Tag Archives: Morocco; Manchester; staycation; Alain de Botton; Cumbria; Blackpool; North Wales

Morocco or Manchester – why I’m staying local this year

Atlas Mountains

La Palmerie, Marrakech. The first week of January. I’m sitting in a chic, riad-style guesthouse and pondering freelance life.

Palm trees sway above the open roof, Moorish stylings set the mood and a waiter pours mint tea with the extravagant histrionics that come with years of practice.

The setting could ideal but staying in La Palmerie feels like a hollow experience.

Major reservations

Maybe it’s the perennial poser of the travel writer living beyond their budget and finding myself counting secretly Euros while perusing the lunch menu.

Maybe it’s the way a brief stroll outside the ornate gates contrasts raw poverty with the hushed reverence of the dining room back within the compound.

Or maybe it’s the simple fact that there is – dammit – no saleable angle on this place.

Hometown holidays

Before I left for Marrakech, I was reading a post at the blog Tourist vs Traveller. One of Fiona’s resolutions that caught my attention was Fiona’s ideas about hometown tourism.

The much-hated word ‘staycation’ is pure dark arts but there is a lot to be said for building specialist local knowledge and uncovering backyard gems that mainstream media overlook.

The Art of Travel

Then, while feeling underwhelmed in Marrakech, I was re-reading Alain de Botton and thinking about new directions for Hit the North, the previous incarnation of which you can refer back to here.

The waiter poured the tea, the palm trees swayed and dogs howled outside. As the sky darkened, I read the section where de Botton quotes Nietzsche.

‘… we are in the end tempted to divide mankind into a minority of those who know how to make much of little, and a majority of those who know how to make little of much.’

All points North

Manchester Airport

So I decided which way Hit the North will head this year with its new home and reworked format.

From the floods in western Cumbria to regeneration in Blackpool via the new walking trails of North Wales, there’s plenty to talk about right on my doorstep.

A week in Morocco is all very well. But I’ll be making much of little and keeping it close to home this year.

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