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Share Your Story; Nicole Lauren Blake

17th May 2018

Welcome back to another week of the “Share Your Story” series. Last week we had Simon Scott who shared his story of being a cabbie in London. This week I have the very lovely Nicole Lauren Blake who is sharing her amazing story of traveling the world, you’re going to love this!

Nicole Lauren Blake

Hi, I’m Nicole, a British girl currently travelling Australia for the next year.
I have big dreams and even bigger bucket list – I don’t want to stop until I’ve seen the whole world. I want to inspire people to want to get out of their comfort zones and understand that travel is completely obtainable, you just have to have the right mind-set.

My Story; Why We Decided to Travel the World

The story of how we decided to sell all of our belonging and pack our bags to travel is a long one, but one that I feel the need to share. I have already addressed this on my YouTube channel, along with exactly how we saved enough money to enable us to travel. I hope that by telling our story more people will know that long-term travel is extremely obtainable to everyone, no matter how much they earn or how little savings they already have. It’s all about the mindset you put yourself in.

You may be wondering why I’m talking in plurals – throughout this, I will be referring to both my boyfriend and I. It isn’t just my story, it is also his.

Nicole Lauren Blake Although he will probably tell you he is just getting pulled along for the ride!

We’d been living in our oddly cheap, almost prefect apartment located right between Manchester City Centre and Salford Quays. I’d recently graduated, I had a new job working for an amazing fashion company only a 10-minute walk away, but I was in debt. I could never dig myself out of my overdraft, I was still on minimum wage and I had an unhealthy addiction to online shopping.

Despite the debt, it had finally started to feel like our lives were falling into place. We were working on promotions and trying to live the lives we’d spent the last 4-years working on together. Until we received our first letter.

Over the couple of years that we’d lived in this apartment, we’d met our landlord twice. Once when we moved in, and once the first Christmas we were there. We never needed to call him because nothing had ever broken. He never needed to call us because we always paid our rent on time. To him we were the prefect tenants, and to us, he had been the best landlord we’ve ever had.

Until the letter……

When I read it, my heart was in my throat. I wasn’t sure if this was a scam or real life. I’d no idea what to do. I had to wait all night for my boyfriend to come home so I could show him. He had no idea either. I did the only thing I could think of – call my Mum.

“What does this mean? Does it mean we have to move out? Does it mean we’ll be homeless? Is this even real?”

I had so many questions. But my Mum reassured me that all the letter really said was the landlord hadn’t been paying his mortgage and that the bank had taken over the property. All that we were essentially doing was changing who we were paying. I still called them up just to make sure, and then started a new direct debit to the details they’d provided.

That first month was fine. We carried on living our lives as normal. But it wasn’t going to be that easy. Our new letting agents got involved next. They wanted a copy of our tenancy agreement – fair enough. It was a little odd they hadn’t received that from the landlord or the previous agents, but whatever, all we wanted was for all of this to be over and to just carry on as normal.

We went through all our documents but just couldn’t find a copy. Then I remember them telling us that they would email it to us. So we scoured our emails to find it and it just wasn’t there. We’d never got one. We passed on the details of the previous letting agents to the new ones, and we again, carried on living our lives as normal.

Another month goes by and we are still getting letters and emails about the tenancy agreement. They had been calling and emailing the previous agents, to no answer. The new letting agent was based down south and we were unable to visit them directly. So on one of my boyfriend’s days off, he made a trip to their offices where we signed our contract. Upon arrival, he encountered a very confused receptionist who preceded to tell him they were no longer in those offices. In fact, they had gone bankrupt five months earlier!

That news was the tip of the iceberg.

Not only did we not have a tenancy agreement to show we weren’t squatters, but we had absolutely no idea where our deposit went – £600 down the drain. It’s safe to say, the new owners weren’t best pleased, but they continued to reassure us that it was ok, and that they would draw up a new one for us. Wanting to carrying on living in our cheap apartment that was so close to all our friends and so close to where we both worked we fully put our trust in them and agreed to allow a member of the team in so that they could take pictures and an inventory of the apartment. Looking back, I wish I had made it as hard for them as possible to do this, however I thought this would work in our favour. It didn’t.

Next thing we knew – we received an eviction notice.

To say I was devastated is an understatement. We were working so hard to create a life for the both of us, we were even in the process of setting up savings so we could eventually put a deposit down on a house and never have to deal with the stress of renting ever again. But we were back to square one. A deposit lost and the looming prospect of having to put down another deposit on an apartment that we just couldn’t afford, panic set in. I started looking at all our options – moving in with friends, living in a house share, moving home, and even somehow pulling together a deposit to buy the apartment we were already living in and loved. Thankfully they managed to spell my name wrong on the eviction notice, which bought us a little more time. In between all this we had a two-week trip to Oman planned to visit my Auntie and Uncle who live out there. Timing was not on our side.

Being away did not result in the relaxation time that I needed. I got in a fight with my family half way through the fortnight and tears were shed. My stress levels were high and I came home feeling defeated. We decided to end our “break” away from impending homelessness with a meal out together. Frankie and Benny’s was our restaurant of choice and with a very cheap lunch deal, it saved us from feeling too bad about spending the little money we had left before payday.

The past few weeks I had exhausted all the possible options we had, and none of them fit. Until I remembered the dream we both had. You know, the one you always talk about but you never actually get around to doing?

Ours was to travel Australia for a year, maybe two.

My boyfriend had never really taken it seriously and even when I suggested it over our spaghetti and meatballs, he still shrugged and said, “Yeah, if you want.”

We had three weeks to quit our jobs, sell all our stuff and move back in with our parents. And that is exactly what we did. He managed to get transferred to another branch of the restaurant that he worked in and because I had worked there during university they took me back on without any hesitation.

Really, looking at our other options we just didn’t have the financial position to do anything else other than move home and live with our parents. But this time, things seemed to truly be falling into place and everything we were doing just felt right. Don’t get me wrong, it was the biggest and the scariest decision for us both to make. But we knew in the end that even if it failed at some point in this journey, that this was the right thing to do and at least we tried.

Honestly, without this push and life changing event that was completely out of our hands, we would have just carried on with our lives as they were and would have probably never embarked on this adventure to Australia. That doesn’t mean we didn’t work extremely hard to get where we are now but sometimes it just takes your whole world to fall apart for it all to settle into place.

Australian Beach

What an amazing and inspirational story! To be in a situation that was so hopeless but to finish it with chasing your dreams. Amazing!

Thank you so much for sharing your story Nicole. If you would like to follow more of Nicole’s adventures you can find her below:

Nicole Lauren Blake Blog

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