Year: 2015

It never rains in Northern California…

…. at all. It’s day after day sunshine here. It is definitely very tantalising and the flavour of opportunities around the corner is everywhere. In our case without a car we can’t really reach them because it is true, America is a car culture and you better have a car here or be limited but the opportunities are there. There is a distinctly different attitude here to everything. An optimism that I am always trying to understand the origin of. For example in real terms being poor here sucks more than In the UK even (!) thanks to this culture of ‘the individual’ this mentality that creates and progresses SO much “everyone out for themselves: ready, steady, go” but it leaves one a bit by the wayside when in the UK (up until ‘Cameron the Coldhearted Opportunist’ came into power) and Europe there would be some support to helps bridges gaps until one can gain a foothold again. This here really is not a model I would follow if I had a say over government …

Petsitting in Bernal Heights

After being told that this cat didn’t like being petted and that she is rather moody I was ready for snappy attitudes and a lot of aloof ignoring. Yet within days she was purring on my lap, sleeping in my arm and resting her paws on my right arm as I typed emails and social media posts.. We made best friends! And this just has to be one of the coolest cats that I have every had the pleasure to be friends with! I teasingly called her ‘Zippy’ because I (wrongly) assumed that she would be slow and laid back.. Instead she had so much beans and it was a lot of fun seeing her chase invisible mice from time to time and bounce up and down the bed. I truly fell in love with ‘Zippy’. If we had a San Francisco home of our own, an owned one, I would have pleaded with her family to allow her to come and live with me. What a super, super cat! Daisy the dog was much …

Where can we go from here?

Our housesitting appointment is drawing to a close at the end of the coming week. We by chance got asked to take on another house-pet-sitting gig from the 1st – 4th of August and I said yes minutes before I found out that we likely have lost the (stationary) RV that we were schedule to move into that weekend. So that was a lucky decision. It leaves a rather big question, especially considering that this is the Bay Area with incredibly high rental costs: where do we go from there? We have a grace period of another 9 days or so before I really have no idea where we will go. I had this wild idea of buying a school bus as an art-workshop venue, I prefer to teach lessons and classes in small settings rather than bigger ones, even if I take a pay-cut as a result. I had come up with a school bus when I couldn’t think of anywhere where I could teach, especially with me being new to the area I just don’t …

An amazing Day for Marriage Equality in all 50 American States!

I have only followed the news headlines as time has been tight and I couldn’t read more in depth. But the news look good and just as I went to bed to try and catch an early night an hour or so ago a huge firework display was visible from our bedroom window and it was far too exciting to go to sleep without embracing this truly historic moment. All day I had been too busy to really give it a second thought so I am glad that the fireworks got me back out of bed to say : “CONGRATULATION!!” to all who for too long could not enjoy a basic right that most of us may take for granted. I hope that all the other rights that should be in place but simply are not will catch up. There probably won’t be a better place than San Francisco this weekend.. The pride march takes place on Sunday and I hope that I can get a good view and meet some people, too! I hear that …

Housesitting in San Francisco : View from Bernal Heights today

We are housesitting in San Francisco. The way this works is that we got connected with a family who went to visit family on the East Coast and needed somebody (us) to look after their cat, dog, home and plants during their absence. In exchange for our reliable housesitting duties we stay here free of charge. It is a fair exchange of our time for accommodation. We added up the time that we spend caring for the pets and if you paid somebody the hours that we put in then that person could pay rent on a pretty decent place to live. So while I regularly see the headline ‘how to travel for free & housesitting” in the same sentence on the internet it is not really ‘free’. It requires commitment and time that often can clash with other activities that you might prefer to engage in. For me for example it generally means that I can not go out and explore the city as freely as I naturally would because the dog needs attention every …

Driving a Monstertruck around Bernal Heights – San Francisco

Tales from house sitting #2 As part of our house sitting commitments we also need to move the family car for the weekly Friday 9am-11am street sweeping (or risk getting served a pricey ticket! San Fran may be known for the flowers in people’s hairs, but the traffic-parking ticket distributing people have hair on their teeth and no flower anywhere in sight!) From now on we refer to the family vehicle as “Monstertruck” because it is the size of a small house {{{and from a European perspective this is just completely wild; especially considering the family riding in this vehicle are a child and a very slim lady, occasionally another adult. It would be different if it was a family of 6.. But then I would imagine a VW family bus would work the trick and be so much cuter..}}} Now, for the past 20 years I have spent most of my time cycling, driving or otherwise taking note of traffic on the opposite side of the road to America. Street markings are completely different, we don’t …

San Francisco Dreamers? Meeting Diamond Dave

Yesterday I walked past Pigeon palace, a building occupied by long term, rent control enjoying tenants, who are now threatened with eviction as the city’s building and construction boom is in full throttle over drive due to the seemingly unstoppable influx in Silicone Valley employees pressing on the local market. Really it is an issue that the entire world has some shared responsibility in. After all Silicone Valley provides the ‘toys’ that the entire world plays with on a daily if not hourly basis.. Day 3 in San Francisco 2015

suggestions on how to find more meaning in life and on journeys

– keep a diary and look away from any screens – learn a local skill or language – are you bragging or are you sharing? I mean: are you just consuming the landscape, the culture or are you participating and can you feel the difference? – What can you learn that you have not read in any guidebook and that therefor you can not tick off of a list that offers 10 stages to travel satisfaction. Is travel a supermarket to you or an opportunity to create something meaningful for yourself, those whom you meet and those at home whom you will share your experiences with..?

Surrounded by teachers in Northern Thailand

Suddenly I find myself surrounded by teachers. (I trust you know how hard it is to find them when you are looking for a single one… now I need almost a whole hand to count the sudden influx). It never rains but it pours, right? And each one feels like a relationship of trust. {You know the stories of how I started 3 different postgraduate degrees and ditched two because the teachers just weren’t right.. Or how I rotated through a set of driving instructors until I found THE one that fit like a glove? All the while hearing friends tell me that I am either and or fussy. Discerning guys, it’s called discerning and not paying any old ‘quack’ .. What a cool word! But I didn’t mean it as mean as quack might sound. It just was so snazzy and snappy to use.. } Also in other news: Thanks to Nephyr from the Naga Thai Massage Center I learnt that my website is full of errors. I have a lot to learn it …

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the day good..

It’s a good day when after a seriously sleep-disrupted night I find that the market vendor left the seeds in the jackfruit. Finally! I’ve been trying to get my hands on Jackfruit seeds for way to long. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the day good.. It was a really quiet day even if the following really doesn’t sound like it: My teachers at Massage school distributed serious kindness, meant it and then revealed my bicycle that I had left here 2 years ago! Got to love them! I got to help translate/correct some stuff and felt way better about getting free classes after that. (yes, that’s right. No charge because that’s the style. And also the only way I could be here in the first place.) After a week here I finally visited my favourite cafe with garden and a fish pond with giant goldfish (I mean GIANT), it is way out of budget for this journey but that’s ok. I’m here to learn and hopefully photograph. Anyhow they remembered me and I …