Reality of home

I have now been back at home for almost five weeks. When I first got home, I was really excited. I was so pleased to see my husband again and our house looked far better than what I could remember. I was happy to appreciate all that I have at home and spent a lot more time cooking and cleaning than I did before I went away. My neck was hurting me so my first mission was to begin some physiotherapy for that and then find a job.

After just two days of being back, I got a temporary job for two weeks. Despite it being a boring reception job, I was just glad to be earning some money so that I could buy the necessities and begin saving some money. In all of my life, I had never been so poor and that was a pretty scary thought. The good thing was that I had many good memories about the exciting adventure I had just been on, and it was those thoughts that helped me to get through the day.

Once that job finished, I had a week without work which I used to catch up on things and tidy up our home. Although I always keep a tidy house, I tidied it and organised it better than I had done before. For the first time in many years, I was feeling lucky to have this home and to have such a wonderful husband. One thing I did need, however, was an income.

After my week without work, I managed to find another temporary job. After just one week of being there, I am already bored of it. All I am doing is filing; filing invoices and modernisation plans for a supermarket. To start with, it’s a therapeutic thing to do, but it does begin to get tedious after 32 hours of doing the same thing!

What makes it more boring is how it compares to my recent adventure and adventures I have had before that. On top of that, I wonder how I never managed to find a job that I enjoy and find challenging. One thing I’m not good at is competing against others and that seems to make all the difference when it comes to having an interview; not only do you have to show how amazing you are – you have to prove that you are better than anybody else they have in for interview. Perhaps it’s because I have never liked competition. In my mind, competition is pointless, for somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. It’s a bit like war and I don’t like it one bit. I think that’s why I enjoy archery and yoga; I play against myself and do it for myself.

At school, I was such a good child. I always followed instructions carefully and tried my very best with all my work. I was top of the entire year group for science when I was 12. I did my own project on astronomy just because I liked it. I always did too much homework for maths. I tried my best in English lessons, though I hated it. I was not very good at PE because I wasn’t competitive, but I always did as well as I could do and was happy with that. I got top grades for my GCSEs without really trying and for the jobs I have had I have always put maximum effort into them. I was “temp of the month” any years ago and I usually get on really well with the people that I work with. I can speak Portuguese, some German and some Turkish. I also know some Hindi and some Japanese. I have A levels and a degree and I am now doing my Master’s degree – but the temporary places where I work have no idea of this or what kind of person I really am. I look young, I look naive and I probably look boring – but I know that none of that is true.

What I am trying to do now is to find a job that is of interest to me and not to give up on trying to get what I deserve. I may have to learn to compete against myself a little more than I have done in the past but I will not change myself or my beliefs. I feel like I know myself better now than I ever have done before, and that’s thanks to following my dreams and doing what I felt was right when I decided to go to Iceland.

I may need to spend a little time getting back on my feet and feeling excited about my day-to-day life, but I will do my best as I always have done.

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Back to Comfort

In the end I was able to arrange a car share from Akureyri to the farm with a great guy who was going to Egilsstadir for business. I really enjoyed my journey through the snowy wilderness of northeast Iceland and it was great to finally speak to someone again.

For the final leg of my journey I had to walk about 4 miles with my heavy backpacks before I was lucky enough to get picked up by a kind driver and her family. It was snowing, cold and windy so I was surprised that it took so long for somebody to pick me up. I had called the farmer to pick me up but even he didn’t feel the need to come and rescue me.

Once I arrived at the farm and entered the accommodation, I felt like I was in the right place. The outside was painted in all sorts of bright colours and the three people who greeted me had personalities as bright as the outside of the accommodation. I was given wine and we had great conversation for hours. We stood around a bonfire in the snow, drank tea and acted like we’d known each other forever.

There was no internet at the farm so it was relaxing for my soul to have a break from the outside world. It was better than I could have ever dreamed of and I was so glad to be at the farm. Over the coming days more people arrived and I was becoming a popular member of the group. I didn’t expect to get along so well but everything about the experience was perfect. We got along great as a group and I felt very comfortable with each one of them. We explored the beautiful surroundings and the work on the farm was stress free; just what I’d be hoping for.

As more people arrived, the house was becoming noisy and it was difficult to cook enough food for 18 people. I spent a lot of time feeling hungry and had to really try hard to encourage people to cook enough food. Small portions are just not enough for me and the lack of snack food available was really difficult for me. I bought a few secret snacks that I kept in my room but substantial meals was what I was really after. It was a continuing problem for me but what was worse was my neck pain.

My neck pain has been getting gradually worse over the past few years but the work on the farm was causing me a lot of pain. I couldn’t turn my head to either side without intense pain and having conversations with so many people was becoming increasingly difficult because I couldn’t nod or shake my head and I had to keep looking straight ahead when talking to people sitting around the table.

