St Augustine disputably said “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page” and, in marked contrast to this one, reading and travelling is how I invariably spend my Easter holidays.
Easter 2011 my husband, Mike Pinnington (CTK maths teacher 1976 to 2014) and I cycled over 100km a day from the vibrant city of Saigon in the south of Vietnam to the capital Hanoi in the north – several sections had to be made via minibus and one by a memorable overnight sleeper. Our first day took us to the infamous Cu Chi tunnels, of such great importance to the Viet Cong operations during the war. Now a must see on the tourist trail, I declined the chance to crawl through the tunnels they have had to widen for the fat westerner market, though Mike happily vanished down a drainpipe into the earth for a gut-wrenchingly long time. We cycled vast shorelines, colourful fishing villages, rice terraces, temples and jungles. Magical beauty was tinged with a tangible past pushing its way relentlessly to the surface as we visited the moving museum at the site of the My Lai massacre.
In 2013 we ticked off a bucket list item with Machu Picchu, Peru, though not without a few days cycling around Paddington Bear’s Lima first. Acclimatising to high altitude for the first time was interesting. Headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and sleeping sitting up were routine minor ailments for our first few days in Cusco. Five days of tough hiking (an all day ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass) and rough camping saw us arrive at The Sun Gate high above the Inca genius that is the citadel of Machu Picchu. And en route the best interlocking spurs and psychedelic butterflies I have ever seen.
2015 Nepal Everest Base Camp. Many of you sponsored us for this trip which we undertook to raise funds for Queenscourt Hospice in memory of several of our colleagues who were looked after so well both there and in other local hospices. The CTK community’s incredible generosity helped us raise over £3,000. Having bored so many of you with this on so many occasions suffice it to say that Kathmandu, the rackety 16 seater plane that landed us safely into the world’s most dangerous airport and the camaraderie of a group of fellow travellers along the arduous trek will stay with me forever. As will the earthquake that devastated the country and killed 9000 less than a week after we flew home.
2016 saw us in a favourite haunt, Thailand. It is a country that has pulled us back time and time again. We swam, climbed mountains and on this trip cycled daringly, and with some apprehension, along the Myanmar border.
Easter 2018 was spent backpacking around Cadiz, Seville and Cordoba before finishing in the magical hanging city of Cuenca. Nothing beats Semana Santa in Spain. The community celebrations of Holy Week see every man, woman and child solemnly parading the streets behind the huge, ancient, baroque statues, religious floats and crucifixes accompanied by wheeled drums rhythmically pounding behind. I have spent at least 25 Easters in Spain. Just go. You won’t regret it.
And as for Easter 2020. The Camino Santiago de Compostela. An Easter pilgrimage hiking one of the most famous pilgrimage trails in the world. A year in the planning. The best laid plans of mice and men… It’s going to take us at least a year to unpick it judging by my progress with Easyjet etc to date. Such is life.
And as for Easter 2020. My first Easter at home in decades. Approached initially with some trepidation as have been all my travel adventures, but there was no need. The unseasonal Asian sunshine and warm winds swept Merseyside. We have cycled safely along empty high roads and byways hearing long forgotten birdsong and marvelling at the array of wild flowers blooming. We have discovered local walks we never knew existed and rushed each day to inspect the progress of thousands of wriggling tadpoles in a nearby pond. Different species of butterflies have adorned the hedgerows and the heady fragrance of the common white hawthorn has filled the air. And as I have always known, no matter where I have travelled, our North West coast of England sunsets rival any in the world. We are very lucky.
St Augustine may or may not have said that “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page”. What he perhaps forgot to say was that the distance can be travelled at home.
My husband, who can provide a song lyric for every occasion, suggested “The Inner Light” 1968 by George Harrison, taken from The Beatles’ B side to “Lady Madonna”.
Without going out of my door
I can know all the things of earth
Without looking out of my window
I could know the ways of heaven
The farther one travels the less one knows
The less one really knows
Arrive without travelling
See all without looking
Do all without doing
And from one of my favourite poets Louis MacNeice
“Sleep serene, avoid the backward
Glance; go forward, dreams, and do not
Today’s Cultural Challenge:
Read about the Great Barrier Reef: https://greatbarrierreef.org/about-the-reef