Tuesday, 28 April 2009

She Says - Bring it on!

I’m not quite sure how it got to be 3 months since I made a diary entry. I had convinced myself I only wrote a month ago, but that turns out to be when I launched the blog publicly to our friends and family! I’ve been trying to find time to write for the last 2 weeks but things are getting busy now. I’ve also not been feeling the best – in fact we’ve both been struggling with our health since the Xmas flu. It turns out Xander has glandular fever, while I seem to be suffering bug after bug. The doctor has today put me on iron tablets for my near anaemia, and I’m getting some blood tests done in 2 weeks to check that and thyroid function. Hopefully this will either give me an answer, or confirm that I just really need to get out of the UK!!

We went on our first holiday since last May’s Romania trip – 5 days in Cornwall, SE England, over Easter with our Aussie friend Dan who lives here. This gave us a chance to get back into the swing of daily camping and cheap living. We tested out some of the new gear we’ve bought or made, tried some tasty meals, and could see how waterproof everything is thanks to the rain!! We were lucky actually, forecast was looking unpleasant but we ended up with mostly nice weather. I’ve been wanting to visit Cornwall for several years now, but it’s a fair distance from home and crosses through 2 busy cities, so timing travel to avoid peak times and busy seasons has always been priority. After not being able to go at Xmas (bad weather then illness put an end to that), we decided it had to be Easter and actually it wasn’t as busy as expected (apparently summer is the worst time – everyone goes to the seaside). Now if we could have just done it with the bikes…We had a good time, saw some great prehistoric sites and lovely coastline, and got to play with our cameras a lot. I’m learning loads about photography through playing with settings and reading a couple of good books on travel photography and travel wildlife photography. I can really see an improvement in my shots over the last 6 months. I just hope that means I will be able to capture some great pictures from our trip!

Bike is still in pieces, but Xander has now got loads of other things ready with it after a solid effort on the weekends. He put the new wheels together this weekend (after being stuffed around by a wheel company who said they could do the job then decided they wouldn’t); they need some adjustment but will soon be ready. The tank is ready to go on after getting polished this weekend, he’s finished making a super-secure tool pannier for the front of the bike, and he’s almost finished making the aluminium tank panniers and a pannier for our lovely new tripod!

Between us we’ve made a groundsheet for under the tent and a tarp to give us extra cover when we need it (links between tent, bike and anything else). I’ve also been trying to finish all my other sewing projects so that my mate Morgan can buy my sewing machine. Another sad belonging to sell, but one I thought I might have trouble with as no-one seems to sew these days. We had a great sewing session this weekend, teaching her to make a pair of pyjama bottoms and she was such a natural at it! I kind of wish I was staying so I could make cool costumes for her photo shoots…I’ve also gone into ‘pack up’ mode. I’ve packed up lots of decorative stuff (house is looking a bit bare), have gone through my wardrobe a few more times, and am piling up everything that is going to the car boot sales, which we will have to start attending soon. We’ve got less than 3 months to go now and precious few weekends left!

There’s a little less than 6 weeks left at work now, which is scaring the hell out of me because instead of work getting less, we just seem to be getting busier! I’m trying to get as many contracts sorted out before I go so things can roll just a little more smoothly for my boss. Thankfully, they’re now able to advertise my job (for the full 18 months left on my contract too) so that’s a sigh of relief – it was looking a bit shaky with all the cutbacks at work thanks to the economic crisis. Hopefully that means a new officer will be in post shortly after I leave to help my poor boss, who is doing about 3 people’s work as it is!!

I’m too busy to be excited just yet, there’s far too much to sort out at work and home to even really think about the travel. Xander’s a bit panicky that there’s not enough time to finish everything he needs to do for the bike, but I know he’ll be fine. Anyway, we’ve got the whole of June at home to get things finalised. I’ve pretty much plotted our route through Africa, but that will change depending on what volunteer work we find. We’re talking to friends with a big organisation in London in two weeks, hopefully that will get us set for our first project. We’ve come to a compromise about how long to travel for – looks like 21 months, getting home late April 2011 (exactly 2 years from now!) – Africa 9 months, South & Central America 12 months. I was aiming for Xmas 2010 to go home, Xander wanted to go for as long as we could, as anytime we work somewhere we can maybe save money and therefore travel longer. The compromise means we are home before our storage shed in Oz is due for rent again, meaning we come home to minimal debt. Our parents have agreed to transfer money to our Oz bank account in place of birthday and Xmas presents for the next 2 years to help us with repatriation costs. After that, who knows? We have some vague ideas about what to do, but it will be all up in the air to be honest. We’ll just have to see what is available back home and what we want to do with ourselves. I have a strong suspicion we may end up going back to a project we’ve worked on, or just selling everything still at home, working for a little while and taking off again….