This is my last post before we return to the UK. We started living in Doris ten months ago and have been on the Continent for seven months. To all intents and purposes we have been doing this for a year – now is close to the end of a cycle. Also as I have decided to reduce the number of posts I scribe from today (and I don’t know what the regularity is – thanks for all the advice and encouragement on that by the way) this is also the end of my ‘one-a-day’ era. Certainly for now.
As such this is a good time to reflect – indeed C and I had a discussion this morning on where this is all going and what the opportunities are. And, as this is a record, I thought I’d put all that out there so that it’s there for prosperity. So two bits to this. First, what’s it all been like? And second what of the future?
I think the best way to describe what it’s been like is the reminder I got this morning talking to a couple who were just heading south for ‘a couple of months, could be longer.’ Gentle envy was the overriding feeling at that point. Yes, we were coming back to the UK for all the right reasons, but the thought of turning around and heading back down to the pines, or even further south, was an enticing one. And that is the best way to describe what it’s been like. It’s a different world with different emotions and feelings. There’s a freedom about being in Doris especially on the Continent where everything is viewed through different coloured lenses. There are no pressures, no timelines and no lists, unless you’re C. It is like being on an endless holiday. Fabulous.
Of course we’re not going back to work, nor are we moving back into a house, but nonetheless it’s not the same doing this in the UK. Well not quite.
How has it affected me? On July 14th last year I was wound up like a clockwork spring. Ten months later I feel like a bungee that’s not attached to anything, hanging unstretched from the garage wall. Ok, so at no point have I been jumping in the air with glee that this is the life we have chosen, overwhelmed with the emotion of it all. But the thought of going back into some form of conventional disposition with a house, work, and annual holidays could not be further from my mind. So it’s great – and simply miles better than the alternative.
It has, therefore, been a ten months where I have completely and utterly unraveled. The journey, especially the bit abroad, has been a marvel, with some fabulous world-famous sights, some great overnight spots and meeting some lovely people. Yes, the weather could have been kinder and we’ve learnt some lessons there, but leaving that aside it has been a fabulous journey.
(I’ve just reread this apologies that this seems like a one-sided commentary, but C does read this and mostly nods away….)
So what next? Well that’s an interesting question. The thing is, leaving aside C’s age, I am fifty three. Statistically I still have twelve years working life left. (Assuming I have twelve years actual life left, and at our age that’s always in the back of one’s mind). I spent twenty five years in the Army and eight years as a teacher, so twelve is a huge slab of time, easily enough to do something new. However I do not see myself working in a conventional sense, but also I cannot see us doing this for the next twenty years; that is I can’t see myself doing this without some other activity running in parallel which adds something to the mix and means that I/we are contributing in some way.
Writing this and Unsuspecting Hero has provided that additional focus this time round, but the blog on its own isn’t enough. I have no idea whether UH is going to add anything of literally value to humankind, nor do I know if it will generate any income (I’ve had no reply from three agents but it is still planned to go public on Amazon at the end of June). The answer to that question is partially key to what we do next.
So. No conventional employment, and at my age that would be tricky (although I do think I could pick up a maths teaching job somewhere if I put my mind to it). We are lucky enough to be able to do this indefinitely, but it’s not adding to the pension pot in any discernible way. Importantly if we decide to settle down into a house I do think I would need to do something that provides a regular income to make the balance sheets work in our favour, so that needs to be thought through.
Where does that leave us? Well we have this summer covered, seeing people and whatnot. August is purposefully free – we may decide to escape somewhere in Doris if the weather in the UK is pants. We have a week in America in September and then the plan is to do Northern Europe until Christmas, be at home for Christmas with family, and then push off into the sunshine for the Spring and early summer. Possible Iberia (maybe into Morocco), or maybe back to Greece which we loved so much.
But in that mix has to be something for me to do. C is talking about picking up a hobby other than knitting (which she is v good at), but for me it will need to be something which could contribute to our financial disposition in some way, or at least is constructive and helpful to others. Writing another book maybe the answer, but C and I reckon that working for the minimum wage I would need to sell about two thousand UH books at Amazon prices to pay for my/our time. And I have absolutely no idea if that’s going to happen.
So that’s where we are. It has been a scream. And there is so much more to come, but from here on in there needs to be some underlying structure to what we are doing, we’ll certainly from September onwards.
Finally it is absolutely key to say that C and I have never been closer. And that’s a neat trick especially if you know us (both strongish personalities) and the fact that we have lived cheek by jowl, minute by minute with almost no break from each other. That is enough to make any two people find weaknesses and irritations. It has not always been easy, and there have been a couple of occasions when Doris could not contain the fallout. But our time together has been very special and has strengthened what we already had and that has to be worth it. So for those of you who know us and thought divorce was the only possible outcome, yah-boo-shucks to you!!
Thanks for reading and all the advice. My next post will come when it’s ready.