Since I was a child good literature has teleported me into the settings of the written word. Some settings were so vivid I couldn’t tolerate the film versions. But no literature has affected me more than British literature. I longed to see the hedged farm towns of Thomas Hardy’s Dorset, walk the hills in Jane Austen’s Hampshire, and soak in the beauty of the rugged Scottish Highlands of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, the damp castles of Mary, Queen of Scots, the desolate moors of the Brönte sisters, the rocky coastline of Daphne du Maurier’s Cornwall, Robin Hood’s forest in Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, and the soaring cathedrals that inspired Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. I started a “classics” book group with a couple of friends just over a year ago (we don’t usually read anything published after 1900), and the rich novels we have read and discussed have rekindled that spark to see the lush, green countryside of Great Britain.
Last winter my husband handed me an article from the Wall Street Journal about couples who retire, sell their homes, and travel the globe one rented house at a time. They may stay for a few weeks, a few months, or even years before moving on to the next. I was instantly drawn to this vagabond lifestyle. While I’m not ready to give up my home (because despite my love of travel, I am a homebody at heart), I began to think about the possibility of long-term travel. Two to three weeks in another country is not long enough to immerse in the culture. If we rented houses, I reasoned, we could really get to know a place. We could shop and dine with the locals in our adopted villages, buy rounds at the pub, and establish a cache of friends all over the world.
I planted the seed in my husband’s mind. I wanted him to love the concept before he considered the bottom line. After all, we wouldn’t be selling our home. We would still have to pay for utilities, insurance, and other homeowner essentials while we also paid to live in a second home. But his love of travel prevailed, and the idea took root.
So we have the airline tickets. I have secured 18 B&B’s. (Despite my desire to stay put in one village for the entire three months, day trips to all the places I want to see just aren’t feasible. We are, however, staying a full week in as many places as possible.) And the rental car is waiting. After spending five months planning a three-month trip, we have nothing to do but sit back and anticipate.