Taken from my blog post about Placebo originally posted in October 2017, deep into our decluttering and getting ready to sell up, leave our jobs and go off travelling for a year
A few weeks ago my husband bought me the Placebo album Black Market Music from the charity shop and I have since been listening to track 3 (Special K) and track 8 (more on that in a moment) over and over again in the car. I’ve had the album for a few weeks but only just started playing it: Timing is everything; it wouldn’t have meant so much even just a few weeks back. The song mentions ‘Maggie’s farm’, I don’t totally know what that means, I assume it’s like ‘The Man’ and then yesterday evening with the ipod on shuffle out of four and a half thousand songs it could have played it plays Bob Dylan: Maggie’s Farm. Did I say timing is all?
Just before we gave up, for the moment at least, listening to other people giving us spiritual advice, my husband found some youtube videos all about the importance of language, where words come from and phonetics. I was only mildly interested, but for five minutes I did play around with the phonetics of some of my favourite blog titles. I looked at ‘amazing’. I wondered what ‘ing’ was supposed to mean, but I couldn’t be bothered to look it up. I wasn’t even all that struck by A Maze. As I said, timing is everything.
Track 8 of Black Market Music:
So even though I’m switched off from spiritual gurus for the moment, it seems I’ll make an exception for Brian Molko
“Run away from all your boredom/all it takes is one decision/a lot of guts and a little vision/to wave your worries and cares goodbye/it’s a maze, a maze for rats to try/it’s a race, a race for rats to die/run away, run away“
So, so perfect for right now*. Thank you.
*This album actually came out in 2000 but there’s no such thing as time, right? It’s only ever right now.
I fell in love with you and I cried
‘We look down on people who choose themselves first, people who make the most of the lives they’ve been given.’ Natalie Swift, The Darkest Tunnel, WordPress
“The coop is guarded from the inside.” Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
Chapter One Following the white rabbit
April 2017, Harleston, Norfolk, UK
It was a weekend morning, I was standing in the hallway between the bedroom and the bathroom, John, my husband was in bed. He said, ‘What kind of people would we have to be to sell the house and just leave everything and everyone and go off on an adventure?’
‘Strong’, I said, ‘We’d have to be so strong’. Electricity ran up the length of my spine.
‘Wow,’ John said, ‘I just felt a tingle go right through my body.’
I was forty-seven years old. In terms of career and property, I had gone as far as I could and as far as I wanted to. Head of Occupational Therapy at a specialist secure hospital and living in a three bedroom semi detached house in a pleasant little town on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. But now what? Was I just going to keep on working and living there until I retired, grew old and died (and that was if I was lucky/the best case scenario)?
The house was perfect, a solidly built three bedroom 1950s ex council house with a huge garden. It was near my job, near my mother. We were happy there, and with me no longer having a long drive to work I began to relax, to be happy, and we both began to dream. Just over a year after we had moved in and supposedly settled for life, we began to roll around the idea of dismantling it all, selling the house, buying a camper van and travelling the world or going to live in a healing centre in Mexico run by an old friend of John’s.
Work had got the point where I was bored and looking for progression or development that never materialised whilst simultaneously feeling exhausted from the pressures of modern healthcare and emotionally burned out from the heart breaking and shocking stories of abuse and sexual offending. I couldn’t face the idea of doing it for another twenty years. Funnily enough I got a new manager who actually asked me, apropos of nothing, if I were planning to carry on working until I retired, ‘Or was I going to go off to India or something?’
I began to ask myself, what would I do if I didn’t have to do anything? What would I do if anything was possible? What would I do if I could do whatever I wanted?
When we first had the conversation and I experienced the glittering thrill of possibility, it was the first time in recent memory that I had allowed myself to think about what I actually might want. Since becoming pregnant at the age of eighteen my life had revolved around my son in one way or another. Even though he was now twenty-seven years old, I hadn’t seriously thought about leaving Norfolk until very recently, when an advertisement had jumped out at me for a job in Guernsey.
We went to Guernsey for two nights, the job sounded amazing, the interview went perfectly, but we didn’t want to move to Guernsey. Looking back, this was practical action that shifted us. It got us both wondering if we could live away from our kids. The initial weekend morning conversation was in April, the Guernsey trip was in June and in September my manager, realising I was burning out, allowed me to drop down to four days week. So really, those two nights in Guernsey marked the start of a shift in mental attitude that ultimately was to propel us all the way to India.
Ironically, for the first time in years, John had a job he loved, caring for people with learning disabilities as part of a lovely team, several of whom became friends. His two children lived with their mother in London and were now teenagers and rarely came to stay with us anymore. Both our mums had downsized and we had ended up having the biggest house in both families, yet no one came up, hardly anyone came to visit, and anyway we never were huge entertainers.
Our previous house had been a small two bedroom house in the same village as John’s mum and sister and when the kids were younger we’d had a lot of fun there. The new house was bigger and his daughter had her own room at last but she never even put a picture up. It became really obvious that it wasn’t their home, much more so than the previous house. That house, although smaller was about everyone, this one, although bigger, was just us. Like most parents, we misjudged how fast the kids grew up.
We had bought the house in Harleston from a widow who had lived in it with her husband from when it was first built in 1952, with many of the original features and it hadn’t been decorated since he last did it in the 1980s. I was besotted with the original glass lampshades, small chandeliers and old garden ornaments. John and I talked about getting old and dying there; the conveniences of the shops, doctors, dentists etc were much better than where we’d lived previously, all within easy walking distance or range of a mobility scooter.
On evening just after we’d moved in, sitting by the fireplace we had a premonition of sitting there as old people and at the same time felt as if we’d always been there through all the time of the house. I saw us sitting by the fireplace through the 1980s, and then later John old and with a beard. We realised that if we didn’t do anything we’d get old and die there.
I thought about old people whose homes haven’t been decorated for years and who have had the same things around them for decades. As they do less outside the home and spend more time inside, maybe the wallpaper, the furniture, the ornaments all loom larger because those things are given more attention and are tied with the memories they hold. People say that possessions and objects are important because they hold our memories. When people customise their homes they say they put something of themselves into it.
It was at this time that we began to discuss what we needed, something big enough and no bigger, a one bedroom flat, a caravan, a boat. To have a solid shelter, with heat that comes on with the flick of a switch, clean drinking water and hot running water with the turn of a tap, comfortable seating and sleeping areas, plenty of bedding and warm clothes, a washing machine. These things are denied to many. Even one thing off this list would represent enormous progress, even luxury, to some. Many of us who have these things do not fully appreciate them.
Not only that, the progress and comfort they represent and provide becomes grossly extended, with people changing their furniture before it has even worn out, and painting the inside of their homes a different colour according to what is deemed fashionable that season. ‘Needs updating,’ such a spurious phrase that has helped give rise to the largely unnecessary industries of producing new ‘kitchens’ and ‘bathrooms’ and the mind boggling array of paint colours on offer.
Of course, we need to have shelter but there’s probably an optimum level of comfort. If things are too hard, that takes so much time and energy that there’s no space for creativity. If things get too comfortable, one can be lulled into a false sense of security. Somehow by being too comfortable we become less aware: in our centrally heated comfort zones it’s easy to fall back to sleep.
Everything is arranged so that our biggest and best experiences are early in our lives and this, plus the emphasis on youth in film, television shows and advertising means that people spend most of their lives looking back to ‘the good old days,’ and taking their power and energy away from the present. You can see this in young people’s gap year travels before they ‘settle down’ to work, marry, have children… and in big event weddings, ‘the best day of your life’ with just the photographs on the mantelpiece to sustain you for the rest of your ‘less good’ life.
We had met eight years previously. Meeting John and falling in love had triggered a full on tripped out spiritual awakening for me. Because his children were still young and my son still needed quite a bit of support, we explored ideas of spirituality, personal growth etc from the comfort of our living room. We were lucky, that we both had the same ideas.
At the start it wasn’t even about selling the house and leaving the kids (that was too scary at first) it was just about getting to a position where we could. The decluttering came first, before the travelling was a solid plan and caused the mental shifts required in order for the travel to become a solid plan. I had to declutter in order to go and the decluttering helped me to go.
I was petrified of the idea of doing something so unthinkable, of giving up the security of property. Yet at the same time I was really excited about the idea of letting go of possessions and leaving with just a backpack each and no keys. I wrote: ‘For me it’s not really about travelling per se, it’s about testing my long felt urge to trust-fall into the universe, to let my fingertips peel from the cliff face and slip into the unknown. Mainly, it is about freedom; about realising where I am, what I have and therefore what I am able to do, with a bit of guts and imagination. The thought of just going off for a while with no plan other than to go travelling and keep writing is thrilling.’
In the UK, there’s such a drive towards home ownership as a goal that selling a property goes so much against the grain; family and home owning friends were dead against the idea. We had to sell up to liquidate capital, to have sufficient money for the trip. Not only that, we wanted to simplify, practise minimalism. Renting out the house and returning wasn’t what I had in mind, even if we could have afforded to do that. I didn’t want to have, as an acquaintance at work had had, a life changing experience in South East Asia for a year only to return to the same life. I might not have known what I wanted, but I was very sure about what I didn’t want.
Because you are choosing to have less, and no matter what all the memes etc. say you are going completely against the herd, who are all focused on getting more, so it feels weird and hard. You are going against the conditioning of the society you have been brought up in. That was why, during the several months of thinking, planning and putting the house on market, I was mentally quite aggressive. I said to myself, ‘I need to smash this down with a sledgehammer; I need to tear it up by the roots.’
I ruthlessly decluttered sentimental items. The bigger the action, the stronger I felt. It took a lot more energy than I had anticipated. I found that I did a splurge on something then had to stop for a bit. It was like going up steps or stages. We got tired. At other times, decluttering would seem to release a spurt of energy that propelled us forward. It was a balance between theory and practical steps, between wrapping our minds around it and then taking the necessary steps, interspersed with rest. And of course all the time we were going to work and doing the normal stuff of life.
The more I got rid of the lighter I felt, the more energy I had and the more I began to feel like a traveller. As the objects from my old life were left behind, I felt that I could become someone new, the kind of person who can do this.
What do you think? Would you keep on reading?
Thank you very much for visiting
Photo of me from a couple of weeks ago
Since I last posted I have discovered bright colours! (Thank you to Julie for my beautiful birthday top!)
Turns out, editing is harder than I thought, total focus is required, hence my absence. Plus in March I started work, part time, at a lower level but back to Occupational Therapy. Stepping down, and into a new clinical area, albeit just up the road and with a lovely team, is actually harder than I thought. I’m even wondering about stepping up again into a senior role and back into a more-hardcore-yet-familiar clinical setting.
As far as the book goes, there’s only so much writing I can do without my hand, wrist, arm and shoulder hurting. So there’s that. One or two evenings after work I do an hour or so, then on my days off I do around two hours. John my husband works 3-4 days per week in a shift pattern, giving us every Friday together and every other weekend, and time alone on the boat for each of us.
Book update: I’m giving myself a long weekend off, which feels like coming up for air, between the last pass through and the next, which will be editorial advice, mainly cutting here and there and working on strengthening the endings of each chapter, and adding a little personal background as needed.
I’ve been helping a friend with some editing and as I had hoped, have discovered a talent for this. I am very gentle, supportive and responsive and I have a sharp critical eye I can access to help you. If you want help I am available for editing work, use the contact box and I’ll get straight back to you.
More big news: We are in the process of putting a website together to collate all the information and knowledge we have about the nature of reality, the conditioning we are all a victim of etc etc; an online community for exchanging ideas and asking questions about our own experiences… Watch this space, as they say!
The cats came back at the start of lockdown!
Follow me on Instagram thisisrachelhill (mainly writing stuff and photos of everyday boat life)
Thank you for visiting
I had originally planned to go back to India by myself; I was keen to have some alone time and time to work on my book and I thought it would be a good experience to be in India alone. But then we just had a month apart, albeit I was on the boat in rural Northamptonshire not in India, but I had plenty of alone time and no longer felt the need to push myself to go off on a solo adventure. So we decided John would come too. But life happens and something has come up which means he needs to stay here. So it looks like I am having a solo adventure after all!
I’m getting an airport pick up from the Delhi guesthouse, I’m staying in a backpacker place with a travel/info desk, we’ve booked my train out of Delhi already- a day time journey in chair class, and I’m going to spend all my time in Pushkar where we’ve been before and know people.
I’m going to do as much book editing as I can, and the rest of the time enjoy Pushkar. The delights and wonders of Pushkar are many and include: monkeys everywhere, fantastic food*, markets, a small mountain to climb, many beautiful temples to visit, lovely cows to feed, a holy lake and Babas (holy men and possibly women) to talk with. And nearby Rajasthan cities to visit possibly too. * masala dosas, sabje bhaji, dal, aloo jeera, rice, homemade brown bread with peanut butter, huge bowls of fresh fruit salad with soya milk, all kinds of smoothies, great coffee, there’s even a French bakery a walk out of town…
Photos by my husband Anthony John Hill: the view from our balcony onto Main Bazar Delhi; the view from the guesthouse rooftop restaurant in Pushkar; one of the dear cows of Pushkar with a little friend.
Thank you very much for reading
About the author
In March 2018 we sold up and left behind most of our possessions to go off travelling for a year, spending most of our time in India. I wrote a blog and began writing a memoir of the year which I am currently editing. My husband and I live on a narrowboat in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Our days and lives are an interesting mix of the every day and the journey of self realisation.
Draft extract from the final chapter of my travel memoir
Lord give me a song that I can sing* Ho Chi Minh City
*Geography of the Moon who you can read about here
The man at the bus stop in Da Lat asked us if we lived in Ho Chi Minh City. We marvelled at the possibility. There are ex pats. There are digital nomads. There are retirees. There are people with all sorts of businesses. It’s not that strange but at the same time, the thought that it could be us seemed somehow hard to believe. And yet he thought it. And yet, of course, it’s possible.
In Nha Trang we’d sat in a restaurant and checked the booking for HCMC. We realised we’d booked somewhere with no WiFi- since almost everywhere has WiFi, it was easy to forget to check. It was quite hard to find cheap places in HCMC and certainly they all seemed pretty small- I wondered was it a dense population, like Tokyo, with space at a premium? Anyway after quite a while of searching we re-booked a small but nice looking room.
When we arrived in HCMC we realised we’d forgotten something again and not got our own bathroom; we hadn’t always had our own bathroom on the trip, but it is nice to have, plus we thought, it was our last place. Not only that, the place was very hostel-y; and our room was actually one of two small private rooms off the main dorm, which meant we had to go through the dorm, right to the back, and through a door on the right to enter.
A balcony ran along the back of the dorm and past our window too. Our room had looked grey in the photographs, in real life it was unfinished with bare concrete floors, albeit with a nice rug and a comfy futon bed, a clothes rail and a desk. It didn’t help that the key to our room stuck and didn’t work so that we had to go in and out via the balcony doors. So we were a bit disappointed, and thought about moving, especially as the first night was very loud outside; below the hostel was a restaurant bar with people outside late.
But it turned out okay, as always. There’s a sense of having to bed in to a new place. We got used to the room and stopped being bothered about the lock, and the staff were really friendly.
I had been anxious about the shared loos, only three toilets for all those people but there was hardly ever anyone else in the bathroom area. Sometimes there were young women in there playing music, I wondered if it was a privacy thing, like in Japan? And later we even enjoyed the noise outside or at least appreciated it.
The dorm room had eighteen beds in it, you could even stay as a couple sharing one, occasionally walking through I caught glimpses through slightly open curtains, people had made like nests with food etc, like hutches, could one live like that all the time, I wondered?
Inside we had AC as powerful as we wanted, outside on the balcony it was hot hot hot and dusty. From the fridge downstairs I bought ‘big water,’ Sprite and beer and took them upstairs and onto the balcony. Such a pleasure, those things, and looking out, smoking, and watching the people below and passing by.
Again, breakfast was included, I only went down a couple of times, huge chunks of French bread, and black coffee. Anthony said that one of the biggest differences between when he went travelling twenty years ago and now, was the phones. We had a smart phone, Anthony did the booking of accommodation, trains and buses etc, and it was very useful. But at breakfast, in the open area at reception, we looked around, no one talking to each other, everyone on their phones. So when a man walked in, looking around for somewhere to sit, it was us who made eye contact and ended up sitting and chatting with him, as we were the only ones not looking down at a phone. He was tall, which confused me at first, as I hadn’t thought of Chinese people being tall, and casually dressed in shorts and a faded pale blue t shirt, the other Chinese people I’d seen had been smartly dressed. Plus, he was on his own, and the others had been in big groups. He was the first and only Chinese person we met. He said he had made his money already and now came for several months of the year to Vietnam to eat the healthy food; he often went to the market and bought a kind of vegetable/fruit that looked like a potato, he cut me a slice of it, I wasn’t that impressed, it tasted similar to raw potato to me. He explained that the food in China is poisoned; the air is polluted. He told us about a Chinese dissident, now living in the US, who is on YouTube, who speaks the truth about China, and who he believed would be the one to change everything. You can’t say anything against the government, maybe nothing happens then, but it is noted, and one day it comes back to you. He said it used to be hard for Chinese citizens to get a passport, now it is much easier, hence the huge rise of Chinese tourists.
There was the feeling of things to do, a kind of anxiety. In Nha Trang we were low, in DaLat we were high, here, it was more balanced, about practical things, shopping for warm clothes and presents. ‘Just do what’s in front of you’ (method of dealing with anxiety). It felt still, in the eye of the storm, it (home) upon us, surreal…
We walked to the night market, past very expensive looking creatively decorated hotels, everywhere lively, busy, vibrant. On the way back we walked through a public park, there were huge fallen leaves on the ground. A crystal meth addict stumbled around near a bench. There was music in a pavilion, with formal dancing lessons going on, young people, then in the next pavilion, older people doing dancing lessons. In the streets there were people of all ages out late, eating cheap food, drinking cheap beer. It seemed easy for people to be out having fun, socialising and enjoying themselves in the evening. Of course, being somewhere where it is dry and warm late into the night helps to make this possible. HCMC had a nice vibe, people seemed happy. ‘We could live here for two weeks a year,’ we said; ‘Phnom Penh for a month, India and the UK for the rest of the time.’
For more photographs of HCMC see previous blog
Thank you very much for reading!
Sold house, left career, gave away almost everything else. Went travelling with my husband for a year, mostly in India. Here are my India highlights. Currently in the UK, living on a narrowboat and finishing a book about the trip, a spiritual/travel memoir, extracts from which appeared regularly on this blog.
Photos by my husband Anthony ‘John’ Hill
Draft extract from my travel memoir
We got a taxi from Dong Hoi train station to our place. It was a hostel, with a bar with a pool table downstairs. Our room was up a couple of short flights of stairs and at one end of a long marble corridor. At the other end of the corridor was a small balcony with a view out onto the street below. In the middle divider of the wide empty street were bright pink flower signs, like metal sweets, precise symmetrical cut out flower shapes. Within the row of pink flower signs was a small cube on a pole with screens showing orange and red flowers, maybe advertisements? It was like a much smaller version of the big screen wall of waterfalls and advertisements by the river in Phnom Penh.
We went back to the noodle place and used a translation app to write our order in Vietnamese, vegetarian, for two people, tofu, noodles and vegetables. Two beautiful dishes of food arrived, light, nutritious and delicious, tasty fried tofu and a good variety and plenty of vegetables including spring onions and mushrooms. By pointing to the menu we also ordered peach iced tea. That peach iced tea was probably the most delicious thing we had tasted all year. It came in tall glasses with long spoons, a deliciously sweet cold drink with lots of ice and big slices of slippery tinned peaches, heavenly.
Nearby, between the tofu place and the sea, was an old building which looked a bit like a church, incongruous amongst the mainly utilitarian buildings and plain streets.
Dong Hoi was so quiet, we assumed it was still because of Tet but when we asked the man at the guesthouse he said that no, it was always like this. Only our place seemed busy.
At night the pink flowers became just lights and looked completely different. By day they were pink metal stylised but obvious flower shapes, by night there were no signs of pink or flowers just bright white lights. There was a light dot in the centre of each petal so that in the dark it looked like circle of dots, and one in the middle. Again it looked like it was inspired by the lights of Phnom Penh, a minor version, nice yet a bit incongruous for a quiet street.
There were lots of young tourists and backpackers there, mainly Westerners doing cave tours etc. We watched new arrivals get pounced upon on arrival and organised into booking excursions.
In the evenings we went for walks, looking for places for coffee or beer, sometimes looking at the map for places of interest but mostly just wandering. One time, a big dog followed us and wouldn’t leave us alone. It was more embarrassing than scary, we thought we’d have to go in somewhere and ask them to help us but eventually it left us alone.
Once we walked to the beach, there was nothing there, no shops or stalls, no tourist facilities, it was very different to Cambodia.
By the sea near us there were pretty colourfully painted boats. On the grass near the prom there was a family group, several men, and women and kids sitting on a picnic blanket, with loads of beer cans! And during the day on Sunday and in evenings, there were people relaxing in hammocks slung from the trees there.
