Category Archives: living abroad

Growing Up in Athens

In my very first memory, I am sitting in a child seat on the back of one of my parents’ bicycles, reaching out my hand to feel the warm wind pushing between my starfished fingers. It is spring or summer, and the sun is high and golden in the clear blue sky above. The location is Connett Road, the site of my parents’ first home and later the place where I would complete my last two years of enrollment at The Plains Elementary School.

I did not know it then as a toddler, but Connett Road would later come to have a greater significance in my life. After my parents relocated to the southern edge of town, they made that thoroughfare the boundary of the part of town I was allowed to traverse unattended; I could walk or ride my bike to the end of any of the side streets that provided access to Connett, but I was not allowed to cross that larger, more heavily trafficked road myself—not until I was older, anyway, and commuted to and from school each day. I still remember how my hands were difficult to uncurl from their handlebar-gripping position after cold-morning bike rides. I can also vividly recall the rainy days when I would make myself as small as possible under my umbrella, shrinking my world down to the round patch of dryness under its canopy. The inclement weather didn’t bother me, though; I always liked the fresh air and the freedom of moving from place to place under my own power.

Railroad crossing at Eclipse Company Town

It’s probably not surprising, then, that in high school I routinely found myself back on Connett Road—but on foot this time, training for cross country and track races. A visit to Connett usually meant a longer run; on rare occasions we might head up the torturously windy Lemaster hill, or do repeats on the seemingly endless driveway where Lemaster and Connett met. It was more common for us to take a right and head towards Poston Road; in my final years at Athens High, our destination was the then-new Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, which finally offered us a scenic and car-free place to stretch our legs.

By the time I moved away from Athens at the age of 18, I knew every inch of that trail between Athens and Nelsonville; I had covered it not only on foot but also on my beautiful green Giant Iguana bike, built from scratch for me by friends at Cycle Path, and purchased with money saved up from, among other jobs, cleaning dorm rooms at Ohio University. It was worth the effort, though, because I was able to explore both The Plains and Athens like never before. Somewhere near Mile 14 is where I encountered my very first indigo bunting; I immediately turned around and rushed home to consult guidebooks on the identity of this impossibly blue bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wildlife was, perhaps inevitably, an integral part of my outdoor experience in Athens: The Appalachian foothills are teeming with beautiful and fascinating species, though, ironically, I did not fully appreciate this until I left the area and learned more about its biodiversity during university classes and summer jobs in neighboring Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kentucky. Even before that education, though, I knew enough to expect belted kingfishers near the Richland Avenue bridge, great blue herons in the reeds along the Hocking, and American kestrels hunting the fields along Route 50. I knew that box turtles hid in the damp, shady areas of our yard, and that the best place to find garter snakes was out behind my mother’s herb garden. I also learned early that it was a bad idea to walk barefoot underneath the sweet gum and chestnut trees.

There were other unpleasant encounters to be had farther from home, out at Dow Lake. Although I loved visiting Strouds Run on a hot day in order to have a picnic and a refreshing swim, I was very uneasy about water that wasn’t entirely transparent; I have never liked the feeling of unseen fish bumping into my thighs, or slimy aquatic weeds wrapping themselves around my ankles. My best friend and I once dared each other to swim out to the buoys, but turned back in a panic when we reached the thick algal growth floating a few feet from our destination. I was much happier renting a canoe or a kayak and staying well away from the greenery in the water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even better was visiting the lake at night (not technically permissible, by the way), lying on the shore and looking up at the mind-boggling multitude of stars over my head. While watching for meteors one night, a friend and I were awed by the sight of an owl gliding silently overhead, its black silhouette just a shade or two darker than the sky above. If I concentrate very hard, I can vaguely remember when my parents took me to a hill overlooking the shores of the Hocking River in 1986 so that I could look through a chunky portable telescope and catch sight of Halley’s Comet—an astronomical phenomenon that I will be able to see again in 2061, if I am lucky. Years later, with classmates from an Ohio University astronomy class, I drove out to the ridges west of town and was gobsmacked by my first glimpse of Saturn and its rings.

