September was a pretty shitty month, but I was bound and determined to put it behind us. So much so that when I woke up on October 1st I proudly proclaimed: “October will be our month!”
Even though most things were 100% out of my control, I had every intention of making October our month. I mean, after a frustrating month like September with all its bureaucratic hurdles and mountains, I had to have hope that the only way we could go was up.
And, for the most part, it did, although, it took a little while to get going.
October kicked off much like September ended: sitting, waiting, and wishing. Slowly but surely, one by one, things started to sort themselves out.
Mid-month, after a three-week wait that included four trips to the branch and resending copies of our documents, we were finally approved for bank accounts. This was a huge hurdle and one I was so giddy to see knocked down as this mean we could finally sign up for the gym and get the broadband process started.
It felt like Christmas in mid-October.
With debit cards in hand, we practically ran down the street to the nearest Vodafone so we could FINALLY set up our home internet. I was beaming; my days of roaming the streets for wifi would soon be over.
Or, so I thought.
As should have been expected, there were a few additional hurdles (England, seriously, why do you make it so hard for me to give businesses my money?! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS) that required various pieces of paperwork, identification and proof that our address was, in fact, a real address. We did our best to gather everything we could, only to be inevitably told that they can’t deliver the service to our flat, although they could if we were the pub below.
To make a long story short, my dreams of home internet were dashed almost as quickly as I walked through the door.
We were disappointed, to say the least – and honestly, quite baffled – but, we haven’t given up hope. It may take a little bit longer, but I know that we’ll get there eventually. November will be our month!
Although not having the internet is pretty annoying, it wasn’t all bad. Not having access to timewasters like facebook and email, we were prompted to get out and explore.
Throughout the month we took several day trips, visiting Roundhay Park and Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds; we hopped on the train spent a lovely Sunday afternoon navigating the cobblestone streets of nearby York; we spent Halloween weekend visiting a friend in the south in Leigh-on-Sea, and I got my first glimpses of London; and, we took the time to attend local events like Leeds Light Night and the Left Bank Cider Fest.
So, although life without the internet isn’t the best, at least it’s getting us up, out and away from the computer screen, and experiencing more of what Leeds has to offer. A habit I hope will continue even when we’re reconnected with the world.
- Leeds, UK
- York, UK
- Leigh-on-Sea, UK
- London (via stopover)
Distance Travelled: 720km by bus and train.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE MONTH
Not at all travel related, but my highlights of the month was finally getting a bank account sorted, and securing employment that will allow me to continue working on this blog and pursuing freelance contracts. This is probably the most adult highlight of the month ever, but honestly, these were big wins for me.
LOWLIGHT OF THE MONTH
Internet. The bane of my existence. Getting broadband set-up is requiring far too many pieces of paper and far too many unnecessary trips to Vodafone, Virgin, Sky and beyond. It’s super frustrating that we’ve been in our flat for nearly two months without wifi, but I know that one day we’ll be wired, and that will be a glorious day, whenever that may be.
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- A Canadian Thanksgiving From Abroad
- What A Difference A Year Makes
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L to R: Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds; Exploring Leeds Light Night; A beautiful Sunday in Roundhay Park, Leeds.
What I Read
Apparently, when I don’t have access to the internet and don’t waste my evenings with 30 Rock reruns
and love every second of it, I can blow through a lot of books. Somehow I managed to finish seven books in October, more than my total for all of 2014 (go me!).
I started off the month by finishing The Nightingale, a story of two French sisters in World War II, who risk it all to save the lives of Jewish orphans, allied pilots and their families.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book; the story was captivating but at times it felt a bit rushed. I think I would have preferred if the author had broken the plot into a series of two or three separate books each focusing on one or two events that took place throughout the war. The story was really interesting so it would have been nice if each event could have been flushed out and given more than just a few pages.
I picked up Furiously Happy because I really enjoyed reading Jenny Lawson’s first book of humorous life tales, and honestly, the taxidermy racoon on the front cover cracked me up. I didn’t realise that this book was about the authors struggle with mental health.Furiously Happy was quite eye-opening; I had no clue the struggles she lived with every day.
I’m currently enrolled in a travel writing course, so I thought I would take inspiration from one of my favourites, Bill Bryson, and learn a little about my new homeland: two birds, one stone.
The book is a follow-up to Notes from a Small Island, which chronicled Bryson’s adventures in England when he was just a young lad. Since that time, he’s settled down in England, and the book shares many of his thoughts and feeling about his adopted homeland as well as his memories of travelling throughout.
Although I am of a different generation than Bryson, I found I could sympathise with so much of what he wrote, some of his frustrations and confusions with certain British systems–apparently it’s a North American thing to not understand so many things about England.
At times, the book felt like Bryson was just ranting away, getting things off his chest, but spliced in amongst those rants were good tidbits of information about the country and a few funny stories. It’s not the first book I would recommend by Bryson, but it wasn’t all that bad.
The 4-Hour Workweek is the culmination of author Timothy Ferriss’ five years of researching the habits and learning the secrets of the New Rich, a subculture of society who have figured out how to work less, earn more and enjoy life to the fullest.
What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said (because I’m pretty sure I’m the last blogger in the universe to pick up this book)? I agreed with some of the concepts introduced in this book, and I totally agreed with Ferriss’ argument that we often fill our time with busy tasks (like email) to allow us to feel accomplished, but in reality, we aren’t accomplishing much; however, I found that I disagreed with most of what he wrote and preached.
I felt like Ferriss glossed over all the work that it takes to get to the point where you can step back and only answer emails for one-hour a week–because we all know this doesn’t happen overnight. He made it all seem too easy, which is maybe why his book is considered a bible for many entrepreneurs or digital nomads. Like most “self-help” books, this one had a few great nuggets of knowledge and a few that I will most definitely be ignoring.
I really must thank blogger Pack Your Passport for this recommendation. After reading about it in one of her posts, I immediately put it on hold with the library and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
Bird by Bird is a book about writing and life. In this very easy and short read, author Anne Lamott outlines a step-by-step guide to writing, from sharing the process of just getting started to producing and editing shitty drafts, to overcoming writer’s block and the steps to getting published. She goes into detail explaining the effects becoming a published author can have on your life, as well as the effects you think it will have but won’t.
Although the book is more than 20 years old, I found so many of the concepts held true even in today’s digital age (even her cultural references weren’t that far off, although I had to keep reminding myself that when it was written a different Clinton was grabbing the headlines). It was a brutally honest take on writing and pursuing a passion, and I found it incredibly refreshing and interesting.
Although billed as the eighth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not exactly that. It’s the complete script of parts one and two of the play that ran in London earlier this year. The story picks up some years after the end of the final book and focuses mainly on the next generation of Potters.
I don’t normally read plays and wasn’t sure I would like the format, but it was actually a nice change to read a story without having to read paragraph after paragraph of text – also a good reminder that you can say and express a lot without using every word in the dictionary.
While Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn’t as good as the originals, I enjoyed reading it, if only because it was nice to revisit and catch up with the characters. I’d missed them.
Although I found the author to be a bit judgemental and pious at times, it was easy to push past that and once I did, I actually really enjoyed this book. I find that so many books and articles about productivity and habits focus on one kind of person, making those of us who don’t fit that mould feel bad or that there’s no hope for us. Better Than Before highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of many different personality types and explained why certain approaches to forming habits worked for some but not others.
As I read the book, I kept noting different strategies I could employ to try and incorporate new and better habits into my life. We’ve been implementing them for a week (I say “we” because I’ve kind of been forcing Dave to come along on this journey with me) and so far it’s been a great success! Here’s hoping we can keep it up long after the honeymoon period wears off.
For the second month in a row, we have nothing booked and no travel events schedule on the calendar. But, this doesn’t mean we’ll be sitting at home, twiddling our thumbs doing nothing throughout the month of November. No, it just means that our trips will be a bit more spontaneous and spur of the moment (aka weather dependent).
Before winter descends of Northern England, we’re really hoping to explore a few of the nearby towns – from Scarborough and Whitby, to Manchester and Liverpool, all the way through the Dales to Cumbria. These trips don’t take too long from Leeds, so I’m confident we can check off at least one of these weekends before the month is up.
While it’s not the most exotic of travel, I’m really looking forward to seeing more of my new “backyard”.
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