Taking the slow road

46 comments

Our lives are changing with the seasons, the pages of our story curled and tattered, preparing for new growth like the autumn leaves that swirl and dance on the breeze as we drive past. Outside our car the air is crisp, perfumed with pine and wild mint. Inside, the radio chatters and hums, transmitting words we don’t understand yet.

We timed it perfectly, our arrival in this new land. The jewel coloured hillsides will soon stand stark and grey, but for this brief and beautiful period of time everything is ablaze, a world on fire. Burnt umber, ochre, gold and burgundy, majestic against a crystal clear azure above.

And yet this was never in our plan. Isn’t that always the way? We dreamed big dreams that we turned to reality, and in doing so birthed a newness that was so much more than either one of us could have predicted. Our dream became an entity in and of itself. No longer a distant object on the horizon, it took on a new form, a realness I could almost touch, like a soulmate we are indelibly connected to. We don’t control it, we simply listen and follow.

It happened whilst living in India. Lee had a job in the jungle as a canyoning guide. He excelled, and was asked to return the following October. That is now, but we are not in India. Despite this, it is to India that we owe our new direction, and to Lee’s colleagues who became firm friends, all of them French. It was with them, over muted conversations and “what ifs” at our favourite restaurants that something took hold. A seed was planted that grew and blossomed with wild abandon, drawing our focus until all we could think about was the place at its very root.

France.

fallen-leaves

new-path

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I battled it at first, balking at the thought of being so close to our home in the UK. Where’s the adventure in that? But deep inside I felt a hunger abated with every plan made, every prior decision rebuked. This past year held so many lessons. A life lived freely in the world is such a blessing, but one that needs to be handled differently for everyone embarking on it. I learned that is not about finding what works, but simply about finding what works for us. Both highly creative, and in our thirties, this means taking life at a pace that allows us to make room for the things that bring us joy. Writing, making art, reading, and building our design business, not changing location every few days and forever searching in the depths of our backpacks.

I am not a person who can have it all; something always suffers. When I have adventure and movement, I also have exhaustion and angst. Books go unread, emails unanswered, and my creativity ebbs. As I reminded myself that we have the ability to control the pace at which we travel, everything took on a different light. I am excited by finding a new place I love enough to get to know beyond the peripheral guidebook recommendations. A place to unpack, where everything has its place, including me. I have transitioned beyond the need for transition. For now, I just want to belong to one place for a while. To know it, to stretch out and fill it with every part of myself. To be creative, wash dishes and fold my clothes away in a drawer. To luxuriate in simple pleasures, dictated only by my own truth, not any outward expectation.

We registered with two house-sitting agencies, and as though mapped out by some celestial cartographer, were led to the most delightful temporary abode, so perfect I am still in disbelief. But whether I believe it or not, on Saturday we arrive at out new home for the next six months, nestled a peaceful 6km from the nearest village, amid rolling hills and footpaths I am longing to tread. There is a huge table soon to be spread with my sketchpad and pastels, a sofa stands idle, waiting for the stories we will share. There are cupboards to be filled with the contents of our backpacks, and a crockery set vying to hold our next café au lait.

Slowly, but surely, we are finding our way.

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Welford October 31, 2013 at 18:10

Sounds blissful, can we have some pictures of this new home?

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 19:45

We move in on Saturday, so expect some photos next week!

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Rhonda October 31, 2013 at 19:02

France sounds like a positively lovely idea! Yes, it’s close to home, but an amazing place all on it’s own. I’m sure you’ll find a perfect median between adventure and finding a home away from home.
Rhonda recently posted..A Place of Dry Water

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 19:58

Thanks Rhonda, I really hope so. It’s good for me to shed my misconceptions of Europe and explore the beauty and adventure it has to offer, regardless of its proximity to home.

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Katie L October 31, 2013 at 19:03

Very cool! Which part of France?

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 19:49

We’ll be based just outside of a small village called Auty, in the Midi-Pyrénées region. It’s pretty remote and quiet, the perfect antidote to the madness of South East Asia!

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Trevor Gardiner October 31, 2013 at 19:05

Good for you! Sounds wonderful. France is such a lovely country and it will be good for you to slow down for a while.

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 19:55

Thank you Trevor. I’m loving it here already, the countryside is so beautiful and the people are so welcoming. I can’t wait to get settled in and start exploring!

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Ashlie October 31, 2013 at 19:08

I really love how plans evolve when we are open. France sound perfect to me – and romantic!
Ashlie recently posted..A Conversation With Kim About Confronting Hard Truths & Giving Up Bullshit Excuses

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 19:52

I agree! Even walking around the supermarket and eavesdropping on conversations makes me feel romantic; the language is just so beautiful. I can’t wait to find a local class and start taking regular lessons so I can actually understand what they are saying, though perhaps that might kill the romance…

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Kristine October 31, 2013 at 19:41

Hannah,

This sounds lovely. Its so easy to forget to give ourselves what we need when we’re in a constant state of movement. Slowing down and making the time will allow you to get what you need and give your creative side room to breath! Enjoy! It looks beautiful, and reading this post made me want to curl up with a good book and read the afternoon away!

