I think it’s easy to talk about the adventure that is waiting for us when we up and go backpacking, it’s pretty obvious truth be told, but I think for this post I actually want to talk about the adventure that is waiting for us when we get back.

As you can tell, we are giving up our current digs and our jobs to go on this backpacking tour. Which is great, nothing to hold us back. However this puts us in a bit of a quandary when it comes to surviving once our money lets out, once we can no longer keep going and are forced back into the UK. Luckily, Pete has provided for us. In the form of a flat. A flat that needs renovating.

See where this is going?

That’s right. When we return we must turn our hand to decorating and updating. We’re going to get jobs, buy a mattress and a cheap T.V, and move into his digs. Then we’ll have to, surprise surprise, SAVE. Story of my life at the moment. We have to save for new windows, new doors, new plumbing, rollers, brushes, paint, the lot.

Then, whilst we’re working, we have to put in the windows, the doors, the plumbing, the paint. All without killing each other. And I don’t have a lick of practical DIY experience. That’s the real adventure. Because throw me into an unknown city, with nothing but a spare change of pants and a map to the nearest bar, I’m gonna survive. Hand me a screwdriver and ask me to put up some shelves, then I’m gonna look blank and accidentally build you a chair.

That’s half the fun though. I’ll learn new skills and Pete will get cheap labour (chuck me a bottle of wine, I’ll work for you too). Then at the end, we’ll live rent free for a few months in a clean, tidy flat, save some money and move on to the next chapter in our lives. More travelling, more renovating, setting up a business or something completely different. As the tagline to the blog says: Where are we going? Don’t Know! And that’s half the fun.

Why are books so expensive? I love them so they should be free. Isn’t that the way it works?

Back when this trip was just a twinkle in our eyes and a drunken plan conceived in the pub, we figured that the first thing we had to do was save. And save. And save. I’m sure Pete will do a full post on our savings in the future, but for now, let me just tell you that the biggest expenditure I had was on books. Like I seriously spent most of my money on books. From the 2 for £5 ones I sell in work (dangerous) to £35 architecture books (expensive), there was no limit.

Me and Pete are both avid readers, so it makes sense that when we had nothing to save for, the money would go on literature, magazines and comics. Now we have a plan, so that just had to stop. Reluctantly, I did curb my spending. Though it broke my heart to do it, to cancel all of my subscriptions, to get rid of my Pick List at the local comic shop and worst of all,  to avoid wandering into book stores. Even the cheap, lovely, second-hand ones. I must avoid the temptation to use my staff discount on the books in work.

I cannot go cold turkey. Nope, the addictions too strong. I need my fix, man.

And I walked by the solution everyday. Without realising it.

Because directly across the green from where I work is the Bristol Central Library. An absolutely gorgeous building inside and out. And better yet, Books! Thousands of them. All for free! Oh, be still my beating heart.

How I had managed to forget about the library is beyond me. Some of my happiest memories of childhood were browsing the shelves of our little local one, reading book after book.

But as, I guess, an adult I grew out of them. I was too cool for libraries. I had friends now. And an independent income. I could afford to own the books I read. Oh, what ignorance. What a waste! I would buy terrible books and be forced to look at them sat there on my shelf, mocking me with their hackneyed plot lines and poor characterisation. Now, with my library card, if the book is truly dire, I can just return it and never think of it again.

It’s wonderful to just pop over there in my lunch hour, and spend my time wandering up and down the shelves, trying to figure out what to read next. The best way I’ve figured to do this is to simply go on a literary tour of the actual tour we’re planning. Y’know Isherwood for Berlin, Kafka for Prague, that sort of thing. It’s my way of preparing.

So can you imagine how long it took me to realise that the library also stores travel guides too? The answer: far too long. Like, absurdly long. To the point where Pete had to spell it out to me, that I could actually get actual travel books there. Because sometimes I’m thick.

But now, every time I go there, I always pop over to those shelves and see what’s turned up. Usually something good, a Europe on a shoe-string guide, or a tour of Krakow pocket book, or a Croatia hostel listing. Bristol library has a great collection of relatively in date ones. We tend to stick with to Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. They have clearer maps and routes to them and the information is cleanly laid out and accessible. Of course, it always helps to have a quick glance in the front or back pages and find out when it was published, so we know how far out the prices might be out. But the information about the landmarks, or history, or whatever, wouldn’t have changed that much since then and now. Supplement what we find with a quick Google and voilà, up to date!

