Category Archives: Cycling

The joy that goes hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way, without pushing into it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 5/28

Today’s recipe: Zucchini fritters with Tzatziki.

I’m sure if I hadn’t committed to documenting this creative living project I would have dropped my bundle on my bike/cooking adventures today. With a head cold brewing and a good three hours wasted at the hairdresser – the shades of purple in my hair that needed adjusting. ‘It’s the matte finish’ she kept repeating … ‘um I hear you but ‘matte’ isn’t a colour and I’m sure I didn’t ask for this’. Just gently wake the colour I had said. What I really wanted was a symbolic chop. I’m shedding you see and nothing says that more than getting a good few inches lopped off.

If I was a collector of stuff I’d probably be rummaging through drawers and filling bags and boxes but I’ve been there. The stuff I’m interested in decluttering are related to the stories I play in my head and the habits I want to improve. The camino didn’t show me what simple living is, it reminded me of how much I value it. How imperative it is to honest grounding.

After a siesta to try and sleep off this cold I was standing in the kitchen a bit motionless. I wasn’t even thinking about what recipe I’d try later I was simply perplexed about lunch! The temptation was Vegemite on toast. Nothing wrong with that of course except it’s not part of the fresh food story I’m writing for myself this month. As the toast popped I decided to layer my bread with healthy tastes and together with my lemon kefir (the pro-biotic drink I’m having daily) I sat in the warmth of the sun. The fact that I’m back on the kefir after months of thinking about it, is goodness in itself. It’s hard to put into words what happened out there in the sun. But basically, it was me choosing to remain accountable to this project (forward motion?) … to myself, and to be kind to myself. Something I can struggle with in certain areas.

And from there … today’s story wrote itself. Some panadol helped ;). I decided not to work on the words I’d written this morning (in the hairdresser’s chair) and keep today’s post simple. I love what I’m working on but it’s more of a ‘stretch my writerly ability’ type piece so it will need more energy. Creative living is only possible with the ability to adapt and be flexible. I can’t give anymore to the story I started writing earlier in the day but I can write this new one that unfolded and keep myself accountable to this 28 day adventure and writing challenge. Today’s story, where somedays we have to choose to do things differently to meet what’s thrown at us.

So it wasn’t a nourishment bowl it was a tasty avocado, tuna and cheese melt for lunch … seriously how good is a melt! It was me being kind to myself. It was choosing a siesta instead of going out hiking. And that is how we can change our story. After some time in the sun and in response to showing myself the gentleness my body was asking for my inspiration returned. Something simple … I could do that. And the leftover zucchini’s in the fridge became fritters.

Zucchini fritters with home made Tzatziki.

Fritters:

  • 600 grams of shredded zucchini
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 gloved garlic shredded
  • Olive oil

How I do them:

Pop the zucchini in a colander and add a small amount of salt (or none) to mix. Rest for 10 minutes.

In a bowl add the zucchini after squeezing out the excess water (very important). Add flour, garlic, egg, parmesan and pepper to season. Mix by hand.

Cook small patties in the fry pan in olive oil.

I pop them in the oven on a tray after I’ve fried them to cook through otherwise they can taste a bit raw.

Variations: I wasn’t in the head space but for sure add extras – carrot, corn … the perfect veggie burgers. Easy to freeze and a healthy grab for lunch with a bit of rocket lunch.

Tzatziki:

Blitz some dill, cucumber and Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice.

After our fritter snacks while my youngest was struggling to draw a picture he needed for his teacher I came up with an idea! The panadol had fully kicked in so a bike adventure for inspiration was needed … for all of us. Perhaps it’s having visited the gardens in St Remy last year where Van Gogh had painted one of my favourite pictures, or the Monet that hangs in the Tate modern we visited over Easter but I’d decided he needed a landscape. He needed a picture and colours in his mind for inspiration. And I knew just the place.

The local woods also have farmland dispersed throughout it. It’s why I often come across cattle, horses and goats on my walks. Right now there are fields of wheat and corn. Imagine going a whole season and not playing amongst the crops! Lucky we don’t have snakes here.

There was bike swapping, hide and seek playing, stone throwing and wild laughing. The birds were singing and I promised them the kids would be back soon. These long summer nights are begging for these kinds of memories to be made amongst them.

I’m high giving myself for finding all the things I needed in today to get to this point of the day. The cycling, the food, the adventuring and the writing. For creating the space to act on the stuff I realised I needed when I was on the camino. And all the joy that went hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way without pushing into it.

Hope yours is a good one.

Buen Camino,

Fran 😘

Village life means there’s not much I can’t do on my bike or by foot.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 4/28

Today’s recipe: It’s a feed one or feed 10 (like we did tonight) meal. Chicken, chorizo, herby and cheesey quesadillas.

As much as I love the mountains and you know I do I couldn’t live on one. While walking the camino I realised how much I love not having a car and living where I can easily do everything from my front door. There’s not much I can’t do on a bike or by foot in our village. We don’t want to own a car and that is one (big) reason why we chose to live in this way for a while.

There’s a birthday in our house tomorrow, so this morning after my deliciously satisfying ‘what’s in the fridge’ bowl I got ‘on my bike’ and ducked out to pick up few present’y type things. The shops only open Sunday here once a month on a Sunday and never before 12pm. The shops also only open on a Monday from 12pm yes even banks! Of course I always forget because I’m from a 24 hour culture. So that gave me a lazy half an hour to enjoy a coffee on my own today and reply to you all.

