Settling Back into the Weird World of the UK

Dave the motorhome’s just happily completed a 7 hour drive from Cornwall to Derby, on the final(ish) leg of our round-UK wanderings. We’ve met up with great mates, old and new, in Sutton Coldfield, Swindon, Cardiff and Fowey. We’ve been generously welcomed into homes, fed, watered and chatted with; it’s been quite wonderful. Much of the time we’ve kipped in Dave on the street, which has worked out just fine. Although we’ve had tens of invites to nip in and see people across the length and width of the country, we’ve had to limit the travel as we’ve a fairly aggressive ‘get back into UK life’ plan, and things are moving apace.

For starters, our house rental has all been approved and we move in next week. Plans have been made to whip our belongings out from our storage unit, our house attic and various family attics and deposit them in our new home. Our Smart car, which has been stored in Adele and Murray’s (Ju’s brother and sister-in-law) garage for an ENTIRE 2 YEARS (huge thanks to those guys) has been revived. It’s had a new battery and new tyres fitted, and the MOT is tomorrow (insurance came in at £450, ouch, but we’ve zero no claims). Job applications are flying out like angry wasps; freelance IT Project Management for me, either freelance of permanent Marketing Campaign Manager for Ju. We’re convinced it’s just a matter of time before we get some decent work (decent meaning we will be able to continue to shop at Lidl). Doctors and dentists appointments are scheduled (I need a filling, Ju got away with it Scot free, huzzah). It’s all coming together.

So, what’s it like being back, 2 weeks in after 2 years out? It is a little weird. Pretty much everything around us has remained the same. Our friend’s children have grown, shops have closed and opened, speed limits reduced and prices for food have gone up. Nothing major though, life’s just cruised along as we’ve cruised about. Obviously we’ve not come back quite the same as we left. Bumping up against umpteen cultures, languages, currencies, landscapes and fellow travellers (often very successful people) has altered us. In which ways, I’m not sure we’re qualified to say ourselves, but we’re certainly up for the bigger challenges in life. Which brings me onto the Blue Marble Project.

As we travelled and spoke to fellow travellers, a book called ‘The Secret’ cropped up a time or two; I decided to read it. It has a basic message: the way in which you think about the world around you directly affects the world around you. As an example, if you think you’ll get a job, really believe it, then you’ll get a job. One interesting couple we met, who ran a successful business, told us a story. They’d read the book, and then started to test it by thinking about a blue marble, believing it would appear in their lives. A week or two later a blue marble appeared on the drive. OK, OK, it all sounds like whacky stuff, but I believe in this ‘power of attraction’. By thinking positively about the thing you want, it leads you to take positive action, to extend yourself and to do things you might otherwise shy away from.

So, our ‘Blue Marble Project’ is our Life Plan. We’ve never had such a thing before, but now we have. We know that we loved our travels, the freedom of it, the exposure to so many new and often quite beautiful things. We know that to experience more of it, to continue to live the dream, we need to alter the way in which we live and how we run our finances. We know that we need to learn more about money, investments in particular, something no-one taught us at school (although we’re now well versed in being frugal). We know we’ve a mountain to climb to achieve some degree of economic freedom so that we can travel more. We’re up for climbing the mountain, we’re ready to work harder than we’ve ever worked.

Onto a lighter note and to give a bit of credibility to the blog post title, here are a few things which have felt just plain weird coming back to the UK:

  • Driving a Smart Car and thinking “ooooooh my GOD, this thing’s FAST!”
  • Getting the bus into Nottingham (our nearest city which we’ve both known for years) and having to seriously think about where the bus stops are
  • Walking into a pub full of people, all speaking English, all drinking pints and being able to understand what everything is on the pub menu
  • Similarly, coming out of a shop and for a fraction of a second being taken aback by all the UK number plates in the car park (normally we’d see maybe one a week, sometimes one every couple of months)
  • Shopping in Lidl and forgetting you’re in the UK for a moment in among all the multi-lingual packages of food, until you come across the array of curry sauces (if you plan to motorhome Europe and like curry, stock up before you go)
  • Being able to phone up garages and shops and speak to people, in English
  • Talking with friends who remember more about your travels (having read this blog) than you do
  • Eating fish and chips which we’ve craved for months and thinking “that’s odd, I’ve not missed this”
  • Staring in disbelief at how much restaurants charge for a beer (£6, SIX POUNDS!)
  • The fact Charlie (our dog) seems to remember exactly everything about our parent’s homes and is not in the least bit fussed when we leave him alone with them for a night or two
  • The fact it’s actually rather sunny sometimes, and the motorways aren’t as clogged up as I remember

Next week’s looking packed as we’ll be moving house, continuing to catch up with friends and continuing our job hunting, in among a raft of other tasks. Wish us luck folks!

Cheers, Jay

20 Comments

  1. Glad as is going well for you…just a little question ….do you happen to know the name of the author of the secret? Would love to read it. Thank you again for you so inspirational blogs.

