Central Locking problem
From time to time we found that the habitation door won’t lock when you press the central locking key. We found out what the problem was and a quick and easy solution to fix it.
From time to time we found that the habitation door won’t lock when you press the central locking key. We found out what the problem was and a quick and easy solution to fix it.
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.
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:
Well Hello everybods, Smiley here doing a blog. I know I know, doesn’t happen very often but with the prolific Ms Moneypenny banging them out I would be foolish to compete. However, when we have a jolly nice day out and take Darth our new drone along for the ride it made perfect sense for me to pen a few words and slap the video in for good measure.
So ‘Let’s go for a bike ride’ she said. I said OK, thinking 8 miles tops, I can manage that with my delicate botty on that razor sharp saddle. Up we went, up and even more up, 10 kilometres of up. ‘Thank heavens I’ve got electric’ I thought as my heart started to try and jump out of my chest and my thighs turned to jelly.
Anyway, to cut a long story short and 20 kilometres later we arrived back at Scoobie for a well earned beer and a reflection on what a fantastic place we found here in Slovakia. Hope you enjoy the Video.
P.S. The co-ordinates are at the end of the video if you fancy a visit
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.
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).
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.
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