This week we're publishing a report from Mount Everest, written by James Suenson-Taylor, who, together with his wife Debbie, took an (extended) gap year in his early 50s to travel the world. What would you do if you could take a gap year today?
This week we're publishing a report from Mount Everest, written by James Suenson-Taylor, who, together with his wife Debbie, took an (extended) gap year in his early 50s to travel the world.
“Three years later, having got used to living from a backpack, roughing it through 111 cities in 23 countries on all seven continents, my view on life has changed. I realise I don’t need the toys I have accumulated or the material possessions and clothes that demand so much space and money. I resolved to rid myself of as much as I could palm off at a reasonable price given that politicians have managed to strangle consumerism during our absence. Over the years I have single-handedly kept the automotive industry in profit; now I don’t need it any more,” he writes.
There are plenty of examples of mid-career gap years. In the City, Charles McKinnon of Thurleigh took a one-year sabbatical to pursue his love of gardening, while last issue we'll profiled Colin Geddes, who gave up his job as an investment banker to organise ultra marathons in the Grand Canyon. In politics, Steve Hilton, Cameron's director of strategy, took one year's unpaid leave to engage in his famous 'blue-sky thinking' from a Californian sunlounger.
I polled Spear's editorial team to find out what we'd do if we could take a gap year now. Josh and Emily's gap year dreams were (predictably) food related. Josh would like to train with a top pastry chef in Paris, while Emily would relocate to Provence and cook, lots.
Simon, our sub-editor, and Andrew, our designer, would both like to travel, anywhere and everywhere. Over at the Spear's research unit, Mark would channel Hemingway and head to the South of Spain to learn bullfighting, and Freddy would go 'for a very long walk.'
I was unable to answer the question: a year's Arabic course in Yemen? An art course somewhere in Northern India? Or, inspired by my recent visit, a year spent on a boda boda (motorbike) travelling Uganda?
It was a very pleasant thought to entertain on a cold Tuesday morning, which is why we're interested to hear from you — what would you do if you could take a gap year today?
Read more by Sophie McBain