The Art of Travel

I always feel ‘at home’ when I’m travelling. Despite the contradiction, my soul settles when I’m on the move. It’s when I feel the most present and alive and inspired.

I know why I prefer to travel than arrive. I know why this makes me the happiest. Travelling, whether by foot, car, train, bicycle or spaceship (why not?) equates to freedom and excitement. There is always the potential of something magical at every turn, and this is fine fuel for the imagination.

This need to be moving – travelling through the landscape (near or far) – is deeply innate. It probably goes some way to explaining my frequent house moves in recent years and this sense of never being totally settled in one place. I am content when I’m on my way, whether I happen to be on my way to somewhere or nowhere in particular.

I am a wandering star with a Romany heart. Haven’t I always known this? The roaming soul that I am is my natural state of being. Before I arrived on this planet, I have no doubt that I was wandering the cosmos with the freedom of a ghost bird.

As a child, I wandered for hours by the river and in the meadows close to the former blacksmith’s cottage that is my family’s home. Only the sound of my mother’s voice calling me in for dinner brought me back. Even then it was a reluctant return, despite the happy home and loving family that awaited me. My need to be on the move – exploring, dreaming, being – felt necessary for my well-being.

Even now, after prolonged, grounding stints of writing and project time, I become restless. Some aspect of my soul is always travelling. My imagination will take me beyond any wall; I can bi-locate quite freely… something we creative folks can do with relative ease. It’s not always enough though, and the irresistible art of travelling requires full and complete expression through body, mind and soul.

Looking way back, the prospect of a car journey with my dad was always a treat. This was an adventure on winter evenings when the world became a live picture book of moon-lit frosted land, running hares, narrow winding lanes, moth clouds, spooky trees, spookier owls… I was entranced by those small journeys, full of imagery and story, that took us wanderers from one village to another.

It is only in the past decade or so that I’ve realised how important travelling is to my creativity. While writing Light Weaver, for example, my ‘research trips’ were absolutely essential. The time I spent journeying and exploring the Lake District and the Cumbria / Lancashire borders offered sensory insights that found their way into the writing of that story, and I’m sure that is why I have such wonderful comments about the book. Perhaps, in some way, this novel re-connected my readers with their own free travelling soul.

In recent times, I’ve been experimenting with my camera while travelling (as a passenger I hasten to add).

The scenery and light is ever-changing and the resulting imagery is often semi-abstract, neither here or there, revealing glimpses of time-travel and the transience of the moment.

This creative experimentation is enriching my travels in unexpected ways. I find it endlessly fascinating and, at the heart of it all, I see it for what it is: a journey without end.

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