We walked out of Barclays feeling like a pair of children in our parents clothing. After weeks of being willed along by our charming if not a little too optimistic mortgage advisor, we’d put an offer down on a house with an 85% promise we’d get a springboard mortgage in principle and that seemed like pretty good odds to us. Our mortgage advisor, Amandeep felt like a kindred spirit – he was a mortgage advisor with aspirations of being a writer, married with a young child and added his own bit of style to the typically boring bank uniform with his underscarf of his turban matching the Barclays blue – a tip from his nan he said. I was invested, Sam takes a little longer with these things but by the end of our first meeting even he was wanting to text Amandeep asking when we could hang out next. Our next hang out didn’t go as well, with his optimism flailing by the second – our 85% promise was rapidly decreasing as we used our children as cute props hoping they could change the big bank bosses mind. Our children were not cute enough, I’m not sure any children would have been cute enough to have knocked our credit score up by the handful of points we needed. Amandeep apologise profusely, we apologise for being rubbish adults. Do we hug? I felt like I should but I tend to use Sam as my yard stick when it comes to interactions with professional people and his face was a very loud no. So we left, without a hug, without a mortgage and without another scheduled hang out with Amandeep.
So, what next? We came home with our tails between our legs, having to phone the estate agents to let them know too that we were not quite adult enough to have our own home yet and that perhaps a wendy house would be more up within our range. We moped for days over the house, removed our fantasy furniture from each room and unpotted the plants from the garden. We sat and watched our Clearscore go down then up, then up a bit more and still not enough to buy a house. We drank wine. And beer. And a gin – whilst promising our children that we were responsible adults we definitely do know what to do in an emergency, how to cross a road and all of the smoke alarms have batteries in (.. now).
What do we do now? We sulked at eachother as our rented house started to feel like an abyss we were just throwing money into whilst paying off someone else’s mortgage for them. We’d never been fussed with a mortgage, not really but recently it felt like ‘the next step’. Sam had entered his thirties and whilst I was still grabbing onto my twenties for dear life, the impending pressure of owning our own home was being echoed by everyone we knew. Each day it seemed as though a new happy couple were standing outside there new front door waving their keys in the air and maybe we needed to be those people too. We’d just had our daughter Dotty, bringing our team to four with our older daughter Dylan being 2 ½, they needed a mortgage right?! Every night before bed that’s what Dylan would ask for a juice, a cuddle and a great interest rate. We had convinced ourselves of it.
When Sam and I first got together (the second time around but I’ll go into that later!) we spoke about all of the adventures we would have, where we’d go and what we’d do and although we’d been on a handful – life took over and we’d got into a lane. We weren’t forced there, we’d just taken it. We had a daughter, got married, I wrote letters, he wrote code, we got a bigger house, had our second daughter and the idea of travel and things took a backseat because you have bills to pay, dinners to plan and a routine that becomes your everyday life and we liked it. Did we feel fulfilled? Not massively – our daughters are awesome and we love each other a lot but neither of us was waking up everyday excited for what’s in store and that was absolutely fine! But now we found ourselves in this limbo, not wanting to pay more rent, not being able to buy a property and our dreams of adventure came back to the forefront.
We couldn’t though could we? We have babies. Two of them, one who is currently the size of a garden gnome and depends on us for literally, everything and another who is a walking, talking little human being with a daily need for a session of Netflix and chill – chill being actual sofa spooning with her cuddly sloth. We have things, so many things. Ok, I have so many things. I have held on to everything that has ever meant something to me since the age of eleven and will have nobody even hint at my treasures being anything less than jewels. Sam, is a little more minimalist. Whilst I hide his old birthday cards in drawers, incase one day he needs reminding of how loved he was on his 31st birthday. Maybe one day he’ll exclaim ‘I understand now!’ whilst I pull out the fifteen cards as a point of reference, a pair of train tickets from a lovely trip to London, a note asking for milk that I kept because I thought it was cute at the time and a lego man we both thought looked a little like him once. I understand, it’s got a little out of hand. But things have always mattered to me, not massive things, trinkets make me feel safe – I’m not sure if that makes sense and will probably be the tagline for my Channel 4 documentary one day when I’m found under a pile of paper, lego men and birthday cards. We’d also started to flirt with the idea of moving away from Birmingham recently, the seaside was calling us and as we looked for homes in Cornwall, Ramsgate and Margate – we both panicked. We can’t leave. We have things and people and the girls will need both things and people and we have to stay. Birmingham was our town and we were anchored to it, forever.
