After a lot of persuasion and a little pressure I find myself in the hot seat answering a few well chosen questions from my fellow JWalker, the lovely Jo, plus a selection from our blogging friends from around the world. Apologies if a lot of the answers appear to be very similar to Jo’s answers but we do spend 24 hours a day together and talk constantly so what do you expect?
How do you feel being the centre of attention and having to answer all of these questions?
Not too happy being the centre of attention but don’t mind the questions this one time. Much prefer being slightly off-centre in the attention stakes.
Favourite country in the world?
Do you really need me to answer this? Surely everyone in the world knows what we both think and that it has to be, and will always be, New Zealand, No question.
Best meal you’ve eaten whilst travelling?
Not such an easy one. I’m not a massive ‘foodie’ so my favourite meals all depend on the company that I have whilst eating. I much prefer the event to the actual content of the meal so one of my favourites was with all of our boys and girls in a Chinese restaurant in Hitchin but the most memorable was probably Shaun and Katies 30th last year when we had the evening in a German beer hall in London. Loved it.
Anything you carry that you don’t really need but just like to have?
Well my little companion Charlie Brown has travelled every step of the way with us and is the first item unpacked and the last thing put away wherever we stay. Also have a couple of key-rings hanging off my backpack that I like so I suppose they count too.
Anything you wished you could carry with you?
Would always like to carry more books as I’m not a fan of Kindles and much prefer an old-fashioned paperback. I did used to carry a set of juggling balls around which have now been stashed in our little storage unit but perhaps I need to hoist them out again next time we pass through. Apart from that, as long as I have Jo beside me then I really don’t need anything else.
Worst place you have visited so far?
There aren’t many places that we’ve absolutely hated but there are a few that we were looking forward to and were so disappointed with. Both San Diego and Montreal like that. Our expectations were fairly high but we didn’t like either place at all, they just felt like characterless big cities to us with very little history and not much to see.
Who is the most interesting person you have met?
We stayed in an Airbnb in Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario in Canada and our host there was Peter who was just the most interesting person ever. He was one of those people that I just felt that I clicked with, know what I mean? We chatted about all sorts and I could have stayed up all night discussing absolutely anything. Fascinating guy. Also, the professional sax player we met in New York called Arun was a great guy that I wish we could have spent more time with. Oh and we did fleetingly meet the sister of Che Guevara in Nelson which was bizarre.
If you couldn’t travel with Jo, who would you choose?
Don’t even think about it as that just can’t happen! But if I did have to travel with someone else then obviously it would be one of my three boys. Not sure all three together would work as all of the testosterone might just get a little explosive but I could happily travel with any one of them. The real problem with finding someone to travel with is choosing someone with the same outlook and perspective. Very tough to perfectly match that with another person.
What’s the best walk or hike you have been on?
It’s one of two for me, either our day out on Whistler Mountain in British Columbia in Canada or it was our trek to Mount Cook on South Island New Zealand. We had incredible weather for both trips and the views were breathtaking. Whistler may just edge it as we had to take several chair-lifts up the mountain, in fact we went up then down and then back up the same lift as we loved it so much!
What does your family think about your lifestyle?
Interesting one. Sometimes I think they are proud of us for being different but on other occasions I suspect they are a little tired of us not being around and not having a base where they can visit. Our boys totally get it now of course but not all extended family members understand what the hell we are doing! The lack of possessions and the live-today attitude seems so at odds with a lot of their own views on what life is about. Each to their own though and we never preach to anyone about what they should or shouldn’t do so don’t expect anyone to do the same to us.
Would you ever think of writing a book about your experiences or anything else?
Often think about it but never actually seriously consider it. Such a lot of work to do and we always wonder how interesting it would really be when there are so many adventurous skydiving, rockclimbing, shot-drinking, night-clubbing, adrenaline-seeking travellers around. I think you need a real angle if you are thinking of publishing a book on your travelling life and perhaps we are just too normal and happy just to be sharing our experiences with each other. I could write a book just for Jo couldn’t I? That might work.
Mountains or lakes/beach?
Both! If you pushed I’d have to say mountains as I really like the scale and the sheer drama of them. Valleys and mountain passes too are so interesting and great for exploring plus there’s something about a mountainous region that sort of makes you appreciate the epic power of nature. It’s that dramatic feeling I like.
Trying to think of one that isn’t in New Zealand but how difficult is that? My favourite is definitely Onetangi beach on Waiheke Island. We’ve visited a couple of times and it’s my favourite place to swim and relax. Life feels perfect there.
Easy. Munich. Always has been my favourite and always will be. I’ve visited so many times on family holidays, to go to the world famous Oktoberfest, Shauns stag do, and so many other trips. Never ever have enough of the place.
Ha. Can I really answer that one? Wouldn’t want to upset anyone here but I really liked almost every dog we’ve ever sat for. However, I guess that little Indie the Terrier from Warminster holds a special place as he seemed to take to me rather than Jo. Most dogs seem to prefer female company but Indie just followed me around and felt very close.
Now a few questions from some of our fellow bloggers around the globe.
Aviationtrails (Norfolk, England) – Is there anything you miss since you started your travels?
Just the one, family barbeques. I used to love having all of our boys around for a big bbq in the garden with music, lots to eat, and of course the occasional drink. Great memories of great evenings that I would love to have once again sometime.
Backpacking Housewife (Scotland) – How has time in lockdown changed your way of thinking about travel, long term travel, and being nomadic?
To be honest it hasn’t changed my views on travel or being a nomad at all. I am still as enthusiastic as ever about living a different ever-changing life but I guess we are going through a pause at the moment where everything has been put on hold. The world may be slightly different when we come out of this so it’s just a matter of rolling with it and adapting to whatever those changes happen to be.
Steve Biggs (Herts, England) – What do you think about country counting? Top Three countries?
Not got a problem with country counting if it interests you or makes your travelling better. What I don’t like is when people compare numbers of places visited. It’s not a competition. The numbers of countries ticked off has no bearing on anything at all and is quite frankly very boring. You can see so much and travel so far in the same country. Top Three? Obviously New Zealand, then Canada and Germany I think although that could all change tomorrow.
Deb’s World (Australia) – What are your plans moving forward?
Easy question at the moment as we have absolutely no plans whatsoever with flights unavailable, no hotels open, etc etc. So the plan is to wait until things start moving again. I don’t think we will consider going overseas hardly at all this year apart from a trip to Jo’s Mum in Toulouse (if it’s possible). There is so much still to see in England that we would be more than happy to plan adventures around our homeland for the rest of 2020.
Russell (England) – From all your years of travelling, which city/country surprised you the most ?
I think I would have to say that I was surprised with Melbourne, in that I was expecting so much and found it very disappointing. Didn’t like or dislike it, just felt that it was there. Most places seem to surprise us in good ways though as we like to explore and there are always so many interesting things to discover. We loved places like Cardiff, Utrecht in Holland, Vancouver Island, Napier in NZ, and Bergen in Norway. All fabulous.
Grey Traveller (Hampshire, England) asks In these uncertain times what are your hopes for the future about the health of yourself and loved ones?
Currently we’re both very healthy and fairly careful about what we eat and drink. I’m not a natural healthy eater and it is completely down to Jo that we have such an amazingly good diet now. I lost a shedload of weight last year and work fairly hard now to keep it off and do as much exercise as possible. Our constant, slightly obsessive walking really helps of course. So I just hope that our good health lasts and lasts.
Jersey Girl Adventures (Kuwait) – Was it hard taking the leap to sell up and go?
Unbelievably it really wasn’t. We both had a feeling that we wanted something to change and the decision felt obvious to the pair of us. We were extremely relaxed about the decision and although initially a little overwhelming, the sale of house and car and quitting of jobs seemed to just happen. Looking back now I can’t believe just how relaxed and calm we were about the whole process.
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?
Apart from the obvious (beginning with New and ending in Zealand) we really like both Germany and the Netherlands. The lifestyle and attitude of the people in both countries strikes a chord and we love their way of life. Not fussed about settling anywhere primarily for the weather or the sun although long hard winters could put us off a bit (sorry Scotland).
Alison Hutt (Perth, Australia) – How long do you plan in advance ..two jobs ahead or three ?
We don’t limit ourselves to a particular number of trips or housesits but generally like to organise our lives up to 5 or 6 months in advance. A bigger trip overseas might take more planning of course but we like the fact that our future is vague and unknown, it gives life a bit of an exciting edge.
Last few questions to finish him off then ………..
Where could you see yourself living when the JWalking boots are hung up?
This is a question that we ask each other fairly regularly but the answers are never the same. We’ve visited so many wonderful places and been impressed with the way of life that so many people live that the list could be huge. Obviously New Zealand would figure highly but it’s just so far away and we wouldn’t get to see our boys so it’s a non-starter. The more we explore England the more places we find that we seriously like so it could easily be somewhere in Wiltshire or Suffolk or even rural Essex. Somewhere not too remote, on the edge of a small town where we could walk to shops, pubs and other amenities but we haven’t finished looking around quite yet.
Has the current virus and measures put in place changed your mindset on your lifestyle?
Yes, so much has changed hasn’t it that we would be crazy to think things will remain the same as they were previously. Like so many others we are currently treading water waiting to learn when we can start to look for opportunities again. It’s frustrating but we can wait for the right moment. Long term we have never had any goals for where we are going or what we will do so it ultimately hasn’t really changed our outlook at all.
What have you learnt about yourself from travelling?
We never thought that we were possessions-orientated people and always believed that we appreciated experiences over things but the more we travel the more that has proved to be true. I could never have imagined just how little ‘stuff’ I would own and how little ‘stuff’ I would need. I never truly appreciated how laid-back I could be about planning for the future either. It’s been a truly liberating experience so far.
If you could only visit one more place in your life where would it be?
Tough one. Do I return to a favourite location or go for somewhere never visited before. I think that if I had to take one last trip anywhere then it would have to be back to New Zealand. Not a surprise I know but nowhere has ever come close to it for either of us.
Describe your lifestyle in three words.
Relaxing. Eccentric. Happy.