All posts by Frances Antonia

Walking Through The Tuscan Hills.

 

Many years ago, perhaps 16 or so we traveled through Italy with our then six month old baby boy. He’s our nearly 16 yo delightful lad now! We stopped a few days in Tuscany during this Italy trip with the baby and stayed at an old villa with big Tuscan style rooms and a shared kitchen. In this shared kitchen we met walkers! Walkers of all ages who’d spent their days wandering the hills of Tuscany. Their nights were spent stopping along the way in these shared style accommodation guest houses eating and chattering.

Our villa is along the way of a walk called Via di Francesco. Also we’re right by the town of Poppi. This is funny to my family as pop is my childhood nickname. Pop is the Dutch for doll. My dad called me poppi! Dolly. You do know I like a coincidence. :)

Most days I walk to the right of my front door and head up the hill. I’m drawn to a good climb. On this day, however, I went left. Left in the fierce heat (with water and a visor) to see what I could see. In search of, and open to the treasure. There is always trasure.

Each step in the heat blissfully rewarded with wildflowers, farmland, nature and peace. The kind of peace walking allows you in its gentle rhythmic, meditative way. Yes I could feel those mozzie bites (all 500 of them), and yeah it was hot and sweaty, and yes a bit of hmm I wandering alone in a far away land, but also just the beauty of the trail and me.

‘Solvitur Ambulando – It Is Solved By Walking.’

Remember this one friends. It’s one of my favourites. And one I think can help us in these crazy times. Walking creates the space to wonder. Space to flip the circuit if we’re stuck in thoughts. It’s an invitation to notice the happenings of the season, the time. It’s a way for our minds to gently process on its own in the background, while we can be lost in the world of ‘doing the noticing’.

On this day I did realise how much I do love to walk these long walks across countries. I would like to make time for these when the time allows us again. A long camino is not in my life space/timing right now. But days, possibly a week here and there, yes. I would definitely love to do some walking across Tuscany.

I’d like to do it with a friend I’ve decided. I’ll be seeking the ‘hers’ who love to hike when I return. I’d like to be one of those walkers who arrives at a guest house after a day’s wandering and debriefing the fun, laughing at the challenges and eating the local food. When I find her, I’ll be asking ‘her’ if she’d like to go for some days of walking through hills. I think in these times we need to know our ‘hers’ ladies. And we do need to walk with ‘her’, so do ask her if you need a walk or talk.

#stillwriting

#beenadventuring

#beenexploring

#catchingup

From The Grill In Tuscany

An evening meal grilled on the barbecue is an exceptionally fine way to ease into an evening of together whilst holidaying in Tuscany. The weather here has become so warm even the crickets and cicadas have gone silent. In these surreal travel times we find ourselves eating in for our trip. Of course this was the plan. To simply find a bolthole we could set up home in for a wee time.

Thankfully, one of us loves to cook! And he’s rather spectacular when it comes to Italian cuisine. I refer to him as the Italo-food-phile. Let me take you through some simple Italian style dishes we feasted on last night. Perhaps there’s one for you? All these dishes can be also be done in a pan or roasted in the oven.

First job, heat the charcoal grill! Then the zucchini’s are added. These have been cut length wise in quarters and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt and pepper. As the foodie started the cooking I joined him with the topped glasses, it seemed the supportive thing on a Saturday night to do :). And quite frankly the setting does demand it! Look at that view. Obviously we left dry July in Holland.

Next up the radicchio. Drizzled in EVOO and grilled on the BBQ. Once cooked topped with balsamic to serve. Slightly bitter, crunchy, delicious and full of goodness for health.

The Chicken. These pieces had been mixed with garlic, rosemary (from the garden, goodness) and lemon juice, the mixing perhaps half an hour before the cooking. You could prepare earlier and leave in the fridge.

When in Italy – tomatoes of course! With a little salad, parmigiano  and topped with EVOO and balsamic (of course). We did plan to add roasted peppers but forgot!

Served with bread for soaking the flavour and leftover sauce from the bottom of the plate! Perhaps we would have eaten in local restaurants some evenings in different times. We ventured out for gelato one evening this week. The town was quiet, many restaurants and bars empty. It’s hard to know how busy this town would normally be as we are off the tourist grid but I imagine there would be some tourism. Tourism which as yet hasn’t returned.

It’s a treat to eat under the golden light with the local town in view. In normal times we’d be campervanning in summer. Today we talked of many things and of the  freedom of the van. In this heat we’d probably have moved towards the mountains to cool down at night. There’s a lot of delicious food and much food for thought this trip! Or is this a collective time of considering where we all are? You, me our friends and families.

Where we are now and where we want to be. It seems the time and place for pondering and feeling grateful for good things. And of good things, thankfully, a cool breeze arrived this evening. Hopefully, combined with another day of hiking in this Tuscan landscape sleep will come easily tonight. And also to my friends and family in Melbourne in this time of great unease they may be finding themselves in. An unease that’s a little with me too because of my love for them.

#writingstreak

#underthetuscansun

#ladocevita

 

 

 

Tuscan Wandering.

Every window and every door of this traditional Tuscan villa offers a glimpse of postcard Tuscan wonder. This vista the view from the bathroom. When the end of the work week arrived last night, rather than a knock off drink the husband and I took ourselves off on a knock off hike! A wander out the front door and up into the Tuscan wonder.

I’ve given up my running schedule while I’m here to hike this trail each day. It is spectacular. And it’s simply Tuscany. The colours, the rolling hills and valleys, olive groves, vineyards, bountiful fruit trees, earthy brick and concrete buildings as far as the eyes can see, wildflowers at ground level and expansive skies above. The buzzing of the flies during the day and the mozzies at night remind us there’s always some discomfort! However, dips in the pool, a fan to sleep near and Italian gastronomy more than compensate for this.

My legs hurt in new places. I tricked them with these hills and the hiking. They were so used to running across flat Holland. This is the hiking I love. Wild wonder. Adventurous trails with surprises along the way. It’s good to change it up, do something different with your legs and for your mind don’t you think? I feel a familiar sense of myself on these trails. Hiking through and across countries. The solitude of simply walking.

It’s a weird time in the word to be travelling. The familiarity of being here, the slowness of the days, the long nights and the unfurling of this unplanned time away doesn’t feel like travel. It feels like living. Living within a community, quietly up on the hill and in the local wildness. This is slow travel, this is home for now, this time here behind the Tuscan windows.

#underthetuscansun

#writingstreak

#somewherenewwithlife

 

 

 

 

Another Tuscan Day. Another Tuscan Door.

Another Tuscan day, another Tuscan door. This one into the kitchen. Sometimes we don’t know what it is we need until we go on a treasure hunt. In one door or out another. And there are many, many ways to hunt for treasure.

Yesterday I hiked in the bush and up the hill. There was treasure there. I felt the deep joy a hike brings me. Not the flat Dutch walk kind hike, but the gritty, rocky path, up hills, down hills kind of hike. So many good thoughts, ideas and vibes out there on the trail. I miss it. I need to find ways to do more of it.

This month I wrote every day. There was treasure there. All the little daily sprinkles of gold and of course the solid nugget. I’ve graduated from writing here every day to writing 1,667 words (a chapter) a day of my camino story.

I ran every day for 140 days. There was treasure there. I ran through the beginning of and then the quarantine period of a global pandemic. It kept me moving forward. It guaranteed the circulation of the hormones I would need to get through this time and arrive sturdily at the other end.

On a whim I decided to cook a book. This one. Rome. Centuries In An Italian Kitchen. (This photo is my home kitchen not the Tuscan kitchen I’m currently in.) There is treasure in following whims. Would I have been as drawn to Tuscany if I hadn’t begun project The Italian Kitchen at my house? Would I realise the doorway into the kitchen would  be the door I needed to walk into to find a familiar friend. Simplicity. Food has felt heavy for me for a while. I’m not always kind to myself with food. I needed to find a simpler way, a lighter way.

Breakfast was melon with prosciutto. Oh my, this is a spectacular flavour balance. And so easy. Every mouthful heaven. We don’t need to cook like a masterchef contestant to create beautiful food. We can do that too by keeping things simple.

(Sorry for this one Sue).

A belief in something. There’s treasure there. We all have different ways in which we make sense of the world and create our meaning. I look for the coincidences. The synchronous happenings and I do like to wonder what the animals who arrive on my path mean.

I was stung by a wasp a few days ago. I sat on it. Oh la la that’s a painful experience, and then it’s a really bloody itchy one. And I was stung not once! But twice. The second as I shoo it from my stinging with pain butt cheek. I was a bit lacking in direction and motivation this afternoon I went in search of what the arrival of a wasp might mean.

“Wasp symbolism is reminding you that merely thinking about your dreams will not make them a reality as quickly as going out and doing it. In other words, this spirit animal insists that you make a plan. Then you must keep working towards it and let nothing get in your way. Similar to the Snail, the Wasp meaning says that goals require perseverance, desire, and action. Thus you must apply your passion to the reality you wish to achieve!

Wasp symbolism is letting you know that resistance to change by definition, is self-sabotage. Therefore it’s time to allow yourself the notion that all things are possible and that you deserve to have all your dreams come true. The Wasp meaning asks you to be the best you can be!” Spirit Animals.

Now friends I’m a bit tired after a few nights of reduced sleep. It’s rather hot here (36 degrees) for one from the Nth. I know! I’ve gone soft since leaving Australia. And I’m tempted to do nothing. Which is of course completely fine. I already skipped a training run this week. But I had to take note of the wasp symbolism!

Like someone who needs AA I need my streaks. Do nothing about my creative dreams when it’s challenging and it’s a slippery slope. I need to keep the fire burning. If I don’t I fear it will all simply fall away. I need to be accountable. The streak has proven in this phase of my life to be the key for me. It takes me beyond simply thinking about the dream.

So I fired up the keyboard. Snapped a photo of the kitchen door and popped in here to write. From here I know I will continue moving in the right direction because the writing is part of the plan, it’s the work I need to do to realise the dream.

Also I’ve been undecided about ending this streak because I still need it. I need the rhythm, the process, the courage it takes to try, the risk (to find my limits) and of course the treasure.

In writing here today the simple answer (the treasure) appears. I will simply do either or. Write here or write a chapter. I need both doors to remain open. One where I write a story from the past and one where I write a myself into the story of my future.

Thanks for being here. Silently and sometimes with comments. Both are fine. Both are appreciated. You are appreciated. There are never expectations. I hope my whimsy today reminds you to go digging for treasure if you’re in need of some magic.

#writingstreak

A Little Story Of Synchronicity From My Tuscan Desk

I was a little way into my writing streak when I happened on a heron. I was out running. I hadn’t seen a heron for a while so I had to stop. In the past I’ve written about heron’s.  What are you here for? I wondered. Why am I seeing you now? And yet, of course I knew. I didn’t get the message last time. I wasn’t ready. I had more hurdles to jump.

I see a lot of myself in the totem meaning of a heron.

It’s the resourcefulness and self reliance of the heron I’m drawn to. It’s the reason I think it continues to show up for me. Use what you’ve got. Adapt to your setting. Grow something new with this opportunity. It’s something I’ve done my entire life. But in this phase it’s been more of a struggle.

Writing here daily, my #writingstreak happened after I had a fall whilst out running. I wrote To Fall Or Not To Fall. Deep down I knew I hadn’t tried hard enough with writing this camino story of mine. And yet I didn’t feel ready or able to go back to the book.

It felt like too big a challenge to simply go back to writing the book. So I decided to write daily. Running daily had proven to be an excellent way to start something with running. Why not see where writing each day would take me? It could only be good!

The night I’d seen the heron I started to watch some YouTube videos about writing a memoir. Meh interesting but lots about plans, order and software. I like the idea of all of that, but it’s not me. I’d have to change too much. Then I happened on a video interview between Joanna Penn and Rachael Herron on how to draft you memoir.

This interview completely engaged me. Rachael basically says Just.Write.The.Book. Don’ edit, don’t stop, just get on with and write a draft. She talked about NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The annual writing project where during the month of November people use the month to write a  50,000 novel. Yes, an entire novel. Each day 1,667 words.

Hmmm I thought. There’s something in this. I’d heard it before. Just write the darn thing.

Later that night I looked up Rachael’s website. It was then her surname dawned on me. Herron. Sure it had a double ‘r’ but still it’s not a stretch for me to find some synchronicity there. I signed up to her email subscriber lists and let her ideas sit with me.

That week I also received a comment on my blog from a writer whose blog I went on to read. I happened on this post of his. Write A Shitty First Draft. I Dare You. The penny was starting to drop.

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I already had the structure, a plan. I blogged my camino. I already had the backstory behind it. I’d lived it. I’d even blogged that too! Those of you who have been around for a while remember Choosing Simplicity and The Gentle Intention? What I didn’t have was a first draft to start rewriting, or to call a book.

I continued to write daily. Through the easy days and the blocks. I kept my eyes open for little stories to tell. I tried different things. I learnt that I can write each day. I learnt there are stories everywhere and I realised how I write is how I write. I write non fiction and non ‘how to’s’. What I write is personal stories. This is my style. This is the style I find meaning in. It’s the style that flows from my dreamy world and into the keyboard through my fingers.

I am a memoirist.

I also learnt to not feel guilt or scared or ashamed of the time I give to writing, or of my writing. It became something normal I did. ‘Are you writing your blog’ the kids ask. They’d watch Bondi Rescue and I’d write. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes the afternoon. If time was short I’d shorten what I wrote but I still wrote. Everyday.  Every day for 31 days. I’d notice errors after I’d posted. I’d correct them and move on. I’m sure it will happen today too. No confidence has been lost to mistakes. It’s all practice. It’s being unafraid to fall.

‘Let us risk the wildest places, Lest we go down in comfort, and despair.’ – Mary Oliver

To write for me is to take the risk into the wildest place. The risk of failure is far more attractive to me that the risk of comfort and despair.  Except there is no failure. I am writing a book and let’s face it, the chances of it being published are next to slim. I am totally cool with that. I am writing the story because I want to write it. The story wants me to write it. I am prepared now. I have the skills to get the first draft written. Beyond that I’ll develop the skills required. I’m resourceful, I’m a heron. And dear heron I’m in the wildest place. Writing myself into adventures and creating a story from a story. To me there is no wilder place.

 

#writingstreak

#day31/31

#theplacesyouwillgo

#cookthebook

#writethebook

#steertheship

#fromwhereIstand