Can you remember coming back from your summer holidays and having to write that essay ‘What I did on my holidays’? How could you ever cram so much adventure into one short essay? Later, in work, there was always that pressure of having to bring a present back for your work colleagues, along with the requisite tan and stories of days by the pool and long boozy nights, meeting ‘like-minded new friends’. I confess that apart from holidays on the beach with my parents, who were endless sun lovers, and a once in a lifetime Club 18-30 holiday with girl friends, beach holidays and all-nighters were never my thing. I do, however, love a bit of adventure.
Moving lock, stock and barrel
This summer, however, finding myself suddenly single in late spring, I decided to move – lock, stock and barrel to Spain. This was to be an adventure of a different kind and a much longer ‘holiday’ and work break than I had anticipated.
Mixing the holiday and staying on top of business
One early July day, acting on impulse I packed up the campervan and decided to head out. With the van packed to the gunnels, I spent two gorgeous, lazy days with a friend. We whiled away hours walking the dogs and talking about life and what things had got us from 13 to 53. Despite the two days of laughter, the farewell was heartbreaking.
Setting clients expectations
I am blessed with having amazing clients, and after explaining what I needed to do and why, we looked at how we would manage the workload whilst going through this transition. It is always important, in my book, to be honest and upfront and to set expectations.
The long drive home
Armed with my new sat nav, my first day on French soil was dull and wet. This was it: the start of a long drive to my mum’s house in Spain. Under any other circumstances I would have not travelled the motorways, but too many people were in a panic about me being on my own and I guess with what was left of my life’s possessions in the van, it was probably for the best. My tactics were drive and sleep, drive and sleep and drive and sleep. It was knackering, especially when I left the rain, and the heat cranked up. No air con, no sound system, just me and my thoughts. It was strangely fun. Some of the time I was in revenge fantasy land (what an imagination), some of the time I was mentally writing my first novel, The Double Life of Dickie Quick, and the rest of the time I was mulling over how I would work in Spain.
Two weeks’ ‘holiday’
The next week of this rather odd holiday was spent walking my dogs; shooting the breeze with my mum; eating out; spending evenings at the beach bar, sipping cold white wine, and talking and people watching – bliss. But it was difficult to work at my mum’s house so I did the bare minimum. The following week of my holiday was spent driving to my house, emptying the campervan and trying to figure out how I was going to live in a house that was part-way through a reform and where on earth would I make my office … .
The office and setting up for business
Back in the UK I had my ‘perfect’ office. I had my own space, big desk and all the technology a geek girl could cram in. In Spain I had a village house and what appeared to be no usable office space. And then a brain wave – I set up in the space next to the bathroom, which was light and airy and right next to the internet antennae. It’s not perfect but it provides a sense of work, which is important for giving you a cut off from your living areas.
Business as usual
Because most of my work is online and can be conducted via Skype or conference call, business as usual was literally as soon as I plugged in my computer.
Top tips for moving
- Transition your business over a period of time so that you can reasonably work anywhere, with the minimum of technology – have computer and wifi will travel.
- Ensure that where you are headed has essential items – for me internet and a place to sit.
- If necessary, fly out and set it all up before you make the move.
- Debrief all your clients and work out a plan of action that suits you all, letting go the ones that are unreasonable.
- Keep in touch with your clients so that they know what is going on.
- Work odd hours if you need to so that you can manage unforeseen aspects and get your work done.
- Make yourself an office space that is beautiful, uncluttered and which gives you a sense of going to work (if you can).
- Be kind to yourself; Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Note: I already owned my house and had a holiday internet package installed, which made it easier.