Tag Archives: The Netherlands

Mi Camino. Creating a margin to walk my way to Rome. Stage three.

‘Don’t spend a lot of time trying to find yourself. Spend time creating yourself into a  person you’ll be proud of.’ ~ Anon

The morning of a hike is no different to most days, it has it’s own rituals. The packing of my pack, the consideration of what food and gear I’ll need. The anticipation (good energy) builds as the time to leave gets closer. These hikes are taking me towards Rome and there is something quite remarkable about that. Every stage is precious. A day’s worth of hours. The gentle rhythm of placing one foot in front of the other as my thoughts dance around my mind. My senses dictating the waltz.

Stage Two: Rhenen to Nijmegen – 33kms.

Total kms: 85kms (of about 2000kms to Rome in a dress).

I’ve never thought of The Netherlands as a country with big rivers. Canals and dykes yes … we’ve all seen the canals of Amsterdam but the Rhine no I always imagined that a German big river, you? Or perhaps I’ve seen too many Rhine cruise for retirees tours advertised ;) But back to The Netherlands, it is in fact a country of BIG rivers! Today I walked along the Waal, the Dutch distributary of the Rhine. An important river that links Germany with the port of Rotterdam. And yes very much in use … it is not something we think of as Australians is it? Rivers as thoroughfares to transport goods. I had to cross it at one stage … the only way you can – by barge!

It was a day of rain and water. So. Much. Rain. So. Much. Water.

I was able to take myself off grid (off the main road … remember from the last stage The Netherlands doesn’t have wild) and find myself alongside the water right from the beginning. It’s a little bit of a feat actually that I found myself here. Along the last walk Gerald used an app called MAPS.ME after the walk I downloaded it. I’m going to share something with you … I never thought I’d be able to use it. I am not the best at navigation and I am a creature of habit (surely google maps would do). But faced with the busy main road that google was sending me on and a national park entrance to my right I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go!

What do you know! I was straight into a beautiful wooded reserve with hills (tiny hills … this is still The Netherlands peeps) and water as far as the eyes could see. So much bliss as the sounds of the wind rustled through the branches. I’d been sharing my morning on my stories and at this point I logged of with a see you friends … gone hiking! There would be time on the train home and here to update and share the experience, I needed to live it. I’d just achieved something getting off road and I wanted to be amongst those trees and also open to see what else would show itself to me.

I say it was a feat because a. I actually tried something I had thought I’d never master (an off road map ap) and b. that felt pretty darn strong to have the courage to trust myself, that I’d find my way. I only had to find my way through one barbed wire fence, LOL. No rips. Navigation is a skill I’ll need for later in the trek and here I am getting to know it before I’ll need it. And let’s be honest it’s a safe place to practice … you can’t get lost here! I love that about my walks, they are safe places to practice trusting myself. Walks are where I do my best thinking … without really trying. Circles that have previously gone around and around suddenly open up. Checking in with yourself happens when you go for a long walk.

For me this hike is an anchor into living a creative life. And so I create a margin for it to exist. I not only block out days on weekends for me to go and hike … I also try to walk daily. If I walk today then tomorrow I am not under pressure to walk the next day and so on and so on. A margin is something we can give or set for ourselves. It’s extra space … it’s not just enough space to fit everything in. It’s blowing it wide open – it’s saying that our creative pursuits are too important to put off. And on days like today where the mercury retrograde has me in ‘uneasy’ street I make sense of it by writing about my project. Nope, I didn’t walk today … just on this page. Same kind of peace, strength.

In the wide open space, the margin, we create the holy grail – we’re no longer forcing, fighting and fitting it in. We are living creatively and it’s free to do as the big rivers do – to flow.

Of course some days we have to trudge through … like the last 10kms of this 33km walk. The city of Nijmegen was in the distance as I wound my way along a 10km stretch of road. I was so pleased to make it into this town, and the idea of getting home and dry, that I even sprinted the last 500 metres to make the train. Aaah but that trudge is far more pleasant when the margin is there for that bit of … ‘whatever it is’ … that takes you along on the ride of the flowing river!

Mi Camino – Home to Rome. Via Francigena. Stage One.

Hola adventure hearts,

I know you are. You wouldn’t be reading along here if you didn’t feel that twinge of excitement when possibility strikes. That lust for life, the thirst for something a little less ordinary. A deep desire to feel a part of your world – the world. Possibility. Oh what a word … what a feeling.

Stage One: Hilversum (home) to Maarn – 27kms.

Total kms: 27kms (of about 2000kms to Rome in a dress).

Now you know I’ve been playing with and committing to the idea of running a 1/2 marathon a month for One Girl. I had the first one planned but I couldn’t quite hit the enter key to register, nor could I hit book for a flight. It was an idea, one I had jumped into and one that felt like it could be possible. There were a few hurdles and slowly this month the hurdles became crossroads, choices – perhaps there was another way. A different adventure for me.

When I signed myself up for the idea the same company whose running shoes I wear were offering an ambassadorship. Of course I took this as a sign and applied. Four pairs of shoes they were offering for the year. I would be needing those. As with my last One Girl challenge I’m not looking for freebies … but a product I actually use and need that contributes to the adventure I’m ok with that. Hey honestly I’d prefer corporate sponsorship as in donations to the charity but that’s a whole other hurdle (note to self – one to explore)!

Although it would be poignant of me to point out that since the last camino my view on sponsorship has shifted a little. At first I thought it was a great way to build my camino – to get some recognition and air play for it. But now I realise that while it gave me some confidence in promoting the camino I didn’t need it for that.

The gear was awesome, it saved me buying it and I am grateful for all the support I received for my One Girl hike. I won’t be asking for more because I’m still wearing it! Shameless plug for Wilderness Wear I love everything about this ethical company. The air play for the camino and the actual financial aid that made it possible to put girls through school that didn’t come because I had sponsorship. Nope. It came because people (women mostly) related to, shared the story and supported me. Grassroots relationships.

So the hurdles … well the main one was the physicality. I’m fit and I’m strong minded but my body isn’t ready for what I was going to ask of it. I have been doing the right things, adding anti inflammatory foods and drinks (namely broth) to my diet. I’ve sought treatment for a few niggles that were surfacing and I trained. After a rather severe neck strain last week I decided to move my challenge start date from January to April. I can make up the rules as I go, why not it’s my challenge.

Now coinciding with this challenge is of course all the other stuff that goes on:  my responsibilities, my capacity, my resources and importantly my current season of life. A few more little signs played out this month. I went for a walk to the post office and I know that sounds ordinary but normally I ride. I love my bike life . LOVE it! But I realised that like a car you end up going from A to B and that little walk to the post office reminded me how I love to walk and immerse my senses in the pleasures of it.

I also started seeing a Thai masseuse and she has the healing hands … those practitioners are GRACE. The ones who with a touch of their hands, or words from their heart know what you need. As she dug into my muscles I realised they were full of tension. FULL. Perhaps from some of the stresses of the year and definitely getting exacerbated from the running training. Those massages have felt a bit like a detox. And like any detox they have cleared some space to create some softness and an urge to be a little more gentle on myself.

A few posts back I talked about needing something, some motivation something to move forward with while at the same time remaining grounded. I’m not looking for an off the chart adventure. I don’t want to travel for months on end or pack up my life. No this gypsy soul wants to remain planted, secure and within the same four walls but she doesn’t want to feel stuck or bored or going through the motions. Of course I need an adventure and some shit giving … that’s my soul food, my love language but it was becoming clear that the running might not be the right one.

And then there was a story about an opportunity. A new door to step through. A friend who I had met through IG (gosh so many good stories have come from there). I have found a tribe through that little ap. Digressing sorry. This friend asked if I’d be interested in coming to her home in the UK and talking about my story, my camino and my work with One Girl with a group of women. She would arrange it and a small donation towards One Girl would be the ‘ticket’ fee. Perhaps we’d aim for $300 – one girl – one education. I actually called this friend and I am NOT a phone person! This idea lit a spark and it seems like something I could /should/want to do. Something of a possibility wouldn’t you say?

I didn’t get the shoe sponsor and I was relieved … it was a free pass to change the path I was on.

And I did.

Today I walked out the front door and started walking to Rome.

I don’t even know how many kms away that is! I’m pretty sure it’s well over 2000. Am I crazy – SURE. Crazy for a life well lived. You see when I walked the Camino Frances I though to myself ‘if I was retired I could definitely see myself (with Greg of course) walking from place to place. Wandering the globe for a while, walking.’ And why would I wait? I have patience for many things but time that waits for no one. I have two feet, a love of the trail and a cause I’m committed too – again I ponder ‘perhaps there’s another way’.

Traditionally a camino starts from home … from your front door. Perfect! Here I am, start where you are (I always say that, it’s the only place to start eh). Walk towards Rome (I always wanted to learn Italian). And so I started. I walked to a small village 28kms from here and on the way to Germany. As I left my village the church bells rang across the town and as I arrived in Maarn a choir version of ‘the little drummer boy’ was playing into the gardens of a castle, both  beautiful harmonies for the beginning and ending of a special day. Day one.

I took the train home and for the next hike I’ll train back to where I left off … every hike getting further away and closer to Rome. Eventually I will need to go for longer periods but for now I think I can make my way into Germany in this way.

It’s perfect because it suits my family and our need to be settled in one place with routine and structure. And it satisfies my need for that ‘something’. Possibilities friends … they are endless. As are the different paths we can take.  And today I took one that passed through villages and farmland, along countryside and roadsides and I felt pretty bloody ecstatic to be back on the camino. My camino. I think I’ve found my way.

Buen Camino and I wish you and your families a beautiful Christmas,

Fran xx

https://www.doitinadress.com/frances-antonia

Create your own magic

Dia dhuit,

As the days become shorter and the air crisper there is a new constant in my days. Di luna. Yes, her majesty – the moon. (ps the clip above provides a good background sound to this post). Now I don’t profess to know much about the moon I rely on others to tell me where she is, what she’s doing and what that means for me. But, I do know this – if you’re looking for something magical to happen in your life you could start there. Start with the moon. Dance in her light. Charge with her energy.

Di Luna, she is there when I wake and long before I go to sleep at night as we move into the darker months here. Her lunar phases unfolding before my eyes week by week as I cycle my children to their evening sport practice. Soon we will also be riding to school under the light of the moon.

The moon – something we can take for granted in our increasingly noisy, blamey, scared entitled plastic world. Glory we can forget to notice … and yet I think we are screaming for the kind of magic the moon gives us. There’s something mystical and soothing about being in the presence of the moon. Wiser, greater and more precious than anything the mall or the memes can sell us. Peace. She can of course be a bit scary in all her glory … asking us to stand honestly in her presence. Honesty isn’t always easy amongst rush, noise and plastic. Unsure? Let the moon guide you – that’s where you’ll find wild adventure and an escape or break from fake. Keep it wild from where we stand 101 friends.

Both the moon and a special moon (knowing) friend have been orbiting in my world the past few years, (there’s a pun for the week for you Annette) and I believe they have been slowly giving me clues to help find magic. A deep magic. As much as I love Harry Potter I know we can’t really shake a wand and make something happen … we need to be a part of making it happen.

Isn’t it wonderful though to be able to drift into fantasy. Fantasy reminds us of the value of magic. Perhaps indulging in fantasy takes us closer to our reality? Perhaps there is more of a fine line between the two than we realise? Magic happens when we bravely step into life seeking to believe there is meaning beyond the rush, noise and the plastic.

I truly believe we can learn about life and ourselves in the company of the moon (all nature really but I’m currently in a moon phase). Along the camino, particularly my last one in September I walked most mornings under the moonlight. It taught me a lot about fear and as scary as it was it was also exhilarating.

This week I took myself out running and misjudged the sunset. Again, I found myself alone in the moonlight. We live in a world where solace is not often sought amongst the seasons nor the elements. We seek only to be comfortable and to control them. And yet every time I loosen my grip, trust what’s uncomfortable and unknown and step into solitude in nature I begin to uncover more of what’s true.

During my run I discovered where the my magic will come from this winter. I’ll be making my own illuminated by the moonlight . Perhaps she’ll help me refine those wild truths my old friend, the courageously daring feeling wind shook up these past few winters.

Ag siúl go maith,

Fran x

PS My first half marathon starts at midnight – yep it’s a night run, ironic that!

The World Cup!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 16/28

Today’s recipe: Jamie Oliver’s Orange and Polenta Cake.

Today was a family cycle to share picnic with my littlest’s class where we enjoyed lunch with the world! In amongst the blooming Hyacinth plants we shared tastes and tales with friends from Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, India, Kenya, South Korea, Israel and Scotland. It was one of those moments where I thought … wow how did I land here! I also wonder how in years to come this experience will impact the life choices my kids make. Quite possibly I will wake one day and all four will be living somewhere around the globe? Where will I be living when that happens?! All great unknowns.

What I do know is that the long night’s of the Northern Hemisphere summer are perfect for golden photography and spotting lone bikes and relaxed Sunday evening riders on the trail. I was back in my trail runners again tonight and I’m enjoying the extra cardio! Hiking in holland doesn’t quite cut it it you want/need to sweat it out a little. Here’s a little photo essay of a Sunday night spend alone amongst the happenings on the trail.

Jamie Oliver’s Orange and Polenta Cake.

Z had a friend to stay who is gluten free and they love to cook together. They gave this recipe a whirl … and didn’t follow it to a tee so it was a bit tough. Greg remade it with success!

The recipe comes from one of my cookbooks Jamie Oliver 5 ingredients and is also on his website here:

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/orange-polenta-cake/

Buen camino,

Fran x

Choose an action and run with it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 15/28

Today’s recipe: A salad’ey vegetabl’ey cous cous!

From the outside it may look like my life has changed dramatically over the years but my life has always looked like change. I hiked mountains at thirteen in Indonesia as a girl guide, lived in the Whitsunday Islands, Melbourne and Perth in my 20s, moved to Europe in my 30s, Sydney in my 40s and now Europe again. I’ve been an Island hostess, a high school teacher and a midwife. I’m born from wandering stock you see. A migrant grandad who jumped on a ship in 1956 with his wife and nine kids to find a life in Australia where he could farm. And a mother (one of 13) who boarded a ship, alone, bound for Australia at the age of 23 to learn English.

I move but I don’t move to find greener grass I’m just wired to explore. The green grass can only be found in our everyday and wherever I am that’s what I’m cultivating. I don’t see moving as being particularly brave either. Let’s face it moving countries, going on adventures, starting fresh that is my modus operandi. I also married a fellow seeker of world adventures and along the way we’ve paved careers and lives that have enabled us to do it (and the privilege of dual citizenship, education…middle class). Nope brave to me is to find yourself in the present day. Standing for what matters to you. And most of my friends that I hold so dearly are actually not world movers but people who do just that … stand bravely wherever they are!

One thing that’s guaranteed with every move (and each life transition) is the period of feeling unsettled. The time where I reach in and out of new things to finds what fits, to find the every day spark feeling. The present day. It’s not always easy starting fresh, always my identity comes into question. Over the years I’ve gotten better at it. After the honeymoon period I know I have to do some work and find what I need to create a life with meaning.

While my life has me moving into different settings even if yours doesn’t I’m sure we share those similar feelings of needing to readjust sometimes. One thing I loved on the camino was this feeling of don’t leave for tomorrow what you can get done today. We walked the extra 3kms if we had the energy. As we arrived we showered, washed our clothes, ate and debriefed the day. The basics. I’ve been applying this idea to my days during this 28 days of motion project. Want to know what I am finding? Connection and balance.

The more I stop putting things off … preparing dinner earlier, putting my shoes on and moving, admin tasks, hard conversations, setting stronger boundaries in parenting (even when that makes me different) and accepting what I need to be honest about – the stronger I get, the more I see and the closer I get to the people in my life.

I think balance is one of those basic maths problems. Yes, we can argue that none of us can have it … but at what point does remaining unbalanced and not taking uncomfortable action cause a tipping point? I’d prefer to seek a balanced, honest life even if it isn’t a ‘trendy’ one. It doesn’t mean that on any given day everything is in order – no, that’s perfection and also unbalanced. It means not putting off the basics because if I do it will come back and bite later. It’s about making choices about what matters most and being guided by that.

‘As unique as we all are, an awful lot of us want the same things. We want to shake up our current less-than-fulfilling lives. We want to be happier, more loving, forgiving and connected with the people around us.’ ~Brene Brown

So when things aren’t feeling calm and connected or if they’re just too heavy I run with an action. In the current moment in time what is the most basic need? What do I need to add to balance the scales? Then usually what needs subtracting becomes obvious. In fact a reordering of priorities and actions almost certainly begins to unfold. A load of people on the camino drop weight from their packs along the way … they are carrying too much. Subtracting is my maths skill. Adding has become my challenge. And because I play with action hopefully you won’t see me talking or writing about the same thing next year or the year after. It is only by taking action that we can truly move forward … just like the camino, as we walked forward and into Santiago. I just can’t help myself with the camino references ;).

Recipe: A salad’ey vegetable’ey cous cous

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Cous cous
  • Rocket
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • A Red & Yellow Capsicum (pepper)
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Red Onion
  • Basil

How we cooked it:

Cook cous cous according to packet instructions then set aside in a large bowl to cool.

In a large pan fry some chopped carrot and red onion in a little olive oil on med to high heat, after a few minutes add some crushed garlic and chopped red and yellow capsicum (peppers). Fry for another 4 mins then put on a lid, lower heat to medium and cook for 5 mins.

Meanwhile halve some cherry tomatoes and tear up some basil and add to the cous cous. Make a vinaigrette with equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. It’s important that the vinaigrette is more tangy than what you’d usually put on a salad.

Remove the vegetables from the heat and add too the cous cous but don’t stir through. Allow everything to cool to room temperature. Before serving, add a few handfuls of rocket and the vinaigrette and mix it all together. Works best if you use your hands.

You can substitute vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas, sugar snaps, corn kernels, or aubergine, but it works best if you always have some capsicum, and always include the red onion. Cheeses such as Persian feta, haloumi or Parmesan can be added. Avoid mushrooms.

You could also use quinoa in place of cous cous. Just cook it a bit further ahead of time and spread it out on a large platter to cool and most importantly dry out. If it’s holding too much water the salad will taste bland.

We served ours with salmon but you can choose any accompaniment. In winter we often do it with home made meat balls in a tomato passata sauce.

Today I put my trail runners on for the first time in ages … and slowly as I stopped to photograph the feathers I realised that this motion project will lead to the next. That’s the principal of motion in action.

Buen Camino,

Fran X