A Little Scrap Book

Being a few thoughts on whether I quietly close the blog now or whether I continue on until September.

It’s been quite a task to complete these notes and reflections of a journey I made a couple of summers ago. The whole blog is meant as a sort of challenge to my writing discipline. There is no point in wanting to write a few pieces if you haven’t got the staying power. I’ve produced a piece every day for the entire journey each of around 1200 words and adding up to about 120,000 words. It was never meant as a serious attempt to have a book to publish but it has become something in itself of which I am quite proud. I was only really interested in the process but, like many things, if you get the process right then the product is often quite decent. I would like to have the piece as a lasting reminderย of the journey and also as a personal look at the country; a sort of state of the nation if you will.

To that end I intend to continue the process of developing my skills as a travel writer by giving the draft time to sit in the bottom drawer before practicing another skill I have never used; that of taking a full manuscript and re-working it. I feel that what I have so far is an equivalent of a successful first read through of a play. Considerable editing and enormous amount of rehearsal will be needed to get it ready for performance.

Isn’t it a little bad mannered to have served up this early draft for readers of my blog? Well, perhaps but I think you have all been aware that this is an example of going through the writing process in public and as such is of interest in itself. I still don’t know if what I have is going to be submitted at any point for publication. Apart from the work still involved, I have fluctuating faith in whether this is what even a tiny proportion of the reading world is waiting for. On some days I think I have the makings of an individual insight into the way things are in this country, on other days I have considerable doubts. In this I am sure I am being faithful to the writing tradition.

I’m keen to have a day off from writing. I have a second project in mind and will begin my A-Z tour of towns in the East Midlands on Sunday. My challenge in September was to write a blog post every day for a year and I’m going to stick with that. I had wracked and pondered long and hard as to whether I should close the blog at this point. I’ve exceeded any numerical ambitions I had in terms of views and likes and follows. I’ve met up with a bunch of fellow travellers and bloggers whose company I enjoy and I mean to see it through til the end of August.

The food blogs will continue at the weekends and I may even return to some more detailed ones with recipes. My A – Z will allow me a bag full of days out and the chance to write about places I know and places I have yet to meet. I want to re trace parts of my bicycle route in order to take the photographs that will make the blog all my own work photographically as well as from a writing viewpoint. (At the moment about 75% of the photographs are my own). When I set off on the journey I had good intentions of writing it into a travelogue (I’d had such intentions many times before but never any end product) and wanted a few photographs to act as notes to help remind me of places. As the blog grew I realised I hadn’t taken anything like enough pictures. I intend to remedy that.

In the meantime here are some of the photographs that didn’t get included. Thank you for your forbearance, your kindness and your support. I’ve enjoyed writing this story and your company has made it a most rewarding journey.

IMGP0204

A photo that reminds me that getting up in the morning to explore and write notes was as much a part of the journey as the cycling. The clock is showing 6 a.m..

IMGP0202

The back of the pub I stayed at in Lochmaben and a glimpse of the bicycle that carried me around. Lochmaben was one of many places I had never heard of, but should have done.

IMGP0194

Kirby Stephen was one of many towns I got to know along the way.

IMGP0185

Upper Wharfedale in Yorkshire.

IMGP0215

Two fishermen in a boat on a Scottish loch. Dumfries and Galloway

IMGP0180

Bolton Abbey. Even if you don’t care for ruined monasteries you still have to admire the view.

IMGP0170

I spent 18 months working at Haworth Youth Hostel as a younger man. It was strange going back.