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Frankie Dewar  0:00  
Hey with Laila Smith. Yeah, and it is the 31st of August, possibly day 17 of the trip. And we're at your caravan in the woods, which is amazing. Hello, and welcome to the extraordinary ordinary women sharing life's adventures. My name is Frankie. And this is a podcast where I interview extraordinary ordinary womxn and non binary folks as part of a 3000 kilometer cycle around England, Wales and Scotland. interviewing people older than myself, to show that you don't just have to do it whilst you're young. You'll hear all about their adventures and what they get up to, as well as the answers to my big life questions. Like what does authenticity mean? Did you have a clear sense of direction through life? And what advice would you give to your younger self? This is episode nine, where I speak to Leila. He lives off grid in a caravan in the woods with her dog. In this episode, Leila tells us all about her love of travel, and some of the incredible trips she's been on, including cycling to Rome with Rolo in a trailer. We recorded this interview in the woods where she lives. It was really peaceful. right up until I started recording. You will never believe this then aerobatic plane started practicing tricks. During the recording. We've managed to cut out the worst of it. with some help from podcast hero Fran Turaskis, you can still hear it in the background at some points. But I hope this doesn't deter from Leila's incredible stories.

Frankie Dewar  1:50  
Can I ask how old you are?

Leila  1:52  
41. Yeah.

Frankie Dewar  1:56  
And I always start off by saying for people that don't know who you are at all, give me a bit of a snapshot of who you are and what you do.

Leila  2:03  
So I'm a freelance interior designer will usually freelance and then in between contracts, I go traveling or do an expedition or something. So freelancing works really well. Because it means that you're not you haven't got a long list of jobs that you've quit on your CV, because they are short, which means that you can just have lots of time off and do lots of wonderful things. Then my home life, I like to live in a caravan in the woods. I've been here nine years. Very basic. I'm off grades. Don't know what else to say about it really?

Frankie Dewar  2:45  
already. I've got like so many questions. I want to talk very quickly about you being an interior designer working freelance. Yeah, kind of just to get it over with the adages, how did you how did you become a freelance?

Leila  2:59  
Well, I didn't do it intentionally, because I always thought you needed a secure job, I had a mortgage, I had bills, I had a flat, and I needed security to pay for those. But I think I got made redundant, or the company I worked for something anyway. And so I thought, well, I'll go traveling because I had some money. This is the perfect time just to go off for two months, and then come back and get a job. So I've given myself enough money in the bank to get a job for what for one month when I got back. And I got a job for easily. But it was a contract. It was a short contract. And I was like, Oh, I you know, that's no good. I need something permanent. But I also need a job. So I took the contract, it pays me almost twice as much I would normally get paid. And I thought well, this is really good. And then when that finished a company that I used to work for I got in touch with them. But they only wanted me on a contract as well, because they didn't have enough work for a long for a permanent job. So again, I do more with them than I did when I was permanent. So I thought, well, this is good. That contract finished. Because the thing is, is well you know when the contract is going to finish, so you can plan to go traveling. So I'm focusing on the traveling trip on a short one again. And then I came back and then I contacted some of the people that I'd worked for, and they asked me on a contract. And then so it just kind of span like that, really I just thought well this is the perfect way to travel the world to not have to keep quitting your job because that never looks good. But if you're a freelancer or a contractor, you're expecting to have gaps in your CV. So at the bottom of my CV, I've got all these crazy wonderful things that I've done, and like they're all they're always a big talking point. And so I I'm talking about my life rather than my career in a in a in an interview. And then yeah, that just worked really well for me. And so I've just got really good at what I do. I've specialized in doing contractual drawings, so that the, the design can get built, that the bit that I do when I'm freelancing is the bit that the designers don't want to do. So they want to do all the schemes and all the, the really pretty big stuff, and they don't want to do the drawings. So I'm going in and doing the stuff that no one else wants to do. I'm really good at a, I can charge you a lot of money for it. And that means I don't have to work well. Yeah, yeah. So it works really well, for everybody. Really,

Frankie Dewar  5:45  
that's amazing. I feel like there's gonna be certain people that I like, that is what I want to do.

Leila  5:52  
Because a lot of times I go to like talks and adventure, we can't and, and everyone's saying, Oh, you know, you need to quit your job, give up your house, give up everything, go on a world tour that lasts a year or two. And, you know, that's pretty scary for a lot of people to give up everything. And I'm just sitting there thinking, you don't need to give up everything. Like just give yourself a bit of time, do some freelancing, you can still come back home, your career, you can still come back have lots of money. You don't have to come back and work in Aldi or something, you know, you can still have a career and travel. And I don't think that is expressed enough. Really?

Frankie Dewar  6:30  
Yeah, I'd agree. 100. Yeah. When I first set up as freelance, I was kind of like, well, I just do this until I run out of money. savings. Yeah. And like, I'm not actually running out of savings. And now I look back and I'm like, why was running out of savings? Yeah, you know, and so how's your work life balance now?

Leila  6:53  
Well, the thing is, because I live, like so far out of civilization, or whatnot so far, but I live quite remotely. And most of the companies that I work for are in Birmingham. So that's like a three hour round trip. And I've managed to get a job up the road, which is only 20 minutes away. So at the moment, I did go permanent, which isn't too bad, because it means that I do get more life in the day because I'm not doing a big commute. I've also reduced my hours at work, because why work 40 hours a week. So I know I just work about 20 hours a week, which gives me a lot of spare time. Yeah. So it's working really well actually. And because I'm permanent, it means that I'm very happy for those. So that's a dream come true. So I'm quite glad that I took the permanent job for a little while. back that way. Yeah. Tell me about your adventures. That was the first one that you did. The first one I did, I went into what was called at the time of Buna back. And it was like a working holiday in the USA. So the company organized the visa and the flights and everything and I organized a job. So I was a lifeguard in a waterpark for three months in America. And that was pretty crazy. And then while I was there, I did some traveling and bits and pieces. And that was my first insight into traveling. And then, while I was at uni, I saw an advert in the, in one of the rooms that that that was like working with monkeys abroad. I was like, wow, like that is so cool. Like, I'm going to go work with some monkeys when I leave University. So I organized it all. And so it is voluntary conservation work. So it is a month working with lions a month with monkeys, a little vervet monkeys, and then a month with penguins, and then a month, completely just traveling around. And when I told people that I was going to go backpacking, Judy's travel trip after uni. They were all like, Oh, no, don't you think you should get a job? And what about your career? And oh, you know, you'll never get a job if you don't get one straight from uni. And I was thinking, well, that's crazy. Because this is the only time I'm going to have to go and travel the world. So as soon as I get a job in a career, I thought, like my traveling is over. I just thought it was completely backwards what everyone else was thinking and they obviously thought I was crazy. When I went and done it anyway, and I came back and then within I don't know about three months or so I got a job at this really good design firm in Birmingham. So I thought well, what everyone's like, got their wires crossed, really on how things work.

Frankie Dewar  9:46  
How did you Was it hard to still go when everyone was telling you you're crazy?

Leila  9:55  
No, not. Not really because I went so I've got idea and I'm certain of it, then I don't really see how their points of view is going to be right. Although I did have those niggles thinking of Will I ever get a job. And then I just thought, well, this is something I've always wanted today, it's like, go work with these animals in Africa. So I thought, well, I'll just take the chance. And I'm so glad I did. And that I didn't just fall into the trap like everybody else if getting a job after uni, and, you know, not having seen the world. And what happened next, then it was when I, that was when I started the freelance work after that. So I got the after uni, I got the job that I just mentioned, and I was there for four years. But you know, I wanted to go traveling, but I got a mortgage and a career. And then after that is when I started freelancing. So up since then, I've been freelancing about 15 years, which has suited me very well.

Frankie Dewar  11:00  
And what adventures Have you done since then,

Leila  11:02  
I've been doing a little bit in Asia and bits like that. And then when I was becoming just about to turn 30, was when it was the recession in 2008. And it was getting harder and harder to find work. And I was also approaching 30. And like, I've never ever in my life wanted to be 30. And I was like, Oh my god, it's so old. And I was having a bit of a breakdown about becoming 30. And then I thought, Well, after 30, you are officially old, because you can't get a visa to go to Australia for a year. You can't go to like all these countries in the world like New Zealand and that they say, well, you, you can't have a working holiday visa after 30. I hope that really means it's my last chance. So I went to Australia for a year. So I didn't have to be 30. And I absolutely loved it. And I had such good time there. And then I came back. And I just decided that I didn't want to keep having to come back and get a job. So I thought, well, I want to I want some residual income. So then I've spent the last 10 years working on a retirement plan so that I don't have to rely on work. So often less traveling the past 10 years, but what I have been doing is saving, so I can buy properties and get money and invest in things. So I was hoping that that would all be complete by now, but I've got about another year to go. That's pretty amazing, though.

Frankie Dewar  12:41  
That is still pretty amazing.

Leila  12:43  
Yeah, a bit disappointed. I didn't hit the 40 but 40 years old retirement, but it's not too bad. Yeah. And so, yeah, is that noise reload again? Sorry. That's rolling. digging in while he's trying to make his kennel comfortable. Haha. Yeah. So yeah, that's it. I mean, my other travel adventures. In three years ago, I decided that I wanted to go traveling. I've got a cocker spaniel. So I thought, well, I want him to come with me. You know, going backpacking is easy. Now. It's not, it's not a thing. I can just pack my bag and go anywhere in the world. Because I've done it so many times. But I wanted to challenge and also sorry, to just pass he's probably gonna do with a belief or something. It's one of those acrobatic, which is fine. But every now and again, he just comes on, he just makes such a racket, and why peaceful like

Frankie Dewar  13:55  
that. Okay, sorry, carry on.

Leila  13:57  
So, yeah, in 2017, I decided I wanted to go travelling again. And I've got a dog a cocker spaniel. And I thought, well, I want him to come with me. And because I've been backpacking so many times, it's quite easy for me now to just pack a bag and go, and I wanted more of a challenge. And since being in Australia, like going into the outback, and you just realize how much we've got on our doorstep, in Europe, there's just a phenomenal lot. I never appreciated how much we had. And I thought, well, I want to see more of my own continent. And I thought, well, I've always since I was seven wanting to go to Italy. So I thought, right, I'll go to Italy. And I thought, well, I don't want to put the dog on a plane. So I thought, well, I can either hitchhike, which didn't really seem very appealing. Or I can walk which I thought will take forever. I thought or I can cycle word for cycle. I get there quicker. I can put the dog in a trailer so he can have a rest every now and again. So I thought, yeah, I'll cycle to Rome. And I thought, well, it's probably going to be difficult getting somebody to stay with the dog. So a wild cam, and sorry if I can tell you this, the conversation that I was having with people, so I've decided to cycle to Rome. And so people are like, Oh, where are you going next? What's your next adventure? And I'd say, I'm gonna cycle to Rome. And they're like, Oh, you must be a keen cyclist. They're like, No, I don't even have a bike yet. And I've never even cycled more than 10 miles down the kid out. And they're like, Oh, so you must be doing lots of training, though. Like, no, I'm just gonna train on the go. And they're like, well, where are you gonna stay? And I feel like, well, I'm just kind of wild camp. And they're like, Oh, that's Alright, then. Okay. Yeah, I've never done that before. Are you gonna go around the Alps? No, I'm gonna go. And then like, and then just must've thought I was absolutely bonkers. Um, but yeah, we got there. I mean, the dog got there again. So

Frankie Dewar  16:14  
that sounds amazing. And it was a like, so many of the conversations that I've had.

Leila  16:21  
Yeah, but to me, it was logical. It's like, well, I put the dog in a trailer. And I thought, well, if I can even just cycled 10 miles a day, you know, put my tent of all I've got to do is just carry on doing that every day till I get to Rome. So as long as I keep moving, if you can get through day one, and you can get through every day, I think. And then eventually, if you don't give up, you're going to get there. So I just thought, well, I'll

Frankie Dewar  16:48  
get there when I get there. And what was your route to Rome? How did you get a

Leila  16:53  
similar route to Rome, I did the eurovelo five. Because I was so naive and didn't have a clue. I thought the whole route would be like signposted like strands. And there was no signposts until I got to Italy, when I actually knew what I was doing by that point. And the eurovelo, you've got one main website, which tells you an overview. And then for each country that you go through, they've got their own website, like we've got the strands and France without their version. But then, in some, each country's website, the route description didn't match the math that they had. And then the math they had didn't match. Like sometimes he'd have like a list of towns and they would be completely different to everything else. And the GPS files on these websites didn't work. So you kind of didn't really know where you were supposed to be going. And most the times, I'd be like in some farmer's field with mud up to my ankles and roads that were not even roads anymore. Like they hadn't been roads for 20 years, because they weren't even a footpath now because there was trees down and you couldn't even get get past. So most time I didn't really have a clue where I was going. And then each country like they the roots didn't meet at the border. And there was like a no man's land in between of like 30 miles where you had to just figure it out. And yeah, it was a bit of a logistical nightmare. Really, I don't really know where I was going. But I ended up in Rome. So

Frankie Dewar  18:25  
what countries did you pass through on the way?

Leila  18:27  
Now my geography is really terrible, but France, Belgium, Luxembourg? I think I went back into France, then a little like de Germany, Switzerland and Italy, I think,

Frankie Dewar  18:42  
did you have a favorite place that you cycled through?

Leila  18:47  
Probably the first section of Luxembourg, because I had such a rendus like road conditions. And I didn't and the signs weren't there. My GPS was not working. And Google was sending me all over the place. But in Luxembourg, I got there and there was like, I think it was 60 kilometers, the first section from the border into Luxembourg City. It's a dedicated cycle track, and it was paved, it was smooth. There were signs telling me where to go. It was about two meters wide, maybe two and a half meters wide for 60 kilometers. And all I saw on the cycle track was like two other people. And it was the best cipher track I'd seen in like weeks. So that that was good for cycling because it was just so easy, and that's how I thought the whole journey would haha and then Italy was also fabulous. Because I was dreading cycling in Italy especially with a dog in a trailer because you hear about you know, crazy Italian drivers and narrow roads and potholes and and all these things, but Italy has really invested in the industry. structure for the cycle route, because they want the tourists. So the route was signed. It was like quiet roads. It was beautiful scenery. It was such an easy journey compared to the rest of Europe. Yeah, so I would definitely say cycling in Italy is a good thing today not to be scared of it. Not the drivers weren't that crazy. There weren't that many potholes. Really. I don't think there was more than what we've got in England.

Frankie Dewar  20:28  
I was gonna say there's definitely some very dodgy roads. How was it taking your dog with you?

Leila  20:34  
It was just the best. Yeah, it was hard work. And I did have to think a lot about him. And so I try and go a route where there was lots of water because it was quite hot. So every time we I saw some water, I'd let him out for swimming to cool down. And it was generally absolutely brilliant. He got a lot of firsts. So I'd be like in a shop, getting supplies, and then I'd come out. And he like a tourist attraction. So I'd come out and they'd be like, you know, 10 or 15 women all around the trailer trying to pet the dog. And he would just be sitting there. By the end of the trip, I'd come out the shop. And he just been looking up at me like, please help me. He had so much for us. He just he just didn't need any I've never known a dog just not need any more first. But he Yeah, it was just like, I don't need any more of it. enough fuss to last a life time.

Unknown Speaker  21:34  

Frankie Dewar  21:35  
Did he stay in the trailer most the time?

Leila  21:38  
Yeah, because because he's a cocker spaniel. He doesn't know how to, he doesn't know when he's tired. So originally, I thought I would cycle I wanted to do as much off road as possible. So he could run down the canal and through the parks and have a real good doggy adventure. But I'd be cycling and he'd be running around. And then when it when it was break time, he wouldn't know it was break time and he would still continue to run around and be crazy. And I put him on your leads and attaching to the trailer. So he couldn't run. But then it just like sit there barking because he wanted to be let off. Because he went into go swimming or something. So in the end, I thought he can't run all the way to Rome, he's gonna be absolutely knackered. So while I was cycling, I put him in the trailer. And then while it was break time, or any time I saw some water or something, we'd have a break and he got out. And so we continued like that all the way. So he did spend a lot of time in the trial. I'd stop at least every 45 minutes an hour. I just saw him run around. Have some doggie adventures

Frankie Dewar  22:48  
sounds like great life. Was it a lot of extra weight to carry him in a trailer? Yeah,

Leila  22:56  
so he weighs 16 kilograms, and his trailers 16 kilograms. And then you've got like his bed in his water. And he has dry dog food at home. And when I was on the trip, I initially tried to get to put him onto tin dog food. So I'd buy two tunes one for morning, one for night. But then that didn't agree with him and his pool hair was going all greasy, and he was lethargic. So I put him back onto the working dog dry dog food. But you can't buy small bags of that. So I sometimes end up carrying another six kilograms of dog food for him. So yeah, it was a lot of weight. But it was so good. Like taking taking him. I wouldn't have traded off the weight and not took him it was worth taking all of that. Yeah. How long did it take you to get to Rome? 89 days? Yeah, I wasn't going fast at all. But yeah, when it's I didn't want to go too fast either. And just wanting to take the time and have fun, not not make it about just getting their destination, but make it about the journey to get there.

Frankie Dewar  24:10  
And if anyone had never cycled before, I wanted to do a similar tour. Yeah. Is there any like advice you'd give them about? Starting? Or?

Leila  24:19  
I would say basically just go for it. Yeah, just don't worry about what everyone else is going to say. Because as long as you can pedal for one day, even if it's only five miles, you will eventually get to wherever you want to go. People were telling me that I needed to take like, you know, extra wheels and extra tires and all this extra stuff, like extra tents in case my poles break and I like ridiculous really. But I just made sure I had good quality kids so that hopefully would last and wouldn't break because I think if you keep fails and you're in the middle of a country, you're going to be screwed for a few days so you can get replacement But other than that, I say, just go. And don't really worry about everything that might happen. Because everything that you worry about is not going to happen. And there will be challenges. But there are things that you will never even have ever thought could happen. But then there's always a lot of people to help you like the people that helped me. It's just always when you need the help, it's always there. So when I was in Italy, I hadn't seen any cyclists for like two weeks. Something happened on my bike, I think the gears I think the gears broke. And I was due to go over the see some mountain range. And I thought, well, I can't get over there telling the dog we know gears. I thought I need to fix this. And then lo and behold, I found this retired this retired couple recycling this day. And I hadn't seen anyone for two weeks on a bike. He just helped me he basically fixed my bike there. And then this old man, and yeah, it was just fabulous that that just happened right there on that day. And things like that happen all the time. So I can't even fix my bike. Like, I don't know, I can fix a puncher. But I can't fix anything else. But there's always people and especially warm showers that can help you and tell you what they're doing. So you can learn on the way. Yeah,

Frankie Dewar  26:19  
I'd agree completely. Yeah, definitely. And can you tell me a little bit about your caravan in the woods? How long have you lived here for how to live? 

Leila  26:29  
So I've been here nine years. And it's my dad's land, and I part of my retirement thing like 11 years ago or something. I thought I need to give at work. So I thought, well, my dad's good at making a plan and things. So I set that up, I need to give it where I need to plan. And he says, Well, why don't you move to the woods, which is where I am now. And I thought, No chance. I thought I don't even like the countryside. I don't like being alone in nature. I'm petrified of being in the countryside, even in the daylight. And I thought no, that's not for me. And then I thought, well, actually, it could work. So I decided that I would give it a go. So I got a moved here with just a touring caravan borrowed my dad's dog, so you could look after me while I was here. And I moved in in the October. And my mom was like, You're crazy. Why don't you wait till next spring? You don't even like the cold, you're always cold. You hate the winter? And I was like, No, if I'm gonna try it, I just might as well get the winter out the way and see what happens. So I moved here for the first winter. And there was a lot of learning to there. And a lot of Yeah, yeah, it was hard the first winter, but I got through it. And then I thought well, I might as well stay here for the summer. And then that that was nine years ago. So I'm still here. Now, what's the learning was there in that first winter? Well, I just had to learn how to live like this. So there was a lot of condensation, because I didn't, because it's such a small space and I had to wet dogs, you cooking and washing in there. And it was everything is hard to get rid of the condensation in a caravan. And I didn't really understand how much condensation there would be. So in the winter, I don't boil things to eat on the hub, because of the amount of condensation it takes. So I just cook everything in the oven in the winter. And then like washing my hair, so I've got long hair. And waiting for that to dry in the caravan is like even more condensation. So I'd usually have it like quick shoulder length because it's less dry. And then the dog would be wet and and so because he might condensation, like things would blow up like my laptop and my phone. It was just yeah, just be so much. And then power as well learning about how much power I can use because I've got a solar panel now. And so I know how much power I can use to how much I've got on charge. And when I moved here, I didn't have any slabs and I didn't have the lien too. So all that would be muddy. Everything would be Monday, and the field would be muddy. And there was just mud everywhere. It was like living in Glastonbury. But now that I've got the path, the slabs and the mean to means that everything can stay not it's not as much

Frankie Dewar  29:46  
you know, and now I asked you all this yesterday, this is probably the questions you get all the time but like you say a little bit about a solar panel but what do you do for like electricity and water.

Leila  29:57  
So I've got a solar panel in the field, which is Probably 200 meters away, got a battery unless your battery on there which is constantly on charge. And then I've got another two batteries, one on the caravan, which is like for the lights, and yeah, just the lights. And then I've got a container and like a container next to the caravan, which is about the same size as caravan, which is more like a shed with my bike and stuff in. But in there I've got another battery, which charges up like electrics, laptops, phones, the blender, anything like that. Powers, charges, torches. So once one battery on the caravan or they're in the container is flat, I'll change that with the battery on the solid panel and have them on a rotation. So they're always ones always charging for when one's flat. And then water. So when I first moved here, there was no water either. So I'd have I've got 230 liter Aqua rolls, which are like big barrels that you roll along the floor, and you put water in them. Well, there was no tap here when I first moved. So I'd have to put those barrels in the car along with the battery because I didn't have any solar panel and take those two, my parents charged the batteries of my parents fill the water, but serve and then bring them back. But now I've got a task that was got a tap installed at the top of the field. So that's about a 10 minute walk. So I just roll the app rolls up to the tab and then roll it back and then pump it into the caravan. But I don't really see that as chore because I have to take the dog out twice a day for a walk. So I just fill the water up on the dog walk and then it just becomes part of ductwork. So it's not really a problem. And we run out of electricity. Once a year, every year guaranteed all three batteries die, because there's almost like it seems a three week window where it's just completely gray in the middle of December. And so everything just goes flat. And then I'd have to take but I don't know this until I until everything is flat. So I'll put all the three batteries in the car, and then take them to my dance and have to charge them upon the mains. But I expect that now. So it's not a problem, I just know that that's going to happen. Apart from that I don't run out of electricity. But now I've also got to really be big battery banks. So if all the batteries if all the leisure batteries die, I've got a backup nap for the leisure battery, so I can at least still charge my phone and whatnot. I've got everything I need, I think and I don't need it. Yeah, I don't. I don't miss living in a house. I don't miss having all that stuff and all the bills and having to clean it all. And you know, that sort of stuff that comes with living in a building? Really? Yeah. And I love the simplicity. And I think most people just think I'm a bit weird, you know, living in a caravan in the woods when I could have a nice cozy house and not having a secure job and you know, just bumbling around and then going on all these crazy adventures? Oh, yeah.

Frankie Dewar  33:26  
That leads me really nicely to my next. So I do get what you mean. And I further say when I'm working freelance. And when I'm working seasonally. There's a lot of like whether you just get to settle down and get a job. Yeah. Do you ever feel like you're going against the grain all the time? And if so, how do you deal with it?

Leila  33:47  
Yeah, I don't really feel like I fit into most people's idea of a normal female in the Western world. But I just think when I'm when I'm on my deathbed, yeah, like, I obviously think this all the time, but let's think what would I regret what I don't want any regrets. And if it means that I'm a bit weird as or whatever, they're not I I'm willing to put up with that because I don't want to be old and then realize that I've missed out on stuff just because no one else wanted to do it. So I'd rather just crack on there. But I think now I think I embrace the weirdness because there's always other people that are weird as well and that do crazy things. And I think that once you know that, then you find those people as well and then you realize that there's loads that I didn't know anyone else lived like this really. But since I've since I've been living here, I know I've met so many of the people that want to live off grid and that don't want any bills and and want to live either in vans or just being a nomad so you realize that there's other people like that too. But I think when you're a teenager or in your 20s, it's quite, it's quite hard, because you really feel like you need to fit in. When you think Well, everyone else is doing all this stuff. And they're settling down, and they've got the job and the house and think, well, I don't want that. And I don't want to be stuck in that situation. So I just fumble along and then, yeah, I think once you embrace your weirdness, then you kind of meet other people like that, too.

Frankie Dewar  35:28  
And you talk now about the fact that you've got your plan. But if you always had a clear path,

Leila  35:34  
I've always known what I didn't want to do. So I never wanted to settle down. I never wanted to get married. I never wanted kids, I never wanted to feel trapped. So I always knew that. Even though that was, I didn't know anyone else, you know, everyone else I knew. Because I grew up in a small village, like no one else wanted that everyone else was like having babies and getting married and having kids and I was just like, well, I just have to be on my own for the rest of my life, then because if all my friends are having babies, and they don't want to travel the world, I'll, I'll just have to go on my own. So I did. And then I realized that so the people like that, too. So yeah, I always knew what I didn't want. And I stuck to that. And then I think when I was in my 30s. So after I came back from Australia for the year, I kind of I felt really lost after that. And after traveling for a year, I had like the adventure blues when I got back and I didn't even know the adventure blues was a thing, because I've never heard about it. And the internet was not really that good as it is now. But I did a bit of research. I was working away. Someone's work away Monday to Thursday. And I'd stay in this backpacker hostel while I was working. And everyone was like, why don't you just like rent a house? Like a rooming house? What? Oh, no, that's far too permanent life. I don't even want the job forever. I'm not going to rent a house. I'll just stay in the backpackers and then I can chat to like backpacker type people and feel like I'm traveling. And so I saving this backpackers. And then while I was there, I think it was like nine months that I had this job, I found out about Anthony Robbins, forget what book it was now unlimited power or something. And I read this book, and and I think just read it but I studied it. So over the course of while I was working during the week, I basically made my life a study and studied myself and realize exactly what I wanted and how to get there and how to put this in how to get the life I wanted because I didn't want to keep coming back from traveling and having to having to start again get job, have no money and no more clothes stop holding, because, you know, you know what it's like when you come back from traveling. So I thought, well, I want I want money while I'm traveling. But I don't want to travel to work. So I kind of by reading this book. And I like make notes about me and what all the things that were in the book slides have a list of things. And then I kind of like at the end of the book, I wrote down the life that I wanted. So I got this vision of a clear vision by now of what I wanted. But I didn't know how to put this into place of it. So I was still a bit lost. But I knew I needed to give up work what I wanted to give at work. And I didn't want to rely on a paycheck every month. So that was when I asked my dad about having a plan. And he suggested I move here. So you know, I've got no bills, and I haven't got many outgoings but I still need money. And I thought, well, I still need money, which sounds crazy, because I thought I could just live off my savings forever. But savings run out. So I saw a car to run, I've still got a dog to feed, I've got to feed myself. And I'm not just going to be happy sitting here, you know, listening to the birds every day. So I wanted to go in and adventures and meeting people and doing like loads of hobbies and you know, doing loads of fun stuff. And they cost money as well. Even if you're just going to travel to somewhere you need money. So that's why now I still go back to work. But I don't have to work all year, I could probably work three or four months of the year now and pay for my lifestyle for the whole year. So I still work but I don't have to work a lot and I live very simply. So it means that I think I've got everything I wanted. When I set out my plan 10 years ago. Yeah, I do like to have clear, clear vision of where I'm going now.

Frankie Dewar  39:58  
That is amazing. And I want to read that book. Gently. Yeah,

Leila  40:05  
I spent a lot of time trying to learn about what I wanted and very, very clear about how I wanted my life rather than just Bumble along for the next 50 or 60 odd years of my life and, and just Bumble along into all different things, which is, which is okay. But I knew I wanted a definite thing. And I knew I wanted to be able to not rely on work and to be able to travel.

Frankie Dewar  40:31  
And how do you think your journey has shaped who you are now?

Leila  40:35  
Well, I'm very clear minded. I know what I want. I know what I don't want. I'm willing to say no, to people and things if they don't fit into my plan for if everyone has a clear plan, rather than just haphazardly going into life, then you get you get better and better quality of thing. Yeah.

Frankie Dewar  41:02  
And what's one thing that you know about yourself now that you wish you'd known earlier?

Leila  41:09  
whatever situation you're in, and whatever life throws at you, you, you will be okay. Like, everything's gonna be fine. Like, I mean, I haven't really put myself in many situations where things are not fine. So I would like to push the boundaries and see where that goes, you know? Yeah. That's a hard question,

Frankie Dewar  41:40  
isn't it? No, I think that's a great answer. And the way you say you've not put yourself in that many difficult situations, being shin deep due to the mud muddy path with a dog in a trailer sounds

Leila  41:52  
Yeah, no, but since getting back from Rome, I've learned about all these other adventures and, and I do some crazy things. So you know. Yeah. They do such extraordinary things that I think Well, I haven't really done anything that crazy, you know.

Frankie Dewar  42:13  
So I mean, yes. But there's also a lot of people that they've met cycling to Rome would be the most incredible thing ever. So yeah, just because you've done it, don't put it down. That

Leila  42:25  
is incredible. And it was it. You know, it was life changing. Yeah. But now I think Well, what's the next big thing? What, how else can I challenge myself? Because I think the only the only way to learn and to grow as a person is to keep challenging yourself. You know what the next big thing is? Yeah, well, not not. Not definitely. But I have got some ideas bubbling around. But I can't say yes,

Frankie Dewar  42:52  
yeah. Come back for a part 2.

Leila  42:56  

Leila  42:56  
I haven't figured it all out. Yes. But yeah, there's always something bubbling around in the background. Yeah, definitely.

Frankie Dewar  43:06  
And I've been asking everybody about authenticity. Yeah. And what your authentic self means to you.

Leila  43:16  
I think it's been honest with yourself, with other people doing what makes you happy? And not what makes everyone else happy, because you can't please everyone else. So as long as you're not harming anyone, and I think as long as you're making yourself happy, then people should be happy for you. Yeah.

Frankie Dewar  43:39  
And I really liked what you were saying earlier, as well about like when you sort of embrace your weirdness. And I think a lot of that is like embracing not necessarily what makes you weird. But what makes you unique? Yeah,

Leila  43:49  
that's it. Yeah. Yeah. Just be your unique self. And don't just do things because everyone else is doing them. Do it because you want to do it. Not just because it's going to make you fit in to the crowd. Because you will eventually find your own crowds and your own unique friends that you can all embrace your unique weirdness together.

Frankie Dewar  44:13  
I love that. Yeah. bravery is.

Leila  44:17  
Well, I have a hard time with that words. Because people say that to me all the time. I say, Oh, you're so brave. And I have never once in my life felt brave. Like, I think bravery is, you know, people who were in the army, you know, fighting. I mean, like, guns, firing at them bravery, giving birth. I mean, how the hell can people do that? I don't know. I can't imagine doing something like that. All that stuff I find is brave. I don't think when people say to me, when I'm cycling to Rome. Oh, you're so brave. On Don't feel brave. It makes me cringe when people say that, yeah, I think brave is doing the bigger things and not just going on a cycling adventure to Rome. Yeah. So I find that was really hard.

Frankie Dewar  45:12  
That is so interesting. And interesting answer. My question after that usually is, so would you describe yourself as brave?

Leila  45:22  
No, I suppose when I first moved here, because I was terrified of everything. And I was terrified of the dark. I was petrified of everything. So I suppose I was brave them because I was scared. Yeah, I think bravery is maybe putting yourself into situations where you're scared, but overcoming that fear. So moving here, I did that. Cycling to Rome, I wasn't really scared. I was naive and stupid, I didn't ever claim to be scared. I was going on a really easy cycle trip, which turned out to be quite hard.

Frankie Dewar  46:04  
And what do you think happiness feels like?

Leila  46:07  
I'd say happiness is something that is not permanent. So happiness is like a short lived thing, which makes you feel really warm inside. And when people get out from going shopping, or having a hook or jumping out of an airplane, or whatever that is having a bit of chocolate, I think, or you know, having a good conversation like we are now. But it's not a permanent state. So I think trying to be content is a better thing today. Because that means that you're content with what you've got and how your life is. And if you're content, and you can feel happy and peaceful. And yeah, it's a more permanent state to be content. So to get a life that that you're happy with and you're content with, then hopefully, that's more lasting than just happiness on its own.

Frankie Dewar  47:11  
I think we started to talk about this a little bit earlier, and I almost dumped into it. But then I thought I'd still save it for the end anyway. But what perceptions Do you think there are of women. And then I'm also going to ask you how they match up to your reality.

Leila  47:27  
I have grown up in a traditional household. So like, my mom stayed at home and looked after the family and my dad went out to work. And my brothers have got that same kind of dynamic with their wives. And so I was brought up very traditionally. But then I never wanted that lifestyle of being a mom and staying at home and doing all that stuff. So in my personal experience, and say, because I grew up in a small village, that is the kind of way that things go like the man goes out to work. And the woman says that Hi. And although that may have changed a bit now, because that was you know, 2030 years ago, I still find that is still the same thing. And so it is more a case that the man goes to work and the woman says at home looks after the kids. And I'm just like, Well, why can the man go out and have adventures and go for the weekend away and do all this fun stuff? And the woman's looking after the kids? It's like, well, that's not very fair, is it? And I know, that's not the same in every relationship and every family. But then I don't know, if I read all this stuff on, you know, there's all these women's groups now in trying to influence women to go out and do more stuff. I guess that's a good thing. So maybe there aren't, I think it is still very sexist out there. And I don't think a lot of men realize how sexist it is still. And I think it's like that with equality and most things as well. So unless it's really pointed out, which I think a lot of women are trying to get the message out there now, that is still not equal. And I think the Christian a woman might say slightly too, right. And they just everyone thought, I think they thought I was going to end up in a right pickle. And I'd be vulnerable and like men and be preying on me and you know, going to get murdered, if I'm on my own and all this stuff, but actually going out there as a single as a solo female, he will actually just try and help you more. So I think you can you can use this to your advantage not to take advantage but as an advantage that if you're a solo female traveler, people are going to really try and help you because they think that you're vulnerable. You actually get a lot more help with you know, people fixing your bike and Offering cups of tea and just generally wanting to have a chat with you to find out what the hell you're doing on your own. You know, some people just approach you more, even if it's just for a conversation to find out what you're doing. So I think the world is it's not that you are vulnerable as a female. But also if you're exposing yourself to such fantastic opportunities as well. Yeah.

Frankie Dewar  50:27  
I just got two more questions for you. Yeah. Then we're done. So do you have any female role models?

Leila  50:35  
Wow. I suppose Anna Mcnuff? Yeah, she's fabulous. Absolutely. And I suppose next night, she's also been doing some pretty cool stuff. I mean, she, I think she went in a canoe with a couple of other females down the Amazon River in it. Yeah, she's done some stuff in Africa. But these are only women that I found out about since I got back from Rome. So before, before cycling to Rome, I didn't really have any at all. And it's only since then that I've found all these Facebook groups with all these fabulous women in it's doing like really cool stuff. So yeah, it's only recently that I've had role models.

Frankie Dewar  51:24  
Yeah. Awesome. I mean, those, I'm gonna, like put links to the people that people recommend. Yeah, they sound like good people. And what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Leila  51:37  
I'd say just be bold. And just don't worry. I worry a lot. I think I'd say like, go on more adventures. Although I think I've been on as many as I could during my life. So I don't feel like I've ever missed out on anything. But I would like to. Yeah, not just not worry. Just, yeah, I'd say just just go in and enjoy life. I love that. It's a bit simple answer. I don't know how I think I've lived my life I the best that I could have done. And I don't feel like I've missed out. So

Frankie Dewar  52:15  
awesome. Thank you so much. Is there anything that you thought I would ask you that I haven't asked you? Or is there anything you'd like me to ask you?

Leila  52:25  
A question.

Leila  52:28  
So I don't know. I think I've said everything. No, I think that's everything I could think of about my life. It might be interesting.

Frankie Dewar  52:40  
What an awesome conversation. That was. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you like Leila's stories, please take a minute. Think of one person who you think might enjoy them. And pass the adventure on. Thank you so much for being part of the journey. so far. There is only one episode left of season one. It's with Ruth, an incredible ceramic artist. He tells us all about her adventures along her local brick, paddling in a craft made out of a rubber rig and looking for items that have been throwing away to reuse and sculptures. It's not to be missed. There is so much exciting news for season two and the rest of 2021. I can't share it or now but it is going to be absolutely jam packed.

Frankie Dewar  53:37  
There are over 40 more conversations that I've already had with extraordinary people. I'm going to be starting live events over on the channel every week. And I've got so many more plans for different community events and speakers and ways to bring us all together. I am so excited. If you want to keep up to date with everything that's going on, especially in between seasons, the best way to do so is to head over to extraordinary or new and sign up to the fortnightly email. I'd love to see you there. Thank you so much again for being part of the journey safer. I'll see you next Monday for Episode 10 of the extraordinary ordinary womxn podcast. Until then, keep on being extraordinary.

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