For me, however, the best ridges were The Ridges, which I first visited sometime in the mid-1980’s, when my father drove me over one day after school for a surprise outing. At the time, I had no sense of where or what the ridges were; although I had spent plenty of time at the Dairy Barn and had always been aware of the imposing Athens Lunatic Asylum up on the hill, I was too young to fully realize that the hills we were walking connected these two points. My dad and I hiked all the way to the top of Radar Hill, which, at that time, still featured structures indicating the origins of its name. I know now that our trek wasn’t that long, but it seemed like an epic journey at the time, and quite an adventure—a previously unknown wilderness bathed in warm autumn light, with no other people in sight.

CRK on Radar Hill

I didn’t visit The Ridges again for about 5 years, when it was the destination of one of the first training runs I participated in after joining the Athens Middle School cross country team. When I first began running, I couldn’t even make it from Peden Stadium to the old asylum without stopping for a breather; soon I was able to get to the trailhead, then to the first old water tank, then the second, and finally the top of the hill. I was so proud of that achievement, and it made the view all the more beautiful.

Although my teammates weren’t overly fond of the inclines and rough footing up at The Ridges, I went back often. It was a good place to see red-tailed hawks, vultures, and eastern bluebirds—the last of which being species that I would end up studying as a graduate student. On the final run that I did in Athens before heading off to college, I found my way to the top of Radar Hill at dusk and stood looking out at the rows of hills stretching off into the distance. The nearest were dark, almost black; the others were increasingly paler shades of blue, with the furthest and lightest buried in a layer of summer haze. I suspected it was a sight I would not easily forget, and to this day I can conjure memories of it as though I had only just visited the previous evening.

The Ridges from Radar Hill

Blue, however, is not the color I most associate with Athens. Despite all the copper autumns and white winters I weathered during my time there, it’s the verdant springs and summers that stand out strongest in my mind: the soft grass on the amphitheater outside Scripps Hall; the inviting shade of the College Green on a sweltering summer’s day; the banks of the Hocking River and the heads of the male mallards swimming in the river itself; the trees arching over the bikeway to form a tunnel between the access points at Currier Street in Athens and the Eclipse Company Town in The Plains. When these visions spring to mind, I can almost smell the intoxicating scent of honeysuckle and hear the rhythmic buzz of cicadas.

Hocking River from bike path

I now find myself living not only in a different country, but also on a different continent; a trip home requires a 5-hour train ride, 10 hours of airplane time, and another hour or so of driving. It’s a long way. I live in an undeniably beautiful place, but the aesthetics are very different. This is a seaside town filled with granite houses whose moss- and lichen-covered roofs provide perches for endlessly braying gulls; twice a day the sulfurous smell of coastal mud permeates the air as the tides recede, and the maritime winds set ships’ rigging clanging before seeking out the cracks around our doors and windows. There are no cheerful red Athens bricks underfoot, no Carolina wrens nesting in the flowerpot by the door, or jewel-tone hummingbirds buzzing in to sip sugar-water from the feeder in the window, or wild green woodlands beckoning for exploration. I’ve been here long enough that it has begun to feel like home—yet, at the same time, spending 17 years away from Athens hasn’t removed the feeling that that little part of Ohio is also home. Maybe it always will be, no matter where I actually reside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sometimes I stand on the shore of Cornwall with my feet in the sand and I face westward, my mind traveling down through my legs, under the waves of the ocean, up over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and back down again, to the northeastern shores of North America where my ancestors caught their first sight of the continent, and finally on into the Appalachians. It’s comforting to know that there is an unbroken connection between here and there, no matter the distance or the terrain that must be traversed. Inside me, wherever I go, I carry all the sights and sounds of smells of Athens: the chickadees eating the suet my parents set out, the daffodils growing beside the old farmhouse where I grew up, the grove of evergreens at the base of Radar Hill, the cry of a pileated woodpecker on the shore of Dow Lake. There is no better proof that you can take the girl out of Appalachia, but you can never take Appalachia out of the girl—something for which I will be eternally grateful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This essay was submitted to Growing Up In Athens, a project aiming to compile stories from multiple generations of native Athenians.

Around town

When I gave up my freelancing job to take a permanent, full-time position, I looked forward to security, stability, and a bigger paycheck. Unfortunately, I failed to realize how sad I would be to give up the flexibility to take a trip anywhere at any time–to Glasgow, Trieste, Bielefeld, or Prague, for example.

