Saturday, 26 May 2012

Blog is moving

I've set up a new blog here where I'll be continuing to post:

The Barts Go Adventuring

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

11 months to go

It's been a whole month since I started to tell people about this blog and our plans to travel.  I've been overwhelmed by the support and positive comments I've had from people since we went public but I think it will take me a little longer to get used to all the questions that come with pondering such a different path.  I should be used to it of course, we home educate and in the UK that is also very much a minority path and we are often quizzed and questioned about why the kids aren't in school today.  No, I'm not very good at answering those questions either!  Talking about what we do and justifying our reasons makes me want to cower in a corner!

Online is another matter though and I am quite happy to talk away like that.  I've been getting to grips (slowly!) with Twitter and making a facebook page so we can connect with other travellers especially families who have done or are planning to do similar trips to us.  It's such a minefield and I keep doing things wrong, but I guess I'll get there!  There is a worry that I will end up spending ages just reading and browsing and reading and browsing.  You do end up finidng out cool facts though, like that Istanbul is just over 2000 miles away using google maps directions and would take us 1 day and 11 hours to get there.  Um, yes, I dunno why or how I found that one out ;o)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

What could have been

 Today we should have been getting ready for a trip of a lifetime.  We were supposed to be flying to Chicago to start a road trip along Route 66.

Route 66 Victorville
Unfortunately life happened and we had to cancel the trip, but my father in law and James' cousin are still flying out tomorrow.  I wasn't too bothered about it, knowing we have this fab adventure to look forward to, but James had started mentioning it wistfully the other day and today I do feel a litte sad for what could have been. 

We did have our reasons, of course, the main one being that we were worried about J's job and we felt we couldn't commit to the expense with that hanging over our heads.  I am glad that his job seems ok now, but ugh, we could have done it!

We do have a 'mini adventure' coming up soon that we decided we'd do when we were in that bleak period of not knowing what was going on.  We'll be spending our days walking on the beach, hopefully we'll go on a boat trip to see puffins and sea birds and generally chill out and escape the decluttering going on round here ;o)  Oh, and forgetting about what could have been.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Downsides to RTW blogs

Yup, you read that right, there are downsides to Round The World travel blogs!

They give you itchy feet!

Now don't get me wrong, I am really happy about our planned adventures, I can't wait to explore the Cornish beaches, Scottish islands, castles up and down the country, Stonehenge and poky little museums with exhibits on the history of this country.  I can't wait! Actually, just writing it there gets me all excited about doing it, I love this country and I feel really priviledged to be able to consider travelling round it at length and learn more about it. 

I've been reading some blogs of families on the road and loving the fact that I am not the only crazy one with ideas, these people have actually done or are doing their dreams!  I've also been reading non family blogs and getting excited as they reach their leaving dates, or visit fantastic countries.  They are reminding me of the wanderlust I used to have when I was younger, when I just wanted to visit and experience everywhere.  Latin America seems to be a common destination, perhaps because of the many North American blogs around and it's making me so curious.  I've never hankered after going there, but now?  Oh yeah!  I'd love to!  Asia has always been high on my list, but I think latin america might be catching up.   

The problem is, the world is just too big and we can't do it right now., which of course makes me want it more ;o)  I do have vague plans in my head for us to work over the winter next year after we've done our six months and to then head on down to the mediterrannean coast and explore from maybe Barcelona, through the southern French coast and then onto Italy.  We'd then explore Germany, Belgium and Holland on the way back. 

But, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself *blush*

But that's what these blogs do to you, they make you realise your dreams can be as big as you want them to be and that the world is just waiting to explore.  As I come across more blogs I'm trying to link to them at the side there ----->  I'd love to find more from British travellers though.  Any more out there?

For now I'll go back to dreaming about exploring those fab Scottish beaches on the Outer Hebrides...

Beaches in the south of the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides 

Or maybe even this one...

