Hello! I am on the move again. I was in Bath, England for a couple of days and now am in lovely Cardiff, Wales. On Wednesday I am off to the Emerald Isle of Ireland. It has been great seeing places and meeting people. I will post soon about some of new favs! Please bear with me as it has been busy! Now off too see more of Cardiff and meet up with Couch Surfers tonight for some socializing!
As my time in England is coming to an end I have been reflective of my time here. I have looked inward to what I have expected of this trip and myself. Hopes, imaginings and ideals. Starting out I foresaw nothing but fun, awe and inspiration. Some parts of it being glimpses into culture and social interactions while on the move. Others parts were languishing the slow speed of housesitting or remaining stationary. It was going be one incredible trip. And it has been, but not in the way I was expecting. So how has it been these last two months in England?
The majority has been housesitting. This is where I almost feel like a sham. Let me explain. Now I have done my part as the two cats and two fish are still alive and healthy and the house remains standing. What makes me think that I am somewhat spurious is my (lack of) activity. I have explored the area of Yorkshire with only limited vigor and have often opted to read, walk, cook or watch TV instead. Doctor Who rerun viewings have increased exponentially due to my being glued to UK Netflix and Sky TV boxed sets. Additionally I have spent copious amounts of time scanning the Internet seeking out my next place of discovery. I hummed and hawed over the next spot, only to pass it up for another locale that made its way into my psyche. It was information overload so I then I put it off and once again was lackadaisical. This occurred fairly often. I also had to consider funds. Everything here is double the cost for me due of the value of the Canadian dollar. All this had me feeling as if I am a travel fake – I am reading, cooking and watching TV. Stuff I can do at home. Stuff I do do at home. I have not had life altering experiences. I felt dejected, a failure at travel so to speak.
But am I a sham? Part of housesitting, of slow travel is to learn of a country and its culture and of myself. Now with England being part of the westernized world I did not expect much in the way of differences beyond local parlance and driving on the left side of the road (which I still fear may kill me when crossing the road). I don t ‘claim to know what makes an English person “English”. Hell, I don’t even know what makes a Canadian person “Canadian”. Yet I have essentially been living in South Yorkshire for six weeks. In that time I have been doing the everyday things that people do: cleaning, cooking, learning the transit system, watching TV, going to the movies or for a drink. I have had “small talk” with store clerks and commiserated with locals over the weather. I have summed up my courage to go to pubs for a drink on my own and had some good conversations some of the times and just sat and had my ale on my own other times. I have learned of myself that I immensely prefer cities over small towns or rural living more than I ever thought I would. I now have a general idea of what is a reasonable price for groceries, which stores carry the styles I like and that it seems that there are no postcards of Barnsley anywhere. I finally figured out the transit system. I have come to like, if not love having rich or bourbon biscuits with tea; that British ham is the best; real Cadbury’s chocolate is yummy and that pre-paying your food and drinks at a pub makes complete sense. I even know the size/denominations of the coins now. So perhaps not all is lost and I still am a traveler.
Maybe I have been a bit lazy with reading and watching TV. Perhaps I could have seen and done more. But I didn’t . There will be plenty of time for doing and seeing more. Bath, Cardiff and then most of Ireland will be keeping me busy. I have slow traveled and learned a bit about myself and England in the process. Traveling is not always about adventure and excitement. Sometimes its about the everyday. And the best part of all this (and which I often forgot) was that I was able to help someone else travel and have fun by caring for their home and pets as if they were my own. So, happy traveling.
As many of you know, I am currently in South Yorkshire, England watching a couple of cats for six weeks. This housesitting gig is courtesy of Trusted House Sitters, a UK company that connects home owners and house sitters in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Through this site I am able to care for a quaint home and two cute cats while getting to know the area. It has been great to have a house with a full kitchen, cooking my own meals and taking advantage of sleeping in now and again – okay almost every day! The cats have been great as well. I will miss those furry, whiskered mugs once I’m done.
The area that I am housesitting is a borough of a small town. Not a tonne going on here but it is a train ride away from several cool cities. So between sleeping in, reading, watching Netflix & cooking I have taken a few day trips to Nottingham, York, Sheffield, Doncaster and soon Leeds. I have attended a few Couchsurfing game nights in Sheffield and a few walks in the area here. To date, I have to say York has been my favourite with Nottingham a close second.
Below are some photos of my time.
All photos taken and owned by Wanders The World/Eeva Valiharju
Since I left Vancouver over two months ago, I have learned a few things about travel. Although I have not left the Western world there are always differences in culture, of course language and the nature of backpacking. Here are a few things I have learned.
- Traveler’s guilt is both good and bad – you know the feeling, if you don’t go see this or visit that you feel as if you are letting the travel world down. After all, you have come so far to see so much. Yet sometimes you are sooo tired and all you want to do is rest your feet and take a day off. Do you? Usually not and despite how exhausted you are you forge ahead. Most of the time it pays off and you are glad you did not postpone or skip it (like checking London’s Tower Bridge at night). Other times you give in to the exhaustion because you have just seen too many old buildings, museums and crowds. I still am working out the balance.
- Laundry day is a good day – when you have a limited wardrobe it is a happy day when you know they will be clean. Any place with laundry facilities is a bonus (less trips to the Laundromat).
- “When in Rome Do As the Romans Do” – This old adage is one of the reasons why people travel. And a good reason! To date I have embraced English pubs, Belgian chocolate and French wine. I am look forward to what else is out there.
- Working WiFi makes life easier – This one should be self-explanatory. It makes planning things easier!
All photos taken and owned by Wanders The World/Eeva Valiharju