all, is the Royal British family, not ours, as taxpayers, to dissect, to regale, to give our little two pence worth?  Forget the fact that we only read, and take the bits we want to from a story.  Or so it seems …

Time to pause.  Right to have an opinion. To comment, though on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, I for one, am grateful to the Royal Family.  As a British citizen, following years of arriving, visas, costs and all that, the proudest day was my swearing allegiance to the Crown, the Queen and becoming a British citizen. You had to be there, all of us, immigrants with our own stories, so proud. We were proud.

I was there to see the sea of flowers at Kensington Palace when Diana died.  I grieved with all those close.  The tales of intrigue, betrayal and intimate scrutiny, mattered not. A family was grieving, in full public view, and how many of us have to endure the same invasion of loss? Tomorrow the world will watch a Queen, having lost her companion, her husband and friend, as part of her role, in full public view.  I cannot begin to understand the private to public scene and yet I know, despite the criticism of Prince Philip, the gaffes, the innuendos, we are saying goodbye to a man who played an indelible part in Britain’s history, who gave willingly, supported unconditionally and contributed to our country in his own way. Pragmatic first, personal last.

Of late, yes, negative programmes, stories of woe – claims made.  And I think to myself.  Do we forget the history, the sacrifice, the intrusion?  Do we forget the fortitude during the wars, the many stages of government that come and go, the endless tours and state dinners?  Ribbon cutting, balcony posing, the relentless attacks by the press?  And still, what remains is the quiet getting on with the job.

Tomorrow, as a British citizen, proud of the monarchy who, in it’s very self is something few countries can claim to, will be a testament to traditions held, despite the very need for privacy at such a time. And I am grateful and honoured to have these traditions, the tales and history of the Royal family.  They are not perfect, but they are there for us, as we should be for them.

A friend watched ‘The Crown’ and lamented at the coldness of those involved. Who would ever want to be part of the Royal Family.

The Family.  A family. Born or brought into, it is the way it is, and will be. Times have changed, and the Royals with it, still upholding their duties and traditions as we expect.  As we expect.

Goodnight Prince Philip.  You make me proud to be British.  I feel, at times, part of your family, and know that I am, but also not. And that is fine with me. You have served your country well. You have done your duty.  Step down soldier.  Step down.

Long live the Queen. My Queen. My Royal Family.

Images: The Daily Mail.  The Guardian

 

 

 

 

 

Procrastinating is a passion killer. It doesn’t pay.

 

 

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” – Julia Child

If you could have a peek at my CV, dear Lord, you would find that this writer has done just about everything. Literally. Somehow a real career, as some would like to refer to, was not amongst the titles. No lawyer, doctor, astrophysicist or marine biologist lurking.  Why?

Married young.  Helped my husband set up his practice.  Teaching locums. Raising children. Full diary of swimming galas, pottery classes, teachers meetings and dinner parties – and I regret not a moment of those years. The experience was like pages of a recipe book:  I could do something from every little part of life, if not an expert at one particular thing.

Memo lost.  What to do when the children leave home? Floated, feared and fell into an abject conviction that if I was not the perfect mother or consummate wife, I was fit for nothing, out there in the real world.  What was I to do?  And I know there are so many of us in the same situation.

Having walked through a million one hit wonders, this Jill was a skater of many trades but a master of nothing hugely employable.  The Platinum card and Business class sector was not something I ever aspired too (did the nose grow a little?) though the past few years have seen a major shift in the pattern of my life, and forced to confront not only my demons, but my place in a work environment was going to be up to me.

Doodled the months away.  What shall I do?  Who shall I be?  One day I would imagine myself this … and the next day that.  Bake some cheese scones and think about opening up a coffee shop or arrange some flowers and fancy myself beyond gifted.  The truth is that being able to do these things, may be fair and well, but the realistic aspect of actually setting up a business was so daunting, the day would end, and the only true activity indulged, was procrastinating. Absolutely no-one to blame but myself, and that lethargic, numbing, depressing lack of conviction, was depressing.

We have all been there, no matter what the age.  Some say, procrastinating is good. I disagree. I don’t have the time, or willpower. In a matter of years I will see my life controlled by those who think they know best.  Not today.  Today is a lesson to self.  Procrastinating is a passion killer.