North Uist near Solas

Friday, 4 May 2012

One step at a time

I love how the internet can connect people with similar dreams, goals and interests.  I spend ages on the internet (really?  You're surpised aren't you?  ;o) ) and mostly it's due to finding blogs or forums with people who are interested in what my current obsession is ;o)  As you can imagine there are a fair few blogs related to travel and decluttering and simplifying so when I've had a minute I've been having a read around and getting inspiration.

Inspiration is very much needed when I look around the house at the amount of stuff we have.  This is not helped by almost everyone I speak to asking what we're doing with all our things when we leave to which I reply 'oh we won't have much stuff left, we have a few furniture items we'll keep but other than that we'll get rid of most of the stuff.  I'm not really sentimental.'  Sounds perfect doesn't it?  An empty house and maybe a few boxes with photos and other such stuff left?  In my head I think I will be able to do it, but in practice it is so difficult!  I wonder whether I should keep things, if it will come in useful, etc etc.  You get the idea.

We're going round the house mentally thinking what we'll sell, give away and keep.  But the keep list is getting longer by the day!  It's very worrying although I'm sure as d-day approaches we'll be more ruthless.  Well I can hope can't I? 

A friend is also hoping to get rid of stuff this year and has set herself a challenge like mine to get rid of stuff and build up a pot of money for things she wants to do.  Excellent - always good to have others doing similar crazy challenges so we can cheer each other on!

There is another thing that is making it all hard though.  It's still 11 months until we go so there is no real point in going crazy with getting rid of stuff that we'll still use (take note James!), but at the same time, if we do nothing, in 8 months time or so we'll have a mountain to climb.  So I'd been thinking that we need to find a way to give us a boost so we feel like we're doing something, have a head start on when we *have* to make these final decisions about things, and don't get burnout.

Enter more internet inspiration ;o)

So I was reading a couple of blogs and this post jumped out at me.  It's an old post, but isn't it funny how sometimes you come across these things?  So the idea that this family did was for each of them to get rid of 4 things each day.  We can do this!  It won't feel too hard, we all will have an easily reachable target for each day and hopefully by the end of May we'll have purged the house from a good proportion of things we don't need now, are broken, and are useless.

Once I'd put the idea to the family, who are thankfully fully behind the idea, I then saw this blog post from the fabulously inspirational Family on Bikes blog (in awe - I so could not bike that far!  I love the idea of it though) about how to eat an elephant.  Sometimes that is how this part of our adventure is feeling.  Huge, too much, not fun, never ending, overwhelming.  It needs to be done though, so we'll have to take it one step at a time.

Wish us luck!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Our sealed pot - meet Fillmore!

This is 'Fillmore' our campervan moneybox!  He's named after the VW campervan in the film Cars which we all love.

I first heard the idea of a sealed pot on the MoneySavingExpert site but it never appealed to me as a way of saving.  Then I started reading SavingForTravel's blog and saw her challenge about putting money away for something special and I thought again about seeing if we could incorporate it into our savings for next year.

I decided that I wanted to keep it separate to the other savings plans we had.  I wanted it to be for something we'd all enjoy and something we might not feel we could splurge on when we're on the road. After a bit of thought we decided we'd all quite like to try kayaking round the coast of Cornwall.  I love the idea of doing adventurous activities, but really they have to involve no heights as James and M are really scared of that kind of thing!

I looked into how much something like that might cost and it looks to be around £120 at least for the four of us.  I'll add some links to the bottom of this post of websites I've found, it needs a little bit more research done, but I have to say I am very excited about the idea of it all.  Spending that much money for a morning or afternoon's activity will certainly not be happening often, if at all, but what a perfect opportunity to give these activities a go.

So, Fillmore gets all our change, any money we find on the ground (roadkill!!), any money that I might have budgeted to spend and not needed to, any money I find in pockets, you get the idea.  I'll open him up in December and see how close we are to the total we need.  He's quite heavy already and I know there are some paper bits in there too, but I have resisted so far in counting it all up!

(just so I don't lose the links I shall shove 'em here!)

Sea Kayaking Cornwall
Cornish Coast Adventures
West Cornwall Adventure

Friday, 27 April 2012

April goal round-up

We're not quite at the end of the month, but today is our last pay day so number crunching day it is!

  • We have 11 months, 2 weeks and 5 days until we go!

  • I have cleared 9 items (9!!!!!) from the house in April with a total amount made of £70.12.  I also managed to get more stuff on ebay last week and most have bids but I'll add those in to next months totals.  So:  9/1000 and £70.12/£1000.  ;o)  Quite a way to go still!

  • Overall at the beginning of April we had £673 saved up and at the end we have £1212 so we nearly doubled our money!

I'm not sure how figures will add up next month.  We've had a minor setback in that I no longer have my job at my dad's shop (long story!).  It wasn't a lot of money coming in but was enough to add up to a decent amount over a year and it's gone now so I need to think about alternative income and ramp up any online money making I can.

I am not mentioning the ticker counting my weight loss ;o)  Maybe next month I can report some good there!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Keep holding on

I came across a fantastic blog today that I will be spending some time reading when I get chance.  But this particular post is lovely and made me think of our own journey to get to where we are at the moment.

At the end of 2011 we'd had plans, not the same as the plans we have now, although if I'm honest I still wanted to do this but hadn't quite worked out how.  Back then we had planned a really big holiday, 3 weeks in the USA to be exact.  I did my normal and spent ages researching and planning and we made a good dent in to saving the money we needed to go.  We got past Christmas and were anxious to book to holiday knowing there would be no going back and then two things happened.  First was that my father in law, who was planning to go with us, decided he'd rather do the trip with J's cousin than us and it would be organised by a travel agent which I didn't want to do.  Then our car broke.  We felt like something was telling us not to go and so we made the decision to cancel our big planned holiday and if I'm honest it was an easy decision and none of us were too bothered by it which was quite surprising!  The car breaking made me realise we were stretching ourselves just a little bit too thin and I could see we'd be in huge amounts of debt when we came back. 

So the big plan changed but it had a huge effect on me.  I felt like a failure.  It brought back memories of all the times I've had big plans and changed them when things didn't feel right.  There were always good reasons - we seemed settled in jobs, money was too tight, we were too scared.  It didn't stop me then feeling like a downright failure though and it was how I felt again at the beginning of the year.

It didn't take us long to decide that we needed to start planning and executing the plan as you now know it, I do always like a plan, but I was still reeling and life was being very unkind.  We had ideas on how to save up enough to do a very basic trip but then more and more we were knocked back.  The new car we had decided to buy broke twice and cost us lots of money.  It was drinking petrol in a way that was costing us way more than we ever imagined just to get J to work never mind let us do any other kind of life living things and when we decided to take the plunge and trade the new car in for a newer model of our old reliable car we lost even more as its mileage wasn't what it should have been.  I cried lots then.  James was also struggling and feeling down every day.  How could we try and do our dream when at the very beginning we just had such huge obstacles?  Finances were key at this point and they were going backwards instead of getting better.  I hadn't told anyone about the idea at this point, and I was glad.  Were we going to give up again? 

James was fantastic and kept reminding me that it wasn't going to be easy and handed on a plate.  I knew this of course, but reassurance is always good.  I used to also go out for walks and just try and get all our finances and thoughts straight in my head.  I started writing my own little diary in a word document, my thoughts were still too precious and unformed to make public.  I also started to look for positive quotes about perseverance and stuck them at the end of each diary post.  This one is my favourite:

Before the rainbow you will have to endure a little rain

I love rainbows so this struck such a chord with me.  We made playlists of feel good music and songs that reminded us of travelling and we listened to them every night.  Then one day I wrote less and less in my private diary and started telling people about the 'adventure'.

