And so it begins…




Well, we are away!

In fact we have been for 6 days already – and it is only now that I have managed to get pen to paper (or finger to keyboard?). I feel bad about this, mainly because it is that self-defeating perfectionist streak I have made mention of that is particularly responsible. Nevermind – I shall add it to the list of things to face and conquer! Beginning now actually – witness my attempt at putting our thoughts, feeling, experiences out there without the several editing sessions and satisfying approval that follows – here we go……

So there are many things I want to cover but i’m not necessarily sure how or where to start. Let’s make it chronological then.

I wanted to make mention of the lead up to heading off on our travels (in fact I wanted to devote a whole post to it, but the moment it seems has past). What I will say is that it was much more tumultuous, emotionally, than I was prepared for. Of course I knew that it would be hard trying to prepare to live out of a car or backpack with my family for the next year or so, but I guess I didn’t realise just how much so. Particularly when combined with a long to-do list, hectic schedule of goodbye’s and all the emotions that come from that constant parting and bidding farewell. I found it hard enough to navigate my own emotional waters, let alone trying to do it for, or with, my daughter and husband.

As we took some time out to try and recalibrate, by climbing with friends, I realised it was a perfect analogy for how I was feeling, (apologies in advance for those who haven’t climbed sharp, pointy, round or tall bits of rock or wall – but I haven’t done heaps of it myself, so I think you’ll get it….). I was feeling like I often do when I climb – scared, pretty much. I was grasping for safety and comfort – unwilling to let go, trust my feet and move on. Sometimes when I feel like that out climbing I give up, sometimes I decide I have done enough and sometimes I push through. (incidentally, the practice and reward of pushing through fear is one of the things that keeps me climbing).

Somehow though, we found our way through and onto the road – I suspect it was the result of my family and everyone else who helped with their time, support. love, farewells, excitement, enthusiasm and well wishes! – so thank you very much!

I’m going to cheat a little now and keep this post short. That’s a legitimate tool in combatting perfectionism and control – right? Let’s run with it, and I’ll talk more about all the stuff we have experienced already (gee whiz!) soon.

Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

xxx Mel



Local vs Central (and my love of mind maps)…



The idea of local versus centralised operations (and to some extent the often related small versus larger business model) is one that has been coming up for us lately. Mostly in the form of ‘how to communicate the benefits of local’, which we inherently feel to be a better way forward. It seems, so far we haven’t done a great job of articulating our take on this issue, so I wanted to give it some thought and light here.

Indeed I had a lot whirring around in my head so I turned to, my now beloved, mind maps, mud maps or whatever you choose to call them (at the risk of being crass, my inner child would like to suggest we coin it  ‘brain vomit’ – snigger…). For the  uninitiated, it basically involves dropping all your ideas onto a page in no particular order or fashion – you just let it all spill out. Then you can go back and make connections, rearrange, add or remove stuff etc. They are especially helpful for perfectionists or detail people who tend to get stuck on the first slightly inaccurate or misplaced point they encounter (this is certainly true of me) so I thought it a good way to purge my ideas into a constructive form. After a couple of goes and some tidying up, below is my take on the advantages of staying local in business and personal spending – centering around benefits for local business, employment, society and the environment (hint: follow the arrows):

buy local mind map

Now take note – I’m not suggesting that the community be 100% self-reliant. While this is a noble goal, I think at this point in time, there are other things to be aiming for first . What I hope for by advocating ‘local’ is two fold:

1. Lets encourage people to start thinking about this issue and its benefits – putting it on the radar and building that ‘thinking habit’ is the first step;

2. Lets foster resilience in the community through local connections and mutually beneficial business. It not only builds strength, character and diversity in that community – if repeated elsewhere, the resilience and health spreads to an entire state/nation/world. And as an aside, don’t forget that when a community becomes stronger it becomes more stable – security is a diminishing asset these days.

I think the sentiment is expressed well by L.N. Smith (in his book Sunrise Over Disney):

“Every dollar you spend . . . or don’t spend . . . is a vote you cast for the world you want”

So what I would love to see is businesses, and individuals alike, including this as a regular consideration in their decision making. Price is undoubtedly a real and tangible constraint – it must be looked at. I just don’t like to see it weigh in disproportionately or used as the sole factor for choice.

And of course, getting too weighed down or consumed by it all isn’t productive either – just giving more thought to where the money is going is a great place to start. Or you could make a simple hierarchy of what is important, as a guide for those with spending power (teamed up with a realistic budget). For instance it might include a few of the following as equal or more important than price: good service, availability, delivery time, environmental credentials, flexibility, locally made, locally owned, adequate specifications or socially responsible. Sometimes it can involve a little more time and effort to find or work with a trickier option, but it’s worth it.

What gets supported, gets growing. So if more demand it, more will supply it. You know what that means – better options and prices usually follow. Win Win.

And woop woop!

Go on…… get your local on! xx




Hometown Tour with Piggy

As we prepare to pack up and head off through Oz and overseas…


piggy 37 days low qual


… thought it might be nice to see where we are coming from. And what better way to kick off Piggy’s trip with us than a little hometown tour? Enjoy.


Our local beach - Port Willunga (or Port Willy for short - yes, you heard me)

Our local beach – Port Willy (local slang for Port Willunga) – yeah, life’s tough here…. we are spoilt with beautiful beaches, hills, fertile land and a temperate climate.


piggy market tents

Piggy preparing to enter the best farmers markets in SA (says me!) – the Willunga Farmers Markets – open every Saturday


piggy garden farmers stall

The Garden Farmers stall – inaugural winners of the market’s pioneering scholarship for young farmers


piggy bickleigh vale stall 1

Di from Bickleigh Vale Farm entertains Emma and Piggy at her market stall – this being the wonderful organic farm we volunteer on. Di is a vortex of awesome farming energy – she has a knack for attracting young people interested in agrarian activities and generously imparts her knowledge and time to them, setting forth many a new farmer…


piggy wilmark the magnificent

Emma & Piggy atop “Wilmark, the Magnificent” – the market’s official mascot.



piggy willunga waldorf school

Spot the piggy 1 – at Emma’s school, Willunga Waldorf. Excellent school for raising grounded, creative, confident children through the alternative Waldorf (Steiner) curriculum.


piggy almond grove 2

The biodynamic almond grove at the school – almonds used to cover a significant portion of Willunga’s growing land. Much has been converted to vineyards for wine.


piggy bakery A

Guess which local icon Piggy is hangin at now?….

piggy bakery B

Spot the piggy 2: It’s ‘Home Grain Bakery’ Aldinga – who also has a sister in McLaren Flat. Bakeries baking with real ingredients – the results speak for themselves!


piggy willunga hills

Ciao for now from piggy (and the hills and fields of our beautiful area) xx

The Web of Life(styles) – addictive goodness & Adelaide’s GroCo



As I come off the back of a Local Grower’s Collective meeting (a little word on this later, below) I am realising two things:
1. Pruning is a real art form – requiring one to balance a hierarchy of botanical priorities, physical practicalities and a gambler’s nerve for now vs the future, and
2. It reminds me just how many facets there are to learn about when you become interested in a lifestyle more closely connected with growing/sustainability/simplicity/tradition etc etc (insert your unavoidable and inevitably stereotyping lifestyle descriptor here….)

It’s like a web – once in, you get tangled up in all sorts of wonderfully interesting threads, all connected together. And so much so, it can be hard to get out! Not that I imagine many people want to move away from this kind of life once they find it – more like once you start learning, you can’t stop. Maybe its more apt to describe it as some kind of enchanted garden that has seemingly endless nooks and niches to discover. The tricky part being, to navigate your own path.

Anyway, as a result of meeting up with new and old friends last night, I have a lot of topics rattling around in my head. I wanted to make a bit of a list of them and get them down somewhere – I thought I could do that here and share them at the same time. Perhaps it will be useful to someone? Or maybe it will just act as a “be warned – this lifestyle is highly addictive – symptoms include interest in, and possible partaking of, some or all of the following:”

  • wild mushrooms, edible weeds and foraging in general
  • hunting
  • fermented food and drinks (e.g. kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut – the list of foods on wikipedia is massive!)
  • cheese making
  • bee keeping
  • food forests
  • growing methodologies (e.g. organic, biodynamic, back to eden, eliot coleman)
  • permaculture (wiki description here, Australian goings-on here)
  • herbalism (growing and using medicinal herbs)
  • tiny houses
  • dumpster diving
  • living without the use of money (e.g. through exchange like LETS, gifting or hardcore examples like that of Daniel Suelo)
  • rituals and festivals celebrating the cycle of seasons, the year or our own life stages
  • story telling (see my little rant in a previous post here)
  • indigenous cultures and the myriad of skills they use(d) to live off the land
  • handcrafts like: basketry/weaving; spinning yarn; knitting/crocket; sewing…..

No doubt there is more to add – I just wanted to get those ones out of my head and in one place! Feel free to add your own …

I also wanted to talk about the Local Growers Collective here in Adelaide too – because it’s a great initiative. Essentially the ‘GroCo’ (as you will come to know it) is a network of people with an interest in growing – in any form that might take: currently growing; wanting to grow; novice; expert – whatever, it’s all good. Those who can, come together for a meeting, (about every six weeks), somewhere in Adelaide. The format is casual and normally includes some type of workshop, tour or brainstorming session at a member’s property or one of interest to the group. It’s all topped off with a share dinner and merry socialising – voila, recipe for goodness. So if you are in the area and would like to come along, or just want know more, contact Steven on 0421 816 106 or hoffna@gmail.com.

Thanks Steven for bringing us the GroCo and happy lifestyle addictions everyone!

Mel x

market tents