Slowly slowly...

Things haven’t been moving quite as fast as I would have liked, but at least it is going in the right direction. We have been and looked at a place which ticks a lot of boxes in terms of business use and family life - it is just a case of finding a way to fund it all now! We need to sell up here in the Lakes, obviously, but whether that would give us enough for this project is another matter.

There are other places though and other areas… so we haven’t put all our eggs into this place (it is kinda special though).

In the mean time we are getting this spot ready to go on the market. I have a lot to do this week with plumbing, plastering and painting all on the cards. Boxes should arrive tomorrow or the day after to declutter and store and then we will hit the garden prior to photos. Nothing is scheduled in as yet, but I am still shooting for early September if we can (so I need to make the calls pretty soon!)

I am still getting pretty excited about it all though - things are coming together, the plan is crystallising into something which looks really good and, more importantly, viable. Location wise things may come together soon if one opportunity plays out - otherwise we are waiting on selling and then seeing where is going to work.

More later.


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This Tuesday everything is, hopefully, going to kick up a gear. We have an estate agent coming over to have a look at the place, tell us what he can do - and what we need to do to help him along the way - and give us some idea of what we are talking about budget wise.

The house is, as ever, an absolute bomb site! 3 children, 1 baby, 2 cats and a dog… it is pretty much par for the course at the moment. After tomorrow I think we are going to be on a big push to de-clutter, sort the garden out, do some plumbing work, plastering and painting. I want to get it all ready as soon as possible and on the market so that we can start seriously considering our options.

We had focused down to one area in particular, and whilst that is still probably the main contender a couple of options have sprung up in one of our earlier priority areas which have somewhat opened the field up once more. The original locations are still really, really appealing in my mind whilst the latter location is more in keeping with the head over heart scenario. It would give us access to a great sector of the population as a primary market which, in turn, would allow much more latitude to experiment with other ideas and offerings. The other areas that are still in contention are more the reverse - they are about following our hearts above anything else, throwing caution to the wind and hoping that there is enough demand for the services that we are going to offer to make the venture a success.

Tomorrow the waters will clear a little and we will have some idea of what we are realistically looking at. It then depends on how we are going to finance the venture through and how much we are going to need… then it is a case of wait for an offer whilst keeping an eye on the market across the places that interest us. This next phase could last a few weeks or, more likely, several months - but we don’t need to rush at present.

I am that mix of excited and terrified. This idea we have been throwing around for a good few years is suddenly moving from pipe dream to possibility to reality, the shift from dream to possibility has taken a few years… the next stage may be completed in a few weeks (although I actually hope it takes somewhat longer than that - my ideal would be Easter 2020!)

Watch this space though… once we have come to a decision we can start fleshing out the plans (they are very much location dependent which is why I haven’t gone into anything much as yet) and start building up to a proper launch of the Wayward Spirit venture!

I hope my Mum and big brother are watching over us over the coming weeks and months. We could use all the help we can get now, but I think they would both have been hugely enthusiastic and supportive of what it is that we are trying to do… and I think Neil would have been pleased with how his business name was taken up and used - albeit in a very different way to he had envisaged for himself.

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More Plotting

Things have been getting a bit more interesting the last couple of weeks. Our ideas are starting to condense into something more meaningful regarding location and wheels have been put in motion. We are starting to get very excited… and very nervous. We are talking about adding on loads of “extras” to our basic idea which would make the whole experience that we are going to offer a wee bit more unique and special - but EVERYTHING depends on where we go and what we have to play with once we get there so, for the moment, they remain just ideas.

Tomorrow I am having a meeting though with a man who knows all about the kind of things we are looking at. We have also been pulling in inspiration from places we have been and loved ourselves… as well as taking heed of the warnings from places we have been that have been less than good. However this all falls though it is going to be a massive lifestyle change to something hopefully more sustainable both for myself and for our planet (yes, I am just an old hippy!).

So the first big moment in our plans is going to take place in a couple of weeks time (ish) when we start really getting to grips with setting everything in motion. The “where” question obviously remains but that is entirely dependent on a few factors:

1) Where we can find somewhere suitable as a base that is within budget and meets our (pretty fluid) criteria.

2) Where we love to be

3) Somewhat closer to those we love.

The reasons to stay in South Cumbria have slowly eroded away to the point that there is absolutely no reason left to stay, the scales have firmly fallen to the “move on” side and those who need to know have been told the outline of the plan. I love new adventures, I love exploring new places… and I can’t wait to get stuck into all this!

One final point - I have always had this philosophy of “never go back” - this relates to many things in life, but I think is particularly poignant in situations such as the one we find ourselves in now. When I left Doune, a small village just outside Stirling, I was leaving somewhere I had never really gelled with. For some reason I decided that Ulverston in the South Lakes was the place to head - I had lived their briefly in the late 70’s/early 80’s and had fond memories of the town. It could never live up to those memories though and I slowly became disillusioned with the place - and it is somewhere that by rights I should have loved with a quirky feel about the place and some genuinely wonderful and talented people.

I just never fitted in, never became part of the fabric of the place… and then gradually large parts of my life fell to bits. It has been a painful few years - with some exceptionally good moments cutting into the overall drama, disappointment and regret. It is a place where all the bad things in life have occurred and a place which, through memories of a bygone time, is filled with the ghosts of those whom I have lost.

So… how does this inform the future? Well it rules out a few places perhaps - if I am to never go back. Mainly cities and their satellites to be honest as there are still locations close by places I have lived which I would give consideration to, one area in particular does appeal for a return. But perhaps it is time to put my philosophy at the heart of our decision and make a complete fresh start - do something new, explore new possibilities and see where the winds of life cast us.

Hopefully we will have more news and some actual progress reports coming soon! I have so many ideas, as does Jen, that we can’t wait to get started on everything!

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Another Catch-up

Plans have continued to be made and ideas thrown about… I think we are starting to get somewhere now!

My current career is not long term viable so we have had to really start turning over some stones to get an idea of what and where firmed up. The basic core idea has always remained pretty much true, but how we get from a to b has always been the question. I am working less and less due to injury though (and hence earning less and less… particularly when inflation comes into the equation), then the rug was very much pulled from under me in two directions at once - the first was that the whole premise of why I came to this career (to take over the company) has no with at happened and is looking like it isn’t going to anytime in any reasonable time frame, meaning I can’t mould it into something new and exciting to take it in the direction which interests me. The second became clear when it was decided that if and when it did happen it would be split between myself and my siblings. This was never part of the plan, and whilst I don’t resent them gaining from it all… I would kinda hope that if I was working without any safety net that I would be reaping the rewards rather than paying silent shareholders constantly!

So… what do we do?

My skill set has become increasingly specialist over the last decade and a half into an area which I am not really wanting to work in long term due to injury and an immune system that has been through the wars and is now not really coping so well with a daily exposure to pathogens. I still have some diverse talents though which we want to capitalise on - a mix of eco design/construction and living, historical knowledge and photography. Eclectic… yes… but I can make that work together to offer a unique experience including accommodation, guided tours and photography workshops.

The next question is where?

This one is considerably less clear cut. We need to relocate to cut outgoings in order to make this all work. It also lets me to move part time working in a more traditional environment which is another plus. But where…. Well, just now we don’t actually know! We have a few ideas spread over a pretty wide geographical area so I don’t really want to say anything more as yet on that front as where we eventually choose may be wildly different from anywhere we are considering right now! It will be on Planet Earth though!

This isn’t really about getting rich - it is about a change in lifestyle, a shift in work/life balance and becoming a happier, healthier family. There are so many more linked ideas, so many possibilities that we aren’t quite sure where this is all going to wind up as yet. Everything really hinges on deciding the where now!

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2018 - The Year That Was

January 2018

This was, for me, a tough month. I am always at a bit of a low mental state as the last decades worth of tragedy hits home hard over the winter months. This last year was the worst yet, but since then I have taken positive steps to get life back under control!

These are some of my favourite photographs from this month.

February 2018

Things had started to lift, I was starting to look for solutions, but still absolutely lost.

I upgraded the main camera though this month, which gave a bit of a boost creatively at any rate!

March 2018:

Spring slowly started to arrive in the Lakes. Very slowly as we were hit by a major snow storm!

April 2018:

Just when I thought things were starting to even out, another tragedy hit the family with the sudden loss of my big brother over in the States. It was a massive blow, but I vowed to turn his passing into something positive within my own life, to re-reference my frame of mind… and to try to be “more Neil” in my own way.

Which is where Wayward Spirit evolved. This was one of his domain names which I re-purposed and decided to build something new from.

May 2018:

Another month which was both tough and joyous. We had a funeral to attend in Moab, Utah which was a celebration as well as a chance to mourn.

June 2018:

Back to normal - a month of finding our feet again, and this was when I took on Wayward Spirit and started developing the idea!

July 2018:

Summer was here, photographically my least productive time, but this year we headed to Orkney - back home - which had been planned for some time, but with the loss of my big brother it was a very cathartic coincidence.

August 2018:

The summer holidays continued, I was having a bit of a wobble with the concept of my future… but we got through.

September 2018:

The summer starts to fade and the greens turn slowly towards browns. Photographically things start to pick up again around this time of year for me!

We also had a new arrival to keep us busy, the Tour of Britain came through Ulverston and a world class art installation came to Birkrigg Common!

October 2018:

A month of readjustment - life with a new born was something that we had forgotten how to do!

I also updated my small camera system this month, moving from Olympus which has served me well for a number of years to Fujifilm. I haven’t completed this transition as yet, but over the next year I intend to complete the switch.

November 2018:

Autumn is well under way, the last of the colours were fading.

Not a bad month creatively though.

December 2018:

We made it through! I have had something of a rethink about the speed at which I will make some transitions in life, taking into account this new member of our family… but the year has ended much better than it began and I am genuinely looking forward to the adventures and challenges of the New Year!

So that is that - my very brief review of the last 12 months, with some of my favourite photographs. I am not sure why I picked 7 for each month, perhaps as my sadly departed brother always considered 7 to be his lucky number when we were little?

Anyway, here is to the year that has gone, and the anticipation of that which is to come. Stick around and see where this mad adventure takes us!