All of a sudden things started getting there.  The savings started building to a number that seemed significant.  J's work started to get better and so he was happier.  I had a plan that looked like it would work and I was much much more confident and happy.

I've still no idea if we'll make it to the end of this journey and do the adventure as planned.  Maybe something else will come up, I've no idea really.  But I really do feel like we can do it.  I just need to keep my courage up and not listen to the monsters in my head.

I made a playlist with songs to pick me up when I feel down, but actually didn't manage to find too many songs to put in it.  Up to now, I've never actually needed to listen to it since i made it although I'm sure there will be more downs to come.  One of the songs I love is this one:

Sunday, 15 April 2012

1 year to go! Meeep!

15th April 2013 is our planned leaving date.  I wanted to wait until the school Easter holidays had finished so looking ahead that was the Monday after that.  I'm quite glad we have a planned date, makes it feel real somehow!

So for the next 6 months we'll be saying 'this time next year we'll be doing xyz and this time next year we'll be sat on a beach'.  I may bore people before long ;o)

Crantock Beach Newquay Cornwall

Veor Cove from Carnelloe Cliff Cornwall

Ooh beaches :O)

A year still feels so long away but when I think about clearing the house of all the stuff then I know it will go by soon enough and I'll feel like I want more time!  This will be the hard bit when we're going without and keeping all our money to one side and trying to declutter.  Yawn ;o)

Speaking of which, I made a bit of progress with my crud clearing venture (CCV :o)) and sold 5 things on a home ed buy and sell group.  So that is 5/1000 and £21/£1000 ;o)   I'm laughing at the notion that I have 1000 things I could sell, 1000 bits of rubbish I could throw out maybe, but to sell?  I'm pretty sure I will struggle, but it might be an interesting thing to track!  James is up for doing some car boots (I'm not sure he's *ever* done one in his life!) so we'll try and get one in for maybe June and then another at the end of Summer.  There are a few all year round ones so might fit in a third before we leave the house.  I have lots of local friends who know all about car boot sales round here so I shall have to pick their brains.  Any money we make is going to be extra towards a better campervan and isn't being counted on.  I might even make a page on here with things to sell, which might work if I start plugging the blog and sharing it round.  Something to work on.

Friday, 13 April 2012

10% woohoo!!!!

Today we have reached 10% of our savings goal as per our ticker on the side of the page.  Our rough target is £10,000 and today we went past £1000  in our savings account.  Those people who know will know this is no mean feat for us!  We are people who live each day as it comes and we are not savers at all.  We do have to be for the next year though.

(A thousand pounds?  It's not worth it.  I won't save it.  I'll go the royal mint and print my own money.  Humph!)   (Sorry I've got no head thousand pound sketch if you've never heard of it!  A daft kids programme that is a bit like marmite ;)

In order to start bumping up this total I need to be getting going on removing and selling some of the rubbish in this house.  It needs to be gone anyway for us to leave.  I'm hoping we may be able to store some of our precious things with my parents and also J's dad, but really I want this to be a few boxes not hoards!!   We've been talking with the kids lots about thinking carefully about purchases they might make as we'll need to either get rid of them or store them next year so no point buying huge teddies for example (not looking at anyone here dear daughter!)  It's making me think much more about what I bring into the house too.  But not bringing stuff in is just one side of it, I need to get stuff out!  I was thinking that what would be a good challenge is to sell 1000 things.  In my head this sounds great, 1000 things at say an average of £1 each (my house if full of crud!!) is another £1000.  But then I realised I'd need to sell 100 things a month for the next 10 months - arrrrghhh!  Doesn't sound quite so doable now!  Anyway, I made a start listing some things on a home ed list and hopefully will sell some things there and I stuck a grand total of 3 things on ebay.  Ugh I hate selling on ebay!!!  Needs must though :)

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Keeping the faith and stopping myself getting bored is going to be a big thing for me on the pre-journey part.  I am very fickle, get bored ever so easily and am easily distracted by shiny things.  This is why I know we need to go in 2013 rather than any later.  I know my limits!

