Life is an Adventure

Life is an Adventure

We love that travel introduces you to new people who glide gracefully into your life and provides the chance to reconnect you to old friends. Old friends who travel from your past and settle firmly in your present.  This year we had a chance to meet up with old work colleagues from nearly 30 years ago. What a lovely rendezvous it was too. We swapped stories and their tale of life-change and adventure inspired us so much that we asked them to share it as part of our Guest Post series.  So we are delighted to introduce Tracy and Martin who take you on their journey from the deserts of the Middle East to rural France and how they created their very own ‘Good Life’.  Over to you, guys….

 

Oh my, life really is an adventure. Neither of us planned to have careers in the insurance industry… it’s just not something you choose when you talk to your careers teacher, unless you want to be an actuary of course!  But we both did, and it opened lots of doors for us. The door to travelling the world, to living overseas and more importantly, to financial independence.  

Martin is Irish, but lived in Royal Leamington Spa for most of his life and I’m from the Isle of Man. We both worked in insurance for over 20 years in life and general insurance & takaful (insurance products built on islamic principles). We lived in the Middle East for a combined total of 26 years in a variety of countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE (Dubai) & Bahrain.  We had a great life and loved every minute of it… even during the Arab Spring which saw the Saudi Army on the streets of Bahrain for 6 months.  Tanks at traffic lights is just not something the Highway Code prepares you for!

Living and working in a tax-free environment helped us save more than would ever have been possible in the UK and this enabled us to plan and prepare for a different future.  Bahrain is a fabulous place, but isn’t where we saw ourselves living long term.  We were there for the experience of living & working in a different culture and to achieve something else… a future that enabled us to live how we wanted; working outdoors, having adventures and more importantly, being our own bosses.    

 

For us it’s adventure all the way. 

 

It all started in 2012 when we bought a house in France. We knew we wanted to come back to Europe, but didn’t want to return to where we’d grown up. We’d been on this amazing adventure in the Middle East and didn’t want the adventure part to end.  We didn’t know much about France and pretty much picked it by putting a pin in a map, but when we visited, we loved it. The next thing we knew we’d bought a house and were visiting at every opportunity. 

After every trip it got harder and harder to leave our French idyll and in 2014 we seriously started planning for what life might be like A.B, (After Bahrain!) Whilst living overseas, one of the things we struggled with was finding someone to look after and care for our French home the way we would look after it.  We wanted to turn up on holiday and not have to wrangle the garden back into shape! Martin was always happy to give the ride-on mower a spin, but wrestling with chainsaws and taking 5ft of growth of hedges was not our idea of a holiday!      

On a visit in the summer of 2014 we saw a little cottage for sale in the next village and decided to buy it as a gîte. And from this point we knew we would be leaving Bahrain and moving to France sooner rather than later. After all, preparing a gîte for guests from 3,000 miles away, is a bit tricky!

During this time we also had to sort out ‘stuff’. At one point, we had 4 houses; one in the Isle of Man, two in France and the one we rented in Bahrain! That’s a heck of a lot of ‘stuff’ to sort out! We sold the house in the Isle of Man and rehomed or gave away belongings that we no longer needed and then did a similar thing in Bahrain. However, having done all of this we still managed to have a 20ft container when we left Bahrain!

The last few months of 2014 were all about planning what we would do when we got to France and how to maximise our incomes, once we stopped being employed. People have said to us that we must have been mad to walk away from permanent sunshine, tax-free income and a life where pretty much everything is done for you. However, although we were sad to leave our friends, in April 2015 we galloped towards our French adventure without a second thought.

The first few weeks were idyllic.  There was a warm, early spring in 2015 and it was wonderful.  We brought our 3 dogs and our cat with us from Bahrain and it was amazing to explore the area with animals who had essentially lived in the desert all their lives. One of the things we missed most when living in Bahrain were the seasons; it was either hot, or less hot. Here in France we get such a variety of weather and we love it all. Even on the coldest, crisp French day there is something wonderful about being outside and then sitting in front of a roaring fire.

