Walk In Her Shoes: 100kms Done!

100km in six days – Boom! Made it a day ahead of schedule. And feeling great. Today I walked 17.52km which brought me to a total of 105.97km.

Within a few hundred metres of stepping out of my friend’s door in Cowley, near Oxford, I was walking through a charming churchyard.

IMG_0544

On the path towards the river, Robin Redbreast came out to say hello.

Red Robin

I then wandered down along the river, starting near Iffley Lock and heading towards Abingdon.

IMG_0548

IMG_0550

IMG_0552

It was another beautiful day to be out walking. The migratory birds seem to have started to arrive. There were swans and geese, and ducks in breeding pairs. No ducklings yet, but the first buds of spring were beginning to bloom.

IMG_0554

IMG_0557

IMG_0559

As I wandered down towards Sandford, there were plenty of fishermen out enjoying the sunshine. I asked one of them if he’d caught anything, and in typical British humour he retorted ‘Just a cold’.

IMG_0566

Although it was a beautiful clear day, it was pretty chilly even with the walking. Most of the people out walking, and there were a few, were well rugged up. It was incredibly peaceful though, and even with quite a few people out walking, it did really feel like the hustle and bustle  was a million miles away.

IMG_0567river sceneI started walking down towards Lower Radley – struggling along a very muddy path, unfortunately in my sneakers not my trusty hiking boots (I didn’t plan for mud), until I was stopped by the path being flooded completely. I was forced to turn back, and decided to walk all the way back to Oxford instead. It was a bit of shame, but still a great walk. Oxford was shining beautifully in the sun.

IMG_0572

IMG_0575

I was pretty hungry, and ready for a roast by now. Walked past this house, which has always been a favourite. I always wonder if someone actually lives there – I really must find out one day.

IMG_0576

Then had my roast at The Head of the River.

IMG_0579

Checked my k’s and realised I’d made it to 100kms! Time to head back to London town.

Was a great week of walking. I’m really keen to get out and do lots more of it. I just feel so great being out amongst it.

So – with just a few days left until I turn 43, The Answer is yet to materialise. I do feel that some part of it is about being connected to this amazing world we live in, and appreciating the awesome and amazing beauty that is around us every day, if we just stop to look. Still a couple of days to go though – so if something more profound becomes apparent, I’ll let you know.

Quite a way from my $5000 fundraising goal, but I’d still really love to at least reach $1000 for CARE Australia if I can. It would still be a good chunk of money that would really help. You can donate on my fundraising page here.

Walk In Her Shoes : Day 5

Day 5 was a beautiful walk along Oxford Canal. I walked 19.88kms – and am now up to 88.45 k’s in total – yay!

It was a beautiful afternoon for walking yesterday. I headed off straight from the bus, up the Oxford Canal towards where I used to live. Was a real trip down memory lane, and with the sun out, the canal and it’s community were all smiling.

IMG_0505IMG_0506IMG_0508

The canal was certainly showing of English country living at it’s best…

IMG_0515

It was sooo good to get the lungs filled with some truly fresh air. I didn’t realise how much I had been missing green space and beauty in London. It was just magical walking through these idyllic scenes.

IMG_0512

IMG_0533

IMG_0534

Had some lovely stops behind the bridges and locks.

IMG_0535

I walked a good long distance, and then decided it was time to head back, as the sun began to set.

IMG_0536

Was a brilliant walk. It has really reminded me how much I love to be out there walking through this beautiful world that we live in. Will be back out there somewhere in a few hours – looks like I might hit the 100km mark today!

If you would like to donate to CARE Australia, my fundraising page is here.

Crazy Walking Week Starts Today – International Women’s Day

So, I’m about to head off on my crazy walking week. Today is International Women’s Day – what better way to start a week of walking 100km to raise money for CARE Australia.

My plan for the day is somewhat vague… I’ll be starting with turning on Map My Walk as I walk to work, and basically playing it by ear from there. Watch this space for updates.

I still have a long way to go on my fundraising goal. If you’d like to help out here is the link to my fundraising page.

Indira, I Do

I was inspired, earlier this year, by Indira Naidoo. Not, as you might think, to become an awesome writer or journalist (which would make sense, because she is awesome at these things), but – to make a salad made from plants on my balcony.

Some wonderful friends gave me a copy of Indira’s book, The Edible Balcony. The title of which, when you first hear it, makes you think (or at least makes me think) of the Homer Simpson episode where he dreams of the land of chocolate, and everything, including the houses – and balconies one would expect – are made from chocolate. This is not the kind of edible balcony we are talking about here.

Indira’s book is about growing food on your balcony. When I got the book, I’d dabbled in a little herbal growing. You know, basil from the fruit shop, and a bit of mint. The idea that I could grow actual veggies and stuff, well – that was kinda cool. It seemed especially cool after throwing out yet another fridge full of soggy week old green stuff, that had once resembled vegetables, but now looked like it came from another planet. There must be a better way.

So I decided I should take Indira’s advice:

You Grow Girl

I would grow my own.

I started with some seedlings, and lettuce – and for a many months now I have been able to make my salad for work each, day purely from the spoils of my balcony. Not only is it saving me money, it tastes awesome! And I’m sure it’s healthier. How much fresher can you get, picked that morning to eat a few hours later?

With Spring here, I decided the Balcony Garden needed a re-vamp. I’m pretty pleased with the efforts.

full balcony

My new thing – growing from seed (no – they are not just pots of dirt, there are seeds in there). My thinking is – its cheaper (seeds are really cheap), and I’ll get more plants for my money. The only problem is, its also slower, so I might have to top up my greens from the store in the meantime. Mmm.

There is something enormously satisfying about eating something you have grown yourself. But somehow it is even better to sit on your balcony, sipping a coffee, surrounded by your own little mini-farm. Its amazing what a few plants can do to a space.

leftcorner

Ten minutes spent watering my plants is a very peaceful, meditative start to the day.

I’ve grown to love it.

corner

So beautiful, it made me cry

It is so easy to forget how much beauty there is in the world.

Sabadell, placa de Sant Roc : 6pm, 19th May 2012

 

The first time I saw this, it brought me to tears. I wondered – why? What is it about this, that is so incredibly moving, so powerful, that it cuts through – to touch you? Is it the music? Yes, the music is beautiful. But it is not just that. Is it the surprise? Yes, the spontaneity and surprise makes it feel somehow surreal, dreamlike. But it is more than this.

These musicians did not just create beautiful music. They tapped passers by on the shoulder and said ‘stop a moment – I have something to give you.’ And then they each gave a most beautiful part of themselves.

As you see one more person drawn in, one more person notice, one more person moved – you can see the amazement and wonder on their faces, that this beautiful gift – is being given to them. Then you feel the joy building. Among the musicians, among the people watching – within yourself.

The musician’s simple gift is multiplied – exploding in pure joy.

The power of kindness.

Be Amazed.

Just when you think the world has become plastic, packaged, when everything around you seems fake and tacky, something comes along that is so new, so fresh and so full of honest, raw beauty – you can’t help but fall, amazed, in awe.

Watch this.

Life is beautiful. Don’t forget it.

Cambodia

How do I sum up Cambodia in a few hundred words?

It is impossible of course. In one week I dipped my toe into the assault on the senses that is Cambodia. I laughed, I cried, I was amazed and inspired.

The smells and streets of Phnom Penh reminded me of Mexico. A vague smell of urine and rotting food, broken footpaths, and lots of activity. You walk down the middle of the street amongst the motor bikes, bicycles, air conditioned four wheel drives, and people. People live out in the open, amongst each other.

The traffic in Cambodia is surprisingly quiet. No constant horns that you get in so many chaotic cities. But then, Phnom Penh was not chaotic. There is constant movement, constant activity, but in a quietly organised way. The traffic weaves gently around itself, in an out of each other, never stopping, flowing.

It was hot. Sweat would drip down my back and down my legs as I walked. The city was quiet in the middle of the day, everyone hid away from the heat. As the evening breeze cooled the day, people crept out, the city buzzing again by nightfall.

Food Court Phnom Penh Style

Streets of Phnom Penh

Where did that breeze come from? As a Sydney sider, I associated a cool breeze with the ocean, yet we were not near the ocean. How does that work? Where does a cool breeze come from if not the ocean? Mmm.

There was a very particular atmosphere that made me think of Budapest in 1991. 1991 was a time when Hungary had only just come out from under the cloud of communism. The city was poor, tired and struggling – yet at the same time there was this surge of energy. Buildings being renovated, new businesses springing up. Old people determined and resilient, young people daring to hope.

Renovating Phnom Penh

I learnt so much on this trip. So much about Cambodia, its history, and so much about myself. Cambodia’s recent history is so violent and so far reaching, there is no person there unaffected. Every family lost close friends and relatives, every person experienced personal suffering. I heard this from our guides, who had the tough task of sharing the Sad Story. A story that there is no right way to tell, no way to explain.

Yet somehow, life goes on. People go on to love, have children, build dreams. It is amazing what people can endure.

They endure, as do their ancient recipes, stories and dances. I ate Amok, a delicious type of curry, almost every night. I watched giggling teenagers perform their traditional dances for the tourists.

The ancient history is so enchanting, so full of richness and beauty it takes your breath away. Temples in the jungle seem impossibly fantastical, as if a childhood storybook was opened and its contents laid out before you.

Cambodia was impossible to just observe. It had to be tasted, touched and smelt – swum in.

Cambodia reminded me of everywhere, but nowhere. It stays with me. Part of me is still flying around the streets of Phnom Penh on a Tuk-Tuk.

I sense I will be hearing Cambodia’s lessons for some time to come.