Category Archives: Cycling

I think I live here now!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 13/28

Today’s recipe: Fruit Icy poles.

Adventuring husband is back from climbing mountains and suitably refreshed after hanging out in places with views like this. He has officially hiked Le Tour du Mont Blanc and unlike my camino he even carried his accommodation on his back!

Today cycling (see how awesome the bikes lanes are) took me to the dentist. Normal stuff! The stuff of daily life. The basics of settling in. I now have a hairdresser, a dentist and a Dr. on top of a local market, favourite Japanese restaurant and the beginnings of a Wednesday morning multinational mums coffee/market group. I guess you could say I’m planting roots, building a life! In this month dedicated to finding motion I think I may be finding home.

Dutch/Aussie difference: you can’t just choose a Dr. it’s postcode and vacancy driven. We have a clinic at the end of our street who’s catchment zone we fall in and thankfully I really like the Dr. You also have to register with a pharmacy, health insurance is compulsory and there is a central database that links all pharmacy and medical details. Oh and just one system everyone accesses not a public/private system like we have in Australia. Excellent bit – kids dental is government funded.

So adventuring (romantic) husband bought me a present from Chamonix … cheese! And it’s already smelling the fridge out Can.Not.Wait to start tasting. Or should I wait until my sister arrives next week? Hmmm, yes, maybe I will. Naturally, it would be with a bottle of Cava (Spanish champagne) and a camino tale or 500.

Real fruit icy-poles.

Long hot nights equal after school icy-poles. I could buy them or like the kids morning tea I could make or outsource the making (to a kid) of them.

The Icy-pole mounds are from Ikea and it makes six. Tonight’s ingredients were blueberries, strawberries and coconut water. Z used the stick blender to whiz the ingredients together and then into the moulds to freeze overnight.

The combo’s are unlimited with the abundance of summer fruits around and we’re looking forward to trying a few! I imagine if we use watermelon we wouldn’t even need coconut water.

Buen Camino!

Fran x


Adventures On My Bike – Day 12/28

Today’s recipe: Go with the flow.

The thing I miss the most about Aussie is water. I love water. The feel of it – salty and even the chlorine’ey, the wild and the lap swimming. It’s the only reason I want to get my (car) license sorted here … to get my kids to water!

So today I did something totally out of character. I bought an outdoor plastic paddling pool. Oh the squeals! And more squeals. I even *cough* bought them water guns. Shite! I know – me. Guns and plastic. In 14 years of having kids these are the first gun type toys I’ve ever bought. But then all four of them played, played for hours, together. Behind bins, hiding and soaking, in the pool, laughing … squealing with delight. And then I thought – feck it, good old fashioned fun – across the ages and not a screen. And p.s. that hose is hosing the aphids out of the Apple tree, of course I layer everything ;).

I did an audit of my little boys room today … this is it. I played with the books, popped the exploring, travel and atlas books up with their binoculars and walkie talkies (we’re adventuring soon). Other than a big box of Lego this is it. The A to Z Animal Alphabet it the divine work of a friend (and it’s Jimmy’s learn the alphabet art). I love #knowthefarmer just as much #knowtheartist.

The only excess I moved out of the boys room was a pile of party treat excesses. So friends after selling up to live a life free of stuff with consideration for ‘excess consumption’ and it’s environmental effects I think we’re traveling ok. Buying a plastic pool … I’m taking a big breath and saying it’s ok. I say no to all the excess. plastic crap throughout the entire year until saying ‘yes’ matters. And since becoming settled without much outdoor space I’m conscious of creating play spaces. And if I’m missing water, those kids of mine must be needing it …

No recipe today because sausages in bread (you’ve already got that one right)!? I try to do grass fed, local style. Plus a Caprese salad and you already know I how I make a caprese – I dress with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I nearly, nearly didn’t write today but I know that 28 days is significant. Any beautiful plant need water, sun and time. A bit like waking a camino … you can’t get to the end without doing the walk. So yes I’m still walking and I’m still writing.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

Some days it’s all about the bike.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 11/28

Today’s recipe: Every day seasonal fruit muffins.

After a perfect morning in Amsterdam with my ‘dutchified’ Aussie friend I returned to the ‘bike’ car park at the station and I couldn’t spot my bike! Eeek. It’s your worst Dutch life nightmare … almost as bad as the frite van running out of fritsauce (egg mayo). No it’s worse. Definitely worse. Dutch life revolves around a bike!

As you see bikes are parked in all sorts of multi level ways. It’s Chadstone shopping centre without level and parking spot numbers! Even with my big green flower basket it took me an extra minute to spot it. So my sinking stomach turned into a big long satisfying breath. Oh how I need my bike for this bike life that I love so much! I’m quite attached to it ;)

Summer has definitely arrived in The Netherlands and it’s the happiest country in the world in the summer. The Dutch love the sun! The outdoor cafes are full, the kids are running around on the streets playing hide and seek until 8pm, there’s even more singing on bikes than usual and the day is light until 11pm. It’s nearly holiday season here which feels strange … summer, end of school year and yet it’s not Christmas or the New Year. There’s no feeling of rush in the lead up to this ending just joy because the summer season is beginning.

We’re cruising towards the end of the school year. Aside from the indoor art gallery the backyard has turned into a slime factory … every.single.night! I used to cringe at slime (no for months), aaah the mess. But you know if you’ve got a kid who needs to make things and feel textures within their fingers you have to choose. Allow creativity to flow in your house or don’t. She now has a slime shelf in the garden shed. What’s the alternative? Encourage passive activities? I’ve watched this Ken Robinson TED talk a few times, maybe the first time when this kid was toddling. I feel on the cusp of a sliding doors moment right now. In giving in here I chose to value creativity over control. That, combined with a few other decisions to ensure that protecting ‘childhood’ comes first. Gosh parenting can be challenging. Just as some ‘no’s’ are some ‘yes’s’ are worth so much …. actual pivotal moments. (We are going to start playing with making natural colours perhaps beetroot to start?! One step at a time, nothing starts perfect.)

Today I felt a bit low on the bike adventure part of this 28 day challenge on account of the lurking head cold. And then on my 15th km of bike travel today I remembered my daily life is the adventure and I just needed to let the day play out. It helps that my husband is away – there’s no one else to do the school or tennis runs on the bike.

I’m still on the ‘what’s in the fridge’ Buddha bowl (just add chili oil ;)) gosh I love the bowl full of different tales and tastes. I truly get better at making these each day … and how good are kraut and pesto as dressings. It was an in and out on the bike kind of evening so dinner needed to be simple. Gnocchi (not home made) with pesto. Pesto (basil, parmasen, pine nuts and olive oil). Actually the child who doesn’t love bread asked if they could have this meal cold for school lunch tomorrow … such a shame it’s all finished (and it’s a half school day – Wednesday)! I do want to make my own gnocchi one of these days. Perhaps a project for next week when my sister is here … hmm universe I need an Italian friend.

The easy gnocchi dinner (less than 10 minutes prep) was also a bonus because at the same time I could get the school morning tea (play lunch) in the oven. I make muffins every 2-3 days. I have it down to a 10 minute prep time. Recently one of my junior chefs has learnt to bake these muffins. She’s made them twice in the last week. The kids never complain and every day the empty paper comes home in the lunch box! Perhaps because the flavor changes, in the winter apples, dried fruits, last week bananas, blueberries and today raspberries.

Fruit flavoured muffins!


  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (the recipe is 1/2 but 1/4 and the kids don’t notice it)
  • 1 whisked egg
  • 1 cap of vanilla essence (optional)
  • 1.5 cups of S.R.Flour
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • Desired fruit flavour

How I do it:

Beat the butter, sugar and essence. Add the whisked egg (if using banana add here).

Sift in the flour and baking powder. Using a wooden spoon start stirring in the flour and slowly add the milk.

Once mixed add the fruit (play with amounts – no rules) and stir.

Bake in a moderate 170 degree oven for 15-20 mins depending on your oven. I need 4 a day and this mix makes 12! You can even freeze them. In the past I’ve made batches and taken 4 out the night before but in Holland freezers are sooooo tiny, like hotel fridge size. Enough space for frozen peas edible and a bag for falls (4 kids), de-caf coffee (for when my mums here) and ice cream (husband).

My summer cold is finally beginning to loosen its grip and the sun’s rays are promising sandy feet, ocean air and salty beeezes. But first tomorrow, as you may recall it’s market day on Wednesday. A new Spanish friend is joining Lexie and I on our coffee and market adventure tomorrow … hmm I wonder what will be in season?

Finding my own way!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 10/28

Today’s recipe: Roasted eggplant inspired ‘what’s in the fridge bowl’.

As a kid I was always moving my furniture around. I never asked of course, my parents would have said no! I just heaved it around by myself with my door closed, sometimes trying a variety of new arrangements. As a homebody (when I’m not travelling) my nest is my sanctuary. A sanctuary that reflects my love of family, creativity, food and travel. One that every now and then I like adjusting when the feel and the aesthetic doesn’t match those loves. I’m still that kid, I close the door and start shifting things around on my own.

I guess I could follow a food plan for this movement inspired adventure but that’s not really me. I like to find my own way … making it up and changing it as I go. I do take inspiration from people of course and I’ve followed programs before but this is a story about more than simply cooking. It’s a story about creating a connection with food and the community I live in. And I have enough knowledge and resources to get going on my own.

On Wednesday I bought my eggs from a farmher at the market. I asked her about her farm and she explained they call themselves ‘Het eigenwijze ei’. She explained that eigenwijze means they do it their way, it has a connotation of stubbornness and being head strong. For them that means no antibiotics, free range and no labels or affiliations, they sell at markets. Familiar? Yeah that’s me! Doing things my eigenwijze. I find things are more sustainable and suited to my life when I find my own way. It also fuels my need to create stories that give meaning to how I move through my days.

I chose the eggplants I roasted yesterday because they are in season. Market produce is a wonderful reminder of the season. I also happen to love eggplant, I ate it every day in Italy. If you order a side of veggies in Italy you’ll always get a plate of grilled seasonal veg. Generally eggplant, capsicum and zucchini. It may seem an odd way to shop, to find an ingredient first, but I enjoy building a meal around a taste or veggie I’m hankering for. Initially I thought I’d roast it in cubes as I always do but then I googled and found a different way to roast it. A way that utilized the ingredients I already had.

As with all things in life simpler works better for me. Basic maths that starts with creating time, knowing my values and working within my capacity. There’s no point starting with algebra. Sometimes I find cooking can become a bit like algebra. Too many new ingredients and rules … it’s not sustainable for me to start with everything new. I’m better building on what I know or have, gently.

Just like moving my room around when I was a kid it’s still easier to move around what I’ve got and then add slowly to that.

Eggplant inspired ‘what’s in the fridge bowl’


  • 1/2 a roasted eggplant from yesterday
  • Left over zucchini noodles
  • Chopped pickled beetroot (fridge staple)
  • Fried haloumi
  • 1 egg
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Lambs ear lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Dressing: tahini paste, sesame oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Basically I started with the eggplant in the middle and then poked around the fridge to see what was in there adding what I found.

Nothing happens overnight does it! And connection can’t be rushed, sure it can take some extra effort but we shouldn’t have to push too hard. My door is closed as I take my space to sort my sanctuary but also – it’s open to finding what I need. A little addition here, a little subtraction there. Basic maths.

Buen camino,

Why compete or compare? Let’s not. Say ‘no’, start there.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 9/28

Today’s recipe: Roasted eggplant.

I’m often saddened when I read posts about FOMO or feeling bad about what others post or the need for posters who have audiences to say ‘this is my highlight reel’. Seriously … WHY? Why be scared of missing out? Or why compare ourselves we others lives. Why do we need to be told that we shouldn’t feel bad because of what you post? What has happened to us? Why can’t we separate what we see with what our own reality is? Honestly … it perplexes me. And you know why? Because why would anyone have it better? We ALL have feelings and stuff right? Or are we special? Are we the only ones who in a day can live through every emotion that exists?

I took this photo from my bike (because this is a bike adventure series). I was balancing the fruit and veg in my basket and my panniers. My youngest … my baby, with his hands on my hips as I dunk him on the back of the bike was singing his heart out … we’d been at the market (real food) … shopped with bags I’d re-used (zero waste) … to the left a violinist was playing (romantic and European) … the season is summer (smiles in The Netherlands) … summer also means festivals and food vans (reminds me of Berlin Lix) … I was on my bike (my carbon omission free transport)… shopping done (food till next market day) … my daughter was smiling (tough week) … my husband is hiking in the ALPS (he loves that stuff, he even posted a story, he never does that, so happy for him) … dinner was covered (same recipe as last Saturday) … I’m writing (you’re reading) … that’s a whole lot of good stuff there! And sure, neither of us, husband and I are on our career trajectory (adjusting that)… we’ve had some shit to deal with since arriving here (that’s life) … our family isn’t close by (I miss my mum) … our identities are being challenged (starting fresh) …. we are having to make a choice, here or home (where’s home?) … but THIS, in this bike moment … it’s all ok, more than ok … this is as good as life gets.

Let me paint you some pictures of my day.

I could tell you about each photo or we could just talk about our days. There’s no perfection, there’s just life. Every day life. I bet both of us experienced some similar feelings. If you’ve read this far I presume we’re already connected in some way so let’s make a deal … let’s be working on our own nests. Moving forward, moving our furniture, learning to say no, learning to let go, learning to care more, to care less, be honest about what we need, slow down, speed up, walk, ride, dance, run, swim, talk, paint, write, cook, sew, love … whatever we need to move forward with … let’s work on that, let’s move and not worry about what others are doing. Let’s just agree to not compete or compare. Sounds easy right? But dig deeper. Every time we speak or act … let’s ask ourselves the question am I competing or comparing? Because if we are we’ll always be a step behind ourselves. And don’t we want to be present and contented with ourselves? In our own life.

Today I had a conversation with a fellow writer. One of my favorites actually and I shared some of my story ideas. And I didn’t care. I used to be protective of my ideas and today I shared them, gave her my quotes, analogy’s, everything. If she runs with and writes something because she read them … boom that’s a win. Neither of us own ideas. Especially those of us who write about and live life. We learn by experience and our human experience is actually not that different. We’re bound to cover the same ground. But when we share and talk without being held by the constraints of competition or comparison or even fear we choose a deeper path. I prefer those kinds of conversations, the ones we walk away from feeling good.

All competing and comparing does (with ourselves or others) is to stunt us and hold us hostage from living freely in our own lives. And for those of us who are parents … it can stunt us from hearing our own kids.

Recipe time – Roasted eggplant.

The head cold is still lingering. It’s why you’re not seeing hiking photos! But motion is in my mind, determination is in my day and because I write this blog – honesty matters, so I’m cooking.

My Buddha bowls haven’t been in play this week so I’m prepping. The week’s bowls (well 4 of them) will have eggplant at the centre.


  • Eggplant or aubergines (I had two to use)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary

How I prep’d them:

Slice the eggplants in half. Slice into the flesh diagonally creating diamonds … three diagonal lines left to right and swap.

Top with salt, let sit … at least an hour.

Squeeze and wipe the salted juice off.

Coat flesh with olive oil and place upside down on a twig of rosemary on a tray. (I use and re-use baking paper.)

Bake for an hour.

Serve as a side with a lemon or some balsamic & oil or I’ll show you how I use them through the week in Buddha bowls.

Buen camino,

Fran xxx