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

Gratuitous Wish Solicitation

What’s been going on since we last communed, dear reader?

Well, most importantly, cat sitting! We’ve started a period of near-continuous and full-time house sitting, which has been incredible so far. The hosts are all so gracious and kind, the homes are warm and welcoming, and the cats are SO! DAMN! CUTE! 😻

Forgive me if I sound like a skipping record, but if you’ve considered house sitting, just do it! It’s possibly the best way for animal lovers to travel – especially here in the U.K. where boatloads of new sits are posted daily. I’m so grateful for these amazing opportunities.

Of course, this time hasn’t all been roses. A big reason why I’ve been a bit scarce lately is the intense grief that’s accompanied the first anniversary of my dad’s death. I’ve done a lot of writing and ruminating in private to work through some of this stuff, but I just want to thank everyone who’s held me up during this time. You’re all stars. 💕

On a lighter (and existentially related) note, my birthday is coming up! Forgive my gratuitous wish solicitation, but if you wanna put an easy smile on my face year after year, all you have to do is add January 28 to your calendar. You’re welcome. 🎂

Oh, and I’ve also updated our travel agenda if you wanna check it out.

I miss you guys! What have you been up to?

-Janice

According to Plan

How do you deal when things don’t go according to plan? 🤔

Over a decade ago, when I was struggling with my career and future in general, I decided to take the Myers-Briggs personality test. There are many simplified versions of the test online, and it can be a fun and insightful way to learn more about yourself and suitable life paths.

In case you’re unfamiliar, there are four basic measures that exist on a spectrum:

  • Introversion / Extraversion – do you feel exhausted or energized by social time?
  • Intuition / Sensing – do you listen more to your gut or your trusted five senses?
  • Feeling / Thinking – are you an empath like Deanna Troi or an android like Mr. Data?
  • Perception / Judgment – do you wing it or do you prefer to review blueprints of the wing?

The first time I took the test, I was an ENTJ. More recently, I’ve become an INFJ. I’ve always been very close to the middle on the first three measures, but on the final one? I’m a Hard J. Rather than jumping in head first, I like to know what’s in the pond before I dip toe one. I like a plan

As you can imagine, this has been challenging for me in so many areas of life. Because as it turns out, things rarely go according to plan! And more difficult still, the choices that can lead to the most fulfillment don’t often come with a roadmap. Sometimes you just have to wing it.

And SOMEtimes, you randomly hit your head on a shelf and wind up with a concussion! Sigh. Poor Matty. He’s doing fine and recovering well, but this injury has meant we’ve had to seriously scale back our activities and media consumption to focus primarily on resting. 

It reminds me of when I had mono (or glandular fever for my British chums) and I had to spend months in recovery. Tough things happen without our permission, and often outside of our control. But they do provide an opportunity to slow down and practice acceptance. 👌😑👌

It’s been a long three months of travel, and to have an excuse to slow things down hasn’t been such a bad thing. Matt and I have made some great memories, but living out of a suitcase isn’t as glamorous as it may seem. And removing the pressure to be a tourist is kind of a good thing.

We’ll return to the U.K. in just a few days. What we’ve seen of Sweden, though a bit limited, we have really loved. This place seems made for people and community. Plus, as seen above, their ER was near empty when we visited! A sign of a people well cared for? I like to think so.

What’s next? We’ll be visiting Matt’s family over Christmas, followed by housesits all over England, from Minehead to Leeds. And I can’t wait to go back to Edinburgh in March. After that, we’ll just have to wait and see… which, I assure you, makes me deeply uncomfortable. 😭

Have you taken the Myers-Briggs test? What’s your personality type?

-Janice

* Thanks to Best Boy Neo for modelling in this photo. Cat-sitting is the best! 😻

From Germany to Sweden

It’s been over a week, and I still miss our Nuremberg kitty friends Sally and Rocky. Talk about charmers! Since leaving Germany, we’ve made out way to Sweden, starting off with four lovely days in Stockholm. Between tasty tapas and super-fun shuffleboard, we had a killer time there.

Now we’re in Gothenburg! This will be the longest I’ve stayed put since leaving Canada three months ago. We’ll be here for three full weeks, cat-sitting our new friends Neo and Smilla. Though we’ve only been here a few days, I’m already impressed by this cool and beautiful city.

Praise to the gods you may or may not believe in, I’ve FINALLY finished the Artist’s Way! I’ve had my ups and downs with this so-called spiritual journey to creative recovery… from its constant references to god to its random and often pointless tasks, I really didn’t buy what it’s selling.

I’m more excited by my year-long subscription to Masterclass, which I’ve already dug into with classes from Dan Brown. The content is engaging, and certainly more practical than the Artist’s Way. Plus, I can still look forward to classes with Margaret Atwood, R.L. Stine, and Judy Blume. 

Another thing I’ve cracked into is a personal reading list. Realizing that I’m not the fastest reader (with limited space available), I’ve picked up a couple of smaller fantasy books. Right now I’m on the first of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, and next is my beloved Neil Gaiman.

Luggage is already stretching maximum for comfort, so I may need to offload the books as I go. I’ve considered lighting a fire with the Artist’s Way. (Seriously, “reread this book” as a final instruction was like receiving a hot poker to my backside. But somehow more infuriating still.)

In any case, that’s what’s shaking for now. We’ll be in Sweden until Dec. 19th and then it’s back to the U.K. for a while. Hope to see (some of) you then! 

-Janice