Giving and taking

A bit of an update on how our preparations are going.

It’s been quite a week in the house of the Clockwise words this week. The momentum for our trip feels like it’s really developing now. I think I am spending about 75% of my spare time doing things connected with preparations and planning.

The week began with getting rid of the remaining two pieces of furniture that we aren’t putting into storage and because they were big and heavy they were very noticeably gone after they had been collected. The space created kind of shouts,”this is really happening” every time I look at it.


Room to play

It’s also been the busiest week on the blog and on social media with Gill’s article about Indian Squats smashing all previous blog stats. What is it about toilets and toileting that is so fascinating? We have also had, via social media, no less than two offers of accommodation and potentially new friends in the making. I don’t think those two things are connected. I hope not. I really love this side of the project, the way it leads to communication with other bloggers, cyclists and travellers and how those conversations lead to potential meetings and friendships. I am also very excited and flattered to have had something I have written published! It doesn’t involve money, printing or book signing sadly but it’s a start. I submitted an article to another bloggers web site and they were kind enough to say nice things about it and include it on their site.

We now have several potential places to stay on our coastal odyssey, enough to warrant constructing a new Google map to keep track of where they are and with contact details of the generous hosts. And in another nice development we have people who are planning to join us for a few miles or a few days even along the way. Shout up if you would like keep us company too, the more the merrier.

On a practical note my bike has been completely overhauled by our friend Colin who trades as ‘The Bike Magician‘ and is an absolute wizard of a bike mechanic. I am due to pick it up tomorrow and deliver Gill’s bike for similar treatment. I can’t wait to see all the shiny new components on it and try it out on a test ride. Fingers crossed for fine weather.

TLC for the steed

TLC for the steed


Finally, and by no means not insignificantly, in terms of commitment, we have had our first charitable donations. My former employers, Beaverbrooks the Jewellers, (I only worked for them on a temporary three month contract) have donated fifty pounds to each of our two charities and my lovely sister has chipped in with some more.

Its all happening at an increasingly intense pace and gets more exciting by the day. I really can’t wait to get pedalling now.


Getting rid of stuff

We made the decision to go on our ‘big tour’ three months ago and quickly set a date of 26th April 2014 for departure. This means that I know exactly how much time we have left to get rid of stuff.

I should explain that one of the purposes of this trip is to change our lives. To kick us up the backside and make us review the way we live and earn our living. To this end we will be giving up our tenancy, our jobs (made easier for me by my employers making me redundant) and our current way of life. We will also be discarding the vast majority of our possessions in anticipation of a less materialistic way of life on our return. Not that we are particularly materialistic in the first place. We don’t have a fancy car, televisions in every room or a coffee maker that cost more than a month’s salary. But we do still have a remarkable amount of stuff.

The task of getting rid of stuff seems fairly straight forward on the surface. It’s only once you actually start to empty the cupboard/drawer/box-from-the-loft that you realise that stuff falls into different categories. There are three broad types of stuff which can then be subdivided as follows:

Stuff we need – split into really need and think we need. (There lies the first complexity)

Stuff we don’t need but want – art, sentimental things, books etc.

Stuff that doesn’t fall into either of the above. This is called rubbish. It turns out we have been storing a remarkable amount of this third category for many years.

So, now we have broken down what we are dealing with it should surely be fairly easy to get rid the things we don’t need. Wrong.

Let’s start with the rubbish. This is easy isn’t it? You just put it in the bin don’t you? Wrong again. If only it were that simple. Each item must first be examined to see if it has a symbol on it indicating that it shouldn’t be put in the bin. (Like a wheely bin with a cross through it.) The problem is, it doesn’t have an equivalent symbol telling you what to do with it. Then there is the guilt problem. As you lift the lid of the bin and are about to drop the offending item in a voice in your head says, “Somebody would be glad of that toast rack/cardigan/broken watch etc”. At this point you are doomed. You can’t now throw it in the bin but must decide how to get it into the hands of the needy person. Charity shop?  Freecycle?  E-Bay?  This list goes on and that’s without e-mailing everybody in your contacts list to ask them if they want your old cardigan. (On reflection that last one is probably a really bad idea.)

Before you know it your rubbish is in several distinct piles according to how you are going to get rid of it. There are bags for the charity shop, bags for the dump, items that need to be photographed for re-sale and items that need to be advertised on Freecycle. It’s really tempting at this point to do one of two things; throw it all in the bin regardless or put it all back in the cupboard.

Don’t even get me started on the sentimental stuff or the books. The more threadbare or broken the Teddy or the more smelly and tattered the book and the harder it is to discard it. It’s a nightmare.

We are getting there but as I look around the house after three months of moderately concerted effort I have to say I don’t see much difference. We still have loads of stuff.

In my head I have ranked the various methods of disposal according to preference. Dropping it in the bin being the easiest and most satisfying, and giving it away the most complex and bewildering. Selling it is somewhere in the middle being complex but satisfying.

One way of giving things away is to advertise them on a website called Freecycle. The concept is admirable; stop things from being thrown into landfill by giving them another lease of life with somebody who will appreciate them. The volunteers who run the site have my utmost respect. The people that request the things I have advertised for free can be a little more challenging. You wouldn’t believe the questions that people ask. For example, in response to an advert for something titled “White board, 90 x 60cm”, “will it fit in the back of a car?” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great concept but you do have to grit your teeth when five people are requesting an old spin drier and you are trying to be fair about who gets it when somebody asks, “can I come and have a look at it?”. Er, no, it’s free JUST COME AND COLLECT IT! Anyway it went to a lovely lady who ran a dog rescue service and had mountains of wet towels to deal with from washing the rescued dogs.

We have booked a small storage unit now, limiting ourselves to a 50 square foot unit which has focussed our minds on what we keep. Hopefully it’s just a matter of keeping at it over the following six months. Now what shall I do with this broom. There’s really nothing wrong with it that a new handle and head wouldn’t fix.