“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
Recently, dear reader, I have been in a bit of a funk. Overwhelmed by work, feeling like no matter how much I get done, there is always so much more than when I started. And this has been grinding on me. I’ve needed an escape, somewhere I can go or something I can do that is completely disconnected from the world which is causing me so much stress. And I have found it.
Thinking about the future can be pretty scary. For every decision that we make, there are a thousand “What if” questions that can crop up. What if I had done this or that differently? What if I hadn’t said that, or gone there? This is as true for travel as it is anything else. My life changed dramatically when I said “What if I do apply to EPIK?”, which (if you are a regular reader) you will know I did back in 2013.
Last Wednesday, I had the unique experience of attending the War and Peace Revival Show. Held at Folkstone racecourse every year around this time, it is a complete ‘celebration of military vehicles and vintage lifestyle’. This year, it spanned from the 19th July until the 23rd and attracted people from far and wide (both traders and attendees alike).
But many of you may be asking the question “What is the War and Peace Revival Show and why should I care that you went there?” Well, dear reader, let me tell you. First, I should really explain what it is. Put simply, it is a fantastic collection of military memorabilia and reenactors/living history enthusiasts. It is (I believe) the largest show of its kind in Europe. You can pretty much find anything there, from First World War bayonets to Nazi Living History enthusiasts. You can see a range of events over the course of the show and enjoy live music (though the music is obviously a bit old fashioned for some people).
I ended up attending this year alongside my best friend and his Dad, who invited me along knowing my absolute love of history. They attend as collectors of military memorabilia, whilst I went with more of an eye for the reenactment side of things. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy looking around the different stalls and merchandise they offered. I even purchased a few bits myself (a very stylish Hawaiian shirt and a new watch strap for my Timex). We spent many a happy hour following my friend’s Dad, who seemed to know the show like the back of his hand. He himself saw a few items that took his interest and would return to check them out on the other days that he attended. I could only attend the one day, however.
Once we had done looking at the sales stalls, we went to my favourite bit – the living history section of the show, where all the reenactment takes place. Though we didn’t have much time there, I took a few pictures of some American and German reenactors. That is to say, they were the countries they were portraying. Below are the shots I managed to get on my phone, as I annoyingly forgot to take my camera with me.
Overall, I would heartily suggest this event to anyone with even a passing interest in history or military things or vintage lifestyles. What you can’t find here isn’t worth finding. The ticket for the day was £18 and it has great transport links so you can even get there if you don’t have a car (although for those buying anything big, a car/van is a must)!
So, those of you not living in a cave would have heard the news – on Thursday 23rd June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in an historical referendum. I don’t know how much you would have heard about it in the aftermath (a lot, if you are on my Facebook friend list, I can assure you) but today I feel the need to post on this topic. It is something that was a deeply important issue to me for both personal and political reasons.
First, a little background for those out of the loop. We (the citizens of the United Kingdom) voted to leave the EU 52% to 48%. What caused this? It is a movement against and a discontentment with the so-called ‘establishment’ (what the ‘establishment’ is has yet to actually be properly explained to me by anyone that hates it) that has been growing since my arrival back in the UK in January. It is an issue with immigration that has not been addressed in the eyes of many and who feel left behind by a political elite seen as ‘out of touch’. It is the problems that people have with an institution that is seen as not completely democratic (which is ever so slightly rich coming from a nation with an unelected upper house and monarch as head of state). At least, this is what I have come to understand from those (including members of my family) who decided to vote leave.
Me? I voted Remain. I believe that the UK is stronger in Europe. That turning our back on the continent that we belong to, especially in such uncertain times, is an unwise move. That we were more secure, economically better off and generally more prosperous in Europe. I had wanted to believe that we were an outward looking nation. A nation that wasn’t taken in by vague promises and lies. That wouldn’t be hoodwinked by media spin and catchphrases. I think, in part, I always feared that we could be that nation though. And I believe that June 23rd proved it.
What is the result of all of this? It means that my generation, who voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and will live with the consequences of this for the next 50 plus years have had our futures decided by the older generation, who might have to live with it for the next 15. It means that the economy has already begun a slow decline downwards, with the pound hitting an historic 35 year low against the dollar and something like 2 trillion dollars being lost off worldwide markets. It means that the possible friendships that could have developed with the movement of young people may never happen. That possible relationships will now no longer blossom. It has already seen the rise of xenophobia and the beginnings of a resurgence of fascism in my country.
Yes. On the 23rd June, the UK decided to leave the EU. And I think it is the most un-British I have ever felt. We left to ‘take back control’, but what we’ve been left with is a series of broken opportunities, a heavily damaged economy and the Leave campaign backpedaling on the promises it made. The possibility of the UK ceasing to exist as there are calls for a second Scottish referendum. An arrogance that the world needs us much more than we need it. This insular view is embarrassing at best and dangerous at its worst. We 48% might be stuck with this decision but it is up to us to make it do as little damage as possible. Now, more than ever, the UK needs us to fight for what we believe in. Fight against narrow-mindedness and xenophobia; fight against this hatred of anyone foreign or different from us. If we don’t, I fear we are going down a path that will be very difficult to return from.