Luckily for me, Falmouth is not a bad place to be stuck for the majority of the year. It may not be as exciting, exotic, or glamorous as some of the places I’ve visited since initiating my travel blog, but it’s certainly not unattractive or boring. Because I carry a camera with me wherever I go, I can capture the little everyday sights that make Falmouth a wonderful place to be year-round. It’s these little touches of whimsy, creativity, and ridiculousness that make it easier to bear the long gaps in between holidays to other towns–and, sometimes, make me wonder why I’d want to vacation anywhere else at all.

yarn bomb
A “yarn bomb” in Penryn, home of many arty/crafty graduates of Falmouth University. These just appeared one day a couple weeks ago and, amazingly, have not been taken down by council authorities. We’ve also received several (smaller-scale) bombs around campus this term, and I’ve been equally surprised that the folks in Estates have let them remain in place. Pretty soon, all of Penryn will be covered purls and granny squares!
Project Penguin
I’m very curious as to what “Project Penguin” actually is, and what it entails (other than, obviously, graffiti left on Council property).
heart graffiti_edit
I think I’ve previously posted a similar photo of Falmouth heart graffiti. These are all over town, and whenever I am out on my walks I am always keeping an eye out to see if I can spot ones in new locations. A clever and creative person would come up with a way to make this into a game…
trolley
Over the past year, I’ve sat in on several meetings during which the students have begged us to lobby, on their behalf, for a bike rack at the bottom of the hill. The rack was finally installed a couple weeks ago, and what did the students do? Steal a shopping cart from Asda (something that happens on a regular basis, I should add), and park it where the bikes should be. *sigh*
gull garbage
Shenanigans aren’t unique to students. Here’s the mess left by a few of our many resident herring gulls after the Sea Shanty Festival wrapped up last weekend. When I awoke at 6:30 on Monday morning, I could hear the gulls fighting over all the scraps, and could smell the scent of garbage wafting through our open window. I can just imagine the conversation that people had the night before, leading to this mess: “Can we wait until tomorrow morning to deal with these overflowing garbage bins?” “Sure, no problem. What’s the worst that could happen?”
bike_edit
I photographed almost exactly the same scene last year, so I couldn’t help but do it again this year with a slightly more hi-def camera and a wider view of the landscape. This is definitely one of the most picturesque areas of our campus.
2014-06-04 18.33.18
Two things that Cornwall does particularly well: hedgerows and stone walls. The lichens, liverworts, ivies, and flowers ensure that there is a flash of color no matter where you go or what time of year it is. These purple flowers are so bright that, from a distance, they almost look like electric lights that someone has strung up along the sidewalk.
crane_edit
Some of the local buses could use a bit of an upgrade. However, you can still find beauty even amongst the decay–such as this origami crane created from a bus ticket and then tucked into the peeling upholstery. I usually see at least one ticket origami critter a week.
origami crane portrait
Here is a close-up of the folded critter itself. I think it is amazing that people memorize how to create animals out of paper. I have made these before, myself, but have then immediately forgotten how. I’d be really impressed if someone left behind something different, such as a giraffe or an elephant.
2014-05-13 19.29.35
Speaking of creativity, here is the amazing meal I had the last time I went to The Shack. I’ve already done an all-out review of the restaurant before, and we go there fairly frequently, so I won’t bore everyone by waxing eloquent every single time we visit. This was the first time in ages that I got anything other than the scallops, and it was totally worth the experiment–some sort of white fish (hake, maybe?) sauteed greens, and various tuber purees. I practically licked my plate clean. Seriously, that chef knows how to cook.
ope
A view down one of the many “opes” in town. This one is just off High Street, and offers a lovely view over to Flushing. I know it’s there, and yet every time I pass it I always have the sense of having just discovered a little treasure. Needless to say, I’d love to live in one of the places down at the bottom of the staircase!
2014-06-18 14.30.13
When it comes to lovely views, it’s hard to beat the one overlooking Maenporth. This gem is only a couple miles’ walk from my apartment via the coastal path, and the reward at the end of the hike is not only the scenery but also the opportunity to buy an ice cream cone to cool you down as you sit and watch the waves. 
dramatic clouds
During my evening walk home a few weeks ago, the sky put on quite a show. Even though the wind was nonexistent at ground level, there were obviously a variety of air currents higher up. The clouds had been twirled into dramatic formations, looking in some places like marbled ink. If I’d been in the US I would have been worried about a tornado, but here that is not an issue. It sprinkled a bit just after I got home, but then cleared up by the following morning–not nearly as dramatic a finale as I was expecting based on the views I’d had during my commute.
sunset
Over the 5 years that I’ve lived in Falmouth, I’ve taken dozens of photos off our balcony. Even though I’m always looking out to the same harbor, the same square, the same buildings, the view never fails to impress–especially on the long summer evenings like the one’s we’ve had recently. When I snapped this photo, the sky actually looked quite pink to me, but came out very orange in all my images. No matter–it’s equally lovely either way.

