It’s now been 4 weeks since we left our comfortable life back home with a lovely coastal UK family home, great neighbours, brilliant local primary school and really good friends with a crazy (to most) plan to live, work, cook, eat, sleep, relax and homeschool in a 7m (22ft) long motorhome for 12 months or so.
I have tried to explain the reasons for this seemingly puzzling decision to many people multiple times since we went public with it several months ago but I think the best way I currently do so is by saying yes we were all comfortable and safe but we weren’t really living – only existing. Being self employed for over 13 years meant I am used to taking calculated risks having broke free of the shackles (and relative security) of being told when, where and how I can earn money as has my wife more recently. This meant taking this current next step wasn’t as large for us as it would be for others. However another HUGE role in us making this leap into the unknown as a family now is that we all REALLY disagree with the English SATs testing system and the teaching to the test that disrupts EVERYTHING that is good about English schools. With all 3 of our children heading into SATs focused years starting in September 2018 both myself and my wife couldn’t live with ourselves if we made them just more pawns in these pointless tests. See Let Kids Be Kids and MTAS for more on what’s currently going on in English schools if you are interested in such matters.
On a personal level, I also feel I wasn’t being true to my own core values living as we were, where I have spent most of the last 30 years of my life which as far as we all know we only get one shot at. As a result of all this deep thinking and soul searching I’m really trying to make the most of this rare opportunity we have engineered to show and maybe even instil some of these same core values in my own children via such an adventure. This might all sound a bit too hippie to you or even absurd etc but everyone is different and surely everyone can agree the World would be a very boring place if everyone was happy with the same things and ticked the same way?
With this in mind, I started typing the first draft of this blog post sat on the Quayside in the middle of Glasgow city centre being able to do so by today’s amazingly connected mobile phones. I mention this as we all only decided to come into the city via train about 2 hours ago when the rain next to Loch Lomond where we are staying in the motorhome looked like settling in for the day. In suburbia I don’t think many of our family of 5 were great at being as being as flexible with our plans for the day as we are now as a lot of the 28 or so days since we have been away we haven’t even known where we are going to sleep that night – frequently only finding somewhere to park up our entire life for the night when we have squeezed everything out of the day we can!
Please don’t think at this point I’m saying we don’t also have lazy days and boring days when we are having to wash yet more clothes, air the mattresses in the motorhome, sort out tyre pressures or empty the motorhome toilet etc but the best way I can describe things so far is that everything feels so much more natural and mindful for me. For example if the children have found others to play with that day or it’s a nice evening then there is no pressure for them to be tucked up in bed by 9pm as there is equally no pressure for them to be awake before their bodies tell them to be compared to having to be dressed and on their way to school at 8:30 each day.
As I have talked about previously, we are homeschooling (roadschooling) our children when we are away and this is tending to start around 10:00 each day. Both myself and my wife have a rough plan of what we want to work on with each of them that day when we have them but again if one of them is suddenly into x, y and z we can try and incorporate those things into their learning that day. I have tried to list what resources we are finding useful for homeschooling here but would strongly suggest starting with www.khanacademy.org which is THE best resource we have found so far to cover all bases.
This flexible attitude is really something we are consciously trying to carry through to all aspects of our life and has already rewarded us with an unplanned trip around the Isle of Skye which we didn’t think we would have time for this time. This impromptu trip come about after we all felt we had exhausted what our camp site base on Loch Ness could offer us so we left 2 nights early losing some pre paid camping nights but found 2 nights wild camping for free on Skye instead.
I never had any grand plans for any sort of personal ‘transformation’ before setting out on this trip but I was adamant from day one that I didn’t want to plan the fun out of things by pre booking too many things or nights ahead as one of the key the points of this journey for me was to embrace those unexpected things that happen along the way. By letting ‘The Universe’, fate, Karma or whatever your personal persuasion is guide us as a family thus far I think each of us can already be confident we have learnt something from everything we have encountered and experienced each day on this trip.
Sat writing this now on day 28, all I want for the next 337 days or so of our adventures is that when we all put our heads on our pillows each night we can sleep safe in the knowledge we have lived and not simply existed that day. I’m fully aware it might not be till the children are much older that they can fully appreciate their own development during this time but hopefully they will all look back fondly at what an incredible crazy journey their mum and dad took them on.
Some pics from the last 28 days