After almost 9 months on the road, and slightly earlier than expected, we are UK bound as of tomorrow. We will be leaving the beautiful island of Krk in Croatia, heading towards Slovenia for a much-anticipated visit to lake Bled, before passing through Austria, Germany and finally, France; where we will embark on an overnight ferry back to our hometown of Plymouth, on a date yet to be confirmed.
To say that this trip has been a life-changer is an understatement. It really has saved us in ways that are difficult to put into words. When we left Plymouth last year, we were novice campers full of hope and trepidation, hurt and confusion. We are returning relaxed, assured, happy and at peace with the world. We have unpeeled the layers of our soul, searched deep within ourselves, asked tough questions, found healing answers, and made friends with uncertainty.
The life coach, Martha Beck, once said she was ‘living her afterlife’; that the person she once was no longer exists. We can entirely relate to this. We are no longer the people that boarded the ferry to France on the 1st September last year. Our priorities have changed. Our values have changed. Our aspirations have changed. There is no going back.
So why are we heading ‘home’?
Well, other than the fact that we are beyond excited about seeing our loved ones, we waited, and we placed trust in ourselves to find the answer to the question – what next? For months, we were troubled by this simple, yet monumental, question. With no idea of what to do, we delayed making any decisions until such time as our heads agreed with our hearts.
Sometimes we thought the answer would never come. With every passing week, we tormented ourselves grasping and clenching ideas like they were presents in a game of ‘pass the parcel’. Eagerly we would unwrap each suggestion, hoping that it would lead to the gift of a certain answer. Each time, we were disheartened to find more questions, more doubt and more confusion.
Eventually, we removed ourselves from the game. Rather than grasp at straws, we rewarded ourselves with time, peace and tranquillity. We rested our chaotic minds at a beautiful haven called Njivice in Croatia. We gave ourselves permission to relax and just enjoy the beauty of our surroundings and the quietness of our life.
And the answer simply came. Slightly left of the field from where we had been previously looking, but it just appeared when our minds were calm and open.
So, we are heading ‘home’ to sell Colin (who has been our wonderful temporary home), wind up my business and settle our affairs before embarking on our next courageous and exciting adventure. Almost a year to the day after we commenced our European tour we will again be leaving our hometown for a future of uncertainty. Fear not though…uncertainty is now our friend.
There is no doubt that this trip has shaped our future. It has been the most remarkable experience. Without this adventure, there is no way we would have found the courage to make our next bold move. Travelling undoubtedly removes the ‘what if’s’ from your life. It has a liberating effect that disrobes you of your fears and doubt. One’s confidence and self-belief increases with every road travelled and every challenge overthrown. We have come to realise how small and accessible the world really is and yet, feel humbled by its splendour and contrary vastness; which has a way of reminding you how fleeting and cherished our short stay on this earth really is.
In France, we found our backbone. We pressed forward despite our fears. We learnt the art of travelling and grappled with the tensions of living together 24/7. France made it easy for us. She was kind and welcoming. She showered us with new experiences and showed us a life without modern-day interruptions. She brought us back to nature and opened our eyes to the realms of possibility.
In Spain we found resilience. Warm weather and sea escapades returned our hidden youth and childlike enthusiasm for fun and adventure. We learnt to thrive and marvel at new discoveries. We met people who inspired us – visited places that moved us – and observed changes in our children that motivated us to keep going.
In Portugal we found peace. With the gift of time, we learnt to let go of the feelings of anger, hurt and injustice. The release of cumbersome clouds of negativity made way for hidden passions, new aspirations and opened our minds to new opportunities. The rugged, natural beauty of the west coast lifted our spirits, blew away the cobwebs, cleared our cynical minds and breathed new energy into previously weary souls.
In the Pyrenees and the great lakes of Italy, we found enlightenment. Motionless majestic mountains cast shadows over rippling lakes like clocks hosting the hands of time. We were reminded of how quickly time passes by, like the fast flow of a river. Once the water passes, it is gone. The mountains, however, stay, timeless – their brief interaction with us no greater than a blink of an eye or second ticking by on an antique clock. Here, we decided to live our life to the fullest. To make our time count. To not waste a precious second more.
And in Croatia, of course, we found our answer. We learnt to trust in ourselves. To listen and hear our inner truth. To be kind to ourselves and let the natural process flow.
It is no coincidence that we came across the clearest, crystal waters towards the end of our trip. Hours of gazing into nature’s glorious underwater show certainly clears the mind and brings a clarity of thought as pure as the Croatian coast.
We have so much to be thankful for. From our life coach who has been the constant hand in the dark, our families; who prove that love is an enabler, and the wonderful countries, towns and villages that welcomed us without reservation, quenching our thirst for travel.
As we make our slow amble back, I shall continue to savour every moment and reflect on amazing memories that will undoubtedly last us a lifetime.
We are nearing the end of this chapter…just a few final pages left of what has been a thrilling tale. Soon we will turn the page and start a new chapter. If it is as fulfilling and rewarding as this one, we can rest, assured, that an epic saga awaits.