We’ve lived in London for almost four years, and I think we had both underestimated just how far our roots had grown. London is a city like no other, a metropolis of juxtaposition where the wealthy and the poor clamber to make a home from the same space, while the modern threatens to engulf the old but history winds itself round each corner like a weed that refuses to be tamed. The city can be thrilling, to the point where it’s overwhelming. There is always something to see, something to do, always someone that will reach higher, walk faster, queue longer, shout louder, click that buy button quicker. It’s difficult not to fall into this big city trap…. But for all of its shortcomings, there are multiple strengths. The wonderful diversity of different areas, within five miles you can travel the world in food and meet and learn from people from all races, religions and ethnicities. There are the incredible green spaces which act as lungs breathing air into the stale concrete jungle, the melting pot that gives life to world renowned art, theatre and music, and of course the community spirit that has held the city together through all of its recent struggles.
Put simply, we both love this city with a passion that was unexpected and I think it has come as a quiet surprise to both of us just how much it hurts to leave.
We have the classic ‘move to the big city’ story. We’re both Yorkshire-born and met at university, after which came several years of compromising over long distances. In 2013 we reached a point where we both wanted a new challenge and we decided to pack up and moved to The Big Smoke. It brought with it many challenges, the greatest of which by far was living together for the first time!
Four years later, we’ve experienced different jobs, made many friends, learnt a lot about the world that we live in, strengthened our relationship and gathered fantastic memories. In May this year, we started to discuss the big ‘What Next?’. We have no mortgage, no dependents, and we’re headed for the big 3-0 quicker than we’d like. We’ve both travelled before, together to South East Asia, and separately around the world, and always assumed there’d be more. Suddenly we looked at each other and realised that if we didn’t make it happen right now, it might never happen. More and more reasons to postpone would arise and the ‘perfect moment’ would never arrive. With a deep breath, a little bit of crazy and a whole lot of hopefulness we decided to make that perfect moment now.
And that brings us to the present day, at the end of July.
Last weekend we had a leaving party, we booked some space in a pub safely tucked away from the rain, and invited all the amazing people that have made the last four years so incredible. We were both surprised and incredibly grateful to all those that made the effort to come, and to those that wrote lovely messages to explain that they were sad not to be able to join us.
One question repeatedly arose, ‘So guys, what’s the plan?’ To which the response was an awkward shrug of the shoulders and the admission that we aren’t entirely sure. Unsurprisingly, this was met with wide eyes and disbelief… ‘No plan?!’
As it stands, we have a one way flight to Colombia on 10th September, one week of accommodation booked in Bogotá and a rough idea of a budget to spend. Before now and then we will be leaving London and spending three weeks in Yorkshire. Despite living in a rented flat, there is an awful lot of Life Admin to work through; speaking to our employers, landlord, utilities, banks, doctors, and dentists to name but a few! We don’t really have much time to set more of a plan than what we already have, but that’s the most exciting part! How often in life do we get the opportunity to be faced with a blank page?
Once recovered from the initial shock, our friends were excited for us, wishing us well and keen to share their own dreams to travel, inspired to open up by our craziness. Several want to settle overseas for a while and work, others want to live the digital nomad life and see where it takes them, and some are inspired to go further afield during their summer break. For others their dreams aren’t linked to travelling but they’re just as important. They might have just bought their first house, or are saving up to do so, others want children soon, or are planning a wedding. It’s such a wonderful time of change and excitement for both us and our friends and it’s a gift to be able to see it all unfold.
Phil and I aren’t really sure what this next chapter will look like for us, but we’re pretty sure that there will be a lot of surprises, new friends to make, lessons to learn and many, many memories made. Whether our trip lasts just two weeks before we issue the SOS, or spans several months until the budget runs dry, we’d love you to join us for the ride. We’ll be updating the blog as and when we can, and we’d really like for you to interact letting us know you’re on the other end of the screen, and even offering suggestions of where to go and what to do next.
Until next time.