Best of 2009 – A whole bunch again!

Oh good lord, I’m atrociously behind in my posts and I thought I was doing so well!

December 19 Car Ride

What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?

Oh wow, the last 6 months have been one big car ride. Since we picked up our motorhome, “Nettle”, in the Cotswolds, England we’ve driven her through a bit of English countryside, across Wales, all around Ireland and Northern Ireland, back across the UK, from the top of France to the bottom, from the top of Italy to the bottom and then a little bit of Tunisia in Northern Africa. That’s a lot of driving. Of course, some legs have been better than others. I really can’t narrow it down to just one car ride so I’m gonna go ahead and say Ireland and Northern Ireland was one big awesome road trip. I could write a very lengthy blog article just on this one prompt! I’m going to be very restrained and just dot point a few highlights with 1 photo each. If you feel an uncontrollable desire to read about our journeys in elaborate detail check out my very diligent partner’s blog.

Highlights:

  • Brightly coloured flowers growing wild along the sides of the roads and clinging to steep hill sides

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  • The in-between bits – they were just as beautiful as the destinations we were driving to

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  • A spontaneous detour that took us through the Wicklow Mountains and the first place that made me go “this is why I’ve been dying to travel all my life”


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  • The Giant’s Causeway Coastal Tour – A driving tour described in “The European Driver’s Handbook”

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  • Connemara national park – stark, breathtaking, rugged

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  • Dingle Peninsula -You could believe in faeries and magik and elves in this enchanting place.

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  • The Ring of Kerry (which was actually pretty disappointing to be honest, but the second half of the drive redeemed itself)

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December 20 New Person

She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009.

My partner Mike, and I were befriended by a local Sicilian whilst hiking in the Mt Etna national park one day. He was on his way to a celebration of Sicily’s patron saint with his Alpine club and invited us to come along. There was much eating and singing and dancing. Our new friend and a friend of his then invited us to go see a few of the local natural sights with them another day. Of course, we couldn’t believe our luck and were more than happy to accept the generous invitation. As they showed us the sights they would point out which plants were poisonous, which were good for haemorrhoids, and which ones can crack lava with their roots. They picked various exotic fruits and berries for us to eat along the way. We were then invited to a road rally and then another road rally, dinner at a very special seafood restaurant, a trip to a food expo at Italy’s largest shopping centre with our friend’s mother and partner, and a road trip to a wetland park where flamingos were pitch stopped on their way to Africa for the winter. We’ve been invited back in the spring and summer for some special annual events and have been offered a house to stay in rent-free.

I’ve never met someone so friendly and open and generous. He has almost 700 friends in facebook and I’m not surprised. I’m so unused to such genuine kindness from strangers I frequently found myself entertaining uncharitable thoughts about what could possibly be in it for him and how this could all be a scam, an intricate long-con. I have trust issues. He certainly did come into my life and turn it upside down, as did all the other Sicilians we met who went out of their way to help us. My entire perception of human kind will be forever altered for the better for having met these uncommonly kind Sicilians.

December 21 Project

What did you start this year that you’re proud of?

I have big [for me, not world domination big] plans. I’m so excited. I’m working on them everyday and I’m loving every day. I’ve plunged myself into creating an online creative business. I’m learning how to use photoshop so I can create collage papers to sell as pdf’s on etsy. I love them so much that I look at them every now and then throughout the day. I’m painting every other day and I hope to sell my paintings on Red Bubble. When I decided I’d like to sell prints of my art work on Red Bubble I thought maybe I’d have something good enough in a couple of months. Two days later I had something I was super proud of and am more than happy to put out there in the ether to be looked at and judged and maybe rejected. I’m also learning how to digitally alter photos and am hoping to sell these on Red Bubble also. Just a month ago I hadn’t even entertained the notion of selling my art and now I have an action plan, baby! I feel so energised and things feel so right. I feel like for the first time in my life I’m doing something that I can excel at if I just give it my time and hard work.

December 22 Start-up

What’s a business that you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

This is very biased of me and it’s also something that I’ve already blogged about so I’m sort of cheating.

December 23 Web Tool

It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn’t live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

Since starting out on this crazy new slow travel lifestyle of ours, Mike and I have been keeping tabs on our expenses so we know how much we need to earn to feasibly do this indefinitely. We’ve been religiously using an iphone app called “iExpenseIt” – terrible name, I know, but it’s a good app. Thanks to this nifty app we know that slow travelling in expensive Italy cost us on average $48 (AUD) a day and since we’ve been in Thrifty Tunisia we’ve been making do on $27 a day. That’s cheaper than living and paying rent in Melbourne, Australia. Add a 30% buffer to cover savings and unforeseen expenses and we need to earn $62 a day (based on expenses in Italy) to continue living our dream. It feels so liberating to know how much we need to be earning and aim for that instead of aimlessly earning as much as we can. If you’re interested in this kind of lifestyle and philosophy, check out The Four Hour Work Week.

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