Summer Holiday

The ideas are really flowing this week. I ask myself a lot what will I do when my debts are finally clear and my money is my own (it’s close now so the question pops up a lot) and there are a lot of big ticket things that I need to save for such as a new boiler but after struggling with fun stuff for so long it’s nice to turn my thinking to more enjoyable matters.

I want a holiday. I thought I needed to pack my bags and get on a plane and go somewhere. I do have bigger plans for Australia and China. I was going to say ‘someday’ holiday or that they’re for post-retirement but who knows if those days will ever come so they are not straight away holidays.

So I’ve been pondering where I can go. I’ll get my passport back (it ran out at Xmas and I’m waiting until this Brexit issue is resolved to get another one – although I could be waiting a while for that one….) and then I’ll fly away somewhere amazing.

This lunch though I had a different thought. The writer in the book I’m reading and is the inspiration behind all this activity talks about her Year of Water and taking off just doing something fun. For her she talks about the joy of driving American roads to get to the destinations and that not everyone is set in stone. I don’t drive but that doesn’t mean I can’t go anywhere although if you listen to some drivers it does.

Anyway, what popped into my head wasn’t abroad but the South East of England. I was annoyed earlier that my boss hasn’t got us SE England as part of our assurance work so hey I’ll go visit myself! At least this way I don’t have work getting in the way.

My plan then, formed while walking about on my lunch break, is to get the coach to Bristol (the difference between that and the train can be up to £200) and then decide what to do next. I really want to go back to the town of Glastonbury and visit the Tor again. I’m sad that when I was there last time I didn’t get to visit Wincanton so that’s on my list. I haven’t been to St Austell and Cornwall since 1990 so they’re on my list and while I’m there I’ve never been to Lands’ End so boom…another one for the list. I am making no plans beyond Day 1 travel and hotel stay. I want it to be as spontaneous as possible.

One of my favourite memories is my first ever holiday abroad where I was in a shop with my son (9 at the time) who was wearing a wrestling baseball cap. The shop owner asked him some questions about his favourite wrestlers then dropped the information that the WWE were in town the next day for a show. If I’d made lots of firm plans for that trip we may never have found out about the show or got to go to it. My son saw one of his idols at the event and was absolutely thrilled as it was a surprise showing.

That holiday I had booked a week in San Francisco and a week in Anaheim and didn’t bother to book the travel in between from getting from one place to the other. The result being we had a 13 hour Amtrak/coach journey that took us through cities, towns, a farmers’ field and the Californian mountains that I would never have seen if I’d booked a flight.

So I want to do the same but here in England. No plans, no itineries – just me, a suitcase and a vague idea. I can’t wait 🙂

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Weekly Gratitude – Home

I’m allowing myself to be grateful for my house and home this week. As I sit listening to my new neighbours have their evening round of Wheels on the Bus to get their baby to sleep (how I have no idea as it must be so loud if I can hear it through the walls) I am reflecting working away from home for a week.

We spent the week at a coastal fishing town. In the north of England the fishing industry has really taken a kicking in recent years and it really reflects in the town we stayed in. So run down and deprived. Every day we heard stories of violence and poverty to the point we rarely ventured more than a few hundred yards from our hotel for meals and were encouraged by both local colleagues and hotel staff to get taxis everywhere rather than walk to our temporary place of work.

It’s been such a weird experience. I’ve never been afraid of a town before and I’ve been to some poor areas and often on my own. We also, as a team, seemed to be cursed with bad luck this week. I had to deal with my broadband breaking which was fun to try and explain when you are 100 miles from where the issue is. That was actually the better problem. One colleagues baby went into hospital (all ok now), one’s daughter had difficult news after a baby scan (also seems ok now) and our boss crashed his car and wrote it off (he’s ok now too).

Never have I been so glad to leave a place and go home. I like travelling, I love meeting new people and the job we went to do was a lot of fun, however tiring it was. It’s not often I sit and think about how lucky I am to live in a thriving city where everything seems to be at my fingertips. There everything shut at 6, I have a 24 hour supermarket only a couple of miles away.

So this week I am grateful for my home and my city and all the joy it brings

Gratitude and Wishes

Yesterday was quite the day. I had to go over to Blackpool for a meeting. Or rather a small town within walking distance and its own train stop. Originally I’d planned to get the train to Blackpool and then a taxi to the office but was told the local train stop was practically next door so to get that. This turned out to be a BAD THING as several trains were cancelled – all of them being the rare few that stopped where I needed to be. I ended up with a 2 hour delay at both ends of the journey. On the outward journey I stopped off at a Costa Coffee to pass the time and check my emails. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at this point as I’d been up since 5am and was a bit cold. Talking to the coffee shop staff though they were all worried about their jobs. The shop was part of the Debenhams chain and there is talk of 40 of their stores closing one of which was potentially this one. Closing the store would mean closing the coffee shop. A customer in front of me mentioned that the store was the heart of the town centre and that if it closed then you may as well close the whole town. They also mentioned that the chain of Patisserie Valerie are expected to go under at some point this week. So many jobs from all of this will be lost not to mention its impact on already struggling high streets across the country. So thinking about it, my journey was delayed which was inconvenient. I was cold but had the funds to warm up in a coffee shop and most importantly I have a job and as a civil servant will probably always have a job no matter how much it sometimes frustrates me. I think sometimes we forget these things and hearing about the struggles of others makes you appreciate what you actually have.

The second part of my story yesterday includes a walk. No trains to get home so I decided to take advantage of some fresh air and walk into Blackpool as there would be a better chance of getting home. Rather than google map the journey I walked down to the small town promenade which led to the main Blackpool one. It was so cold! I really wish I had a had my hat but it was so wonderful to have a bit of time in nature watching the sea however brisk the weather. The walk though had me thinking about the future. For over 20 years I’ve had in the back of my mind how much I would love to have my own B&B. Walking through the towns though I saw so many closed buildings. They were in a state of disrepair rather than closed for the off season so definitely an economical thing. I think a B&B just isn’t going to work in this day and age; I can’t see it being financially viable. This then took me to Plan B which is as old as the B&B idea which is the desire to retire to a coastal town.

If I can retire at 60 I have 13 years to get some cash together. If I wait to the state retirement age I have 20 years. It will come around much quicker than I expect it to. 2019 is all about paying off my debts. 2020 then will be to start working on a future that will support me financially in my old age. Me and a friend were talking about grown up thoughts and that it’s always scary doing this. Who wants to be a grown up? People keep asking me what I want to achieve at work (job roles/promotions etc) and actually all I want is the space to build my future plans. This is where putting into place this year all the side hustles will start to pay off. Once the debts are cleared they will be part of the retirement savings plan.

So a day of mixed feelings. Even having gratitude for having a job I couldn’t escape the fact that the British Rail infrastructure is terrible and an inconvenience. It wasn’t just my trains with issues. The weather is so cold that having to spend 35 minutes waiting in the freezing cold was horrible on the final leg of trying to get home (and I definitely know there are people far worse off than me) but I finally have a bit of an idea about the future and how I can start to build towards it. I’m a massive fan of action plans and I think at the weekend it’s time to start looking at building one and what it will take to get me where I want to be.

365 Day Blog challenge Day 110 – Busy Thinking Nothing #365daychallenge

I’ve had a busy but very rare week where I’ve hardly thought at all. I’ve limited my time on social media so I’ve not got wound up by the endless negative posts and political tweets. I’ve not been reading any self help books so I’ve not had to think about past issues, how to move forward or change myself in anyway.

I’ve not worried about money despite spending two days in London away from home. I have completely for the last 6 days let go of everything and just lived in the moment and it’s been glorious.

My only concerns have been around public transport and getting to and from London (poor train services) and the sudden snow on ungritted roads meaning working from home. Even that didn’t cause much issue for me as I have a laptop, the systems were working for once and I got plenty done.

I need to try this again sometimes. I’m feeling very zen right now which is kind of a  good thing as this weekend is all about my next uni assignment. Then again that’s 90% done so I just need a conclusion and a brief write up of my writing process.

This week the world has been so bright I’ve needed shades.

365 Day Blog challenge Day 20 – Favourite holiday 365daychallenge

Sticking with yesterdays holiday theme I thought I’d write about my favourite holiday. While I had been to Euro Disney in Paris (for 2 days) I went by coach and ferry and it didn’t feel like a trip abroad. So in time for my

30th birthday I packed up my young son and we went to San Francisco and Anaheim. At the time in the UK if you were a single traveller looking at a package deal you paid an extra supplement for being on your own. Travel agents then wanted to charge me further by adding in the cost of my son. So effectively I would pay for him as an adult. I decided to price up what I wanted on the internet and got my perfect holiday saving £1000!! As a single parent that’s a lot of money. So I had a week in San Francisco in the super hot June sunshine. We went to museums, shopped, my son got his first ever Build a Bear (it wasn’t available in the UK at the time or if it was at only a very few select places), we saw our first wrestling match after a shop keeper saw my son’s hat and told us about a show the next day. It was wonderful

 

A funny memory; our flight didn’t get us in until 10.00pm. We were tired and ready for the hotel after around 15 hours of flights and connections. Getting in the taxi to the hotel the song ‘Get Down Tonight’ started playing and totally unplanned we and our driver all started singing along and doing the same chair dancing! Just a funny, you had to be there moment I still think of.

 

The second week was Anaheim. Now in England we have a good infrastructure with trains even if it is over prices and some train companies always late. I assumed I’d find the same in America and could book my connection when I got there. Boy was I wrong. I  got my tickets for Amtrak (and quite cheap if I remember) but there was no direct train. We had to keep getting off the train and catching coaches so the journey would join up. And the trip took 13 hours. However this turned out to be a wonderful day. Whether bus or train we went through so much of California and got to (briefly) see places that we wouldn’t if we’d flown. I’m sure one stop was in the middle of a farm! We went through the mountains, fields, cities, by the sea and so much more.

 

So arriving in Anaheim. This was a week for my son. Nearly every day was a theme park – Disney, Knott’s Berry, Six Flags. The best bit was my 30th birthday. We spent the evening watching the firework display in the park pretending it was something Disney had put on especially for my day. I think it’s one of the best birthday’s I’ve ever had and the whole 2 weeks has stayed in my mind more than some of the more recent one. It’s a trip I will always treasure.

365 Day Blog challenge Day 19 – Disney Challenge #365daychallenge

Trying to think of some fun things to talk about so I don’t end up with 25 Christmas posts and something I saw on the internet was around something you want to achieve and I thought about Disney. I’ve been to three Disney Worlds/Lands in my time; Orlando, Anaheim and EuroDisney and one of the things I’d love to achieve before it ever became impossible was to visit every Disney in the world. So I knew there was Tokyo to do, Hong Kong and now the newest one Shanghai).

 

Those two feel more difficult. I once tried to price up Tokyo and it was quite expensive. I think as well they would all have to be self booked as I’ve yet to find a UK travel agent that would be able to put together a decent package. At the minute my finances won’t stretch to any of the more long distance sites so next year I’ll be going back to Paris. Hopefully once my finances are more secure (March 2020 and counting down!) I’ll have the funds to create the Asian trips and add in a few visits to the nearby cities as well.

 

It’s good to have a slightly impossible dream. It gives you something to aim for. I’d set myself a target of one of those by the time I’m 50 (5 years time) but I also want to go to Australia and new Zealand so I may have to do some prioritising. It’s fun to think about though. I’ve little bits of plans and I aim one day to tick at least one of those newer destinations off my list

 

Do you have any fun travel goals?

Getting out more…

A few months ago I decided I needed to get out more. I’d just got a new job with a bit of extra cash and so it seemed like a good idea to re-start life in a few different ways. 

Well so far I’ve mostly pottered around the country; sometimes through wortk and sometimes through coach trips but that’s it. I’ve done nothing else. Looking back at various things I’d done over the last few years I realised I’ve only been to the cinema four times in two years. For someone who used to go twice a week that just shocking. Actually twice a week is shocking too but I had a monthly pass so got my monies worth (or not depending on the film) but I digress.

It’s all got me thinking – what is “getting out more”? Tweny years ago this woud mean more pubs and drinking and while I still could do with some of that I want to talk to people, meet new people and chat in a  civilised manner. So how do I do that in this age of technology and people being more interested in their phones (or so it seems). Therein lies my problem. 

I’ve made it my mission to see at least 6 films at the cinema next year. That won’t fix the problem but it’s better than waiting for DVDs and just talking to myself. I have a few female friends who will happily sit in pubs on their own with a drink and a book. I’m the type of person who won’t go in a pub unless  know someone else is there already. I was that fashionably late person for years for that very reason. So start small; baby steps – I will spend more time in coffee shops looking cool, mysterious but approachable 🙂 And probably not my local supermarket cafe or Mcdonalds. Not being snobbish but it’s not normally the place for lounging away an afternoon even if their teas are cheaper. 

I’ve also been looking through our sport and social catalogue. I’ve found a craft club which looks interesting but I carry enough junk around with me on a working day without adding knitting needles and wool. That’s a maybe. Then right at the bottom I saw we have a dance group! I do love me some Strictly Come Dancing so I’ve emailed them to see what kind f dancing and is there any lessons. Now though is it “getting out more” if it’s still on work premises?? Do I have to revise my wording? 

I was going to some book clubs but had to give them up as they clash with my new work hours. I might look for another one or maybe I’ll reset up an old one I used to do with a friend. I haven’t looked into that properly yet. But what else? What do people do these days??? Time to get my thinking cap on. Any ideas most welcome