Not only that but we can find places that are off the beaten track easier with the books. Y’know the sort of destinations that wouldn’t show up at the top of a Google search for the country, but has a entire section of the book dedicated to it. It’s both a blessing and a curse. More ideas of places to see, yay! Not enough money to do all that we want to, boo!

It’s great. These books usually cost an arm and a leg, and if someone wants to buy me one I would say no. As we do it, though, they’re free, all free! Ahahaha!

Support your local library, kids! Keeping them alive, keeps your poor traveller happy and well-read.

All my Humour Goblins are gone

All my Humour Goblins are gone

Do you ever get that feeling that you should make a post, but after a million false starts, you realise that everything you’re writing comes out sounded stilted and dull? That’s what I’m currently going through. I have a few ideas for subjects to talk about: the usefulness of our library, social media, packing our bags, not to mention the weekly challenge of ‘learning‘, but I can’t get my voice to call through the facts.

Continue reading “All my Humour Goblins are gone”

Sun’s out, bun’s out

– or a meditation on flip flops

At long last, England had thawed. The sun is beating down upon our fair country, the bird are tootling away, the socks have been paired with their sandals. When this country puts her mind to it, she is stunning.

I’m not just talking about the lazy spring sunlight, that’ll give you a nasty burn if you don’t play enough attention to her preening. Or the cool apple-bite the air has to it after the chance rain, which many of us curse for getting our flip flops wet. No, I’m talking about the fact that we’re wearing our flip flops already. There they are, poking out from beneath our weekend jeans and casual button downs. Defiant, yet chilly. The sun is out, flip, it must be warm, flop, bring it on, flip, ice cream, anyone?, flop.

It’s like the sun does something crazy to the British brain. We’re almost reverse werewolves. In the full daylight, unhindered by clouds, we tear out of our clothes, exposing pasty white flesh and unfortunate sproutings of hair. We run howling off into the horizon, searching for the largest body of water in the area. For we are hungry for the flesh of deep-fried cod.

We all do it, don’t deny it. Even I headed down to Bristol Harbourside yesterday, with a book in hand and pale noodle-arms exposed. There I whiled away the hours, watching people wander by, playing a game of guess the native. The trick is, anyone still wearing a scarf and looking on bemused at our optimistic shorts, is probably not native to our shores (also, I suspect, correct on the scarf-front).

And I love you, you English nutters. That perfectly blend of hope and cynicism, the weathers nice, let’s enjoy it while it lasts. Always looking forward to the rainy tomorrow, just so it proves your point. I think I’m gonna miss you while we’re gone.

Planning Our Travels – First Draft

Well, it all comes down to one thing really. Money. Where we go, what we do and how long we are away, all this relates to how much money we have. They are also related to each other, so, for example, if we want to stay away for as long as possible then we need to head somewhere cheap and not move around too much. Or if we want to do more, it will shorten our stay. This makes it important to have a clear goal on what we want out of traveling, which is difficult when working with a Gemma, who wants everything!

But here we go:

Continue reading “Planning Our Travels – First Draft”

You want the moon? I’ll give you the moon!

Y’know our raison d’etre is more a raison de ne pas etre.

The thing that has made us to drop everything and run away backpacking is the desire to not be bored or boring. Because we were.  Whenever friends and family would ask us what we had been up to lately, we’d kinda just shrug our shoulders, kick our feet and stare off into the middle distance until they stopped asking such pesky questions. And that really kills the conversation.

This lead us to becoming more insular and more inward until we reach a point where me and Pete would sit in our local pub, look at each other over our half drunk pints and not have a thing to say. And believe me, we’re chatty buggers. It was that bad.

We ended up doing this one day just before Christmas last year. Pete’s working nights and its knocking him for six and I was dealing with stressed out Christmas shoppers at my job. So there we are, knackered, pints steadily warming on the table between us and we’re just existing. Our eyes met and we simultaneously said some various of ‘I’m not doing another effing year of this’.

Then and there we decided to just do it. To run away. We downed our pints, got in a fresh round and set to imagining a feasible way to do it. I mean, we didn’t just get in one fresh round. No. This was a job for a butt-load of liquid courage. As we slur away, I’m getting more and more grandiose in our schemes, America, China, the moon, Pete trying to keep me to this planet, let alone this continent. And I’m sure the next table over was rolling their eyes, ‘typical drunk talk’, ‘never gonna happen’, their looks said to each other.

Well Pooh to them! It is happening (maybe not the moon).

Drunk Talk: 1      Boringness: 0