No doubt, the pile of self guide, self help, self determination books lie like volcanoes on my desk.  You read them too, don’t you?

Honing in.  Not too late, we are not too old.  Honing into what is truly passionate in your life, and if you should want to turn it into a profit making business, hesitating for even a second is not an option.  Love doing lots of things, but what am I really passionate about – what drives me with curiosity and wonder? Does not matter what it is, could be a passion for removing barnacles, but if it floats your boat – than everyday, every working hour, everything you plan, should drive you to resolve, to develop, create, establish and know that the hard work, which will be there for sure, will give you a single focus, oblivious of critics and fear mongers.

Have you ever walked past the many small businesses you see?  Florists, artisan bakeries, florists, wine merchants for example and think about how much courage is required to put your dagger to the sticking place and commit to a business plan, a loan, signing of contracts and all the expenses involved before you even begin to break even?  The passion is the straight arrow.  During the pandemic, many have lost their incomes and opportunities but have they lost their passion? I doubt it.

Take courage from so many wonderful entrepreneurs who have accomplished so much.

Without too much analysis, the pandemic has made me realise how much I miss travel, engaging with others.  Doing the walking tours in London, planning trips that I stopped doing for a while.  Doing research on history, new restaurants, different kinds of tourism and how much I want to do it again. That is my passion, my family and the sharing my experience and knowledge with others. Seeing people take that trip of a lifetime, light up at new knowledge, feel the pulse of the place.

Perhaps the lull in the lockdown has rightly led to procrastinating. Not anymore. Life is opening up.

We work with suppliers, friends and colleagues, all equally passionate. Sometimes I will bring the cheese scones.

We are, each and everyone of us, great at so many things, passionate too, but finding the path that will bring you absolute joy, and an income, is waiting to happen.

Anything.  And I repeat, anything if possible.  Driven by passion, the shadowed gremlins of ye god of procrastination, will disappear.

 

 

 

Embrace the new ways. It’s not always better in the old days.

 

‘Most millennials I know would rather get off with Nigel Farage for an hour than pick up or make a phone call. We’ve grown up with so many methods of communication – from MSN Messenger to Instagram DMs – that we naturally gravitate towards the least intrusive means of contact. Our thoughts are carefully composed, edited, screenshotted to a friend and edited again; an unexpected phone call is akin to your mum bursting into your room while you’re stark naked, doing something questionable.’

Don’t Text Me – I’m Only Using Voice Notes Now- Juliana Piskorz. Refinery29

My heart chipped a little today.  Thinking I would surprise my son with an impromptu call, mortified to have it declined. Doesn’t do well with chatting to his mother, voice to voice it seems.  Voice note, a text message and that’s about it, when we are far apart.  So I started wondering:  is it just the way it works today, and how do I, as a mature woman feel about it?  Why am I so quick to seek rejection in things I tend to compare to ‘back in our day’ and when am I going to realise that. rather than comparing and feeling I’m being left behind, get into the new way of communicating?

Then I read the article above.  There are many more, but sometimes we have to do a little research to take cognisance of what is really going on.  So at risk of just looking back when we get to this age.  Everything is memory bound, habit bound, fearful bound sometimes, and so very much resolved to still be the primary educator, judge and guidance in our children’s lives that when we do finally realise that they are now smarter and have lives of their own, we falter, fold and feel so sorry for ourselves.  It puts us in a place we are unfamiliar with.

That feeling and all those anxieties are for another time.  I would rather not spend an hour with Nigel Farage, but I need to get over the idea that phoning someone who does not relate, is not a personal affront.

Despite what many younger people think, we are still able to explore, and occupy new forms of social media, it may just take a little longer, and just when we get it, there are more apps and characteristics to master – and we shall. In fact, it’s exhilarating to think of the possibilities.

There are also some I don’t care a jot for. Love looking at the reels on Instagram, loads of giggles and after a while the boredom of desperate people in squeaky voices, who must have spent hours getting the reel together is no a burning desire in my daily life.

