Something I’ve noticed whilst travelling is this: although we’re constantly surrounded by beautiful things, when you live somewhere it is easy to become blinkered. Blinkered to the boring commute to work; putting the rubbish out on the same old street; driving past the same buildings, signs, places – day in, day out.
It struck me when I was in Canada, staying with the Boy and his family. We took the dog for a walk to a local spot named Elbow Falls.
It was stunning.
Boy has been there a few, nay, many times to walk the pooch. It’s just around the corner from his house – he’s been going since he was a kid. He had absolutely no idea how unbelievably beautiful this humble spot was, just miles from his home. We hiked a small hill overlooking the riverbed, with incredible views all the way over the Albertan countryside, from the waterfalls crashing beneath us all the way up to the famous Rocky Mountains bringing up the rear on the horizon. I kept telling him how amazing this place was. His responses were very much along the lines of, “Really? It’s just Elbow Falls..”
WELL people, I will tell you and I’ll tell you again – Elbow Falls is f****** beautiful.
Just the other day, the Boy and I had no plans so we took an impromptu (yes, that is my favourite word) train ride to the little town of Henley-on-Thames. Henley is most famous for its regatta, drawing in crowds from all over the world to watch the sinewy rowers haul ass down the river for a few minutes. (It’s also the biggest piss-up of the summer in these parts, and apparently an excuse for the “upper class” among us to throw any sense of class we may have had previously to the wind and get absolutely slaughtered, making as much noise, mess and trouble as humanly possible along the way and generally being nuisances…)
OKAY SO anyway. As we’re walking along the river, up to the weir, Boy is all, “Wow, it’s so cute. It’s so beautiful. Henley is so lovely. Bla bla”. My responses were very much along the lines of, “Really? It’s just Henley..”
Hmm. Déjà vu.
When I thought about it, he’s right – so quaint, with cobbled streets and a market square and the winding river and picturesque little bridges… Henley is seriously beautiful. Only, it’s been on my doorstep for the last 15 years, I spent a year here hating life at college, and then spent the following 2 or 3 years getting hammered in the local Wetherspoons. So I’d failed to realise just how beautiful Henley in fact is.
Another time, we went for a walk – we walked from Twyford to Dinton Pastures, a country park nearby. It was about a 4 mile walk.
A 4 mile, sun drenched, tranquil walk through buzzing forests, fields full of grazing horses neighing gleefully, crossing babbling streams on venerable wooden planks charmingly placed by walkers of years gone by…
Why have I never done this walk before?
We visited family in the Midlands. I’ve been going up there my whole life, yet have thus far failed to see the incredible things just miles from my aunty’s house, which is situated in the heart of the Peak District. We went on a casual afternoon walk, and hiked to the summit of Thorpe Cloud.
INCREDIBLE. WHAT THE HECK.
Has that seriously been there the whole time?
Inspired by our mini-hike in the Peak District, we decided to hot-foot it up to the Lake District for a cheeky look around.. I’ve not been to the Lake District since I was 10 years old on a school trip and, although aware that it’s a hot spot for tourists, haven’t thought much of it since.
We spent the morning sailing around Lake Windermere, then hiked from the town of Ambleside to Troutbeck, via Wansfell Pike.
Oh my goodness. Breathtaking. And I had no idea.
The point I’m trying to make is this: when you spend all of your time in one place, which the vast majority of us do, we stop seeing what’s around us. We focus on the norm, on the things we see every day, rather than searching for things we maybe didn’t know were there, places to explore, beauty to behold.
What’s customary for you may be a source of incredible beauty, even wonder, for someone else.
I am aware that I’m extremely lucky to be constantly moving around and therefore seeing new cities, towns, and landscapes extremely often. I know that not everyone can go on big holidays abroad, be it for financial reasons, work commitments, kids, etc.
You don’t have to go abroad. Seriously, you don’t. You don’t really have to go anywhere.
Here’s what I ask. Next time you get bogged down, bored or are feeling fed up, please try this:
Think about where you live, and have a look at why people would go there to visit. Trip Advisor it, Google it, whatever you want. You will be surprised, pleasantly I might add.
Don’t go to your favourite local restaurant again – find somewhere you’ve not been before and try it out. Go on a pub crawl around the area and make some new friends. Ask yourself: what draws tourists here?
I am willing to bet that after you’ve done some research you’ll have found something that you didn’t know was there – or, better yet, knew was there but have never bothered to check out. We’re human beings – we love routine and, fundamentally, we all want an easy life. Easy can be boring – but only if you let it.
As the Boy so eloquently put it: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
Beauty should never go unnoticed, or unappreciated. And, if you look for it, you can find it almost anywhere.