Normally, I don’t keep a journal during my travels, but I made a compromise last year. For years now, I have been starting each day with a ‘Morning Pages’ session. This is a practice that is meant to make me a proper writer. The idea is that I’m to get up each day and, before I do anything else, I’m to write anything that comes to mind for three pages or so. The main benefit so far that I’ve found is that when I tell people that I’m a writer and they ask ‘So…have you written anything today?’ I can always say, ‘Yes’.
It’s a good practice, but it’s not practical when travelling. That series of notebooks is filled with my deepest, darkest thoughts and I would not want anyone other than me to see them. The thought of leaving the books anywhere where they could be found is terrifying. They do not leave the flat. Ever.
I compromised by taking a revision cards book on my travels. I would not do Morning Pages during the trip. Instead, I would jot notes about what I saw and did with the idea that I would eventually turn them in to a series of blog posts.
Why this? Why now?
It’s taken more than a year for me to look at my notes again and I often thought I wouldn’t bother with the blogs, but the events of 2020 have inspired me to go back to those notes. I’m currently on annual leave in a city with heavy COVID-19 restrictions, including closed pubs and restaurants and a ban on travelling anywhere beyond my health board zone. Last year’s adventures are no longer possible.
They capture something of the ‘Before Time’ when things could be done on a whim with no need to pre-book, mask up, social distance, or sanitise. We could just wander the streets, find somewhere for a coffee or a pint or a meal. We could pop into a bookshop or an attraction as the fancy struck, jump on a bus or wander the streets and that’s what we did.
What follows for the next few posts is self-indulgent, biased, and not particularly well-edited or insightful. They are my thoughts as I recorded them at the time. I’m not claiming any special insights and, for the most part, it is mere reporting on where we went and what we did. We like pubs, bookshops, and museums so you won’t find anything about much beyond those.
But there is a purpose: I also want to support, even if only in a small way, some of the places we visited and enjoyed as we travelled last year. I hope that they will still be around when or if this is over. I have provided links throughout so that they can be seen as they are in 2020.
My notes cover 7-13 October 2019. My husband and I revisited some favourite places, including places we’d lived, worked, studied, or had visited before on holidays. The goal was to relax for the most part, but also to think. I was, as I often am, between jobs (See The REF, Redundancy, Rag Rugs, and Renewal: A Personal Post) The inspiration for my note-taking was Daniel Defoe’s A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain.
Not able to cover all of the country in a week of annual leave, we chose to go to London, Oxford, and York.