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‘An Update About Leaving Spain’, or ‘The Future of Driftwood Journals’

Last updated on July 24, 2020

If you’re a long-time follower of this blog then you may have been a little curious about my, admittedly rather bizarre, life recently…

I mean, golly, it’s not like you’ve had anything major to worry about in your own life is it, apart from a global pandemic and the onset of the “worst recession since World War II”.

Oh, and of course climate change / mass extinction, which is still very much on the cards.

But, anyway, let’s get back to me and my blog…

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour

~ William Blake

I’ve spent the last 5 to 6 years eating, sipping and photographing my way around Spain and other exciting destinations in Europe, but something’s changed. I’ve changed, the world’s changed, this blog has changed.

Suddenly I’m sharing photos and videos and waxing lyrical about my beloved homeland of Wales. More specifically, the gorgeous Gower peninsula on the south coast, where I’m fortunate to be from and now live once again.

So yes, as the detectives among you may have deduced already, I no longer live in Spain.

I won’t go into the full (and very personal) story, but suffice it to say it was all for the best.

And no, if you’re wondering, my move back to the UK wasn’t related to Covid-19. And yes, I will definitely still be travelling in and around Spain

It’s funny isn’t it, how things work out. I was starting to feel uneasy about the way I was living, constantly travelling abroad and promoting a lifestyle of “travelling as much as possible”.

Llangennith Beach Surfers at Sunset by Ben Holbrook from
Home sweet home.

I started to feel that perhaps we should all be travelling more in our own countries – that we can and should seek adventure and discovery in our own backyards – as I greedily pontificated over with great aplomb in my post ‘On Staycations and the Path to Enlightenment’ back in Nov 2019.

That’s not to say I am against travel, mind you. Not in the slightest.

But, much as I believe the world would be a drastically better place if everyone on planet Earth were to eat one or two less meat-laden meals per week, I’m also pretty convinced that Mother Nature would thank us greatly if we were all to replace one or two of our annual trips abroad with a trip in our own countries.

Llanrhidian Marsh, Gower Peninsual, Wales Photography Project by Ben Holbrook from
New horizons.

I’m not suggesting that we all stop travelling abroad completely, but simply that a reduction in international travel could only be a good thing.

If, for example, you normally travel from, say, the US to Europe five times a year, why not try going just four times and spending your fifth trip in the US.

Imagine if everyone did that – imagine the cumulative effect of millions/billions of people taking one less trip abroad every year. And yes, I do say billions, because by the time our children’s children are travelling, that’s the sort of population that will be travelling (hopefully a little more cleanly than us).

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”

~ George A. Moore

But of course, as the old saying goes, you’ve got to be careful what you wish for. Coronavirus has obliterated millions of people’s lives, destroyed families and businesses and shaken the travel industry within inches of its life.

I’ve personally taken a huge hit – less traffic, less work, less money. And now none of us really even have the option to travel abroad, even if we wanted to.

But survive we must and move on we shall.

Future plans for Driftwood Journals

For the moment, while many of us Brits will be staying on our little island for our holidays, I’m going to be showcasing and promoting the beauty of Wales, my motherland, and the rest of the UK.

This doesn’t feel like a compromise. I couldn’t be happier to explore my own beautiful country, especially after not living here full time for over 10 years. And to be able to do it without any sort of societal pressure hanging over my head, pressure as a professional travel writer/photographer to be somewhere more exotic, more enviable, somewhere elsewhere.

It feels good not to have to tick off some imaginary bucket list designed by people you don’t even know to make other people you don’t know think you’re a more rounded/interesting/glamorous person.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to write this post because, frankly, I can’t see why anyone would or should care. And because, let’s face it, you’ve got your own shit to deal with. But somehow I felt the need to get it out of my system, to look objectively at my own mindset and try to define my goals for the future.

I needed to write this down for me, really.

To see a world in a grain of sand…

What I’ve come to realise is that my curiosity for the world and all that makes life such a joy does not start where home ends. I do not need to be “abroad” to be inspired or learn or grow.

I can fill my mind and soul with wine and art and history and culture, with beautiful landscapes and new experiences, without travelling “somewhere else”.

I do not need to be on the other side of the world to find a reason to pick up my camera, to take beautiful photos or make films.

Of course, like you, I’ll be glad to have the freedom to travel again one day, but it’ll be a “nice to have”, not a “need”.

What about you?

I’m keen to hear if and how life in lockdown has impacted or changed your perception of travel.

Are you itching to travel abroad or are you happy to explore more familiar surroundings?

I’m happy to answer questions too, so please feel free to fire away!

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts or talk to me on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

More Journals from “Home”

Gower Gold ~ A Poem Dedicated to My Beloved Gower Pubs

A Local’s Guide to Llangennith Beach on South Wales’ Glorious Gower Peninsula

Escape to the Gliffaes Country House Hotel in Wales’ Glorious Brecon Beacons

Surrender ~ A Coronavirus Short Film Shot in South Wales, UK

Blissful Things to Do in Bath, England ~ A 1 or 2 Day Guide

Queensberry Hotel (Bath, England): Civilised Sleeps & Michelin Eats

Photo Journal: One Wild Winter in Wales (Gower Peninsula)

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  1. John Barrowcliffe John Barrowcliffe

    I have just been reading your blog, and yes the world is a wonderful place to explore, it’s a shame that mankind has bought it to the brink of extinction, and if everyone just tries to do there bit now we could all make the changes that are required to correct the balance with Mother Nature, but it’s going to be a long journey.
    All the best in your future whatever you decide to do be happy healthy and caring .

    • Thank you John, really appreciate your comment – and that you care about the world and nature. You’re so right, we’ve got a lot of work to do to balance things out a bit. It’ll take all of us to make any kind of real change, but at the same time it’s only relatively small changes we all need to make to make a massive impact. Let’s hope we can make it happen.

      And same to you, John. Stay healthy and keep on caring.


  2. Sheran burn Sheran burn

    I used to love to travel, since lockdown I’m way more excited to stay within the uk. Absolute no desire at all to travel abroad. Maybe it’s a relief that we can just be still and enjoy what we have here, it’s a very beautiful place

    • Thank you Sheran, I really love your comment. It’s funny isn’t, that it feels like a relief. I have a similar sense… That we are doing the “right thing” by staying put, that we don’t have to legitimise our decisions not to be somewhere “more exotic”. I suppose we’ve been fed the “Travel Dream” for so long that it’s ingrained in our psyche. But perhaps it’s not what we’re wired for after all.

      Beauty is everywhere. You only have to open your eyes.

      Thanks again Sheran.


  3. Miss A Miss A

    Hello Ben,

    Sorry to hear about your relationship breaking down and moving back to the UK.

    I’m actually desperate to move out of London and possibly move to BCN. I’ve only been to BCN once. I’m in my 30s and only two years younger than you. I want a better work/life balance, have a slower place of life and be closer to the outdoors (and of course great weather!). Will it hard for a ‘oldie’ in my 30s to move to BCN and make friends/start over? I would need to find a job in an international company, while I’m still in the UK. But with Brexit, not sure if a company will want to sponsor me. :-(

    • Hola Miss A,

      Thanks for your message. It’s tricky… I wouldn’t know where to start with applying for a visa or whatnot for Spain. And honestly, it was difficult enough trying to get a job there before Brexit. If you can apply from the UK and get posted there, that’d probably be best as the company could help you. But really, I know it’s a big city but it’s not that big. There are far fewer jobs and the pay is almost always far less than you’d expect elsewhere (like 50% less). But you won’t struggle to make friends – there’s a huge expat community there. Let me know how you get on!

      Suerte! :)


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