Home Sweet Home

The Hollands! BusFor many the nomadic lifestyle is a romantic notion but when push comes to shove most wouldn’t uproot for fear of being out there in the wide world all alone with no anchor. That’s OK, nomadic life isn’t for everyone. We were the same. We lived ten years of our married life in one geographical area and although we would dream of adventure, we had no idea how to deconstruct our current situation to make room for the new lifestyle. However, when we felt the call to up root, give everything away and hit the road, we decided to move into the mystery of that calling regardless of our lack of knowledge, fears or the fears of those around us and take the leap of faith. 

Here we are five years on and many have been inspired by our faith story, however there are still some who just can’t wrap their minds around not having a “home.” We are often asked by these friends, “how long do we plan on being on the road?” And, “if, as we travel, if we were looking for a new place to call home?” We can confidently say that nomadic life is our home. “Home is where you park it” is a popular hashtag/slogan in our nomadic world and we have found many like-minded kinfolk along the way, all trading in the bricks and mortar for the wide open spaces.

img_8392Fifteen months ago, we traded in our bus for backpacks and began an epic trek around Australia and South East Asia. In Australia we bought a used minivan and used that as our main form of transpiration and storage. We reached out to kinfolk and found an abundance of hospitality and although we had access to tents, in the eleven months we were in Australia we only had to sleep in them twice. We were humbled by the generous and kind welcome by our Aussie hosts and cherish the opportunities we had to share in story and friendship.  

As we made our way around Australia, many asked the age-old questions, “what our favorite place had been so far or if there was a place that felt more like home and ultimately, if there’s one place that we’d feel like settling back down in?” We answered them all the same, stating every place had it’s pull, it’s charm, and most of our feelings of affection came from the people in each of the places more than the places themselves. And finally, we’d answer, that so far there hadn’t been one place that we could have just stopped and stayed and stayed. That is until, Sydney.

In August, we were invited to house sit for our dear friends, the Perini’s. We met the Perini’s in 2000 at St. Hillary’s Anglican in Kew (Melbourne). I remember that first Sunday, Michelle came right up to me, introduced herself and got my phone number. Over the next year, she would pick me up regularly for playgroups, coffee dates, lunch and to just get out of the house. We became fast friends, and she became a dear mentor to me. The fella’s connected too and even though we moved back to the states after only a year, we stayed in touch and visited every time we went back. Eventually they moved to Sydney and we were excited to see them once again. However, this time around, they would be going out of the country to Italy for six weeks and they asked us to stay in their Glebe home and mind it for them while they were gone. The timing couldn’t have been better. We had done a pretty bouncy two month stint in the Byron Shire, all with amazing host families, but our backs were tired from the unloading and loading and from adjusting to so many different beds, so the thought of being in one place for six weeks was exhilarating. 

img_6452We arrived at the Terrace house, which sat nestled in a row of terrace homes a few blocks down from all the shops and restaurants on Glebe Point Road. The Perini’s invited us in for a cuppa (that’s a hot drink in Australian slang), and they explained the nuances of their sweet home. It was a warm space filled with all of their treasures, books, loads of books and antiques. Michelle’s signature color of cherry red made the space pop with joy. 

img_0867They next day they flew out and we settled in. The space immediately felt like home with plenty of room to spread out but just small enough to feel close to one another. The kitchen was my favorite place to be. Oh! to have access to a full kitchen unhindered, what a delight! We enjoyed the back patio and reading their many books. We also took advantage of the close proximity to all of the shops, specially Banjo who would walk up the street on a whim to get a kombucha from the local IGA. And, at sunset we would go for a family walk down to the river front board walk, loop around and walk back up through the main road. The neighborhood was active and alive and over the weeks we found familiar faces greeting us and for the first time ever in our travels, we all stated with confidence that this was a place that we could just stay, and stay for a long, long time.  

To top it all off, we had already established relationships in the neighborhood with the “Gleebox” girls, as well as, some friends we knew through the Perini’s and new friends we had met through our kinfolk network.

Plus, we had a number of guest stay with us, including our nephew, who flew up for a weekend from Melbourne. Our friend Cass from Singapore came for a whirlwind evening where we shared dinner and story. Our friend Daryl from the US, came for a two-week stay and we hiked, went to the beach, enjoyed the local sights and sounds, food and markets.  Our friend Neelke, from the Netherlands, came for a few nights and we jam-packed as much as we could into her visit. We also caught up with our friend Andrew, who we met in Cambodia. It was awesome having so many kinfolk that we had met from all over the world come to our door front!

