Thinking Time.

I get thinking time breaks at my work on the M27 motorway services. Between frequent bouts of hard work we have time to sit down, (or stand up) whilst we wait for the next lorry to come along to be washed.

On a break yesterday I was thinking about my nephew who had just worked some of his passage on a boat trip up the Amazon. I was impressed. And he had a great time.

It made me think. How many jobs have I had during my twenty five (ish) years of on/off travelling abroad?

I made a quick list and soon reached the fifty mark. And that wasn’t counting the numerous cabinet making commissions I was able to find. Four kitchens in the British Virgin Islands, a kitchen, bed and rack of cupboards for a friend in Mallorca. I sculpted a cross from local wood for my Grandmother on El Hierro, the furthest West of the Spanish Canary Islands, where I also built someone the top of half of a dresser, another person a door, and another person I help build a roof. The list for furniture and woodwork commissions goes on.

I recount six separate jobs in France, four in Mallorca, two in mainland Spain, eight different jobs in Thailand, three in Hong Kong.

I have washed dishes in the ski resort of Chamonix, on the party island of Ibiza, on what at the time was known as the gay capital of Europe, Gran Canaria, and also on the Greek side of the island of Cyprus.

I managed to teach English twice in Hong Kong, twice in Thailand.

I starred in a Japanese advert in Thailand earning £450 for a days work. I did have to shave all the hair off my head to earn it though! I was also an extra in three films, all war films, all horrible films.

I restored farmhouses in France for two months, getting the job through a Freead paper. When applying for the carpentry job I told my prospective employer that I had just sold all my tools. He was so desperate though he took the risk and said come anyway.

It worked out. I returned twice in the years to come. Both times for another two months. I helped restore a chalet in the French Alps and a Chateau near Lille. I oiled some benches and tables for the monks in the monastery of St.Bernard in the Swiss Alps.  I helped restore a hostel in Mallorca for many months and made repairs in a hotel for a few weeks.

I spent five months helping restore a World War Two minesweeper in Ibiza, four months in Martinique redecking a sailboat. Spent many months fitting out charter boats in mainland Spain and Mallorca, with additional boat building jobs in Turkey, Cyprus, the South of France, Gran Canaria and Martinique.

I picked oranges in Sparta, Greece for a day. I picked olives in Crete for a day before I cracked my rib slipping on the roof of a pick up. I also had to stop a job in Mallorca for the same reason. I managed to crack another rib whilst wrestling with a glue joint for a bed on a super yacht.

I spent ten days working on a campsite close to Mont St Michel in France. I cleaned bungalows on a beach resort on the island of Koh Samet in Thailand.

I waited tables in the Roof restaurant in Bangkok, served breakfasts in a café in Gran Canaria.

I worked for the fire brigade in El Hierro for a couple of months until I quit following a disagreement with the boss. The next day there was a fire. It was nothing to do with me.

I picked litter on a building site in Gibraltar. (We all got fired on day two, all fourteen of us). I spent two days picking up plastic off a beach in Crete.

I proof read in Hong Kong and was also a bouncer in a nightclub for one night. (Not to be repeated).

I did some night time shop fitting in Munich and some serious sign writing for a store in Martinique.

A lot of these jobs I came across through shear good fortune. Most of the jobs came along when I needed good fortune.

I have my brother to thank for a year and a halves work as manager of a resort in the British Virgin Islands. I left that job because it was too good.

I am sure there are more jobs that I shall remember about tomorrow but these are the ones that just jumped out at me in one of my thinking breaks, at work, at the M27 services, in the UK.

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I’m still here.

I feel a bit of a fraud.  I did rewrite my blog, twice.  The second time it made a lot more sense and I got close to editing it ready for rapid publication on Amazon-but I changed my mind about that.

I’m still here at Rownhams Services on the M27 motorway, (not all the time!).  I figured that as I find it easy to write at these sort of places it would make sense if I could earn a living here too.  I could have tried working for McDonald’s-didn’t really fancy it though.

In the Services car park are several blue cargo containers.  On one of them there is an advertisement for a lorry washing facility.  I rang the number and left a message.  Said I was writing a book here and did they have any temporary work.  I thought whoever owned the business would probably just laugh at me.  I didn’t really even expect a reply.

But I got one.  I have been working washing lorries now for three and a half days.  Damn hard work-but sort of fun, and interesting too.

We spray them with detergent, vigorously brush them and then jet wash to finish.  There’s a rapid turnaround, a lorry gets done in about fifteen minutes.

So I can now work in the car park by day, and write in the services by night.

I still have the blog written up but am now writing a story about a guy called Jenson who makes his way to Greece via Turkey with the intention of trying to help with the Refugee Crisis there, and at the same time clean beaches.  The story is working. Just got to refine it, focus it, and make it a good read.  If I make it good enough maybe it can fund my beach cleaning?  Why not.

Back to washing more lorries on Monday morning.  In the meantime need to find the inspiration to bring Jenson’s book alive….this place is open twenty four hours a day.  I have no excuses, just apathy!

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Short blog post People.

Oh my giddy Aunt!  Have I nearly finished it?  Have spent about 27 hours over the last 2 days writing up and rearranging my blog into an e book.  The word count, not that that is what counts(!)…is close to 40,000.  That’s a book isn’t it?!

Chapters on Litter, Human Rights, Travel, Litter and Human Rights, Travel and Human Rights, Travel and Litter, Travel Human Rights and Litter.

Probably quite a bit more to do, but I’ve bloody done it.  Nearly there now, nearly there!

(It was pretty messy here at the motorway services yesterday!!!).


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“Doing the right thing”.

This is the first time I’ve created a blog post via my mobile phone. Never thought about it before. Very liberating!

Last Monday or Tuesday I spoke about escaping to my caravan to write ‘that’ book, (within 7 days).  I could only afford to stay in her for two nights, but fortunately I managed to get a lot of writing done.

I downgraded from there, packed my pushbike up and found a delightful campsite just an hour away. A fiver a nite, w.c, no showers but plenty of fresh water. I bought a decent sunlounger mattress from the tip for £1.50, a sun shade canopy from Aldi for £7.99 and with what I have already, camping is rather fun really.

The book is being sorted, researched and compiled between Costa’s in Romsey and a McDonalds in a motorway service station. Good coffee, loos and wifi in Costa’s. Cheap tea, 24 hr wifi and showers at the service station.

I keep getting new ideas for the title of my book. It started with “Stop Swearing-Start Earning” and has transformed through many stages, to at the moment “Doing the Right Thing”, which seems pretty appropriate, because if I don’t do the right thing,  this book will not get done! Cheers for now, Simon.


Along with lottery scratchcards and the plastic rings you get holding drink cans together I am adding a new product to start picking up on my litter picking duties-smiley face car fresheners.







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Following on…

This is a follow on from my last post of two weeks ago. Have I got a book written, or at least part 2 of the book written within the two week period I had hoped for?

No. Simple as that, no!

But I have been trying!

A story centred around my short e book “Chemical Warfare?” is forming in my mind.

I’ve just booked another two days in my caravan. Two days isn’t a long time to write a book in but if you google ‘write a book in two days’, ‘write a book in 3 days’, ‘5 days’ or ‘7 days’ you will see that people have done it.

I reckon that if I can find ‘7’ free days I can do it too. The book wouldn’t be written in haste. It would hopefully be a free flowing rush of words that have been trying to get out of my mind and into print for years.

I once escaped to an uninhabited Greek island for 5 days to write. I need to do it again, but this time I need to visit an uninhabited island in my mind, and from a place with a roof over my head, with food to eat, bed to rest on, facilities at hand.

When I am flush with cash I can bound off to another uninhabited island for as long as I like, but for now I need some security.

Caravan-can you help me?!

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Time to stop.

In my December 2015 blog post I said I may not say much in 2016, but I’ve broken that statement many times, and added a number of posts since. But I think I mean it now!

I have had numerous ridiculous travel episodes in my thirty years of mostly mad travels. The last one was last week. And they have to stop. I’ve said that before, but God willing that was the final one. They happen because I plan nothing, nothing other than come up with a destination, and more often not with little resources to aid me.

I was aiming for a deserted beach. A £12 megabus ticket on the train took me from London Waterloo to Wareham in Dorset. It was pouring with rain. I had a very heavy backpack and the cross country walking route to a scenic, barren beach was ten miles long. Not so long, but it really was raining hard. I was soaked in seconds.

I got to the bay in a number of hours. I slid down the steep and long walkway to the bay. I fell twice. I was slightly scared as my back pack took me fully into the bushes and out of sight of anyone searching for a missing hiker. Looking back on that bit, thank goodness I didn’t bang my head on a rock or twist/break an ankle.

I arrived at the beach. I had no tent, no sleeping bag. I had hoped to find some discarded plastic sheeting on the beach. There were plastic bottles of course-but no sheeting. It was going to be a long cold, wet and miserable night ahead-I thought.

I started collecting wood for a fire-if it would light!

The beach was beautiful. The bay was large and sweeping. The cliffs were high and steep. I was alone-again!

I looked for cover from the rain. There were six or seven boat huts, a couple in good nick, the others pretty weather worn. But there was no cover.

I carried on collecting wood for the fire.

The sun came out. It was about 7 pm. Black clouds loomed though. I was still in trouble.

Until out of the blue two chaps came down to check out their huts. We got talking. We sat on a bench made from an old sleeper. One of them drank a beer, the other some homemade wine. I gave one of them a round of cheese I had spare. It was fun. We philosophised. We laughed. We smiled.

In short, as the clouds welled up and another downpour loomed, one of the gentleman gave me a key to his shed. “Stay the night if you want to,” he said. “There’s a new sleeping bag hanging on the wall. There’s a new camping bed as well. The gas stove’s ancient but one ring works. Clear the wood out and you’ll probably have enough space to stretch out”.

I said my thanks.

I made tea. I moved the wood. I set up the bed. I rolled out the bag.

It absolutely poured with rain.

But I slept for six hours. I was warm. I was rested. I was extremely lucky.

I walked the 4 miles back to Swanage in the morning. I applied for a few washing up jobs, talked to an interesting furniture shop owner who might take some of my stuff…and yet again borrowed a £50 note from my Mother to get home and save my aching hips.

A day’s worth of Ibuprofen later and my spine is straightening up again.

Time to pay the fifty pounds back. Time to stop borrowing. Time to stop talking so much. Time to write that travel book. Time to travel properly.  That’s if I need to do anymore travelling!

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OPO/VOOM publicity photo!

Voom winner

Here’s the photo I spoke about.  It is of the Olympic rings above Portland Bay in Dorset where many of the London 2012 sailing events took place.  To the left hand side of the photo is the stretch of Chesil Beach.

With the help of some family members we photo shopped the picture.  OPO, the top line is my #VOOM competition title, (Operation Perfect Organisation), and as I’ve mentioned often in the last few weeks VOOM is the name of Richard Branson’s competition.

Just thought it was a good bit of work!

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