Right. I made a few firm decisions over the week-end. I realise that's quite a rash thing to do, but sometimes it just has to be done.
I've put off making plans for any holiday this year for a number of reasons. The first, and most important reason, is that a couple of special friends had hinted that they might want to come and visit this summer. Given who they are, and just how important they are to me, I felt it was only right to organise my time off around them and their possible visits so that I could spend as much free time with them as I could. As it turns out, neither of them can make it this year. Am I sad about that? Oh yes, indeed I am! I had wanted so much to show them my patch, all the interesting nooks and crannies that make up my little world. I had wanted to wine them and dine them, and be their tour guide on a great south-west of the UK odyssey. Now, for that, we all have to wait impatiently until next year.
Given that I now find myself with an almost complete holiday allocation and no plans, I have felt, over the past few days, that I ought to do something. So, I made a decision. I don't want to go on about it, but decisions are not a shining beacon kind of strong point for me. Decisions that need to be made imply an alternative and I never want to turn my back on the prospect of one thing for the sake of another. When someone asks, for example, where I would like them to take me today, I find it really hard to decide. This is usually because I have no idea about the relative merits of one over the other, and don't really want to miss out on either. Okay, I'm babbling now - get back to the plot!
Many years ago I was given the opportunity to travel up to Northumberland, England's most northerly county, bordering Scotland, to do some training for my then job. I went up by train and was ferried around when I was up there. This meant that I never really saw anything. I vowed to go back, something I did a couple of years later. This time I was alone and with a car. I had a fantastic time discovering a new area and realising just how spectacular and fascinating it was. There were other visits. I then discovered that one part of my family actually came from that area and that they had played a particular part in its history. To me this explained why I'd felt so much at home there. There will be more of that later; for now I just have this over-riding urge to go back.
Last year on my drive up to Scotland I passed motorway signs for places I knew and loved in Northumberland, and I felt pangs of guilt and regret for passing them by. So, in September, once all those 'nice' holidaymaking children have gone back to school and I can have the wild landscape to myself, I will be heading back up there, camera in hand, to visit favourite places like The Wall, ruined castles like Dunstanburgh, Warkworth and Hermitage, places like Alnwick, Lindisfarne and Liddesdale, deserted beaches and wild forests, rolling hills and rocky crags. I'll be staying for a few days and plan to do and take in as much as is humanly possible.
And I've even had the forethought to join English Heritage. That's serious planning!