  2. Glad you are all back safe and sound. We are just leaving again for (fingers crossed) nine months Planning Italy Sicily and greece and anywhere else that takes our fancy. We have not read all your blog but plan to when we have crossed the channel and have time to relax.Agree with your ‘weird things’100%. Good luck in the job markets and keep up the positive thinking. Maybe our paths will cross again, lets hope so. Rob and Sue

  3. It’s interesting that ‘culture shock’ works as much when coming home as it does when landing in a new country. We lived in Pakistan for 3 years and I remember the ‘paralysis’ when we returned to the UK from just walking into a shop and seeing not just one but many, many different types of shampoo – after having 3 years of no choice it was too much to take in and I walked out without buying anything!

    From reading your blog and speaking to friends who own a motorhome hire company but have decided to sell up and travel instead, we’ve also decided to drag our ‘One Day’ list into the present and buy a van now, rather than waiting for the money and time to be in place – it may never happen. I’ve always found that weighing-up options is the hard part; once the decision’s made the weight’s lifted, the way ahead is clear and all we need to do is aim for and plan to get to the goal – all it takes is a leap of faith.

    “Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” John Dewey

    Good luck with the next stage of the journey.

    Paul & Cathy

  4. Hi There
    I am so pleased to hear you found The Secret. We visualised our dream home, detached in the country, barns for our motorhome and chopping logs for the wood burner . Cheap rent because the landlord ( in our case the county council) want you to do it up and maintain it. And here we are! My dream job was dreamt up and talked about until it became a reality. The only blur on the Horizon was me getting cancer but we a focusing on a cure now. It really does work, we even dreamt up a holiday and the next week won a 10 day first class holiday in Switzerland with balloon flights over the Alps. I would also recommend reading the Celestine Prophecy and The Alchemist. Oh yes there is another good film called What the Bleep? Down the Rabbit hole. It sounds like you are on the road towards your next adventure already. I expect it won’t be too long before the ideal jobs present themselves.
    All the best Helga the Hymer aka Deborah and Colin.

  5. Awh.. we really feel sad you have ended your tour and are thinking you must be feeling sad too!
    We are off in November being inspired by you guys we are going in our Hymer with our two dogs.. where.. we don’t know!
    Thanks so much for all the bloggs.. excellent!
    Gail & Julian
    Molly & Maisie

  6. Hi J&J
    Last few days at Camping VT in Bulgaria, job done. Off to southern Greece for the winter.
    We’ll be in similar situation next April when back in Blighty, will work in England for the summer then off again.
    With best wishes.

  7. We just learnt something interesting about our Motorhome insurance as we just renewed ours on our van… Safeguard allow you to mirror your no claims from another policy. So by taking your no claims out of the motorhome and putting them on a car, you can then mirror the claims back to the motorhome. The irony of this is that the motorhome insurance was actually £50 cheaper since we were no longer paying for the “protected no claims” and of course the car insurance was massively cheaper vs insuring it with no available NCB. Why do things have to be so complicated? Currently at Adventure Overland show where our respective tours of Europe and ventures into North Africa pale into insignificance! One day maybe… Good luck with your re-entry :) A&S

    • Thanks Adam, great bit of info although at the moment neither of us have any NCB! We will have by the next time we head out though, probably a fair bit of it. I can imagine Adventure Overland is a real eye opener to what can be done. One day, one day. Cheers, Jay

  8. PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) guys is the way forward!!! We look forward to meeting you in Europe on your next travels :0) Thanks again for writing a great blog.

  9. Hey there J&J!
    Your followers are right on, you have just got to desire whole heartedly your next move, Joyce & I have been amazed how a mental vision can become a reality. Maybe it’s just foresight in being able to see your destiny. Last November in the snow sat in our van watching Inspector Montalbano, skint & J not even an EU citizen, we had an overwhelming desire to get down to Sicily. 4ward 8 weeks & we were sat outside Montalbano’s house in Punta Seca !! The desire this summer was to get good paying jobs & head south before winter sets in. Pleased to inform you we landed on our feet, nearly cashed up we’ll be ready for an Atlantic Adventure.

    All the best A,J &O

    http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/jun/07/british-tourists-trail-inspector-montalbano

  10. Hi guys, maybe just a coincidence but saw 3 old Hymers in Cardiff that week. If you were down the Bay camping one of them must have been yourselves, if we had known we would have come and said hello. Not MH’s yet but your travels are insperational and it is now our dream to own and travel as you have.

    Good luck Aden

  11. Hiya both! I think my partner and I have watched all your videos of your on-road adventures in Dave with Charlie, and we are truly inspired and enlightened by what you had to show and say of your travels of wherever.. You really have the knack of making a place seem so amazing, and we can’t wait to do the traveling ourselves now, extremely excited about it actually! Anyway, thoroughly enjoyed your videos, etc.. Enjoy your homecoming, your new home and future plans, and thank you both for the visual experiences you shared via youtube, we love you! lol :D

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