Our break from motorhome life.

Full English Breakfast
Can't beat a full English in the pub to make you feel at home!
Full English Breakfast
Can’t beat a full English in the pub to make you feel at home!

Zagan the motorhome has been somewhat neglected of late while we take our break from motorhome life. He’s being well looked after at the storage facility close to where we live, but we haven’t visited him as often as we should and have only spent a couple of nights in him. I suspect he feels a little bit abandoned.

It’s surprising how quickly and easily we have slipped back into ‘normal’ lives, if there is such a thing for us these days, and how soon the memories we made on our adventures have faded. Fortunately day to day life brings many sparks to ignite those memories. A bank of clouds across the horizon becomes the Alps looming on the road ahead, a glorious sunset transports me back to the many, many beaches where sat and gazed until the sun dipped into the sea and our eyes were full of blue dots.

I still haven’t started to sort out the photographs we took on our trip. At some point I will sit down and the thousands will be reduced to hundreds, then the chosen few put into a photo book. The photo books of our first two years of motorhome life are often taken from the bookshelf in our tiny home, and we sit by our wood burning stove (yes it has been on nearly all summer – we love it) and travel the adventure once more.

Mum and I brought a little Tour de France to the Tour of Britain.

We’ve been home for over two months, and I have to say I am enjoying being in one place for a while. We’ve been catching up with family and still have friends to go and see around the country, but that will have to wait until Jay finishes at work. His contract finishes at the end of November, so he is over half way through. He’s written about the many reasons why he accepted the contract, but I think the one lesson that we will both take away from it is – don’t do it again. I’m sure he’ll write about his feelings when he’s ready, but from my point of view my happy, adventurous, funny husband has been taken away and replaced with a tired, stressed shell and I don’t like it.

Evenings have once again returned to us sitting on the sofa watching something or surfing the internet – or both. I used to think it was a great way to relax after a hard day, but in reality it’s just a way of recovering mentally from the day or just a way to pass the time until the next day. While we used to talk about anything and everything over a cheeky glass of wine, we now sit silently staring at a screen. Jay asked me today to remind him of all of this if he ever gets tempted by another IT contract, so by writing it down it’s here for him to see if that day ever arrives!

Deer Wollaton Hall Nottingham
Injury meant I couldn’t run the Robin Hood Half Marathon in September, so we joined the local deer population at Wollaton Hall to cheer on our friends.

As we are financially free I chose not to go back to work, sort of. Jay calls me his 1950’s housewife. I spend my days mainly at home keeping pampered pooch Charlie company (even though the old fella sleeps most of the time), as well as turning the huge ‘to do’ list we wrote when we got back into a ‘done’ list  I’ve joined our local running club and gym, and currently have aches in muscles I never knew I had, and have been spending some time on my part-time business, which I really enjoy so don’t class it as work. Why the 1950’s housewife tag? I’ve been trying out some new recipes and while Jay’s dinner isn’t exactly on the table when he gets home, it’s prepared and ready to be cooked and a marked improvement from some of the stuff I used to rustle up in the van.

No 9-5 means I can tick off items on my bucket list – I’ve been an extra in a music video (pic is the artist on set) and ‘driven’ a self driving car

I know that you probably won’t want to hear this, but I’m also enjoying the break from writing this blog. We decided to stop mainly because we aren’t doing anything particularly readworthy, however it does make our days easier not having to think about what you will write about it, believe me it does become a chore from time to time.

Pub games Kerplunk
It hasn’t all been work, work, work! We’ve managed a few nights (ahem) out – from celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary and my birthday to games of KerPlunk in the local.

As we ticked over into October and we got an increasing number of messages and emails asking what our plans our, I thought it a good opportunity to put fingertips to keyboard and give you a much overdue update. As for our future plans, you should know by now that we aren’t big planners. So far we have decided to take December off (as you do), spend Christmas with my family and New Year with our friends. Then in January we are thinking of heading to some mountains somewhere to see if we can improve on our pathetic previous attempt at motorhoming in the snow.  After that, we don’t have a clue, but one thing I know we won’t be doing is signing up for more full time work anytime soon!

Cheers

Ju x

 

28 Comments

  1. Sorry to hear Jay’s work is taking it’s toll and you are both slipping back into ‘normal life’ too much at the moment but it’s great you have plans to get away again! You guys have been a huge inspiration for my family and I to break out of ‘normal life’ again ourselves as we have got too caught up with kids, mortgages etc over the last few years :( However now, after making the huge decision as a family to make a change we have now also placed a deposit on a 2012 motorhome and can’t wait to get everything in order for when we set off early in 2018 to travel around Europe as a family of 5 and see where the adventure takes us :)

    Thanks

    • Sounds fantastic Andy. Enjoy your adventures and might be worth checking out the blog of lifeinourvan if you haven’t already come across them. They are a family of four who are homeschooling around Europe and have some fantastic guides and resources for things to do with the kids.
      Ju x

  2. “…but from my point of view my happy, adventurous, funny husband has been taken away and replaced with a tired, stressed shell and I don’t like it.” A very powerful sentence.

    I’m currently still a corporate warrior and feel like the person you describe right now. Luckily in 2007 I started on a journey to financial independence and officially became financially free in 2016. I’m working on a little longer as we’re looking to emigrate from the UK permanently and just want to understand what is happening with the Brexit shambles a little more, particularly around healthcare, before we pull the final trigger. I’ll retire early next year at which point I’ll be 45. For me it was always about reaching a point where work became 100% optional.

    The reason I post this is that over the years I’ve had people say why not go earlier as you can always go back to work if the markets go against you or why not work part time to allow the same. Your sentence reinforces that I was 100% right to push on. Thanks.

    • Great place to be RIT! I’ve gone back in a couple of times and have found my ability to do the job hasn’t fallen, but my desire to do it has. I also struggle with being among my colleagues as, despite them all being great, descent people, they are on a very different path to me. l’m very happy to forego the cars, houses, phones, job title, flash holidays, the lot. So I find myself holding my tongue constantly, which is no bad thing but doesn’t make for great relationships. The daft operational approaches which only large companies can survive also drive me to drink. Time to get my imagination fired up. 7 week countdown. Cheers, Jay

  3. Good to hear you’re both still kicking along, although I hope Jay’s not too despondent. Hopefully planning the next trip will help.
    Since we FIRE’d in May we haven’t missed work a bit. The summer flew past as several people offered on our house…..then pulled out. But contracts now exchanged and from 26 October we’ll be homeless and living in the van…until we complete on the next place. This means our first long trip to Europe is on hold until next Spring. Looking forward to getting away for a few months.
    Paul

    • Ah the joys of conveyancing! Glad to hear things are moving along though and you have plans to get away. Spring next year will be here before you know it!
      Ju x

  4. Nothing like a quick dose of reality to focus the mind on what’s good in life eh. I can understand how a stint normal life living can be appealing when on the road, it can be very tiring with all the planning and travelling & so it’s easy to forget how privaledged we are. At least when you take off again you will appreciate it that little bit more. Enjoy being anchored for Christmas. Andi xx

    • Thanks Andi. We had got to the stage where we weren’t appreciating travelling. Being at home is great, but being in Corporaresville while we are here isn’t, so we are looking for ideas of other things to do when at home – volunteering etc. It’s always good to have a mix to stop us getting bored!
      Ju x

  5. Thank you for your honesty in your posts! It’’s refreshing to hear the downsides as well as the upsides to their rather crazy life we seem to lead. Also pleased to hear light is at the end of the tunnel for Jay too. We’ve been considering spending more time at home in the UK as well – and as such – wondering how you guys are doing in your accommodation – interested to know how it works for you in a smaller space for a longer term when it’s not a van? We’ve been considering making similar alterations to our home so that we can come back when we want for as long as we like without interrupting lodgers etc…

    • The cooler has worked out really well for us. We love having our own little space and it still feels big to us after being in the van.
      The only draw back that we have found being here for a longer term is when Jay is working from home. As it is one open plan space, it means he is sat at the table, with Charlie by his feet, and I am generally sat on the sofa as I am a bit restricted on what I can do while he is working. In an ideal world there would be a separate room for him to work in and leave all his work stuff in. But as it is only for a few months, the benefits of not having to move out tenants far outweigh the trouble it causes.
      Ju x

  6. I did wonder at Jay going back to full on work! Still, not much longer. probably worth doing just to remind yourselves not to do it again :) Glad to hear you’re heading out into the big wide world again next year. I’ve certainly decided this staying in one place for too long isn’t good for you!
    Best wishes to you both.

    • That’s really interesting Peter. Was the campsite too long of a commitment? We have thought about doing something like that as we think it would be more rewarding (fulfilling as opposed to financial) than a corporate job.
      Yes, lesson learned for us. But it has topped up the bank balance nicely, just got to decide what to do with it! Still lacking imagination :(
      Ju x

  7. Could I suggest that travel does not have to include the motor home!
    We have traveled around Europe and had six months in New Zealand in a motor home and love it.
    This September we decided to get out of the box ( onwheels) and walk the French Camino!
    We are now sat in Muxia having walked over 900 km .
    As for the cost around 50 euro per day including travel there and back, total cost to be calculated on return.
    Whilst we have missed our comforts, it’s made us re-evaluate how we can travel in the future.

    • Hi John
      The motorhome works great for us at the moment while we have Charlie with us. He can’t walk too far these days, but is happy in his little home on wheels when we go out.
      Once he is running on a beach in the sky, we have a huge list of adventures we want to do, many of which aren’t in the motorhome.
      Thanks for the heads up about the French Camino – the Spanish one is already on my bucket list after watching the film The Way (and a friend of ours is walking it at the moment!).
      Enjoy your adventures.
      Ju x

  8. I’m rather selfishly glad that a return to ‘normal’ working life looks like it’s not on the cards for either of you. Sorry. I am looking forward to hearing more about whatever you decide to do with your futures.
    I do see why you did it though and both of you have been really brave sharing your experiences both this time and the previous time you returned to work.
    As someone who is taking some time out and will definitely have to return to work eventually (not quite financially free, I need a bit more capital to be inflation beating) it’s really made me consider what a return to work will look like. Thanks for all the inspiration so far.

    • Hi Becky
      When we returned to work to become financially free, it was very different. We had a goal and were working our nuts off to get to it.
      Now we are able to work if we want to, suddenly it isn’t quite so appealing. We are now trying to think of work that will be fulfilling to us as opposed to financially rewarding.
      Good luck with your journey to FI.
      Ju x

  9. I will be officially retired in two weeks from a job I loved. I am taking early retirement to enjoy life on my own terms now…since I can never have this time back. You have both been an inspiration. I particularly appreciate how you have always been so honest and open about your experiences. I am looking forward to hearing more about Jay’s “back to work experiment” and how it felt for him.

    • Thanks Gilda.
      I am so pleased to hear that you had a job you loved. By having that you don’t have to do a day’s work!
      I am sure once his contract is over Jay will feel like writing again.
      I love your philosophy on life, it’s so true, you can never have this time back. Enjoy your retirement.
      Ju x

  10. Jay, make a video of your thoughts about returning to work, just for your own viewing at a later date. I’ve done it in the past and there’s nothing like being told, by yourself, not to do something ever again (and the reasons why).

    Life’s too short to be a “stressed out shell”, even more so when you have a choice (when most people don’t).

    Aaaaannyway…I’m on track, following the OT-plan (Our Tour Plan). We’re looking at Buy-to-Let properties and getting the house ready for sale.

    My pension is being transferred from my final salary into my own hands (My company is keen to divest itself of the old final salary pensions and is giving “sweeteners” to encourage us to take the pension pot. This basically gives me the option to invest in a few buy-to-lets, to create a “pension” at 55 rather than wait until 63 (There’s simply no way my brain can take another 8 years of meaningless spreadsheets..I’d be a cabbage by then).

    Quite possibly we’ll be on the road full time next year, funded by a couple of rental apartments and taking our time searching for a French farmhouse (via Norway, Iceland..etc first though).

    I’m so bored of the British winter. It’s not a winter, it’s just a grey Spring turning into a grey Autumn by way of a week or two of sun in July. I’m losing the will to wait until next April/May for nice cycling weather.

