Blast From The Past
My wife has left me – what to do???
So, I find myself at a bit of a loose end during October. Normally my wife & I would be off tripping somewhere together but, this year, she has flown back to Australia to surprise her Mother for her 75th birthday (& to catch up with our daughter Jasmine!).
The question I ask myself is, “So what am I going to do?”
I could stay put in Frankfurt & do some additional onlin
e work – perhaps get ahead in some of my ongoing projects? But then I realise that this is not what a Digital Nomad is all about – our lifestyle is
about freedom, movement & experiences!
The decision I come to is to head over to the UK for 10 days. My youngest brother, Greg, has recently moved to London – so I decide to head off & visit with him. This will allow me to see his new home and to meet my new niece – who is only 6 months old.
Off to England I go!
My flight from Frankfurt to Heathrow is only a little over an hour & Greg is at the airport to pick me up & take me to his place. His wife, Jini is there waiting for us – along with my new niece, Lana – who is unbearably cute!
The next few days we all trip around the south east of E
ngland – including a great day trip down to Dover and an exploration of the old Dover Castle & WWII communications tunnels that literally dot the entire area – really interesting.
Greg is starting a new job here in England & his training begins in late October. So, after 5 days with him & his family, it’s time for me to head off to somewhere else – I have at least another 5 days to kill before I’m going to head home. The question is, what to do?
Then it hits me! I have a cousin who lives not far from where my brother is now based & who I haven’t seen for over 30 years! My last couple of trips to the UK I have tried to connect with her but it just hasn’t worked out! So, I call my other cousin (her sister) to get Tracey’s number.
Armed with that, I give her a call & we exchange greetings – she is just as excited to hear from me as I am to be talking to her. I tell her that I’m literally just down the road & could we perhaps meet up? She goes silent for a moment or two & says “Damn!”
Her & her husband, Tony, are off up to Nantwich the next day to stay on a canal barge they have recently purchased & are in the process of renovating. Tony has a few days off work & Tracey is on holiday (she works in education & it’s school holidays).
It’s looking like we will be thwarted in our attempts to meet up yet again! So, I ask the question, “Is there enough room on the barge for three”?
Tracey says there is but that we would be “Roughing it”. For me, that translates as “Adventure!” & I’m all for it. So, we make plans to meet up, at Nantwich, the following afternoon.
I immediately get online after I have finished my call with Tracey & investigate my train options – here’s where my Digital Nomad training & familiarity with the internet comes in very handy! I find that I can catch the train from near my brother’s home all the way to Crewe, which is a short distance to Nantwich.
I call Tracey back the next morning & let her know the plan & she offers to pick me up from the station at Crewe – so, we are set & are going to finally meet up – after all this time. To say that I was excited would be an understatement!
Next morning, Greg drops me at the local station & we say our goodbyes – It has been great to see him & his family & to see the area where they are now living. I only have a five minute wait for the train & I’m aboard & on my to Crewe.
Arriving at Crewe without any hiccups I SMS Tracey to let her know I have arrived. She messages me back to say they are running 10 minutes late, so I get myself a coffee at the station café & sit & wait. Once I finish my coffee I head out to the station entrance and wait for Tracey to arrive.
It is then that I realise that the last time I saw Tracey she was a teenager & it is likely that she will have changed somewhat – I wonder if I’ll recognise her (or she me)!
Then, I see a small station wagon pull up & a dark haired woman gets out looking a little flustered & in somewhat of a hurry. I check my memory & compare the description I have in my head with the person I see approaching me & decide it’s a match. “Tracey!” I yell.
She looks up at me & gives me a smile that is unmistakably the Tracey I remember & we move towards each other & hug.
She is babbling an apology for being late & I’m telling her not to worry & how good she looks. Then I see a man approaching who must be her husband. Tony & I have never met but he greets me warmly & we put my one bag into the back of the car & get in to head to Nantwich.
The car trip to Nantwich & their canal dock where the barge is moored is a blur – we are all asking each other catch up questions, excitedly telling each other how great it is to catch up (at last!) & discussing what we should do over the next few days.
Tracey & Tony tell me that they bought the barge earlier in the year & their plan is to semi retire next year (around March/April) & live on the barge, travelling around the UK, stopping wherever the mood suits them.
The barge itself is quite large & in remarkably good condition. It
consists of a small back deck (which is where the tiller & engine controls are) with the main cabin comprising a small bathroom, main sleeping area, dining area & lounge area, with a small front deck. I would estimate it to be about 20 metres in length & 3-4 metres wide.
The next few days were awesome – it was so good to talk about our respective families, what we’ve been up to & plans for the future, as well as explore the local area (well, at least the pub anyhow!) & investigate the capabilities of the barge.
This was their first time staying on the barge since they had purchased it & Tony learned a lot in the few days I was with them – most notably how to isolate the barge’s power supply so that you don’t run down the batteries! We woke up after our first night & discovered that the batteries were all flat – not good when everything is powered by them (including the shower!).
Tony had to get the local chandlery to give him a “Jump start” so that the engine could recharge everything! We even went for a bit of a motor down the canal to get some fuel (& charge those batteries) – I got to captain the barge for a while, which was fun – as was going through the locks that keep the canals navigable as you go through hilly land areas.
I ended up extending my stay with them for an extra day before I headed off – they had some friends coming to visit & whilst three of us could comfortably reside on the barge, more than that would be a bit of a squeeze!
Besides which, there was no internet onboard – & for a Digital Nomad, three days offline is murder!
Tracey & Tony took me back to the station & I decided to head up to Stockport – which was only a 30 minute trip from Crewe. This allowed me to meet up with some more of my cousins & to have lunch with my Uncle Les & Aunt Lil.
Just an overnight in Stockport before I headed back to London & back to Frankfurt. For a relatively spur of the moment decision to go somewhere the trip was really enjoyable. Being able to catch up with my brother & to reconnect with a long lost cousin was awesome!
Certainly more experiences to treasure – for me, that is the greatest advantage of my Digital Nomad lifestyle. To have the freedom to be able to do things almost on impulse, without having to apply for holidays or take leave without pay!
Despite being “Offline” for the time I spent with Tracey & Tony, my business clients were none the wiser & my revenue streams were unaffected.