Sunday, 15 December 2013

We gotta get out of this place...

As soon as I can get around efficiently on my own two feet, we're going to book up a holiday. We were planning to do more in terms of getting away before the whole leg situation arose, putting life in general on hold, but once this period is over we should be able to get back on track.
But where to go?
I have a mental list of places I want to go in this country, and even a few places outside of the UK that I have a hankering to see. I've never been one for foreign travel; indeed it's the whole travelling bit of going places that I really hate. Once I'm safely installed in whatever place I'm staying in, I'm fine.
I'd love to go to the Scottish Highlands in search of the perfect photograph of such a beautiful landscape, touring the distilleries and being baffled by the local accent.
When I tell people how much I love the Yorkshire Dales and Moors, many say to me "Yes it's really nice, but have you been to Northumberland?". So often have I heard this that there's clearly something in it, so that's another one for the list.
I'm also keen to visit the Isle of Man, but not during TT week when it will be impossible to get a hotel room and getting around will be a bit tricky unless you happen to be John McGuinness. I would still love to drive the TT circuit, but at a somewhat more sedate pace than the world's two-wheel heroes would normally attack it.
I was born in Kent, and although I have been back there a few times I don't have any real desire to do so again. The only thing that would draw me there now would be to visit Dover castle to look at all the stuff from when it was used during WWII. The rest of the area I hail from - Broadstairs, Margate, Ramsgate - hold nothing for me at all, but to be honest it's just family history that I have no memory of, having moved to Cambridgeshire when I was only a year old.
I've done Devon, which although having some decent scenery (along with its neighbour Dorset) has failed to inspire me to make a return journey. I think this has less to do with the scenery, and more to do with the fact that the further south you go in the UK the more rude people become. In which case I definitely can't be bothered with Cornwall.

Going to another country will be a huge step. The last time I left Britain was nineteen years ago when we went to Austria for our honeymoon. Even then financial limitations meant going by coach which was good in a way because it avoided the airport nightmare, but also it was very tiring sitting on a coach for 23 hours each way. We were surrounded by old people who were obviously seasoned long distance coach users and therefore kitted up with all the essentials like inflatable pillows, bottles of brandy and the ability to fall asleep at the drop of a pork-pie hat.
That trip and a couple of day trips to France are the sum total of my time outside this country so far, and for most of my life this hasn't bothered me in the slightest. More recently however, I seem to have acquired a desire to explore other lands, cultures, and of course the traditional food and drink.
I have absolutely no interest in lying on a beach in Spain eating chips, drinking lager and going clubbing, but I would be happy to see the real Spain away from the tourist bollocks, and eating authentic paella.
I'd also love to visit Japan. Not Tokyo but whatever remains of old Japan, with its rolling hills and ancient temples.
Norway would be high on my list too, along with Alaska and Canada.
No list would be complete without America I suppose, but that would need to be a long trip to fit in the bits I'd want to see. Some would be predictable tourist traps no doubt, but even so I'd love to see the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. New York for Central Park and Liberty Island, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz and Seattle's space needle would all be required stops, which is a hell of a lot of miles that would probably require at least a month's tour. And while I was there I'd need to try and get a tour of NASA's enormous supersonic wind tunnel facility if they'd let me in.
The rest of the world can wait for now. If I manage to do all of the above I'd feel as though I'd achieved something good. After that I might consider places like Italy's Amalfi coast (because it looks awesome in Forza 3), and maybe Poland because it must be pretty much empty by now.
The main purpose of any holiday though, seems to be the same no matter where you go and what you do, because however good a time you have, the best part is getting back to the familiarity of your own home with your own bed and the reassuring normality of everyday life.
Until the repetitive drudgery of normality gets too much and you book up the next holiday....

The SRN4 hovercraft "The Princess Margaret".
Long since retired, these beasts used to do the cross-channel run.
I was lucky enough to travel on this one and her sister vessel "The Princess Anne" on a school trip to France when I was about 12.