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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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?

Join The JPeaSmith Reader’s Club for non-spam emails with all that and more by clicking HERE. (Yes, this used to be a newsletter but I found that a bit stuffy, which doesn’t suit me).

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50 Nights!

Today we arrived in Malta. We never planned it this way, but we’ve travelled over eight thousand kilometers, which is the same as there and back from Johannesburg to the Tanzania border, Melbourne to Perth or Toronto to San Fransisco… We slept exactly fifty consecutive nights in Molly (and tonight was going to be fifty one). We crossed nine country borders, lost our solar panels at speed, had an attempted robbery, a very embarrassing police escort, drove through weather that killed six people in weather related incidents, and I very nearly ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere on my own.

We also missed all the babies terribly and often wished we were with them through some truly tough trials of their own.

But we also met many brave and interesting people, ate weird and wonderful food, saw so many breathtaking views and vistas, slept in Molly on the edges of cliffs, on all kinds of farms including an apple orchard and behind some of Britain’s cutest pubs. I got to attend my first international EDS conference and we found me a very expensive but life-changing bicycle.

We fought, we bonded, we laughed and we cried. We found some new rhythms and routines, and learnt so many new lessons both great and small. But above all, we absolutely, categorically, no-holds-barred, haven’t looked back… this was so the right thing to do on so many levels. Working on becoming a human being instead of a human doing is hard work, and I’ve never been more proud of this man. Watching him learn to cook, clean, help, and collaborate has been hard, but also such a privilege, and so humbling for both of us.

And as the song went at our wedding… here we are again on a new journey on which:

“We’ve only just begun…”

I can’t wait for the next fifty sleeps as we unpack our container again in Malta. To see our belongings again after four months on the road, to build yet another little home together, however temporary, to do another round of culling and simplifying. Fifty more sleeps till we fly to Australia for Christmas with all the babies, and the arrival of the newest one.

In the meantime, there’s videos to edit, books to write, a bicycle to collect from Devon (where Molly was born), and an Israel trip for him… So watch this space as always …

Here’s our arrival into Malta on the ferry at 4:30pm… and the drive to Molly’s new home:

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Tip of Italy Base Camp!

It’s been a tough few days, and we’re ready for the next chapter of our second half. The weather and baby worries of the last few days have taken their toll. The entrance roof to our Agri Camp-ground blew off last night and six people died across the country in separate tree and roof weather incidents.

We’ve not had decent WiFi or phone reception through it all either, so we’re behind in everything!

We didn’t get as much sleep as we needed and while we woke to a sunny day, it was still quite windy and neither Pompeii nor the Amalfi Coast felt like good ideas.

So we tag teamed and drove down the rest of the Italian mainland, and found ourselves the most wonderful place to park Molly, high on the cliffs looking over the tiny seaside town of Scilla to the north and the island of Sicily on the west of us.

We’re the only people here other than the caretaker who doesn’t speak a word of English. But we paid our €20 and we’re all happy.

I think we’ll be sleeping here a lot in the future… an AMAZING base camp for coming through the bottom tip of Italy.

My view from bed as I type:

Pink Gin in writing hand…

Goodnight…

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Pompeii!

Coming to you tonight from a wild and woolly Pompeii!!! I can’t believe I’m saying that! As a young girl, the Pompeii exhibition came to town and it’s the first memory I have of being truly mesmerized. My teacher was an archeology guru of sorts and dragged us all along. This rich experience lies at the deep core of my love and compassion for tribes, humans, tragedies, and rich love stories. The imagine of a young Pompeiian couple cast in plaster, cuddling together forever, is as crisp in my mind’s eye as the day it captured my imagination all those years ago.

Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii… two words that I rarely hear or think about, but when they do, my heart skips a beat. It’s on the bucket list, …and not planned for this trip.

We planned to take a “short cut”; the twenty-one hour ferry from Livorno to Sicily this evening and last week booked ourselves, along with Molly, Hitch, and the Sphinx (of course) for tonight’s evening departure.

Right after a fabulous weekend in northern Tuscany with my very special cousin Kathryn, where we all ate waaaay too much food, and talked waaay too much. There was also much to be done around the farm, but the weather turned for the worse in a big way, so a cozy fire, a crazy kitty, and the odd G&T or red wine, and there went the weekend. We were determined not to let the weather dampen our spirits but news from home of desperately ill babies cast its long-distance shadow.

Super important meetings and speaking engagements were cancelled, Miss Four’s birthday party was cancelled, and poor Mama Bear spent the whole weekend in bed in such a big single-bed-ward with her precious and fragile Miss Two. It’s the third time in as many weeks this bubba’s been in hospital, from broken foot to serious gastro, but this time it’s a whole new ball game. I won’t go into details but it’s been terrifying … and while they still aren’t out the woods (or hospital) yet, things look like they are beginning to turn around. It’s things like this that tear at our hearts and remind us we can’t be away from them for too long.

Thanks to the amazing (free) Australian medical system for their incredible care of our babies! I know they aren’t perfect but they’re streaks ahead of any other medical system we’ve experienced over the years and believe me, we’ve tested them.

As the weekend came to a close and the weather changed from bad to worse, the ferry was cancelled and we set out this Monday morning to drive down the length of Italy instead of sail. It was by far my preference, as I’m not keen on the ferry idea at all, but wind which slows the traffic down to a standstill on the freeway is not my idea of fun either. Hours and hours of fallen trees, torrential rain, a few roofs blown off, and many of the cars pulled over to wait out the worst of it. Too many cars, in fact, which meant the slipways were over-full and cars stuck out into the road, hazard lights not really doing much.

By four in the afternoon it became so dark and dangerous we pulled into a service station and prepared ourselves to sleep the night if necessary. Then I noticed the Mercedes parked next to us with a shattered terra-cotta roof tile sprinkled across its bonnet and roof, with the windscreen smashed.

The police arrived, the service station was closed down, the rain subsided somewhat, and we decided we’d best venture back onto the roads again and find a proper camp site for the night.

Twenty minutes later we found a decent Agri Camper site on our app and wound our way through skinny streets (you know how much we love those!!), rain, puddles, wind, and even drove UNDER a fallen tree! It had landed across the road with its top on a very high, now broken wall.

So here we are, right in the middle of Pompeii. The weather forecast for tomorrow is clear and sunny skies, so we think we might just stop a moment and visit the only museum of the whole trip.

But I’m not holding my breath!

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French catch up..

So… I’ve missed a few blogs. I’m not well. I don’t think of myself as a people pleaser but I haven’t yet learnt to explain to people that I need to rest, with my feet up, for most of every day. I shouldn’t try and sit at the dinner table on upright chairs for more than half an hour and I shouldn’t offer to go on shopping trips … even short ones.

So while I’ve loved seeing people the last few weeks, I shouldn’t have offered so much. The reality is I’m not sure how not to…

So I’m sore… very sore, which means I have brain fog, haven’t written my book in a while, and when I’m tired and my brain is foggy I knock and therefore hurt myself. So I’ve had a headache for three days and quite bad concussion. Bertha is doing ok because I’ve been very good with her with all the concussion rest… but I shouldn’t ever let it get this bad.

The weather hasn’t helped. I can’t stand wind and the stormy weather of the last four days mean my joints hurt. And husbands get grumpy in this kind of weather… who knew?!

So we’ve taken the opportunity to hide from the world a bit, pop into the odd IKEA for more storage options, and driven across about half of the southern coast of France.

I sent him out on a ride yesterday, to help him increase his niceness, and it even worked for a few hours.

What I don’t like about France is their tendency to use guns in clearly risky areas. We woke yesterday morning to someone shooting what appeared to be rabbits (hanging from his belt) with both joggers and cyclists on the same road as he was!

