Of all the places I’ve been, there’s nowhere I’ve loved more than England and Ireland. Everywhere we’ve travelled has had its own appeal, and I have yet to go anywhere I didn’t enjoy a great deal. But England and Ireland have a special hold on me. I started thinking about when we’d return before our plane had even landed in Vienna.
Most specifically, it is the Lake District (most particularly, the Newlands Valley) and County Antrim in Northern Ireland that I feel so drawn to. It’s possible that my infatuation with these places could be attributed to simply spending a wonderful few days there last year, but I don’t think so. I feel a real connection with both of these places. I want to go back, to explore and experience them again. I want to see what they’re like in different weather and different seasons. I want to know what they’re like at their best and at their worst. I want to discover the hidden, off-the-track places you don’t find during one brief visit. I feel attracted to these places. I want to know them better. I’m invested.
I know we’ll go back. We will most likely go back this year. I’m itching to start planning our trip, because I know exactly what I have in mind. For financial and logistical reasons (I can only manage to have so many trips in various states of planning before my brain and my bank account start to explode) I haven’t actually started the planning yet, but I can’t wait.
Last year, we saw a little bit of many things in England, only a tiny bit of Scotland (which, I suspect, may be nearly as captivating once I spend some time there) and a little of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We’d never been before, and there was so much that was “not to be missed”, so we drove ourselves all over the British Isles (and we drove ourselves a little crazy) trying to see it all. Now that I”m hooked, though, the pressure is off. I know I’ll go back, so I don’t feel the need to “see it all” on this next visit. We’ll certainly spend a few days in the Newlands Valley and in County Antrim, but we’ll add in a few new things, too (including some more of Scotland, for certain).
The details remain to be worked out, but I’m dreaming of this trip already. I can’t wait to go back and visit with the sheep that wander the roads in the Newlands Valley, to drive on the steep, narrow roads and set the kids loose to run around another valley lake. I miss the coastline of Northern Ireland — the green steadfastness of the land and the immense, wild sea. I cannot wait to go back. Just the thought of going back brings me joy. I think I’m in love.