The 3 F’s of Nomadic Life: Flexibility, Flexibility, Flexibility

This past few weeks have been all about…Flexibility!

The ability to remain flexible is undoubtedly one the most necessary traits to possess in order to enjoy a nomadic lifestyle. Having a plan is important – but not as vital as being able to comfortably deviate from that plan. Over the past year or two, a major aspect of my own personal growth has been the understanding and management of expectations – and that has certainly served me well since embarking on this alternative life path.

In my last post I wrote about preparing to leave our Host family and head to another in the locality. That didn’t happen. Surprise! Hello, flexibility. It became apparent that our schedule and those of our upcoming Hosts couldn’t accommodate all the wonderful opportunities we’d been offered, so something had to give. We were faced with a decision between two completely different projects with two polar-opposite Hosts, and had to make the decision quickly. Cue nail-biting and hurried research and the old-faithful pro’s and con’s lists. In the end it was all useless, of course. A simple, out-of-the-blue email from one of these potential Hosts confirmed my already pretty vocal subconscious choice and ended that debate there and then. Awesome, decision made! As it turned out, we were then invited to stay on with our Host family a little longer, which, after checking in with our upcoming Host, we readily accepted – we were all still having a great time after all!

So we spent another wonderful 3 weeks in the unseasonably sunny Cambrian Mountains; working on the buildings, in the garden and orchard, with the chickens and generally enjoying the beautiful land around us.ย We wished a fond farewell to Guillem – and promised to visit him in Catalonia next year – and welcomed two new Workawayers, Juliette and Svea. The new arrivals changed the dynamic of the place, refreshing things and opening new avenues of learning. Maddy in particular was interested in Svea’s experience of life in Germany, and learned a lot about the cultural and educational similarities and differences between us – she was horrified to learn that home education is illegal there! This sparked a debate about home ed, specifically the apparent ‘ownership’ of children by the State and the idea that children must be ‘taught’ to learn. It was beyond amazing to listen to my 10-year-old concisely defend her right to an alternative education and vehemently deny the ability of others to ‘own’ her. Definitely a proud mamma moment right there, and into the bargain she also managed to destabilize some deep-seated opposing beliefs held by others present. This served to strengthen my resolve to continue educating my children on-the-road more than any other situation experienced so far; such opportunities for learning, discussion and debate with a hugely varied demographic were never so readily available while we were ‘housed’. In addition to honing her debate skills, Maddy has been working on her creative writing and taking inspiration from her surroundings to compose some beautiful poetry; and also utilising her Khan Academyย account to practice her maths and begin some work on animation provided by Pixar. Brendan has also been spending hours on Khan expanding his love of all things maths, and putting his learning into practice while helping to measure, cut and weigh everything from building materials to seeds and fruit and veg; while continuing his journalling and reading anything with words!

Then came the time for organizing, packing and leaving our spot in the Cambrian Mountains for a new Host near Machynlleth. It was with mixed emotions that we said our goodbyes; sad to leave behind such a beautiful place and wonderful people, but excited to be back out on the road and adventuring. So, our strange little convoy was back on the road, laughing and chattering and….crashing. We made it all the way to the bottom of the mountain before my trailer jackknifed; snapping off a wheel and throwing me into the road with a patchwork of cuts, scrapes and bruises, and a broken ankle. Why hello again, flexibility. In my battered and bruised state I couldn’t walk let alone ride, and certainly wasn’t going to be covering the ground to our next stop. The Host we’d left only an hour before came to the rescue, hauling us and our gear back to the yurt, tending my wounds and putting me to bed – and from here our emergency plan was executed. Cue an SOS to the father-in-law and plans to return to base – and (begrudgingly) get to a hospital.

24 hours later I was back in civilization having been x-rayed, narrowly avoiding surgery and feeling really quite sorry for myself. Though our village base is arguably one of the most lovely in Shropshire; being back in a house, on a street surrounded by other houses was not where I wanted to be, and six weeks of that was a horribly depressing prospect for all of us. The children were devastated to be missing out on their adventure, and Pete was climbing the walls after half an hour. Not-so-happy campers all round. So, we had to decide how to move forward. Our emergency plan had always centered around us all returning to base until the situation could be solved, circumvented, or just steam-rolled through; but it was clear pretty quickly that this wasn’t what was best for us individually or as a unit, or for our travelling plans. After much discussion between ourselves and a chat to our next planned Host, we decided that it was time to reevaluate – continuing nicely with that theme of flexibility! A week later Pete and Brendan packed what they could carry and set off on the train for our next Host, while I remained at base with Maddy to boss me keep me in line (no mum, you can’t do that…sit down right now!). While Pete and Brendan trekked up more mountains and got settled into their home for the coming weeks, Maddy and I took leisurely hobbles around our village base and attended the annual carnival.

Now, three weeks after I hurtled down that mountain, Maddy and I are preparing to join Pete and Brendan. I’m still reliant on crutches to get around and have little to offer in terms of work on the land, but our lovely new Host is kindly overlooking my relative uselessness and has encouraged me to continue my recovery in the peace and tranquility of her home. In just a few days I’ll be resting in 30 acres of woodland and pasture, with a hammock next to the river and a firebath near the stream to ease the aches. Bliss!
For a while there it seemed like all was lost – or at least the summer – but with a little flexibility and a lot of good people we’re now pretty much back on track. When I’m back on my feet we’ll send for the bikes and trailers and our bikepacking adventure will continue on – and long may it last!!!


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