Every week I feature an interview with a blogger, so that whether you know of them or not, you can get to know them a little better! This week we meet Cath from Passports to Adventures. Thanks so much for taking part Cath 🙂
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family
I’m Cath, 40-year-old Mum to one little boy who is nearly 5, Alexander, and wife of eight years to my hubby, Mr Passports (he likes to remain as anonymous as possible). We are an Irish expat family now living in Portugal after 15 years in the UK where our son was born.
I have a PhD in Science and was working in a company doing chemical testing within the petrochemical industry before we emigrated south in 2017. It was a job I loved and miss a lot. My husband is an IT Consultant and works remotely with occasional travel for work for meetings. I gave up my job and no longer work, mainly because of the language barrier, although I am doing my best to learn quite a difficult language. Just when you think you’ve mastered something in Portuguese, they go and change the rules and you’re lost again.
We live in the east Algarve, just 20 minutes from the Spanish border. We moved here to be closer to my parents who retired here early in 2017. Thankfully, they didn’t mind us tagging along. We left a beautiful six-bedroom house and moved into a two-bedroom static holiday home while we tested the waters. Although we enjoy Portugal, especially the weather, we’re not sure if it’s going to be our forever home, so are considering our options for next year in terms of getting a bigger place to live. The small space is starting to feel claustrophobic, especially with our large German Shepherd around.
My husband and I met online and were talking for over two months before we met in person in the centre of Dublin city. We’re from opposite sides of Dublin so the city was where we had most of our dates in the early days. We’re both the eldest of four, with me having three younger sisters, and my husband having one brother and two sisters, all of whom are still living in or near Dublin.
We initially thought we’d have two children but after a traumatic birth and long recovery, we’ve settled for our little boy. Sometimes the guilt of him being an only child does creep through, but then we remember that travelling with one child is cheaper than with two and it soon disappears. Our son is in Portuguese preschool (they don’t start school until they’re six) and he is coming along really well with the language, understanding everything that is said to him, and is speaking much more than Mum or Dad. He is thriving and spending more time outdoors, which was a major factor in our decision to move.
What do you like doing to be you, when you are not parenting, working (if you do), or blogging?
I no longer work and spend most of my day trying to build up my blog. However, when I’m not doing that I enjoy watching Netflix series like Suits, The Crown and the Originals, things my husband refuses to watch. I also love reading and when the weather isn’t too cold, I swim as often as I can in the outdoor pool in our community.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I guess I have two big achievements to date. The first was finally graduating with my PhD after nine years in university. It was a long slog and it was a huge achievement as I was the first student of the university to go from first year of a degree course, right the way through to graduating with a PhD without ever leaving the university to attend another one, or taking a break and coming back to it. The university I attended only opened in 1993 and at the time only offered diploma courses, with people completing their degree elsewhere. The year before I was due into my fourth year, the degree year, was the first year they had the degree year on offer. That’s the reason I was the first to go through the complete system in the same university without needing to leave or take a break.
My second biggest achievement is our son. Despite a very easy pregnancy, his birth was hard, and my recovery was very long afterwards. However, we got through it and he is a well-balanced, beautiful little boy who is thriving in Portugal and that’s a big achievement. It’s always a worry to up-sticks and move, especially to a different country where English is not the first language, but he has taken everything in his stride.
From your own experiences, what do you find the hardest part of parenting and what is the easiest/most rewarding part?
The hardest part of parenting is knowing whether or not you’re getting it right. When the tantrums start, or you hear “you’re not my friend” you really start to question yourself. Trying to deal with tantrum or outbursts can sometimes take all your energy and patience and that’s the part I find the hardest, especially when my husband is away with work and not around for support.
The most rewarding is either hearing the words “I love you mum”, or getting a random hug and kiss, for no other reason than they want to give you one. My son has never been a very touchy-feely boy so hugs and kisses that aren’t begged, borrowed or stolen are precious. Also, hearing a compliment from someone other than your family about what good parents you are is hugely rewarding. I was speaking to one of my son’s classroom assistants before the summer and she paid us a huge compliment, saying we weren’t like some of the other expat parents because we were really making an effort to try and learn basic Portuguese. And that our son was one of the better-behaved children in the classroom and was a pleasure to have in there. She made my day I can tell you.
Parenting in itself is no mean feat; how do you juggle everything you need to in order to get everything done on a daily basis?
I am lucky now that I don’t have to factor in a day-job. Before we left the UK, I had a strict routine for the working week and very rarely veered away from it. With so little time with my son after commuting an hour to get home, I did everything I could to give us as much time together in the evenings as possible.
Now, things are a bit more relaxed. I can do housework during the day around my blogging, can go shopping while he is in preschool leaving evenings for making dinner, seeing my parents or watching films together. It’s never a rush to get dinner eaten so we can get him to bed at a reasonable time. And as a result, I am more relaxed around him.
Why did you decide to start blogging?
I started blogging within the parent niche towards the end of my maternity leave as a sort of online diary. I had kept a pregnancy diary but wanted something else, so a blog felt like a good compromise. However, a year ago I started concentrating on our family travels as it no longer felt right for me to be sharing my son’s development in detail online. As a result, I’m now a family travel blogger and no longer write about parenting topics.
Tell me a bit about your blog?
As mentioned, I started my blogging within the parenting niche, but I pivoted over a year ago and now concentrate on family travel, particularly with young kids. I write about our days out, family holidays and also write hints and tips posts to try help other families with young children. Writing about our travels is what gets my fingers typing much more so than parenting ever did. That said, I wouldn’t change anything about my blogging time.
What do you want your blog to achieve and where do you hope to see it go as it grows?
Through my blog, I hope to inspire families with kids to travel more while they are still young. I want to show other families that travelling with younger kids is still doable and can be enjoyed. You just need a little bit of inspiration, some ideas and some hints and tips to help make it a holiday to remember. And that’s what I’d like to achieve with my blog.
At the moment I am concentrating on building it back up after going through a domain change (that’s the website’s url) and the blog name change, so that’s my focus for the rest of the year. Next year I hope that the new name will mean people will visit the site more and come to appreciate it as a travel blog rather than a parenting blog. While I loved my last name, BattleMum, it just didn’t say “travel” in any way, shape or form when you read it. Hopefully the new name will change that and people’s perception.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about starting a blog?
I think the first thing is to think long and hard about the name. Try and find one that you know you’ll never want to change or use a more generic one that can lend itself to different niches. Both myself and a few other bloggers that I know have gotten a few years down the line and realised that our names didn’t reflect the direction in which our blogs were going. So, we’ve had to go through the painful process of a domain (and name) change which means you need to go through promoting your blog again, and also recovering your hard-earned DA which is a very slow and painful process. One blogger I know has a huge DA, but her name is no reflection of where her blog is today. She’d love to change the name but can’t face losing her DA. So really do think about the name you choose.
After that make sure you go self-hosted from the very beginning and try and get to grips with SEO as early as you can. It can seem like a daunting process but once you get used to it, it actually becomes easy to do for your evergreen content (that’s content that can last for years).
If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
1) Steve McQueen, as I loved him in the Great Escape. He was a teenage crush of mine.
2) Either Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, my two favourite Bonds. I’m a huge 007 fan and even sat in the same restaurant as Sean Connery in London for a meal once but didn’t approach him.
3) I’d have to say Madonna as the last person. I’ve been a huge fan of hers since I was very young and would like to know what’s she’s like as person in real life. I know many people don’t like her, but I’d like to see a small bit of her real personality.
Tell me three random facts about you
1. I was born in Botswana to Irish parents and lived in South Africa until I was 9 years old.
2. I have worn glasses since I was 7 years old and will never try contacts.
3. I did my compulsory basic training (CBT) on a motorbike in 2007 but never rode a motorbike after that.