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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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).

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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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

Main email group:
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Packing up one’s life!

People keep telling me how brave we are. It feels weird, as we don’t feel brave. The theory of packing up our lives and having a season to rewind, repurpose, rewire our lives sounds to most people who’ve responded as a great idea… but brave.

Why brave? Are we stupid, blind, crazy? Am I missing yet another memo that everyone else appears to have?

There is little about what we’re doing that hasn’t been done before, and daily on social media, we are encouraged to do all these things. There is little about what we’re doing that we personally haven’t done before.

We spent the first year of our married life living in a campervan as illegal aliens in a foreign land with absolutely no money… pregnant!

This time we won’t live in it full time (next week we will be off in search of a possible small nest to use as a base), we will no doubt have a key to the van so we won’t need to jump start it every time we drive it. This time we should have a sink that works and we won’t need a wrench to open and close the sliding door. It will be pure luxury!

I’ve done 8 international moves, some of our belongings have circumnavigated the entire world over the last few decades. I thought there was nothing I didn’t know about selling houses & cars, culling, visas, home affairs and shipping. But I’m wrong…

We are talking about selling our safe spaces, dealing with 4 different countries at once, managing six different contexts on a regular basis and all the while juggling 17 balls at once, including new babies …and if we drop just one of them, even for a moment, they will all come crashing down. But I can do that, I’ve done it before…

But sometimes it feels like everything is going against us. As we speak Mr.S is driving to a lawyer in terrible traffic to have documents that have been just fine our entire lives, Apostillized! Autocorrect tells me that word doesn’t even exist. But I can tell you it does, and that lawyers can charge $750 for one document (we have 7 we need doing, but don’t worry, after the first one, the rest are only $350 each!!!). It’s like Certified copies on steroids and takes 2 days, and we need them yesterday. Thankfully someone who knows someone will do it for only a leg instead of both an arm and a leg, and we’re trying to be grateful while we choke.

It also turns out that there are apparently NO house buyers out there. This can’t be entirely true or literal (in the real sense of the word) of course but so far I’ve heard that story from almost everyone I know. And it’s not just buyers, it’s renters as well. They all up and left apparently.

I’m trying to remain optimistic but it’s tough when you feel well prepared for the nineteen doors that need knocking on, and you wisely expect that many of them won’t open easily. But I feel like I’ve smashed my face into just about all of them they are slammed shut so hard.

I’m trying not to let the voices in my head win and throw in the towel and do what everyone else does and just be normal for once. My husband tells me I like being different. I don’t, I can assure you I hate it. I just don’t know how to be the same as everyone else. I grew up missing all the memos everyone else got and had to work life out for myself. It’s hard to take the tarred road when you know what’s behind the fences along the side. Yes, it’s tough out there, but there are also so many mountains and streams and beaches and palm trees …. out there beyond the normal…

Anyway, sorry to have a gripe, but I promised to share the journey and it’s important not to make it look rosy when it isn’t. Right now it sucks!

(and sorry to use the same photo … Im tired…)

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Are You On Board?

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Hi to all my readers, friends, supporters and fans (like I have fans LOL)… are you able to help me launch my next book?

Next year I will be launching my first full-length book, my memoir, but I won’t launch till I have a full support team and the support to launch well. So this month I’m going to be sorting it all out, and I’d love to know who’s in, who’s out and what people are happy to do. I don’t want to put ANY pressure on anyone, I also don’t want you to feel you need to be there for me in ways that you don’t want to. Many of you signed on last time to be a part of my launch team and I made the HUGE mistake of thinking that everyone could do everything. But I was wrong and I apologize deeply and sincerely!

I want to do things very differently this time. To give you some idea of how this is going to go, here is what you can expect to see:

November will be loads of posts and lots of sorting, then we will be relatively quiet through to next year. I can’t launch till I get the numbers spelt out below, but when that happens, it will be all systems go for a couple of months through launch and that’s when I’ll need most of your support.

I need you to work out what you are happy with, so please feel free to A: pick one kind of support, B: pick a few ways to support or C: nothing (or to pull out now if you’ve already signed on), or at least pull out well before launch, so I don’t count on you and then get let down.

Here are the different kinds of support:

1: BETA READERS.
A handful of you signed on to be Beta Readers last time and you were an immense help. I have a bunch of tools and an editor this time, so by the time the manuscript gets to Beta Reading time, there will hopefully only be a few mistakes (if any LOL). For you lot, once you have signed on I will interact with you one on one. Beta Readers won’t be needed before next February, maybe even later. I need about 6 of you for this job. If you’re in please email me on the address at the bottom 🙂
2: REVIEWERS:
Some of you are verified Am8zon reviewers, some of you want to be but don’t know how. If you are or want to be (or have a friend who is and is happy to let you review on their account), then you could be a part of this team.
I know that many reviewers hate lots of Facebook posts and don’t need to be part of the build-up and “hype”. So through November, I will be posting HEAPS here about ways to be a good reviewer, how to build your own reputation as an Am8zon reviewer (which has huge benefits), how to get books for free from my other author friends, and so on. Then at the end of November, I will create a mailing list for the Reviewers so that you can get once a month emails specific to this task without having to search your newsfeeds all the time for the relevant info. So again, please let me know if this could be you?
I can’t launch till I have 70 verified reviewers on the team, I’m praying to get at least 50 by the end of this month, and that’s a VERY tall order. These people don’t have to do a thing until launch, but I need them to commit now (and follow through). Then once the book is out those people will “buy” the book for free through the launch, read it and review it with an honest review.
3: BRAND AMBASSADORS:
Others of you don’t want to, can’t, or won’t do verified reviews, and aren’t into Beta Reading either, and I want you all to know that that is TOTALLY fine! I also know that many of you in this category are on Fb almost every day and that you are very visible. I desperately need a team of people like this as well, who can spend a minute or two when you are on Facebook, supporting my brand. “Likes” on posts these days have no success anymore because of “Like farms” and “click farms”, but comments and shares have huge power still. I won’t expect anyone to do things every day, but if you would like to support me by being a Brand Ambassador for Jennifer Peacock-Smith, then that would be awesome! The more the merrier of course, but I can’t launch till I have at least 20 of these. Again, please let me know if you’d like this to be you!
If none of the above appeals to you, please don’t sign on (or quietly remove yourself from the group if you are already on it). I don’t expect ANYONE to stay and won’t be offended I promise, but I need a solid team I can rely on and it’s better to slowly build it with committed members than to think it’s big enough to launch when it isn’t and in reality, half the group aren’t involved.
If you don’t join, (or leave) you will still be loved and you can still see everything when it happens on my Facebook Author Page linked below.

But if you want to join my team, I will eternally grateful! Please either:

*Email me at JPeaSmith@KingsRoadChronicles.com

and/or

*Sign on for my private Facebook Street Team Group HERE!

and/or

*Sign on for my usual brief, monthly newsletters which will have the basics each month HERE.

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Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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@JPeaSmith

Have You Ever Used a Writing Coach?

img_2176For all kinds of reasons, I am not an expert in writing. I consider myself an expert in my topics because I have lived, breathed, conquered, failed, picked myself up from, and failed again, in these areas. Emotional Abuse, Control Abuse, neglect, loss, grief, loneliness, and debilitating chronic illness. I write about all these things and I know I do ok at it because I am so passionate about these things. They flow out if me.

But I don’t have a literary degree, I am dyslexic and autocorrect hates me. I have a lot to say, and for the most part, people appear to listen (maybe they are just being nice), but I want to do it well. My Memoirs mean the world to me and I cannot wait to share them with the world, but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot and hit a wall due to the fact that I am not an expert but more importantly than that, I know my whole story so intimately well, that I don’t know what others see on the outside.

I have decided to have some coaching and the first half hour slot was great. I still have my own voice, but it was great to get feedback on what a reader needs to hear in the opening chapters. When we write our own story, whether as a memoir or any other piece of fiction, it is really easy to over share, and just as easy to under share. I was worried that I was the former and it turned out that I am the latter; I wasn’t sharing enough detail about some of the relationships in the opening chapters. You can’t please everyone and this isn’t about people pleasing. It is about learning to share the right things and when so that hooks aside, I don’t leave people asking too many questions instead of just reading on. I am really enjoying this process!

Where Jennifer hangs out: 
@JPeaSmith 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman