Thursday, 26 January 2012

No ceiling

You may be looking at this blog because, in your heart, you’re an explorer, an adventurer. You’ve either acted upon, or will one day want to act upon, a desire to run further afield from current pastures. You may be planning a gap year, a career break or an unorthodox retirement after a lifetime at the mill or you might just have had a crazy idea that you’re determined to make real. Whatever the reason behind your restlessness, you may have already begun to feel the pull of the road, the excitement of new borders, the fresh dawns over ever changing horizons. You might be studying maps and thinking about learning a foreign language.

If you’re serious, then deep down you’ll have a nervous knot but it keeps your senses alert to the nature of the challenge and the closer you get to your goal the bigger the knot gets. Perhaps you’re being reckless and irresponsible, perhaps friends and family think your crazy plans are a bluff, perhaps you don’t have enough money saved. But perhaps you’ll do it anyway. You’ve started to look forward to imagined risks and set-backs and have accepted them as all part of the project. You know for certain that you’re going to do this – it’s only a matter of time. Mark Twain famously exhorted us to ‘explore, dream, discover’ and you’ll take that advice.

This is an account of my own long-time dream which I’m finally beginning to put into practice. When I was planning and dreaming, I trawled through blogs and websites looking for someone just like me. I read the experiences of Alistair Humphreys and Mark Beaumont and didn’t find any impossibilities. The only qualification appeared to be bloody-mindedness. Dangers, surprises and impracticalities seemed exciting, not worrying. So whether it be for research, for reminiscence or for day-dreaming I hope my own future reports can assist you and set you wandering. Forget sensible.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Live boldly

Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about a change of direction in your life but going to bed realising it probably won't happen? Ahh . . . wouldn't it be great, you think, one day I'll do it. It might simply be climbing a large mountain or learning to scuba dive. Perhaps you want to spend 6 months volunteering in Africa; or sign up at Open University and get that Masters degree; or buy a second-hand yacht and sail around the world.

But, of course, there are so many practical reasons against change and so many sensible people telling you to get real and stop dreaming. The immediacy of life gets in the way and demands your attention. But thoughts of escape remain carefully tucked away in your memory waiting for the opportune moment to burst forth with renewed conviction. As the years pass, you'll either regret your inaction, or laugh out loud at such naïve nonsense. As for me? I just thought "what the hell, why not, what's the worst that can happen?"

Some 'back of an envelope' budget calculations, divorce and a 45th birthday slotted some pieces into place. My own naïve dream was of exploring, wishing to have been born 200 years earlier into the romantic age of European exploration. Not really practical, but nonetheless much of the world is still out there just as it was. Mountains & lakes, rivers & valleys, islands & oceans still hold an unshakeable attraction. I'll go take a look . . . .  and I'll go on a bicycle!

Get one here: