All posts by Fran

I am listening …

‘It didn’t matter if I got bitten by a dog or I ripped my pants on the fence post or I poked myself in the eye with a tree branch that I was crawling over, it was all about the shortcut. My whole life I took the shortcut, and I ended up lost.’ – Anthony Kedis.

Is the frequency shifting out there? For a moment there, there seemed to be a lot of confusion in my world and in the world of a lot of people around me. It was getting a bit raw for a while. In the past years there has been a lot of excess noise. It has cluttered my perspective and clouded my intuition. So, I did a few things.

I decided I didn’t need to decide about anything. I don’t really know what to do about things right now. I just need to sit still and see how things play out.

I read a book, slowly. Atomic Habits. I haven’t begun mastering my habits but my thinking has been shifting and there’s movement and importantly, there’s been action. Small steps. Beginnings.

I got nostalgic and I started filling my walls and frames with memories. The shot above is one of those. How small they were. How mobile we were, moving with life as it unfolded, needing only each other. It was actually a bit painful, I miss them as little people. But the sadness was necessary to understand where we are and why perhaps my feet are a little itchy!

I cleared the 4,000 emails from my inbox. It took a day. Mostly, I filed them away, it was pleasantly cathartic. It took me through the last few years. There were definitely periods where I was overloaded, I saw them clearly as I went back in time. Those periods were put in folders and cleared from the inbox, they are in the past.

There was a period of time where (through necessity) we shopped online and as a result I was on far too many mailing lists. Now, when a new email comes in from a mailing list I simply hit unsubscribe. It has made room for emails to come in from mailing lists I am interested in. Like this one!

I booked a camino. Next week I will step back on where I left the Northern trail last October. I will hike the next 100kms. I’ve been packing ahead of time, this is a bit of a shift for the me of late. Those joyful salves of excitement and hope are returning. My flights have all been cancelled at least once, but I’ve rebooked each leg and I’m prepared for disruption. I’ll pack a book, a journal and I have music. And I am one of the world’s people watchers, happy to be amongst life rather than the centre of it.

I put a few invites into the universe for my hike. I was going anyhow of course but, there were a few people I’d have liked to have hiked and talked with and I wondered if perhaps they might like or need it too Timing wasn’t right for them. I’m still hiking. I have no problem hiking alone, you have to be able to create what you need. Be your own hero. Oh and here’s a little story … I recently got my own invite to share a trail with a cool chick in September. I said yes.

I took a trip with my number three on a whim. I took a ride on a waterslide one time because he really wanted me too. I gave him more responsibility because he asked for it. I basically said yes more often to him and I began to realise what a force he is. I have much to learn from him. He is good for me.

I started growing things again. I am ridicuoulsly happy to be able to pick fresh food from the rooftop garden. It definitely generates better meals. These past years, where we have been living under construction have cost a lot in terms of habits, health, traditions and rhythms. Is is nice to be in a place to step back in to what matters without chaos. Chaos – the energy vampire.

Somewhere along the way I stopped drinking coffee. I thought perhaps my nervous system might appreciate it. It has. It’s not a hard and fast thing, I’m just trying it and I have had the odd coffee. I am trying a few things with food. I’m far from forming these changes as hard habits but that’s ok. I’m working out who I want to be in five years. Is that someone who eats meat? Someone who eats gluten? And I am working on being that person. It is a process.

I’ve been to a few gigs and festivals. I am listening to a lot of music, new and old and I’m reading from the ‘musical biography’ genre. It.Is.Literally.Rocking.My.World. Setting off all kinds of sparks. So many intertwined stories. Absolutely fascinating. I have been craving this – curiosity.

I’ve started phoning people for real talks. I am really toying with deleting what’s ap. It is too hard right now but I am working on it. I’ve made more time to be with people. I need people more than I realise. My people. I’m zoning in on them. Sharing, laughing, crying with them. Phone me friends, if you need chats and catch ups. I can’t promise I will pick up, I am still me but I am trying harder.

Slowly, decisions are happening. Leaving some things behind and generating motion through small steps always creates the space for something happen. Flow begins to weave its way into daily life. I’ve begun the process of untying myself from commitments that compromise my values, well, just one. I can’t pretend anymore, life goes too fast. My world needs to expand.

I’ve been trying to find out something about myself, about where I am going with my life. It is the key to creating habits and in taking my next steps. As I write this rough, cobbled together little post it seems clear now that being of service has been a common message I’ve been drawn to. I do want to be of service, in an assertive, curious, creative, make things, life changing possibly loud, adventure driven kinda way. So my habits, my day to day life needs to reflect this identity.

Woah. Step one James (the author of Atomic Habits)! I have identified my identity – now to find my way, the long way. Who knew this was where this post would end up. Actually it seems to be a path I am jumping back on after taking some time out to get lost. It will look a little different though because I am.

I better get my camera out of the back of the draw.

And hey look where I am – I decided to write again. I am not sure where this will go. I do know is it is important to me and it has been gently whispering ‘come back, come back’ so I listened.

I am listening.

xx

Can one be suitably outraged, contented and peaceful all at once?

For a little while I have been thinking about blogging again. I miss it. The getting to know people through their stories. The new ideas, perspectives, the clarity it brings and the personal nature of it. I do wonder … does it even exist anymore, the blogosphere? Hello, is anybody out there? Or has it become something else, something I seek that used to exist. Is blogging simply a thing from the past that I pine for. Lately, I seem to pine for past things, past times. Times that can’t return. I can’t go back and yet I am unsure about which way is forward. So, I guess I will do what I do in these times, I will write.

It seems hard to feel excited about the future when the world is warming, fighting, trapped in an online vortex of some sort of bullshit alternate reality and it’s becoming so ridiculously expensive to live in, how can all of this be sustainable? And yet, everyday the world goes on and I do want to feel excited about that, and about life. I do want to have hope, adventure, fun times, laugher, good food, joy and sadness with my people and to live in my natural state of optimism. But … I don’t want to do that at the cost of living in denial about the world. How do we call bullshit on the bullshit and live peacefully, contentedly at the same time?

After being away from Australia for over 5 years I do feel the pull back. There are a lot of things I miss. I miss all things ‘Aussie’ish’. The things that are Aussie to me. My family, friends, the bush, the beach, the smashed avo and egg breakfasts, the humour, the language that shortens all words, the familiarity, the ease in which we are open, the 5 TV channels, all the things really and of course the warm weather. Maybe it’s belonging to something that’s a big part of me, of who I am that I crave. And for whatever reason I haven’t managed to create that sense of belonging to here – to where I am.

Yesterday, I said to a friend ‘I don’t think I have caught up to where I am in my life’. I am in such a different phase to the one we were in when we landed here. We arrived with young kids, a huge adventure on the horizon and now we have teens who are almost adults. When we left, I felt a world of possibility … and for a while there was this great sense of something new being built. The world seemed so big, anything, everything seemed possible. I felt on the cusp of something. What was that cusp though? And where did I climb down from walking towards it? What was it that stopped me in my tracks? Did I even stop in my tracks, or am I taking a longer route, an alternative route?

I am, of course, very much here and while a clear path back to Australia doesn’t seem to be looking at us right now there are lots of things I enjoy and love about this life. Train to Paris anyone? Take the bike kids! Oh I’ll be hiking a part of the Northern Camino for a bit, toodles. We have built something amazing, but still, something feels like it is missing. I should be able to find it here … right. The missing puzzle piece. I mean, I know the grass is never greener. Fact. And in the quiet when I think about what I miss the most about my ‘old’ life (aside from Aussie’ness) it is the doing of something that matters. I want to be someone who stands for something, for many things. For most of my life I have had a job where that’s been my day to day. From teaching kids at risk to supporting women in childbirth. Right now, I seem to be in an apathetic state. I don’t feel like I fit in here. I just don’t know how, or where to fight ‘the good fight’. What even is the good fight right now?

Some days I feel I am living in complete culture shock. I don’t understand the world. The big world and my smaller world. I know I’m not someone who wants to be super loud. I am no politician, and I am not striving for a leadership or big job. But I do want to do something that matters. Writing is this little thing I do, often in the quiet and and it does matter. It helps me to make sense of my world and sometimes it seems to also help others. Words can be magical like that. And when I’m lost in writing all the other not so important things, seem, well, just so not important.

