Here’s a photo of a Tibetan nun at the Ani Tsankhung Nunnery in Lhasa. The building was built in the 15th century on a site that had been used for meditation by the 7th century Tibetan king Songtsän Gampo. It’s a beautiful complex.
One of my happiest memories is when we visited the on-site tea house run by the nuns. It was busy, full of local Tibetan people in traditional dress. We sat next to a family who insisted on sharing their food with us. They were generous people. Everyone was friendly. No one spoke English, and we only knew a few words of Tibetan, but we laughed together, and communicated as best we could. We drank butter tea – you can choose sweet or salted. I drank both, and ate bread rolls.
Out of all the places I’ve visited – Tibet is one of the most memorable. It has a unique culture which I hope they’ll manage to preserve. It’s changing quickly under the Chinese occupation.
I’ve had some spare time recently. I’ve been slowly getting back into editing images which feels good. Photography’s taken a back seat over the last few months and I’m enjoying getting back into it.
I’m much happier when I’m creating something. It was the same while we were travelling. After a few days/weeks of being constantly on the go, I found myself craving time to write, or edit. I’m not sure why. Maybe the act of creating made me feel as if I was worth something, as opposed to just travelling, which felt self-indulgent at times.
We’ve recently moved into a new place. It’s the first place we’ve rented which has been completely unfurnished. In my experience, most landlords tend to buy the cheapest furniture possible, and for once in my life, I was looking forward to having a decent mattress to sleep in.
Problem is – when it comes to interior design and furnishing – Andrew and I are clueless! We also had no idea how lucrative the “home and furniture” market is! Everything is expensive, even little things can cost extortionate amounts. Prices are insane, and I’m finding out that I have expensive taste! (Have you seen the LG OLED Signature series TV?) Everything I like costs a lot! (I also don’t understand how so much stuff has a 1-3 month lead time. Aren’t we supposed to be in the “on demand” era?)
We bought cheap furniture in the past. It fell apart within a year and was a nightmare to get rid of. I was keen to avoid that this time! Which means I’m trying to “maximise” every decision we make by spending weeks researching whatever we’re hoping to buy. Vacuum cleaners for example. Which brand? Which type? Which size? How much power? What’s the noise level? What extra fixtures does it have? So much to think about, and that’s just a hoover!
I recently read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. It’s a great book which helped me decide what to keep, and how to store and organise everything. On the flip side, it’s instilled this obsession with surrounding myself only with things I love!
So, I’ve accepted that furnishing is going to take a while!
Of course, this is an exciting opportunity in many ways, and I’m lucky and grateful to have this very first world problem. We’re fortunate to have been able to save, and be able to purchase, a bed for example, without having to worry about paying off our credit card bill for months.
But it does seem kind of wrong. We’ve never spent much on material goods before.
Truth be told, I’m feeling a bit tied down with all this stuff we’re buying. I’ve been living out of a rucksack for most of the last three years. It was annoying at times but also liberating. All these purchases we’ve been making feel like a burden.
Historically, all our money has been spent on travel. Until recently, we had very few belongings. Spending so much on things, doesn’t sit right with me. Although, to be fair, I have no problem buying expensive camera equipment or laptops, so maybe I’m just not used to it.
I can see how it’s easy to get carried away with spending a fortune on a nice home. Part of me wants to have everything sorted. The sane part of me knows that I need to be patient. Spending every weekend furniture shopping in John Lewis is not my idea of fun, and I’m already tired of looking for ideas on Houzz.
Having travelled and lived with so little, focusing so much on material goods feels weird. I worry about how much of this buying frenzy is us getting caught up in some meaningless social convention and purchasing stuff we don’t need.
Obviously, it’s nice to have a lovely home, but is it really worth the money? It makes sense I guess, it’s where most people spend the majority of their time, and, “it’s an investment” I’m told by many. Maybe, but investment in what?
Given the cost of furnishing a nice home, I now understand why most home owners have no money for travel. It’s funny how many people found us unacceptable to be spending a few thousand pounds travelling the world, whereas it’s acceptable to spend a few thousand pounds on a chair or coffee table, (Eames and Noguchi anyone?). We haven’t bought half the things we need yet, and have still spent the equivalent of what we spent travelling for almost a year. That’s crazy!