Tag Archives: writing

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

Why compete or compare? Let’s not. Say ‘no’, start there.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 9/28

Today’s recipe: Roasted eggplant.

I’m often saddened when I read posts about FOMO or feeling bad about what others post or the need for posters who have audiences to say ‘this is my highlight reel’. Seriously … WHY? Why be scared of missing out? Or why compare ourselves we others lives. Why do we need to be told that we shouldn’t feel bad because of what you post? What has happened to us? Why can’t we separate what we see with what our own reality is? Honestly … it perplexes me. And you know why? Because why would anyone have it better? We ALL have feelings and stuff right? Or are we special? Are we the only ones who in a day can live through every emotion that exists?

I took this photo from my bike (because this is a bike adventure series). I was balancing the fruit and veg in my basket and my panniers. My youngest … my baby, with his hands on my hips as I dunk him on the back of the bike was singing his heart out … we’d been at the market (real food) … shopped with bags I’d re-used (zero waste) … to the left a violinist was playing (romantic and European) … the season is summer (smiles in The Netherlands) … summer also means festivals and food vans (reminds me of Berlin Lix) … I was on my bike (my carbon omission free transport)… shopping done (food till next market day) … my daughter was smiling (tough week) … my husband is hiking in the ALPS (he loves that stuff, he even posted a story, he never does that, so happy for him) … dinner was covered (same recipe as last Saturday) … I’m writing (you’re reading) … that’s a whole lot of good stuff there! And sure, neither of us, husband and I are on our career trajectory (adjusting that)… we’ve had some shit to deal with since arriving here (that’s life) … our family isn’t close by (I miss my mum) … our identities are being challenged (starting fresh) …. we are having to make a choice, here or home (where’s home?) … but THIS, in this bike moment … it’s all ok, more than ok … this is as good as life gets.

Let me paint you some pictures of my day.

I could tell you about each photo or we could just talk about our days. There’s no perfection, there’s just life. Every day life. I bet both of us experienced some similar feelings. If you’ve read this far I presume we’re already connected in some way so let’s make a deal … let’s be working on our own nests. Moving forward, moving our furniture, learning to say no, learning to let go, learning to care more, to care less, be honest about what we need, slow down, speed up, walk, ride, dance, run, swim, talk, paint, write, cook, sew, love … whatever we need to move forward with … let’s work on that, let’s move and not worry about what others are doing. Let’s just agree to not compete or compare. Sounds easy right? But dig deeper. Every time we speak or act … let’s ask ourselves the question am I competing or comparing? Because if we are we’ll always be a step behind ourselves. And don’t we want to be present and contented with ourselves? In our own life.

Today I had a conversation with a fellow writer. One of my favorites actually and I shared some of my story ideas. And I didn’t care. I used to be protective of my ideas and today I shared them, gave her my quotes, analogy’s, everything. If she runs with and writes something because she read them … boom that’s a win. Neither of us own ideas. Especially those of us who write about and live life. We learn by experience and our human experience is actually not that different. We’re bound to cover the same ground. But when we share and talk without being held by the constraints of competition or comparison or even fear we choose a deeper path. I prefer those kinds of conversations, the ones we walk away from feeling good.

All competing and comparing does (with ourselves or others) is to stunt us and hold us hostage from living freely in our own lives. And for those of us who are parents … it can stunt us from hearing our own kids.

Recipe time – Roasted eggplant.

The head cold is still lingering. It’s why you’re not seeing hiking photos! But motion is in my mind, determination is in my day and because I write this blog – honesty matters, so I’m cooking.

My Buddha bowls haven’t been in play this week so I’m prepping. The week’s bowls (well 4 of them) will have eggplant at the centre.

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant or aubergines (I had two to use)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary

How I prep’d them:

Slice the eggplants in half. Slice into the flesh diagonally creating diamonds … three diagonal lines left to right and swap.

Top with salt, let sit … at least an hour.

Squeeze and wipe the salted juice off.

Coat flesh with olive oil and place upside down on a twig of rosemary on a tray. (I use and re-use baking paper.)

Bake for an hour.

Serve as a side with a lemon or some balsamic & oil or I’ll show you how I use them through the week in Buddha bowls.

Buen camino,

Fran xxx

The postman delivered the most delicious gift to my day.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 6/28

Today’s recipe: Stewed rhubarb sweetened with orange.

Adventures on the bike are a family affair here. This morning lover and life partner, the supportive one who held down the fort while I hiked the camino left on his bike. Yes he is wearing the very same backpack I took on the camino. And he’s on his way to catch a train – to catch a plane – to catch a date with a mountain. A monster mountain massif actually, Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak (4,807 metres). Over the next few weeks he will hike his way around it while taking in spectacular views from three countries Switzerland, Italy and France. I’m super excited for him and phenomenally proud that this is the life I find myself in, the one we’re building. One where prioritising adventure has firmly taken a front seat. Me, I’ll be here happily holding down the fort and adventuring on through my days. Everyday life kind of adventuring. Can I share with you some deliciousness the postman delivered on Saturday afternoon? Yes! Cool.  Oh and I know post on a Saturday! It does get delivered on weekends in The Netherlands (through the slot in the front door which I also love!).

I’ve been looking for a book to read. I’ve scoured the kindle, wandered around shops, looked at my shelves for a re-read but nothing. I could have asked online for recommendations but then I’d have to be sure I’d take the advice on board if I was going to ask people to contribute their time by replying. *Opinion alert* Have you noticed the mandatory question that seems to be popping up on IG posts? I get it, they are the accounts that are building a community and there is absolute value in that, some of my dearest friends have come from meeting online.  It’s just that sometimes it feels a tad disingenuous. Or maybe it’s me and my cynical rebel heart. Do you really want to know what 14,000 (or even 50) people you have never met prefer to wear to the beach? Or, their best advise for travel packing … when you already profess yourself as an expert at travel and you’ll be telling us how to do it next week anyhow? It’s a bit like newsreader school. You know how newsreaders all have the same tone. I actually notice a lot of ‘said’ questioners complaining about their use of online time, telling us to get ‘offline’ or alternately their ‘lack’ of time … perhaps toning down comments for the sake of comments? Unless of course you are genuinely interested (connecting or curious) and not creating noise for noise’s sake. And if it’s your job i.e. you are doing it to sell … the complaining is even more disingenuous and disrespectful to the people who give you their valuable time by answering your questions.  I tend to go by the motto ‘if what and how I’m contributing or doing with my online time feels wrong – it probably is, so I change something’. *End of opining*. Wow, that is a new thing for me, I’m practicing opinion writing.

“All my life, my heart has sought a thing I cannot name” ~Hunter. S. Thompson.

Today I want to make this a relatively short’ish post ;). Stop getting sidetracked Fran … back to the deliciousness of that mail. Wait for it (insert drum roll) … it was a hand written manuscript from a friend. I kid you not – a 149 page first novel, a labour of love. Can you imagine the honour that goes with the privilege of being entrusted with someone’s vulnerable work? Naturally, the first thing I did was hug that parcel with it’s priceless contents. I planned to open it and read non stop tomorrow but this head cold is lingering and today was the the right time. It’s more than I could ever have imagined. It’s that novel I was looking for in the past few weeks. The kind of story that takes you on a ride, the exact one you were reaching for. It’s honest, inspiring and true. I can feel the character … and I’m only 10 pages in. In these next few weeks in the quiet of my days with my husband away I’ve decided to read for a 1/2 hr each morning, to slow read it. Enough time to step into the book and for the words to sift through my day, taking me on a wonderful and mystical adventure over a period of time rather than read it super fast (my usual MO). It’s the most honourable thing I can do with this gift that has been entrusted to me.

The writer, I haven’t met her in person we met online through IG and through sharing words we’ve formed a deep friendship. The above quote is in the opening of the book and dear writerly friend I get that. Perhaps like the feeling I had in the photo underneath it with my littlest as his hands held me, trusted me – it’s the feeling of a love affair with life and all its meaning. One that grows the more you choose to step into it.

It’s a book that sings of connection, trust and contentment. Connection with life in the natural world and a contentment with self because of that trust. Writerly friend, as I took the Rhubarb from the fridge, the stalks my son chose from the market last weekend some of your words sang through my mind ‘…look deep child, when you work earth in your garden …’. It was when I was read these words I decided that I would cook the Rhubarb today. I imagine your character growing Rhubarb in abundance. I never know where my food story will come from but dear friend today you provided me with it and so much more. Thank you for sharing your words with me.

Stewed rhubarb sweetened with orange.

This is an easy one! I think my son had dreamed of Rhubarb pie when he chose these gorgeous stalks. I am sure he will also appreciate this little dollop of stewed sweetness tomorrow on his breakfast or perhaps on his yoghurt after school today.

Slice the rhubarb into stalks that fit in the pot. Pop into a pot with a squeeze of Orange. I ended up using the whole orange to ensure it didn’t stick. The sweetness was perfect. Yo could also us  a little water.  Stew at medium heat. It’s a watch the pot and stir kind of dish, otherwise it might stick. It took about 20 minutes to stew down for me today and it keeps perfectly in the fridge. It can be warmed on porridge or eaten cold. Your choice.

Today was stewed Rhubarby sweet. It consisted of short bursts of time spent dedicated to wondrous things. It is wondrous to have a home to create a nest in. Stories to read. Friends to treasure. Time to give oneself. Dreams to dream. Memories to ponder. Philosophies to share. Music to hear. Words to write and people to love. In the short burst I found a longer day and in the these things I found contentment. This is to me what living a creative life looks like.

Buen camino’ing through your day,

Fran xx

The joy that goes hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way, without pushing into it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 5/28

Today’s recipe: Zucchini fritters with Tzatziki.

I’m sure if I hadn’t committed to documenting this creative living project I would have dropped my bundle on my bike/cooking adventures today. With a head cold brewing and a good three hours wasted at the hairdresser – the shades of purple in my hair that needed adjusting. ‘It’s the matte finish’ she kept repeating … ‘um I hear you but ‘matte’ isn’t a colour and I’m sure I didn’t ask for this’. Just gently wake the colour I had said. What I really wanted was a symbolic chop. I’m shedding you see and nothing says that more than getting a good few inches lopped off.

If I was a collector of stuff I’d probably be rummaging through drawers and filling bags and boxes but I’ve been there. The stuff I’m interested in decluttering are related to the stories I play in my head and the habits I want to improve. The camino didn’t show me what simple living is, it reminded me of how much I value it. How imperative it is to honest grounding.

After a siesta to try and sleep off this cold I was standing in the kitchen a bit motionless. I wasn’t even thinking about what recipe I’d try later I was simply perplexed about lunch! The temptation was Vegemite on toast. Nothing wrong with that of course except it’s not part of the fresh food story I’m writing for myself this month. As the toast popped I decided to layer my bread with healthy tastes and together with my lemon kefir (the pro-biotic drink I’m having daily) I sat in the warmth of the sun. The fact that I’m back on the kefir after months of thinking about it, is goodness in itself. It’s hard to put into words what happened out there in the sun. But basically, it was me choosing to remain accountable to this project (forward motion?) … to myself, and to be kind to myself. Something I can struggle with in certain areas.

And from there … today’s story wrote itself. Some panadol helped ;). I decided not to work on the words I’d written this morning (in the hairdresser’s chair) and keep today’s post simple. I love what I’m working on but it’s more of a ‘stretch my writerly ability’ type piece so it will need more energy. Creative living is only possible with the ability to adapt and be flexible. I can’t give anymore to the story I started writing earlier in the day but I can write this new one that unfolded and keep myself accountable to this 28 day adventure and writing challenge. Today’s story, where somedays we have to choose to do things differently to meet what’s thrown at us.

So it wasn’t a nourishment bowl it was a tasty avocado, tuna and cheese melt for lunch … seriously how good is a melt! It was me being kind to myself. It was choosing a siesta instead of going out hiking. And that is how we can change our story. After some time in the sun and in response to showing myself the gentleness my body was asking for my inspiration returned. Something simple … I could do that. And the leftover zucchini’s in the fridge became fritters.

Zucchini fritters with home made Tzatziki.

Fritters:

  • 600 grams of shredded zucchini
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 gloved garlic shredded
  • Olive oil

How I do them:

Pop the zucchini in a colander and add a small amount of salt (or none) to mix. Rest for 10 minutes.

In a bowl add the zucchini after squeezing out the excess water (very important). Add flour, garlic, egg, parmesan and pepper to season. Mix by hand.

Cook small patties in the fry pan in olive oil.

I pop them in the oven on a tray after I’ve fried them to cook through otherwise they can taste a bit raw.

Variations: I wasn’t in the head space but for sure add extras – carrot, corn … the perfect veggie burgers. Easy to freeze and a healthy grab for lunch with a bit of rocket lunch.

Tzatziki:

Blitz some dill, cucumber and Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice.

After our fritter snacks while my youngest was struggling to draw a picture he needed for his teacher I came up with an idea! The panadol had fully kicked in so a bike adventure for inspiration was needed … for all of us. Perhaps it’s having visited the gardens in St Remy last year where Van Gogh had painted one of my favourite pictures, or the Monet that hangs in the Tate modern we visited over Easter but I’d decided he needed a landscape. He needed a picture and colours in his mind for inspiration. And I knew just the place.

The local woods also have farmland dispersed throughout it. It’s why I often come across cattle, horses and goats on my walks. Right now there are fields of wheat and corn. Imagine going a whole season and not playing amongst the crops! Lucky we don’t have snakes here.

There was bike swapping, hide and seek playing, stone throwing and wild laughing. The birds were singing and I promised them the kids would be back soon. These long summer nights are begging for these kinds of memories to be made amongst them.

I’m high giving myself for finding all the things I needed in today to get to this point of the day. The cycling, the food, the adventuring and the writing. For creating the space to act on the stuff I realised I needed when I was on the camino. And all the joy that went hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way without pushing into it.

Hope yours is a good one.

Buen Camino,

Fran 😘

Cleaning out the closets – life beyond the camino.

And I’m home. Home from taking a long walk (800km) along the Camino. You know the one, the 1,200 year old path towards Santiago. The one that starts in many places, but for me at the base of the Pyrenees in St Jean Pied de Port in the Beautiful French Basque Country (Frantziaco euscal herri ederra). After swimming in liminality for a bit, that floaty, bewilderingly in-between space where we can feel a bit lost. The space that’s actual a transitional phase where you’re adjusting after a life experience, yes, I’ve been there and hola I’m back.

Back to writing and back home cleaning out my closets. Metaphorically speaking of course. My actual closets have been empty for a few years now. We try to travel through life lightly when it comes to ‘physical stuff’. Naturally, living life comes with the need for some physical stuff (2 adults and 4 kids worth) but we try to be mindful of being wasteful and distracted by consumption. It’s other stuff I’m cleaning up. Like among other things the getting older and thinking about the future … really are we at the second half of our working lives, closer to the retirement end than the start of our working lives? What do these years, months, days need? What don’t they need?

Walking the camino is as close as it gets to living each day as simply as you can with purpose and without the angst or pressure from expectations of the world and daily life. Ok, sometimes you have to walk further to find a bed, unless you book ahead (that depends on your own comfort levels). And yes there are the times the bed bugs bite, the times you want to be alone, when you can’t face another tortilla or bocodilla and the times you hurt! But in the scheme of things hopefully you get what I mean. Life. Not a life without difficulty just simpler and moving with purpose towards the end of each day. Less to manage, less to worry about.

I scared myself a bit last week. Worrying. Thinking too far ahead. Looking too far back. It’s probably normal after living with such simplicity and clear purpose to come home and freak out a bit, ok a lot!

My sister talks about the sense of achievement you get each day from walking kilometers along the camino. It’s true. Each afternoon as we sat and drank a beer we smiled. A smile on our face but more than that. A smile from deep, deep inside after a satisfying day’s work of doing what we love.

It’s not quite summer here (technically) but it’s deliciously warm. The summer doesn’t start in the Northern Hemisphere until 21st June (the solstice) so we are still in spring. The season to clean out closets, always timing right! I walked 800kms and be sure friends the adventure won’t be in vain. While I walked it, I lived it. My mind was there in Spain not here in The Netherlands. Now as I move forward having walked the camino I begin here again, now. A new time (adventure) with more experience to reflect and draw on.

I must begin again because sitting in worry is not helpful! Although I do think it had its purpose. It is necessary in bringing us to our personal crossroads … the big questions. The big challenge is of course to step into the path of those questions, to take our own action.

Sometimes the easy path is timely even if the harder one is more important. There are times you have no choice which path you must take. The hard path takes strength and sometimes we must cultivate some courage first. (Try walking or making something ;) if you need some and practice saying ‘no’ sometimes and ‘yes’ to different things). There is one thing I’m sure of though … after pausing on the easy path the hard one will once again show itself at a crossroad. Many people skip the section of the hike over the Pyrenees because it’s mountainous. The entire camino has hills and mountains and here’s the thing – you may start in the next village or city but that first section is not the hardest! Like life you won’t escape the hard climbs.

Here I stand. Walking my own camino, stepping into my life with all the unknowns it is currently throwing my way. Facing the unknown of what my ‘career’ will look like, what my husband’s will look like as he takes the risk of backing himself and starting a business. Wondering when the ‘right’ time to move home is. Where is home? Am I doing the ‘smart’ thing? Who defines smart? Is security real or perceived? Knowing I need to get more consistent and put a deeper effort in with food and our footprint for my family. All SCARY and HARD stuff (for me).

Scary I suppose if I choose to let it overrun me with fear and the subsequent worry that comes with that.

I can’t predict further down the road. But the camino showed me I do like to book my accommodation ahead … that’s my comfort zone and I can always change it if needed. So I need a plan! The camino also confirmed my love of the every day. I can’t exist is chaos and I especially can’t exist without my soul being nurtured. And how that wonderfully magical ancient path reminded me that life is joyful! Worrying and existing without cultivating what nurtures my soul distracts me from experiencing joy.

So poco a poco (little by little) and steadily each day becomes part of moving towards something bigger as I fill my days (mostly) with things I love. And to move joyfully with purpose through the more tedious bits.

The big issues like tackling superannuation and looking at money begins. Researching a new fund as the one we have is FULL of fees (boring admin stuff that has a big impact on the future). As does considering what that fund needs to look like in the future (within our reality and constraints). It can be one of the things that gets left behind when you live away from your home country, having your pension in another. So yes we are living an adventure but there are costs … it’s best I clean the closet! Budget time.

Finding momentum in life and satisfying my soul creates comfort in my every day and they go hand in hand. I LOVE music. This week and honestly most weeks it’s Bernard Fanning’s ‘Tea and Sympathy’ album (a creature of habit I am). I listen to it when I need to move at home. Folding washing and dancing, mopping and singing, writing lists and dreaming. It’s good for the soul … and then flow happens. The kitchen calls and the play lunch gets baked and a new little desk space is created … a place that’s hidden away for things to be created (exciting stuff).

Career? Well that’s always going to be tricky. Currently my midwifery registration is on hold because I can’t practice here. So I’m working as a substitute teacher at an international school. I have a lot of down time there – the kids are very motivated learners, super interesting too. So I’m swinging that my way by learning something new. I study Spanish while the kids are working – sometimes I even get the Spanish kids to help me with pronunciation, bonus.

‘Life has a way that’s unpredictable but you can’t spend it waiting on a miracle.’ ~ Bernard Fanning.

And slowly I’m working on tidying and playing with this blog. My blogs have always reflected where I am in my life and this one is a special one. I’m not one thing. Nope, I’m not a lifestyle, travel, adventure or fashion blogger ;). To be honest I don’t even consider myself a blogger. I’m a sharer of words with a love of many things. I write about them for me. It’s simpler for me that way – not writing with a need for my words to deliver something.

I’m proud of this blog, for what I’ve achieved for One Girl and for contributing to the landscape of women and adventure. I love that I’ve connected with some wonderful creative women along this writing path. I will always write to continue moving forward, to improve and challenge myself, to live in a positive and optimistic space. Just like sharing on IG I write to satisfy my own need to share, create and think out loud. There are a few of us that need that, hello to those of you that visit because you too need or get that. And to those of you who like colossal posts.

Life. It’s happening today! It’s where we live, the people we share ourselves with, the beauty in the world that we notice, nurture and protect and what we cultivate each day that feeds our soul. Joy will come from there and will always be grander than anything we buy, any trip we take or ‘all’ the extra things we do begrudgingly. Today is a dynamic place, we are constantly moving. Feeling (presence) and reflecting through each phase of transition offers us yet another opportunity to step forward – wiser, wilder, bolder and awake in the life we’re actively creating for ourselves.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx