Letting Go of the Plan

My Euro-trip is becoming more real by the day. I booked my bus ticket to Paris today, and in 16 days, my time in Wales will have come to an end. Thankfully, I’ve still got plenty to look forward to in the next two-ish weeks. My parents arrive in two days, and I’ve got plenty planned for the pair of weekends we’ll be spending together (item #1: eating a decent meal).

What else is new? I just got back from Copenhagen this past weekend (pictures to come in my next post). It’s a beautiful city. I’ve also been doing more television and radio reporting for Exposure News here in Cardiff (check out my piece on one of Cardiff’s historic landmarks here — as you’ll see, my Welsh beard is coming in quite nicely). In the days to come, I’ll get to try my hand at radio and television presenting once again too.

A few observations from the past couple weeks:

1. “Don’t be afraid to let go of the plan.”

These words were offered to me by a fellow traveller and good friend of my brother’s, and I think there’s a lot of wisdom in them. Some of the most rewarding experiences come from moments of spontaneity. In the case of travelling, this has kept me from worrying whenever I get lost. Usually, it works out that whenever I take a wrong turn, I end up somewhere else I was trying to go anyway.

Case in point: I was looking for Frederiksberg Have in Copenhagen, but one of the challenges with streets in Denmark (or any European country, it seems) is that the street names change every few blocks, which makes it very difficult to follow directions. I ended up getting sidetracked on my way there and wound up in Ørstedsparken, one of the few places I hadn’t been yet on my trip and was looking to visit. Had I not gotten lost, I probably wouldn’t have even made it there.

In a broader sense, travelling has given me an opportunity to let go of the plan and really think about where my passion lies in journalism. It’s not always easy to be so reflective when you’re in the midst of the daily news rush, so I’ve appreciated the chance to think deeply about what I enjoy about the field and what I believe I can contribute to the world. I haven’t reached any definitive conclusions, but I know I’m heading in the right direction.

2. On the little quirks of British life…

When I was in Dublin, I had a conversation with my Canadian friend about sidewalk etiquette on British Isles: do you stick to the left side, just like the cars on the road? Back in Canada, we agreed that the unspoken rule was to walk on the right side. Ultimately, we couldn’t figure it out. I still haven’t. It got me thinking about other differences I’ve noticed in my time here, though.

Being a journalist, a songwriter, and the son of a translator, I have a natural fascination with words and their applications. For one thing, I was surprised to see “Gherkins” on the grocery store shelves, rather than pickles. Eggplants are called “Aubergines.” Of all the language distinctions, though, my favourite widely-heard British words and phrases are “lorry” and “taking the piss.” Lorry is a great word for truck (I think the two words encapsulate the difference between Brits and Americans quite nicely). To take the piss out of somebody is to tease or mock them. For all of the Brits’ supposed politeness, though, it strikes me as funny that the general term for bathroom here is simply “toilet” — no beating around the bush with restroom or washroom!

Enough bathroom talk, though… (Okay, one last bit: there’s a place in London called Tooting Station. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.)

Right, then. Back on track. Moving on…

My three favourite photographs of the past week or so (and the stories behind them):

1. Buckingham Palace.

The sheer opulence of the whole estate is incredible. I first came here when I was waiting for a connecting bus back to Cardiff from Amsterdam, and since it was early enough in the morning, I beat the crowd of tourists. When I came back a few weeks later, the place was packed.

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Buckingham Palace, London.

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2. Abbey Road.

Apparently I didn’t get enough of a Beatles fix in Liverpool. I couldn’t resist poorly re-creating the Abbey Road cover too. Fun fact: Abbey Road Studios has a live webcam stream of people crossing the road, and there’s even a Hall of Fame archive of people’s attempts at capturing the essence of John, Paul, George, and Ringo — usually while stopping traffic.

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Abbey Road.

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3. Big Ben.

This might be my favourite building in the world. I just counted the number of pictures I took of Big Ben during my trips to London. It turns out I’ve taken a whopping 36. (I swear each one is better than the last.)

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Big Ben.

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That’s it for now. I’ll probably give one last update in the next week or two before parting ways with my laptop for a couple months. Until next time!

2 thoughts on “Letting Go of the Plan

  1. Have really enjoyed your blogs, Martin. And I’ll be thinking of you and your parents over the next few weeks, because Charlie is coming to stay with me tomorrow, so I’ll have a live-in reminder! BTW, also enjoyed seeing you as a TV reporter. You already look like a pro!

    1. Thanks! I wondered where Charlie would be staying. Hope he behaves himself.

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