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Good evening from the small island of Mindoro in the Philippines; one of 7,107 islands that make up this beautiful archipelago. Although, I have heard on numerous occasions, that there are sometimes only 7,105 islands at any one time here due to the tides. Either way, I’ve never (touch wood) woken up to find myself underwater. If I ever do though, I’ll be sure to let you know.

As you know – if you read my last post – Typhoon Hagupit (local name Ruby) paid us a visit last week and boy was she a bitch! She waltzed into town, caused a load of mayhem and then disappeared like a fart in the wind. Fortunately, she left us in relative peace but other areas weren’t so lucky.

Anyway, it’s 19:10 here on Monday and I’m living the life that many of you could only dream of. I’m currently sat watching Masterchef Australia S6 and genuinely enjoying it. How ironic given the title of this post…

Last week, I told you about how my love affair with the Philippines started. And, like all good love affairs, it started out rather innocently. Seeing each other sometimes. Exchanging the odd text message. And then boom! Before you know it you’re smitten.

That’s the situation I found myself in while still living and working in London. I was living a seemingly ordinary life on the face of it, but I had a dirty little secret tucked away. That secret was the Philippines.

As many of you know, I grew up in a small countryside village in the south west of England. It was quiet and I loved it. For that very reason, London was never going to be a long-term home for me. In fact, I’m not sure really why I even moved there in the first place!?

Ah… that’s right, because the streets were paved with gold.

Immediately prior to my UK exit, I was living in a rather nice terrace house on a quiet street in Richmond upon Thames. I could have simply said ‘Richmond’ but how much better and more exclusive does it sound with the ‘upon Thames’ suffix added!

Our house wasn’t that far from Richmond (decided to drop the ‘upon Thames’ bit now as it’s inefficient to type) train station and I’d walk there every morning for my daily commute into work. I’d jump on a District line tube train and disembark at Westminster. From there it was a short ride on the Jubilee line to Baker St.

Sometimes I’d imagine that I was heading for 221b Baker St, but the truth is that the closest I’d ever been to Sherlock Holmes was having a beer in the pub of the same name on Northumberland St.

I was instead heading to BDO Stoy Hayward LLP – now just BDO LLP since they changed the name. Not sure exactly why they changed names, but I’m assuming it’s the same as why people who are called Richard opt to be called Dick.

My job was to look after a motley crew of characters who were masquerading as IT professionals. They took telephone calls from people who had IT problems and I took telephone calls from people who had problems with them. While it could sometimes be rewarding, most of the time it was shit. Actually no, it was dogshit.

Despite earning decent money, my heart simply wasn’t in my work. And it showed. I’d try and cherry pick tasks. Focussing on the ones that required the least amount of effort but brought the biggest reward in terms of recognition. I was good at that.

However, despite getting on well with all most of my colleagues, my heart wasn’t in the job. Instead, it was on the other side of the world in the Philippines.

I’d sit and think to myself, are you going to be doing this for the next 40 years James? And the answer, always, was a resounding no.

I needed an escape plan. I didn’t know anyone who owned a gun and so the only other option was to fulfil my dream and move to the Philippines – easier said than done.

Or was it…

My house was only rented and I had few really serious financial obligations. It meant that I could write a letter to my boss thanking him for all the opportunities and experience I’d obtained under his employ (hmmm), before working a one month notice period.

Our rented house was the same. Give your notice, find the cheapest local carpet cleaner you could find and collect your deposit on the way out the door.

My problem, however, was that I had a live-in partner at the time. She also worked at the same company as me. But the biggest sticking point was that we had a cat.

I used to lay in bed at night thinking about how I could break the news to her. Tell her that I’d had enough and was ready to jack everything in and move to the Philippines. I played numerous scenarios in my head over and over again. Finally, I decided to just be honest and tell her.

After all, she was only a cat and I knew she’d forgive me given time.

It was then a case of talking to my partner and figuring out what we’d do about all of the stuff in our house. It wasn’t a conversation that could be had lightly. We were in a serious, grown up relationship. We had a treadmill and everything!

She knew I wasn’t happy with my life and the writing had been on the wall for a while. Therefore, it should have come as no surprise. Especially as the writing on the wall read “I hate my life. I’m moving to the Philippines”.

Next week, I’ll give you a blow-by-blow account of my last few days in the UK and provide you with a fly-on-the-wall perspective of our final conversations. Needless to say that they weren’t particularly joyous.

Masterchef Update: Ben’s on his way home. I thought his dish was okay, but obviously the judges disagreed.

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Until next week…

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