Browsing Category

Bombaround

Bombaround, Parenting

Do you wanna dye the chickens?

2 July, 2014

For several months now our household has been run to the soundtrack of Frozen. Rarely is a question ever simply posed, always it is sung Anna- styles to the tune of Do you Wanna Build A Snowman. (Please tell me we aren’t alone in this?)

Here are some of the things going on in our lives, brought to you through our favoured communication method… We are all especially adept at making any number of words magically, and majestically, fit to the ditty…

20140702-114848-42528221.jpg

Do you wanna vomit in this bucket?
Last week we travelled for two days to go to the winter NZ unschooling camp at the bottom of the North Island. What an incredible time we had. It really feels like a bit of a tribe. All these families who just love the idea of natural learning and consensual living. Unfortunately a bug swept through the camp and took out 100% of the children. There was spew EVERYWHERE. We were there for two vomit filled days… and then we spent two days travelling home- Juno vomming all the way. It says an awful lot that we still enjoyed ourselves.

Do you wanna pop some tags?
While we were down there we explored the town of Feilding which, I reckon, is THE BEST TOWN FOR POPPING TAGS IN THE WHOLE OF NZ!! We got so many wonderful things for just a few cents. And best of all they had a little homemade map showing where every secondhand shop was – why doesn’t every town have this, eh? Get on it, towns. Ramona has taken to singing Macklemore, but with a funny switch in of words…. she sings “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my bottom” PAAHAHA. What a comic.

Do you wanna wear your gum boots?
We have had some RAIN over the last few weeks. Real hoofing down, smashing onto the canopy of the yurt rain. Which has meant wellies have become a key fixture in our lives. In NZ welly boots are called gum boots and Juno is OBSESSED with her gum boots. She will happily put them on, take them off, put them on, take them off, put on Ramona’s taken them off, put on mummy’s, take them off, put on daddy’s, fall over and bosh her head, for half an hour.

Do you wanna dye the chickens?
I am a rubbish farmer. We are on such a steep learning curve and there is so much I don’t know about agriculture and this self-sufficent life. I feel like I keep doing ridiculous things. Last week when Ramona and I did the chicken run (each family takes two days a week to milk the cow, feed the hens and collect the eggs etc) I tipped our scraps out just as the chooks ran under the bucket. Within our scraps was a whole load of beetroots entrails that splatted right on the two white hens. They were instantly pink and stayed pink for a WEEK. Rock and Roll hens, eh?

Do you wanna blow your nose?
We all have colds. Snotty, hacking, eyeball aching colds. We are making the most of all the home-grown lemons and ginger and honey from the next door neighbour’s bees but, uggggh, we feel blah. We are having rough nights- Juno can’t breastfeed easily so cries a lot and we are all just tossing and turning. Tim snores when he has a cold and last night I am fairly sure it was his snoring that attracted a possum over – I woke up to hear a possum cackling away RIGHT NEXT TO MY HEAD – only a sheet of canvas between us. Rascal.

20140702-114946-42586791.jpg

Do you wanna build a house?
Over the last couple of months Tim has been building an extension on to the yurt. He has used recycled walls from other houses, old windows and other bits and bobs and it is all coming together. It is already making winter much, much easier than living in the yurt alone. It also means that we are happy where we are, on the farm, and that we are going to wait until something even better comes along before we move – like an actual, co-owning, intentional community something- or other. And this could be quite a while away. It is so nice to feel content and not in a hurry to get to the next thing. We haven’t had that for a while.

20140702-115052-42652782.jpg

You see? It doesn’t have to be a snowman…

Okaaay, byyyyyyyyye.

Bombaround, Parenting, Thrifty

Yurt Sweet Yurt – Family Life under Canvas

8 April, 2014

Yurt Sweet Yurt – Family Life under Canvas

Waking up with something crawling on my face has pretty much been a lifelong fear of mine. A fear that was finally realised last Wednesday when a tickling sensation on my cheek pulled me from my dream (my dream was probably about sleep – both my day time and night time reveries are basically about getting more sleep…)

I pulled the tickling thing off my face and flung it on to the floor, I hunkered under the duvet and begged my dream to return quickly, quickly, quickly. But it was too late, I was wide awake and needed to know what the Thing was.  I grabbed the torch and peered under the bed.

I was actually relieved to find an enormous Praying Mantis. Far, far better to have a goggle eyed, try hard stick insect having his devout way with my face than his cruel, shiny black scurrying cousin, the Cockroach.

We have a lot of cockroaches and other members of the insect community in our place. ALOT. There isn’t much you can do when the outside is so inside, y’know? Little cracks where the canvas wall meets the floor and gaping holes in the tree house kitchen. There are some serious blurred lines between our home and nature right now. family living in a yurt

If the rest of it wasn’t so darn perfect it would definitely be too much.

family living in a yurt

But fortunately (unfortunately?) we LOVE living here.

We love the yurt which feels like an almost sacred space with it’s circular fluidity. The few things we lugged over from England just fit in it so ideally. The look is retro-yoga-retreat-chic, yeah.Yurt Life

We actually love having nature all up in our grills. We spend 90% of most days outside, which is what life is meant to be like I think. It is still HOT here so we eat our meals on the deck. Both the girls have swings that fly off the deck too.living in a yurt

We have a sort of kitchen cabin off the deck, and through that an old caravan which has become a bit of a play / craft room. We don’t have a bathroom (we smell more than usual) and have a little walk to the composting loo which takes a bit of getting used to.
living in a yurt

We love living cooperatively with the other two families on the farm. It is making us fairly certain that we want this community life for our family.living in a yurt

We are surrounded by these little native owls called Moreporks and they sing us to sleep cooing “morepork! morepork!” There are plenty of nocturnal possums too but they have an unwelcome, evil witch cackle.family living in a yurt

We love milking the cow (Yep! I am rubbish at it as I have way too much empathy) and collecting the chicken eggs and eating whole meals with 0 food miles. family life yurt

We will have to see how we get on with the winter. It will involve waking in the night to put a log on the pot belly stove and pinning up wooly stuff all over the inside to insulate. It will be cold but hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, eh? We will be so jolly hardy by the end of it.family living in a yurt

I just need to be more assertive and get on less intimate terms with the local bugs.

Bombaround

We live in a Mongolian tent now

13 March, 2014

So in a comic turn of events we now live in a yurt. Yep, one of those massive round tents that Mongolians thrash out their harsh lives in (and middle-class Londoners go glamping in. Hehe.) *

20140313-221512.jpg

It is so beautiful. This circular canvas space, a rope you pull to reveal a sphere of blue sky in the ceiling, a bare wooden floor and rustic pot belly stove inside. It just makes me want to meditate. (Actually just being a mum makes me want to meditate.) (By “meditate” I mean “sleep loads” yeah.)

It is such an intense glimpse into self-sufficiency it should probably only be described in a Biblical way.

The yurt resideth in the glory of a citrus grove. (Officially they are Ugly Fruit. They taste amazing but they Sho Is U.G.L.Y – Tim picked one tonight that resembled, pretty much EXACTLY, a willy.)

There is a beast of the field; a cow from whom we gather the milk for our cup of tea. And tiny dinosaurs with wings. (Chickens, some people call them, but I know better.)

There is an abundance of vegetables that we yanketh out of the ground and devour for our Daily Bread.

The sun provideth our only energy and forgeteth the internets. (Pfft.)

We must release our bowels into the open pastures (kinda – outdoor compost loo, of which I am a MASSIVE fan.)

20140313-221736.jpg

For more about how this came about you really MUST read my article, Barefoot and Happy, for Loved By Parents, whom I write for each month. It covers what on earth we are doing here and how we know Ramona is 100% Kiwi.

I’ve been involved in a couple of other cool projects lately, despite being a bazillion miles away.

New Mama pack is a brilliant, amazing package for a new mum that comes out of a woman’s own experience of feeling quite alone in those early days. Each week something PERFECT will drop into the New Mama’s inbox, be it a song, a video, and article – each item handcrafted by artists and writers and poets. I wrote one about how Parenthood is the real Change The World stuff. Instead of getting friends and family to buy loads of silly stuff for the Baby Shower, people could club together for this and make a beautiful difference in the life of a new mum. You will also see it advertised on the right hand side here, as I am a contributing affiliate so get a proportion of the money when you buy through this link.

Similarly, I am also advertising the Mindful Parenting Package because, Oh, My, Days, it is a true, proper, beautiful BARGAIN. Over 36 e-resources; ebooks, PDFs and audio books worth £500 are being sold for £30. A year’s subscription to Juno Magazine (great name, eh – I have an article in the Spring Issue) plus loads of books on babywearing, yoga, gender neutral parenting, natural birth, the commercialisation of babyhood – it is pretty much the attachment and gentle parents library and it is a mega deal.

(Sorry if this last bit sounded like a sales pitch, I am just WELL excited by those two resources and think they could generate a lot of peace in this world.)

So, yeah. That is kind of us at the moment. From Berty to Yurt-y. Hehehe.

PS- I shared a photo of the yurt on Facebook yesterday. And lots of people were like “Woo!” “Living the dream” and stuff. And I guess I wanted to just say that yep, we feel super lucky to be having this adventure, and sometimes pictures and my blogging does make it look like it is all just lush. I tend not to mention the things that go wrong because I don’t want it to be like “Woe is me, the stalk of the aubergine I just picked pricked my finger!” But in order to keep it real here is some stuff that wasn’t/ isn’t perfect: I had mastitis for the FOURTH time, Juno was teething REALLY BAD a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t slept for ages, despite having all the time in the world we struggle to be organised and get super frustrated with the mayhem that surrounds us, both the girls have colds, we spent loads of money on a car that was actually a smoker’s car and we are gutted, I am having really bad RSI in my wrist and thumb which scares me as writing is my living, lalalala, etc etc. *keeping it real fist bump*

Bombaround

The pockets of others

26 February, 2014

I was remembering recently some of those days when Ramona was a baby and my husband would go off to work, how I would look despairingly at the long day ahead, how it seemed to yawn on and on. 6:30pm, that exhilarating moment when Tim would open the front door, was so completely in the distance that it wasn’t even a speck on the horizon. It had dropped off a far flung cliff, like a suicidal Woody Woodpecker, a mocking laugh, a wisp of smoke.

And I LOVED being a mum. But, sheesh, those days alone just. Stretched. On,

People with one baby quite often ask “How is it with two kids?” and I begin to say “Oh, AMAZING and SO EASY!!” and then I remember that the four of us have been on the road together, in each others pockets, since Juno was four months old and really I barely have a clue about juggling the needs of two little people at one time!

How fortunate are the girls, to have their dad around so very much? And how fortunate am I, that when I am feeling a bit clung to I can easily take a breather? And that the days are full, chockablock, bursting at the seems with stuff to do, too MUCH to do?

It couldn’t be more different, these days.

(We weren’t really made to do this parenting thing solo, eh? We need gaggles of friends and neighbours and sisters to thrive. One of my friends, Jenny blogged beautifully about this very thing this week.)

20140226-221713.jpg

We have slowly etched our way around the coastline of the North Island (of New Zealand, that is, NEW ZEALAND, a whole other STRATOSPHERE! *googles stratosphere* Oh, actually, no, I mean, WHOLE OTHER HEMISPHERE) catching up with friends. And there are new family members, children and babies, oh, so many bonny babies. It has been amazing just bustling about with them, living in each other’s pockets, doing our days all together. Charity shopping together. Pretty much mostly just charity shopping together.

We’ve been hunting through possibilities of dining tables for the bus. We had our hearts set on a formica table but in this land awash with ancient woods they KNOW the value of a nice formica table. Pfft. We have looked high and low, we’ve had every friend on the hunt with us and finally, last week we found one, HURRAH! There was much back slapping and hooting, as if Tim and I had really succeeded at something. Yep, folks, our ambition has shriveled to this.

We’ve been so inspired by the stuff our friends are up to – our friends who have an organic bulk buying co-op thing casually going on, those friends who do a great bit of co-housing, the family with the beautiful home who Know The Way Of The Vintage Tapestry.

I made new friends in Wellington, bloggers I knew from the Internet who were actual Real Life People. Thalia from Sacraparental and Tasha from Maybe Diaries. Two awesome new feminist, attachment parenty, social justice loving friends.

We went to the New Zealand Unschooling Camp and met a crowd of people who stunned us with the simple ways they were fully living their dreams, growing food and having adventures. (A whole other post about unschooling coming soon!) A family who are travelling in a bus and unschooling their FOUR BOYS for OVER A YEAR, one woman who unschools with a little tribe, a kindred-spirit mother unschooling with her awesome lad.

Gosh.

We’ve been busy.

So busy that I sometimes forget this little ache in my heart that just wishes my sister, Jo, and her family were close by. Her taunting me by blogging amazing recipes involving cream cheese and salted caramel doesn’t help. I want to have a cup of tea with her and eat her baking.

We are coming to the end of our nomadic stage… we are thinking of heading back to Thames this weekend, a cool little town at the start of the mightily majestic Coromandel. We might nuzzle down for a bit. Perhaps learn about growing stuff properly, search for a bit of land to call our own. (Bit more serious than a retro table, eh?) We have not at all been swayed towards Thames because they have some of the best charity shops in New Zealand. (We have.) (What, dad?! That is perfectly reasonable criteria to base a new land ownership on!)

Life might start to look slightly more normal. But we are going to cling to our sense of adventure, seek a tribe to live life with, pockets to dwell in.

