Why We’re Spending the Winter in England and Our Travel Plans for 2018

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We are spending the whole winter in England! Are we crazy? Quite possibly.

One of the reasons we left the UK nearly eight years ago was to escape the dreary winters. We’ve spent years following the sun around the world and loving it. But one of the things we seek on our travels is change and we are ready for something different.

Winter is such a novelty to us now that we’re enjoying the frosty mornings, cosy evenings by the fire, roasting root vegetables, wearing woolly jumpers, and snuggling under blankets. We’re also enjoying how easy it is being back—being able to drink the tap water, the huge choice in supermarkets, not having to deal with ants and mosquitos. Even though we don’t really feel that we belong here any more (we don’t get many cultural references), there is comfort in the familiarity. At least for now.

We decided to come back for a few reasons. A number of relatives had health issues last year and we wanted to spend more time with them. We wanted to come back for a proper Christmassy Christmas (and it was wonderful!).

As we have no idea what will happen to our rights to travel in the EU after Brexit in 2019, we decided to focus our travels on Europe for most of 2018. While we could spend the winter months somewhere sunny like southern Spain we find we feel colder there due to the lack of central heating.

Simon at Platform 9 3/4 at Harry Potter Studio Tour

Visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour is one of the best things we’ve done since being back. Don’t miss it!

Harry Potter Studio Tour - The Great Hall at Christmas

Especially when it’s Christmas themed!

Our England Plans

Our focus for the winter months is to work and save up cash so we can splurge later in the year. I’ll be updating old blog posts and writing new ones about Oman and Japan, while Simon is starting an exciting new project—creating an adventure game.

So we’ve signed up for a series of housesits in Somerset, Dorset, Lancashire, and London, which we found on the Trusted Housesitters website and through family and friends.

We are currently looking after two cats in a teeny village in Somerset where the stone houses have names instead of numbers (The Old Cider Mill, The Old Shop) and an old red phone box has been turned into a help-yourself library. This week we’ll be joining the community for the wassail—an ancient pagan custom that involves visiting the cider orchards and singing to the trees to encourage the apples to grow. It’s a different world here.

We are loving our routine of mornings working, afternoon walks down narrow country lanes, and cosy evenings by the fire. Simple but lovely.

Erin at the library telephone box in our cute Somerset village

Erin at the library telephone box in our cute Somerset village

I’m Running a Half Marathon!

One of the advantages of the cold weather is that it’s so much easier to run than in the hot, sweaty, pavement-less tropics. So I’ve signed up for my second half marathon! The first one I did in California in 2014 was one of the best things I’ve ever done, but our constant travel has made it difficult to fit in another.

I’m excited to be running in the new London Landmarks Half Marathon in March. Well, once I got over my freak out that could I possibly run 13.1 miles when I didn’t run further than 4 miles in all of 2017? How would I deal with winter running? Ugh, rain!

I’m three weeks into my training (I’m following Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 12-week programme again) and armed with my new warm running clothes, I’m loving it so far, even on frosty mornings. Well, maybe not so much the rain and wind.

Sunrise run in Somerset

It’s easy to get in a sunrise run when the sun doesn’t rise until after 8am!

I’ve also been following the True 30 day yoga journey with the wonderful Yoga with Adriene, which is the perfect complement to my running. The videos are free, it’s suitable for all levels, and you can start anytime. Yoga every day has been a life changer for me (I’m up to 474 days) and I highly recommend it for both physical and mental wellbeing. 

A Request

I’m running London Landmarks on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society. Simon’s grandad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year and it has been a really difficult time for all the family. It’s a horrible disease that takes away the person you love and I want to support this charity who are working hard to find a cure.

If you are able to donate I would really appreciate it. You can donate on my Just Giving page where I’ll also be sharing weekly updates on my training. 

The Rest of 2018

Don’t worry, we’re not planning to settle down permanently. In April we’ll be heading to one of our favourite countries, Italy. We’ll be taking the train via Paris because flying sucks. Our first stop will be Bologna which we’ll use as our base to explore the beautiful towns of the foodie region Emilia-Romagna. I’m especially looking forward to trying balsamic vinegar at its source in Modena (doubly so since Master of None filmed there).

After that we have no definite plans but it’s likely we’ll head to some of our favourite Italy destinations—hopefully month-long stays in Lecce (in Puglia) and Rome—as well as explore some new parts of the country. Let us know if you have any suggestions for hidden gems!

After Italy we’ll see, but high on the wish list are Georgia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Greece, and Iceland.

Ask Us Anything!

On Friday 19th January from 11am EST (4pm GMT) for at least an hour we’ll be running a question and answer session on the website AMAFeed. You can ask us anything about our travels, digital nomad work, packing, vegetarian travel or anything else. You can submit your question in advance here or join us live on the day when we’ll be answering questions.

Ask Us Anything here!

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Erin and Simon, I have been reading your blog for quite some time (since I discovered by chance about two years ago that you had just been in the same house we were staying in Oaxaca!).
    I only travel in the winter months to escape the English cold (this year has been particularly intense, how are you coping?) and I am currently in Mexico.
    I read that you’re heading off to Italy in April and (there’s another coincidence!) that’s where I spend my summer, in the beautiful hills near Turin, in the north. I have a family home I am working on and if you have never been in that area I suggest you make a detour, it is really beautiful! Let me know if you are interested and I can send you more detailed info. Oh, my house is open to you if you need somewhere to sleep (it’s in a tiny medieval village about 35 km from Turin). I will be there from June to October.
    In the meantime, take care and keep warm!!
    🙂

    Reply

    • We are actually enjoying the novelty of the cold! As long as we have warm clothes for walks and heating to keep us warm inside it’s OK (for now anyway!).

      We visited Turin and the Langhe region for the first time in 2016. It’s a lovely part of the world—you’re lucky to have a family home there!

      Reply

  2. It seems after years on the road the comforts of home become more appealing. Your blog and your lives have amazed me. Its seems since the beginning there has been a step by step transformation on the way you travel and the destinations you choose. Perhaps a combination of age, wisdom and greater financial resources has led to these changes. I wonder if you still believe your lifestyle is substainable for the next ten years. In my experience, after four to five months on the road, it gets old. I know you have slowed down and do slow travel but eventually the desire to spend more time at home increases. Will there come a time when you hang up the backpack for good?

    Reply

    • We have no urge to stop travelling. Although it’s nice to have home comforts sometimes, and our travel style has changed, we still love the freedom of nomadic life and don’t want to stop.

      Reply

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