Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Plans taking shape...

A couple of weeks on and things are progressing well enough. I've been granted a 1 year visitors to Oz visa, been looking at flights to / from Perth WA, I've drawn up a (long) list of all my requirements, and wondered what it's all going to cost. Well, I need a new camera, tent, stove, pots and pans and lots else, however the first thing is to buy the new bike. I've plumped for a Thorn Raven with the Rohloff hub gears.

One big advantage of Rohloff is the lack of wearing parts common to deraleur systems, one just has to change the gearbox oil every few thousand miles. The unit has 14 gears entirely contained within the rear hub with a single gearchange lever on the handlebars - no front deraleur is fitted. The systems are expensive at approximately £700, however the Raven is good value to include this feature and still only cost £1200 in standard spec. I'll be adding a few extras which I'll go into in a later posting about bike spec for those who are interested.

I am also weighing up the overall financial situation whereby I will not be paid anything for a year whilst in Australia. Although I have the security of being able to walk back into the same job, same desk, there are nevertheless some hard decisions to make to make this trip viable. To this end I have decided to sell my home of 8 years in a lovely corner of Caithness, so that I won't have mortgage, house insurance etc. to fork out whilst away. I did consider renting, but it's quite a lot of hassle, and there are no guarantees of letting in what is a well-supplied market at the moment around here. I was also persuaded to sell by bringing into play another wish of mine - to build another house, or possibly renovate an old property, after I return. The house will be up for sale in March or April, and if it sells quickly enough I may buy a plot or old property before I go - I may be able to store some of my stuff there rather than pay for commercial storage.

I've also decided on which charity I'll be supporting through this trip - Water Aid. This is a great organisation that aims to provide clean water supplies and sewage facilities to a million people around the world in the next few years. Water is something we take for granted but it's presence and quality is a matter of life and death for some of the worlds poorest people. I am about to set up an account on the Justgiving website which makes donating secure and easy.

Anyway that's lunch over and must get back to work.