Spring in the North

Over the past few weeks, we’ve visited a bunch of places in the North of England and Wales. This was my first opportunity to really see the lovely city of Lancaster where Matt grew up. We hung out with his fam, saw where he went to school, visited several of his childhood houses (from the outside, obvs), and checked out his old haunts. Conclusion? Lancaster is one charming place.

We also had a fantastic time in nearby Preston sitting for two of the chillest cats on the planet. Then we journeyed to Wales, me for the first time. We got a chance to meet and hang out with more delightful members of Matt’s family and to see some amazing views. North Wales is such an incredible part of the world! I’m basically now the self-appointed captain of #TeamWales.

Getting to spend time with Matt’s family has reminded me that even though I’ve lost my dad and my grampy in the past two years, I’ve also gained a brilliant partner and his lovely fam. Though we can never replace those who are gone, there’s a huge amount of love and healing we can get from the family we choose – whether it be a partner, friend, or even a pet. I’m so grateful that Matt and I met, became a part of each other’s families, and formed a little family of our own.

Alright, enough with the lovefest. Did you know in less than four weeks we’ll be back in Canada?! After our current housesit in Leeds, we’ll visit Matt’s mom, sister, and friends before we head to Brussels for our last housesit of the trip. Then, we fly back from Paris on June 3rd.

Anyone else wondering where the time went?

-Janice

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So Long, Scotland

I am so grateful that this journey has brought me back to Scotland. After six months of traveling around and not staying in one place for more than a couple weeks, a whole month in Edinburgh was an absolute dream. Even though Matt was busy with work and didn’t feel the greatest during that time, we still loved our visit to one of the best cities in the world.

Since leaving Edinburgh last week, we’ve enjoyed a whirlwind trip around the highlands, from Fort William to Isle of Skye to Inverness. We saw so much beauty in such a short period of time (including seeing three castles in one day) that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it all. If you’d been in the car with us, you’d have heard me say, “Oh my god, that’s so pretty!” about a thousand times. The photos give but a glimmer of Scotland’s magnificence. It’s beyond belief.

For the past few days, we’ve slowed things down again at a lovely housesit near Forfar. This is my first time sitting for kitty with a disability, and he’s just the sweetest thing since Jammie Dodgers. He’s also reminded me to be grateful for things I take for granted like my relative health, mobility, and freedom from pain. This housesit has also given me the opportunity to care for an amazing garden, and I’m already feeling inspired to grow a few things of my own.

As it turns out, it won’t be too long until I can actually have a garden of my own! Matt and I have taken some concrete steps forward in his Canadian immigration journey, so we’re feeling encouraged as the questions about our future begin to be answered. When we return to Canada, we’ll spend the month of June primarily in Halifax before we move to Prince Edward Island. Though living in rural PEI will be a huge change from what I’m used to, it will be a place to call home, near my family, where Matt and I can be together. Not too shabby, eh?

By tomorrow we’ll be on the road again, back to England and Matt’s hometown of Lancaster. For now I am feeling refreshed and grateful for my return visit to Scotland, as we’ve had a chance to relax, hang out with friends, and see so much more of the amazing scenery that this incredible part of the world has to offer. This isn’t goodbye, Scotland; it’s just so long.

-Janice

Some Days Are Just Pyjamas and Laptops

We’ve been in Edinburgh for two weeks, and we’ll be here for a couple weeks yet. This is for sure one of my favourite cities in the world for so many reasons. It’s where I came on my first solo overseas journey, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Also, have you seen the place?

I’m so grateful to my past self for booking this month-long visit, as I haven’t stayed put for so long since I left Canada seven months ago. Being with Matt after a year of long distance has been so great, but we’ve both found it tough to have a complete lack of routine and no home.

Matt and I just want to be in the same place, you know? This trip started as a test run to see where we might want to live – visiting countries like Czech Republic and Germany where I could get a Working Holiday Visa. But Brexit has made living and working in the EU a bit tricksy.

So, our current plan is for Matt to immigrate to Canada. It will require a lot of time, money, and effort to get it sorted. But it’s the first step toward a more grounded life together. It doesn’t mean that we’ll never live in the UK or Europe, but Canada will be our home base for now.

Of course, we’ve still got two months left on our nomadic journey, where we’ll see more of Scotland, England, Wales, and Belgium. We’ve got a lot of really cool things planned over that time, but we’ve also got a lot of Game of Thrones to watch, too. It’s all about balance.