And we will try as hard as we can to avoid anything that might leave one of us staring at the clock willing the minutes to pass.

This is a featured post – please see my disclosure for more on that.

Bombaround

New Year, New Home, New Zealand

28 December, 2013

Today has been our last full day in England for a while. Tomorrow we fly to New Zealand to begin something wholly new. We don’t know what, but we have a few (billion) ideas.

The last week has been a bit emosh, to say the least. My heart jumps into my throat at the littlest thing- my nephew Hudson reading Ramona her bed time story, looking at photos that have captured fun moments from the last few years, saying weepy, snotty Goodbyes to friends who’ve been my besties since I was seven.

It’s been the most overdrawn goodbye in some ways. We began properly telling everyone that we were moving to New Zealand at the start of the summer, mostly through, er, this blog. *note to self- best to tell employers about such a big move before blogging about it*

Then we said Cheerio and galavanted about Europe, than came back with a broken van, then said Laters again and trundled to Spain, then had a leaving party last week, and now, after a million farewells and six months of preparing to go, it’s here for real, quick as a flash, the time to leave.

I fall in love with New Zealand when I’m there. I really do. I moved there when I was 18 and lived there until I was 24. I met Tim there and when Tim and I were having those hypothetical conversations with each other about the possibility of marriage (you know, “If two people had only just met but really loved each other should one, like, ask the other one to get married? It’s just for a friend…”) he asked me which place I considered home. I didn’t think twice. I’d lived in New Zealand for five gleeful years already, three with my folks about and two more without them, without any family at all; “New Zealand! I never want to leave!”

We left about 18 months later, in response to an urge I had to be close to my sister while she had her first baby. And we’ve been here almost seven years…

20131228-193936.jpg
My sister and I this week- matching blankets, coats and babies! (She is on her third now.)

For about five generations my family has been fairly nomadic- staying in places for just a couple of years at a time. Every generation, until us, have been ministers of religion, living all over the UK and the world for different vocational roles.

My grandparents, whenever anyone asked them what place they loved the most, which area they called home, would always reply, wherever they were, “Right here!”

I guess it’s in my blood a little bit, eh? This love-the-place-you-are thing.

20131228-194147.jpg My folks, this week.

Because right now I really feel I am tearing myself away from here. I feel like the London that I spent much of my childhood in has been in my bones all along. That returning to the neighbourhood I grew up in, and raising my girls for a bit here, has kind of unlocked a deep sense of home, a primal “This is my land! These are my people!” kind of thing. (Also, “These are my fried chicken bones! These are my fallen out hair weaves!” – not a patch of ground exists in South London free of these. But they weren’t actually mine, you see…)

We have just had the most wonderful 7 years here. We’ve made so many good, new friends and have rekindled old ones. We’ve had such a lot of adventures, riding our bikes, joining in protests, communal living, wandering streets, going to festivals, picnicking, swimming in rivers.

We arrive in New Zealand at 11:45pm on the 31st December- that is quarter to 2014! It’ll be weird celebrating the New Year with strangers around the baggage carousel (but I’ve had weirder, especially the one involving lots of elderly Scots and bagpipes.)

So, a new year and a new home, and lots of new adventures awaiting us. I just need to find out what a Zealand is, then I’ll get a new one of those too.

Have a lovely celebration yourself, and I wish you a great sense of hope for the year ahead.

*looks around the room at my family, has a bit more of a cry*

Bombaround

The desert hippy who laid a golden poo

5 December, 2013

“I’m doing a seminar in menstrual activism this afternoon, if you want to come?”

Hold on. Menstrual? Activism?

“Um. Oh. I, er…”

I am not very often taken aback. Especially when it comes to bodily functions and protest. These are, like, two of my fave things, y’know?

We were in the middle of the Spanish desert, in the barren landscape of the Deep South, staying in a tiny oasis – an alive, green, eco community bustling with hippies. At least once an hour someone said something completely absurd and completely accurate.

“Excrement is GOLD, worth more than money!” (This statement was accompanied by a handful of “humanure” shoved under my surprised, and therefore unfortunately gaping, nostrils.)

This was Sunseed, a group of people devoted to living sustainably, off grid, who were slowly restoring one of the desert’s many “lost villages”. The project began as a way of developing technologies that harness the earth’s power and an attempt to thrive in a pretty hostile land. It continues to do that, hosting volunteers from around the world who will hopefully return home bubbling with ideas about solar energy, converting waste into, er, gold for the garden, and generally living in peace with their environment.

We pooed into compost bins, built walls with local clay, harvested pumpkins and every vegetable under the sun to eat, prepared olives for jarring, showered with the river water heated by the sun, ate every meal together, talked a lot about menstruation. IT WAS SO FLIPPING INSPIRING! .

20131205-144807.jpg

We spent the spare hours wandering around the desert, poking about in ruins, buildings long abandoned by villagers unable to survive in such a dry land. We watched a whole family of turtles sunbathing by the local river and tracked some wild pigs along the gorge. Tim and I spent whole afternoons discussing the eco-house we will build when we get to New Zealand.

20131205-145556.jpg

(I know; this is the MILLIONTH thing we have seen on this trip and decided we are going to do it. You’ve got to dream big, right? So far it seems that we are going back to New Zealand to create an imaginative kid’s festival celebrating the wilderness, run a Forest School, on a bit of land where we are building our own house out of clay, with a compost loo, in an intentional community full of families loving each other and eating together, whilst building a vineyard, an avocado orchard and running a Centre for Peaceful Adult-Child Relationships. Hmmm. It’s all compatible. We just need that cloning technology to hurry the heck up. Or YOU could join in, if you like? Come on, it’ll be WELL fun!)

I bloody love hippies. I love being in an environment where people are so passionate and it was a JOY being amongst other people for whom it makes complete sense to not wash their hair, rather than being the weird one. I didn’t get to the seminar on menstrual activism but I read a brilliant book on it that evening and am completely convinced! (It’s going to be a whole other post: WHAT A TREAT FOR YOU!)

20131205-144511.jpg

It was just five little days amongst our kind new friends at of Sunseed but it was like stepping in to new pair of boots; it kind of got us ready for a new home and life in New Zealand. It hasn’t felt that real, the whole “moving to NZ lalala” thing, but imagining the kind of eco-lifestyle we will nurture over there got us well excited. As long as I don’t think too hard about the family and friends we will be leaving in England. *Heaving sob*

We are on the very last leg of our European roadtrip, just five more days. We have passed through the snowy peaks around Granada, and we are now in sunny, warm Seville. We had to say another farewell to Betty a couple of days ago – can you actually believe it?- as she blew another head gasket and required £700 to fix her up that we just don’t have. If we hadn’t already spent £2000 on her pesky innards this trip alone we might have considered it but we decided to get her towed home for a DIY job over Christmas. It was a bit stressful but we are having a cool time zipping around in a rental car courtesy of our insurance, so it could be a lot worse. *Frank Spencer voice* Oooh, Bettty.

Bombaround

Campervanning around Spain with two kids, a surfboard and a caterpillar

25 November, 2013

A Spanish señora, as bronze as she is old, as rotund as she is wrinkly, wearing nothing but the very clothes she was born in raises her ams in the air and claps, everything jiggling. This was not the start of a rude flamenco though, but the middle of a series of star jumps, half submerged in the Mediterranean sea. Superbly, gloriously uninhibited.

Only in Spain.

We are in a desolate, sheltered cove just beneath an old castle built by the Moors. I’m sat here with Juno, poking plump pink jewels from a pomegranate in to our mouths. Tim and Ramona are building the castle in miniature form out of sand and there in the sea just behind them was this buxom old lady, butt naked, tanned deep in every crease. Doing aqua aerobics.

The only other people in sight are a Wedding Cake Top couple perched on the rocks next to the castle having their photos taken. They preen into every classic pose, her glistening white dress billowing, his waistcoat stiff.

It’s as surreal as a Dali, who hails from just around the corner. The sheer peculiarity of the scene strikes my heart with the wand of joy and my brain with the wonder of how we get to be here now, doing this.

These funny little moments happen a lot on the road. I feel tender; easily surprised, amused, unbound and unburdened.

It is obviously the basic awesomeness of having very little to do but sit around in the sun having bizarre things take place around us while the alternative was simply slogging away in the grimey depths of winter in South London.

And perhaps this general, elated sense of feeling is simply just an extension of that; the sense of alternatives. After getting totally lost amongst a tangle of tiny, dodgy streets in the middle of a massive city, coming across a huge square in the shadow of a beautiful basilica where it seems a micro fiesta is taking place just feels completely exhilarating. Because the alternative was getting mugged and stranded and still lost. Waking up next to a roaring ocean, the sun bouncing into the window, is a moment filled with relief that we didn’t get turfed out of the free parking spot by the Guardia over night.

(Or maybe aqua aerobics in the nick, grand basilicas and sunrises on a beach are simply enough in themselves.)

I think I could travel like this forever. This lazy, wild, seize-every-moment or just-sit-around-if-we-want kind of living.

20131124-210509.jpg

Back on the beach, the lady wades out of the water, pubes dripping, and two enormous Alsatians have bounded onto the castle tower and are barking aggressively at the Just Marrieds. Juno has cast the pomegranate aside in favour of a gob full of sand. Ramona has begun to cry and I realise it is way past lunch and all we have is a gritty pomegranate and half a packet of rice cakes we opened when we first hit the road 4 months ago.

When we first left England our Campervan was jam packed. But new things have been added everyday. There is a Julia Donaldson book, A Squash and a Squeeze, where a wise old man advises a woman who feel her house is too small to take in collection of farm animals. (Mansplaining, I think it is called these days.) At the end of the book she gets rid of the animals and realises her house is perfect for one.

We have acquired a double buggy, for rampaging over dunes. And a secondhand surfboard, which we couldn’t resist but takes up a lot of space. And a pet caterpillar which doesn’t take up much physical space but rather a lot of mental space, trying to keep him alive amidst the mayhem. (We shouldn’t have let him in. It will only end in heartache. His name is, predictably, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.) I concentrate on the principle of A Squash and a Squeeze; this is great preparation for whatever new home we end up in eventually – anything will feel like a mansion compared to this. But mostly I swear as my foot gets stuck in a potty as I’m rummaging in the dirty laundry for the least stinky tee shirt and I bump my head on a bunk. (We are still bumping our heads.) It is a tiny, tiny space but we’ve somehow managed to misplace our two knives so I’m crouching next to the surfboard cutting an onion with a pocket knife. I’m seconds away from googling bedroom furniture simply to ogle the wide open spaces of a normal house.

Calm descends on the beach again. The Guard Dogs have disappeared, the bride and groom have gone to their banquet somewhere and the bare naked lady has gone. We caper around the beach as uninhibited as her, the need for lunch suspended. We are roaring lions, we are diggers, we are splashers, we are laughing baboons.

20131124-210248.jpg

We are on the same team the four of us. It’s my favourite thing about this trip. With no agenda there are very few power struggles, with all the day to accomplish very few tasks there is no stress bleeding into the adult-child communication, making a gory mess. We all go to bed at 10pm and sleep until the delectable hour of 8am.

We’ve crawled slowly down the southern coast of Spain, coasting from cove to cove, and have landed in the barren, rocky beauty of the Cabo De Gata. We are climbing hills and collecting shells. Foraging pomegranates and oranges. We saw Africa on the horizon, it was pretty epic.

We are unfettered. Free as birds. Each one of us as wild and excitable as toddlers.

20131124-211110.jpg

We pack up our beach things, now covered in pomegranate, sand and rice cakes gone mushy with sea water. We need to find a shop not having a siesta so we can buy lunch stuff. As we scramble up the hill we pass another old soul, kindred of the Señora, a man this time, himself completely starkers. We obviously missed the NUDISTA sign posts (again!) You know the Nudist Beach signs here are simply stick figures? Two stick figures, one with with two breasts and one with a penis almost as long as his leg. I imagine that for this beach they were probably naked male and female stick figures doing star jumps. An Official Aqua Aerobics in the Altogether beach.

Only in Spain.

This is a collaborative post with Argos. Please check out my disclosure page for more info on that- please, please do!

PS For more parenting/ travelling / thrifty blogging follow through Facebook or Bloglovin or even just enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I don’t mention pubes THAT much…


Bombaround

Secondhand Spain: Who needs fish when you’ve got fleas?

10 November, 2013

Has it been a bit seriouspants around here lately or what? What with taking on a child beating tome, battling the toddler tamers and accepting the heavy mantle of world change from Gandhi; we need a rest. Let’s have a rinse out with the sweet balm of fancy free second hand thrifting…

We had planned on shooting straight down the middle of Spain to a nature reserve some friends told us about, but on the ferry across the Atlantic we got an email from my distant cousins telling us about a camp their colleagues run on the Costa Blanca. We looked it up on Google Images, seemed pretty nice, we changed our minds and headed to Denia. 4 days, 600 kilometres (er, yeah, we are going quite, quite slow with Betty) and 17 million rounds of Annoying Kid’s Songs Volume 1 and 2 we found it. And it was hot, reeeeeeeally flipping hot.

20131110-175727.jpg

On the way we passed through the beautiful cities of Bilbao, Longrono, Zaragosa and Valencia. Our first night night traipsing the streets of a city was really baffling. Why on earth were there so many people spilling out all over the streets, kids running wild around the plazas with balloons, dolled up old ladies dipping churros? Was there a carnival happening? A national holiday?

I had an awkward conversation with a stranger; “What is everyone doing? Why are they here?” “Er, well, this is a beautiful town!” “No, but why are they having fun, in this place, is there A Thing happening?” “This is what we do. On ordinary nights. Even when it’s cold and dark. We leave our houses and come to the city and eat some tapas, drink some wine, let the children play, we dance…”

Pffft! What kind of a life is this? They are missing out on the wearing of onesies and the watching of Eastenders while the kids play the X Station in the back room and Granny does her crochet in an old folks home.

Speaking of crochet, let’s cut to the chase. Yeah, it’s lush in Spain. We’ve been swimming in these coves (most of them seem to have NUDISTA signs all over them, who knows what that means) and climbing these old beautiful towers in these majestic basilicas, and eating insane paella, but, BUT the other day we bumped into a FLEA MARKET WOOHOOOOOOO! There we were bustling around Denia trying to find the fish market when, HANG THE HECK ON, what is this? Piles of junk? Stall after stall of dusty old crap? I must have actually died and gone to heaven.

I know that I had a bit of an out of body experience as I came across six tables, each groaning under the weight of mountains of knitted blankets, embroidered table cloths and vintage pinnafores. Something happened because when I came to, 5 Euros lighter, clutching a mound of flea ridden beauty to my chest Tim and the girls were no where to be seen.

I got flashbacks. Tim’s voice. “Going on…. Fish market…Meet you… At the… In about…”

Uh.

I was lost. In a massive flea market. With no clue what we had arranged and with no way of contacting Tim or being contacted. Completely alone.

It was perfect.

He found me, of course, a bit later, knee high in a box of rusty Spanish doorknobs, a crazed look on my face; the unique, agonised expression of someone surrounded by super cheap cool old Spanish crap but with no home to put it in.

I try, however – look at Betty’s latest makeover:

20131110-174836.jpg

Cushion- €1
Blanket- €1
Rug- Oh, that animal hide? We found that on the street in Germany
Hey, what are those things on the side board?!

20131110-175050.jpg
Ah, well, this dude is an actual nut cracking nut cracker… €10

20131110-175235.jpg
And these are just some old Spanish vintage tins, y’know? €3

20131110-175424.jpg Look here, closer at this killer blanket. What kind of creative genius puts orange, grey and navy together? My actual fave.

We sadly can't drive around with ornaments on our side board. So actual nut cracking nutcracker dude has to go in a cupboard, and these tins in a draw. But whenever we stop I will whip them out and pretend we're not going to be doing a slow, wobbly hundred mile drive the next day.

So, that's Spain so far. S'alright.

PS Linking up with the beauties over at Me and My Shadow- celebrating all things second hand!

Bombaround

When plans go awry

24 October, 2013

Before we left England for our trip around Europe, whenever people heard what we were about to do they’d say “Blimey, your brave!” It was a unanimous response, something about chucking all your cards in the air and tripping about with two under threes in a Campervan gave people the heeby jeebies. We didn’t really feel very bold, we just felt it was do-able. We were confident we’d all love it and that everything would pretty much work out.

Well.

I’m beginning to understand this reaction now. Because you know…. Sometimes things go wrong. Plans go awry (pronounced Ah-RY rather than OR-Ree if you were, ah, um, wondering. Just because a friend got to 29 thinking it was OR-Ree. So I just thought I’d mention it, just in case.)

And then you keep tweaking, and adapting, and changing and still things keep going wrong.

GAH!

You may remember that our lovely Betty the Campervan broke down in Italy. The mechanic wanted ALOT of money to fix the clutch, which wasn’t even the source of the breakdown, so we opted to get the AA to recover it back to London where our own VW mechanic could repair her. This would be covered in our AA deal, as well as some money to carry on our holiday and get home. So we rented a car and bought a tent and camped around Croatia. It was flipping EPIC.

Meanwhile we booked a ferry from UK to Spain for the 8th October and looked on the bright side, at least we could now do Spain with the fixed up Betty.

However, when we returned to London to pick her up, we discovered that Betty hadn’t made it back. In fact, she was still in Italy- we were meant to be getting the ferry in two days!!!

We reluctantly changed the ferry date. Hung around London a bit. A week later we heard that the van was STILL in Italy! We postponed the ferry yet again. Hung around some more.

This was ridiculous. We were losing faith in the AA’s ability to get the van back. The “14 days maximum” getting back to London had doubled and we were no closer to Spain. We decided to do a DIY mission. The AA gave us the money to get the van back ourselves and we called up our friend Patrick, who runs the Forest School, in Germany, who had offered to help out. (What an AWESOME dude.)