Maybe we could leave for a little bit – we’d get a van, make it into a home and travel Europe with our girls. We watched youtube videos on ‘Van life’ and saw families achieving that very thing. It’d be great, we’d save money and we’d get to travel and then we’d come home and get a mortgage and settle down. We looked at vans, insulation, furniture, routes we could take and then it hit us. The initial cost of such a project would be over ten thousand pounds and neither of us were wallpapering the walls with money currently and the time element, converting a van whilst working full time and being a parent just couldn’t be done right now. So we boxed that idea, took the fairy lights down from the canopy and the fluffy steering wheel we’d imagined and went back to the drawing board and by drawing board I mean, we went back to sulking.
‘I’ve had a thought, why don’t we just go?’ the second after I said this I was ushering the words back in to my mouth on one hand whilst feeling like I’d just won a Ru Pauls Drag Race design challenge with nothing more than diamantes and a hot glue gun on the other. So we sat, we thought about what we really, really wanted. For us, for the girls and for our lives together and we came up with a plan.
We both work from home, Sam is a Software Engineer for Teamwork.com and I run One Million Lovely Letters. If we were to go on an adventure, we’d need it to be one that was too incredible to not be supported by our families. Moving away from Birmingham to still live in the UK almost seemed too close and I’m not sure that makes any sense but we felt like why would we move the girls away from everything, if it was only to be somewhere with a similar lifestyle with the same financial responsibilities but a seaside view (Although a seaside view is the loveliest, the price of living by the seaside is again, LOADS and the simple fact of us not being able to get a mortgage played a massive part again!) We needed something different and we wanted something extraordinary for them.
We spoke to our families, who were all massively supportive with a sprinkling of ‘Can you actually do that?’, ‘Will you be safe?’, ‘OH MY GOD’. The consensus was – it was too incredible to not do, which filled us both with relief that this idea was better received than most of our proposed baby names with reaction scaling from ‘That sounds like a soap brand’ to ‘Definitely a cows name’.
So, on August 1st 2018 we are leaving Birmingham – indefinitely to travel and live around the world. As we both ‘work from home’ our home can actually be anywhere with a wifi connection for us both and my letter writing things for me. Our first stay will be in Cambodia for two months, we’re staying with a lovely lady called Valentina in Siem Reap who has four cats and a partner that practices his Saxophone in the garden. It’s a guesthouse and it’s brightly coloured and surrounded by trees and little hideaways for Dylan. From there we are going to live in Thailand, from there a stay in Vietnam – from there, everywhere. Our idea is to stay for as long as we want, everywhere we want and learn and see everything on the way. We will teach the girls on the way until Secondary level and by then will of hopefully found ourselves a piece of sky that we love and have settled. Sam will continue to work for Teamwork and I will continue with my letters, recruiting my Mum for postbox and stamp sticking duties as I will be sending her packs of letters back at a time. We are excited, nervous and will obviously miss the people we leave behind but with skype, facetime and every other form of communication the internet offers we will never really be that far away.
So this is the place we will be documenting our adventure and everything leading up to it, I hope you stick around! Even if you don’t think much of the writing, we’ll throw in our babies as cute props from time to time to try and convince you to be interested.
But for now another adventure is beginning, we need to get rid of everything we own and I have a small problem with holding on to..everything.