I wasn’t interested in travel straight out of university like a some of my friends. Sure, I went on the odd holiday, but nothing out of the ordinary and besides, I wanted to get my foot on the career ladder as a bright-eyed, wannabe actress. I was sure that before long my talent would be spotted and I’d be whisked off to Hollywood, become a national treasure and live happily ever after. It didn’t really occur to me that this would not go to plan.
After a couple of years of touring Britain’s primary schools, I began to realise that perhaps I wasn’t cut out to be an actor. I dressed up as a monkey (amongst other characters) twice a day and barely made enough money to eat some weeks. I was tiring of auditions and I like my food, so I took a temp job and like many others I fell into a career.
Fast forward a few years, and a couple of promotions I found myself with a proper ‘grown-up’ job in Marketing.
It was 2007 and the thought of travelling had been floating around in my head for some time. I’d started to find myself fascinated by TV shows, like Bruce Parry’s Tribe and pretty much anything narrated by David Attenborough. I started reading books by travel writers. it all sounded so exciting and exotic and challenging. the exact opposite of my current situation. I went to talks by those same authors and was inspired by their stories.
I began to dream of what it might be like to visit places like Tanzania, or Mongolia or Papua New Guinea.
In that same year, my grandmother had had a very severe stroke and was fighting for her life in hospital. She couldn’t move, had lost the ability to swallow and could barely speak. This wonderfully independent, dancing lady was now unable to do the things most of us take for granted. She recovered to a degree and stayed with us for another 4 years after that, but life was never the same again.
My nana was an adventurous woman. She moved to New York at the age of 21 with her sister to live in ‘The Bronx’. She was a Wren (a female Navy Officer) and continued dancing 3 times a week up until her stroke. My auntie once bumped into her, alone, enjoying the music at the Mathew Street Beatles festival in Liverpool (our hometown). She’d been wandering past and heard all the commotion so she just joined in! She was in her 80’s!
It broke my heart to see my nan like this. She was so ‘young’ and had always lived life to the fullest.
Around the same time, one quiet afternoon at work, I decided to work out how much time I’d spent commuting to and from the office over the last five years. No idea why, perhaps some morbid curiosity.
I did the maths. And then I did it again, because I’m rubbish at maths. It couldn’t be possible, could it?
I’d spent around 4 and a half full months of my life (approx 3ooo hours) driving to and from work in my car on the same stretch of motorway. I was 28 and this made me so unbelievably sad.
I realised that life was passing me by at an alarming rate and I hadn’t really done anything of any note. So I began to save and planned to take a sabbatical from work in 2009. Surely there was more to life than this.
As fate would have it, around the same time I was planning to go travelling, my company restructured, so I was able to take voluntary redundancy. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.
After a lot of planning and many doubts, I booked my ticket to Africa and I’ve never looked back.