Little huts stood on stilts in the river behind raised nets like the Chinese fishing nets of Kochi. We watched a person in a coracle go from the hut to under the centre of the net, check the centre of the net which hung down like nipple above the water. I assumed it had an opening hole for getting the caught fish out and that he was checking that it was closed. Then he went back to the hut and lowered the net into the water, via ropes.
In the river there were blue plates, square or rectangular, a lamp, gold with broken flower glass or shell. Were they put into the river as a prayer? Were they simply discarded or broken? The things shining, beautiful and strange looking in the murky water, and lots of thin plastic bags upside down under the water, floating like jelly fish.
I watched a Vietnamese woman on a bicycle, she had on bright pink trousers, and black bin bags of stuff loaded on her bicycle. It was a typical scene. I thought the same about another woman ahead of me in the street, wearing a Vietnamese hat and a purple velvet top and matching loose slightly cropped purple velvet trousers, a thin plastic carrier bag in each hand. A pure image: traditional cone hat, colourful velvet suit and thin plastic carrier bags.
One evening there was a big storm, lots of rain, thunder and lightning. After it finished we stepped out, from our room, through the noisy hostel bar and out into the street and flowers, maybe chrysanthemums, they were yellow and smelled a bit like ragwort but nice, strong, permeating the air. It reminded me of the first rains of the pre monsoon and the smell after. I love rain. Well, in the heat anyway.
We watched the film The Lady in the Van which was very timely given how much time and energy we spent worrying about The Future. Anthony said, ‘But she was okay, she lived in a van, in the end, rich or poor, everyone dies.’ The point being that lack of security didn’t really matter, she lived anyway, and no amount of security can stop you getting ill and dying.
The curtain pole in our room in Dong Hoi looked as though it were made of silver hologram wrapping paper. The white pole had a serrated curved and curled finish, as if it had been twisted, and with the light it sparkled like glitter. I briefly thought about just photographing things like this rather than writing about them.
Thank you very much for reading
About the author
Sold house, left career, gave away almost everything else. With husband went travelling for a year, mostly in India. Here are my India highlights. Now back in the UK, living on a narrowboat, and writing a book about the trip, a spiritual/travel memoir, extracts from which appear regularly on this blog.
Photo: our boat
So adjusting back, or rather into as we’re in a new life, has felt harder than we anticipated this week. Especially technology. E.g. My husband applying for jobs and doing CVs on his phone…
My trusty tablet failed me (Samsung S3) about which I’d kept saying, you just need to last the year, then I’ll get back and set up WiFi and go back to using a laptop. Well we didn’t set up WiFi straight away, I thought perhaps I’d manage by going down the pub or hot spotting to my husband’s phone, not wanting to get bogged down in lots of contracts etc…. plus I’d got used to working on my tablet and thought I’d just get a keyboard for it…
I only lost a few hours of work- I religiously email everything to myself as often as I get a chance- it was more the shock when it suddenly decided to not recognise my password. I’ll need to factory reset it when I can face doing that.
Anyway now we have WiFi, there was a special offer on and we got a super cheap deal. Setting it up was hard, then resigning in to everything, computer doing updates, blah blah blah, all was stressful. But once I had put on all my emailed work, seeing all my chapters laid out on a big screen was nice and I’m sure it will be much easier to work where I can flit between documents easily.
And we watched Netflix (Quicksand, recommended by a friend of my husband, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles from Google Play) on the laptop; it was like being in the cinema! After a year of watching everything on a phone or at most a tablet, it was amazing, I couldn’t get over how big the writing was!
Boat news: I am now fully competent at emptying the cassette toilet and filling the water tank. We got a second futon off the secondhand site, and went to collect it one evening, and went out for a curry.
We were excited to chat to Indian people, the place was called Delhi something, but the people were from Bangladesh and hadn’t been to India. We had a nice chat anyway. We decided we don’t need to go out to eat after a year of doing it all the time, but I did enjoy putting on earrings, a nice top and a jacket (I have turned into a bit of a slob on the boat); and I did feel really happy: evidence, see below:
Big walks have continued, I have almost made it into the next village (I go a bit further each time). Greggs vegan sausage rolls have continued. I have a correction to last week’s post; there were not anti vegan sausage roll protests outside Greggs, everyone just thought there was. A group of protesters had been hemmed in by police, just happened to be outside a Greggs…
We went to Norfolk and got spoiled with a lovely dinner, use of a luxury shower and luxury smoothies, and went to an event for my son showcasing his work prior to his exhibition in New York.
In the year that I’ve been away he’s bonded with my nephew who is younger. My son did his CV and my son and his friends all helped prep him for the interview- he just got his first job- as well as providing socialising and fun. I also got to meet my son’s new girlfriend, his agent and some new friends, who were all lovely people.
My son also sent me a lovely Mother’s Day email filled with memories of good things he remembers me doing when he was a child and teenager, and I think we’ve both put the past behind us (he was a troubled teen and I couldn’t manage his behaviour, or live with him by the time he was eighteen; he is almost thirty now).
So all good there.
I saw my mum, she was restrained in not asking me a lot of questions and I seem to have, for now, created better boundaries. However, my son and nephew told me that she had said (re me going off to India,) that I had had a mental breakdown/mid life crisis, so I’ll probably need to stay strong to ensure that that relationship stays within certain limits.
Has anyone watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Do you remember the episode that fans hate, where she is shown in a mental hospital, having doubts as to whether any of the being a slayer world is real. It’s never fully explained- she has been spiked with poison and could be just having visions- which is why fans hate it. ‘What’s more real,’ she says to her best friend Willow, ‘A scared young girl in a mental hospital, or some kind of superhero slayer and vampires?’
In the mental hospital, her mum keeps saying, ‘Believe in yourself, believe in yourself,’ meaning come back to there. After a lot of conflict, Buffy chooses to say goodbye to her parents and go back into the Buffy world.
We have a beautiful location
There is also a caravan and camping area. See loo emptying point on the right by the bins, a short wheelbarrow walk from our boat!
Sheep opposite our boat
Beyond the caravan area, a pond and trees
Thank you very much for reading
About the author
Sold house left job decluttered almost everything else. With husband went travelling for a year, mostly in India. Here are my India highlights. Just arrived back in the UK and now living on a narrowboat. Writing a book about everything…
For more photographs of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony
The man at the bus stop in Da Lat asked us if we lived in Ho Chi Minh City. It seemed strange to imagine the possibility. The following evening in the taxi on the way to the gig, we admired the city. Tall skinny blocks of matching buildings, square blocks of flats with outlines almost drawn around them in white light, a collection of buildings lit in various neon lights, and best of all Building 81, the second tallest in South East Asia (the tallest is in Malaysia apparently.)
We had seen it coming in on the coach, like a child’s building block tower, the stacks narrower and narrower until a thin point. Interesting in the day, and spectacular at night, lit up like a computer motherboard, and in front of it chunky blocks of flats looming black out of the darkness, lit in patches, like something out of The Matrix or Bladerunner.
I’m disappointed that I can’t find the clip of this; I thought YouTube had everything. I’ll describe it as accurately as I can from memory. In Billions, Taylor begins a romance with Oscar. Taylor and Oscar go back to Oscar’s after their first proper date. He has a classy apartment and a great sound system. He presses a button or whatever and on comes The Killing Moon, by Echo and the Bunnymen.
‘Is this okay?’ Oscar asks. ‘It’s what I would have hoped for, had I thought about it.’ Taylor answers.
Much is written about how as people get older they stop listening to new music. It’s hard for anything new to compete with things that are so loved. Or for things not to remind you of something you already know, and prefer. And sometimes it’s about wanting to lean on someone older, even though they were young when they made it. And having seen so much music, been to so many gigs, it’s easier to get picky and hard to impress.
What would we have wanted that night, had we thought of it? Turns out it was Geography Of The Moon.
Timing: The day before I’d read Des’s post about going to a very special show in Seattle. Before the first song was finished… play for me my Lord a song that I can sing… I realised I was going to do a post about going to a gig too. Psychedelic enough for my husband. Mournful enough for me, with the kinds of lines I like such as, the taste of a thousand dirty mouths.
Timing, again: a song that could have been written just for us at that time: wanderlust… the future is unknown… the universe will provide… remember you will die make this an interesting ride…
We’d been in a temporary slump, experiencing a lack of confidence, and then we meet these two. They had lived on a boat in London, and were now on the road touring Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, just the two of them.
It was good for me and my husband to have a night out. We were out until 2am and up much later, the noisiest ones in the hostel (except for the staff downstairs who were smoking marijuana, listening to loud music and hugging inflatable balls…)
Thank you very much for reading