Back to blogging with a new kind of exploration

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It’s been a while. And…it’s been quite a year, eh?

This blog was originally sort of based around travelling — but just as I was finding my feet with it, travelling freely became a thing which was talked about in the past tense. It was something I sighed about over photos which were only two months old but which seemed like a glance at history.

So, this isn’t a travel blog any more. It’s time for a different kind of exploration.

As I, like everyone, try and work out what life is like now, I went to a workshop run by Creative Edinburgh which looked at working out your Values Compass. The session was based around weeding out which words, questions and statements guide your core principles, to help you make choices in your life, career, and deciding what you want to watch next on Netflix (the answer’s Schitt’s Creek). …

Finding tiny actions to give the day direction

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I have the kind of brain which needs a to do list to get moving in the morning. On bad days it includes things like ‘eat breakfast’ and on good days it includes all the things, but it’s my to do list which yanks me off social media and channels my nervous energy into something which could earn me a tea break.

It’s taken a while to accept that I need to be my own nanny, with a series of tasks and concrete rewards. …

Where does travel writing live in a locked down world?

Everything changes, it turns out, during a pandemic. As the world faces unprecedented behavioural changes, it feels inappropriate to talk about the travelling adventures you just left behind. Is it like yelling how alive you feel at a funeral, or is it an optimistic ray of daylight for people who are already sick of living in the same few rooms?

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We recently had to abandon our long-term travel plans and head back to our home country of Scotland. …

Travelling has made me realise a lot of things…including that it might be ok to want to earn money.

Like many people working in the Arts, saying that you would like to earn more money makes my toes curl up in a ball. As part of my meandering career trajectory I’ve negotiated myself a pay decrease. Twice. I often get offered work without being told what it pays, and have started jobs kinda assuming that it’ll all work out in the end.

Sometimes it did, sometimes it really, really didn’t.

I’ve been travelling with my family for the past five months, doing some remote work as we go. We’ve been to nine countries so far, meeting a huge mix of people and seeing sights which I hope I’ll remember when I’m old and rocking in a chair, staring at a photo of 38 year old me and wondering when dinner is served. It’s been a privilege. …

Things I’ve learned from visiting museums and cultural sites with a preschooler

Our family is currently travelling, trying to get a glimpse of some of the world before our son starts school and getting away from daily life becomes harder. So far we’ve visited nine countries, countless cities and a lot (a lot) of museums.

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It’s what you do, right? Visiting the key cultural sites of the area and museums which tell its history are an important way of understanding where you are, and paying your respects to the people who came before you. …

Being away from home means working out what you need to hold yourself together.

When I was a kid, I was sitting in the back of my parent’s car, heading for a weekend away. I realised, when we were about halfway there, that I’d forgotten Bronwyn. I screamed out loud.

Bronwyn was (well, is) a small brown bear who used to have a pretend heartbeat, who smells weirdly like pickled onion crisps and who I have loved with a high percentage of my heart since I was very small. She came places with me. I told her things. I cuddled her every night and from the moment she arrived in my life, she had Top Spot at bedtime (to my left, next to the wall, where she was less likely to fall out in the night. …

Or…small things for weary hearts

Today I was playing on a beach with my small child. The wind was pushing all around us, with the waves occasionally spitting foam at the bit of beach where we were failing to build sandcastles. It was lovely.

As we were there, he started to collect water from a rockpool, pouring it into a lopsided hole he’d dug. The water drained away immediately, he’d sigh and harumph and plod back down to the rock pool with a big smile on his face.

Three year olds do that. They find a small ritual which makes them happy, and do it again and again. It’s hypnotic to watch. Unless you’re in a hurry, in which case it’s finger-bitingly frustrating. …

Or…why I always try and know where the library is.

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When you’re travelling, the world can seem like an endless pit of places to put your money. Arriving in a new town, the first things you’ll probably notice are the shops, or the people selling tours or the restaurants who have translated the menu into your language and added 20%. These are all part of the experience of being in a different place, and can be delightful experiences.

But sometimes, travelling can make you feel sad and lost. …

…and what I wish I’d known before.

When I was 19 I was fresh-faced, incredibly earnest and very keen to see the world. I applied through a charitable organisation to teach English in China for seven months and then worked three jobs to earn the money to get there. My family doesn’t have a history of travelling (at this point, my parents had never been on a plane), but I was very convinced that being Far Away would make me a better person.

While I was over there, I learnt some things about myself and other people. I learnt that I can be lonely and survive. I learnt that people are often very kind in unexpected ways. I learnt that if you adopt a dying rabbit, it will still die no matter how much you love it. …

I am currently about a quarter of the way through a ten month travelling adventure. As we drove off in a van crammed with way too much stuff, we were given encouraging support from so many people, from ‘you’re so lucky’ to ‘we’re so jealous’ to ‘where will you go to the toilet?’.

And they’re right: we are lucky. There’s more privilege wrapped in up in our ability to make this choice than I could go into in one blog post, and I can’t begin to vocalise how grateful I am that we have a crashmat back home if it all goes wrong (please don’t tell my Mam I called her a crashmat). …


Sian Bevan

Exploring where data and young audiences meet || sometimes funny, always curious

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