At the beginning of 2018 I told myself I wasn’t going to do a lot of travelling, and then I went a whole bunch of places. At the beginning of this year I told myself I would be going several places, and then barely went anywhere at all.
This made me happy, because although there are things I like about travelling, really I prefer staying at home. Also, last year I flew back from Texas in a tropical storm and it was terrifying, and now I have developed a fear of flying, which is inconvenient for me but convenient for the planet.
Most of my travel this year was within the UK.
The first place – and my favourite place – I went this year was Wales. I spent the first three months of 2019 on a very intense university course, which took up a lot of time and energy. When it ended, I took myself away to a cottage so remote that you had to park half a mile away and then walk across a field to get to it. It was beautiful and I adored it.
I did a lot of sleeping and a lot of reading. I drove to a local town and bought lots of excellent locally-grown food, and cooked it in the lovely small kitchen, and sat outside on the patio eating it and drinking a bottle of wine.
I spent one entire day just sitting outside the front of the cottage watching the daylight play across the mountains facing it.
It was the most beautiful week, and I think I might make it an annual feature.
The only work-related travel I did this year was to Norway. I took the BFF along because she was in need of a break too. I was working for six out of the seven days we were there, but she went out and did a bunch of things during the week, and then she took me on a whistle-stop highlights tour on the Saturday, which was a lot of fun.
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I feel like this photo sums up our friendship: the BFF came with me to Oslo, and as we were walking around and I was being grumpy, she decided to take a photo of us. I believe I was saying "If you take that photo I'll kill you" at about this point, but she knows I'm not as fierce as I sound so she took it anyway. And yes, it encapsulates us well: she's smiley and colourful and up for having a fun time, and I am a little black hole grudgingly coming along for the ride, and secretly loving every minute. 🖤
We walked through an old village which has been preserved as a museum. Both of us wanted to live there.
We wandered through the sculpture garden and admired the artwork.
We learned about the historic buildings and saw how they used to paint their walls with beautiful scenes.
And we had one of the best meals either of us has ever had.
I had a wonderful time, but when I came home I was completely exhausted, and the exhaustion stayed with me for a while and turned into a worsening of the illness I’d had since February, and ultimately, I think, dragged out my low level of physical health for longer than might otherwise have been the case.
Mainly for that reason, but also because going to Norway made me realise how much I newly hated flying, I cancelled the rest of my foreign travel plans for the year.
I did, however, go to see my mother in Blackpool. I didn’t take any pictures because Blackpool is not the most beautiful of places and I didn’t stay very long anyway. But it was good to see her and to catch up with my grandmother.
In July, I went to see my doctor who discovered that my blood pressure was much higher than it should have been. I said it was probably because I’d downed way too much coffee that morning and was in the middle of writing my novel, which is always exciting/terrifying, but she told me to take the rest of the week off and go away somewhere to chill out.
So I went to Glastonbury, my usual chill-out location. I spent a lot of time lying in the bath in my friends’ B&B eating chocolate cake and drinking wine.
I also caught up with some other friends, and spent a lot of time writing in my notebook. I wandered around town, stocked up on supplies, and had a good time.
However, by the time I got home I was more stressed than when I had arrived, because I couldn’t really afford to take the time off work and it meant there was even more waiting for me when I got back. It’s the only time I’ve ever been to Glastonbury and not found it helpful, and I think it was purely because it wasn’t a planned holiday but a last-minute thing, and I was trying very hard not to be stressed, which is one of the easiest ways to stress oneself out more.
When I got back I was fitted with a snazzy 24-hour blood pressure monitor, which verified that I had in fact just had a brief bout of high blood pressure and everything was now fine again.
The Holiday That Wasn’t
I’d had a week at the end of August booked to go away, but it ended up not happening for various reasons. Instead I moved it to the end of September and told myself I’d go away for a week. But when the end of September rolled around I realised I didn’t really have time to go away because I had a deadline for my novel, so instead I took a week off from my day job and spent it at home editing.
In 2020 I am going to avoid this happening. In 2019 I scheduled in four weeks of rest & relaxation: one week for the excellent Welsh holiday; the week at the end of August which didn’t end up happening; and two weeks for Christmas, which will begin this Friday (omgicantwait). In 2020 I’m going to take the time I’ve scheduled off, because 2019 made me remember just how important it is to listen to myself over other people.
Tell me about your travels this year.