So after the best year and a bit of my life it was back to the UK for some kind of normal Travel free life.
Initially it was great to be back home, catching up with friends, seeing my brother and sister and meeting up with other family. It was quite close to Christmas so I thought id take a bit of settling time before I went job hunting.
After about 2 weeks of being home I started to struggle. Despite being back among my family and friends I felt lonely, I wasn’t surrounded by like minded backpackers, I wasn’t experiencing something new every day, I wasn’t meeting new people it was just the same. Over the 14 months I was away, I had changed, but life had gone on back home. It was all the same.
Coming back from that trip remains one of the toughest things I have ever done. Chuck into that mix the reality of my family situation that had been hidden from me when I was away. I was expecting a family Christmas, all of us together. I’ve always loved that element of Christmas. On return to home the reality hit that my family had split in too. My mum and dad had got divorced, they hadn’t spoken in a long time, it wasn’t going to be a family Christmas.
I entered the realms of countless others, Separate Christmas’ with both parents. That hard decision of who to spend Christmas day with and who to have a “second Christmas” with. This isn’t what I was expecting, this isn’t what I came home for. Despite being 25 at this point and an adult, the separation of your parents is tough. Perhaps even harder that as a child, as an adult you can understand why its happening and then draw links throughout your childhood, slotting pieces of puzzles into place of “Ah that explains why they never went away” or “was that real or just for show?”
As an adult your also in a position to view your parents as peoples, not as just parents. I saw both parents flaws. I saw how upset and deeply hurt people got. Invariably me and my siblings got caught in the middle. Passing messages to each parent to try and help. We weren’t asked to do this but we wanted to help however we could.
This period of time I think defines the name of the blog. Wandercursed, another period in my life where I just had to get away. I found myself a job teaching English in Spain. It was only a temporary contract but I thought I could use this to get my head straight and decided what I wanted to do next.
I flew out to Barcelona a mere month and a half after my return from China. I was going to a place called Arenys De Mar. A coastal town 30 minutes from Barcelona. I was going to a private catholic school to help teach English. The schools claim to fame was that Cesc Fabrigas attended there.
I wasn’t expecting nuns, but they were everywhere within the school grounds. Catholic means catholic!
The town itself was lovely. Really nice beach’s, really Catalonian architecture. I was to be staying with various family’s of children at the school through my stay. Not ideal but it could be an experience. The first family I stayed with were wonderful. Really great people who were so friendly. Their English wasn’t amazing and my Spanish/Catalan was near non existent but it was really nice staying there. Slowly I began learning elements of the language and helped them with their English. They welcomed me as part of the family, taking me on family day outs, meeting extended family, joining them in the lounge to watch Barcelona games. The best part of Spanish life, has to be the food! Paella is just divine.
Then my time with them was up and I want moving on to a different family. Now while this next family were pleasant enough, they just weren’t as welcoming as the last. Their English was much better so I found my Spanish faltering. They left me to my own devises so I was spending more and more time in solitude. I was the only fluent English speaker in a town that seemed to have school ages people and then 40+. No one my own age around. It began to get a bit stifling. I started to spend my weekends in Barcelona, getting a hostel and spending time with other backpackers. Despite my frustrations at that family they did give me one of the best experiences ever. They took me to the Camp Nou and I got the watch the mighty FC Barcelona. I saw Messi score a free kick. I saw Carlos Puyol in one of his last games at Barca, the same with Valdes. I managed to see a team filled with legends, in full flow. They won 4:1 if I remember correctly, I’ve not seen many teams dominate like that.
I began wandering what to do next, I was moved to another family who didn’t speak a word of English, this coincided with the Easter holidays and I decided to spend the 2 week holiday back home………….. well once back home I didn’t want to go back to Spain. Living over there was an experience, however for an independent travellers, the family living was a bit restrictive, throw in the absolute loneliness of having no one the same age as you, with the language barrier and it just wasn’t to be.
I started working in a school back in Reading and despite the low wage, I quite enjoyed the 9-3 work times. I found a nice little flat and moved in, after the Spain adventure id decided to settle for a while home. A month into my job at the school and I got a phone call for another Job id applied for in January. They had offered me an interview back then but id said id be in Spain until June. Well come June they rang and offered me the interview.
Wearing a suit to work and being called Sir was getting a bit much for me so I went along to the interview. It was for a residential children’s home. The company, SWAAY I knew from a previous application I had submitted. Well at this interview I was sold 100% on their vision and ethos. I was really excited about working for them. I wasn’t disappointed, I got the job and absolutely loved it. I was thrown in at the deep end and went on holiday with the house in my second week and it was amazing. I have always loved working with young people, especially those who have had difficulties in their life. Now due to the confidentiality of the work I’m not going to go into it too far but rest assured it was awesome, fulfilling work. If you ever want to know how awesome my job is, the image below sums it up.
I had also started seeing a really nice girl on return from Spain and all was going great. I had a house, a job and was seeing a great girl. Inevitably all things come to an end,
She became pregnant, it was unplanned but not the end of the world. We liked each other and got on great, I had a house, so did she, and I had a decent job. We could make it work. I came to terms with this and allowed myself to get excited by it. Devastatingly it wasn’t to be, and a miscarriage put an end to that dream. Unfortunately it also put a strain on anything romantic between us, however to this day we remain great friends.
I also around this point had my first ever health scare. My partner had found a lump on my gentleman parts. I couldn’t feel it but she assured me she could, as could the DR who sent me off to get a scan. Now waiting for that appointment was terrifying, I took my best friend along for moral support and had my scan. Fortunately it wasn’t anything serious, but I remember breaking down in tears after the DRs, thinking I was going to die, thinking the worst. I was lucky but I have so much empathy for those who perhaps don’t get the all clear I did.
Now work was going great, I was throwing myself into it, averaging 80+ hours overtime per month. This lead to me getting a bit burnt out after 6 months so I decided to use all my annual leave in bulk and go somewhere for a while. The first bit of leave I used for a long weekend over in Iceland hunting the northern lights. I went with my friend Helen, whom id known since my days on the isle of Wight.
Iceland is fantastic. Its bloody cold as the name suggests but its beautiful. We went for a tour around glaciers and rock formations, its beautiful, we explored under Iceland by going caving and finally we went on our lights tour. We nearly missed it due to poor weather conditions but off we went. We drove to the northern half of Iceland and set up.
We saw the lights but we weren’t blown away. To the naked eye they looked like clouds, it was only when you configured your camera that you saw a bit of colour. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about so was disappointed. I’ve since seen a much stronger showing of the lights and can tell your that they are as magical and jaw dropping as you may have heard, but what we saw that night was not.
After a horse steak (yes horse steak) dinner we got ready to head home. But not before stopping at the world famous Blue Lagoon. Natural hot springs on route to the airport., this beautifully warm water is just fantastic. Your body is so toasty, while your head is getting covered in snow! Very relaxing and a must do for anyone travelling to Iceland. I would also heartily recommend the massages they offer their, your put on a float and massaged in the water, very strange but very relaxing.
We went back to the airport with cameras full of amazing photos and great memories of a lovely country. Unfortunately only my memories remain as I left my camera in the taxi on the way to the airport! DOH!!!!
I spent a couple of weeks working before the rest of my leave was used. For a 3 week trip back to South Africa. I couldn’t wait.