Of wilderness, cities, cultures, languages and coastlines. Chasing an irrepressible desire for freedom and crafting an art out of getting lost and making do. A sunset lit by wild eyes and a dusty smile, coastal winds throwing hair aside and dappled light dancing across a restless tide. The deep smell of pine, the smoke from a wild fire and boughts of laughter that illuminate a night sky. We thrive on these moments that matter, with the people that mean the most. From what we understand, it is escapism and it's the core to our evolution as creative nomads.
With humble beginnings micro-adventuring around Cornwall, Wales and Europe; we distilled our enthusiasm for self sufficiency and getting off the grid. Whilst shaping our brand ethos around a collection of simple ideas; to never stop roaming on account of our business, to be able to pack our work and head for the road and inspire our art through an incessant need to travel, to be Roaming Creatives. We found freedom on the road and it rewarded us with the time to observe, to gain simplicity in lifestyle and live by our own means.
No matter how far we may wander, we cannot deny how Cornwall will always be the springboard to our adventure plans and the anchor from which we travel. The rugged cold water breaks and prehistoric coastlines will always have our hearts and the abundance of creative folk, keeping it simple and cultivating a wholesome existence, will always be our inspiration to get back to nature and self sufficiency. Even for us in Falmouth, there is a mighty confluence of creative startups, strong ale, cold brews and enigmatic views of the Cornish landscape. It is for the love of this ancient land that we became practitioners of micro-adventuring. The realisation that 5'oclock didn't have to mark the end of the day and our dreams didn't have to stop on the account of money. We'd pack provisions for the night and hike out to a spot that would promise a sterling view of the sunset. As dawn echoed the following day; we'd pack down, brew-up, indulge in a sizeable pot of porridge and perhaps even take a swift dip, before thawing off on our way to work. This got us thinking, if we could do it for a day, perhaps we could do it forever, or atleast for a while.
Putting this into practice, we toyed with the idea of tracing coastlines through Europe and making the leap into Africa. However, like every 20 something post-grad, we were pretty broke. So settled on the idea of spoke, steel and a pedal powered chase from our front door in Falmouth to the door of the desert in Morocco. Thus, cycle to Sahara became a hashtag.
We're not cyclists by any stretch of the imagination, for us it marked an accessible means of transport. The day we started was the first day of training, but we were always aware of the challenges we'd face. Both physically and mentally we had mountains to climb and distances to cover, a business to run and a journey to live. We had to be a team from day one and that would be fundamental to our survival.
So we set the challenge and quit our jobs in the pursuit of our passions. Down sized and donated possessions and, with panniers overpacked and routes underprepared, discreetly donned our cycling bibs and embarked on the first leg of our journey.
So with 5650km, 175days, 4 countries. 3 languages, 3 boat crossings, 2 busses and a mountain road trip with a couple of wanderlust nomads in a truck called Monica. We've replaced 1 entire wheel, had 2 new tyres, 8 straight punctures, a whole heap of teamwork and an unlimited supply of hi5's. We've celebrated a birthday, 1 Christmas and New Year, a monumental engagement (WE'RE ENGAGED NOW!) and 2 months with a mum eating our weight in tortillas. Had several thousand accumulated feet ascended and 10's of minutes freewheeling to the glorious lands of pure-enjoyment-ville! We're onto our 2nd tent with a heap of bent pegs and our first duct taped repair on the master pole (all hail duct tape!) Theres 52 rolls of shot film and an unbearable excitement to sift through each image recounting the stories, 1 by 1. We saved for summer, escaped the winter and couldn't have completed our journey without the loving support of friends, family and a funding campaign. P.s Thank you! With no arguments, only love and a super-charged vision for the adventures to come; we continue to chase the horizon before us!
Which brings us to now.
Having been kissed and kicked by the Saharan sun, we're now reunited with the Atlantic Coast. Here we are, in the last few weeks of the last six months. Only now able to fully understand our achievements and recount the journey, as we sit imminently facing the final stretch that will take us from Taghazout to Laayoune and our flight home.
360 minutes and countless revolutions, is our daily average of time spent on the bicycles, it really is a long time to meditate. Fixated on dreams, goals, hopes, fears and ambitions; quiet roads allowed us the time to cycle side by side. We'd talk for hours about all the crazy things we wanted to achieve in our lifetime. Sometimes this would get us so pumped and we'd cycle with such intensity, as if the goal we were visualising was right there in front of us! It goes without saying that this type of trip has massively improved both our physical and mental fitness, along with our attitudes towards love, life, relationships and possible obstacles within all of the above. With so much time to reflect and with such a wealth of space to let the mind roam, coupled with physically overcoming the days challenges; you feel empowered. You begin to remind yourself how important your timeline is, without taking a lifetime to realise it.
You meet interesting folk as a bi-product of opening your heart to the opportunities life presents and these are the people that reaffirm, or contradict, your behavioural patterns. It keeps you curious and inquisitive, a student and observer to the wonders in life. With fewer constraints on how to live your life, led by your own intuition, You find freedom!
So, you're probably wondering how we were able to sustain this, right? Like, did we save up? Did we have a plan to work on the road? The answer is yes.
We wanted to define our own live, work relationship. To travel whilst remaining productive and be able to fulfill commissions and jobs remotely on the road. Fortunately for us, our passions lay in film, photography and writing, which are all fully mobile skills and only enriched further by new locations. Admittedly, we were therefore blessed with a formula to escape the confines of a predetermined societal path, so it was an attainable goal for us. But we've also been blessed with the stories of friends and travellers alike, whom make their work work for them. It's always a treat learning of the haphazard ways in which people fulfill this work / travel balance, so we became fascinated in uncovering the wonders of this lifestyle and were naturally keen to become practitioners of this ethos. So we fashioned a brand tagline, which rapidly became our Instagram hashtag, #RoamingCreatives. Curating the stories of the coffee shop writers and travelling photographers, the 5-9ers and the weekend warriors. The silent creatives sat etching out their own futures, the inspirations behind our brand. A life working on the move does present its challenges however, most of the time the desk is unconventional and the wifi non existent. Although blessed we are with the opportunities we have and the fortune of the folk we have met, it hasn't come without its difficulties. Dreams don't work unless you do. It takes an unprecedented amount of discipline, organisation and an unwavering positivity that infectiously seeps into all that you do and your outlook on life. There are no cheat sheets or hard fast rules; it's just as much honest, hard work as any discipline would require, but with a different set of tools. Sure there are examples and pivotal mentors to aspire to, but success comes from self belief and defining what it means to you.
So in the makeshift workspaces of the tent is where you'll find us; propping up notebooks and aiming dim solar lamps into the pages, sitting after dark and grafting at our dreams. Taking breaks to chat about the future and relay our excitement into the back pages of our journals. Hours pass but the enthused smiles never waiver.
Photography is what keeps this enthusiasm burning and we take pride in documenting solely on 35mm film. For us, it's a very un-intrusive practice on our experience and it feels very organic to the travel process. Much alike getting home from a journey and unpacking bags to sift through rail tickets and snapshots, receiving developed film and finally scanning the negatives adds a tactile magic into the memories you've collected. Treasuring the reels in stacks of folders, compiled like scrapbooks. Even though shooting film does mean dedicating a sack to canisters, you shoot only what you need and what you love. You take just enough from your environment and preserve the rest in memory, leaving some unexpected beauty for the folks whom visit in your wake. With only 36 exposures per roll, you can't stand for hours adjusting and snapping photos till you get it right, you have to judge the moment and move to shoot when it comes. The only dilemma being how and when to capture the realness in what you see. Remaining content when the lens falls perfectly upon a moment of bliss but knowing when to leave the camera behind and experience life in real time, present and alive. It's an addictive gratification and a simple process; an art that weaves magic into memory. However, sometimes it's just about being grateful for where you are and who you're with.
