Friday, August 31, 2012

The save the Mundo campaign continues, and so much more....

The save the Mundo campaign is in full swing, in an effort to add more to the fund I have ordered some trinkets and beads with which I plan to create unique bicycle charms for Good Luck and Bling!  I can't furnish pictures yet as shipping takes forever, but I know they will be a fun addition to the blog. They may arrive too late to actually sell before we move, but being light and compact I thought I could easily tuck them in the suitcases.

I've been selling lots and lots of stuff online, which really keeps me busy, one wouldn't think you could collect as much stuff as we have in such a short time, considering we moved here not 3 years ago, with barely enough stuff to fill our vehicle at the time. I love selling stuff, as the offspring of a south Londoner I have inherited it along with the "gift of the gab" as my mother calls it.

Basically when we decided to move I got a pen and paper, walked around the house and did a rough estimate of how much money we had sitting around in the way of pots and pans, sofas, books and so on...calculated how much we'd need to move, looked at the difference and decided a little wheeling and dealing could probably fill in the gap, or get us pretty close to it. All my life I've been around the second-hand trade and it has proved to be great way to earn money for me, it just happens naturally. I was the youngest of four children, with a Mother that took us to car-boot sales and auctions as children, now as an adult I only buy used stuff unless we're talking underwear, of course, oh and bikes apparently.

When we moved here it was out of necessity and need, and I knew I didn't want to stay long, I've been yearning for home forever and have a hard time veiling my dislike for this conservative small town. I knew we didn't have the extra income to stick money in a savings account, as a one income household we had made a choice to not pay someone to raise our child, but the cost to that is we don't enjoy fancy restaurant meals or the latest and greatest cell phones of the week. What we do enjoy is time together and shopping at yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores for bargains, things we need, that are a necessity, but that can be sold at more than what we will pay for them, even if we use them for a few years.

There are so many positives to this way of life that even if we were millionaires we would still shop the same way, for one we're doing the planet a service by keeping less packaging from being used and in keeping another used item from being tossed in a landfill. Secondly, we're teaching our child a set of ideals and a trade which he can always fall back on if life throws him a curve ball. Thirdly, when we move or sell off our junk we generally make a profit, and sometimes a pretty decent profit, which is more than can be said for most people who sell their stuff at a yard sale. Lastly, we get to enjoy used stuff, interesting things, little unique items that decorate our space and fill it with more interest than can ever be purchased at a big box store, and AGAIN, I must reiterate, when we are done with them, we turn a profit!

So, to all those people who tell me they can't save money and can't possibly afford to move or travel, just change the way to buy and you will save up a little cash in no time. Of course you can't get attached to things when you live like this, you can't put sentiment into objects, they are just objects after all, when you die you can have objects or experiences, and I want experiences. I want experiences because to me they are the truest form of education, more than can be learned in a book. I don't know that I've ever even mentioned this, and maybe it's because at times I have found it embarrassing, but the truth is my mother was a bit of a gypsy and, well so many other things, but basically she took me out of school at 6 years old and with the exception of a few awkward terms in the British public school system I never went back. She didn't home-school me either, but that is what I was instructed to tell people, rather she just bought me any book I wanted and took me and my siblings on never ending quests for the perfect place to call home, which resulted in us never actually having one. 

This is what happens when Jack gets involved in watching Sesame Street, I get to ramble, I hope I haven't bored you all to tears!

We're still hoping to be blessed with a little more help with the Mundo, everyone has been so amazingly supportive and it really helps.  I had the unexpected expense of having to buy a new laptop, I say unexpected, but really it has been an obvious expense waiting to happen, as this one has more issues than we can fix now, and some that the repair guy just shook his head at.  So I got a used (of course!) laptop from eBay, which should arrive in a week or so, my greatest fear was that I would be left computer-less and therefore unable to blog, so it became a necessity in my mind to secure a laptop that can carry me through the next year or so. If you can help throw a few bucks in the pot I will send you out a little bicycle charm when they are made up, of course if you have already helped you should send me your address so I can mail you one too! So much genuine appreciation for you all, cheers! youaintgotjack(at)yahoo(dot)com

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ask and you will receive!