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 20:14

Ah, that makes we happy! I hope you do get to relax with a good book today, it’s such a treat, and you are going to need all the rest you can get before you set off for India!

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Jen October 31, 2013 at 20:37

Sounds lovely! We’ve been a month house sitting in southern France, first outside of Gaillac and now in the Pyrenees. It is truly lovely here in the countyside! We have another couple of weeks and then we go for another gig on Manhattan, that will be something different..

Enjoy your stay! House sitting is such a great way of discovering new places and living as a local.

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 21:30

Thanks for getting in touch Jen, it’s wonderful to hear you are enjoying the French countryside. We will be based just outside of Auty, in the Midi-Pyrénées region, so if you happen to be anywhere nearby let me know!

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Jen October 31, 2013 at 22:12

Ah, that’s not too far away from where we stayed before. Plenty of things to do around there, Albi is a must see, Gaillac/Lisle-sur-tarn is very nice and also these fortified villages up on hights in that area. If you have Instagram, find me there! Jenkizzz, quite a few photos from around there! We’re staying close to the spanish boarder up the montains but flying out from Toulouse so might take a couple of days around there, would be great to meet up!

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 23:02

Thanks for the advice Jen! I don’t have Instagram at the moment, but will be getting an iPhone soon so I’m looking forward to giving it a go. And it would be lovely to meet up – feel free to drop me a line at furtherbound@gmail.com when you know what your plans are :)

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Joanne Joseph October 31, 2013 at 21:44

What a gift you are giving to yourself. I’m so glad you are listening to that little voice within and slowing your pace. I look forward to seeing pictures of your new “home” and hearing stories of how this new chapter suits you.
Joanne Joseph recently posted..Picture of the day ~ West Lake, Hangzhou China

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Hannah October 31, 2013 at 23:06

Thank you Joanne, it feels good to be slowing things down for a while, and I am really looking forward to sharing this next stage with you all.

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TammyOnTheMove November 1, 2013 at 03:55

I can understand your desire to slow things down. I don’t really get as much joy out of traveling fast anymore either.
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Climbing Cotopaxi – And why you shouldn’t mess with your wife when she has altitude sickness

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Hannah November 1, 2013 at 09:07

It gets pretty exhausting, doesn’t it?! You don’t think about all those little things that make you happy until you don’t have them anymore, like a good pillow, clean clothes, and a toilet that flushes! I’ll be making the most of this time, that’s for sure :)

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Patti November 1, 2013 at 04:06

I live my life by the belief that life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans – sometimes we just have to let it go and take a leap of faith. And France?! What’s not to love?!
Patti recently posted..Dia de Los Muertos ~

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Hannah November 1, 2013 at 09:20

That is such a great motto to live by Patti, and one I can definitely attest to. This has truly just been one of those things that I couldn’t turn away from – it was the only feasible path forward. I’m so happy to finally be here in France, and can already tell you that there is so much to love. The cheese alone is enough to make me happy!

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Carmel November 1, 2013 at 09:58

I can smell the baguettes baking already!!

I got a great piece of advice from Steph at 20 Years Hence this last week while we experienced our first serious travel doubts…she said to take the trip you need right now, not the one you thought you wanted. Isn’t that the truth in life?? I was really grateful for that one line because it was a reminder that we don’t have to do the things we thought we wanted. Things change so significantly on the road and sometimes you just gotta go with it.

I’m so excited for your new adventure and hope to goodness we can make it to visit before you leave!! xoxo
Carmel recently posted..CELEBRATING THREE YEARS OF MARRIAGE

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Hannah November 1, 2013 at 21:34

That really is great advice, and is something we have definitely learnt to do lately. A year ago I never would have imagined we would end up living in France for six months, but now that we are here, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. And I REALLY hope you guys make it over here in time for a visit xxx

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Rika | Cubicle Throwdown November 1, 2013 at 13:30

I think France sounds like the perfect place to bliss out and slow down for a bit. I’m looking forward to loads of photos :)
Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Rain, rain, rain = new look!

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Hannah November 1, 2013 at 21:33

It takes us forever to get anywhere here, we keep having to pull the car over to take photos, it’s just so beautiful everywhere! Expect lots of pretty pictures in the coming months :)

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Melissa - The Mellyboo Project November 1, 2013 at 13:59

Hannah! I’m so excited for you! France is amazing and I’m sure you’re going to have the most amazing time. Some of my favourite travels have been “slow travels” where I’ve settled into a place and really gotten to know it. All the best with the design business- and I didn’t comment on it before, but I’m loving your new layout! xoxo

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Hannah November 1, 2013 at 21:21

Thank you Melly! I’m quickly learning just how right you are, and am falling in love with France more each day. Slow travel is definitely the best way for us, and it feels so good to just take our time, unpack, unfold, and take things as they come.

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Gerald Englebretsen November 2, 2013 at 05:02

Wow … this sounds sublime and I hope both of you find that ‘little something’ from the slowdown, the re-dimension and the surroundings. I can imagine trips to village larders and the time to luxuriate in good coffee is going to spoil you heaps. But wise choice Hannah as Joanne J has said. Inner voices are a good thing. Enjoy your French adventure … in place and language.

