03 Oct Don’t Mention The C Word
Now that I’ve got more time on my hands, I’ve started giving some serious thought to my golden gap year and in doing so I have identified two issues which require a little more consideration. One is furry and the other financial.
I’ll start with the furry one; otherwise known as my main man Stan. If it’s true that owners become increasingly like their pets over time, then I am in big trouble. Stanley is an elderly ‘Westy’ with bad teeth, a rapidly expanding girth, a penchant for roast chicken and a small problem with flatulence. He was sold to us (at great expense) as a pure bred West Highland White Terrier. The sales guy just neglected to add the part about the promiscuous poodle that befriended his mum, because we quickly realised that our Stan is no thoroughbred. Nope … he is in fact a poodle/westy cross, which quite aptly makes him a “Pesty.” Pesty by name and pesty by nature. He’s his own dog … stubborn to a fault and with selective deafness (like the rest of the family). In fact, we’re thinking about changing his name to “chicken,” the only word that is guaranteed to bring him back. But all jokes aside, I am completely obsessed with this little white bundle of highly strung neediness, who is the only member of the household that is genuinely happy to see me every time I walk through the door. By the time I leave for my golden gap year, Stan will be 11 … an older gent; set in his ways, who I doubt would take kindly to being billeted out for a year. What to do?
My second issue is equally problematic and involves that small matter of moolah. When you multiply 365 days by any amount, the answer is an eye wateringly large number. Annoyingly, there seems to be only two (lawful) ways to reduce that number … and both involve those very pragmatic and unsexy “C” and “B” words … compromise and budget. Ughhh …. How dull. I don’t think Elizabeth Gilbert’s book would have had the same idealistic appeal if she’d called it “Eat, Pray, Budget, Compromise and Love” So, unless I resort to selling my body (which sadly would barely cover a bus fare) …. I need to accept that my options are either, to cut down the days away or come to terms with the fact that my daily budget will be a long way to the left of ideal. This is where I wish I could lose my boringly pragmatic side and just take off on a wing and a prayer. But, a ‘gap long weekend’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it … so I have come to terms with the fact that I need to lower my expectations …. dramatically. I’m not a princess, but let’s keep it real …. my backpacking days are well behind me and apparently I’m not alone. Enter flashpacking, which after a bit of googling, I have discovered is actually a thing. Who knew? It’s like upscale backpacking for older folk who have outgrown noisy dorms, shared bathrooms and a target clientel who weren’t even born when I last donned a backpack. So basically, backpacking for old farts with a bit more to spend. That’s got me (and Stan) written all over it.