A slave to the office for 20 years but recently escaped, moved to Scotland, and now having more fun than ever exploring and expanding my creative skills.
It's never too late, or too early to prioritise what's really important in life and to bring your plans in to action. I'd recommend it to everyone, especially the leaving work part...although someone will have to stay behind and do the work! An obvious flaw in the plan.
I grew up on the South Devon coast in the 1960s. The itchy feet started in my late-20s after spending time travelling around South East Asia.
In my 30s I lived in Exeter and Bristol before heading off to Botswana in Africa where I stayed for just over 3 years and ended up being a partner in a safari company for back-packers.
From Botswana to Milton Keynes where I worked for the Open University before moving to the Isle of Bute in September 2017. So that's my story in a nutshell!
Read on if you dare.....
1989-1990 was quite an exciting time to travel in India. My companion and I felt the affect of widespread violence and demonstrations to do with human rights for 'Dalits' or untouchables and riots associated with a temple in 'Ayodhya'. There were times we couldn't travel due to 24 hour curfews. We escaped eventually! I loved India though. I would love to go back and revisit, and explore some more.
Nepal was wonderful, nothing to report other than had a fantastic time trekking and exploring. I do remember visiting 9 cafes in Kathmandu in one day with an Irish dentist called Patrick. Brian Blessed came in one of them to buy a Birthday cake for one of his crew. He was filming K9 at the time.
Sat in the 'Restaurant at the end of the universe' (Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy) looking at Mount Everest.
Kashmir and Ladakh both had their own struggles and in fact we were the last group of tourists to head there before warnings were issued against travel.
It was whilst staying in a beautiful houseboat on the serene Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir that we saw a bomb go off about 1 km away, followed by gunfire around us as Indian forces and Mujaheddin clashed in a fight for independence. Despite this, we managed to visit some tourist places, but we were followed, and our schedule had to be submitted and approved. I don't remember seeing any other tourists.
Ladakh on the Tibetan Plateau is at an altitude of around 9,500ft and I felt every ft! I had altitude sickness. Nearly fell in a pit toilet which was just a hole on top of a mound of earth with a very deep, well used pit below! Lucky escape for me!
The landscape was quite barren, but beautiful but with hardly any trees finding something to put in the wood burner to keep warm was a challenge. Diaries, jumpers and anything else that would burn went in to try and keep our room warm, oh and try to heat the freezing cold water we had to wash with! Brrrhhh just thinking about it.
At the airport to leave, we were searched 6 times. The final time was on the runway at the bottom of the steps up to the plane!
I can still see now, a single bag of walnuts going around and around on the luggage carousel in Delhi, waiting for the passenger to collect.They weren't allowed on the plane. Not sure what was so scary about them but I wasn't going to ask. Well the experiences make for a good story now!
So to Singapore, which was very clean. A lot of the original old buildings were being replaced by new tower blocks, but it was all an experience. Good coffee though, made with condensed milk. Mmmmm! Transport was also very good. Stayed only for a short time before heading off to Malaysia.
Had a wonderful time travelling up the country even though it was during the Gulf War. Personally we didn't experience any hostilities but other Westerners did. I loved the time spent there, the architecture was amazing, the beaches were beautiful and it had shopping malls with air con! On a limited budget we would go to the air con pizza places and see how much salad we could pile up in a bowl to get the most for our money, and all in the cool of air con.
Then to Thailand...for a coup! Well what can I say!
Its like a marathon.....
So from Asia I returned to the UK and went back to work but eventually moved to Bristol for work.
A short time afterwards I took up an offer to go and live in Southern Africa....yep another adventure!
For a few years I lived in a small town on the edge of the Kalahari, Gantzi. Free time was spent exploring the desert, and neighbouring countries. In time I ended up being a partner in a safari company taking back-packers to locations in Southern African. It was great fun, though hard work but I met some wonderful people, and have some great memories of that time.
I can honestly say that I never felt more alive, than when I thought I was going to be eaten by lions!
I was so lucky to have regularly visited Zimbabwe, an amazing country, with the most amazing scenery and pretty fantastic game reserves. Of course this was all before the troubles really started at the hands of Mugabe. Very sad.
Namibia was also a favourite with its deserts, Skeleton coast, Fish River Canyon, small German towns. 300 ft red sand dunes. The indigenous Himba Tribe covered themselves in ochre powder, even in their hair so they had an amazing glow. They lived in what was then Kaokoland. What memories. It was just fantastic to see them. They came out of no where when our car broke down! It was a surreal experience.
After a little more than 3 years I returned to the UK and started work at the Open University headquarters in Milton Keynes ...from the desert to the concrete jungle! I worked there for the next 20 years which brings me nicely around full circle.
I celebrated my 21st with family and friends in my home town. Actually can't remember much more than that. Must have been a good one!
I celebrated my 30th with group firework duels on a beach in Thailand. Please don't try that at home! The explosive wasn't really up to much other than a snack-crackle-pop so I'm happy to report there were no injuries.
If there were any injuries at that time, they were due to walking along a bumpy, sandy beach in the dark, trying to avoid holes dug by sun worshippers during the day! Not always easy after a few drinks.
I'm just chuckling to myself remembering synchronised swimming with my sister. You could walk out in the ocean for miles but the water would still only be calf deep. So we'd sit on our bottoms in the water and point our hands and feet, all at the same time, to the sky and perform our synchronised routine. We usually conked out pretty quickly laughing too much but I bet it looked really impressive from the beach!
I celebrated my 40th in Canada with my sister, her hubby and my friend who turned out to have a passion for cross country skiing!
The big 50 was celebrated in Marrakesh with my honey-bunny. I had cake and a Henna tattoo. Went in to the desert and up in to the mountains to the trekking village of Imlil in the high atlas mountains which really reminded me of Nepal. It was all great.