Hands on the ground, feet in the clouds, heart on my sleeve – Nomadways pt II

It was one of those trips that leave you buzzing for a while after; that leave you wanting more when you already received so much more than you could have possibly bargained for; that, for some time, leave you feeling like a stranger in your own city and with a huge grin make you realise that your heart has once more expanded as you left its trace in one more place you will never forget. Part of it now beats with a new makeshift, nomadic family that will likely never be exactly the same group of people in the same place ever again but it’s not a heavy goodbye as you are optimistic that you will all cross paths again when you least expect it. One of my favourite songs comes to mind:

“I’ve met some sailors on the oceans of time, come to find their holy maps are all aligned with mine.” Humanwine – You are free,

The literal handstand on the road after what was probably one of the more strenuous bicycle rides in my life, so much up hill and so few gears… but when told to handstand on a road with my pack on my back, I knew it would have been wrong to resist!

And somewhere between jetlag and afterglow, between longing for the sweetness of a moment to linger and deeply knowing that life is a constant process of letting go, staying in motion and embracing change, I am glad to find a dictaphone and two guidebooks next to my bed in a small room in central London when I get in late at night. They are my messengers of a future trip, my reminders to keep moving and never to forget to enjoy the ride.

For the hour it takes me to settle after a long journey and a severely delayed flight – nobody likes, I imagine, to arrive at their boarding gate only to hear that the plane they are meant to board has not yet left the airport in another country – I allow the contents of my backpack, the dirty laundry, the half eaten bags of food, the circus equipment, the mismatched socks and the sentimental memories to explode everywhere, the afterglow to linger, the thoughts to drift and I find myself singing songs that now remind me of bonfires and new found friends.

Decorating for a potluck, circus style

I am beyond grateful for two weeks of exploration, new connections, movement, music, laughter, good food, nature, resonance, unexpected rituals and even more surprising healing.

Everything is still before the show – possibly the best snap of it, including my new and beautifully fixed canes by Valentin, with Anne wearing the nightsky in the background.

The second week of my stay at NomadwaysHomade was equally full of good times. After delivering a not nearly well-enough rehearsed show of my work to the wrong track – I do, in fact, refuse to post footage of it, but let it be known that my first hand balancing act on actual canes is done, dusted and now history – I finally had more time to focus on the delicious distractions all around me.

This little after show snap didn’t turn out too bad either – me basing audience member Fred on the silk.

Deciding to have a rest day after the bonfire and show night, I spent the morning lazing around, deciding to visit a walnut oil mill that was allegedly an hour’s cycle away. My leisurely rest day activity may have gotten a little out of hand when I discovered that my perception of an hour on an old three-gear town bike, schlepping my weight up the hills of Limousin, differs slightly from that of a guy on a decent bike who is actually used to cycling long distances. To say that it wasn’t totally worth it or even that I didn’t enjoy it, would, however, be an absolute lie.

Just another lemon tree…

After about two hours of predominantly uphill cycling and me counting my strides – the old trick to get through strenuous repetition of painful patterns by counting in 8’s or 20’s in a language of your choice still works a treat – and countless reassuring repetitions of “We are SO close” from my cycling partner Dani, we arrived at a lush old farmhouse, nestled between fields of fruitful trees and inhabited by an incredibly hospitable elderly man and his wife who were thrilled to show us around their walnut oil mill, introduce us to the donkeys, the stunning family dog and an array of machinery that I would have expected to see in a history book instead of in perfect working order, producing delicious walnut oil!

Donkeys are happily roaming in the garden outside of the mill

Turns out that while my still somewhat existing knowledge of the French language surprised me, it wasn’t sufficient to understand the intricacies of the machines at a walnut mill, but the family run business and the owner’s passion and knowledge about it where nonetheless impressive.

Get out of the way! Fast moving 1 ton stone wheels rotate to crush the nuts.

After more than sufficient coffee and having bought all the walnut oil a person could desire, we made our way back home – heavy backs loaded in the van of our friends from Homade, who had luckily turned up outside the farm ten minutes after we arrived.

The way back was a breeze in comparison, because what goes up must come down, and we reached home dry, chased but never caught by the approaching rain clouds and the dark of night.

Further leisurely rest day activities included feeding my new found Homade family with the sweet Portuguese treat that are Farófias and Ovos Moles. And when you don’t have a mixer, you make do with brute force.

Hungarian endurance egg beater/gardener/cyclist Dani at work
Yummy kitchen shenanigans and very likely the most housewife-y picture of me ever taken
At long last, all sweet things were met with great approval and were gone long before dinner was ready…

While there were definitely moments where I tried to focus on further training and movement exploration instead of eating all the scrumptious things, the surroundings also needed exploring and when a new group of people arrived, two other residents and I decided to be a little antisocial for a day and go for a roadtrip… little did we know that we would end up at the stunning abandoned mine come rock garden “Les Pans de Travassac” instead of the neighbouring village Argentat. Since it was grumpy Monday, which seems to have become somewhat of a French tradition [correct me if I’m wrong French people, but everything is shut on a Monday…and I’m grumpy, too], we had the whole gorgeous location to ourselves.

Climbeable surroundings make me very happy – unfortunately all the beautific crimps where overgrown with moss and outrageously slippery…

Descending a few flights of outdoor stairs, twilight engulfed us and the sudden drop in temperature made for a palpable eerie vibe around an old miner’s house dated 1911 above its time-withered window frame. Not wanting to spend too long in the cool mist, we hurried along through an arc, back into the sunshine.

Did you honestly think I would let this opportunity for a handstand pass me by? Credit to the fabuluos @ana_nazzzz, as usual.

Back at Homade, it turned out that the new arrivals were actually rather lovely folks and between eating, training, acroyoga and trick sharing on silks with the wonder woman that is Kristina (social activist, circus lady extraordinaire and another happy hiker by nature), whose work you can checkout at freedomofmovement.de, I may have just not had the time to take more pictures, but let me assure you, it was luscious in every way!

Good facepaint (Anne), poor picture (me) – team work with clown sweetheart @ana_nazzz once more!

Full moon rituals were had, wild baby kittens watched, 30 year old nectar (or was it wine?) drunk at a wild drum circle, wood was chopped and face paint distributed freely. And somewhere along the line, so much healing happened that I simply let go of a bunch of old baggage, burnt in a fire under a full moon, surrounded by love, laughter and music. I learned and taught new songs, played the Shruti box and made a serendipitous discovery. Let me tell you, it is a funny feeling when you and the person next to you suddenly find out that both of you can overtone sing, and neither of you knew that about the other! Well, to quote Kimya Dawson in Tire Swing, “the sound of our voices made us forget everything that had ever hurt our feelings.”

Ah, yes, I also did some handstands and despite some health niggles here and there and a minor wrist injury, I feel that the one arm prep is coming along nicely… what do you think?

I am further excited to announce that handstandsontheroad now has a Facebook page, to promote further social projects and trips. Please support it and follow it to stay tuned and help with my next adventure.

Next (planned) stop, Turkey! Stay tuned.




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