Life has thrown us a challenge, and we’re facing it head on!

So – today is the day I reveal our new challenge, but first let me put a little story behind it…

A few days ago I woke up and felt different – I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that felt different, but something wasn’t quite right.

I got ready for work @ the orchard as normal and then as I was about to leave the caravan with Dena I said to her ‘I wonder if we’ll do anything challenging today’.

It wasn’t preplanned, and it certainly wasn’t meant to kick off the whirl wind that has been the last 3 days.

As we walked up to the farm yard we didn’t say anything to each other, we met the boss and were told that we were pruning for the day, so off we went with hand-saws and secateurs in hand.

On the way through the orchard Dena asked me what I meant by my comment a few minutes early.

As I thought about it, I wasn’t really sure exactly what I meant by the comment – but it led to us talking the whole day about our future.

What I now realise I meant was that although we were in a job that we had wanted for years – we work the land, reap the rewards and to top it off we also live right on the land: something was still missing.

When I wake up in the morning I know pretty much exactly what we’ll be doing – mainly because the orchard grows the same things year in year out, but then so do most farms.

The problem with that I realised, is that it has stopped being a challenge.

We’ve only been here @ the orchard for 2 years, but I feel like I can do the job with my eyes shut – I dig, plant, bash, carry, pot up, weed, prune, pick, drive tractors etc etc, but it’s the same every day and it doesn’t seem to challenge me lately like it has done over the last 2 years.

Up until a few years ago I had longed to find somewhere I could settle  – and here I am settled and I thought it was the happiest I have ever been.

And yet I now found myself yearning for something else: something more challenging.

But what could be that challenge?

Like I said, we spent the whole day whilst pruning the apple trees talking about our future, and more importantly what could we do that would challenge us.

And thankfully it was us – Dena agreed that she too was getting restless and was in need of a new challenge.

By the end of the day we realised what it was that we wanted to do.

And what was that realisation??



We wanted to travel.

Yep as simple as that – we both realised that we wanted to go travelling again.

Nothing that profound really to most people: but we both now feel that we need to go to another country, to meet new people and more importantly to have new experiences and new challenges.

We’ve been travelling before, Denmark and New Zealand in 2003-04, and Denmark again in 2008, but all 3 times we were naive and narrow minded.

We didn’t open ourselves up to enough new experiences and challenges, we didn’t connect with people properly.

We just did the backpacker thing and came home, almost ticking it off our life’s list of things to do.

And since then we’ve lived our lives – yes of course most of the time it’s been different lives than other people, but it feels like even though we’ve done things differently than most people we’ve met, being here in the same place doing the same thing day in day out makes us feel like we are doing the same as most people do.

So we both agreed that it’s time to shake things up, it’s time for a change.

One thing that I was reminded of whilst talking throughout the day was that during the summer last year I came across a travel blog article that was written by a 33 year old guy who had gone to teach English in Thailand, but before he went he had found he could get a visa for New Zealand through a company called Bunac – specifically a visa that allowed him to work for 12 months in the country (normally you can only get one if your under 30)

The article was about his adventures through New Zealand and then Thailand and if my memory serves me correctly, I think he actually ended up staying in Thailand with a full time teaching job.

I put this to the back of my mind, but obviously since then my subconscious has been playing games with me and I have finally cracked!

OK, OK, enough story telling – I’ll get to the point, more specifically now…

We’ve decided to go travelling, and we’re going to New Zealand for 12 months and then onto Thailand for 6 to 12 months.

We’re going to apply for a visa through Bunac for New Zealand, which will allow us to work legally there, and then we’re going to Thailand through an organisation called Languagecorps – which will enable us to teach English there.

Again,to some people, this may not seem that challenging nor that different really, but for us this is a challenge that we’re in dire need of, something to bring us back alive again, in fact I’d go as far as saying that this is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while now but without actually knowing we wanted do it – if that makes any sense at all?!

So – we’re going to New Zealand and Thailand, but how and when?

Well, if you follow the blog regularly you may well know that we’re both working at an apple orchard, and we both earn just above minimum wage – so that is a challenge in and of itself.

However, we live in a caravan on site too, which means we have a decent chunk of our monthly wage that we can put aside – which I’ve worked out will equal a half of what we want to take with us.

So it does still mean it’s a massive challenge financially – so we’ve got to get our thinking caps on and get into action straight away.

I say quickly, but we’ve got about 10 months.

We’ve set a date of 1st December this year as the date we’ll be leaving the UK.

We wanted to go sooner but we just cannot get the finances together to do it properly and because we want this to be a long term thing, we want to get ourselves off to the best possible start.

I’ll elaborate further in future posts on the in’s and outs of how we are going to do things etc, and if I’m honest with myself I am actually pretty damn excited about sharing the whole journey with the whole interweb!

Until next time…



6 thoughts on “Life has thrown us a challenge, and we’re facing it head on!

  1. Dreamer 05/02/2011 / 1:15 pm

    Bunac is a great thing to do. I did Bunac in the states, that was 15 years ago, showng my age now 🙂 The good thing about it is that you can obviously save money while you work to travel and see the rest of the country which is what I did.

    Im happy for you!

    When you said that up until a few years ago you longed to find somewhere where you could settle thats exactly what we are searching for, it seems to be very elusive to us though.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

    • WeeMike 05/02/2011 / 2:48 pm

      The thing I found with the urge to settle was that once I stopped looking at places we lived as somewhere we might settle or not, I actually found myself feeling more and more settled as time went on – if that makes any sense?

      Me and Dena have been together for 13 years now and we’ve moved about 15 or 16 times – for various reasons: our job wasn’t right, we needed to get away from a circle of people who were going in different directions to us (which for some reason seems to happen a lot, well, up until recently anyway) or something else.

      Because we’ve moved so much in the past it’s made me think lately whether or not we need to actually settle at all.

      I used to worry about the sustainability of my lifestyle and thought that settling was the most sustainable way to live, but I now feel the urge to travel and am not worried about sustainability at all – I just try to live without too much excess and waste and as long as I’m happy it’s all good.

      At the end of the day I think it’s what is most important – what makes you happy, where-ever you are if you question your happiness then maybe it’s time to move on.

      We did and we’ve decided it’s time to move on!



  2. Dreamer 05/02/2011 / 9:26 pm

    Mike, hubbie and I have also moved a LOT of times for various reasons, mostly to do with work and as you say sometimes to escape from people.

    But I’m tired of it. Tired of an itinerant lifestyle. I want to drive a stake in the ground and say “Im home”, if you know what I mean. The thing is, growing up we moved around so much that it just stayed with me. Moving around all the time is expensive and I wonder what is being achieved by it. I’d like to “build” something somewhere, you know feel settled. I also feel that we are not getting any younger we are not old though 37 and 44, but we do want a base, but I dont want to settle for something that will just “do”, its got to be somewhere where I want to be.

    And thats the problem, because when you said the other day re Canada about wanting something bigger than this country it struck a cord wtih me because that is exactly how I feel. I just feel that we are all rammed in together on this tiny island and unless you’ve got bags of money, you have to live like a sardine. But most other english speaking countries are not an option for us re immigration restrictions.

    So I dont know what we will do. It goes againgst my grain to part with cash to buy something in Britain, a bloody shoe box that costs a fortune.

    • WeeMike 06/02/2011 / 9:15 am

      I can completely understand wanting to make a home and settle somewhere, after all for most people thats where they feel most comfortable.

      With both me and Dena no matter how long we’ve been somewhere we make sure our house/flat/tent/yurt/campervan/caravan has been made as comfortable as possible and that we’ve put our own personal touch on it, because making it your own I’ve found makes it feel more like we’ve settled each time, even though we might only spend 6 months somewhere.

      I agree 100% about shoe box UK and thats why we’ve never bothered to save any money to buy anywhere here.

      Everywhere we’ve been the houses have been so tiny that we could afford and like you said unless you have the money you won’t be getting anything else!

      We’ve looked at owning land too but even when we found an area that showed promise it was a no go because we want to build a strawbale/eco house and when we’ve looked at the chances of getting planning permission it’s been a no go because of the red tape (mostly people with expensive houses not liking something different in their area!)

      Personally I think the whole housing system in the UK is buggered (well I’d go as far as saying the whole UK system is buggered but that’s another subject!!) … I don’t understand the people who can’t get it through their heads that buying a 2nd home just to holiday in or to rent out at stupid prices isn’t bad for the local people.

      The local people in the same area as the house should have first priority because they work in the area, and espiecially down here in the Southwest of the UK it’s even more prominent how unbalanced the whole thing is, low wages but sky high house prices because people have paid stupid prices for them.

      Anyway I digress, another subject to do with the stupid UK system I could go on for hours about!

      In your situation maybe you should think about an Asian country??

      Everything I’ve read on the interweb from various people all points to it being a very affordable place to live – you’ve just got to find yourself something to bring in a bit of money there, but then this has so much scope because of the size of the whole place!

      Perhaps you don’t want to do it but something we’ve done and will be doing is to volunteer in a couple of countries to get into the place, and then whilst there see what opportunities come up for anything perminent job wise – for instance New Zealand and Denmark, both countries would be great places to live in for us, but the only way we could get in to begin with is to volunteer for a bit and then see what happens.

      I notice you mentioned your ages, but I don’t think these are obstacles, you can be any age to do anything in todays world, it’s all about your state of mind!

      If you think your too old to do something then you are – but trust me when I say that we’ve met a number of over 50’s in NZ and Denmark that were travelling and looking to find somewhere to settle and had no intentions of letting people tell them that they were too old!!

      Yes of course it comes down to money, but then there are ways (volunteering being one) of getting into countries these days that you can explore nearly the whole world looking for somewhere to settle.

      I know how hard it is to move on to somewhere else when all you want to do is settle, but at the end of the day the way I tell myself that it’s all good is to look at it that we humans were originally nomads and travelled with the seasons, never settling in one place for too long – and only in recent times (compared to how long we’ve been here) have we built towns and cities etc and settled in one place, but who’s to say that this is the way we’re meant to live??

      I think in todays world we’ve all got to find our own way to live, and there is no one size fits all anymore, the way the whole system is going nothing lasts for as long as it used to – look at the job economy, can you really see by 2050 anyone left that can say they spent 40 years in the same job?? …. I can’t, so the whole system is changing, and it doesn’t mean for the worse either – I think it’s changing so fast that we cannot see where it will end up, but I have a feeling it will be for the better and we’ll all end up with more freedom from it.

      Ahem, anyway, I’ve gone on too long there, I’ll stop there!

      Just remember it’s all in the mind – if you think young and act that way, then you will always be young, and then anything is possible at all times!!



  3. Dreamer 06/02/2011 / 3:38 pm

    Mike, I think you have mentioned something that has been gnawing away at me for a while now. Perhaps I am too pre-ocupied with what everyone else is doing/how they are living. I think that I have always felt like an outcast because of things my perceived failure to find a sustainable and secure job, lack of family cohesion and just being rootless. I look around me and it seems that no one else struggles with these issues, you know they all have nice families, loving parents with financial support and a support structure. Perhaps thats part of why I sometimes crave somewhere to call home. Its not that I feel a need to “fit in” or anything, I dunno its difficult to explain. I suppose I thought that at age 37 I’d have all this nonsense sorted out.

    Completely agree with you about lack of jobs for life. When I walk past nice houses I wonder sometimes what people do for work to pay for them. When you take out a mortgage there has to be a reasonable expectation that you are able to pay the thing off, how are people going to do that when there are no jobs.

    Aisa, I have to be honest it doesnt draw me, I’ve read a lot about the cost of living in thailand it and seems that they have gringo prices there. But I havent been there. I’ve heard some good things about the philipines though.

    Agree about the eco house, thing is land over here costs as much as a house in some places. Thats why Portugal speaks to me. Problem with Portugal is lack of work though.

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