Category Archives: Adventure

There will always be another trip. The essence of slow living and slow travel is the same – stopping to notice and taking the time to feel.

One winter’s morning a few years ago I was standing on Oxford Street in Sydney waiting for a bus to Bondi. I noticed my friend who was catching the bus with me checking the time against the schedule, pacing, looking and wondering where the bus was.

Me, I was breathing and thinking ‘the bus will come when it comes, slow down mum (the friend was my lovely hikey mum).’ It stuck me in that moment that the essence of slow living is simply to stop long enough to notice.  We weren’t in a hurry, we were on our way to do the coastal walk, there was time. Even if we were late, could we make the bus come faster? I wonder if she remembers that moment, she often walks without looking my mum, I used to be a bit the same.

How much of our lives do we miss because we forget to notice, forget to be present, or worry about where we need to be next? Of course it’s not easy to be present in every moment of our lives but with practice it’s a handy tool and in time it can become second nature (nice default – mindfulness). It’s one that’s especially handy in the moments when we don’t have control of a situation. Those ones that are often the most stressful.

It was a late, hot afternoon and we were parked at a service station in the concrete jungle outskirts of Madrid. The kids were topless as they sweltered in the back of the van. We were 70kms from the caravan park we had chosen.

A red light had appeared on the dashboard and my not so car savvy husband thought is was an oil signal. At the service station he topped up the engine with a litre of oil. I sat in the passenger seat of the Travelodge (AKA our camper) who was now refusing to start, he was choking on an oil overload. Um…feck (👈🏼 nifty fecking Irish ☘️ swear word, doesn’t feel too sweary). I listened to the key turn over and I looked over into a vacant lot where I noticed, not one, but two rabbits.

A situation with all elements that would normally lead to frustration, arguing and blame, but it didn’t. I think it was because I could notice the rabbits. What could we do? We sat, waited and pondered. We called the camper owners and waited some more. Eventually the engine recovered and we were able to get on the road. It was slow going as the engine struggled to breathe so with our fingers crossed we drove towards our chosen campground.

Wouldn’t you know it…the supermarket wasn’t open and the pool was still closed (of course – some days are like that). ** Camper travel tip – be mindful about pools in Mediterranean countries, they’re not open year round! After a late night phone call to my brother who does know about cars, we soon discovered that we were not going to be able to drain the oil ourselves.

Lucky the bar was open and we could drink a cold beer while the kids sweltered in a fairly gross plastic ball pit that had seen better days. This was not going to be a camp ground worth noting.

The next day my not so car savvy but good at problem solving husband rolled the car down to a service station where they drained the oil for a 6 pack. The Travelodge had a little more grunt but still something needed fixing. Thankfully, we were in Madrid which meant there was a FIAT garage. A quick polish of the rusted spark plugs and bob’s your uncle! The Travelodge was ready to roll again.

Did we visit Madrid? Nope. It was a bus and metro ride from the campsite. We were done. Too hot. Little things that said move on. We can’t do it all and when we try to – the mindfulness, the noticing, the presence gets a little harder.

At 5 weeks into our time on the road Madrid turned into a stopover. A time to check in with how we were travelling? How much we were noticing? It was a time to stop and re-evaluate what was important, to pack away the puffer jackets, read a book, maintain the van and to realise that we we don’t need to push too hard.

Slow living, noticing the moment has also taught me how to take the time to trust and feel what’s going on. It’s the natural next step and  it makes adjusting easier when the fit is wrong. Slow travel is about knowing we can always come back. Or, maybe we won’t – but on this day the timing wasn’t right and pushing wouldn’t have been the answer (is it ever?). We packed up and headed off for the familiar comforts of something wilder where we swam across a lake together.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort. Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

      

Some seeds spring straight from the ground, others take time. They all need water.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  ― Robert Louis Stevenson

Walking the Camino is a seed that has taken a while to germinate for me.

My sister has always talked about it. I always talked about Everest.

When we sold our bike racks to a keen cyclist before we set out on this adventure he and I joked about meeting one day on the Camino. To be honest I didn’t really know anything about it then.

As we travelled it seemed to subtly keep finding it’s way into my life.

A conversation about world hikes on an Instagram post really sparked my interest.

