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As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
 

I Am Going To Walk Out One Midsummer Morning

In 1935 a young Englishman named Laurie Lee arrived in Spain. He had never been overseas; had hardly even left the quiet village he grew up in. He was searching for adventure and chose Spain simply because he knew one phrase in Spanish – ¿un vaso de agua, por favor? His idea was to walk through the country, earning money for food by playing his violin in bars and plazas.

The book Laurie Lee wrote – As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning – is my favourite travel book of all time. It made me fall in love with Spain – the landscapes and the spirit – and with his style of travel. He travelled slow, lived simply, slept on hilltops, relished spontaneity, and loved conversations with the different people he met along the hot and dusty road.

For 15 years I have dreamed of retracing Laurie Lee’s footsteps, following his route and seeing his Spain with my own eyes. I knew that it would be a fascinating journey. It would make a lovely story, both as a book and as a film.

But there was one massive obstacle standing in my way. I cannot play the violin, nor any other instrument. A large part of the appeal of Laurie Lee’s experience was that he was singing for his supper, living from hand to mouth, with little idea of when he would next earn some money to buy his next meal. For my own story to feel authentic, I needed that uncertainty in my walk.

And so, for many years, my fantasy about undertaking this journey lingered as nothing more than a dream.

This year I decided to do something about it.

I bought a violin at Christmas, and began learning to play. I have never played music in front of an audience, and it is one of my deepest fears.

I am appalling at the violin! It promises to be a hungry, and deeply embarrassing journey!

This week I head to Vigo in northern Spain to begin following Laurie’s route, on foot, through Spain. I will play my violin to earn the money I need for food. This is clearly preposterous, as I am so bad. It’s terrifying.

But is the essence of adventure not to seek out that which scares you? To risk failure and uncertainty? I will not carry the safety net of spare money or credit cards: it is the violin or bust.

You can follow my journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter*.

I am more excited and more frightened about this adventure than anything I have done for many years. That is a good start to an adventure.

* – Twitter is not the ideal place to follow this trip as each story will get chopped to 140 characters.

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Comments

  1. Jeff Dudley Posted

    Hi Alastair, It has been a couple years since I spoke to you for my CrazyTalk Magazine. Thanks for keeping me inspired for adventure. I fantasize that my adventures will be cozy and comfortable. They never are but the keep me fresh. Can’t wait to experience your Spain adventure via your blog. Don’t be shocked if people pay you to stop playing the violin. Ha.

    Reply
  2. Feels like you have the same kind of thoughts as Tom Allen had when he went for zero pounds bike travel through UK. Anyway looks like a great challenge! Will follow!

    Reply
  3. Robert Anton Wilson once said, “You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.”

    It seems to me, a real adventure is one that expands the former and squashes the later in a series of sink or swim
    moments.

    As someone who recently took up the violin at 48 years of age, I not only understand the courage it takes to perform in public, I viscerally feel the fear when I see your videos. Busking in public (in Spanish, no less!) to fill your belly takes a far greater courage than climbing Everest or trudging to the pole.

    Well done.

    Reply
  4. Can’t wait to read up on your latest adventure Alastair! I’ve been to Spain before and it is simply beautiful! I just bought two of your books: Grand Adventure and Micro Adventure’s and am looking forward to reading them!

    Reply
  5. James Higgins Posted

    Que te vayas bien! (May you go well)

    Great adventure idea! Great blog

    One tip for Spain, no fires during the summer months…its illegal!! If the Guardia Civil even catch you throwing a cigarette out the car window during the summer you will be massively fined and could even spend time in jail. You may want to consider a stove! Having recently lived in Spain for 5 years I would recommend alcohol, it is available everywhere and is extremely cheap to buy.

    Buen Viaje!

    Reply
  6. J Fritzsche Posted

    Just want to Thank you for this sight, and for nudging me to get out and kayak this weekend with my family. We’re starting to do more “micro adventures” here in Florida, but will do some “grand adventures” in the UK in the future! Crack on mate!!

    Reply

 
 

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