Duty on tour

Duty on Tour may have started out as a bit of a joke. The Duty Group who had been meeting solely online throughout the pandemic,…

Emily Atkinson

Duty on Tour may have started out as a bit of a joke. The Duty Group who had been meeting solely online throughout the pandemic, would meet in an exotic clime to enjoy each other’s company and some much needed rest and relaxation. For one weekend in late August, we turned this joke into reality.

I had started to claim that I travel for garlic festivals. While it’s true that nearly every year for at least the last dozen, I have driven the three hours from my home in New York City to (what city dwellers consider) upstate New York, my other garlic romps had been somewhat happenstance and hadn’t included my trusted friend of seventeen years. When I proposed she use up a bunch of vacation days from work to fly to the UK for garlicky fun and to meet with people who were strangers to her, she said “Sure,” and only insisted that we stay near the beach. When I mentioned garlicky fun on the Isle of Wight to the Duty Group, they were also excited for the prospects of something new.

Here’s where I may be exposed for my claim – I travel for garlic festivals? Not really. I travel for community. The Duty Group has become one of a handful of communities in my life that I truly treasure. In this case I had to opportunity to meld two of my favorite worlds of people. We didn’t gather for a formal meeting, but in my mind, we had one any way. Sitting on dirt and hay bales amidst the crowd, we enjoyed funkily flavored beverages, mushrooms, and homemade cakes to celebrate milestone August birthdays.

We didn’t ignore the revelry around us. Rather, we added our own special touch. Later we gathered for dinner in the yurt that was the Brightoner’s weekend home. We ate together and as a family of sorts, sharing stories and favorite recipes, including one special video from a grandmother to her granddaughter to show a simple halvah recipe to be made to celebrate her new marriage.

Our 2022 Duty on Tour (DOT) ended with breakfast and a walk along the Isle of Wight seaside, where I learned that ice cream that comes in a “tub” is a doable amount, and that there IS sand in England. I’m really glad to travel for garlic. I hope to continue this guise in the name of caring and sharing. Let’s find another reason and exotic spot for our next Duty on Tour. Cheers. Written by guest writer Stephanie Lawal.