Susan and I were in touch this year because I bought a carpet bag from her. I have a vast collection of different carpet bags but my ‘professional’ carpet bag for work had fallen to pieces and the Victorian Traveler fitted the bill as a replacement. However, then Susan asked me to write a piece for her blog, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. So I took a look at her other ‘interesting people’ and found they had questionnaires to fill in. ‘That’s not fair!’ I thought, ‘It’s much easier having a questionnaire!’ Then my inner voice kicked in and said ‘Get it together, woman. You’re a writer. Write.’
So I went back to the original email and it said ‘I think people would love to learn about where you live, your travels, your likes and dislikes, actually, you could probably write about your blog, as it seems to encompass so many great stories and thoughts.’ Hmmph. I’ll start there then:
Hi! I’m H and, at the moment, I’m homeless.
Yes, H stands for something but I’ve been called H for 40 odd years so the ‘something’ is lost in the mists of time and can only be found on official documents like my beloved collection of stamp-filled passports. I’m homeless because I like wandering and you’ve caught me at the beginning of one of my wandering phases. The easiest way to describe it is ‘semi-retired’. I have a tendency to work until I have some money then I leave my day job and go off into the world having adventures.
Much as I love the British Isles; the history, the architecture, the wildlife and the countryside; it’s a small country with millions of people living on top of one another. It’s extremely expensive and ruled by a millennium of monarchy, an outdated dwindling church, an amoral media and a parliament of scandal-ridden politicians. On top of that, people don’t appreciate what they’ve got; especially the National Health Service, the BBC and personal freedom. The British also drink an awful lot of tea.
I was in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago and I went to visit a tea plantation up in the hills of Nuwara Eliya. They thought it was hilarious that the majority of British people make tea with tea bags. The Sri Lankans fill tea bags with the sweepings from the floor of the factory and keep all the best parts of the plant for themselves. I smirk whenever I watch people at home pouring a pot. Blissful ignorance.
Yuk! I hate the stuff. Maybe I’m not British after all…
The rest of the world has a lot more to offer in terms of experiences, learning opportunities and physical space. And Adventure.
I love having adventures.
I can only stomach the day job for short periods at a time. I much prefer writing books. I have a series of twelve published so far.
They are about a ‘disorganised crime family’ of thieves so I’m always looking for new heist plots. Never take me to a museum. I’ll spend the entire time casing it. I once set off the alarms in the Pinacoteco de Brera in Milan just to test the reaction times of the security personnel. My trip diaries often contain quick sketches of potential escape routes and lists of CCTV positions, alarm systems and curator posts in them. It’s a bit of a hobby.
As research, to make the books more realistic, I’ve also learned explosives handling, how to play polo (horses, not water), sniper skills, forensic psychology, counterterrorism tactics, ritual paganism and how to milk venomous snakes. I’m a qualified private investigator specialising in industrial espionage too, but that was for the books rather than profit, so far. Honest.
I recently started writing a blog.
It tends to be about my meanderings; both thoughtful ones and actual ones. I had no idea how much hard work it was coming up with new subjects every week but it seems to be working. If you’re so kind as to read it, please follow me for updates.
I mentioned adventure.
With all the writing research and the traveling, I seem to have become addicted to adventure. The more dangerous the better. My mum reckons it stems from my low boredom threshold. She might be right. I once went to the Gambia for a beach holiday. It was supposed to be ten days in the sun, by the pool writing a few chapters and drinking a few cocktails. I got bored half way through and ended up taking a taxi into the war zone in southern Senegal, battling through rebel-held road blocks, arguing over a t-shirt with a French Special Forces soldier, getting shot at by masked paramilitary police and going over the border into Guinea Bissau for a cup of coffee to calm down. (I don’t drink coffee either, but it seemed like the best thing to do under the circumstances) To top the holiday off, there was a hurricane over southern England and the plane almost crashed coming in to land at London Gatwick.
I seem to be crossing the world’s most dangerous countries off my list. Where my friends and colleagues spend their holidays in Spain, Italy or Greece, I spend mine in Rwanda, North Korea and Iraq. They are all beautiful countries, by the way, it just takes a bit of guts and determination to go and visit them.
People often say ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book / travel / learn French / drive topless up the motorway…’ I always reply ‘Well, go and do it then!’ That’s when the excuses are paraded out. ‘I can’t afford it.’ ‘I’m going to do it when I retire.’ ‘I can’t just leave. What about my flat / house / partner / kids / dog / African albino hedgehog?’
My overarching philosophy is if you want to go and do something, go and do it. If you want to learn something, find an expert to show you and learn it.
If you wait, it’ll be too late.
As a customer of Element Cottage, H recently sent me an email saying how much she was still enjoying her carpetbag and had written a blog post about it (along with a link if I was interested in reading it). Well, as you’re probably aware of by now, I became an instant fan.
Her stories are filled with adventure seeking wonderment, street wisdom, family history, and a sense of humor, which I love. After reading a few of her stories about adventures you and I only dream about, you begin to understand how free H really is. Free to work, free to travel, and free to go beyond what any average person would dare to venture… the 2%, as she so eloquently states. I admire that. I AM that person she described at the end of her piece. ‘I can’t just leave. What about …?’ Excuses, I admit. Like she said, ‘… if you want to do something, go and do it.’ Two simple words that could literally change your life. Thank you H!