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We Made This!!
It’s now Day 68 of our new life as travelling musical nomads and we are currently sat in our van in Sagres, Portugal, looking out to sea on a beautiful, sunny and very windy (seems to be the norm here!) day. Before we came on this trip all we were focussed on was the freedom - no boss to get up for, no DIY to do, and we can literally go anywhere! The world is our oyster! But when you actually get all that freedom… well it’s a bit of an adjustment!
I suspect if our trip was literally just about going travelling and seeing incredible places, the quandary would be much less. Where shall we sleep tonight? Do we eat in or out for lunch? Do we fancy hills or sea? Or both? We could lie in every day and never feel bad about it. But we are not just travelling are we? We are also attempting to turn our music dreams into reality. So we can’t float off into fairy land just yet.
We’ve been struggling a bit with this ever since we left. Not so much the discipline side of things - we are both used to being disciplined about things. But it’s actually managing to fit everything in. We want to see places, of course we do - otherwise we may as well be back on our friend’s driveway in Finchampstead (thank you Mikey & Caz!). But we also have a bunch of other essential jobs to fit in - making new music, writing this blog, website maintenance, designing merchandise (coming soon!), promotion, learning new skills, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on. How do you plan your time when you kind of have all the time in the world, but you also kind of don’t?
How do we fit it all in??
Well it turns out that if you get to plan your whole day yourself, it can actually get pretty tricky. How much time do things take? How do we know we’re doing enough of it in a week? And how do we make sure we actually get to experience beautiful new places too? We used to dream of being able to plan our days ourselves, but when it comes to actually doing it? And doing it so that everything you want to get done - all the fun stuff, dull stuff, exploring, van stuff, shopping, yada, yada, yada - all gets included? It’s been a bit more difficult than we thought it would be.
Take the morning routine for example. We were both longing to be able to do everything we wanted in the morning - exercise, meditation, journaling for me, languages for Bryn. But it’s taken a while for us both to get everything slotted in, to make it feel natural every day. To begin with, if we had a lie-in then we felt like it was too late to exercise or meditate - then we’d have to remind ourselves that our time was our own, and the concept of something being ‘too late’ only actually mattered if we let it. So we told ourselves it didn’t matter. Then it would be 2pm before we’d started doing whatever activity we’d next set for ourselves and the words ‘Man, it’s really late!’ would creep back in!… Really late to who? And for who? Getting out of the 9-5 grind is now done; but getting out of the mindset? Not so much.
(I know right, first world problems?? And they are! I am delighted that these are now our only problems! It is a most welcome change I can tell you )
Float on the breeze…
The temptation with all this time - and I think this is what we thought we’d be like before, when we were still dreaming about it - is to float on the breeze… live in the moment and say, ‘I feel like practising guitar or piano right now’ or ‘I feel like learning some new production techniques’ or ‘I feel like going over to that rock and taking random pictures of it’… but in real life I think we are both just too driven. We need to be doing things. We need to feel like we are moving forward. And to feel like that, for us that usually means that we need some sort of plan.
[Ha! Sidenote: Bryn is sick of hearing the word ‘plan’! I used to say ‘We need to have a planning session’ so much that Bryn wanted to ban the word! I had to try and call it something else, which is actually really difficult! I think I took to using ‘scheming’ in the end!]
Let’s make a plan!
So, plans, schedules, this is what we now have! It probably sounds mad - we’re off travelling with all the freedom in the world and we’ve given ourselves schedules to try and stick to?! But it’s got to be done. If we’re serious about achieving what we want to - and we are - then we need a system for fitting everything in. And what system works better than a good old timetable??
So after much trial and error, Bryn now has a timetable that seems to be working for him, and I now have one that seems to be working for me. We don’t have any actual times on our timetable because if we do sleep in (sometimes we need to) then we’d end up feeling like we were already ‘behind’, and this just creates unnecessary anxiety for both of us. But the amount of time allocated for each activity is being stuck to. And the times may change each week (or sometimes on the day) if we feel like we haven’t given ourselves the right amount of time to get something done.
So the moral of the story is… you can have as much freedom as you want, but if you want to get sh*t done, you still need to plan!!
Read on for a summary of where our travels have taken us recently 🙂
From Day 52 to Day 58, Sunday 29th April to Saturday 5th May - Tomar!
Spent a gorgeous few days here. Really lovely little town with a huge castle on the hill which was apparently the headquarters for the Knights Templar. We stayed on a free campsite near the centre of town which was just blissful. Very green, a bit overgrown (which the hippy in me quite liked!) and very chilled. Lovely 🙂
Day 58-62, Saturday 5th May to Wednesday 9th May - Lisbon!!
Saturday - Drove down on Saturday and went straight out. What a cool city! Bryn had found a free event that was going on at Village Underground so we got off the bus near there and started heading in the right direction. Then on the way we stumbled across LX Factory, which is like a little cultural market type area - restuarants, bars, plus arty places, bookshops, a library - it was really cool! We watched a reggae band in the sun for a bit before going to Burger Factory for dinner. Oh my goodness, such a tasty burger!! Yum!
After food we headed to Village Underground. Such a cool venue! Loads of old buses and shipping containers stacked together, so there’s loads of nooks and crannies to explore, alongside a really cool soundtrack! Unfortunately though the outside event was only open until 11pm and then you had to pay to go into another little club area - it didn’t look very enticing so we left and headed into town… or so we thought.
Turns out, in a city as big as Lisbon, you kind of need to do your research first! (Can you tell we’re not that used to travelling yet?!) We naively assumed that we’d be able to walk to wherever and that we’d just find cool places… but sadly not 🙁 We ended up being a bit too drunk and getting a bit too grumpy about wandering around! So we went home quite early that night.
Tuesday - Went out again - did our research this time though! Had a really cool time out and about. Wandered around the Bairro Alto area and found a cool little market with food stalls, and a band playing - nice! Then after another wander we came across a tiny outside bar in a huge square, with a band playing, loads of people sat around and amazing views over the estuary. Lush! We met some really cool people too (hello Rick, Scott, Cat, Sarah & Paige!) and chatted to them for ages. Definitely a better experience than on Saturday night!!
Also met a lovely couple called Yolanda & Chris (Hi!) at the area where we were staying. They have been travelling in their van too (with they cat Paisley!) since October/November (I think) last year. You can check out their travels here. We hope to hook up with them later in our journey - we were a bit hasty when we left and missed the chance for a proper social!
Day 62-65, Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th May - Barragem do Pego do Altar
Gorgeous spot right by a lake! Absolutely stunning… spent a lovely few days here working on music. I’ve been working on lyrics for a tune for ages and despite having loads of different versions, it’s just not coming together right… Plenty of versions that I’m ‘happy’ with, but no version that is ‘amazing’… It’s frustrating because the tune is fantastic, a really euphoric, uplifting production. But it just ain’t happening at the mo. Maybe because it sounds too happy, ha! Anyway, for now this is being temporarily shelved, I’ll come back to it another time…
Met a few more lovely people here too! We met Gunther & Beatrix, an Austrian couple, and also Paul from Manchester & Rob from Ireland. Hello to you all and wonderful to meet you! We hope our paths cross again. It’s really cool to meet so many kindred spirits as we go 🙂
Day 65-66, Saturday 12th to Sunday 13th May - Aldeia do Rouquenho
Came down to see a friend I used to work with who moved out here a few years ago. They have a beautiful house (which they built!) on about 5 hectares of land. It is just beautiful. So tranquil. And they have a swimming pool! Which I was brave enough to swim in! (not very warm yet!) And 5 lovely doggies 🙂 It was lovely to see them and their beautiful home 🙂
Day 66-67, Sunday 13th to Monday 14th May - Sagres
Gorgeous! We are staying pretty much right on the south-western most tip of Portugal and it is just stunning. There is a fort at the end which is quite cool, and if you look to the sea either side of it, it’s mad - one side has the full-on waves of the Atlantic and on the other the waves are just gently lapping at the shore. So bizarre! Very lovely, we are chilling out here while we work on new tunes (and write this!).
As always, any comments, ideas, advice - always welcome! We’d love to hear from you 🙂