I used to wander off a lot as a child. One of my mother’s favourite anecdotes to tell about toddler-me was the time we were at the beach, and a stranger ran up to my mother urgently pointing at a slowly disappearing into the distance child in a flotation ring on the sea. Is that your child? they asked.
The adults had taken their eyes off of me for a couple of minutes, and I’d grabbed the opportunity to make my escape.
That was probably the first time I tried to get away by sea. Later on I improved my technique and equipment. Fins on feet got me further away faster, as did doing most of the swimming underwater so as not to be slowed down by waves.
I’m not really sure where I thought I was going, wherever it was I never got there.
The last time I considered swimming across the ocean was when I realised that I was madly in love with my partner.
We’d met while both of us were on holiday, and he’d just returned home across the sea. I was standing at the edge of my side of the world, staring out at the water… and this powerful impulse seized me. It seemed like the most direct route to get to where I wanted to be.
I did use a more practical method to hunt him down and make him mine. I wasn’t sure how things would play out once I turned up there… luckily he’d been planning on hunting me down too.
We met because neither of us ended up where we had originally planned on going.
Our travels together often do that too. It seems to be our thing.
Years later we decided to go to Morocco…
Essaouira was our destination of choice. I love that photograph above of one of the streets in the town. That beautiful mural with that pile of garbage opposite… it’s the sort of picture my father would have taken and then used as inspiration for a painting.
My father loved to travel, wander around in a seemingly aimless manner wherever he was, and take hundreds of photographs of sights which captured his creative eye.
He saw the world as shapes, colours, bold strokes of a palette knife. Garbage was not garbage, it was a mix of textures, part of the vibrant mess of life being lived. He would have turned that pile into a bouquet.
He taught me to look at things, people, the world around me as the abstract which took shape when you focused on it and then blurred again once you moved your eyes away.
In that moment of focus it became what you perceived and told you a story about yourself.
Look away and then come back to it… and it could become something else, depending on light, dark, time, mood, shift of thought, feeling, something new added to it.
I don’t remember why we wanted to go to Morocco, but it doesn’t matter now.
Instead of Morocco… we ended up in Bali.
In Bali we were supposed to stay at a beach resort far from the hustle and bustle, but thanks to an inefficient travel agent we ended up in the middle of the hubbub, in a small hotel which was a bit like a private residence and all the people who worked and stayed there were like friends.
That was such a wonderful trip, experience, perfect exactly as it turned out.
We weren’t supposed to end up where we are now, living in this part of the UK. We had thought that we would perhaps live on the other side of it, but our plans took a detour.
Our first night in the area, we stayed in a pub where a man with a falcon resting on his arm walked into a bar, had a pint and chatted with the regulars as though this was something everyone did.
We did not end up where we thought we were going when we started that trip, instead we ended up exactly where we needed to be.
“Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”― Ibn Battuta, The Travels of Ibn Battutah