Tag Archives: One Girl

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.

Finishing things off. I didn’t come this far, only to come this far.

‘I didn’t come this far, only to come this far.’ ~ Unknown.

Finishing things off … (YES!) I’m anal like that! Just as lids need to be screwed on properly, leftovers must be eaten the next day, every-last-skerrick squeezed from the bottle or scooped from the jar, shoes and clothes worn to the very end. Naturally, you’d understand I simply can’t not walk to the end of the trail – to Fisterra.

So here I am, dreaming up the icing for the cake.

As most of you know I walked 800kms supported by Wilderness Wear and Salomon from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago in Spain to raise awareness and funds for One Girl Australia and to earn my compostela. Along the way I laughed, cried, made new friends, pushed my boundaries and learnt there are new comfort zones I need to push into. Mostly, I was overwhelmed with what could be achieved by simply moving forward.

In the spirit of that motion I simply must continue to the end – to Fisterra!

Why?

  • Before I had even left Santiago to fly home I knew I’d be back to walk to the end, to cross the entire country. My shin splints stopped me in my tracks at Santiago but I am a finisher.
  • Heart warming moments have come from this adventure, the community support, goodwill and kindness was UNBELIEVABLE.
  • My friend’s daughter who is a year 6 school leader just nominated One Girl as a charity their school would fundraise for next term. I’ll share her story soon.  Misch ;) xx.
  • Perhaps someone else will ‘Do it in a dress’!
  • This time around I will do the entire walk in a dress (weather and shyness played a part in me not completing the entire walk in a dress). I’m ok with being noticed now, I think! I need to push into that.
  • Women’s adventure – I’m contributing to the landscape. You can be in your 40’s and keep it wild! Or 30’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond. Bugger boring passive, consumption (of anything).
  • I want to test myself further. I only realised towards the end that I am perhaps not as open to people as I thought. I began to soften into that as the trail hit the Galicia.
  • My spirit soared through this experience – isn’t that enough reason?!
  • I wonder if I can move $8,135 to $10,000, people are still donating and asking if the fundraiser is open (it is btw, here) … why not try?
  • I didn’t come this far only to come this far.
  • I am a hiker and there will always (need to) be a hike on the horizon.

I’m taking my own advice … the words I dished up when I wrote my blog post after walking the 32kms Ruitelán to Trìacastela.

‘Sometimes it’s better to ask the question why wouldn’t I do it? Not why would I?’ ~ Camino reflections, 9th May, 2018.

Why wouldn’t I hike the last of the 100kms in September when I live this close to Spain, the trail will have cleared from the summer swarms, the Autumn will be arriving and my good friend from the first 800kms is already packing? Good friend you ask? If you’ve been reading along, you know him! It’s the big brother of the Texan A Team, the master of the ‘true camino experience’! One of the great characters of my camino story who will keep me honest to the spirit of the pilgrimage. He taught me one of my greatest lessons on the trail, one about humility. I am supremely grateful for having crossed paths with Frank and his brother Alan, our camino ambassadors of laughter.

And so friends so we move, forward and onward.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

P.S. Fancy getting your own challenge on?

Committing?

You can create a fundraiser page here by joining the Women (& Men) Who Hike’s team and get your trail shoes ON! You can even order a dress here! You can hike anyway you want – set your own challenge:

  • Walk to work once a week
  • Get off the bus, train, tram a stop early
  • Do the stairs or the park at lunch-time
  • Meet a friend, do it with your kids, family, colleagues, on your own
  • Man I wish I could make a commitment to walk with my mum, that would be a lovely use of time (she lives in Aussie though, soz mum)
  • Give up coffee/wine for a week/month – for One Girl
  • Rope your workmates in
  • Or like me – plan an epic adventure that works for you

What-evs friends – get creative! Why not? Creativity can look like all of those things and so much more.

Writing from Rabé de las Calzadas – Day 12

Today we walked from one beautiful village into the deliciousness of Burgos, then out of Burgos and into another beautiful village. You just never know who you’ll meet around the corner when you’re walking the camino. I thought I’d tell you about last nights dinner but last night has been and here we are today … and it’s shaping up to be quite a special one (even with the sore achy feet).

Days on the Camino – 12

Kms – Today 28 kms. Our total is now around 300’ish kms hard to know the maps are all over the place.

Starting point today – Cardeñuela, Spain.

End of the day – Rabé de las Calzadas, Spain.

Number of girls in Africa educated – 20

Total funds raised so far $6,205.00. 

If you’d like to contribute you can do so here.

Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – Those four that I love the most, who sent me packing with big smiles and said ‘have fun mum, go and do your hike to help girls’. I love you all beyond words and I hope my hugs are holding you … otherwise Jimmy can dish a few extra ones out for me.

Accommodation – The last stop before we walk The Meseta – Albergue Liberanos Domine. A dorm room, 3 bunks and spacious (€8.00 each). This privately run albergue is super clean, family run and has excellent food. The vibe is awesome.

Food highlight – It has to be breakfast in Burgos … a bun with egg, bacon and the creamiest goat’s cheese followed by a second tapa … the Spanish tortilla!

In a word(s) – Co-incidences.

It was a day of coincidental meet ups on track of the BEST kind! There was Matt the Aussie we met back in Zubiri. We also came across the Italian ladies from Piedmont taking a break and as promised I took a photo.

And if that wasn’t enough …

Gerard from Holland who I met on Insta while camino training (never face to face) and have been sharing the camino with through photos and comments was sitting at the table right near them! He and his walking crew are at the Albergue tonight. The sassy American girls who have floated in the same villages the past few days have just arrived and a couple of funny Italians just rolled in. The pilgrim meal is going to be a fun one tonight.

The camino is a funny place that changes day to day. With each day it becomes a part of you and you become part of it. This afternoon I’m going to finish writing early. I think the signs today point to an evening of sharing camino stories. We have landed in a beautiful village with a special group of pilgrims. Time to live the night.

Buen Camino,

Fran xxx

Ps Thank you for all your comments here and on IG they make my day.

Writing from Nájera – Day 8

“Yo que fui lo que tu eres, tu seras lo que yo soy” ~ inscripted on the cemetery gates of Los Arcos.

“I was once what you are, and you will be what I am”. A good enough reason to be living today and not counting down to something in the future don’t you think. We laughed a lot today mostly at ourselves and our alternating sources of discomfort. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else though, walking is my purpose now.

Days on the Camino – 8

Kms – Today 29 kms. Our total is now around 202kms. No major ailments the legs are less stiff, feet hurt by the end of the day, no more heat rash on the feet. Just waiting for the bites to settle now ;)

Starting point today – Longroño, Spain.

End of the day – Nájera, Spain.

Number of girls in Africa educated – 19

Total funds raised so far $5,980.00. 

If you’d like to contribute you can do so here.

Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – My sister for making me laugh till I cried today x 10!

Accommodation – We tried something different today and pre booked a night. We found an Albergue that has a twin room and was clean and reviewed well. (€15 each). Very happy here although it was weird knowing we had to be somewhere by a certain time or we’d lose our room! We’re fast walkers so getting here by 3pm wasn’t a problem. Tomorrow we’ll go back to rolling into town and finding a place.

Yes Liz you can pre book the private Albergue’s. You don’t pre pay but you need to arrive by 3 or you lose your room. I’ve met people who have pre booked the whole trip. Remember sprightly Carol? She did a tour last year and this year she simply booked all the same places. If you forward your bags on via transport (rather than carry your pack) you must have a place booked. It does mean you can’t change your plans on the day though. We prefer the flexibility.

Food highlight – Eating a juicy Spanish orange on a mountain top.

In a word(s) – Laughing.

It was a day of laughing at ourselves. What else can you do when at any given moment something hurts! After a sluggish start at around 20kms with new sense of vigour I announced to my sister ‘I’ve woken up’! She replied ‘the nurofen you took 1/2 an hour ago has just kicked in’. Queue another round of belly laughs.

There was a lot of walking without talking today. Most of those we passed acknowledged us with a head nod … we’re all feeling it. Not like the first few days!

I love it though. This is the guts of the walk. The time you have to dig in, it’s the character building stuff. Today I thought a lot about how unreal it is that this walk of mine with the help of so many others is going to send girls to school! Girls who without this are more likely to be married at 12. We’re sending almost a whole class of them to school. That’s so much more than any discomfort I may feel. That’s my purpose. Following on from yesterday thoughts … it’s purpose that gives me a way marker in life.

On this day of walking between vineyards, of spotting animals, lakes and ancient pilgrim hospital ruins, photographing landscape and people (pilgrims – mostly from behind). This overcast day with its fresh breeze that made walking tired so very pleasant I think of all of those who have supported this project. I walk on knowing that while I’m here walking with a purpose and I won’t have regrets.

Buen Camino

Fran xx

Writing from Lorca – Day 5

As each new day unfolds on this walk across Spain it’s bringing a new landscape to my life. There are the physical ones I’m walking into, the mistakes we make that we will tweak tomorrow, the unbelievable swell of support from women around the globe who are right here walking with me and standing with me to support One Girl. And then there’s relationship with my sister – I missed her today as we wandered a little way apart. She’s my Robin or maybe I’m the Robin depending on who’s Batgirl at any given moment.

Days on the Camino – 5

Kms – 28 kms. Total is around 105.2kms!! Yes we’ve cracked the first 100! I’m still blister free. The heat rash thing from yesterday is clearing or it’s no worse. My feet are sore, naturally.

Starting point today – Zariquiegui, Spain.

End of the day – Lorca, Spain .

Number of girls in Africa educated – 19

Total funds raised so far $5,950.00. If you’d like to contribute you can do so here.

Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to

A friend in Bendigo with a gracious heart, a kind spirit and a wise soul. My friend Selene whose heart is a little broken. Today was always going to be a walk for her and this morning we walked up the hill to these bronze statues representing the pilgrims of the Middle Ages. On which one has this engraved:

Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas which translates into English as where the path of the wind crosses that of the stars.

My friend who reads here will know the serendipitous nature of me walking into this moment on her day of being in my thoughts. It’s in the wind dear friend I hope it hugs you.

Accommodation – The albergue La Bodega del Camino in this medieval like village in Lorca is ticking all our boxes. A double room in this hostel is €20 per night! So rather than €9 each for a bunk we have a double room with doors that close (currently introverting in here – we all must be ok with knowing what we need right ;)). And now we have a new accom option when they arise – the private room amongst the dorms.

There is a bar and restaurant here with the option of the pilgrim meal or an a la carte menu. Also handy drying racks on the balcony and loads of them!

Personally we are quite enjoying longer walks, less breaks and arriving at the albergue’s in the early afternoon (we must have a meal/break between 15-20kms). The showers are empty, the beds are free and the afternoon becomes ours. That’s our Camino way.

Food highlight – Local peppers are no longer on the menu … but for lunch today was a massive bowl of spag bol was! After 28 odd kms and no lunch stop – I inhaled that!

In a word(s) – Blissfully tired and NOT getting off this double bed! A self catered €6 dinner is taking care of that, thanks sister.

It was a social trail today! Remember German Lucas from Orisson, day 1? Well as it turns out he wasn’t walking with his dad. He was just sitting with a guy who looked like his dad and they’d met on the Camino. He is on the left and man he sets a cracking pace! I hope my kids at 23 are independent enough to walk a Camino on their own. Lucas is meeting his mum further down the path to walk into Santiago with – how special!

And on the right is Mark he also German and excellent at identifying wild herbs. He was walking with Gunther in a past photo remember the gentleman pulling the trolley from day 2? We’d never spoken until today and I presumed Gunther was his dad, it turns out he isn’t! They had also met on the Camino. It seems I make a lot of presumptions.

We walked about 20kms with these guys and as they settled for a break in the town of Cirauqui. My sister and I were going to push on but first I had a brief chat with Miriam. A Dutchie who does a part of Camino each year. Each year for 10 of the last 14 – she started in Amsterdam. No, I’m not joking she started in Amsterdam 14 years ago. How’s that! And guess what else? She lived right near where I do now in The Netherlands! Coincidences of the nicest kind.

To exit the town of Cirauqui you walk under a Roman Arch and along a Roman road to exit. Off we marched the two of us, Batgirl and Robyn with our big grins. We made a BIG mistake here. We’d walked through the town – the one we planned to have lunch in and instead of going back under that Roman Arch to find food we walked on. We couldn’t be bothered turning around but we could be bothered to tackle the next 5.5 kms! Nuts. That was 22 kms without a stop other than a coffee in Puente la Reina, (home of the famous ‘Queens Bridge’ that was built to support the safe passage of medieval pilgrims) and our breaky of boiled eggs and fruit!

No surprises then that when we made it to Lorca after a good 27kms we dropped our packs – SPENT and done for the day!

But what a day it was – we walked into a new landscape where the vines and olive trees grow, where the thyme grows wild and along the way we passed through medieval villages, walked on Roman roads and crossed Romanesque bridges built for pilgrims of the past. And BOY did we laugh at our bodily woes, my sister and I.

On this day we also clocked over the first 100 kms of hiking and another two girls will receive an education thanks to some more unbelievable family generosity. The global community of global women continue to fill my inbox with heartfelt messages of support, hope and kindness … the Camino is providing or is it life that is providing???

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Today a new blogger started following me and she just started a blog (with this quote). I don’t know her, I don’t think I do … but I like that she’s started a journey. That’s where it all begins …

Buen Camino

Fran x