From Taransay to the Faroes

From Taransay to the Faroe Islands 21.06.16

I had no history of travel as a young woman, no yearning for distant land, it wasn’t an experience or expectation I had grown up with. Giving birth widened my horizons and saw my expectations, knowledge, interest and understanding of the world increase. Carla, Nicola and I hosteled around the UK with brief strays into Europe, usually at Easter, saving summer weeks for camping at Waxham.

But it was a chance snippet in the Guardian that ignited my travel spirit, ‘Castaways wanted’ by the BBC. It talked of living with nature and forming a community on a remote Scottish island that made rules for itself, living simply without interaction from the outside world. Having never felt at ease in my world as I knew it, I applied. I made it through initial application, telephone interview and 1:1 televised interview. Final selection followed, a week at the Centre for Alternative Technology. By then Castaway 2000 was something I believed I was born for and I eagerly prepared for a year on Taransay.

But it was not to be. I was devastated. I had been first to find water. I had been first to light fire. How could I not be going?

I was mentally ready to leave when I met Susie in a pub one night, a strong and unpredictable Australian woman. She said she lived near Perth, had never ‘driven up the west coast’, suggested we ‘put a mattress in the back of the ute and drive’. Emotionally, I was already planning on spending a year away from work, from my daughters and my world as I knew it. How could I refuse?

So it was that I took the gap year while my daughters went to University but my Australian journey does not belong here. I fell in love with my wildness, the emptiness of the landscape, ever changing plans and decisions that grew from chance meetings.

I returned in November 2001, but struggled sharing my home with students and living in a crowded city. I left again and spent five months in Arctic Finmark, learning the language, and meeting the Sami. That story does not belong here either.

Throughout my journeyings, I loved the moments when I would find an internet cafe and lose several hours writing long, meandering emails to friends. I would become lost in my thoughts and contemplations of my many wild and woolly moments, my writing was raw and real. I often think about returning to it and trying to make sense of it all.

I always thought I would travel when I retired. It turned out 2013 wasn’t the right time for me but 2016 has ticked on, bringing with it my 60th birthday, and I have found myself enjoying ‘me’ time and time to think again of travel. Despite my love of Australia it has nevertheless always been cold climes that have attracted me rather than hot. So here I am, nearly ready to go to the Faroe Islands for at least two months. I have a much more ‘grown up’ plan than previously which carries both promise and uncertainty. Im unsure I’m very good at being ‘grown up’ and maybe therein lies a story or two.

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