Our new "columnist", Richard Smalley will be updating Darwen Online regularly with news about his travels. This is his first article:
Yet again, I woke up at sun rise at 3.42am this morning and tried getting back to sleep. It’s really some getting used to and it will soon be 24 hour daylight here in northern Sweden. This is where I am living at the moment with my Swedish girlfriend.
Firstly I would like to say a big hello to everyone in Darwen, a place I still visit after most of my travels, to see family and to have a pint in The Engineers with friends. I left Darwen Vale without any grades and started work at Octaveward in 1997.
I learnt the trade of fibreglass plastics over four years while living at Two Gates Drive and later at my own house on Alice Street. I slowly got bored with routine, paying the mortgage and not having any fun, so every Thursday I stared at overseas job adverts in the national newspapers just wishing.
Then in February 2001, I plucked up the courage and phoned one of the job adverts. It was a risky and very scary step and in a blink of an eye I was flown to The Netherlands and started work. I have never looked back and I have been travelling ever since.
From sleeping rough in Uruguay to watching England at the World Cup in Germany 2006. From being mugged in Rome to spending three weeks in the Atacama Desert. To be out drinking with Turkish gypsies to white water rafting in the Andes Mountains. Swimming in Thai jungles at midnight to talking to Prince Andrew in Southampton.
Eating with poor Laos families to lavish Argentinean steak and wine. To the heights of the Empire State building to the views of Darwen Tower and Bolivian train journeys to spotting moose in Sweden.
As I learn the language and culture in Sweden, it just shows nothing is really stereo-typed and you should take things as you see it. I will be travelling around Scandinavia soon enough and next week I will be seeing 18 of my family members in France for a special birthday celebration.
In future I wish to have plenty of enjoyment and discuss any kind of travel stories from where you or I have been. I think we can have a lot of fun on this column and I would love to read some of that true Darwen humour.
You can follow Richard Smalley via his blog: The Traveller Returns