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Hannah November 2, 2013 at 08:04

Ah yes, there will be plenty of village shopping trips, and we have already been making the most of the good coffee over here – the food and drink truly lives up to its reputation! It is going to be wonderful to settle in and try to get a handle on the language – I have never felt more foreign in that respect in all of my travels! Daily studying is going to be a must…

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Amanda November 2, 2013 at 18:06

There is something incredibly powerful in slowing down and just appreciating things. Full and busy are great too, but in recovering from a season of burn out, there’s a gift in just taking small things in and realizing how big they are.
Amanda recently posted..What is a "weekend"?

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Hannah November 2, 2013 at 19:40

Absolutely… as soon as we moved in today I realised just how exhausted I really am, and how desperately I have been longing for this. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted, and am just so grateful for this time of stillness.

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Phillipa Sen November 3, 2013 at 19:44

How wonderful to read a ‘blog’ from you sweetie. This is definitely a new adventure… a new beginning, with exciting times ahead! As you say, how nice it will be to fold your clothes and take them from a drawer. Can’t wait to chat to you properly… been sick as a dawg lately with cold and lost my voice (Sanj was pleased!). I’ll Skype when I’ve made a full recovery. Love you! xxx

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Hannah November 3, 2013 at 21:42

I’ve been so exhausted that I haven’t managed to fill the drawers yet, so at the moment it’s more a case of picking my clothes up off the floor! But I’m excited to settle in properly over the next few days and begin to relax. So sorry to hear you have been unwell my darling, please do give me a call as soon as you are feeling up to it. Missing you madly. Big love to you and the clan xxx

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Marisol November 5, 2013 at 22:11

Oh Hannah, you moved me deeply again with your beautiful, lyrical words.
So funny how the celelstial cartographer map the unexpected. I look forward to follow your life in France.
Marisol recently posted..The Journey into Bhutan, the Last Shangri-La

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Hannah November 6, 2013 at 08:02

Thank you so much for your kind words Marisol, I can’t wait to share more of our experiences here in France.

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Toni November 6, 2013 at 02:22

It may not have been your original plan hun but it sounds absolutely perfect for you both and I look forward to reading about your adventures to come :) xx
Toni recently posted..The emotional journey to Australia Part I

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Hannah November 6, 2013 at 08:22

It certainly has worked out perfectly, and we are both so happy here, slowly settling in and finding our groove again at this new pace. I hope you are doing well over in Australia!

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Sarah Somewhere November 7, 2013 at 00:00

How awesome you are able to house sit for so long!! I am obsessed with those websites, even though we are yet to do it. I’m hoping to give it a crack next year. Beautiful post with stunning photos, well done and enjoy your new home!
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..And then, I really lost my shit…

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Hannah November 7, 2013 at 08:34

I know, we still can’t believe our luck! There are so many amazing house sits available, it has definitely opened my eyes to a new type of travel. I’m sure you’ll find some incredible places that you could look after on your travels through South America. Happy house hunting!

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Anita November 15, 2013 at 19:51

Hi Hannah! Can you share the name of the housesitting agencies you used?

Thank you!

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Hannah November 16, 2013 at 08:39

Yes of course – we registered with http://www.trustedhousesitters.com/ and http://www.mindmyhouse.com/, the latter of which was who we found our house-sit through. Both of them were great though.

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) November 18, 2013 at 06:36

I think one of the things throwing myself into such an adventure as your own has taught me is the value of remaining open: it seems to me that it is always when we cling most fervently to tightly spun plans that we formulated in the past that we bring the most misery and sadness upon ourselves. I am constantly reminding myself that I need to deal with the present reality of my life as it is RIGHT NOW, not how I anticipated it to be months ago. It now boggles my mind that I used to have the arrogance (sometimes it seems like that’s what it was) to believe that I could predict the unfolding of the years in my life like a conductor before an orchestra. Now I know that every day I am alive, I am also changed and the person I am today has very different dreams—sometimes bigger, sometimes more specific—than the ones I had 12 months ago. My time traveling and living has changed me, I know more now, so now it only makes sense that my goals and my definition of happiness would be different now too. The biggest mistake we can make is to forget that we are ever-evolving and that we must constantly find the courage to honor the person we are right now even if it seems it is taking us backwards.

I am so glad that you and Lee have found a new path for yourselves (or should I say that this path found you?), even if it means we will not meet up in India this winter. I have confidence our paths will cross again, even if we don’t yet know the where or the when!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Moreish Muar

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Hannah November 18, 2013 at 15:25

Thanks Steph, it is definitely a shame we won’t see you in India, but I too have no doubt that we’ll cross paths again eventually!

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Victoria November 23, 2013 at 11:58

Gorgeous photos Hannah. Steve and I feel much the same hence our new home in Devon. If you’re back in the UK at all, you’re more than welcome to visit. Much love x
Victoria recently posted..At home in a village above the clouds

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Hannah November 23, 2013 at 15:51

Thank you my dear! We would love to visit, though I doubt we will make it over before you leave the UK sadly. You are more than welcome to join us in France any time though. Much love to you both xxx

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