At the beginning of each calendar year, I usually set out some plans for the next 12 months. 2018, however, is going to be a year that is different from the previous few. An extraordinary year perhaps. You see, my goal for this year is no more ambitious than to have more time.
Time is one of the most valuable of things, for it allows one to first identify and then to achieve their ambitions.
Alas, I’m not ready for a life of full-time house tripping and no paid work indefinitely (unless the publisher of England’s 1000 Best Houses would like me to update Simon Jenkins’ offering), but for the next 10 months one thing is decided: I do not plan to work a full 9-5 working week*. Instead, having saved up and waited patiently for the last few years – for the right opportunity and the right time to take a sabbatical from a normal working life – I am now coming towards the end of week three of my next chapter.
Yes, for the remainder of 2018 I will be on a different path; not necessarily a new one, but one that this house and garden visiting journal (and the last decade of extra-curricular activities) has prepared me for. As you know, I speak Italian and French and I am passionate about architectural history and horticulture. During 2018 I am going to pursue formal studies in these fields, and of course this will mean that I get to visit more and more places with a purpose and a goal, and each insight that I gleam from every building footprint I walk within and the garden design that I have the fortune to see in person will bring a deeper meaning, as I piece together the jigsaw of historic, contemporary and future design.
I have asked myself for time to explore all of these options and taken the conscious decision that I can afford to give this time to myself. I also have a number of other projects ongoing this year, so I can spread myself more widely and not only offer my “out of hours” attention to those interests that do not reward me with remuneration.
Going back to the plan for 2018…
I have just started working on our Easter 2018 “house and garden tripping” itinerary, which will take us via Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Liverpool. I also expect to spend 6-8 weeks in France and Italy later in the year, but I have yet to plan that. Watch this space.
Of course, I need to address the fact that Photobucket will only host this website’s photos until June 2018 (unless I pay them the extortionate fees that they demand), so I need to set aside a few days to overhaul the website’s content and upload onto a new server the photos that I am keeping. I also intend to make the “houses and gardens” visited page easier to navigate, via a hyperlinked index.
You may indeed have already noticed that one of the things that I have in the last couple of weeks ticked off my to-do list was the creation of a separate resources page for those who are studying, working or volunteering in either heritage or horticulture – I also plan to fall into at least two of these categories going forward. See the page here. If there are any websites that I can add to the list, please leave the details in the comments box below.
In summary, 2018 promises a wonderful journey. Do join me on it.
As I write this, I feel tranquil, excited, full of anticipation. The first two weeks of “sabbatical land” were hurried and frantic, as I’m sure life is for anyone when they shift from one chapter into a next and certain wheels need to be put in motion, as others come to a stop. I have worked harder over the last 2.5 weeks than I sometimes did during my ordinary working life. The snowy days have helped with the confinement to my desk.
Finally, however, my to-do list has fallen from 156 things to 15 (and writing this post has finally made it up to #1 on the list).
The eagle-eyed of you who follow me on Twitter may already have spotted that I’ve started plotting my horticultural forays and will be documenting those in a separate journal at https://journaldejardinage.wordpress.com/
Until very soon.
Theme tune for this post
In good old fashion, each of my posts captures the mood best with a tune. This is a song from myself to my soul.
*unless of course something wonderful crosses my path – I am open to offers!