I am thankful for this time of life, while also recognizing how challenging it’s been. I wanted to share some impressive pictures or stories, but not every day can be a visit to Stonehenge. Some days are just pyjamas and laptops. And that’s probably as it should be.

-Janice

Those Who Wander Are Sometimes Lost as Hell

J.R.R. Tolkien was one of those pure geniuses whose words never fail to inspire me. And even though it’s true that “not all those who wander are lost,” it’s also true that plenty of them are lost as hell. Including me, as it turns out. (And also John Travolta.)

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To be fair, I always feel at home in Whiterun. Travolta, not so much.

It makes sense, when you think about it – having lost my father, quit my job, binned or packed away most of my stuff, and left my friends and family to travel as far away from home as I’ve ever been – it’s hard to imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t feel a bit lost.

I feel like Samwise Gamgee at the edge of Farmer Maggot’s crop fields. Not only is this the farthest I’ve ever been from home, but as we’re now past the seven-week mark since I left Halifax, it’s also the longest time I’ve ever been away from the Maritimes.

Amidst feeling lost and confused, I’m trying really hard not to take for granted the beauty and opportunity of where we are at the moment. Prague is amazing, and we’re having a really lovely time here. You should definitely (wait for it)… Czech it out! 😂

This is only a very small sample of photos, but these have been highlights for me so far.
Vítkov Park near our Airbnb is stunning; Freya Kočkafé, the cat café in Žižkov, is a dream come true; and Prague Zoo absolutely earns its place in the top five zoos in the world.

I’m also trying the 6 Days to Decisiveness challenge, seeking out yoga and therapy (which I’ve been sorely missing since leaving home), and somehow still attempting The Artist’s Way, even though collecting rocks and leaves last week felt like a bit of a stretch.

What brings you back to yourself when you’re feeling lost?

-Janice

Moving Sucks and Harry Potter Rules

Oh man, it’s been a time. Since arriving back from Ammydam, we’ve had to step on the gas pedal to get ready for the *true beginning* of our own vagrant story.

MOVING SUCKS

Obviously. We’ve had to sort, chuck, store, donate, and pack a ton of stuff. Which I’ve already done at home. On one hand, my experience was probably helpful to Matt in his struggle to downsize. On the other, how the hell did I get roped into doing this AGAIN?

That’s love for you. On the bright side, I got to see some of Matt’s cool old video games, as well as to delight in the discovery that he has FOUR copies of my favourite game, Final Fantasy VIII (all in semi-working condition), plus one FFVII for good measure.

Unbelievably, we’re now sitting in Matt’s near-empty apartment, ready to fly off to Prague tomorrow. Our Euro Journey™ is about to officially begin, even though I’ve been overseas for six weeks. After tomorrow, neither of us will have a home base as such. So, the past six weeks have been a nice way to dip my toes in as a novice nomad.

HARRY POTTER RULES

Amidst all the chaos, I had booked us tickets to The Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Brothers Studio in London last week. It was INCREDIBLE. Being the huge Potterhead that I am, it was absolutely mind-blowing to visit the Great Hall, see the Gryffindor common room and Harry’s dorm, walk through Diagon Alley, and board the Hogwarts Express, among so much else. Here is just a brief and woefully inadequate selection of photos and descriptions of our amazing 3-hour tour.

Here’s Matt at the entrance to the studio tour, before we knew just how amazing this place would be. The potions classroom was SO detailed, and included self-stirring cauldrons!

The Great Hall was stunning, though smaller than I imagined. I had to mock the big ol’ bird at the entrance to Dumbledore’s office. Walking through Diagon Alley was a huge highlight!

OF COURSE I bowed to Buckbeak! Only a fool would do otherwise. The enormous model of Hogwarts, featured in so many scenes from the films, left me utterly speechless.

The wands were all labeled with the names of those who worked on the films, including J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson. I found A OWL! And ran through Platform 9¾, obviously.

Here’s my favourite photo from the tour, when Death Eaters emerged for a bit of LARPing! Matt and I are hardcore Hufflepuffs, which I learned is J.K. Rowling’s favourite house.

There is literally too much to say about the experience. Visiting the original sets, seeing amazing props and costumes, and getting to learn behind-the-scenes stuff was so incredible. If you want to see more, I’ve uploaded some videos to my Instagram stories.

NEXT STOP: PRAGUE

Phase two of The Great Europing™ (I’m still workshopping the title) starts tomorrow. Turns out life just keeps coming at you whether you have time to write about it or not! But I’ll do my best to keep yas in the loop as we go to Prague and beyond. ❤️

-Janice