Top 5 Reasons Why I love Camping!

Thinking of going camping? You should do it! I used to be a city girl through and through, but now I can’t get enough of packing up our tent, hitting the road and heading off to a beautiful destination. There are so many brilliant things I love about camping! Here are my top 5:


Can’t beat a good cup of tea when camping!

1. It’s the simple life

Camping makes me realise the things I need to exist and be happy are actually very simple.


In our case we have ‘Aggie’ the tent. We bought her last year for a camping holiday in France. She was given this name as no matter what how we put her up she is always a bit saggy. She provides us with adequate space for sleeping and storage and is even big enough for me to stand up in (sometimes being small has it’s advantages).


We have a brilliant 2 ring camping stove with a grill, so we can pretty much cook anything we’d normally cook at home.


To be honest this is far from simple and usually consists of an air bed, double sleeping bag, duvet and pillows, but everyone is allowed a bit of comfort aren’t they?

I really enjoy just having the things I need around me. In some ways it’s similar to travelling, with all my belongings packed into one backpack. It feels so liberating!


2. Peace

Camping is just so quiet and peaceful. As I sit here in our back garden typing this, I can hear birds tweeting but this is over powered by the noise of cars and lorries driving along the road adjacent to our house. When you’re camping it’s the sounds of nature that become the soundtrack to your day. (Well that is unless you spend a bank holiday weekend in the Lake District in an over crowded camp site where the tent next to you has a 3 hour domestic argument in the middle of the night, which is only really fit for the Jeremy Kyle Show or Jerry Springer – this did happen). In our most recent trip we were treated to a rather chatty owl to send us off to sleep each evening and awoken the following morning by a beautiful dawn chorus. Bliss!


3. The day revolves around food

Rob and I are big foodies; even whilst we are in the middle of eating a meal we will often be planning the next one. When camping our day revolves around food even more than normal, which is great! It just takes a bit longer to do everything when your home is a tent, so food planning, preparing and eating takes up a larger proportion of the day. But, to be honest we’re at our happiest when we’re talking about, buying, preparing or eating food. Camping gives us licence to do this more than usual.


4. Wherever we camp it’s a beautiful place

We’re really lucky to live in a beautiful part of Scotland, so we don’t have to go far to be surrounded by stunning scenery, dramatic mountains and crystal clear lakes. Our recent trip took us to Glen Affric, which ticks all the boxes above. The destination was more chance than planning, picked at random from a quick Google search. It’s one of Scotland 50 Nature Reserves, about 30 miles from Inverness (the nearest major city) and is a scenic paradise for hikers, campers and day trippers. We stayed in the nearby village of Cannich, which put us about 10 miles from the reserve, and we could explore to our hearts content. We have also camped our way across France; food, scenery and sun! Need I say more…



Pretty Scotland

5. Disconnected

I quite like being disconnected from the outside world, no television, no phone, no Wi-Fi. Although on our last trip Rob somehow managed to find Wi-Fi in the middle of a field. There is something quite nice about being in the moment with your fellow camper and not being distracted by the outside world. Rob and I are both guilty of spending a day at work and then coming home and spending a few hours on the computer or just watching mind numbing television and passing a few words between us. Forced disconnection from the distractions of everyday life means we get time to reconnect with each other, talking, listening, laughing and planning for our future adventures together.


Yes I love camping, but lets not mess around there are times when it’s near hell on earth.

 3 things I hate about camping

  1. Being hung-over

    In a hot tent this isn’t fun. A cool breeze would be good, but the slightest movement to open the flap to let some much needed air in could result in your head cracking open and also increases the likelihood of vomiting. Thankfully I seem to have left the partying festival days behind me

  2. Proximity to a toilet

    Too close and all you can smell is other people’s shit, too far and the convenience of a convenience is taken away. Last year whilst away for a friend’s birthday I discovered being too far away from the toilet block was somewhat of a disadvantage. Shortly after retiring to bed there was a rumble in the stomach and getting to the toilet became a priority. After my third trek to the toilet I gave up, grabbed my sleeping bag and slept in the car outside the toilet block. Somehow Rob managed to sleep through all of this

  3. Rain

    Camping in the rain isn’t fun. I do like the sound of light shower as it pitter patters on the tent whilst I float gently off to sleep; there is something so soothing about this. But when the pitter patter becomes a torrential two-day downpour, it’s just annoying. Cooking in the rain is difficult, there is nowhere to hang soggy clothes and keeping the inside of the tent dry is near impossible. Often you have to perform all sorts of weird yoga positions to make sure your bedding stays dry whilst you take your wet clothes and shoes off. Rain simply spoils what is otherwise a perfectly lovely time.


Rob feeling free as we camp in Scotland

But for me, these are just minor setbacks and I can’t wait for the next sunny weekend so we can disappear off with ‘Saggy Aggie’ to another stunning part of Scotland!

So which camp (excuse the horrific pun) do you fall into? A camping lover or hater?

Fear – The boy who was scared of everything!

As I prepare myself for my next big escapade, an indefinite trip to Central and South America, I look back and remember how I wasn’t always so keen on adventure. Throughout my childhood I spent the entire time living in fear of absolutely everything. There were so many things that sent me into a big blubbering mess and left me searching for the safety of my mother arms. The world was just so big and scary!


Me crying, with bro and big sis. Think the wallpaper scared me…

It’s not like I grew up in a danger filled neighbourhood filled with crack addicts and gangstas ready to pop a cap in my ass. I lived on a perfectly respectable street and had a caring family ready to protect me from the wrong doers of this world.  To be honest I didn’t really have any reason to live in fear on a daily basis, but that didn’t stop me.

I have so many anxious memories it’s beyond ridiculous. Obviously it goes without saying that I was scared of those unsettling clowns who lurk at children’s parties. They seem to have no other reason than to make small children cry… Who finds clowns funny by the way? Completely pointless. There is nothing more depressing then a clown.

Another of my many fearful memories involves me being stood at the top of a child’s slide at the age of 3. I was looking down at the comforting face of my mother. She was encouraging me to make my way down the slide as any normal child would and trying to convince me that this was all good fun. In my tiny child’s mind I believed, ‘this woman is clearly mad and wants me to plunge to an early death! No I will not do this! Instead I will do the sensible thing and cling onto the side of the slide crying my eyes out as an embarrassingly long queue forms behind me’.


Yeah! Mum helped me overcome the slide fear.

School was inevitably a torrid time for me. From day one I felt like Indiana Jones facing a snake filled temple of doom or creaky ancient wooden bridge where I was sure to plunge to my death.  For many weeks I cried in vain as my mother dropped me off at nursery, hoping that she would realise she had made a massive mistake and this treacherous place was nowhere to leave her beloved son. When that failed I resorted to plan B, which pretty much involved me being extremely quiet with the sole aim of not being noticed by anyone so no harm would come my way. Plan B seemed extremely effective and lasted pretty much until I left school.

I think the fear also led me to live an incredibly dull life, where I became a rubbish accountant, got a mortgage and pretty much lived in a state where I was waiting for the weekend. Surely there had to be more to life than this?!

Then one day it clicked! Finally at the age of 26 I made a clear conscious decision, I needed to lose the fear. I was sick of the complete and utter boredom I faced on a daily basis in my soul destroying job. Suddenly I realised there are so many opportunities out there and the only scary thing was ignoring them. Life on this planet is extremely short and it’s down to us as individuals to make the most of every second.

The loss of fear was liberating and, for me in the safe little world I had created, completely extreme! I sold my house, quit my job and booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand, via Thailand and Australia. For the first time in my life I felt free and fearless. Since then I haven’t looked back or regretted a single decision. Life is exciting!


Skydiving feet! I laugh in the face of children’s slides nowadays…

It was as I was doing this I realised something and that was how supportive my ever-patient family were in my decision. They didn’t ridicule my life change. Far from it in fact, they encouraged me and made me believe in my adventure and in myself. This was the family I had grown up with. A mother, who was there to comfort me when needed. A father, who would give me a kick up the bum when I was snivelling too much. Two sisters and a brother who were there to bicker and fight with, but would always look out for me.

I hesitated to include this because it’s so personal, but I guess that’s what blogging is all about. This is the poem by my tough old Dad who wrote it for me the day before I left on my travels in 2007. He handed it to me completely out of the blue and it never fails to choke me up:

So finally the day has come
an adventurous spirit drives
your feet to find rare new paths,
turns you away from routine lives.

You look now for bigger skies
a bolder landscape, deeper sea,
to stop in wonder for a distant sunrise,
pleasure now for a soul turned free.

Well, we gave you life so you could live it,
we’re quick to see the boy grown a man,
but carry our love, gratefully given
and think of us fondly if you can.

Now is the time for you to fly Rob,
though perhaps at check-in you can ignore damp eyes
if you know that we see a bright sunset
we’ll smile to think you watch the sunrise

– Dad 15/11/07

I feel I am incredibly lucky as I write this to have such a close family, including my girlfriend and travel partner Kellie Jones. They give me the confidence, strength and security to face the world and head off on another adventure to Mexico. On my travels I will be safe in the knowledge they will be there when I need them, to offer a wise word, comforting message or just for shits and giggles!


Awesome family!

The world isn’t as scary as you think once you open up to it and life is a lot more exciting when you do. I guess my biggest fear now would be losing the support of my lovely family. Thankfully I can rest easy as I head off on my next adventure knowing this would never ever happen.

Thanks Wardies!


Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRocheThis post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.


“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press


“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.”


“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail


Find out more…


Saving tips – Raising £30,000 for our travel dream!

Saving has almost become an occupation for us, we are completely obsessed by it. It can be incredibly difficult sticking to a budget and involves a lot of sacrifices. We believe if you want something enough you have to be willing to work hard to achieve it, and we really, really, REALLY, want to travel!

It does feels slightly odd talking about money, especially when our friends and family will be reading this. But we feel it’s important to be completely honest in this blog. When researching our escapade we really appreciated other bloggers sharing their budgets. It helped us to make realistic plans.

Save travel

This is our basic plan:

Step one – Pay off debt

Step two – Save heaps of money

Step three –  Travel for as long as we possibly can!

Wow, ground breaking stuff I know, but you have to start somewhere. Here’s a bit more detail…

We had racked up £5000 ($7,680) of debt between the two us. This was mainly from holidays we couldn’t afford and a few other pointless purchases we can’t even remember (stupid credit cards). The turning point came after we got back from a holiday to Thailand in October 2011. On the trip we realised we needed to make our dream of long term travel a reality. Since then we have been extreme budgeters…

The Evil Budget:

After all our essential bills have come out we are left with:

– £60 ($92) a week on food

– £110 ($168) a week on petrol (Kellie has to travel a lot for her job)

– £30 ($46) a week on spends (fun/entertainment/gym/exercise classes etc)

– The rest is savings

Over the months we have gone from saving 27% of our income to 44%

So now we have two final targets:

Dream Target: £30,000 ($46,000)

Realistic Target: £25,000 ($38,400)

It all depends on how hard we save and few other factors out of our control, like selling our cars and internal organs… Kidney anyone?

From reading other very helpful blogs, we know it is possible to live in parts of Mexico for less than £900 ($1,380) a month for two people (Never Ending Voyage do a fantastic break down of all their costs in Playa Del Carmen). Plus we plan to volunteer and housesit throughout our South American adventure, which will bring our expenses down even further. Who knows how long we could be away for? It could be several years if we are lucky!


Budget exploring – taking a packed lunch on a French cycling adventure

Here’s our top 9 savings tip to help you escape the 9-5 work ritual and live your dream travel life:

1) Set yourself a realistic savings target – work out all your monthly income and expenditure so you can work out your final travel target. Having a final and monthly savings goal is hugely important to us, each month we try and beat it.

2) Set a weekly budget – We used to have a monthly spends budget, but quickly realised we had no money at the end of the month and ended up living like hermits. A weekly budget solved this.

3) Make it visual – We’ve displayed our debt, income and outgoings on a whiteboard in the kitchen and also write down all our daily spends. Seeing our debts reducing and becoming savings is a huge motivator.

4) Plan around your lifestyle – We love walking and exploring Scotland. We used to finish every walk in a cafe stuffing our faces with sandwiches, cake and coffee. We now make our own cake and take a packed lunch.

5) Sell your stuff online – Amazon, eBay and Gumtree. Its time consuming, but its strangely therapeutic getting rid of all those needless possessions.  Plus we have used the money to buy cool travel stuff, like our ONE WAY TICKETS TO MEXICO!!!

6) Treat yourself in moderation – being honest we would go a little bit crazy if we stayed in all the time and counted the pennies. We still like to go away but in the UK, and when we do we go camping or use Air B&B, it’s a great cheap way to stay in different places with hosts who can give you local tips. We also set ourselves a budget for the trip.

