Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Away from the Gray by Jo Morehouse; read 9 November 2018

Surfing YouTube whilst bored one evening I came across a channel named Minimal List that is the Vlog of Jo and her American husband, Michael, who have been cruising the English canal network as ‘live-aboards’ (I believe that is the correct term) for the last 2 years on their narrowboat ‘Perseverance’. I can highly recommend the channel and its now become somewhat addictive to follow it even though I have never been on the canal system nor a narrowboat myself. The one thing that is missing from the Vlog is the story of how Jo and her husband came to be living on the boat. ‘Away from the Gray’ is a short (roughly equivalent to 68 pages long) Kindle book that cost only 99p that answers this question. 

Having previously thought about travelling but finding the usual excuses not to – mortgage, relationship, good job etc- in 2013 Jo in her mid-30s was ‘ sitting at my desk looking out at that grey rainy carpark, utterly depressed by the small minded office politics and petty micromanagement surrounding me. I decided there and then that I had to leave my shitty office job, and at the same time leave my house, my family and my friends. I was going to go somewhere else and keep going, I was going to see what else was out there, there had to be more to life than this…’ well there was. Putting her ‘stuff’ into storage and renting her house she set out to journey around the world. She bought an inter-rail ticket to travel solo across Europe and then an Orient Express Ticket to travel the trans-Siberian railway to China. Then travelled overland to Vietnam, where she met Michael who was on his own round the world trip, though going in the opposite direction. Both would hit it off and after completing their own journeys would meet up again and move to work for a year and a bit in New Zealand. They would then move to the LA as Michael had a job offer in his native land get married there. It was in LA that they married and where the sotry for now ewnds before they resurfaced in 2017 in the UK on their boat.
This book proves that you do not have to be a super-hero to travel the globe, Jo is at 1st underconfident and refreshingly honest about it; at times she was lonely. There are some good lessons here that should apply to all of us:

1. The hardest step is the 1st one – as Jo says ‘the hardest thing I had to do was deciding to leave in the first place. The traveling was easy; the deciding to go? Not so much.’
2. When travelling everyday s a Saturday
3. Even on a tight budget don’t be afraid to go over the budget occasionally – don’t regret having missed out on something later
4. An unanticipated positive of budget constraints meant that Jo walked everywhere getting fitter in the process
5. When traveling you need to let yourself have days off, and not feel guilty for not being out and seeing new things all the time.
6. India is pretty unpleasant, Thailand, away from Bangkok is lovely, Vietnam is becoming more commercial but still very nice.
A good wee read this one

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