Hi, we are ‘The Cookes’ (Nigel and Nicola) Cooke and we love to travel. Since our first back packing tip (our Honeymoon through Italy back in 2001) we have had a serious travel addiction visiting locations such as Cambodia, Iceland and New Zealand to name but a few.
Hi, I’m Nicola
I’m currently negotiating my way through my 40’s having worked in the corporate world for nearly 30 years. During this time I’ve been trying to figure out what my passion is in life, what it is I’m actually good at and what my purpose is supposed to be.
I’m finally starting to understand that my passion and purpose is actually the 2 things other than my family that rule my life and have always been there – my love of travel and animals (particularly our cat Guinness).
Whilst initially my travel consisted of traditional summer holidays with friends in places such as Greece, Turkey, Spain, Cyprus etc., spending lazy days on the beach and long nights drinking cocktails, I would also jump at any opportunity to visit friends who had moved abroad. I would usually do this alone and in the days when there were no mobile phones or internet this took some planning and a bit of nerve – this can be hard when you are just out of school and not very street wise! I did however get to see parts of Germany, France and Canada this way and it’s a great way (no accommodation costs, local knowledge) to see places you may otherwise have never thought to go.
This was my travel format for long time, including when I met Nigel, bought a house and we started planning for a family. I would use all my holiday to go somewhere exotic and then count down the days when I was back at work until I could go again. Things may well have continued this way indefinitely, us having fun on our short breaks but never being quite fulfilled, and then spending 48 weeks a year daydreaming about what might be. But then life threw a spanner in the works…. my dad died and we found out that we couldn’t have children and that was when things changed.
It’s taken 9 years to get to where we are now, but in that time this includes taking 2 trips to the other side of the world (once going all the way round), fulfilled the number 1 item on my bucket list of going on safari, taken numerous long haul flights and stayed in many hostels. We now have a map on our wall covered in flags where we have already been and where we hope to soon go.
Throughout life trials and tribulations travel has been the one thing where I feel like the real me. When I’m on the road I feel invincible and cannot wait to see what is around the next corner. The emotions you feel when you step off your first long haul flight (and even better if you get upgraded to business class on a flight to Hong Kong on Christmas Eve), when you walk out of a housing estate straight into the magnificent view of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains or when in the last 20 minutes of your safari trip in South Africa you finally get to see a leopard. These are the things that bring passion and purpose to my life.
In the last year we have now both quit our jobs in Cambridge. Whilst Nigel works as a photographer, I work 5 days a month from home and we have moved to the north coast of Northern Ireland. Whilst it may be much colder here, and we may be financially in a worse place, we now have the opportunity to make travel more of a lifestyle than a hobby and to indulge ourselves in the new sights and sounds we will experience. As we still have Guinness our 16 year old cat, this may mean initially this will be limited to short breaks and places closer to home but if she ever decides she has to leave us, then Galapagos, Machu Picchu and Uganda (I so want to see the Mountain Gorillas) here I come….
Hi, I’m Nigel
“I simply want to see and experience everything … and if I can’t do that, then as much of everything as possible will have to do!!”
Okay the above statement may seem a little corny, but it’s how I’m trying too live my life from this day forward. I loved my corproate job, the people, the challenges and of course the financial rewards. Without kids (as hard as it was to take) it did mean that we pretty much could do what we wanted with very little care.
Something was missing though. And each time we went away on a 2-3 week trip I realised, like Nicola said, that I became a totally different person. An adventurous person. I loved that side of us and we always made an agreement on the last day of our trip to attempt to live our lives more adventurously when we got him. Sadly the day to day always got in the way and before long we were back to working, sleeping, eating (repeat) …
For me the loss of a few work colleagues really shook me hard and it was the final push I needed to quit my job (of 15 years) and follow my passion for photography. We had a plan, but of course life likes to sometimes play with our plans and within 6 months of leaving the corproate world we had also left our home in Cambridge (of almost 20 years) to start a new adventure here in Northern Ireland.
We may now be 95% poorer, from a financial point of view, but what we have lost in $$ we have gained in time – a resource, in my opinion, far more important than money.
I love being outside (certainly part of the reason I love my job as a landscape photographer) and living back here in Ireland is opening our eyes to the beauty that is here, right on our doorstep.
Don’t get me wrong, some days are very tough, as we both struggle with our own mental challenges, but we are trying, together to live a more adventurous life.
So now, about that seeing everything ……