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Shed with a view over Kathmandu

My Nepal Trip

My first few days in Kathmandu have been a challenge. When I arrived at the hostel (compound) I was surprised to see that the walls were topped with razor wire and there were huge metal gates. Foolishly I thought these were to keep the volunteers safe, but soon realised they were to stop us escaping.

I had paid extra for a private room as I did not want to spend every morning surrounded by nubile 20 year olds in thongs, making me feel even more depressed about the toll age and gravity have taken on my body.

Stable Life

My quarters are separate from the rest of the house and it appears that the last thing to live here had 4 legs. Someone must have shooed it out and threw a mattress on the floor hours before I arrived. The only other thing in the room is a bookcase off a skip. Why the hell do I need a bookcase? A wardrobe would have been good.

A large padlock secures the door and I was advised to padlock myself in at night. I do this but then lie awake worrying that my iPhone, which is attached essentially to 2 live wires sticking out of the wall, might burst into flames. I would be totally buggered as the window only opens 6 inches ‘for my security’. These are my thoughts as I lie in bed trying to drift off, when I am bored of squashing giant beetles by torch light.

Gappy Granny

The rest of the group, as one would expect, are mainly gap year students, full of youthful optimism, wanting to see the world and doing the Nepal Trip. I am the only English person, but fortunately English is the spoken language in the hostel.

At the introductory meeting I jokingly introduced myself as the ‘Gappy Granny’. Big mistake. I have nothing against Chinese people per se, apart from the giant mobile phones, excessive use of selfie sticks and appalling dress sense. However, one particularly annoying Chinese girl, Xo Siang Ho, really hacks me off. Every time she sees me she says ‘Hilo Garpee Grawnee.’ I swear if she says it again I will poke her in the eye with a chopstick. Or I might just strangle her with her Huawei headphones,

Finding Oneself

The other person of note (or not) is an extremely dull German called Jorg. I know that a nation that prides itself on ‘precision engineering’ is not going to be full of people you want to go down the pub with on a Friday night, but this guy is a particularly fine specimen.

He is 46, single (I wonder why)? And a software engineer (exactly). He drones on incessantly in a thick Germanic accent about how he comes to Nepal every year ‘to find himself.’ If he hasn’t found himself by now perhaps he should consider going back home and jumping under an Audi on the Autobahn, to put us all out of our misery.

Culture Week

This week has been a Cultural Immersion Week (initiation by fire) on the way of life here, before I am let loose on my class on Monday. As well as trying to learn some Nepali (impossible), I have witnessed abject poverty, but also the immense pride and contentment of the Nepalese people. One wise old man said to me ‘we expect little, so are happy with little, whereas you Westerners expect so much and are never happy with what you have.’ So true…

Reflecting on Nepal (after a long climb)!

The Lone Traveller

I leave for my trip, as a lone traveller, in less than 48 hours, so my preparations are really ramping up. I have drawn up the ultimate packing list.

Meanwhile unhelpful Son decided to do something helpful!  He Googled ‘Things that can kill you in Sri Lanka’ and found:

‘Sri Lanka is home to a spider the size of a dinner plate. With a leg span that can reach up to a rather terrifying ten inches, the Fringed Ornamental Spider is the second largest in the tarantula family’

And

‘Sri Lanka is known as having the most venomous snakes of any country in the world’

Snake Wrestling

Thanks Son, if only you had applied as much enthusiasm to your university research you might have kept out of the Uni Bar for a few hours longer last term. However, I did decide that I must get better at dealing with these critters, so I have allowed one daddy long legs to enter my office without fear of being squashed to the door frame with the sole of a Kurt Geiger.

I have also folded 3 fitted sheets this week, which I feel is good practice for wrestling with any boa constrictor. As if this was not stressful enough, I am trying to condense ‘How to Run a House’ into one document for Husband to follow. 

Having run my own business for 20 years, I am not bad at Excel, but never have I had to concoct such a complicated spread sheet.  No wonder I am buggering off.  I need a break from trying to remember website passwords and whose mobile phone is with which provider.  Let alone being on top of who has finished all the blueberries and granola, so no one turns into a cereal killer.  

Jayne surrounded by a pile of clothes that she is trying to get into her smallish suitcase
Yes, I did buy that hat…. But it will never appear on an Insta post…

Hair Matters

To be honest my biggest challenge is the packing.  Being super-organised, I have bought everything I needed to get on my ultimate packing list, plus a bit more. I am worried about fitting it all into my 110 litre ‘super’ rucksack.  There is a lot of kit.  3 months’ supply of anti-wrinkle cream weighs a serious amount. I am guessing at least 2 kg.  I also have 2 large bottles of anti-frizz hair product and I AM taking my Babyliss Hot Brush. 

Insta Ready

If I am going to put any photos on my shiny new Instagram page, I am not having my mates saying, ‘Christ Jayne looks rough when there isn’t a Toni & Guy around the corner.’  I already have a few Insta followers (6) and one is called ‘MILF Hunter’. Unhelpful Son thinks I should delete ‘that perv’ but, you know what, at my age I am bloody delighted he is following me….