There is a certain vanity at stake here.  For individuals who cannot bear the thought of intimate conversations with another, surprisingly have no problem with filming themselves.  The love of self on film is one thing, but it still brings no confidence when in the same room.  Interesting not so?  You would have a million followers, a few hundred stalkers and a smattering of really damaged people who stare at you, yet you cannot deal with a simple conversation, face to face or voice to voice?

The first few voice notes had me at: ‘ what is the matter with you? I know you are online so just pick up the phone and tell me directly what I now have to listen to.’  Voicemail proceeds voicemail trying to establish a meeting, decorate a room, organise a flight, or Christmas, when all could have been settled by just speaking to one another. In half the time.

I get it now.  Going to forget about how I sounded when we used to tape each other back in the day and my voice, totally unrecognisable, and have some fun.

I was furious at my father for saying Leo Sayer looked like he was dancing with a wooden leg.  The Millenials prefer voice notes. Just laugh.  Imagine how mastering all these new social tools will help you in business, in your journey forward, and your relationship with those, who are smarter than you now.

Or are they …

 

Trusting to Travel again? How anxious are you about committing?

Brugges in Autumn

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

The truth is, we have all become a tad more boring over the past year.  Lack of stimulation in lockdown, and I say this tentatively, has increased skills of baking and the like, but what do we really talk about now since the world went into freeze the tape mode?  I for one, almost fear the C word conversation now, it’s negative and boring and look forward to being able to JUST GET OUT and experience things.

Like a walk through a gallery, or sitting at a sidewalk café, being able to talk about a route taken, a plan make, a holiday laid forth, which is why I write.  We are being allowed glimpses of foreign holidays in the near future, but are we really?  Will we make plans and then be disappointed?  What do you think?

Camps Bay, South Africa.

Next month was supposed to see me sitting at Lake Como.  Not going to happen.  So today I thought, ok, we’ll move it to Autumn, still a beautiful time to visit the Lakes.  Or Brugges, or Paris or …

And I begin.  Flights.  Have vouchers and look at dates.  I begin to lose my nerve.  What if this is going to end up being cancelled, all over again?  After the previous, plentiful cancellations, I find myself fearful of dashed hopes. Interestingly enough, looking at dates for Varenna, the hotels are surprisingly full, which indicates that others like me are hoping things will resume some sort of normality again.  Maybe I should just get those dates in, imagine waiting for the green light and I am stumped for accommodation? She ponders.

Then I begin to wonder about the thought of having to wear masks in public, in restaurants, on public transport.  Will that still be required – how is it going to feel when one goes exploring for hours on end, only to have to breathe through cloth for most of it?  Will it be the same, will I be tentative of every entrance, a crowd of people, buying a ticket?  How anxious am I really?  Do you feel the same?  Have we become so fearful of the unknown virus that it will keep us from living full and curious lives, indefinitely?

Left bank. Paris.

The braver amongst us will be on the next flight. Cheap as chips, anything to mix and mingle and party into the night.  I remember that energy, I wish I still had that bravado. Families will staycation, but when you are a single, solo traveller like me, later in life, it is the cities and culture you crave, more than a suntan, in my case anyway.

It is the storytelling in travel that takes hold.  Witnessing cultures, art and drama.  Tasting new flavours and hearing new languages.  Stories all. The days are different when we are not at home.

As much as I yearn, and itch to travel soon, I myself am still in quarantine – facing hotel quarantine and a million COVID tests.  South Africa will be a long time in receiving the vaccine and so the months are spent patiently waiting, yet burning to immerse myself in airports, cobbled streets, beaches and castles again. How will things look though, and how will they be?  Another day passes and I withhold for final bookings, payments are withheld, like the dreams of being able to collect more stories in my life to share.

Yet, we can follow the rules, be careful and courteous and still push ourselves, or trust ourselves to take the chance.  We need to support tourism, we need to widen our horizons once again, and we need to travel.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. – Saint Augustine

Afraid I am not much company at the moment.  My stories may be getting a little tired.

For me, it is not the fear of the unknown so much as the fear of moving forward from the known.

And I cannot make Banana bread and tell one more person about it.

How do you feel about travelling again?

Images: Travel pockets