celebrated the solstice today (and in honour of a dear friend on her birthday) by seeing sunrise from an east coast beach in nz, sunset from a west coast beach, and having a swim at one of our local beaches in between.

hoping your solstice day, whether winter or summer, was one full of magic.

(photo by nic)




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we have been back in new zealand for 7.577 weeks now *.

slowly finding our way into a new life; which feels somewhat like our old one whilst, at the same time, not feeling anything like it at all.

today the sun is shining on the flax outside our living room window and i stop to enjoy it for a while, playing with light, movement and colour.

i notice lines of ants, ascending… descending… ascending again.

a tui lands, dips it’s beak into the flowers, turning the crown of it’s head more and more golden from their pollen.

then, it’s gone.

and i go back to watching the ants.


* according to wolfram alpha

seattle highlights



seems for seattle, as much as anywhere else, i wandered a lot without making many photographs. so, when it came to showing you some of what we saw, there wasn’t much to show!

here’s some of the highlights:

having lobster mac ‘n cheese (yes, really) for dinner at the bar of the purple cafe and wine bar sitting next to a guy who we are 99.9% sure was one of the founders of atari + going to see bonobo live (though not so good was the smell in there – clearly bathing is not high on the priority list for some seattleites) + jake’s lively, educational, entertaining and FREE walking tours of pike place market and downtown seattle + staying at the ace hotel + eating at local 360 in belltown + and their fog lifter cocktail (though it didn’t work) + britt’s pickles spicy pickle juice – so good that we got a bottle and sunk it with our lunch of a hunk of fresh smoked salmon and a loaf of fresh cholla from pike place market + buying a pickle-ator kit to bring back to NZ (and already successfully making my first batch of sauerkraut) + dinner at sitka & spruce (if it’s good enough to make Molly wizenberg’s seattle city dozen, it’s good enough for us – and it was divine).

a great way to wind up our travels in the USA before flying back to NZ

crater lake, oregon (again) and deception pass


































crater lake and deception pass were both so awesome they deserve their own entry but a lot of my photos are on film and still waiting to be developed so there’s not much to show you. these should give you some idea of the level of amazing. we also took another drive along the oregon coast – the weather this time: foggy. totally different and equally as spectacular as the sunshine. best find along the way was the lady selling flowers – “pay whatever makes you feel good” her sign invited.

whoever it was that wished for an epic traveling adventure, i hope they get it. highly recommend them myself


deception pass found, by nic, via josh & jessa works (whose story is AMAZING – go check out ‘Tomorrow Somewhere New’ on vimeo if you haven’t heard it).


blockage at the I5 north

I’m more than a month behind with what I wanted to say here.

And there’s things happening now that I want to write about, except there’s a blockage: It’s the I5 North.

It’s also the rest of our travels in the USA, Seattle, the meltdown I had at LAX before we boarded the plane to NZ, wondering what the hell we were doing, second-guessing our choice to move back, feeling the loss of physical closeness to my treasured UK friends.

So, I haven’t written anything.
About then, or now.

Here’s some photographs from our drive up the I5 instead. Hoping this will clear the way.

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101 south

I came to the ocean to heal, but found an ocean that needed healing. Like many people, I walked with blinders on, past the garbage, wanting to only see the ocean’s beauty. When I finally stopped and really saw the debris on the beach, my heart and mind opened to the problem. I researched the effects of plastic in the ocean and the tragedy of animals suffering. I decided to take action… artistic action. The problem of plastic pollution in the ocean is massive, so the artwork had to be massive in order to get the message across. This was the birth of Washed Ashore: plastics, sea life and art.
– Angela Haseltine Pozzi
































I am always trying to convey something that can’t be conveyed, to explain something which is inexplicable, to tell about something I have in my bones, something which can be expressed only in the bones.
– Franz Kafka

and so it is with this trip, these experiences, this epic adventure. my writing feels thin, like the bones of something deeper, fuller, more real, that simply must be lived and refuses to show itself when i sit at the keyboard. but still, here i am, trying to write, to tell of all the things i want to remember…

