In Love with a Map


Day Seventeen: A Map as Your Muse


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I have a confession to make.  I once fell in love with a map book and still have feelings for it.  There, I have said it.  I hope you don’t think any less of me…

Maps have always been kinda fascinating to me, all those lines everywhere, all those different places and things out there to discover.  They seem to hold endless possibilities for exploration and adventure.  Maybe they appeal because they show the way and to someone still trying to find their way in life, that attracts.  I had never though got as excited by a map as I did with this one.

As part of our Big Adventure we travelled round New Zealand in a motor home for 4 weeks.  Tucked away in the glove box was this map book, quietly unassuming, waiting for me to pick it up.  Once I did, I was hooked and would often exclaim ‘this is such a good map book’ (often = daily…possibly more than once…)

Although we had a plan of where we would be travelling to, we chose places to stay as we went and this map simply had all the information we needed – DOC campsites, dump stations, sightseeing spots and of course the roads!  We learnt names of mountains and lakes, saw spots used in the Lord of the Ring films, changed routes because we saw something interesting on the map, found random places to stay.

The map book became as much as part of our travels in New Zealand as the motor home was or we were.  I can’t think of our time there without thinking of it.  I fell in love with it so much that I didn’t want to part with it.  Asking anyone for anything is not really in my comfort zone especially if they might think I’m odd or there is a chance they might say no.  This map book pushed me to do something I am very anxious about and I happily carried my map onto my onward flight from Auckland.

I may never return to New Zealand and may never ever need to use that map again.  The sight of it though makes me happy, it brings back memories of that trip, reminds me of freedom and most of all it reminds me that I can be brave.  Who’d have thought a map book could do all of that.

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Our Big Adventure

Mazda Bongo campervan

It is nearly 3 years since we put our home on the market and started planning our ‘Big Adventure’.  Countless times before and during our travels we heard the exclamation ‘you are so brave’ and maybe we were, I don’t know.  All I know is that the fear of not doing it beat the fear of doing it.  For someone who got seriously over anxious about the smallest of social occasions or even deciding what to have for a drink at my very worst, I suppose it was an incredibly big step to take and in the end I think we both stepped so far out of our comfort zones that we never could step back again even if we wanted to.

Being in a reminiscing mood today, I thought I would tell a little more about our ‘Big Adventure’.  I have mentioned it in passing in previous posts and felt it was time to put some flesh on those bones.

Before jetting off to foreign adventures, we wanted to spend time exploring our own country.  We set off in our trusty Mr Bongo and travelled up the east side of England into Scotland, back down again via the west side and then across the bottom.  Our route was based on random things such as places we had seen on the weather map, ones from books I had read as a child or simply because we liked the name.  Our Bongo travels introduced us to life without planning and how to trust that things would work out if we didn’t plan every step.  Our adventure started and ended with life in our little Bongo home.

Next stop on our travels was a week in Singapore.  To be quite honest we took a gamble booking a stopover here as we knew virtually nothing about the country and simply wanted somewhere on the way to New Zealand that wasn’t the standard option of Dubai or Hong Kong.  It was proof that gambles are worth taking – Singapore is amazing!  If you ever get the chance to go, do!  Okay it could do with turning down the humidity level, nowhere is perfect though.  Singapore is friendly, easy to travel around on public transport, full of good food, wondrous sights and a glorious mesh of cultures.

Gardens by the Bay 'Supertrees@

Photo of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore by ColobusYeti and available at Shutterstock

After a tense and stressful flight via Hong Kong (tip folks – always make sure that your baggage allowance is the same for all flights on a multi-flight trip!), we landed in New Zealand.  My head found it really weird to comprehend that I was actually on the other side of the world!  After staying with friends in Auckland for a week (including a mini road trip up to Cape Reinga), we picked up our monster camper with 2 double beds and set off on our road trip round the two islands…and boy did we see some roads!  We travelled past beaches, through mountain passes, across water, spent the night next to a colony of fur seals, saw wild penguins and laughed ourselves silly at the birds.  New Zealand is a gloriously beautiful, friendly and laid back country.  Having not been too fussed initially, I would return in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose.

Our final stop on our travels was Tokyo…for 6 months.  We had visited Japan a fair few times and wanted to experience life there.  Living somewhere is so completely different to visiting and it blindsided us for a while how much we struggled at first.  Everything ‘normal’ seemed so..well…not normal.  We did travel a little whilst there, mostly though our time was spent exploring our city and falling in love with life there in a way we never foresaw.  There were times of isolation and also of belonging.  When we returned to the UK, we left our home behind and have missed it ever since.

Buildings in Yanaka, Tokyo

The view from our apartment window in Yanaka, Tokyo

This is a simple snap shot of our travels, a topic I could write about again and again.  And I am sure that I will – let me know if you’d like to hear about any part in particular!

Anyone thinking of travelling, do it.  Stop making excuses and do it.  Before it really is too late.  It is challenging and amazing.  Our ‘Big Adventure’ shaped us and continues to influence who we are and what we do.