It’s been 4 week since we’ve left Australia and isn’t it amazing what can happen in 4 whole weeks, a complete lifestyle change. As the dust settles, and the honeymoon euphoria of moving overseas dials down a few notches, best I start thinking about this space and jot some things down. It can be all to tempting to just throw a picture up on Instagram but this is really my journey space.
I’ve started this post a number of times but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, a few false starts. I’ve never had a real plan for this or my previous blog, it’s always just come along with me on the ride. A space to debrief, mostly with myself and if holds meaning for others then that’s awesome.
I’m just going to take the approach I take mostly with life, that maybe there doesn’t have to be a plan or a goal, simply just a flow. There are always dreams, oh yes, many, many dreams and yes I do work towards things but not rigidly. That doesn’t mean there is no structure and that I have nothing to do. It’s more about living a life that’s not crowded or complicated, I find that all to overwhelming. If all I focussed on were goals then I’d miss the flow – all that juicy goodness that happens along the way.
Living out of a suitcase:
Am I tired of the same clothes, nope. It’s so easy and easy means freedom and time. My suitcase did feel a bit heavy on summer clothes when we landed in London and it was a bit weird dressing for the cold, it’s been a while between winters. But I’m comfy in boots, black nudie jeans and my 3 interchanging tops. Both Greg and I did need to buy a woollen jumper and we’ve added a few thermal singlets to the younger boys wardrobes. Marks and Spencer have an ethical and sustainable line, brilliant. If you’re buying a woollen jumper, Ireland is an excellent place to do it, local wool and and local family companies, awesomely easy. After my year of buying nothing new if I have to buy something I’m trying to buy only sustainably. Definitely for me and where I can for the kids, my husband is a grown up so he can make his own choices…except when it’s underwear I buy those, so Boody Australia all-the-way.
I am revelling in the winter, I was so ready. After three years in Sydney, sweltering and adrenals on overload I needed to feel cold and I’ve craved shorter days with long nights for SLEEP, so much sleep. Slow living has really awakened me to the seasonal pull and I love being able to feel my way through. In Sydney it was hard to go with the seasons, the winters don’t last long and as soon the spring is back everyone is back ON (although many never switch off). I know that works for some people but I need more calm and quiet. It’s a little easier to ‘do’ winter here, there’s good heating and it’s easier to go about your day if you start it feeling warm. I’m also loving how my daily runs are keeping me toasty and soup and beans, every single day, yes thank you.
I guess you could say we’ve had quite a dramatic lifestyle change, we’re rolling with it. The kids have started in a local school and other than a few first day nerves there have been zero issues. The kids are enjoying the country pace and every day they come home smiling and telling stories. I guess in Ireland you’d say ‘the craic’ is good. I am proud of their resilience and I love how their world is opening up. They loved their life when they left and it’s early days but what I’m seeing I am loving. I am also now more than ever convinced that stability and security is not from the ‘status quo’ it’s from the people in our lives. Change is not something to fear but to relish in, change helps you grow, develop skills and learn about different ways of living and being.
Ireland is a beautiful country and we’re so lucky to have so many stunning spots to explore locally. This rural stopover is the perfect transition from living in the city to life in a motorhome. Especially grateful that Greg is able to work from home, it gives him time to adjust to the calm away from the office. Hopefully before his long service kicks in and we hit the road he will have joined us in the slow lane…he’s been away for work the past two weeks but he assures me that’s it for a while. We’re arranging to pick up our motorhome in the next few weeks and then we’ll delve into exploring Ireland as weekend warriors, so for these few weeks we’re taking in East Cork and our local hood. Most days I start with the sunrise, right on my doorstep, always stunning and everyday a little different.
On the recommendation of my sister in law (she’s married to a local Irishman) Jimmy and I took ourselves to Ballymaloe House for some morning tea. I really should have had tea shouldn’t I? Oops, coffee. I am not a big fan of sweets but this morning carrot cake was on offer so I obliged. Fresh, organic, seasonal and the is coffee freshly roasted next door. You know how I love that and also the crockery, c-ute. We wandered through the garden, shopped at the honesty box and enjoyed the feeling of this micro village. We’re looking forward to taking a farm tour on the 100 acre organic farm and we’ve booked in for a slow food dinner in March cooked from the kitchen of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. We’ll be back here and if you’re in the area, do go.
Ballycotton is home to the seafood boats and the Ballycotton cliff walk. Another village with loads of character and Irish charm. I was planning a solo hike but my 12 year wanted to join me. It was super cool hiking with him. A little chatter and a lot of just being, both introverts, both lovers of the trail and both history nuts. The walk starts with the lighthouse in view and continues past dramatic cliffs through paddocks and paths with a few creek crossings. In no rush to get home we stopped at ‘Skinny’s’ for hot chocolate and hot chips. ‘Skinny’s’ because Cork people eat their potatoes with the skin on! I learnt from John McEnally the man behind the diner and the most excellent chip cooker. The post hike feeling is always better when you sit and enjoy it with a little time to soak it in and debrief the experience. I pinched myself…it was happening, this was exactly the kind of time I wanted to have with the kids on this trip.
This is our local and it’s part of my daily run. Yes, there are surfers out there, seriously, RESPECT, 8 degrees! And yes that’s Zoë, always with her hand and head in the rock pools or the dirt. It’s surrounds are typically Irish and picturesqe, there are sheep in the paddocks, waves in the ocean, cottages on the hills, lanes to get in and out, cliffs to climb and green os so deliciously green. It’s stunning having such contrast in the sky from the Australian summer. We’ve had blue skies here, never the pastel blue hues of Sydney but the white and grey to me are equally spectacular and the sunrise and sunsets are MAGICAL.
I am a lady of the laneways, I love them. When we first moved I felt like I was in a maze and how the heck would I find my way out of here. It didn’t take long, I took to the lanes running! Quite simply a breathtaking way to breath in the fresh, crisp country air and get fit, all while getting my bearings. I also drive and it is luxuriously friendly, everyone waves, every single car I go past. There’s no beeping, swearing or menacing, sure beats driving in Sydney.
I joke about being a woods walker now! The woods are naturally different to the Aussie bush but the feeling is still the same. Alive in nature, connected to what’s real and space for calm and clarity. Yes, classic same same but different. Rostellen is a village close by the harbour and not far from where we are. There are woods tracks and a track around what was once a grand castle, now ruins covered in Ivy but with a story.
We have moved across the world yet habits are still the same. Blooming where your planted is always a good idea, then when you move your habits will follow you. I still love being at home and I love exploring the outdoors. Food and food stories, I’m excitedly discovering a few. Ireland has a growing slow, sustainable foodie culture, it’s so awesome to be in the heart of it. The Kim Chi is in process, and yes that’s panadol and a cup of tomato soup for Lucas, travel and adventures, but also the normality of sick kids and lunches.
Snapping things that make me happy with my trusty Olympus, scribbling thoughts with my photography, still love that (thanks for the Insta love). I’ve taught myself to waffle stitch to make my niece a baptism stole and inadvertently I think I’ve taught myself the stitch required to make dishwash clothes…that’s another sustainable habit I’ve been meaning to take on. I move everyday and am finding that running is making me happy right now. I have my local laneway run and I see new things every time. We have a local bistro that caters beautifully for families and we’re creating a tradition of a family dinner having ‘the craic’ there.
A little change is always a good motivation to form some new habits so I’m trying to sleep more, write more and keep a bullet journal to harness all the ideas and dreams…and then hopefully do something with them, one day.
When we left Melbourne I thought “oh but the school, the kids are so happy”. Then we left Sydney and I thought “oh but the school, the kids are so happy”. And now we are in Cork and I am all “oh BUT the school, the kids are so happy”. Where we’ve landed fits with my philosophies. No push for computers for primary students, email newsletters, active green team, some recognition but not over the top awards for everything, a parent agreement that €5 is the appropriate amount for party presents.
The kids are picked up each day out the front of our home by the school bus and dropped off after school (LOVING that so much) and they have found a few activities that suit them. I haven’t had to seek anything, the activities are all open and the kids have joined and called me from school to say they have soccer or choir. There are no permission forms and there are no fees…it’s quite different, slightly refreshing, ok a lot refreshing. Everywhere has their positives.
I adore the quiet, and decluttering for me is not only about ‘stuff’ it’s also about the noise in my life that serves no purpose. Right now in this season of our lives, this is the lifestyle for me and I’m so very grateful to be in this position where we can experience it, learn from it and enjoy every minute of the white space. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I completely understand the ‘buzz’ of the city, I also love that…it just got to a point for us where we were making so many compromises for that buzz. Last night the wind howled and howled in fact she howled for 24 hours straight and that’s exactly the buzz I’m up for right now.
So yes you could say it is all we hoped for and more! I came with no expectations and and there was no desperation to arrive here. Of course I wanted it and dreamed about it but having contentment and gratitude in my daily life meant that I was present in all of those days leading to the day the plane landed.
I am not here to find myself, or learn to slow down, that work is done. Landing was simply a new day in an already beautiful life and the beginning of one great BIG adventure and of the change for Greg to have some freedom from the grind to join us in the slow lane.
What’s filling your glass right now?