24 days in total. plans quickly changed due to the national park closures. waking to a timpani of rain on the roof at penrose point. the incredible beach and sunset at cape disappointment. the coffee shacks everywhere. crossing the state line into oregon from washington – driving over the 4 mile long astoria-megler bridge. stopping for the day at cape lookout state park. another stunning sunset enjoyed on the beach with wine & cheese. the pacific city bubble man. meeting a woman in pacific city called chenin (named after the grape) who sold us some of her delicious wine. lighting the campfire at umpqua state park. neighbours at the park having a party and playing loud 80’s music. meeting the couple from alaska who have a kiwi friend. an offer to share their marijuana (which we politely declined). the man, standing on the beach reconnecting with the ocean. giant sand dunes. beautiful reflections in the water at coos bay. stopping at bandon for coffee. meeting harry (made entirely from plastic collected from the beach and sea around oregon). visiting the washed ashore project – creating art to save the sea. sea stacks along the oregon coast. standing inside a redwood at the edge of our campsite in jedediah smith state park. the avenue of the giants (so good we drove it twice). picking up the same hitchhiker three days in a row. playing bananagrams and canasta. smoked fish tacos at ruddells smokehouse. the crazy architecture of hearst castle. barts books. a poem on the topic “flashlight thieves”. going to the mint and discovering a great band called the record company. visiting the getty center. seriously good sandwiches from the point arena general store. a beautiful, soul-stirring new book of poetry by mark nepo. finding feijoas (pineapple guava) at the santa barbara farmers market. swimming in the ocean.

visiting friends in montecito, then more friends in ojai and even more friends in los angeles.

so many great days. on the road south., with more to come on the return drive north.


postcards from vancouver

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after our travels in italy, we spent some time in vancouver.

the original plan for some of the time was to go camping with friends, but an ‘axe-ident’ (his word, not mine) took care of that plan so we wandered the city with Cynthia by day and all four of us would meet for dinner in the evenings.

+ we stayed in a lovely little apartment in the strathcona neighbourhood, full of beautiful (and mostly edible) gardens, brightly painted houses and great local cafes

+ we had amazing sandwiches at finch’s market and bought supplies for making breakfast at our apartment

+ we took the bicycles provided by our apartment hosts and cycled up to kitsilano to the ice-breaker store where nic hopped on the wifi and the two of us (along with a kiwi salesperson) watched, horrified, as nz lost the america’s cup

+ we rented bicycles and rode around the stanley park portion of the vancouver sea wall

+ we took a trolley tour through the streets of the city

+ we did day trips to whistler and bowen island, and rode the water bus to north vancouver and took a walk across the swingbridge in the rain up at lynn valley falls

+ Cynthia and I had a coffee date with the lovely Eli Reinholdtsen

+ we ate & drank at some fabulous places, including the sardine can, pidgin, nicli antica pizzeria and the salt tasting room in blood alley

+ i cooked dinner for the four of us at david’s apartment one night and the four of us sat around playing bananagrams (so much fun we bought a set for playing in the RV later on)

+ i found a new pair of canadian-made cowboy boots that fit me so perfectly i bought them on the spot

+ we left early on the 1st of october to catch the amtrak to seattle to continue our epic adventures, happy to have spent time with friends, and also happy to have some time alone together for a few days


walk like an italian: days eight & nine – isla de elba









Day eight and we are off in the vans again. We drive down to the coast then take a boat across the Ligurian Sea to Elba Island. Nic and I had bought some snacks (bread, cheese and yoghurt) before leaving Volterra so we have a picnic lunch sitting in the sunshine on the upper deck of the ferry on the ride over.

For some reason I feel immensely sad today – I have no idea why, so I just keep to myself for a while and wait for it to pass.

Today, of course, there’s more walking; I think I’m getting the hang of it now! Anthony and Ross drive us to the hillside village of Sant Ilario and we follow Marina up and downhill for a couple of hours before arriving at our hotel in Marciana Marina. The walk is part sun and part shade, up dusty trails and down quiet roadways. We stop to marvel at the view along the way and there’s a brief conversation with a man who makes beautiful baskets from local plant material.

I’m boiling by the time we reach our hotel, and (as it has a swimming pool) I opt for a swim to cool off there before dinner instead of walking down to the sea.

One thing that has really impressed me about this trip is the variation in the landscapes. We really have seen a number of facets of Italian life and living. From the relaxed Parma, to the busier Cinque terre, the peaceful Apuan alps and the ancient city of Volterra. Now we are here in a place that the English seem to know about and, whilst it’s beautiful, I’d rather be back in Pruno where almost no-one speaks any English and my Italian, along with hand gestures and smiling alot, just gets me by.

Anyway, the island is beautiful even if I’m less fond of the number of other English-speaking visitors.

Again, there are aperitivi, this time at the Yachting Bar down on the waterfront. I think if I can do nothing else in Italian before I leave, I will at least be a pro at ordering some drinks!

A few of us again end up having dinner together at a place just off Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. I am in food heaven right now and, after all the walking, I’m ravenous at the end of the day and thinking about what I can eat that will fuel me up for tomorrow’s big climb.

Total walking time for the day – 2.5 hours, 9.2km


On the ninth day we once again head for the mountains. In our walking group today we have me, Nic, Lucas, Marianne and Marie-Lou. As much as I enjoy walking with the whole group, this smaller band of hard core walkers is one I’m glad to be a part of. I’m happy too that we are walking with Anthony as it will be the first day he’s done a full walk with us. I find out soon after we start that he is super-fast and it’s impossible for me to keep up, so I continue with my steady pace bringing up the rear and enjoying myself as I go.

We started our walk with a bus ride from where we will finally end up. The bus follows the windy road further around the coast and drops us back at sea level at Elba’s western most village of Colle d’Orano. We begin the rocky climb up another ancient pathway that takes us high into the hills above. Today we are following a historic trail called The Hermit’s Path. I’m once again wearing my holy merino as it could get cold higher up, but I’m less aware of how I look today – it’s too hot to care and I’d rather just enjoy the walk. We climb to about 700 metres above sea level.

Russ took two of our walking companions Neville and Anne via another route that joins up with ours at the top of the climb. We sit and eat lunch together enjoying the view before continuing the walk together around and down the mountains. Parts of this pathway are still paved and very much road-like, sometimes making it easier to walk and sometimes more difficult. I’m glad I am wearing my vibrams instead of traditional hiking boots, I feel more sure-footed and nimble being able to feel the ground beneath my feet.

The walk ends today at the small village where we left the van and we stop for a well-earned prosecco before heading back to the hotel.

This evening we are in for a treat – we dine in one of the finest restaurants in the village – Ristorante L’Affrichella. Russ and I are sitting together and something he says ends me up in hysterics and I can’t speak to anyone for a good five minutes. My travelling companions have been such great company and it’s not just the food, and the walking that is filling me up – the big, open hearts and travel stories of my companions are doing me a world of good.

From sea to the highest point today we climbed 720 metres.
Total walking time for the day – 5 hours, 12.5km


I am also going to include day ten in this entry as I think I’ve made this travel tale long enough already!

On our last day, Nic and I opted for a walk around the the old town and the marina before meeting up with everyone for lunch. The heavens opened up and we had torrential rain just as we were getting into the vans. We hop on another ferry back across to the mainland and head to Florence to drop off the first bunch of people. After a few teary farewells, Ross and Marina drive me and Nic back to Bologna where we stay another night before heading back to Heathrow for the next part of our adventure.

Goodbye Italy – you’ve been awesome.


Thanks to all of you for following along with our travels, and for the lovely comments here and via email.
And thanks again to Anthony, Marina and Ross – you are all amazing and I loved every moment of travelling with you.

walk like an italian: days six & seven – volterra








We wake on day six and pack again. Our accommodations in Pruno were magnificent and I wonder again at Anthony and Marina’s ability to not only find us great walks, but also wonderful places to stay.

After breakfast we take a tour of the church and the bell tower in Pruno then I say a silent farewell to this lovely quiet place and we walk again as a group, taking a leisurely stroll down through the villages surrounding Pruno. We stop for lunch in Il Mulino dei Frati. This is an ancient chestnut mill that is still in use today. Our forest guide Sylvia and her husband are the caretakers of this unusual dwelling and, before we all sit down to a sumptuous lunch that includes freshly made chestnut and cornbreads, we take a tour of the mill where chestnuts and other things (like corn) are still milled today.

After lunch and another leisurely stroll, it’s back into the vans for the drive to the ancient city of Volterra. We are now in Tuscany and this exquisite walled city is believed to be one continuously inhabited since 8th century BC. The history and old-ness of this place blow my tiny mind and I make almost no photographs during our two days here – it’s a place that has to be experienced I think as there’s no photo I know of that could adequately depict how it feels to walk on the stones of such an ancient place filled with so many stories of glory and sadness.

Our accommodations are again exquisite. We share an apartment with Lucas and Marianne that has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and dining room and a terrace from which we can see all the way down the valley to the Ligurian sea.

After dropping off our luggage, we wander down to meet the rest of the group and are taken on a private guided tour of Volterra by Annie – a local historian who is amazingly animated and passionate in the telling of the tales of this ancient Etruscan city. She walks us to one of the gates of the defensive walls and tells us a story of how the inhabitants saved the city from destruction during the second world war. I am not sure if it is the story, or the telling, or the city itself that moves me to tears, but I’m glad I’m wearing my sunglasses. I don’t mind being seen crying in public, it’s the attempts at comforting me when I don’t need it that I find unbearable. We also visit an alabaster workshop and watch as a bowl emerges on a lathe turned by a grand master’s hand, it’s thin translucent skin mottled and beautiful like the surface of the moon.

The end of our tour ends at a wine bar (of course), where Massimo turns pouring wine into a show all of its own. He does everything with a flourish. We buy more wine and take it back to our apartment for enjoying on the terrace.

Then it’s aperitivo time. I am coming to love aperitivo time and we carry on this tradition as we continue our journeys (sometimes with Aperol, sometimes with prosecco). We opt to go with the group to Ristorante Ombra della Sera for dinner and I have the most amazing pasta with black truffles I have ever experienced; there are great hunks of shaved truffle adorning my gleaming bowl of pasta and I eat until I am beyond full. I’m not leaving one single bite.


We wake early on day seven and make a run for the laundrette as soon as it opens. We have a couple of hours to get all the washing done before we meet up with everyone again. Nic finds a cafe with wifi and he sits there whilst I dash back and forth to the laundrette to check washing, load the drier, fold etc. It’s quiet in the city at this time of the morning and I enjoy wandering the streets before the noise of the day begins.

After breakfast we take to the quiet roadways beneath the city and walk through olive groves, past villas, vineyards and huge fields of sunflowers, heads bowed, all waiting to be harvested for their oil.

My feet are sore today and so I opt for just the walk down the hill to where some of the group have stopped for beer. We climb into the van and Anthony drives us back up the hill where I spend the afternoon on our terrace drinking wine and reading a book. Somehow it feels right to be close to the city this afternoon, even though part of me is feeling bad for not doing the whole walk today.

Later in the afternoon we are joined by some of the rest of the gang to drink prosecco on the terrace and toast happy birthday to Lucas. We head out of the city for dinner, ending up at a local place where we are treated like family and Lucas is our chief wine selector. I think he’d be hard pressed to find a bad wine around here, it’s all so good. The food, once again, is also divine. I think the only reason Italians don’t get fat is that they do so much walking. I think the only reason I haven’t put on any weight whilst feasting here is all the exercise I’ve been doing!

After another amazing couple of days, we fall into bed happy again. And excited about our next two days on Elba Island.