I grew up in a home next to a failing farm. The farmer had all but given up on the endeavour. One day he knocked down the barn and all the houses in our street were overrun with cockroaches and rats. Each day, before the pest controllers worked their magic, my mother sobbed quietly and my keen fisherman father chased rats around our garden with the handle of his keep net.
For my brother and I, the farm was a magnet. With our friends we roamed the farmer’s fields where the untended corn and grasses swayed way above our heads. We made dens in the woodland and dams in the streams. We explored. Often we would find injured wildlife – a dormouse, pigeon or baby bird which had toppled from the nest and we would nurse them in vain in makeshift cots (shoeboxes).
We claimed Pearlstone pond as our own. It was in fact a tiny stream which ran down a hillside of foxgloves and blackberry bushes down to a real pond thick with frogspawn.
At home one day I was puzzled by a visiting family friend who went everywhere by car yet never seemed to know where anything was. I thought that if you had a car, the opposite would be true. She waved a hand towards the farmland lamenting the fact that ‘nothing’ was there. Then I realised – if it couldn’t be seen from her car window, then she didn’t see it at all. Was it Paul Theroux who said that all the best places are found at the end of the worst roads as this deters mass travel?
And so, I walk. I want to have plenty of chances to talk to people and relish the unpredictable encounters and the freedom to go wherever my feet can.
I’m not evangelical about this. I’ll happily take a plane, a train or my car towards my chosen destination and then loaded with map, GPS, audio and video, I start walking. And share what I find.
As of 2012 I’ll be based in the village of Peyia in Paphos, Cyprus. Read more here: Typing From The Taverna
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