This past couple of weeks, I’ve barely been at home. I was in Edinburgh the whole of last week, and in London (above) for three nights the previous week.
And I’ve nothing to report from the trips.
In neither city did I just wander aimlessly, camera in hand, following my idle curiosity. Both Edinburgh and London are immensely wanderable – bustling, vibrant, warmer and friendlier than their reputations suggest, and easy to get pleasurably lost in. There’s always a fascinating side street to wonder down in both place, a new and compelling photo opportunity to snap, new sights, new sounds, new experiences. And if you can’t find anything new and unusual, then the iconic and cliched are world-famous and just as worth a look. I’d never live in either city, but I love visiting them both.
The thing is, I’m very privileged to have some great friends all over the place, and so whenever I go away it’s wonderful to catch up with them if I can. I go to Edinburgh a lot for work – on average perhaps three or four days or nights a month – so there’s always someone to have a pint or dinner with. And that’s what I did on each of the four evenings I was down there. Meanwhile in London, I caught up with four friends over the three evenings I had down there, all of whom I’d not seen for at least four years, and it was terrific to see them.
So yes, in fact, I’ve got plenty to report in that sense – lots of news, ideas and laughs shared.
But nothing to report beyond the personal.
And while I loved catching up with so many friends, I have a tiny – and guilty – regret that I didn’t just wander, explore, or plan something different or unusual.
On the few occasions I’ve enjoyed free time in either Edinburgh or London, I’ve always loved it. Seeing friends is great, not least when you go do something new together. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s nice to be alone amongst the crowds; idle amongst the rush; slowly exploring amongst the purposeful missions; stopping to look, photograph and muse amongst the endless stream of people, traffic and noise.
I love travel, after all, and I’m realising more and more that some of the best trips into the unknown can be made within the familiar. So I’m sure there’s more I could report from Edinburgh and London. And I’m sure that friends won’t mind if, just once in a while, I just slip and out of town incognito, spend an evening following my nose, to see what curios and nuggets of everyday extraordinariness can be dug up.
Perhaps I’ll do that next time I’m down in Edinburgh overnight. Just pick a direction and walk, to see what I can find. Maybe find a new side to the city, whether a curious snippet of local history, a hint of a story, or just a good new pub. Maybe I’ll head up one of the city’s many hills close to town to photograph it from above, panoramas of lights flickering in the night sky.
It may not be rewarding. It might be lonely. It might be miserably cold and wet. Or I may dig up something fascinating, that I never would have otherwise known or experienced.
If anything, it’ll be something to share with friends there when I see them the next time.