Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Before this blog gets back to chess, and I really want it to get back to chess, I still have a couple of thoughts to pass on about holidays. The whole experience of holidays is for me a set of events which starts in the planning of the holiday, the build up and excitement, the travel, and the way the holiday affects or changes you.

Marion, who we hadn't seen for over 10 years with her daughter, Natasha, who we'd never met before

My niece, Vanya, with another newcomer to Caroline and I, Amelia.

Caroline and I once went on a week long trip to the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, to a resort in the sun, by the sea. After about half a day, we realised we'd made a terrible mistake. The next day we hired a car, and drove to every nook and cranny on the island, and I guess we knew that we were not the sort of people who can happily go to one place for any length of time, without a lot of things to do. Since then, we have chosen short breaks or roadtrips. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticising that type of holiday, I'm just saying what type of holiday suits me, and Caroline.

Just some steps down, but seen in the right light...
This time we planned to go to Europe, partly as a holiday for ourselves, and partly to see family. I've posted on this blog about the places we went, things we saw and people we met. The trip we took was a culmination of a lot of planning, discussion, ideas and, in the end, decisions about what was feasible. Things that were in the pipeline and never happened included trips to Venice, Berne, Bordeaux and Brittany. However we came up with the right trip for us which involved a lot of driving, a lot of walking, but a few occasions when we could just relax.

Which would you rather see? Sunrise in the alps?

Or sunset on the Mediterranean? Take your pick!
A great thing about a roadtrip is that you find places that you never even knew existed that you pass on your way, little hidden gems. On our first drive from Amsterdam to France we passed through the beautiful Meuse Valley in Belgium, an area that it was our intention just to drive through. Instead we had to get out regularly and just wonder at the beauty. When we drove around western USA a couple of years ago we had a similar experience. We were driving on a long stretch out of California and through Nevada towards Yellowstone. We had envisioned a long, boring drive, but instead were wowed by the stark landscape of the Sierra Nevada, and even loved the gambling towns such as Winnemucca.

A visit to Reims Cathedral was our "punishment" for a wrong turn
A holiday should charge the spirit, invigorate the soul, and leave someone with the drive and direction to take on life when they get home. While our holiday was physically exhausting, it was a psychological cleansing, a kaleidoscope of colours, shapes, languages and people which completely stripped down emotional barriers and refreshed them. We were sated from a travelling point of view and were ready to come home and carry on with life. But life would be different for both Caroline and I after this trip. We had both lost close members of family since our last trip to England which made visiting family a little different. As we'd been away for so long, it might have been more apparent to us, than those who were still living near home. Both Caroline and I decided on a course of action to take back here in Melbourne. Caroline has started creative writing, while I'm working on preparations to play at the Australian chess Championship in January. We're both a little obsessive about our pursuits, and after thinking about them on our trip, jumped straight into them on our return.

The side of the road is always good, like here in the Auvergne

 And next? Yes, of course, the end of one holiday spells the start of plans for the next one. But where to? Next year might see us do something more local. Japan, New Zealand, and parts of Australia are all possibilities. Another roadtrip? The next big one will probably be to Glacier National Park in the USA and Banff in Canada. This would probably be my number 1 choice of destination at this moment in time (coinciding with seeing the Northern Lights in Edmonton would be good). When will that be? I suppose I'd better get saving!

Some Autumn colour in Basingstoke Memorial Park, the town I was born

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