I made a new friend online while travelling who has walked it a few times and seemed to have an incredibly meaningful grasp on life. Her comments on some of my travelling posts are still some of the ones I hold closest.

Naturally, there were signposts across Spain which kept it in my orbit.

I hiked and jogged in many remote places while travelling. It gave me strength and an increased wanderlust for more of this kind of outdoor travel.

    “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Then there was the time towards the end of my trip where I became really uneasy about how travel was being ‘shared’ online.

At times it felt like a privileged hustle and honestly it made me hollow. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and questioning that, particularly what I want inspiring me in my feed and also how I contribute ethically.

One of the things we realised in our travels was that no matter where we lived our everyday life needed outdoor adventure.

I began making plans in my mind – otherwise known as ‘dreaming’. I was going to come back and cycle the Camino.

Once we stopped it didn’t take long to make a commitment to cycling the camino and to do for One Girl (we have a connection). If I was going to be privileged enough to walk the Camino I needed to do something meaningful with it.

Cycling seemed like the best option because I could cycle it in 2 weeks. Soon the cycling gave way to hiking.

It seems more fitting for me to hike it. I’m a hiker. Getting away for a long period of time is difficult when you’re a mum so I planned to do it in 3-4 attempts.

As the seed became more of a viable plant my supportive husband said he would take an entire month off so that I could hike the trail continuously.

And that’s where I am now.

A dream that started as a seed and is now a sturdy plant.

A start date has been set.

An adventure that is continually unfolding and at the same time unfurling me.

Not all our dreams become reality but some seeds continually whisper for water…that is how planning to walk the Camino Frances has felt for me.

I feel like it called me and it was slowly watered by dreaming, people, adventure, questioning my values, an opportunity to give, support and ultimately the right timing.

 

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking the camino called life. A lesson from a sparkly eyed Roman.

Originally published 6-1-2017. I decided to re-write it as I take one of my lessons about how I want to contribute from this Camino journey. Opinion writing is a challenge. Fran.

“So when you see me alone at the trailhead, notice the shin bruises, the sunburn, the dirt under my nails, and a sparkle in my eyes, but please, don’t call me brave. I am just doing the things that make me who I am.” – Annie Mac

A quick google search of bravery brings up 943,000 quotes with images. It’s a well used word and one that I often wonder about.

We need voices like Annie. People who remind us that life is about being who we are. Stripping it all back to what makes us feel passionate, contented and connected.

We shouldn’t need to feel brave to stand with our own opinions, on our own feet and to choose what fits in our life. We shouldn’t feel scared to feel vulnerable because we choose something different that doesn’t always fit the mould. Yet, sometimes we do. I do.

I don’t always fit the mould of many things and definitely not of an online travel writer. I won’t tell you every place we went to and I won’t write you a list of what to do in every city. There are plenty of people already doing that and it’s awesome, that’s their thing and they’re great at it.

Mostly, we wander, loosing ourselves as we sink into the beauty of landscapes, cities, sounds, tastes, feelings and people. It’s how I try to approach everyday life. Given that I love to travel and musing about life there’s plenty to dig into.

Like this moment.

Feeling the essence of where I am and noticing the magic is the ‘why’ I travel. One recent summer afternoon in Italy a Roman with sparkly eyes made a comment that has stuck in my mind ‘let’s seek the pleasure by standing in the shade’. That’s it – it’s really that simple isn’t it and a message that’s not just relatable to travel life (and no it wasn’t the sparkles).

Can you stop and stand in the shade because it’s pleasurable if you don’t have the time? Would we even hear the beauty of such a comment in a rush or if we’re focussed on tomorrow?

“Not all those who wander are lost” ~  J. R. R. Tolkien

It’s a common quote this one, but not easy.  To give into the nature of wandering does require an ability to surrender. Yet, letting go seems contrary to everything we are being taught, told and sold.

If we listen to all the noise – there’s a way to do everything. There are items that’ll make everything easier. There’s that bucket list that needs ticking, trips to book – next year to plan and in the meantime, everyone is so ‘busy’. Which is fine if that’s working for you.

It doesn’t work for me, never has – that has to be ok too doesn’t it? To say I don’t do hustle because for me hustle and pleasure don’t mix.

I don’t feel brave creating and living my adventurous life. It’s who I am. I need to be connected to the outdoors. I need to hike, to have space, quiet and to keep it simple. Life isn’t a bucket list, it’s everyday. It’d be such a waste to tread through these days as though we just want to be somewhere else wouldn’t it?

So I dip into bravery to find my own place  in a world that’s always changing and busy selling a life that doesn’t fit with standing in the shade. When the sun is harsh and I need the shade I face the harshness, those feelings and I step away from what and those who make me feel that life is a hustle.

Practiced daily it gets easier. It’s saying no to things so we can put our heart into what matters. It’s knowing when to call bullshit on what’s holding us back and who we listen to online and in life. It’s knowing that most of us already have what we need on our door step to live an adventurously, connected and creative life – every, ok, most days.

“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” – Anatoli Boukreev

Living honestly is not competing. It doesn’t matter how many countries someone has been to or what their life looks like or how their kids are dressed. What matters is that we are who we are and how we can look back at our own life – was it well lived and true? Are we living in our life today? Do we care about the right things?

My travel writing is my life of adventure, the people, the places, the feelings and the experiences, they’re all connected. I’ll always join the dots and write a story because I travel everyday in life. That is my travel writing style. It’s important to understand our voice, the one we contribute to the world, don’t you think?

As I continue to write I’m always amazed by the growth that accompanies it. It’s opened up a world of connection with those who see their life as a camino. Walking each day with intention and grace.

The wanderers who live in their lives, everyday, honestly. The ones who are growing themselves and encouraging a ‘real life’ around their love of travel or whatever it is that makes their heart flutter.

Adventuring for me isn’t brave, it’s just being who I am and I’m privileged because I can. Bravery well that’s the courage to shed and ‘to seek the pleasure in the shade’.

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

 

 

 

My secret weapon to living my real life? Solvitur Ambulando.

When you flick through the photo albums in your mind what are the pictures that make you smile?

This is one of my favourites. It was of my birthday a couple of years ago and we were on a local trail in Sydney (the Karloo Track), at the time just an hour from home.

A lot of my favourite things and the perfect gift.

My people, the Australian bush, adventure, a chance to slip into my 20 year old hiking boots and the real world.

‘Solvitur Ambulando’ (Latin) – it is solved by walking. The response by B.C. Greek philosopher Diogenes to the question ‘is motion real’?

A year or so before this shot I found myself in a big, bustling, competitive, noisy life. It was a lonely place and it didn’t feel like my ‘real’ life.

One day, I sold all the high heeled boots that sat in my wardrobe. I sold them to someone who needed them for their life – I didn’t anymore.

I uncovered my hiking boots at the back of that wardrobe. The mere sight of them was enough to flood my mind with images and thoughts that reminded me of ‘me’. Memories that make me smile and feel glad.

I started walking again in this style. Seeking out trails. I found solitude and peace in the mini adventures that could be found on my doorstep – taking my family with me.

With each step I found ways to solve the problems of big, noise, hustle and competition as they pertained to our life. It was a way back to living creatively. 

To seek answers to how things could be done differently.

The silence and motion of hiking (walking) gives me space to think and a way in (to myself). The trees heal. I see it time and time again when my kids set out on the trail too.

Do I feel like each day I’m living my real life these days? Yep. Of course I’m not immune to the everyday stresses and all the normal emotions but I do have a secret weapon that keeps it all in check – Solvitur ambulando.

What’s your secret weapon?





If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

Support crews are everything. One thing I learnt on the Oxfam Australia Trailwalker (100kms).

Where would we be without our support crews, our champions?

I am a bit of a solo sailor. My circle isn’t big but it’s built with real stuff. That’s what we need to move forward, to accomplish things we never dreamed we were capable of isn’t it?

A support crew with champions (and a little space for fluidity as we change). An honest crew that supports, motivates, inspires and gets us. A crew that’s not competing with us nor expecting us to be who we’re not – the ones who contribute to us becoming who we are.

I think any story or life changing adventure is filled with champions. The kind words, the listening ear, the fist pump or hug that says you’ve got this, the friend who trains with you, the one who reminds you not to doubt yourself, the artists who inspire you and the people who take a chance on you.

It’s because I believe that every great story has champions that I’ve started a page to thank each and every one of mine. I want to recognise them as they walk through this door with me.

Katy from Salomon is a champion of this Camino Trek for One Girl  story. On behalf of Salomon she said yes to sponsoring my shoes for the hike.

A nice coincidence because I’ve been thinking about the importance of building a solid base from sturdy foundations. The confidence to hike over 800kms for charity over 30 nights, (with 4 kids at home) demands it. Foundations and shoes seem to fit well together don’t you think?

After my fourth child was born my sister invited me to be a part of an OXFAM trailwalker siblings crew. I am one of 4. It had been a while between adventures so excitedly I said ‘yes’. A 100km overnight trail walk for poverty. Of course I could do that – I wanted to do that – Jeez, I needed to do that. Say yes and then work it out as you go, that’s me.

Hmm…a bit like this project.

I can still recall the first time I went bush again. I’d been so busy growing babies and building a home that I hadn’t hiked alone for a number of years.

We took the Kokoda Trail Memorial Walk  and the 1,000 steps in the Dandenong ranges for our first training walk. It was so peaceful, blissful actually. (Mind you that track can be mad busy so thankfully we were hiking ‘off peak’.)

I distinctly remember the sound of the birds singing and thinking ‘I’ve really missed this’. Somewhere amongst the busyness of life I’d forgotten that that sound existed.

At that time I had two young kids at home and two at school so training wasn’t as simple as walking out the front door. I knew that if I didn’t train I wouldn’t be able to complete the trail. I needed walk fitness.

I hired a treadmill and I trained most days at home (10kms fast walking) while the baby slept and Lucas who was 4 at the time watched Fireman Sam on an iPad next to me. On the weekends I’d do a long walk with my sister or a friend.  The first long walk was about 25kms and afterwards I felt like my legs were on fire. I wondered how the heck I was going to do 100km.

 

 

And then I did! (I did it in Salomon’s too – excellent synchronicity, right?)

That was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learnt just how  mentally strong I was, I lost a load of baby weight, I gained a ton of confidence and I was back in the adventure zone – moving and challenging myself. I may have pissed my sister off a little as I do like to hike hard (24 hours of hiking is emotional). Don’t worry she forgave me and has since become a harder hiker than me – she met Everest Base Camp earlier this year.

I swore never again – the blisters (my feet are prone and a few rookie mistakes but thankfully I’ve learnt to prevent and manage them early now). After a few days I decided I’d go again the next year with the goal of coming in under 24hrs – we came in at 23 hrs 46 mins (in the same shoes).

Neither of those treks would have happened without support. Our one man crew who had hot meals waiting at each rest stop, the cuppas, the tent he’d set up for our 2hr, 2am kip – the kip that I credit with giving us the energy to hike it in under 24hrs.  The parents who babysat the kids and brought the baby to our dinner spot for him to  have his breastfeed before bed.

Of course we all have to walk to the finish line ourselves but support crews get us over it. More importantly, our support crews get us to the start of the line.

Those three standing in the photo with me got me to the start and the finish. They came along for the 24hr ride. Through the highs and lows of emotions,  the aches, the pains and they jogged the last couple of kms so that we could achieve our goal.

I’m not sure that under 24hrs was as important to them as it was to me so I am still in awe of each of them. I have since mellowed my competitive approach to beating times.

Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true. When I summited Mt. Mulhacén this year…I may have trail ran down the mountain trying to beat my husbands time from the day before. I did. I’m can be a tiny bit competitive, not in the Camino though  – different kind of walk. 

Thank you Salomon for being in my support crew. I’m glad you’re part of the foundations. I will now donate the money I would have spent on shoes to my One Girl fundraiser and we’ll be close to getting two girls educated next year.

My mum always said when I was a troublesome teenager that I’d end up ok because my base was strong. She was right. Annoyingly, mums often are. Mine was. I’m more than ok, she knows me well.

As I continue to water this seed of inspiration by creating this project. I’m starting by building a solid base with strong foundations and a supportive crew.

Hiking tales really are a metaphor for life aren’t they?

We don’t all want to hike 800kms and the OXFAM Trailwalker can be done in a more leisurely 48hrs and at a shorter distance of 50kms, any kind of walk is worthwhile because hearing the birds sing – well, that’s something worth remembering – don’t you think?

 

 

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors: