Warning: This post is extremely personal and filled with blatant sentimentality. You’ve been warned.
Today, I’m leaving for Britain for the first time in almost 3 years.
My wife and I last set foot in Britain in March of 2007 and it seems like that was a lifetime ago. I was still a student – living irresponsibly on students loans. We were extremely poor and had no business traveling internationally. We actually ran out of money halfway through the trip. That was not good! And it can be said that the financial damage created by that trip is still affecting us today and was one of the many reasons why we could not go until now – when the trip was provided to us.
There have been many starts and stops. We even had plane tickets purchased almost two years ago but when we got the great news that my wife was pregnant – we decided the responsible thing to do would be to cancel the trip (the whole baby thing didn’t work out – that’s really all I need to say about the most horrible experience we ever went though).
We even planned a trip for earlier this year and that fell through. We resolved to plan another one for November and we had to cancel those plans to back in August. Then, we got the great news that we had won a trip from British Airways. The November trip was back on!
I’ve been through 3 ‘real’ jobs in addition to working several second and third jobs, working my ass off wondering if I would ever make enough money to go on fabulous vacations again. I’ve now settled in the best job yet at a great company, with great co-workers and a challenging, rewarding job. And I finally make enough money so that vacations are possible now.
I started this blog two years ago out of the frustration that there had to be a way to write my way to great Britain. Not a day has gone by in the last 3 years that I haven’t wanted to go to Britain again. I’m obsessed. Britain is the second love in my life (my wife would argue the first…). It drives everyone I know crazy. So, I started this blog to channel that passion into something useful.
We’ve now grown into the world’s largest Anglophile website and the site itself has acheived the goal of actually getting me back to Britain. You see, I won the British Airways contest because they see a future in this blog – they saw my passion – my readers – all our great content – and they believed it had value.
That is the ultimate reward from all of this.
Anglotopia is going to be going to some amazing places in the next year. My goal is for it to somehow get me to Britain at least once or twice a year. I can dream right? My dreams have come true so far!
Now, I couldn’t leave the country without thanking everyone who made it possible for this trip to happen. Even though hard work made it possible – I did not do it on my own.
So, here’s a list of people I need to thank:
- British Airways – For selecting me as a winner
- Paras Shah – For urging me to enter
- My wonderful parents who always encouraged me to follow my dreams and listen to me go on and on about Britain. Especially to my fellow Anglophile mother who took me there for the first time so many years ago.
- Lisa Coulson – The blog would not be where it is without you and your fantastic columns. Thank you for taking a chance on us and writing for us.
- Mike Harling – Same goes for our second columnist – Mike – thanks for your fantastic writing
- To our other great regular columnists:
- Kat Martin
- Mary Kate Feeney
- Carl Gardner
- Dana Franks
- Mandy Littlefield
- Denis and Francis
- Mandy Katz
- Katherine Kern
- William McAdoo
- My Ex-employer – For the year of employment and the lesson that I needed to search for greener pastures.
- My Ex-cowokers – For believing in my strange dreams and encouraging them – for listening me talk about England on end.
- My Current Employer – for empowering me to work hard again and for, well, paying me.
- My Awesome Boss Michelle O’Hagan – who cares just as much about my passions as my work and gave me the time off for the trip.
- My Awesome co-workers – For creating the best environment to work in, ever. Stay awesome guys.
- To Anglotopia’s Advertisers – Your support has helped the site grow and helped pay for this trip
- Michele Neylon at Blacknight.com – Took a chance on me and threw some freelance work my way and then a ton more which helped me dig out of some financial holes and buy an SLR camera for the trip. Recent work also paid for our stay at Updown Cottage.
- James K. Barath for believing in me along with all my Valpo peeps.
- To anyone I’ve solicited free blogging/twitter/seo/social media advice from in the past few years
- All my Twitter Followers on @Anglotopia and @jonathanwthomas for your friendship and advice.
- And of course to every person who’s ever visited Anglotopia and read a post (and clicked an ad!)
And last but not least –
I must thank my lovely wife of 3 years, Jacqueline Collette Thomas who lovingly and grudgingly puts up with my strange obsession and supports it with all her heart. We’ve had a rough road over the past three years – the hardest of our lives. But we made it through together. I would not exchange that for anything in the world. Whether you believe me or not – I do love YOU more than Britain. Remember that! This trip means one thing and I want you to hold it to your heart: we’ve arrived. Wherever things go for us in the next 100 years – these next few months we can safely say we’ve arrived and the next phase of our grown up lives will begin.
Now, if you all don’t mind, I have a plane to catch.