Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Home Tourist - Part One

My grandmother has only travelled further than a hundred miles from her home three times in her 91 years: once to London (where she objected to the cars), once to Edinburgh (where she objected to the rats), and once to Ambleside (where she objected to the ghost). Whether she harbours a secret envy of my foreign travels, or whether she sees them as a betrayal and rejection of the familiar homestead, I cannot say. But she is unremitting in her pouring of scorn upon any enterprise involving a journey.

When I return home she will usually say something like ‘so I suppose you’re more tired than you were before you left?’ – which invariably I am – and proceeds to evidence any number of additional hindrances to one’s wellbeing, such as rice-based diets, improper plug sockets, rabies, madcap driving, and over-exposure to midday sun. And while it is always advisable to agree with her, on the matter of travel, she does make the occasional, unassailable, valid point.

To what end do we put ourselves through different time-zones, airport departure lounges, grubby public transport systems, traffic jams, unsatisfactory breakfasts, and endless queues? In our anticipation of new and exotic locations, we somehow selectively overlook the less attractive details. Meanwhile, at home, we linger on such points, believing life to be better just about anywhere else.

Tomorrow, however, an ex-colleague from the US is coming to visit, and I am designated ‘tour guide’ for my home town of Winchester. And the rather appealing thought occurs that if I can only apply her travelling mindset myself as I show her around the city, I may be able to see its attractions afresh. What better way of enhancing one’s own happiness, than to appreciate one’s home surroundings?

So like any good traveller, I will repair to my armchair to plot my course. I might even partake of a nice cup of tea and a biscuit while I do so. Granny would approve.

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