Thing Two – Lara Grant – This will change your life
Here’s the amazing university you shall call home for the next 3 years – Keele University
I guess if the degree in Physiotherapy doesn’t work you, you could always go for a Major in Magic.
(I do know that by default Magic will simply happen anyway!)
You will learn Art of course – starting with the Art of Negotiation (4 young women sharing this toilet/bathroom space – need I say more?)
You will appreciate MATH when you read “2 for 1” and find this fits your budget perfectly and when it proves that you cannot afford a CAT!
You will learn that some people are put on this earth to test your Anger Management skills.
You will sometimes find yourself in a tight squeeze – which is exactly what will be needed to fit your CLOTHES into this closet space!
You will remember your Mother saying that your kitchen will ONLY ever be this clean once and that’s the day you move in!
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER
** You are braver than you believe **
** Stronger than you seem **
** Smarter than you think **
And Loved More Than You Know
Yes I’m doing it – using a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. Why you ask? Because I am trying to explain why this 10 month adventure is happening – a choice.
It’s the Journey, not the destination
Yah, Yah, Yah. But really IT IS! If it was a destination that we wanted, we would choose to go only to Torun, Poland and take up ‘grand parenting’. Or continue to keep the apron strings around Thing Two and find a house to rent in Stoke-on-Trent and think of new ways to cook chicken. Instead, we are opting for journeys. Travelling in and around Thing One and Thing Two. On trains, planes and automobiles. Sitting in airports listening to the Podcast “My Dad wrote a Porno” (sidebar: for those of you who haven’t listened to this – ask Mr. Google – it will have you laughing out loud!) .
Possessions Own you
All you have to do is go through each and every cupboard, drawer, closet and hidey-hole in your home and discover the validity of this statement. Living can be a somewhat messy and disorganized affair. I recognize that I have the perfect pair of red shoes, green shoes and boots for every occasion. BUT I cannot take these with me. Practicality and functionality mean they work only with certain dresses in my closet. Although they still ‘own me’ in a sense, they are being locked in a closet for almost a year, whilst only the essentials for our journey are being packed. It’s quite the eye-opening experience to evaluate all the things you have stuffed and put somewhere being examined for their value. We are choosing ‘less is more’.
Have the Life you Want to Live Today
This is a huge one. I cannot imagine not doing this trip. I know that I have written in a previous blog about the hugs and the people we will miss (and hopefully miss us). The life we want to live today happens to be leaving with two suitcases each and one guitar (Thing One’s being deposited in Poland). Experiencing the craziness of living in other people’s homes and using their possessions such as a stove to cook with. Experiencing our Grandson – this is a BIG experience neither Dave or myself want to miss. FaceTime, as a good as it is, isn’t cutting it anymore – I want to smell his milky smell; be someone who tickles him to make him laugh. The one thing I have discovered is that humans around the world are mostly the same, in the sense that, we have an inner desire for work, family, love and laughing. For us, we are doing this to have the life we want to live today.
There is a purpose behind the title of this one blog. Dave is off on an adventure that his adventure-loving wife tossed out as a ‘how about we try this?” idea.
I appreciate that as the only son in the Grant-clan of children, he will be away from his Mother. He understood that fact and I know he appreciates that his two sisters, Jean and Teresa, happen to be living close to their Mother now. Jean always has and up until 3 years ago, Dave lived within 5 minutes of their Mother. Teresa had moved to be closer to her grandchildren and by default, is now nearby her. I am personally grateful that they are both living close to her as I recognize the anxiety that is creeping in as she simply doesn’t know where in the world Dave will be.
We are off on the 19th of August, making today 14 more sleeps before we are on a flight bound for London. Lara is off picking up her passport this morning with a 5 year Visa that will allow her to be in England for school and perhaps a bit of working money in £££££ in summers.
Dave has been amazing with clearing out things to the thrift store and Habitat for Humanity so our place has space for the people moving in. We still have an active business that requires maintenance and on-going shuffle to get things sorted so we are able to be physically away for 10 months. Our closets are cleared of all excess clothes, shoes and boots and the only things that remain are that which will be needed for our trip. The oven is cleaned and so I’m not using it in the next two weeks. The BBQ gets steam cleaned 7 days before we go and will not be used. So only stove top cooking and acceptance to eat at friends and family for the next two weeks.
Quite a lot of thought, planning and playing around with ideas to keep us interested, active and seeing our children and grandson, an idea has turned into a plan.
Buckle up… here’s the DAVE BY DAVE listing…
- Barton St. David, England
- Torun, Poland * (3-Grantclan & our place)
- Stoke-on-Trent, England * (Keele University where Lara will be in Uni)
- Paris, France
- Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Madrid, Spain
- Torun, Poland
- Florence, Italy
- Naples, Italy
- Valletta, Malta
- Vienna, Austria
- Paris, France
- Athens, Greece
- Crete, Greece
- Barcelona, Spain
- Bangkok, Thailand
- CAMBODIA (Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Pehn, Sen Monorom, Kampot, Sihanoukville, Four Rivers Floating Lodge)
- Portugal & the Rota Vincentina hike for 15 days from Santiago do Cacem through to Sagres in the Algarve
And…. then a ROAD trip that’s still in the works for April 2017 and the surprise of what & where we may find our adventures and the people and places we are pulled toward for May and June.
This is starting to get real!
One year ago I was sitting in my kitchen with a notebook and dreaming up places to go for a two month summer vacation with the 3-Grants. The tickets had been booked and it was just imagination from there on in. We have completed that travel and now…
I’M BACK – coffee in hand and a one way ticket for each of the 3 Grants booked for 2016.
One way? That is because that’s what the points achieved thus far. PLUS our “sugar & spice” is working on her UCAS applications for UK University and we shall see where and when she gets accepted to Physiotherapy school.
At the moment, I’m following several travel bloggers for inspiration and advice. The first one is SeniorNomads. A couple from Seattle who sold everything to fund their travel retirement years. They are mostly staying in Airbnb places. This couple have now officially been travelling on the road for over 500 days!
I also love the Canadian couple in HeckticTravels who did much the same and fund their travel with an amazing travel blog AND they house sit.
Well… with such inspiration and insight, I know we are not ‘selling’ and giving up Vancouver. We (the better half of me) have discussed our life and friends and family and the amazing deliciousness of this city in late Spring, Summer and early fall. Done and dusted – the house stays and we work a plan on how the place gets ‘lived-in’ during our absence.
We know we want to travel for at minimum 6 months this next time (possibly 9 months). We are due to commence the one-way ticket on the 19th of August next year.
We know we can live cheaper than we do now in this very expensive city. (Side-bar I watched a woman yesterday at Costco with only food products in her cart, spend $335. When I asked her how long the food will last – she said 8 days!)
We know we want to spend time with Thing One and his family in Poland and also Thing Two in UK (optimists that we are) – thus our ‘base’ will be Poland and moving in and around the nuclei of our two children’s lives.
We know that our purpose for travelling will be:
- walking and hiking
- slow travel
- being active and fit
- meeting new friends
- learning to cook with locals – new food
- motorbike riding
We (aka me) have an ‘idea of’ where we want to go and what we’d like to see and what months are good for various cultural, festival and weather in European countries.
We have a purpose and no clear plan. THAT means our possibilities are endless…
WHY am I smiling at that thought?!!
Often it seems easy to follow the crowds… I mean there’s a line-up outside “Anne Frank’s” house – so it must be good right? Travelling is often a whole lot more than seeing the sights and following the crowds (which btw the Anne Frank house is wonderful and so is the Vatican and there are huge crowds for both!).
What we have learned from this extended travel is that we prefer to be “bubble off plumb” and have bought into the “slow movement” ideology for travel & food.
Our idea of ‘bubble off plumb’ means not to be right in the centre of everything. We are happily staying in our friend’s flat in the heart of Amsterdam – 3 blocks from Dam Square, 3 blocks from the Red Light District, right on a canal, restaurants, coffee shops and anything and everything you could ever need to consume. It’s great for 3 day weekend but does not fit with what we have learned – being slightly off centre – outside of the plumb line – means we get to interact with locals, walk leisurely around a neighbourhood and not be in the thrust of human energy and crowds.
Slow Movement is a cultural shift to slowing down life’s pace. We have experienced a two hour dinner, sipping wine, talking to the chef, waiter, locals as we wait for our meal to be prepared and cooked. Shifting down several gears to walk slowly, not the harried pace of moving through crowds in the street, or trying to get to the front of a line. Of course, choosing green space or water space for us, achieves the ‘slow down’. First physically and then we find we shift mentally into the slower pace.
Locals, locals, locals – I cannot say enough about talking with them by putting yourself out there. Sharing our plans with them has given us better places to see, eat and stay. You do not see the locals hanging out at the “crowded-tourist-must see sights”.
Here are some of those bits of places for us….
<a day early for the Olympic rowing practise>
<Sunny day, Amsteelveen, locks and some great boats>
<some slow food in Bollington, England>
Speaking of up close and personal – this was just simply funny:
<short bread and side of the road, middle of no-where, stop>
<talked with a volunteer whilst visiting Treasurers House in York, we get a behind the scenes tour of the attic space – had to wear these helmuts!>
Rushing means we would be missing the moments that are ‘right there’. I might not take on the philosophy “Sit down, dinner will be ready in a month” but you maybe seeing a few more “2 hours for your dinner at Chez Grant” moments. Sounds great doesn’t it?!!?
<P.S. – there’s always wine while you wait!>
We are now a full 40 days into our trip. This was an exercise in extended travel for our family of 3 Grants. How have we done?
– We watch a whole lot of NO TV. That has been great. It did help that we were in Poland for the first 21 days. Having said that, we watched a rather interesting reality show about Polish farmers searching for a wife.
– We still have had access to Internet in the mornings and evenings but do not ‘live’ with technology always available as we do when at home. So we have been more active outside and had we not been in England for the last 19 days, we would have a great tans!
– We have learned to bathe in coin operated showers; correctional facility-type showers; showers with no flow when a toilet gets flushed; showers that spray water all over the floor; showers that are smaller than a phone booth and….. in TUBS – oh glorious tubs of hot water that make you stop and actually SOAK!
– Walking, which by now you have read about how much we have walked. What happens to your body and mind when you walk is you actually connect with nature and are forced to simply slow down.
– Shoes. Apart from travelling with 2 pairs each (and flip flops), we are programmed now to check the bottoms of our shoes because we have stepped in sheep shit, cow shit and horse shit. Gives a new meaning to ‘shit happens’.
– All that walking has lead to PUBS!!! How do you walk through England and not find a pub? The beauty is the beer and cider are cold and even some amazing bottles of wine. The food tasted better as we often sat outside. We had locals talking to us and we were often educating them on the size of Canada. I have to go back to one of my first blogs and when we are asked ‘where in America we are from’ and our Canada answer is given. Everyone does view Canada differently than USA – so wear that Canadian flag proudly!!
– Packing, unpacking and re-packing. Ode to the invention of Ziplock packing bags. In our choice to travel with one suitcase for a full 60 days, the only way this has been possible has been to suck every last bit of square inch and millimetre out of the bag of clothes by stuffing them into these miracle bags, sucking any air around them and reducing them to the size of a piece of toast.
– Time management is a good thing when planes, trains and automobiles are involved. I have really wanted to sleep in a few times in some of the glorious beds that we have slept in. Time to go means the iPhone clock is set early and off we go.
– We appreciate the ‘don’t stress the little things’. There has been many instances where we watched others around us totally bugged out over something that was beyond their control.
– Pillows, pillows, pillows… everyone who knows me will see the green pillow – travelling with me and on a bed:
(this bed was wonderful and did not need my travel pillow)
Not every place understands the importance of how a person appreciates a PILLOW!
It’s been a fun and crazy trip thus far… 20 more days and nights to go and 3 Grants become 5 Grants again!!!
How do you spend the day when it’s 34 degrees in Torun, Poland? Why you get into the car and head to the beach of course. Our plan was the Sea Coast on Saturday. Turns out a lot of Poles had the exact same idea! Our two hour drive became 3 hours by the time we got there. Traffic!!!
We ended up in a sea coast village called Rewa (said Reh-va). There are many places along the Baltic where the locals pack up and often take 2 weeks of their vacation to set up at a local cabin on the beach. The images are simple because that is what beach holidays for families still are. Here’s the sunny Saturday afternoon spent on the Baltic sea in Rewa for the 5 Grants….