Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Experiential Sweet Spot of Adventure

The View from Fox Road, Wigginton, Herts.
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

There exists a sweet spot on any adventure between independence and companionship, between having an experience on one's own and a shared experience. For me, it's not about whether or not you embark alone but how you interact, and with whom, once the adventure has been undertaken. 

Certainly, there can be times during independent travel when you may wish you were with your best mate and could say, "Wow, can you believe this...?!" Being the kind of person I am, I tend to do that to anyone within earshot if I am on a solo adventure because, chances are, they are experiencing a similar reaction. Hopefully, I don't look like this gargoyle from the Tower of London to whomever it is I am exclaiming:

An ancient face guards the Tower of London
Gillian Cornwall, c. October, 2015

On this most recent adventure to the UK, I had the luxury of time and comfort with friends and family with a wonderful base in my cousin's cottage in Hertfordshire combined with adventures all over on my own or visiting friends. It was all quite perfect for me as I had the autonomy to do and see what was high on my list of priorities and to spend as much time as I liked in this cathedral or that part of London. There is a great deal of advantage in not having to compromise one's limited time. That being said, my friends and family were both very kind in allowing me my flights of fancy when exploring with them - such gracious hosts I had! 

I was driven to Stow on the Wold by kind people I had never before met to spend the day with my dear friends Brough and Sue who were visiting England from Vancouver Island at the same time as I! Thank you Richard and Carolyn.

Childhood Swings at the Family Home - Greenfields, Gloucestershire
Gillian Cornwall, c. September, 2015

My cousin took me to meet her dearest friends and on trips to Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, Oxford, Harrow on the Hill in the London Borough of Harrow and Hampstead and Highgate in the London Borough of Camden. We also spent time in Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Brighton, London and Tring. I am sure I am missing some pieces because I still have jet lag and can't think properly but here are some images to fill the gap...

Waddesdon Manor - Previously a Rothschild Property 
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 Me at the church gate for St Mary's Harrow on the Hill
My mum and brother and I had stood here before, many years ago
Photo by Karen Jay, c. September 2015

 Face carved into the bridge over River Cherwell, Magdelen College, University of Oxford
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 Friends of Karen walk us through Hampstead to a lovely tea shop
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 A view of the 2nd floor flat where my aunt and uncle once lived in Hampstead. It's 2nd floor on the right hand side of the shot.
They could have purchased it after the war for around 800 pounds. That was a great deal of money then and they moved away to Hertfordshire. Current value is in the millions of pounds.
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 Karen and me at Burgh House and Hampstead Museum for tea
Photo by Marc Wright, c. September 2015

 View of St Paul's and the Shard from Hampstead Heath
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 This is the pond in Hampstead where my Uncle Edward pushed Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, into the water during a demonstration/riot. I come by my activism honestly I guess...
Gillian Cornwall, c September 2015

 On the footpath through Wigginton to Wigginton Bottom.
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

 The ever-changing skies from the upstairs view 
in Karen's 250 year old cottage. Amazing.
Gillian Cornwall, c. October, 2015

 The Tring Footpath down Oddy Hill from Wigginton
through Tring Woods
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

My last day with Karen on Brighton Pier, Brighton
GIllian Cornwall, c. October 2015

Beyond all of this, I also went to Somerton and Glastonbury in Somerset to visit my dear friend and earth angel, Sheila. We had been friends through Twitter for 3 years and were finally able to meet in person. This was such a wondrous part of my adventure and I'm ever grateful for having this time together. 

 The view to the old manor house in Somerton - from Sheila's garden
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

Incredible carved wood ceiling with dragons below
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 The Somerton Butter Cross (rebuilt in 1673) and Market Hall
The stones in the centre of the Butter Cross stay cool all the time 
and keep the butter from melting.
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 Through the arches of the Glastonbury Abbey (opened 712 AD)
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

Sheila and her friend who works at the Abbey
and knew all of its history!
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

I also spent some time on my own on train travel adventures to Edinburgh and York where it was the place AND the people who I met along the way that made me feel so full of joy and wonder!

 The view from Edinburgh Castle
Gillian Cornwall, c. September, 2015
 The Cannonball Restaurant, Royal Mile, Edinburgh
I was made to feel so welcome in this incredible restaurant 
specializing in local, sustainable foods.
A special thank you to Gabby and all the staff!
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 Another view from Edinburgh Castle over the City of Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth (body of water leading to the North Sea)
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 The beautiful eastern coastline from the train
Between Edinburgh, Scotland and Berwick-Upon-Tweed in Northumberland, England
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

The two front windows of my incredible suite at the Royal York Hotel in York, Yorkshire, England
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 The Stunning Chapter House Ceiling of York Minster, York
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

One of the stoneworkers working on repairs to the East End and Great East Window
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

While I could go on and on about each place, I'll finish up for today on my last solo adventure - 3 days in London - where I was so grateful to new friends, Marc and Suzannah for use of Marc's 17th floor Canary Wharf flat to use as a base from which to explore! 3 days of amazing, walks through London and mastering the DLR, tube, river boats and buses to see as much as possible and I realize that I would need months, no, years to see as much as I would like of this incredible city. Nonetheless, here is a wee taste. Again, it was the people and the places that made it all incredibly special.

Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

London Eye in the background - London old and new
Gillian Cornwall, c, September 2015

 Battle of Britain Monument on the River Thames, London
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

 The Waterloo Barracks of the Tower of London, Housing the Crown Jewels,
Jewels currently valued at around 3.68 Billion CAD
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

Her Majesty's soldiers guarding the Crown Jewels
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

 A footy-playing gnome outside a home at the Tower of London
The Yeoman Warders and other staff that live on site are locked in at 10 pm each night
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

 Tower Bridge from the Tower of London
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

 A view to a tower view - Many of the walls are 12 feet thick
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

 My View from my 17th floor flat in Canary Wharf, South Wharf, Isle of Dogs 
Feeling entirely decadent
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

 The dome of St Paul's Cathedral, London
Sir Christopher Wren's crowning achievement
Gillian Cornwall, c. October, 2015

Rebuilt in 1667!
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

 Tourists and locals alike, chillin' with Ghandi
Gillian Cornwall, c October, 2015

I had to go to Poplar because of my love for the television series, "Call the Midwife"
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2015

There is so much more I could share; so many incredible sights that I have seen and stories I have been told but, suffice it to say, it was an incredible journey of personal growth and a step in to the long history of my people on these British Isles. It was a chance to connect with family and friends old and new and to realize that England is my home too. I feel at home there in some respects. In other ways, it is all too apparent that I was born in Canada and received a Canadian education and upbringing. There are beauty and love and history in both places and I remain a citizen of both. 

I hope you enjoyed this walk through my month away and I would love to hear if you would like to see more pictures from the trip in another post. Do let me know if you would ..or wouldn't!

Go forth and enjoy your adventures, whether solo or in the company of others. Embrace the days and don't worry about how much time you have left in a place. Be present. Take it in. Talk to people. Ask questions. Share your stories. It is a beautiful world out there. In gratitude, let's share it with one another as best we can. 

-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 11, 2015

Somerton, Somerset
Gillian Cornwall, c. September, 2015

2 comments:

Diane Scurr said...

Such a beautiful post. I especially love the final paragraph; it is a beautiful world out there.

Gillian said...

Thank you very much Diane