Eventually our container arrived and for me this marked the day that the ‘holiday’ ended and ‘living’ in France really began. As there was no turning area at our house the poor driver had to reverse the lorry all the way up a 1km lane to reach our house and then the unpacking started. During that time we asked ourselves many times why we had brought so much, and where are we going to put it all. Well over the last 4 years we have rationalised and organised and now, eventually, we fit nicely in our French home!

With some help from a local business set up to help English speakers in France, we got our businesses organised. We decided to set up 2; one for gîtes and property letting; and another one to provide property management and security services to owners who didn’t live in France but who wanted their properties looked after. We called it Mayenne Cottages as we’re based in Department 53, La Mayenne. We knew what we would have wanted from a business like ours, so this became our offering.  Owning a French house for many people is an asset, but is also a place to breathe, a chance to explore different cultures and their home – we’ve found it really enjoyable to work with our customers over the last 4 years.

 

You reach a point where you have to pull your big pants up, take a deep breath and step off the cliff.

 

We’re often asked if we miss life in the Middle East and the honest answer to that is… sometimes. We miss the friends we made and I miss having a cleaner and someone to do the ironing!  However, the world is a really small place and with today’s technology it’s easy to keep in touch with our friends around the world. And with regards to the cleaning and ironing, I can honestly say I’ve become a different person! I used to be really uptight about everything being spotless, tidy and in its right place. My family used to move things for a laugh just to see if I’d notice!  Yes our own home isn’t the tidiest all the time, but we don’t worry about it and I save my uptight nature for when we’re preparing the gîte for our guests!  

Life is short. Since we moved back to Europe we’ve lost 2 close family members and we’re determined to enjoy and make the most of our lives.  We have no regrets for giving up our life in the Middle East and moving to a different way of living.  Oh boy, we’ve had to learn fast!  We were essentially a couple of townies now living in rural France. With the help of the YouTube Angel and God of Google we acquired a huge number of new skills.  Martin has become the master of the chainsaws, mowers and whatever other equipment he has stashed in his workshop!   And I’ve had to learn how to create a vegetable garden, set up a greenhouse and then store, preserve and make the most of the masses of fruit and vegetables that nature provides. 

Some of our friends and family think we’re ‘retired’, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.   We’re just as busy now, but not desk jockeys working 15 hr days and travelling all the time.  We used to be in airports on average twice a week and now perhaps only once a year.  In fact our time in France is the most amount of time we’ve actually spent together since we got married!  That in itself was a challenge; we both had good, responsible careers and both have our own ways of doing things so we do butt heads occasionally.  It has all taken a bit of adapting to, but we’ve now found a more balanced way of living and have learned that having new things all the time or the latest gadgets really isn’t that important. We still have goals, they are just different now and generally involve making things, learning new skills, growing things and in the next couple of years getting some chickens!  Yes you’re right…we’ve turned into Tom and Barbara Good and if you’re too young to remember them, the YouTube Angel will help you out!

 

How did we do it?

So if you’re wondering what our process was to get to this point, here’s what we did.

  • Prepare as much as you can in advance. We love a good spreadsheet and prior to moving we went into spreadsheet overdrive! We thought about what would we do with our time because neither of us were ready to stop working completely; how would we deal with the language issue; and what budget would we set using 3 options; (the doomsday scenario – no income; a medium level of income; and a high level of income). The key point being to answer the question – If the doomsday scenario kicked in, could we still live?   
  • However, you have to accept that even with the best preparation there will be many unknowns. You have to have the confidence in yourselves and each other to know that, whatever crops up, you can deal with it together.
  • And ultimately, you reach a point where you have to pull your big pants up, take a deep breath and step off the cliff. If you only prepare and never take the next step, there is a danger that you’ll spend your life saying ‘We would have;  We could have;  We should have’.

 

I guess reading this everything sounds simple and easy – I just want to say that moving countries is never easy.   You’re adapting to a new culture, a new way of life and, in some cases, a new language.  Our French was rubbish before we moved here and we’ve had to learn on the ground and fast. Our language skills still aren’t brilliant, but we improve a little bit every day.  We’ve had our ups and downs; like the day Martin couldn’t work out how to get cash out of the ATM machine because he couldn’t understand it; or the time we tried to exchange our Isle of Man and Bahrain driving licenses for EU ones and came up against the legendary French bureaucracy! However, it’s all about your mental approach to it.  Do you see it as an insurmountable obstacle, or do you see it as an adventure?  For us it’s adventure all the way. 

So whilst we don’t know what’s round the corner, especially with the changes happening within the EU, we know one thing, that whatever comes along we have faith in our ability to manage and adapt and it’ll just be the next stage in our adventure. 

For more information about Mayenne Cottages services check out their website here.

 

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Other Guest Posts you might like that inspire life-change:

Combining Touring and Greek Mythology on Crete

Combining Touring and Greek Mythology on Crete

The largest of all the Greek islands, Crete is known as the mythical birthplace of Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. This motorhome-friendly island features stunning natural landscapes to explore, as well as a collection of ancient Greek ruins, each revealing a different aspect of rich Greek mythology.

With its gorgeous sunsets, extant ruins, verdant landscape, and fine Mediterranean beaches, it’s hard not to fall in love with Crete. We previously spent a week touring around this real-life Treasure Island, and now, we’re going to explore it from the fascinating lens of Greek mythology.

 

For starters, the Cretan capital city of Heraklion contains the ruins of the ancient city of Knossos, the former seat of power of the Minoan civilisation. Historians estimate that Knossos was abandoned sometime during 1300 to 1100 BC for unknown reasons. But A Luxury Travel Blog suggests in its recounting of mythical Cretan sites, it might just have something to do with King Minos and the mythical Minotaur rumoured to roam the city’s labyrinth. You can investigate this for yourself as you walk through the labyrinth and admire the many frescoes scattered around the palace-city. Pace yourself and breathe it all in – it’s going to take some time to explore one of the largest archaeological sites from the Bronze Age.

 

Next to Kronnos, the second largest Minoan palace-city in Crete was Phaistos, which today is an explorable archaeological site. In Greek mythology, the wise King Rhadamanthus of Phaistos eventually became one of the judges of the dead. Apart from the chance to see the ancient city’s artefacts and complex architecture, the hilltop site also offers a breathtaking view of the Messara plain in southern Crete.     Image credit: By Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) – Own work

 

The Messara plain itself is home to ancient landmarks that are testament to the beauty of Greek mythology. For instance, the plain is home to the 6,000-year-old city of Gortys. Legend has it that the city was named after its founder, Gortys, who was the son of Phaistos city’s King Rhadamantus. Gortys is also where you’ll find the Plane Tree of Zeus and Europa. This rare, evergreen plane tree is said to have been the site where Europa and Zeus made love after the Greek god first appeared to the Phoenician princess as a bull. This mythical love affair produced the three kings of Minoan Crete: Minos, Sarpedon, and Radamanthus.

 

Although Crete is known as the birthplace of the god-king Zeus, there’s currently no official information on the exact location of his birth. However, in the Cretan mountains, two caves vie for the honour of being the birthplace of the Greek pantheon’s king: the Ideon Cave (also known as the Cave of Zeus) in Mount Ida and the Dikteon Cave in South-Central Crete. And what an honour it would be – the ancient Greek god is in many ways still worshiped today through various modern cultural tributes. In the movie Clash of the Titans, Zeus was played by iconic action star Liam Neeson.

Meanwhile, on Foxy ’s digital slot game, Zeus – God of Thunder, the Greek god’s mastery of the sky, thunder, and lightning is used to provide a dazzling background to an otherwise regular browser game. In the game, Zeus is depicted as a stern-faced King of Gods, complete with a fork of lightning clutched in his bare hand. Similar depictions can be found in the likes of God of War’s most recent installment, where the hero Kratos meets Zeus in hell after a series of harrowing challenges. While these modern tributes to Zeus are interesting to say the least, actually visiting and Motoroaming the mythical island birthplace of the Olympian god-king is another experience altogether.

Crete is filled with ancient sites that can be found in the annals of Greek mythology. There’s no doubt that the best way to explore these places, while also appreciating the wild beauty of Crete, is by bringing your home with you.

 

And if this has piqued your curiosity about Crete and what it can offer you as a visitor with your motorhome, why not check out The Motoroamer’s free to download Captivating Guide to Crete.

Zoe Morris Biography

Zoe is a history graduate and avid traveller. Her speciality at university was Ancient History, and she hopes to use her knowledge to encourage more people to get interested in the past by visiting historic sites. In her free time she likes reading and writing about her favourite subjects.

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Guest Blog – WorldTowning

Guest Blog – WorldTowning

We feel honoured to have been invited to do an interview with the lovely WorldTowning family, for their Inside a Traveler’s Walls series.

WorldTowning have an all-too familiar story of getting caught in the trap of the corporate hamster wheel, trying to fulfil their family life in a meaningful way. And so they set off around the world to give their children an expanded experience of life. As a result of their first-hand perspectives their intention is to build a community of like-minded travellers and dreamers who want to or have chosen to live their lives differently.

Their Inside a Traveler’s Walls series profiles people who made that leap and are willing to share how life looks and feels from within their own personal walls. So why not come see what we shared about our lives on the road.

Thanks guys for giving us a platform to share our passion and our travelling story. Click HERE to read our interview.

Guest Blog – Fulfilling our Dream

Guest Blog – Fulfilling our Dream

From Hostess to Mostess

Perhaps it was getting turned down as an air hostess for BA at 18 that made me determined to travel as often and as far as I could – and perhaps that’s why now – at almost 60 – my husband and I are buying our first motorhome!

Let’s turn back the clock a little – the alternative career option was a shorthand typist in Canterbury Prison…..no thanks!   In the late 70’s early 80’s the glamorous world of travel (unless you were an air hostess) was to be a “travel rep or courier” as we called it then.  Bring on the first camping experience as a campsite rep in Bénodet in Brittany – Camping de la Plage – for those of you who have been there!   I aspired to the Caribbean but ended up in Bénodet!  Fast forward through 5 summers in a tent and 5 winters in the ski hotels of Austria and my career was well – static but fun!

At the same time, my future and yet unknown husband was on United Nations peace-keeping operations in Zimbabwe/ Rhodesia, Namibia and Cambodia as an officer in the Australian Army.  He was craving travel too, however to less dangerous places!   Returning to the UK in 1992, the travel bug bit again and in a fit of pique, I joined the UN’s training department and headed for Zagreb during the Bosnian conflict at the end of ’93.   In the queue to check-in at Heathrow T3 was David, a now retired army officer also off to join the UN as Chief Engineer for Bosnia Herzegovina in Sarajevo.  I was to be based in Zagreb – and a fairly long distance romance ensued and as they say – the rest is history!

We had a dream

No kids and “mainstream” careers continued in the UK – I travelled the world regularly with work as a medical congress organiser – David was more restrained by his daily commute from Windsor to Waterloo to work in facilities management – mmm!  What sustained us through those long dreary winters in the UK was the dream of “something else”!  One day we would ……

  • move to France
  • own a B&B
  • buy a canal boat
  • work as “mature aged” ski bums
  • travel around Europe as “resort reps” (they’re definitely not called couriers anymore!)
  • house swap
  • teach English in China
  • and buy a motorhome and tour Europe and ski out of it in the winter ….

In fact do anything that took us somewhere else!  And it did……12 years on… an opportunity for David to go back to Canberra for three years allowed me to retrain as a chef at 50 years old!

A life full of adventure

We DID move to France; we have worked as Chalet Chef and Host in the French Alps for five winters; we toured the UK as Samsung Ambassadors on the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay; we worked as very immature(!) resort reps for Tui in Majorca and Turkey; and went to Africa 3 times.

Whilst we haven’t bought a canal boat or taught English in China yet, we do run a cooking school and a gîte on an old wine Domaine on the banks of the Canal du Midi called Cooking by the Canal du Midi where we run intimate classes for our international clients creating beautiful food from our local suppliers!  And in July we will own our first motorhome! 

Have Motorhome will travel

Having followed The Motoroamers for a while – their life on the road in their Pilote Scoobie, their “First Step Starter Kit and videos have been inspirational for us – we had another serendipitous moment when we discovered them house-sitting for our friends just five minutes up the road!  Having toured the dealers in Toulouse and Narbonne, we had settled on a Rapido and were about to sign on the dotted line.  However, a first-hand tour of Scoobie, plus their brilliant advice over lunch and a few wines, has convinced us of the joy that is a well-insulated Pilote 740C with an island bed not a French one – David is 6’4″ so a lucky escape we feel!

The decision itself has been a journey – new or second-hand; profile or A class; French or island bed; buy in the UK or France; Bailey, Hymer, Rapido or Pilote; to Gas bottle or Gaslow; alarms; payloads; and wild camping or sites etc – what an absolute minefield it all is!   So thank goodness for you motorhome folk out there with your blogs, your forums and your questions and answers, advice and comments, we salute you all!

And our Number 1 lesson? TBYB

So the answer……. after a 3 night try before you buy (we are very spur of the moment people as you can guess) we bought the next day at TPL Narbonne in France. We are still deciding on our extras!   We won’t get custody of our new baby until July, which is good as we have our one day classic French cooking classes to run throughout the summer and we need to stay focused (a bit)!   We have made great new friends, learned loads and expect to learn a whole lot more over the coming years – and to hopefully meet many of you on the road!  And if you are looking for good impartial advice, you can’t do better than Karen and Myles!

Merci et à bientôt

 

Guest Blog Heather and David Fulfilling our Dream

Guest Blog Heather and David Fulfilling our Dream

 

Travelling – the Good Life

Travelling – the Good Life

The good life can mean something different – and usually does for each of us.

Goals; we all have them, whether or not we actually formalize them. As adults we work and strive to reach those goals with the result of being able to live the good life. The good life can mean something different – and usually does, for each of us. The good life for us was all about the joy of exploring new places on this little blue dot and, more importantly, getting a glimpse into the lives of people who may perceive the world a bit differently than we do. Why is that important? Because personal growth matters. As a matter of fact, in our view it’s the most important factor in having a ‘good life’, because if we’re not growing, evolving as people, what’s the point? And one of the best ways, as well as most enjoyable ways, is to travel.

Travel is engaging, It keeps the mind and senses tuned. It is an addiction we cannot shake and don’t want to shake.

We are both engineers by background and find the everyday curiosities, logistics, and communication encountered in foreign countries to be challenging puzzles that we love to solve. How do you say thank you in the country’s language? What is that weird-looking fruit in the market? How do we use public transportation to get from point A to point B? How do we use the bathroom for that matter?

Sometimes we get lost. Sometimes we wonder if we accidentally said something insulting. Sometimes we try a new food that is just downright gross. It’s all part of the experience. All part of the fun.

Travel means intentionally planning on not being a tourist. Instead, looking for how you convert your destination into a personal, unforgettable memory.

Enjoyable? Travel can be difficult and expensive? The short answer is no, it doesn’t have to be expensive and yes, it can be difficult. And in our view it should be a bit challenging. How else can one achieve some measure of personal growth without some level of challenges and obstacles? Travel, really traveling that is, means intentionally planning on not being a tourist. Instead, looking for how you convert your destination – the guidebook visuals – into a personal, unforgettable memory. And that is the challenging, and yes, sometimes difficult part. An example: We honeymooned in Nepal, trekking the Annapurna Sanctuary region of the Himalayas. The tour company that we used provided all the food and gear and about a half dozen sherpa to carry all this food and gear for the 8 day expedition (no we weren’t the only travelers).

The lovely people we meet along the way

As you might imagine the scenery was incredible and the other travellers in the group were friendly and open. We could have left it at that and it would have been an experience of a lifetime, but we decided to engage the sherpa who were working hard to make us comfortable. Singing in the evening around the fire was the reward for completing the day’s chores and we expressed an interest in joining them. One of them, whom we bantered with each day during the hiking, took the time to write down the words to a local folk song and teach it to us. To this day, one of our most valued possessions is that piece of paper with the words to a local Nepalese song.

People look at where we travel and how we can be gone for extended periods. They think we must be very rich to do it. That is not the case at all. We worked hard at highly skilled positions when we worked. We lived modestly, we sacrificed, and we saved as much as possible because full-time travel was always a goal. We are homeless now for two years. We rented out our home to generate some income to support our habit.

Flexibility is key and a sense of humour doesn’t hurt either.

Our Sailing Adventures

We have traveled numerous ways over the decades; the organised trek in Nepal, a chartered sailboat with friends in Tonga, timeshares all over the place, years of living and cruising on our own sailboat in Central and South America. And, now, traveling mainly by land in Europe. The sharing economy has really made travel affordable. What would we do without Airbnb, Booking.com or TrustedHousesitters.com? It is a snap to find inexpensive, and sometimes free, accommodations especially if you travel slowly and in shoulder- to off-season. Flexibility is key and a sense of humour doesn’t hurt either.

 

Though we have seen many of the world’s wonders, it is the people we remember the most. It doesn’t happen at every stop, but when it does it is special. This is why we have enacted Travel Rule #1: Never Turn Down an invitation from a local.

When a local invites you to do something it is because they are proud of their city, their home, their food, or whatever. Go! We have one travel regret. When we were newbies, we turned down tea at a professor’s house on Fiji. Why did we do that? It wasn’t that we thought he was a closet cannibal and going to throw us in a cauldron of boiling water. We thought we would be imposing, and we had nothing with which to reciprocate. Nonsense! If the invitation is extended, it is meant. Don’t pass it up! (Unless you spy a giant cauldron of boiling water with onions and carrots just waiting for protein to be added…)

Let’s not forget the encounters with other travelers. We have made lifelong friends during our cruising days and during our land travels. The great part about meeting other long-term travelers is that they all seem to have a similar outlook on life. They place value on experiences and interactions rather than things. They have a keen curiosity and like to research the foods, the culture, the wines(!) of an area and share the knowledge with others. It is never “goodbye,” but “see you soon.”

Life is short. Travel is magical. Do it before you can’t. Thank you Motoroaming for taking an interest in our story. It has been great fun getting to know you and your story. We are sure our paths will cross again!

You can keep in touch with Carrie and Pat’s adventures by clicking and liking their Facebook page VinoHiking

 

 

Stepping off the Treadmill

Stepping off the Treadmill

Stepping off the Treadmill and sailing the Dream 

By Jenevora Swann

A former MD of an international travel PR agency shares her experience of stepping off the treadmill to begin a new life exploring the world on a catamaran.

Falling off the Treadmill

I lost the will to continue the struggle

Call it madness, but in February 2014, I stepped right off the proverbial treadmill and, along with my husband Fergus and six-year-old cocker spaniel Molly, we bought a boat in France with the view of sailing around the world.  There was only one major flaw to this plan… I didn’t know how to sail!

This wasn’t my dream, but one that Fergus had harboured for a while.  For three years, we talked daily about sailing off into the sunset but when you run your own business and there are staff involved, it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

And then after one too many incidents of staff throwing their toys out of the pram and clients demanding the impossible from their PR campaign, I lost the will to continue the struggle. I was stressed out beyond belief, had misplaced my mojo in the monotony of the business and our work-life balance was being tested.

So there we were with everything we owned up for sale; the business, the motor boat, the house and the car.  And in their place, we purchased a 2008 Lagoon 440 catamaran, which was sitting pretty in a marina near Toulon in France.

Two Drifters Rig

I was so unprepared for what lay ahead.  While we had enjoyed holidays motoring around the south coast in our Sunseeker Portofino 32, we had never actually sailed a boat together by ourselves.  While Fergus was an accomplished RYA Yachtmaster, I was about to endure a complete baptism by fire.

Perhaps taking a sailing course would have been a good idea – if I’d have had the time.

