Where Do I Start?

It’s always difficult knowing how to start off the first post on a brand new blog! I guess I’ll start with an introduction…

I’m Caroline, from the UK, and I run an online business from home. I’m 45 years old, and I currently lead an extremely sedentary lifestyle with the vast majority of my time spent in my office on my computer.

I don’t really get out much. I’m one of those people who generally prefers the company of animals to people (I’m a cat person) although I do have a couple of very close friends.

A nice walk on a recent sunny day. I’m on the left, along with two of my favourite people.

What is this blog about?

Okay first of all, it’s not about cooking with a slow cooker! If that’s what you came here looking for, then you were probably looking for this blog instead 🙂

It’s about adventure – my adventures in life, or more specifically, the adventures I would like to start having more of!

The ‘slow cooked’ is a play on words. I have a few passions in life – one of them is being in nature, and another one is food. Many of the things I post about will involve food in one way of another but I am not a ‘foodie’ by any means.

So I know that food will feature to a degree, and I do happen to rather like my slow cooker! But it’s also about my personality. I do things slowly, I take my time, and I just tend to go through life at a slower pace than a lot of other people. So, I suppose I slow cook life 🙂

When I say ‘adventures’, I don’t necessarily mean taking a backpacking trip across Europe, or volunteering in Bolivia, or kayaking through Vietnam. Although I would actually love to do all of those things, for me it’s also about all the little things.

Days out, nice walks, an hour spent at a nice pub enjoying a cream tea. Basically, if I do something that makes me want to capture the moment with a photograph, then I’m also going to blog about it. This will allow me to look back on all these moments in more detail than just looking through a photo album.

A massive cream tea that we had at a lovely place called Paper Mill Lock. Neither of us could finish it!

This blog is really for me, but there’s a possibility that some other people may find it interesting. I often look back on my life (usually at New Year and Birthdays) and think, what on earth have I been doing? This blog will allow me to actually see more clearly what I’ve done and allow me to be more grateful as a result 🙂

Why now?

I’m 45 years old. As the years go by I have this growing feeling that I am wasting my life away and not doing the things I really want to do. I feel as though time is running out.

For me, fear of old age is very real. Well, it’s not quite the being old that scares me, it’s the idea that I will reach a point where I am physically unable to do the things I want to do, and I simply missed the opportunities. I do not want to be on my death bed full of regrets.

The good news, is that from a genetic point of view I have a very good chance of living a very long life. My dad lived until he was 95 years old, and my mum is still very much alive, and going strong at 87. I have never smoked, I rarely drink, I eat a healthyish diet, and I exercise on a regular basis, sort of!

So, I’m really hoping that even though I may not have done much over the last couple of decades, if I start now then hopefully I could have 3 or 4 decades in front of me in which to live life to the full!

Figuring out what I want

I’m very fortunate that my work allows me almost complete freedom. I can work anywhere with an Internet connection and I can work at any hour. Whilst I do work full time, I can in fact take time off whenever I like. I spend an afternoon every week visiting my mum and this is something very precious to me.

So in terms of work, I am already living the dream. I love the work I do and the lifestyle that it gives me. One issue is that I don’t earn enough (I’ll come back to that in a bit), but I am extremely happy with my choices and don’t need to change a thing in this department.

What I want, is the stuff that falls outside of work. My work has me shacked to a computer and whilst I do absolutely love being on the computer, I also like to shut it down, get out of the house and enjoy nature.

I’m not really into cities – too crowded, noisy and dirty for me most of the time, but I love the beach, the sea, lakes, forests, flowers, mountains, just about anything natural.

When I’m at home my mind is constantly buzzing. It never stops. This tends to manifest as a background feeling of stress and anxiety. When I leave the house and get in nature, all those thoughts simply drop away and that’s where I find peace. I want more of that.

Our planet is absolutely amazing and yet I have hardly seen any of it. When I think about all the National Parks there are around the world my mind just boggles. I follow Facebook pages that post jaw dropping photos of the world. I want to see these places for real, and not just through a computer screen.

Banff National Park, Canada. As gorgeous as this photo is, I want to be standing on that rock actually looking at that view for real!

What have I done so far?

I’ve not been a complete hermit all my life. In 2001 I had a wonderful time in the Maldives which is a place I will never forget. I have been to the US a couple of times – once to Disneyworld with my brother which I didn’t really enjoy, and another time to New York with my girlfriend which I didn’t really enjoy either!

I’ve spent a week on a beach in Tenerife, another week in Egypt doing a lot of sunbathing a snorkeling, I’ve spent a week snowboarding in Austria where I dislocated my shoulder and never snowboarded again! I also spent a week in beautiful Tuscany enjoying the picturesque towns and lovely food.

I’ve also had countless days out, to parks, castles, museums, wildlife parks, festivals, music gigs, and lots of other things. However, when I look back through my photo albums I notice that the last few years certainly have a lot less photos in them.

It was about a month ago that I had a few days where I was spending a lot of time thinking about life, my goals etc (I do this an awful lot) and I realised that I want to do so much more, and I have done for many years and yet I’ve just not been doing it. I’ve been waiting for the perfect time, the perfect circumstances and of course, they never arrive.

Volterra in Tuscany in 2012. It was beautiful here and the food was amazing!

What’s been stopping me?

I think I can really pin it down to two things. When I think about traveling in particular, I have this thought that I need to wait until…

  1. I’m earning a bit more money
  2. I’m a bit (a lot!) fitter

That is pretty much it. I have the time and the freedom to pretty much do what I want whenever I want but I just don’t seem to be getting around to it.

Money

I’ve been self employed for most of my life. 10 years ago I quit my day job as a software developer to start an online business. During those 10 years the actual business has changed 4 times.

My income has gone up and down over the years as my business circumstances has changed. At one point I was actually doing pretty well, but I didn’t really manage my money, I blew a lot of it irresponsibly and ended up with a gigantic tax bill which I wasn’t expecting.

Over the last 3 years or so years I’d say that I have been hovering between scraping by and having to live off my savings. Those savings have dwindled and that’s the real thing that has been holding me back from following my dreams.

I still have a reasonable nest egg, but I also don’t have a state (or any other kind of) pension. These are my life savings. If they deplete I am screwed! I’d much rather increase my income to the point where I have enough surplus each month to be able to do all the things I want to do.

The problem is, I’ve been trying to do that for years and I haven’t managed it yet. Of course I still hope that this latest business idea will be the one that finally makes me millions but I won’t be holding my breath 🙂

But I finally realised that adventure doesn’t have to be massive and it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. There are deals on flights all the time, there’s sites like Airbnb that can allow you to find cheap (and sometimes lovely!) accommodation. I can go self catering, and there’s a bunch of other hacks to save money.

Also, as much as I want to travel abroad, as I’m not a huge fan of the UK, it’s not all bad here and we actually have 15 national parks of our own to explore. I could borrow a tent and have a few days away on a very low budget! Though I’d need to be prepared for our Great British weather!

I’ve basically figured out a budget that I am prepared to spend until the end of 2018. I’m okay with taking that amount out of my savings and if I do my research and budget carefully, I think I can actually fit in a hell of a lot into that budget.

When I put together the words ‘UK’ and ‘camping’ this is pretty much what comes to mind!

Fitness

Then there’s my fitness level, or lack thereof. When I was a teenager I was very fit. I was skinny, I’d run a lot and I started lifting weights at about 14. I did karate and was just generally pretty active.

Then I got a car, went to college, started eating a lot, quit karate and became almost completely sedentary. By 25 I was starting to fill out and by my late twenties I was definitely overweight and unfit. I’ve basically been that way ever since.

Like with the money, I’ve had ups and downs. In 2005 I had a bit of a medical scare, had two major surgeries within 4 days of each other, spent 3 weeks in hospital, had a very difficult recovery and put on a lot of weight in the year that followed.

But exactly one year later, I graduated from University, then a few days later I got a job, I joined a gym the very next day and in the following year I got fit, restarted karate and lost 2 stones.

Then a few years later I quit karate again, stopped exercising, put on more weight, you get the idea!

I actually started karate again last year which is great, but I’ve done very little else in the way of exercise, my diet needs improvement, and I’m now at least 3 stones overweight.

BUT having said all that, I’m a healthy person. I have all my limbs and they all work! I have all my senses, I don’t have any disabilities, illnesses or diseases. I’m actually incredibly fortunate. And even though I’m overweight, it doesn’t stop me from exercising in any way.

Walking & hiking

When I started to think about the kind of traveling I want to do, my mind tends to wander towards those gorgeous national parks. Like Banff which I showed an image of above, or Yosemite in California, and many, many others.

When I think about these I imagine myself hiking the trails for hours, soaking in the view and just being in perfect bliss. The problem is, I’m no where near fit enough to do that kind of hiking and I never have been.

But of course, only somebody either very stupid or very brave would just dive into long difficult hikes without preparation. And hiking is something that is actually quite easy to prepare for.

It’s starts by getting out the door and walking!

So that’s exactly what I did. I think I started about a month ago. I just went outside my house and walked around the block. It took about 10 minutes. Then I did a half an hour walk, then a 45 minute one. Then I started to look for longer walks in parks and forests nearby.

Although the landscape where I live (south east of England) is very flat, it also has a lot of nice places to walk. I’ve built up to just under 4 miles and I’m planning to increase it little by little each week.

I’ve also rejoined my local gym so that I can work more specifically on the cardio and on my leg strength. Over time I can take longer walks, and start going further afield to places that aren’t so flat so practice hiking uphill (and downhill!) In time, I’ll be able to hike anywhere I want 🙂

A recent walk around the Felixtowe coast near Landguard Fort

So that is my rather wordy intro post to explain what this blog is about, why I started it, and what you can expect to see here. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Where Do I Start?

  1. Stephanie

    Walking and hiking is great! We love it!! Just taking a weekend break to a different part of the country and soaking in the sights. We take our dogs every where with us, and that also means that we have to make sure that we’re out waking every day, and take long hikes through our local country park every weekend.

    1. CarolineM Post author

      That must be nice to be able to get out that much! Currently I’m just doing one walk per week at the weekend but I’m hoping to be able to take longer breaks soon to other parts of the country and walk for a few days at a time and explore more of the countryside.

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