Thursday, 29 March 2012

We're doing Global Gathering again!...

Global Gathering ...

2 days of pure carnage descends on Long Marston Airfield in Stratford every year. And we've been for the past 3 years! To say we have a love affair with Global would be an understatement. It's been a staple in our relationship since day one. And we love it!

Global Gathering draws 50,000 revelers from far and wide every year to see some epic dance artists such as Chase and Status, Armin van Buuren, Nero, Sub Focus, Gareth Emery, Annie Mac and loads more.

It was a tough decision to go this year. I had initially ruled out going to any festivals because of the amount we are trying to save each month. Standard tickets cost over £100 each and beers when your there are £4 so I normally budget £500 for the weekend. Think about how long that could keep us on the road for!

The line-up for this years Global Gathering was released on Thursday. As soon as the line-up video was out I received a barrage of texts. One in particular from Kerry who was desperate to go "one last time!". So I gave in. Check out why we go in this unnecessarily long video




£175 quid (per person) later and we are all booked up. And with VIP tickets this time! That means a more secure campsite and something which resembles a shower. Which after last year, both will be very much appreciated. We figured we are going 'one last time' so why not go out with a bang.

Even though it will cost a lot its always an epic weekend. The people are who really make it. And this year it seems there are loads of people going! Even my mate from the army has murmured that he's interested, so fingers crossed I can rave the night away with some decent pals.

Who else is a Festival Fiend? And whats your poison of choice? Heavy Metal? Dance? Folk? Buzz us over a comment below

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Full steam ahead!...

This is it! Get excited cos it's happening!

Following the My world is in your hands... post I made a couple of weeks ago I finally have a response.

The mortgage company were very easy to work with. Their response was swift and concise. (I think the 1.5% they load on my mortgage is their motivating factor!)

Housing associations on the other hand are another story all together. Don't get me wrong. They were quick to cash the cheque I sent them to pay the administrative charges but after that communication seemed to cease.

Phone call after phone call drew up nothing but dead ends. The lady I had addressed the permission to sublet form to was on maternity leave, yet her mail was not being read!

Then the forms had to be scanned and submitted to a different lady in the same office electronically. Unfortunately she was struck down with illness for a week and her colleagues were unable to log in to her section of the computer system.

Well I rang the number for the umpteenth time this morning and she was better! But out of the office :(

I pleaded that someone please phone her and ask that she contacts me today. 16:45 arrived and I made a last ditch attempt and rang again.

She was back! And had been all afternoon. However, she was now on the phone and couldn't take a call. I waited for 24 minutes with Shania Twain trying desperately to sooth my temper on the hold music.

We now have permission to sublet! The mortgage company are on board, the housing association are on board. I rang Jill at Pinnacle Letting Company and must have sounded like a small child. I was so relieved and excited all at the same time.

Some of our stuff has already gone through various means. Freecycle, as always, has come up trumps. I get most of my furniture from freecycle and now I've sent it back to the freecycle ether. Bonus being I don't have to hire a van to get rid of stuff!

One last push and I hope to be out by next week end. After throwing a feather duster around for a bit and drafting in a carpet cleaning friend I should be ready for pictures to be taken and the property finally on the rental market by the end of the month.

Emotions are running high at the moment. Relief, anticipation, excitement, fear ... Everything. But it's all moving forward!

Have you ever let out a property? Or had to struggle against office protocol? Leave a comment!



Tuesday, 6 March 2012

No more Couchsurf hosting...

I'm afraid to say that today is the first time in my 2 year couchsurfing career that my status is set to 'Not right now'.

I'm a huge fan of couchsurfing. There is too much hate in the world. The media doesn't help. Always reporting about abductions, murders and more. But not everyone is bad. And Couchsurfing.org is a fine example of humanity at its best.

Couchsurfing in its most basic form is a hospitality exchange, social networking site. It allows 'guests' (or Surfers) to search through a vast database of 'hosts' who open their home and their lives up to others.

Usually the length, terms and nature of the guests stay is arranged and mutually agreed upon before hand over the internet. Every message sent through the site is saved for security reasons.

Adam with Clayton from Vancouver, BC
The guest and host meet up at a pre-arranged meeting point and the host then welcomes the guest in to their home. No money is exchanged and the scheme tries to promote the thinking of couchsurfing not being simply a free bed, but a way to immerse ones self in to the local culture.

So it's win win on both sides. As a host I have had 5 groups of people stay. And these included a group of 3 lads, two Portuguese and one German, who had their flight at Gatwick delayed untill the next day. They sent me a couch request, I picked them up on the way home from work, they bought the beers and I drank the beers.

Kerry with Emily from Tampa, FL
Clayton stayed with us for 2 nights and enjoyed many a pint in the pub! We all drove up to Croydon to try and find a second hand motorbike so he could ride through the rest of Europe. Unfortunately it seemed registering it in a foreign persons address proved difficult!

So there's two aspects of Couchsurfing that I love. The free accommodation but also the ability to mix with the culture if you want. Most couchsurfing experiences often include a home cooked meal (even though I've always taken guests out!).

As I've only hosted I've only been able to experience the one side of the situation. I've very much enjoyed meeting all of the new, and extremely interesting people. Some of which are doing a lot of things that are similar to my own. Michael, for instance, was cycling from London to Portsmouth where he then took a ferry to Santander and cycled across Europe to visit a friend in Germany.

So now that I've hung up my Couchsurfing 'Hosting' career it's time to start the 'Surfing' career. I think my references show that I'm a trustworthy guy and so we look forward to couchsurfing for A LOT of our Vagabonding adventure.

If you want to become Couchsurfing friends with us you can find our couchsurfing page here. It's free to join, however, its not for everyone. Having trust in humanity is a big part! But give it a try.

Have you couchsurfed? Or hosted? Let us know how you got on in the comments below

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Train me up Scotty!...

The first 5 - 6 months of our Vagabonding adventure will (hopefully) be a slow introduction to travel and adventure.

Kerry and I have been skiing/snowboarding for the last two seasons, but we always feel that a week is never enough. We love nothing better than that feeling at the beginning of the week when you grab your gear and head off to the lift!

So we have decided that we will try and start vagabonding up in the snowy French Alps. And be gainfully employed!

Applications for chalet hosts are taken all year round and in preparation we booked on the Natives Chalet Cookery Course last night.

The course helps to prepare hopeful chalet hosts with, not only general cooking skills, but more specific tasks and problems that occur on a Ski Season. From the differences in cooking at altitude (Water may not boil at some heights!) to laying a table or cooking a fabulous afternoon cake. All the while making sure the work is done efficiently and effectively to enable more time on the slopes without compromising service.

With no official service work (Waiting tables, bar work, hospitality etc) on our CV's we both felt that we would need to complete a chalet course to prepare us for the potential season ahead. Having stayed in a Ski Chalet before we kind of know what to expect but I'm sure when it comes down to the nitty gritty we will thank the course instructors after!

We are now £1000 lighter and will be taking a week out of work in July to spend the week at St Teresa's School in Dorking. The course is instructed by past Seasonaires and if I know anything about seasonaires its that the evenings will, undoubtedly, be ladled with mulled wine and Camel cigarettes.

Natives also offer a very good support system to help us gain the vital chalet host place we are looking for and will help with everything from CV structuring to introductions to recommended companies.

We've now got a mini Holiday booked which will hopefully be useful and fun as well as us gaining a new 'string to our bow' as such.

Have you done a Ski season? Any tips? Comment below :)



Thursday, 1 March 2012

My world is in your hands...

Not all letting agents are bad guys after all!

I had a few agents round earlier this week with mixed impressions. Some just didn't seem interested in what I had to say. As if they were going 'through the motions' with it all. This isn't a good way to start considering how scared I was about letting her out. I think anybody would be pretty scared about letting complete strangers come and stay in your house ... or more aptly your home.

One evening I was minding my own, trawling the internet with the obligatory Facebook page open as the first tab. I was flitting back and forth reading travel blogs, twitter posts and generally surfing when a notification popped up on Facebook. An old friend had messaged me a whole ream of paragraph upon paragraph of text!

He went on to say that he didn't usually read blogs but mine took his fancy, he had travelled for 6 months in his late teens and 'loved the word Vagabonding' (I do too!) he really enjoyed my writing (which I think is terribly lumpy!) and it was a big compliment to hear that he was eager for more.

Then the surprise! He had worked in lettings and was willing to exchange some advise and information in exchange for me continuing my blog (more compliments). But then he noticed that his firm were already coming round to meet me. Not just his firm but his Mum!

Jill from The Pinnacle Letting Company was the last of the agents I'd scheduled in for that day and I was pretty on edge after the other firms performance but Jill was brilliant. We spent a good 45 minutes chatting and discussing all of the questions and points I had. It felt like nothing was too silly or complex to ask and I knew there and then that, however hard the others had tried (or not!), I would definitely leave my flat in Jill's care. 

She was able to give a brilliant rate and a massive flood of relief washed over me as she left. It was on! Any doubt I had about letting my flat out had gone. The race has started! I hope to have tenants in there by 1st May 2012. Only 2 months! And there is still mountains of things to do.

Jill emailed over the proposed Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (which the other agents still haven't done 2 days later!) and all of the other documents so I could compile a 'Permission to Let' proposal to both the Housing Association and Mortgage lender. And here I am, knackered but every i has been crossed and every t dotted. All I need now is a couple of stamps (The one thing you miss most from your Mums purse when you leave home!) and I am done! 

Then this whole thing is in someone else's hands. I have done my best. Put together comprehensive proposals, sourced the best letting agency in Horsham if not Sussex and paid (admin fees for Housing Association) for the privilege of them to make the decision.

Either the Mortgage company or the Housing Association could say no. The only option then is to sell her, which I'm really not keen on. But there we go ... C'est la vie.

As always your comments are welcomed. Are you entering in to the world of landlordship? Or are you planning on a Round The World, Long Term Travel, Vagabonding adventure? Or even a long weekend in Skegness? Leave a comment