From, my personal blog at NicolaCairncross.com | 11 May 2016
My “Own It” podcast co-host Judith Morgan has been nudging me to write my “Laptop Lifestyle” dream blog post over the last couple of days. We’re running a blogging competition for our Virtual Summit and have to show willing even though, obviously, we can’t win! Judith’s own Dream Laptop Lifestyle post is predictably excellent, well, she does love to write!
I’ve been resisting.
Actually I’ve been resisting blogging generally actually for the last couple of years. I felt like I’d burned out on the blogging front, having done a weekly newsletter and at least a weekly blog post if not more, on The Business Success Factory since 2010 and previously, on The Money Gym website from 1998-1999.
(O yes, we were blogging back then, before the name (or the software) had even been invented, in the form of archive ezines, building up multi-page websites with 100% original relevant content, naturally seeded with key phrases that told Google what our sites were all about).
Since we started the “Own It!” podcast and I’ve been outsourcing a lot of my admin, my blog and from there, my own social media platforms fill naturally with content derived from the various sections of that podcast. Specifically the podcast episodes, the transcribed “Client Challenge of the Week” and “Business Words of the Week”
But I do feel like I need to show willing, by joining in to write a post about my own Dream Laptop Lifestyle.
So here goes….
Except I haven’t got one right now (sound of nails on screechy blackboard!)
Here’s how it went down.
The Mani Peninsula, Greece
Once upon a time, there was a young(ish) couple called Nicola & Irving, who lived in London and worked hard and had fun but yearned for a “getaway” holiday. Irving loved the Greek Islands but Nicola didn’t like the sound of the water shortages in the late afternoons!
They saw an article in the Observer on Sunday, about a little known part of Greece called the Mani Peninsula. Famous only for having been the part of Greece that produced Kalamata olives, where the Spartans came from and due to the fiercely independent are war-like nature of the inhabitants, never having been invaded by anyone, from Genghis Khan down to Hitler!
There was only one picture, of a grizzled old man sitting outside a taverna, but the article promised unspoiled Greece, where tourism hadn’t leaked it’s spoil, where the houses were no more than two floors high, where you could still get a good traditional beef stifado.
Irving and I went and spent an amazing two weeks there, starting in Kardamyli where Patrick Leigh Fermor lived and wrote “Mani: Travels in the South Peloponnese” and tracing a path from village to village every couple of days, using the local bus for transportation.
That was an adventure by itself, as there were no such things as bus-stops in those days, there were only two buses a day going in each direction (very very early in the morning and around lunchtime), the bus timetable was impenetrable and the locals instructions on where to wait and what time to arrive to catch it, even more so.
Add to that it was August, boiling hot, we had rather large, heavy bags (not the wheelie kind either) and you might be forgiven for thinking I was mad to agree to this. I thought I was mad to agree to this. Experience of a lifetime and my first taste of independent travel.
We went back about 10 times over the next 15 years. We absolutely loved it. Our children Phoebe & Nelson learned to swim in Kalogria Bay. We took anyone who would come too!
I’ve always wanted to buy a house and live here, that’s been my dream ever since.
Close But Spain Won Out
We got close in 2004, when I’d bought the hotel in Worthing “no money down”; my Dad and Eileen were living in it and running it and my wealth coaching business was flying, having launched my “signature programme” and able to host my own workshops in my own hotel.
Irving and I packed the kids up and headed for Greece for a month before moving, against my better judgement, to Andalucia in Spain to see where we most wanted to live. Greece got my vote every time but Irving pointed out it would be better for Phoebe and Nelson to learn Spanish than Greek, a fact I couldn’t argue with (but wanted to).
The desire to live there lingered on…
You know when you meditate and they tell you to imagine yourself in a happy, safe place…well, mine was floating in the sea at the wonderfully stone & seaweed free Kalogria Beach, looking up at the Taygetos mountain range, often with snow on it’s peak even as the water is warm enough to swim in.
When you were asked to imagine your ‘ideal Tuesday’ from start to finish, where were you, what could you see and hear, who were you with, what could you smell etc.
Well, I could feel warm sunshine on my skin as I pottered in my garden waiting for the next batch of guests, I could hear cicadas and the happy cries of children playing in the shallows of the lapping waves of the three idyllic bays of Stoupa, I could smell bougainvillea mixed with souvlaki and chicken on the grill at the Five Brothers Taverna and taste the rough country rose wine, served so charmingly in frozen pink metal jugs. I could even hear the contented cluck of the chickens I would undoubtedly have in my garden by then.
Those were my ultimate dreams for a very long time.
Further Away Than Ever (Or Was It?)
In 2010, everything came crashing down around my ears, when the Money Gym had to close so suddenly due to the recession AND a credit crunch at the same time. Steve had moved out previously, then the kids had to go live with their Dad, Irving, because I suddenly had no income, no house, no car, no direction, no future, no clue what to do next.
Sarah offered a bed in her house, the problem was, there wasn’t one. Me sharing hers would wear thin very quickly, I knew.
Stoupa was the very place I ran to, on the 18 February 2010, by way of a cheap flight on EasyJet then 17 euro coach ride from Athens across the Peloponnese. I knew you can rent a house in Stoupa, out of season, all-in, very very cheaply indeed.
The goal was to stay for a couple of weeks initially to ‘reset my mind’ which drew out into a couple of months as I learned to be happy in my own company but my mind refused to be reset as easily as that.
But I discovered that it’s all very well living in paradise but if the people you love aren’t there, paradise it ain’t.
So I came home and started to piece things together again but I longed to go back when my life was put back together again, a process that took a rather prolonged few years. That says more about my state of mind than anything else, my confidence was shot to pieces.
Exactly five years later, I was so happy that I was able to take Steve to eat at my favourite fish restaurant, the world famous Taki’s at Limini Bay (pictured below), before he died so suddenly of a heart attack just 6 months later.
Spooky, Spooky Weirdness
In the meantime, backtrack to around 2005/2006 when I’d told a friend, Yvonne, all about Stoupa and shown her some pictures of the place.
After 2010, while I wasn’t in a position to employ her again yet, Yvonne had holiday’d very enjoyably in Stoupa several times with her closest girlfriend, who turned out to have quite a lot of money, even more so when her late husband sadly died and left her some investment properties.
They, like many people before them, had been dreaming of buying a holiday home in Stoupa – but now they were in a position to do so!
Yvonne announced on her next visit that they had, on their last visit, bought a house in Stoupa!
Not only that, but it was a lovely little house not 3 doors down from the one Irving and I and our two kids had rented for the month when we stayed there back in 2004.
And it had three bedrooms, unlike many in Stoupa that only had two, for holiday rentals only needed the two. They bought all the furniture and fittings from the outgoing owner too, so they had a turnkey, ready to use, idyllic holiday home in my very favourite village.
Yvonne announced that they weren’t going to rent it commercially but that I could go there whenever I wanted for a nominal sum to cover costs only.
Not only did this little house fit my needs perfectly but now, I didn’t have to buy it or look after it myself! The house is just out of sight on this picture, but this is the one Irving and I stayed in when we lived there for a month.
I can visit whenever I want, several times a year and, in fact, I took Steve and Phoebe there last year, we had a wonderful, wonderful time.
The only thing it’s lacking is broadband but I think Yvonne is sorting that out soon, as while Yvonne doesn’t need it, her friend’s relatives are requesting it apparently.
My Original Laptop Lifestyle Dream Is Gone!
So what do I do now?
What do I dream of now, when I think about the laptop lifestyle.
I know I don’t want to live in Shoreham full time, especially as my two get ever more independent. Phoebe is quite a mummy’s girl, lives round the corner and around at my little cottage a lot at the moment, whenever she’s not working or hanging out with her mates, but she’s off to Bali for a month soon, followed by Ibiza for two weeks. I only see Nelson once or twice a week as he’s so busy with college, his job and his social life. And that’s just as it should be.
I could divide my time between Shoreham and Stoupa I suppose, with a few work trips and ‘purposeful holidays’ (like painting or cooking in Italy) thrown in but I’ve got a bit of a taste for more travel recently.
I did quite a lot at the beginning of the year, thankfully before Steve died so suddenly in March, including cruising in the Caribbean on the Internet Marketers Cruise, then driving across the USA in open topped Mustangs back in February, then visiting Manly Beach, Sydney for the SuperFast Business Event.
Could I Become A Digital Nomad?
I’m quite interested in the Digital Nomad movement although Justin & Chaunna’s tales of the indoor Bali wildlife have put me off a bit. I hate insects and coming face to face with super-large Huntsman s-word type creatures in particular would scare the living daylights out of me.
Ay, there’s the rub, I’m quite a timid solo traveller. I don’t mind when it’s 5* hotels and known quantities like that, but independant travel, on my own? Not for me.
I’m not like one of my mentoring students Jaqueline Butler who LOVES it. So much so she’s created a website – WeGoSolo.world – to enable her to meet up with other travellers for dinner and drinks while she travels solo.
So it makes sense to look for things where you are not only a bit more looked after, but not solo travelling necessarily.
There’s one thing that sounds quite interesting, RemoteYear which is a year of living as a Digital Nomad as one of 75 people, who move from place to place globally en masse, but you have your own private room. You have to commit for a year though but that would force you to stick it out. A bit like “The Island With Bear Grylls” but much more comfortable. Take a look, if only to see one of the most beautiful simple websites I’ve come across in a while.
Just reading their About page and the travels by all the people involved in RemoteYear made me feel deeply inadequate but I have to remember that when I grew up in a working class background in Worthing, home of the national retiree, the only way most people thought they could travel the world was to become an Air Hostess!
Then there’s the very interesting concept of ROAM.co, described as “a network of global communal living spaces that provide everything you need to feel at home and be productive the moment you arrive. Strong, battle-tested wifi, a co-working space, chef’s kitchen and a diverse community”. You can book a ROAM space for a flexible week to a month or more, it’s very competitive against having a home base and and they are expanding their locations fast, but encourage people to stay for a while to build community.
Perhaps I should start with combining enjoyable work trips to events with ‘purposeful holidays’ learning how to paint or cook, while also going to Stoupa more often?
The first place to start might be blocking out holiday times on my year planner, like Chris Barrow (interviewed for the Own It! Summit this week) does at the beginning of every year.
I could do this now as I’m designing my business to run without me at least occasionally, building a strong team led by my sister Sarah, who’s proving to be a stalwart in learning how to do Facebook Ads the ClicksAndLeads way, while caring reassuringly deeply about customer service.
OK, I’m open to ideas on how to move forward with this.