A COVID gap year

The highlight, the main point, the dream of my gap year was spending at least 3 months in the UK.

Now, while the UK is apparently still allowing visitors, there’s too many things which make a trip undoable.

  • The risks! We don’t want to catch it.
  • Internal social isolation laws. What’s the point of travelling if you have to stay inside? And most places are shut, anyway.
  • No travel insurance would cover us for the virus.
  • Lack of flights. There are just no flights and what ones exist are too expensive.
  • Travel restrictions when coming back into Australia.

We could spend the year travelling around Australia and pottering at home. But that isn’t what I wanted to do.

So we have decided to postpone our gap year.

Yes, things may change, so we haven’t totally committed to postponing our gap year. But we have discussed it, considered it and flagged it with our respective bosses.

We don’t have to make formally apply until 4 weeks before the end of year. But we will formally request it, if we decide to postpone by Term 4.

I’m not sad about this.

Cause we will still get a gap year. And the additional year at work will be on full pay, so we can focus on knocking a far bit off our mortgage.


Adult gap year clothing

Next year, with the whole year off, I will be wearing quite different clothes from my normal work outfits.

I won’t have to wear heels or restrictive clothes or office clothes.

The challenge will be to not sloth around in my PJs most of the day when I’m staying at home; to do the flylady thing and get dressed straight away. I know I am bad at this because if I don’t have to go anywhere on a weekend, I lounge around in clothes, which I shouldn’t be seen by others, for most of the day.

But that’s a challenge for next year.

I am taking this year to thin, to declutter, to winnow my work wardrobe.

My green & frugal tendencies won’t let me toss clothes that are still wearable. And as I will be heading back to work at the end of January 2022 (have I told you I’m having 13 months off?) I need to keep work clothes. I’m not retiring yet.

I’m not buying any court shoes this year. No matter how much they call me. I won’t need them. I won’t buy any dressy jackets – I have enough for this winter. I won’t buy, gasp, any dressy or office-y dresses.

I am planning on wearing out two dresses I currently wear to work. Two dresses that I wouldn’t wear if I wasn’t working. Two dresses that are fine, a bit worn and stretchy but okay for a normal day at work.

One is a summer dress. I will wear it every week this term and the last term of the year. That’s about 20 wears.

The other can be worn all year as it goes with or without tights so can be worn in all seasons. This dress I will also aim for about 20 wears this year.

Then it’s bye bye to the dresses.

Only two dresses out? you exclaim.

Yes, maybe more. But definitely NO DRESSES COMING IN. Okay, no work dresses.

As the year goes on, I may declutter winnow more work clothes out. Those grey work pants need to go at the end of winter. And maybe that skirt a friend gave me that I never really liked. And the split sleeve jacket which I like but the material is going funny. Yep, they can all go at the end of the year.

Half of my hanging wardrobe – the half that contains skirts, jackets and tops. This will be halved when I retire.

Stumbling across places

A “conversation” in the comments on another blog about wild weather, led me to discover another place I want to stay at.

Vivien from Yorkshire said she was okay in the recent storm but Hebden Bridge suffered. So I googled Hebden Bridge.

Well now it is on my places to stay next year!

I’ve quickly looked on AirBnB, and there’s some cute places to stay.

The nearby national park is picturesque. With rocks and mills. And the name: Hardcastle Crags. How evocative is that!


There are great walks with details at the Walking Englishman blog.

I have to see a movie at the cinema, the Hebden Bridge Picture House.

A beer at a pub by the canal? Of course! And lots of walks along the canal.

I sourced the last two photos from the Pennine Waterways site. It says the four-story houses in the top photo are known as “top and bottom houses” with the top two floors being separate houses, with access from the streets behind, higher up the hillside. How cool!

Yorkshire is definitely on my list of “must stay”. Might be the main place – hopping around different spots!

Now to explore transport. Should we hire a car or use trains and buses!

Wars of the Roses

After reading different books on Ned Kelly, I just had to visit his stomping grounds.

Well my obsession with the Wars of the Roses is no different. (Except I can’t pop over to the UK for a weekend.)

I know there are gazzillions of different historical themes, periods or personalities I could trace in England. But I want to visit different sites related to the era of the Wars of the Roses. Of course, there’s not a lot to see at the sites of the battlefields. But I still want to go.

There’s a tour I want to go on.

This is it. I hope it, or something like it will be available when we go to the UK. And I hope Mr S can put up with the people on the tour – he’s not one that can handle walking in small groups at slow paces nor can he listen to someone talk on. I love it when someone knowledgeable points out things I can’t see, tells a tale and describes in situ how it happened. And I hope it is not too expensive.

And when we are staying around Yorkshire, I will make sure we visit these places.

Coroner of Margaret of York, sister of the York kings. I went to Äachen to see this!

My “last” year of work

This is my last year of work before my adult gap year.

I feel taller. I walk lighter at work. I know things are not going to drag on for another decade being the same-old same-old.

I’m asked more frequently, “What are you going to go with your year?”

I think a year won’t be enough to do all I want: travel, garden, study German and French, read books.

I have been advised not to let people know that last bit, that I don’t think it’s enough time, lest I be slapped. Most people do not get a year off in their 50s. A year they’ve saved for. A year they’ve planned and anticipated rather than a year unexpected and unplanned by being laid off.

Soon it will be time to nut out plans for the UK, book accommodation, book flights.

I don’t think 3 months in the UK will be enough!

My German cousin wants to meet up in Yorkshire, a place he has always dreamed of since the TV series. Mr S’s American cousin wants to meet us in England too. I want to live in a Cotswolds village for at least a month or two and do side trips. I definitely want to see Hamilton in London. I want to go on lots of walks. Boat around the Outer Hebrides.

I think I will have to ditch the cruise around Fiji.

Oh dear. Choices!

And costs!

You won’t want to go back to work

It’s funny that when I say I like to retire/quit now, lots of people say I’d be bored and that I need the challenge of work to keep me engaged in life.

OK, in itself that’s not funny. What’s funny is I have the same number of people, if not the same people, say to me that after my year off, I won’t want to go back to work.

And they will probably be right. But it’s a no brainer. Especially given the number of times I’ve said I’d like to stop work now.

After nearly seven weeks off on Long Service Leave, I didn’t want to go back to work. I felt sick at the thought of the issues that need resolving or managing and the impossible workload and the bureaucratic bullshit.

But I went back to work.

I really want more time for myself. But not time with no money.

To have time, I need to work to save for that freedom. Such a quandary.

I know I wont want to return to work. But I will return.

I’m mean would you rather be travelling or going to work? No brainer. But to pay for the travel….

Reading and watching in preparation for our UK visit

During my recent trip to Europe, I was talking about England with my German cousin. (He’s so close but he’s never visited!!!)

He said he wants to visit Yorkshire as his favourite English TV show was All Creatures Great and Small.

Who didn’t like this series??

Then Laura wrote about seeing places in Oxford from Harry Potter movies and the recommendation to read the Inspector Morse series. Another favourite!

And to round off the nexus between travel to real places and movie/TV sets, I visited places used in different James Bond movies and some corny movies (Three Coins in a Fountain and Roman Holiday). I feel the calling to watch the movies on my return.

So in preparation for our three months’ trip to the UK, I am going to:

  • Watch the Inspector Morse and Endeavour series
  • Read the Inspector Morse books
  • Watch George Gently series
  • Finish the Wars of the Roses books on my to read lists
  • Watch the second mini series based on books
  • Attempt to watch All Creatures again (don’t think I can read he books for the third time)

I know real places have their beauty and are interesting without needing to be on the small screen, but it’s fun picking out places that were in books, films and TV series you enjoyed. And the above are all shows or books that I did enjoy. Didn’t always get to watch them all. (I never could stay awake for a whole episode of Morse so the ending was always a mystery and I never seem to stick it out for series that go on and on.)

What sets for TV series or movies or books do you want to visit?

Any ideas for viewing or reading for me prior to visiting the UK in 2021?

Refreshing my working life

Reading Frogdancer’s post about moving to part time next year, made me think about our year off in 2021.

I’ve stolen Frogdancer’s post title.

Cause that’s the million dollar question: will the year off refresh me and make me bring a vitality to my work? Or will I not want to return?

I am currently on Long Service Leave, travelling around Europe. And while I don’t fear going back to work, and I am quite looking forward to going home, I really don’t want the stress of work.

We visited a friend in the same profession who is currently living in Switzerland. He’s a bit older than me and is retiring in a year. He said something that resonated with me and my husband.

The first thirty years flew by; the last ten’s a drag.

And there you have it.

I loved much of my first twenty-five years. Defining myself. Building my career. Seeing money. Meeting people who became friends.

Now, going to work is a chore.

People say I’d be bored not working.

Nope, too much to do.

But what will I feel like at the end of the year off?

How will I feel in 2022?

Cat I saw in Cinque Terre, clearly fed up with the tourists

Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey

I am going to do this walk from Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey.

I want to glimpse Rievaulx Abbey as I walk down to its sheltered position.

I want to walk in the ruins and think of Robert Aske who stood up against Henry VIII.

I have just finished Shephard of Another Flock, the memoir of a vicar, David Wilbourne, in Helmsley. He peddles around the North Yorkshire villages, dispensing prayer and comfort. I won’t be peddling nor dispensing comfort and prayer. But his book has given me a specific place I feel I have to see. I’ve always wanted to go to Yorkshire, now I’ve narrowed it down a bit. Or picked a particular place I want to see for starters.

Like many, it was probably the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small that made me want to come to Yorkshire. But even though the books were set in the Dales and filming took place there, “Herriot’s” surgery was really in the North York Moors. So, of course I will add in the town of Thirsk.

No doubt more places will reveal themselves as having to be on my must see list.

Do you have any must see places around Yorkshire?

(PS: only 17 months until our year off.)

Budgeting of a kind

How much does it cost to keep our house running? What are the things we cannot avoid paying?

  • Mortgage
  • House insurance
  • Land rates (ie local council rates)
  • Water rates
  • Mobile phone
  • Landline phone and internet
  • Private health insurance
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Car registration and insurance

Excluding the mortgage, I’ve estimated we need around $30,000 to pay those bills.

Add in another $48,000 for the mortgage – $4,000 a month for 12 months.

That’s a total of $78,000 we need in our DSS account before we take into account travel and food and entertainment.

$78,000 that we need to separate from the rest of our DSS funds so we keep the mandatory bills paid.

It sounds like so much money!

We met that in January this year. So we have 18 months to save to eat and travel.