Slice of Life Story- The Fortunate Traveler

Lakes District, England

I recently returned from a month of travel to England, Scotland, Italy and Thailand. I say this not to gloat, but rather to share the fact that I consider myself most fortunate to be able to travel, to experience places and cultures. I am aware of the opportunity these experiences have to allow me to gradually chip away at my ignorance. Travel provides great insight if one is open to the learning such adventures present.

Each time I travel beyond the shores of my country, I take on the role of an ambassador, whether I want that mantle or not. As travelers we become living, breathing advertisements and this imposes a responsibility to act with sensitivity in respect to those whose country we visit.

Each time I travel, I think of my parents. My Mum only ventured outside her home state, once in her entire life, as far as I’m aware. She travelled to Canberra, Australia’s capital, with her mother- on a bus –to visit her aunt. Not exactly an exotic adventure. My Dad, returned from the war and never left his home state for the rest of his life. His initial travel experiences no doubt, colouring his perceptions regarding returning to those far away places.

As a writer, I fully appreciate the value travel adds to my life experiences. Great fodder! Stories grow from meeting people, from visiting places and sharing adventures.
Literary influences came to the fore when travelling in England’s magnificent Lakes District. Little wonder the Lake poet’s found this area inspirational. Wordsworth and Southey lived in the area.

In Edinburgh, the presence of famous writers called yet again when we pulled over to check our actual location and discovered we were parked directly in front of Robert Louis Stevenson’s former house. His ‘Treasure Island’ was my first ‘thick’ book as a child. Edinburgh was Stevenson’s birthplace.

In the centre of Edinburgh I came across the biggest monument to a writer anywhere in the world, the Scott Monument. It is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, considered one of Scotland’s greatest writers. It features a statue of Scott at its centre and is decorated in smaller statues of characters from his novels. -So impressive to think that a literary figure holds such pride of place.

Edinburgh is also the city where J K Rowling reputedly wrote some of her Harry Potter works at the Elephant House café in the old city. Edinburgh is indeed a literate rich city.

At one point of our journey we drove to Seaham on the Durham County coast in England in search of the unique seaglass that is found along the shoreline of this North Sea town. We not only found the much sought after glass treasures, we also came across the town’s link with the poet Lord Byron. Byron was married in Seaham and although the marriage was short lived, the town has maximized its brief link to the famous writer with walks and lane-ways named in his honour as well as a shopping mall. I wonder what Byron would have made of such commercial crassness?

So my travels have energized the writer within. I am stoked with inspiration and ideas, stories and a host of new experiences.  Given time, these memories will hopefully find their way into my writing. Why I even had an amazing ‘first experience’ while away. -I actually slipped on a banana skin when walking  along the Kensington High Street in London. All my life I have received warnings regarding the dangers of banana skins. Now, I understand why. What an ahha moment that turned out to be.  Without the opportunity to travel that revealing moment may never have taken place. A brief, yet unforgettable moment. Dear reader, please be assured this was not the highlight of my trip, merely an aside I wanted to share.
The Sir Walter Scott memorial ,Edinburgh


  1. It sounds like you had an incredible trip! I, too, think myself fortunate when I get to travel far and wide. It is so eye opening to see how others live. I try not to be the obnoxious American when I travel, as I agree with your statement that we are ambassadors for our country. I hope you will share more in future slices.

  2. That sounds like the trip of a lifetime! Thanks for sharing some of the details with us.

    I like that your travel with the idea of being an ambassador. I wish more people looked upon their role as a traveler in that way.

  3. What a trip this has been - and you journeyed with a writer's eye: who walked where, what they must have experienced, and how your writerly self was also moved.

  4. Travels with the teacher...sounds like a best seller to me!

  5. You have given me ideas for my next trip; and how to look at even familiar places with a new perspective!

  6. Hi Alan, what a wondrous time you must have had. The Lake District photo is so gorgeous. I'm not sure I would have wanted to travel on from that place. I love your telling me about the serendipity of the trip too, like parking in front of Stevenson's house & slipping on a banana skin. Finally, I too had a step-father who refused to go far after his extensive time during WWII in the Corps of Engineers. He was literally all over the world, & said there was no place better, however, than home. Thanks for a taste of your trip!

  7. What a perfect post to read just before I pack my bags for a conference in Rochester, NY and then home for Thanksgiving, unpack, wash clothes and repack for Israel. Being away is such a perfect opportunity to get that fresh perspective.
    How lucky we are,


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