The problem will be actually carrying this 10 stone back pack into Gatwick Airport.  I do not want to fall flat on my back at the check-in desk and resemble a stranded Ninja Mutant Turtle.  I am not looking an arse until I have at least left the country…

Goodbye Lingfield, Asia here comes the lone traveller! Next post from Nepal, if I don’t get lost in Istanbul…

Do follow me on Instagram: hownottohaveamidlifecrisis

Route map of Jayne's travels over the next three months. From Kathmandu to Columbo in Sri Lanka.

Well, this is a first…. I have actually walked past the enticing windows of Hobbs and Jigsaw and I have ended up in……. Millets camping store! Yes, really! This place is so alien to me, I might as well be in a Hoover factory.  

The last time I ventured in here I had to get Daughter a tent for a festival. I selected a bargain £25 pop-up tent which blew away at 3am on the first night of her trip. This meant she spent the next 2 nights sharing a tent with her best friend and best friend’s boyfriend. The downside was that she learnt way too much about her mate’s sex life. The upside was that she has never had any desire to go to a festival again.

Shopping Time

So, I have my list: ‘sleeping bag, mosquito net, water bottle, head torch etc’, but worst of all…. SANDALS. I have an aversion to any sandals with Velcro straps normally seen at country pubs and at Gatwick Airport in summer, in the check-in queue for Switzerland.  

They are normally accompanied by socks and trousers with detachable legs. Sorry, I just can’t do that.  I really do want to blend in on this trip and not look like the Middle-Aged Suburban Misfit, but there are some bridges I just cannot cross, and wearing Merrell sandals is one.

Dress Code

In fact, I have huge problems with the entire wardrobe requirement for this venture. I am Jayne Webb with the silk shirt, skinny jeans and loafers and this signature look does not, and never, will include amorphic sack-like baggy attire.  

The dress code reads ‘shoulders and knees must be covered at all times.’ This would not be a problem here in winter, a good quality cashmere coat can do that stylishly, but in 30°C heat and 80% humidity, I am going to have to adopt a whole new look. 

Burkini Swimwear

The ‘Glamourous Granny Look’ with long floaty skirts, linen blouses and chinos. And, it gets worse. Normally when westerners go to Goa, Sri Lanka and the Maldives they stay in resorts where Western dress codes apply, but I am staying with the Muslim natives and women swim in ‘Burkinis’. I Googled this word and was utterly horrified. 

The Burkini swimwear model actually had a complete hijab headdress on as well! Suddenly my fear of looking ridiculous was replaced by fears of actually drowning, as the tails of my headdress got caught in some speed boat propellers. Fortunately, I worked out that this addition was because she was a Muslim model. 

Surfing

Anyway, I have come up with a solution. I am going surfing. By that I mean I have bought a cool pair of multi-coloured surfing leggings and a coordinating Lycra rash vest. No one said it had to be black….

Jayne sporting her new burkini swimwear
Yes…. Really … My Burkini

Midlife Crisis Stages

Preparations for my Trip over the past few months have been extensive.  Firstly, I had to make the announcement to Husband.  Normally when I say ‘Darling’ in a semi sexy voice over supper, I am about to admit to yet buying another Ralph Lauren shirt, or some Take That tickets.  This time the ‘Darling’ was sexier than ever… Husband coped very well with the announcement that his wife of 23 years was buggering off to Asia for 3 months to find herself. He knew there were midlife crisis stages, but he just wasn’t sure which one I was in.

Cool Mum

I actually think he saw a green light for more tennis matches, meals out with the Boys and to get his motorbike licence.  Which led me to believe he, in his own way, is having a mini midlife crisis too.  My grown-up kids, to be honest, were shocked. 

Reliable Mum, always at the end of a WhatsApp message and ready with a roast dinner when required, was doing something so “un-Mum-like’ they could hardly believe it.  Eyes widened, mouths opened, then eventually came the words ‘Mum, that is so Cool!’  Rarely in all my years as a mother, have I done anything is my kids’ eyes which is ‘Cool’, so I am taking this one and I am taking it Big Time.  

Grey Hair

Worryingly my friends all asked the same two questions, and in the same order ‘What will you do with your hair?’ and ‘What does Husband think?’ I told them I was going to tie up the first and might well do the same to the second.  Why do my friends think my peroxide bob comes before Husband?  That is worrying.  I guess I can at least hide the fact that one is very grey.

 

I have also had to cope with a lot of pricks lately, and I don’t just mean the guy in the camping shop who tried to sell me a £350 sleeping bag.  No, I mean vaccinations!  I have actually had so many that if I keeled over in the high street and someone saw my arms, I would be carted off to the nearest rehab centre. 

Jayne Webb eating lunch smiling in one of the stages of a midlife crisis.

A nice lunch out before I go…

Barking Mad

I thought Japanese Encephalitis was something on the menu at YO! Sushi but, it is in fact, a rare, but often fatal brain disease, carried by mosquitos and it requires 2 bloody great needles full of serum to prevent it. I have also had 3 jabs for rabies and guess what?  It actually does not STOP me catching rabies!  It just means that when I fall to the ground, foaming at the mouth and barking with a limp tail I have more time to get to hospital.  Great….!

Hello, I'm Jayne!

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