the world was never on my radar, as I had never spent any time in it
Travelling was never on my radar when I was younger, it just didn’t interest me. We never did family holidays as a child, there was never enough money for such frivolous activities, my summers were spent roaming our estate, with all the other feral children, we made our own magic building dens out of skip finds and could find endless uses for an abandoned cardboard box. Perhaps I just never knew any different, the rest of the world was never on my radar, as I had never spent any time in it?
All I ever wanted to do was settle down, have a nice home and be was a Mum, from as young as I could remember I would imagine myself holding my blond haired, blue eyed baby girl in my arms, a strange foresight considering I have naturally black hair? By the time I was 20 years old, I had that baby girl I had always dreamed of, and sure enough her baby soft hair was golden and her eyes blue as the morning sky, she was my life, she was all I had ever wanted and all I ever needed and it stayed this way for 7 years.
I packed two bags, I left and never looked back
Whilst I had my little best friend, other relationships in my life were not as rewarding and it left me deeply unhappy, I was living a life with a man, which was simply unhealthy for me. One morning I dropped my little girl off at school, I took myself to a café, simply to avoid going home, as I sipped the last of my coffee, and contemplated my departure, I found myself frozen in the chair, in the next 5 minutes I made a plan to leave, a plan which for years prior I had not had the courage to find. I went home, packed 2 bags, one for my daughter and one for me, I left and never looked back, that was my bravest day. I had found a wonderful new friend named Jess and together we created a surrogate family, she had separated from her husband, we helped each other transition into our new lives, I will always have unconditional love for this dearest friend.
My blonde haired blue eyed girl
the most exciting time of my life
Six months later I met my explorer buddy for life, Scott Morgan, the talented photographer I found oh so inspiring, one of this worlds lost boys. He bought fun and adventure into my life, which I had never known, for the first time the world opened up to me, I was like a caged bird who had been freed and anything felt possible. We set up home together, Scott, Alysia and I, our lives together were all about photography and exploring locations for shoots. We would spend endless days driving any roads we had never travelled, discovering abandoned buildings full of character and cinematic charm for potential photo shoots. We found a particular passion for Wales and its breath-taking mountain roads, our hearts will always live in Wales, it was the most exciting time of my life!
After a few years we climbed a mountain in Wales and Scott got down on one knee and proposed, it was one of the happiest days of my life, we had a beautiful intimate wedding, surrounded by our closest family and friends. The next day we set off for an epic honeymoon in Norway, a rare heatwave followed us there and we found ourselves at the top of mountains, surrounded by the hard winters snow, contrasted with the warmth of the sun on our skin, we really were on top of the world.
A Mountain Proposal
Jess greets me as I arrive for my wedding day
A traffic stopping wedding photo!
On top of the world
life threw a profound and deeply sad experience at us
We felt the highest of highs on our wedding day, we didn't know then, that only a few months later, life would throw a profound and deeply sad experience at us. People deal with their grief in different ways, for us this loss of our hopes and dreams, of life, gave us an overwhelming urge to live. We had an urge to be away from it all, in the wilds of the Mountains. We kitted ourselves out with outdoor walking gear, and wild camping gear, loaded our 15 kilos into rucksacks and hiked up into the mountains of Wales. There is something about the mountains that brings peace to me, its sheer magnitude is humbling, the mountains are a place of sanctuary.
Wild camping adventures in Wales, just about to hike to the top of Pen'y'Fan
The one time we dragged my daughter on an expedition, needless to say she hated it!
We had several adventures together on our wild camping expeditions, whilst I loved the freedom of the great outdoors, I am the first to admit I struggled physically with our wild camping adventures, Scott couldn’t get enough of it, but it would wipe me out for days. The weight of the backpacks, the lack of comfort and my boy being the adventurous type, wanting to take the off path adventure routes, we found ourselves in some challenging situations, which left me feeling anxious about our expeditions. Then we found Florence our camper van. This is a story I have already unpacked from the box in my mind and made into a short film, no need to tell it again, you can watch it here >>
Florence and the Morgans – story of life, love and loss
Van life adventures
So began our Van life adventures, spending weekends travelling the mountain roads of Wales we had grown to love, and wild camping in the comfort of our van, this was my kind of travelling, I just loved the freedom of the road, the calmness I felt when in our home from home, every day full of endless unknown possibilities. I found myself longing to travel, but by this time my little girl was not so little any more. Now at thirteen years old a typical teenager, attached to her iPhone like an umbilical cord of life, Wi-Fi access a medical requirement, her personal space and relationships with friends, now understandably very important to her. I presented her with the idea, let’s just sell everything, buy a big van and go travel the world, she could have online schooling. I had some romantic idea in my mind that we would be this close bonded family, having adventures, discovering the world and living out our dreams together, in reality the dream was ours, not hers. Needless to say, the answer was a resounding NO WAY and I understood. My heart breaks at the memory of my adventurous little tomboy, in the days before she got swept away by technology, she used to love being outdoors, bush craft and nature, her love for adventure and the outdoors faded as mine grew, I was too late.
Florence before her big makeover
It is a controversial subject travelling with children and I have seen this topic many times in Vanlife forums, my personal view is that the world our children live in today is very different to the one we were raised in, we could roam the streets wild. Kids just don’t do that anymore, they connect via social media, they stay in their bedrooms and isolate themselves from their families. I think travelling with children would be amazing for them, a way to connect and to experience the great outdoors in all its simplistic glory, there is really good online schooling, which offers opportunities to connect with other kids. There will be lots of opportunities for your children to play with other children as you travel, I often used to take my daughter to the park, try to spot another family with a similar age child, park myself on the grass and tell her to go make friends, and she would have a wonderful day with her newly found friend. Young kids can do this, with tweens and teens it does start getting difficult and that needs to be decided by the individual families, everyone is different.
I am a Weekend Warrior
And so my priority is and will always be as a Mum, the needs of this little person I would give my life for will always come first for me, she needs to live in a normal house. If this means I only live out adventures when she is with her grandparents, friends or away on a school trip then so be it. I am a weekend warrior, this self-imposed restriction, only ensures that I make the absolute most of my little adventures, I do not take them for granted.
Who knows what the future holds for me, one day my little bird will fly the nest, but a part of me knows that even when she has set up home alone, I will still need to be there for her. Motherhood is a life long and unconditional commitment, my daughter will always come first.