To Pack Or Not To Pack – That is the Question

So, we’ve got one whole week until I go away on holiday and I’m already getting the urge to pack. This is nothing new. I like to be organised, and I quite like to have my case out in plenty of time to fill it to the brim.

Alex hates this with a passion. He says it only takes him five minutes to pack – Which is actually quite a hefty exaggeration, as much as he argues against it! I like to call him the holiday lead man… He certainly takes at least a few hours looking for and packing up all the leads that we need to take with us. Laptops, cameras, phones, adaptor plugs, you name he will pack it in his peculiar lead bag. Then, he might think about packing some clothes once that’s done. MUST PACK LEADS FIRST!

I’ve got better at packing – Mainly because I need to delay getting the case out, due to the fat cat and his urge to sit in it or on it! It’s not like I haven’t had years of practice. I’ve been packing and unpacking since I went to boarding school, at the age of seven.

Still, I wouldn’t mind if Alex got the cases down from the loft tonight and at least gave me the option to start. It just makes the holiday seem so much closer, and I certainly do hate the last minute rushing about.

Do you take ages to pack? Or do you leave it all until the last minute?

House swapping… Not this time.

At this very moment I should really be living it up in Australia but alas, here I am sitting on my sofa about to tell you the story of why I am not (boo hoo). This would have been my fourth trip to what I thought was the country I would be living in permanently by now. However, we all know life takes different twists and turns and I guess it isn’t all bad that I am living another and  just (about) as satisfying type of life here in London.

I first fell in love with Australia even before I stepped foot in the country way back in the late 90’s. My very first friend in London came from Sydney and from then on all I ever knew for years was the fun, frivolity and madness of the wonderful people from that far far away land… And then I met an Englishman.

My wonderful friends on the other side of the world (Kev counts as an Aussie even though he’s not quite one)

So, here we are six years later. To ease my pain Alex and I got into house swapping as soon as we purchased our first home. We are not really the type of people to shirk away from taking any type of risk in life and house swapping has simply opened up our travel options giving us the chance to see more of the world than we might normally have been able to afford.

It’s quite simple really. You find a few good house swapping websites, add details about your home, search out places you want to go to and then swap when you find the perfect match. As well as swapping homes you can swap cars and even go as far as swapping pets!  There is no limit to the time you can swap for and trips generally seem to vary from a long weekend to around 6 months or more. So far we have only managed to find the time for a Sydney swap and one in Paris. Both were fabulously convenient and apart from Alex driving a car off a driveway in the dead of the night there were no other hiccups!

Quite a few people I know have said they would never feel safe swapping or just simply wouldn’t want someone else in their own private space. For me personally there is nothing better than being able to travel the world and see new things and I think this is one genius way to experience more in life. We have also had the chance to get to know like-minded people who we know will respect our home as much as we will theirs.

So, now for the sob story – We organised our second Australia swap about 8 months ago now and were due to leave for Melbourne last week. Unfortunately  because of the poor timing of our flat sale (probably my fault) we had to think long and hard about whether or not to leave the UK for five weeks. To add to everything flight prices to Australia have just about doubled since the last time we went. Our decision to stay here in the UK was begrudgingly made and was an unusually sensible one made by me.

We are still upholding our side of the deal and the Melbourne couple will soon be winging their way over to London and into our home whilst we take a short break to Spain to grab some of the much-loved summer sun that we have been lacking here. I just simply couldn’t leave them with no place to stay and really don’t mind the thought of someone using our place for a while as a base for their UK adventures.

To use (some of) the words of that slightly nuts Austrian-American …  Australia ‘I’ll be back’ (SOON)

Our Sydney house swap in 2009

The (not so) locals at Sydney Harbour

Obligatory harbour shot

One of the rare breeds… (Alex that is)