I'm writing this on a miserable, wet Sunday afternoon. It's raining with gusto at 45 degrees, occasionally slapping into my window. I'm glad I'm not out in it.
It's been a little while since we spoke. I kind of intended these emails to be monthly, but it turned out that the chaos of 2020 hadn't quite finished at midnight on 31st December.
In January, I was given notice on the house I'm renting. Fortunately I was able to get the legal 6 months of notice, but it's remarkable how that level of uncertainty can derail everything in life. The housing situation down in Devon is pretty dire at the minute. Lots of landlords are selling, to make the most of the wave of people coming down from London and pushing house prices up. That's leaving more renters and fewer properties to house them. The local news reported an average of 200 applicants for every rental property in Devon and Cornwall. It's a game of speed and luck (and affordability).
After a couple of months, I gave up on the idea of renting completely. It was simply impossible. I'd come to the realisation that the only way to keep a roof over my head was to buy a house. This was absolutely not what I imagined buying a house would be like. I thought it would be something you took time over and found the dream place. But sometimes reality forces you to act.
I then spent months putting in offers on houses and being outbid by other buyers. It was pretty harrowing to find a place, put in an offer over the asking price and then still be 10s of thousands of pounds below the top bidder. Local people simply can't compete with salaries from big cities.
After the fourth disappointment and with only a couple of months left before I had to be out of my rental, I'd basically given up hope. I'd pretty much decided I would put all my stuff in storage (likely distributed around friends and relatives) and go walk across a country. Or something. It felt like the only way to take back control to a situation rapidly spiralling out of hand. At least I had a tent.
Then, I spotted something on rightmove. A house had come back on in my price range. Their buyer had dropped out. And better still, I almost knew the people selling it. (I mean this in the village sense, where everyone almost knows everyone)
Bang on my deadline, I had found a house with people as keen for a quick sale as I was. If I hadn't known them by pure chance, I doubt I would have ever been chosen as best buyer for any property in the current market. Finally a perk of being local!
But that wasn't the end of the story. I had fun and games finding a mortgage while on furlough. Terms and conditions kept changing, but we got there. And I write this with my toes crossed because we haven't actually quite exchanged yet. But I'm hopeful it'll happen very soon (as are my friends, who are already planning house warming parties on my behalf! Talk about keen.)
I honestly didn't expect to become a homeowner for several years yet. But I think I will be very glad to have a place that no one can move me on from at the drop of a hat. Sure there will be problems, but at least I'll be in control of dealing with them. No more begging for the boiler to be fixed or explaining why rising damp is a problem. Or mowing lawns that could be vegetable plots 😁
And after this past week, I certainly shall not miss the maggots.
Much has happened since January. I'm back part time at Much Better Adventures, writing for their magazine and landing pages. Here's me on good walks in Wales. I should be heading back towards one article a week. Landing pages are much more salesy and require lots of research. It feels odd to be writing about places like Greenland and Albania (but gives plenty of ideas for future trips).
I've had a bit more published on MPora, got my first by line in the Guardian and done some pieces for Advnture.com After a first aid kit gear roundup, I now have more bandages than sensible. Particularly for a person who's meant to be putting their life into boxes imminently.
I finished checking a guidebook (a project I learnt a lot from) and helped relaunch a website with fresh SEO copy. Naming no names since I haven't spoken to the clients about sharing, but I'll check for next time.
Otherwise, I've got a few pieces on the go and a growing list of Things I Ought to Pitch But Mustn't Yet Because I'm Moving House. I'm also trying not to beat myself up about being way behind schedule on the novel I'm writing. Sometimes you've just got to remind yourself that deadlines are self imposed…
Nothing going on as yet. Like I've said before though, I'm not intending to do anything this year. Just life is quite enough to handle right now. I haven't even been camping since it's been legal, which says everything about my life at the moment. And perhaps the weather… 🌧🌧🌧🌧
I'm not ruling out doing anything this year, but it'll be in the second half (Autumn/Winter). I'm supposed to be going on a Press Trip to Switzerland in July with the tourist board, but that seems incredibly unlikely at the moment. If it happens I get to go paragliding (!!), if not I won't be overly surprised.
Also, a few people have been in touch with me about trying to do my All the Tors route faster. I'll definitely be following along their expeditions. I'm also going to try to get the route officially registered so I don't have to keep the scoreboard myself. It's a fantastic adventure, regardless of how fast you do it.
On international women's day, I had a chat with Jenny Tough, courtesy of Ellis Brigham. You can watch it here.
I also just recently spoke to Catie Friend on her podcast. I don't often do podcasts, because I don't feel like I can trust the words coming out of my face as well as the ones out of my hand. But this was really good fun.
Intrepid Magazine has gone through a massive revamp, but we're now fully moved over to our new online selves. If you want to hear from adventurers who happen to be female, you can sign up here.
And that's probably me for now! It's still raining. I think I'll go and make a nice mug of hot water (because I don't like tea or coffee…). Hope you've had a far less eventful start to the year than I have.