Friday, June 21, 2013

Amanda's Story

One of the joys of travel is making friends with people who are not afraid to live a life that is outside the norm.  I got to know Amanda over making beds at Newbold House.  I had worked in the garden for two days and was already craving a bit of variety, so when chores were being allocated at the morning meeting and they asked for a volunteer for homecare, my hand shot up. 

We started chatting while Amanda showed me how to carefully fold the sheets in to hospital corners.   It wasn’t too long in the conversation that I recognised a fellow traveller – a kindred spirit with a love for adventure.  I asked if we could sit down for a chat and later on that day she started to share her story…

Amanda is now 48 years old.  She had always moved around as a child and that lust for discovering new places has stayed with her.  She moved to London in her late teens with a dream of being famous and kept putting that idea out to the Universe, till everyone around her was tired of hearing it. 

She was living in a large squat with her boyfriend – a huge empty block of flats that artists, photographers and creative people from all walks of life had made home – when she was discovered by a modelling agency.  A cover page on The Face, a famous fashion magazine at the time, led to her being picked up by an agent, which then led to a global career.   She spent the next decade doing gigs in locations as diverse as Paris, Italy, Milan, Florence, Rome, Finland, Japan, Egypt, New York, Africa, Australia, Seychelles…my mind boggles as she rattles off the list.  Somehow the minute we started talking, I had known this girl had stories to tell….

Amanda says that way of life is in her bones although she has ‘slowed down’ a little, actually putting a few roots down for a year or two…she laughs – “five years at the most”, she admits - before moving on.  She explains this has helped her stay fresh and far more engaged with her life than if she stayed in a routine.   She admits she might actually be searching for that elusive place where she might eventually settle down, but she hasn’t found it yet.

Her journey to Newbold House and life in a community started while spending time in summer camps at Tuttington Field, in Norfolk.  People seemed to spend time in small groups of 10-15 and she loved the sense of community she experienced there and the friendships she made. 

During this time, she built her own yurt (it was the first time she used a sewing machine!) and started to dream of actually living in it somewhere.  When she met Chris her boyfriend, he suggested they find a community that would allow them to pitch a yurt in the garden.  They searched the website diggers and dreamers and within the space of 5 weeks from when they started searching, they had discovered Newbold House, rented her flat in London and had moved here.

She reflects it was crazy it happened so fast but I think it is wonderful there are people in this world that will act on their dreams rather than sit and procrastinate forever…never quite finding the courage to take that first step. 

Amanda admits she is already planning to move on from Newbold in September.  By then she would have been here for about a year and half and she is already hankering after new discoveries…other passions she wants to ignite.   One of those passions is a love for music that she shares with her boyfriend Chris.  Amanda loves to sing and Chris plays guitar and she tells me they have already recorded music together.  She confesses that she would love to sing in a band.  She had done this briefly while in London, after studying musical performance and the chance to explore this avenue again is appealing.  Her eyes light up as she says – “a musician’s life is also about travelling isn’t it”?

I agree that it is.  So much to do, so little time...yes that resonates with me too.

As we chatted I realised we had lots in common.  During my travels, I too had discovered many passions – writing, photography being a couple and the dream of making them more than just hobbies.  We talked about the connections made while travelling and how that helps you grow.  We agreed that it was easy to share your story with a stranger...someone who would accept you for the person you had grown into, rather than the person they remembered from 30 years ago. 

It’s time to say goodbye.  Tomorrow, we will be moving on from Newbold House and I am so glad I discovered Amanda’s story.   A week is a short time to spend in a place and make connections with everyone…so I am grateful for this exchange. 

Amanda, I wish you all the best in your new journey - wherever the road leads you.  I hope your story will inspire others to have the courage to follow their hearts as well. 

 "It's not the size of the dreamer;  It's the size of the dream."  Josh Ryan Evans

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