Friday, 6 February 2015


For the last few months, you might have noticed this little thing on the sidebar.

You also have noticed that although we've rolled into 2015, it hasn't yet changed. With 39 Wonders still to visit before I can declare myself complete, we'd hope to at least begin planning a few visits for this year. Well, here's what's happening.

For years I've been working in the oil industry, and for the last few years I've been a dayrater, or an independent contractor. I love the job, and I love the flexibility it gives. It has meant I've been able to go off and travel and slot straight back into it when I return. Alas, that didn't quite happen this time. At the end of last year - just when I got back in fact - the oil price plummeted. As a direct consequence, the company I dayrate for has taken a big hit, with a lot less work and cuts in their own contracts. Meaning they couldn't offer me anything, and may not be able to for the whole year.

It's not tremendous news, I'll admit, and being timed at the precise point Danielle and I returned, and thus at our most broke, was unfortunate (there was tons of work over the summer...). Fortunately, we had enough reserves to rent a flat, and get set up in general life, and Danielle quickly found work. Since December, and even moreso since January, I've been looking for work. With the oil price low and lots of layoffs, it's not so easy finding anything in the oil industry and I've been looking for other stuff too. As yet, I'm still to get the magic phonecall.

As life as a whole has been placed on hold, the Wonder mission unfortunately is also on hold. I can't plan any trips, big or little, until I know what's going on with our lives. It's frustrating, but not terminal. Because as soon as I do know what's going on with our lives, then the planning can continue. I'm not planning any more epic eight or ten month trips, everything else remaining can be picked off in short trips. From longest trip to shortest, let's take a look at them. I've decided to make it look pretty, with boxes that are colour-coded by overall difficulty, in a traffic light theme.

The Far East Trip – China, Tibet, Japan, Taiwan: 1000 Buddha Caves, Potala Palace, Spring Temple Buddha, Kiyomizu-dera, Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Himeji Castle, Taipei-101. Estimated time: One month. (7 Wonders)

Egypt, Israel, Jordan: The Pyramids, Cairo Citadel, Karnak, Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel, Dome of the Rock, Gardens of Haifa, Petra. Estimated time: Three weeks.(8 Wonders)

The War-Zone Trip - Turkey, Syria, Lebanon:  Gobelki Tepe, Krak Des Chevaliers, Palmyra, Baalbek. Estimated time: Two weeks (and clearly not happening any time soon).(4 Wonders)

UAE and Sri Lanka: Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Jetavanaramaya. Estimated time: Ten days.(4 Wonders)

Central Asia – Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan: Registan, Ak Orda Presidential Palace. Estimated time: One week.(2 Wonders)

Germany: Cologne Cathedral, Neuschwanstein Castle. Estimated time: Five days.(2 Wonders)

France: Chateau de Chambord, Chateau de Chenonceau. Estimated time: Five days.(2 Wonders)

England: Ely Cathedral, Stonehenge. Estimated time: Four days.(2 Wonders)

Long weekend in Venice: St Mark’s Basilica, Santa Maria della Salute. Estimated time: Three days.(2 Wonders)

Single Wonders to pick off, in trips of ranging from a couple of days to up to a week: the Kremlin and Red Square (Russia), Wieliczka Salt Mines (Poland), Leptis Magna (Libya), Djenne Mosque (Mali), Lalibela (Ethiopia).

And finally, once all the above are done, the very last Wonder I intend to visit, to finish this damn quest once and for all: the Forth Bridges in Scotland. The third of these bridges is currently in construction and due to be finished next year.

I look forward to all of these, whenever they eventually happen. In the meantime, I'll look for work, and I have a few other money-raising plots in the works (no, not drug dealing or male prostitution, although I have no doubt I could command a considerable fee for the latter). This blog is fine, as I have plenty to write about. Happily, there is a whole world of amazing places out there, whether I visit them all or not.

I've also begun work on the actual book of these travels too. As this blog isn't exactly brief with its words, neither will the book. What will become of it, I can't say, as the world of travel publishing is somewhat competitive, but I hope to have the Asian part of the travels done by May, and everything written by the end of this year. If I sell just one copy, I'll be happy, as long as that copy is sold for over £950,000.

That's the current state of play, therefore. When it changes, you'll see the little box on the sidebar correspondingly change. Until then, you can safely assume I'm sitting at home, drinking coffee, eating toast with honey, and looking at a map of the world.


  1. Let me know in due course when you're thinking of visiting Cologne, Bavaria or the Loire. I might take the opportunity to tag along and see them too, them being reachable by train from Marseille and not those devilish flying machines.

    In the meantime I'll have to get my new glasses sorted out, I sat on my only pair like some kind of Mr Magoo and broke them, and it would be a shame to look at something like Cologne cathedral as if it were a blurry impressionist painting.

    1. I certainly will, whenever that is. Hopefully it will give you time to get a new pair of glasses. I recommend getting two pairs, to guard against any future incident.


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