Tag Archives: dreams

The Good Busy.


‘Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.’ – Mary Cantwell

What’s in a day of pottering? Hmm where can this tale go I wonder? The truth is I spend the day in the garden with busy hands and a busy body. Lost in a hard day’s work without really thinking. My mind in the garden, the jobs and the possibilities of this tiny space. Intoxicated by the smell of these tomato plants and the the sun on my back. They smell like the the ones you buy on a vine. My poor tomato plants who were sitting in a holding zone, in pots too small for them, growing without a stake. They’re a little wonky, hopefully they’ve still a little resilience in store and I’ve re-potted them in time!

Perhaps a cup of tea and my tale will come I thought. Into the kitchen, tea pot on and a Barry’s Irish tea bag in my favourite cup. It’s proper black tea, big mug kinda night. In the window sill I see my orchards have also outgrown their pots. Can you see the new roots sprouting out into thin air?! And wouldn’t you know it, here is where a gardening tale arrived.  It’s a simple reminder that we grow out of things. Taking care of plants is not so different to taking care of ourselves.

I’ve mentioned before that it’s time to end my #runstreak because I want to train with more intention. I want to train for a half marathon. I can’t do that if I run everyday and ride a couple of times a week, it’s too much! I’ve grown into the fitness to run a half marathon and into my new cycling hobby and now I’m too big for the pot I’m in. I need to change it. Otherwise I’ll respond like the tomatoes and grow all wonky, or the orchards where there is no space for new roots to flourish.

We need to adjust our space just as we need fuel to grow. Oh did you notice the pizza oven was lit in the first photos. Tonight’s was a pretty heavenly one. Some leftover olive, feta and mint salsa from last night, artichokes, porcini mushroom, rocket and burrata cheese. I spent the whole day pruning, planting, sweeping, shifting pots, enjoying and dreaming dreams about our tiny garden space. We are growing together, my garden and I. And it’s hungry work giving yourself to the garden all day. Or does the garden give itself to you? Perhaps we meet in the middle. I think we do.

I used to find fairy houses and fairy doors in the garden from the daughter who now regularly calls me a hippie and gives me the eye rolls! Lol. Today I found her stash of moon water. There is also one that belongs to her best friend. The garden is truly full of magic, truth and enchantment. It’s a place for daydreams and the good busy. Tomorrow, I’ll replant the orchids and refresh the herb planter after I take my morning’s ride amongst the canals and the windmills. And tomorrow I won’t run. After 140 days, I’ve outgrown my runstreak. I’m repotting myself!






What’s In A Challenge?

What’s in a challenge? Quite a lot for me it appears! It’s a way to create the time to fit a new thing (often a habit) into my life. It is a way to begin from where I am, rather than feel overwhelmed with where I want to be. It’s a manageable way to move, to get somewhere. And often the challenge is the gateway to something bigger, greater. 

I’ve done a few challenges over the past five years. All of them have improved some part my life, brought about positive change or led me somewhere new. I once bought nothing new for a year, quit sugar for 8 weeks, got our possessions down to a suitcase each (and about 3 x 3 metres of packed stuff), walked 800kms to raise enough money to educate 28 girls. Yep and there have been more, these are just some of the memorable ones! 

Mostly, I set a challenge that matches where I am in life. Where the flow needs to go. This year I needed to put some energy into my health. I was pretty low on energy and motivation. Also on inspiration and confidence. I added some small group training to my yoga but the big one that steered my life back on course was my run streak. My personal challenge. 

Running everyday has been a way back to energy, motivation, confidence and inspiration for me. I’ve been doing it for 20 weeks and I feel the river is about to turn. Soon I won’t run every day because I need to get a bit more intentional with my running. I’ve committed to a half marathon to raise money for One Girl. I’ve also started cycling and there is only so much a girl can do! 

Today I wrote up a 15 week plan for my running training. I added a plan for my writing streak. This is day 15 of a month long writing streak and day 135 of running every day. Is it leading to anything? Yes it is. The run steak led to a stronger body that I could commit to a bigger challenge and a stronger mind that focussed me on my writing. Writing each day has proved to me that I can. More than that it’s opened up a way for me to complete my manuscript. I will write this story up later this month, it’s still evolving. 

And then I thought about another habit I really need to improve. Perhaps I could set myself a challenge for that. So I did. I added a drink three water bottles of water challenge to my day. I really do need to drink water, I think it will change my life! And then because I’m improving my capacity to get shit done I added a plan to get shit done. I’ll add to that the each week.

It’s weird isn’t it how sometimes we are ready and able to take on new things. For sure though we can’t get anything new done or add to our lives without first letting something else go. And for sure we need to start where we are with small steps, with an action. I enjoy a lot of spontaneous time so I’ll never schedule myself silly, but if I am to take a step up with my running and writing some intention and focus is required. Imagine what can happen with 15 focussed weeks! Would you dare for a small thing that would change your life?!



#day 15/31






You’ve Got Mail.

In celebration of sending and receiving postcards! A friend send me a postcard a year or so ago and I’ve been sending them out into the world  in return ever since. The postcard exchange. Yesterday there was one in my postbox and gosh it’s a beautiful ‘thing’. So today a postcard for you friend.







As With Many Of Us, Corona Changed Our Plans.

I once worked with midwife whose name I can’t recall. Let’s call her Jane. Jane used to take three months a year to cruise the waterways of the UK with her husband on their canal boat. They purchased the boat after a friend of hers had passed away. Her friend had just retired and had BIG plans for retirement. Jane decided she could no longer wait for retirement, she needed to start living her retirement plans now.  

Recently, ok is last year recently? If feels like all sense of time is skewed right now. Is last year going to be knows as the pre pandemic era? I do hear people talk about the ‘before corona time’.  Anyways, last year my sister in law Mary visited. We were out in the woods and as an older couple hiked past us with their day packs and poles, she said ‘I see Max (her husband) and I as those people when we’re older.’ We both chuckled a little and she said ‘we may need to actually start hiking’. 

A big part of our moving away from living the corporate, busy Sydney life and into this quieter, simpler village life was to not let life pass. It probably wouldn’t have mattered where we were living, the hustle just wasn’t us. We’d taken the wrong path. We wanted to keep life simple, decluttered. We moved here with about a 3 x 3 m amount of ‘stuff’. Nothing left in storage and no desire to again feel like our commitments and stuff owned our life.

And yet there are the realities of life in that we do need commitments! We need somewhere to live. Sometimes we need a car or in our case a garage full of bikes, surfboards, tents and a SUP!  Our kids play sport, go to school. And we need to work. Our life will never be that simple that we don’t need to work nor would we not want to work.

As much as I dream of the life of Chris and Ana on their self sufficient mountain farm in Andalusia. (Driving Over Lemons – a brilliant escape armchair journey). I know this is not us, it’s not our reality. There are four kids, a job that needs city/airport access and let’s face it not a real enough desire to live on the land. 

As with many of us, corona changed plans. After three years abroad we were due to visit our family and friends in Melbourne over Easter. Thankfully, I hadn’t booked our flights as I’d been watching this new virus weave it’s way into Europe since February. My main reason for not booking was I didn’t want to risk bringing it home to my parents. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the borders would close and that not coming wouldn’t be our choice.

As time went on and summer drew closer we realised that our summer camping surf trip to France was not going to happen. The borders are open, so yes we could go, but sharing ammenities  just doesn’t seem wise at this time. And for the past five or so years we’ve tried to create a life we don’t need to escape from. So there is no desperation to HAVE to go at any cost. 

However, we do love the experience, the adventure and the off grid time for our kids. Ergo, the return of that old chestnut dream of ours – to buy a campervan or not to buy a campervan?! Could we? Should we? I am a bit of a leaper as you know but buying a campervan means a type of permanence, doesn’t it? As my husband reminded me ‘nothing is permanent, you proved that when it took you six months to offload everything in Sydney’. 

Argh but security, getting older, what if the market crashes and we can’t sell our house here, we’d never get back home. But what if it doesn’t? What if we never move home? We don’t have a plan anyhow. And we’d always have a camper to live and retire in I guess. Having sold our home in Melbourne I am nervous about where best to ‘invest’. I’m not driven by making more money but I don’t want to lose it!