While I was enjoying my coffee there was a food story happening in the kitchen at home. The birthday girl was doing some of her own creating. After baking three basic cakes from the trusty Woman’s Weekly Cookbook yesterday she put them together and iced them. She did a brilliant job and I’m hoping the learning to ‘clean up as she goes’ will be something she masters soon! The piping bag was a gift I bought her and it’s nice that she has her thing going on in the family kitchen. There’s also a little one who is interested in getting his hands dirty in the dough … must begin to indulge that.

The afternoon was spent rock climbing for the fierce one’s party with a few friends and her brothers. I do call her the fierce one … she tells me the eye rolls have started at school. She has taken on the role of ensuring that every single gender stereotype or sexist behaviour is called out and she also has a lot to say about world politics (one world leader in particular). I call her fierce but her heart is soft, it possible to be both. Her fire comes from love, she wants to right wrongs.

I belayed her today on that wall. Giving her the rope she needed, keeping her steady, giving her a bit more slack on the way down. She jumped off the wall a little faster than perhaps she had anticipated. It is possible to have fear and step into (calculated) risk and be safe at the the same time. I think she played with that today. I had her anchored. It struck me as the kind of thing a mum does as she starts to send her kids out a little further into the world. Begin to prepare them rather than only try to protect them. I’ll think of myself as a belayer from now.

The reason we chose to live here has a lot to do with our children and the teenage life we can give them. A life with freedom to ride their bikes, to play unsupervised, to use the efficient public transport and to live in a culture that encourages kids to become independent and spirited. UNESCO reported in 2013 that Dutch kids are the happiest in the world. This freedom and independence is part of that. If, or when we move home I will be living as European as I possibly can. Interested in some of the differences? Here’s a list.

I’ve always been a home, small kind of party giver. My kids are not particularly extroverted so it suits them. Suits me! This year was the first year Zoë has had a party outside of the house. I’m not against leaving the house but it’s one of those on purpose with purpose things.

This year I did one of those play centre parties for my youngest and I felt sick. I did it under the guise of ‘convenience’. Plastic throw away cups, paper napkins and the kids running like crazy. There’s no way he had a moment that he’ll remember. It will blend into the rest of the exact same parties he has been to this year. Don’t get me wrong he loves going to those parties, they all do, but for me felt like too much of a compromise to actually host one.

Today I didn’t feel compromised even with some store bought new paper decorations. I want to be better at making the house special, more festival like … we’ve been on the road and living temporary for so long! They will of course be reused and come out for every celebration and birthday as we settle in deeper and continue building our nest. Traditions are part of creating memories, they form the warmth that’s woven into our sense of home and belonging.

Living without compromising our values is hard sometimes but for me it’s harder to live a compromised life. Theses days I will never say yes to balloons, they’re an easy plastic to stop using. Also no single use cups, plates or napkins. I choose not to use ‘but they’re recyclable’ as an excuse … we all have enough crockery and so do our neighbors if we need to borrow.

Tonight was glowing as I looked at my daughter sharing her chosen meal with her friends, cooked by her dad (the same as last year in the camper) eating off real plates, drinking from real glasses chatting and laughing. On purpose with purpose … oops there it is again! Sometimes it feels like there is a tendency to confuse glowing with smug. It’s not what others do that I’m concerned with I can’t be that would be exhausting. I am sharing simply because someone once taught me to consider my own plastic consumption choices.

Chicken, chorizo, herby and cheese quesadillas. (It’s a feed one or feed 10 meal.)

Ingredients:

  • Wraps
  • Chicken mince
  • Chorizo
  • Cheese (something chedder’y)
  • Red onion
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Limes
  • Black pepper

Guacamole: we just blitz avocados and squeeze lime juice in.

Salsa: we blitz tomatoes, onion and coriander.

How Greg makes them:

In the fry pan in Olive Oil add the Chorizo, red onion and chicken mince. (He used one chorizo to 600g of mince).

When it cools add chopped coriander, parsley and rocket and quite a lot of grated cheese. Squeeze in a few limes and add black pepper.

Place a few spoons of mix between two wraps then fry them on each side without oil in a non stick pan on medium heat so the cheese melts before they get too burnt.

Cut into quarters.

Pile up on a platter or plate and serve.

No cutlery needed – bonus!

And because I’m completely committed to this ‘creative living project’ I went for a walk after dinner! I even asked a friend to join me. I nearly didn’t but I’m pushing myself a little to do things I don’t alway do. This project is a lot of things but deep down I know I need it to ground myself, to get back to living without some of the compromises I have been and to dig in deeply. Perhaps you may enjoy a few snaps of my village. I walked around town rather than in the woods tonight.

On the footpaths in front of some of the houses you will see copper plaques. These are houses where Jewish families once lived. It tells you a little of their story. This man did not come home. The history of war is very real living in Europe. No longer does it feel like something from a far away time and land. It’s humbling and it gives me a sense of perspective.

There’s a canal at the end of our street. It leads to large waterways and I’m dreaming a lot about exploring by water. I do find the landscape here far less wild and rugged than Australia and Ireland. Perhaps from the water on a SUP it will open a whole new sensory experience. It’s been a long time since I’ve asked for a birthday present … perhaps next month.

A whole project created around getting on my bike and it’s also getting me back on my feet too! Lucky I’m never short of a bike muse or two. Looking through a lens has always helped me see more. So of course when I spotted that trash when snapping these friends cycling and socializing I put my take 3 for the sea, just grab bits hat on. Of course I’m in The Netherlands so the plastic bags are small ones (coffee shop waste 😆).

So friends it’s been a full, delicious and uncompromising day. I hope yours is a good one. I’ll catch ya on the flip!

Buen Camino,

Fran xxx

Ps if you have any questions about my bike or dutch life please ask.