The path differently.
New ways to see.
Diverge to find free.
What it is to be.
And intimately me.
Happy birthday to me.
The path differently.
New ways to see.
Diverge to find free.
What it is to be.
And intimately me.
Happy birthday to me.
For a longest time hiking was my passion! Of course it still is but I like gritty hikes, mountain hikes, wild hikes and I like my hikes to be long! One of the greatest things I’ve ever done was to hike the 800kms of the Camino de Santiago. In both Sydney and Melbourne hiking and getting my heart rate up was an easy, fun adventure to find. I grew up amongst hills and National Parks are never far away. Living in The Netherlands not so much! Sure the woods are across the road and I adore them. But it’s flat here. Dead flat. And flat is not such hard work gritty work and I kinda miss that. Each day that I run on my #runstreak I’m getting stronger and it’s harder to get the heart rate going in these flatlands when hiking or walking. I can’t run long fast runs each day, my body would collapse. I am also getting to know the trails from my from front door. I know them back to front, I need to explore further. I had an itch. I needed something. Some sort of wildness. A new hobby. Enter womens road cycling.
Now you’ve probably heard of, know of one or have seen the rise of the MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra). I’m married to one. Although he has been cycling longer than I’ve known him so technically he grew into his MAMIL’ness. I am the stereotype MAWIL! Yep, I have gone the full monty, become lycra obsessed in my middle age! And I love it. The adventures I’m having from the front door are taming my itch for wildness in a way that hiking simply can’t here. I need a whole day for a hike here to feel remotely adventurous and to feel like I’ve done some hard work. I can get that in an hour on my bike. Or I can get it doing a tip run! No joke. The other day we had to do a declutter of the garage (to built bike storage) and we moved bricks and old building supplies to the tip. Tips have changed these days. There is a recycling skip and purpose for everything! I was most impressed. And I loved the labourer’s work of carrying the junk. It crossed my mind that I’d renovate simply to carry stuff to a skip to feel strong.
My friend was laughing at me the other day and said ‘I feel like you have a new boyfriend, I’ve never seen the hubby feature so much on your Instagram page’! To which I replied ‘I do, but it’s not him it’s the bike’! Ha seriously my bike is like a new lover. We just want to hang out. I count down the time until we get to be together, there’s a yearning and I feel a bit sad as I get nearer to my street knowing the ride is just about over. Husband isn’t jealous, has been awesome really. A new cyclist needs an experienced one to ask all the questions. If you have any shoot them through, I’ll ask him for you. He helped me get started much faster than I could’ve without him. He’s a patient teacher and as I’ve learnt it’s not just about being able to ride a bike.
A few things I’ve learnt:
I’ve ride with with hubby and I ride on my own (lots). Sometimes if we want to do things we have to be prepared to go solo. You could spend your life waiting for someone else. We’ve popped the bikes on the car and taken them to Belgium for a weekend of hill riding. Although cycling on actual roads where there aren’t paths or designated bike lanes does add a degree of ‘what the hell am I doing, I’ve got four kids back at camp’. In Holland it feels secure with so many designated bike paths and drivers who are ‘bike’ aware. Would I have taken this up in Aussie? I’m not sure. But then I would have been able to hike hard so I wouldn’t have needed it. I would have had a different itch to scratch no doubt. You know me! For now, cycling has been a great itch soother, a shitload of fun, the balm my wildness needed and a nice way to come out of quarantine … moving or should I say pedalling forward.
Do you have a dream place? Is it a place you’ve been? Or is it a place you dream of being? Italy is surely one that ticks that box for many people. Heck, you don’t even have to go there to dream about it! For many the romance has been created from stories in print and film. From the eternal city of Rome and her counterpart cities who blow our senses with architecture, art, ancient history, music, rustic charm to the country and seasides with their rolling hills, majestic mountains, Mediterranean coastlines and productive landscapes of vineyards, olive trees and tomatoes. Or, is it the general Italian’ness we all love to love – the food, wine, language and her pleasure loving, jovial valuing Italian way of being, the treasure of any great culture, her people.
For me it’s all of the above. I can’t count the times I’ve stood at the Pantheon and marvelled in awe! Oh wait, I probably can, about six. I’ve been to Rome three times and it’s always a visit twice spot for me. It still blows my mind. How did they? Who did it? I always feel connected to an ancient time when I’m under the spell of this incredible feat of mind blowing ancient (25 BC ancient), mystical architecture. If you need a good dose of feeling your mortality and a good wake up call as to what a creative can make in their life – Rome is your city. And if you need a good dose of reminding how to love the good life (la dolce vida) Italy is your country.
Every time I’ve posted about Italy, the response is always along the lines of oh la la Italy, my heart! Sometimes it’s a romantic longing to return and for others it’s a yearning for the romance of a country they’ve falling in lust with. It doesn’t matter how Italy found her way into your heart what matters is how you nurture that love. Italy lives in our hearts and our home. In fact we’ve created an entire front terrace dedicated to living la dolce vita!
If you come to ours on a Saturday afternoon it’s likely you’ll feel the heat from the wood fired pizza oven, smell the intense smell of baked bread as you bite in to your home made Napoli style pizza, all while sipping your prosecco, your spritz or your birra, whatever takes your fancy. Except in July, we’re dry in July. Why? I dunno. #dryjuly must have been invented by non Italians and definitely from someone in the Southern Hemisphere. It really is spritzy weather here! Regardless of the month you will feel the love of the food, the moment, the space and the pleasure of the experience. And it is an experience. A multi layered experience created to simply enjoy life and it’s beauty.
The terrace is in its first season but the grape wine, tuscan lemon tree, herbs, fruit trees and potted vegetables will embrace you. The husband (pizzaiolo) will be standing at the oven in his uniform, black apron, tea towel in the back pocket and whichever tool is required for the stage the pizza is at. The dough will have been lovingly made with fine ingredients the day before following a tried and tested process. The mise en place (the putting in place of what is needed) also prep’d earlier will ensure the pizza’s are topped with deliciously simple toppings. The kids will be home, they don’t like to miss pizza night. The chatter will be fluid, the laughs spontaneous and the desire to be anywhere else – non existent.
You will be here and you will be in Italy.
It’s a work in progress our little piece of Italy! We will continue to grow with it as the plants grow around us. Our roots intertwined. Many meals and many moments will be shared. Tradition that forms the basis of how our kids remember childhood will happen right here on this terrace. I think it will be fondly. And I know it will inspire them to keep space for a little Italian’ness in their lives.
If I’m in need of a bit of Italy other than the eating and drinking I have been know to ask Siri to play me something Italian or to watch Eat, Pray Love. Ha! I’ve watched it so many times I may have even referenced a scene of it in my book. Obviously, I am an unashamedly hopeless, hopeless romantic. And, of course there’s always the ultimate way of escaping – into a book! There’s that classic Italian escape Frances Mayle’s, Under the Tuscan Sun. Do you have a favourite to share with us?
We don’t always have to go somewhere to have the ‘feeling’ of somewhere. And I may even argue we shouldn’t ‘have’ to need to. The travel, the marvelling is the icing. Most of life happens where we live! It’s what we bring home to our daily lives that matters most. Happy here, dreamy here, this is where to start.
P.S. Support local! We support Dutch businesses as much as possible. Our fruit trees and vines are purchased from Fruticos. And the beating heart of our terrace the oven was purchased from another Dutch family business Fornitalia.
‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.’ – Maya Angelou
Where is the connection? This is the question. The question I am asking myself as I move forward in developing my writing. Tutorials would probably call it a niche. Let me start with the things. I am lots of things. A traveller, a woman, a friend, a wife, a mother, a lapsed midwife, a lapsed teacher, a hiking enthusiast, a novice cyclist, an activist … the list is long. I generally don’t subscribe to tutorials so I am also a rebel. I like to do things my own way. Or does that just make me stubborn!?! Or is this the clue – the signpost to the connection, the way forward.
I have always written for myself. I write as a way of moving forward, of making sense of where I am or of where I’ve been. Along my writing path, a path I took in my early 40s, people started reading and connecting with my words. Still I write for me, but if I truly only write for me I’d journal. Wouldn’t I? So, also, I write for you. Of course I do because I publish my prose.
But who are you?
My most precious gift in writing, my connection, my clues!
You’re women (mostly). Some of you are partnered, some not. Some are mothers, many are not. Some are empty nesters, some are in the thick of the trenches. Some of you are hikers, not all of you. Some of you are activists, some quietly some actively. Some of you travel, some don’t. Some of you are vegetarians, some not. Some of you also write, take photos, paint, cook stuff, grow stuff or just generally make stuff!
The thing I think we all have in common, our connection is that we are a bit WILD. A bit radical, a bit dreamy, a bit adventurous, a bit what else is in the world, a bit what is there to feel, learn, see, a lot strong, a lot fierce and a lot in love with not being ‘normal’. What even is normal? We are our own normal.
Yes, we are the wild ones. And so I write for you. You are my niche, my people and you are the ones I seek to share my energy with. To be radical with. In this space and in my space away from the words. My style of writing, my ‘niche’ is fuelled by living. And so I won’t only be sharing my energy here with the wild ones, I’ll be keeping it wild in my every day life too. Because let’s face it, we’re all a lot more focussed post our corona isolation aren’t we!?!
Accepting what I am as opposed to pushing my boundaries? This has been an important distinction for me to ‘get’ in this process. For example I travel a lot and mostly with kids and I guess there’s a whole genre in the ‘how to’ travel with kids, it’s the obvious one for me. But the thing is I just don’t dig writing about it. It doesn’t spark my fire. It wouldn’t be pushing my boundaries to start writing about it just because I do it, just because I know it well and there are others already loving it, doing a great job of it. I can’t fit where I don’t.
It would be far more honest for me to accept it’s simply not my style and to push the boundaries in the genre I do dig. The one I live to feel! The one that feeds my soul. The one where I find my connection, where I meet you lot. The Wild Ones. The ones seeking the more of life because you simply can’t live without sparks and flashes of promise and a great love and appreciation of the story. And yes travel will be a big part of it and possibly also kids but the thread, the inspiration for me is the connection. So here’s to creating a body of work that is inspired and focussed from a connection to the wildness we need to feed.
Each day I take my run through the woods, still with the freedom to walk through the front door at a time of my choosing. When I’m walking out the door the music up and I’m pumped – I am ready to move. Sometimes it’s putting the music on before I leave the house that gets me motivated. For all that has changed in the world we still have choices. Freedom. I’m not saying it’s easy but many of us still do – it’s in how we frame life.
In deciding to turn my phone off for a month yesterday I have effectively turned off the music to which I run. Something I hadn’t thought through. This is why it is best to leap rather than think sometimes! As I left I thought, ok no music, I can still do this. Without the music in my ears there was something else to hear. One of my favourite things actually. A kind of poetry for the soul. The sound of the chirpy Great Tit’s as they wax lyrical about the day’s events.
Looking back over these past weeks the biggest shift has come for me each time I accept the challenge. I was early in my preparedness, accepting the virus was on the way. This did not send me spinning into shock when things changed in a weekend. For a while I was angry. Angry that many ignored what was coming and in doing so spent no time considering the associated mortality of their choices and those without safety nets. I was angry that people saw this as a blessing when for many it is anything but. Eventually, once the world began to act to protect people I found a way to accept there would be mortality because at least now we’re trying to reduce this and also, that people are just where they are on this pandemic journey.