Wandering Wives – Stranded Roadside In India

Author: , November 30th, 2015

Indian cart

The journey from Orchha to Agra was a long one. We travelled on dusty roads through areas which our driver proclaimed were unsafe to stop. I am not sure how long we had been driving for when we got a flat tyre. Our driver pulled into the side of the road and set to work on fixing the flat. We decided to get out of the car to stretch our legs and were told to get back in, guard our bags and not let anyone see us. A little shocked we did as we were told, he fixed the flat and we continued on our journey. As we drove he told us how we were travelling through ‘bandit country‘ and how everyone here had guns and it was not safe to stop anywhere. We gazed out of the windows at the passing colourful trucks and arid landscape, thankful of our lucky escape.

The scenery rolled by through the afternoon until our peace was once again disturbed by the familiar thud-thud-thudding of a flat tyre on a gravel road. Our second flat of the day was much more traumatic than the first. We stopped opposite some kind of truck stop and the driver got out to assess the situation. We now had three working India Biketyres and two flats. He jacked up the car and took the damaged wheel off. Then he went over the road to chat to some local men at the truck stop, which was now looking more like a trailer park. The hard faced, gap toothed locals emerged to look at us. Children at first, then men. We smiled but tried not to encourage them, fearing for our safety and wondering if we were still in ‘bandit country.’ Our driver came back and told us he had to go to the next town to fix the tyre. He locked the doors, told us to stay in the car, pushed his mobile phone and the car keys through the open window then before we realised what was happening he was gone. He jumped on a truck with our flat tyre and left us on the side of the road, with three wheels and a jack. We quickly wound up the window.

Then the men came. Young men, old men, teenagers and middle aged men, around 25 of them in total. They surrounded our vehicle and began to circle us. They prowled around the car, pointing, looking, leering at us. Some started blowing kisses and knocking on the window. One of them tried the door handle and laughed as he realised it was locked. The pack continued to circle us, shouting to us, blowing kisses, trying to open the doors. Then the car began to move, they were pushing it from side to side laughing at us as we cowered inside. We were frozen in fear by what was unfolding, unable to speak or move. Seeing the mobile phone we decided to call for help, but we quickly realised we had no idea of our actual location to notify the police. The only other number we had was our drivers, and it was his phone we had. We contemplated putting the keys in the ignition and driving the car off its jack. We had no idea how far away the next town was or if a car with three wheels would even move. Our only weapon was a Swiss army knife which was somewhere at the bottom of my backpack. We knew it was only a matter of time before they tipped the car or smashed a window to get to us…read more on Wandering Wives

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Wandering Wives – Morlaix A Fairytale Town

Author: , November 28th, 2015

Morlaix street

The old French town of Morlaix is one of the most picturesque places we have ever visited. Nestled between the foothills of the Monts d’Arrée national park and the towns beautiful estuary, Morlaix is a charming mix of ancient buildings and cobbled lane ways, just waiting to be explored. The whole town sits under the watchful eye of a large viaduct, framing its spires and roof tops and further adding to its photographic appeal.

We explored the maze of cobbled lane ways and stumbled across tiny French patisseries and creperies hiding out of sight. We found ourselves wandering for hours, pressing our faces up against the windows of bakeries and marvelling at the old world charm. Poking our heads into cute little shops selling Breton biscuits and traditional French dress. When we stumbled across a bicycle outside a shop, we half expected its owner to arrive wearing a Breton top, carrying a baguette, with a string of onions around his neck. Sadly he did not, but even without the stereotypical native, Morlaix is the quintessential French town… read more on Wandering Wives

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Wandering Wives – Street Art In Brest

Author: , November 25th, 2015

Wandering Wives Brest

Did you hear the one about the two lesbians who visited a city called Brest? There’s no punchline to that joke. But we are two lesbians and we did visit the city of Brest in Brittany, France. In fact, we went to Brest and we liked it.

The coastal city has the usual lighthouse, quayside and docks you would expect. It is also home to an impressive military arsenal and huge aquarium complex. But the best thing about Brest is its street art. A few years back, the city had a big problem with graffiti. Kids were spraying their names on houses and the place looked a mess. Rather than banning graffiti, the town council took an innovative approach to fixing the problem. They invited internationally renowned street artists to paint in the city. They got young people involved in street art workshops and taught them how develop their skills. They encouraged citizens to apply for permission to exhibit their own street art on walls around the city. A few years on and street art in Brest has transformed the city into a vibrant and colourful living canvas which residents can be proud of.

