Returning home after 4 months on the road through Europe we decided to extend our stay to 3 months at home before heading off for a much longer leg of 18 months travel. Being at home after travelling for so long was so strange at first but it really gave us time to make the most of this time at home. Instead of sitting back and doing nothing over this time we decided to continue our adventurous ways. We got back out climbing, pushed ourselves running, planned out our next Asian leg of our travels, sorted our visas and vaccines, caught up with our freinds and family and our beloved pug Dooku, we visited new and old places in the UK and much more! Here is a round up of this time at home before we bid farewell to old blighty for 18 months!
Seeing Family and freinds…and spending time with our baby!
Of course, the first and most important thing was too see… our dog Dooku! He is our baby and we missed him so much. Heading off travelling was a no brainer for us and an absolute dream, but the only thing tugging us back and giving us doubts was our pooch. We were so happy to see him again and he went mad for us too, but it also made us think about leaving him again and for longer. But we tried to spend as much time with his as we could and make the most of this time. But we are also really grateful for my parents looking after him so well and treating him like family.
But of course, then there are the humans we missed!! Ha! Seeing our family and freinds again after being away was amazing, telling them about all our adventures and the things we had done was great. But it also felt strange, like we couldn’t really explain it all if that makes sense. Backpacking is such a personal thing and almost like an inexplicable experience! We were also lucky enough to be home for our Aunty Eileen’s 100th birthday, a monumental achievement by such a wonderful lady.
Catching up on the blog
Wow, we had so much writing to catch up on our blog. We had done so many amazing and unforgettable things that we had a list that was intimidatingly long! The break from travelling allowed us to really get down to work and get everything up to date. There are still many scheduled posts to wait for but they are all written and ready to be read/ published! I was a little stressed to say the least about how much writing I had to do but at the same time excited to get it all down because I knew we had been to some incredible places. To finally get through them all means that we can start from scratch with our next leg of our travels and move on to writing hopefully more in the moment! But it did make us realise how different blogging is when you travel long term and do amazing things almost everyday!
If you want to read all our posts then check them out here:
Here is a video we put together of all our travels across Europe:
Planning our next route and organising what needs to be done
Of course, we don’t want to over plan our journey but with some time on our hands we decided to research the countries we would be going to and take a look at some of the things we want to do in them! There is such a vast area to cover and so many amazing things to see the more you know the better! We have no route as such just a route plan of which countries we want to go to and some of the places we really want to see. We learnt a lot about backpacking during our 4 months in Eastern Europe and a lot of that centred around how much more interesting it is when you leave things open and speak to those around you about things to do and see. But also how being prepared helps to you not miss out too. But the actual order of these countries we will work out when we are out there!
We also needed to organise our visas for China and do a bit of research on the other countries that we want to visit. This will help us make sure we don’t get stuck at any borders! Really only the Chinese visa as the one we needed before we travel as the rest we can organise as we go or get upon entry. This ended up being quite expensive and time consuming so it was a good thing we decided to stay for longer than our original intended month!
Similar with vaccines we really didn’t realise how much time they take, with waiting for NHS appointments and also the fact many are courses rather than single injections meant it was a good job we stayed home longer. They also took a bit more research than we realised and were bloody expensive!
We set off for China on the 2nd of November and plan to spend roughly 6-7 months in Asia and 12 months in Australia and New Zealand!
Getting back out climbing and on the slackline
Getting back home it was also great to get out climbing too, we have missed this probably more than anything being away and given we haven’t climbed properly since before my op last October we were even more keen. We got out sport climbing, trad climbing, bouldering and indoors since we were home for a few months.
We took any opportunity to get out and get back into it. With climbing it does take time to get back to your best, building up that strength, stamina and confidence again. It took a little time and we knew in only a few months it would be hard to get back up to our previous levels as with climbing those finger muscles take months to build back up and on longer routes your arms get tired quickly!
But we still kept going and managed to climb equal to our hardest level whilst bouldering and one grade lower in our trad and sport climbing efforts! It was great to get back to these levels and know that if we were home for good we would soon be climbing back to our best and pushing onwards in no time.
In some ways it makes us a bit sad to be leaving again after making this progress but it also marks my full recovery from my knee op and back to my normal level of climbing. Hopefully we can get back on the rock on this next leg of our travels and at least indoors a few times!
Finally running again and the final stages of recovering from my knee surgery
If you follow our blog you will know that last October I had major knee surgery and the process of recovery back to “normality” has been long, hard and at times frustrating! We left in April and at that time I was really only partially recovered. I was still in rehab and had only just done a bit of climbing on top rope, I still had a slight limp and running was a major obstacle I still hadn’t conquered. I just couldn’t get myself to do it, like there was a block in my mind to running. I still lacked the confidence and no matter how hard I worked or tried it just wasn’t happening, I had considered that those days of running might be behind me. But backpacking really was great for my rehab, it allowed me to focus on something else and therefore not think about my knee all the time, to just be more natural. Because of this over those 4 months I lost that limp and through the amount of hiking and walking we did built a lot of strength, confidence and fitness back up. I also pushed myself to do things because I really didn’t want it to be something that held me back. Paragiding, climbing mountains, canyoning and all sorts of adventures all added to that confidence.
So when I got home I knew there was a few things that I needed to overcome to feel like I had fully recovered. Climbing was a major one, getting out and doing it properly as I mentioned above. But running was probably, for me, more of a barometer of my recovery. I had always ran with knee straps and felt it was a risky activity for my knees. So I tentatively set off on a short and slow run from my parents house to see how far I got and how I did. After so long I wondered if I even remembered how to run, but finally after a few Bambi like metres I was like Forrest Gump breaking out of his braces and I was away! I completed the 2 mile route and felt great, even my fitness felt good. So I went out a few more times, ran faster and further. I got the idea to enter a 5k race in Liverpool to see how well I was doing. That went great and I felt fantastic.
So I bit the bullet and signed up for a 10k, I had this voice in the back of my mind that kept thinking about this distance and how much it would mean to me to get back up to it. Years ago before I started running properly I never thought I could ever run that far, but after months of training I did it. This time I only had a month! But I did it, I completed the Autumn Breaker 10k in Blackpool in just over an hour.
It wasn’t my fastest time, but it was one of my biggest achievements in such a short space of time and also allowed me to put a line under my operation and my recovery. For me it was, as with the level of climbing I got back up to, about me getting back to my “normal” self and being back to pushing myself not as someone in recovery but actually pushing myself to the best of my ability again. I have also definitely got back into running and really do want to step up to do a half marathon in the future, but probably when we are settled somewhere longer!
Doing a bit of work!
Well, coming home we also managed to get a bit of “proper” work for a couple of months. This meant that we could save up a little more for our trip but also it paid for our flights, visas, vaccines and general expenses of being at home too without us delving into our savings! But when the work dried up we didn’t mind spending more time with our Dooku!
Exploring a bit more of our hometown
After exploring so many new places you return home with new eyes, you have this thirst to see things that are new and different and even coming back to the familiar it seems that you can’t help but view it differently. Especially in the first few weeks walking around our home town, the city centre of Manchester and our village of Littleborough we felt we had the same intrigue of travellers.
It really allowed us to appreciate more the beauty and culture of where we are from and enjoy being home more. Instead it was refreshing to return home with this new perspective and fresh outlook, of course, we love to travel and see new places. We really fell in love with so many places on our journey and our deep love for Eastern Europe was only confirmed and compounded. But coming home I also realised just how much I loved Manchester and how proud I am to call this cool, fascinating and friendly place home as well as the village of Littleborough and the wild moors that surround it, a place where our heart will always be no matter where we end up!
We also went to the Olympic Parade through Manchester with 200,000 other people, what a great day and we also saw the GB team up close as well as going to the show at the town hall after!
Heading out to Liverpool, Bristol and Blackpool
Whilst we mostly spent our time at home during these 3 months, with Dooku and climbing in the local area we also got out and about a few times. We headed over to Liverpool for the Scouse 5k, but it is also where my brother lives and one of our favourite cities, so we took the opportunity to have another look around before we head off. Of course, Liverpool has nothing on Manchester (ha) but it is just one of those places that has something about it, the friendliness of our fellow northerners and the interesting architecture along the docks!
Again because of our runs we got to visit another cool place. Blackpool! For northern British kids this was the tacky beach resort we all came to, for the pleasure beach and the rides, for the illumination, the climb the tower and to have our fish and chips stolen by the seagulls!
I also had the opportunity to join my dad on a trip down south to Bristol. A city I had never been to and indeed an area of England I hadn’t visited either. I had the chance to visit Bristol City FC with my dad before I went off on my own to explore the city. I only had a day so I walked for miles and miles around this beautiful and historic city. I particularly loved the influence of the industrial revolution here, which is something I love about Manchester, our own city too. The innovations of Brunei with the amazing and awe inspiring Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge and the impressive Bristol harbour. I also searched down some Banksy’s, as it is the city he is from! It was nice to spend some time with my Dad too as the car ride is quite a few hours, we even went for a nice meal together!
We are heading back out travelling, this time for 18 months!! Catch up on the last 4 months of adventures here:
Where we went:
Monthly backpacking round up:
See all our our backpacking adventures:
Pin for later:
Latest posts by Nicola Hilditch-Short (see all)
- A guide to the isolated island of Coron and its many beautiful islands, Lagoons, wrecks and beaches, Philippines. - October 14, 2017
- How to get to the paradise island of Coron from El Nido and the rest of The Philippines - October 10, 2017
- El Nido island hopping: unbelievable turquoise waters to the awe inspiring Big Lagoon and hidden beaches of Palawan, Philippines! - October 7, 2017