It’s just into 2009, and I’m in the US on my first trip of the year, to a conference on jacquard weaving in North Carolina.  I’m also staying with weaver, Alice Schlein, at her home in South Carolina. More about Alice and other weavers next time….

I love to travel. Everything about it. I love planning the trip, packing, people-watching at airports, or coach stations or train stations. I love flying, arriving, experiencing something different, reflecting on those experiences, and travelling home again. The one thing I’m not so keen on is the final unpacking and washing at the end!

I love wondering about people’s lives as you watch them walk by, or hugging goodbye or hello. Where have they come from, where are they going, what are their lives like, what do they do? I’m one of those many people who stand in the garden, look up at the sky and watch a com trail wondering about the people on board the plane and their journeys. Sometimes, a certain person will grab my attention and I’ll spend a while making up a life story for them. Then I smile with amusement at myself, and wonder how accurate this history is, and whether they’d laugh out loud at my reaches of imagination!

But there’s more to travelling than moving from one place to another. Are they happy to be going where they’re going or are they leaving loved ones behind? Is this a visit or a more permanent stay? Are they wanting to go, or are they breaking ties? The same thing with arrivals. Are they happy to be arriving, or are they full of trepidation? I think we tend to assume that people are happy to be travelling, but some people are frightened and having to leave all that is familiar to them to try again in another country which is totally alien to them. I had a slight inkling of what that must feel like when I went to work in Oman last year. A different culture, a single woman on her own in a very male-dominant environment. I was excited, nervous and apprehensive all at the same time.

I love the chance meetings you have with people you’ve never met before and chances are you’ll never meet again. How exciting glimpses into someone else’s life can be. It always makes you think that other people are amazing! Then again, it turns the other way, and someone you’ve never met can make you feel that your life is amazing too! That is very humbling and self-affirming and can be an opportune boost to your self-esteem!

I always buy a book at the airport, and have my Zen player and headphones, but spend most of my waiting time in people-watching. I very rarely even look at my book until I board the plane or train or coach. That even includes a lay-over of 7 hours!!

There’s so much to see in people – not least their clothing!

And then the arrival – the excitement of arriving at your destination. Of leaving the transition phase of journey and starting your new experience for however long your visit is. Of meeting up with old friends and catching up on news. Of being with people you like, of seeing new places, learning new things, meeting new people, making new connections.

Yes, I love travel!