A Year in Review 2021: Wrapping Up Our Trips & Achievements

-Year In Review 2021-

We thought we’d put together a year in review 2021. It’s kind of travel-related but it’s about our lives as well as travel. You may not know the real ‘us’, so hopefully, this will shed some light on us, who we are, what we do and where we want to be in the future.

Do you remember, back in the day, when people used to send those letters at Christmas to friends and family to inform them of what they have been up to throughout the year? I hope we aren’t the only ones who were subject to them. Ha! Anyway, consider it a modern-day version of one of them (that’s a bit more interesting!).

Year In Review 2021
Year In Review 2021

Rewind to 2020

Let’s rewind to New Years Eve 2020 where we took the pictures below. The idea of the picture was inspired by my (Joel) cousin, Nadya, with the thought of ‘getting 2021 off on the right foot’. And I think we did. We were planning a move to Shropshire. Buy and large, we had both lived in the South West for almost two decades, so it was a fairly big move. I was relocating jobs from Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth, to RAF Cosford, Shropshire, and Stacey was coming with me.

An assignment came up in 2020 to teach at the Defence School of Photography (DSOP), starting in February 2021. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Walking the corridors of DSOP was one of the most inspirational places I had ever been when I trained there in 2010. I was always in awe of the photographers that had gone into the world of military photography before me and always had the aspiration to revisit the place, but as a trainer, to pass on the knowledge and experiences I had gained as a Royal Navy Photographer. I’d finally made it full circle…would the job live up to the aspiration? Read on to find out!

Back to New Year 2021

Back to New Year 2021. We were meant to be in Hamburg, Germany, but decided to cancel the trip a few weeks back because of the unpredictable nature of Covid. It was a good move given Germany closed its borders to UK tourists! Instead, we headed to Cornwall to spend some time with Stacey’s family. I forgot how raw the coast is! We took a walk to St Agnes Heritage Coast, which is owned by the National Trust. It’s home to the famous Wheal Coates tin mine. Not only is the location interesting because of the mining heritage, but the coastline is dramatic. The wind was insane! Even the dog was trying to take flight.

In Brief – Our Year in Review 2021

Back to earlier in the year…

The relocation to DSOP couldn’t have been much better for travel. We’re now in Shropshire, just a few miles west of Wolverhampton, and are surrounded by five airports within 2 hours. That may not sound like much but to folk who have lived in the Southwest, where you’re at the end of the world, it’s a big deal! Ha.

We’ve spent time in Wales, scaling mount Snowdon on an impromptu road trip. We took Bumper to Scotland on a road trip to explore Argyll and Bute, visited the Cotswolds, flew to Ibiza for a non-party weekend and Munich for a Christmas market that was cancelled! Ha!

We also visited the world’s first book town, explored some lakes of the Lake District, and completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the National Three Peaks Challenge while raising some money for charity (and if you’d still like to donate, you can by clicking HERE)

Taking part in these challenges left me hungry for more. So, in 2022, Dek and I are going to attempt the Coast2Coast bike ride and run a marathon. We haven’t decided which one yet. If you have any recommendations, please let us know in the comments below!

To answer my previous question – unfortunately, the job at DSOP hasn’t quite quenched my thirst. That’s not because it’s not a good job. It is. It’s a great place to work; we get days out taking pictures, meet loads of new people, help to develop the next generation of Defence Photographers and the location in Shropshire couldn’t be much better for travel. But the problem is that the prospects of life outside of the Royal Navy are more exciting than they are inside! Ha! So why stay…?

Our Future Goals

…We have goals we’d like to achieve that pave the way for a future that enables us to break the cycle of everyday life; one where we can experience things that we can’t while holding down full-time jobs and travel before we’re too old. And we achieved one of those goals this year. I’m not sure if we categorise it as an achievement, but more a milestone, and that was paying off one of our mortgages. We have worked hard to pay it off while trying to balance investing as much money as possible into the mortgage against enjoying a decent life. We think we’ve managed it.

Why was this milestone so important to us? We don’t want to pay a mortgage to say we’ve done it because there isn’t much value in that for us. The reason is that when the time finally comes to leave the navy, we plan to travel full time, and that means we will rely on rental income to support our travels. If we have debt, we have less disposable income and that could be a problem if we aren’t working.

To help us travel full time we have three milestones to achieve:

1) pay off our first mortgage (which we’ve done)

2) pay off our second mortgage (which we hope to complete by March 2025)

3) leave the navy and start getting a pension (which will be March 2026)

On paper, it’s a solid plan. Having a deadline has helped our financial planning and it begs the question – would we have planned the same way if we didn’t have a deadline for a career and lifestyle change? I guess we’ll never know the answer to that but we are thankful we do because it’s really helped to focus our efforts on the future and building a life we want to try.

Finally, that concludes our year in review 2021. Please leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

-Year In Review 2021-

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Year in review 2021

4 thoughts on “A Year in Review 2021: Wrapping Up Our Trips & Achievements

  1. Elisabeth Harley

    Congratulations on all you have achieved in 2021 and all the very best for 2022 from someone who has never forgotten your acts of kindness following Irma/Maria in 2017

    1. thebumpercrew Post author

      Thank you 🙂 I tell all the students this story and about you – I hope they understand there is more to being a good photographer than just taking nice pictures. One day me and Stacey will visit Tortola. I would love to see the island again.


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