The Loneliness of the Not-So-Long-Distance Traveller


The Loneliness of the Not-So-Long-Distance Traveller.

Overall, I travel rather a lot for work. But each trip is not particularly long distance, compared with going to say, India or Australia. For one job, I do tours of English locations such as London, Cambridge and a number of other places, as well as my teaching. For the other, I go to Paris, Cologne, Aachen, Lille, and various other places in France.

I came back on Saturday night after my last trip of this year and I decided to tot up how many hotel rooms I have had this year, and it came to twelve.

That consists of 2 in Austria this February, 1 in Paris in March, 1 in Caen(Normandy) in May/June, 1 in Paris also May/June, another 1 in Paris in June/July, yet another Paris one in October and finally one in Lille this weekend. Plus 4 rooms at the Leicester travel lodge at either end of various trips, because since apart from Austria, all my trips are done over land via coach and the early start (1am in one case) mean it’s not feasible to get from my home on the east coast to the Midlands(or wherever) that morning.

Generally, however stressful these work trips are, and however tiring, I do enjoy them but there are moments when I get back to my hotel room at night and just feel so lonely. I’m the odd one out; the kids have their mates, the teachers have their colleagues and usually, the two drivers have each other to share a quick beer at the bar with.

But the loneliness doesn’t last long. In fact, it lasts about as long as it takes me to get ready for bed and fall asleep.

I’m also pretty stoical about the long hours, the delays and the endless small problems that occur en route; there’s nothing anyone can do about this sort of thing and it is pointless to whine and whinge. With one exception, the hotels I have stayed in over the last few years have been acceptable and the beds comfortable, but you know, they are all starting to look exactly the same!


Anyway, that’s it for this year, travel wise, and that’s probably just as well with the weather problems. I’m digging in and staying put now for a while!

A little boost

My “other” boss rang me today. I was scrabbling around on the floor trying to sort out all the piles of lesson plans and materials and handouts from the last 7 months so I have some way of finding materials etc again when I need them and discarding old class lists, surplus print-outs and notes. I’ve now got a big pile of paper to recycle later but I’m much tidier. I can almost get my legs under my desk again.

Anyway, my trip to Lille is still waiting for confirmation, but a different one, taking in Cologne, Aachen and finally Lille on the way back has come my way. My colleague from school (Ingrid) has previously taken this group but she’s now decided she doesn’t want to do these trips any more. Her words were (after a heavy crossing last winter) “I’m getting too old for this!” and so I have a couple of days work in November.

There may be more but my boss is waiting for confirmation of the probable one and also for other groups to say whether they want a courier or not. Now to be honest, I think having a good courier can make a trip go much better; but also a bad one can really put a damper on it.

So that’s work in November. December I don’t yet know about. January is still empty but if the French group who were dithering about an October trip to the school decide that Swine flu is still too much of a risk, then they will probably come in January (don’t quite understand that one but hey!). I hope to find out in the next few days if they decided to come or not; even though we’re off, I’ve said I’m available if really needed. 

But the best news is that I am still wanted to go to Austria in February for maybe six days. I know the school is going to want me then, because they’re going to need 10+ teachers for that halfterm week but to be honest, added up, I suspect that the probable teaching hours and a few excursions is not going to add up to what I will be paid for going to Austria. My boss is apologetic that my pay isn’t that great; but I’m not bothered because when it comes down to it all my board and lodgings and my flights and so on are paid for and if it comes to a contest of which is going to be more challenging and look better on a CV, then Austria wins hands down.

It’s a little better. I’m still feeling alarmingly low and prone to fits of tears, but at the very least I have a focus for the next months: getting my German up to scratch and also practising my French.

Since I’m going to no less than three Christmas markets (Cologne, Aachen and Lille), I may even do some Christmas shopping as well.

I really ought to trust more.