 

Selling up

At this stage, I have to be honest in that selling up and repositioning to the south of France was a nightmare.  I had absolutely no idea how stressful it would all be. Everything that could go wrong did. The tip of the iceberg was the self-drive van we arranged to transport our worldly goods to France, which promptly blew up 48 hours before we were due to leave the country.  With no replacement van available, no refund given and the fact that new owners were moving into our house, we were left to our own devices to resolve the issue.  And fast!

Thankfully, we had left selling our car till last minute, and so having arranged for our boxes to be transported the following week by courier, we piled everything we could into our car.  With the dog on the parcel shelf and the car full to the gunnels, we left Lymington one miserable Sunday afternoon and headed for the Eurotunnel.

View from the mast

This was the first time I’d seen it.  While I’d been on a Lagoon 440 before, I hadn’t been able to take the time away from the business to view this actual boat, so Fergus made the decision it was the one for us when he took a fleeting day trip to France to view it two month’s previously.  That took some trust on my part I can tell you!

Our first night just so happened to be on Valentine’s Day and it was far from romantic.  The boat was freezing; the heating didn’t work, rain was coming in through the hatches, there was no gas to light the stove with and the bilge alarm kept going off, alerting us to water inside the bottom of the boat.  We had one sleeping bag and a pillow between us. Not the best start to our new dream life.

 

Living the Dream

And it’s not just the weather; living on a boat isn’t easy.

Truth be told, had we not sold our house, I would have driven back to the UK there and then. But this was a life-changing choice, there really was nowhere to run to so I had to meet it head on.

And meet it I did.  That was three and a half years ago; during which time we have endured so many amazing highs as well as some stupendous lows.  We’ve navigated bad weather and found ourselves dealing with more than our fair share of ferocious storms.  The Cat’s nine lives are now down to six!

Top Dog Molly

And it’s not just the weather; living on a boat isn’t easy.  Right from the start, I quickly developed my mantra which was to cope with ‘a challenge a day.’  Whether it’s running out of milk and unable to quickly pop to the shops; the generator breaking so we can’t use the washing machine or worse, make water, or quite simply the wifi not working when you really want to get online; just one expected challenge each day is manageable.  This, and a good dose of gumption, has saved my sanity at times when I might have thrown the towel in on the adventure.  It’s also helped others around me who have adopted this moto too.

Skipper and First Lady

While I still don’t consider myself to be a great sailor; through blood, sweat, tears and lots of laughter, I’ve got to grips with handling the boat and working as a team with Fergus.  In the last few years our job roles have totally reversed as on the boat he’s the Skipper – although I insist on being the First Lady!

We’ve sailed around the Mediterranean, lost our hearts in Greece where we spent two years exploring and earlier this year, I took the biggest challenge of my life and we crossed the Atlantic from Tenerife to Barbados.

Atlantic Crossing after 18 Days At Sea

But the highs totally eclipse the lows.  Arriving in Barbados after just under three weeks at sea was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t agree lightly to sailing across the Atlantic, but to have done it and actually enjoyed it surprised the hell out of me!

Sometimes I have to pinch myself as to how much our lives had changed.  No more Monday morning-blues, a different view every day, new places to explore, local foods to enjoy and with all the benefits of all the sea air around us.

We love seeking out all the local markets in the places we visit, taking in their amazing selection of home-grown fresh fruit and vegetables.  Catching fish for supper in the form of grouper, bream or tuna is a way of life. Thank goodness Fergus is also a dab-hand with the fishing rod as well as a spear gun – he’s even conjured up a lobster or two!

We’ve sailed with dolphins, whales, seals and turtles; seen fantastic sunrises and sunsets; anchored off deserted islands; paddle-boarded the dog to a beautiful Caribbean beaches and very recently cruised up the East River in Manhattan and past its iconic skyline.  Each day we are creating so many amazing memories and are very, very lucky to have this opportunity to travel, learn and explore this amazing world.

Living the dream comes with a multitude of challenges, but it’s so worthwhile taking the large leap off the treadmill and embracing it.

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Jenevora Swann is currently sailing the east coast of the USA with her husband Fergus and dog Molly on board Two Drifters.  They return to the Caribbean in November.

Follow her on Facebook.com/TwoDriftersTravel.

 

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