Tag Archives: challenge

Summer Camper Trip – Posada de Valdeón, Spain

‘And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.’ – Pico Lyer

My love affair with travel extends far beyond the beauty of new places and people. I have no bucket list. I have a lust for the affair. And it’s no wonder I’ve created a life that has revolved around this affair. Without it my soul is starved – without adventure there’s no oxygen. However, the great climax of this affair is the never ending path it opens up. The next adventure. The return to life with new perspectives and motivations. And let’s face it most of us still need to return to a routined, stable life. We do! With four kids, two of high school age, a mortgage and retirement to think about.

It has always felt indulgent and privileged to write about and experience travel in the way I do. I’ve decided to not allow that to hold me back from exploring it in writing. In the past I have. And I believe I must because I’m all about living life (everyday life) as an ongoing adventure filled with exploration and growth. To ignore the influence travel plays in my life is not the whole story, not my story. I never want to contribute to a landscape of encouraging people to lust after something, but rather to find their own way. Yet, so much of who I am comes from my need to wander and why. My desire to wander daily with love and lust for the beauty of life. All of life.

These past few years have been quite an expedition. Mostly, I’ve embraced the notion of finding freedom, of removing the shackles of expectations. And of releasing myself from what I thought life would or should look like. In these mountains – the Picos de Europa I leapt froward. I hiked on my own (which I do) and as I was enraptured by the wild beauty, scared (of the wild boars) when I started walking through a bracken covered dense trail, hurt when I fell on my back descending the mountain and strengthened when I navigated the map – I was also completely at peace. At peace with the joy, unknown, fear and pain.

I was as close to myself as I could get out there in those mountains. And I didn’t sleep that night … rather, I lay awake. Not awake over analyzing thoughts but excited by new thoughts and ideas. Excited about what comes next for me. This next transition as I choose to leave doubts behind and become a stronger woman. A warrior woman who hugs fear. On that mountain fear become my mirror and for me, staring at fear is as honest as it gets.

What a delightfully endearing town this is. A place where the children could play in our €10 per night camper spot surrounded by mountains. The children were invited to play soccer with locals. A place where we met a camper family from NZ who had been on the road for 17 months! We were so enthralled by their stories, particularly their love of Sardinia and their generosity in sharing their experiences. I finished reading a manuscript written by a friend, what a sacred privilege, it had me inspired and dreaming of possibilities in my own kitchen and garden. I was taken with the locals working and playing with their hands. And that strikes me as something we need to consider – what we doing with our hands. One thought I’ll be taking forward with me.

Buen Camino lovelies,

F xx

Camper tips:

Cosy! Don’t forget COSY. You can have movie nights, snuggle and make TUE popcorn. Sometimes if you’re lucky and there’s a restaurant in view you can leave your kids to watch the movie and dine out on scrumptious, local fare. Of course the first setting isn’t until 9pm – because Spain!

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

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

The Art of Feeling

Adventures On My Bike – Day 8/28

Today’s recipe: It’s one for a hot afternoon after school.

My bike has three gears. For many months I haven’t been able to shift it into first gear. I just slogged away riding it as it was. I’m not sure why it took so long to get the gears fixed but last week I finally did. It was quite painless really, it didn’t even cost that much. I just had to make the effort to make the first move. One purposeful move, a move that gave my gears (and me) the freedom from being stuck.

‘The Art of Feeling’ is what I am calling my daughter’s latest artwork (the opening photo of this post). Right now I am crying, tears are streaming as I write this. Good tears. Tears because this art work pushed me to watch the you tube video I’ve linked at the top of this post. The video landed in my inbox earlier this week and I knew it would probably make me cry. I haven’t been able to watch it before now because I find it awkward to be thanked and I’m still nervous about being being seen. Of all the things I find hard … it is my most vulnerable work. I really stepped up and out of my comfort zone by putting myself, my heart, my writing and my photography out there to ask for support and donations for my #hikeforonegirl project. And even though the creating the project, the camino and all of you hiked and stepped me through that fear, I still feel the nerves. And if I am honest I am not entirely sure if I’ve really acknowledged the enormity of what we achieved, but I want to. I truly do because the project is gently growing.

Of course I knew deep down I had to watch it because what we did mattered and I can’t hide from that. And I am not letting sight of that sail as it takes me into the wind. It is why this website was created. Hiking towards my One Girl challenge was a beautiful anchor this past year. When I returned from the camino I wanted to drop a few more anchors in my life. I feel the need to anchor in our home and community in our new country. I need to tend to the nest. I think you can sail without expectations and at the same time drop a few anchors. Do you? It sounds like a contradiction but we need both in our every day lives. At least I do. While I’ve been dropping a few intentional anchors, One Girl is never far from my mind. I am dreaming about how I can continue working as a ambassador to raise awareness and fundraise for the some of the world’s most vulnerable and equally delightful girls. How are the smiles in that video. We can’t loose sight of them.

A dear friend used this quote last week and it resonated.

‘There is more that one kind of freedom … Freedom to and freedom from.’ ~ Margaret Atwood.

Most of us have freedom to and together, all 69 of us from Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Canada and The USA spectacularly raised $8135. Enough money to give 27 girls the freedom to go school in Africa. Special mention to Kimmy, my fellow hiker and ‘Women who Hike’ accomplice in adventuring for change. You are AMAZING (educating two extra girls came from you also choosing to stand up!).

As you know I have plans to return to the camino in September and I am hoping a few others may just take on their own hiking challenge with me, hint hint nudge nudge. Big or small no worries, just hike it baby. Don’t worry you will hear more or ask me.

Speaking of delightful girls! Meet Mischa one of my daughter’s friends from Melbourne. Mischa is using her position as a school leader to stand for girls. She brought One Girl as a potential charity to her school’s attention and guess where some of their term 3 fundraising is going? One Girl! Mischa you are amazing and I know the One Girl family is going to be super excited to here your story.

Here’s another amazing story. Paula fellow hiker and woman’s adventure enthusiast messaged me here to tell me that she has decided to contribute monthly to One Girl. She is effectively keeping girls in school. I’ve said it before on this blog and I’ll say it again. You inspired me beyond words with your camino wisdom Paula and I truly hope to hike a trail with you one day in the future.

And while we’re talking feelings I may as well share one that we don’t often talk positively about. Anger. Yes, anger that’s the one. I want to talk about anger because it was a great catalyst for helping me to put the camino and One Girl on the same page.

Last year I began to feel I angry and disillusioned about how one of my greatest loves was being treated. No one should be treated as a pretty face with no value only to make others look good. And I simply I couldn’t stand by to watch my dear friend be sold without any concern for her essence.

She was being used to sell anything, detergent with micro plastics, plastic toys, personal travel loans. She was being shared as a *must do* bucket  check list that we must – at all costs – check off. Without even getting to know her. I think it was probably the sponsored travel loans that really tipped me over the edge. And, as someone who regularly shares travel pics I wanted to stand up for my love, my friend – travel.

Google ‘travel quotes’ and what to you get? Over 748 million hits! We all love travel. And what do we love about travel? Here are the first three random quotes that came up.

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert

It is not hard to uncover the essence of travel, of why people travel.  She enriches us with her qualities of perspective, space, freedom, wonder and awe. She gently encourages us to improve ourselves, gives us strength and puts our existence in the world into context. She reminds us that there is more to life than wanting to own more, she gives and we receive.

So why do we treat her so unethically. Why do we use her to sell ‘shit’ when we know we want to protect the world because she, travel taught us that? Late last year I already knew I wanted to hike the camino as well as work with One Girl. So let’s blame anger, anger made me do it! It made me stand with these two together.

I’m bloody glad I did – get angry that is. I am so grateful that all 69 of you supporters also decided that Adventure Tavel and Charity are a good match. On behalf of my friend travel and her essence I thank you alongside my One Girl family!

Am I as angry now about how travel is shared? Not so much because now I’m using my own voice to say something different. And I guess you could look at me and say well you’ve done a sponsored post so you’re also dipping into travel as a commodity.  And yes that is true. I was sponsored gear to #hikeforonegirl and I have thought a lot about that. I hope I have done the honourable thing by my friend and only ever sold her in a way that protects her essence but encourages others to do so as well.

Hot day recipe. Chopped watermelon.

It’s not so much a recipe today as it is a food story. It’s hot here and when you haven’t prepared an after school snack – CHOP watermelon. He was quite chuffed that his Greek mate was eating the other half. Made the connection? ;) Yesterday at the market Lexie and I bought the two halves of the same watermelon. I really, really love that the two little mates are both eating an afternoon snack in their respective homes from the same watermelon.

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