Why I still haven’t written about my four months cycle tour

On this day, two years ago, I woke up in a forest by the seaside in Andalucia. It was the end of a chapter and in a sense, the true beginning of the journey I had set to undertake.
If you have been following this blog for a few years, you will undoubtedly know which journey I’m referring to. If not, let me explain.

In March 2015 I went on holiday in Portugal for a week and fell in love with the country. By the time I had flown home, I knew I wanted to go back and see more of the country. So I set a plan in motion. I would quit my job and go cycle in Portugal for a few months. And I did. But my trip actually began in Spain. I pedalled from Irún in the north, to Huelva in the south. And that led me to the forest by the sea in Andalucia.

It was the first wild camp of the journey, the first step into the unknown. Up to that point, I had mostly kept to the fellowship of the Camino (de Santiago). But this was over. There were no more pilgrim’s hostels and no more waymarks. And it was fine. I was ready. But I digress. This is not what I want to write about.

I have mostly not written anything about this journey, and I’m not about to. I probably never will. Not unlike my first cycle tour to the Orkney Islands, I find myself unable and unwilling to share my experiences.

The deeply personal nature of those journeys lock them within myself. I can’t find the right words to express them. Sure, I could write what I saw, who I met, and what I experienced. But this feels too superficial for those trips. I would lie by omission because both of those adventures changed me. They didn’t make me into another person, unrecognisable to my friends and family, but they shifted something. I could tell you what but what would be the point? It would be nothing you haven’t heard of before. Which doesn’t make sense, because I tell you about most other adventure I go on. I have no problem sharing those words.

The truth is, not sharing my time in the Orkney Islands and in Portugal is also a choice. If I let the words out, those journeys would not completely be mine any longer. Part of them would be yours too. I would fix a version of their stories with you. And I don’t want that. They are my journeys, my memories, and I unapologetically, selfishly want to keep them to myself.

But this does not mean that I don’t want to share anything. When I came back from Scotland, I shared my photos, and I did the same coming back from Portugal. I even made an album relating that second journey. And soon there will be a zine or a book of some kind. No words about the journey, but unpublished (and some published too) photos and sounds. I may not want to tell you about the stories and memories that live within me, but I do want to tell you about my love for those special places.

So I remove myself from the equation as much as I can, and bring you moments of my journey. All of the photos and sounds have memories attached to them, but you won’t see that. Because those are mine. What you’ll see is a reflection of beautiful places. A reflection curated by my eyes and ears, chosen by me with all that this excludes, and this is the most of my experiences I am willing to let go of.

If you want to remain updated of progress with this zine/book/photo-sound thing, subscribe to my newsletter.

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A review of my 2017 goals + Looking at 2018

2017 – A year split in half

There was the time between January to June when everything was going well with my goals. I was on track with my European Portuguese learning. I had stopped taking a photo everyday but this was fine. I had stopped recording a sound everyday but this was fine too.

I was exploring the areas around my new home. I was reading a book by a Portuguese author every month. I was spending time on my longboard and learning a few dance steps. I didn’t think I was going to go on a microadventure on it. I wasn’t going to walk the West Highland Way. And I wasn’t going to set up a new blog either but this was all fine.

I was happy with my goals. I was happy with my new life in Bristol.

But then came July and all my plans got shuffled.
I was invited by Bivouac Recordings and Humandhood Recordings to produce albums for them. This was fantastic news, one I could hardly believe. I agreed and got to work. I knew I would have less free time, but I didn’t realise just how much of it would be engulfed by this audio work. And as a result everything else came to a halt.

I lost the discipline of learning a new language. I went exploring less and paid the usual price for it (exhaustion, mental drain, physical restlessness). I stopped reading Portuguese authors (I stopped reading quite a lot actually). And I gave up completely on a longboarding microadventure. I could look at this as a failure but it isn’t. It was fantastic to explore the audio world and to interact with many more people in it. It was an opportunity too good to pass and it was a great learning experience.

I learned that I can do more than I think I can. But I also learned that two albums in six months is too much. I enjoyed the creative process but I did not enjoy the loss of outdoor time. This made my life unbalanced and found me pushed to my limits, which wasn’t a good thing. A lesson I’ll strive to remember for 2018.

2018 – A year of being rubbish

I do not normally share my goals for the year ahead this early, but I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2018 for a good month already. And most of it, I do not want to share publicly.

There is a school of thoughts that urges people to share their goals to make sure they accomplish them. The idea is that by voicing your intention publicly, you are held accountable and so more likely to reach your goals. And I tend to agree with this. But not this year, not for what I want to do.

2017 was a year of change. In 2016 I had left behind my dream job, accepting the fact that it is lost to me (for the foreseeable future). Instead I had gone cycle touring for a few months because I could. Upon coming back I tried to find a new direction in my life (and failed). But I did relocate to Bristol (which was good). Freshly moved into a new city, I began to find my feet and the life I was (and still am) seeking.

And now, a year later, I am more grounded. I can’t say I have found a new direction for me life, not entirely. But I have leads, paths I want to explore. Only they feel too personal, too tentative to be shared. I don’t know if they will be dead ends or endless networks. All I know is that I have a lot to learn, and that means being rubbish. I’m setting foot in unexplored territory, places where I have little knowledge and little experience. This is exhilarating, a blank slate all to myself.

I have to serve my apprenticeship. And this means that plans and ideas that I have now will change. All that is certain is that I have a direction, an aim for the future, and 2018 is the year I set the stepping-stones for it.

So long August

I’ve never really liked August.

As a child, it was a month of ending. The holidays would come to a close, my freedom would gradually diminish, and newly formed friendships would end. As I grew older, I would work through the holidays but still August was a month apart. Friends and family would visit, setting my routine off-balance, the quieter roads would get incrementally busier as my environment prepared itself for the return of normality in September. And I would inevitably feel like a fish flapping frantically on the beach, trying to get back in the water.

This year has been no different. August came. August went.
Friends visited, family stopped over, days out were enjoyed, a new job was begun. And I enjoyed it all. But throughout the period, I felt like I was constantly catching up with time. The new job didn’t help. My commute time more than doubled and my hours changed from late evenings to early mornings. Looking back, it’s easy to understand why I was so out-of-sync last month. I was just tired from all the changes, and failing to find a new routine in a month that defies the very word.

Which is why nothing happened on the blog. I had a lot of plans, still do, but nothing got written, nothing got edited. August is gone now and this is about to change. I have a lot to share, from new projects ready to be launched and experiences waiting to be shared, the months ahead are going to be busy.

I hope August has been less of a turbulent month for you. What did you get up to?

Nature Sound of the Month – June round-up

Last month, the nature sound of the month focused on doing something wild, asking you to listen more to wildlife and nature around you. Here is what has been captured:

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Recorded by Alwennia.


Recorded by me.

Other nature sounds that caught my ear in June:
by Forgotten Fields

Flood noises and After the flood by Sounds Like Noise

by Richard Fair

What have you been listening to this past June?

Nature Sound of the Month – April round-up

Last month, the nature sound of the month focused on animal life, asking you to focus your attention to the wildlife around you. Here is what has been captured:


Recorded by Still Walks


Recorded by me

Thanks a lot to everyone who took part. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening out for sounds and will join again this month. The new theme will be published later today.

Other nature sounds that caught my ear in April:
by Colin Hunter

by Memorial Bench

by Reuben Derrick

What have you been listening to this past April?