Seeds – Pack up the van and go
It is three days now since my travels resumed, and this is the third day I have begun to write down my journey. Twice I have failed to finish. Today I shall not.
The date, according to my iPhone, is Wednesday 26th April 2023, it is 06:25 hours, and the rain is blattering on the roof of our motorhome. Our overnight spot is a busy lakeside car park, wrapped in snow-capped mountains, in Ioannina north-west Greece. Just five days ago we were sound asleep 800 kilometres away in our cottage in Levka, and this trip was not even a hint of a dream in our heads.
Things change. Sometimes swiftly, sometimes slowly, and sometimes a little bit of both at once. This time it seemed that change came rushing at us, completely out of the blue. But as I sit here and finally begin to write again, I can see that the seeds of this change have always been there. These full two plus years since we first found our adorable cottage in south-east Bulgaria – every step of the way – the seeds of today’s journey were stirring in my soul.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Sitting here this morning with a torrent of rain heaving down on the van, I am not in the least surprised. Those self-same seeds have been blowing in on the breeze for as long as I can remember. Settling in my clothes and peppering my hair, sliding under my skin and most of all tickling at my toes and whispering ‘go… see… travel…’
I love our house in Levka. Our beautiful place on the hill looking out across that oh so prettily placed of villages. I love my garden and the host of new shrubs and flowers I had just bought for it. I loved our plans for the next three months that were going to see the cottage transformed into a fully renovated delight. Purple bougainvillaea splashing colour across the walls by the pool as we drifted away the hot summer afternoons in the pleasant coolness of the water.
I love our little haven in the Sakar Mountain foothills. The day before we left, I found the first tortoise of the season in our garden. I could barely breathe at the thought of turning away. But those seeds. Those hairy, spiky, itchy little seeds of wanderlust scratch so darn loudly at my soul. And suddenly, minutes after waking on Friday morning, we could ignore them no more. Yes, we love our house in Levka, but the road was calling, and we love it more.
It took us a day of weighing and tossing ideas to and fro to fully settle with our decision to leave the summer renovating and pack Iggy the motorhome for travel once more. And even then, the idea did not fully give us peace until we visited our dear friends Karin and Eddie and talked our idea through with them. We didn’t know – don’t know – if we want to let go of our house for good. But we do know that life is short, tomorrow is never a given, and Levka is not the number one item on our priority list. Travel is. And our life of travel has turned into a life in village Levka.
It would be easier by far if that life in the village was not so sweet. We are only £7,000 away from the cottage being complete. One more year of hard work on top would see a two room extension, the guest house, and the verandah all finished. The garden would be splendid with new patios and pathways and all the new plantings spreading colour and scent. Another year and the first stage of the camperstop would be up and running. I have drawn the plans, I have seen it all in my mind’s eye, and it is beautiful.
But… life is short, and we are not getting any younger. This time next year or the year after or the year after that and we may not be here to travel anymore. Or travel may not be so easy as it is now. We look to the future with hope of a long and bright one. But hope is not enough. Hope devoid of reason leads many to step down a pathway far from the one they most wanted to travel. And it was with that thought that Jay and I sat down at our kitchen table in Levka to figure out what it was that we really wanted to do with our time. And it was hardly a surprise at all to discover that the answer was to travel.
Top of Jay’s list of ‘What I most want to do before I die’ was to go to America. And top of mine was just ‘Travel’ followed very closely by ‘Finish my book’ and underlined by ‘Be part of the arts community again.’ Specific countries and places flooded in underneath as the dreams we were paving over with patios in Levka surged back to the surface. Buried seeds cracking concrete as they lifted their heads to the sun at winter’s end. Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, South America, a cruise to Antarctica, Kerala, Zanzibar, Samarkand, The Great Wall of China.
And, at the end of our lists, a little place by the sea. White-washed walls splashed year-round in flowers, with the memories of our travels furnishing every room. The singing of crickets fills the summer nights of our autumn years. A nearby bar where Jay still goes every week to play the songs he has written – new and old. And a book lined study, open to the terrace, where I type away at another book until my breath is done.
We love Levka. We love our old cottage there. But it is not our biggest dream. Our lists are done. Our hearts have spoken. Whether or not we can make those dreams come true remains to be seen. But of one thing we are sure – they will never come true if we do not try…