I went to the land down under
Is it a holiday or am I traveling?
The land. Travel for me seems to be about the land. Seeing different landscape enables you to see yourself differently. How do you fit into it? How is it different from where you come from? It is better for you to be here or home? Travel provokes questions. It causes discomfort and delight both in equal measures. Martha Gellhorn who wrote in the aptly titled book “Travels with myself and another - five journeys from hell’
“The great travellers, living and dead, are in a class by themselves, unequalled professionals We are amateurs and though we too have our moments of rancor. Who has not heard, felt, thought or said in the course of a journey, words like” ‘They’ve lost the luggage again, God’s sake? ‘You mean we came all this way just to see this?’…..”
As a seasoned travel Gellhorn often commented that when recounting her stories of travel people loved the tales of misery the most. I can understand why she said this, one does tend to tell the tall tales of discomfort first upon return. The moments of joyful travel are perhaps so personal and memorable that they don’t translate well into common words, the experience is that magical.
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Before we left I commented you need a holiday from the planning of a trip. Upon my return it confirmed for me a holiday is a week in the garden, reading books, meandering about. Time doesn’t matter. Travel is planning, schedules, time but it is also the loss of time - what day of the week is it again? Where are we suppose to be? It is packing and unpacking a suitcase. It is stimulating and exciting but it is also waiting in queues, waiting at airports, waiting and more waiting. We flew for 3 and a half hours to Australia from New Zealand. We then wondered how we did a long haul flight to the UK. It was then that we realised our desire for travel had changed.
Having said all this, it was marvelous to be in another country. Perhaps I felt a bit out of practise with overseas travel. I think it is the first time I have have not travelled overseas at least once during a year since I was a teenager. I did love seeing something different. To sit on a seat on a Melbourne street and watch people walk, to see how they dress and express themselves. To drive for hours with a stunning blue sky and a tawny landscape that is only interrupted by the odd tree and a few cows. To learn history about tiny pockets of Australian towns. There were many things that made my heart sore. Like watching myself become part of art - the Monet and Friends exhibition in Melbourne was stunning. Or walking the Kangeroo travel in Ballart early in the morning and observing kangeroos starting their day with a snack, observing us equally as much. Or reading poetry by Jazz Money as we travelled. Her words sent me searching for stories in the landscape. I had days when we were hot and thankful for the swimming pool at the places we stayed and also days when it was 9 degrees and I regretted not packing socks. As always it was stories that I enjoyed the most, where I learnt the most like the walking tour in an old gold mininng town (a very clean and tidy version of life back then) or through art in a local gallery which contrasted Australian impressionist art with modern day photography. Or simply having a yarn with a local. I filled my pockets with all of this and came home feeling the secret heaviness of these moments to be revisted in a quiet moment of reflection.
We returned home, incredibly tired from an overnight flight that left late. We arrived home and the garden was there. Walking in the gate the bees where everywhere. It hummed in the warmth of the day and after days of being here and there I just simply felt happy to be in one space. I didn’t have to worry about passports, or time or money or anything all I needed to do was look and my eyes were feasting on an abundance of garden. I dashed off to see what was flowering and new and of course there was chattering of excitement, so much so that Damian hollered, “Just do you”, leaving me to potter about camera in hand while he started unpacking. And I think it was then that I realised that while travel may not be as relaxing as a holiday it does give you a shake up. It challenges and frustrates (Hello Qantas you are a terrible airline) but also stimulates and inspires and as I stood, home, back in my garden I could see that this was my purpose to build and share this little space in the hopes that it stimulates and inspires but also give people a little holiday from the everyday.
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