Could it be that because we humans have so many neural pathways within our bodies that we love tracing lines in the sand, following pathways across a field or through a forest, and taking the road less travelled?

During a miniature tour of the countryside a couple of days ago, I found myself really tempted to depart from the planned itinerary. In my mind, when I am relaxing, there is time for everything, and the day is long, and the night is young. This does not really match reality, so the planned route to our destination is the one I took. I was behind the wheel of my own car, but one does have to be mindful of the passengers for whose benefit the trip is being taken in the first place!

No nubile maidens.

We arrived at the rather dry-looking spa town of Caldas de Monchique, famous for its thermal baths since Roman times.

Last winter there was hardly any rain in the region, and the summer has been hot and dry, as usual.

My tourists could not manage the walk to the top of the cold springs, which when they have water in them, cascade down a rather steep hill into a series of picturesque holding tanks, and thence to the purification and bottling plant which is quite extensive (I counted about 12 saw-toothed roofs as we drove past on our way home).

What lies above and beyond?

I took a brisk walk to the top of the springs, stopping only to take the occasional photograph. I became aware that there were all sorts of pathways leading away from the springs into the surrounding woodland. Oh! How I longed to take just one of them!

A civilised, gentle ramble, perhaps?

Another time, perhaps. Another pathway in another place, perhaps. I succumbed to the sensible, and returned within a reasonable time to the rest of my party.

The house had such a nice feel to it, I just had to take these stairs.

After lunch, when I went to collect my car from the distant car park, I took the long way round by foot, and found another couple of promising pathways…

From the surrounds, there had to be a garden at the top of these stairs. Probably an immaculately kept one. I shall never know.

They hold promise because we can only imagine what lies along the way, what lies ahead, and where they lead.

We hope that what we see and hear will fascinate, will delight our senses, will make us feel more alive, and perhaps even take us to a higher plane. The path we choose may be arduous, but we live in hope of new realisations, and if not greater wisdom thereby, at least serendipity.

One could say that the last image depicted here marked the end of my journey, but that would be short-sighted in the extreme.

A better interim conclusion is that I had to return to my true path, the one that I have chosen. My life is merely enriched a little more by these occasional forays, both real and imagined, from my chosen path which – who knows? – may well be on the road less travelled. I certainly hope so.


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