We enjoyed playing host, having the world come to us! We loved using our space to bring community together hosting dinner parties, afternoon teas, sharing sacred space, and providing a safe place to share story. We even hosted a house concert, where we cleared the room, made a bunch of yummy treats, set the stage and a whole slew of kinfolk that we had met through out the previous weeks came and enjoyed an evening of music. Our muso friends, Naomi Nash, Cameron James Henderson and Graciana Holland performed a songwriter in the round concert. It was intimate and spectacular and truly the highlight of our stay.  

The six weeks flew by and everyday was filled with the richness of life, community and the beauty of a city wrapped in the natural surroundings of water. If we could encapsulate one memory from our travels that we would want to keep forever, this would be the stop.

So now, when people ask us if we have a favorite place or a place we would want to settle down in, we can answer, yes, Sydney, Australia, specifically in a little terrace home just off Glebe Point Road, where we could meld into the local atmosphere, sharing life and using our space to create community, where instead of us going to the world, the world comes to us, then yes, that’s the place we would love to be. It’s a dream we know, but for now we can savor the little taste we were given and know that if we were ever to shift from nomadic life to bricks and mortar, it would have to live up to this new-found expectation. Until then, we keep rolling, taking each stop just as it is, pliable and available to be woven together with those we meet along the way, bringing with us love and light. Until then, #homeiswhereyouparkit.

Our Epic City Hike

One sunny afternoon, early August, we took an epic city hike. That’s right, I said city hike. We love our nature hikes and have been on all sorts of amazing hikes, from Tent Rocks in New Mexico, the Singing Saguaros in Arizona, to the Mississippi Head Waters in Northern Minnesota. We’ve also been to many awesome cities around the globe but the city hike in Sydney was extraordinary!

syd-hike-jpgOur hike began just after lunch and took us home by dinner. We started off at St. Johns Anglican Church on Glebe Point Road and walked north to the Sydney Fish Market, had a quick look around and I say quick because we couldn’t quite handle the smell. We kept walking north to the Australian National Maritime Museum, where we walked the docks and caught a glimpse of all of the tall ships before heading east over the foot bridge into the heart of the city. The city was grand with its tall buildings but it was the gardens that really caught our eyes.Sydney was definitely not a concrete city as the common spaces were beautifully orchestrated with trees, flowers and ferns.

We made our way north towards the Sydney Opera House, where we sat for a bit, soaking in all of the sights and sounds. Their were birds in the air, ships in the sea and people hustling here and there. Honestly, we could have sat there on those steps for hours and hours watching the world dance and interact with each other. But alas, the day was getting on and we were only half way. We began our trek south past the Governors house through the Botanical Gardens where we took a little coffee break at the gardens cafe. The coffee was average but the opportunity to sit for a moment and catch our breath was worth the stop.

Once we had our legs back under us we kept on towards the Art Gallery of NSW. We spent a good hour in the gallery, (which is free to enter, by the way) we spent our time specifically in the basement, which is where the temporary installments are displayed. After the Art Museum we started to make our way home via St. Mary’s Cathedral on through Hyde Park where we caught a bus the rest of the way home. All up our day cost us $30 for coffee and the bus fare. Had we wanted to spend more time in the Maritime Museum we could have paid for the family pack at $75 but decided to save that for another day.

img_1727Being based in Glebe for six weeks, and it’s location was ideal for our grand city hike. The assurance of a warm and comfortable home to come back to and catch our breath made all the difference in the amount of energy output we needed to walk the 10 kilometers throughout the city.

I had made a delightful dinner ahead of time, so when we returned we just flopped down in our seats, enjoyed dinner and eventually the boys found their way back into to their favorite position.

The memory of this day is special not only because Sydney proved to be a beautiful city to hike but because we experienced it together, as a family. Our little nephew was even able to fly up from Melbourne to join us. We cherish these moments, savory them, every single one.

 

 

Gleebox Dinners

img_2135In January of this year we were in Pai Thailand and met a young backpacker named George, who was from  Sydney. We exchanged contact info and when we arrived in his hometown we reached out and he invited us to a gathering in an inner city suburb called Glebe. He said it was a potluck and sometimes they would jam, so bring a dish to share and our instruments.

We were welcomed by a house full of darling young ladies whom lived in the home and all of their many friends. We were taken aback by their kindness and  generosity and by the eclectic mix of kinfolk from around the globe. Naomi, Georgina, Madison and Kirsten shared their story of friendship and commitment to host a potluck meal every Monday night for their neighbors, friends and family. Their story resonated with our heart for hospitality and of course we love a story that includes a little serendipity.  You see our friend George had met some of the ladies while on a trip to Alice Springs. Once the ladies found out that George lived in Sydney they immediately invited him into the fold, and because of that invitation, we now found ourselves in their company and what joy to be included!

img_2098We stayed in Glebe for six weeks and every Monday we made a point of going to the Gleebox Dinners, finding that each week there was a different mix, enjoying the festive vibe of a house breathing with creativity and kindness as well as the quieter evenings chock full of intimate conversation. There was a comfort and familiarity to the evenings that made us feel like we were more than just guests, we felt like family.

Sometimes when we think of hospitality we think of fancy dinner parties and Martha Stewart but when we think of hospitality as a gift rather than a talent, we find a wholly other experience. We find a sense of home. Actually when you break it down, the word derives from the Latin hospes, meaning “host”, or “guest.” Hospes is formed from hostis, which means “stranger.”

Every culture has their understanding of hospitality, but we especially are drawn to Ancient traditions found in the Hebrew and Celtic customs. For instance, in Hebrew, the practice is called hachnasat orchim, or “welcoming guests”. Besides other expectations, hosts are expected to provide nourishment, comfort, and entertainment to their guests, and at the end of the visit, hosts customarily escort their guests out of their home, wishing them a safe journey. Celtic societies also valued the concept of hospitality, especially in terms of protection. A host who granted a person’s request for refuge was expected not only to provide food and shelter to his/her guest, but to make sure they did not come to harm while under their care.

What a gift for us weary travelers to call Glebe home for a time. And, what a gift to find such a lovely and safe welcome by our new friends at the Gleebox house. Here’s to all you kinfolk out there that offer up your time, talents and homes to foster community and friendship!

Birthday Down Under

IMG_0564Five birthdays have passed for each of us since we’ve started this nomadic journey and we’ve been blessed to find ourselves amongst beautiful community during these precious milestones. This year, however, was the first birthday our son, Banjo, was able to celebrate in Australia.

Banjo was actually born in Australia on May 22, 2001 and holds both an US and Australian passport. We moved to the US when he was five weeks old and have been back and forth over the years but never during his birthday month.

IMG_0285This year he turned 15 and we were able to celebrate an early family dinner in Melbourne before making our way north to Sydney. We took a hike through the neighborhood and came back for his favorite Mexican dish.

On a side note: Making a Mexican dish in Australia has become easier over the years, as ingredients make their way across the sea, however it’s still a feet to manage. The most difficult is finding authentic corn tortillas. The Australian company, Essential makes them but they cost about $5 for an 8 pack. The brands, Mission and El Paso are on the shelves in limited quantities, but they aren’t our favorite. And, finding tomatillos and Pinto beans is a whole other story. We can however, find all of the chilies, and then some, cilantro is available in plenty (although they call it coriander), and avocados are readily available at about $2.50 a pop.

Anyway, Banjo had a blast with all of his cousins and the night was topped off by his favorite dessert, cinnamon rolls (or as they call them here, coffee scrolls).

IMG_0453The party continued a few weeks later with a guest appearance from his sister, Graciana, who flew up from Bendigo. It had been 2 months since he last saw her, and they soaked up every moment.

He spent time at the beach twirling fire, a round of golf with Craig and with our friends, the Von Heupts, who organized an epic night out, including gelato and a movie. Not, just any movie though, Banjo had somehow come across a trailer for a New Zealand comedy called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. (If you haven’t seen the movie we highly recommend it!) The movie is directed by Taika Waititi and is based on ‘Wild Pork and Watercress,’ Barry Crump’s book about a juvenile delinquent left in the care of rough yet loving foster parents who live off the wilds of the New Zealand bush. Two worlds collide and it’s so funny!! Anyway, he looked up show times and found out that there was going to be a special pre-show viewing on his actual birthday, which was perfect.

The Von Heupts organized for an entourage of youth to surround and celebrate Banjo, including their three children. Eleven of us total went the movie together. So Banjo and his friends sat together near the front of the theatre, giggling and squirming around in their seats. The movie was hilarious but when Banjo spilled his popcorn on the lady in front of him, the night went to stitches.

IMG_0450It’s so fun to watch our boy become a man. He’s taller than us two Holland girls and gaining on his dad. He has amazing drumming skills and loves anything to do with technology or psychology. Boasting that maybe someday he’ll write a book like his Papa. He’s a natural learner and has a super fun sense of humor.

He’s always wanted his own computer so he could study coding and how to make video games. So, over the course of the year he saved all of his pretty pennies. That, along with a bit of help from family, and he was able to see that dream come true.

We’re thankful for family and friends near and far who love and support our family and especially those who do little things to show our son that he is loved. Thank you!!

Happy 15 year of your life Banjo Holland!! We love you.