Getting away from it all

New horizon, old horizon
New horizon, old horizon

There are the restless years. The years of trying out jobs, hairstyles, places to live. That era of cycling home with your shopping bags swinging from the handlebars and spending everything you earn. You get caught in the rain, you never have a decent coat and you laugh a lot.

When you are living lightly, unencumbered by pots or pans, children or a hard-to-replace job, changing location is as simple as walking away. You don’t own anything you can’t carry, you don’t owe anyone anything. You book your flight and you go.

Then before you realise what has happened, the landscape of your life has changed. It takes a team of men a full day to move the furniture you have accumulated. You actually read through the quarterly statement from your pension plan. Gardening magazines find their way into your home and you become concerned about booking holidays early.

Middle age. There’s no getting away from it, that gradual drift towards Sofa, the god of comfort and inertia. Or is there?

One of the great things about my sabbatical visit to Ireland (now three-quarters over, tick tock!) is that feeling of having defied the pull of middle age just a little. Packing up and setting off for new horizons was a part of my life I thought I would never have back again, or at least not until my children were raised. But it has come to pass, and this time, after a decade abroad, I have returned to the original horizon of my youth, Dublin Bay – and it feels good.

Has anyone else found a way to feel free again? I’d love to hear about it.

The great sea escape

Ever-changing story
Ever-changing story

Since I arrived back to live temporarily in Dublin I can’t get enough of the sea and its show-stopping other half, the sky. We are all products of our environment no matter where we come from and that makes me a coastal person. There’s a feeling of being on the edge of something vast and mysterious. The sea is an ever-changing story – welcoming one day and threatening the next.

Gazing out over the sparkling waves again, I am struck by how inaccurate the term insular is. On an island you are always looking out, not in. You are confronted with the limits of your existence, exposed to the beauty and cruelty of nature. You cannot help but dream about the world beyond the horizon.

The sea is a powerful presence. It calls us back when we go away. One day maybe we’ll find out what it has to tell us.