#SecondHalf Update

So, I can’t quite believe it’s been nearly a year since we said goodbye to corporate life, and our world in Joburg. I’ll do a proper update on July 2nd when the year is up, but today was a very special day for us. As most of you will know, we’re on a two year sabbatical to detox from corporate, work on personal stuff, regroup, heal, pray, read, write, publish, and seek God’s will for the second half of our adult life.

It’s been a huge lesson in patience, and will no doubt continue to be. It’s been well over two years since we decided to do this, and the answers are coming slowly… but as always… perfectly. It’s been a huge leap of faith in every way, but we’re starting to bear fruit of our hard work, trust, patience and obedience.

There’ve only been a small handful of concrete directions since the first plans thirty months ago and we’ve just had to keep trusting and pushing forward. Then a month ago there were a couple of biggies and today, almost out of nowhere, a bunch more! In some ways they feel like they’ve come tumbling out of nowhere, but as the kids have reminded us, looking back, everything’s pointed to this!! For so long! Even the little things!

I’m sorry to be so vague, but we’re still working through details and we don’t have all the answers ourselves yet. And we’re so excited and I want you to know we’re working hard on stuff and we aren’t just following our noses around Italy or anywhere else for nothing. And because people keep saying “I hope you’re enjoying your retirement!!” as if we’re wasting our lives doing nothing. We aren’t collecting seashells and we aren’t being mindless.

So if you’re part of the tribe who’re praying for us, please keep praying! If you’re not, that’s ok too and we still appreciate your support and your messages and you’ll know what’s happening the same as anyone else 😊

Thanks too for sooo many book sales and climbing! This is all coming together and we’re enormously thankful!

With love from both of us,

My Captain and his Stoker (photo cred: the Captain 😊)

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The Heel of Italy

So, here we are on leg one of the three month trip to and from a family wedding in Italy. The three-week journey from Malta to Tuscany is pretty straight forward, but the trip home again will feel like halfway around the world as we take ten weeks to do Belgium, Germany, Copenhagen and beyond. Much of it is still up the air; as we follow our noses.

I’ve had my head in editing and writing mode for six weeks solid without a break (including weekends) and it’s lovely to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll talk about that in the next blog or two… this is a bigger catch up as I’m so behind on news!

In a few week’s time, we’ll be a year into our to two-year sabbatical, and I won’t lie – it’s been hard. But not in ways most people assume. I realised recently that people think we must hate being around each other all the time – but we don’t. Which led to the realisation the other day that short of an hour or so while he cooks or pops next door for ingredients, we are never further than a few feet apart. Yup; you read that right – we spend about twenty-three hours a day less than three feet apart, with no one else we know around (other than the odd visit every three or four months when we’re on the road). No one planned it that way; it’s just how it is. We’ve always been like that. Even when he’s worked long hours, we’re always in contact. It’s just how we roll. We’re good at working alongside each other and I’ve been working twelve hour days. So there’s also a whole lot of healthy silence around here. We’re both quite introverted and we enjoy the quiet.

Which also means, while we work hard on assessing and building and working on ourselves and our lives and our marriage and all that (the hard stuff), the idea of a plot of land in the country has gone out of the window completely. The dream of big open spaces, for us, has turned out to be a bit of a myth; if it’s not dogs barking or a tractor going it’s a chainsaw or a lawnmower or any number of “boy toys” dressed up as farm machinery and “work”. So now we’re thinking more about small apartments and double glazed windows for our future!

Speaking of said future… we miss the babies terribly, and as they start to really settle into adulthood and build careers and families and now houses, (and there’s another new baby on the horizon), we’ve put the first peg in the sand of our second half and bought a block of land in Queensland (Australia). It came out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago, but it slotted exactly into a spot we didn’t know was waiting for us, and we’ll be right next door to some of the grandbabies and we could not feel more spoiled or blessed to be invited to be in their lives like that.

So while I’m writing, he’s in full on land buying/contract/money/advice mode, and I’m ignoring it all except when I’m needed for design purposes; much of which won’t happen for a while. The land isn’t even ready yet, so the house won’t be till next year, and this means we really have something to look forward to.

Anyway, so I’ll talk more about books and building and babies in the next few posts, but for now, back to the current trip.

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We LOVE staying in Molly (our VWT5 campervan) and Daisy (our tandem Pino) means we can access places I otherwise can’t. Now and then I hop off and walk around a bit, but mostly we’re the crazy people weaving through small-towns in the heel of Italy. We don’t enjoy campgrounds or crowds (or tourists haha!) so we usually travel on the shoulder seasons but we’re heading into summer here in Europe so I’ve been saving my HouseSwap points to park in people’s gardens instead. He wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work, but this is week one and we’re staying on an old olive farm in the middle of nowhere. It’s old, the bed is rock hard, the water is from a well. It’s rustic at best and all the things one doesn’t enjoy in a house swap that isn’t ideal, but we have everything we need in Molly so it’s like having our own free, and very private campground. We still sleep in Molly, but we have a porch and a shower, a kitchen and a toilet – and no neighbours parked right next to us. I’ve booked a house swap for a week or so twice a month throughout the trip, so we’ll still wild camp in between.

Matera was the first town and just amazing. Much of the old city is dug into the side of the cliffs. It’s not a wheelchair or a bike-friendly town for obvious reasons so we couldn’t stay long and couldn’t go down into the town at all, but it was worth the stop.

Ostuni is our local town so we ride there for supplies. It’s worth a visit in it’s own right.

Monopoli was lovely too.

Riding between towns through olive groves, hay bales … (and sadly, disgusting seashores you don’t actually want to see)…

Polignano a Mare where the cliff diving happens (we didn’t even try to go that day as we’d never get close enough to see anything and I can’t go down or up)…

Pizza for dinner in small squares was a highlight but nowhere near as good as the gelato which was AMAZING (and didn’t last long enough for a photo).

To save my spoons (energy) we caught trains too.

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It’s about to get hot, so the weekend will be spent on the porch and writing and editing again before we head off north on Sunday.

#TheLongWayHomeFromAnItalianWedding #VanLife #VWT5 #Molly #Daisy #13Weeks #9Countries #91Sleeps #Tandem #Pino

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Tribes!

You already know I have a thing about tribes right? If not, it’s time you did. We’re on day eleven (I think) of our #SevenFerries trip to the UK to get some paperwork sorted then back again via Portugal and Spain to try ride some of the #CaminoWay on Daisy! Not as a spiritual journey but because we were close by anyway, and I’d always thought I’d like to walk here, (then when I couldn’t walk any more – certainly not any kind of distance), I thought I’d never do this. So in some ways this is a bit of up “up yours!” at mah Eeds as I ride bits of it instead.

We arrived via ferry from the UK a couple of hours ago and we’re tucked inside doing work for the book launch week and writing madly for the next two books. We love wild camping and there’s nothing quite like sitting in Molly working away. But some of the camping is a bit odd. In France they provide free spots of mostly small green patches, but in Spain they do things differently.

They use sporting facility car parks and other tarmac areas that otherwise sit empty. It sounds very odd but it’s brilliant and so clever. Like the French, these stops have rubbish, water, and dumpling facilities for a small fee. It’s often not as pretty, but when you’re only staying to sleep, it really doesn’t matter once it’s dark.

It’s safe, you know you’re welcome, but above all, it feels great to be amongst our own. We’re surrounded by mostly huge beasts, so we’re the babies by a long shot, but as the sun goes down and little lights go on and the little homes light up with cooking and chatting and settling in for the night, as bicycles are strapped down and dishes are washed and out comes the red wine, we feel like we belong in this strange tribe. We’re in the middle of a miniature village.

The guy in the van in front of us offered to move (we didn’t need him to but thanked him), but he doesn’t speak a word of English. Our tribe is made up of all kinds of people from all over the planet. We’re bound by one thing only; this place and our similar journeys! One that knits us together just a little bit. 😊

Nighty night from Spain!!

PS: My Africa my Home eBook is on sale today and tomorrow if you didn’t get your copy before launch!! http://getbook.at/MyAfricamyHome

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Camino!

We are so way off track it’s not funny! We were “supposed” to be doing one of the Camino walking tracks on Daisy through the north of Portugal and Spain on this, our #SevenFerries trip. We hadn’t locked in anything yet other than Ferry number Five from southern France next Tuesday, but we had a whole ten days to look around the place and work out which tracks were actually ridable and find some we could manage on Daisy (and I could manage with my health).

We stopped in Porto for a couple of nights and had a blast. I still need to blog about that I think, but I’m too busy living, writing, and hanging out with him, that there just isn’t enough time. Not that it’s all a bed of roses mind you, we are working our butts off on writing/publishing, we’re working on the stuff we’ve taken this two-year sabbatical to do,  and we’re working on our plans for our Second Half which is set to begin, God willing, towards the end of next year.

We thought we could see the world (or at least much of Europe) in these two years but we’re nearly halfway and we haven’t even begun!! Anyway, I digress (much like this trip) and one last minute decision after another and we found ourselves in the south of Portugal with not enough time for Caminos in the north, pouring rain (so no riding) and trying to find the fastest route to our next ferry port in France yet desperate to get in at least a few days riding!

And that’s when we discovered the Camino Natural Via Verde de la Sierra. Vias Verde are green belts across Spain which are disused train tracks of varying lengths which have been restored for walkers, cyclists and travellers. Much like other Caminos or trails, they are tranquil and beautiful, but unlike many of the older paths which now run alone roadways, these are void of all motorised traffic, and they are wide and flat (both in width and inclines and declines – because that’s what trains do).

In true Spanish style, the rules about no livestock, no vehicles, no animal poop are thoroughly ignored, and I look forward to putting up some videos of us riding through a herd of newborn lambs, one with a death wish.

Yesterday, we rode the Sierra route which is 36 km long, but because we always have to land up in the same spot, we had to ride it both ways! It was the first time I’ve covered over 60km (we did 74 in the end) first time I’ve climbed over 700m in height over a ride, and the twice as long as my longest day with four and half hours in the saddle! We also rode through 60 train tunnels!!

That shows how easy it was and reminded me to dig out my very first Pino ride to show you how it works. (I’ll post both videos on my Facebook author page too)

Anyway, I’m way behind on Why We Don’t Tell which has to go to the final editors in a couple of weeks, so this is a brief catch up.

Tonight was our first sunshine in a week and we’ve moved camp to the edge of this olive grove that reaches as far as the eye can see in every direction… A new via verde tomorrow and then we have to zoom north as fast as we can. And somehow I’ve got to find the time to write!!

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The Wedding!!!

So, we’re on this fabulous -91- sleep round trip to a family wedding in Italy and we’re nineteen sleeps in, so that leaves -72- to get home again. The straightest route home would be to head south again:

….but instead we headed north and we’re now slap bang in the middle of Switzerland. On a farm.

… and tomorrow we’ll be heading off even further north. So follow along if you’d like. But seeing as this trip was all about the wedding, I’d love to share a little of it with you. As it’s not my wedding, I won’t overshare someone else’s day, but I do want to share with you why yesterday was so special for me.

If you’ve read any of my books, you’ll know I’ve never belonged or been welcome in my family of origin. You’ll also know how aware I am of the roles our tribes play in everyone’s lives, and how discombobulating and soul destroying it can be to feel you don’t belong anywhere. You’ll also know that for many good reasons, we’ve lived all over the world. That’s a great thing and I’m most thankful for that. But the two (no tribe plus nomadic lifestyle) can be a lethal combination. Especially for the things so many “normal” people take for granted; friendships, weddings, funerals, rites of passage, to name a few.

I love weddings, and one of the careers I might have had, if I’d been given normal opportunities, would have been somewhere around weddings. There are lots about that in my memoirs, but the bottom line is, that over the years, just for love, I’ve made half a dozen wedding dresses, a number of wedding cakes, run a handful of weddings, done the flowers for more than a few, and decorated for more than I can count. But being a “normal” attendee; not so much. And other than my children’s weddings, or the ones I’ve been involved in, I’ve missed almost all the family and friend weddings of my life.

