Tag Archives: Camino

Where was I again, oh there I was, on that path …

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou

Hello lovelies!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what comes next. When is the next new path going to appear, the one that feels like the right one to plant the seeds. If I was the praying type I’d be praying for the next door to appear. I’m not, instead I’ve been wishing for it. Dear universe, please give me a hint. A clue to find you.


Last week while out walking I captured this blog’s accompanying photo. A field of wild flowers, buttercups. I’ve walked these woods for the past 5 springs and never have I ever seen this field in bloom like this. Along my well worn, regularly walked, at times a tad boring path – on this day, this difference caught my attention. My first clue. I knew I’d come back to this picture. There was something about it.

on this day

A field of wild flowers did seem like the perfect postcard to send you from my little corner of Europe. It sparked the idea of this blog transitioning into a postcard for you from europe. An little rhyme to accompany your postcard came to me one night while I was drifting off. A sweet way to share this image.

plenty came to play

and all it wanted to say

was have a beautiful day

Perhaps the beauty of this field planted a seed. Hmm how does this work? Do I plant the seeds for what comes next or are the seeds already planted for me? Is it for me to notice and water them?

I sat with my photo and it’s rhyme a little longer.

Each evening I’ve been hopping into live daily blogs written by pilgrims hiking along the camino. The photos of wildflowers in bloom have been spectacular as have the vibes from the trail in their daily debriefs (daily joy Mel). They are triggering some familiar stirrings in me. The desire to go away and walk, a long walk. Hmm a clue perhaps!?

I’ve a long list of blog posts to write for my new your camino site but something has been holding me back. Blank. Boring. They needed soul, some context. An actual camino. Wouldn’t writing a post about toiletries be more fun if they were actually getting packed! Yes, another clue.

Now I’m confused. ‘It’s the pilgrimage home to Oz I long for though isn’t it’ I thought. And yet that is not on the cards for me right now. My life is here. But where is that damn door that’s going to make these next two years of my life – a life that’s lived like I mean it!? I want more than getting by – I want a fierce, bold, adventurous and wildly lived life. No regrets. No quiet mouse. No timidly shaking under the weight of what if, what might. Uugghh why is reinventing myself so hard right now. Wait, there’s another clue.

The memes say you shouldn’t look back, only forward. I’ve been trying that, but memes I disagree. To move forward sometimes we have to go back. Look back at where we’ve been, who we were, what lit our soul on fire. There the clues to know who you are can be found. I read some of my writing from 2016, yes, now I remember why I’m here. I was also scrolling my instagram today looking for a photo for someone. That little online photo album showed me something. It showed me when I was fierce, bold, adventurous and wild and it wasn’t even that long ago. The time when I trusted in who I am and where I was. Wo-ah. BIG clue.

In a conversation with someone recently, they shared an ‘opinion’ of something we should do and right away the penny dropped. I won’t be able to step into abundance again if I carry these ever so frequently shared scarcity based opinions. I can’t do it the way other people do it. I.Never.Have. Clue.

My mind shifted. So many shifts lately it’s actually hard to stay on track. I hope I’m making sense. You see I’ve been heavily weighed down by the ‘family’ project. Where do we need to be? This big transition we’re in, what does it need? And then I’m frustrated because actually right now what we need is to be here. But I’m not here. Not really.

I googled ‘what’s a project for a 50 year old’. I know I need a passion, something that feverishly excites me. I’ve always had one. The long term family project, I can think about it but it’s in the seed stage. It’s not yet something I can act on. But in my reading of camino blogs, my writing archives and my photos I started to remember something, there is a path that is open and waiting…

‘Perhaps I’ll go walk the next stage of the norte camino next week’ I thought. Could I make that happen? No, it’s very costly to do at a whim, time and financially. A dear friend, one whose opinions are of the abundance camp (love you Gen) suggested last week that I pop on the train and pick up my ‘Home to Rome’ walk again. A seed not a clue.

Last weekend we were in Maastricht for a weekend of hiking and camping. I came home fully alive from being in those hills. My favourite part of The Netherlands I declared. And you know the last place where I left off from my Home to Rome pilgrimage? Yep, Maastricht. A clue or a seed? You choose.

