Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Hemlock Stone, Bramcote, Nottinghamshire

Travel Locally and be Mindful

Have you properly looked around your neighbourhood recently? Travel agents and magazines conspire to suggest that the only real travel is to distant places. But how can we truly appreciate the exotic if we do not understand the interesting places around our homes?

Familiarity does indeed breed contempt for where we live, for places we know well. It is not only the traveller or explorer who suffers such a closed mind. If one visits writer and photographer forums there is much discussion about the “best” places to go to produce travel writing or photography. The recommendations tend to be far flung places that already feature frequently in brochures, travel guides, magazines and on television. As a result the work produced is often derivative and clichéd; how many more pictures are needed of Angkor Wot? They are looking for easy answers.

At one time a photographer visiting, say the Himalayas, would have rare pictures that would be in demand. Writers too, would find avid readers for tales of exotic locations. But with television and mass air travel everywhere is accessible. Cruise ships visit the Galapagos or Antarctica, celebrities climb Everest or motorcycle through Africa; so is anywhere truly unfamiliar?

Even for the truly mindful traveller or explorer one cannot do justice to a decent sized town, let alone a region, in a week or even a month. For a photographer a few days of poor weather and the results are even less useful. However much research we do we cannot really know distant places as well as we know our home locality. So travel along  the winding way requires small, slow steps to fully appreciate whatever we find.

It is very easy to forget interesting places that are close to home; they are just too familiar.

Here on The Winding Way we often have visitors from abroad; I take them on a tour of my hometown, Nottingham and the wider area. I have always taken a close interest in its history, culture and architecture; one could say I have been a mindful traveller, of sorts, all my life. It means I can give our visitors an insight to the area that they would not get from guide books or the tourist information centre.

Natural Travel Starts at the Front Door

It is only recently I have properly appreciated my fascination and come to understand how much tourism is inherently superficial; hence The Winding Way. We use local exploration to fill in the gaps when we are not travelling further afield; it is a way of developing and honing our skills and appreciation of the world. After all, Nottingham and Britain are exotic locations for someone living in Asia, South America or Africa; I see it as part our travel philosophy to do it as much justice as for far-flung destinations.

The art is to be aware and use that local knowledge and access it with fresh ideas and an open mind. The challenge is to come to it as though visiting for the first time however often previously explored (but perhaps now with better understanding after extensive research). Being local provides an opportunity to revisit at a better time or in better weather; to come back to explore aspects missed on the first, or even tenth, visit. For me a return to local haunts is often the result of one visit prompting research to understand some newly discovered detail. In the process I often serendipitously uncover other facets that encourage me to return to explore further. Learning something new, even about the familiar, is always possible and a joy for the truly mindful.

That is what we at The Winding Way will aspire to – developing a fresh approach that will stand the mindful traveller or explorer in good stead wherever they are on the winding way. Practice makes perfect so use local visits to develop the skills of observation for more extensive journeys. Open your eyes and minds and you will appreciate what is around you much better; it will not matter whether you are in well known places or new, but perhaps unremarked, locations. Boredom or disinterest is not a frame of mind that the truly mindful traveller should recognise.

So be a mindful traveller whenever you step outside your front door.

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