not quite in the footsteps of Mallory and Scott…

One year ago this month, we pulled our kids out of pre-school, waved goodbye to friends, flicked the bird to annoying work colleagues, and aimed the nose of our old but reliable motorhome into the great unknown.

Actually, it wasn’t quite the great unknown at that stage. It was more of a ‘slightly unknown’ as we spent the first week of our planned journey camped up less than 30 kilometres from our departure point. But it was a start.

Whilst only a baby step by comparison to where we are today, it heralded the beginning of a journey that had been two years in the planning, during which time, we’d managed to dispose of our house, car and other things and stuff we’d surrounded ourselves with as homeowners.

Gradually, as the distance from our departure point grew, so too did our appetite for adventure and exploration. Until, one month after setting forth from Blenheim, and riding a wave of newfound travel confidence, we sailed overseas…  the North Island beckoned!

However, any self-inflated belief that we were brave, bold explorers – like the good old days of Mallory and Scott – soon evaporated as our ferry entered the Cook Strait in a violent southerly swell.

Within moments, we’d plunged (along with the ship), from the heroic age of ‘family travel‘ into weak and frightened passengers on board a large boat that was beginning to smell like a post-operative vomit bag.

But now, 11 and a half months on, as the first leaves of Mediterranean France surrender to the forces of autumn gravity, there lingers an element of surrealism when we pause to recap the events from a year on the road.

We’ve lived beyond what historically would have been considered our comfort zone – that is, popping the figurative bubble on our normal everyday life – and in doing so, learning again to become curious, humble and adaptable to the environment and people we’ve met along the way. Just like what our kids do.

Through travelling, the world has become our university. The teachers plentiful and the experiences many.

During our time in France, we’re learning to speak and understand a new language. Lessons take place whilst living and working alongside locals, in places like tomato houses, dining room tables and market squares.

Progressively, with generous support from the NZ Correspondence school, we’ve adjusted to our role as teachers to our young boys in a variety of locations including beaches, coffee shops, farm paddocks and the Somme battlefields – to name a few.

Amongst other things, we’ve discovered the hard but rewarding yakka, involved in farming through the French network of ‘Willing Workers on Organic Farms’.

Yet, perhaps most importantly we’ve learned to stop clock-watching and rushing around, like we used to.

lozere 053Rural France is a good place to practise this. They have a seemingly unconscious ability to slow the day down – from the progressive cooked meals served up at lunch and dinner to the relaxed and friendly market squares where you can hear the lively chatter of everyday conversation.

It’s not just bread, cheese and wine they do well in France. They’re also artisan at kicking back a gear in life. And for that, we’re happy to be their students.

4 comments

    • Hi Amiria,
      Thanks for dropping a line on the site. – Trust all’s well back home – and study, work or both aren’t keeping you too busy!
      the breakers !!

  1. Hello all, just thought I would add some comments.
    We did the big OE in 2005 without the kids, 9 months in Europe. Had a great time staying with people via wwoofing. Here are some other sties that you may wish to look at. http://www.helpx.net and http://www.workaway.info are good sites for finding places to stay. They do require you to join if you wish to contact hosts. About 20 euro for 2 years.The other good site I have is http://www.castle-european.com this site has some really useful information for traveling around Europe etc. The other thing I would suggest is look at buying motor-home in UK. Left hand drive is best in Europe also if you have a caravan you cannot stay on Aires or Stellplatz sites only motorhomes.Cheers Peter .

  2. Hey guys very inspiring cudos to you all
    We are about to do the same thing we have sold most things and are on the countdown leave in 10 weeks very excited
    We have 3 kids and will be homeschooling also we plan to head to France do some wwoofing as well I was hoping you could help us out and email thro some info about your family friendly hosts?? As I have looked and not many are keen on families
    We would love to merge into a few small villages and get our hands dirty whilst learning the language and culture
    We hail from the windy capital but currently in brisbane
    We look forward to your reply
    Thanks
    Kia Ora

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