Tag Archives: travel

Travelling without Moving: Somerset, The Cotswolds, Sheffield, and France

(or “Moving Without Travelling” whichever works for you)

(image with retrospective thanks to blogger isaria’s excellent post on poetry in urban landscapes – photo taken in Sheffield).

Despite my lack of travel-blogging the past couple it doesn’t mean I haven’t been places.  Usually in the passenger seat, dabbing at mascara stained cheeks and sometimes giggling with tiredness and new found closeness to those I love who are still alive.  I’ve been exploring a range of family members in a catalogue of places (see below) but without getting too hippy, it’s the internal journeys that have mattered .

A catalogue of places:

  1. The Cotswolds. A stuffy Tory area of England perhaps made worse because I have needed to do business with Estate Agents during my recent time there.  Cotswold stone is pretty and every house is made from the honey coloured stuff.  The countryside (of which there is lots – dotted with pretty, if not claustrophobic villages) is a stunning vista of rolling hills littered with pro-hunting signs.  Cirencester (England’s former capital city), I am told is THE up and coming heart of this region. Despite the population being decidedly elderly I am tempted to believe this news, not least because since my mum’s death it seems quite likely that I might actually end up living there (s’complicated). Anyway “Old” is the new “Young” and at least they’ve got a FatFace in Cirencester.
  2. Somerset.  I can’t believe I used to want to go and live there.  Having lost my mum in a road crash on a bendy country road in Somerset I can quite honestly say I am no longer a fan of bendy country roads in Somerset.  Funny that.  Navigating my grief around this region has meant perpetual gripping of the dashboard and potholed panics.  A normal road in Somerset has a steep bank of hedge either side and there is barely enough room for two cars to pass.   Even Glastonbury feels like a complete sham to me at the moment.  The Tor was visible from my mum’s house and art studio (in fact can be seen for miles around) – and walking around the town last week with its crystals and goblins – it appeared very superficial.  If this place ever was spiritual then it was a very very long time ago and no matter how much Shaman juice we partake in, I am afraid we missed it.  And talk about claustrophobic – Somerset makes the conservation conservative Cotswolds look like a breath of fresh air.  Rant aside – there IS a lovely little pub called The Stoke in Chew Stoke, which I thoroughly recommend – and not just because my best mate owns it.  And not just because I have just slagged off Somerset where my best mate lives.  But because the food there is gert lush (especially them pies).
  3. Sheffield. OK, I’ll stop moaning now.  Despite my clearly cantankerous mood (only slightly improved by pie), I have to admit I quite like Sheffield.  Although I had never set foot there until last year, it conjures up a sense of nostalgia for me.  People there REALLY are friendly (like in the olden days).  The steep streets and Victorian suburbs remind me of my hometown – Bristol (which is slightly in Somerset but NOT to be confused for the distaste for the “Somerset countryside” under reference above). The area surrounding Sheffield is drop dead gorgeous.  I’m pining for city life at the moment, but this REALLY IS “Escape to the Country”.  Hiking routes and picnic spots.  Cotswolds Shmotswolds – this is the real England I’m after.

Not ALL the shopping centres in Sheffield have been finished (or even started really) – a glimmer of hope perhaps that they will develop without the burden of shallow retail sector – and perhaps in the enlightenment to follow, Sheffield will lead Britain in turning would-be-commercial-business-zones into new open green space for thought (not unlike the cloudless vapour trail free skies following the Icelandic Volcano ash chaos).   Seriously, it’s sad to see such evidence of the recession from a city which has had its fair share of knocks – but its strength is in its people – it’s resilience, it’s generosity of spirit.  Good times, and thank you Sheffield – just the tonic I needed right now.

  1. France. Over the past few months I have seen more long distance motorway travel than you could wave a stick at.  The biggest 24hour driving session began and ended in Cambridge with stops in Portsmouth and rural Britanny along the way.  Early morning empty main-roading is great.  I’m clear headed and up for the challenge of grubby Le Harve and her fantastic bridges (REALLY worth a look), but the midnight Portsmouth return, plagued by heavy lorries and average speed limits was less fun (especially after a sick bag filled channel crossing).  The only compensation for the traffic calming was the occasional glimpse of a night-time crew feasting on potholes– like cockroaches caught out by the sudden illumination of a kitchen strip light. At least someone out there had some purpose.

As ever though, we DID manage to get the most out of a mere handful of waking hours in France and like Cirencester spent some of it with an Estate Agent (well, a Notaire).  We rather foolishly fell in love with a huge run down town house in a small run-down village.  She needs electricity, water and (bits of) a new roof.  But as usual we are counting chickens before they are hatched.  In fact, come to think of it, we haven’t really even got any eggs yet.

As for the internal journeys – whilst being sometimes grisly passenger I was also a deep thinker.  The budding trees rushing past, the gaze of the yellow robot like speed camera, and the splash of the ocean on the ships windows – in many ways prove to be empty poetic imagery which did not penetrate my inner thinking.  To say I have been “in deep” is an understatement.  My reading has been of eastern philosophy, of death, and unusually of very little.  Although for many of my journeys I flicked ash from a small crack in the window, I gave up smoking 17 days ago (not that I’m counting).  Perhaps my unusually bitter accounts of Somerset and the Cotswolds reflect this.  Smoking is smelly, expensive and not good for me.  Despite what I have been telling myself since I was13 – it is NOT a good look.  I made the decision to give up smoking the day after my 40th birthday.

The journey continues of course.  I realised somewhere in the past couple of months that I do actually want to live as long as I humanly can (and not a moment longer – Eddie ref).  I think I understand that my body is home to my spirit/soul/whateveryouwannacallit- so it might be a good idea to make it work for me as best I can.

How I spend my time on this planet has been another conundrum.  I like to think I’m on a journey with this (making a difference, earning a living, expressing my creativity, dedication to others, living for my children, going with the flow, pushing for positive change…..lumox) but I think it may take a few more years of therapy and counselling before I even untie the vessel from the quay.  Maybe it starts tomorrow- with a journey I am NOT looking forward to.  Nearly two months after my mum died I have assembled enough faculties to return to my place of employment and “work out” a way forward.

Emerging from my burrow of detached-ness  (that has allowed me to contemplate life, death and anything but my job).   I will be blinking my way into bright normality tomorrow via the morning commuter train.  The passenger seat once more.

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1500 miles to London Town

train photo

I’ve been sooo excited preparing to take my 4Nomadic travel blog readers  on a trip to Pakistan in the next few weeks, that I totally neglected to blog about perhaps the most crucial bit of travel in my life at the moment.

Considering many of you are off-shore readers (IE investing your time outside of the British Isles) I realise that my daily trips to London town may be worth sharing as something of a foreign commodity for you.

Over the past month I have travelled over 1,500 miles (2,414 km) making regular, sometimes agonizingly early treks from my sleepy village home on the Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire borders into the heart of the city of London.  Since the clock change, I invariably tip toe out of my home under the cover of darkness (only once waking neighbours as my wing mirror hooked a forgotten wheelie bin and dragged it noisily down the drive way).  My children, in various states of awakeness suffer my departure with sleepy kisses, “can I borrow your hair dryer” or by pulling a duvet back over their heads.  My other half usually keeps me plied with green tea and kind words and then deposits me at the station (perhaps better he drives given the wheelie bin incident).

The trains run to several an hour and are generally on time (if they are delayed, early morning commuters tend to tut quietly – is all).  The ticket itself is bloody expensive – to buy an annual pass to cover my train miles costs £3400 ($5400, EURO 3780, 37,800 CNY, 262800 INR).  I know this is more than some of you earn in a year, let alone spend on trains.

Aside from the occasional tut, my fellow fare payers are generally wrapped up in their Blackberries, books, work papers or if it’s really really early are fast asleep (see picture taken this morning).  They travel alone and avoid eye contact and small talk.  occasionally work colleagues will travel together, generating passive aggressive sighs from fellow commuters as they break the dull silence by daring to talk.  And if it happens to be school holidays and you should decide to use rail travel with your talkative young, expect people to blatantly move seats to be at a distance from you or huffily plug their ears with headphones.  If you are American, it’s strongly advised that you remain mute, less you should offend – something about the tone of voice that carries and will disturb this sacred silent time.

The journey home on the same train is a little more animated.  A similar group of commuters, but this time wrestling under a sea of free newspapers handed out by low paid masses who thrust said paper in your face at every  train and tube station in London.  I sometimes can’t resist and after a hard days strategizing with government, I find myself drawn to  know more about Jude’s relationship with his illegitimate child, a Winehouse breast falling out at a party or Paris’s British Best Friend.  Actually I cheat, I pick up discarded papers from seats not from touts and consider my actions one of ethical recycling.  Besides I feel very uncomfortable with myself  straining to read tabloid filth over someones shoulder.

Sometimes when I arrive at King’s Cross in the morning I decide to walk all the way to the office.  Like I did this morning, taking far too long (50 mins) and generating bloody blisters on the backs of each heel.  Sometimes I wear proper shoes, fit for purpose – like many a suited officer walker, and can manage the distance in a 35 minute march.  The journey clears my head and I love to glimpse shop owners preparing for the day, and get wafts of Great British fry-ups from cafes, or encounter jet-lagged tourists awake far too early for anything to be open.  It reminds me of early mornings in Sri Lanka where people stretch and stand in the street brushing their teeth from a communal tap.  Seeing a place wake up is an intimacy not to be taken for granted.

Not far from the British museum I usually come across groups of labourers gathered over steaming polystyrene cups and cigarettes.  Their laughter makes me envious, as my own work colleagues aren’t as colourful or at ease with one another.  Walking through Convent garden, which seems entirely recession-free and littered with stupid boutiques selling quirky things that nobody needs, and onto Trafalgar Square where I quietly nod  a hello to an alledged relation on top of his column and head down towards Big Ben and the powerhouses of British Government.

Sometimes I don’t walk, I get the tube (subway), which unless I time it right involves some very close bodily contact with complete strangers (who still manage to maintain the silent no eye contact thing despite being an inch away from your face).  It’s a fear of loosing dignity thing I think – we simply pretend not to be there.

The good thing about the commute is the amount I read.  As  a mother of three with a full-time job, reading is an absolute luxury, so to have been able to fill  my heads with the mountains of the Hindu Kush and Britain’s immigrant community in the east end of London, as well as Winehouse, Jude and Paris as the shadows of British countryside flash past in the dusk and dawn light has been a thrill indeed.

So, just a glimpse at my daily travels.  I realise that if I had travelled 1500 in a straight line would have reached Azerbaijan by now.  But I like it this way, close to home for now.  See you in Pakistan in a few weeks!

1500 Miles  to London Town

I’ve been sooo excited preparing to take my 4Nomadic friends on a trip to Pakistan in a few weeks, that I totally neglected to blog about perhaps the most crucial bit of travel in my life at the moment.

Considering many of you are off-shore readers (IE investing time outside of the British Isles) I realise that my daily trips to London town may be worth penning as something of a foreign commodity for you.

Over the past month I have travelled over 1,500 miles (x km) making regular, sometimes agonisingly early treks from my sleepy village home on the Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire borders into the heart of the city of Londoan.  Since the clock change, I invariably tip toe out of my home under the cover of darkness (only once waking neighbours as my wing mirror hooked a forgotten wheelie bin and dragged it noisily down the drive way).  My children, in various states of awakeness suffer my departure with sleepy kisses, “can I borrow your hair dryer” or by pulling a duvet back over their heads.  My other half usually keeps me plied with green tea and kind words and then deposits me at the station (perhaps better he drives given the wheelie bin incident).

The trains run several an hour and are generally on time (if they are delayed, erly morning commuters tend to tut quietly – is all) but they ARE bloody expensive.  To buy an annual pass to cover my train miles costs £3400 ($) – I am guessing more than some of you earn in a year.  Aside from the occasional tut, my fellow fare payers are generally wrapped up in their Blackberries, books, work papers or are asleep.  They travel alone and avoid eye contact and small talk.  Occassionally work colleagues will travel together, generating passive aggressive sighs from fellow commuters as they break the dull silence by daring to talk.  And if it happens to be school holidays and you should decide to use rail travel with talkative young,expect people to blatantly move seats to be at a distance or huffily plug their ears with headphones.  If you are American, it’s strongly advised that you remain mute, less you should offend.  Like the Norther Irish, your voice carries and will disturb this sacred silent time.

The journey home on the same train is a little more animated.  A similar group of commuters, but this time wrestling under a sea of free newspapers handed out by low paid masses who thrust said paper in your face at every  train and tube station in London,  Even I pick them for a read – after a hard days strategising with government, I find myself drawn to  know more about Jude’s relationship with his illigimate child, Winehouses breat falling out at a party or Paris’s British Best Friend.  Actually I cheat, I pick up discarded papers from seats not from touts and consider my actions one of ethical recycling.  Besides I feel very uncomfortable with myself  straining to read tabloid filth over someones shoulder.

Sometimes when I arrive at King’s Cross in the morning I decide to walk all the way to the office.  Like I did this morning, taking far too long (50 mins) and generating bloody blisters on the backs of each heel.  Sometimes I wear proper shoes, fit for purpose – like many a suited officer walker, and can manage the distance in 35 minutes.  The journey clears my head and I love to glimpse shop owners preparing for thday, and get wafts of Great British fry-ups from cafes, or encounter het-lagged tourists awake far too early for anything to be open.  Not far from the British museum I usually come across groups of labourers gathered over steaming polysterene cups and cigarettes.  Their laughter makes me enious as my own work colleagues are far less colourful or jolly.  Walking through Convent garden, which seems entirely recession free and littered with stupid boutiques selling things nobody needs, and onto Trafalgar Square where I quietly nod  a hello to an alleged relation on top of his collum and head down towards Big Ben and the powerhouses of British Government.

Sometimes I don’t walk, I get the tube (subway), which unless I time it right involves some very close bodily contact with complete strangers (who still manage to maintain the silent no eye contact thing despite being an inch away from your face).  Its a lack of dignity thing, I think we simply pretend not to be there.

Good thing about the commute is the amount I read – as  a mother of three with a full time job, reading is an absolute luxury, but I have been able to fill my heads with the mountains of the Hindu Kush and Britains immigrant community in the east end.  Shadows of British countryside flash past in the dusk and dawn light ).  Realise that if I haad travelled 1500 in a straight line would have reached x.

Live From Baghdad

my room

my room

PLEASE EXCUSE MISTAKES – Typing on a screen not much bigger than a postage stamp with a VERY slow internet connection….

So.  I made it through my first working day in Iraq.  I am sitting shivering under the AC in my porta-cabin bedroom (better than a freight container) in the International Zone in Baghdad.  I’m eating chocolate and smoking to keep me awake as I successfully managed to skip a whole nights sleep en route…and still managed a pretty productive, exciting and moving work day.  Spending a whole day with a group of Iraqi’s is amazing and I stand by my opinion that I have yet to meet an Iraqi who wasn’t polite, caring, and well…just lovely.  Enjoyed a hearty lunch of flat bread, hummus and vegetables amidst lots of laughs.  Exchanged war stories with the team who are looking after me – and had a trouble free road trip through the red zone (putting body armour on WAS like riding a bike).  More from me later, but for now some pictures and an account of my journey here…written en-route.

ON MY WAY

I am typing this on a rather oversized apple screen in a business class lounge.  I feel a sense that a certain number of my lonely privialged travelling companions might be looking over my shoulder, but a have no choice.  A Nomadic blogger must be true to her trade and get on with the job in hand.  The BC forum recently discussed business class travel – I can say that this experience is so far no different from others – the rooms is full of uptight white men in suits.  Me, in my sparkling shalwar kamiz headed east probably puts me in the sore thumb category, but oh well.  The most exciting thing about this place is the array of magazines for the taking.  I am stuck between The Spectator, Economist and the New Statesmen )which is lurring me on the front page with an Afghan story.  I MUST pick up some newspapers for British friends I meet in Baghdad – it’s like an unwritten law, you take papers to people in war zones.  Like pencils for school kids in the developing world.  By the time I have scopped up the freebies in this airconditioned lougne my carefully packed hand luggage will weigh me down I know it.  It is already biting into my shoulder every time I pick it up.  I am actually gloating from the fact that I have everything I need for a week in Iraq in hand luggage only.  I imagine I may tell a different story this time next week.  What strikes me as VERY odd is the last time I entered Iraq (by road from Kuwait three years ago), I wore my desert boots, combat trousers and laboured with a heavy back pack full of essentials.  A whistle.  Spare water bottles.  A compass.  No – I wasnät in the military, but I was very serious about spending time on a military base.  Talk about overly prepared – spot who took the briefing TOO seriously.  Not the best kit for meeting Iraqis I grant you – but luckily (or not) I didn’t meet many of those, so I was well camoflagues amongst my post-conflict non- Iraqi colleagues.  This time, after three 8yes three) pinot grigios in the business class lounge, I will take my whitsle and compass free bag on board a business class flight bound for Baghdad.  No spiral decent in a Hercules for me.  Hopefully I will be taken to the heart of the city and spend the week with Iraqis.  No combat trousers in sight.  I plan to dress like the woman I am and gte my job done in a way that will inspire, enthuse and share skills.  Unfinished busines this.  Its the ripple effect,  but a good one this time.

So enough, my flight is being called.  Enough of this luxury, time to board.  I NEED to get sleep.  For I have a mere three hours on the ground before I start work.  Inshallah the connection will work!

ON MY WAY PART TWO

So the wine worked.  I am very drowsy and hoping that the pulsating of this beast of an aircraft and the warmth of its business class belly will lull me to sleep.  It’s 20 hours door to door from my English village home to my temporary base in Baghdad.  I start work just hours after I arrive, so I NEED to get some rest.  Trouble is, I have just clocked that I only have 2 hours and 40 mins left on this leg of the journey.  And I still have a swine flu form to fill in (as does everyone, I hasten to add – I am no nomadic carrier).  MaybeI have  enough time to catch a film and then doze? But they haven’t even delivered my dinner order yet, so not much chance, I think.  I think there is a Tom Hanks movie about death row in 1935 called Green something that might tempt me to close my eyes.  I will give it a go.  Nuts juts arrived.  And some coke lite.  I am breaking all my rules today.  Alcohol, caffeine, gassy drinks – All not good for the aging nomadic digestive system.  Still, the bald guy sitting opposite me is qwaffing the wine.  His glasses are so thick they look like they are hurting his nose as they rest on it.  Big white towelling socks and he starts with fright everytime we hit turbulence.  Don’t blame him for the wine.

I am missing my kids terribly at the moment.  They have been in Hungary with their dad (who’s GF is part Hungarian), whilst I have been renovating and rehearsing and nursing in France.  They are as I write this mid air back toEngland, so our planes may have passed in the sky, sadly I will have to wait a little longer before I see them.  The day after I get home, we are having a party to celebrate our wedding (yes, I have sadly left behind my husband of less than three months too AND his two girls who are over from France.  Sigh).  I did get married in real life, not just on Twitter, so I my juggle with domesticity and  Nomadicity is very real.  Still, back in the day, I always said that house-wives would do a much better job of clearing up the streets of Basra than young male (foreign) soldiers with guns.  So let’s hearing for post-conflict peace building mums.

To absent friend and family.  And Tom Hanks.  Here we go.

LATER….

Another airport lounge another country.  It is at about this stage that I forget which country I am in.  I always think there is little more disrespectful to a place than to merely transit.  I am judging this place by it’s tacky chandeliers and leather sofas.  And furniture.  Lots of furniture.  The lounge is rapidly emptying and staff are turning chairs over on table  – but at least I have a sofa.  Although I’m not the slightest bit tired yet, just as well – I am sure that the constant droning announcements in a foreign language will keep me on my toes.  Funny how even though no English is spoken I can still tell than names are being mis-pronounced.

STILL ON MY WAY

Hey-up, I think I have just managed to get connected to the internet on my little notebook.  I gave up on the lounge Dells which offered little in English and I couldn’t find the letter i on the keyboard.  Ah not so good – I only have 34 minutes remaining in battery life and I don’t hold out my chances of finding a UK plug socket here.  Just had a chat with a man heading to Jeddha whos daughter wants to work for the UN.  Nice guy – he showed me where the wine glasses where.  I always feel uncomfortable helping myself to food and drink in business lounges.  I might get used to it though.

Sigh.  Manyhours stretch before me.  Laptop dwindling.  No book to read.  Just Private Eye and a pile of papers on media regulation and human rights issues in Iraq.  You can only take in so much.  Maybe I will set and alarm and try and rest…I did see a sign for a “rest room” but fear they might mean lavatory.

So glad I spoke to my daughter this evening – all bright and bubbly from her holiday, it will be great to be back next week – and Im am sure the adrenaline and excitement of being back in Iraq and having lots of work to do and things to talk about will make it speed by.

PS – The Green Mile film was actually pretty good.  Although I missed the ending!

MUCH LATeR

OK, I am delirious with tiredness now.  I only have 15 mins left of laptop battery and I have read the evening standard.  This vast place has emptied out now and only three flights are showing before mine but its still hours away.  I found out that the rest rooms were what looked like three dentists chairs separatedby curtains.  Very odd – I didn’t fancy spreading out to sleep in there.  Just spotted a couple of contracturs surely headed for Iraq.  Sunburnt and shaven headed, burly men with the standard ID POUCH ROUND THIER necks, probably with Operation Iraqi Freedom on it.  They think they are being ironic.  I suddenly feel overdresses in my outrageously ornate black floaty shalwar covered in gold beads.  I fit in VERY well with the decor in here, but how will it be arriving on my own into Baghdad airport?  No doubt I will hit a wall of heat.

airport sleep

airport sleeplanding in baghdad

Le Blog de Nomade

french-mist

Once more I feel my claim to the title “Nomadic” slipping away. These days I talk to the rest of the world from my cosy rural Hertfordshire retreat via skype, social networks and write ranty blog postings about Islamic identity and strategic communication. So as a refreshing change I am going to pen some thoughts more about baguettes and romantic renovation than advice on saving the world. So, at last a travel post about a country I have been to several times over the past year and an attempt to prove my nomadicity.

I was 11 years old when I left the shores of the Great British Isles for the first time. Le Harve didn’t know what hit it when I landed together with about 80 of my school friends back in 1982. We behaved badly on the ferry crossing: we snogged on the top deck; we smoked discarded butts and drunk the dregs from glasses in a shadowy bar at one o’clock in the morning. When we arrived in France we promptly fell asleep. The only thing I can remember from the 24 hours in France was sitting in a cafe wearing a navy blue beret and stripped shirt (although I think I only have this memory because a teacher travelling with us snapped a photo of the moment and to my embarrassment it went on the school notice board). On the way back the boys got caught with the flick knives they had purchased and were suspended from school, which cast an ugly shadow over the whole affair.

I have returned to France many times over the years – weekends to Paris, grimacing moments at Disney, but usually just passing through with my eyes closed, evoking a gallic shrug of indifference. To say I haven’t made the most of the place is a huge understatement – but to me it just never quite felt foreign enough. It seemed like going out for a wild night on the town and ending up at your next-door-neighbours house for a beer. As a young traveller I was more concerned with ticking off countries in the middle east, southern Africa and the tropics.

However, last year I fell in love with a dashing English man who lived in Brittany. This time France was plucked from my periphery vision and thrown in my face with unexpected delight. Unlike girlfriends before me, integrity prevents me from going into detail about my relationship with the gentleman concerned, however I will say he is quite the best thing to have ever happened to me. And as Nomadic enters a new era – finally spending my time in free flow writing and painting and doing what I am good at for a living (and what is right) – maybe the time has come to take a good long look at France (maybe even learn French). Sometimes for less than a quid Ryanair will transport you to Dinard (with a cheesy fanfare arrival if you are lucky enough to be on time) – which I wouldn’t scoff at for love nor money (or indeed both). So a few snapshots if I may of the France that the man in my life has shown me – a small piece of a country I have blinked and missed far too many times before:

Flying kites with five wonderful children (his and mine) on a cloudy beach at Saint Lunaire on the Emerald Coast; a famous five bike ride to a twee French geranium filled village; the best fresh fruit and vegetable market I have ever seen ever (Rennes); a moving moment at the cheese stall (at the said market); eating cherries (that market again – I said it was good); running breathlessly across a cricket pitch in the dead of night (yes, cricket in France); feeling fluey and glimpsing the amazing beachscapes of the Brittany coast; looking up from the cobbled streets of old town St Marlo and dreaming of apartment living; smiley, friendly French people (which is against everything I was bought up to believe); Wolf the kitten purring like a tractor; delicious pastries caked in wasps; amazing serendipitous floor laying and a cool beer to celebrate our feat; dead men and plasterboard; photographing fields on a misty morning with my new iPhone; and those chimneys three in a row across the rooftops of Rennes, which I still see every morning as I wake up.

So some of my moments in a rough sketch– and there will be plenty more to come I am sure. Perhaps now that I have a (second) permanent home in Brittany I will write more about life there and report on the renovation project, if only to prove I am still on the move (albeit a little slower) but can live up to the name “Le Nomade”.

Mental Travel

  No, not mental as in mad.  Mental as in imaginary.  I have no means of transport – so it’s all in my mind.  If I could mentally transport myself ANYWHERE in the world right now it would be to a certain campsite in Brittany, France.  But this nomad doesn’t travel far of late.  Not since she spun out of control on a wet road somewhere near Brize Norton in Oxfordshire last Sunday.  Out of control and into a four foot deep ditch which someone had carelessly left alongside the road.  I am told it is pretty hard to write off a Landrover (right off?), but discovery by name, discovery by nature – we found out it was possible. 

 

Amazingly me and the kids clambered out with barely a scratch (although I had mysterious bruises on my knees that I put down to dubious alien intervention).  My son said it was “like Jackass” and my daughter immediately texted her friends, glad to have some dramatic news.  My youngest was more concerned about spilt chocolates.  I have to say the site of the underbelly of my beloved vehicle illuminated by the flashing police lights in the pouring rain was a sobering moment.  They closed the road as the recovery truck winched her out, and she slithered out of the undergrowth like a newborn.  I slapped her arse and knew I wouldn’t be driving her again, poor love. 

 

So this week I have toyed with the idea of having no car.  I went through a similar feeling when I said goodbye to the au pair last year.  How could I possibly cope alone with three kids?  It would save money of course, but logistically?  Was I mad?  It seems like such a big change, but as Alan Cohen writes:

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.

Wise words indeed (perhaps better on my nomadic-wisdom site although that has been taken over by Iraqi football).  “In movement there is life, and in change there is power” – 4 Nomadic with her perpetual moving on and perpetual arriving at something new the words give strength.  But I realise that although dubbed nomadic because of the number of times I have moved house and for the many places I have been to around the world, it is really all about a state of mind.  I can continue to embrace change and life can be an exciting adventure, without actually going anywhere at all.  The movement is all internal and the trick is not to stagnate. 

 

That said, I have spotted a wonderful 1973 soft top Series III Landrover that would suit me down to the ground.  I could be in Brittany before tea time.

 

Hello world!

NomadicLike any good Nomad – I HAVE MOVED. 

All pevious ramblings can be found on www.travelpod/members/nomadic.  From Bristol to Baghdad (is just a shameless list of everywhere I have ever been 1970-2007), Into Afghanistan (my first free-to-speak flirtation with blogging) , musings on the UAE, and On the Edge in Bonn.  Travels after June 2008 will be posted here.

The scenesetter – I am a single mother of three who is not adverse to living on the edge and visiting some of lifes more challenging places.   I like to write about it.  4nomadic is now my self indulgent web place – where I can rest my kit bag, hang out and share some of me travel treasures with you. Pure escapism. 

Nomadic can also be found online at www.nomadic-wisdom.blogspot.com