18 Months On

Just over 18 months since we said our goodbyes to our home and headed off into the unknown, ok maybe not the first day (we went just down the road, to one of our favourite lakes) but afterwards it was the big start to our adventure we’d been thinking about for 3 years. Now here we are today, a whole year and a half later with the end very much in sight. We have never had an end date, we always told people the trip would be 18 months to 2 years. We have given the month of June as an estimate of our return but we’re not 100% sure. We shall see!

Writing the 1 year on the road blog was extremely positive with all we had done and the fun we had had on the trip so far, another 6 months on and we came to a bit of a bump in the road – the weather! With an unfortunately colder January than expected, it has made for some hard and frustrating times. Maybe it was the combination of crap weather, having just seen my family and reaching Europe that had been the goal for so long, who knows, or maybe it was just after being on the road for 18 months.

It’s definitely not all doom and gloom, just a short lapse in enthusiasm. Our low point was when we decided we would be better off in an apartment for the 5 days when we’d planned to cycle around Crete. Stuck inside and dreaming of better weather we were seriously considering a flight to somewhere warmer to have a bit of a break from the tour. Luckily, we ended up deciding to meet up with Annie and Paddy (2 cyclist we’d met on the road in Bishkek http://www.2londoners1bike.com) to have a 2 week break with them and sailing around some of the islands. It was the perfect respite we needed to recharge and get excited for the last 4ish months of the trip. It also gave us a couple of weeks for the weather to warm up.

I’m sure from all the social media we use, it creates an image of complete happiness and, on the whole, we are very happy. Most days we wake up thinking how lucky we are to be doing a trip like this. When people at home tell us we’re crazy and can’t understand why we’d want to do it, we often think of days when we worked in the UK wishing weeks away looking forward to weekends and holidays. We never go to bed on a Sunday thinking, “Oh no it’s Monday tomorrow!” Hearing people complain about work and having no time to themselves, these are just some of the reasons why we think we’re the sane ones!

Using social media is an incredible way to keep in touch with those we love and miss, it also links us up with other interested parties following our trip who have given us encouragement along the way, and a great source for us to plan and follow other people’s trips too. But with all this, it does only give people a small snapshot into our lives on the road. Of course we have good days and bad days, missing friends and family.

We do rely on social media for our connection with back home and staying in touch. After days without the Internet, a lot of the time I feel better for it, maybe because sometimes I feel disappointed not to hear from people as regularly as I’d like, but I also realise that people are just busy with life and I have far more time on my hands. My point is that it is an amazing resource that we have making our trip easier in many ways but sometimes giving off a warped impression. Andy and I often say we should take a picture in one direction of what is the more beautiful view and what you want people to see, and then spin the camera round to the other side where there is a pile of rubbish or a building site. Maybe this can be a project for our next trip.

I guess the trap you can fall into is that if the main way you are interacting with people is through social media then what you put up may be seen as ‘showing off’ or starting to become those people who are always putting up blogs and pictures of their trip and after 18 months people are over it, hopefully not though. A very long winded way to say, as in any case things aren’t always black and white, and we all have our ups and downs. Plus on a side note, one of the main reasons we keep the blog, pictures and videos online is for us in the future to look back at the trip. It also is the safest way to store things just in case they are lost, damaged or stolen.

Moving onto a more positive note, it feels like we’re moving forwards and making progress. After our blip with morale we are looking forward to the last 4 plus months of the trip. We can’t really believe we’ve gotten to this point and only have a few more thousand kilometres left! After 7 years away from the UK it might take some time to readjust to life there, but we’re excited to see what the future holds and of course catch up properly with family and friends.

After 18 months we have worked our gear hard and the tell tale signs are starting to show – holes in most of our clothing, including our shoes. A few small holes in the tent, other than the cat scratches we have now patched. We had both our thermarests replaced after they delaminated.

Both our silk liners for our sleeping bags are ripped completely, but I think that may be down to not washing them correctly.

In many ways it’s good to see things being used to the end, rarely do we do this in our throw away society we now live in. It has also been a good test to not buy clothes as frequently as we would if we were at home. It’s nice not to have the pressures that society imposes on us to wear something different most days. Day to day we don’t really care that we are in the same clothes, only when we are in a city off the bikes do we notice we feel scruffy in comparison to the perfectly preened people who live there. I’d love to say I will carry this forward into life off the bikes but I feel it’s unrealistic. Back into a world where peer pressure reins.

As I have been told many times on this trip by Andy when times are tough, “If it were easy then everyone would do it!” It does make you appreciate the small things in life, a cup of coffee, reading a good book, talking, and the beautiful surroundings we constantly find ourselves in. Finishing off this blog post I’m sat in our tent looking out at the sea, I feel very lucky!

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5 thoughts on “18 Months On

  1. Hello from Sunny Manchester!!
    amazingly we’ve had lots of gorgeous sun here and hardly any rain….it’s cold yes but the air feels fresh and much cleaner than Vietnam!! Just been catching uo with your tales and I blame you too for reminding me how much I’d missed salt & vinegar crisps (had to go out and but some after I saw your vieo clip with cheese and crisp butties!!). You know, the people who follow and enjoy your blog will know that it’s not always fun and that there’s plenty of ups-and -downs (mentally as well as physically). I’m sure they don’t think you’re showing off….plenty of people would hate the idea of regularly sleeping in a tent and not having a shower for 7 days. But those of us “in the know” realise that however a bad day on the bike is it’s still always far better than a bad day not on the bike….:) I think it’s tough when you get near the end of your ride because it’s always in your head that home is not far away…….so do try to make the most of the next few months……Enjoy Albania!! Girokaster is a nice town …..
    Love
    The Sloths (soon to be Sloths On Wheels Again)
    xxxxx

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  2. Hi Clare, (and Andy)
    It will be lovely to catch up when you get home but you have lots of time still to enjoy and let us vicariously enjoy your trip. Challenges always have ups and downs 68 miles in 47 degrees in Cambodia was my up and down but the experience and achievement is worth it. Giving up work also takes away the peer pressure to wear something different ..I recommend it. Hating shopping helps too (unless it’s an outdoor or camping shop)!
    I am so glad you got to enjoy sailing in the Greek islands..we love it and like Geoff and Sue know the Ionian coast and the Corinth canal from sailing. I am struggling to be enthused by my bike in the cold weather but spring is on its way. The cherry trees will be out here fairly soon!
    Definitely don’t think your blogs count as bragging and I am definitely not in the group of can’t imagine why you would do it people..it’s giving you so much life experience, so many memories and skills. The photography project sounds a great one..what’s the next trip to be?!
    Keep the blogs coming..both of your inputs are very enjoyable and offer different perspectives.
    Love to you both
    Tess xx

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  3. Kel and I have just come back to Australia after 2 years away and all I can say is soak up and enjoy the last 4 months – rain, hail or shine! You will surely miss the slow pace of life and the abundance of time to just sit, read, drink coffee with a beautiful view out the tent window. Keep posting these blogs so we can live vicariously through you 🙂

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  4. Dear namesakes. We’re really enjoying your blog and are completely amazed by what you’re doing – it makes us dream even more about our next (much shorter) bike ride. We’re currently backpacking in Sri Lanka which I think you briefly considered during the bleak Greek winter. The roads here are surprisingly smooth so it’s a good idea for a future trip. But you’re right to stick to your plan and to stick to Europe for your last leg. Europe may be more familiar but you’re going to be riding through some delightful places over the next few months. And every day will be a little bit warmer and sunnier than the day before. Then there’s the food … the wine … the swimming … We look forward to reading about it and feeling more and more inspired.

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