7) Take free holidays – Honest!! In June we are going to house sit in a beautiful part of Scotland. We get to look after two cute dogs and stay in someone else’s house rent free for a week. the only cost was the sign up fee of £40 ($61). Bargain!

8) Plan, plan, plan and erm plan – We plan practically every single item of expenditure, from working out our meals in our weekly food shop, to calculating how much petrol we need to use. At first it’s hard work and extremely dull, but it becomes part of life and stops those sneaky trips to the supermarket or the takeaway…

9) Money saving advice websites – We use Martin Lewis for tips on how to save money on everyday bills. Try telling your telephone broadband company you want to cancel the service; you would be amazed how much they will knock off the price, it all adds up! We are paying £5 ($7.60) a month to SKY instead of over £20 ($30) as we said we were going to leave.

Feeling free

Feeling free in Scotland

You are now probably thinking we are insane geeks, but as the weeks and months role by the more committed we become in our savings quest. It’s only 7 months until we fly to Mexico and we can see the finish line, which gives us even more incentive to reach and beat our final savings goal.

This is a quote a friend recently introduced us to which captures our feelings:

Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

– Unknown

All the sacrifices will be worth it come December when we’re on the plane headed to Mexico, not knowing how long we’ll be away for, who we’ll meet, and what experiences we’ll have on our big escapade! We can’t wait for that feeling of complete freedom.

Intense India – a photo story

India is a country of extremes! It’s a place of majestic beauty mixed with extreme poverty. One minute your high as a kite the next you are a jibbering wreck. It overwhelms your senses and leaves you exhausted. No other country has left me so emotionally battered. It’s a place I must visit again! Here’s my photo story of an intense journey through India…

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The Isle of Skye – Cheap travel and the best cake ever!

In March Rob and I visited the Isle of Skye to jointly celebrate our birthdays. With all the saving we have been doing for our travels we didn’t want to splash out our hard earned cash. We managed to find a bargain £20 a night caravan to stay in via Airbnb. Air B&B is great website for accommodation ranging from budget places to fancy pants boutique hotels. You can find some real gems with heaps of character (it probably sounds like we have been paid to plug them, but sadly not).

Cosy Caravan

Cosy caravan

The caravan was basic, comfortable, and a great base for exploring Skye. Plus it was an absolute steal at £20. Our host Sarah was welcoming, friendly and full of tips on where to head off exploring. She recommended a lovely little place called Talisker Bay.

The next morning, armed with a map, we headed off to find the Bay. Even with a map we managed to get ourselves very lost, which is a common habit for Rob and I. Never the less we found what we thought was a nice short walk and headed off to take in all the beautiful scenery that Skye has to offer. Unfortunately the nice little walk turned out to be a 2-hour 6.5mile hilly hike. By the time we finished we were gasping for a cup of tea and piece of cake to fuel our weary legs.

Lost Skyewalkers

The lost Skye-walkers and the search for cake!

So we got back in the car in search of a café in order to fill our rumbling bellies. Not long into our quest we stumbled upon a house with a sign advertising the ‘Wee Tea Room’. Initially this seemed to be the answer to our prayers. We then became a little panicked that this was actually someone’s house and could lead to a socially awkward situation, which we are only too keen to avoid. But desperate for cake we put our fears aside and went on in.

Fortunately the lovely couple that owned the place welcomed us warmly welcomed. They had recently opened up their home to create the ‘Wee Tea Room’, realising simply that people love tea and cake after a long walk. Their home was in a stunning location and full of their own beautiful photography, which was also available to buy.

Not only were they incredibly friendly they also served the best cake I have ever tasted in my entire life. Farmhouse orange cake and chocolate cake. It still brings a smile to my face and unattractive drool to my chin. It was almost heartbreaking finishing the last mouthful. We were so impressed by the farmhouse orange cake that we asked for the recipe. And we’d like to share it with you:

Cake Cake

Ingredients (makes one 7″ cake):

175g softened unsalted butter
175g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
175g self raising flour
1 1/2 level tspns baking powder
zest of an orange

40g softened unsalted butter
100g icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbspn fine cut marmalade
icing sugar for dusting

1) Preheat the oven to 160 fan / 180 conventional / gas 4.