So this week has been pretty heavy on inspiration finding.  First off, a friend of mine (who never likes to think of herself as inspirational so I won't say she is as she'll just hate that) has a fab blog over at Wondering Wanderers and she blogged lots from last year when she upped sticks with her family and travelled around the UK in a 30 year old van.  They did lots of wwoofing as they were looking for an alternative lifestyle and wanted to get a taste for it.  They did and they are now off to live on Rum which is an island off the west coast of Scotland.  One part of their trip that I was very jealous about was 6 weeks wild camping round Scotland and I asked Nic if she would give some tips to anyone else planning on wildcamping with a campervan and her post is here.  I loved reading it all and it got me all excited to be doing it!

When I decided on our vague plan I came across another blog which I found incredibly inspirational.  Married with Luggage is the story of 2 people who decided life was too short and went for their dream of travelling the world (only slightly jealous of this!!!).  They sold everything they owned and saved, saved and saved some more to enable them to do 3 or 4 years of travel.  One of their tricks to keep them focussed is to have a map in a prominent position so you can always see what the dream is.  So one of the very first things I did was to get a map of the UK which also has Ireland and stuck it up in our living room. So here it is, I suspect it will one day also have cut out pics of places we want to go stuck round it.

I've been to the library and picked up some Lonely Planet books - I love these and used to have loads of them when I was younger.  I just used to read and dream and read and dream and occasionally I did actually get on a plane and live it too ;)  Books with lots of pics in them, especially of the beaches in the Outer Hebrides are also good as are ferry timetables with prices in so I can crunch numbers to my heart's content!

Friday, 23 March 2012

The plan - for now!

I have made a page that can be accessed at the top of the blog with details of our plan, but I guess I might change this page quite a lot, so I think it would be nice to post it here and I can look back on it.  So...

The plan is very loose at the moment as we need to save up for the whole 6 months beforehand.  Everything will depend on the final amount we can raise.  As we rent our house at the moment it means we have no capital to fall back on, no house to rent out or sell, but it does mean we're free to up and leave whenever we like and aren't relying on outside influences to get going.  Silver lining and all that!  We need to buy a campervan and we're also hoping to raise about £6000 to travel with.  This equates to about £30 a day on the road.  This may or may not be completely adequate for our plans (I am really not good at estimating costs!) but time will tell.

Ideally we'd like to spend 6 months in a campervan travelling around 3 distinct areas of the British Isles.  We'd like to explore Cornwall and the south west, travel over to Ireland and N. Ireland and then end up in Scotland.  Ireland might be dependent on if we can raise enough money as it will most likely be the most expensive area.

We'll spend our days on the beaches (I wonder if we'll ever get sick of beaches??) and we'll have RSPB, English Heritage and National Trust memberships so we can have free days out and be able to learn about the country.

I think we'd spend most of the time trying to wild camp or using camp sites but we'd also like to try WWOOF'ing a little bit which some friends of ours did very successfully last year.  Funnily enough it was always on my plan when I was wanting to work my way round the world when I first left home!  This would hopefully enable us to slow down and see some areas from a different perspective, help us stretch our budget and also give us skills we might need for the future (I'd love to one day have a house in the country with land we could use to grow food).  We're thinking to try and have one wwoof host for each area at least - again this will depend on our finances and how much we need our budget to stretch!
Another option we'd like to explore is house sitting, but not sure if this would work due to us being a family.  Certainly worth thinking about though.

One thing I always fancied doing, which I am not sure will still work out, is to spend a week volunteering for the RSPB somewhere.  This would mean that James would need to find a campsite nearby and be with the kids while I did it, but it would be a great opportunity for me since I am thinking I might like to work in the sector.  I had thought to try and go to Scotland for the ospreys as they do week long placements, but the timings might not work out for this.  We'll see.

All in all, it will be 6 months of budget travel, we'll explore the history and nature of our country and the country of J's ancestors (Ireland).

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

How are we doing?

I think we're doing quite well actually.  We're getting very close to having our first £1000 saved up (not quite there, but I can see it in the near future!) which is really quite a landmark for us as we're not really big savers at all.  I've been doing lots of number crunching of our finances and I'm pretty certain we can do a trip of some sort next year.  If I know we can save for a basic budget trip without accounting for overtime and extra income from selling stuff in the house then I know we can do it so that is a great feeling.

We've started talking about the plan with some friends, all of whom (I think) seem to think it's a good idea (phew!).  I'm sure we'll come across people who don't though.  The kids are very excited, which is a double edged sword really.  I want them to be excited, but there is always that worry I am building them up for a fall.  A is constantly asking what toys she can take with her and talking about how she'll get a camper when she's older and travel as well.

Another thing that is ramping up the excitement is that we went to a local campervan dealer at the weekend to look round some bigger vans and to see how the configuration I liked looks like in real life.  There were some ginormous vans there and all really out of our price range but we did see two that had the design we want with a double cab over the driver for M, a double in the middle for J and I, and a single at the back for A.  They are really getting too old to ask them to share and they do want their own space.  I hope we can eventually find a van like this, but I know it might be one of the areas we'll need to compromise on.  I guess it will depend on what is available at the time.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

New Tickers

I've set up some new tickers on the side of the blog to track our progress.  I've taken off the one aiming to save for the campervan as i'm not sure how we'll attack that goal yet and it may be that we'll need to trade in our car eventually to get one.  At the moment, really, all money is going in one pot anyway so it shouldn't make too much difference.  Each 'day on the road' equates to £30, we'll see what we can do!

I've also set up a weight loss ticker, I am about 2 stone overweight at the moment, which I hate to admit.  I managed to get myself to just over 'normal weight range' a couple of years ago, but it has gone on steadily since then.  I'd love to get back to the top end of 'normal' by the time we go away.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

2013 or 2014?

I said in my last post that we really want to go away in 2013 and actually I was pretty sure that we would be able to do that - until something happened last week.  We had car troubles and it meant getting a new car.  It may be that at the end of our 'savings phase' we can sell the car and recoup some or most of what we've had to pay out or maybe we'll be able to part exchange it against a campervan, I'm not really sure, but what I do know is that it might put back our travel date to 2014.  I'd like to still aim for 2013 though so I am not going to change it just yet, but have it in mind if things don't look like they'll work out.

One thing that keeps me going is finding some inspirational quotes so I'd like to try and add one when it fits well.

You will need to make many turns and overcome many obstacles to create the path you desire.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

First post

I have blogged in varous places before, so blogging is not new to me, although blogging as a whole has changed loads since I started.  I'm slightly nervous about starting this blog though as it is to be about a huge goal of mine, which is to travel with my family.  I have wanted to do this since I first had my children, oh 11 years ago now, and I have planned loads of times to do it only for it to not happen.  I'm nervous then, because actually time is running out to do it!  My kids won't be kids for much longer, they're 11 and 10 at the moment and if we want to do this, we need to do it NOW.

I'm going to have some progress bars at the side which I'm going to update when we get to our goals.  These amounts are also very much 'reaching for the sky' amounts and I'm not sure we'll get there, but maybe by writing it down the universe might help us.  The first one is for our campervan fund and what we need to save for first.  Then we need some actual money to do some travelling.  The third one is for saving Tesco points as we can use them for ferries and as we'd very much like to go to Northern Ireland this would help make that happen.

Ideally all this will be saved for and we'll reach our goals by April 2013.  That may be over ambitious, I'm not sure.  All I know is we have to start somewhere and start now.