So, any of you reading my recent posts will know that I was bitten by the travel bug pretty bad. And before you panic and head for the door, I am not about to bore you with another post saying as much. No, what I have chosen to write about today is trying to re-create that feeling back home. To try and and feel that intoxicating buzz that is travel.
We all return home for different reasons. Friends. Family. School. But being a traveler never leaves you. Below are three tips for feeling like a traveler when you are back at home!
So, it has been several weeks since I last posted on here. Despite my promises, you once again find me apologising for not posting. But it was only because I did not want to bore you. I have not really had much going on in my life worth writing to you all about.
So, what is happening at the moment? Well, the big news is that over in the UK we are on Easter Break. That means two weeks with no school, students or (hopefully) stress. This last term (or semester for any American readers) went by pretty quickly but did bring with it a rather large amount of stress right at the end.
“What is this stress?” I hear you ask. Well, let me tell you. I recently found out that I am not likely to be funded (or I think it is unlikely – people keep telling me to think positively) for my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate of Education). This is because I have not been in the UK for the past three years, diligently working some crap job for little money in case I decided to apply for further student loans. Instead, I was abroad working (temporarily) in the ESL industry. As a teacher. Getting teaching experience. But apparently, that is not what they look for. I know what you are thinking – it makes perfect sense. I know. This means Marta and I seriously need to think of a Plan B, as I can’t be stuck in the UK for six years. I bloody hate it here.
So, fellow travellers, be aware that you too may run into difficulties if you have been abroad teaching ESL and want to come back to the UK to qualify as a teacher here. I know that if I don’t get funded, that particular dream will have gone for me and I will be thinking seriously about what I want to do.
Apart from that, Marta and I took a trip to the West Hill and enjoyed a wonderful lunch of jacket potato (Marta) and a sausage baguette (me) with some delicious cake for desert. The West Hill is very pretty in the springtime sun and I regrettably only took a few pictures the entire time we were there. I must get back into using my camera again. But being back home has left me uninspired. I want to go back to Vietnam and Cambodia, where I was happily snapping away all day long. You can see my picture of the West Hill above, and you would have seen it if you clicked on this article from my home page.
Well, that is it for me for now. I will write again soon about the trials and tribulations of trying to get my life in order. It might not be easy but I will work it out.
Today is my sister’s 21st Birthday. It is the day that, officially, she stops being a girl and is a young woman on the brink of graduating University and going out into the world to make it a better place. But it is also a day that has got me thinking. Thinking about life and travelling. And, despite what many think, travelling isn’t always easy. It can be bloody hard, dear reader. For, life at home does not simply cease to go on with your removal. No. It continues on much as before. And a hard part of a life on the road is missing out on the events back home. This year alone, I will be missing yet more of my cousins birthdays (they are all young – two of them have never met me before and one of them doesn’t know who I am); I have missed my grandfather’s 80th birthday; my sister turning 21; and two family weddings. Next year, I miss my father turning 50. The year after that, my mother turning 50. And missing these events gets harder and harder every time.
I feel this aspect of travelling is less talked about. After all, who wants to hear about someone moping in self-pity, when they can hear about the time you rode elephants in Thailand or tried some amazing food in Vietnam. But, dear readers, this is a reality of life on the road. It can get away from you, and before you know it, you’ve missed out on large chunks of life from back home. Tolkien once wrote that “It’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I feel very much like I have been swept up in the raging river of travel. After leaving Korea, I am planning to head to Australia or New Zealand. But the flip-side of this rather beautiful coin hides a less attractive face. I haven’t been home in a year and a half. I have no plans to go back home in the next year and a half. I haven’t seen my parents since the day I left. Nor my sister. My extended family, I haven’t seen in even longer than that. They are constantly changing, their lives evolving and I feel less and less a part of that each day. On top of this, friends move in and out of your life with a rapid fluidity. This February, I am losing one of my best friends here in Korea, and several other close friends are also leaving. You start to be less of a person in the lives of others and more…a part of a story that they will one day tell. Yes, you might be an interesting part. But you are a story, none the less. To my young cousins, I am nothing but a story. A man in a myth. They’ve no memories of me. No face to put to the name. If anything, I am just a guy who appears on the computer every now and then.
Yes, dear readers, life on the road is glorious and wonderful. I see things and do things many people only dream of. I live a life blessed with interesting tales, opportunities and adventures. But to go on one adventure, you must give up others. And every now and then you realise – it is a high price to pay.