One Blind Summit. After. Another.

by Ant Stone on March 31, 2011

in Back Home

Tapping these keys conjures up a mental image of a heavy-footed walker, shlepping his way through the misty English wilderness. One blind summit, after, another.

You might wonder how I nailed such a mighty image, so early on in my opening paragraph. It’s because I’ve deleted more words than you will ever read in your lifetime.

The ones you are reading, act like gravestones marking the thirty generations of fallen Helvetica which went before them.

And now I sit, waiting for a bright orange rectangle to make this awkward sentence go away by asking…

Where have you been, Ant?

I left New Zealand back in October 2010. Remember those days? Me neither.

My girlfriend, Reb, was already back in England; by her dad’s side, as he went head-first into a series of tests for cancer.

I travelled to Malaysia for three weeks.

With so many uncertains swarming around, it seemed like a compromise.

I got lost in jungles, burned on beaches, and in an unexpected milestone, I met my first travel bloggers since starting this blog, in April 2007. We had dinner and everything.

Shell Beach, Australia

This is to lighten the mood. Kind of like an IKEA print. Or a glass of Shloer

Then, in late October, as winter was setting in, I arrived back in England.

He arrived back in England? Gasp.

I bounced from an inflatable bed in Macclesfield to a spare room in Loughborough, then another one in north London, another one in Lincolnshire, one more in Reading, and then back again to the one in north London.

In mid-February, I started a new job, as STA Travel UK’s, Online Community Manager. They gave me the keys to their social media accounts. I gave them a knowing wink.

Three days later, Reb’s dad died of cancer.

Seven days later, I moved into an abandoned bungalow in Essex.

You can rearrange those three sentences to suit. They won’t get any easier to digest.

I still have a hundred thousand words to say about my own travels; but with the weight of grief, the buzz of a new job (and a ninety minute commute), and the drain of moving into a new (ramshackle) house, I just haven’t had the words in me to WOW! you.

OK. You twisted my arm. I’ll try to WOW! you

Last weekend, I headed up to Manchester to surf the wave of expectation surrounding the imaginatively named Travel Bloggers Unite 11 (TBU).

I met a dozen movers, and two dozen shakers; a couple of melody makers; money-rakers; one or two fakers; and three or more potential heart-breakers.

There’s a lot I could say about TBU. But I’ll just say this: it was good. I learned some relevant ‘stuff’; and I met a lot of genuine, beautiful, smart people.

I felt assured, that if I wanted to, I could just poke the right buttons, and money will pour out of the DVD drive of my laptop.

I learned that Brand You is applicable to everything. (So I’m stuck with explaining that my name is Ant, and TrailofAnts is a play on my travelling life, and not a reference to an army of small, black insects.)

I learned that the software which powers this blog, WordPress, really is as complicated as I first thought.

I learned that a large bottle of room temperature water is 22p cheaper than a small bottle of cold water in Tesco’s.

I learned that two hours sleep is not the right preparation to an early start, and that British hotel breakfast buffets haven’t changed since I was a boy. Last year.

I learned that my efforts at understanding podcasting, were not far off the mark. I also learned that people do care about good, solid, writing. But not quite as much as making money, or flashing their knickers at Google.

I learned that two hours of listening to a panel discuss the trials and tribulations of working with PR companies and tourist boards, really is as interesting as it sounds. Perhaps even more.

The point I’m making is: I’ve learned a lot these last few months. And you are going to benefit. Somehow. I just need to work that bit out. Just promise me you’ll stick with me, and we’ll work it out together, OK?

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Corinne @ Gourmantic April 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

So good to read your prose again. I hope little rays of sunshine start to appear overhead.

Ant Stone April 3, 2011 at 11:00 am

Thanks Corinne… thankfully, they already have. Lots of them.

Angela April 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

You’ve had quite a few big things to deal with lately, with time everything will settle, it always does.
Looking forward to your WOW! posts 😉

Ant Stone April 3, 2011 at 11:01 am

I’m looking forward to writing them, Angela. Watch this space. Well, not this one, but another one nearby.

Turkey's For Life April 3, 2011 at 7:22 am

We’ve missed your writing so we’re looking forward to more WOW posts soon, too. Having gone through a similar experience a while back, I can completely understand how your life has been tipped upside down, recently! As Angela said above, everything will settle again with time. 🙂

Ant Stone April 3, 2011 at 11:04 am

Thanks Julie, I hope things are OK now. You, Julie and Corinne are completely right. I think this post was part of the process.

Christine April 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Glad to see you back on here! Looking forward to reading more of your writing. Congrats on the new job!

Ant Stone April 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

Thanks Christine. Glad to see you back here too. Your comments are always so positive, and welcome.

Victoria Brewood April 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm

You’re back! Great read as always, glad you got some inspiration to start writing again after TBU. (and yes cold water is usually more expensive…we have to pay for Tesco’s refrigerator bills.)

Ant Stone April 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

Seeing all of those motivated, hungry travel bloggers at TBU was certainly a driver to put pen (pixels) to paper (screen). And damn you, Tesco’s and your overtly sensible pricing structure! There’s a lot I could say on that strategy, but I’ll save it for another round of mojitos.

Bluegreen Kirk April 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Great to see you back in action Ant! I wonderful about the TrailofAnts when I first saw the name and though what in the world does this site have to do with ants. A lot has happen a lot to write about and a lot for us all to learn from one another.

Ant Stone April 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Thanks Kirk. Interesting name you have yourself, what’s Bluegreen to do with?

Bluegreen Kirk July 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Hey Ant,

The name Bluegreen had to do with a company I was working for but kinda suck since everyone knows me by that on the travel blogs that I read. I haven’t seen any posts from you in awhile hope all is well!

Linda ~ Journey Jottings April 5, 2011 at 1:58 am

The ‘thirty generations of fallen Helvetica’ did not fall in vain ~ Loved the opening para 😉

Funny how when you think nothing positive is happening, you put pixel to screen and you have a post of developments that shows the lay of the land beyond and below those blind summits ~
If you never saw dark, you wouldn’t know when it was light –

I’m sorry to hear about Reb’s Dad ~
Grief is the price we have to pay to enjoy the explosion of pleasure we get from love –

Look forward to hearing more from you as the mists clear 🙂

Ant Stone April 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

I enjoy you comments, Linda. Not because they’re so plump with compliments, but because you always seem to spot the small things in my writing, which are so often overlooked (I hasten to add — that’s not a bad thing!).

Those are the pieces which I most enjoy installing in my posts, and I guess some would say, the pieces which are most personal and individual to me.

Thanks 🙂

Todd | Todd'sWanderings April 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Nice to have you back in the game Ant, and for the record Brand You is easier for you as you have a name that people remember 🙂 Sorry I missed you at TBU. I was planning to attend but life often throws curve balls when we are looking for fast balls (yes that’s an American Baseball reference).

Ant Stone April 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Damn the Great Pitcher in Sky for throwing those curvers, Todd, would have loved to catch up with you at TBU. Hopefully some other time throughout the year. (Excuse any bastardisation of your most excellent baseball analogy!)

Matt April 13, 2011 at 7:35 am

Kia ora Ant –

Really glad to see an update from you in my Google reader.

As always, your blog shines through the forest of travel blogs that is saturated with daily updates about nothing. I love your writing and am always transported someplace new when your words are on the screen. I’m very sorry to hear of the trails you and your girlfriend have faced in the last six months or so – please send my deepest sympathies to Reb.

Very glad to hear you enjoyed TBU and eagerly awaiting your take in more than one paragraph snippets as I trust you’ll have some interesting conclusions to share.

Kia kaha mate – cheers

Ant Stone April 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Kia ora, Matt. Thanks so much for such a positive comment. As you’ll know, feedback is such a big part of our blogging community; and I never tire of hearing such encouraging words as yours mate, so thank you.

Thanks also for the condolences, it’s been a tough six months, that’s for sure.

I’m not sure I’ll be covering TBU in any details here on… it’s pretty much been covered right across Blogtown, and to be honest, there’s not much of it that I could write passionately about. It was largely about Making £ from blogs, and the basics of a relationship between PR companies and bloggers. Neither really float my boat.

However; I did find the WordPress and podcast talks quite good, and appreciated the fresh thinking. There was also a talk on travel writing, which encouraged bloggers to write well.

I was there with my work-hat on, for my new employers, so it was more about relationships and listening to what bloggers want from the commercial travel companies; what I can do for them/what they can do for me etc. So again, not really relevant for here, either.

Matt | ExpertVagabond April 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Good to see you back, and looking forward to reading what you’ve got in-store for us once you’re settled. 🙂

Ant Stone April 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Thanks Matt; watch this space. Well. Not this exact spot; that could get a little tedious after a while! Thanks for reading.

Cris Campos April 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

Just so you know, you don’t need wow topics to wow me. Your writing is more than enough. 😉

Ant Stone April 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Thank you, Cris. Your kind words wow me right back 🙂

Anthony April 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Good to see you are back and looking forward to hearing more about your adventures. Sorry to hear about the death in the family. I hope there will be better things to come in the coming year.

Ant Stone April 25, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Thanks Anthony. The outlook for the rest of the year is certainly more positive. Times like these allow us to take a step back, and realise what’s important. As a result, inspiration levels are sky high, and I’m looking forward to exploring the year ahead.

Leigh April 28, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I’ve got you in my reader and haven’t seen much of late. Now I know why. You are a brilliant writer – one of the best out there. Keep it up. You always make me smile.

Dream Travel Vacation July 9, 2011 at 12:14 am

Your website was nominated by another fellow travel blogger. I noticed your last blog was dated last April. My guess is that your job took up a lot of your time and away from blogging. And that you haven’t traveled lately?? If you have traveled, I hope you continue to blog as I enjoyed reading your blog. 🙂

Ant Stone August 20, 2011 at 1:01 am

Thanks… you’re so right 🙂 The job has certainly swallowed the free time I once used to blog; but rest assured, the fires are still burning. I recently returned from a trip to Tuscany, I’m not sure if I’ll write about that journey here, but between you and I, it is a region of great passion, beauty, and allure.

Abigail Rogers July 21, 2011 at 5:36 am

Best of luck in all of your endeavors! You might check out Justin Lukasavige’s podcasts–he’s very helpful when it comes to blogging, podcasting, etc.

I see that you are interested in Great Britain! Perhaps you would enjoy my blog:

I post photographs of glorious vistas of the countryside and interesting tidbits about Great Britain for the pleasure of Britophiles everywhere! There’s also something special every Wednesday…. Have a look, maybe you’ll join the ever-growing list of followers!

Ant Stone August 20, 2011 at 1:04 am

What a very generic comment, Abigail! You could say I’m interested in Great Britain; you might even go as far as to say I am a Britophile. but you would be more correct in the fact that I am British, and that I live on the fringes of London.

manisha February 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

Hey there’s such a feel good element to your articles…I am located in a a small town in a remote corner of India where nature comes alive and I have been toying with the idea of setting off by myself…just to bring a little excitement in my life n get away from all the noise…maybe someday I’ll do what u r doing…:) One of my fav blogs is Dooce n urs has just been added to my list of “2” ..hehe:)

Ant Stone June 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Thanks Manisha, that’s very kind. I loved my time travelling in India, it’s a special place. Look out for more updates soon, and good luck with planning your trip.

Victoria Ellen Lee July 13, 2013 at 8:42 am

Murrr, your writing is delectable: “The ones you are reading, act like gravestones marking the thirty generations of fallen Helvetica which went before them.”

Keep doing what you’re doing!

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