Posted by: seehowfarwevecome | September 4, 2016

Little Wonders

It’s just gone 8am GMT, yet my body clock is set to midnight. In these small hours, I find myself London bound, on a night flight from Vancouver to Heathrow, the end of a ten-day trip to Canada drawing to a close. A bank holiday weekend in August extended to maximise my annual leave allowance for the chance to explore more of this world that leaves me speechless yet ironically renders me a storyteller.

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Little wonders along the sea wall of Vancouver

It’s been a phenomenal trip, and I don’t use the word phenomenal often. Once in a lifetime, several people have said to me, yet there’s this part inside me that says no, it’s not once in a lifetime, it’s once in 2016. For every year that goes by I try to better my experiences. I try new places, find new wonders, little and large, and I guess as time falls away day by day, my storytelling gets richer, my experiences more rewarding and every twist and turn of fate is navigated that bit more smoothly.

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Not so little wonders.  Big, grizzly wonders.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love coming back to London, just as much as I love to explore the world. It perhaps wasn’t always that way, but these days, there’s a clarity that defines me and an appreciation of the noise of London, it’s buzz in stark contrast to the silence of a plane and the hum of my thoughts.

I realise that it’s taken sadness for me to know happiness. It’s taken absence for me to know presence. It’s taken umpteen trips to New York to find home in London. It’s taken many, many of the wrong moments for me to know a right one. It’s taken working too hard to know how to live, how to find a better balance. It’s taken the great unknown things in life to find the known. It’s taken closing off and hibernating from the world for a while, to learn how to open up again, how to wake up to this world and its ways.

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Bella and her cubs

I am hopeful, about my return to London. It has an air of 2011 about it. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve just spent the last few days with Fi, on that five year late visit to the West Coast of Canada. Perhaps it’s the fact that back in 2011, as I returned from East Coast Canada to London, following a Summer sabbatical, that everything began to really move in the right direction. Perhaps this feels like that moment again. Perhaps 2016 is rendering me with a déjà vu in these small hours as I find myself transatlantic once again.

My 2011 trip was full of little wonders. I did a fair amount of sitting, reflecting, looking out to the water and figuring myself out back then. I was rewarded, upon my return, with a thoroughly enriching period in which I felt like honey to a bee, hope worn on my sleeve and my open book read purposefully, my prose suddenly resonating with the world around me. The little wonders of that trip, that Summer 2011 adventure, never once missing a beat, never once deterring me from landing in a place of contentment.

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Little wonders of wilderness and wildlife

So in September 2016 I am content again. My travel itch has been scratched again, for now. I need to be in London right now, just like Selina said to me a few short weeks back. My next adventure has to be London. My 2016 world is my 2011 memory. I am returning from ten days in Canada as expectant, as hopeful, as ready as I was back then, to take on London and life.

Little wonders are all around us. Transient moments, they beckon us, encouraging us to remember them, and their fleeting presence. This moment, right now, is a little wonder. 37,044 feet up, I am bound for London via Greenland.  Every time I fly across the Atlantic, some five or six times a year usually of late, I remember these little wonders. Usually there’s a glass of wine, always my blog, and often some music on my ipod. My reflections are my little wonders.

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Telegraph Cove – wondrous wilderness

Today I am listening to Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas, following Rob’s show in Vancouver last night. The song I am listening to reminds me that everything that’s perfect can indeed fall away at times. I realise that these past two years or so I have been learning not to fall any further. I am reminded, of how easy it is to listen to everyone telling us how to feel, how to act, what to do, what to say, but that it’s our own responsibility to take back control and not allow ourselves to merely sleep at the wheel. That it’s up to us, as individuals, to choose our path.

My sleeping at the wheel is no more. I am no longer in a daze. My moment is no longer fading. Little wonders surround me everywhere, and everything that’s perfect no longer falls away. It may feel like the last days of Summer, but my sun is shining brightly today. There’s light in my world. There are little wonders to be grateful of every single day.

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Killer Whales

This holiday has had so many little wonders. The Rockies aside, we found ourselves in remote Telegraph Cove. A coach, two planes, and a hire car later and we arrived on Sunday night in the northern part of Vancouver Island. It was murky, grey and pouring with rain. Amidst the bleakness of it all, it seemed only apt that we would suffer a power cut, and our two days or so there, in the great unknown, was a little wonder of wilderness.

Telegraph Cove is lesser known than Victoria, with its array of flowers in Butschart Gardens, yet our visit there was purposeful. Research had told me that it was a gateway to wildlife; that this small inlet was the place to go to get up close and personal with grizzly bears, killer whales and bald eagles. I half expected the wildlife not to turn up, for the many reviews on trip advisor to be wrong, for there to be hopes dashed and wilderness without the wildlife, but instead we were rewarded with many little wonders.

