Exciting news! Just a quick Postcard from … little British things Tour HQ to announce the launch of my 2014 little British things Tour& to invite you to join the Tour Crew. I’m touring around Britain in 80 days, d’you want to come too? Starting 13 May to 31 July 2014, guided by the British coastline & a dream to inspire others, I’ll be wandering clockwise around the lands & isles of Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland & England. It’s going to be a great British expedition of everyday little British things. I’ll be exploring, observing & capturing examples & stories, celebrating the everyday ordinary, uncovering the Britishness behind & underneath the collective identity of what makes Britain great.
AND I’ll be raising funds for a charity unique to British island life, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) – often affectionately referred to simply as ‘The Lifeboat’.
Starting (& finishing) at RNLI headquarters in Poole, Dorset, one woman (that’s me, by the way) & her minimalist suitcase of approximate 100 things will be touring, with the sea at my side by bus, train & boat around Britain. From the Scilly Isles to the Shetland Isles, together we’ll be touring our way through cooked breakfast, Sunday lunch & afternoon tea, wandering (safely) across pelican crossings, around roundabouts, meandering the miles, roaming the rising & falling heaths & patchwork honeyed-green. We’ll be sauntering seashores, connecting with the Shipping Forecast, calling from phone boxes, calling in on cities, calling at village pubs, discussing butties, brollies & wellies, spending a penny or a pound, whatever the weather. Plus all the apologies & eccentricities in between. So I’d love to see you in Sole, write to you in Wight, share a humbug in Humber or have tea by the Irish Sea! You have a unique opportunity to share this adventure from anywhere in Britain, in fact anywhere in the world! Would you like to join the Tour Crew? If you love all little British things, you’re welcome to join the journey. Click here to discover how!2014 little British things Tour… With Love, fledgling on fire xx
From MS Finnmarken, somewhere around the Arctic Circle … Norway
“Who are you travelling with?” was the opening assumption asked by a fellow passenger from the U.S. as we teamed up to accept the challenge to complete a 1500-piece jigsaw of the sea, between Trondheim & Tromsø, in two days. I was back on board Hurtigruten’s MS Finnmarken, revisiting Norway, the magical kingdom which has captured my heart, possessed my spirit & overwhelmed my soul. (We were first introduced & fell in love during my dream trip in January this year …) “So … are you retired?” enquired a puzzled jigsaw spectator, as stunning snow-capped drama sailed by. Whilst writing in a cafe on the ship, sipping latte through a straw (new to me & a novel touch) “Are you travelling alone?” introduces concern from a kind east Norwegian passengeuse. “And are you OK with that?” she explores. “Perfectly” I thank her smiling sincerely, as I wonder how many non-solo travellers approach their kindred-kind with the conversation-opener “Are you travelling in a couple/family/group?” Later that day at dinner, I am joyfully joined by no less than three Norwegian bridge-playing-pensioners. (They were a hoot!) “Are you travelling on your own?” is our ice-breaking entrée. “Oh!” the ash-blonde lady from Trondheim responds to my confirmation with surprised eyebrows. Yet, to other solo-souls, to other wanderers familiar with travels alone, to others comfortable with travelling without a companion, it’s merely insignificant trivia, time-wasting small talk, a missed opportunity to discover, glean & share. “How far are you going?” … “Where have you been?” … “Have you been here before?” are the more usual greetings of soul-friends in my experience, since I took my first trip alone, a skiing weekend in the Cairngorms of Scotland, in Spring 2010. Often warmly followed by an exchange of inspirational stories lasting wandering well into the night … With Love, fledgling on fire xx
P.s. Hey, don’t tell everyone, but there a little British things Tour announcement coming this weekend!
