Abi wants to walk the Camino

Oh yes, our family has quite a history with the “Camino de Santiago”. Our first experience with it was in 2004 when we took our whole family and 12 friends. TJ was only 2 at the time and took her first steps on the Camino. Lizzy walked the Camino with our friend Cindy when she was only 12 years old. Sam, not to be outdone by his younger sister, walked the Camino last year. He went with his best friend, Donald. Abi feels that it is now her turn.

Look at her so keen, so cute. All she needs is a responsible adult to accompany her. She wants to go in June. She wanted me to put up this post to see if any friends, who would also fit the bill of reasonably responsible adult, would want to go. The walk is 550 Km from Pamplona to Santiago.

Bosnia/Herzegovnia Croatia France Monaco Spain

Thru the Western Europe South edge

Went thru Western Europe.

After the Dali Museum we dropped off Alana in Italy. We miss giggly, colourful Alana. Now we are only 5. Such a small group. So much less than the 9 we were just a short time ago.

We stopped off in Venice. Dad took lots of touristy pictures of the younger girls feeding the pigeons.

I took the girls to the Leonardo Da Vinci. There were all sorts of machines created from his drawings. We got to touch them and crank them and go inside some of them. Quite fun. We expected Hannah to be in heaven. TJ looked for bones, again, and found them on the wall in some of the paintings. We told her about how DaVinci opened up dead bodies to see how peoples bodies worked on the inside. She thot that was great and would like to do that as well if they let her keep the bones.

We saw some amazing masks in Venice. We bought some plain ones and painted them ourselves.

Andrew has been working on the car electrics. Mixed success.

Abigail got my attention at the grocery store. “Mom”, she said, “That guy is named Jesus”. I told her how that is a reasonably popular name in Spain and Italy. One night in Italy we were parked in one of the  really small and overcrowded rest areas in Italy and this truck driver told us a much better, hidden place to park. Later, we looked at his truck, It said Jesus on the side of it. Thot that was funny so took a photo.

We are now in Croatia. We love Croatia. Not much internet. Sorry for the sparse blog entries. We were last here before TJ was born. We have made it down to Dubrovnik this time. It is a great old city but way too many tourists. We kinda like the hidden fishing villages and the deserted areas best. We found one campground, north of Split, that only cost us 13 euros, no passports needed, no electricity, no trash. Just a couple of clean toilets and a solar shower. An old olive grove. Nice people. We liked that place. Took our blow up Canoe out into the crystal clear water.

We head for places beyond tomorrow. Getting closer and closer to Macedonia. We need to be there by the 9th.

So this is where we have been on this last leg – Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovnia.


Spain – Dali Museum, Beneficio, Salami.

France – great picnic areas to stop at for the night, Motorhome shops, FOOD.

Monaco – well, didn’t see much of it, couldn’t find where to park our big truck – but we went through this tiny country.

Italy – Lasagna, Pizza, Pizza, Pizza – always great pizza – we love pizza – Venice – ice cream – food – downside, can they make their rest areas any smaller. We had to stop so early in the day just to get a spot to park at the rest areas for the nite – poor truck drivers.

Croatia – bakeries, small cheap campgrounds, crystal clear water.

Bosnia/Herzegovnia – we only went through about 7 km of it but it was quite thrilling it being in the news and all. We saw gunshots in a sign. Ooooooh! We saw a bolder in the road and the car that hit it. Ooooooh! What excitement!

What fun. Bit tired. lLots of driving. Looking forward to staying put some when we get to Macedonia. Also, looking forward to seeing some friends.


A week in the South of Spain

So here we are, a week into our time in El Moreon, Spain. Just down river from the Beneficio Family. We were supposed to leave on Thursday but one of our start-up batteries decided to announce it’s retirement from active duty. As things seem to go, our truck was surrounded by mechanics at the moment of truth and they jumped to action. So, here we are, 4 days later, expecting the delivery of 2 new batteries. One of our old batteries is already in place, ready to start our 12 volt solar bank. Our dead battery gets left behind to go to Danny, the guy who runs the health food store in town and loves to bring new use to dead batteries.

How did we use our week, you may ask.

We adopted a puppy from our mechanic. An El Moreon/Beneficio mutt. Named him Inigo. He has also been traveling since the day he was born. Poor thing, he has already had is first vaccine. He pooped all over the table at the vet he was so scared. We have a schedule of more vaccines and stuff. He now has is temporary passport and is ready to travel with the family.

We hiked up along the river to Beneficio. It takes long legg Andrew an hour for this hike each way. Took us 2 hours plus but oh the wonders we saw along the way. Including lots of sunbathing lizards and a smushed snake on the road. TJ wanted to take the dead snake back with us to watch the decaying process on a daily basis. Uh, yeah, I know, wierd. We decided against this as we live in a very confined space.

Some of us took a shower in a waterfall.

We filled up our waterbottles from the source of our river. The river we have been hiking next to and crossing over and dipping into all week. How great to hike to the source of the river.

Ever think about where your river comes from? It could very well be something magical and beautiful like we found. Ours comes from a spring of water tripping over a rock on the edge of a transparent pool of spine tingling icy cold water.

Some of us went in. Who? You guessed it. Abi, Alana and Hannah.

Hung out with a friend from the “Hippie Van” in Morocco, Chris, at the tipi he is living in.

Andrew and Alana and Abi hiked up to Franchesca’s straw bale house that she is making.

Franchesca and her friend have been making a mixture of mud and cactus goo and it was now ready to go on some walls.Abi and Alana, worked on, uhhh, helped with, uhhhh. They threw some mud around and some made it onto the walls.

Me and Andrew did a Tango workshop. Swiss tango instructors who live in their truck with their 3 young boys. They have a geodesic dome that they have removed the cover of for repair.  We entered the dome frame thru double wooden doors. Their part monkey son with the long blonde hair spent most of the time swinging from one bar to another over our heads as we learned how to listen to nonverbal cues and respond to each other as we move around the dance floor in random intentionality. Most definitely a surreal experience.

We have bought some amazing wholemeal, or integrated, bread from some of the most interesting international bakers we have ever met.

We also sampled and learned how to make chocolate desserts that are raw and vegan. They are made with raw chocolate and no sugar. Avocados for creaminess, dates and bananas and Agave syrup for sweetness, buckwheat and seeds for crunch. Very rich and gooey and yummmmmy.

Abigail got some recipes and the ingredients to add to her collection as well as a couple of “funky raw” magazines.

Yes, Maureen, that is your daughter – COOKING. Actually she has been cooking lots of wonderful things for us. Don’t ever let her try to convince you she can’t cook again.

We have also been hanging out with our new friends. Will and Kie and their girls, Albi and Ziz are our neighbours. Hannah, the book geek, is hanging with Albi, a fellow book geek and plan to do a book exchange – if they can stop playing for long enough. Will is building his mechanic’s workshop into the back of their horsebox. They also open up cafes outside of their truck. Just a few tables and chairs and a homemade sign and the healthy, tasty treasures that come out of their little, kitchen.

Another family is finishing fitting out the back of their truck to take off to the some festivals in UK and Berlin, including the worldpeace festival. They do amazing, creative sessions and installations with oversized puppets and flowers.

Andrew helped produce a CD and his group of gifted musicians.

We really like it but figure it is time to go…. possibly…. this evening…. or maybe…. tomorrow morning….. or…. ?

You know, it is all so relaxed here.


Happy Birthday Lizzy

Yesterday was Lizzy’s 17 birthday. Wow, my little girl. So big. You know she checked our heights this week and she is officially taller than me. Yup! I must be shrinking. I am just so happy with the woman she is becoming. I am excited that she is so beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. I am excited that the child inside her is still alive. I love the things that make her Lizzy. Her determination to do her best. You know, she took up the saxophone this year. She practices at least an hour a day. She sounds so great now. She has so many dreams. So many creative dreams. When she was a little girl she taught me to see beauty. I hope she will find a way to share this gift. She will probably be going to stay with Jessica in Austin, Texas in just a couple of months. She will be gone until June. What a difficult stage to be a mum. If you do your job well, your children fly off to follow their dreams. Hmmmmm.

OK enough of that, you old sob story of a mum. I get way too sappy at 4 am.

Here was our day.


We started off with a sweetie from one of the many sweetie stalls on the road. Abi especially liked this lady because of all the pink.


Me and Lizzy and Abi went into Tarifa and went to some cafes. Partly because we wanted tea or juice. Partly because we enjoyed talking and dreaming. Partly because we couldnt figure out when siesta would be.

Dang, they have a long siesta. It goes from 1-5:30 here.

Another coffee shop.


Andrew made a great BBQ complete with ribs and smores. I’m not quite sure why Sam is glowing here. Could be all that rapid movement.

spblizbdayhat.jpg Elizabeth created a birthday hat from the broken base of our mini globe and is sporting her new shades. She likes them because they remind her of the goggles she wore in science class.


Abi made a great birthday cake (14 carrot cake) in our flat-pack coleman camp oven (thanks Mercy for the oven).

Happy Birthday Lizzy.


Mature Travellers

Just met another amazing retired couple. This couple is German. I am starting to see more and more of these amazing older couples that I cant help but admire. There are some couples that buy their “white plastic” for part-time fun and keep their “bricks and mortar” to come back to. There is this complete other breed, however, that demands respect.

One of the first couples I met recently that I would put into this category would be a couple I met in the South of England. He came up to our truck at a “Camping and Caravanning Club” Site at an old Nursery. He knocked on my door, introduced himself and said

“We are terminal”.

“Excuse me? What was that?”

“I have terminal cancer. I am travelling with an old friend from school. She has emphysema. She is terminal too. We were told to wait around in some old home. Wait to die. We thought this would be better. We cant leave UK because of insurance. We need electricity for the oxygen. I pull a small van behind the motorhome that holds our 2 mobility scooters. We thought this was a better way to live out our last days. We have been travelling like this for 3 years now.”

You just gotta respect this couple.


I met another German overland couple yesterday. There is something very amazing about this couple. They have been traveling their whole lives. In Germany they say it was with them in the cradle of their birth. I like that. However, Peter is now retired so they have enough money to go where they want. They have been traveling full-time for 7 years now. They have just come back from Morocco and will go to Asia this summer. OK a little math. That would make him at least 72 right? This couple is strong. I would not consider anything about them frail.

They travel the world in their Mercedes, ex-military, self-build overlander. It is an honour to spend time with them. It is worth learning German just to learn from them. There is this thing that they carry too. They are strong, self-assured, confident. They dont brag – they dont need to. In the last 7 years they have put on 400,000 km and been all over the world with her. Literally, in our short time together she talked to me about their trips to Africa, India, Alaska, United States and talked to me about their 3 weeks in a freighter bringing their truck back from South America. Not really bragging. Talking about it as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

I couldn’t imagine them fading away in an old folks home. They will probably die parachuting off some cliff or something. Yeah.

They are not the first German couple we have met like this. Ooooh they are their own breed. They are…. wow I have run out of good adjectives – I think you get the idea.

This reminds me of an old man I met in Orkney. He was there in his motorhome. He was living in it full-time. He told me, “I’ve only been living in my motorhome a few years. I was in a Narrow boat for about 20 years but then it got too difficult moving it around everyday.”

“How old were you when you moved into the narrow boat?”

“Oh, 63 or so.”

That means this man of 83+ is travelling the world solo.

I mean why are we not hearing more about these really amazing older people? Their mere existence screams out “I WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT”. They aren’t waiting. They are LIVING.

I havent completely figured out this group of people. I probably never will. You see, I have seen a lot of hedonists travelling too. Travelling for the pleasure of it. Expecting the world to deliver every pleasure they desire. That is not what these people are about. It is the heart and soul of the adventurer they possess. It is more about witnessing the beauty and diversity of the world. Of standing up in their big, functional, well worn hiking boots or their mobility scooter and saying “I am a witness”. As a people that stand up high and are worthy of heaps of respect and saying “I respect that”. I want to hover in their shadows and look at where their fingers are pointing and learn from them.

Our world is too infatuated with youth. It is really quite ridiculous. First, we have make-up and hair dye. Now, we have moved on with all our heroes getting surgery to make them look younger. Am I the only one seeing this as sorta weird. Yeah, yeah, I know I’m no spring chicken myself but I have been thinking about this for a while now.

We shove our old people aside like garbage. Sure we look after them. Kinda. We help their bodies live that little bit longer but what about their souls. What about listening to them. Learning from them. They have so much to give.

With this couple I met yesterday I didn’t even know what to ask. I must have sat there, staring with my mouth gaping open looking like an idiot. They had so much to teach me. Being wise they gave out precious morsels from time to time. I think that the most I learned from them though was not so much in what they said or did but who they are. What they have been becoming. Just being in the same space with them taught my soul volumes. Does that make any sense? Am I getting weird now? I am just not sure how to word it. Like being in the room with ripe fruit – true maturity. I feel empowered, like I can see better.

I feel my spirit soar.

Yeah, that’s it.


My Glass Friends

At camp Barcelona next door a funny campervan pulled up. It was like a real house except one side was all glass with no curtains. I made friends with all of them. My dad made friends made friends with the adults. TJ


The Scrawny Chicken

There was a funny chicken that went over the fence. There were naughty boys throwing rocks at it so me and mum and Abi and Liz went to save it. There were different ways for it to run away but finally mum caught it and put it over the fence with the other animals. TJ

Spain TJs Writing

Me and my animals

Me and my family went to a cool campground near Barcelona, Spain. It had animals and we camped right next to them. There were lots of animals. Like goats, and chickens and horses, and two donkeys, even sheep. I got to feed the animals. Goats like spaghetti. There was also a pool. There was a free bus to a big water park. Abi and Hannah got stung by a wasp at the pool in the campground. Abi said it was an evil wasp and was out to get her. This was one of my favourite campgrounds ever. TJ


Food Spain

The ultimate vending machine

When I saw it I thought ‘It couldn’t be’. As we all gazed at in confusion it all became clear. Yes, this was a HUGE vending machine where you can buy large waters, chocolate multi-packs and other things you find at a store a. This was the second time in my life that I went absolutely crazy about a vending machine. I know, pathetik isn’t it. It’s just one of those new technology devises that I just haven’t managed to fully get used to.

So as me, Sam, Abi and Mum gazed at the vending machine in absolute amazement as the oreos got pulled off the self and taken to the other side, these feelings of it all being ridiculous was running through my head.

Try to imagen the tension we were all feeling as you watch our ‘home movie’.



A day in Barcelona

I had a great day in Barcelona with Sam, Liz and Abi. We played tourists. We enjoyed some of Gaudi’s architecture and to see how they are coming along on the Sagrada Familia. An amazing surprise was the Picasso museum. We got to walk through his life. They had artwork and sketchbooks and described his influences. Suggesting reasons for the changes in his artwork in each stage. Who were his friends, where he lived, who or what was training him. It was great. We spent hours in there. I think Liz could have stayed longer. It is rare to be able to enter into an artists life in this way.

We liked all the scooters