 

Top and bottom fives

A fellow American expat recently asked me a question that, he said, he poses to all transplants that he encounters abroad: What are the best and worst things about living where you live, rather than in the US? It is a query not dissimilar to the “Do you like living in England?” that I am frequently asked, but more specific. As always happens when I am asked the latter question, I did not have a quick answer on hand; it is just not something I think about on a regular basis.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t make comparisons–especially when I first moved here–but I have long since switched to a mindset of simply getting on with the process of daily life. That’s not necessarily a good thing, since it means that I tend to overlook not only the Britishisms that annoyed me when I first relocated, but also those that I found (and still find) quite pleasant. I think we all probably do this to some extent, no matter where we live or how long we’ve been there; the things you encounter every day can easily become mundane to you even if they would be deemed wonderful by someone–or even everyone–else. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I was surprised when the Sunday Times recently named Falmouth as the fourth best place to live in the UK–it’s not that I don’t like Falmouth, but it does seem rather ordinary to me because I see it on a daily basis.

IMGP5237
Obviously, something is wrong with me if I can think of even this view as “ordinary.”

In any case, the best/worst question stuck with me, and I found myself pondering it in the days that followed, as I went about my expat existence. It made me look at my Falmouth life through two sets of eyes–those I had when I first moved here nearly five years ago, before I adjusted to the new conditions, and those I have now that I have come to see the Falmouth/British way of life as normal and expected.

Strangely, my lists of pros and cons could be both longer and shorter than the “top and bottom fives” I have compiled below. For both categories, there are things that emerged quickly, and others that I only realized after considerable thought; some affect me only periodically, and others once seemed important but have faded in significance as I’ve settled in. Still, they are all relevant to some degree or another, and you may recognize some as topics that I have addressed in previous posts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Me, with my importer

The lows of life in Britain (because it’s better to start with the bad and finish with the good…)

Honorable mention: Use of the word “trousers” instead of “pants”.

5. The smell of dampness. The smells of mold and mildew are not unique to Britain, but they are far more pervasive here than pretty much anywhere else I have ever been. I think this is caused by a combination of factors. First, you’re never far from water (see point #2 in the next section) and rain is incredibly common; it is not hard for things to become waterlogged. Second, in addition to the moisture, there is also a tendency to have mild temperatures; these are the perfect conditions for cultivating a nice collection of “aromatic” microbes. Third, there are many old buildings here that have had centuries over which to absorb the damp. Fourth, many of these structures are built in such a way as to facilitate a certain closeness of air–they’re made of stone, for instance, or have only very small windows. Cumulatively, all these factors contribute to an odor of wetness that can be smelled in even the cleanest and tidiest of homes. Often it can be combated, and potentially even defeated, only with the most prodigious of efforts and at great expense.

2013-10-28 14.52.17
On the up side, lots of water droplets = lots of rainbows

4. The wind. I know that everyone complains about Britain’s precipitation, but actually I don’t mind rain. In fact, I like it; I always have. What I don’t like is the seemingly incessant wind, and the combination of wind and rain. It ensures that you get wet no matter what you are wearing, and that your hair never looks good. It gives me headaches. It causes my windows to bang shut and my apartment to creak loudly in the nighttime, thus keeping me awake. It blows dust in through every crack it can find, and knocks wads of moss off roofs and onto your head. It makes the seas choppy, which renders boat journeys miserable. It finds you wherever you are, inland or by the sea, and just generally makes a real pest of itself.

 
The wind is so strong that it even shapes the trees
The wind is so strong that it shapes the trees as they grow

3. Things are tiny. For someone living in Cornwall, Britain seems pretty big; it can take an hour to get somewhere else in the county, let alone from one county to the next, or from England to Wales or Scotland. But this is deceptive; in reality, the UK is not very large, and yet it is home to quite a few people. To make this possible–and, in particular, to make this possible atop infrastructure dating back centuries and, in some cases, all the way to Roman times–it is necessary to make everything tiny so that it can all be crammed in to what little space there is. Because roads are small, cars are small. Houses and apartments are small, which means that rooms are, too; kitchens are diminutive, thus necessitating tiny fridges and freezers that barely hold a few days’ worth of food. Stores are often quite narrow, making it difficult to squeeze between rows and racks of items on display; God forbid if you need to fit past another person as you navigate these narrow corridors. And don’t even talk to me about storage space; I have almost none.

Not bad, as far as woods go. Notice the size of the trees--this is a very young stand.
Not bad, as far as woods go. Notice the size of the trees–this is a very young stand.

2. No trees. Obviously, there are some trees in Britain, but there aren’t nearly enough for my taste–and they don’t occur in large enough patches. This is particularly noticeable in Cornwall, and throughout the west country in general, where you are much more likely to encounter a field of sheep or cows than a stand of trees. What is amazing about this is that Britain used to be covered in forest; here in Falmouth, excavators once unearthed the petrified remnants of an ancient forest that was swallowed up by the estuary as melting glaciers advanced the shoreline by several meters thousands of years ago. I grew up among trees and frequently feel the need to walk under them, far away from the sounds of traffic and the sight of human constructs. That is not an easy thing to accomplish around here.

1. Distance to family. As I was growing up, I always knew I would end up leaving my hometown and going somewhere else. I deliberately chose places that were not Ohio when selecting where to go for my higher education and my summer employment. However, I never imagined that I would end up in a whole other country–at least, not for a period longer than your average vacation. I’ve always been pretty independent, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually felt homesick, but I still find it difficult to be so far from my family. In an emergency, I could get to them within a day, but I would probably need all 24 hours of that day, and it wouldn’t be an easy thing to pull off. It would be nice if it took less time and energy (and, of course, money) to get back to see my parents and grandparents. But, whenever I think about how difficult it is, I do have to console myself with the thought that at least I live in an era when technology makes it easier to stay in touch, both in terms of electronic communications and physical visits; a couple hundred years ago, I would have been much more cut off than I am today, and both letters and visits would have been fewer and farther between.

Family selfie
Family selfie in the Columbus airport. We were doing group selfies before it was cool.

 

The highs of life in Britain (because, no matter what I said in the last section, I do actually love my new home…)

Honorable mention: So. much. tea.

5. Cultural history. I first came to England as a teenager, on what I have since referred to as a “literary tour of England.” The Bronte parsonage, “Thomas Hardy country” (i.e., Dorset), the Globe Theater, and Tintagel were some of the many places that my parents and I visited during our tour of the country. My mother, an English teacher, was responsible for the bulk of the itinerary, so of course there was a bit of a theme. However, what I have learned since moving here is that it would be hard to go anywhere in Britain without stumbling across something of historical significance–if not literature, then music or architecture or science or whatever else you can think of. It is full of fascinating remnants, artifacts, and stories left behind by the humans that have lived here for thousands–if not tens of thousands–of years. Britain was hugely influential in shaping my own country, in particular the bits where I have lived: Appalachia, Philadelphia, Williamsburg. Melting pot though it may be, the US can trace its modern origins (please note I am not ignoring the importance of the original inhabitants of North America!) to England. In many ways, visiting England is like visiting home, albeit a very ancestral one. Another way to think of it is as a giant living museum, though I’m not sure the Brits would enjoy that view of their country.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Roman mosaic unearthed in St. Albans, as viewed by me in 2006

4. Robins (and other British wildlife). Britain may no longer have wolves or bears or other dramatic large wildlife comparable to that found in the US, but it does still have some spectacular species–and they are easy to see no matter where you are. From the water’s edge, you can see seals, sharks, whales, dolphins, porpoises, otters and even, if you find yourself in a particular portion of Devon, beavers; in the air there are peregrines, kites, buzzards, and any number of brightly colored, sweetly singing passerines. On land, you can find badgers, foxes, impossibly cute hedgehogs, stoats, and a myriad of other small mammals. Wherever they can find a crack to root in or a ledge to cling to, there are lichens, mosses, wildflowers, and, in larger patches, shrubs, trees, and berry bushes with fruit available to anybody who cares to pick it. Springtime in the US is remarkable, but it is even sweeter in the UK, where winter brings longer periods of dark and less snow to make the cold worthwhile. Those first few slightly warmer days nearly make your heart burst with relief, as does the sight of almost painfully bright primroses and daffodils and, above all, the insistently cheerful trill of the plucky little robin. Even in the most urban of areas, the Brits do an amazing job of leaving space for greenery and giving you an opportunity to interact with wildlife wherever you are.

