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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Looking Back on 2018!

I stopped sending Christmas cards about a decade ago, and the end of annual newsletters came not far behind. I’m not sure I was ever any good at either and I know few people who do them well.

Too much to brag about, too much to complain about; the best and worst are often invisible or too hard to capture in a single photo or a few words anyway. Or they’re way too personal or too few people even care… the list of reasons why they’re so inadequate is long…

But I guess one still needs to somehow reflect on the last day of the year right?

2018 has been a roller coaster of note, and I’m struggling to wrap my head around everything that’s happened – planned or otherwise. I’m sure to the outside world we appear totally crazy and I often wake up wondering the same thing.

But I guess the bottom line for me, what I want people to know the most, is that in the quiet, prayerful moments when I remember what we are doing and why, I feel peaceful and content and ever so thankful. I’m not good at explaining much of it, but I do want people to know that there is reason and method in all this madness somewhere and that it isn’t nearly as random as it may appear.

I realise this all appears rather cryptic and I apologise for that. I constantly think “if I can just get enough sleep, enough time to write properly, enough days in one spot, enough this, that or the next thing… then I’ll regain an appearance of control of my life again and it won’t appear to be a complete zoo!” … but I’m not sure I’ll ever get any of those things and if I did manage to get them, I doubt I’d actually be in any more control than I am now?

When I look back on 2018 I’m not sure I’d do a whole lot differently? Ok, I take that back, I’d do lots of things better, slower, less thoughtfully (I tend to over think things, try too much and too hard), I think I’d have let go of more, been a little more “selfish”, tried to fix less things and allowed more people to make their own mistakes?

I’ll save what I hope to do differently in 2019 for the next post, but for now, thanks to all of you so much for reading, commenting, supporting, and putting up with me! Thanks soooo much for all the encouragement and personal contact! Thanks for all the amazing new friends and experiences, thanks to our amazing children for putting up with us! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year in such positive ways.

No thanks to those who didn’t. I’ll not comment on those who tried to steal from us or derail us, those who tried to bring us down or make our choices all about them. It’s shocked me (even though it shouldn’t) how selfish people can be … from total strangers to those among the ranks of what were once our greatest supporters…. I’ll leave the negative at that.

It’s been a year of grandbabies and travels and changes and celebrations and losses and exhaustion and on the very last day of the year I think more than ever I need to retreat a little bit more and nurture myself better… whatever that means…

And as always, I’m off to cuddle and celebrate and be thankful with my pre iota babies and their families…

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Updates:

On writing… not as much as I’d like, but certainly having a “Writing Buddy” helps and I’m way more organised. Watch out 2018…

On Unpacking… getting nowhere but oh well, there’s always next year…

On Daisy… we’re doing great! Today was ride number four and not only have I done nearly a hundred kilometers already, but many of them have been uphill (a few times with only me pedalling I might add… to see if I can).

We had our first fall today, a slow one where we took off and immediately toppled right over (into a parked car which was thankfully so bashed and scratched it’s hard to tell if we damaged it). Many people have questioned why I have my harness and today reminded us why as it earned its keep forever. Without it I’d have been sprawled across the road (at best), but instead, apart from some scratches and bruises, I stayed firmly in my seat.

The other fall came at the end of the ride. It’s hard to explain my difficulty with walking yet ability to ride, but in Daisy my seat is tilted right back and my feet are raised. I can turn the pedals without putting weight on any of my joints. At the end of a ride it’s so easy to forget I can’t walk. But worse, my joints have moved into “riding position” which for me is not the same as “walking position” and I can’t get up off the bike and certainly can’t walk till my joints resettle. Today I forgot. Yes, I gingerly climbed off (no chance of getting off any faster), waited a few seconds, took one step towards the curb, and just like that both my legs folded under me and completely collapsed.

Thankfully I was unhurt, but it was a little embarrassing fully slumped in the gutter at my front door. There was no way I could get up again for a while either… hence no photos other than once I was on my feet again.

The scenery in Malta never ceases to amaze me, even though there’s rarely anything close to flat or smooth. Apparently this is good training for me!

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The Good News or the Bad News?

I’ll start with the bad news as it’s simpler.

We rented an apartment in Malta that wasn’t quite finished (literally just needs kitchen and curtains and insect screens installed) everything else is stunning and brand new and finished). But at least we could store our stuff while went for our six week Molly adventure, and if it wasn’t finished on our return we could cook in Molly but sleep in the apartment.

The bad news is it’s not ready, which is fine, but the adorable landlords have rented us another gorgeous, furnished apartment, and set us up with food, towels, beds …everything just a few blocks away.

Which is very kind. But we need to unpack and start getting things sorted ASAP as we have visitors and things we need, and things to unpack, and and and …. so it’s annoying.

But the good news list grows longer by the day:

  • They won’t let us pay rent on either place.. for the furnished apartment or the one without a kitchen. So we’re saving a few bucks which is a bonus as we still haven’t sold the house back in Joburg.
  • That in turn gives them incentive to get finished, we feel really bad for them, but it’s good knowing that we’re taken care of and it’s in their interest to get things finished soon. So it will happen, and we don’t need to nag them.
  • We are in the ground floor apartment right on the edge of town, so unlike our apartment where Molly will sleep in the basement garage, here we can park her right at our front door. And with a washing machine and dishwasher etc, we have been able to bring everything in, in just a few steps (including my Molly mattress and put it on top of the bed here… not quite the same but pretty good), clean her out, unpack the Sphinx… it’s turned out be such a blessing … sorting out Molly without feeling like we should be unpacking the boxes.

  • I’m not very good at sitting still so if we were surrounded by boxes I’d constantly chip away at them and totally overwork myself very quickly. Instead, each morning we head over, work for three hours, he does all the lifting, I do the sorting and directing (which doesn’t always go well), then we head home for lunch and don’t think about the unpacking again till the next day. An impossible feat if we were right there.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to plan things when you’re one step removed. The serenity of a tidy, well appointed apartment with a fabulous view is a much better place to plan, regroup, restore and refresh, than an overwhelming apartment with boxes to the ceilings! A couple of Netflix binges are helping to do that somewhat, hence the radio silence of the last few days. It’s been great!
  • Part of the move included unpackers. After nearly a dozen international moves I know the drill and I hate it. A swarm of men descend at the crack of dawn and by nightfall, everything you own, including the dust bunnies under your bed in the old house, and the junk drawer (usually now upturned), and all the half bottles of shampoo from five people (now a quarter filled with the rest smeared over the rest of the bathroom contents), are now unpacked. If you don’t know what that looks like, imagine upturning every drawer, box, wardrobe, cupboard, in your entire home and garage and garden shed, onto your floor, beds, stairs, kitchen counter, and even the bath. Believe it or not, there are not enough flat surfaces to hold everything you own. You can’t eat for the laden kitchen and you can’t reach the cupboards to start loading them. You can’t get to your bed under all the linen you didn’t know you owned and the washing machine doesn’t work because the power plug is still from the wrong country so you can’t wash all the shampoo out the towels. You’re hungry, so exhausted you can’t breathe…. and everyone expects you to fix it… right now. But because we don’t have a kitchen, yet we need our stuff, the removal company agreed to spread the load over a few days. I asked for the weekend in between two of them, and the last third only once we have a kitchen. It’s still a zoo, it’s still a third of our belongings spread over half the house (not a bad ratio considering!!), but with the weekend to sort out much of what was unpacked on Friday, we’re getting to do this a little slower. I can’t begin to tell you how much better that is.

So the non-kitchen is proving to be a bonus. He still thinks that if we’d rented a different apartment, moved to a different country, owned different things, … or we’d simply put a match under it all before we’d left, it wouldn’t be nearly this stressful. In reality, it’s not a patch on all the other moves I’ve done while he’s in the office making all his new friends… Five people’s stuff instead of two, all on my own instead of with his help, no spotless apartment to retire to in the evening, unpacked in one day instead of three, and no one to nag us to find things for school or work the very next morning… this is bliss!

But it still sucks. Moving sucks. And tomorrow morning (Monday) will be round two of the proper unpackers. Hopefully they’ll find the linen … but that’s a story for tomorrow or the next day!

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New Solar Panel!

So, the new panel arrived in the mail! Woohoo!! Thanks to Paola and Manuel for not only lending us your address, but for organizing an English-speaking Marine-engineer with a fabulous workshop who seriously knew what he was doing.

How thin is the panel 😵

It only took a few hours to get rid of the old silicone, prepare the roof, and install the new one. We should be on the road again by morning 😊

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Happiness Is….

Sleeping in the middle of nowhere, tucked deep under the lip of a huge dam wall, among the trees, chickens, donkeys and even the odd mountain goat. I’ll admit it was also a little creepy in a strange way, but it was also wonderful.

After a midnight snack of cheese & hams we found in the fridge, we slept like logs, woke late, cooked oats for breakfast, packed Molly up again, and climbed the steep embankment back up to the roaring freeway hundreds of feet above.

Happiness, for us, is also togetherness, the open road, brave life off the grid, olive trees as far as the eye can see, mountains, alpacas, chickens, and absolutely delightful people…

Go on, zoom in, can you see those olive trees?? I love “order” and I love “natural” and those rarely come together … yet here they do, in spades.

We’ve come on search of Memoirist Alan Parks, deep in the hottest part of Spain (which is a hot country) in the middle of nowhere. It’s also known as the “Frying Pan of Spain” and I’d forgotten that bit when we set out on this journey.

I first read his book, “Seriously Mum, what’s an Alpaca?” a couple of years ago around the same time we coincidently fell in love with alpacas ourselves. Alan does such a good job describing their adventures as Brits giving up the rat race, that I really wanted to come here to see it for myself. This was the same time that we were planning our Second Half, and it was really encouraging to know we weren’t the only crazy people around. So I’ve been following him for a while now and while there’s so much more to tell you, for now, we’re so thankful for a few hours this afternoon with Alan and his adorable partner Lorna. They’re even better in real life and their home is everything the books describes and more.

It’s a magnificent home, a stunning B&B, a true oasis, complete with a never ending running spring (you know, the actual water kind), fresh eggs for breakfast, great stories about real people, real lives, challenges, adventure, and yet more fabulous food!!

But most of it will have to wait till tomorrow!

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

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Still Tweaking!

Like all homes, I’m not sure Molly will ever be “finished”. We potter and shuffle and think of new things all the time. We’ve also been living out of suitcases for three months across five countries on both sides of the equator so we’re carrying some extra baggage. Some of it’s bulky (like Hitches travel bag which uses up half of Molly’s storage under the seats), the rest is smaller but all these extra things add up.

So we keep finding better ways to hide it and store it. Which means constant reshuffling, which can sometimes be interesting (but often boring).

I wanted one of those kitchens for Molly where everything hung on hooks. But in the end having ALL the crockery in a single soft basket seems to be the best solution. One single, non-rattling, non-sliding, soft-but-sturdy bag where if you need anything from a pot to a plate, the kettle or an egg ring, it’s in there:

It travels on the bed so it doesn’t go anywhere when we go over bumps, then sits on the counter when not needed, which is the easiest spot to access anything in it anyway. Then when you open the lid to cook or get some water, the bag moves easily back onto the bed.

Crocheting bags keep me busy as we drive and are going on the kitchen wall hooks instead of the pots. They are fun to make and I’ll show you more soon. They hold the cutlery, glass coffee plunger, glass wine glasses etc.

Oh, and I made a hanging fruit bag too so the fruit doesn’t bounce and get bruised. so today was about settling in to routines.

He makes oat porridge for me in bed each morning which is such a lovely way to start each day. The view never tires as it’s different every morning 😊

And that’s all before even climbing out of bed!

So far Molly is everything we hoped she would be and more. Belgium is absolutely AMAZING in ways I can’t explain! What a fabulous diversion!!

Another fabulous day, though Bertha’s not helping things and today was a particularly bad day 😢

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

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