Living The Dream Is Not So Hard
I got quite emotional last night as Tracey and I sat on the wall next to The Sydney Opera House overlooking the grand harbour here in Sydney. You see, it’s always been my dream to return to Australia one day with Tracey and here we were, on our first night in Sydney and it was pretty nigh on perfect – we were indeed living the dream!
The evening was warm, but the heat of the day had passed, the harbour was lit up by the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and all the sky scrapers and dozens of boats from ferries to small craft were still criss-crossing the harbour with their lights twinkling against the water. We were here and it was all down to one Friday last August when we made the huge decision to go travelling for two years.
We don’t regret that decision at all and six weeks into our two year journey, we are having a ball. I’ve lost 12lbs already in weight and have set a target weight to achieve that I haven’t been for five years. It’s so much easier to lose weight when you’re not working! You have the time to take proper exercise, eat properly, and just look after yourself better. Work definitely gets in the way of all that and if your office is anything like the offices I’ve worked in over the years, it’s full of sweets, cakes, doughnuts and crisps! Not exactly the best way to maintain a healthy weight… Tracey is also losing weight but I’m a gentleman and all I can say is that she looks amazing all the time!
We’re travelling using a mix of hostels, camper vans and friend’s hospitality. I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by the quality of accommodation on offer using hostels. Apart from one bad experience (we moved out after one night), the hostels have been clean, comfortable and used by a real mix of people. Students travelling, young people with one year work permits, older couples like us travelling later in life and even the odd family. The mix is interesting and people like to talk and see what the others are up to.
There are loads of Germans and Scandinavians and quite a few from the old Eastern Bloc countries. As ever, their linguistic skills put us to shame but their cooking sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. The young men, in particular, believe that they need to experiment whilst they are travelling and some of the food they make is quite weird, even disgusting at times! The basics of cooking are lost on many of them – there’s no doubt that it’s not just the UK that is breeding generations of young people without the key cooking skills necessary to eat healthily in the future. Once in a while though, you find a young man making some extraordinary stuff – last week, one young lad decided to make rhubarb crumble in 32c heat and it was lush!
My favourite bed so far is in a camper van. We hired a camper to travel the Great Ocean Road from Adelaide to Melbourne for 7 nights and the freedom it gives you is just fantastic. We’re buying a camper van for the European leg of our trip later this year and it’s fun to see what’s out there and what we might buy later this year. We’ll need a bigger one than we’re using out here as we will be using it as our home for sixteen months, but the layouts and options have got us thinking!
Australia really is a fab country even if it’s obsessed with health and safety! It’s bloody enormous and also has serious water issues. Never complain about British tap water because the stuff they call water here in the taps is awful! Sydney’s is OK to be fair but Perth and WA water is chlorinated to death as it’s desalinated water. South Australia’s water is diluted salt water as far as I could tell…my tea is not the same out here! Victoria’s water wasn’t too bad but only in the context of the crap we’d had before.
The next big wars will be fought over water. Think of the River Jordan, the Ganges, the Nile, the Mekong – all damned up with the downstream flows hugely affected. Even here in Australia, each State is responsible for its own water supplies. In the USA, the Colorado River doesn’t reach the sea any more as individual states fight over how much they can each draw from the river with disastrous consequences. The Hoover Dam holding Lake Meade is the lowest it’s ever been and they are having to bore a new draw hole for Las Vegas, hundreds of feet below the other two there already to draw water as the current draw holes from which they draw water will run dry in five years time if the drought continues. When it was constructed in the 1930s, it was never thought possible that the second bore hole (the super emergency one) would ever itself run dry. Climate change? You betcha!
Even in the UK with our rainfall, the south has to draw water from rivers and aquifers as it doesn’t has storage in the form of reservoirs and yet, Scotland, Wales and the Lake District have enough water for everyone in the UK. Indeed, Wales already supplies water to Birmingham and the Midlands. Our rivers are being drained by the water companies with devastating effects on the natural environment. Fish stocks, diversity of plant and animal life are all affected, but taking water from our rivers is cheap and easy to do, especially with the government seemingly issuing new licences at will. After all, no-one wants to be the one to say that our taps might run dry. Yet there is not a national water pipeline in the UK to ensure supplies to all parts during dry periods. It’s madness! And of course, our water companies are foreign owned and the incentive to co-operate with each other is limited…until the shit hits the fan.
Anyway, that’s what travel does to you. It gives you time to think and your mind to wander and understand how the human race is plundering this earth of ours. It also allows you to see if other countries are doing any better and here’s the thing that’s struck me most of us so far. We spend an awful lot of time in UK moaning and whingeing at our lot. We belittle our country saying it’s going to the dogs because of immigration, loss of free speech, child poverty, terrorism, climate change, overcrowding, poor roads, youth unemployment, yada yada yada – take your pick.
And yet….everywhere we go, the UK is seen as a cool place to live and visit, a model of free speech and self expression, a place to do business, a place where people who want to work can do so and beautiful to boot. And I would second that. The world outside the UK very often has far worse issues than we will ever have, and our politicians for all their faults are generally trying their best and have mostly honourable intentions. Sometimes you need to travel to see what you’ve already got!
Sorry if I went off track a bit but sometimes you gotta get this stuff out… and we are living the dream. A recent Facebook picture said “Don’t wait too long to do all the things you want to do in your life. If you do, you won’t have enough time left to do it all!”
If you’ve got dreams, turn them into action – soon, because you never know what could hit you around the corner.