“Home Sweet Home” Questionnaire #7: Frankie Thompson.
1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your passion for travelling started.
I’ve never not loved to travel. It’s always been a question of when and where, not if. My first trip overseas was as a chubby one year-old baby to Bordeaux in France where friends of my parents were staying. (I’m the dark haired baby and the blonde baby girl next to me is now one of my best friends and was the flat mate I left behind when I left London.)
2.) When did you decide to hit the road? Was it hard to take that step? What preparations and arrangements did you have to make during the planning period?
My boyfriend, who I call NewMan, and I made the decision to leave our lovely London lives to go travelling long-term in the summer of 2011, though we’d been discussing it for many months before. It was much harder to make the decision to go than anything else because we had great lives in London and it’s where my family and friends live. Yet once the decision was made, preparing to leave was comparatively easy. It was simply a matter of maximizing the time we had by planning our journey, packing up what we needed and selling or donating what we didn’t. The hardest part was saying goodbye to our friends and families and I found leaving my flat and suburb of West London, Shepherd’s Bush (which I used to blog about) very hard.
3.) Where & how do you celebrate Christmas?
One of the reasons we went travelling was because NewMan is from Australia. So spending Christmas with his Mum and brother was long overdue and was the focal point of our trip, especially for me as I’ve never met his mother before! So for Christmas Day we were on the North Coast of New South Wales in Australia in the sunshine. We swam and played in his Mum’s pool, had not one but two BBQs and played Trivial Pursuit as we drank ice cold beer. It was a great Christmas and I think I passed in her eyes!
4.) How do you stay in touch with family and friends? Do you write postcards?
Skype truly does make 10,000s of miles disappear and I speak to my nearest and dearest at home online fairly regularly. There is also of course Facebook, Twitter and emails. But yes I do write postcards. I love writing postcards and have been told many, many times on this trip how lovingly they have been received so I will always continue to do so.
5.) Are you planning on travelling for the rest of your life or would you like to settle down sometime (by settling down we mean finding a place to come home to)?
At the moment we have an end date for our current trip (March) and after a brief period of time at my parents’ place reminding them why they shouldn’t miss us so much, we will head off again on an as yet undecided journey with no end date. But, yes, one day I do think I would like to settle down somewhere, the problem is I don’t yet know where; I’m still searching…
6.) If you could choose one city/country for living, which one would it be? Please give us a little explanation (weather, people, etc.).
With reference to my last answer the problem isn’t so much that I’ haven’t found what I’m looking for, it’s more the case that I can’t narrow it down. And if I’m honest I enjoy the search too much. So to answer your question I couldn’t choose just one country but I will give you one of the many countries I could easily live in, which I probably don’t need to explain; Italy. Despite their sky high bureaucratic hurdles and funny old ways of doing things Italians will always get the following right by me; food, wine, fashion, family, cars and gelato. It’s a truly beautiful country.
7.) Where are you right now and how did you get there?
I’m currently in Melbourne, Australia. This is the last stop in our month and a half long tour of my boyfriend’s home country. It’s been an adventure in all the best ways – personally, emotionally, geographically and physically. We flew in from South East Asia, where we were for two months travelling around and falling in love with Thailand.
8.) Travelling is expensive … so how do you get from A to B?
One of the key elements in our decision to go travelling long term was that we could support ourselves on the move. NewMan’s job has always allowed this (he is a web developer, and a jolly good one at that and also runs his own online business), but my career was initially less flexible. So I saved as much as I could and I prepared as much as I could for changing my career so that freelancing and remote working was possible and though we’re not rolling in money we have been able to support ourselves by working while travelling and I hope this can continue for as long as we choose it.
9.) Do you use a travel guide (Lonely Planet, etc.)? If so, please tell us which one … if not, why?
Though I’ll read them if I stumble across one, I have never bought a Lonely Planet guide. I rely primarily on word of mouth, blogs, forums and Twitter for travel advice. For me it is therefore important to ensure my blog provides valuable and honest information about what to do in places but to not bombard people with specific “How to Guides”. The best travel advice should be informative but open-ended. You should always make up your own mind when it comes to travel; it’s your journey.
10.) What does a perfect day on your trip look like? What season is it? Are you inside or outdoors? Are you in a city or in the middle of nowhere?
The sun is shining and the sky is blue. As I step outside of the old town house I am staying in I fill my lungs with air that is fresh yet full with the smell of just cooked bread. I walk down a narrow, winding old alleyway, which opens up to a view of the water. I consider taking a swim, I consider continuing my walk, I consider buying some of that fresh bread but instead I stop and treasure that very moment and the freedom I feel.
The rest of the day will be spent under the sun or in the water debating equally easy decisions and photographing the world around me.
11.) Name three spots from your last adventure, which you’d probably not find in a guidebook but you could recommend to travellers. Tell us what’s special about them.
Our last adventure has been an extended month long road trip down the east coast of Australia from Brisbane to Melbourne, stopping in Sydney for two weeks along the way. I have tried to do as much as possible in each place we stopped at and the following have stood out as places or things I enjoyed that I heard about from word of mouth or discovered for myself:
1.) Walking on the waves at Coffs Harbour.
In NewMan’s mother’s home town as we walked along the jetty and beach we could see some that some of the concrete blocks of the man made sea break in the distance were painted in bright primary colours and so we went to investigate. Little did we know that this walk along the break meant dodging the crashing waves which creep over the side and soak you as you go. It was the best unexpected fun!
2.) Hyde Park Barracks Museum in Sydney.
The history of the convicts’ arrivals in Sydney and across Australia is a fascinating one and this museum housed in a purpose built barracks for convicts artfully and tenderly captures the history and personal stories.
Eight hours south of Sydney is a small town called Eden, which was the home of whaling in Australia for 100 years until 1930s. The Eden Killer Whale Museum and a handful of beautiful old buildings dotted around the town tell a unique story, all overlooking Twofold Bay, a beautiful natural harbour.
12.) Where & how do you write your blog articles? Do you start with a rough draft or get right to it?
I write wherever and whenever I can; on my phone, on a scrap of paper, on my laptop, in the notebook that never leaves my side. I’ve written blog posts on the beach, in airports and on planes, but though I make notes at the time I don’t always write up my experiences immediately. When I’m exploring a new town or sight I try not to think too much about what or how I’m going to blog about the place, but rather experience it in the moment and absorb it all and then later, sometimes as much as a month later I’ll write about what I saw and felt. Sometimes this will stay as a draft until I feel it’s the right time to publish it, but other times I just go ahead and publish immediately because I feel the story needs to be told right away.
13.) What’s your favorite local dish? Where does it come from? Can you cook it & what are the main ingredients?
In Australia I have to say that they live up to their reputation as the home of a great brunch. Up and down the east coast I’ve not been disappointed at all by delicious eggs, crispy corn cakes and fresh, fruity Bircher museli. As to whether I can cook it all or not, well possibly not like they do I’m having fun learning some tips by taste.
14.) How much does 1 liter (or one gallon) of milk and petrol cost today?
I can tell you that in Australia a litre of milk costs around $2.00 Australian Dollars, which shocked me, but I have no idea what the price of a litre of petrol is this is always priced in gallons (which is roughly around $1.40).
15.) On which device to you answer this questionnaire and what shoes are you wearing (if possible please add a picture)?
I am writing this on my beloved Macbook, barefoot.
16.) Last but not least: What does “home” mean to you?
This last trip has taught me more than any other that “home” is a feeling more than a place. It is wherever you feel content and at ease with yourself and the immediate world around you. Of course, it also has a lot to do with the company you keep and in many ways a person can give you much more of a sense of home than a place or building can.
In terms of a physical place that I call home, it is and always will be London.
Want to be a part of this series?
If you want to be a part of our series, just go to the “Home Sweet Home” article and download the appropriate questionnaire. We’d really like to read your stories :)
Participants so far:
#1: Ulli Maier
#2: Nisa Maier
#3: Shvyia Nath
#4: Rika Huang
#5: Yvonne Zagermann
#6: Dario Endara
#7: Frankie Thompson
#8: Roy van den Bos
#9: Monica Stott
#10: Doris Neubauer
#11: Amanda Slavinsky
#13: Casper Oppenhuis de Jong
#14: Ashley Abroad
#15: Inma Gregorio