We are 2 hours from Barcelona on day 2 of the adventure having had a seven hour flight to Singapore, an 18 hour stopover there and 12 hours on this flight. Besides catching up with Ilona and Ben for lunch at the very nice Awesome Café, mostly we have been sleeping (some of which was done in John Camps very nice apartment in Robertson Quay – thanks John). It is only just starting to sink in that we are doing this and just how much we have been running on empty for the past week or so.
We have had a ridiculously busy run up to our departure. We had the unavoidable stuff to do: pack up and leave Balmain (tenants in on 7 July), say goodbye to our lovely donks, prepare The Folly to be left for 9 months in the capable hands of Kevin and Vicky, and sort banks accounts, cars, travel insurance etc. And then we also had a couple of extra things to do to make it all a little more challenging, like the Bundanoon Winterfest (3 bands, 18 food and booze stalls and 3,000 visitors on night one, then a week of workshops) and for me, a seminar for 120 people from around Oz and Europe.
When we weren’t running around doing stuff, we were saying boozy goodbyes to our friends. We were basically high functioning alcoholics. Actually, my problem solving ability was slowing down enough towards the end that the high functioning bit may be me being too kind to myself. I’ve also just asked for a Bloody Mary for breakfast, so…………
The Winterfest opening night seemed to be a success with great feedback on the night, on social media and around the town. Not everything went to plan and ‘the committee’ (5 of us) and our friends (another 7 – Kevin, Amanda, Kate, Eric, Jules, David and Caroline) ran around far more than we had hoped. I was the MC for the night, didn’t eat, drank a reasonable amount of mulled wine and walked the line between confidence and pissed on stage. Others will judge how well I did it…..
I think the seminar went well too. The post event survey will be the judge of that. I can say how very odd it felt to jump off the stage, handover my laptop, work phone and company Amex, then jump in a cab to the airport, going from corporate man to traveling homeless guy in about 20 mins. Just a little bit confronting.
J has been as energetic as ever. She finished work on the Thursday before me, and remained 100% committed to Winterfest, its workshops, getting Bundy ready and generally running around. I also worked until last safe moment in 2008….. I won’t get away with it if we do it again.
We managed to do a little more planning in Singapore and now, after our three nights on the outskirts of the city, we have two days accomodation booked in the centre of Barcelona for sightseeing, a train to Montpellier, and three nights in an Airbnb booked there. A reasonably good horizon for now.
We have done this once before: From end Oct 2008 to March 2009 (see www.offexploring.com/jamesandjodie). At the time, I was taking a big leap from a career that had been all I wanted to do since I was a child but had lost it’s charm after a poorly thought through war, where deliberately poorly equipped soldiers were asked to risk their lives, and a stint in the MOD which helped me understand why the above was true, and probably always would be (and my slightly damp eyes at the end of watching Journeys End on the plane reminds me that it was ever thus). I was ready to go.
It is different this time. For a start, last time it felt like we were taking more of a gamble. I had no commercial experience, the global financial crisis was just starting and our budget was very tight. This time, it feels like more of a risk than a gamble. My business has kindly let me go on leave without pay (which makes me very lucky), I have a heap of good commercial experience and J has shown just how employable she is. We should be ok on our return to Oz.
The funds bit is from my part of Mums estate, who passed away just under a year ago. I fully accept that the sensible thing to do is throw it into the mortgage, but sensible and right are two different things (when you are fortunate enough to even have the luxury of choice). In the past couple of years we have been made very aware that life is finite and I often think of the adage that no one on their death beds wishes that they had earned more or worked more. They wish they had spent more time with the people they love and traveled more. As an adage is something that is generally true, we have decided to heed the advice!.
Having said all that, I am conscious of the wonderful & privileged life we are having a break from. I genuinely enjoyed my job and worked with some very talented people. Fulford Folly is close to paradise, especially when Freddie and Mr Percival are there. Balmain is a lovely balance to our country life and we have great friends.
What a fortunate position to be in.