Awaiting an Adventure...
I had very few friends while growing up in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, for the greater part. My sister, who is two years younger than me, used to be quite an introvert then and lived in her own world. Sometimes, my dad’s colleague’s daughter would skip across to play with me. But mostly, I was to be found rummaging about in my parents’ book shelves. My mom would tell me about the time when the family had left for some place, not realizing that I was still in the bungalow. Later, there was much commotion about my absence and they returned to find me buried amidst a tome of books, oblivious to everything around me.
I grew up reading a lot of Enid Blyton, Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. I started with innocuous titles like ‘Bedtime stories’ and ‘Toyland stories’, dreaming of enchanting creatures like goblins and pixies and talking rabbits romping about in lush green forests. Soon I graduated to the somber yet delightfully romantic, classical settings of Austen. I read about old Georgian mansions and the long walks the protagonist took, brooding over the dilemmas of life. In contrast, Agatha Christie brought about a modern outlook with a lot of solo travels, garden tours and train journeys thrown in. I found myself sinking deeper into England’s societal norms as well as its generous rural landscape.
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Perhaps this childhood fascination with the classics whetted my attraction towards Britain’s places of interest. If given a choice to travel to a place this year, I would love to go there and explore its countryside. From the moorlands of Dartmoor to the valleys of Gloucestershire, I would like to hike and eat my way through quaint counties, searching for the feisty George, Elizabeth Bennet or even the grand old dame Miss Marple. While on my sojourn and resting my weary feet near a farm, maybe a kind farmer's wife would offer me thick slices of freshly baked bread, slathered with marmalade and home-made butter, and glassfuls of ginger beer. Oh, Enid Blyton, how I long to taste your food!
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I would like to traipse across small mill towns like Nailsworth, savour the delectables offered by the local delicatessens and marvel at the Roman baths and Regency pump rooms in Bath. Maybe I could even take part in the Jane Austen Festival there. They say that there is nothing quite like the great British outdoors; rolling hills, lush fields, jagged coastlines and spectacular views. And that there is no better way to experience it than on foot – there is a walk to suit every season in Britain! Just what my childhood dreams were made of. If I were not married, I would have definitely looked out for a certain Mr. Darcy on my walks there!
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While in Britain, I would want to visit farmers’ markets displaying fresh local produce and go on food trails, particularly the famous Lancashire Cheese Trail. Somewhere, a magical bubbling brook would be waiting for me, to delight me with its song. Perhaps on one of my walks, I would stumble upon picturesque little churches with tall crooked spires, or an antique shop selling mysterious knick-knacks, or come across a little second-hand book shop where the jovial owner would let me browse through various first edition volumes. Then again, maybe I would be guided towards the local pub, despite my protests of being a teetotaler, and encouraged to have a sip of the locally brewed ale!
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I believe all this is possible. If I plan smart and travel smart. I can approach Skyscanner to book my tickets, the most economical approach possible. Ditto for my hotel stay, though I would prefer to do that myself and settle on little inns and homely guesthouses in the countryside. I would enquire about the prevalent weather there and pack likewise. A jacket, a pair of woolen gloves and sturdy shoes would be musts on my list. Outdoors in the countryside are bound to be windy after all.
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There would be the other essentials, of course – my camera, mobile, passport and other documents, toothbrush, lotion, medicines, et al. Most importantly, I must not forget my little diary and a pen to scribble down my thoughts. I still have my diary where I had penned down every place I visited and every new dish I had tasted on my first trip to Mumbai.
Once in Britain, I would mostly use public transportation, hopping from country station to station, taking help of a rail/bus guide and nagging my fellow passengers as well! At times like this that I wish I knew how to ride a bicycle. And when hunger pangs strike, I would shuffle into a quirky memorabilia store and ask the gentleman at the counter where I could get the best fish and chips in town. Later on, after a satiated tummy, I would perhaps lie down on the grassy knoll by the side of a tranquil lake and read a few pages of the classic I had carried with me.
My husband tells me I plan too much. Some joys are to be had unplanned, that comes in the most unexpected manner. So be it. I shall travel smart, but I shall leave a few things to be discovered, to be stumbled upon, to be explored. After all, my childhood friends – my books, they have prepared me well for this journey, haven’t they?
Image source: en.wikipedia.org
(I wrote this for the #TravelSmartWithSkyscanner contest by Skyscanner and Indiblogger.)