It has been a few days now since we announced we were getting ready to sell the beloved Mundo. The responses we have received really helped cement a fighting spirit within us, that we do need to keep this journey moving forward completely and not let circumstances force us to part ways with something that has been and will continue to be (if all works out) a huge asset to our family. The outpouring of generosity (or you could call it love, or community spirit too) has been so utterly wonderful, beyond words really. A huge thank you to everyone who has chipped in so far to help keep the Mundo as part of our lives, and therefore this blog. The Mundo is far from being 100% off the chopping block, but we have a few more months so I'm hoping we can keep working towards making the ends meet. If you can or have helped out with a donation to the "Save the Mundo" campaign as it's been called, rest assured that if we end up not raising enough I will return all the funds in the paypal account.

When I'm talking to people about our move they assume that I must have family in England, as why else would we go, when I tell them we actually don't have any relatives that we are in contact with, they ask us if we will be lonely, obviously a totally valid question. I think there will be a lengthy period or readjusting to the British way of life, but I think we'll be too busy finding work and learning our way around to really have time to notice we're on our own, and also, as we travel with bicycles we take our community with us. I now know people all over the world that I feel a kinship with, and that I take with me anywhere I have an internet connection. 

We are so excited to move, it is such an adventure, a little intimidating at times but also it's a huge relief that things like healthcare will be available, and Cornish pasties too of course. Some of the other things I look forward to are far less explainable, like the air and smells of England. It's all very romanticized in my memory of course, images of hedgerows, small windy roads and little pubs whose very bones are permeated with the smell of good beer, but my inner sense also keenly remembers the sheer amount of rubbish/trash I saw at one particular railway station in Birmingham, it was knee deep!

In the spirit of ask and you shall receive, I have another favor to ask of my readers- If you happen to live in the southern part of England (draw an imaginary, fuzzy line between Gloucester and Colchester) or know anyone that does, could you please keep an eye out for the following:

Wanted to rent starting mid to late October:

1-2 bedroom, preferably partial or fully furnished, but not necessary. 
Can be small and compact, preferably economical
2 adults and 1 little boy
Ideally located in a town or easily accessible to town of no less than approximately 80,000 people (more the merrier)
Must have a secure spot to store two larger bikes (no third floor flats, unless they have a lift, etc.)
Non-smoking household, enjoy the greener things in life, pretty low key really (boring).

We can provide 2-3 months rent up front, excellent prior rental references. Currently, as you all know, I'm a stay at home Mum and Kyle is in banking and we both have a steady history of employment and are generally go getter types.

The email for correspondence and the "Save the Mundo" PayPal fund is youaintgotjack(AT)yahoo(DOT)com 

Thank you for your support and friendship!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Always trust your bike community to have your back. Always.

Always trust your bike community to have your back. Always.

Do bikes just attract decent people? I don't know, but it sure seems like it. Maybe it just comes down to people who like bikes see beyond the surface and notice the details between the lines, much like when we're riding, how we notice the little things beside the road that car drivers would never notice.

Here are the reasons I am selling the Mundo:
  • It costs money to fly or ship the bikes and the mundo is a big bike, costing more than average.
  • If we sell the Mundo it enables us to have a little more grocery and rent money for the period between paychecks, something we really need.
  • Once we've landed, if we fly with our bikes they inhibit our ability to take public transportation.

I have been encouraged by many friends to reach out for help at this time, to not sell the Mundo but rather to ask for help in the costs associated with getting it to England. Would you help us?

If we could keep our bikes not only would they obviously improve our lives just by their very existence, but also they would enable us to have an easier time finding work, getting Jack to school, getting healthier, even aiding us in earning money, but mostly this journey is far from finished and this doesn't feel like how things should end.

Of course, taking the Mundo means we won't free up that extra money towards living expenses but I am seriously considering doing an art sale or possibly even a car wash to help raise some funds to give us a little more cushion and room to breath.

Ultimately I can't offer much more than my sincere thanks for all that has been given to me here within the cyber pages of my blog, but maybe this time a little hand written note of thanks would be an acceptable sign of my appreciation?

If you feel like you could help us in some way or with a small contribution to the fund,  please send me an email for directions or if you prefer you can use PayPal and our email address, which is youaintgotjack(at)yahoo(dot)com

I would never have dreamed of writing this post had I not been moved to, by my dear friends around the world who encourage me and support me, I have been told I should ask and I will receive, you know who you are. Much love and gratitude that my limited words will never be able to express fully.

The Yuba Boda Boda - 2 weeks left!

Because I need a little positivity after the last post....only 2 weeks until the Yuba Boda Boda hits the streets!

Regretably Offered For Sale - Yuba Mundo

There will always be things you part with along the way that beat you up, as our journey continues the things I part with that will truly hurt will include this bike. It's been a life changer, a steady reliable friend and I honestly love it, I will cry when we part.

With that being said, I know that I have a new bike arriving in the next few weeks and that it encompasses everything I need and want in a bike, but this steed pictured here, has served me well, it has altered the path of my life and in doing so has made it necessary for us to part. I don't think we'd even be moving right now if I hadn't gotten the boost in confidence this bike has given me.

There are numerous reasons that make it impractical for the Mundo to stay in our family, but in the end it all comes back to finances. We can't afford to keep it because it adds too much to our travel costs, and our budget is literally so tight that I can't justify the extra costs of keeping it and not freeing up a little cash instead, and trust me I have tried, and tried, and tried. It's not even that the money we receive from the sale will provide a cushion for survival, I'm not sure we'd be able to move without selling it, we literally need every penny.

We've decided to sell it as a complete set-up, I'm going to buy another child's seat the other end and recreate the sun-shade / rain cover on the Boda Boda (which will NEVER leave my company). I thought about taking the seat and canopy with me, but I felt like it would be a shame to dismantle such an amazing vehicle for change. I would love nothing more than to see another parent and child/children enjoy this bike and let it take them to new places, I want to share the love of the Yuba Mundo! 

Yuba Mundo
Running Boards (not pictured, brand new, never installed)
Go-Getter Pannier Bag
Stand Alone Kick Stand
Peanut Shell Seat with Sun Shade set-up and Rain Cover
Cateye Computer
Original tires with thorn proof liners
With original saddle (not pictured)


Contact me at youaintgotjack(at)yahoo(dot)com for more details.
Shipping costs are not covered in this price.

(STOP- read this post to see an update on the Yuba Mundo >> UPDATE)

Clicking my mouse on "publish" for this post is painful.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Moving in the right direction

It's just past 5am and a bout of insomnia has left me with some precious me time with which to update my blog, it seems these days have me scrambling to find time and while it's great that I'm busy, it's not great that my posts have been sparse. Maybe it's just the reality of the moment and I should just be okay with it for now.

I asked for help and ideas, and received so many that replying to each one has left me overwhelmed. I generally reply to each and every comment, but my last post may be one that takes a while to catch up with, I know everyone will understand!

Amongst all the ideas, a few really shone for me, one of them included the consideration of hiring a driver with a van, almost a chauffeur if you will. I would never have dreamed it would be an affordable option, but a message passed to me via Facebook, promised it to be. So we looked into it and sure enough for under two hundred pound we can hire someone to drive us and all our gear to just about anywhere within our search area. When you consider a van hire alone is more than that, it really is a bargain! I thought it was some kind of scam to start with and researched various companies just to be sure, and yes, it's true you can hire a guy to stand at the airport with a little sign with your name on it, he'll retrieve and load your luggage, he'll pay for the petrol/gas and deal with the congestion while you relax and check out the scenery and best of all you won't pay much more than the cost of 4 train tickets.

Of course two hundred pounds still equates to about twice that in dollars, and as this is the world's most  frugal international move we are still hoping to find another way to pull it all together, basically the way I see it, is the more money we save now the larger our cushion is until we start receiving paychecks in Sterling, or should I say paycheques? My U.S. based blogger account is convinced that's a typo.

I don't generally delve into much detail here about my health, or lack thereof. I know I've mentioned that my cycling adventure started partly due to my quest for better health, but the other side that I tend to keep to myself, is that I have some serious health issues that have gone unchecked for years, as I, like many, many Americans do not have health insurance. I know, silly me, I spend all our "extra" money making ends meet, but that's another story. My point is, I really need to see a Doctor and I thought I should share that because many people seem confused by our rush to get there quickly. Of course it's not just that, we have been dreaming of this move for years and had planned that 2014 would be THE year, but recently some new health issues, or rather old ones that have gotten worse really took hold and it has become apparent that something is definitely wrong with me. Plus, I yearn and I mean literally long for until I'm sick to my stomach, my homeland. I love my fair island and although England has it's own set of problems, there at least I can deal with them over a good cup of tea and some fish and ships, or perhaps a pasty.

A few readers have mentioned I should have a "support me" type button on my page, is it okay to ask for help? I've been assured it is, but I still feel awkward about it, but also honored that people would even consider helping us. I'm unsure, so maybe I shall include my email address in this post, and then if by chance someone can offer us assistance in anyway they can email us and we can make arrangements that way, plus it's always nice to hear from a friendly face. youaintgotjack(at)yahoo(dot)com I did consider putting our street address, but decided even if we are moving, that might not be too bright!

And so the little one awakes, and it's off to work for me. I have been selling items online lately and am amazed at the amount of stuff we've managed to accumulate in the 2 years that we've lived here, I'm truly excited to own nothing more than what I can fit in a few suitcases, and some bikes of course!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Your thoughts and ideas are needed-

I know we've all moved before, we all know it sucks, yada yada...but I've never moved on such a limited budget and an international move at that. There's only one way to achieve this challenge, and that is to sell absolutely everything we own to cover the costs of flights and passports, and hopefully cover about 3 months of rent, utilities and groceries. Not only does selling everything raise money, but it also eliminates the need to ship things and therefore makes the move itself cheaper. Stuff is stuff, its replaceable, but life and experience within it are priceless, and I can't help but think this is the beginning of a better chapter for me and my little family.

One of the big hurdles we are trying to overcome at present is how to take our bikes with us and it truly is driving me crazy trying to decide what to do. There are limited options, they include- Shipping the bikes in freight, which takes a while, but is the cheapest unattended shipping method, although at $400-$600 for EACH bike, it eats up way too much money for us. That is a months rent in England when you take into account the exchange rate and a thousand dollars just doesn't go very far back home.

The second option is to have the bikes fly with us, which is pretty simple for the flight part of the trip and relatively inexpensive (under $200 for both bikes, sometimes free). The problem arises when we land and have to claim all our luggage and get it on the Shuttle to Paddington Station, it seems from what I've read that unless the bikes are out of the box we can't take them on the Shuttle, as in their boxed state they are too big. So the first issue is- two tired and jet lagged people (with a toddler) have to put together two bikes in an airport (with a toddler), need I say more? Then, we have to hope that we don't get stopped at the Shuttle with the Mundo, because its huge and takes up a lot of room we could be charged for seating tickets for it and the Boda Boda (according to the shuttles website), or we could be outright refused passage, which would mean we would be stranded at the airport. IF we make it past the Shuttle, we get to Paddington Station, now imagine- we have two unboxed bikes, 6 suitcases, plus hand luggage, stroller, car seat, are two people going to handle all that in one of the busiest places on earth, and get it all on a train without potentially losing a bike, a suitcase...a toddler in the rush and bustle of London?

