Tag Archives: Inspired by travel

This is the Greatest show. My life. My book.

Hola Amigos,

‘It seems to me that January resolutions are about will; September resolutions are about authentic wants. What do you want more or less in your life … it could be as simple as seeing friends more often, setting aside time to have adventures with your children while they still want your companionship … calling a solitary hour a day you own … September resolutions ask only that we be open to positive change …’ Sarah Ban Breathnach.

My friend Louise posted this quote last week and it’s had me pondering. I wonder if it is something many of us have been feeling? I can certainly relate. I been swimming in the wilderness of knowing things are moving, changing … I just had to find which paths I want to walk along. September is the new school year. It’s the refreshing  beginning after the long Summer break. I see it also in my friends in the southern hemisphere, this reaching, yearning to begin. Perhaps it’s the spring bringing the desire to you lot.

Today I literally felt myself break free from the September cocoon. I was out running and all of a sudden I picked up speed, I sang louder, I ran into friends along the trail (we shared some exciting news – friends along your path in the woods … significant of course). And, as I sprinted past the crossroads in the above shot I knew I’d stepped through something magical. I’m ready to come in from the wild. A decision we have been allowing to resolve itself did so this week and I can see the road ahead. Perhaps this is what transformation feels like. Clarity. Comfort in the unknown. Trust. Patience. Strength. Promise.

‘ … Where the runaways are running the night 

Impossible comes true, it’s taking over you

Oh, this is the greatest show

We light it up, we won’t come down

And the walls can’t stop us now

I’m watching it come true, it’s taking over you

Oh, this is the greatest show

‘Cause everything you want is right in front of you
And you see the impossible is coming true

 

And the walls can’t stop us (now) now, yeah

 

This is the greatest show (oh!)’

 

~ Lyrics from The Greatest Show – The Greatest Showman.

Authentic wants? Yes Louise I have a few. I’ve been toggling with the desire to want to plant roots. Deep down we both knew we wanted to stay here and yet we were struggling with the feeling that we’d  given up security. It’s more than simply unpacking when you land in a new country. Especially when you make the move of your own accord for an adventure and the idea that maybe there’s something different for your family. Has it been an adventure? Yes you know it has. Is it a better fit? I honestly have to say yes. I absolutely adore the life my kids have, each of them thriving. That is not to say they wouldn’t thrive back in Aussie, of course they would. But there is a lot about the lifestyle here that is in sync with our parenting styles and values. It is in sync with us … we feel the European life.

These past weeks amongst the reflection there have been more walks with friends (some new arrivals), some deep conversations, some just plain funny ones, coffee there’s been a lot (maybe too much), there have been people popping in and out on their bikes to drop off and pick up kids, a beautiful nine year old’s birthday party, a visit from my hero my mum, kids playing football, there have been job applications, shopping at the market, growing of micro greens, yoga, endorphins, there’s a starter growing on my bench and some dreaming of what might be possible. And there’s been a lot of listening to the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman! Some people listen to podcasts, me – ALWAYS and pretty much only music.

My greatest authentic want for September was to surrender into the uncertainty of what we (I) should do or be. Stay and build a life, write a book, disappear from this space or consider if the adventure here is up. Deep down we knew what we wanted to do … we just had to find a way to trust that we’d be ok and take steps towards that path. And perhaps we had to let go of what we ‘perceived’ would provide more security. I’m not going to lie it’s difficult to step in the path of surrendering, you have to look as what scares you, challenge your perspectives and  get a whole lot real with yourself. I mean SHIT who loves looking in the mirror? Who loves making big decisions. Who loves doubting themselves and digging into where that comes from? Gross. Of course some shifts come easier than others but the ones that require us to let go, they are hard … even when we’re barely holding on to them … the final flick is tough. And the sitting out what you can only solve with time and patience – also bloody tough.

Along this run while marching to the beat of my drum I knew today that this is it – The Greatest Show. My life. It’s also my book. I don’t need to be anymore than what I am and what the path offers me – it’s all here, I just need continue to grow with it, notice and wait. Timing, it always arrives. I don’t even need to write a book because look at my life – I am living a book. Maybe that’s me finding an excuse or maybe it’s me realising it’s not time. My dreams haven’t changed. They’ve always been to stay in a chapter as long as it’s where I need to be. To take what matters forward and to know what to shed. We need to be here for our kids and also for us. With budding teenagers the feeling that stability matters more is strong. And I feel more at home with each of the layers I continue to be able add to my life here. I mean look at that I can run amongst farms, next best thing to having a farm!

I’m not that different to the woman, mother, wife and friend who left Sydney. And those of you who know that and share that continue to remain such a meaningful constant in my sphere, I love you for getting my ‘weirdness’ and need to ‘feel’. We have to keep saying that to each other that we feel different in our world (when we do). I have had this conversation with four women this week.  It is OK not to feel that we do or even to want to fit in and share it with each other. I yearn to continue to live a life that is created with simplicity and of course always with a hint of wild adventure.

Naturally to honour a transformation we must shed. Along the way I’ve collected some layers that cause me some angst, those have to go. I know what they are. They became clear when I emerged from the cocoon,  if I’m honest they’ve been circling in the past weeks. I need to peel away a few ideas and habits I hold onto about ‘what I may be, could have been or need’. I’m tired of doubt. Doing that now. Action after reflection. Boom.

Oh and I had this idea (testing the waters here) … you know when I decided to hike the camino for One Girl how I had the idea and without further thought I ran with it. I jumped. Sheesh had it not have been for One Girl I may not have gone ahead with it. Thankfully One Girl was an anchor that was bigger than my fears. My hike did so much for the girls in Africa and so much for me. I want to make sure those 28 girls go to school again next year. Today I ran with vigour (that may not last I’m in my 40’s ;) but I loved it. I need to sweat out some toxins. I realised on my last camino, walking hard in the heat.  And so it became to me as another runner passed by … next year I’ll run a 1/2 marathon a month in different cities around Europe. YES I’ll do that AND I’ll do all of them in a dress. I can manage that around my family and life. My little ones can cycle while I train and run. Win win. I won’t need anything either. I have what I need and I’ll simply build on my foundations from last year (taking what I learnt forward).

This butterfly is ready to fly, and sage the house (watch this space for some magic that landed in my letterbox from Bendigo) hello October.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

‘I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A (wo)man learns who is there for her
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
One remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
Is more I gain
‘Cause it led me back
To you …
 And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!’

~ Lyrics from Comeback home – The Greatest Showman

Camino Day 1 – Writing from Alto da Pena.

Hola Amigos!

If you’re here to find the link to donate that’s here Do it in a dress – Camino Finisterre.

Oh my what a start!

I am so glad many of you are back again reading along and joining me on this adventure to continue where I left off. So today … today I was thinking about how exciting beginnings are and the anticipation of great things happening. And then I thought as I climbed a hill and my heart was beating and my head was sweaty (you know that hair clumpy, humid, sticky feeling, can I smell myself crap I’ll defo have to shower don’t stand near me kind of sweat) this IS greatness. GREATNESS is living. And all of this is enough, where I am, what I’m doing, the people in my life. I have enough. So everything else – is all a bonus. And the second thought I had was that SO much time gets wasted because we are looking for something … that most of us already have and we have it IN abundance. Freedom. Freedom to choose trust over fear. JOMO over FOMO.

Sure BIG cool things happen like getting accepted into a Masters, yep that happened yesterday (still not sure if I’m going to do it). And getting some of the kindest messages from people who read your stuff – really read, read because they love what you write, they get you, yep that also happened. And then there’s your daughter biking to the station with you and telling you she’s proud that you’re wearing a school dress and isn’t embarrassed of you because she thinks you’re doing ‘cool stuff’. And the big fear you had of being noticed in a dress is actually more liberating than awkward! Yes friends the heart beating, the sweat, the kindness, the love and the liberation of doing my own thing, my own way that is GREATNESS. And it’s freedom – freedom from fear.

Right I guess you want to hear about the camino. Oh wow – I love it. You probably all know by now that my mate Frank the Tank missed his flight yesterday. That was a complete bummer because you know how much we enjoyed walking the camino with those Texan Crackers! But it happened so it has became a solo adventure and I’m ok with that challenge. I’m good with hiking alone and now I won’t be able to rely on having a friend to hide behind. I’ll have to be there … at night with all the people at the pilgrim meal. Plus I’ll convince him to do a hard one like TMB with me!

I spent the first night in Santiago. I’m not gonna lie I was a little out of place. Generally, people here have just finished their camino they’re in a different space to a new arrival. I stayed at an old monastery I had pre booked for €17 a night and it was kind of spooky and lacking in that feeling of ‘connected’ walkers. I had a single room and wondered if I should have booked the dorm. Dinner was a few bits from the supermarket. I ate as I people watched in the canteen. I can happily report I did sleep!

I needed to find a map last night as I wasn’t sure how to get myself on the camino today. After a nice sleep in (8.30am) I set off to begin my first leg of this hike the Camino Finisterre. I managed to find the trail and enjoyed walking the first 12kms to cafe for my morning coffee. This was a favourite camino habit from last time. I must take it on board at home. Rather than a coffee when I wake – move first! The Galician countryside is like walking through a ‘move to rural Spain’ travel memoir. I could see all the characters come to life as I walked.

I had spent a bit of time wondering how far to walk … how will I know when to stop? How do I fit in 240kms in six days? I decided I’d just walk … walk until I was ready to stop. And what do you know it worked … I actually felt the need for lunch. So I stopped. I ended up in a bar with old men and the only thing on offer a bacon sandwich but hey I’m not gonna go chasing … I’m going to roll! And it was all I needed. The half I couldn’t eat was wrapped as a take away and after a 1/2 hour rest of the feet I was ready to walk on towards the unknown.

Last night I felt like a stranger rolling up in town whereas today I was among fellow pilgrims and hikers on the camino. I walked solo. There were people on the trails but not so many. I enjoyed being in my own company and giving time to the how and what this camino is for me. I had a brief chat with Skye from Canada. I wasn’t sure where I’d stop … and at the 28km mark (same as last time) I felt ready. So when I reached A Pena I decided to take a bed at the first albergue. I’m in a dorm of four (€12) and I sat at the pilgrim meal (€9 three courses) amongst Italians, French and of course a friendly German.

I feel a sense of home here on the camino. I think most people who have walked it do. Many return. All are changed. I’m glad I’m back for whatever greatness unfolds especially hearing the trees who in the Galician winds with their huge bendy boughs talk. Truth.

Buen camino dear friends,

Fran xx

And We Are Away – Camino Mark 2.0

Hola Amigos!

AND just like that Camino 2.0 has crept up.

AND I cannot wait. Ok I can because I’m in post holiday nesting mode … but it’s happening regardless so best I get my shell out, pack the day pack and find my flow.

Tomorrow I will fly into Santiago de Compostela to hike a round trip of 240kms with a friend from camino 1.0  – Frank the tank.

Santiago – Finisterre – Muxia – Santiago.

I’ve booked my first night at an old seminary in Santiago. I’m super excited about travelling to the end of the world by foot while raising awareness for One Girl Australia and challenging myself to grow into some of the scary things that make me nervous.

Ahhh the bliss of long days on the trail … the endless horizons, fellow hiker stories, smiles and laughter, the kindness, the purpose, the joy of simply walking – freedom.

If you want to help spread the word about One Girl please feel free by sharing this story with friends and posting it on your socials! It worked a treat last time. Heck, maybe even approach the big boss at work if you think they are looking to #giveashit in the world and support an AWESOME cause.

Or here’s an idea … sign yourself up to #doitinadress. You’ll tick off a challenge as well as changing one girl’s world. Life changing stuff all round right there.

Standing for girl’s education. YEAH. Let’s DO this! My mum just took the hem up on my school dress and Zoë just hand wrote the details on the One Girl cards I’ll be carrying. My girls … where would I be without them.

See you all from the WAY. This last chapter to the end of the world Finisterre. Who will we meet this time? What will unfold as we step into this camino story? Where will it take us?

Adventure bound. We.Are.On. Like an up beat song!

Buen Camino friends,

Fran xxx

Follow on Instagram here.

Support the education of girls in Africa here.

Thanks for my El Camino People Bracelets Jose! I have a few to share on the trail and my kids will be wearing them at school while I’m away.

If you‘re new here or would to catch up on Camino 1.0 here’s the story. It was written from the trail on my iPhone in the early hours during April/May 2018.

Day 0 From St Jean Pied de Port

Day 1 From Orrison

Day 2 From Roncevalles

Day 3 From Larrosoaña

Day 4 From Zariquiegui

Day 5 From Lorca

Day 6 Los Arcos

Day 7 Logroño

Day 8 Nájera

Day 9 Grañón

Day 10 Villafranca

Day 11 Cardeñuela Ríopico

Day 12 Rabé de las Calzadas

Day 13 Castrojeriz

Day 14 Población de Campos

Day 15 Calzadilla de la Cueza

Day 16 Bercianos del Real Camino

Day 17 Mansilla de las Mulas

Day 18 León

Day 19 Hospital del Órbido

Day 20 Santa Catalina

Day 21 El Acebo

Day 22 Camponaraya

Day 23 Ruitelán

Day 24 Trìacastela

Day 25 Portomarín

Day 26 O Coto 

Day 27 Salcedo

Day 28 Santiago de Compostela, Spain

A few days rest in Santiago

Week 5 Finisterre by bus

Other related posts:

Why the camino for one girl

How to help?

Beyond – I’m going back to finish things off

Summer Camper Trip – The White Cliffs of Dover, France.

The home run!

We left the potato farm we camped on last night to begin the last drive home through Belgium. On the way out we were excited to be able to see The White Cliffs of Dover. I realise I haven’t described these towns and the people that live in them in these blog posts but I’ve been profoundly shifted by them – it’s been a reflective writing period. Typical of a long holiday in that it started full of excitement, then weaved it’s way into the deeper life stuff and towards the end into the promise and resolution towards life at home beyond the experience. Travel drives, shapes and guides me. It always has – blame the novaturient in my DNA. But I’m also a nester and this 15 kgs of potatoes we just picked up (out of a vending machine, not kidding) will be potato rosti, roast potatoes, potato soup, mash for days! And the feels of France will live on.

Here are some snaps from the passenger seat this morning. I hope my photos along this journey have given you what my words haven’t – how absolutely beautiful the life, cultures, traditions, languages and landscapes along these French and Spanish coastlines are. The first shot is England from France and those white cliffs.

Along the way we also stopped for an overnight at Lac Marin which become two nights because let’s face it – why not! Campering in a motor home park at €10 pn and 100m from the lake. See Louie with the SUP on his back (packs down small eh) … it’s a family affair this sipping business.

I got chatting to a Spanish family at the Lac and what started as a brief chat turned into a long one. They even gave us the address of where they were staying in case we needed anything. It reminded me of a favourite passage from driving over lemons where the author talked about changing it up in your midlife – moving, learning a language, learning a new skill, trying something new … whatever! Just living you know, being interested and interesting not existing. No matter how hard this year has been (the re-settling) one thing I feel is alive in my life – not bored.

I’m not a shopper (hate it) and the only jewelry I wear is my wedding rings and a necklace Greg bought me when I was pregnant with Lucas with three rings … when we though three was it ;). Where would we be without Jimmy – no, four was definitely our number (and I love babies, naturally, I’m midwife). Anyways back to my splurging (on myself) some delicate hand made bracelets a style I’ve been loving for a long, long time and some red symbolic beads. Remember that thought I had back at the Picos. The one about being busy with our hands? That’s what the beads are for. To remind me. Our hands are the key … want to write a book, write. Want to give up wine or coffee, don’t hold a glass, cup. Want to read, hold a book, want to run do your laces up, want to paint push a brush in your hand, want less of the marketing … press unfollow, unsubscribe, worried about your health pick up the phone make the appointment …. yes what we do with our hands matters. There will always be another excuse about ‘why not now’ another tired day, another party, someone, something to blame, another story we tell ourselves about why not, but really there only is right now.

So as the little and big Vegemite’s unplugged the power for the last time this trip I bid you farewell from the Summer Camper Trip. I hope if you’ve followed along you’ve perhaps found something of value in my musings. I sure have in writing them. And in the spirit of sharing one more book and a story about putting stuff vulnerably out there and the answer finding you here’s one.

The Barefoot Investor

It’s Aussie centric but wow did it answer some questions for me. I come from a frugal background and obviously we’ve had to save and plan for this sabbatical (living in a 2br with all kids in one bedroom, selling stuff, adjusting wants etc). We bought ourselves some time out by forgoing other things. Recently the reality of getting older and the question of ‘is our super ok’ hit me. When I wrote about that after the camino I felt nervous sharing it, was it to personal? But it put the question firmly on my radar. And, my super is ok … I found the answers and the guide I needed in this book. Well not mine we’ve only had one real long term income so ours. I know it breaks all the rules and I am that women who without a career and by chosing home as hers and has ended up relatively ‘superless’, but I trust my marriage. And it’s not to late to start adding some and forward planning. I read this book in full yesterday that came recommended to me after wondering about super. It’s not about spreadsheeting – man I can’t live like that but it’s a practical plan and a way to think about your finances. We’ve been harvesting for a while but now it’s time to get back to the growing … Scott has really made it simple to understand. So if you’re like me overwhelmed with the information out there but committed to living within your means and wanting financial security with the good life life along side that, this book is awesome. Wise and wild right.

Buen Camino dear hearts! The next time you hear from me I’ll be on the camino (next week, next month) indulging my wayfarer soul. Maybe?! I haven’t decided if I’ll blog it yet. But can I share that as we drove through Calais this morning where for many years refugees have lived in camps it hit me how important my One Girl volunteer work is. The educations we provide these girls gives them the chance of creating a life for themselves and their families where they are and it gives them dignity and hope. Life giving stuff.

Fran xxx

Camper tips:

Total accommodation spend: €403 – 38 nights (€185 was the four nts in a caravan park I wouldn’t do that again). We don’t own a car (we use bikes and train and a green car on the odd occasion we need it) so we consider the cost of hiring the van covered by what we save in petrol, registration and insurance.

If you want to do it! Do it! If you can’t yet – plan. Practice – go camping. Get outside as often as you can, walk amongst trees, along the sand and in the mountains. Connect with yourself, your life, your family and nature – and watch the magic unfold.

Oh and an egg in bread is an excellent 11pm dinner when you’ve driven into the night.

If you have any camper questions please ask in comments.

Summer Camper Trip – Hossegor, France.

‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ ~ Albert Einstein

This is the choice. It’s what kids do when left to their own devices. And if it’s one thing this trip has reminded me of it’s this. Living with optimism and honest appreciation is a luxury most of us can enjoy if we choose to. When I get home … this is what I’ll be protecting with new boundaries and by setting limits. My right to live in a world of everyday miracles. I’ll be following acts and conversations of kindness not competition. Bird song not pity song. Creativity not greed. Compassion not self interest. Today not last year or next year. Taking action to grow by planting. Out with some old ways to make room for some new … ya da ya da. Life’s just too short to waste on the bullshit things.

A lot of the confusion I felt after walking the camino has found its place. On many levels I know where I’m going, I don’t know where I’ll end up but I’m completely ok with that. I’m comfortable. Walking the walk each day with purpose towards the destination (some goals I’ve set myself). Goals that came from throwing some fears, honesty and vulnerability out to the wind. By shedding some layers, looking in the mirror and asking myself some hard questions. It’s true what they say, the camino starts when you finish … but like any major life event/tradition/change it takes time to process, time to feel. I’ve had a few this past year! Finishing long term travel, my littlest starting school, the culture shock of moving a family abroad, !walking the 800km camino Frances. Phew! What a year. Yes a quiet year in my nest sounds like a plan.

There is a time when it feels like our whole life is a head of us and one day you realise there’s a lot behind too. This trip has left some wonderful behinds, no regrets. Hand holding, food sharing, laughs, adventuring, playing, reading, marveling, singing, closeness, bonding – memories and connection. It’s also been slow and long – a holiday that filled with white space. Space that has given all of us the precious and luxurious gift of time. Time where thoughts have had space to be hung out soaking wet with enough air and wind to dry. Time to be in our relationships and on our own – just us, just them, just me. Presence.

The last of our long stops has been in Hossegor on the SW coast of France. We are returning after spending Z’s birthday here last year. Within walking distance of the surf vibe town we’ve spent three nights and four full days here (€12 per night, no power). I could see us spending an entire summer here one year, perhaps the next one. It reminds me a lot of the summers we spent camping in Barwon Heads before leaving Australia for this European sabbatical.

We could live our camp style life (especially for kids) and enjoy the ease of having a town close by. These days I even need to share the mussels … it appears all the kids are getting gamer. We learnt a good food lesson … where you eat in France matters. We had some shocking meals last year contrary to the romantic notion of French food. It’s not all good – do read google reviews. This year we were not disappointed. So in amongst this trip we found some tradition amongst our traditional ‘off the grid’ kind of summer. A return to a place we all love. This time we played on the river with our SUP. We’re all getting quite hooked on the SUP’ing which is a good thing. At home we’re surrounded by water and it can become a home hobby too. In fact I’m quite looking forward to seeing my village from the water and the idea of my teenager hopping on his bike to go SUP.

And in case you were wondering … YES I DID (we all did). Chop chop! I shed the heaviness of the lochs and it feels quite symbolic. I’ve also managed to drop a fair bit of heaviness and confusion that I’ve been carrying of late – out here in the wilderness, on this camino of ours. Indeed start with the head Paula ;). Next the cheese weight ;)

Buen camino friends, I truly hope you’re well. Are you ok?

Fran xx

Camper tips:

Greg noticed some teenagers emptying the facilities ‘shitter’ for their family’s camper and commented that they were his little heroes. To which our nearly fourteen year old replied … ‘I’m going to empty the shitter, I’m your little hero’. And he did as the nearly nine year old filled the water. He’s been emptying it ever since. Helping, contributing, learning to be self sufficient – all important. And no we don’t give him pocket money to do it helping out is a normal behavior to cultivate in family life, yes? One which gives an intrinsic reward.