In this post pandemic, post yearlong renovation, post kids growing faster than I have been able to keep up with time – I really need to find which way is North again. I think it’s changed for me and in this phase of my life, it isn’t so clear cut! The way forward really isn’t obvious. Decisions seem momentous with far reaching consequences. Where will the children end up, where will I grow old. And there is the simple fact that I am a lot less ‘cartwheely’ these days about the whole process of life and change. I can’t quite summon the energy for huge expectations and outrageously gung-ho plans. Which ironically and so not like me – I kind of like. This feels peaceful in its own way.

I did very simple things yesterday. I played music most of the day, I cooked a favorite meal for one of my loved from scratch, I started regrowing spring onions. I had some lovely conversation where there were no answers, but questions were asked. I started thinking about decisions without needing to make any. I think it is in these small things that the big things can unfold. And I was suitably outraged when I learnt that petrol is coming up through the sinks in a suburb south of Sydney. As well as the flooding. Climate change is happening in real time, I wasn’t wrong about that years ago when I left. Am I outraged by the fact that this is happening without consequence for those in power, or is it that I’m in a languishing, apathetic way that outrages me.

OMG I have reverted to being someone who apologises for taking up space. Have I become a bootlicker? What scared me? Who scared me? Last night in my outrage, I did send off a message to the universe (via the insta world 🤪) seeking a sign, willing myself to find some momentum and I did buy a sweater that said ‘if you’re not angry. you’re not taking notice’. So yeah, look, I’m pretty outraged at the world and myself for being a privileged ass.

Yes, dear friends it is time to face myself and to go in search of something. In search of a tribe maybe, or of myself and most definitely of my strength and courage. ROAR. It’s time to catch up to where I am before yet another year passes. To be outraged with bullshitand to be peaceful and contented with where I am. I don’t know how to solve the climate change problem or all the world’s injustices and I am ok with that. What I’m not ok with is not trying. There was a time when I was was sooo here and so connected that when I walked in the woods I could feel the pain of Mother Earth. I felt she spoke to me one time, I even stopped to write a poem. I am not sure why I’ve put my woo woo self to sleep. Perhaps, there have been too many other voices and just too many people with a different kind of energy around me. It’s just become too crowded. I know I need to wake her up though. I am certain of that. I need the woo woo. It is the essence of who I am and when I am in that space, I can see the North star.

So unapologetically in I go …

Break in regular programming!

The latest instalment for the Sunday Edition will follow later this week. We’ve moved back into our home/building site after a few weeks at a local lake villa to get the floors done. They’re under the covers awaiting oil. Oh la la they are beautiful. No more holes! For a host of reasons we’ve decided to live in our house while it’s being renovated. We have our lounge room and three bedrooms between the 6 of us. We can still use the kitchen stove, oven and sink, so it’s not dire (yet). Luckily, we’re campers from way back. LOL.

Co-sy!

We’ve spend the past few days sorting, storing – getting down to basics. How much stuff do we really need? Turns out not much. We haven’t been up for air, hence no Sunday edition yet. It’s nice to be busy getting all the crappy jobs done. Rest assured though I have a desk and the post will come and I’ll respond to last week ls comments ASAP. Thanks as always, some beauties and a lot of food for thought.

Will update with some more photos later in the week … this situation here in the above photo is now a little more under control. Oh and the rain hasn’t stopped. It’s been rainy for what feels like the entire April (even snow) and now almost all of May. WTAF?!?. Anyways, can’t feel sorry for myself there’s still not sun on the weather prediction ap., so still we must wait. The plus side of that is it’s very, very green. Yesterday our builders put up a kind of glass (plastic) house. So the build will roll on despite the non stop rain.

Chat soon,

Fran xx

The Sunday Edition – 2. Is 8am too early for cheese? Lost – our obsession with time.

Is 8 am too early for blue cheese?

