Sunday’s Inspiration: Don’t Stop Now

“All I want is something I can write about” – Neil Finn, 2007

Before you read this edition of Sunday’s Inspiration, please listen to the following Crowded House song, one of my favourite songs and a peaceful tune to get us through the bad times, of which there are many, Don’t Stop Now:

There has been a pure progress of realisation in my life in the last month or so. And while all this was going on, I listened to the song “Don’t Stop Now”, a song which reminded me of my time backpacking in New Zealand back in 2007. The comeback song for Crowded House after they “called it quits” in 1996. My journey through New Zealand in 2007 not only took me to the home of Crowded House, but also through the magic of Taupo, volcanic Rotorua, relaxing Hamilton and Auckland. Yeah baby it was all inspiring.

Backpacking in Rotorua, New Zealand in 2007. Don't Stop Now.

Backpacking in Rotorua, New Zealand in 2007. Don’t Stop Now.

The New Zealand journey on which I found myself with my pen and paper out every day. On buses, trains, boats and planes. In bars, cafes, hostels and bus stations. Writing even the price of a Mars bar or how many free beers you can get in hostels. I began documenting my journeys and indeed that trip inspired 5 out of the first 10 blog posts on Don’t Stop Living. I didn’t think I’d still be documenting my journeys some 8 years down the line, or that I’d even still be on a journey.

The question is the same as what it’s always been: what makes you happy in life?

For me:

Travelling. Writing. Football. Pubs. Friends. Family.

Generally speaking it’s those six things. But where does Don’t Stop Living fit into this? What the fu*k is Don’t Stop Living? Is it time to quit Don’t Stop Living? Is this the end of this travel lifestyle blog as we know it? Should I just quit?

Sunday's Inspiration: Don't Stop Now

Sunday’s Inspiration: Don’t Stop Now

Don’t Stop Living is my life. It has become my life. Those six things are all incorporated onto this website. I’m travel, work and writing in the brain. It ain’t healthy, but what is? Eating salad? Hardly. You get salad in a burger.

“The sink is full of fishes, she’s got dirty dishes on the brain” – Oasis, 1995

Everyone thinks long term travel is just one big long holiday full of ups and ups and more ups. You want to know the truth. It fucking ain’t. This lifestyle I have chosen and become obsessed with has the same amount of ups and downs as anything else in the world. Yeah. Just like the guy down your local butcher’s shop (that was once me), or the dude sorting out your bank account (that was once me) or the geezer pouring your Friday afternoon Guinness (that was once me). But I’ve documented this crazy journey on here and I won’t get angry or sad or upset by that. I’m proud of DSL and the lunacy of this lifestyle. But guess what, I get angry. I get f*king angry. I get upset. I get down. And I need help. Even the Beatles needed help remember?

“Sometimes you have to turn the wrong way round” – Neil Finn, 2007

Help came and more is coming. Shyly and in a bad state of mind from a hotel room in Stockholm Sweden last month I announced it was game over for DSL. I stuck one of those Facebook posts on my main page. I had to do it. I wanted to let people know DSL was finished. It was the end for me and I was finished with it.

“It’s over, you don’t have to tell me” – Damon Albarn

Why did I end it? In one word – technology. Technology and I are not friends. I hated it at school. I hate mobile phones. I hated the computer in my office jobs. I still don’t like using laptops.

“When love and hate collide” – Def Leppard

On the flipside, I can backpack the world easily. It’s a piece of cake. I can write articles without thinking. It’s easy. It’s natural. I reckon I can write as many articles per day on my travels than Michael Palin or Ernest Hemingway. Easy. But one thing I can’t deal with is technology. Once technology fails, it’s time to say goodbye. I’m out of the game.

Since the inception of DSL, I’ve spent over $40,000 on technology. A crazy whopping figure. Or if you like, DSL has spent $40,000 on technology for me, or technology owes me $40,000. Either way it’s a lot of cash. I’ve made a lot more money than that back though. But it ain’t the money. It’s the anger. None of this enters my head when an online business starts by relying on these two essentials (before market comes into it):
1. Internet
2. Working Equipment

January 2015 was the hell month for me. It was meant to be all cool wasn’t it? Backpacking through 4 new countries and reliving 3 old ones. Working with new travel companies, staying in some cool hotels and hostels. As the year began, I had more clients than ever before, 2 brand new travel sites ready to launch, a book I featured in was released, my new book was well underway and people actually read some of the stuff on DSL. Sounds amazing.

“It’s all about to change” – Neil Finn

Then my website was stolen on a big scale, every post copied, my name changed and I thanked myself for the fact that I hate fakes and that my own photo of my face and Northern Ireland football shirt appears in almost every photo of the copied site. So I won. Google removed the fake wannabe site. Just after that I had a hat trick of bank accounts blocked for numerous reasons that even a bank manager would struggle to believe. 3 banks in a week, a stolen website. Someone then hacked into my YouTube account and changed my face to a monster and I was like “what the f*ck is going on?”

“Breathe the pressure, come play my game I’ll test you” – Prodigy

The next morning while I was in Estonia, my main hard drive stopped working. I’d lost all my photos from the last 7 years of travels. (some of these are backed up in Hong Kong). At least I have a working computer I thought as I decided to spend an entire day in Riga and Tallinn in my hotel room cursing other people. It was just one thing after another. Then in Finland, my Apple computer broke again (which I stupidly paid Apple for the 10th time to fix it two months before). Yes the computer which cost me thousands over a two year period. Of course I had a spare computer by now, but it has no internet access for some reason. Add to this two computers completely broken lying around in Hong Kong somewhere and the day after my other hard drive with all my documents breaks.

“Going nowhere” _ Therapy?

As I held a camera and my wallet, I felt it was all I had left. I had promised tour companies to do reviews for them – I now couldn’t. I had clients wanting posts across my various websites. Without the help of Panny’s laptop in Sweden, I couldn’t answer emails or trust logging into private accounts on public PCs. Each time I tried to type a short blog post on Panny’s computer the Chinese keypad got on my nerves. I’d reached breaking point. A 20 minute article was taking me 5 hours to type up. I hardly did any sightseeing in Helsinki, Stockholm, Malmo or Copenhagen. I just broke down, trying to salvage what is actually an online business all through a laptop. I’d been through this shit before a ton of times, but this time, everything had gone wrong. I cried, I broke down, I smashed things and I went to rest and sleep my head in a quiet corner of the room. 6 laptops in 8 years all now broken, 8 hard drives broken in the same timeframe and all 47 chapters I’d written for my new book were gone. So that’s why I quit. I couldn’t handle it. I can’t handle technology.

“You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry.” – Thom Yorke, 2014

After a sleep, positive messages flooded in from my friends (my top mates like Dan, Lee, Austin, Neil, Daniel), my backpacking buddies and those I’ve met on the journey (Nina, Corinne, Yoni, Arnie) and of course family. Tellingly then, some travel bloggers and writers got in touch. This mattered more as they knew about running businesses on the road and I was happy to hear from them (Johnny, Danny, Haley, Carlo, Audrey). It was an unexpected reaction. I was seriously down that night. Thanks to everyone who read my post and wrote to me – I really appreciated it. I was surprised. But aside from that I was just offline making promises I couldn’t keep. I did complete my tours in Stockholm but cancelled ones after that. And then this crazy journey took me to the town of Angelholm in Sweden.

“Where the fu*k is Angelholm?” – Me, before reading a map

We’ll find out won’t we?

“Oh Melbourne it’s going to be a loooonnnnggg night” – Karaoke DJ in Bridie O Reillys, 2010 and it was a crazy night back then in early February 2010 when Neil, Daniel, Paul and a load of hostel crew partied in the Victorian capital. A few days later and Daniel and I said our goodbyes in Tasmania and that was that. I got a train from Malmo to Angelholm and this was the most perfect full circle of this journey so far.

Angelholm Station, Sweden

Angelholm Station, Sweden

Introducing Daniel Evans again. I met Dan on the first night in Australia in October 2009 in the Chilli Blue hostel in Sydney. He was travelling with 2 girls and finding it tough – while Natalja and I weren’t really getting on and I’d found a new best mate now.

Daniel and I last week in Sweden!

Daniel and I last week in Sweden!

We went down the pub, watched footy, acted stupid and hung out. We spent a week hiking the Blue Mountains then moved into a flat with a few others in Parramatta. 4 months of living, travelling and partying together as well as my job in the local Irish Pub and we had some good times. Epic times. I was happy again in life when earlier in the year Hungarian dancer Noemi had me on the brink of suicide.

Daniel and I in the middle with Paul and Neil on the edge at Ramsay Street, Melbourne.

Daniel and I in the middle with Paul and Neil on the edge at Ramsay Street, Melbourne.

The crazy times in Australia backpacking with Daniel contain some truly epic tales, some of which I’ve told on here before, such as the Getting Pissed at a Gay Rights Lecture, the meeting Roger Federer, the Neighbours Tour, the Wolverine Nutcase in Canberra and that wild night on the piss in Melbourne. However on the 4th February 2010, Daniel decides to fly back to mainland Australia with the lads Neil and Paul and I ended up staying in Tasmania. All the decisions were obvious and easy at the time.