Recently we were invited to join street artist Guy Denning on a paste up in Brest. We watched an unassuming blank wall be transformed into an awesome piece of art work for the whole community to enjoy. The first thing Guy did was leave one of his signature branded paint cans on a window ledge in a nearby street. He then sent out a tweet showing a picture of the can and his social media fans went crazy as they began searching for it. Guy does this a lot, his work sells for a small fortune and he likes to make it accessible to everyone. Street art and free art pieces are his way of providing art for the people who can’t afford it…read more on Wandering Wives

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Wandering Wives – Autumn In Brittany

Author: , November 21st, 2015

French abandoned house

Brittany lies in the north-west corner of France and has a climate similar to the UK. So along with driving rain and biting wind, autumn in the region can bring some truly stunning days. Vivid landscapes full of colour are waiting around every corner. Fallen conkers and amber leaves make up an ever changing blanket on the ground. Lush grassy hills play hide and seek in the haze of foggy mornings as coats and scarves come out of hiding.

Autumn in Brittany is about woodland walks through crisp undergrowth and evenings spent by a crackling fire. The colours of autumn breathe life into their surroundings as everyone enjoys the last days of sunshine before winter arrives. Pumpkins are carved, soups are made, slippers are rediscovered and butternut squash becomes part of everyday vocabulary one again. Autumn is bright, vibrant youthful and wondrous.

Or at least that’s what our Instagram feed would have you believe. Leaves on the ground, check. Huge scarf, check. Average pumpkin in the dark, check. Cute dog walking selfie, check. The reality is often very far from the truth. Yes we have been carving pumpkins and walking a dog in a scarf (us not him), but what the selfies don’t reveal is the truth behind them.

It rains 95% of the time and lighting a fire is one of the skills our generation have lost. Most of the leaf strewn pathways are brown and sludgy and very slippery. The grass is always wet and merely glancing in its direction will render your jeans soaked to the knees for the rest of the day. Carving a pumpkin is hard, trying to cut a butternut squash requires so much skill it should be an Olympic event. The super cute giant scarf is actually super itchy and a massive trip hazard. The dog has diarrhoea and shat on his own lead the other day…read more on Wandering Wives

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Wandering Wives – Crashing An Indian Wedding

Author: , November 19th, 2015

Indian Wedding

When we arrived in Orchha it was late and we had trouble finding a room. Wondering if there was a census, holy day, festival or son of God being born in a stable near by, we eventually found a dank, desolate, 200 Rupee room that was available. Knowing from our past escapades that beggars can’t be choosers, we took the room.

We had travelled a whole day in the car and wanted nothing more than to sleep but the thumping music and lights from whatever parade was happening outside put pay to that. Mildly motivated by the stench of our room we decided to venture out into the streets to see what was happening.

Indian wedding horse“It is wedding season in Orchha!” We were told by our hotelier. He further explained, it was a sacred or lucky day to get married and over 200 weddings had happened in the town that day. We saw several grooms paraded through the streets on horseback followed by a procession of wedding guests. Many of these elaborate parades included large carts and vehicles wired to suspicious looking generators. These carried impressive displays of flashing fairground lights and blared out traditional Indian rave music with a thumping bass line. We were carried through the streets in a wave of festival atmosphere, dancing and cheering along with the locals.

We stopped outside a large restaurant with no roof and tried to sneak a look at the wedding reception being held there. We were quickly surrounded by children who for some strange reason wanted our autographs. Next came their parents, who rather than asking us to leave, took us by the hand and dragged us into the wedding reception…read more on Wandering Wives

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Wandering Wives – Armistice Day In Northern France

Author: , November 12th, 2015

We spent Armistice Day in the small Breton village of La Feuillee in northern France. In the UK the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is a sombre event, filled with military aplomb. It begins promptly at 11:00 with a silence to commemorate the fallen. Most cities hold large memorial services at their cenotaphs and poppies are worn as a mark of respect. We experienced a similar atmosphere watching the ANZAC parade in Australia. In France, Armistice Day is more of a celebration than a memorial. The French have a public holiday and celebrate their freedom and liberation.

We walked into the village at around 10:50 not entirely sure what to expect and hoping we weren’t late. Our first port of call was the war memorial, which had been adorned with tricolours. On our way towards it we noticed most other people were walking in the opposite direction so we turned on our heels and followed them. We reached the council offices and saw a group of people were gathered outside. We were unsure if we were in the right place as people were calling out to one another, children were shouting and playing, no one seemed to be respecting or remembering anything.

We stood back from the crowd and observed, still trying to work out if we had accidentally arrived at a birthday party or school outing. At 11:00 the church bells rang, our backs stiffened and our heads bowed, ready to contemplate the sacrifice of the fallen. It soon became clear we were the only ones observing the silence. The French villagers continued calling to one another, greeting each other with kisses and chatting. Cars were still arriving and late comers continued to walk up the road from the village with no sense of urgency. We decided to break our silence with a debate about GMT. Perhaps the service was at 12:00 in France due to the time difference. The church bells rang again and it looked like something was happening. It would appear that the French start their commemoration at 11:10, being fashionably late as ever…read more on Wandering Wives

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Wandering Wives – Eating With The Poor In India

Author: , November 5th, 2015

Varanasi Ganges

In Varanasi the early evening streets were bustling with life, everyone was busy going here, rushing there, praying, singing, peeing, shopping, coughing and spitting. We walked in a daze, examining every bit of human behaviour out on display, wondering what stories lay behind the individuals in the crowd. We walked and walked, looking for a place to eat. I can not recall if we expected to find a McDonald’s or a Royal Tandoori Curry house, but I know we didn’t find either. Naively we had expected getting a meal in India to be a bit like Curry Mile in Manchester, but a bit more foreign, it was far from that. We could see people going into buildings but none of them looked like restaurants, were they shops? homes? temples? We had no idea. Every now and then we came across what we assumed was an eating establishment, people called to us “Hello mam, come in, take a seat, eat here!” Being new to the Indian experience we were petrified of contracting Delhi-belly and still sanitizing our hands every half hour. We had no idea of the accepted hygiene standards and dismissed most of the places we passed.

Varanasi marketAfter what may have been decades walking without any sign of the afore mentioned Curry Mile, we made the decision to stop at the next place which was serving food. We saw a place from across the street, it looked busy with lots of people coming and going. After some consideration, we figured if the locals were eating there it must be safe. We crossed the street and asked the price. “Oh please please, come eat with us, no charge, no charge.” said the maitre d, looking excited and ushering us in. We took our seats at a shared table and discussed how much we thought the meal would actually cost. After deciding we were now committed and we would have to pay, no matter what they charged us, we let them bring us some food.

We were served a flavoursome vegetable and potato curry with chapatis and set about using our new hand eating skills to wolf it down. The gentleman across from us agreed it was a lovely meal, he then went on to tell us it was the first time he had eaten that week. Two new diners joined us at our table, one had wooden crutches and a missing lower leg, the second looked as though he may have had polio. As we finished our meal we looked up from our table at the other people in the restaurant.  It was like a scene from a Victorian work house, every sort of street urchin and beggar you could imagine were crammed around tables, eating like their lives depended upon it…read more on Wandering Wives

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Wandering Wives – Selling Everything

Author: , October 29th, 2015

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The older you get, the more things you own, or as some might say, the more things own you. We own an average amount of stuff; furniture for a two bed house, a lot of books, some art, photographs, DVDs and quite a few sentimental boxes of treasure. Many other travel bloggers will wax lyrical about how their journey is about living off the land, relying on the kindness of strangers, eating mushrooms in a hippy commune and proudly owning nothing but the shirt on their back (plus their smart phone, laptop, kindle, iPod, GPS, and digital SLR camera of course) . Kudos to them, but that is not what our journey is about, we quite like our stuff. If money were no object, I guess we would kit out a Winnebago with our lovingly restored shabby chic furniture. Adorning the walls with our art and photographs, leaving enough drawer space for all our clothes and Ikea bedding. The kitchen would have ample space for our Kenwood mixer, varying size loaf tins and our ever growing collection of Tupperware. However, like most ordinary travellers, money (or how to make it go further) is a pretty big consideration for us.

wandering wives graffitiLetting go of all our belongings and living just with what we can carry is not an easy process. But no one wakes up to an ocean view with the sun rising above it and says “I wish I had a corner couch to sit on and a TV to watch.” For us travel is a process of enrichment and shedding our household items is a necessary part of that. Yes we like our stuff, but when we consider what we are trading it in for, we agree that the swap is more than worth it.

We do not own a house and we decided against paying out for a storage facility for an unknown time-scale. We do not have the luxury of being able to leave everything with Mum and Dad, like the 18 year old gap year crowd. That brought us to one conclusion: sell everything.

Of course when you begin to sort through your belongings it becomes clear that most of it is actually worthless tat that no one would want to buy. So the first stepread more on Wandering Wives

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Introducing Wandering Wives

Author: , October 27th, 2015

We’re delighted to announce a new addition to the Purple Roofs blogging team. Emily and Sian Davies are Wandering Wives; a married lesbian couple from the UK who have been travelling the globe in style.

 

wandering wives wedding

 

After a light bulb moment, they sold everything they owned and bought two one way tickets to the other side of the world. That was almost two years ago and they haven’t looked back since. They’ll be sharing their hilarious adventures in a new regular column on the Purple Roofs blog!

 

Siem Reap Wandering Wives

 

The Wandering Wives love beaches and cocktails, touring vineyards and hiking in the great outdoors. They’ve worked with an NGO in Cambodia, trekked with hill tribes in Vietnam and driven their temperamental campervan around Australia.

 

Uluru sunset shadow

 

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