Enjoying Life’s Journey

by James Wallis
Updated: April 22, 2024
16 minute read
Grandmas 90th afternoon tea

We always try to do as much as possible and see as many things as we can even if it seems impossible. We did a lot over the last two weeks which is why we’ve decided to bundle the latest journal into two weeks. There was lots of travelling up and down the country for various events and in most part we enjoyed the journey apart from the closed motorways and 7 hour late night drive but it was all worth it in the end.

We did lots of driving, seeing family and mowing lawns, as well as improving our home environment so we can enjoy where we live. As always, mixed in with our adventures is our business and PhD life which we did lots of work on over the last two weeks too. We quite often feel like it’s never ending and we’re always trying to hone and optimise the balance between work and life which quite often merges itself into whatever we’re doing. However, as long as we’re learning from our own and other peoples experiences I think we’ll get the perfect balance one day.

We would’ve loved to have done more like go to our friend Tom’s games night near Hendon in North but it may have been a bit too much for us this week. Hopefully next time we can make it.

Saturday 13 April 2024

The Bank Charity Ball

The weekend of the 13th April 2024 saw Anna and I attend my sister’s hairdressing business’s charity ball in Humberside at the Forest Pines Golf Club which was raising money for Cardiac Risk in the Young. The event was a great success with over 180 people in attendance. We were also tasked with taking photos of the night to capture guests on the red carpet as they arrived. I think we did a good job with the camera we had at our disposal but we definitely can see why event photographers deserve every penny they earn because a lot of skill, expertise, experience and know how definitely goes into their craft, let alone the editing and everything that goes on behind the scenes before and after an event.

James and Anna at The Bank Ball

The trip up to Lincolnshire gave us the opportunity to spend time staying with my sister and her family for a couple of nights as well as visiting my Dad who lives nearby too. It was a weekend plus a few extra days of visiting family as well as avoiding wrong in-car satellite navigation information due to roadwork motorway closures which meant about 15 hours of driving in total. Google maps is definitely more trustworthy than other forms of navigation. We’ll stick to that in the future.

The Bank Ball with James Anna Lucy and Ash
Monday 15 April 2024

The Cottage & Gardening & All Sorts

During our long weekend up in Lincolnshire we visited my Dad at his cottage in Brattleby, Lincolnshire. It’s right near the old home of the Red Arrows at Scampton airfield. You could see them practising their routine on occasions. It was nice last valentines day (2023) when Anna and I were visiting. We were watching them do heart shapes with their vapour smoke trails. We joked that they were doing it for us. Incidentally, during this visit it was interesting to see all of the protesters around the perimeter fencing due to protests about the government planning to house lots of asylum seekers there. We’ll have to see how that goes but I can’t imagine it’ll be a success.

The Cottage in Brattleby

Our trip to my dads cottage was nice and relaxing even though we always run out of time whenever we visit. We spent two nights there. We worked a bit, we rested a bit, had a couple of baths, chatted and did a bit of lawn mowing and car washing.

It’s always easier to wash the car and mow the grass at my dads due to there being available hot water and all the gardening equipment.

We also recreated our pre-wedding meal back in July 2023 which was also the last time we had visited whereby we had a really nice Indian curry from Welton Spice which was a surprise family meal after Anna, her mum and I had got back from a tour of Lincoln cathedral.

Anna by the Titanic in the cottage Lincolnshire

We had a quick routine escort trip to Scunthorpe hospital too for injections which was interesting to see. We hadn’t been to a hospital for a while and it was interesting to see how it all works. It seemed pretty efficient apart from the fact that the newly built £10,000,000 bay area to handle more ambulances wasn’t as busy as the administrators would like so they were thinking of closing it down because it was too efficient and the ambulances could be in and out and back on the road available to save more lives now.

As always it was good trip up north but time always rushes by, plus we had to get back for Wednesday morning when our windows were meant to be fixed. Unfortunately, there was a delay and we could’ve stayed in Lincolnshire for one more day if we had known with family as my mum was visiting from France to stay with my sisters ready to see my grandma the week after.

We do love the life we’ve created for ourselves so far. We’re both fairly flexible in that we work hard in our business and phd and that they both afford the luxury of being able to do them when and where we want which allows us to travel to friends and family during the week.

Saturday 20 April 2024

90th Birthday Party’s

A very big milestone was hit this week when my Grandma June Male (Bland) turned 90 years old on 20th April 2024. My mum, auntie Trude and uncle Chris threw an afternoon tea party at The Feathers Hotel in Ledbury with lots of cakes, scones and sandwiches.

We spent lots of time reminiscing with my Grandma, cousins, family and next neighbours and friends of my grandma. It was nice to see how active my grandma still is.

90th Birthday for June Male in Ledbury

Anna and I actually arrived 30 minutes late due to underestimating how long it takes to blow up extra balloons with helium. We spent an hour in Tesco’s car park arranging the balloons. We now realise how a balloon shop can survive selling balloons. It’s actually fairly difficult and time consuming when you don’t do it regularly and thanks to the excellent service and expertise balloon shops provide we now understand the value they offer. We quite often compare businesses to our web design and development business to understand how to be profitable and how other businesses operate.

We arrived with balloons everywhere. It felt like we were going to take off like David Blain when he did his 20,000 feet balloon stunt.

When we arrived it was so nice to see familiar faces as well as unknown ones who were there to share stories of how they know my Grandma and how proud she is of all of her children and grandchildren and what a wonderful life she has surrounded by nice people that live nearby.

After afternoon tea was over we went back to grandma’s house where we opened presents and spent time chatting and learning about stories from the past. Lots of nice and memorable times were shared. Visiting my grandma’s house in Ledbury always reminds me of childhood and the Christmas and summers we spent there. It’s a shame they can’t last forever but it’s nice knowing they happened.

It’s funny how we could stay and talk forever and it’s when you’re leaving when you have the most you want to say but not enough time to listen and learn about the past to ask questions about grandparents’ lives to try and get a feel for what it was like when they were on their life journey.

Everyone has a story and it’s nice that it hopefully gets to be told and remembered for many generations. Hopefully everyone’s journey is a happy one and we definitely strive to learn from everyone we come in contact with to try and live our best life and have a journey that we enjoy along the way.

James with helium
Tesco car park wrapping presents
Sunday 21 April 2024

Making Home Feel More Like Home (Lighting is key)

The addition of two new furniture items improved our living standards immensely. We now have places to put our clothes and books, plus it feels more homely with furniture that we picked and went to get. We like the stories of how we acquired our new furniture. They all had past lives and memories for other people to hold on to. They were all found via the Facebook marketplace.

We got our new chest of draws from Tim and his family who lived down a beautiful scenic lane in Ockley. When Anna and I arrived we absolutely adored their home and the piece of land that it was on. As well as collecting our new draws for £45 Tim showed us around his garden and explained their story in developing their beautiful home during lockdown and the journey they’ve undertaken to make it a place they call home. It was made even more magical when Anna heard that they have a sauna overlooking their garden forest with a river running through it. Anna’s dream is to build a Russian banya in our garden one day when we have land and a place that we can do whatever we want with.

The next day we collected our bookshelf from a gentleman visiting his son in Horsham who was from Liverpool. The bookcase had been cleared out from his wife’s elderly cousin’s house and they were getting rid of it. Anna used her mums wisdom to negotiate the price which she predicted what the price would be if we offered a certain price. Needless to say the man from Liverpool met us in the middle and we good a really nice bookshelf for £40.

It’s nice how the furniture we got has a story of going to collect them from previous owners as opposed to getting them from Ikea. They all had a story of collecting them from very interesting people who seemed very normal and responsive. In all of our cases of collecting the furniture, the sellers responded very fast and we went to collect the furniture within hours of seeing it which is great.

The two new items go very nicely with our new table which also had a nice story involving driving to get it from a man who was selling his mum’s family home with a nice trip to the seaside for Anna and I.

Dealing with these very interesting yet normal people gave us a glimpse into their lives which inspired us to keep on our journey to creating our perfect home in the future.

Quite often Anna and I would walk the streets of West Hampstead whether it be just for fun or on our way somewhere and we’d look at the nice houses and analyse what makes them attractive and nice to live in. We always came to the conclusion that lighting plays a massive factor in how welcoming and homely a place looks.

Anna raking the grass in Warnham

We’re happy that we installed our new garden path lights after another day of gardening and feeling like old people that visit the garden centre for an activity to keep us entertained. However, this week’s garden centre trip had a real purpose because we had a plan to make our front garden look as nice and homely as we can in the short amount of time we had to work on it. Lighting was key – adding at least 80% feel good vibes to the garden. Also, we wanted to accept our neighbour, Ross’ (a Master Tree Surgeon) kind offer to borrow his brilliant petrol lawn mower to cut the grass. It definitely made the job really easy with professional tools. I now understand the full meaning of the saying “a man is only as good as his tools”.

One thing I’m starting to notice (which Anna already knows) is that most people can do things themselves to a certain degree but if you want it doing properly, in an efficient and timely manner to a high standard it’s best to let the experts do it because they have all of the knowledge and experience of how to do things, they’ve seen all of the problems and solutions before.

So if you need your haircut, it’s best to go to the hairdressers, if you need lots of party balloons, it’s good to go to a balloon specialist, if you need a tree maintaining, go to a tree surgeon, if you need to fix your car, go to a mechanic, if you need a website creating go to a web designer/developer, if you need your internet to be fairly priced and working definitely don’t talk to an EE sales team who will try and sell you a solution that doesn’t work and send you three routers that you’ll need to post back to them. Maybe, it’s not the case with some lawyers, politicians and estate agents too unless it’s big business to big business with lots of money to waste where these highly skilled experts can spend their valuable expertise and time on the case. Also, GoPro, considering they’re a smart technology company you would thing they could handle a replacement GoPro order in a more efficient way than making you wait weeks and weeks for a call to process a payment via the old fashioned telephone system because they haven’t bothered to create a simple payment link to continue the process without the need of a call.

One caveat to all of the above is if you enjoy the activity and process and are happy to learn the intricacies of doing the job to a standard you’ll by happy with, by all means do it yourself, but in many areas it’s probably best to get the experts to do it if it fits into your budget that is, which, I guess is why people do some things themselves.

We always wonder what the key to a happy life is. We always try to learn from all peoples wisdom around us and understand what a successful and happy life looks like. It’s still hard to pinpoint the exact things that contribute to this but we’re definitely learning and one thing we notice is that it’s not about the end result or final goal, it’s about the journey of getting to where you’re aiming to be and if you were happy along the way.

8 Apr – 21 Apr 2024
Two weeks of rent
First council tax bill of £273 and £122 bill from the EE cartel
£150 Petrol (Lots of travel over the past two weeks) – Car PCP Contract & other car purchases such as ad blue and small things.
Food shopping and a bit of eating out
Amazon purchases and the garden centre and gifts (plus £85 for our new chest of draws and bookshelf)
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