out in the nature

Out in the green #2 - The Yaaran Family

I feel very fortunate to know some amazing people that decided to walk away from the mainstream way of living and adapt their life to something they really believe in. I don't hide the fact that i really admire them, that sometimes i dream of doing the same. But then on the other hand, i love my life just the way it is right now...

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The Yaaran family is one of these amazing families. They are living in the Ben Shemen forest, a wild piece of land in the nature reserve between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Avshi and Bar Yaaran with their 5 children built their own wooden house 22 years ago in the forest and started a goat farm. Ever since, they live from what they produce on their land, the goats provide milk and natural gas for cooking. They also have 2 donkeys, a horse, some chickens and a bunch of shepherd dogs. Solar panels generate electricity and the family is collecting rain water. Everyday and the whole year around, their goats graze the land, a perfect natural prevention against wild fires. Avshi and Bar never go on vacation, they never take a day off but they are both happy and really enjoy their work. They celebrate slow living and the most important thing for them is to stay in harmony with nature and their goats and to be far away from the buzz of big cities and big crowds.

Bar is a goat cheese magician. She is producing the best goat cheeses, labaneh and yogurt you can imagine. The family has a small store where they sell the goat milk products to visitors. Bar lets them taste from a variety of cheeses, from strong to mild and if you like goat cheese like i do, you will want to buy everything you tasted. She also makes delicious bread. The flour she is using comes from the wheat that is growing on the farm.

Their special way of life is unfortunately not legal and so they are fighting for many years already against their evacuation. In 2015, Avshi had to destroy most of their initial beautiful family house and him and Bar built a new home on wheels in order to be able to stay. Even though they have the smallest eco footprint and are even contributing to the prevention of wild fires, the state sees them as illegal settlers. 

Our first family trip with Ellie was to the Ben Shemen forest, to visit Bar and Avshi. We enjoyed that day so much. Like every time we are there, we breathed in the quiet and the beauty of it, we bought tons of goat cheese, we sat in the garden and watched the animals and thought with a heavy heart: "maybe it is our last visit".

and here a few more pictures that are screenshots from Ohad's movie "Planets" where he portrayed the family - for those who want, the movie is available here.

Visit the Yaaran on facebook

Hebrew article about the Yaaran Family (published in Haaretz in April 2014)

Greece #2 - Family holidays on Serifos

I was literally counting the days to return to Serifos, our beautiful cycladic gem island, and to meet Carolina and stay at her Yellow Side B&B again. This time, we visited Serifos as a family and both Ohad and me were wondering how it would work out to be on an island with a 3 year old for a week, without any entertainment except the beach and some donkeys and goats. Honestly, never would i have imagined that it would be so perfect. Alva was very excited to fly, stay in a hotel in Athens, take the metro and the ferry and finally stay at the Yellow Side.

We prepared him weeks before, telling him over and over again what would happen, what we would do, where we would stay. Over time, we found out that mentally preparing Alva for big events and changes long in advance is the best way to keep our family balanced and synced. A minimum of surprises and a similar schedule every day fits us best. So we thought it would be a good idea to try this routine recipe during our vacation as well. Straight from the first day on the island, we figured out the best everyday schedule for the week. Get up at 8:00am, having Carolina's amazing breakfast at 9:00am, then beach time till around 2:30pm (every day a different beach though), nap time till 4:30-5:00pm followed by cake & coffee and play time then at 6:30pm going out for one of the amazing greek restaurants and 8:30pm bed time for Alva. We kept this consistent during our whole stay and it worked wonders. You might think it is boring and doesn't sound like fun but i am convinced that this helped us having no frictions, everyone knew what's happening right now and what would happen next, we could concentrate on being together and appreciating each others company instead of getting lost into figuring out about the most exciting program for the day. 

At the beach, we read some books, collected stones and made some sand paintings, Alva climbed trees and learned about letters and numbers (his big interest of the moment).

The only surprise we had is that there was no ferry to Athens on the day we planned to get back (we were not prepared to the off season ferry schedule) and we ended up taking a cabin on a night ferry one day before, which was a big and cool adventure and gave us a whole day to get around Athens and enjoy this fascinating favorite european city of mine.

Thanks Carolina for this week of perfection, we will be back for sure!