My next google search was Maastricht to Belgium hiking and wouldn’t you know it … there’s a pilgrim path that leaves Maastricht to Namur. Via monsana it’s called and it hooks up with more pilgrim paths. Paths that lead to via francigena which is the path that will ultimately take me to Rome.

So there you are! Lots of little clues leading me back to my ‘Home to Rome’ project. A project to take me forward. And it doesn’t feel like the past because it’s a new trail, just one I’m picking up from where I left off. Maybe I don’t need to reinvent myself. I just need to find myself again, to pick up where I left off and to work out how to future proof myself because life is changing! As it does.

So sometime next week, hopefully your postcard will come from via monsana!

Till then BIG love,

Fran xx

Here’s another postcard snap from one of my walks! In the past these sorts of shots were a daily occurrence for me. How sweet it is to take a beautiful photo.

That feeling of coming home, know it?

“The best way to change the world is in concentric circles: start with yourself and work your way out from there.”

James Clear

Hi there!

Well it’s been a minute. How are things with you? It has been all sorts busy here. Still we await the arrival of the northern hemisphere’s spring season, as in really arrive and not disappear again tomorrow! The winter has been long, the busy has been good and oh my gosh this is my first post for the year! And.It.Is.May.Already. There’s been learning, trying new things and settling into life as I chill my nervous system.

Learning by living is my modus operandi, so when I am quiet in these times and sharing less, never fear. I’m simply off being human and growing with that experience. It’s nice though to feel ready to come home and to begin to grow something with words. To once again write to you from a sturdy place. There’s so much to talk about!

Hey, so, I know we aren’t really talking about the C time and I know we all experienced that time differently, but during my deep dive into being human I had to think about how the pandemic affected me. It’s not the first time I’ve had to face some really tough feelings but it was probably the hardest.

It wasn’t the actual pandemic time that was hard for me. It was more so the years after. Specifically, this notion of simply returning to life that’s a ‘new normal’, one that doesn’t accommodate for changes. It is not quite ridiculous to expect to simply go back to being the same with a new tag?! I mean let’s be honest … who is the same two years on, ever. Even without a pandemic – things, life changes. When I look back at the amount of change in my usually quiet life I feel a great deal of sympathy for my nervous system, no wonder it got itself stuck in survival mode.

My family of little kids, those kids who danced behind the pide piper when she (me) played the next tune went and grew up. Really grew, the buggers. Two became fully fledged teens and boy that was something I did not have a manual or a script for. It’s taken some trial and error. After being locked out of our home country during the pandemic, the connection with our ozzie’ness shifted and this happened differently for all of us. Our parents downsized, aged and our old life at ‘home’ felt like it lost its roots.

We renovated a house (ha never again, ever). Th challenge aside from the actual living in a building site was that as someone who keeps it small and prefers the company of kind, interesting, honest, pay it forward types and a lot of quiet space was that I had to live with builders in that space everyday. Builders who regularly took the piss, lied and instead of 6, took 18 months. Oh and then there is the peri menopause, yep that hit at the same time. JESUS that peri – it took my energy, brain, confidence and what resilience I had left. Lol and they’re just the big things!

The good news is that I have found peace with all the change. Time is a great healer, yes, this is true … but also it is what you do in the time that heals. There has been plenty of sitting in my shit. A bit, hmm maybe a lot of woe is me. But, maybe this is necessary sometimes. Some time to feel sad for yourself, or to feel your sadness so you can uncover what it is you are really sad about and what you need. I am glad for it. Obviously, it isn’t fun but to accept change, but to step out of the flight, fight, fawn or freeze response it felt necessary. To me, this is self love. To love yourself enough to give yourself the grace to not be ok when you’re not, to give yourself and those around you compassion, to accept being imperfect and the imperfections of others, humaness. To recognise where and who you are and to be ok with that.

Anyways, that’s just a little of where I’ve been. If you’re interested in where the peace came from well a number of ways. I talk to someone. She helped me rip off a few bandaids. Under those bandaids were some wounds that I needed to give air to. We all know wounds heal better when exposed (if ready). I realised some of my teenage wounds were causing me to react rather than to respond to my own teens. Flight/fight. My catholic upbringing, schooling and life experiences still have some real impacts on me – fawn/freeze (don’t be seen). In survival mode it felt boundless and just as a river can’t flow without banks I couldn’t find my flow without boundaries which explained the bewildered state.

Anyways, from the chats I began thinking about how to step out of the fear mode I was existing in and how I could settle my nervous system. Diet came next. I was eating for survival. My gut health needed some love and based on tests – gluten, sugar and dairy are gone for now. I feel better. I gave up alcohol in favour of special occasions but kept coffee, I drink a lot of hot water and herb tea too. it’s not easy and these changes are a work in progress.

On a whim I picked up and read a book (this book) and honestly it changed my life. Peri/menopause is a feminist issue and we need to talk about it. I started HRT and that is something I never thought I would ever do. I have learnt that as women we are completely gaslit when it comes to our hormones and what this change means. We cannot rely on all caregivers to provide accurate, evidence based, individual information. An oestrogen deficiency played havoc with my body just as a thyroxine or insulin issues can for some. Those oestrogen receptors that live from my head down to my toes are now dancing with happiness to be awake. My energy has returned and the brain fog has disappeared. So now I can move, hot yoga, cycling and walking (always walking) are my things right now.

There is no magic bullet in my story here, just a few different paths I took to try to find my way through to post pandemic ‘new normal’. The gem for me was to learn that I can’t do what I’ve always done to cope and what that meant for me in terms of action. I couldn’t run/hike my way through it – injuries. I couldn’t write my way out of it – brain fog. I couldn’t eat my way out of it – health consequences, I couldn’t do something new (study) or adventurous (plan a move) – no energy. I simply had to sit still and move slowly and be open to and accept new things. I am not there yet but I am better for it. I need to give weight to all the puzzle pieces.

So, new things. Well, yes. As you all know I’m a little bit of a gypsy soul and I like need some excitement … some sweet synchronicity, some of those oh-wow-what-a-coincidence type moments and really I just need to find and hang out with my people. The ones get that about me, about life and that keep it interesting. Writing has always been such a beautiful doorway for me to stay connected with and to find the finest of kindreds. I started a new blog and gosh I’m excited (and nervous) to be in this space.

Your Camino

It is something different for me. This current blog you may remember started as the fundraiser for my first camino and it’s veered off is so many directions I don’t know what it is anymore! It is boundless. Of course that is ok. But like the river needs its banks, I want to do something that is in flow so I need boundaries, banks. I need to create something with direction. Already in the short time I’ve been playing over on your camino I’ve had some sweet interactions. I’ve felt a shift in what my mind thinks about and where it goes, my step and I’ve felt that feeling of ‘good’ fear. Like I am actually doing something that scares me a little. I like that I can connect people.

It feels time to challenge myself and see what I am capable of in this time. With commitment, the work of that feels doable. There are of course many sites dedicated to the camino, and yes there’s that shadow part of me that thinks and says ‘how do I fit with those, how can I compete, what if you fail’? But you know, I am tired of wondering about that, and it’s not a competition. So, I am creating my own unique space dedicated to camino walking, not trying to fit in. I am just going to write my stories and walk my walk, write to connect people and that alone feels like success.

I wanted to write this open the conversation about ‘new normal’ and change because it feels important, how are you with yours? And I am thinking a bit about this blog and I think perhaps this will become a letter about life here or maybe it will disappear. We shall see what flow says. We did have a beautiful weekend away last weekend in the fabulous south where the wildflowers are in bloom and there are hills. Hills in the flatlands, yes it’s true, they really exist. I am out of time and page space so I’ll share that with you next time.

With much love and grace,

Fran xx

Sneak peak from next week … the wildflowers

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.











Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen via Hamburg.

Living in Europe still confuses me. Sometimes I walk to the right hand side of the car only to find myself trying to drive from the passenger seat! I’m already calling the next school year next year, even though it starts in August and it’s still in this year. This morning as I rinsed the cherries and placed them on the table to be nibbled it felt Christmassy. The time when traditionally our feet should be in flip flops and we should be sitting around having bbq’s while we all drop out of life and chill between one calendar year to the next. But Christmas time for us is Europe means snow, scarves, hot glühwein and Christmas markets in fairytale city ‘scapes.

Yes, now we drive on the other side of the road and we season on the other-side of the hemisphere and it’s all topsy turvy. Christmas is a short break with no great end of year fanfare and it’s cold, very cold. Not quite the depths of winter cold, that doesn’t arrive until February, but winter rug up, hot drink, woollen socks weather for sure.

After two years without a car we bought one last year. It was a tough decision. In a way if felt as though we were selling out. I felt as though I’d let the team down. The environmental warrior team. But we want to travel widely while we live here and rather than continue to fly in and out of places, we decided a car would be better in the long run. Cheaper and importantly, more environmental. Also we could find our way into the less populated, nature places we adore.

The mobile is older than our eldest son. We decided if we were buying a car it didn’t require a large investment. If we had one we wanted to own it. And we certainly don’t need to be keeping up with the Jones’s. We can’t afford too if we want to stay free, you know mindful about what you give up to have something and all that. In our downsized life its purpose is simple – transport not aesthetics. We’ve lost more than enough hard earnt dosh on buying and selling new cars before.

When Christmas arrived last year in topsy turvy land we decided to pack our wrong side of the road car and head towards where the days are even shorter! Copenhagen. We loaded the family mobile, packed the puffer jackets, winter woolies, comfy walking shoes, a Christmas day leftovers lunch, poured the coffee, and with pockets overflowing with that adventure excitement, North East we drove.

It may only be a 620km drive to Copenhagen from our home but Europeans aren’t like Aussies. There’s no Sydney to Melbourne in a day! I can’t count the times I’ve done that trip, I was Aussie then. Lol. Europeans take a more leisurely approach to arriving somewhere. So, because we are European now we planned a stopover in the German port city of Hamburg.

We pre-booked a self contained apartment (breakfast pack included) stay at Eric Vökel Hamburg Suites. A perfect road stop. Clean, modern, friendly, funky and a good supply of bathroom samples – much to the delight of the daughter. True Story. My son went on camp last year and brought her home the hostel shampoo and soap as a gift, she was thrilled. Thrilled I tell you.

We made the rookie mistake of thinking we’d grab some supplies and make a quick dinner before heading out to explore the town. Rookie because we’ve been caught out with closed supermarkets in Europe before! So.Many.Times. Dinners made from what we could buy in a service station shop. Toto, we are not in Australia anymore. There is no 24/7 culture in Europe, even in the big cities! After three attempts to find an open convenience store we gave up and decided to try our luck out on the street.

It’s Germany and it’s Christmas market time and that means there’s no shortage of bratwurst and glühwein! It is quite a feast for the senses wandering around a Christmas market. There are stalls of traditional Christmas decorations! The decorations that finally fit Christmas because it is cold. Snowmen, people and animals clad in scarves. It was always odd to me as a kid in Aussie, the images on many Christmas cards and tree decorations, lyrics to carols and fairy tales that don’t fit the season. It was like Christmas was imported from a far away land. The most Aussie Christmas we’ve ever had was on Bondi Beach when Santa arrived on a surf boat. We should be hanging surfboards, flip flops, esky’s, bbq’s and of course cherries from our trees!

If you’re not a meat eater as one of our isn’t we can recommend the cooked corn on the cob! Just ask for it sans salt. The Hamburgians are far too liberal with the salt. Inedible liberal as we learnt the hard way. If you’re not into the glühwein, mulled red wine with spices served warm from big vats you can find alternatives. I opted for the aperol fruit punch. Still warm but more to my palette. And if a big fat bratwurst isn’t to your taste we found an alternative. Hamburg Central Station was pumping with different food options. I found some Japanese seaweed to add to some tinned chick peas, avocado and tuna.

Crossing borders never gets old for me. And yes, every-time the dad joke. Kids, we left you in Germany! We left you in The Netherlands. Ha ha. Although post Corona I imagine none of us will take borders for granted again. This border between Germany and Denmark was one of the first to close in Europe earlier this year, we drove through it just months before. Denmark opted for strict New Zealand like border closing at the beginning of the pandemic.

Did you see the story of Inga (85) and Karsten (89)? The Danish and German couple who had to meet at a border each day to continue their love affair. I wonder how many families and couples have been separated during this crisis. I have friends who are now able to travel home to Spain. As I write this they are on the way to say goodbye to a parent. Parents who were cremated, alone, in cities that weren’t their own. I can’t begin to imagine how they are coping. And still the pandemic rages.

Driving across Germany and into Denmark is a lot like The Netherlands. The landscape doesn’t change too much and it’s still flat. Only the sunsets are earlier, like 3.30pm early. Denmark is home to some of the happiest people in the world. Interested to know why?  Helen Russell spent a year living Danishly to find out.  And she wrote the book. Denmark is around the same size as The Netherlands but home to about 11.5 million less people (5.6 to 17.1 mill) quite a difference hey. While Denmark shares a land border with Germany it is also consists of many Islands. Driving to Copenhagen takes you across the seas via some incredible bridges. This one pictured is 18km long. And it was a spectacularly ‘blue’ hue experience. I love this about road tripping. Fly in and how easily you could miss this.

We arrived into Copenhagen and made ourselves at home directly! We checked in to the Urban House Hotel. It is one of the Meininger hotels. We also stayed in a similar one in Salzburg the year before. It suits us as a big family on a budget. Cosy is a word you could use to describe our shared room for six. The location was awesome as we could walk everywhere, it was busy though and it’s basic. It’s central location and budget price makes it appealing. We were always able to cook in the kitchen and find a place to chill while the kids played. Breakfast was busy, often ran out of food and wasn’t super tasty.

Copenhagen is a beautiful city. Wide streets, stunning architecture, a bike culture, tasty food and plenty to do and see. Apparently it’s also home to a famous little mermaid statue, we didn’t make it there. Can’t do it all! As we do when we travel we walked and wondered and ate and fell a bit more in love with life, determined not to waste or take this opportunity we had created for ourselves for granted.

Did I say walked around the city? Oh I meant parkoured. Seriously, my kids will climb statues as though they’re trees, jump from rock to rock no matter if we’re in the middle of nowhere or the middle of a big city! We wandered without plans and found our way into The National Museum. It wasn’t too big and as a forever culturally curious type I found Viking and Norse history fascinating. The history of Völva women particularly.  I know a few of the wild ones that read here would like her too.

We passed by palaces and canals, cool doors and windows, we even stumbled upon a piece of the Berlin wall. This was cool for the kids as we visited Berlin a few years back and it helps to keep the story alive for them. Of course Danish(s) were inhaled. Inhaled I tell you. So, so good. And I surprised my kids by saying yes to the Tivoli Gardens. Surprised them because they know I’d rather poke my eyeballs out with a fork than go to a theme park! It was fun. It didn’t feel over the top. It did feel Willy Wonka Fantacy’ish.

Having been someone who has travelled and moved a lot in my life it has meant we have friends in many corners of the world! Copenhagen is home to three of them. Three wonderful Viking women I met while walking the Camino Santiago. Food was shared, lives were caught up on and naturally, future catch ups were planned! I’m waiting for them to knock on my door. Friends who will be friends no matter how many years pass.

All trips come to an end! So we finish here, on the way home a stop in the town of Odense. The birthplace and home of Hans Christian Anderson.

‘Everything you look at can become a fairy tale and you can get a story from everything you touch.’ – Hans Christian Anderson.

In this topsy turvy time, where as my friend Annette of I Give You The Verbs recently said ‘time has come off its tracks’. I’m glad for this bowl of cherries that brought this story of our time in Copenhagen to life for you and for me. There was magic for me today in the sweet taste of cherries as they deliciously took me back through time .


(If you found your way here via buying a used car in The Netherlands, we used Mijn Autocoach, we didn’t want to risk buying an older motor without help. They were very helpful). Not sponsored just the sort of stuff I google and can’t always find here.











The Currency Of A Posy.

Hello friends,

Many years ago I read a post where the writer had photographed a little posy of lavender. She had attached it to a farewell card for a friend. It was a sweet, simple story and the little posy imprinted in my mind as possibly the most lovingly, whimsical gift I had ever seen. It was pure heart. I tucked that story away for the future.

A few weeks ago when I found myself back to writing I wasn’t sure what it was I was looking for in these pages. I just knew I needed to be here, to search. Where is it that my voice is most needed? How could this time mean something more than survival? Why was I feeling so conflicted?

Like any journey we take we can’t actually arrive until we do the travel, have the experience, live the story. And just like any of the great journeys or life transitions I’ve personally travelled there are times when you feel sure and times when you’re unsure.

Continue reading The Currency Of A Posy.