Where does travel & tourism start?

There’s a whole wide world out there but, by making a bucket list of all the countries we wish to visit, do we miss what is around us on an everyday basis?  Yesterday, my lovely friend, Margaret, and I pointed the car along the road and ended up in Olney in the shire of Buckingham. It is only ten miles away and yet we went through some gorgeous little villages and saw England’s green and pleasant land.

Olney is a gorgeous market town and most of the buildings have been saved from the 60s and 70s destruction of our towns and villages, and are from the eighteenth century.  It is a very popular place to live and the prices of the houses reflect this, but the atmosphere of Olney and the friendly people there, make it a place where people want to stay. At one time, the main industry of the town was lace making and the picture to the right shows The Lace Factory, which is now a private residence.

We found a little path between the buildings which took us to the road that runs parallel with the main street. Such lovely houses and, for me, a fabulous surprise!  We came across a specialist workshop for Aston Martins!   As we were walking, we saw a DB5 parked, and then a DB6 and then, even more!  Heaven for me as an Aston Martin enthusiast from the year dot ~ I’d gone round the factory in nearby Newport Pagnell a few times and watched the amazing people hand building those cars.  This is me standing next to the DB5, and what a car it was, in superb condition and a classic example of David Brown’s design expertise and good old English workmanship.  I did offer to move it for the guy, but he declined my kind offer and drove it himself ~ heigh ho!  As the guy said, it is easy to save up (well, for some it might be!) and buy an Aston Martin, but the hard, and very expensive, part is keeping it in tiptop condition.

Enough of my drooling and back to Olney!  We went into Teapots which is a quaint little teashop, near the Village Cross. The food is all baked on the premises and comes from Mrs Beeton’s and other wonderful old-fashioned cookbooks. The pic is the afternoon tea but we opted for the cream tea, which is scones, jam and cream, with a pot of tea ~ all extremely delicious.

Wandering around, we went into several hand made furniture shops, oh to win the lottery, and some divine dress shops :-)  We were very good though, well nearly, I bought a skirt and Margaret bought a pair of shoes. There is so much to see and do, but perhaps Monday is not the ideal day as the William Cowper Museum was closed and is definitely worth a visit. William Cowper and his friend, John Newton, wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”.

Guess the answer for where travel and tourism starts, is right outside our front doors!  We had a great day and I’ll have time to work off the cream tea before my weekly weigh-in on Thursday evening!

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Travel into a sustainable future

Our planet is being depleted by us; even today came the terrible news that Brazil is going to go ahead with the Belo Monte dam.  It will inundate at least 400,000 hectares of forest (1544 square miles); expelling 40,000 indigenous and local populations and destroying habitat valuable for many species.  This is after the President has received tens of thousands of letters and emails addressed to her, which were ignored as were the more than 600,000 signatures. Horrendous, and all to generate electricity which, by all accounts, could easily be generated with greater investments in energy efficiency. So, so sad and so easily avoidable.

Hope for the future does spring eternal and there are many people out there who are truly immersing themselves in responsible and sustainable tourism.  These are the people who are making things happen, who have gone out on a limb to bring about a new order to how tourism works, not built on the old model of growth, growth, growth, with low costs and huge numbers, but built on a new model of caring about the countries, paying back to the environment and the local population.  To experiences that are truly real, that actually give you a taste of the customs and peoples of the country; not in a glitzy, glamorous way but in a traditional and true manner.

The Native Americans had the right idea, their philosophy, their ‘ten commandments’ would have kept this wonderful plant earth in an ever replenishing cycle.  They only used what was needed, always paying respect for what they had.  Think what a beautiful place America must have been when they were there, before the white man came and plundered and pillaged everything, before the greed for more and more came about.  I read a book a long time ago called ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee‘, what an effect that had on me; I was completely and utterly horrified.

Similar things still happen today, man’s greed and lust for power taking over from peace and common sense. How does this relate to travel and tourism?  Well, I can name two countries that have not allowed this to happen, that have had respect for their land, their customs and all the interconnectedness ~ with thanks to Shyman33 on Twitter for a new awareness of that.

Have a good look at Bhutan and Samoa.  Both countries are very proud of their heritage and indeed, Bhutan has the best philosophy of all.  They do not look at gross domestic product or profits and loss, the philosophy for their country is the gross national happiness.  How wonderful would it be if all countries did the same.  Not enforced happiness but a natural, joyful well being :-)  Samoa means the sacred centre of the Polynesian Islands, it is natural, unspoilt and magically beautiful.

Both these countries are at the top of my bucket list ~ I am going to visit them as soon as I possibly can.  My perceptions are from what others have told me, from what I have read and from the pictures I have seen. Powerful indeed, is a word-of-mouth recommendation from a person you trust and respect.  It’s all about Personal Relationships!

If you want more info on travelling in Bhutan, have a look at Bhutan Dragon Adventures; and for Samoa, look at Samoa Select (An insider guide brought to you by Polynesian Xplorer).

And if you want to follow people who truly believe in responsible and sustainable tourism (and have done so for many years, not like some, who have recently jumped onto the bandwagon!) then please find out more about Anna Pollock and Gopinath Parayil ~ shining lights :-)