TRAVELLING NORTHERN IRELAND FLAG
by Jonny Blair
As a long term tourist, multiple country immigrant, backpacker and self defined "whackpacker", life on the road can lead to neglect of those things we did in our homeland. I remember turning 16 way back in the mid 1990s and what it meant at the time, for a boy growing up in Northern Ireland. I could legally work anywhere in the United Kingdom (and overseas territories). I could legally buy cigarettes and pyroglyphics. I had a National Insurance card. And, suddenly I could play the Lotto / National Lottery. In fact, the United Kingdom's National Lottery, known now as the Lotto, only started around 1994. It was a phenomen at the time and many of us embraced it and jumped on the bandwagon.
How To Play The Lotto When Travelling Abroad
While I first entered the Lotto in 1996, I left Northern Ireland behind in 2003. At the time I studied and worked in Bournemouth in England. There it was still easy to enter the lottery and do the odd football bet, of which Lock in Lee and I used to famously and regularly win. We developed a niche for wacky football bets. Although, I was still able to play the Lotto every week.
Then I realised that by backpacking and travelling intensely around the world, I didn't need to neglect my habit or my chance of winning a million dollars, pounds or euros. However, I could put my lottery numbers on for the following few weeks in advance whilst partaking on a backpacking journey. This was useful because you can still check your Lotto results overseas. Of course as I travelled all over Europe watching Northern Ireland matches and backpacking the sights of textbook cities and wacaday micronations, I always hoped, and still hope my numbers come up. But still, that never happened, YET! It was a pipe dream. The internet made the world smaller and made it easier for us to keep up with our hobbies whilst abroad.
This also worked for me in football as I could check my team's results easily, and eventually I could watch online matches on my laptop. I didn't miss home so much anymore as we could be globally connected. I could also use Skype to contact home to speak and see (though not physically) my family and so all those formalities I had back in my homeland could also still happen, albeit online and in a less physical or face to face sense.
While winning the lottery might seem far fetched - it is literally one in a million, we are all still doing it. Part of us are all "Del Boys", you know the drill - "this time next year Rodders, we will be millionaires". Money has never been my dream or driving force in life though. I would rather have health, happiness, honest friends, vitality, recognition. But at the back of our minds, money would bring stability and eliminate the fear of bankruptcy. I could also travel more. I could visit family more. I could even pay someone to try and get the apology from 'you know who', that caused my depression.
So the big win awaits me, and you, and most of us. We live in a world of "hit and hope". Overall though, we all want to be happy and healthy. This should be our guiding star.