The likelihood is that you don’t know me and I don’t know you.
I’m not promoting this amongst my friends & family which, whilst probably being a mistake, means that if you’re reading this you may have simply stumbled upon it.
Perhaps it was through another article on the blog and you’ve decided to read the first post.
Whatever the case, thank you for being here. I’ll try not to ramble too much. Here’s a breakdown of this article if you want to skip ahead at any point:
- Who am I?
- What’s the point in all of this?
- What do you get out of it?
- What’s my plan?
Who am I?
Well, my name is Simon and although I often act like a child, I’m in my mid-thirties.
I like to say yes to things that others wouldn’t.
I’m not considered overly sociable, but can be when needed.
I don’t know how to use a semi-colon. I overuse commas.
I’ve spent the last 10 years in London working mainly in marketing and for over half that time running my own marketing agency.
And I decided to leave.
I don’t want to pretend like I was stuck in the rat race, depressed & lonely. Sure it might add more contrast to the narrative but it simply wasn’t the case. Did I love my job? No. I’ve never loved a job, I’ve always viewed jobs as a means to an end. There is always something I’d rather be doing than working. But did I hate it? Absolutely not. It was challenging, it opened doors and provided me with a comfortable lifestyle.
So why did I leave?
As stereotypical as it may sound, I’ve always wanted to live abroad. I grew up in different countries and over the past few years I’ve started to get itchy feet. I had planned to step out of my agency in the next few years as this was the sole factor in my life that anchored me to London. So this was sort of an inevitability. Couple my itchy feet with a dip in motivation (work wise) alongside the Covid-19 related lockdowns and it felt like it was the best opportunity to accelerate the timelines.
The tipping moment was a random thought that took hold one day. To use a film reference, it was like the underlying concept of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. I couldn’t shake it. This was the thought:
The tale of the crocodile
A crocodile is in a river.
Eventually an unfortunate animal comes to close and the crocodile eats. As far as I know, the process is then repeated. Perhaps it mates as and when the time is right. I’m no crocodile expert but that doesn’t matter for this tale.
I started to think whether a crocodile gets bored waiting. Eventually I settled on the conclusion that a crocodile doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to be bored. It operates on instinct. The croc isn’t really ‘thinking’ like a human thinks, because it’s not capable of it.
In essence the crocodile is just existing.
It waits. It eats. It moves. It waits. It eats. It moves.
Life is great at turning people into crocodiles.
I was on the underground one day and looked at the people on it. They looked like crocodiles. In my mind they were heading to work to fulfil their duty. They would then head back home to eat again, watch Netflix and sleep. Perhaps on the weekend they would go out and party, or meet friends. But Monday would inevitably come and the whatever process they followed would then be repeated for the next 7 days. Weeks turn into months, months turn into years.
Of course, this is not only untrue but also unfair. A commute on London’s underground is dead, uninspiring time. If you’re ever going to see someone look bereft of any hope, love or happiness, the underground in rush hour is the place.
I knew that everyone on the tube that day wasn’t a crocodile. They probably had interesting lives that they were perfectly happy with. I still couldn’t shake the thought though. In some Machiavellian way I was mentally shitting on everyone else to make me realise that perhaps I was in fact the only crocodile.
This all sounds overly self deprecating. I love London, it’s a great city and I wasn’t just existing there. The tale of the crocodile had such a grip on my because I feared it coming true.
Now was the time to change. To fight against just existing. To prevent me turning around one day and wishing I’d just done it.
It’s suddenly turned from insufferable self loathing to a sickening cliche….
I sold some of my stuff, I stepped down as managing director of my agency and I became a digital nomad. At the time of writing I’m in the Dominican Republic. I’m surfing in the morning, working during the day and relaxing in the evening.
It’s still a process, just one that I’m enjoying more than London.
What’s the point in this?
Let’s start with the name.
With the Sparrows.
At some point in early 2020 during the first lockdown we had in the UK, I kept waking up at around 3.30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. After a couple of days of this I decided to venture out for a walk. I wasn’t doing anything but laying in bed after all.
Eventually this evolved into me waking up at around 4.30am and going for a 2 hour walk every morning, incorporating running into this routine intermittently. I got to be active, to think and to spend some along time every morning before the vast majority of London was even thinking about being awake.
I saw a lot of sunrises. Some of which were spectacular.
After proudly sending the pictures I took to friends, the suggestion came up that I make an Instagram page. That way they can see them if they want, instead of me incessantly sending them WhatsApps at 5am.
Long story long, there is a phrase to describe getting up really early: “At Sparrows’ fart”. It seemed appropriate.
With my digital nomad journey including lots of dawnies (surfer speak for sunrise sessions) it meant that the name could easily be used for this new venture.
That’s an interesting story Simon, but seriously, what’s the point?
Firstly, I intend on travelling for a number of years. Privileged or not privileged, that’s a hell of an opportunity. It’s a pretty good time to start a vlog/blog.
Secondly, I realised that a had maybe a handful of photos from my last few trips. Yet when I made a video edit of a surf trip to Newquay it was so much more visceral. It conjured up memories in a completely different manner. I want videos of this part of my life.
Thirdly, my profession is marketing. I truly believe that video is the future of marketing (even more than it is already). It gives me a project which will expand my skillset.
Finally, I want it to be something that forces me to explore more. To document things. To make the most of my time.
If it goes somewhere then great. If it doesn’t, I’ve learnt a new skill and I have videos that I can share with family and reminisce with in the coming years.
What’s in it for YOU?
Hopefully a lot.
I didn’t create this vlog/blog to feed my ego. This is not going to be a ‘day in the life’ style channel.
Instead, I wan’t to provide information that I would actively search for before travelling somewhere. Information that I would find useful. I’ve already met a lot of people that have confirmed my suspicions, especially amongst surfers. They want to familiarise themselves with the area before they even arrive.
So I want to base my vlogs and articles on being useful to others.
Here’s what you can expect:
- Travel options and accommodation (including prices)
- Surf spots
- Issues that I experience in different places (see here for the Dominican Republic)
- Things to see and do
- My experience working remotely as a digital nomad
I appreciate that there are already people that do this, but honestly I don’t think they do it very well.
For example, and this may sound trivial, but very few people actually just show you a map. They don’t provide a birds’ eye view of areas and explain what transit times are or let you visualise the pros and cons of certain places to stay. I can buy a map, I already have a drone so this is something that I really want to incorporate. Again, it’s something that I would find really useful and hopefully others would too.
There will be b-roll of sunsets. There will be surfing clips. There will be blue water. There will be videos that are more #wunderlust than overly helpful.
But that is not the focus of the channel. I can’t compete with that.
I don’t want to be an influencer. I want the channel to be popular because it helps people and provides genuinely useful information. And you can hold me to that.
What’s my plan?
It’s pretty simple.
For my first year of working remotely I aim to work enough to pay the bills, but not much more. A sabbatical of sorts. I want to surf more, and hopefully get a hell of a lot better at it.
I want to get this vlog/blog off the ground.
Ideally, I want to work a 4 day week. I don’t think that I could do nothing. I want to have projects that require critical thinking, continual improvement and create a routine. However, when my working day is over (and on a 3 day weekend) it means that I’m instantly in what is likely to be a tropical location.
It’s all fairly embryonic at the moment. As Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face”. I like that. Stay flexible. Still have a plan but be prepared to change it at a moments’ notice.
More to come.