Blue Mountains, Australia

Blue Mountains, Australia

I shed more than a tear, got a job on a broccoli farm, booked an Antarctica trip and preceeded to fire 99 countries into my backpack. If life had changed significantly for me with that decision, it did even moreso for Daniel. As he met Sofia. As Daniel backpacked up the East Coast with Swedish traveller Sofia, I was cutting broccoli and the memories of laughing at Wolverine in Canberra were all but gone. His life changed. Each event in our lives from October 2009 – February 2010 unnoticeably adding turning points to our respective destinies. Life for either of us would never be the same again.

“It’s useless to dwell” – Neil Finn

Yeah so after all the fuck ups in my life in January 2015, I had remembered it was reunion time. And even more bizarre to the exact day, 5 years on. We met up at Angelholm station in Sweden, where Daniel has moved to now. I hadn’t seen him in 5 years but yet those 4 months we hung out together in Australia were pure bliss. And he got to meet Sofia because of the turn of events. That journey has inspired me.

A magical story - drinks with Sofia and Daniel in Angelholm, Sweden.

A magical story – drinks with Sofia and Daniel in Angelholm, Sweden.

And for me, Don’t Stop Living has always been about the journey. The journey. It’s not about “top 19 sights in a city nobody has heard of”, it’s only about the real life journey.

I write this with pen and paper on a train in Norway. It’s my 99th real country here and I’m writing a load of stuff in my notebook since I have no laptop that works anymore.

I mentioned before that I had 1,000 unwritten travel stories. I lied. It’s about 2,000. I’ll never stop writing about travel. I can’t. Even if I try. I’ll go to a new city tomorrow and blast out a Top 5 Bars That I Drank In type article. Writing about the journey is something I have a passion for and that’s why I’m here doing this. I won’t lose.

As the sun sinks over this unknown Norwegian town, I know I’ll be back. You can bet your bottom Kroner on it.

Don’t Stop Living will return. Don’t Stop Now.

Backpacking in Guatemala this week but still I reply to my emails.

Don’t Stop Living will return.

** This post is dedicated in equal measures to Daniel Evans and Neil Finn. Without Dan and those crazy moments we shared in Australia, this journey wouldn’t be happening in the same way and the wackiness of DSL would be diluted somewhat. Neil Finn, thanks for the song “Don’t Stop Now” and inspiring me on.

12 thoughts on “Sunday’s Inspiration: Don’t Stop Now

  • I am so glad to hear that you aren’t going to let adversity get to you and DSL! Keep doing what you are doing because in the end, it sure beats working a 9 – 5 job that you dread. As cliche as this may sound, the problems you faced last month pale in comparison to some of the problems you’ve probably have seen others go through on your journeys around the world. You have your health, your family, your friends, your supporters/readers, and Panny. What more can you really ask for? This journey of yours will pay off for you in the long term, my friend. Stay positive and safe travels!
    Ray recently posted…Staten Island Ferry – The Best Free View of the Statue of LibertyMy Profile

  • All true Ray but it’s just that when things go wrong, we don’t think of these positives and all problems are relative to the world we live in at that moment, which at that moment, the plug was pulled on the site. I’m a perfectionist and a worker and when I can’t work or even type up a blog post, I get angry. Very angry. You won’t believe how long it took me to get this article from my notebook on Sunday onto the website. I tried all sorts of ways – internet cafes, smartphones, bluetoothing it to people etc. Thank God for hotels with computers for customers to use. Safe unangry travels. Jonny

  • Life is an odd beast. It can be routine and taken for granted like a home win over Lichtenstein. Or feel like a betrayal like an away defeat in Luxembourg. It can be sapping like when Worthington threw away Lawrie’s momentum. It can be surprising like an away draw against Portugal and it can be revelatory like realising Azerbaijan are not the pushovers the older members of the crowd inform you they will be. It can be dark like hearing a player’s life has been threatened & it can be hilarious when some eejit falls off a bar in Warsaw. It can be bewildering when not all yer mates think watching Chile is the way to spend a Friday night. It can be reaffirming when a NISC hands a local charity a wedge of hard raised funds. It can be strangely joyous when losing 4-1 to Norway. It can have challenges like the Maze and it can be exasperating dealing with officialdom such as the Inept, Farcical and Absurd. It can feel like you’ve missed out when it can reek of nostalgia for Ian Stewart & West Germany or Mexico 86. It can be like a secret club when only the words “Arconada, Armstrong” are needed to make you grin like a loon. It can be inspiring like Football For All and it can be a battle to let them know WE EXIST.

    But then Davis will slip the ball to Healy and all the sh1t falls away.

    Keep the chin up. Keep believing.

  • Was actually wondering why the lack of posts on here recently and then i thought you where probably having IT issues like you mentioned to me in Bucharest.
    Jonny reading this website on a daily basis inspires me to travel, while I can’t just go on as long a journey as you have due to having a young child it just wouldnt be fair on her not to have the stability of a family close by, I still read your reviews and think of different places I can go with my family and get the response, why you doing that or why going there, or why not just sit on a beach your only going away for a week, the big one being you going away again. My response is I can do an awful lot in a week and if I go somewhere I’m going to see the place and not just a beach. I have done a fair bit of travelling watching NI play, that was probably my main reason for travelling, Hartford Conneticut why else would have i went there only for NI playing, but this site continues to make me think, night out in Belfast or a night out in a fishing village beside Nice. Although you have also got me planning weekends away around Northern Ireland and the Republic when I’m not working through the summer months, important to see properly where you come from and not every where else, defeats the purpose of travelling if you cant pass on the charms of your own land.
    Life can be shit at times, your right we all have our ups and downs, we all probably have more downs than up’s but its making the most of this short time on earth and remembering, “Dont stop living” them three words really do inspire me when times are shit.

  • Hey Jonny! I say: stupid, stupid, stupid laptops. I have thousands of pages typed up on my piece of junk (or, shall I say, my hopefully faithful companion) – it already died on me couple of years ago and I have a feeling it will happen again soon. Mind you, I stick with Toshibas. They have a 2-year lifespan, prolonged perhaps by some repairs, but at least I know that within their first two years they’ll actually work.

    By the way, I know how frustrating it can be to lose your precious work. I still have a broken hard drive somewhere with literally thousands of my photos, texts, works, films, cartoons – you name it. I keep it for sentimental reasons, I think.

    And no wonder you got so down – it sounds horrible. I know the exact feeling, which grows in your gut, then moves into your throat, almost closing it, and then you end up shouting and throwing things, regretting there aren’t enough loudly breaking, crystal plates around you. It’s called frustration with technology, when you know that your work, nay – your life! – depends on it… I’ve been earning my living via Internet for over a year now and I go into a state of frenzy every time there is even a faint possibility that the web access might, at some point, be gone. I also live in a constant fear of my laptop going berserk and I keep saving all my stuff on an extra hard drive, and – for good measure – I send work to myself via email, hence littering my own inbox and wasting my own time. So my worst nightmare happened to you, and I really, truly sympathise. It’s not only about losing your own work, but about failing others, who are paying you and counting on you. It sucks.

    However, I do believe you will be fine, despite hacks, Apple company’s products and various other obstacles. Just get through it, get yourself a new laptop, save stuff in the cloud, or whatever the hell they call it, and don’t stop living. 😉 I’m looking forward to your future posts!

  • Yeo! Michael good to hear from you. I thought of you when I was in Riga, Latvia last month as I walked to that corner of a street where I actually bumped into you for the first time, yes it was in Riga in 2007. I’m glad to hear you still love to travel all over the place despite having a more settled life now. I hope to see you at a Northern Ireland match this year, or in France in 2016 mate. Keep belieiving and thanks for following and commenting. Jonny

  • Hi Keith thanks for the comment. Indeed football is a great way of summing up life’s ups and downs. I’d even say following Northern Ireland, Glentoran FC and AFC Bournemouth provide 3 great examples of how good and bad life can be. But it’s all about the good sh*t. It’s all about the glory. Nobody wants to lose to Luxembourg, but I’ll take it if we can beat Finland home and away. Hope to see you this year at some point. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Monika, Lovely to hear from you thanks for the comment. I can write and travel easily, but with technical issues I fail and I fall apart which is why I reconsidered this website. The Toshiba works much better than Apple, but the hard drives and 47 chapters are gone. I may have an expert in the UK who can help salvage them so I still live in hope. I#ll get on with writing on a notepad and typing up to computers when I can. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Thats hectic luck Jonny! All you should need to to travel is an iPad (though you may be sick of Apple by now) and use the iCloud service to back up your photos and use Evernote to write your blog posts which means they are backed up in their cloud. The IPad had drive won’t fail as much as a laptop as it uses a Solid State Drive so it’s less prone to failure when knocked about. Just get a Bluetooth keyboard for it to make typing easier. Will also be much lighter to carry about and if anything happens to it, all your content is backed up in the cloud. Crazy that you weren’t using any cloud storage to begin with.

    Anyways, hope you get sorted and glad your keeping it going! Always enjoy the photos on Facebook!

  • Hi Phil thanks for the comment and great tips as usual. I am fed up with Apple now and most upset that I lost 47 typed up chapters of the book. Luckily I emailed 3 of them to myself and a friend so I have only lost 44 – but that writing can never be replaced. I’m just not good at technological things. The writing and travelling comes easily. I’ve tried cloud storage but I don’t like the access to it. I prefer to plug in a hard drive, have it in clear easy to find folders ready for upload. Plus I’ve a few TB worth of photos the last 7-8 years so I’m sure the clouds would have a thunder storm if I uploaded it to them. I’ll have a check of your options for sure! Thanks, Jonny

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