Right here:

We’ve since heard an English cyclist was accidentally shot and killed by a French farmer recently. We’re not surprised at all!

I’ve no idea where we are right now exactly, or what day it is. Nor do I care on either score. All I know is we’re trying to work out life together without the pressures which have dominated us for decades. That isn’t always easy. Especially with concussion and Mah Eeds and bad weather and grumpy old men!

But I love this man more than I could ever say!

PS: The book’s never going to happen if I don’t finish it! Or if I don’t have a support team So 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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Spain Photos

Some photos just don’t make a daily blog. Either I didn’t do one that day or there were too many things happening, or multiple stories which got lost in bigger or better stories. So now that we’ve left Spain behind, here are some of the “leftovers”…

Watch this space to see some fabulous videos and blogs about some of the fabulous people and food in Spain!!! (When I get the chance… I’m too busy living in the moment but they’ll come!)

#ASeatAtYourTable !

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 Settling in Spain

We keep having to remind ourselves we’re still settling in and mustn’t be cross when we lose whole days to frustrating things like rearranging Molly, building the Sphinx, sorting out the blown off solar panels or the stupid internet. We’ve set up the absolutely best ever WiFi for Molly so we’re constantly connected which has been amazing… till we crossed the border into Spain. Molly Hot Spot doesn’t like changing countries for some reason so going from the uk to France was fine, France to Belgium slow, Belgium to France again cost £5 and 4 hours in Phone nonsense trying to get hold of idiot help lines to kick her over and eventually he made her work himself (no thanks to them). Going from France to Spain however she just gave up the ghost and won’t work… even after a day of trying grrrrrr…. so while he worked on that (and learned a whole lot of new stuff which was brilliant, so it wasn’t wasted, but we’re now relying on phone hot spots which is far from ideal but will do for now) I pottered on Molly some more.

We didn’t hit the road till 3pm which was a little late in the day to begin.

San Sebastián was AMAZING. It was also very steep and there was nowhere in town to park. Which all means it was pretty much inaccessible for me without much time and planning. So apart from a couple of places, most of our viewing is on the move from inside Molly!

It’s a different view on life. Instead of walking seventeen blocks we get to drive fifty. It’s not the same, and you can’t stop for a coffee or go into shops or hang around a corner or an amazing view. It’s a faster pace but we get to cover way more… and go back a few times if we see something amazing. I wouldn’t choose it, but it’s this or nothing and I refuse the nothing.

But there’s no exercise at all! Travel eating and drinking plus no exercise is not a good combo!! …. we’re going to have address this somehow…

As we drove east we got to see quite a few towns. And stopped for the night at a strange, off the beaten track, mildly hostile very rural village. It was fascinating, tucked long and thin between the base of an endless line of cliffs and the vast plains of various crops. As we got closer I spotted little black squares in the cliffs themselves and we soon realized they were old dwellings!

I loved the contrasts of old and new. The “new” town (probably half a century old itself now) and the old one cut into the hill, and then the solar panels right across the top of the cliffs! Very impressive.

I was determined to see inside those cliff houses. It was hard work and risky (a single slip could have been disastrous … not in the lethal, tumbling down the mountain kind but in the Eeds there-goes-a-limb kind of fall), but I did it. It took forever and the path was only about 100 metres. This is soooo frustrating!!!!

This isn’t really a tourist place. The cliff homes are abandoned and dangerous, but one or two remain open with easy access. The cool inside hit me instantly as I walked in and as always I imagine myself living where ever I go. This was no different and I found myself transported into another world. Obviously, when this was a living home, there wouldn’t have been a town outside, but the view was breathtaking.

My favourite photo of the day was this one:

(Spot the bird!!)

The sun was setting and it was time to set up for the night. We have an app with free and paid places to spend the night. We’ve quickly learned that it’s mostly for motor homes as they aren’t allowed to stop just anywhere. We can, because we’re just normal van sized, but they can’t. So as we pulled up for the night they’re all lined up in the car park.

We don’t enjoy it. It’s not what we came to do. The town was also extremely rural and every few minutes the cliffs rang out with the booming echos of some huge guns out in the plains somewhere. They rattled me somewhat and despite the late hour we decided to push on.

About an hour later we stopped at a picnic point on the side of the highway. A few cars, a couple of trucks … and us. A stunning spot to make dinner in our little kitchen and tuck in for the night.

I slept like a log. He, not so much. The trucks bothered him. But he’s sure he’ll get used to it. We’ve woken to the same highway noise but also to sunrise, trees, birds, and a gorgeous view…

Happy Friday from rural Spain everyone!

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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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Follow the Journey!

So many of those around the world have asked me how they can follow our journey into the next phase of life. They want to know what’s happening with the Kombi camper van, where we’re going next, and how this is all going to play out.

But the next question they keep asking is “Why do you drop off my newsfeed?” as though I’m causing it. I’m not.

So here are all the simple instructions on how to follow our journey without missing out or getting lost or overwhelmed. There are different ways to suit your own needs, so pick and choose what suits you.

FACEBOOK:

All blog posts from both of us, YouTube videos, Facebook Live videos, Instagram photos and more, will be collated in one easy place; The @JPeaSmith Facebook Page (click on the link). So if you don’t want to miss anything but you’d also like to choose what you actually watch or read, then this is the place.

But in order to keep current you need to do a few simple things first:

1: LIKE the page: (by clicking on the thumbs up icon).

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2: Liking it will also mean you follow it, but you need to hover over the FOLLOWING button and change the settings to “see first” in order for it to appear in your newsfeed and not disappear. Only you can do this.

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3: Comment on the pinned instruction post on the page so that we know you’re following us and can interact with you. We don’t want to annoy people so will only interact with your permission.

4: Remember that for many of you, this will be our only communications, so please encourage us, give us feedback, and let us know you’re there by commenting on our posts. If you don’t, we won’t know you’ve even been by and will assume we’re out there alone.

EMAIL:

If email is your best news source, then sign up to the once a month roundup emails HERE. I’ve been very slack on writing these this year but they’ll start again in July. Each month we’ll share with you the top news and links in a single, short email. Simply click HERE to be added to the list, and you can opt out any time you like. (if the link doesn’t work please let me know asap).

If you’d prefer more regular emails to that then follow my blog HERE so that each time I post you get an email (roughly once a week), or you can follow his blog HERE. You can even sign up to all the above.

YOU-TUBE:

We’ve bought a Dashcam for the Kombi and we still have the GoPro from the “olden days” so while his YouTube channel is fairly empty now, it should start filling up pretty soon! So subscribe to it now so you get notified when we add travel videos or birds-eye views of cycling down the Swiss Alps at full speed or whatever else happens along the way… You can subscribe by clicking HERE and clicking the red subscribe button.

INSTAGRAM:

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If all you’re interested in seeing are the still photos, the one a day snapshots of highlights, then HERE is our account so follow us there. Again, you’ll need to comment if you want to keep seeing them in your Instagram feed.

PHONE:

Both of us are about to drop off the radar from an old-fashioned phone point of view. We are unsure of what any of this is going to look like and what access we will have. Many of our posts will make us appear very online, but often they will be scheduled to go off ahead of time and we’ll actually be out of range.

So we are unlikely to be able to Whatsapp our progress and Facebook messenger is a nightmare (we get so many rubbish messages we seem to miss many of the important ones). So please interact with us in the comments and we’ll endeavour to answer all of them and reply to all emails.

We both REALLY look forward to seeing you there and taking you with us on this journey! Get ready for a ride you did not expect!

PS: Most of my health issues will be kept separate from this whole Second Half space. I find most people aren’t interested and that’s ok. So if you also want to be a part of that journey, it’s on my personal Facebook profile.

PPS: Doug has decided to stick to WordPress and Twitter so you won’t find him on Facebook or Instagram.

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Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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@JPeaSmith