places

Train tickets and somewhere greener, pt. 3

And here we are, off to the last part of our small trip.
After a few nights with friends in Brussels, we said bye to the city and went to the coutryside again.

Visiting our friend H was part of the excuse to leave home for a couple of weeks. We used to be neighbours, here on our hills, until she moved back to her family’s farm. She now tends horses and gardens, and many fruit trees - including apple trees, which give the most delicious juice, which she bottles to drink throughout the year. I surely had my share during these days!

We had beautiful and nourishing food, sowed sunflowers in the garden, rode her horses, went to town to explore thrift shops, laughed SO much, went to a party together, harvested currants from the garden, ate cheese + mustard leaves sandwiches, strolled in the forest that lives behind the house… And slowed down, really, before getting ready to head back home.

Also, we turned the wheel and everyone had a go playing with clay. Even the little one, who made the tiniest, sweetest cup I had ever seen!

A few mornings later, we hopped in the train back to Brussels, and from there to Paris, and from there back to Lisboa. The ride wasn’t as confortable this time - we hadn’t booked our Sud-Express tickets in advance, so had to the last 12+ ride in seated seats, since all beds were taken *insert heart break*

It was so hot when we came back! In those two weeks we were away, all the green had turned into yellow. It was a bit of a shock, but that’s how it is. Different bioregions, different climates, different seasons. While it was still Spring im Belgium, at ours Summer was already well settled.

I miss this green and freshness. At the same time, it is a motivation to work harder on how we steward the land we live in. How can we invite more water into it? Which trees can we plant for water retention + shade? We are still planning, always planning.

I also came back reall inspired to let my creativity flow more and create more, besides knitting! Also, less time on my phone. My friend still has her dumbphone and I miss my Nokia 3310 like hell.

Hey, I’m digressing. Thank you for following along our little trip! It feels good to be back x

Train tickets and somewhere greener, pt. 2

After saying goodbye to Noémie and her family, we got in to another train that took us a bit up North. Sam’s family was hosting a gathering over there, in their house in the countryside, with cousins and aunts and uncles and siblings and grandchildren and grandparents.

I was pretty excited, because I had only met a small part of Sam’s family… I was excited for our little J as well, who has little connection with her Belgium family and to french language.

The gathering was so much more relaxed and laid back than I had pictured. It inclulded lots of delicious food, generous ammounts of wine and homemade spirits (for the grown ups, obviously), walks through colza fields, visits to the family’s cows, a fishing trip to a lake and rides on tractors. With 15 children in there, we barely saw our own, who was busy making friends and having fun. It was so beautiful.

And also very inspiring to see such a big family having so much dedication to each other and putting an immense love and effort into a gathering.

As corny as it may sound, I fell even more in love with Sam after meeting his family and understanding more about where he comes from ♡

These were some beautiful three days. We left with hearts full and, for me, a renewed confidence in my french - oh gosh, did that serve me well!

Off to another few places we go!

Train tickets and somewhere greener, pt. 1

Real life and online life move in different speeds. Even though we’ve been back from our little family frolic three weeks or so ago, I’m still processing it. However, over the internets, it feels like this has already been two years ago. Posting about it now may seem so outdated, but in my pace it feels just right.

So here we are.

Travelling by train was one of the best decisions we could have made. Honestly, we have a freaking awesome train system in Europe and it doesn't receive half the attention it deserves. I decided earlier this year than I’m done with flying (unless there’s no other way and it’s kind of urgent), due to our current state of ecological emergency, and it was easy to convince Sam. As for our three year old, I need to say I thought it would have been way more complicated. I never thought I would say I’m thankful for Disney princesses magazines with stickers, but I am.

On the evening of my birthday, we hopped on a train in Lisboa that took us all the way to Paris. I did this trip with my parents when I was younger (say, fresh new teenager trying to spot cute guys, which is probably why I don’t remember much of the trip, landscapes, or buildings - unfortunately, I don’t remember any cute guys either). It was fun to wake up in the same kind of carriages and have breakfast in the same cafeteria while traversing the Pyrénées - this time with a family of my own. I may have gotten a bit teary-eyed, yes yes.

After a one night stop in Paris, where we slept a friend’s tiny tiny house and saw more of the Metro than the city itself, we hopped on to another train all the way to Alsace… Where Noémie, my dear IG friend, lives with her family. And so, this virtual relationship evolved into something much richer.

After almost four years of talking to eachother through a screen, it was pure magic to finally meet for real and really experience all the beauty she shares on her IG page. Our children bonded, our partners bonded, we bonded - like, we even knitted together. That’s big time bonding!
They have the sweetest little house, with the most beautiful forest on their backyard. Everything is so green and lush. It broke my heart a little, but I guess the grass is always (literally) greener on the other side.

We visited an abandoned castle, walked in the woods, drank garden tea, I finally tasted for the first time wild garlic!, which Noémie prepared as pesto and as a pie, we visited a rose garden in their closest town, made promises of rose cuttings travelling abroad stuck into potatoes, and we got to sleep in their lovely, luminous and adorably tiny attic, which really look like an A-frame cabin. It was wonderful.

Noémie and her partner, Lionel, are both incredibly beautiful and wise. I feel so lucky that they opened up their doors to us and that we got to spend a few days with them. I will cherish these memories for a long, long time.
Thank you, Noémie, from the deepest of my heart.

It wasn’t easy to say goodbye, but a family meeting was waiting for us a bit more up North. And so, we got our train tickets and went.

But that’s for the next post. Right now, it’s starting to rain and all my clothes are already dry on the line waiting for me to pick them up!

Housesitting

I'm writing while facing this big glassed wall. In front of me, the fields spread with no barriers. Olive trees, oaks and pines are the only inhabitants within sight. Oh, and there's this huge pine tree right in front of the window hiding part of the view - I wonder if our friend will ever cut it.

We're housesitting K's handbuilt house for two months. What is even better, he lives in the area where we're looking for a piece of land of our own. This means we have two month in front of us to really live the place and become a part of the social network over here, no longer as outsider friends who come often, but really as locals. And, in the meanwhile, continuing our land search.

Every day we've been meeting with old people and being shown pieces of land, but nothing yet that really pleases us. Either by the roadside, or too flat, or too... Awkward. It's a never-ending process, but we have a very high spirit.

There is something almost magical about this area, that has been attracting many foreigners over the last few years. But with it came the fact the prices are now rising like crazy and the market is completely unbalanced. Well, we're keeping our fingers well crossed! 

Yesterday we went visit the alternative school here - because that's just how good it gets. I know many of you are curious about this school and dropped me regarding questions on instagram. The school is very recent but it is definitely on the right track. It works in the old primary school building, which was lent by the municipality. Soon it will be extending its age range until 18 years old and working in the discontinued secondary school building. It runs in english and portuguese and has many different subjects. The students study what they want to study, at their own pace, and are not narrowed to be in a classroom with children of their own age only.
We arrived at the end of the day and had a lovely chat with other parents and the woman who is organizing the school. We felt so... Good. We had this wonderful feeling of belonging somewhere, not just misfits with strange ideas, but perfectly normal people among like-minded.

But, in overall, this is the feeling we have over here in this area. We feel home. Our friends live here, the children we want Jade to be friends and school companions with live here, the community we want to be part of is this one.

We just feel so happy and with such clear minds. Maybe it's the fact Mercury is no longer in retrograde (I know, I know, that's a witch's excuse number one!). Maybe it's the power of manifestation. We're embracing this wonderful wave of good things and trying really hard to find - and afford! - our little corner!

Thank you so much for following our adventure. I wish you all a wonderful rest of the week! 

To new adventures

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Autumn brought many thoughts and revelations. To be more accurate, it teamed up with ideas that had been roaming our minds already to turn us upside down and give our life a good shake.

Living where we do, how we do, many feelings have been accumulating over time - some loneliness, lack of social interactions, tiredness from being quite attached parents in model a nuclear family (that could be a topic all by itself, now couldn't it?). To go to the root of it, essentially we need the feeling of having a "community" around - families and friends, activities and cooperation, trades and markets. Somehow, this bubble popped out now and led us to a decision - moving out.

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Good news? We know where to.

We've known this place for about two years, and since the first visit it resonated so much within. It has became kind of a convergence location for wonderful people. Over time, a lot of people have established in this area, built their natural homes and gardened with permaculture. It's not a "community", but almost feels like.

Practically everyone is a bike ride away. There are quite some families and an alternative school is just starting. There's a workday every week, in which friends help out others in building and gardening, in a rotative way. Bakers bake bread and sell it. There's yoga and meditation in a yurt every week. There are markets and lots of trading. And there's a bunch of abandoned land.

So that picture over there? That's us in the morning after sleeping in a van, in a land quest. Looking for a beautiful piece of land and running after farmers in tractors asking for the owners. Tiring, hard work, but hopefully rewarding!

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On the other hand, we know we can't afford a decent piece of land at the moment. So our goal for this upcoming year is to work our asses off and put every cent aside to have a little bit of this to call our own and finally start working on building a new homestead and life- once again.

But with all these thoughts in mind, staying at home doesn't feel anymore like a very good option... So while we work/save/roam we hope to find a place in need of housesitting, or volunteer in farm, or stay at friends' in the area, so we can be social animals again and J can be around other children. Just until summer, when the plan is to head abroad for farming work!

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I will be focusing on creating new balms and soaps and will look for a work as a waitress or something more art-y, while Sam expects to find something related to building or carpentry. Cross your fingers for us, will you? We certainly are!

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So here's to new, exciting adventures! I'm just so grateful to go through the flow of life with these two by my side!