Tag Archives: bike life

Yes, Yes And Yes.

So we’re not camping in France. So it started raining just as we packed the picnic into the car. So the certainty of anything that we may possibly do in the future is basically uncertain. So I couldn’t just book a date with my friend in Luxembourg to come visit because numbers are up and they’re awaiting their prime minister’s announcement as to new restrictions. And so, tonight, we swam, and so we picnicked and so we did it in the rain! Because the only SO that is certain right now is the NOW and saying YES to it.

For so long I’ve been an advocate of learning and practicing to say ‘no’. Of speaking out about the ‘ok’ of no. No to extra curricula, no to excessive parties, no to situational relationships that don’t feel right, no to letting your mind be consumed with bullshit, no to the inauthentic crap that floods our senses. And now the world has flipped! Flipped. Actually flipped. It is about saying ‘yes’. Yes because there is nothing to say no to. The ‘busy’ has vanished. Lol. Not that I did busy or multi tasking, I haven’t got the capacity for it. But now, no one is asking me to ‘be’ busy, no one wants my time. I don’t have to say ‘no’. It almost feels like in my world, the world is swinging the way of the introverts, in the way that encourages creative living, spontaneity and in the way of ‘good’ busy of slow living (busy with intention). 

Yes, I’ll go for a long ride this Sunday morning. Yes, let’s take the long road home – no plans. Yes kids, we can go to the lake tonight and yes, we’ll take a picnic because it’s summer. Yes, the rain has started but we can head down incase it stops. Yes, you can go for a swim in the rain if you like and we’ll have the picnic at home. Yes, take the boogie boards in. Ok, yes, you can pump up the SUP. Hungry? Yes, we’ll improv and picnic from the boot of the car. And YES, friend, Louise, as soon as it’s a Thursday and neither of us have plans and the borders are still open we will drive down and visit you because YES. YES, to good friends, good food, forest walks, lake swims, late night chats and laughter. Yes, to spontaneity and yes, to embracing all that is free, close, meaningful and soulful. 









My New Love. Womens Road Cycling.

For a longest time hiking was my passion! Of course it still is but I like gritty hikes, mountain hikes, wild hikes and I like my hikes to be long! One of the greatest things I’ve ever done was to hike the 800kms of the Camino de Santiago. In both Sydney and Melbourne hiking and getting my heart rate up was an easy, fun adventure to find. I grew up amongst hills and National Parks are never far away. Living in The Netherlands not so much! Sure the woods are across the road and I adore them. But it’s flat here. Dead flat. And flat is not such hard work gritty work and I kinda miss that. Each day that I run on my #runstreak I’m getting stronger and it’s harder to get the heart rate going in these flatlands when hiking or walking. I can’t run long fast runs each day, my body would collapse. I am also getting to know the trails from my from front door. I know them back to front, I need to explore further. I had an itch. I needed something. Some sort of wildness. A new hobby. Enter womens road cycling.

Now you’ve probably heard of, know of one or have seen the rise of the MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra). I’m married to one. Although he has been cycling longer than I’ve known him so technically he grew into his MAMIL’ness. I am the stereotype MAWIL! Yep, I have gone the full monty, become lycra obsessed in my middle age! And I love it. The adventures I’m having from the front door are taming my itch for wildness in a way that hiking simply can’t here. I need a whole day for a hike here to feel remotely adventurous and to feel like I’ve done some hard work. I can get that in an hour on my bike. Or I can get it doing a tip run! No joke. The other day we had to do a declutter of the garage (to built bike storage) and we moved bricks and old building supplies to the tip. Tips have changed these days. There is a recycling  skip and purpose for everything! I was most impressed. And I loved the labourer’s work of carrying the junk. It crossed my mind that I’d renovate simply to carry stuff to a skip to feel strong.

My friend was laughing at me the other day and said ‘I feel like you have a new boyfriend, I’ve never seen the hubby feature so much on your Instagram page’! To which I replied ‘I do, but it’s not him it’s the bike’! Ha seriously my bike is like a new lover. We just want to hang out. I count down the time until we get to be together, there’s a yearning and I feel a bit sad as I get nearer to my street knowing the ride is just about over. Husband isn’t jealous, has been awesome really. A new cyclist needs an experienced one to ask all the questions. If you have any shoot them through, I’ll ask him for you. He helped me get started much faster than I could’ve without him. He’s a patient teacher and as I’ve learnt it’s not just about being able to ride a bike.

A few things I’ve learnt:

  • Cyclists don’t wear undies under their bib shorts. No exceptions, no undies, they cause chafe. And no one wants chafe. No one.
  • Go to the toilet first! Bib shorts (that is shorts as above with straps attached that go over your shoulder, a bit like an all in one) sit under your top (jersey) so it is a palaver if you have to stop to go. Jersey fully off first to get shorts off! This looks like toileting in a bra with with your shorts at your knees.
  • Embrace gear. I always try to make do as long as I can but there is no way you can ride a road bike in shorts without good padding. And no way secondhand are an option … the no undie thing remember.  It’s summer so I bought a helmet, bib shorts, jerseys, thermal under top, vest windproof jacket, long socks, fingerless gloves and shoes to start with. I’ll have to build up as the seasons change. Just check where you buy from, are their supply chains transparent, sustainable?
  • There is quite a degree of thinking and coordination required to turn a corner. ‘Is it this leg that’s raised or the other one?’ Hint … it’s the one to the corner you’re turning. That way the raised leg is further from the ground you’re leaning into. Sounds confusing right? It is. Confusing to write, confusing to do. Working out opposites is challenging when you’re learning and trying not to fall. You get there though. Just don’t take corners fast. Don’t let it worry you if you’re starting, you’ll be fine. I’m coping.
  • Cleats. These are the clips you lock your shoes into. Honestly I’d given no thought to these! I rode a week without to get the feel and then I decided to give them ago. The best advice I can give is to practice on a stationary trainer and do go with a patient teacher the first and second time. It’s a practice thing. And clip out early. If you see a stop or a crossing – get a foot out early. In the moment it’s hard to think fast when you’re not experienced. There are cleats you can buy that are easier to clip our of, I have them and they have already saved me from falling.
  • #HOWWELIV #LIVCOMMITED #LIVFORWARD get a picture here! LIV. Liv is a company dedicated to the promotion of and support of womens cycling. That makes me proud. I would have ridden a LIV bike if I could have, but bikes here are sold out everywhere! Everywhere. It took three attempts for me to get a bike in Europe. I follow @livcycling on Instagram and I love it. It’s like when you start gardening right you’re going to follow gardeners. Follow riders! There is a whole world of women’s cycling out there and it’s wild.
  • I have a new found love of scenery shots with bikes in them. I get it. I get the feeling of riding to where you are. And I love that there are women of all ages visible on their bikes. I want to contribute to that.
  • Also hormones, riding is a producer of the good ones. Dealing with the peri-meno is far easier with a strong army of the good hormones in the mix.
  • And personally I’m better with a range of hobbies. For instance there was a time when I wrote where it would take over my head and all my time. Eventually it becomes too much and I end up in a rabbit hole. Now, I can write and step away into one of my other hobbies or challenges and there is some space. Space keeps writing sustainable for me. Adding cycling to my hobbies is one of my best leaps. Going for a cycle, spinning my legs, getting the blood flowing and my mind clearing with every spin is a great creator of space. I might get addicted.
  • Oh and I love the sound of the shoes as they tap tap on the floors. They’re adventurer shoes. Tap, Tap and then click, click into my bike and I’m off.

I’ve ride with with hubby and I ride on my own (lots). Sometimes if we want to do things we have to be prepared to go solo. You could spend your life waiting for someone else. We’ve popped the bikes on the car and taken them to Belgium for a weekend of hill riding. Although cycling on actual roads where there aren’t paths or designated bike lanes does add a degree of ‘what the hell am I doing, I’ve got four kids back at camp’. In Holland it feels secure with so many designated bike paths and drivers who are ‘bike’ aware. Would I have taken this up in Aussie? I’m not sure. But then I would have been able to hike hard so I wouldn’t have needed it. I would have had a different itch to scratch no doubt. You know me! For now, cycling has been a great itch soother, a shitload of fun, the balm my wildness needed and a nice way to come out of quarantine … moving or should I say pedalling forward.









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

Love parcels!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 8/28

Today’s recipe: Souvlaki with Tzatziki.

“Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.” Frances Moore

It takes a great amount of muscle to vote for the world we want to live in. The modern world is not particularly geared towards those of us who seek a deeper kind of existence. One that is connected to the food we eat, the environment we steward and the humanity we share. One that values slow over fast, quiet over noise, less over more, make over buy, contribute over consume. But there is a gym for us and there are others training there too. It’s a small gym, the gym of creative living but it is gaining momentum … people are beginning to ask themselves ‘what matters most’? And once we ask ourselves that question we start the process of taking action and we start building the muscle to vote. We have no choice but to act if we want to leave a legacy of having stood for something or a life without regrets. A world we want to live in and contribute to not exist in and consume from.

One act will lead to another and then another. Take the spanakopita ‘rolls’ (brilliant suggestion Sue btw, rolling sausage roll style worked a treat!). Ingredients bought at the market* to buy fresher, to reduce plastic (#zerowaste), to bake from scratch, to live creatively. The ingredients then used to create something learnt from friend (food now has two stories), created specifically for my daughter because it’s one of her favourite dishes. Delivered to said daughter after school (before she went to a friend’s house) as a surprise with a kiss – an ‘I love you’ parcel. A parcel that votes for a kinder world. (I’ve lost track, food now has six stories yeah?)

And because I made the spanakopita I was all loved up and also wrote a funny little letter for her. One act that keeps giving …

‘Culture, when it comes to food, is of course a fancy word for your mom.’

Michael Pollan

Yes it’s hard enough being a mum I get it – I know! And I’m far from perfect but I want to care about the food culture I send my kids out into the world with it. I think it matters.

Speaking of kids favourites remember the first post of this 28 day series … the ‘I love you’ platter with Jimmy’s beloved Caprese Salad ingredients? Lisa my friend from Milwaukee created her own version. How good does it look! Jimmy said ‘yum’ when I showed him and he’s chuffed his favourite salad is a hit Lisa – a smiling 6 yo with his own new food story ;).

Oh and Lisa shared this meal with her daughter. And that reminds me of another story … I’ve never met Lisa face to face (yet) we became friends through blogging. But I did have the privilege of meeting her daughter in Sydney when she was traveling around Australia. Lisa asked if I could check in with her. And from one mum to another I shared with Lisa know how proud she should be of her strong, independent and capable daughter. And that I hope to grow mine with those qualities too.


So I guess you’re sensing a Greek theme here … again! A meal created because I made tzatziki to use up the dill and cucumbers. I don’t know about you but I don’t have a lot of kitchen appliances. Actually let me think … I have three. A food processor, a beater and a stick blender. And this little nugget! This was a gift from my mother in law, a Tupperware mini hand blender I guess you’d call it. I love it for chopping onions, garlic and making dips. Guacamole, tzatziki, hummus etc. I thought I’d share as I’ve had it for 9 years and it’s still perfect and I don’t cry on account of onions.

Souvlaki. Greek – Dutch – Aussie style.

Of course I’d never make these if Lexie was coming over, this is one of her specialties and it would look little different. She looked at me strangely when I said I’d put lemon in the tzatziki :).


  • Chicken (I roast the fillets but they could also be fried thinking about when we’re in the camper)
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Sliced onion
  • Pita bread (tossed in the pan or in the toaster)
  • Tzatziki (recipe linked)


So simple! Fill the pita breads with fresh ingredients.

It’s Friday night and I prepared this dinner during the day so it was an easy relaxed meal. I even got a ‘thank you, I love this meal’ at the table. But mostly, I got togetherness, laughs and fun. No debate, the debater was at a friends. Lucky because her dad’s away and he’s the debater’s sparing partner. The debater is at her Greek friend’s house eating a home made (γιαγιά’s) meatball soup. So I guess you’ll have to watch this space for that recipe.

Have a beautiful start to the weekend … feel free to share a food story with me if you have one. I love a good connected food story.

Buen camino’ing,

Fran x

*the pasty came from the store pre-made. I haven’t attempted that … yet, not sure I will.

What happens to writers as they expose themselves is purposeful, they are growing themselves by writing.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 7/28

Today’s recipe: A Dutch Sweet Sandwich.

Wednesday’s are a half (school) day here in The Netherlands. The kids finish at 12.30 and are home in time for lunch. I often still send them with lunch on their bags on a Wednesday – even after almost a year of living here. Old habits! It is one of my favourite days and one of my favourite ways to lunch is as the Dutch do. The table is laid out with the toppings, a boiled egg, bread and everyone makes their own (even the little hands). As a treat the milk is chocolate flavoured and mine love when it is served warm. As a special treat after the first sandwich there is a sweet treat! A sweet Dutch sandwich. It’s even sweeter for me because it reminds me of my childhood, growing up in Australia in a migrant Dutch family with a table full of kids.

Wednesdays are also the mid week market day in my village. After using all the left over veggies in the cous cous last night I needed to top up the shelves. For something different I asked my Greek friend Lexie to join me. We started with coffee and a chat (naturally) and then proceeded to shop for our fruit and veg. It was a super cool way to hang out. She was surprised by my reusing of paper bags and I was surprised that she smells the produce before she buys it! Of course she had me smelling the produce and I had her promising that next week she would re-use her bags.

We bought donut peaches it’s summer here peep’s! She also bought beans, loads of them. We talked about how she will cook them and I bought rhubarb and talked to her about how I will cook that. I didn’t buy any beans and she didn’t buy rhubarb :) Creatures of food habits that we are! Maybe next week. I think I will stew her a sample of rhubarb to try on her Greek yoghurt. We both agreed we would shop together at the market next Wednesday. And oh how we laughed during the morning!

My favourite Dutch Sweet Treat Toastie!

Toast with peanut butter, sliced strawberries and mint! I don’t always add mint but there’s mint in my window sill and this morning Lexie had me smelling the mint at the market. It does have delicious smell don’t you think? It’s really beautiful as it hits your nose when you take a bite.

Eating peanut butter today was a bit like chilling with my slippers on. I love it! I can’t have it in the house because my husband is allergic …. but while he’s away I can relax ;).

Food it truly is one of the is one most wonderful ways to create memories and build relationships. I bet we can all share a food memory that makes us smile. My strawberry sweetie reminds me of my dad. He is the man of the Dutch strawberry sandwich, he even adds an extra sweetener … he tops his with sugar! The guy is 74, he’s never quitting sugar. But it was nice thinking of him and his strawberry sandwiches. I must call him. I don’t do that enough.

This little adventure of mine, the one where I’m letting my bike and food connect me to my day and community led to one of my proudest moments of the week! The one where I gave the kitchen to the junior master chef and guided her through my muffin recipe (including how to clean as I go). I then left her to cook dinner (she didn’t clean as she went). With great pride she plated up individual bowls of spag bol and each bowl was licked clean. Feeling pride is important don’t you think? She’d a tiring morning so I’m glad she got to feel that this afternoon. Also glad she had the space to feel and paint (below) how she felt. We all feel, happy and sad, energetic and tired, stressed and calm. We have a saying for clean bowls at our house ‘Opa clean‘. Opa, my dad, literally licks his plate clean. Oh wow there’s another dad story, I really must call him.

Can I go back to the first week of the project bit? Yes, it absolutely had been a week. Can you believe it? Somedays, I do wonder if I’m a nutter? Exposing a little of myself each day, perhaps sometimes even more between the lines than you read. What happens to writers as they expose themselves is purposeful, they are growing themselves by writing. Because you see the writing opens them up just a little more every time. Well that happens to me anyhow. Maybe some of you writerly types relate?

I decided this would be a 28 day project because it took me 28 days to walk the camino. And boy did that camino give to me. It taught me that in 28 days if you stick with something you can move a long way forward. 800kms across a country in fact, 28 girls with the freedom to go to school and a manual; a new way for me to get things done. So for memories and the one week anniversary’s sake I read the words I wrote on day 7/28 on my camino. Here are some of them …

‘We are always looking for way markers on the camino. Scallop shells, yellow painted arrows, sometimes concreted paths have bronze scallops or tiles and there’s the odd cairn. Some days arrows are lovingly created with rocks and adorned with flowers. We need these markers to help us find our way along the this path. The sweet path that’s winding it’s way through this romantic countryside. Way makers, hmm a nice take home from the camino to everyday life I think.

It’s easy here on the Camino to find my path. I’m looking for the scallop shells and yellow arrows and now I’m also looking for welcoming chairs and tables, inn keepers who smile and I’ll also be looking at rooms if it doesn’t feel right. Maybe the lesson here is that life can be simpler with the right way markers.’ ~ Fran Camino reflections.

And you know what I know? And what I remind myself if doubt creeps in? I simply remind myself that I’m not a nutter for dreaming because I’m a dreamer and I’m finding the right way markers. I know that because the people, the food, the connections they are all yellow and they pointing this way. I am giving to the people that matter the most, including myself. I feel a new sense of freedom because I’m unafraid of doubt. It’s one of the new strengths the camino gave me.

Buen camino dear friends,

Fran x