We would stay in London while Tim goes out to Germany, drives to Italy, brings van back to Germany for repairs, drives home. We thought it’d take 5 days.

So far it’s been ten.

Oh, the plans of mice and hu-men’ *mutter sexists phrases mutter*

The flight was cancelled, the journey from Germany to Italy took an unexpected 18 hours, the mechanic was sick. Things just kind of stopped working out well.

Last night I changed the ferry for the millionth time (the boat folks must think I am absolutely off my rocker) from tomorrow to Sunday but as of just now we’re unsure if we’ll even make that.

Tonight Tim went to get the camper; he had his bags packed, a picnic ready, all prepared to pick Betty up and begin the drive home. Oh. The mechanic wasn’t there. Fortunately, someone else was and gave Tim and Patrick his home address. Sweet, a misunderstanding? They drove to his home and discovered the mechanic in bed. Refusing to come down. Swearing at his mum. Saying he was going on holiday tomorrow.

The subsequent text from Tim said “You. Are. Not. Going. To. Believe. This”

As I read the following texts about a cracker jacks mechanic my stomach curled up as if to hide from the angry old heart beating its way out of my chest.

It just seems a bit unfair. For this Trip of a Lifetime to be stalled for so many weeks. A bit like, yeah, I realise having had such a cool time already it was about time we had some rubbish luck, but THAT’S ENOUGH THANKS. If bad luck came in threes Tim would have been back on Monday. It feels like it comes in gazillions. *Mutter sweary mutter*

Then I look at Juno Bear enjoying a crumpet (yep, she be EATING!) and remember Ramona wandering around prestigious museums in her pyjamas yesterday and I GET SOME PERSPECTIVE.

20131024-222942.jpg

We are all healthy and don’t have to go to work in the mines and will get to Spain eventually, si, si. (Do you have any suggestions for Spain? We arrive in Bilbao (probably next July, the way things are going) and are thinking of driving straight through the middle to the very bottom and then going West…. Or East. Let me know if you have any ideas for of cool projects or families or anything to visit.)

So. Send tea, cake and courage as I’m getting a little of the heeby jeebies….

Bombaround, Thrifty

Flea Markets in Secondhand Split

7 October, 2013

Ah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking- I needed to find the Flea Market in Split, Croatia, like I needed a punch in the face. We’ve sold a house full of stuff, pared down to just a few belongings for our travels round Europe, why WHY would I need to go thrifting in Croatia?

Welllll… My shoes really broke for the final time after much DIY repairing so I popped them in the bin and was one pair down. Also, we are flying back to England on Tuesday and have to somehow cart all our gear onto the plane… so we are keeping our eyes peeled for a suitcase or massive bag or two… But, really, honestly? I just love rummaging through people’s old stuff.

Especially if there’s a chance it could be retro communisty Iron Curtain style old stuff.

The Green Markets in Split sprawl out from the harbour up to the edge of the Old Town. On a Sunday they are packed with mountains of fruit and veggies and, tucked at the back, as you walk away from the harbour, was a vision of beauty to my eyeballs- a small but perfectly haphazard array of stalls selling old stuff. The ideal mixture – plastic tat, vintage fabrics, clothing, records, filthy things piled in boxes: YES, YES, YES!

We arrived at 11am and it was in full flow, but over by the time we passed again at 1pm. We had a quick mosey but I didn’t torture myself by searching too hard through all the things I couldn’t take back with me. I did score this SWEET pair of treads though, for about £1.20. Are these what you call brothel creepers? I’m sorry to womankind if so… But aren’t they The Business? I promise to be extra feminist whilst wearing them.Flea Market Split

(Communists don’t worry about matching laces.)

We then wandered through the old town and unexpectedly began to love Split. There are some astonishing Roman structures, the magnificence of which rivalling Dubrovnik, but with a massive dose of proper, gritty, city living. 20131007-080135.jpg
Ramona having a snooze on Tim’s back as we bask in the antiquity.

We then, outside the overawing Golden Gate, came across another glorious sight- another market of old stuff! Wheee! Sound the Trumpet of Joy! It was a bit more official, and featured almost solely antique stuff but for fairly good prices and still with the delight of rummaging through boxes and bowls.Flea Markets in Split

Walking past this rocking horse realising it would never be mine was probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life (possibly rivalled by child birth.)

Secondhand Split, I found you, you stealthy beast, and I loved you.

Linking up for the first time in YONKS with all the secondhand loving beauties over at Me and My Shadow.