Pondering No More!

This church is definitely one place I will be visiting again

This is one must-visit destination on my upcoming trip

After years of false-starts I’m pleased to report that I will be returning to Britain in just over one month from now. Having previously planned and then abandoned visits in 2014 and 2015 I too would be sceptical was it not for the credit card bills confirming that I really am going this time.

A lot has happened since last July. The biggest news is that I quit my well-paid and secure job at the beginning of April in order to join the ranks of the self-employed. I did so for several reasons not the least of which was the toll it was taking on my health, but more than anything I felt that now was the time to devote my time and energy to creating meaningful work. I have little interest in retiring and so I see no reason to postpone developing something that will keep me engaged, put food on the table and hopefully be of benefit to others.

I’m pretty passionate about helping others research their family trees and especially their military ancestors. As such I’m devoting a lot of time to my Military and Family History blog while keeping my eyes open for other opportunities, especially those related to travel, tourism, writing and walking. I’ve worked in these areas before and so I’m looking forward to seeing what possibilities exist for me this time around.

Major transitions in life need to be marked in some way and so before I settle into a new routine I’m off to Europe for a month of R&R (Research and Relaxation). A lengthy LEJOG-like walk isn’t in the cards but being self-employed will provide me with both freedom and adventure and so I’m content with a shorter ramble.

At this point it looks like I will be tackling Offa’s Dyke with the possibility of an additional short diversion (or two). I will also spend a few days wandering amongst the battlefields, cemeteries and memorials of the old Ypres salient. Research visits to Chester and Huddersfield are in the works and of course there will be real ale.

I’ll provide more details in the days and weeks to come including an explanation of why I posted the photograph above. In the meantime I have weekly 15-mile walks planned in order to get my legs and back into shape!

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Pondering the Possibilities for 2016

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Ah, the good ‘ole days!

I’ve spent quite a few evenings in the past month pondering possible walking routes for 2016. In fact I’ve spent the better part of three years (!) sifting through various itineraries, often settling on a particular idea only to discard it a few weeks later. Despite the setbacks planning an adventure is an activity I’ve enjoyed since I was a 15-year old daydreaming about my first trip to Europe.

I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last 35 years but despite a couple of significant down-sizings I still have a handful of guidebooks that inspired me all those years ago. I’m featuring some of them today as well as a photo of myself taken during my first backpacking trip through Europe in 1983 (care of my travel buddy Scott). It’s taken 30+ years but I think my ‘look’ is back in style.

Back in ’83 Scott and I planned our 6-month adventure with military precision. We never expected to follow our itinerary to the letter but surprisingly we weren’t far off. One of the main reasons for all the planning was that we were on a strict budget. We didn’t manage 84-cents a day but we did keep to $15 a day excluding our flights and a pair of two-month Eurail Youth Passes. In the process we must have stayed in nearly 100 hostels. We only began ponying up for cheap hotels when we reached Italy and Greece and if I remember correctly we found a room in off-season Santorini for about a buck each. Incidentally I read today that Ryan Air is offering €5 flights to Athens so who knows what the future will bring.

Eat your heart out Hipster types

More Hipster than Hippie? I’ll let the Millennials decide

While I’m no longer a starving student I’m still careful with my cents and pence and with the Canadian dollar tanking I’m more conscious of it now than I was in 2010. A 4-5 month stay in the UK is a significant investment and so I need to build some flexibility into my itinerary. At this point my plan is to spend most of the time in Britain but if the Pound becomes too dear I may need to head to the land of the Euro.

With this in mind I’m hesitant to plan a LEJOG-style walk from point A to point B. This was never a requirement of course but I do admit there is something magical about walking 1000+ miles without using any other form of transportation. One prerequisite I do insist on is that I cover new ground, with the possible exception of one or two short sections I walked in the 1990’s. With this in mind I’m seriously considering doing a collection of Long-Distance Walks in England, Wales and Scotland, some of which could be linked together to create walks of 3 to 4 weeks in length.

In addition to the flexibility this approach provides it also ensures that I spend the bulk of my time in walking country and less time walking between Long-Distance routes. One disadvantage is that a series of walks lacks the focus of a continuous walk. Will it be tougher to keep going if you don’t have a carrot dangling from a stick? I will likely set myself a different objective, perhaps walking a minimum of 100 days or a certain number of miles. I’ve mulled this over quite a bit and would be interested on your thoughts.