The one question that we’ve been repeatedly asked since returning from Canada at the beginning of December is ‘What’s it like being back’. We’re never quite sure what to say to be honest as there are obviously two ways of looking at it. Firstly we are both sad that our North American adventure is over as it was awesome (as they say over there) but we are equally delighted to be back in England seeing friends and family that we missed whilst we were away.
We called the little trip to the US and Canada JWalking 2 (not the most original name I grant you) and it lasted from the beginning of April to the beginning of December 2016. Around 34 weeks or 240 days. You can read all the details of where we went and who we met on previous blog posts but the whole trip went almost perfectly. A couple of Airbnb cock-ups (you know who you are Scumbag Lily and Slippery Luc) but apart from that a triumph that we will never ever forget.
So what’s it like being back in the UK?
One of the things we’ve repeated over and over again during our trips is the following;
The more you travel the more you appreciate your home
This is so true and we have missed so many things about England that it has actually been exciting to return. There is something very special about our little country that nowhere else in the world has got. Difficult to explain especially when so many people seem to be so negative but we love it. So the answer is, it’s great being back.
Family and Friends
We try really hard when we’re travelling to keep in touch with everyone we know via email, Skype, WhatsApp, and of course the blog. It’s not the same as getting together though so we spent the first 2 or 3 weeks of December staying with our sons in various places and also visiting as many people as we could. Tiring but fun with a fair bit of train travel and waiting at quaint little Kentish railway stations like Barming. Oh and of course a bit of Christmas shopping.
Fabulous few days spent in Hertfordshire at Shaun and Katies made even better by Sam and Tabitha, and Ryan and Ella joining us over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. An old fashioned family Christmas with the whole family playing silly games, eating too much, opening piles of presents, and drinking a little was absolutely perfect. Thanks to Shaun and Katie for all of their hard work in hosting everyone and sorry about the mess!
If you’re reading this from outside the UK you may not be aware of Boxing Day, seems its a peculiarly English thing. Apparently it originated from the tradition of giving tradespeople a box of gifts as thanks for good service throughout the year. To us it’s always been the second day of Christmas I suppose and I almost prefer it to Christmas Day as the leftovers and turkey sandwiches are just the best! It’s more of a lazy, easygoing day too which we love.
Except it wasn’t that lazy this year as we had to drive around London down to Maidstone in Kent where we spent a brilliant day with my mum Rose, Norman, Dave, Nick and Natalie. Great to see them all again after such a long time.
So the next stage of our life starts now, let’s call it JWalking 2.5 (don’t ask). We decided that we’d spend 2017 in England and Scotland and signed ourselves up on a couple of housesitting and volunteering websites. Our first sit booked through TrustedHouseSitters started on the 27th just a few miles away in Sevenoaks. We’ve never done this sort of thing before so were a little apprehensive about what was involved and how we would feel looking after someone else house and pet. But our attitude was ‘how hard can it be’.
The lovely Carolyn picked us up from the station and we spent the first evening with her and her husband Ric just chatting, enjoying a chinese takeaway, and of course getting to know their loveable Golden Retriever Roxy.
The housesit was for 7 days whilst Carolyn and Ric were on a short winter holiday. Roxy is 13 years old so didn’t really need a lot of walking just the occasional wander around the garden. Carolyn had left us thorough instructions on feeding and medication so it was easy to look after Roxy and just have a relaxing time after the busy Christmas period.
Before we knew it it was time to leave for a couple of days back in Maidstone before our next housesit starts on the 6th. Once again it’s a local sit but this time for 2 weeks for a busy border collie called Latika. Could involve a lot more walking than Roxy I guess!
We have 5 or 6 housesits booked up around England and a couple of volunteering stays over the coming 6 months before all our attention will be focused on Shaun and Katies wedding in July. It will take a few sits before we really figure out if it suits us or not and whether we continue looking further afield. There are potential house and pet sitting opportunities all over the world so who knows.
Sorry if the blog seems less exciting and interesting now that we’re not climbing mountains or walking across lakes but it’s all part of our journey. We’d love you to stay with us as we experience new places and meet new people.
Happy New Year Everyone and thank you so much for all of the support in 2016.