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Granville Island in a rare moment of sunshine

Little wonders of bear cubs playing with their mother Bella. Of them swimming through the river. Of them putting on a playful show for us, amidst the pouring rain. Our tour guides called this day of bear watching, the best of the year. It’s unusual, apparently, to see the grizzlies so active. These little, precious moments of wonderment lived up to all expectations, surpassing them in fact. When I booked Canada in December, wanting to see the grizzly bears in the wild, I could never have dreamed of capturing the moment so vividly with my SLR. I could never have imagined or hoped to have seen so many bears, so active, with cubs too.

More little wonders graced us. A fox came out during the midst of the tour. The red headed beast usually shelters in the woodland, yet for us, he stood brazenly watching the activity of the bears amidst the grassland and woodlands of the inlet. Bald eagles soared overhead. Sea lions, seals and killer whales came out on mass.

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With Fi, in Horseshoe Bay

Amidst our killer whale tour, we were rewarded with a whole family of killer whales, travelling along the open sea, and in a most unusual turn of events, porpoises and dolphins partnered together to harass the killer whales in a move that our guides had never before seen.

Argonaut, a giant humpback whale decided to come out to play too. You could see his blowhole and feel his presence before he surfaced, anticipation filling the boat. This fierce creature rose and dove for us several times on the trip, his tail crashing down into the ocean, sending reverberations to our boat as he sunk under for seven or eight minutes at a time. I have never before, I don’t think, seen so much wildlife, out in the open seas, rivers, woodlands and estuaries, together, in such close proximity. Another, perhaps not so little, series of wonders.

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Vancouver nights

Our journey to and from Telegraph Cove from Port Hardy airport, a tiny airport in the north of Vancouver Island, required us to hire a car. It was my first time driving on the right hand side of the road, and it was surprisingly, a lot easier than I had imagined. Luckily, I had gotten more used to the car for our return trip the airport.

On our return to the airport, the heavens opened, and hail came crashing down on the car, my windscreen wipers working at full pelt. Amidst the downpour, I saw something black in front of me staggering across the highway, perhaps 20 feet ahead. I killed my speed quickly, reducing down in the 100km zone, bringing the car to a grinding halt, as I watched in disbelief as a black bear wandered across my path in front of me, sauntering to get to the other side. Another not so little wonder.

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Vancouver Island

As we got to Vancouver, to the city, the little wonders were less of the wildlife variety and more of reconnecting with Fi, my 2011 travel buddy and friend since 2006. Louisa met Fi in the queue for a Goo Goo Dolls gig in London that I missed to go on a last minute work trip to New York. It had been my first trip to NYC for work, a fateful trip that defined me for a considerable period afterwards. I met Fi, and Jess, shortly after I got back, and we’ve been friends ever since.

It was only apt therefore, that on this trip we would hit up a gig. Rob Thomas, one of my absolute faves, was kind enough to grace us with his presence with a solo acoustic set at the Hard Rock Casino, about thirty minutes out from downtown Vancouver.

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A little wonder

It was the second time I’ve seen Rob Thomas play a solo set, as usually he has toured the UK with Matchbox Twenty, whom we’ve seen many, many times, in both London and New York. I realised that I hadn’t seen Rob solo since 2005, when I had been in the midst of my CIPD HR exams. I queued on that baking hot summer’s day for a front row spot, with my then boyfriend, and my sister Louisa, directly following a morning Employment Law exam which I later learnt I had passed with distinction.

Whilst we queued for several hours, my then boyfriend surprised me with tickets to New York, for an all expenses paid treat and long weekend getaway. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was not earning well, back then. I had never flown further than Greece. The USA seemed so far away, and such a dream. Rob Thomas, and a trip to New York, all in one day. It was a little wonder. It was also the first time I’d ventured long haul, and so there’s a certain poignancy to Rob Thomas and his solo show, as it marks for me the very, very beginning of my love affair with New York and of course, travel.

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Emerald Lake

Back in 2005 Rob was touring his album, Something To Be. ‘Ever the Same’ from the album became a song that meant so very much to me. It defined many moments in my life at the time. Relationships, hopes and dreams. Today it’s still poignant. Eleven years may have gone by, but in some many ways, things are indeed ever the same. Little moments of wonderment fill my days now, just as they did then. So you can imagine my excitement, at the little wonder of last night when Rob played it, live to my ears for the first time in eleven years.

So these past ten or so days have been filled with wonderment, big and small. Wild bears, live music, the sheer natural beauty of lakes and mountains and now, as I find myself four hours from home, I see stunning shades of pink with purple hues as dusk plays havoc with my body clock. I should be readying myself for slumber, but instead I’m staring out the window, at this little wonder of morning breaking, again and again, in these small hours.

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Rob Thomas… ever the same.

I realise that I should attempt to sleep. We’ll be landing on Sunday afternoon and I return to work on Monday. West coast jet lag is the worst. Perhaps I’ll catch a little wonder of an onboard snooze for a couple of hours. Perhaps I shall dream of more little wonders. Perhaps there’s a riddle here somewhere, that I shall learn to finally fathom out upon my return to London. Perhaps the puzzle of 2016 is a little wonder to be enjoyed along the way, at least until the picture comes together. Perhaps I’ll ponder these little wonders again at some other small hour.

 

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