For us, wanderlust exists in these simple things and if they're free then that's a bonus! It's no revolutionary thing, but there most certainly is a satisfaction in letting go of your excess, it's obviously weighing you down. When you're on the move, it's about carrying less to go further. It's hard to do, but downsizing possessions to upscale your life experiences will be the best decision you can make to move forward; carry less, do more. It simply seasons your days with a sweetness, complimenting the grit in your eyes and bringing a certain satisfaction to the cheek in your smile. You remind yourself everyday, that with dedication, discipline, persistence and determination; you got here on your own steam! Simply put, it's a pretty good feeling. If the days concerns are having enough water, finding somewhere good to pitch up, having fuel and fire to replenish the fatigue in them old bones; then the hard work of arriving under a blanket of stars is that much more delectable. Simple, honest, practical living; from the food you eat to the clothes you wear.
For us, we live our lives based on the stories we can proudly share with a pint in hand surrounded by good company. With a few tales under the belt, animated gestures, wild eyes and fits of laughter; this is the enterainment for the night. You can stop searching for temporary satisfaction because you're already satisfied with what you have, simple fulfillment!
Existing on the fringes of society, can sometimes, however, make you feel like an outcast. You start to realise how metropolitan cities are concrete mazes. If you are not integrated into the designated structure and flow of things, it can certainly make you feel lost. Don't get us wrong, we love visiting the city, but if you're going to brew a coffee curb-side then be prepared to get a few strange looks. So when feeling like an 'outcast' it can be incredibly grounding and life affirming to receive such welcoming and hospitable embraces from those also living hand to mouth and mile to mile. Being so obviously vulnerable and retaining such a transparent existence has played a huge roll for us in being shown an incomprehensible amount of kindness from, whom are at first, strangers. From beds for the night to entire apartments for the week, we've certainly experienced varying degrees of hospitality but all with a parallel trajectory of kindness. From our two love-sick Parisians in a truck called Monica, to our three gentle Catalonians with the biggest of hearts, all of these enigmatic folk are now considered family, let alone friends for life. But the moment that comes to mind to perfectly define 'the kindness of strangers' in one anecdote, is a unique moment that was apparently not so uncharacteristic of the Moroccan people. After an arduous departation from the vibrant city of Fes, dodging traffic and ingesting an abnormal amount of fumes, we came across a long stretch of country asphalt destined for Rabat. We continued along this path until the sun had naturally decided for us, that it was time to diverge from the road and bed down for the night. Naturally following the window of golden glow we found some solice amongst an olive grove and ninja'd our tent up before the inevitable shadow of 6:30pm closed in. Once we were absolutely convinced that not a soul had seen us, two women; a mother and her daughter appeared out of nowhere, armed with a huge silver tray heaped with delights. The four of us shared bread, copious amounts of mint tea and olives from the grove we happened to pitch in. Exchanging no more than animated gestures of pedalling, huge smiles and lots of laughter, not one comprehensible sentence was shared between us, but we absolutely believe that we are welcome back anytime, should we return, in-sha'Allah! This unique and unexpected occurrence, without a doubt, disarmed us immediately. For all previous preconceptions for safety and interactions to be expected, completely disappeared. It absolutely set the tone for the rest of the journey through the Moroccan kingdom and we could not help but leave smiling by the infectious happiness of the people.
Trading common ground for new ground and finding our own definition of alternative existence, became a priceless lesson. Teaching us that most people are innately kind, the few that have the least are always willing to give the most and the reception given to two wayward folk on two wheels, was one of simple curiosity, peace and welcome. We aren't sure of our next destination, but we are sure of our desire to continue to travel and work in unique ways. To take less flights and more wild roads, to harvest the land and sustain ourselves on the fruits of our labour. To invest in more conversation and less things, and to remain with our minds free and hearts open to the endless possibilities the world can provide. Perhaps it's a rose tinted dream, but it's a simple life, if it's one lived well.
Originally published in The Rolling home Journal - Issue Two. Available here.
You can follow Madds & Kaas adventures here - @pathadventure