Why Sustainably Enchanted
in Sustainability / Exploring
First of all, this wasn't an easy post to write, mainly because I feel like I'm going against what I initially set up the blog to do - to keep a record of our adventures and talk about family travel in far flung destinations, but also because during the therapeutic process of writing all this down I touch on some pretty personal experiences that have occurred over the last few years.
Times change, people evolve and priorities shift, my little space of the internet is no longer just about family travel, more a culmination of posts touching on a range of topics from sustainability, childhood magic, veganism, homeschooling, minimalism, and slow living, with a dollop of adventure thrown in there for good measure. Over the past couple of years I've been doing more and more research and reading around the climate crisis and we've slowly embraced changes to our lives on an individual level that are now not only our new normal in line with environmentalism, but have also forced us to connect more deeply with nature. Whilst embracing minimalism, intentional living and veganism I've rediscovered all the things I deeply loved as a child which somehow got lost along the fast-paced journey of growing up. Where there were always exams, dissertation deadlines and important project reports on the horizon. I've learnt to read for pleasure again, to feel once more the magic of diving headfirst into a fictional landscape under a pile of cushions. I've mastered how to walk through the woods and actually notice every living thing around me, to inhale the scent of the bluebells and to wonder what secrets the trees are whispering to one another. I've taken the time to fully notice seasonal changes as the Earth rotates around the sun, to watch the snowdrops, bluebells, crocuses, daffodils and buttercups appear on the forest floor, one after the other. I've reclaimed the joy of foraging, for wild garlic in the spring to make the most amazing pesto, and for blackberries in the late summer where they have most recently featured in some scrumptious vegan oat bars. I've learnt to really enjoy cooking again through working with food produced locally and even some we managed to grow ourselves in our tiny backyard. Most of all, it feels kinda like I've managed to re-enchant my life so to speak, to fall in love with nature again, to always see the extraordinary within the ordinary and to touch the wonder of freedom.
We've never really lived the conventional family life, in fact I'm not sure we've ever done anything conventionally. We've never had stable jobs or mortgages, our life over the last few years has been more like a continuous undulatory road full of tumultuous, life-changing bumps. The most heart-wrenching of them been when my Dad died whilst I was still studying for my undergraduate at Cambridge and when, 4 years later, Roscoe's Nanny Wendy passed away just 3 weeks before he was born. He attended the funeral at 5 days old. Of course been the crazy lady she was, a full blown sparkling party was in order, which ultimately meant I limped into said wild party wearing a colourful dress and glittering converse, a newborn suckling at my breast and searing pain radiating from my c-section scar, despite being high on opioids (lets not go into the traumatic birth story here). Oh gosh those first few weeks were such a haze. Also, did I mention I was in the middle of doing a PhD in Chemistry at this point? I returned to the lab when R was 5 months old and spent a year stressfully completing project reports, constantly trying to find suitable childcare and haphazardly doing experiments. Before having to do them all over again because I tried to do them too quickly the first time and without all the relevant pre-reading. Never having time to properly plan experiments but always having the time to endlessly repeat them became an ironically repetitive remark. I lasted a year before reaching breaking point and admitting I should either go part time or consider quitting altogether. Needless to say I don't think the particular academic environment I was working in looked favourably on part time PhD students, and as such I decided to quit. I marched out of the lab on that sunny Monday morning and immediately booked flights to Thailand, with no return tickets. At the time I felt I needed a release and I was craving time with my baby away from all the stress of the last few years. We spent 4 months in South East Asia before coming home last December, just in time for Christmas. Before we left I set up my website and worked on my social media presence, Exploring with Mama Bea was born, a way to document our travels and connect with other like-minded families.
Overall our time in Asia was wonderful, the experiences, the people, the food, we have so many precious memories. However there were also some downsides which we don't often talk about, both virtually and in real life. Firstly, our relationship as a couple went downhill pretty quickly. We were spending all day, every day together, Kieran was trying to get bits of work done on the road, throw in there some differences in parenting opinion during times of high stress and you don't have the best mix. Some days we just sassily replied to each other all day and made sure we each had child free time to either explore or chill. But other days we only just about held it together before putting R to bed, resulting in some pretty major eruptions in the evenings. There was one night in Sri Lanka when I genuinely thought we might not be returning to the UK together. But we did and we worked through it. This summer we went on another extended adventure and spent 4 weeks backpacking through the Balkans. It was, once again, unforgettable in so many ways, we travelled through some pretty magical places. Yet arguments did begin to seep through once again, despite the mesmerising surroundings.
I want our family environment and Roscoe's childhood to be as peaceful as possible and there is no doubt that things seem much more calm whilst at home or whilst stable in one place. So for this reason, any more long-term trips away will have to either go at a much slower pace, or wait until R is much older. Of course the other reason we are cutting down on travelling is the climate crisis and the extortionate amount of emissions released during just one long haul trip. Yes we have done it in the past and I will definitely not be judging anyone who travels long haul, but I, personally, can no longer justify it. As a family we eat vegan 98% of the time and we are extremely privileged to be able to implement a low impact, plastic-free life. Yet, on an individual level, the carbon emissions we will have saved by living this way in one year will all be released with just one long haul flight. I've spent the last year researching and reading about the climate crisis and ecological disruption. In the last few months I have joined Extinction Rebellion, worked within the sustainability sector and the local zero waste movement and pledged to go flight free in 2020. I feel very strongly that I must now live to my principles, no matter how much I love far flung adventures. I'm sure we will still travel occasionally, but in the future sustainability will always be at the forefront of our minds.
Looking forward I see my little space on the interweb transforming from a small travel account to somewhere I can talk freely about re-enchantment with the world, embracing the seasons, childhood play, intentional living, sustainability, my love of literature and our potential homeschooling journey. All topped off with a healthy dose of magical adventure. I want to take the time to explore more of the UK, stand up for what I believe in by taking my environmental activism more seriously and, above all, attempt to give my son the slow, wild and beautiful childhood he deserves.
I feel a name change is in order to encompass all these things and give this space a fresh outlook. A fresh start so to speak. I do hope you will stay with me for the journey.
Thanks for reading,