The Yellow Side links (click on bolded text to open link) - facebook ::: airBnB ::: and on instagram @theyellowside

Desert escapade #2

“In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions, since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance. I had found too, a comradeship inherent in the circumstances, and the belief that tranquility was to be found there.” 
Wilfred Thesiger

My parents came to visit and we decided to take a family trip to the desert, to one of our favorite places to be, sukkah ba midbar. A place of peace, with just the necessary to be happy. My mom and Alva chased lions and cooked "potato soup" with stones and herbs, we took a long walk all together, sat in our hut with candle light while outside it got really cold and told stories. We ate delicious food and drank wine with spices and Ohad and me witnessed first a sky of thousand stars and then a beautiful full moon rise. But the nicest thing of all was to see how quickly Alva bonded with his swiss grand-parents although he does see them only a few times a year. Here are a few pictures from our trip:

Greece #1 - Serifos and the Yellow Side B&B

Sometime last spring, we decided to make a late honeymoon in Serifos, Greece. We picked this island mostly because Ohad has been there a few years ago and always told me how beautiful it is. I had never been to Greece before and always wanted to visit, so it sounded like a great plan. And we were so right!

The island is a bit more than 2 hours away from Athens by ferry in the western Cyclades. Serifos is also called the island of the 1000 churches, although there is "only" about 300 of them. If you count that there is about 800 people leaving the whole year around on the island (the rest of the remaining 800 people are leaving during winter time), that makes 1 church for every 2.6 inhabitant, oh and i forgot to say that the island is 75.21 square kilometer big...You got the picture, lots and lots of beautiful white little churches with blue roofs. Till the 1960-ies, the island had busy iron mines. Then they probably shut down quite suddenly because on the southern part of Serifos, where the landscape is reddish-brown stone, there is rusty cars, bridges, rails and machines laying around aging slowly. I climbed up the hill to explore some of the ruins closer and was amazed to find some leather pouches and tools on the floor and wondering how fast the workers must have left to leave everything behind. On the top of hill above the port is the Chora - the traditional village, nested in the rock. When the sun goes down over Serifos, the last rays are always staying there a little longer, illuminating the Chora and making it shine while everything else is already welcoming the night.

Serifos is beautiful. But in the end what made our holiday truly amazing was Carolina and her Yellow Side B&B (link is in the bolded text). Her house is overlooking the bay and the harbour and has a small 2 room dependance, where we stayed. Everything about the Yellow Side is bright and warm and welcoming. The place is filled with calm good energy. The house is swallowing the sunlight and breathing with the waves. In the morning, Carolina makes delicious breakfast for her guests on the porch of her house (including the best lemon cake!). A lot of the things on the table are homemade or from local farmers that produce so much good stuff, like honey, chili, olives, cheese, capers, herbs, fruits. 

We rented a scooter and laid on the beach the whole day, just swimming, collecting beautiful stones, reading and doing nothing. Dolce far niente. Exactly what we needed. Yes, we are spoiled brats ;-)

Here are a few pictures for you:

Desert escapade

"The desert could not be claimed or owned–it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names... Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape."
Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Ohad found a place in the Negev with little mud huts on sand dunes about an hours and a half from tel aviv and we decided to do a little family escapade before the holidays to get some quiet.

There is something magical about getting to a place where the only sound you hear is the noise of the wind on the sunroof and where there is strictly nothing else to do than relaxing. So that's what we did.

We walked to a nearby hill to admire the view, saw beautiful sunsets, sunrises and starry skies, ate, slept, rocked in the hammock, read, made a bone fire and watched the camels graze.

Going to the desert is like a meditation. The sky just seems so much wider than elsewhere and there is a soothing softness about the colors. I have always been attracted to the desert. It's a place that fills my soul with deep peace and i always wish, i could stay a little longer even though i never do... 

 

Uncle Johnny has a farm

Last weekend, we went to Johnny’s house. That place is a little garden Eden. The little orange painted house that he built himself is surrounded by 14 different kinds of fruit trees. A bit further, he has an organic vegetable garden, where we were happy to eat freshly picked kale and carrots. Alva was fascinated with the goats, the horse and the chickens. For me, the most impressive thing about this place was the huge ficus tree that is watching over johnny’s piece of land. It’s one of the biggest trees i have seen in my life.

Here are a few photos of our visit.

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