Most of us are not going away this summer.
I grew up through a mixture of summers that included a couple of seaside holidays, months spent with relatives in their home by one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, chilled stays at our caravan park, long weekends at my mum's family farm, and many summers spent at home, in the city. Those are the ones that felt the longest, and those are the ones that I remember as my times of change. Long, hot days. Many hours alone while my friends from the neighbourhood were away. Soft asphalt, mosquitos and thunderstorms. I can still close my eyes and feel the heat, smell the smog.
While I love travelling, discovering new places, exploring different cultures, this year I re-discover the value of the relaxed, deliberate slowness of holidays at home. My home is now somewhere else. I am lucky to only remember the smell of smog, and breathe the fresh country air instead. And you may be lucky to still live in a vibrant city full of colours, music and life.
What is it that you have right on your doorstep, that you see as soon as you open your eyes, and then look past it into the distant escapes to European historic cities, Mediterranean beaches or exotic far islands? No matter where you are, a tourist from somewhere else in the world is longing to visit the place you are in right now.
Step outside and look at the park you rush through on your way to work every day - look at it with the eyes of a tourist. Dip your toes in the river, or have a paddle in the brook where you walk your dog every day. Take a blanket and have a picnic in the park, in the forest, on the top of the hill. You know where I mean, you walk past it all the time. Visit your local independent shops and browse as if you were in a foreign country shopping for souvenirs. Take photos of architecture, monuments and landmarks. Pretend that you are lost in your own town and ask for directions to a good restaurant - see where you end up having lunch. Order something that you never tasted before. Have a cocktail before midday. Sit in your back garden and listen to some new music in a language you don't understand. Wear your nicest clothes every day. Eat ice-cream and apply sunscreen.
Wish you were here,