This morning I went to my roof, sat down overlooking the bay below and ate a runny honey sandwich. By the end of this article, you’ll understand why – and hopefully feel inspired to go travelling within the next week. Really!

On Google’s dictionary, travel is defined as “to make a journey, typically of some length or abroad.” The crucial word there is typically. It doesn’t always have to involve long haul flights, heavy backpacks and finding oneself whilst wearing elephant pants. Whilst this is definitely one type of travel, I think you can reap the many benefits of travel in your own backyard. Literally.

Last Christmas, Martina came to visit the UK. I showed her round my old stomping grounds in Nottingham and we had an amazing time (especially being tourists in the world’s oldest pub).

When visiting the world's oldest face, it is mandatory to do an "ooooOOOOooo!" face.
When visiting the world’s oldest pub, it is mandatory to do an “ooooOOOOooo!” face.

But then, the itch to be back in nature took hold and we organised a trip with my dad to the nearby peak district.

Even through my iPhone camera that is held in place with masking tape... this place looks beautiful
Even through my phone camera that’s held in place with masking tape… the Peak District looks beautiful

Despite living in Nottingham for many years, this was the third time in my adult life I’d been to the Peak District. I’ve been to Bangkok more times than that. All that time, this beautiful scenery was less than an hour away… and I never bothered to go (yet dreamt of far flung foreign climes).

Peak district river crossing
We intrepidly strode out across the rock stepping stones for a photo…
...which didn't quite go to plan
…which didn’t quite go to plan (we wanted our faces in it – we weren’t going for an arty leg shot!)

My housemate recently told me of a Chinese coworker back in the UK. Every weekend, she would jump in her car and travel to some incredible UK destinations – places the average Brit has probably never even heard of, let alone been to. We tend to spend so long dreaming of those precious holiday weeks where we’ll be free to launch into another country and its culture, that we forget about our own.

Why not find somewhere awe-inspiring in your local area this week?
Why not find somewhere awe-inspiring in your local area this week?

So why the runny honey sandwiches? Whilst running home the other day, a memory sprang to mind of the times that my mum would make me runny honey sandwiches, then take me to the end of the garden to eat them. My adult legs can cover that distance in fewer than ten paces (this illustrates how short the distance is, not how AWESOME my adult legs are). Yet from my toddler’s perspective, I had travelled. I was on the other side of… well, the garden. But to the 5 year old me, it felt like a real experience. We somehow lose that sense of wonder at the simple things as we grow older, and feel as though we have to travel a thousand miles before we can wonderstruck at the world. Maybe there’s something equally impressive round the corner at the end of your road?

This morning, I wanted to try and recreate the sense of enjoyment I got from my runny honey sandwich days. The scenery might have changed and these days I have to make my own runny honey sandwiches, but the unbridled joy remained the same. And the conscious act of ‘travelling’ to my own roof allowed me to take in my surroundings more, to focus in on everything I could see and hear (the senses of smell, taste and touch were all being blocked by the sandwich…). It’s a beautiful view and it’s always right there. Sure, I am lucky enough to be living in Thailand, but at times I am just as guilty of ignoring the opportunities that provides as I was when I lived in England.

Things that have changed since I was a child: 1) I have to make the sandwiches for myself. 2) The view of the garden gate has been replaced with he view of a giant golden Buddha statue. 3) I've got a beard.
Things that have changed since I was a child: 1) I have to make the sandwiches for myself. 2) The view of the garden gate has been replaced with he view of a giant golden Buddha statue. 3) I’ve got a beard.

In the spirit of this, we have a challenge for you. In the next week, do some form of travelling. It doesn’t have to be expensive, extensive or extravagant. Jump on a bus or train and see what’s down the road; take a journey further afield with some friends in a car; or even just recreate your own childhood memories. If you have children yourself, remember they see the world very differently and something simple to you might be mind-meltingly amazing to them. And one day, they might end up writing a blog in which they recreate the moments you create together. Whatever you end up doing, the important thing is to make it a conscious moment, a deliberate act of taking in your surroundings – even if it’s a place you see every day. Maybe you’ll notice something different? Whatever you get up to, be sure to share you experience below in the comments section!

4 thoughts to “Travel in your own back yard

  • Emma

    Great blog! OK I’m definitely feeling inspired to find somewhere in Manchester I haven’t been or haven’t been for a while over the next week to find the awe and wonder in , I mean Manchester is a pretty cool city after all. As you point out travel doesn’t ‘have to’ involve finding oneself whilst wearing ‘elephant pants’ however I think they definitely legitimise the ‘travelling’ so Manchester’s Northern Quarter might be in for a treat this week!


      Glad you feel inspired Emma! You should get some photos of you travelling to RBG Manchester in your elephant pants. According to a website I just checked, there is no dress code so you’re good to go!

      Enjoy exploring – you never know what might be round the corner 🙂

  • Jane Hawkey

    I loved reading this Tom…it’s so true. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my walks along the Ridgeway, the Letcombe footpath, the Downs when I was looking after mum. Rural England is truly beautiful. Very different when seen through adult eyes…


      Glad you enjoyed the post aunty Jane! As two expats, we should remember what the motherland holds for us also. It’s not called the “green and pleasant land” for nothing! I’ve not been to any of the places you mention – I’ll have to explore them next time I am back.


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