Well thanks to old mate jet-lag we didn’t manage to see in the new year! We have managed to see most of today, 1-1-2017. We’ve been up since 4am and by 8am I can no longer resist the waft of blue cheese every time the fridge door is opened. Dang it! I treat myself to some new year’s day decadence.

Creamy, pungent blue cheese on sourdough. This is the kind of morning where anything goes! 

Anything!

The boys are out playing football in t-shirts in the crisp 7 degree air. And who am I to argue with with my instagram family! They all agree. “It’s definitely too early for cheese – said no one ever!” My friend Karen, aka CoffeeTeaBooks, responds when I post a photo of my breakfast fare posing the question “ .. is it too early for cheese?”  

It may be icy outside, but inside we are toasty. Houses seem so much more insulated and heated here. It’s such a cosy feeling. The Dutch have a name for this feeling, gezellig. Gezellig is more than cozy, more than the just the atmosphere. It’s also the people and the moment. Of course I also have my holiday love glasses on. You know the ones? They see everything as perfect.

So often Europeans are shocked we have a winter and that it gets cold in Australia. Although, we seem to be in some denial of it too. Most of the houses I’ve ever lived in were never efficient at either keeping the heat in during winter nor the heat out in summer. During the first winter we lived in Sydney the kids and I took to roaming the streets for firewood! It was so cold in the old terrace house we’d rented in Paddington.

Yes, to be able to afford a terrace in Sydney means we are absolutely privileged and that’s never lost on me. Our privilege didn’t however extend to renting a renovated, heated terrace. More the type of terrace a group of students may have shared. That is, back when students could afford to live in share houses in Australian cities.

After spending our 20s studying, traveling, living interstate and abroad, we spend our 30’s settled in Melbourne. When an employment offer came offering Greg a career move to Sydney we were up for it. Ready to leave our grassy backyard and white picket fence!

Once again, as seems to be the story of my life, I was ready to go in search of something. Perhaps, I wasn’t ready for my current life to be enough, or my gypsy soul was restless for an adventure. While Greg was wary of moving to Sydney, I could only see excitement. It is not change I fear, quite the opposite, it’s staying the same.

When we started looking for somewhere to live in Sydney it was my romantic notions that moved us into a terrace house. The terrace with its ornate features, high ceilings, old world charm and the vibey, cool suburb of Darlinghurst on the doorstep! Yes, surely this was going to be perfect.

Perfect – that lasted about a day!

The first night I was introduced to the resident rat, apparently rats and Paddington are a thing. I was horrified – vermin is not a ‘thing’ I can do. In the first weeks of moving a ridiculous amount of our stuff broke. Crazy winds that blew glass frames from the walls, a treasured sculpture we’d been gifted for our wedding was knocked over and smashed.

Oh dear! What had we done? The greener grass I was chasing in this move to Sydney .. it sure wasn’t growing in my tiny yard.

Lost – our obsession with time.

After a morning of cheese and football, once again we take the picturesque walk through the local village to the train station. The Christmas decorations still adorn the street lamps of the high street, and a canopy of fairy lights hang high above us.

For most of my life and the short lives of our children Christmas time has been synonymous with summer, family, friends, fresh brightly coloured fruit, camping and lazy beach days. When we decided to have this adventure, preparing is not only administrative and packing it also a process of letting go. Letting go of ideas about yourself, the life path you were heading on and of known comforts.

Giving up our permanent, yearly ocean campsite booking at Barwon Heads was one of the hardest things I had to let go of. Will we be able to create similar joyous kinds of traditions for our family? I ponder this while we sit at this small village train station where Christmas time now looks like puffer jackets, trivia cards and waiting for a train into London as we sit surrounded by paddocks filled with sheep and cows.

I suppose adventure is not only about letting go, it’s about giving in. Giving in to the unknown. Giving in to follow your heart even when sometimes it doesn’t all go to plan.

London and its public transport system is a dream. There is nowhere you can’t go. A network of trains, tubes, busses and boats that allow you to criss cross this multi-layered city founded by Romans over 2,000 years ago.

Today, we found our way to Greenwich by train and visited the Shepherd Gate clock, the famous clock that shows GMT at the Royal Observatory. We spent the day wandering the expansive parklands that surround it. It’s the perfect day of soaking in the winter sunlight, the spontaneity of playing with the soccer ball in our day-pack, of being in this time together, with just us and a free agenda.

Dinner was in a traditional English pub that waved the English red cross and Union Jack flags. The kind of place where every dish has a side of mashed peas and the beer is warm! While we ate we gave the trivia cards another workout before heading into the dock to take the ferry down the River Thames and into London.

From the water we reached iconic London as we pass by the Tower of London, and our eyes stuffed with the wonder of this historical city we glide under London Bridge. A little way further we disembark and make our way towards Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

Before our day of adventuring is over, as we are wandering home under the fairy lights through the village, we stop to see Venus alongside the moon. I learn from Greg and Tommy, our eldest, that Venus is often on show in the night sky.

Wait! WHAT?

How did I get to 44 years of age and not know this? How have I not looked at the sky in awe like this with my children and marveled at the wonder of seeing another planet?

Ph-ew, obviously this is right where I needed to be.

The jet-lag is no longer ruling our nights and as I begin to drift off I’m awake enough to have sleepy thoughts.

Venus. Wow. I still can’t get over it.

What a gift time is. Tommy, 12 years old, often so quiet and secure in his own space with his fountain of thoughts and knowledge that he often keeps to himself. What else will I learn from him in this time we’ve carved out to have an epic adventure?

What would I learn from Zoë, from Lucas and Jimmy? What would I learn about life? Love? Family? One thing I learnt from our life in Sydney was to take it slow. To live this experience.

And …

On this day where we sat at the centre of time. Where there was no hurry, no plan, no place to be, where we didn’t follow the top 10 must see guide to London and for the first time in my life I had seen Venus.

Our adventure had truly begun. For now we could let go of our obsession with time and where to be.

Next week …

A pledge before we leave.

Unexpected love at first sight. The Emerald Isle.

If you made it this far, thank you! 🌷 Perhaps you can help me. Are there mistakes, gaps? Do you need more description, depth or explanation in any of the paragraphs? Are some details not needed? Obviously it is the beginning so the bigger themes of minimising, travel and of course the trip will unfold but I’d like to be sure I keep the flow. And this is a beginning, a draft and I will grow with it, but my friends and editors, please feel free to offer your advice. You can do so in the comments or via my comment page

The Sunday Edition – 1. Tonight we fly! Checklists! London baby, we made it.

Tonight we fly! 

  • A suitcase and day pack each ✓
  • Puffer jacket, gloves and beanie ✓
  • Passports (2 each, Aussie and Dutch) ✓
  • One-way ticket to Europe ✓
  • Treasured possessions packed and en route to store in Ireland ✓
  • All other items given away or sold on gumtree ✓
  • Car sold (phew – just) ✓
  • Investment property sold (big $ loss but freedom gain) ✓
  • Family home tenanted ✓
  • Long service cashed in ✓
  • Pockets full of hope, excitement and the big unknown ✓✓✓

On this typically sunny late December day I suppose I should be feeling nervous. It may be typically sunny as we sit at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport and while I’ve sat here many times before, today is anything but typical. Today I’m sitting with my husband, our four children, our passports and one way tickets. Our possessions have been trimmed down to only the treasures and we are adventure bound.  

Surprisingly, I don’t.

Feel nervous that is.

What could possibly go wrong? Surely, buying a campervan over the internet, sight unseen, taking your kids out of school for six months without considering, or even checking if there is a homeschool option and not knowing where you’ll be at the end of the six months is normal.

Right? 

It must be right for me at this moment. Or is it my kind of normal? Because the only feeling I can express is excited anticipation. 

This day, the day we fly, has finally arrived. 

It’s rather liberating to be free and without ties. It has taken a little over six months to unburden ourselves of the commitments and stuff we had collected over these past years of our lives. Everything has been digitised, from the past 5 years of tax papers, the cd and dvd collections to the medical and school records. We no longer own chairs for our dining table nor mattresses or even beds for that matter! 

I guess we all have our midlife crises in different ways.

We, Greg and I, my beloved, husband and partner of over 20 years, decided to have ours as a campervan adventure in Europe with our four kids. I sneak a glance at our 12, 10, 7 and 4 year old children, the younger three playing uno and the eldest with his head in his online football manager game. These loves of my life, each with their own backpack filled with their worldly possessions. If they were nervous you wouldn’t know it. I like that this is their kind of normal too.

Adventure has become the norm for our family over the past few years. We have upped the wanderlust anti in our family. Climbing the highest peak in Australia, Mt Kosciuszko. Hiking the many incredible hiking paths in and around Sydney. Surfing into the sunset with the dolphins in Byron Bay. Weekend and school holiday adventures became one of our ways of creating a life that feels more us. More than the one we’d started waking up to.

Slowly we’d found a life creeping in that felt in conflict with what felt right (for us). Grumpy ballet teachers, ultra competitive and selective weekend sport, plastic, excessive parties, a husband and father who was always at work, slowly losing himself in the depths as he gave more and more to the insatiable greed of the corporate grind.

This wasn’t my idea of how my kids’ childhoods, or how our life was meant to look. I didn’t recognise myself in this kind of life. So we adventured and I wrote about it on a blog. A blog that helped me to escape the everydayness of life, only to find the everydayness of life. An everyday life our way.

For most people, an epic European campervan trip would be enough of an adventure. Not so it seems when you live with a curious, food loving, Europhile globetrotter. One who needed to find his spirit again.

It had taken Greg longer than me to come on board with the fact that we could leave it all behind to head off into the sunset in a campervan for a while. I’m the dreamy one, he’s the practical one. But as practical as he is, he also had a big dream in him. Apparently, now that he was on board with the whole escape for a while, in his mind living in a campervan with six people wouldn’t be challenging enough. 

“It’s just a luxury trip if we do that” he said. “We need a real challenge“. One late night when we were talking about our trip, pensively, he ventured “… why don’t we stay in Europe for a while.”

We’d lived in Amsterdam pre kids and we both held a deep desire to return to a European way of life. This would be a fresh start to create something less stressful than the life we were leaving in Sydney.

We would find new jobs, give the kids the experience of learning foreign languages and of living abroad. We’d spend weekends eating pizza in Naples, taking the train to Paris for wine and cheese, enjoy the piazzas of European cities and the charm and traditional fare of the countryside. We’d follow road bike races, climb mountains, surf the wild Atlantic and be lost in the history and cultures of Europe. 

Of course it sounded perfect to the glass half full, adventure seeking kind of gal that I am. Without hesitation – I agreed. It’s not the first time I’ve had to reinvent myself. Heck I’d just done it in Sydney. It wasn’t easy, nothing worthwhile ever is but I’d done it and here I am. Writing, taking photos, about to live a life long campervan across Europe dream. Sure, let’s add to the challenge, let’s stay on in Europe!

Checklists!

For months I’d been checking off administrative type tasks. Cancelling subscriptions, gumtree advertisements, sorting insurances, paperwork to sell a house, rent a house, sell a car, visa paperwork for Greg in Europe, renewing passports which is no mean feat when your kids are dual citizens and they may not move, and most certainly must not smile or show any teeth in this new age of passport photos! The photos alone took three attempts. 

So after a seven and a half hour flight into Singapore it was rather nice to have a checklist that looked like this – sleep, swim, enjoy the spoils of the Asian buffet breakfast. I mean does anything compare to eggs any which way you wish? We’ll take one omelet, two poached, a fried and a boiled egg please. Plus all the summer fruit thanks. This would be the last we’d all be seeing of summer for a while. 

I have never really understood the airport hotel. I’ve always wanted to get where I was going. But travelling with four kids who decided early on that plane sleep would not be something they were into, a 12-hour layover was the perfect salve. Why would they sleep? Movies and their own personal gaming devices in the seats in front of them, non stop food, drink and lolly service are far more interesting to a kid than sleep. That layover prepared me for what felt like a long, very long leg between Singapore and London. Thirteen hours of watching your kids exhaust themselves with sugar indulgence and sleep refusal.

London baby, we made it.

After living and sweating it out pushing a pram in the hilly eastern suburbs of Sydney for the past three years, waking up in London this morning felt delicious. I was up to enjoy it before the daylight arrived thanks to my friend jet-lag. I make the most of being awake and as soon as the light allows I take a wander outside in my puffer jacket, beanie, gloves and neck warmer – the full kit! It feels rather novel to be rugging up so warmly. I wonder if I’ll still feel like this after a few deep winters. I also have my trusty camera with me to see what I can see. 

I never thought I’d long for the cold but these past few years of living in the humid heat amongst the noise of city life feels like they’ve had a dehydrating effect on me. I take a photo of some delicate tiny frost covered leaves and I feel my sense of wonder. It flows through my body and warms my skin as my smile grows and my eyes sparkle. There’s a crispness in this London air that feels refreshing. Healthy even.

The birds are slowly waking and as they populate the bare winter trees to begin their daily routine of song. I feel peaceful. The holy grail kind of peace, inner peace – contentment. It’s the perfect way to end this year and the perfect way to begin this new one. There will be no need for any resolutions tonight or tomorrow. I am right where I want to be. 

Over the years I have visited London and to me it has never lost its magic or mystery. It always feels like anything could happen when you’re in exciting London town. We are lucky enough to be able to house-sit for Greg’s sister. Like many Australians she has spent most of her adult life in London. Together with her Irish husband and their beautiful growing family, this is now home. Home amongst the tudor style windows, thatched roofs and the rich woodlands in this enchanting village hamlet just outside of London.

When in Rome we would always, without doubt, visit the Pantheon, often more than once, such is the breathtaking splendour of this former Roman temple. In Barcelona it’s the Sagrada Familia, in Lisbon the view of the city from São Jorge Castle. London, naturally, boasts its own places of reverence for us. This is the first trip to London for our children and we are looking forward to introducing them to our favourites.

We love food, and food markets. Our biggest regret when we left Melbourne to live in Sydney for work, aside from family of course was giving up the the Vic markets. Stall after stall of produce. Everything you need under one roof. The organic, slow, sustainable produce we prefer. From vegetables, fish and meat to the artisan producers and purveyors of breads, preserves, cured meats and cheeses.

Our first stop is London’s historic Borough market. With its 1,000 year old history these markets have evolved into a foodie haven. Over the years, it has become a tradition for us to stop in and satisfy our taste buds with their array of street food on offer. Today is no different. Greg and the kids go for his traditional favoured choice, the chorizo roll. I chose the Lebanese vegan wrap. We are only in London for a few nights so we can’t buy food that will be wasted and honestly we’re a little too tired to meal plan! We do however spoil ourselves with a selection of local and continental European cheeses to enjoy.

By the time we finish at the markets we realise we probably have one more visit in us before we need to get home and fade. Old friend jet-lag will surely stop by again and it’s a risk with four kids to push too hard, even without the threat of jet-lag. We find our way onto the tube from the market and decide to visit Buckingham palace and the guards in their red coats and bearskin hats.

We found our way to the palace via Green Park. For all its hustle, London is truly a beautiful city of expansive and beauteous parks. I never tire of walking in London. On the tourist trails the magnificence of the green spaces are never far from where you are. Which, when you’re travelling with kids is the essence of finding compromise in exploring cities. 

Our kids are quite taken with the palace and its pomp. Lucas, bless him, our seven year old declares ‘ … I don’t think we can go in. I’ve got mud on my shoes, the queen wouldn’t like that’. 

I guess that will teach me to let them run in the park before going to visit the queen. Kids though. I do love how they see the world without barriers. Of course the queen would see us if our shoes weren’t so muddy and we weren’t all in comfy tracksuit pants!

Next week …

Is 8 am too early for blue cheese?

Lost – our obsession with time.

If you made it this far, thank you! 🌷 Perhaps you can help me. Are there mistakes, gaps? Do you need more description, depth or explanation in any of the paragraphs? Are some details not needed? Obviously it is the beginning so the bigger themes of minimising, travel and of course the trip will unfold but I’d like to be sure I keep the flow. And this is a beginning, a draft and I will grow with it, but my friends and editors, please feel free to offer your advice. You can do so in the comments or via my comment page