Many of us don’t think of wedding attendance as being a rite of passage, but it’s only when you miss out on most of them that you realise what an important part of tribal culture they are. For the last few days, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching that play out at this wedding. Being a “destination wedding” everyone stayed a few nights at least, and we didn’t know anyone except the immediate family. So The Captain and I got to be a fly on the wall as the other guests assumed we had nothing to do with the wedding and did their thing. We got to sit around the pool next to some of them and overhear them sharing stories of the couple and themselves of years gone by. We got to watch them singing silly songs in the pool as they anticipated some antics for the reception ahead. Later, as they sat at the table next us to, we got to see the odd friend shed a tear of joy he thought no one saw.

The last few days we’ve watched friendships gather new depths, and relationships strengthen. We met super proud uncles, adoring cousins, and we got to see some people at what they thought were their worst but we thought were their best. When people feel pressure and rise to the occasion anyway, it’s such a pleasure to watch.

It was a gift. It was an honour to be there. But most of all, it was super special for me because the mother of the bride is my cousin. A third cousin I think, but none of this once or twice removed nonsense. We share an incredible heritage, and we share passionate Scottish blood. I had no idea she existed till just a few short years ago and suddenly I have family in ways I never thought I would. I do have another set of cousins whom I love just as dearly, but there’s always room for a second set I say! So the bride was my niece of sorts and as the Captain said so many times yesterday, we’re so proud of her!! How can someone new pop into one’s lives and take up a place so special so quickly? I think that’s the blood thing.

The Captain and I scrubbed up alright for a couple who’d been camping for three weeks! 🤣

The bride has brothers and of course a groom and it’s been incredible getting to know them too. One we’ve known for a while but for the baby of the family, I was so nervous to meet him for the first time. But we clicked and he found his way so quickly into my heart and when I learnt he was the baker of the cake and he learnt I could string a couple of flowers together we hit it off immediately. I’d already been given the honour of doing the flowers by his mother, my cousin, so this was really just an extension of that. But we had so much fun as he added the flowers to his creation and I got to cheer him on every step of the way. If you need a wedding cake (any cake!) anywhere in Europe, this is your guy!!!

To be included the way they included us was beyond special for me. To be there as a guest because they wanted us there was amazing. To attend a family wedding other than my own or my babies, was uniquely heart warming, and to get to contribute was also to be included – which means everything when you live on the fringes. To be invited in was so wonderful.

If you read anything I write or know anything of my greatest passions, you’ll know they’re all about community and inclusion and working alongside each other.

The wedding was beautiful and not just for this incredible setting and GORGEOUS bride, but because of the connections and the love and the laughter and the community and the kin!!!

So… now we’re off home again the loooong way around, AND book two in the memoir series goes live on Monday! So if you haven’t grabbed your copy at preorder prices then grab it HERE before then 😊💜👊🏻.

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Seven Ferries

After nearly two months in one place, it’s time to hit the road again, and for the first time with Daisy hitched to the back of Molly. It’s partly a functional trip with some real life paperwork needed in the UK next weekend, but too early for him in the season to be so far north (& the cold). So it’s a fast dash to Sittingbourne, just the other side of the channel, and then we’re off to Spain and Portugal to ride some pieces of the Camino Way. More details to follow, but as we complete the loop, via Sardinia and home again in about a month, we’re catching seven ferries altogether and as neither of us have sea legs and all ferries are booked and paid for, this is going to be an interesting journey so buckle up!

This morning’s ferry from Valletta (Malta – currently home base), required a 5am check in, so we drove out late last night and slept by the wharf, with alarms set for 4:50am. Still way too early for me, but that’s the timing of the only ferry out of Malta, so we’ve both been exhausted all day.

We’re now settling in for a home cooked meal in Molly and an early night. Tomorrow’s ferry doesn’t leave till 11pm, so we have all day to catch up on spoons and rest and sleep… and maybe take Daisy for a spin.

If you’ve never been to Sicily, it’s GORGEOUS!! And the food is out of this world! Check out the local blood oranges:

If you don’t already follow my Facebook PAGE then click on the link below to follow the journey. We’ll be doing some Facebook Lives of interesting bits and there’ll be lots more photos too.

BOOK NEWS: My Africa my Home launches on Friday and it’s an incredible feeling to know that the hundreds of people who’ve preordered their copies will get to read it this weekend! Sale ends on Thursday night if you haven’t grabbed yours yet 👊🏻

The paperback went live this week and about twenty books went out before we noticed some words missing from the back cover!! AAAAHHHH!! Those will be collectors items one day so hang on to them if that’s you!

The two following books are up for preorder now too, but I’ll tell you more about that later. For now, we’re watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea from the snuggly warm comfort of Molly!

Here are the main preorder links, but you can get it on all the Amazon sites: Just click on your region and it’ll take you right there – USAusUK, and Canada.

 

Do you want to know more about what’s behind my books? See exclusive photos? Get other free stuff?

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Perth Catch Up!

The short version of Christmas is we arrived safely, and had a mostly happy Christmas.

The long version is it was a loooong, stressful journey of three completely separate international flights with a broken website (so no checking in online) and wrong details appearing on check in and at every leg. The trip was characterised by long layovers, grumpy staff, and a broken bag on arrival. We’re still debating whether it was “broken” accidentally or tampered with. I’m certain of the second option for a number of reasons but it arrived totally unzipped and wrapped tightly in rope! If it was damage, the numerous glass gifts inside would be broken for sure. Annoying at best but yet again …. another close call!

We arrived at night to thirty six degrees (Celsius!) and so while exhausted we didn’t get a lot of sleep.

For the first week I felt totally out of control, puffy from the heat, sore from the trip, bad sleep (from the heat) and no turning of my legs yet (waaay to hot to even think of bringing Daisy out), but we set Daisy up ready for when the evenings cooled.

That first fortnight, even once the heat backed off a bit, was just a fog of exhaustion but I tried very hard to remain enormously thankful for unexpected chill times with all the babies, including the youngest who is busting to come out I’m sure. It’s hard not to wish he’d come early and join us!

With too much time lost to sorting things out, I had no spoons, and major brain fog. So it was survival mode for much of the time and a plan B kind of a Christmas; I just wrapped what we had and forgot about what’s missing, slept on the couch, shopped for curtain rails instead of gifts, salads instead of roast veg, threw the roast on the bbq instead of in the oven, made jelly instead of plum pudding….

But the bottom line is: planB is waaay better than all the worse options, we were ALL here for the first time in years, the company was the best ever, and I have so so very much to be thankful for!

And now we’re settled somewhat and finding our rhythms, we rode 237 km this week!! I’m soooo proud of me! He’s lost weight, I’m gaining !!! And I’m not impressed about that at all! But apparently my muscles are getting stronger.

It’s a strange combination to be able to move so freely on Daisy, but I still can’t walk any more than usual… but maybe that will change…

Anyway, sorry for a long, late, rambled catch up, but I needed to do that before writing about anything else…

See you tomorrow with the more relevant stuff soon 😊👊🏻

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What Constitutes a Happy New Year?

My newsfeeds are filled with wishes for the new year, blog posts and articles on how to claim happiness, commiserations over what appears to have been a pretty horrible 2018 for many, and endless recipes on how to be “happy” in 2019.

Many are clichés, most are variations on the same theme, and no doubt, all come with good intentions. The world teaches us that it’s up to us to make our own happiness, that whatever we put out into the world will be returned at the very least, and that each of us has as much control over our lives as we want to.

At the same time my newsfeeds, through 2018, have also been littered with trauma, sorrow, sadness, frustration, pain, and loss, from people who are good, kind, giving, loving, hard-working and self-sacrificing.

What’s clear is that the world isn’t fair. We rarely get what we wish for and when we do it might not be the best thing for us.

