It’s time for a little update on what’s been happening over the last few months.
It’s a while since I last posted a personal update on my blog, and wow what a lot has happened.
The last time I wrote a post like this was in July (2020 Was Going To Be Our Year). At that point we were in limbo over whether our wedding was going ahead in September, whether we’d be able to buy a flat, and whether our businesses would survive all that the pandemic was throwing at it.
Just a few minor things eh?!
I’ve been delaying writing a big update as it’s not been an easy time, but I feel like I’m ready to share all the gory details. Grab a cuppa, a stack of your fave biscuits (one of our lockdown habits that has stuck!) and let’s kick things off.
… has been postponed! It’s funny when I think back to how we felt in March and how much of a dilemma this was. As the pandemic was spreading from Asia to Europe we started to wonder if it would get in the way of our big day on 19th September. Would it really prevent us from having the day of our dreams when it was over 6 months away?
As the months rolled on we started to realise it probably would. We wondered if we could postpone, whether we’d lose all of the money we’d paid or whether we were being silly, as maybe by the time September came everything would be back to normal again. I even wrote a post about planning a wedding during lockdown.
By July, we could see that there was no way we’d be able to proceed with the numbers we’d invited. Even small weddings weren’t permitted and with social distancing in place, it couldn’t be the lovely celebration we wanted. After negotiating with our venue and caterers, we rebooked for August 2021.
The relief was instant. I hadn’t realised how much it’d been playing on my mind until the decision was made. All of the worries melted away, although I’ll admit my tummy now does somersaults when I think about whether we’ll be able to go ahead with the big day next summer, but hey, I’m not going to panic about that just yet! What will be will be.
Earlier in the year I mentioned that we had started flat hunting. When the UK was in full lockdown, house viewings were banned. As soon as they were permitted, we spent hours perusing Rightmove, trying to find a flat that ticked all the boxes.
We’ve been in a one-bed third floor flat in Shepherd’s Bush for the past two and a half years. It was the perfect pad for our early thirties, but we’d started to outgrow it. We wanted more space and we were desperate for a garden. Macca’s growing collection of chilli plants was starting to take over the flat, like something out of Jack and the Beanstalk. We’d been together four and a half years, and even if the wedding was moving by a year, we still wanted to start our next chapter.
From May onwards we spent every spare minute exploring new parts of London and attending viewings. Macca and I giggled at bizarre décor choices (carpet on the walls anyone?!) and estate agents’ sales patter.
We fell in love with a few spots in west London, put our first offer in (hello heart palpitations – eeek!) and then had it rejected within ten minutes.
We strapped ourselves in and rode the rollercoaster, feeling the highs of finding dream properties, followed by the lows of missing out on them or not being able to afford them.
So, what happened next? If you follow me on Instagram you night have spotted that we moved out of our London flat last week. Fantastic Services invited us to try out their removal service. I knew it would be seriously tricky getting all of our belongings and furniture down from a third floor flat with no lift, so we gratefully accepted their offer.
We were assisted by three lovely removal men from Fantastic Services. They were absolutely brilliant – really friendly, communicative and seriously fast. We couldn’t believe it when they loaded the entire contents of our flat into their removal van in under an hour and a half… and barely broke a sweat!
As a little aside, Fantastic Services are offering £10 off any of their services (which include cleaning, gardening, handyman jobs and removals) if you use this special link which will automatically add the code ‘wanderlustchloe’.
So, you might be wondering what’s next? With our lives in boxes did we decide to become digital nomads like so many travel bloggers have, or press on with Plan A and settle down?
Well the big news is that in July we found a flat that we totally fell in love with. It’s in Ealing in London – an area we adore as it’s still got the London vibe, a lovely neighbourhood feel, but isn’t too hectic. Transport links are great for Heathrow Airport (if we ever fly again!) and central London, plus it’s just a short drive of some of my family.
Friends recounted stories of how long and frustrating the property-buying process was. Tales of damp problems, dodgy drains and gardens filled with Japanese knotweed. But hey, ours would be simple right?
Well, nope. Our offer was accepted at the end of July and we’re still waiting on one last legal issue to be resolved before we can sign the contract. Three months and counting…
We can’t wait to move in. We love the design of the new flat. It’s an old building that has been done up recently. There’s a large open plan kitchen / dining room with bifold doors to the garden. Yes, our first garden! We looked around in the summer and had dreams of BBQ parties. I’ve got aspirations of planting a little herb garden, while Macca’s got his eye on a border to expand his collection of chilli plants!
I haven’t told you where we are now though. We had a deadline to be out of our London flat by mid-October, and once it transpired that our new pad wouldn’t be ready in time, we decided to move to my mum’s place temporarily. She lives in a lovely house in the Buckinghamshire countryside.
We’re really loving the change of scene. We haven’t managed to squeeze in any holidays this year, but being able to walk out into stunning countryside has felt good for our bodies and souls. A much-needed break from hectic city life, and a chance to unwind a little after a pretty stressful year.
We’ve swapped our daily walks down busy streets to the shops, for leisurely wanders to visit a field of alpacas!
Being at mum’s house has also given me the perfect opportunity to get over my driving demons. I passed my test years ago, but never built up any confidence behind the wheel. I’d drive my mum’s car once a year to Tescos and back, and that was it! We’ve never had a car of our own and Macca has been happy to drive hire cars on our travels. Now though, I’m hoping to change that.
People of Buckinghamshire, watch out – Chloe’s on the roads! Yep, it’s time to practice lots and get over my fears. One week in and I’ve driven most days, and even ventured onto the motorway a few times.
Great British Bucket List
Which brings me on to our little baby! We couldn’t be prouder of our blog the Great British Bucket List, which we launched earlier this year. We worked really hard on producing content for the site during lockdown.
It was pretty timely too, with staycations booming this summer while international travel restrictions were in place. Traffic has grown at a crazy rate and we’ve loved working on it. It’s one of those projects where we can see a direct correlation between the hours we put in and the success of the site.
We started to collaborate with regional tourist boards on campaigns, and loved having an extra platform to get creative with.
Last month we scooped our first award too. Teletext named us the Best Staycation Travel Bloggers Of 2020. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved in 2020, in a particularly difficult year for the travel industry. Fingers crossed 2021 turns out to be even bigger and better!
If you’re looking for travel inspiration for trips in England, Scotland or Wales, take a look at the Great British Bucket List here. During the next lockdown, we’ll be adding lots of new walking guides, making the most of our daily exercise!
Countries around the world have been ricocheting from free travel, to quarantines and lockdowns. From Thursday, here in England we’ll be in lockdown 2.0.
I’ve got such mixed feelings about it. There was a little bit of novelty to the first lockdown. Watching the world grind to a halt was bizarre. Something that might only happen once in our lifetime.
While our businesses suffered, mentally and physically we benefitted from a slowing down of pace. Up until then we travelled two to three times a month, from time zone to time zone. We’d never have chosen to have a long period of time at home, but I think it was good for us. The weather was great for a lot of our first lockdown too.
This time it feels a little different. Firstly, the novelty has gone. We know what to expect. It won’t be particularly fun, but a month seems doable. We’ve even booked in our first Zoom quiz with our friends – something we weren’t sure we’d ever do again!
We’re happy to be based in the countryside for this lockdown too. Within 30 seconds of leaving the house we’re breathing in fresh air and immersed in nature. The gloomy weather and fewer hours of daylight may be a problem though. I’ve never looked forward to outdoor exercise in November…!
Regardless though, we’ll be maximising those times we leave the house and gathering lots of local content for the Great British Bucket List. Every cloud, and all that!
The Travel Print Store
While we worked hard on the Great British Bucket List during lockdown, we also set up a side business too. We launched the Travel Print Store on Etsy in June, and started selling prints of our travel photography. The business has gone from strength to strength. We’ve noticed sales increasing over the last few months, and we’re hoping lots of people will be shopping for gifts online this Christmas. You can read about how it all started here.
As well as over 100 prints of our travel photos, we’ve also developed a range of typography designs. Most of them are customisable with names, dates or inspirational quotes, so they make really personal, sentimental gifts. We’re busy working on a few new designs too, so keep checking back.
Small businesses have suffered a lot in 2020, but we love how many amazing creatives there are on Etsy. If you’d usually shop for Christmas presents on big websites like Amazon, consider looking on Etsy instead. As well as finding beautiful and unique gifts, you’ll be supporting real people too, helping them make ends meet in a difficult time. See, it’s good for your conscience too!
I hope wherever you’re reading this you’re happy and healthy, and ready to take on whatever the world throws at you next. 2020 hasn’t been an easy year for anyone, but we seem to be getting through it.
Remember when the first lockdown started and we aspired to learn new languages and take up new hobbies? I wanted to learn to draw. I didn’t do it then, and I probably won’t do it in lockdown 2.0 either… but if I can get through another month and keep a smile on my face, that’s good enough for me.
Until next time…
As Christmas is around the corner, how about checking out my gift guides? Lots of inspiration for gifts for your travel loving friends…