5 things I want to do in 2009 & 2010

WARNING! Another almost totally self-indulgent post. I think it is good to have plans and to make goals. If I didn’t make plans I’d rarely do anything. If I never planned to get up in the morning then I possibly wouldn’t.

The writing of this will inspire me to get off my backside and to do some things I have wanted to do for long time. I also feel that while I am working for myself I should take full advantage of my flexible lifestyle.

It might even inspire you too! Fancy a seat in my rally car?

1. Enter a rally

I am not talking about driving around the New Forest in a Ford Cosworth at 130mph while having directions barked at me in my left ear hole. I am talking more about the sort of rally that takes a couple of weeks and involves travelling through the sort of countries that will never appear in a Thomas Cook holiday brochure.

The one I have my eye on is the Plymouth to Dakar rally (not to be mistaken for the Paris – Dakar!) It usually involves driving a beaten up small car to Africa and selling it at an auction for charity at the finish.

2. Speaking Spanish

I have been trying to learn Spanish for ages now and I can still only order a white coffee or beer.

My attempts have involved studying at language school in Valencia, evening lessons in London and I am about to start some more here in Bristol.

What I need is immersion and I am already thinking that 5 or 6 weeks in December and January will be better spent in a tropically hot Spanish speaking country than freezing my arse off and being depressed under the dark, gray winter skies of England.

3. Climb Kilimanjaro

Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro will be my ultimate trek and something I really want to achieve. I want it so bad that in the week proceeding an attempt I might even train for it a little and not drink beer.

4. Prepare myself for another career

I have been a web nerd for a while now and while I am still enjoying the challenges and freedom I do want to seek a different challenge.

So this will involve either starting a totally new offline business or learning a new skill in which I can gain employment.

I have to be honest with you now, I have never been very good at working for other people and I have walked out of jobs after a day or two. While I am not proud of this I am not going to ignore the fact it could happen again.

So with this in mind, starting a new business is more likely!

Ideas include an activities holiday business or buying an old building somewhere and turning it into a backpacker hostel of sorts, probably somewhere near mountains or something.

Other options I am looking at is the old favourite, teaching English or teaching Adults in a college.

5. Make a difference to those less fortunate

This is the most important one. I want to make a difference to those less fortunate. Not sure what it’s going to be yet but it will involve me giving up a chunk of time to help others, rather than just money. I did the money thing in Cambodia out of guilt after a mix up with charity and I am not very proud of it.

One idea that I have discussed with a charity is to lead a trek for people with disabilities or to at least provide some support on an expedition.

I know it’s become a little trendy to go off to far away exotic places and do something for charity but it’s still better than doing nothing.

This might well be my biggest challenge. I have to confess that I can be a little selfish, particularly with my time, which I know is totally wrong because time is something I’ve had a lot of! Maybe it’s like the rich becoming greedier with more money?

So when we come to the end of 2010 I hope you might just remember my plans and ask me what I have achieved from the list.

I can tell you now that I will only be disappointed with myself if number 5 remains untouched…

A Brief History of Me

Lots of new visitors come to my site and probably wonder what I’m all about. The task is not made any easier by the fact most of my original blog is still offline and it would take yonks to read through it all anyway! So here is a short recap.

My story begins begins back in 2002 when for some unknown reason I decided to go and travel around SE Asia for three months. That three months turned into one year and included trips to NZ and Australia.

I came back to the UK in November 2003 a changed man. Within a short while I was back in the London rat race from which I had escaped in 2002. It was at this time I started to create small websites as a hobby. I was working as a web developer on contracts with my background in I.T. nerdy stuff.

Fast forward to September 2005 when I was possibly a little depressed (more so had England lost the ashes) and thoroughly fed up living and working in London. It was then a timely thing happened as I was made redundant from my job. It was time to turn a negative into a positive and to book a one way flight to Bali, with laptop in tow!

Although I had some savings I did not want to rely on them. I was earning a modest amount from my websites, around £400 month, which was enough to live comfortably in SE Asia.

For the next three years my nomadic existence allowed me to visit many different countries, meet some great people, experience some unforgettable adventures and all while being occasionally ripped off along the way, particularly in Asia.

As with any journey it’s not all been plain sailing and I have had times of feeling lonely and thinking ‘what the hell am I doing with my life!’.

With some luck, determination and hard work I have now managed to build up a sustainable online business and can live a comfortable life pretty much anywhere outside of Scandinavia. However, like any business, things can fall away and I don’t really have a plan b.

Going back to working in an office would involve a reluctant step back into my past. I do try and look forward these days. I know they’ll always be other options.

I have learned so much about myself over the last four years. Sometimes it feels like none of it ever happened but I guess that is true of many things. I remember when I finished University and it just never seemed I was ever there (true in the case of law lectures!).

Do I regret it? Well I could do. There is a gaping hole on my CV that could be easily filled with the words ‘Beach Bum’ or ‘Techno Hippy’ but that’s an opportunity for me to be creative. I think as I have become older I generally regret less because I have come to realise that there is little to be gained from regret.

So follow your dreams people, whatever they are. Like me, they might not always end up where you expect them to be, but that’s half the fun.

This post brought to you with ssti in conjunction with.

Nine reasons to live in the UK

The UK seems to get knocked all the time (see last post!), usually by the very people that inhabit this small Island, but I am going to tell you nine reasons to live in the UK. You might not agree with them all, but that’s your problem ;o)

1. THE PEOPLE

It’s not easy to generalise about the population of the UK as we are a very diverse nation, but I am going to have a go anyway. British people often have a wonderful sense of humour, they are modest, free to express their own opinions, friendly and usually very tolerant.

2. CLIMATE & SEASONS

OK, ok, I know I mentioned the weather as something I hate about living in Blighty but climate is different to weather.

The UK climate is very moderate, especially for a country at this latitude. For instance London and Moscow are at similar latitudes yet London has a much less extreme climate. Days of high humidity or weeks of freezing temperates are as rare as a long sunny summer.

If you are to believe climate change then the UK is well placed to take advantage of raising temperatures while other countries, such as Australia and Spain, will fry even more and be drier causing droughts and heaven knows what else.

The fact the UK has four distinct seasons is another big plus. Try living in the tropics and see how bored you become with another hot, wet day! Britain rarely suffers from natural disasters too (touching wood).

3. GREAT OUTDOORS

If you love the outdoors then you will love what the UK has to offer. Few countries pack in so much diversity in such a small area. Mountains, ancient forests, moorland, rolling hills, stunning beaches & coastline and an excellent National Parks system.

Outdoor activities are simply endless and because of the relatively mild climate much of this can be year round.

4. HEALTH CARE

If like me you have ever been stranded in a Southeast Asian country and in need of medical treatment or looking for a GP in Australia / NZ, then you will truly appreciate the NHS (National Health Service) which pretty much offers free medical care to all.

When you have seen the inside of a Indonesian public hospital or the bill from a private one you’ll never whinge again about having to wait a bit to see a specialist.

5. LOCATION LOCATION

If you enjoy travel and visiting exciting new places then can there be anywhere better placed than the UK for taking short trips overseas? Within a couple of hours you can get chased down the street by faux guides in Morocco, be questioned for no reason whatsoever by the police in Moscow or be scoffing your favourite variety of kebab in Istanbul.

Having lived in a remote corner of the world where the main overseas short trip was to a bigger, hotter version of itself, I really appreciate being able to hop a budget flight to somewhere very different from the UK.

6. COSTS & CONSUMER CHOICE

The UK is no longer as expensive as you might imagine. Popular places such as Australia, Spain, Canada have shot up in terms of cost of living, where the UK has remained fairly stagnant, in my honest, well travelled opinion.

We are simply spoiled for choice in the UK when it comes to shopping. One of the many gripes of expats who have gone abroad is that there is simply not the same choice.

7. MEDIA AND TV

Ask anyone who has lived in Australia or New Zealand about the TV there and you will soon come to the conclusion that the TV in the UK is pretty darn good. This is further backed up by the sheer quantity of TV that is exported worldwide from Britain.

I cannot deny the quality, depth, impartiality (sometimes) and variety of the written media in the UK compared to many other countries, even if a lot of it contains bad news!

8. HISTORY & CULTURE

The UK is packed to the gills with the the sort of history and culture that is the envy of the English speaking world. A house in Australia only needs to be 95 years old to be considered historic, according to the Melbourne Age.

9. EVENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Britain is blessed with a huge array of annual world class sporting events with the London Olympics being the most recent prize. It is also very much a centre for popular music, festivals, comedy, arts etc (and that’s just in London!).

So that’s it, and I never even got to mention the pubs, the widely respected education system, the English language, proper marmite, warm beer, cricket on the village green, small boys in the park playing football, using jumpers for goalposts….