2) Grease and base line two 7″ (18 cm) sandwich tins.

3) Place all the sponge ingredients into a large bowl and beat well until smooth.

4) Divide the mixture between the tins and level the top.

5) Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until coming away from sides and springy to touch.

6) Turn out onto wire rack and allow to cool.

7) Make the filling by blending the ingredients together until smooth

8) Spread the filling on the base layer, place the top layer, and then decorate with a little sifted icing sugar

That’s it, best cake ever! Enjoy with a cup of tea 🙂

Whilst chatting to the owners we discovered our navigation skills were even more woeful than we originally thought. We had never even made it to Talisker Bay. They kindly gave us idiot-proof directions to help us on our way.

When we finally reached our destination we easily found the short walk to the Bay. It was well worth the wait. Not only was the bay spectacular, we were treated to two sea eagles hovering overhead.

Talisker Bay

Talisker Bay

It just goes to show getting lost is really just another chance to experience something new and you’re never sure what delights you might find.

Phobias – Overcoming fear for freedom!

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a phobia of water. Well large expanses of water that is. I mean I can drink the stuff and have a shower without freaking out, but anything bigger than that and I’m scared shitless.

Having just looked up the word for fear of water, aquaphobia, I’m actually a little disappointed that it isn’t more difficult to say and is not as interesting as I’d hoped. Due to this phobia I had never learnt to swim, which actually just made the fear worse. I thought that if  I did get in water I was just going to sink and die.

Kel near water

This is about as close as I could venture to water without becoming terror stricken

I call it a phobia as opposed to a fear because it’s more than a simple fear. I’d organise my life around avoiding water. Even the thought of coming into contact with water made me anxious and caused me to break out into a big sweaty panic. On one occasion I was riding a bike and the route took us past a canal. Instead of cycling on like any normal person would, I had to get off and walk because I thought the wind might blow me in.

In Khoa Sok National Park, Thailand, we could use kayaks to go off and explore the beautiful calm lake we were staying next to. Just for me to actually get in the kayak Rob had to use his entire body as a bridge for me to climb over! I finally managed this after about an hour of panicking and trying to hold back the tears. Thankfully Rob is a patient person, but to save on the trauma of getting me back out of the kayak he dragged me about 10 metres onto land just to be sure there was no repeat when I disembarked.

Kel Kayak

Finally in the kayak after an hour of fear and tears!

I hated what the phobia had caused me to become and detested how it prevented me from doing so many fun, simple things.

Through my work as a psychologist I have met many people with phobias, so I know they can be successfully treated and cured with desensitisation and exposure to the fear. Which basically meant I had to man up and face it head on! But knowing this is one thing, overcoming it is another.

Scary bridge

Health and safety? To me this is scarier than anything Indiana Jones faced…

The kayak incident in Thailand was the last straw. I missed out on so much during that holiday I decided something had to be done. When I got back to Scotland I booked myself some 1:1 swimming lessons with Mandian Swimming School. Within a week I had the time and date of my first lesson.

The first trauma to face was buying a swimming costume. I soon came to the conclusion that none of them were flattering and perhaps buying a costume was what I had been avoiding all along???!

No words have been invented to describe how anxious I was driving to the lesson. When I arrived at the swimming pool everything about it scared me; the noise, the smell and all that water. But I’d come this far and I’m not a quitter.

At the start of my lesson Ian, my teacher, asked me to get in the pool, to which I politely declined his offer. So we sat on the side looking at the water. My whole body was shaking and tears welled in my eyes. I didn’t even get in the pool on that first day, I was almost paralysed with fear. The poor guy must have wondered what he’d left himself in for. But the next week I went back, and the week after that and soon the weeks became months.

This was 17 months ago and in that time progress has been slow, sometimes even going in reverse but I’ve stuck with it. Then 6 weeks ago I had a breakthrough! I finally let go, trusting myself in the water and for the first time in my life I swam! ON MY OWN!!

I am now a swimmer! I’m still learning the technique and strokes, but I know that when I get to Mexico I’ll be able to swim in the sea for the very first time in my life. I can’t wait!

Khao Sok

I can now appreciate the scenery rather than thinking I’m going to drown and die…

From my ordeal I have realised that being scared is ok, but ultimately facing your fears or phobias makes you a stronger person. I’m proud to know that I have conquered my aquaphobia. It took a long time and lot of hard work but I’ve done it.

I think it’s the same determination that makes travelling possible for me and confirms that you can do anything when you put your mind to it. Even quitting your job, selling everything you own and disappearing into a life unknown. Life may be scary sometimes but at least it’s exciting! Don’t let fear hold you back.

New York In Photos

I know this is a little off subject, but we visited New York 2 years ago. It was an unbelievable surprise 30th birthday gift from Kellie. I had wanted to go for years and it didn’t disappoint. Here is our New York story in photos…

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Exploring Scotland

Scotland is amazing! I tell no lies! Before I moved to this bonnie land my knowledge of the place was shamefully almost none existent.

I did know it was home to the Proclaimers, Iron Bru and deep-fried Mars bars. These are all brilliant things, which Scotland should be extremely proud of. But I have discovered there is much more to this country than bespectacled pop stars and heart attack inducing snacks. There are the Krankies for a start!

I would happily end the blog post there, feeling I had done an excellent job in promoting the wonders of Scotland, but I probably should go on for all of you Krankie haters out there. Shame on you. (Sorry if you have never heard of the Krankies… You should really stop reading this blog and find out more about this slightly disturbing comedy duo from the 80s).

I feel privileged to live in such a beautiful country with its breath-taking scenery and friendly people. There are so many places to explore. You can be from mountain to seashore within an hour and the scenery change is dramatic.


So here are my reasons why Scotland is the dog’s knick knacks:

Time travel

Ok, this probably sounds a bit more dramatic than it should. I don’t own a Delorean or a hot tub time machine…

It’s more of a feeling that we have stepped back in time. The pace of life is a lot slower and the community spirit is much stronger. You still feel safe leaving your door unlocked.  It’s like the good old days that your dear nana fondly talks of.

Egg honesty boxes are a common sight in Scotland. Freshly laid free range eggs are left out in boxes by the side of country roads, people take the eggs they need and leave the required money.  There is no fear of houses being egged or the money being stolen by unruly youths. It’s a simple system, but a heart warming one. It shows trust in people and complete strangers…

Undiscovered places

You can walk for miles in the stunning hills of the west coast and never encounter another human being. You can have an entire sandy beach to yourself with clear blue seas to dip your toes in. Granted your toes may quickly freeze and drop off but that’s not the point.  It’s almost like you are the first one to discover the area. There is a real wilderness to the experience and you feel like a true explorer.




The right to roam rule in Scotland allows you to camp pretty much anywhere, as long as you do so responsibly. We have taken advantage of this on many occasions, waking up at the side of a magnificent loch or camping at the foot of a spectacular mountain.

When Kellie first visited me in Scotland she was a city girl through and through (See – Our big travel plan). But I think one experience changed that…

We decided to wild camp on Sunnyside beach. The name says it all. It’s a beautiful sandy beach cove cut into the jagged rocky shore of Scotland’s North coast.

We had the beach to ourselves. The campfire was keeping us toasty warm and the sun was setting in the amber sky.  Just as the sun was about to disappear over the horizon, 6 dolphins leaped high out of the sea! It was a perfect moment. Then we settled down for the evening in our tent, with our MacBook and watched Jack Bauer kick the shit out of evil terrorists in ‘24’. Again, perfect evening!

Camp fire

The local lingo

Another thing I love about the part Scotland we live in is the local ‘Doric’ dialect. I’ve had many moments of utter confusion in conversations. My favourite was ‘Ken’s furry boots’. Whilst chatting to a local man about the weather he randomly mentioned Ken’s furry boots mid flow. I was bemused! Who was this chap Ken? Why did I need to know about his choice of footwear?! Maybe he wore them in cold weather.

I asked him why he mentioned ‘Ken’s furry boots’. He looked at me like a simpleton and quickly ended the conversation.

Much later I discovered what the man had actually said. Here’s a translation:

Ken = know

Furry boots = whereabouts

Ken furry boots = Do you know whereabouts?

Other great words/phrases I’ve discovered:

‘Blowin a hoolie’ – it’s really windy

‘Fit like?’ – Are you ok?

‘Dreich’ – a mixture of rain, wind, cold miserable weather.

‘It’s awful dreich today’

The words just seem so much more descriptive here!

The Wildlife

The reason I am working here in Scotland is the incredible wildlife. There are dolphins, whales, eagles, pine martins, wild cats, ospreys…  and erm badgers…

I work at the Scottish Dolphin Centre, which is based right at the mouth of the River Spey next to a nature reserve. I am very lucky that each day I come to work I get to see many incredible sights.

In the spring and summer dolphins are seen almost everyday leaping high out of the sea whilst chasing fish; along with seals, otters, ospreys and much more. Then in the winter huge skeins (flocks) of geese fly noisily overhead.  Plus we get to look out into the North Sea, which one minute is flat calm and mirror like, and the next is a raging boiling torrent. It’s constantly changing and always an incredible view.

On a slightly sicker note there is also a huge amount of dead animals along the roadside.  We use this to enhance any long car journey by playing ‘first to spot the dead mushy stuff’. Be the first to shout ‘DEAD!’ when you spot it. I am aware we might be alone in this game.

Sunnyside Beach

Ok, so Eddie the chocolate labrador isn’t technically wildlife, but he is cool!

Why are we off then?

As I keep harping on about how amazing Scotland is you may be wondering why we are buggering off to the other side of the world…

I really admire how proud the Scottish are of their language, culture and heritage. But moving here and setting up home has made us realise how easy it can be to uproot your life and start again somewhere else. There are so many places to explore we just don’t want to miss out. Scotland has given us the confidence to follow our dreams and the passion to keep on exploring.

Who knows maybe one day we will return to this beautiful and welcoming place.

Leith Hall woodland walk

Our big travel plan! (So far…)

I honestly can’t remember when we hatched our big travel plan. What I do know is that Rob and I have a huge desire to travel. This desire has been fuelled by our previous adventures, when we travelled separately around Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. (See – The Moment That Changed My Life)

When I first met Rob back in 2010 he had not long since returned from his travels and was still full of excitement from the experience. I on the other hand had just finished a 3 year doctorate and had barely left the house for a year, let alone thought about travelling again.

However, meeting Rob changed my life in many ways. On only our second date Rob revealed that he was moving to Scotland in 4 weeks to help save dolphins. To be honest at the time I didn’t even know there were dolphins in Scotland! Plus this was far from ideal as I was living 7 hours away in Manchester. One friend suggested that this nice bloke who I had just met was probably leading a double life with a wife and kids already in Scotland.

Thankfully my friend was wrong, Scottish dolphins do exist and Rob was single. To cut a long story short 15 months later I was packing my bags, and a huge van, with all my belongings ready for a new life in Scotland.


Dolphin evidence

I moved up at the beginning of July 2011. This is supposed to be summer time, but in Scotland it appeared to be monsoon season. So come October we had booked a holiday to sunny Thailand. Now I can’t be sure, but I think it was on this trip that we realised we both missed travelling and the freedom it offered.  It was pure bliss. We spent 3 weeks seeing new places, meeting new people and most importantly eating vast amounts of tasty Thai food! (Lets ignore the fact I spent a couple of days of the holiday in bed with food poisoning and looked like a ghost…)

Thai Flag

Relaxing and taking in the stunning view

Thailand rain

The Thai food made up for a spot of rain

Itchy feet

Itchy travelling feet (sorry, that wasn’t meant to sound that disgusting)

When we got back home we were all consumed by talk of travel. We quickly decided it was the dream life for us and needed to make it a reality. The travel baby had been born! We chose the rather vague destination of Central and South America. Now all we have to do is raise the funds. Luckily Rob is a dab hand with a spreadsheet after his unsuited former career as an accountant, and we have started putting the plan into action…

The plan involves 3 simple steps:

1) pay off all our debts.

2) sell everything we own.

3) save enough money to travel Central and South America.

In 8 months time we will be leaving our jobs, friends and family, all to travel for as long as we possibly can. It could be a year it could be two, who knows it could be the rest of our lives. This may sound scary or crazy, but for us it’s neither of these. It just seems natural and exciting. We are ready to leave the safety of our jobs and home to experience new challenges and adventures. Travelling is not an option it’s a necessity. We actually find the thought of buying a house and living in one place unbelievably frightening. Facing the unknown in South America seems far easier. We will miss our friends and family, but we know they support us in our dream, which is hugely important to both of us.

Although our plans are a bit sketchy, we aren’t going to sit on a beach for a year drinking mojitos. We would quickly become bored out of our tiny little minds if we did this. We are going to do our best to learn Spanish to help enhance our trip. This will hopefully be more useful than my high school German, which basically consists of me being able to announce that I play table tennis (I don’t by the way, so this is completely useless). Volunteering in a worthy project is also high on our agenda, as is house sitting. The most important thing for us is to travel slowly and have loose plans so we can take up any unexpected opportunities.

When we started planning our trip we discovered we were far from alone in our decision to disappear with nothing more than the contents of our backpacks. We’ve been inspired by a whole world of travel bloggers who are doing exactly that right now, including; So Many Places and Bridges and Balloons.

So much so we have decided to start Hungry Escapades, a blog to share our passion for travelling, photography and food with anyone who cares to listen. If you enjoy it, please feel free to share it to help spread the word of Hungry Escapades.

It will be a way for our friends and family to keep in touch, sharing the good times and the bad, and hopefully a place for fellow travels to pick up tips and exchange stories just as we have.

It’s also a great personal way to record our adventure. This will be particularly useful for Rob who has a self-confessed memory of a fish, either forgetting things ever happened or connecting two different events to come up with a whole new reality. The film ‘Memento’ is a good comparison.

We are extremely excited and hope you will join us on our journey and share your thoughts, experiences and advice as we go.


The moment that changed my life

It all began for me 6 years ago. Wait a minute, that makes me sound like a small child who has someone how managed to raise enough funds to travel the world whilst simultaneously building a blog.  In actual fact life began 26 years earlier when mother said that I popped out with very little fuss whilst she was reading the latest copy of ‘My Weekly’. This image is far too disturbing to linger on so I shall fast-forward 26 years to when my travel journey began and life as I knew it completely changed course.

I was a bored, rubbish trainee accountant with a very stable and safe life, a safe car, a safe  house, and a safe girlfriend. Yes indeed, it was all very safe but painfully dull. I was stuck in a rut with no idea how to get out. In stepped my best friend Ted…


 Ted, who looks like a big cuddly bear (hence his name) and is a 6ft 4 bumbling machine, unwittingly changed my life. He bought me a book called “Yes Man” for my 26th birthday. In short, the book is about Danny Wallace, a man who is also stuck in a rut, but after a chance encounter with a stranger on a bus he decides to say yes to every single offer and opportunity he comes across.

It’s a truly inspiring, funny and heart warming journey, as a world of opportunity and adventure opens up in font of him, all because of one simple word… YES! The book made me realise that even the smallest moments can change your life and it was up me to make the most of every single second. I started saying yes to all those things that I had previously ignored or been scared to do in my safe little accountant life.

So I took on the Yes Man mantra, I said yes to change. I sold my house, quit the job that was making me miserable, said farewell to my nice but incompatible girlfriend and grew a beard! Now I do realise that just makes me sound like a homeless bearded person, which on the whole isn’t very inspiring and is a fairly frequent sight in the UK.

My story didn’t end there though, with the funds I raised from my house sale I booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand, via Thailand, Australia, and India, and so my first travelling adventure began! I realised that once you started saying yes to things, it became easier. I was no longer scared of the unknown, I felt free!

Me beach

Rob Fraser IslandTaj Mahal Balck and White

Go to India - lose weight!

 Whilst on my big adventure I experienced a life I had never known before, meeting new people and seeing new places all of which shaped my future and helped to broadened my mind.

There are many stand out moments, but one elderly gentleman I met whilst working on a fruit and veg stall on a beach in New Zealand sticks in my memory. I spoke to him briefly of my travels as he chose his fresh fruit; he too had travelled the world and shared a few of his stories. Just as he left he summed up the whole of my experience in a few words, “travelling is the finishing school of life”.


fruity business

For me never a truer word had been said; in 18 months of travelling I had learned more about others and myself than I did in my previous 26 years. Ranging from major life changing experiences to smaller realisations such as, if I don’t eat regularly I turn into the incredible hulk.

As I save for the next escapade I know all the hard work will be worth it. When I step on that big plane to Mexico the adventure will begin again. One moment it will be fun, the next it will challenge me more then I ever imagined possible. I will keep on learning as I go, embracing every opportunity I come across, knowing that it’s all thanks to the small moment when my best friend bought me a book which changed my life.

I love hearing other people’s life changing moments. What inspired you to travel?