5 year anniversary, sleepless nights and new plans!

Me and the husband - old

Last night it was our 5 year anniversary.

I couldn’t sleep.

Hours of non-stop ceiling staring.

Turn one way. Adjust the pillow. Sigh.

Turn the other way. Re-fluff the pillow.

Sigh more heavily and hope Kellie is also awake to share my insomnia. Then we can sit up and watch crap Netflix films into the early hours.

She’s not.

I feel a little bit of irrational hatred towards her, all smug in a blissful deep sleep.

Repeat hundreds of times and add in lots of feet fidgeting.

But for once I didn’t mind the insomnia too much.

I’m excited, we have new plans!

For a while we have been a bit meh about our travels.

I wasn’t entirely sure why. We’ve had some wonderful house sits, met lovely people, and have an exciting 3 month adventure planned for South America.

What the hell is wrong with us?

I know we are extremely fortunate. But nothing has made us giddy with excitement for a while. We have become nonchalant.

Then yesterday everything changed. We regained our travel bug and now I can no longer sleep at night…

It was the day of our 5th Anniversary.

5 years since we first met. I’m not going to write a soppy post about how much I love this stupid face…


For that you can read last year’s post on our 4-year anniversary.

Instead Kellie surprised me with an idea.

I’m not sure what makes me happier. The cool idea, or the fact that after she can still surprise me after all this time.

Before I reveal the ‘Big Idea’ First I need to explain something (don’t go skipping to the end it will only spoil it).

The truth

Over the last 13 months Kel has been ill.

Yep, I know she has mentioned it in several posts, but if anything she has underplayed it.

She knows there will always be others who have it much worse than her so doesn’t want to moan. So instead I will moan for her.

It’s not a life threatening illness; basically the parasites she picked up in Mexico have wrecked her guts and made her digestive system a haven to any bugs or parasites looking for a new home.

It’s a bit like having a really bad hangover for an entire year.

After every meal she feels sick. She wakes up she feels sick. She has a drink of water she feels sick. She wakes up in the middle of the night feeling sick. You get the picture.

Then there are the side effects from bad digestion, which I am sure you can imagine without the need for a diagram.

Her diet has changed dramatically. I think the name Hungry Escapades gives it away; we both love our food and would try practically anything at least once.

Now, the list of restriction dietary restrictions for Kellie is almost endless. We slowly discovered what worked and what didn’t for her gut, after many MANY months.

Even with this strict diet the sickness would still come.

It’s an extremely healthy diet granted, but when you are travelling the world you want to sample all the local food and not worry about what’s in it.

anniversary-raw-vegan-foodOne positive – we discovered how delicious raw vegan food can be – Raw chilli

Plus all this healthy food can be quite hard to source in some countries, unless you are happy eating veggies, rice and porridge every single day.

Put simply, though not deadly, it’s a struggle. It starts to weigh you down mentally as much as it does physically.

After nearly 13 months of this, going from doctor to doctor, paying hundreds of pounds for them to test, prescribe and ‘cure’ her. Nothing worked.

She continued to lose weight and was quickly evaporating.

Although all Kellie’s last medical test were clear of bugs, it was obvious something still wasn’t right.


Finally in December we got time to settle in Canada and she went to see a Naturopath, who listened to her problems and had personal experience with parasites.

If I ever meet this Naturopath, I would make her feel extremely awkward by repeatedly kissing her face and hugging the shit out of her.

It would all be non-sexual affection, but this lady should know she is changing Kellie’s life for the better.

After one month, the drugs and potions she prescribed have meant she can now… wait for it….

EAT A F****ING EGG!!!!

This is not a joke. You will not believe how adding an egg to your diet can revolutionise your life.

The egg symbolises so much more than increased recipe options, it also means Kellie’s insides are starting to heal.

The queasy feeling still makes an appearance, but less frequently.

She ate steak yesterday for our anniversary meal, and although her stomach sounded like an angry bear, she was fine.

This is all good news and a step in the right direction, but we are not fooling ourselves that her blighted immune system is now fully healed.

There is still a long way to go

Creeping ever closer on the horizon was our trip to South America.

In two months time we should be heading to Colombia and starting a 3-month trip around its surrounding countries.

Originally this would have been a dream trip, but at this stage in Kellie’s recovery it fills us with trepidation. Looking back, this was the major source of our ‘meh’ feeling.

Now I agree fear should not prevent you following your dreams, but also it would be ridiculous jeopardising Kellie’s health for this type of adventure. The Naturopath also advised her not to go in the near future.

Her belly just isn’t strong enough to cope with the potential bugs, plus we have so much more planned in the future which requires Kellie having good health.

We thought about taking our own cooking gear so we can make sure everything cooked is clean and bug free, but it’s just not practical for 3 months.

When you are planning on heading to the Amazon or taking a guided 5 day hike in Patagonia, you can’t just pop to the shops to get your groceries and make sure everything is sanitised to Kel’s standards.

You can’t just get your cooking gear out on an 18hr bus journey and whip up a healthy culinary delight. A day of fasting would not be healthy, especially as she would have to watch me stuff my face with all the local food, which would be napalm for her innards.

So finally we let the dream go… for now anyway…

Surprisingly it was relief once we made the decision. Most of the meh lifted.

We can’t say we aren’t a little bit disappointed. We were due to meet some good friends. Together we would have backpacked our way through beautiful countries and shared some amazing experiences.

But in my previous post ‘Project Life’ – which you should go read now rather then repeat myself – helped me see this decision as now, rather than forever.

One day we will go to South America and enjoy all it offers, but now is not the time.

Making new plans

The void of our non-South America adventure had to be filled. We floated ideas of continuing house sitting in New Zealand or France maybe.

All fine, but too similar to our current escapade.

We needed something different, something to raise the pulse and challenge us in a new way.

Then yesterday, as we drove through the heavy rain to our new house sit on Vancouver Island, came this whopper from The Jones (Kellie for all you newcomers).

“I know!!! Why don’t we cycle Europe???!!” she said just as we sped past a cyclist…

“F*** yes,” was my instant reply.

So that’s it, just like that we are about 90% certain we are off to explore our home continent on two wheels.

It excites us.


We are not hardcore cyclists. We will do it in our own way. Cycle as much or as little as we feel. Catch the train. Stay in hotels, tree houses or camp. Cook our own food. Maybe even house sit.

If Kellie’s immune system continues to heal we will challenge ourselves physically, whilst eating our way through Europe. If not, we will take it slowly and I will gorge myself on cheese, wine and bread.

Although we aren’t kidding ourselves it will always be easy, the romantic dreams rarely match reality, it just feels right.

The challenging things in life usually bring you the most memories and satisfaction.

In my head, travelling through a country on bike, rather than a bus or car, brings you much closer to the land and people. This hopefully will give us many more encounters with local folk and allow us to discover things we would normally have passed by.

The plan is vague. Let’s start in Holland. It’s nice and flat…

And then where?

This is the fun part. Let the planning commence!!

This is now a meh free zone.

43 Replies to “5 year anniversary, sleepless nights and new plans!”

  1. Kellie, you’ve been such a trooper! (And a good sport for allowing us to share in that awesomely ridiculous picture.) I’m so excited for your new plans and hope that your guts will treat you well. I know you’ve been working so hard to find a solution. I hope you will find good health and an adventure to boot!

    1. Such a great photo ain’t it. The running joke between us is that Kel always blinks in photos, I have to take about a million before we get one with eyes 🙂

  2. Luv the fact that you can organically discuss and ponder and shift priorities as circumstances change, rather than stick to a pre-planned agenda that may no longer serve your core interests. It sounds like a wonderful and challenging trek – the kind of dream travel plan that I’d love to have attempted 20 (OK, maybe 30) years ago. Bon chance!

    1. Thanks Chris, you are so right. Communication is the key, most times I think we manage to do this.

      I’m hoping the challenge trek with live up to our high expectations, I think we may get a few comical stories out of it at least. And nonsense, we met a 65 year old who had recently cycled a large part of India 🙂

  3. First off, it must have been awful to have been poorly for such a long time, so glad to hear you’re on the mend Kel.

    Second, you have definitely made the right decision! I’m not exaggerating when I say that all we ate in South America for 3 months was meat and rice – I was so happy to see vegetables again when we landed in California. It’s a fantastic continent in all other respects but go when you know you can completely enjoy it.

    Plus, you get to see some of the fantastic countries we have here in Europe with fresh eyes 🙂 Super excited for you! When do you get here? Can’t wait to hear about where you’re headed.

    1. Thanks Maddie, Kel is improving daily which is great.

      Also it’s brilliant to hear from a person with experience confirm we weren’t worrying for no reason, sometimes the unknown is scarier than reality…

      We get there in April, not sure when as we will head to the UK first to catch up with people and buy our vehicles! Italy is in the early ideas, not sure when but keep an eye out for sunburnt malnourished English folks on bikes whilst you are there 🙂

  4. I like your thinking! Holland = cyclist heaven. My mother-in-law has a similar problem to Kel and it actually really limits her willingness to travel, which is sad to see, but understandable. If she does go somewhere, she usually takes her own carrots and potatoes with her!

    Also, that raw vegan chilli looks great! Where’s it from?

    1. Exactly Sam, we don’t want to out do ourselves and start in the Alps do we now?

      Kel is similar, she carries a bag of supplies, but I think I am more forceful on her behalf when we visit people as she doesn’t want to create a fuss. But I guess it’s because I have to put up with a gumpy hungry girlfriend if she goes without food 🙂

      The chilli was from http://greenmoustachejuice.com/ in Whistler. This is probably a ridiculous thing to ask a vegan but do you use the Happy Cow website? Kel has found it pretty useful… They have an app too.

  5. For shame! How dare you change your plans so late in the game, have you no decency?! But cycling Europe sounds fun, best time of year for it too.i have a suggestion though, just to up the ante a bit, a bicycle made for two?

    1. Yes! Great minds, a bicycle made for 2! I’ve suggested this, Rob is having none of it. If it was you I bet he would…always 2nd best.

  6. Wow! Happy Anniversary to you! I can’t believe Kellie has been suffering like that for so long! I’m glad to hear she’s on her way to better health! Way to go on making a decision that is good for your future, her health and to put your mind at ease! I would not say this is a poor compromise either! Biking EUROPE??Yes, please…my husband is drooling over this idea! South America will be waiting for you both when Kellie’s belly is ready! Your new direction is just as exciting, just in a different way!

    1. Thanks Yalanda 🙂

      It’s beyond ridiculous, I’m hoping she has turned the corner now though.

      I’ve wanted to do a bit of biking for a while now, but never had the opportunity. Going from zero to an entire continent will be a challenge for sure, but I’m sure it will be worth it. Glad to see you site is back up on running 🙂 Looking forward to more of your stories.

  7. That sounds wonderful! I remember you saying a cycling trip was one of your dreams, so I have no doubt it is the thing you are meant to be doing! No point sticking to a plan which feels meh, as we learned back in… Yes, I’m going to say it… Guatemala!! 🙂

    1. Ta Sarah! Check you out with your great memory, I’m like a fish.

      Really you didn’t like Guatemala? Tyrhone never said anything 🙂

  8. Wow, digestive problems sound terrible! 🙁 The best part is how loving and understanding Rob sounds talking about it. When you truly love someone and have to compromise some dreams to be with them (and keep them healthy), that’s what it’s all about~~Love! I hope Europe brings healthiness and deliciousness to both of you! 🙂

    1. Thanks Judy! That’s a great idea. Florence is definitely high on the agenda I’ve raved to Kellie about if for years and with some of Lee’s homecooked food how can we say no?!! We will keep in touch 🙂

  9. One of the nicest things an open-ended trip like the one you are taking affords you is the ability to do whatever you please when inspiration strikes rather than feeling like you must stick to a plan you devised months (or even years!) ago. It sounds like you are making the best choice here by skipping South America (for now) in favor of cycling Europe because it’s the plan that feels right to the two of you and most excites you. South America isn’t going anywhere and as others have said, it will be nice to visit it when you can actually fully appreciate it rather than worrying the whole time about compromising your health and happiness. I’m so sorry to hear that Kellie has had to struggle with her health for so long now. Do you know what in Mexico may have transmitted the parasite? I’ve always heard about the dodgy water, but nothing so extreme as this! So glad that she is finally on the mend and you two have plans you’re once again excited for! Sounds like 2015 will be a year of new, even better adventures!

    1. Couldn’t agree more Steph, that was what attracted us to this trip all along. Mentally it makes us feel as free as possible and choosing a new option which excites us is what it’s all about.

      We have met a few other people who have suffered the same. Thankfully it’s in the minority. Kel has suspicions it came from some terrible shrimp tacos. Sarah and Tyrhone introduced us to the best shrimp tacos ever and we thought they would all be the same. Not so. These terrible ones came with salad mixed (iceberg lettuce) in. Kel picked out the lettuce had a couple of bites and left the rest.

      It’s only guess work really as it was so long ago, but it would make sense. Definitely advise avoiding the water and salad though, it’s not worth the risk 🙂

  10. Happy 5 years! And glad to hear Kellie is feeling better! Great new plan, and yup, South America will always be there for later. No point in forcing a plan, I look forward to hearing about your new adventures!

    1. Thanks Sam 🙂 Can’t believe it’s 5 years!

      We most definitely will make it to South America one day, but I think it’s my favourite plan B ever!

      All the best for your 2015!

  11. Wow, it must have been horrible to have all these health problems for so long, poor Kelly! So glad you’re not seeing it as a roadblock but instead finding new opportunities to pursue. Cycling round Europe sounds incredible, I’d love to do something like that one day.

    1. Hey Charlie, yeah it has sucked, but we actually feel more excited about the new plan!

      Oh my Lord, but more importantly it’s only a few days until you set off to start your travels! You must be ready to explode! Enjoy 🙂

  12. Ah, I see you’re joining the club called “People who thought they were going to do something and had their heart set on it but had to let it go and it sucked but it’s ok coz the thing that’s coming is better”. Welcome, here are your membership cards. 😀

    Ultimately, I think you’ve made the right decision. I haven’t been following your posts too closely lately but I remember what Kellie has written about her health issues and it’s startling to think it was worse than she had disclosed. (When even raw vegan food doesn’t fix you, something’s wrong!!!) I think it would have been a mistake to go to South America in light of her recovery and I do think it’s better to be a bit closer to home too, where you’re a bit more familiar with things and may find it easier to find the food she needs.

    Good luck guys!

    1. Ha, I might get that tattooed on my arm (“people who thought….”) it’s nice and catchy.

      Yeah, the more we research our new plan and the more we hear about SA the happier we feel. We were even looking at tandem bikes last night!

  13. What a fabulous plan!! I just wrote you a (sorry) long winded email about cycle touring Europe. I love, love, love, love, loved it – it is one of the best trips we have ever taken. In fact, we left our bikes in Munich and plan to return next year to continue! I can’t wait to follow along to (enviously) read all about it! I can also relate to gut problems Kellie – I have Crohn’s although it is fortunately in remission right now. It’s super important to listen to your body, take the time to heal, and really work on feeling better. I do still need a lot of rest and plan my travels (and biking) to make sure that I can have enough. Best of luck and feel better!

    1. Happily received Gillian. Honestly it’s a super fantastic email, just what we needed. It gives us a lot of hope and confidence heading into this, thank you very much.

      We have been reading all your posts too, it looks and sounds like a trip of a lifetime. Glad to hear the Crohn’s is in remission, kudos to you for not being dictated by it, but also listening to your body when it needs a rest. You are spot on, I think we take it for granted sometimes but having good health is the main focus for us now. That and picking the best lycra shorts for the big trip of course 😉

  14. Congratulations on year 5! And just a few days before we celebrated our 37th! January is a good month for anniversaries – we January people go the distance. Good to know Kellie is on the mend and you know what the wise people say, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Yes?

    1. Thanks Patti, and congrats to you and yours’ impressive 37 years!

      Funny, I was thinking of that quote when I wrote this post 🙂 Great minds…

  15. Congratulations on your anniversary! I am glad Kellie is on the mend now. Was she seen by a Gastroenterologist? I am a Dietitian and I work with gut disorders and I just wonder if Coeliac Disease has been ruled out? In any case I am glad that seen a Naturepath has helped. Enjoy your cycling around Europe.

    1. Thanks Gilda, she still seems to be going strong.

      Cheers for the advice. I think it was ruled out at some stage, along with a long list of other things 🙂 She seems to be able to tolerate gluten much better than most things, but still keeping the amounts down just incase.

  16. Super-exciting plans guys! Andrew (a zealous cyclist) is now trying to convince me that we also need to cycle through Europe! I definitely think you’ve made the right decision to skip South America for now, it would awful if you went and Kellie got sick again just as she was recovering. I’m excited to see how your new plans go 🙂

    1. Cheers Amy, we are most definitely not zealous cyclists, so we will let you know how it goes!

      Yeah we are happy with the new choice, although I’m not looking forward to the inevitable saddle sore! 🙂

  17. South America aint going anywhere and it is definitely a place where you want to go with a healthy stomach because the food…well…hmmmm….

    It’s good that you’re going with you gut (sorry I just had to use that) to decide where to go. Holland is beautiful and the experiences cycling will be amazing.

  18. I’ve only made it to Ecuador and the Galapagos, but South America kicked my digestion’s ass. And my experience was NOTHING like Kellie’s. Feeling sick overpowers everything. I’m so glad she’s finally on the mend. There are certain travel experience we can all miss out on, am I right?

    Sounds like you have a wonderful adventure planned, and it’s not like world travel must be done in a certain order. I just had to postpone South America myself (for a completely different reason, thank the gods), and while part of me is disappointed, I know I’ll have wonderful adventure elsewhere. Then I’ll also have a wonderful adventure in South America!

    I’m sure the same will be true for both of you. 🙂

    1. Yeah it was awful Jen and I can sympathise with gut problems. She is doing great now, still has bad days or maybe even just bad hours now. No dairy still though, it just destroys her.

      Shame you didn’t get to go to South America, we were gutted at the time, especially as we were meant to meet friends. Instead here we are in Europe and it is proving a challenge and an adventure all in one. One day South America…. One day! Hope you get there too 🙂

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