For me, 2018 was hard! It wasn’t anything I expected. It was harder but better, exhausting beyond measure but so filled with blessings I find it selfish to complain about all the hard stuff. But I also felt like I I’d been hit by a truck, and woke up on the last day of 2018 feeling as though I have so little control over my life and that it’s a complete zoo.

So I threw off the covers, had a big moan to a dear friend, deleted it, then pulled on my big girl pants, wrote a few lists, took my daughter-in-law out for morning tea and a bit of a shop, shook the cobwebs out my head, chatted with God (prayed), made some major decisions, straightened out my priorities, rearranged my 2019 calendar completely, and by mid afternoon I was doing something I haven’t done in years; put my feet up with a paperback book, and actually laughed out loud – a lot!

It was marvellous! Why hadn’t I done this a long time ago? It was New Year’s Eve, so I read some more, we saw all the family, we moved our bedding to the pull out couch (where the sun wouldn’t wake us up at 5am any more), watched the Sydney fire works at our 9pm, and climbed into bed feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

But the neighbours had other ideas. They threw open their doors and windows, cranked the sound up to full blast, screeched at each other over the music, and played “Simon Says” till five in the morning.

It wasn’t just loud, it was deafening, and the stop/start of the music constantly jolted our bodies the moment we thought we could cope. We even tried just enjoying the music, but none of it was consistent and I don’t think they played a whole song all night. I’d treated myself to a sleeping tablet so while I was never asleep neither was I ever quite awake either. It was mind numbingly dreadful!

And a huge reminder that we have such little control over our lives that I wonder why I bother sometimes.

It’s not to say we have no control. Buying Daisy and riding a hundred and sixty kilometres this week alone, and being careful what I eat means that since mid December I’ve lost the pounds that Bertha (the bitch of a damaged hip) put on over July, August and September. And my New Years resolution for 2019 is to lose the weight put on since Frank (my damaged foot), do all the personal work we’d committed to doing post “retirement”, as well as publish three books, ride the Danube and ride across Belgium, and more…

BUT…. and here’s the really important bit; the control isn’t all mine. We live in a broken, damaged, Godless world, and so much is beyond my control. So in 2019 I also plan to build in way more buffer zones, to bring back more of the self care, to join the library again and read more books! To fly overseas way less, …but stay longer, breathe slower, to stand back more, to let others make their own mistakes. To shed the weight but also the burdens that were never mine to carry.

To take time to cherish more, eat better, and prepare for our second half of adult life in the ways we said we would. I’m sure that none of these things will bring any happiness as such, and that no matter how planful and careful we are in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll have no more control of those things around us than we did in 2019. But maybe we’ll get to accomplish more of the truly important things we’ve set out to conquer? Maybe we’ll have a little more sleep through the process? And hopefully we’ll be setting ourselves up better for all the journeys ahead of us.

What would a “happy” 2019 look like for you?

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Thermo-Time!

So, a couple of years ago I was introduced to the theory of Thermomix. I’m not sure they explained it too well, as it made no sense to me …at the same time as sounding too good to be true. My hands can no longer chop veggies, and I’ve always struggled with allergies, as well as a conflict between wanting to eat well but lacking the time and energy and later, physical ability, to make many things from scratch. The Thermomix is supposed to fix all these needs and more. But really???

Over the last year I’ve come face to face with the actual machine time and again, from people who swear by it, but never seen it in action. Then a couple of weeks ago in Italy we spent the weekend with my cousin and saw it doing it’s thing for the first time. We were sold.

But it just didn’t feel like a sensible priority right now in the middle of unpacking our home… even though, if ever there was a time for a quick way to produce amazing and healthy meals, this is it. But not a good time to learn something new. So we pushed it to the back burner.

Then a couple of days ago we stumbled past a stand selling them outside our supermarket and we quickly gave the sales lady our number as we rolled past (supermarket shopping is a wheelchair only experience for me at the moment).

Today she arrived with our brand new machine and started her demonstration. It was a couple of hours of fun and hilarity, much of it’s at his expense I’m afraid. But he was very good about it I have to say.

Apart from his pet hates of innocent cushions and pillows, third on the list is empty jars. Who in their right mind packs and moves empty jars right?!?!?! I tried to explain that they’re only empty for moving, and that I use them for all kinds of things. But he wasn’t convinced. This on a day when his pet hates were basically anything that came out of a packing box. Any and all books on Monday were a waste of time and space, clothes particularly useless. On Monday, moving was a massive mistake and he pretty much hated everything we own.

Thankfully, by Tuesday evening he was in love with our things again, and I, of course, have overdone it trying to set it all up again and prove it. But it’s starting to look like home at last.

But I digress. Back to today and the glass jars. Firstly, we don’t have a pantry in this lovely little home, so the dry goods have been transferred to many of the jars, and the sideboard has become the pantry. I love it. (Secretly he does too!).

Then as Christina, our demonstrator, made one dish after the next, she kept asking for glass jars to put the finished products in. We’d make eye contact above her and chuckle to each other as over and again another jar was needed.

She started off peeling, chopping and storing all our garlic …. in about three minutes! Followed by a lesson (and another jar) for storing parsley.

Then it was time to make lemonade. Not usually my thing but using whole lemons and hardly any sugar, it was delicious and a good lesson for making cocktails.

The lemonade was followed by banana and blueberry sorbet, which I’ve decanted into nearly a dozen small containers to pop in the freezer.

Pizza dough was next and while that rose she made exquisite chickpea and spinach soup. That was ready at the same time as the garlic bread (from half the dough) and we sat down to an incredible lunch not much more than an hour after she arrived. It’s usually an hour, she said, but as our cupboards are almost bare, he had to pop next door to the corner grocers no less than seven times during the process.

I feel a little miffed that I’ve spent thirty years making food the hard way, … en masse for a big family – plus additions, and now he gets to step in for the fun stuff for the next thirty … but I also look forward to not having to teach him how to cook, and to having food appear for me instead of the other way around. I’m also looking forward to shedding some of these unwanted kilos that have crept on as my mobility has decreased. So there’s not much to complain about really!

Oh, and did I mention we have a kitchen now???

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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Opening Boxes!

“Pretend it’s Christmas” they say…

“It’ll be so wonderful seeing your stuff again after five months!” they say….

“Blah blah blah…” they say…

Where do I start? I’ve really and truly tried to be a good girl and to see these boxes through a Christmas filter… but it’s just not working for me.

Yup, all I can see are boxes 📦 boxes 📦 and more boxes 📦… and each one is a complete surprise as to what’s in it (I guess that’s where the Christmas part is supposed to come in! But that’s where the similarities end).

Let me pull out some of my favourites:

1: The dirty bowls and glasses in which I made the packers lunch (five months ago) … crumbs and all… They simply finished eating and wrapped them!

2: The boxes marked “linen” contained cane baskets and silk flowers… without a single piece of linen. The linen was found in the end, not a single sheet marked on the box, and no more than two items together. It has appeared in dribs and drabs over the last ten days. We’ve had to borrow bedding from Molly to sleep at night.

3: The silk flowers were removed from their safe vase. The vase was packed in one box, the flowers in another, and the oasis in a third … crushed of course, into sticky green crumbs which now appear everywhere. Did they breed in there?

The dread of each box, however, has produced some pleasant surprises:

  • Five boxes of lamp shades? I was sure I don’t own that many lamp shades. The first box contained six… the rest each held a single shade. Whew! One becomes so thankful for such pathetically small blessings! I think I’d be thrilled to find a box empty.

  • We are now almost at sea level, and we’ve come from Joburg which is five thousand feet above sea level. Things in bags that were sealed are now vacuum packed! 🤣

We have a kitchen, we’ve been sleeping in our own bed for two nights now, and it’s starting to feel just a little bit like home 😊

Oh, and we live on a busy street without much of a view. There isn’t usually a lot of green in Malta which is basically one huge rock. The front balcony is too small to swing a cat, and we need to keep the glass doors shut most of the time. But it turns out that what we can see from the living room, while very cropped, is of one of my favourite trees!

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

Monthly update newsletter:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith