I am back from our trip to the UK now, so I thought I would write my blog about what I learned on the trip.
I learned that no matter where we go, it is the simple things in life which give us pleasure.
I think my greatest pleasure was having someone else cook for me for 4 weeks. Being vegan, I was a bit concerned that I might have difficulty finding anything to eat. I needn’t have worried. I found that, given enough notice, most places were happy to provide excellent meals, some better than others. I was delighted to find rare treats, like vegan cupcakes in Selfridges in London, and a vegan restaurant in Glastonbury. I was most delighted to find a vegan treat (flapjack) at a tiny tea house in the middle of nowhere in Devon.
I also learned that, just because a restaurant provides a vegan menu, it doesn’t mean they will provide good vegan food. Some places which had to create something special for me did a better job. (A restaurant in Guernsey which had a vegan menu, from which I had to order 24 hours in advance, provided a meal that was barely edible. The berries were great though.)
Which reminds me of one of the pleasures of travel to the UK: melt-in-your-mouth berries, and being able to pick blackberries growing wild all over the place. Australian berries just don’t seem to measure up, well not the ones we get here anyway.
Another of the simple pleasures on our trip was catching up with my husband’s cousins, and old friends and their spouses. Jon enjoyed reminiscing about his childhood and teenage years, and I enjoyed putting faces to the names that I had heard about for so many years. I realised that, underneath, we are all the same the world over. Our daily lives may be slightly different, but we all have joys and challenges in our lives, and it was interesting to hear about how people make the most of both.
One of the greatest joys of travel, for me, is in seeing beautiful scenery, and we certainly experienced some wonderful views on this voyage. But the beautiful scenery was enjoyed much more when we immersed ourselves in it, by walking through it. Which reminded me of another of the simple pleasures that we often take for granted – the joy of walking in nature.
Thankfully, the UK, despite its large population, has managed to maintain many green spaces, and encourages people to get out and enjoy them with its public footpath network. We were happy to have the opportunity to explore a number of these during our travels.
During a number of the walks we did, such as along the coastal paths in Cornwall, Devon, and Guernsey, and up the Tor in Glastonbury, there were multiple steps, many rough-hewn and quite high and steep.
These walks brought me another lesson – gratitude for my body. These little legs, at first, complained bitterly, when I placed extra pressure on their muscles, as I ascended and descended the hundreds of steps. The following day, when we encountered another endless set of steps, I would think: “Ah, yesterday was in training for this.” And yet, each day my legs became stronger and stronger. Each day was in training for the next. By the last set of steps, my body was so used to them, I hardly noticed the steps at all.
How often do we really think about and appreciate all that our body does for us? Without our legs, walking would be impossible. Without our eyes, we could not enjoy the wonderful sights. Without our ears, we couldn’t enjoy the birdsong, or the pleasant sounds of waves lapping at the shore, or the wind rustling in the trees. Our bodies allow us to explore our surroundings.
I realised, after I returned, that one of the joys of travel is in the adventure that it provides. And I realised that we really don’t need to go overseas to find adventure.
We often spend our days, weeks, and months doing the same things, day in, day out. We need a holiday to get away from the humdrum. But what I realised is that we don’t have to travel to find adventure; we just need to put some adventure into our everyday lives.
We can add adventure to our days by following our inner guidance. Do you sometimes get the urge to turn down a different street, just to see where it leads, or to go inside a local art gallery instead of walking past? Does your heart sometimes tell you to take a walk around a local park, but you argue that you are too busy? Do you sometimes think that you should get up early and go for a morning walk, but just turn over and go back to sleep instead?
There are endless possibilities of places to explore right near where you live. You just need to follow your inner guidance, rather than your GPS guidance.
As well as providing a lesson about the simple pleasures in life, another lesson from my trip involved meditation, or rather lack of it.
Even though I learned on previous trips that it is possible to find the time to meditate daily, on this trip, meditation was relegated to an optional extra. Although I did my normal quick version of a chakra-clearing meditation before each of the daily card readings that I did while we were away, my longer sending-love-out-into-the-world meditation went by the wayside most days.
It was only after I returned, that I remembered what I had been missing out on. When I take the time to quiet my ego mind, and allow my God mind to send peace, love, healing, and joy out into the world, these things are returned to me tenfold. I always feel on top of the world after my morning and evening meditation, a far greater joy than travelling around it could ever provide.
The final lesson of my trip occurred as the journey was nearing an end. It was the same lesson that most travellers learn: there’s no place like home. Despite the joys of travelling, the greatest joy of all is coming home.