“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury
Ah travel, my old lover, I still remember you. Your dark-eyed exoticness, your mysteriousness. The fights we had, how wonderful it was to kiss and make up. The way you confronted me, the way you shared something beautiful just when I least expected it; the gifts and the challenges. I remember you when I am shouting at my kids to go to bed / get out of the bath / get dressed / not put wet cereal on the walls. I remember you when I am trying to go to the toilet by myself or have a shower without someone coming in to tell me they NEED! a snack. I remember you when folding laundry, packing lunch boxes, contemplating the leaking windows or the slowly rotting house piles. I remember our romance.
To be totally fair to my current life, I have been lucky enough to travel with the children I am complaining about. To the east coast of the States when B1 was an itty bit; to Europe by the time we had two. A few lovely road trips and short holidays just to escape the usual routine and the house besmirched with wet cereal. Trips that were difficult and rich and rewarding and unforgettable. Trips I hope will sow the seed of a love of travel in my children’s young psyches, a love that will take them far and away when they are bigger and able.
But travel alone…without kids….remember those days? Matt and I do. We talk about them all the time. We tell tales of the places we saw together. The capsule hotel in Osaka and staring up a night sky stitched with stars in Halong Bay. Cycling around Kyoto in the snow, a stag on the road in British Columbia, lobster rolls in Boston and soupy dumplings in China. Siem Reap, Shanghai, Saltspring island. A boat trip on the Mekong river on Christmas Day. Sunflowers in Tuscany, an apartment in Paris. A dinner at sunset eaten next to temple ruins in Chiang Mai. When we were first together we spent all our savings on plane flights and squeezed trips into any holiday time we could scrape together. If all we got was four days break we’d take them and run. In the three years we were living in China we took shameless advantage of cheap air travel and hopped and skipped all over South East Asia. It was a wild time.
I’m excited for when the kids are just that bit older and we can take them on more intrepid adventures like the ones we used to have. A friend of ours recently posted the most jealousy-inducing pics of a trip to Bali – grinning kids in and on the water and hiking up volcanoes. Another friend is about to pull her two girls out of school for six months for a sabbatical in Europe and China, returning home, no doubt, with dozens of tales and thousands of photos. I stumbled across the final episode of this series – Big Crazy Family Adventure – the other day and was in so much awe I was practically kow-towing the screen. Matt, on the other hand, is sage and frank. He is looking forward to the time the children are completely out of our hair and we can travel completely alone once more. A time, I warn him, when our knees and eyes probably won’t work. This is what we call our puffin list time.
“Puffin List” came about when I was scrawling through instagram one day, being completely unproductive, looking at photos of donuts and kittens and other people’s kids looking well put together. An account I follow had posted a photograph of puffins, standing on a rock, looking sweet and strange in that way that puffins do. I sent a note to Matt with the picture – “I want to see these with you one day.” Since then we tag each other in pictures all the time. Cabins by frozen lakes, mountain views, hiking trails – #puffinlist. Outside scenes to make your jaw drop, inside scenes you want to curl up in – #puffinlist. Blindingly hot places, white and frozen places, places with tons of light and others cast in dimness – #puffinlist.
If we are lucky we may get to see some of the places in the images that are on our puffin list. Perhaps the kids will be with us, perhaps we’ll go alone, perhaps, crossed fingers, our joints are still holding up. We know there are no guarantees in life and love or health, marriage, wealth or world politics. Anything could happen. Our puffin list places might not be there when we are able to go. Or they are there and one or other of us are no longer here. But we are making a puffin list all the same; with all the beautiful photographs of wild, far-flung places we can find. Because hoping and wishing makes the day better and the walls seem less bothersomely sticky.
Do you have a puffin list? Where or what is on your puffin list?
Love, Hannah x
A note about the photographs: All the #puffinlist photographs included in this post were sourced from Local Milk Blog and taken by the stupendously talented Beth Kirby. Beth’s blog and instagram account are destinations to get lost in; she travels the globe cooking, styling, writing, snapping, teaching and inspiring. Her photographs give life a Vermeer lens. On top of that her writing is smart, wise, honest and lyrical. I don’t often get life-envy these days but the life Beth has created for herself looks pretty special. Please check out Local Milk Blog, Local Milk Retreats and Elizabeth Kirby for photo, retreat and workshop details, meals and places to add to your own puffin list.