Tag Archives: Family Travel

‘Is this an I love you platter mum’? Why yes! These flavours, this freshness and this story of Italy, it sure is.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 1/28

Today’s recipe: Caprese Crackers.

Food! I spend most of my days thinking about it … and often after one meal I’m dreaming of the next one.  Somewhere along the camino I recall writing about food as one of the areas I wanted to focus on in my life when I returned home. What we eat, where it comes from, how it’s packaged. It is something I am passionate about but not something that comes easy and I haven’t had found my food ‘big picture’ rhythm since landing here in NL.  The basics of cooking don’t come naturally to me. If I wanted to make a quiche for instance I don’t know the differences in pastry: short crust, puff, filo it may as well be learning a new language. And today I read a recipe that talked about blind baking, great – is that for all types of pastry? My naturally food inclined husband who has been on dinner cooking duty this past 6 months is off hiking next week so here is my window. He is amazing at cooking and if you come to a dinner party it’ll be him that cooks but I need to be across my whole diet not just the dinners. Here is my opportunity, my today, my timing to start practicing the kind of  passion driven routine and simplicity I so dearly loved on the the camino … and vowed to step further into upon my return. Goodbye food funk hello travel inspired food.

When Jimmy (littlest pictured here swinging like a wild kid from a tree at Lake Como in Italy last year) asked me ‘if the caprese cracker plater I served up today after school was an I love you platter’ my heart did swell. Do we need to be an expert to be good at something? Do we need to know everything to try? Nope. Can we keep it simple? Yes. I made a platter of veggies  for my kids after school earlier in the week – nothing fancy. As they were munching away I said ‘do you love your I love you platter’? Honestly, I felt like I was saying I love you by having that ready for them as they walked in the door. Sometimes we just have to decide to jump into the adventures that are calling us don’t we? And doesn’t food create wonderful moments and memories? My relationship with food is not always a wonderful one, but this body that walked a camino – I want to love it more. Limitations can be elastic … we can stretch them wider (just like my Spanish) poko a poko*. The hard thing is usually the getting started bit. To find the way in. Once we are in, once we find that one baby step we can move forward. And with commitment momentum will soon built and follow.

In true camino style the way markers lead the way. I’ve been watching ‘Move to the Continent’. Mostly it follows retirees from the UK seeking to live a simpler life in a mediterranean country. And as they explore local villages, markets and the way people live something sparks in me. I don’t ever want to wait until retirement to live a dream life – I am going to live it now (within our constraints of course). I am a lover of travel and change but also I am a believer that contentment can only come from where you stand. Plus friends what is the point of travel without growth? Bucket-list ticking? No thanks. Do I need to live in Tuscany to live an Italian style life? Heck no! And not if you ask my Jimmy (6). I asked him last week what I should cook next week. He thought about it and said ‘remember that salad I used to love eating in Italy’? Why Jimmy ‘yes, I most certainly do’! And now I have an idea. I also have a bike, a local market, a fruit and veggie shop, a kitchen and a desire.

After School Snacks – Caprese Spelt Crackers

Ingredients:

  • Mozarella (organic) **
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Spelt crackers. (I haven’t managed to make a good cracker yet so I cheated by buying these organic ones.)

Method:

Chop it all, lay it out and get the kids to make their own! Zero food waste was left here, boom!

As timing would have it I am ready for an adventure and a challenge. The school I have been subbing at is on its summer break. My kids still have a month to go! And I have been feeling for a while that my energy isn’t where it should be as well as a craving for freshness and new tastes (also less bread and meat). As timing has it today is the summer solstice and I am ready to honour that by following the signs. Those arrows that point us in the direction we need to walk. Food photos are not my thing but hey I’m also surrendering (like thatAnnette honour and surrender in one paragraph :)) into that! This adventure feels right, it’s timely.

Just last week my friend Janet and I were chatting about how sometimes we throw some vulnerability out there and new people or the right moment arrives. A bit like when the student is ready in walks the teacher. I look for blogs that tell a story and honestly they are not always easy to find. I don’t know how Emiko Davies’s blog arrived in my realm but how it has inspired me. Italian treats and a love story with Florence – bellisimo.

Buen camino,

Fran xx

*Poko a poko means little by little. My favourite Spanish saying. Thanks April ;)

** I am convinced organic is the best option. It feels like a no brainer but I can’t always use it. It’s expensive and time consuming to source. Often it comes with more plastic. I do my best and I pick and choose. If I’m baking I try to use organic flours etc. Surely, from scratch is still better than processed even if produce is not organic. It’s ok to work within our own personal constraints there’s no perfect just our conscious best.

On the cusp of an adventure – a new painting ready to paint with its unknown hues and shades.

My camino is drawing near. It’s our greatest guarantee isn’t it – that time will tick, our lives will unfold and our dreams arrive.

I always like to have a little something brewing on the side in my life. That is how I keep my soul safe, you never know when you will need that protection. The little projects tend lead on to another little project (and the finest people) … some I finish (minimised our life) some I surrender (remember that book). But they always propel me forward, changing and expanding me for the better.

This camino has been the perfect anchor for me these past months and it comes at the perfect time. It comes at a time that I need to (am ready to) spend some time rebuilding (the beauty of spring). It has been a MASSIVE few years. Downsizing our possessions and needs, long term travel, moving continents, all the kids at school, time to think about resurrecting my career (tough one), my husband has started his own business … yeah massive!

When I started this project it was driven by my need to commit to doing something good in the world, something adventurous,  something bigger than what I had attempted before. Something beyond my front door. I could have attempted to make it bigger but I chose to keep it close, within my grasp. That gave me the freedom to not only adjust, but also to control the pace, the ability to step in and out. This in turn has given me the freedom to be present in this camino (journey) towards the camino. It is about knowing your capacity.

Capacity – I encourage you to read this article here a brilliant read. Annette gently invites us to question our ‘actual’ personal capacity. It has been one of my favourite blog posts I’ve ever read.

Presence has meant that I know exactly what I need going into this trek and it has also shown me where I need to spend time beyond this adventure. These next weeks as I put one foot in front of the other I will be rebuilding some of trust and confidence in myself and my spirit that I’ve lost in this settling in phase of our overseas adventure. I’ll be thinking about some of the habits I need to improve when I return. I already know I need to get my kitchen in order … I killed a sour dough starter this year. That is not kosher!

I’ll be letting it evolve without plans. There are no bookings (except the train to get there and the first night’s accommodation).  Distance and pace will be decided as my day and mood dictates. Walking, travelling light, eating local, taking the time to listen to pilgrim stories … slow travel.

Our recent mini trip to London over Easter had many of those moments that remind me of the sweetness of slow travel. The daffodils signalling the arrival of spring and sunshine, the realisation that while my daughter still wants to hold my hand (and equally give me eye rolls) I need to hold it tight, the conversations with my teenage son over our favourite topic, European history, the friendships my children cultivate with each other because we spend so much time as a family. There was a shift. It reminded me that I am home. Home is here wherever we live, together. It was good to feel that again.

Simple things the day brings when you’re not in a hurry and you’re not being dictated to by a schedule or when you allow yourself to be  present enough to notice and feel it all. Yes, crafting space and letting go of what is not within our control is a far kinder way to live.

I have some ideas about how I might document this trip when I return but first I must take my camino. I need to find my own way on the road to Santiago de Compostella. I will share my journey briefly here and on IG as I hike (of course I’ll be taking you, you’ve all come this far).  It’s exciting to (again) be on the cusp of an adventure – a new painting ready to paint with its unknown hues and shades.

‘When you feel it take your breath away

Just keep walking towards it anyway

Because life is a leap of faith’

~Sia lyrics from Leap of Faith

My favourite musical song ever! You need to flip to 1 min 30 sec to get to the start. It’s a beautiful song penned by Sia and one I’ve played a lot these past weeks.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/tvshowbiz/video-1094668/The-cast-Strictly-Ballroom-perform-Today-studio.html

Ahh you were waiting for my poem of the week weren’t you ;) I wrote this on the train early one  morning this week.

Grace

Grasp it with all your might
Witness all that’s in your sight

There’s kindness to be found
When eyes are free to roam around

Notice the flowers in bud and bloom
Immerse in the cozy of a room

Allow your gaze to meet
Feel moved by strangers on the street

Give time for kind words shared
For there is courage in friendliness dared

Be unrestricted in the things
That give you a life that sings

~Frances Antonia

We have educated 12 Girls through One Girl Australia! If you’d like to contribute you can do so here. Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress!

Stories from the backroads. My most uplifting and memorable travel and life moments are the people I meet there. Meet 3 of them.

‘The everyday kindness of the backroads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.’ ~ Charles Kurait

One of the great joys of hiking and travel for me, actually, let’s make that LIFE is the everyday kindness of the backroads. Have you ever been on a hiking trail where someone hasn’t smiled at you? Had a day in your life where you haven’t experienced the warmth of a gentle act of kindness? Struck up a conversation with someone you don’t know at a bus stop, the market, while wandering a new city, marvelling at a piece of art work or been inspired by online and walked away feeling 10 feet taller because it was a joyful moment? I’m open to those everyday life and travel moments. They are my most memorable and story worthy. They steer my life and they give me the armour I need for those times when I encounter a less desirable interaction, or, a confusing day or week.

Speaking of memorable stories here is the newest blog I am devouring. Ger’s camino Blog – Camino De Santiago. It’s a beautifully written blog with stories of Ger’s walk along The Camino Frances. She writes reflectively some years after she arrived at Santiago de Compostela as a way to make sense of her camino experience. Her writing weaves in the characters she met along the way, her experience of the trail and how that experience still impacts her thoughts. I particularly adore her stories of how she applies her lessons from the Camino to daily life.

Three kind characters from the backroads:

Meet Jon from Newcastle. Jon is on his way up to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko and he’s 88 years young. He told us he hikes this trail every year and he’s never sure when it will be the last one. His  balance isn’t as good at it used to be so he hikes with poles. We were on the way down and he was keen to ask us about the track we had taken. We had hiked up via the magnificently scenic Main Ridge Track from Charlotte Pass. He knew that track backwards even though it had been some years since he had been able to hike that trail. I walked away from this chat with a renewed appreciation of a few things.

The importance of:

  • Right now.
  • Right where I am.
  • What I can do.
  • What I am still capable of.

He was a great character to spend some time with and gorgeously as he began his assent again, the sun began to shine over the valley. I can’t help but think this was the universe rewarding this kind soul of the backroads for his dedication to kindness and his great love of the trail.

Meet Claudius (with his red backpack) from Germany. He is also in the first feature shot of this post. Can you spot him in that first shot down near the lake (Las Siete Lagunas)?  It’s a great Human v Mountain perspective. Claudius was on the summit trail to Mt. Mulhacén the same day I was. We met a few times talked a bit of life and encouraged each other along the way. As luck would have it he was staying in the same camp ground so we had the chance to debrief the next day (as we limped around).

We met many German couples travelling with a baby or toddlers. They were utilising the parental leave that both partners are entitled to and campervanning around Europe. These young German families were consistently the only other families travelling with kids that we would come across (until the summer holidays of course). Another interesting story about Germany is that some companies have legislated that managers are not allowed to email or call their staff after hours or on weekends – wouldn’t that change our lives in Australia.

On the trail I asked Claudius for his email and I emailed him the photos I had taken. He responded the next day by sending me a link to a musical he had written on You Tube as a thank you. This is the unexpected kindness that brightens my day, warms me up and builds the good, strong armour. It’s not even hard.

Putting yourself out there and choosing to give kindness is always the starting point…then you’re open to noticing. Notice and the floodgate will open.

Meet Wan from America. Wan together with her husband Steve they spend their years between their camper in Europe, their camper in Alaska, and their camper in Arizona. They no longer have a house. Wan wanted a photo with with my lot because she hoped to convince her ‘busy’ daughter to take some time out with her family in this way. If my mum had a camper waiting in Europe…I’d be hitting the road!!!

The night before we had noticed Wan cooking on her outdoor gas stove and we spent some time chatting with them about free camping. This was the first night we parked up in a beach carpark (or parcark as the littlest calls it) and it was the perfect morning as we woke to the sounds of the ocean. It was a time on the trip where I took deep breaths, smiled and thought:

This is it.

This is why we are doing what we’re doing.

This is what we’d dreamed about.

The kids surfed all day.

I surfed!

I walked out of the surf arm in arm with my daughter.

We cooked and ate right there where we walked in from the beach.

We slept right there where we ate.

We met interesting people.

The kids feet were bare.

We woke to the sounds of the ocean.

There was no plan.

It felt deliciously like freedom.

Wan had no concept of not camping in this way when there was an opportunity to wild camp.  I liked that about her, pint sized but unyielding in her desire to live like she means it. We met up with Wan and Steve again in Lisbon where they shared their in depth knowledge of Portugal, places to see, places to camp and the importance of trying the Pastéis de nata (Portugese egg tart) from Belém. Wan reminisced with sadness about last time they stayed in a beautiful park up in Belém that was now home to plastic sculptures. She didn’t understand the desire to chop down trees and built with plastic. I don’t either.

Everyday life? I have a friend who recently sent me some of her beautiful artwork, it reminds me everyday of the beauty of a creative life. A whole post is coming to share that one. Another friend has been charging a crystal specially selected for me to take on the Camino. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a beautiful message from someone. My kids give the most generous hugs. Yesterday and today the snow turned my life into a fairytale.

All of the people who enter my life and leave a meaningful mark enter through a window of kindness. Do I mold my world to ensure this happens? Sure I do. I stick to the backroads. I’m done with the main road. I want to choose who I let in close, what I listen to, what I do with my free time, what I believe in and what I stand for. Better that than allow the the acts of greed and noise in the headlines or on the main road to manipulate my every day life.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.


Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:>

                  

Why write a blog? My one very good reason and my personal story written under Joshua Becker’s 15 reasons.

You will grow is my one good reason to write a blog (or just write). It’s not always easy and the self you grow may look entirely different to the one you imagined, but deep down I think you’ll find familiarity, you’ll find yourself.

Let me share with you a little of my personal blogging story. I started writing a book a few months ago and here is an excerpt from page one:

‘On that morning in Sydney [September, 2014] inspired by Janice Macleod’s memoir, Paris Letters in my first published blog post I would write about how I was feeling:

         ‘Something needs to change. I’m not living. I’m not enjoying life the way I should be. I’m not enjoying my kids the way I should be. I often feel overwhelmed as equally as I feel sad. Moving has never landed me in this position. I love moving. I know this is my life, I pushed for us to move here, I chose this path. I feel alone and I’m unsure of where I fit in. I can’t find my way in this city, this life is not me. We’re working really hard and there’s no time to breathe. I think one of my kids is anxious. I have no daydreams and it’s so loud here…maybe if we could take that sabbatical in France we’d always dreamed of? It seems so beyond our reach, we hardly even have the time to talk, let alone plan and finance such big adventure. Maybe this heartache is here for me to build a better version of myself. In her memoir Paris letters, Janice Macleod through simplifying her life did just that and along the way she found freedom’

I start to dream. I open a door to change and I start moving forward.

3 years later

On this particular morning [August, 2017] in The Netherlands, after 5 months of campervanning in Europe and inspired by Julia Immonen’s memoir, Row For Freedom in an email to One Girl Charity, I would write:

‘As you may recall we took off travelling at the end of last year following Zoë’s One Girl fundraiser. It has been an incredible year and now that we are stationary the first thing that seems important to both of us is ‘what can we do that matters? We live lightly, it gives us the freedom to explore life. It was this freedom that enabled me to stand behind Zoë and organise her fundraiser. It actually gave me a lot of confidence in my transferrable skills (I had forgotten I had them) and I felt empowered to ask for help because I believed in the cause. Changing girls lives matters, it’s bigger than feeling shy and I can’t do apathy (not anymore). I’m adventurer and I want to hike the Camino. I could use my  privilege and change my job title to ‘shit giver’ because you see I really do give a shit. A whole lot of shits actually. I know your applications for ambassadors closed while we were travelling, I wasn’t sure how to help then. I am now. I wonder if you would consider Zoë and I applying late if they haven’t all been filled? I won’t shy away from creating something so I can promise you this: A commitment with BIG love.’

I continue to dream. I knocked on a door and I start moving forward.’

When I wrote that first blog post I never imagined we would actually take that sabbatical. I never imagined I’d be creating a website and writing story based around an 800km trek for charity. If you had told me that I would have written the first 12,000 words of a *book I would have thought you were CRAAAY-ZEEE, absolutely out of your mind fecking CRAZY ‘I’m not a writer’ I’d have whispered nervously and genuinely embarrassed.

Yet, not only did we campervan our way around Europe, we lived in Ireland for three months and now we’re planted in The Netherlands. I learnt to grow food along the bloggy way, hiked more, made jam, made all sorts of stuff and reconnected with my farming ancestry and love of the outdoors. I started taking photos and writing words that connected me with a tribe of inspiring people from all walks of life. People I never knew I needed.

I would have been ok too though if we hadn’t been able to travel because I’d found myself again. I found a way to live that was aligned with what mattered to me.

I found my way home. Home to me – the woman who will always choose to see life each day as an adventure, the outdoor mum, the wife with the big dreams, the hiker, the minimalist, the storyteller, the dot joiner, the curious wanderer, the traveler, the follower of kindness, the confidently shy introvert and I also come home to my soul – I’d again feel like the creative, contented, optimistic daydreamer that I am.

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist (one of the first blogs I devoured) wrote a post containing the 15 reasons why he thinks you should blog. I’ve referred to this post from time to time when I’ve had ‘the blogger doubts’ – it’s a thing. You can read it here.  Following are Joshua’s 15 reasons with my own thoughts on what blogging did for me:

  1. You’ll become a better writer:

I absolutely cringe when I read the first posts I published! Oh my gosh the spelling and the grammer (still my weak spot but I care less about perfection more about practicing).  They were wordy, raw and ALL over the place. I’m still wordy, but without a doubt I’m a better writer, more succinct.

2. You’ll become a better thinker:

I tend to follow my heart and my feelings (I think my gut’s strong). Writing about myself and my life has forced me to question ‘why’ I do things. The reflection has helped me clarify my actions and thoughts as well encouraging me to read other people’s ideas and philosophies. I’ve questioned my opinions, developed new ones and most significantly I’ve become confident in my own opinions and differences.

3. You’ll live a more intentional life:

I remember reading once that if you want to blog well you need to be out there living. Truth. My personal blogging story has been a journey of hand making my life. I started by embracing the principles of minimalism and slow living followed by creativity and adventure. If you’re out there journeying in your life, questioning your beliefs,  where they came from, the things that are important to you,  living in each day, noticing that each day is an adventure you can’t help but become more intentional.

4. You’ll develop and eye for more meaningful things:

When you start noticing you start seeing and feeling more. The word abundance is one of my favourites. For me blogging was a journey of knowing I have ‘enough’ and every day I question enough. Not only with ‘possessions’ but where my thoughts go and who I’m giving my time and myself to.  When we start to see life for everything that is meaningful, contentment generally follows (even on the tough days).

5. It’ll lead to healthier life habits:

Once I started blogging and questioning myself I found myself doing less of the things that bored and overwhelmed me and more of the things that fulfilled me. I hike more, eat more real food, shop more consciously, I’m often on the couch with with a kid close by (rather than attending to lists or even writing them in the first place), I spend more time reading, singing aloud to music and pondering – my daydreams are ALIVE. Now I am in the midst of writing a new story, one that connects all the dots that this bogging journey has taken me on. I am the same me, just a better version – I rebuilt myself. There’s still stuff I want to be better at but I’m a work in process, one big change at a time.

6. You’ll meet new people:

This has been the most wonderful part of discovering the blogging world and stepping publicly into the world. I like to think I’ve taken my time, found my own style and kept it at my own pace and this in turn has led me to the most incredible tribe of people. Each and every one of them has arrived when I needed them to, bringing their own unique something special to my life. It’s a way to build the community you need.

7. You’ll make some money:

This is true for some. I have chosen not to look for opportunities to make money. I am driven by the journey. I think when we start blogging with honestly and good intention the money will come (if that’s your purpose). I’m fortunate that my husband has an income that we can live on and I don’t take that for granted. We live lightly (without a car), we rarely shop for things other than food, only stuff that relates to our priorities (namely adventure and travel), we try to waste less, keep our day to day costs down (turning off lights, realistic kids activities etc.) and we travel cheaply. This makes living on a single income easier for us.

8. You’ll inspire others:

I am inspired daily by others and I have been on the receiving end of some beautiful messages from people who have been inspired by my journey. Last January when we were collecting rubbish I received so many photos from other mums with their kids taking their three for the sea. Just yesterday I received a message from a hiker across the globe who said that finding my words made her feel less lonely, that maybe there were others who were questioning the world’s preoccupation with more stuff, more noise and more stress.

9. You’ll become more rounded in your mindset:

Sometimes I’ve been on a wrong path and when blogging hasn’t feel good or it’s been overwhelming I’ve seen it as a sign to back up, reflect and adjust.  I’m sure most bloggers (or users of social media) can relate to that. That has related to my life too. I have developed a better ability to back up and then I often take a huge leap forward after.

10. It’s free:

Yes it is! All it takes is some time to write. Writing is also free. If sharing online is too much,  writing a journal can be just as valuable. Writing, especially ‘stream of consciousness’ writing is so powerful. It helps to uncover what you feel and think. Once you write it, you’ve verbalised it to yourself…then it enters your daily life – it can be pondered and dealt with (slowly and naturally).

11. You’ll become more comfortable being known:

This was hard for me. I am shy and an introvert. Yet, I feel compelled to start having a voice. Three blogs later and I feel that I have found a voice that suits my need to talk but not too loudly as well as enabling my desire to keep my life relatively quiet. I can’t ignore the things I am passionate about and I want to share the stories and people who do good and those who have impacted my life. I’ll never write a super blog or have a large social media presence (one ap. is enough for me) and that’s ok. I don’t want that. I can’t chase, it’s enough for me to connect along the way with people who want to hear my voice. Slow and steady, genuine and organic is the best fit for me.

12. It’ll serve as a personal journey:

Here I am about to trek the Camino Frances in 2018, all 769kms of it. Not only am I doing it for me but I’m doing it for a truckload of people and causes that matter to me. The girls that One Girl supports, the farmers in Tasmania who farm the Merino sheep whose wool I’ll be wearing on the trek and also for those who harbour the desire to adventure. People and causes have always been important to me but my blogging journey has connected me to a way that I can stand up for them. ‘Adventure for Change’ is what Amy & Kez at Travel Play Live call it.

13. You’ll become more confident:

I’ve learnt that often I’m wrong (there’s so much I don’t know), sometimes I’m scared (mostly of judgement and putting myself out there) and there is always a different way to approach something (different choices). That translates into me being about to change, learn form others, step into discomfort and to be creative – basically a more confident version of me. It’s been a journey of mistakes and practice. I have a sturdy nature but I’ve needed to learn to develop the confidence and right path for me to stand up in a bigger world.

14. You’ll find a platform to recommend:

Blogging for me has always been about discovering, sharing, creating and connecting. It started as a The Simplicity Journey, then Gentle Intention and now Slower Family Travels. I like to think my platform is simply to share what works in my life and to encourage a connection to ourselves, people, the environment and the choices we make. And to always to move forward (whilst recognising but not holding to tightly to our past, where we’ve come from and we’ve been).

15. It’s quite a rush with every positive comment:

Sure, of course having readers is the ultimate and when you start that’s the focus…but slowly for me it has become more about the story and the writing. Creating a life, questioning that life and documenting is ‘why’ I write. Readers and comments are amazing don’t get me wrong and when your writing starts to engage genuine readers who connect with your story it’s an incredibly warm buzz, but, the journey blogging (writing) takes you on – that’s the real magic ✨.

* My book is kind of on hold. I’m taking my time. I still have some living to do. I want to live this Camino story out first. In the meantime I’m documenting and practicing here and on IG.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.


Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:>

                  

There will always be another trip. The essence of slow living and slow travel is the same – stopping to notice and taking the time to feel.

One winter’s morning a few years ago I was standing on Oxford Street in Sydney waiting for a bus to Bondi. I noticed my friend who was catching the bus with me checking the time against the schedule, pacing, looking and wondering where the bus was.

Me, I was breathing and thinking ‘the bus will come when it comes, slow down mum (the friend was my lovely hikey mum).’ It stuck me in that moment that the essence of slow living is simply to stop long enough to notice.  We weren’t in a hurry, we were on our way to do the coastal walk, there was time. Even if we were late, could we make the bus come faster? I wonder if she remembers that moment, she often walks without looking my mum, I used to be a bit the same.

How much of our lives do we miss because we forget to notice, forget to be present, or worry about where we need to be next? Of course it’s not easy to be present in every moment of our lives but with practice it’s a handy tool and in time it can become second nature (nice default – mindfulness). It’s one that’s especially handy in the moments when we don’t have control of a situation. Those ones that are often the most stressful.

It was a late, hot afternoon and we were parked at a service station in the concrete jungle outskirts of Madrid. The kids were topless as they sweltered in the back of the van. We were 70kms from the caravan park we had chosen.

A red light had appeared on the dashboard and my not so car savvy husband thought is was an oil signal. At the service station he topped up the engine with a litre of oil. I sat in the passenger seat of the Travelodge (AKA our camper) who was now refusing to start, he was choking on an oil overload. Um…feck (👈🏼 nifty fecking Irish ☘️ swear word, doesn’t feel too sweary). I listened to the key turn over and I looked over into a vacant lot where I noticed, not one, but two rabbits.

A situation with all elements that would normally lead to frustration, arguing and blame, but it didn’t. I think it was because I could notice the rabbits. What could we do? We sat, waited and pondered. We called the camper owners and waited some more. Eventually the engine recovered and we were able to get on the road. It was slow going as the engine struggled to breathe so with our fingers crossed we drove towards our chosen campground.

Wouldn’t you know it…the supermarket wasn’t open and the pool was still closed (of course – some days are like that). ** Camper travel tip – be mindful about pools in Mediterranean countries, they’re not open year round! After a late night phone call to my brother who does know about cars, we soon discovered that we were not going to be able to drain the oil ourselves.

Lucky the bar was open and we could drink a cold beer while the kids sweltered in a fairly gross plastic ball pit that had seen better days. This was not going to be a camp ground worth noting.

The next day my not so car savvy but good at problem solving husband rolled the car down to a service station where they drained the oil for a 6 pack. The Travelodge had a little more grunt but still something needed fixing. Thankfully, we were in Madrid which meant there was a FIAT garage. A quick polish of the rusted spark plugs and bob’s your uncle! The Travelodge was ready to roll again.

Did we visit Madrid? Nope. It was a bus and metro ride from the campsite. We were done. Too hot. Little things that said move on. We can’t do it all and when we try to – the mindfulness, the noticing, the presence gets a little harder.

At 5 weeks into our time on the road Madrid turned into a stopover. A time to check in with how we were travelling? How much we were noticing? It was a time to stop and re-evaluate what was important, to pack away the puffer jackets, read a book, maintain the van and to realise that we we don’t need to push too hard.

Slow living, noticing the moment has also taught me how to take the time to trust and feel what’s going on. It’s the natural next step and  it makes adjusting easier when the fit is wrong. Slow travel is about knowing we can always come back. Or, maybe we won’t – but on this day the timing wasn’t right and pushing wouldn’t have been the answer (is it ever?). We packed up and headed off for the familiar comforts of something wilder where we swam across a lake together.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort. Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors: