David is originally from Dublin, Ireland (youngest of 5 boys) leaving there when he was in his 20’s to begin his first life adventure working and living in Australia, forgoing the comfort of a career in the established family fish business.
Karen is very proud of the fact that she is a born and bred Londoner, with 2 older brothers
Karen is employed as a Financial Controller for a major Russian news agency and David as an IT manager for property consultants, both roles long term
Aged 54 and together for over 10 years they are not married and despite having ‘previous’ lives, neither have children.
Q: So have you ever taken a career break before
D: Yes we have, we were fortunate to be able to take 9 months out when we were in our early 40’s and we travelled around the world, starting Las Vegas/Grand Canyon and then moving through to South America, where we did the Inca Trail and saw the Iguazu Falls, which I have to say are truly amazing, then we had an awesome time in Buenos Aires
K: It’s only supposed to be a 60 second answer David!!
K: David finds it hard to manage to say anything in less than 60 seconds and that includes Hello.
Q: OK moving on, so where did you go on that trip – perhaps Karen could answer
K: After South America, we flew to OZ and New Zealand and it’s there we fell in love with campervans. From there we headed to Asia – Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia finishing with family and friends in South Africa.
Q: How did you manage to fund the trip?
K: Well we sold whatever we could, David sold his car and we really saved during our planning year and worked out a complex budget of £65 per day
D: Not each! We still have the Website of the trip, you can visit it here if you like.
K: No, combined, so it was fairly tight in places like OZ and NZ. The campervan was actually the most viable way for us to travel in NZ as well as the one that interested us both, having never done it before. We also rented out both our houses to cover our mortgages, but unfortunately David’s rental turned out to be the horror rental from hell.
D: Yes it was, but eventually it was sorted although one neighbour hasn’t quite forgiven us to this day.
Q: Really, so another tale to be told there then- you touched upon campervans, but why Spain and a campervan
D: Well we really took to Rick Stein’s program of him in Spain and we both love food and wine so it seemed the right choice. Plus can we get the same responses & interest from the places/restaurants he visited without a team of researchers.
K: We also want to go to markets & buy food, be able to cook it, so the campervan is great for that. Plus, to be honest when we travelled we always picked the worse places to stay even after researching them. So a campervan will be a home from home for us. David loves all the mechanical boring bits as well- pipes, disposals etc.
D: well someone has to, as it won’t be you for sure!
Q: You both seem –how shall I say, not altogether harmonious for want of a better phrase
K: No that’s absolutely true, we’ll fall out before we get the van of the drive.
D: Yes but we usually get over it fairly quickly
Q: Uhm, so when you’re not at work what do you like to do
K: Is that relevant at all – the board!
D: Yes it is, you might not like it but I do, anyway obviously I’ll have to give the board up, but I am taking some clubs with me so I can continue to play. I’m really looking forward to seeing/playing where Seve Ballesteros starting out- brilliant golfer and ambassador of the game. Did you know….
K: I like swimming & exercise, go to the gym regularly, so will miss that, but we’re taking electric bikes as well, so will use them ‘non electric’ for exercise. Plus, I love theatre/shows and meals out. I’m planning also when we are away to do a 365 day food blog-any one dish of the day, good or bad, perhaps funny and write about it, pictures maybe recipes linked to the website.
Q: That seems interesting. What do you think will be the hardest part about the campervan experience?
K: Us being in a confined space 24/7.
D: It’ll be fine but perhaps we just need to perhaps count to 10 a lot. Personally beyond Karen’s sarcasm, I think once we have a routine with it all- water, disposal, unhooking, levelling out and a myriad of other things we’ll be fine. Obviously the first few weeks will be learning curve all manner of ways. Plus I need to make sure I have all the batteries, plugs etc. I need for laptops, mobiles, so I’ll being doing lots of research on that so we’re in constant contact!
K: Not too much contact I hope, and certainly no TV – we have already discussed that DAVID.
Q: OK, random question- how would family and friends describe each of you- David first
D: Well let me see-friendly, helpful for sure, perhaps a bit too talkative.
D: but overall a nice loyal person!
K: Uhm, for me- very loyal, yes helpful, some might say a bit unhinged at times but in a nice way. I don’t think anyone would say we were nasty, spiteful or mean………. I hope.
Q: What do you think are your greatest achievements?
D: Without doubt our year out, & that’s why we are planning to do it again as I think it will be a great trip like the last. Work wise I have maintained IT systems for many companies and for most of them are all still in touch with me, so I’m proud of that.
K: Yes I agree, for once – the trip was major for us as we weren’t youngsters, plus we were giving up steady jobs, same as this time. But to be honest life is short and you have to do these things while you can, not wait until the right moment as that moment may never come. And again I agree with D on this, work wise I’ve always worked hard, been dedicated and I know my advice and views are very valued within my company- they don’t always like them of course. Plus I do feel relationships are an achievement, I maintain close relationships with all my friends and brothers and we are hoping that a great many of them will drop in at various points on the trip to see us. A lot have already said they will and we have a big Christmas planned for 2016.
Q: How do you think you workplaces will react to your leaving?
K: We have both been with our firms over 10 years and although I think they’ll be sorry to see us go, they’ll be happy that we are doing something different. We are each on 3 month’s notice so they will have time to find new people and have a handover period. I think you feel the same don’t you D.
D: Yes for sure, we have no children and are both ‘orphans’ now so it’s time to do something different.
Q: Do you think the planning and logistics will be hard
D: Not too bad really, obviously there is lot to do, pack up the house, rent it etc., but for the actual campervan part we have done a lot of research. The main part of that is finding the van at the right time and price. Really after research we loved Elddis models for the space & feel, plus a lot of other campers said they drove really well too, but if one of theirs isn’t available then we would have to widen the field.
K: Yes, Elddis had the right feel for us both, I’m claustrophobic so some vans just make me feel uncomfortable but Elddis doesn’t. Other than that, the route will be a fairly major and argumentative decision, but we’re getting there on that. We found that when travelling even short trips we each have our fortes and we seem to fall into those. Plus at the end of the day, there aren’t many problems that are insurmountable. We had great advice on our first stop campervan wise in NZ and we learnt an awful lot from the fellow campervanners, so I’m sure we will again and of course we will pass on everything that we know for sure and in David’s case more besides!!
Q: Excellent stuff, so last question on a light note- favourite film and or book
D: Film Kelly’s Hero’s- Book The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono because….
K: Mine – Book Count of Monte Cristo and film not really sure but Sound of Music is up there.
AH one last question -do you think you might get married on this trip?
K&D: No comment!!