Can you guess which post on my blog is getting smashed at the moment? This one!

So You Want To Campervan In Europe With Kids. 

Ha! We were ahead of the curve with our van-lifing! ;)

We started searching, ready to leap, but also nervous about jumping too fast. We looked at a private one and even had a mechanical inspection. There were a few niggles I had about the purchase so we didn’t follow through. It’s the barefoot investor I tell you! He taught me to grow up a little. It’s his alpaca story that plays on repeat in my head. ‘Every dollar you get should go first into protecting your flock’.  (You can read the true story of the two alpacas here).

We started expanding our search and found an ex-hire company that sells low km, almost new vans. They replace their fleet regularly. We almost bought one but missed out. I wanted to be sure we were not overpaying so I tried to drive down the price. And someone else didn’t! C’est la vie.

A wise sister in law said to me when I had my first baby ‘it’s a series of phases’. This wisdom has guided me well, not just with babies and children but in life. Life is flux. We spend our time transitioning from one phase to the next.  This is guaranteed. How well we transition is how well we prepare. Naturally, there are things we can’t prepare for. I dare not think of this predicament I’m in where I can’t just get home if needed. But, I do think about what we are doing now and how valuable this time is in preparing us for where we are going. The next phase. 

We are mountain people, we are beach people, we are lake people, we are adventure seeking, new language, new cultural experience people, we are food and wine people, we are travelling people. A campervan is an investment in how we live, the things we want to do and the places we wish to see. It gives us freedom. We can be self sufficient in that we can carry what we need. We are far more likely to get to the Baltics and to Scandinavia in a camper! With four kids we can’t afford to fly, stay in hotels, hire cars etc for weeks on end. And to be honest I no longer wish to fly. I really do have plane shame. I’m trying to save my flying for trips home.

I guess our buying a camper is a little like living how we want our retirement to look. Or maybe not. Maybe it is more about living how we wish to live in this phase of our life and it sits nicely with our values. Packing up our kids, putting our hiking boots and road bikes in for mountain climbs, our SUP’s for the lakes and our boards for the oceans. We love the nights where we sit together on our camp chairs with the adventure glow, our bodies tired as we sip a local wine and indulge in regional cheese.  

Our camper dream won’t be realised this summer. Everyone is out in the hired campers but our time will come. We’re sure now. We will take the next step in ‘living’ this European Adventure. Ironically, continuing as it started, in a camper. It seems we’ve needed a phase of nest building before transitioning into this next time. Where from our nest we can explore and adventure our way across Europe.

For now though we have a leisurely summer ahead with no plans. Loads of  time for me to write all the stories. A time to ride out and live this transition as we move towards our next phase. A time to enjoy our  verdant Dutch village  life nestled in amongst lakes and trees. A time to breathe in this moment where we stopped to create some security and stability for our flock.

We are lucky, we haven’t had corona impact our employment. I acknowledge this makes it easier for us to live without the added stresses many are experiencing in this time. And we are trying to direct our purchases to supporting those in small business who have been affected harshly by this pandemic.

I don’t long to travel far from home right now, it’s not the time. But like Jane I’m not waiting. No, I’m not waiting for life to start after all this is over. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be on my bike. (keeping sane in between, feeding, washing and cleaning for the masses in my house) Practicing for when I’m retired and I can ride each day in the mountains of the Pyrenees.  Or not! Who knows where the living now, not the waiting will take me. Hey Mary, go get those poles out and get hiking! ;)



A Little Whimsy

“You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”― Mary Oliver


Do you love a little whimsy? Are you brave enough to embrace your own brand of whimsy? I ask this because sometime whimsy is weird. Well, we (you and I) know it’s not really weird but others may see us as weird if we practice it. And because of that we need to be courageous in our pursuit of whimsy, to ensure our life remains ours.

I am quite partial to whimsy – in the land of ‘feels’ it is a superstar! One of the great wonders.

Here’s a little story of whimsy.

Last week during a chat with a dear friend. A friend who is not afraid of whimsy asked me if I had seen any signs of Autumn. Actually she would have asked me if I’d seen signs of Lammas, the pagan term, because she embraces the rituals associated with seasons. I learn a lot from her. The older I get the more I think the people who connect with nature are the smartest – I gravitate to them.

We should definitely ensure that we seek people in our lives who are not afraid of the power of the universe – the mother. In doing we are reminded to stay curious and to notice … and then we get fierce and protective of said mother – but that’s a whole other story.

Ooops … back to current story!

At that time I thought I hadn’t. We were still in full blown summer. The forest still brilliantly verdant (said friend also taught me that word). The trees coated with their thick coats of luscious green leaves, the wind has not yet cooled and the days are long.

The next day when walking my daily walk and I noticed acorns. Acorns? Could they be a sign of Lammas?  The very first?

I collected a few acorns and returned home. I probably skipped with joy a little. This is probably when whimsy entered the story? Yes, I think it definitely was.

At home a day or so later I googled ‘acorns symbolism’, ‘are acorns a sign of Autumn’? That sort of thing – you know the quest for knowledge type rabbit hole.

And I found a few nuggets:

‘One little acorn, with time, can also be the start of a whole forest of mighty oak trees. Acorns are also considered to be a lucky symbol, representing prosperity, youthfulness, power and spiritual growth.’ I found it here.

And the gold …..

‘Long before acorns were considered good luck, they were associated with magic between two witches. When passing each other in the woods, witches would hand each other acorns to let one another know who they were and that they were safe in one another’s company.

As a good luck symbol, acorns are said to protect one’s health. Carrying an acorn is believed to protect from illnesses, aches, and other pains. If you’re already ill, it is said to speed up the healing process and alleviate any pain.’ I found this here.

Gold because if acorns were associated with witches then I was probably meant to dance with this whimsy a little more. There are too many women in my life talking about witches for me to ignore it! So many.

The next day when I was walking in the woods I collected a pocket full. Ever wondered about the word abundance? How to see it, feel it? I think when you follow whimsy you  may just find the abundance ‘feel’ too.

Yesterday I decided I’d make something with them. I have been wanting to get my sewing machine out and was waiting for a purpose.

Perhaps I could make some little bags and gift some acorns to friends. The ones who I knew would ‘get’ such a gift. I had some beautiful wool I’d bought from an artisan that I could use to make the draw string. Hmmm but the material? To dance with whimsy in this story was to wait not buy. And this is where magic enters the story.

As I unpacked another box in my house (we’ve recently moved) I found a bag that had came with some sheets I’d bought a few years back. These bags are better than plastic for sure but they need to be re-purposed because who puts clean sheets away in a bag?!? Finally a use for the bag. Boom! I could cut it up to make my little gift bags.

And today I did!

I also added a little note and a tea bag. Perhaps the recipient could drink a tea and dream a little whimsy of their own.

There is so much I loved about dancing with whimsy. It is such a beautiful dance partner. You see whimsy is a brilliant ‘feel’ to work/play with – it grows and grows. So easily too once you start cultivating the story and let the magic carry you.

Oh and here’s another layer and perhaps one of my favourites. When I was searching for the sources of the information I’d read I didn’t know the reason acorns were associated between witches. Now I do!

So if I give you one of these bags – you are safe with me friend.

Fran x

Ps If you’re wondering how this contributes to taking responsibility for my life? I am being vulnerable – sharing a story and to special friends (and my daughter) also a gift that’s created with my weirdness, one where I embrace my own version of whimsy. I’m a little free’er as a result. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m a nutter! Maybe, someone else will embrace their wonderfully weird whimsy and in doing so they too will feel the joy and be unafraid to become warriors for the mother. Unafraid of being under the spell of her magic. She, the keeper of whimsy!

Pps Don’t for a minute think this story is over. Whimsy and magic are a beautiful force for good when you let them fly out into the world.

Ppps For you Janet, have a dance with your love, the full moon is rising right? In lieu of a bag of acorns because I can’t send it through customs :)!