With travel and housesitting restricted at the moment due to you-know-what, it’s time for an interview with someone very special. And you don’t get much more special than my partner-in-jwalking Joanna. So at great expense and unmentionable danger I bring you a special, one-off, never to be repeated question and answer session with the most special person in my life, the one known as Jo.
Where are you at the moment?
Sitting at the table, doh!! Oh you mean geographical location. Our perfect lockdown apartment Knowle, Braunton, Devon, England.
How do you feel being the centre of attention and having to answer all of these questions?
A little bit apprehensive as you know I hate giving a definitive answer to anything because I feel bound to it forever but I will give it my best shot.
To get you warmed up let’s just smash through a few quick fire questions. Don’t think too much, just go for it.
Favourite country in the world?
Best meal you’ve eaten whilst travelling?
Any meal shared with hosts and/or fellow travellers. For me, its not about the food (although it helps!).
Anything you carry that you don’t really need but just like to have?
Rocky and my crafting bits and bobs.
Worst place you have visited so far?
Not worst in that it wasn’t awful but disappointed by Montreal.
What’s the best walk or hike you have been on?
Top of Whistler Mountain, Canada and Mount Cook, New Zealand are hard to beat but I think it is just pipped by the coastal walk through Abel Tasman National Park, on the north coast of South Island New Zealand.
As we travel we heading to less and less cities are more to rural areas. It will have to be in the UK because of my passion for history. I love the cathedral cities of Salisbury, Winchester, Canterbury and Chichester but I think my favourite city is Chester.
Most comfortable bed you have slept in over the past five years (there have been over 300)?
There have been many more comfortable than uncomfortable beds over the years but we have stayed occasionally been in fairly up market places (for us!) but I think a Travelodge bed is top of my list. I even have the brand written in the back of my diary for whenever we buy a bed. Sad but true.
Nicest beach you’ve been on?
Another close run thing that got the brain cells chugging away but I think it would be Maitai Bay on the Karikari Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand.
Do you have a favourite dog that you have housesat for?
Tough because they are all personalities in their own right. No sorry can’t commit…..
Disappointment is probably too strong a word but there have been a few irritating insignificant set backs. Missing some family events is probably the most disappointing, although we do try and get to most of them. Leaving my treasured glamping hat on a train back in 2015 and Airbnb hosts who decide to cancel more or less as we arrive are things that come to mind. The lockdown is not in this category for me. It has such far reaching devastating and deadly consequences for so many that cancelled trips and change of lifestyle is minor stuff.
Best Airbnb you have stayed in?
Where do I start? We have stayed in so many lovely places. Invariably it is not about having a bed for the night it is about the hosts, a lot of who follow the blog so sorry if you didn’t make top billing! In irritating TV show style, the winner is ………….
Gill in Wanaka, South Island New Zealand. We stayed with Gill on our first trip to New Zealand in her family home in 2015 and despite staying only a couple of nights became firm friends. We stayed with Gill and her intended, Ross, again in their self contained annexe with spectacular mountain views in 2018. It was shortly before their wedding which was to take place in their garden. Our son and daughter-in-law also stayed with them on their honeymoon in 2019. Maybe we will get back one day. We shall see.
Now that was the easy part, here are a few deeper questions posed by our blogging buddies around the world.
Grey Traveller (Hampshire, England) asks In these uncertain times what are your hopes for the future above the health of yourself and loved ones?
Hopes for the future……ummm. That we are able to continue to make choices freely and that they align with each other, carry on meeting lovely people and continue to enjoy the experiences that come our way.
Jersey Girl Adventures (Kuwait) – Best place you’ve visited? Worst place? Still not been to but want to? Was it hard taking the leap to sell up and go? If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
So many questions!! First two parts have sort of been answered above. Still want to go to more places in Europe and the UK and maybe rebook our Silk Road trip that we should be on now. The decision to sell up and go evolved over a few months so it felt like a natural progression. Only hard to know we couldn’t see friends and family so often. If we could live anywhere and selfishly take all our loved ones with us it would be New Zealand. We have always felt at home in Germany and Holland too but the more we travel the more we realise how lucky we are to have England as home. So the surprise answer is somewhere in rural England.
Julia Hammond (Essex, England) – Has the impact of coronavirus made you rethink the way you travel, for example, maintaining a permanent base somewhere? Or does the reward of freedom and flexibility far outweigh the potential risk?
This is something we have talked about a lot. As we go forward, we are going to have to weigh this up. Is the potential risk of our lifestyle too high a price for us and others? It is an ongoing situation certainly if, long term, we are unable to travel safely and/or the demand for housesitters is non-existent due to these travel restrictions, a more permanent base may be required. With our preference to book ahead, we have felt a bit rudderless but we are happy to be safe and will roll with the tide of things to come.
Liz Hubbard (Portugal) – Is there any country (other than the U.K.) that you visited, that you thought, you could, or would like to live there permanently, once your travelling days came to end?
There are quite a few really. New Zealand, Austria, Holland and Germany are the non-UK countries that come to mind. But would they want us?
Backpacking Housewife (Scotland) – How are you two coping day to day with this ‘pause’ in the travelling life?
Coping very well. Future plans are either cancelled or on hold but that is nothing compared to the situation for many. Luckily we have always been pretty good at filling our time but I am a little concerned about the amount of crafting bits and bobs I am accumulating! Of course, it helps that we are in a beautiful part of England, in comfortable accommodation and able to daily JWalk.
The Travel Pet Sitters (Norfolk, England) – What personal item could you not travel without?
Alison Hutt (Perth, Australia) – How long do you plan in advance ..two jobs ahead or three ?
Usually no more than 6 months, we don’t want to commit to something then have a better plan! It would kill the flexibility and freedom we treasure.
Steve Biggs (Herts, England) – What do you think about country counting? Top Three countries? What is your pet hate when travelling? / What do tourists do that annoys you?
Country counting to me is a tick list way of seeing the world. Not for me I’m afraid. Top 3 countries, UK, New Zealand and Germany. Pet hate when travelling is connected to the next part of your question, tourists. I hate with a passion seeing people swarm off a tourist bus, pose noisily in all sorts of ridiculous ways in front of the most stunning architecture or view and not appreciate where they are or what they are seeing and spoiling it for others. Why come, stay home, download and photo-shop yourself.
Deb’s World (Australia) – What are your plans moving forward?
The diary is very blank for the foreseeable future. Jonno also has a preferred method of choosing a date for making landmark decisions. I think the next date we are working towards is May 2021 so will update you after then.
On the Fly (Yorkshire, England) – What’s been the biggest lesson travelling has taught you?
That you truly don’t need many possessions. Everyone says this but probably has more than 2 pairs of shoes and 5 pairs of knickers! Travelling has also taught me that things always do turn out OK, if not better than you planned, and the mantra that we had when we set off that we would far more regret not going than going also comes to mind.
Russell (England) – From all your years of travelling, which city/country surprised you the most and what was your biggest learning?
I think Tasmania surprised me the most. Very different to mainland Australia, in a good way.
We Sit Pets (UK) – Is there anything you really miss since you started travelling?
Regular meetings with family and friends. Its all about the people for me not the possessions. Jokingly I do sometimes say that I would like to buy something I just like rather than its durability.
Angela Laws (Scotland) – Before you sell everything and take to the road, what should you know about yourself and the lifestyle ahead and should you consider your age?
Age is not a problem unless you have ongoing health issues/medication to consider. Even then if these are manageable, go for it! The things you should know about yourself is that you are happy to be flexible and adapt to changes you haven’t planned for, that you can cope with missing some family gatherings, be sure that you can talk to your travelling partner (if you have one) about exactly how you are feeling and be realistic about whether you can cope with minimal possessions and live on a budget.
Sam Smith (Yorkshire, England) – What’s been the funniest experience and also The strangest experience, but you wouldn’t have wanted to miss it?
Where to start…….the man at the airport punching the bottom out of paper cups and putting his hand through to use them as cuff protectors, swimming in a muddy puddle in the rain (it was a thermal hot pool run by Maori owners from a little wooden hut), having two little street urchins literally hanging off the back of my backpack to get to my collection of bear keyrings, randomly meeting a fellow traveller in the street in a different country several months after we had been working with him in Scotland. What are the chances!
Now a final couple of questions before he collapses under the stress …..
What do you know now about travelling cheaply that you wish you’d know when you started?
About returning hire cars that have been handed back at a different location to where they were picked up. £1 to take a car from Gatwick to Scotland. Whats not to like?
Where would you like to visit once lockdown is over?
We have a list which ranges from a Pencil Museum to a Pork Pie Shop but the answer would have to be our sons and daughter-in-laws.
If you could only visit one more place in your life where would that be?
Daymer Bay, Cornwall – the place of magic holiday memories.
Made it! I really don’t find this easy. Chatting with someone about it is so much easier. So many memories to trawl through and I have probably missed some better answers. I will probably spend the rest of the day saying, “Oh no, I forgot X, Y and Z.