I had tears in my eyes as I locked the door to our little house back in Morzine. My hands were shaking and my heart was pounding and I wasn’t sure I was ready to let go of the key just yet. It was an unexpected moment of emotion as Matt waited for me in the driveway, standing in the middle of pouring rain beside our bikes, packed and ready to go. I guess I had been so looking forward to the start of our trip that I forgot to think about all the things I was going to be leaving behind. I moved out of my parents house to go to university when I was seventeen and since then I’ve lived in a few different cities and have had many different apartments and roommates, but nothing has felt more like a real home than the house we shared in the mountains. A lot can happen in three years and it is a strange feeling not knowing if or when I’ll ever be back there. And now, at 29 my home is a tent that my husband carries with him everyday on the back of his bicycle – no key necessary.
There are moments during the trip so far that I find myself missing home a little more than others. Sometimes, it’s when we are up early and rolling through villages that are still half a sleep, the sun just starting to shine through the windows and a faint smell of coffee in the air. I long for a morning spent in slippers and a warm breakfast at the kitchen table. Other times it’s late in the afternoon, when the dark clouds start to roll in and we find ourselves in an unknown town, everyone else seemingly heading home after a days work and we’re still unsure of where we are going to pitch our tent for the night. It is in these moments that we joke about how much we would like to back on the couch, cozied up under a blanket with a bottle of wine, watching old reruns of friends on tv. But every time the moment passes and we find comfort in our sleeping bags and a hot cup of tea, a good book and a head lamp. I’ve realized that you actually need very little to feel at home, but I rely on Matt a lot for that too. He puts me at ease and I can’t imagine sharing this whole thing with anyone else. It’s not easy, but I can’t say it has been hard yet either, and I’m sure that this trip will be the best couples therapy we could go through. A few weeks in and I’m not really sure I can put it all into words, I feel like it is only just the beginning.
We’re eating well, mostly carbs – sandwiches and pasta with a few draft beers scattered in between to wash things down. I’m definitely aware that it’s not the most nutritional of diets but it feels nourishing all the same. We’re staying in an apartment in Bretagne this week, visiting with a bit of Matt’s family before we continue north. It has been a welcomed change to have a fridge and a working kitchen for a few days. There was a bustling little market on the port at the beginning of the week where we picked up a few supplies, and this salad came together pretty quickly afterwards. It was fresh and crunchy and just what I was craving on a sunny day, so I thought I’d share it with you all here along with a few photos from where we are at the moment. This area has been my absolute favorite yet. It’s low season now so things are quiet, the beaches are rocky and the coast line dotted by little stone houses with old blue doors. It’s pretty dreamy to say the least. Anyways, train to Paris tomorrow and taking off to Stockholm from there, spending the summer exploring Scandinavia. Almost 1500kms and counting, and I’m thinking the best is yet to come. Big hugs + happy days x
Green Bean, Quinoa + Tarragon Salad
A fresh summery salad perfect for picnics in the park or sunny days at the beach. I like to quickly blanch green beans so that they keep their color and crunch, plus they will last longer if you plan to make this salad ahead of time. The markets here are bursting with ruby red cherries, but I imagine strawberries would make a nice alternative too. Choose something fresh and local to you. Since we’re in travel mode at the moment, I am without kitchen equipment so quantities were a bit of an ‘eye-ball’ here. Taste as you go and adjust to your liking. A quick pulse of the cherries, almonds and tarragon in a blender would make a killer pesto/dressing sort of thing for this dish – just a nudge. Bon ap!
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 3 cups green beans (haricots vert)
- Large handful fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved
- A few handfuls roughly chopped marcona almonds (or toasted slivered almonds)
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
- Pinch flaky salt, such as fleur de sel or maldon
What to do
Start with the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a metal sieve for about 30 secs. Add rinsed quinoa and 1 cup water to a pot and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until quinoa has increased in sized and absorbed most of the water. Remove from heat and let sit with the lid on for another 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
Wash and top the green beans. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add in the beans. Cook the beans in the boiling water for no more than 3 minutes (I like them with a good snap still). Then strain and rinse under cold water until cooled. Beans should be bright green with good crunch.
Toss cooked quinoa with olive oil and vinegar, season pepper if desired. Top quinoa with beans, almonds and fresh cherries. Sprinkle with tarragon and drizzle with olive oil. Add pinch of flaky salt just to finish.