Atkins on a Bus or ‘Welcome to the World’
So we left the UK in July 2007, selling everything and embarking on a great adventure of travelling the world in a bus we had converted into our home. We called our trip “Welcome to the World” and we spent the most fantastic year on the road… home-schooling; playing concerts whenever and wherever we could and following our instincts as to where to go next.
Joe and I married in 1990, I’m an actress/singer, and Joe is a designer, so we’ve always been freelance, and Joe can work from anywhere he lays his hat (as long as it has an internet connection!) We have four children Luke, Harry, Beth and Arthur, and after many years of Joe often working abroad, we saw a window of opportunity when our eldest was 16 and had taken his GCSE’s to go travelling as a family…
We sold our house, paid off our mortgage, bought an old 52 seat school bus – A Leyland Tiger, and transformed it into our home for a year. The children were a part of every stage of the planning and especially of the bus buld!
As things turned out our world tour was really a European tour… circumstances led us North when we had always expected to head South, and a winter in Europe cost us more than we’d bargained for. To be honest the balance of freedom and security was perfect, and although we had tickets for a freight boat to South America, which would have been an amazing adventure, we made the hugely difficult decision that it wasn’t the right step… we simply didn’t have enough funds to be sure we could bring our precious children safely back. One of the primary objectives of our travels was to show our children that the world was their oyster… it was really important to us that it didn’t all end in bankruptcy and disaster!
Living together in such a small space was a truly amazing experience – I can honestly say that it never felt claustrophobic or stressful – It was like we all fell into the same rhythm, where our needs were in sync, and all the outside pulls of normal home life – school, work, friends etc. were gone – so we became this really harmonious team – the schooling was effortless – and fantastically rewarding – there was time for everything and everyone and I think the self sufficiency and responsibility that the kids took for their learning has stood them in such good stead during their French schooling experience.
We travelled through France and Spain, through Italy and Greece and then accepted an invitation to play a few concerts in Romania for a children’s charity.
We spent Christmas 2007 in Istanbul, New Year in Athens, and it was during our trip back through Italy (on our way to Spain to catch our freighter to Rio) that we changed our plans. We decided to spend six months or so in France re-grouping and deciding what we’d do next. We’d met a wonderful French family in Northern Italy, and had vowed to keep in touch, so after spending a weekend with them in their idyllic mountain town of Tence, in the Auvergne, we decided to spend the full season (April to October) in the municipal campsite there – we never looked back! Little by little it became clear that our next big adventure was going to be a life in France!