IMGP4573
European robin in the old cemetery on St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly

3. Proximity. Although the Brits tend not to think of themselves as inherently “European,” the British Isles are, undeniably, both geologically and geographically linked with the rest of the continent. One impact of this is an astonishing ease of travel from Britain to pretty much anywhere else you might want to go–not just in Europe, but beyond, via Paris, Amsterdam, and other continental hubs of airplane travel. This facilitates more than simply ticking another country off your list; it also enables you to experience new languages, cuisines, music, fashion, ecosystems, and whatever else you might be interested in. Since moving here, I have been to Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, India, Australia, Kenya, and the Czech Republic; this autumn I will be adding another country to my list when I go to Greece. Even more impressive is the fact that I don’t always have to go all the way to London to embark on this travel; regional airports (not to mention ferry terminals and train stations) right here in the Southwest act as gateways to many of these destinations, making it as easy to travel between countries as it is to travel between states–or even cities–in the US.

2014-02-05 08.22.41
Boats moored at Custom Quay, Falmouth

2. The ocean. When I was studying for the UK citizenship exam, I learned that there is nowhere in Britain that is more than 70 miles from the ocean, and that fact has always stuck with me. The sea is such an important part of British life, both past and present, but I think that the ocean is such a standard part of British existence that it tends to be taken for granted. For someone who comes from a landlocked state (no offense to Lake Erie, but it is still just a lake even if it is a great one), the perpetual proximity of the ocean is an amazing thing. It is a symbol of freedom, a conduit to possibility, and, extending as it does all the way westward to the shores of North America, it is also, perversely, a bridge that connects me to home. I may have lived the bulk of my life inland, but after only a few years on the coast, I would have a very hard time moving away.

IMG_2261
Wildflowers along the shorefront walk between Pendennis Castle and Gylly Beach, Falmouth

1. Transportation. You may think I’m a very boring person for choosing transportation as my favorite part of life in Britain, but public transport is pretty darn amazing here, and it affects me every single day of my life. My driving license does not permit me to drive independently in a car, and yet I can get pretty much anywhere in the country whenever I like, without that much of a hassle–not to mention in a fairly eco-friendly way, since I’m sharing my ride with a bunch of other travelers. For a mere £0.80, I catch a bus to school every morning and can then walk home every evening–combining exercise with transportation and killing two birds with one stone. The University of Exeter is not the only thing within walking distance. I can also go shopping for groceries, clothes, home furnishings, books, and pretty much whatever else you can think of; I can go to a restaurant, or a movie, or to the doctor, or even just head out into the countryside to see a bit of nature. Rarely do I ever need something that I cannot easily access on foot–a thing that is true in very few American towns and cities. The lack of this facility is immediately obvious to me when I visit the US, and I very much miss the feeling of independence that you have when you live in a place that does not cater so heavily to cars.

2014-04-05 15.48.39
Train pulling in at Colesloggett Halt, near Bodmin, Cornwall

I suppose I am lucky to have moved somewhere that I like so well; after all, Sasha could have whisked me off to Siberia or South Korea or somewhere else that is so truly beyond my range of experience that I could never learn to feel at home. I do wonder about that, though: Was it luck, or is that just the way I am?

I love to travel because I love to see, do, think, and feel new things; I have never been anywhere that I didn’t find interesting, even when my destination was the sort of place that makes other people raise their eyebrows when you say where you’ve been (Droitwich Spa, I’m looking at you!). Obviously I wouldn’t have been happy in a country with an oppressive religious and/or political regime, but beyond that…it’s quite possible that I could have settled in anywhere. It might have taken more time to adjust to, say, unreliable electricity or cockroaches the size of salad plates (I’m thinking here of horror stories I’ve heard from my own family members), but in exchange for these things I might have reveled in something else that made it all worthwhile.

Who knows? Maybe one day we will move again and I will have a chance to explore this theory–or maybe we’ll live out our days being serenaded by herring gulls as we listen to the wind whistling through the rigging of the ships in the harbor. Either way, I’m up for it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
How can I not love Cornwall, given its steady supply of cream teas?