    Hang in there. See you on the road hopefully (remember you still owe me a lot of money for introducing me to this bloody expensive Hymer Motorhoming lifestyle… the cost of a beer at least. Actually I owe you a few beers…because we love it)

    Lee at http://www.gohumberto.com

    • That’s a great idea Lee! I’ve started to get my brain into gear on what to do once I’m ‘retired’ again, in all of 39 days… I know it’s bizarre, just a few days but I’m still struggling to keep total focus. I’ve made a commitment though, so I’ll do my best for the guys I’m working for.

      I’m considering cashing in a defined benefits pension too, but I’m some way away from the date I could touch it so am holding fire for now. Have you considered a split between BTL and equities, to spread your risk across assets classes? Our net worth is roughly 50-50 equities (Inc private pensions) to property, with a stash of cash and bonds to help us over dips in income or one-off costs.

      Whatever route you choose, it has to beat losing all those heartbeats to something which will make you feel like ‘a cabbage’.

      Take it easy, see you on the road one day, man hugs, Jay

      • Hello, with regard to cashing in your Defined Benefits scheme, I’ve contemplated the same thing. I also worked at a large Utility Company in Nottingham so I’m aware of the scheme you are in. You are entitled to an annual CETV Cash Equivalent Transfer Value so ensure that you get one each year. Your scheme most likely includes RPI uplift each year so in this time of high inflation it’s a valuable point. I was offered 42 times my deferred pension to take the money. However, I’m waiting whilst inflation is high and GILT yields are still low. Just a word of warning – it took me about 3 months to actually get a transfer figure from the pension providers.

        • Thanks David. Took that long for me too, and I was closer to 30 times value. If I was at 42 times, I’d have been sorely tempted to pull it out and self-invest (actually I wouldn’t have been tempted, I’d have gone ahead in a heartbeat). But as things stand I plan to get a valuation each year and make a call later on. Cheers, good luck, Jay

          • It’s a tough decision and it definitely requires a spreadsheet. If you transfer then you take on the risk. However, in the current low return / high RPI inflation environment I’m leaving it for a year or two. The other attraction of transferring is that any dependents then can inherit the pension pot. Potentially not an issue for you but in my case by normal pension date my son will no longer be classed as a dependent and my partner has her own well funded pension already. I’ve read your feelings on returning to work and I can empathize. I reached Financial Independence a few years ago and after my son was born I had a year off. I’ve now been back at work for 2 years and I think I’m coming to the end of it as I’m saving approximately 90% of my salary and I no longer think the stress justifies it. Anyway, best of luck on getting through the remainder of your contract.

      • I’m currently transferring my DB (Final Salary) pension because the “pay out” increased substantially this year. Apparently many firms with existing DB schemes have been advised by corporate accountants to get the DB pensions off the books. As a result they are enticing employees to take the money by seriously increasing the pot. It’s worth askign for a “Transfer Out Value” from the pension company. It’s valid for 3 months and it may make you decide to “cash in the chips” rather than wait. I did it so the “pot” is in our family hands and doesn’t vanish after our untimely end.

        Lee at http://www.gohumberto.com

        • Thanks Lee. Just did that and although the transfer value was higher than I expected, we’re holding fire for now. It’s something of an art, I think, trying to decide when to transfer out, but like you we’d like to have capital control ourselves. We’ll get another valuation next year. Cheers, good luck, Jay

  11. Hi guys,
    You mentioned looking into volunteering at home. We’d make a suggestion that might be of interest- alongside a few housesits, maybe you could try Workaway projects as a way to break up the van travel when on the road. We had four very different but very rewarding experiences with Workaways on our Scandinavia trip this year. They generally come with separate accommodation so it’s a break from the van, they offer tasks and a focus for part of your day, similar sometimes to work but without the normal pressures or politics. The social side of meeting families and delving deeper into local lives is great, and all your eating (and drinking) expenses are covered for the week or two that you volunteer. It’s is usually seen as being for student backpackers, but it’s all about finding the right host, as many will appreciate an older, wiser head who can improvise and work unsupervised. We are registered on workaway.info. Good luck with it all.
    Aaron & Nicky

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*