My View, Mel Hewitt: Learn through wonders in our back yard

Scarboroughs South Bay taken from Cliff Street
Scarboroughs South Bay taken from Cliff Street

Are you adventurous? Do you seek out the path less trodden and fearlessly try new things – even if it’s only a different piece of cake from your usual choice?

You see I have this theory that we are all not only different, which is fab and makes the world such an interesting place, but also kind of pre-programmed to like or dislike certain things.

Without sounding too ‘1984’ about it I’m not saying that we are prisoners of our gene pool or that we don’t have a choice.

People question perceptions and prejudices every day and make challenging life choices – sometimes in order to ‘find themselves’. But, even with the nature or nurture argument put to one side for a moment, what sounds amazing and life enhancing to one person sounds like hell to another.

Back in the halcyon days of my sixth-form I remember listening with a mixture of envy and horror to the plans of some of my friends who were off to experience the joys of inter-railing and fending for themselves abroad.

They all duly went off and came back with tales of passports lost, trains missed and dodgy drinks in off-the-beaten-track hostelries, as well as glowing tans. Their recounting of miraculous sunsets watched, divine food and friends made along the way became a kind of white noise for me, as I secretly wondered how on earth I would have coped with any or all of the mishaps they’d experienced.

I just couldn’t get past the trauma – in my head – of the idea of someone stealing my handbag or losing my purse. Things haven’t changed that much either over the last few decades. I wince at the thought of arriving anywhere without a room booked. Well, not just booked, but researched and viewed and reviews read just to make sure. Don’t get me wrong I can be spontaneous and in the moment – but that probably involves doing something or going somewhere I have checked out or been to before. I’m also a great believer in ‘if it ain’t broken don’t fix it’. As my friends and family know when I find a place I like I go back as often as I can. So Scarborough, Oxford, Corfu and Paris are I guess ‘Places I can go to spontaneously whilst, like a favourite box of chocolates, also know what to expect.’ Challenging ourselves, to do things that take us out of our comfort zone is great – up to a point. Learning is life, with new experiences adding to and illuminating our self knowledge. Curiosity about far off lands and sometimes the desire to visit them is both natural and to be encouraged. But we mustn’t lose sight of the wonders and wisdom to be found in our own back yard. So the most important thing to me, whether in Doncaster or viewing more distant horizons, is to look up, listen and learn.