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Europe travel vanlife

The many faces of Italy

May 22, 2019

A return to Italy. The sudden spike in heat makes it feel as if the drive from east to west has also been straight from winter into summer (this time last week I was sat in 4°, today it is 26°). The fallout from the past few days’ torrential rain is evident in the rivers’ swollen banks and the speed at which the water boils across flat, characterless agricultural landscapes. I don’t know if the giant pendulum swing in temperature…

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Europe feature minimalism vanlife

Building a new life together

May 19, 2019

Woke this morning thinking how far we’ve come since first having a dream to sell/gift 95% of our possessions and head off to explore Europe in a self-converted van. We had to learn so many new skills to make this work – the first one being self-belief. This is an ex-delivery van (Mercedes Sprinter hi-top LWB) that originally had ply-panelling throughout and a giant metal bulkhead. It took us from April – Nov 2017 to do a complete refit. Mainly…

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dailyconnectionwithnature Europe nature

4.50am (Slovenian forest time)

May 17, 2019

Early morning, lying awake listening to the low-swinging hoot of an owl give way to the bright chatter of the dawn chorus. I am thinking about yesterday, scrambling off-piste with the hounds: Twice, a brown & cream feathered Slovenian Ural Owl leads me farther into the forest. I choose to be present when hiking like this, no automatic walking along pre-trodden routes. Note: a misshapen boulder here; an uprooted pine tree there – the bones of its roots clawing at…

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dailyconnectionwithnature Europe travel vanlife

Slowing it all right down

May 11, 2019

Perhaps this sounds counterintuitive, but we drive a lot less now we live in a van. Our goal is to eek out each tank of diesel to last a month if we can as it’s better for our mental health, our budget, and the environment. Sometimes we stay in one small area for weeks, travelling only around 5-10km at a time. When there’s nowhere to be, why should we rush? Slow travelling is such a beautiful way to see the…

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creating Europe feature travel vanlife

On the unique experience

May 5, 2019

Take a chance. Go somewhere, anywhere. Become the cartographer. Draw your own map. Do not relinquish autonomy for a curated experience. Ten thousand people may have stood in this place before you – that is irrelevant – what matters is that you are here now. This is what makes a moment unique. Your heart already knows this – the art is the years spent tuning into her so that when she calls you are ready to listen. Make an infinite…

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dailyconnectionwithnature Europe feature nature water

On a day when the clouds

May 4, 2019

On a day when the clouds mop all the water from a billowing sky to wring liquid greyness into my head, I follow a single trail along the riverbank. The water is a renaissance painting: greens frill & flow beneath a surface of softly shimmering glass. I am reminded of The Wind in the Willows & my grandfather who gifted the audiobook I played for endless months as a child. Still, the rain falls relentless, outside & in. I scramble…

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dailyconnectionwithnature Europe water

Bring back natural bathing

May 2, 2019

Post-run cool-down-wash. These days I’m braver with getting in the water wherever we are. Why does it feel so odd immersing in water if there’s people around? Especially if they’re in winter padded coats & hiking boots 🙈. When did it become weird to wash in a stream so that bathrooms are the only option? Increasingly I want to sit in the water naked. Not to show off flesh – I’m a long time past that – but to feel…

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Europe family feature nature Wales

Beltane & our 15yr anniversary

May 1, 2019

It is beautiful Beltane and we are parked in a remote part of Slovenia with sunshine & bright birdsong streaming into the van. I’ve woken thinking of what I thought were two separate things but now realise they’re interlinked. Firstly, Andy & I met on MayDay fifteen years ago. This was the beginning of a firm friendship that evolved quite organically into a relationship over a number of months. Looking back it was more of an old-fashioned courtship – which…

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Europe minimalism vanlife

How do we honour the place we inhabit?

April 29, 2019

We stayed in a campsite this weekend for the first time this year (and only the third time in eighteen months). It’s great in some ways, but I’m starting to realise how many of the things our culture considers essential are not so. They’re part of the system that tells us we need these things instead of dreams. I saw an advert the other day for a house with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Four bathrooms? Have we really begun…

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dailyconnectionwithnature Europe nature water

Swan selfie

April 25, 2019

Went swimming with swans for the first time today (can’t believe it took coming to Slovenia for this to happen!). At first I was a bit nervous especially as some swans seemed slightly confrontational. Sitting on the jetty I calmed the heart by swirling hands and feet in the icy river. As soon as the swans realised I was getting in the water their attitude change from one of ‘stay away’ to reserved curiosity. As I swam in circles, more…

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