Thursday 3rd September (Day 175 of 236)
Over the last few weeks, with my feet growing evermore itchy to taste ‘freedom‘ again, I have spent several periods quietly, and inwardly, reflecting back over our last two years. As well as continuing to read a whole host of ‘other’ intrepid travellers blogs, I also occasionally scroll through some of my own earlier blog posts, on doing so recently, I came across a photo that I had taken of a sign I saw outside a shop in Albufiera, it simply stated “If you think Adventure is Dangerous, …..Routine is Lethal” and that, at this present moment in time certainly resonated with me as we appear to have got ourselves back into ‘routines’. It got me thinking about how we are currently living our lives and the question I keeping asking myself, inwardly, is ‘Is this really living the Dream‘ ?
I have always said that my ramblings will be an honest account, it’s okay being adventurous, or as some people may call it, ‘Brave’, but when you have burnt your bridges like we have done, given up our careers, both of which provided exceptionally good salaries and sold our modern four-bedroom house and all our furniture and taken to living in a plastic box on wheels, and then write about it, would we really want to have to admit to the world if we decided that we had got it wrong and didn’t actually like it !!
There have been lots of times, only recently though I hasten to add, when both Shazza and I have wished that we had not applied for these ‘Elf & Elfette’ jobs, or that we had failed in our applications, because before doing so we had already made the massive leap to go off and live a nomadic existence and we were adapting to the lifestyle very quickly and enjoying it. Had we not have been successful we would have had to manage living solely on the income of two pensions. We had already done the ‘maths’, several times, over several years, prior to taking the leap, so we knew that we could live in relative comfort, we would not have been rich but neither would we have been on the ‘poverty’ line either. I think that if we were to be totally honest, had we have known then, what we know now, that being that we didn’t actually need the ‘safety net’ of extra incomes, we probably would not have applied for the jobs, but we had, and we were successful, so that was that and let’s face it, no-one is holding a gun to our heads, we can always choose not to do the jobs if we so wished.
Hindsight is brilliant though isn’t it, and all things being equal, and in an attempt to have a balanced perspective on the ‘choices‘ we have made, I have to consider some of the things that we have experienced thus far, things that we could never have foreseen, but things that, had we not have had the additional ‘safety net’ of the incomes from these jobs may well have already turned our ‘dream‘ into a nightmare !!
In our first year the only additional ‘unscheduled‘ expense outside of our anticipated costs was for a new heating element for the Truma Combi Boiler, it certainly was an unscheduled expense and the cost, although not a huge amount, was an expense that had to be met, which, had we have been living the original dream, would have meant having to make savings elsewhere within our limited income and our already allocated budgets !! Fortunately, having taken these jobs, with the additional monthly income they bring, the ‘safety net’, we didn’t actually bat an eyelid and just got the heater element replaced. There are some people who would have had the confidence or ability to have just purchased the ‘part’ required and fitted it themselves, thus saving the ‘labour’ costs, however, I had neither the ability or the confidence and, dare I suggest, there may be other dreamers like me out there who will have to rely on others to conduct the repairs and so suffer the additional financial cost that comes with that. There are many other people who live this lifestyle who have the tools, the skills and the knowledge, or confidence, to just get stuck in and fix things themselves, I really do envy them but look, sometimes it is good to be a dreamer but there are times when you have to be honest and realistic and know and accept your limitations. That doesn’t mean that you cannot learn as you go, frequent followers of our adventures may recall that on our first trip I had to replace a water pump, something that I had never done before, and I did manage it, but had it have been anything a bit more mechanical, perhaps it would have been a different story, actually there is no perhaps about it !!
During this our second year, so far we have had several ‘other‘ unscheduled expenses. By far the biggest was the ‘Fuel Contamination Incident‘ we experienced in Morocco. This could have happened to anyone and at a cost of £1,500 to put it right, this expense, would have been one month’s income on its own, had we not have had the additional savings from the income of the jobs, that would have definitely meant suffering several exceptionally lean months !! Since then, we have also had the ‘unscheduled’ expense of having to replace the heating element in the ‘Fridge/Freezer’ and just recently the rather large bill for Dental work. I accept that in ‘other’ circumstances I may have been able to have got the dental treatment ‘cheaper’, however, my point being that all these things have happened, they were all ‘unscheduled’ expenses and they all needed to be dealt with. Of course we could just consider ourselves to be unlucky with all these things happening, we may go for the next two years, if not more, with no other ‘unscheduled’ expenditures. I guess the message I am trying to get across, rather clumsily I think, is that it is okay dreaming about driving into the sunset, on a limited income and budget, parking up and wild camping under the stars, travelling around Europe at an easy pace and enjoying the freedom, but if you do not at least ‘consider’ the likelihood of the ‘unexpected’ happening or the ‘unscheduled’ expenses then dreams may very quickly become nightmares. Of course, you may not be as unfortunate as we have been and may not experience some of the things that we have, but as sure as eggs are eggs, there will be ‘other‘ things that fall into the category of the ‘unknown‘ that will happen at some point and will have to be dealt with, somehow !!
Now do not get me wrong, this is not me attempting to spread doom, gloom or despondency, you only have to read the numerous current Motorhome travel blogs that are on the Internet to see what a fantastic adventure this is, even when things don’t always go to plan or things need repairing or replacing, you just tend to have a moan about it, curse your misfortune, say “Why Us” then deal with it. We too have already experienced several wonderful adventures without misfortune and quite honestly, we really cannot wait to get back ‘on the road‘ proper and play the cards that we are dealt with, but we have the ‘peace of mind’ that at least, thanks to the incomes of the jobs, we have savings and so a bit of a ‘safety net’ ready for the next ‘unexpected‘ and ‘Unscheduled‘ expense.
I titled this post “Look Forward, Not Backwards” as a bit of a kick up my own backside, a reminder to myself that you cannot turn the clock back and really, I have just shared conversations and musings that I have been having in my own head, with you, so now you may understand the reason why I often refer to these posts of mine as ‘ramblings‘ !! It also serves to remind me that sometimes things happen for a reason. Had we not have applied for and got the jobs and have had to live on our limited income, then, with our misfortunes, how would we have managed ? I don’t know the answer to that question and, thankfully now, don’t need to, all I do know is that we would have just had to have managed, somehow !!
We do now of course own a nice ‘bolt hole’ in Southern Spain, at the time of purchase we didn’t know that as well as being a nice retreat for ourselves, in between ‘Elf & Elfette’ seasons, that it would also serve as a nice place to entertain our twin granddaughters as well as other family and friends, did I mention that things happen for a reason ?
So, perhaps my reflective mood has been caused due to what has been, and still is, a long, hard and tiring second season which is coming to an end and we are both ready for the good long break. On the positive side, we now have three types of ‘Adventure’ awaiting us, the expeditions and explorations around whichever new location our next seasons Elf & Elfette duties take us to, the expeditions and explorations around the locations of our new Spanish residence in ‘Wuxly’ and the wider expeditions and explorations of Europe in ‘Big Momma’.
So, wider world, “Looking Forward and not Backwards“, should I be saying that we got it wrong, I don’t think so, it was still a good decision, and although our direction may have changed a bit from how we had initially planned the adventure, the great thing about our lives right now is that we still have the ‘freedom’ to make changes, to make choices, isn’t that what an Adventure is all about ?
Talking of expeditions, isn’t there another Castle still waiting to be explored……………