The Eight Ladies have been talking bucket lists lately. My bucket list has only one thing in it right now – my trip to England in exactly a month (I arrive on May 7th for 10 days!). You’d think with such a big event, I’d have meticulously plotted out where I will go and what I will do each and every moment of my trip.
Surprisingly, I haven’t. In fact, Jilly, my awesome partner-in-historical-crime/tour guide/(and I hate to say it, but) chauffer have only (mostly) nailed down our accommodations today.
In my youth (which was oh-so-long-ago), I was a major control freak, very structured, very well planned out. I still am, I guess, in some ways. But I’ve also learned to give a little, to let life happen, to let things take me by surprise. To be more of a pantser, I suppose.
Jilly and I have several things on our itinerary: The Royal Pavilion, Dover, some old ships, and the obligatory country manor (likely Kenwood House and Osterley Park, both of which come highly recommended), as well as a visit to the British Library to peruse their maps.
Some things, like attending Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, will force us to adhere to a strict schedule. But I want the bulk of the “country roaming” part of the trip to allow us to meander, poke down a lane, see what’s there, spend time in old towns, talk to the locals, and if we’re done, move on.
Don’t think for a moment, though, that I don’t know what I want to see. That I have planned out very well. The country. The slower life. The old roads and coaching inns of centuries ago. It’s easy to imagine the hub-bub of London in the 19th century, the clickety-clack of horses hooves and wagon wheels on cobblestone, but I want to see what a “lane” looks like. Where people ride horses. A vista of fields with stone walls, like cookie cutters on dough.
To that end, a little flexibility is necessary. I’m sure the owners of the B&Bs we’re staying in can help us with the local flavor, pointing me in the direction of things I want to see, or things they think would tick off the “countryside” criteria on my list. But I’m also prepared for some “off-the-beaten-path” discoveries as well. Sometimes, that’s when you see the best things.
When you travel, are you a plotter or a pantser?