Exactly a week ago today, I had just missed the bus to Tromsø airport. Stood, waiting in Arctic Circle snow for the next bus to transport me to the other side of the airport security fence, a lady arrived struggling with two large bundles. Gabbling her displeasure at having just missed the bus so musically in Norwegian, it was my pleasure to listen to her rhythm. She turned to me to direct a little of her disgruntlement & prompt a little sympathy. “I’m sorry” was the only comfort I could smile. Collecting her composure, she inspected my suitcase & confirmed to me “You go to airport.” Her baggage, requiring less inspection, was no less than 40toilet rolls which she had just bought at the mall. This tickled me somewhat, especially when she revealed she was a pensioner living alone. Apparently, she continued in her beautifully insistent, broken English, she had bought two more yesterday because it’s “good price”. She enlightened me further. She only buys two at a time because she only has two arms (& no car). I chuckled. She paused. Gazing across the road in front of the bus stop, through the security fencing to the airport terminal where I needed my bus to transport me, she announced “Buckingham Palace has own Post Office.” After clarifying what I thought I had heard, I smiled kindly to her, but also at my good fortune to be waiting for a bus with the gift of such an entertaining character. (This had been what my latest trip to Norway had been all about!) The toilet roll conversation was obviously just a warm-up for her main performance, which was about to commence. Buckingham Palace Post Office had replied to a letter she had written to William & Kate. She had details. Posted on 15th October, her birthday, she had wanted to tell them about a scientist’s warning of a volcano, Cumbre Vieja (she spelt it out for me with the toe of her training shoe in the snow at our feet, to avoid any misunderstanding), was predicted to erupt causing sea levels to rise 40 metres! My new learned friend told me that as sea levels rose the UK would “go down”. The pitch of her voice sank to reinforce the magnitude of the potential catastrophe. And she had kindly included links, for William & Kate, to the scientist on the internet. It was going to happen in November 2013. “So I am very happy because nothing happen!” she beamed. I laughed. But there was more … In December she had received her reply from Buckingham Palace Post Office thanking her for her letter. (How terribly British, I thought.) But, although she had written, to the Norwegian Royal Family at the same time & with the same news (but in the lucidity of Norwegian, I imagine) she was most disappointed that she had not received a reply from her own Royal Family! (Disappointing indeed!) I sympathised. Here was the finale, she had a confession. Thinking it was correct, she had addressed her letter to William & Kate as Prince & Princess, but on receiving a reply she saw that their titles were given as Duke & Duchess. She shrugged apologetically. “We don’t mind” I whispered to her reassuringly. She laughed out loud as the bus rolled up & the curtain closed on her proud performance & we boarded, together with the day’s toilet rolls. Oh the magic of Norway! … With love, fledgling on fire xx P.s. You may discover that the internet version of Cumbre Vieja is a little different to my dear learned friend’s version of events. But I know which one I prefer.
Today I am grateful for … having woken to watch a trail of sunny-apricot fluffy clouds wander across a blue sky, like a string of elephants making their way across land … grateful for standing outside in my pyjamas in the garden with my first coffee of the day enjoying the air dance around me, before rain stopped play … grateful for my for Dad listening to (one of) my (seemingly) never ending rants with the understanding that it is not directed at him & with the acceptance that once in a while, this is a useful way for me to process & access what’s really important within me … grateful for Brandon Stanton of Human’s of New York fame for his story & for his inspiration, for daring to be different … grateful for being Me. It’s not always easy for me, or anyone else for that matter. Being true isn’t easy, but I’m grateful that I’ve learned it’s the path of least resistance to happiness & success … grateful for Judith Morgan for introducing me to Ladies Who Impress & Sarah Weldon’s Oceans Project which led me to sponsor her ‘Tour’ & (get this) get my name fledglingonfire on the side of the boat! Which then led me to discover the Telegraph Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show in London … grateful for Claire of Raking the Moon‘s thoughtful five star review of my memoir Dream Seed Magic ~ A Journey Beyond My Imagination, on Amazon … grateful to Paulette Waltz of @5THINGSaDAY who inspired me to join her Twitter gratitudes recently, which led me to leap at the opportunity to join the beautiful Julia Elmore of Be Creative Daily to express & explore #GratitudeDaily through the month of February with an amazing group of women … THANK YOU… With Love, fledglingonfire xx
Hurtigruten’s MS Finnmarken docking at one of 34 ports on the 6 day coastal voyage north between Bergen & Kirkenes … #Norway
Every accent of any colour seems to possess a magical exuberance to fluoresce in the dark & light of the Arctic Circle. Colour, light & warmth glows everywhere. There is life throughout this frozen kingdom … With Love, fledgling on fire xx