Thirty years after I’d first toyed with the idea, I finally took a gap year.
In those interim decades I’ve enjoyed a great professional career, interviewing people and telling stories in print, sound, pictures and film. But three years ago it was finally time to take stock and throw the dice.
I spent a month walking across Spain on the Camino de Santiago; camped and climbed in the Scottish hills; trecked across parts of wild New Zealand; explored ruined, forgotten places; wrote short stories; and completed a novel.
The twelve-month career break flew past and turned into almost two years. And I couldn’t go back; I’d followed Mark Twain’s romantic advice and “thrown off the bowlines, sailed away from safe harbour, caught the Trade Winds in my sails”. I explored, dreamed, discovered.
I’ve picked up my journalistic career again, but I continue to walk, write and travel. For two dark Scottish winters I rented seaside cottages and divided my time between my laptop and the beaches on the doorstep. And in the summers I lived and worked from my tent or camper van so that I had the freedom to discover new places whenever the opportunity arose.
But then came a renewed need for home, a growing longing for roots rather than the perpetual motion of wheels and new horizons. And I now have that place, a small stone fisherman’s cottage with views out to sea.
It’s a “lock and leave” so I can still travel and follow John Muir’s advice to “climb the mountains and get their glad tidings” then do some work to pay the bills. Or buy a little whisky.
This blog is an account of the work still in progress.