Author – Sharon Tickle, Australian flamenco tragic/plant-powered yogini/skier/sailor/walker

Mid-2011 aged 55 I took a year off work to travel in Africa and Europe and to study flamenco dance intensively. I lived the dream and it was amazing! The year grew to six years and counting… I’m in the privileged position of not needing to work now. I can travel, mostly together with my husband, Stuart, to discover new places and try new experiences, as well as to spend quality time with family and friends all over this blue ball.

This isn’t a commercial blog, in fact I pay wordpress to keep ads off my site. I write, photograph and publish for my own enjoyment and to stay connected. I never accept freebies or contras and all opinions expressed are honestly held. If I recommend a place, person or service it’s because they’ve impressed me. I try to keep bad experiences to myself, there’s enough negativity out there already, but I will alert you to scams and shysters!

This is how my six-year sojourn unfolded.

From 17 August 2011 to late September 2012 I travelled overland from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls followed by three months in Seville immersed in Flamenco. I then spent much of the 2012 winter season skiing in France and come spring I mountain biked behind the Costa Del Sol and hiked in the French Alps.

I also explored new parts of Italy, especially Sicily and Sardinia, and had a magical week under sail on the Cote D’Azur. My husband, Stuart, joined me when he could but he had a business to run in Australia so he missed some of the fun.

The first few months were plain sailing but we struck stormy times from April with the theft of all my belongings (and much of my family’s stuff too) from our rental van in Grenoble. Then Stuart suffered a stroke inflight returning from Australia in early May and my Mother was seriously ill. Testing times but we got through! Both Stuart and Mum are back on fine form.

We were based in SE Queensland over the 2012 year end, reconnecting with family and friends and preparing Stu’s business for another extended absence. Efforts to buy a home were thwarted so we resigned ourselves to being happily homeless a while longer. Our chance came in June 2013 and we bought a brand new home in Brisbane that was easy to lock and leave.

From mid-February 2013 we were on the move again, this time for six months travel – in Europe, Morocco and the United States. More alpine skiing, more Flamenco and more sailing on the itinerary plus some big events like Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but there was plenty of space for serendipity! Most of it went brilliantly, but again a few unexpected health hiccups for Stuart caused some last minute program changes, some for the better.

The last leg of my 2013 overseas trip was a sea voyage on an old sailing trawler out of South Devon, UK across the Channel. Challenging and fun.

September 2013 to February 2014 was spent in Brisbane settling into our new home. I worked hard on my joint project with Sebastian Sanchez ( and planned our 2014 travel adventures to Granada, Jerez, Champoluc, Verbier, Goa, Devon and Cornwall. We even fitted in two more sailing trips, another Brixham to Brittany, plus Sardinia and Corsica.

Events took an unusual turn in July 2014 when we bought 13 acres of panoramic land near Byron Bay, New South Wales, and put our Brisbane house on the market. The house sold quickly so we’ve been happily homeless again since December 2014 and travelling most of the year.

Broken Head 360 tells the ongoing story of the development of our project. After two failed attempts to build a house on Gypsy Hill we’ve gone with an off site pre-fab build we hope can be done by Xmas 2017. It will be completely off grid.

In 2016 I turned 60, a great excuse to tick off some more items on my wish list – sailing on a 51-foot yacht from St Lucia to the Windward Isles of the Caribbean, tiger spotting in Bandhavgarh, Central India, a big house party celebration in Devon, a joint 50-60 trip to Bali with my youngest sister and precious time with family in Tropical North Queensland.

2017 has been just as busy, highlights were crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to New York in time for the Flushing Meadow US Open Tennis semifinals, seeing the musical ‘Hamilton’ in fabulous Chicago and touring Eastern Canada, especially beautiful Cape Breton and its Celtic Colours Festival. Distressingly for Stuart’s family and all those who loved and admired her, his much loved sister died in November at her home in London. It was a privilege to have had precious time with Catharine and her adult children and witness Catharine’s grace, humour and determination as she lived with cancer.

I’ll continue to add travel stories here and confine my non-travel musings to ‘800 Words Or Less’, a new blog.

This blog has been a wonderful means of self expression and communication with family, friends and fellow travellers. I love having guest bloggers and receiving readers’ comments. I hope you’ll be motivated to share your views and experiences here too.

All early photos and videos, except those of Joaquin Grilo, which the charming George Sved has allowed me to use, and those of me in flamenco class, which son Tristan shot, were taken with an iphone 4 or 5 so apologies in advance for those limitations. I now use an ipad mini and iphone 8.

Thanks for reading.

Sharon 17/10/2017

8 Responses to “Author – Sharon Tickle, Australian flamenco tragic/plant-powered yogini/skier/sailor/walker”

  1. Tony Fox July 24, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    I have been folllowing your blog since we came back from a weeks holiday in Seville in May. In Seville we were blown away by the excitement of live flamenco and that got me onto your blog which my wife and I have found most interesting. As I write this you are in Sardinia. Funnily enough we are currently considering holidays in Sicily and Corsica next year and as a result of reading your last blog may put Sardinia on the list. I was also intrigued by your reference to coming back to Sardinia next year. Will this mean a new blog – ‘Never to old to take a gap year for the second year running’ ?

    • Sharon Tickle July 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Hola Tony,

      Flamenco is like that isn’t it? It reaches inside so deeply you’re changed forever. In a good way :-))

      Sardinia is one of the few places I wasn’t ready to leave. The no nonsense, genuine people, the sea and the harshness of the landscape all hold great appeal. We motorcycled for two weeks around Corsica two years ago and loved it for its pristine natural beauty, but if I had to choose one island it would be Sardinia because of the Sardinians.

      I don’t know what I am doing workwise next year. I don’t have a job to go back to and Stuart’s stroke and brush with Prostate cancer have made us reconsider our priorities. He has lots more skiing, hiking and travel in Europe he wants to do next year and I don’t want him to be lonely so we’ll see…

      If you both want more high quality Flamenco look at the Seville Bienal that starts early September and runs for a month. There are some amazing acts scheduled. I’ll be there for the first two weeks to get my fix! Stu will be there to do the shopping and laundry!

      Thanks for writing. Best wishes to you and your wife.

      Arles, France

  2. Paul Weller October 22, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    Living the dream Sharon….. well so much more fun than listening to the likes of me about international student trends and pipelines! All the best and it is fun seeing the big smiles on skis etc. Paul (London)

    • Sharon Tickle October 22, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Thank you Paul. We all have to recognise the chance when it presents itself and seize it with both hands. Hope yours comes soon! Sharon

  3. Jean-michel Govaere April 16, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    You might recall our unprepared rencontre, probably 2 years ago, in Sevilla, in front of the flamenco café “La Caja Negra”.
    Since then, I am one of the followers of your blog.
    By 1st of March, you posted a couple of pictures from your flamenco courses in Jerez, including one with Leonor Leal.
    It happens that she came for a flamenco show in Toulouse (where I live) on April 1st and that I have met her and spoke of you with her!
    What is the best way to forward to you a nice picture I have shot on that evening ?
    Let me know and I’ll send it to you.

    • Sharon Tickle April 16, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

      Wow! Jean-Michel that is amazing! How marvellous to see Leo’s show and speak with her. She is such a genuine person on top of all that talent and hard work. Please do email me the photo to would you like me to post it to the blog? Sharon

  4. Elspeth Baillie September 18, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    Hi Sharon, absolutely thrilled to see your blog on Birnam and Dunkeld with such marvellous text and photos – also of the house (my prized sunflower included, which is now cut and drying out so I can collect its seeds). You are having a fabulous “Never Ending Gap Year”, something which I intend to do myself once children have flown and elderly parents are no longer in need of those last years of devotion and care. Good luck with everything and happy travelling! Elspeth, Birnam

    • Sharon Tickle September 18, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

      Dear Elspeth,

      Lovely to hear from you and so pleased to learn you are planning your own ‘gap year’. Much of the fun is in the preparation and anticipation so if you have questions about any of our destinations drop me a line and I’ll help with information if I can.

      Bye for now,


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