Although everyone was understanding and very kind to me, I was feeling incapable of doing my work properly and it was starting to get me down. The pain was with me all the time and the cooking and cleaning for so many people was just making it worse. I wanted to join in with everything but was having to hold back and that made me realise that I need to return home and sort out my neck problem once and for all. I have now booked a flight home for 9 June.

I was also starting to miss the comforts of home, the availability of food, my husband and my quiet and clean home. Above all, I was feeling the need to nurture and teach a small child, more than I have ever felt before. All of the younger people on this farm (which is the majority of them) have said that I’m very maternal, much to my surprise. They think I am caring and kind and they say that they always ask me when they need to know anything. I guess I have been subconsciously looking after them and taking care of them more than I expected I would.

Somehow this experience has made me realise that I have done what I need to on my own in this world and it’s time to pass on my skills to a small child. Like the vegetables I have been planting, I want to look after a human being and raise them as best as I can. As there are already a lot of children without homes in this world and because of the problems I experienced with my ectopic pregnancy, I plan to adopt a child.

Although my husband would like his own child, he is open to adoption. I am lucky to have a husband whose so open to my ideas. I will enjoy my last 10 days of this wonderful country before going home to repair my neck. Once my neck is better I will move on to my next dream of adopting a child. I’d like to adopt one from India and I’d like it to be as young as possible, but I think it’s going to be a long process. As my husband is from India he will be able to teach the child about its home country and also give it a second and third language (Hindi and Gujarati).

I’m glad to have followed my dream of coming to Iceland and even though it hasn’t quite gone to plan, I’m really happy that it’s given me what I needed and helped my next dreams become apparent to me. It’s surprising how much can change in a couple of months.

I’ll catch up with you all once I’m settled back into my comfortable life at home.

Lonely at Times

I’ve been here in Iceland for three days now but it feels much longer than that.

When my husband dropped me off at the airport I felt both sad and guilty to be leaving him for so long. Once I got checked in, I felt much better and remembered how good it feels to be a citizen of the world and talk to strangers like I’ve known them forever. I was excited and couldn’t wait to start my adventure.

I enjoyed my flight over to Iceland and had a chat to the man near me on the plane. It all felt so right for me. Keflavik airport is familiar to me but it didn’t stop the excitement I felt as I eagerly awaited to get outside into the bright sunshine. I withdrew ISK 20,000 (around £100) and bought my bus ticket all the way to the campsite. A young guy from New Zealand spoke to me and I showed him to the bus. He was going to the same place as me so we had a bit of a chat, but I was conscious of appearing either as a weird loner or overconfident. I guess there is a fine balance between the two when you travel on your own.

I was the only female camper on my own. There was a couple and two guys on their own. I only said hello to the others as I didn’t want to intrude. Being back in Reykjavik was nice so I had a lovely wander around until almost midnight and even then it didn’t get completely dark. It was so cold over night. My inhaler was frozen and the cold had given me asthma. My body was warm but my face was cold so I covered my face with my sleeping bag. I thought I might suffocate and nobody would find me until I miss my checkout. When I awoke, I headed for the geothermal pools next door and they reminded me of why I here.

I didn’t do much for the rest of the day, except have another wander around. Without money to spend, it is quite sad to pass by all the amazing shops and cafés. I can’t afford a drink and I’d just be sitting alone amongst all the travellers who are there in couples or groups. There is so much to do in Reykjavik but you need money for it all and I had been there before for almost 10 days.

I wanted to sleep in a dormitory instead of my tent but the guy on reception wasn’t sure how to do it as he’d recently started working there. Another night in my tent followed and the next day I knew I had to move on, to Akureyri.

I had planned to hitchhike but with such heavy bags and an unhealthy back, I decided to take a bus. However, when I compared the cost of the bus to flying there, I realised that flying was actually the best option. I suddenly booked it on my smart phone, and immediately started packing up my tent and trying to fit everything into my backpacks. There was nobody for me to say goodbye to so I crossed the road and took the bus to the domestic airport.

The bus does not stop at the airport but it is walking distance. With such heavy bags, I did start to think that I may as well have hitchhiked! Eventually I got to the airport after about 30 minutes… I literally could not have gone any further. I tried to check in my bag but they weren’t yet open for that so I had to pick it up and sit down. There was another false check in before finally being able to do it.

The flight over Iceland was absolutely beautiful. Stunning scenery and I loved flying in a Fokker for my first time – tasty coffee too. This flight was the highlight of my trip so far and I’ll never forget it. I was really excited to finally be in Akureyri but after waiting outside the airport for a local bus to collect me, I realised it only comes once a day. Nobody was at the airport by the time I realised that so I had to call for a taxi from the airport foyer. An expense I could barely afford but it was the only option seeing as I couldn’t walk a further 3km with my heavy bags.

I’ve now been here in Akureyri for about 28 hours and I’ve had the guesthouse entirely to myself. There is a strike here and hardly anything is open and I’ve not seen many people. I’ve spoken to the cleaner and the lady who works here to pay for another night. I spoke to the tourist information and said thank you to the cashier in the supermarket. If I had spare money I’d go and hang out at the trendy backpackers’ bar, but I’ve already overspent so I’ll just have to use my time to work out how to move on from this beautiful city.

Without my own car and before the summer season, it is not at all easy to see the amazing sites around here. Organised tours cost far more than I can afford and if I take a bus somewhere, it doesn’t come back on the same day. There is so much I want to see and do but I can’t do it with so little cash. I think I’d be too cold for wild camping and guesthouses are too expensive for me so I think my only option is to see if I can arrive at my farm a little earlier than I planned.

I’m starting to think that perhaps I should have continued with my comfortable life because it can be very lonely when you’re travelling on your own with very little money to spare.

Let’s see what the next few days bring…

Wish me luck.

Little Scared

Today was my last full day before leaving for Iceland. I realised that I had planned to visit some friends today, to say goodbye to them, but I felt as if I should have been spending my final day with my husband. Despite feeling that way, I went to visit my friends and I had a lovely time catching up with them. They are the type of friends who are pleased for me to be going off on an adventure and were full of encouragement – the only person making me feel as if I shouldn’t be going is me.
For the past couple of days I have been feeling a little bit anxious about going away, leaving the familiarity of home and the comfort of it all. It was my 32nd birthday last week so I started feeling as if I am a little bit old to be going off to travel, leaving my husband on his own and making my mum feel alone. I am worrying about the lack of money I have and if I am just not as good at travelling these days. What if I have forgotten how to do it well? What if it is not how I remember it? Well, the only way I will ever know is to at least try.
This time tomorrow I should be at the campsite in Reykjavik and I hope that I will be feeling as if I have done right in following my dreams. At least I can always come back to the comfort of home if I feel like I’ve made a mistake.
I wonder how many others have gone off to travel, not knowing if it’s what they really should be doing? If you can relate to this and have stories like mine, then I would be happy to hear them 🙂

Plunge Taken

After much thinking about when (and how) to get to Iceland, I finally booked a flight there yesterday. I had originally planned to take the ferry from Denmark, stopping in the Faroe Islands on the way. I had also considered flying to Greenland and having a mini-adventure before flying to Iceland. However, as my bank balance is not looking particularly healthy and because I will be volunteering for the next six months, I decided to go with the cheapest option. I desperately wanted to be away in time for my birthday because I hate my birthday more each year, but as the flight on that day leaves far too early in the morning from Gatwick and with only 11 days to prepare, I took advantage of the new Icelandair route from Birmingham and I will be off on Monday 4 May. Perfect.

Once I get there, I plan to travel to Egilsstadir via the north of Iceland and when I finish my voluntary work I will travel back via the south of Iceland. I did have a crazy idea to walk it, but after walking for 16 miles with a fully loaded backpack the other day, it made me realise just how difficult it would be and by the time I arrive at the farm, it will probably be the end of the season so I will save that idea for another time in my life. After my walk the other day, I ended up having to hitchhike home. I have hitchhiked in Portugal and the Czech Republic, but this was my first time of doing it in England and it has made me consider the option of hitchhiking in Iceland. It would certainly help me to save money so it’s an idea I will come back to as I make plans for my trip.

As usual, the issue of money has been niggling away at me. Although I worked all last week, I have not had any work this week. Partly because I wasn’t offered any but also because my final assignment for this module was due so I had been keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get offered any. Besides, I ended up feeling very bored working as a receptionist and could not face another week of doing that kind of work even though it would earn me more money. I was asked if I would like to work on reception for a year, covering maternity leave, but there is no chance of me doing that. I had already decided to leave my previous work so why put myself through the boredom of it? I have also given up on my idea of “accompanying gentlemen” because my instinct was telling me that this is not the right thing for me to do.

For me now, the only thing to do is to prepare for going to Iceland and I’m going to give you a breakdown of what money I actually have available to me (rounded up to the nearest pound) and I’ll let you make your own mind up as to whether I am brave or foolish. People don’t often share these kinds of details but for me there is nothing secret about it. Last time I said that I will make minimum payments on my credit card bill, but after seeing what the interest would be, I decided to pay it all off two weeks before the due date. That means my credit card bill is currently £161 and that includes my flight to Iceland. Not bad. In my savings I have £1,862 and in my current account I have £654 which means I have a total of £2,516 right now. The cost of paying for my car for the next six months is £1,309. The other outgoings over six months (phone, exciting dishwasher and car insurance) equals £148. So after my “known” outgoings I will have £898. That’s a little bit scary because I had more money than that when I was 18! I will also need to pay for food, transport and somewhere to sleep on my way to the farm in Iceland. Once I am at the farm, food and somewhere to sleep will be taken care of, so it will just be the cost of returning home. In terms of money coming in, I won’t really have any. I had been hoping to share some of the money from the lodger but my husband said he’ll need it all. At least that means that I won’t have to think about paying the mortgage and council tax while I am away as that’s what my husband will be using the money for. I’ve put my memberships at yoga and archery on hold and hopefully my husband will be able to help me out in case of any emergency.

So, what do you think? Am I being foolish? I guess I would be more foolish not to at least try living my dream.

Still Dreaming…

I spent the weekend in Germany after I wrote about my first set back.

It was reasonably well-planned in that I booked it eight days before I flew there. One of my best friends got married on Friday 20 March and, despite wanting to go to her wedding, I put my temporary job first. Why oh why did I do that? Even my agent tried to encourage me to go to my friend’s wedding but, me being me, I did not want to let work down. How I regret that, seeing as they sent me home on the Thursday!

This was yet another event in my life which made me realise that you really must put your own dreams and desires first, instead of trying to keep other people happy. That same little problem keeps niggling at me though – and that’s money. I need to have a certain amount to fulfill my dreams, don’t I? Will I really be happy in my life without a penny to my name?

Being in Germany gave me a chance to listen to my own mind and confirm the kind of lifestyle I am searching for at this time in my life. Talking to my friend helped me to remember how crazy I used to be and how an ordinary life does not suit me at all. Conversely, she is very happy to be married and is expecting a baby later this year. I am delighted for her because she is doing what makes her happy and I know she will be happy for me when I am doing what makes me happy. To me, that is an important feature of a good friendship.

When I got back from Germany, I re-designed my CV and sent it to 21 local companies to see if any of them were interested in hiring a temporary member of staff. Out of the 15 that replied to me, none of them were interested. Unsurprisingly, they did not want to train new members of staff who were going to be leaving after a couple of months. I could have lied. I could have told them I’m looking for a permanent job, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. My heart knows I need to go away to Iceland this year and my heart is what I need to listen to.

I heard from my lender about my Alfa Romeo. They said that I could return it to them and pay around £1200 to come out of the hire purchase agreement early. That would leave me with a black mark on my credit history and £1200 less. There were other options available, but they were all a lot more complicated. I have also figured out that £1200 is roughly what I would pay over 6 months if I keep my car. For now, I have decided to keep the car and my plan is to save some extra money in the meantime to cover all the expenses. For the first time in my life I am going to make minimum payments on my credit card. I am also being open-minded to other options of saving money quickly….

At the end of last week I did some work in a warehouse, sorting mail. On Saturday I had some photographs taken in a studio in hope that I can earn some money through modelling. I have also begun an application to be a lady who accompanies gentlemen to the theatre, for example. Yes, yes, I can see that look of shock on your face, but it’s perfectly legitimate. This week I have been working as a receptionist and next week I’ll be working as a receptionist at a different office. Temping makes me feel free and I like it.

My next plan is to take the plunge and actually make the booking for my journey to Iceland and I hope to be sharing this process with you soon.

Carry on dreaming 🙂

First Set Back

So today I went to work but was sent home within an hour of being there.

To be honest, I was relieved, and HR could tell from my big smile. I have only been there for just over two weeks, but with an ever-increasing workload and so few hours to do it all in, I was just not able to get it all done. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not somebody who is lazy when it comes to working; I work very hard, I’m conscientious and am always polite. The work I was doing was important but the number of hours allocated to it was just not enough to reflect how important it was. They said that they have made “alternative provisions”, but whatever they had done, I was just relieved to get out of there.

I said a few goodbyes and walked out calmly towards my dear Alfa Romeo. I slowly drove off and headed home through the start-stop traffic. Although I was relieved that I didn’t have to face that unbelievable workload again, I did begin to panic and wonder what I will do now. How will I afford to live?

It’s less than a month until this module of study finishes, is it realistic to find a job in such a short space of time and then leave for Iceland soon? What is keeping me here? I realised that the only things keeping me here are my final assignment for this module, my hire purchase agreement and my next credit card bill. I’ve already written to my lender and I have enough savings to cover my next credit card bill. If I can finish and submit my assignment early, I won’t need to stay here any longer. But what is it about going away that makes it cheaper to live? Surely it’s cheaper to stay at home?

Anyway, I decided not to tell my husband about this straight-away. I have told some friends, but not my parents. I don’t want anyone to worry about me because I really feel that I’ll be fine in the end. I would like to use this set back as something positive and a way of helping me see what I really should be doing. Although I didn’t anticipate having this kind of set back so soon after my post yesterday, at least it is a set back that I can share with you all.

Let’s see what the next set back will be…