Today's quote in The Times 'Universal Register' gives food for thought.
'Happy the man who,far away from business, like the race of men of old, tills his ancestral fields with his own oxen, unbound by any interest to pay.'
What does bring happiness? I have always had the wanderlust. As a young woman, it was unheard of for anyone to go back-packing (too soon after the war), and in any case there wasn't that kind of transport or money. Then I would devour travel books. One book 'Kurun around the world' about sailing round the world, caught my imagination and I read it over and over again. Then it was people like Vita Sackville-West and her wonderful 'Twelve Days' about her journey across the mountains of South West Persia. My travelling was all in my mind.
I married young and my first husband had travelled widely in the army in the Far East (was also a Japanese Prisoner of War on the Death Railway). The year after we married, we went to Paris for a week. My mother was very scared that we were flying there (one way on an Elizabethan and back on a Viscount) and begged us not to tell her which day we were going.
Then it was buying a house and raising a family, so back to reading about travel again - anything I could lay my hands on. But finally, in early retirement we were able to spread our wings, mainly Eastwards - China, Moscow, Leningrad (as it was then), Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Trans-Siberian Railway, Italy with all its art treasures and the wonderfully ancient cities of Turkey.
Sadly at this point my husband died.
Two and a half years later I married the farmer. He milked his cows twice a day for 365 days a year - so no holidays there then. The first year of our marriage I went to Sienna alone (beautiful city) and the next year to Marrakesh (equally beautiful with the glorious mountains near at hand). By this time, appreciating my itchy feet he began to join in (finding someone else to take over the farm for the holiday period) and over the years we have been many times to Canada, to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Charleroix coast of the St Lawrence, Vancouver and Vancouver Island, Newfoundland - and then down into the US - to New England, the Central States, Texas, New York, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, the Canyon Lands - and up the coast of Norway to the Russian border, various parts of Spain, walking in Portugal, looking at frescoes in Italy, seeing the lavender fields of Provence, sunning ourselves on Mediterranean islands.
Now our long distance travelling has come to an end as my mobility has worsened. We have our holidays in the UK and I sit a look at the scenery while the farmer has his long walks.
I look at the photographs of all the holidays I have had and get huge pleasure from the memories. The farmer has gone back to his life of enjoying pottering around his fields. He is just as happy as he ever was and if I ask him whether he would have travelled if we had not met he assures me he wouldn't have gone anywhere.
He is the only person I have ever met who is totally happy and contented within his own skin. Within the bounds of his own stone walls and field boundaries, with his cattle, his thistles! and his neighbours there seems to be nothing more he wants. How I envy him his completeness. Horace's quote sums him up to perfection.