Saturday, 15 March 2014

Notes on travel: why travel at all?

An interesting conversation at breakfast with my host. What would I want in a rented flat? He is just furnishing one to let (short term to tourists.) Would I want a home cinema? (When we say 'home cinema' , we mean a television with a DVD player). Would I want DVDs? What kitchen equipment would I like? Would I prefer a shower or a bath? Some people prefer showers because they don't want to think about lying around in water in a place where other people have bathed.
People now expect - apparently - home from home. Or to judge from TripAdvisor, even more than home from home. What is the point of travel? If you just flop in front of a DVD at the end of the day? Shouldn't it really be something else - to open up new vistas and new thoughts?
On this trip have not bought a return ticket. Know that I have to be back at work on a certain date. But otherwise everything is up in the air.
I have realised that I have forgotten a few things i.e. stuff to clean glasses with, and a nail scissors.
A pencil sharpener would have been very useful, as would small (very light weight) binoculars, and a camera with a zoom. (The only camera is on my mobile phone and the zoom is hopeless).
Why did Byron travel? Melancholy, says Thomas Moore. "... to have, at once, anticipated the worst experience both of the voluptuary and the reasoner - to have reached, as he supposed, the boundary of this world's pleasures, and see nothing but 'clouds and darkness' beyond, was the doom, the anomalous doom, which a nature, premature in all its passions and powers, inflicted on Lord Byron... Such was the state of mind and hear t- as from his own testimony and that of others, I have collected it - in which Lord Byron now set out on his definite pilgrimage...."
John Ruskin/Stones of Venice would be spinning in his grave were he to think of flats in Venice with home cinemas - 'home from home'.
"In the olden days of travelling, now to return no more, in which distance could not be vanquished without toil, but in which that toil was rewarded partly by the power of deliberate survey of the countries through which the journey lay, and partly by the happiness of the evening hours, when from the top of the last hill to be surmounted, the travelled beheld the quiet village where he was to rest, scattered amongst the valley stream.... in those days, I say, when there was something more to be anticipated andremembered in the first aspect of each successive halting place, than an arrangement of glass roofing and iron girders..."
Railway stations, he means, of course. But stations have their own magic.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy