Tag Archives: slow travel

Sun Kissed In Tuscany.

Behind the brown shutters are windows and doors with bright red frames. Opening these are how a sun kissed morning begins in Tuscany. Closing them after a long and late night spent eating and chatting is how evenings in Tuscany end.

Food that is grown under kiss of the sun makes for a perfect lunch. There’s a flavour that can’t be ignored. And a reminder of how simple one’s lunch can be.

Herbs for the kitchen, grown in the  garden are illuminated by the kiss of the sun.

A healthy glow and contented manner,  the evidence of a sun kissed boy’s day of play.

A house built to withstand the kiss of the sun. Terracotta tiles on the floor and in the ceiling, thick walls of concrete and brick archways.

The kiss of the sun willing a writer to write on. A day spent in the first 13,000 words of a story. A memoir of a long walk and a time leading towards this life now. A time where questions were asked, actions were taken and the leap of faith that happened. The Tuscan sun enabling the needs of all to be met and comfort to the writer when the doubts set in. The power of his kiss is strong. Write, write he assertively guides. Now is the time. It matters not if the written words see me, the light of day. It matters they are written. That the writer writes the story. For her. Her story.

 

*edited to change her to him, my instinct was that the sun is a more masculine energy and a little note from a friend confirmed this. xx

#writingstreak

#day29/31

#writingon

#writingthrough

#writing

#ishibernationcalling

#thewindsarechanging

 

 

 

From My Tuscan Desk.

A butterfly continues to fly by trying to land on me. The cicadas are putting on a symphony, the children are squealing with delight and I think I found myself in the perfect setting. The setting for a little plan I’ve had brewing for some time. Ha ha no not to move here, I’ve changed. I promise. I no longer want to live everywhere but I do want to try a new thing for myself. Nothing new there! Lol. But a hard thing, something that requires some dedication. Tuscany friends, if a dream can’t be birthed here I’m not sure it ever can!

It was a rather clever idea of the husband’s to drive the bulk of the drive yesterday. We had an early start this morning and arrived into the local village of Bibbiena around 10.30am. Enough time to pick up some bread and supplies. Oh my the fruit! The fruit. So much colour and so much fresh choice. We drove in past the fields so it doesn’t surprise me of course. Lush verdant fields with rows and rows of produce. Not that the boys noticed from their lounge room in the backseat. New road trip food tip – breakfast banana in a wrap.

 

Our villa is everything we expected. A lush vista over the valley, fresh warm air, stunning sun, colour and solitude. Apart from the children and the cicadas of course. Spaces everywhere, for everyone. Yes, this is the bolthole we knew we needed but waited for a few weeks to decide on! It’s lush and also it’s characteristically rustic inside (read: old and charming). But you don’t get something this big and affordable without compromise. After half a day I totally get the dark, brick Tuscan cave! It works in this heat. The outside though, wow, with the little beautiful touches.

It’s not a tour the country kind of holiday. It’s time away, get some vitamin D, playtime for the children, yummy food, time for family, time to ‘be’ and laughs. Always the laughs. At Jimmy mostly. And Tommy he is a bit of a funny cat when he shows his humorous side. Greggie is working this week. He has settled nicely into a corner of the house with the big old desk. Best line today, Greggie “but how good is the prosciutto” lol. “Dude, it’s Italy !?!” Eye roll 🙄.

Me I’m out on the terrace. I’m also sort of working. I’m writing. Yes, yes I am. It’s a bit of a story as to how this has all come together. None of this planned at the start of the month. And yet here I am. With an evolving plan falling into place. It’s nice to be away, not to be in need of the break but in need of space and this moment of opportunity. A moment built on the momentum of these past months. A luxury. A time for each of us be in our own rhythms.

#writingstreak

#day28/31

#underthetuscansun

#amwriting

 

 

 

Mopping Myself Out The Door Towards Tuscany.

The roof suitcase is on! The boot is packed. The racks are ready for the bikes (mine and his). The car fridge is locked and loaded. Food is prepped and ready for a whole day’s drive. And the floor is freshly mopped. Tell me it’s not just me?! I almost need to audit the house before leaving to go away. Last minute jobs – check. All clothes washed, fridge cleaned and floors mopped. Thankfully we’re heading south because look at that weather would you. Dutch grey skies.

I am a tad excited. And now quite pleased after working through the last of the jobs tonight. Obvs it’s not our first rodeo, but man after having a house full of people since Feb the need to deep clean and declutter is building. You know shoe sorting, hand me down clothes sorting, school work shifting, under the couch cleaning, stains from gross kids wiping, parcels to send, letters to write.  When I get back all refreshed and ready to go I’ll attack that stuff.

Seriously though it’s been a long time since I’ve had the house to myself. Usually after the kids go to school I burn some incense, play some music, daydream a little. I realise I haven’t done my little things in months, months! All fine of course it is what it is and I’ve found new things to keep me grounded. Fingers crossed we are not thrust back into home school after summer.

Back to the house auditing before leaving to go away. Are you a mad scrubber? Do you need to come home to a clean house? It’s my thing. Also we live in a 1930’s house that needs a bit of fixing. It’s a work in progress. And we’ve had problems with house mice before so I don’t want to encourage them AT all. And basically it’s kind a hard to make a really old house with lots of gaps and four kids feel very clean for long. Mostly I’m cool with that but not the night before we go away. I’m a mad-ass scrubber.

As I tidied my garden today (yeah I had to sort that out too) I looked at the apples so ripe and nearly ready, I realised I’ll be excited to get back also. It is a lovely thing to love being home. To build a home. A nest. The apples will need to be preserved and hopefully the tomatoes will also be going gangbusters. Won’t that be a lovely surprise. ‘Tis the night before an adventure and we’re ready.

Did I mention I’m a bit excited? I really am. It is like I am twenty something and putting my backpack on to see something new in the world. Nope, none of us will ever, ever take the freedom to roam for granted again (not that I did just that it’s even more amazing now after the crazy year). Tomorrow night we’ll catch up from the outskirts of Milan, we want to cross all the borders in a day (let’s face it weird times with borders) and arrive under the Italian blue skies.

#writingstreak

#day26/31

#thenightbeforeanadventure

 

 

The Italian Kitchen!

 

Well I did not see this one coming! Yesterday I had to buy a present for a friend who was celebrating one of the special birthdays. She’s a foodie, cooking type person so I cycled into town to peruse the all things in the town’s ‘kitchen lover’ shop. What to buy, what to buy? It’s actually tricky to buy for someone else’s kitchen. So I headed towards the book section. Rather pleasingly they had an English book section. Cook books for her and a cook book for me! Bonus. Double bonus actually, I could feel inspiration brewing, oh and yep there it is – an idea was starting to form and the timing quite possibly perfect. 

I always imagined myself with a French kitchen. But I’ve never quite gotten there. What even is a French kitchen? Maybe it’s lavender I picture! I do have a large tuscan pot of lavender outside my kitchen window. The thing is, I admire country style kitchens but they’re not really my style. And I love the movie Julia and Julia but I wouldn’t want cook most of those recipes. And while I love Latin languages I’ve never had the desire to learn French. 

In our house my husband is the resident chef. He loves to cook and frankly, he is so utterly gifted when it comes to creating with ingredients that during quarantine I’ve been happy to sit out the cooking. The problem with sitting it out, because he is always here (quarantine) is that I don’t have any flow in the kitchen because I haven’t been playing in it. Niente. Nada. And of course it’s ace that he cooks and I’m super appreciative of him. But now it’s holidays and while he’s working I have time. And one day he will go back to the office and travel and then I’ll be back at ground zero. Also I love the process of sourcing and buying local ingredients. It’s hard to do that and expect someone else to cook with your finds.

Can I fit in another challenge? Ha ha. Could I cook my way through a cookbook? ‘WHAT’ you’re probably thinking writing, running and now cooking?! But we gotta eat right. The more I started thinking about it the more sense it made. You know my feelings about Italy. True love and all that. And it is absolutely my style of cooking: simple, fresh, flavoursome and seasonal food. And then it hit me.

Why did I want a French kitchen when quite obviously I have an Italian kitchen! There is a monster pizza oven outside my window, a cafetiera on my stove, basil in my window sill, herbs growing outside my window and our cooking condiments of choice are extra virgin olive oil, red and white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Oh and cheese, there’s always parmesan and mozarella in the fridge! And let’s be honest I’d be fine to add pecorino as a staple.

There is one way to get better at something and that’s to practice. Daily if possible. And it makes sense to practice in one style of cooking right. You build your basic skills, your pantry ingredients will suit your cooking and you can use previously prepared pastes etc for future dishes. Sometimes, I wonder why it takes me so long to work something out. Something that now seems so basic, so simple! I feel like eye-rolling myself right now. So yeah before the day was out I think I’d already decided I was going to cook through this new book of mine.

The Book:

Rome. Centuries In An Italian Kitchen. 

By Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi.

Why did I choose it?

I liked that it had pictures and stories of Rome and the history of dishes. More than simple recipes, it’s chocked full of Roman recipes from antipasto to desserts. I don’t always need to think things through to the nth degree. I was drawn to it. I just need to start! This book is my start and it’s focussed. I think in the past I’ve tended to be to broad in my desire to do something. I’m honing in.

The Challenge.

Basically to cook my way through the book. I’ll aim to bake a recipe a day but it’s not like a #runstreak I won’t break the challenge by not doing it daily. In my experience though it’s easier to practice daily so that’ll be my aim. As with any challenge I take it on it’s because our lives or my life needs it. I need to reignite my cooking from scratch mojo in the kitchen.

Today! 

I had so much fun in the kitchen. It was a slow start to the day because we went to said friend’s party last night. So on the couch in jammies, with a coffee in hand I perused my new book. A book I will be hopefully getting to know very well! I am a visual, photo person and I love the visual journey. Perhaps that’s why I can’t get into podcasts. It’s a bit the noise thing I quite like the quiet, but also I can’t get into hearing people without having previously met them. I actually never have sound on my phone (even for videos) so there is a good chance if we’ve never met in person I don’t know your voice! Am I the only one? It’s my weird thing.

I decided to go with some picnic food. I thought I’d have a bit of an afternoon tea thing with husband and kids. So off I cycled to the local strip shopping street with my list and book. First feel good right here. This street is maybe 750 metres from my house but I don’t often go here. I go to the market or in corona times we’ve found ourselves in the supermarket. This street has many small shops. Specialist shops that really float my boat! Shops selling local produce. And when I say local I mean European. Obviously local local is best but olives aren’t growing in The Netherlands.

These are the things we need to use our energy and our resources to support in the ‘new’ normal. The local shop strip is one of them. There is much I love about village life and I know some of you wanted me to tell you about it! This is it. This a big one. That I can get on my bike and cycle to a shop and buy local Italian Olives, local Dutch cheese, local vegetables and that the line in the third shot is for sour dough. It’s out the door and up the street and no one minds because the bread is so good! And obvs. corona time so only three in the shop at once. No one is in a hurry. No one is up selling. It just exists because it’s normal! Normal to shop local. 

What did I make? 

  1. Seeded Wine Crackers

Making crackers is something I have on my to do list! I don’t want to buy them anymore. This IS going to be my recipe. I didn’t get it right. I didn’t roll the dough thin enough so they weren’t crispy, but the flavour was there. I’ll make another batch tomorrow and the next day until I get our crackers recipe right!

2. Hot Fish Pickle

OMG! This. This is the sort of food I need. Packed full of flavour, herbs and raw veg. I used sardines, fish that’s packed with protein, packed with calcium and PACKED with omega -3 fatty acids. Was so good on bread. Will be so good tomorrow. And sheesh a cheap meal. I mean a tin of Sardines or Mackerel, two euros.

3. Olive, Fennel and Mint Salsa

I had to google how to cut a fennel! I’m used to this one cooked (by someone else). What can’t google teach you?! Husband actually said this was his favourite dish. There are leftovers and I’ll use them in the next few days in a pasta. I have one vegetarian living here so perfect!

4. Walnut (sub’d with pine nuts due to allergy) and Feta Pesto.

Oh this was fun! And soooo many herbs. It’s a staple in Italian cuisine and what you can blitz to make it is endless (what’s in the fridge, spinach, lettuce etc). This was a hit with the kids. And also something to use tomorrow and the day after. I’m thinking with eggs tomorrow morning and on toast for the kids. Or tomorrow night’s pizza.  

5. Ricotta with olive oil and pepper

A bit cheaty! No work just top with olive oil and pepper. SOOO tasty! On toast between the hot fish pickle. On the cracker on top of the pesto. Leftovers will get used in the same way or on pizza ;) 

The entire, made with love feast. I added a Caprese salad (tomato, mozarella, basil, balsamic and olive oil), a zinnia from the garden, some bread and guess what?! Dinner not afternoon tea. 

So do all roads lead to Rome? Perhaps they do for me, right now. I just realised I’m still hiking to from Home To Rome (hiatus due to Corona). OMG how is this for coincidence and a sign that this is my path. So yes! Yes. I will cook my way thought this book! And I’ll learn some Italian, some new skills, get to feel the joy of knowing the ingredients and by gee I’ll (hopefully we’ll) enjoy the eating. 

What’s the flavour of your kitchen?

#writingstreak

#day18/31writing

#newchallenge

#findyourpath

#dailypractice

 

 

 

 

 

How Much Will Change In The World Of Travel? Have you?

How much will change in the world of travel? Have you changed? I have noticed a mixed vibe here. Our borders are open in Europe and we have the freedom to travel if we choose. There are colour codes placed on countries and our government has advised they won’t be repatriating citizens if they get stuck. As with our lockdown our government has an expectation that we are intelligent humans who will do the right thing. I guess for me I just don’t feel that I have to travel, also let’s be honest I don’t fall short. Gran Canaria in Feb and Denmark for New Year’s. Travel for me is about getting lost in the experience of all the senses and there’s just no ‘real’ escaping the corona now.  Unless you go wild. 

Over the weekend I donned the mask for the first time. I was at the airport! The airport here is on the train line and functions as more than an airport. I had to get a birthday watch resized. We also had a beer and a pizza while we waited. We were armchair traveller watchers. (Obviously a birthday is an exception for dry July, and maybe a friend’s 50th tonight.) The travellers were mostly business, the push a trolley bag and walk at speed types. There were young people, youngish singles and couples and the odd family, mostly with young kids.

As you know, so far we’ve decided to remain home for summer. We did take a weekend away in the Ardennes the week before school officially ended. It was an easy and safe trip. It felt right for us. We self catered, stayed in a cabin, played tennis alone, hiked, cycled and basically chilled. My conflict with staying home and the thing that pulls me to look for somewhere is this kind of break for the kids. I love getting the kids away and in nature. All of us together. If we had a camper for sure we’d be hiding out somewhere, we’d go wild.

Our friends from Mediterranean countries have all gone home. There are the diehards we need, we must travel types and the let’s take a safe close to home short break types who have left for the summer. I’ve heard of Iceland but mostly it’s Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain. Many are driving where possible. Going home was not an option for us. Our Island home is somewhat closed. Technically we could have gone if we’d been prepared to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. Turns out that wasn’t really safe. Basically it all seemed too hard. And yet it is a paradox because for me the really hard thing is being away from my family for so long. So hard or harder. We went with what felt right which was not to travel. It was never a really hard choice, just the reality is hard.

I think about a post pandemic travel world. I must admit my desire to fly less in response to global warming is real. But now I wonder if what always felt safe will also have changed. I love Asia and would love to travel Vietnam. I’m not sure I will in a hurry. Even though they have managed the Corona well, I wonder about being so far from home in this new normal. And new it is. There is no return to ‘normal’.  Will I feel as carefree as I once did about going anywhere. I went to Thailand 8 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I’d had a miscarriage before so I knew that could happen but I just didn’t have any fear of things not working out. Perhaps it was an age thing. Or perhaps this massive life event really takes us into our fragility. 

The travellers at the airport appeared carefree. Most wearing a mask, some removing as soon as they were allowed. This was the same as the train. It’s only mandatory on the train. I wondered if travel is one of those things that is simply about getting back on the horse? The supermarket was like that for me. I didn’t go for 7 odd weeks. Not for fear of getting the virus but the vibe was weird. In the week before quarantine was coming I just couldn’t stand the fear driven anger and rush. So I stayed away. 

As long as we move safely I see the importance of creating income for small businesses. Most people here are going close to home. International travel here is like interstate travel in Australia and often even closer. I see the real need for some people to take a break to be nearer (at a distance) to people. I understand people returning home when you are isolated in a country that is not your own. I’m just not ready to join yet.

I’m definitely getting intentional about how travel will look for us in the future. We will travel again and embrace the wild travel we love. And I will save my carbon points to fly home – I need and my kids need to stay connected with our Island home. My confidence and desire for world travel may be changed though. I’ve never subscribed to a bucket list as I don’t want to HAVE to do something at any cost. Of course though there  are many places I would have liked to visit that I now may never. And that seems blissfully ok.

 

 

#writingstreak

#day17/31

#onthehomerun

#ponderingaloud

#tavel