A couple have given up their day-to-day lives to go travelling across Europe in camper van following a near death experience.
Beeston boy Dan Colegate had lived his whole life with bowel incontinence before a hernia complication led to an emergency operation without aesthetic.
It proved to be a turning point for the first class Oxford graduate and his wife-to-be Esther Dingly after the 38-year-old had an epiphany on his hospital bed and decided to ditch his life in academia for one on the road.
Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live he said: “I look back now and feel really stupid. Financially we were doing really well but emotionally [me and Esther] were business partners more than life partners, we were really unhappy.”
The pair who met at Oxford and were living together in Newcastle at the time had originally planned to take a year out but this gradually turned in to a six year break from normality.
Ben, who is currently in Switzerland with Esther, 36, said: “The health scare really just gave us the kick up the bum to just do it.
“We told everyone it would be for a year and we bought a second hand camper van. We took off. We realised it really wasn’t that expensive to live on the road. We were having a really good time and more important than that we thought all of our priorities were evolving. It wasn’t that everything had become unimportant, we still watched the pennies, and we’re still far too young to call ourselves retired, but the idea of a long term career and pensions and all that just seemed less vital.”
That was in 2013 and more than six year on the couple are still travelling the continent, now with their five adopted dogs.
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Dan said: “If you met me in 2010, I was a comprehensive kid who went to Oxford, I got a first class degree and a PHD, I had my own business, everything was going well. I hadn’t won any gold medals yet but I was pretty good at sport . Everything I had set myself as a goal I had achieved, I’d always felt kind of invulnerable. It was the first time, in that hospital bed, in the middle of the night, I thought I could not wake up tomorrow.”
The couple have now travelled extensively across Europe including spells in pain, Switzerland and France. Dan has documented his travels through poetry, children’s books and travel guides, all available on Amazon.
He said: “We always said, it wasn’t a place we were looking for, it was a feeling.”
You keep track of the couple’s travels at estheranddan.com.