If you've never been to London or another equally busy city I don't think you can imagine how incredibly busy it is. Put it this way, when my family first arrived in the U.S. we were completely convinced it must be a holiday of some kind as Los Angeles was so quite (it was just a regular day in Southern California).  London is a busy city on it's own timetable and you either keep up or get out. Of course it's all prospective, and I may be wrong, but I think it will be a small miracle if we manage to pull it off without losing something like our minds or luggage. Of course we could rent a van at the airport, which I thought was a brilliant plan until I realized I don't have a license and we would therefore need Kyle to drive, something which is a bit daunting for Kyle whose never driven in a REALLY busy city, on the "wrong" side of the road, in a box van to top it off!  Oh and even that costs about $700 to rent for a one way trip.

What should we do people?
Sell one or both bikes and buy new ones (the Mundo is the bigger problem in regards to size)?
Fly them both and hope we pull it off with the aid of porters?
Leave the bikes with relatives and hope we can save up enough money to ship them at some point?

The other side to this is we're not planning on buying a car so bikes would be an awesome addition to our lives and a necessity if you ask me. Finding a job will be a lot easier with a bike and we had thought about starting a bike based business once we've gotten settled- the Mundo is a key contributor in that plan and we feel it really could be a great little business for us.

Plus, my challenge is not over, I do not intend to stop now, in fact this is just the beginning of a new chapter and I can't think of a more wonderful country to enjoy a bike in. I really stubbornly want our bikes with us, I love our bikes and honestly I feel pretty loyal to Yuba, I don't want any other bike, damn it!  But I'm at a loss as to how to budget the move around them. Maybe I should start considering doing a charitable car wash "Help me ship my bike to England"....but it doesn't have the same ring to it as sending a class-load of kids to an African Orphanage, does it?

End of rant.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The beauty of the moment

I feel like I should approach this update in the way a Catholic approaches the confessional..."forgive me blog for I have sinned, it has been over a week since my last post," and oh what a week it has been. If things haven't been busy enough with plans to move, things to sell, papers and passports to order, to top it off my darling son decided this would be the best week ever to decide to start potty training, and whilst that is an awesome and exciting thing in itself, adding a bathroom pit-stop every 15 minutes of the day is somewhat exhausting. There have been times when I've barely cleaned and dressed him from the last trip, when he proudly announces "Mamma POTTY!" 

Example #1 being that since typing the one paragraph you see above, we have made two trips to the bathroom, had one timeout for yelling (Jack was yelling, not me, although I would love to be put in timeout, if it means I can sit quietly by myself and contemplate my actions), I have been told I'm very behind on laundry by Kyle and I have poured the better part of a cup of coffee over myself...and it's not even eight o'clock in the morning.

That being said, I need this blog, I need it more than ever, I feel my sanity slipping these days and my focus waning. I haven't ridden my bike in a week now, the longest it has sat since it's arrival, in my mind I have to keep telling myself that I have not been very well and that it's probably for the best, as dizzy spells and bicycle riding don't go hand in hand, but then I also feel like maybe I wouldn't feel so bad if I did manage to prioritize myself and get a nice ride in, after-all I have never felt worse for a ride on my bike. But my health has really been on a decline in the last few months, I don't like to discuss it as it makes me feel weak, and it's far less than positive, which is not something I want my blog to be focused on.

So let me dig through this pile of stress and find the real beauty of the moment, and that is- We really are moving, we are already "moving", with each day finding us closer to our goal of an October departure. I have longed for this moment for the last 20 years, and I'm so excited that this dream is finally coming true. I'm excited for my little family to experience this adventure and pleased that I feel our prospects will be greater for it. When I think about all the things that could go wrong I remind myself that at the very least "it will be an adventure" and really that's what it's all about!