Monday 28 December 2020

The last one of the year

This morning I put on my walking gear once more. I was not going to drive for a long time trying to find a nice woodland walk. This time I was going to stay local. Ish. Yes I was staying in my home town, but I was going to a different area than what I know. 

It was a lovely walk, very much helped by good weather. I started in one of the suburbs, but pretty soon I was out of town and walking alongside fields and farms. I met a fair few dogs guarding their homes, saw some cattle, one sheep, a few horses and ponies. And trains. Plenty of them as there were two different lines running through the area I walked in.

I must admit I prefer walking in woods (softer on the legs), but this was a really nice walk. Longer than normal and that was on purpose. I felt that if my knee would hurt for 5 km and for 8 km, I might as well do the 8 km. So I did. 

Some of the farmhouses were gorgeous and I was quite jealous of whoever lived in them. I would put up with the trains if I could live there! Most of the farms were still working farms. I saw cattle farms and a flower farm. And several others, but I didn't always look too closely.

When I got home I decided to enter all my kilometers in a spread sheet. See how well I have done this year. Which wasn't that good to be honest. Especially the first Corona wave had me sitting on my bum all day it seemed: April saw me log a total of 4,24 kms. That is just over 2 miles. For the whole month! Very very bad.

As you know I always have a goal for the new year. In 2019 I listed all the things I was grateful for on a weekly basis. This year I saved money by putting money aside every day (1 cent for day 1 of the year, 2 cents for day 2 of the year, etc. I now have a fair amount of money I will find a nice cause for soon). For next year?

Well, seeing as I have really started to like all this walking about and it does me good physically and mentally, I decided to put out a goal. Over 2019 my best month was October with a total of just over 67 kms. This year's best is November with a total of close to 65 kms. I added those two up and divided them by 2. Then I multiplied by 12. My goal for 2021 will be a year total of just under 791 kms. Or 491.7 miles if you are of the imperial mind.

It means I have to get out and walk. I will take my camera along and take photos of winter, spring, summer and autumn again. Anybody wanting to join me (not necessarily for the whole distance): welcome! Let's make it the 2021 Challenge!

Saturday 26 December 2020

Tweetie birds

Miss Oswin is usually found downstairs in the morning. Food you know is a big pull. However, there is another one as well and sometimes she will stay downstairs for a long time, sitting on the floor and trying to catch a bird or two (for some reason she never sits on the window sill for that).

So, here are two birds that were found in our garden over the past few weeks. One is of a jay and the other of a great tit. 

Thursday 24 December 2020

Vrolijk Kerstfeest

From all of us


Wednesday 23 December 2020


I think it's the old telephone cable system. Underground obviously!

Mouldy fungi. Weird.

Because we all know hub cabs grow on trees!

A forest gnome getting out of the ground

So, a few things I found on several of my walks. Hope you enjoyed them and yes, it's a lazy post today. 

Monday 21 December 2020

Me, myself and I

July 2012, at the Navy Days
Last February I started to take a photo of myself on the first of the month. And then every month after that. I started off with a real chubby face back in February and right now I can definitely see I have lost weight. 

November 2013, at a staff Christmas party
However, I felt that only starting in February was a bit strange really. After all there are plenty of photos of me and if I could find one for each month, I could really see the changes in me. Not only weight wise, but hairstyle wise as well! 

July 2016, during a hike
Over the past ten years, I have had red, blonde and mousey hair. It has been short, medium, long, short again. And then long again and short again. Up and down, like a yo-yo. The glasses have remained more or less the same, as I know what style I like (the new ones are going to be a bit of a change).

August 2015, at the climbing park with Pepperfly
But, what I also found is what fun I had. With colleagues, friends and family. Here, there and everywhere. Then I looked at the last couple of years and what was missing? Right, the fun. Yes, it was there when I spent time with my sister back in NI, but especially the photos I took since February are quite soulless. 

January 2011, playing silly
It needs to change. Last night my father said why not join a choir. I wonder if he has heard of this little thing called Corona. Mind you, I am back at work again and have joined the staff club. Which can't do much right now either, but there will come a day...

December 2012, BORING!
I also started walking again, getting out there in nature, doing things. Which has to make better photos than the door! So, from the coming month, there will only be photos taken out and about or with other people. No more boring ones in front of the door.

Saturday 19 December 2020

Seeing the world

I was in bed the other day and had just woken up. I was about to get up, so I grabbed my glasses. As I did so, I realised something was missing: one of the sides was gone. I found it on the floor. Annoying.

I got downstairs where I have a spare pair. They look the same, but they are different. The pair I always used was nice and comfy. The spare pair was tight and fairly painful. Fortunately I would have to work and I always wear my night- or sunglasses there. 

Talking about those sunglasses: we have just gotten new buses and the screens inside (the ones with the routes and stuff) are not good with the glasses I have, as my sunglasses are polarised. Annoying.

Trying on with the drawn lines and text
After work I made my way to a local opticien. It was the same chain as the one I got the glasses from originally in Northern Ireland. The regular glasses could not be fixed. Yes, they put some glue in them, but they now function only as a spare pair. The spare pair would now have to become the regular pair, but needed adjusting first of all.

Next on the list were the sunglasses: how much would it cost to get them de-polarised? How much??? Well, I needed to think on that one. But at least I could wear some glasses again.

This morning I went to another opticien. A chain I always frequented when in the Netherlands and they always offered good service. After an eye test (they are worse again), the picking of the glasses started. In the end I found 4 pairs I was happy with. 

My new glasses. The two pairs on the left will be doubled
Yes, four pairs. An heir and a spare for each: day, night and sun. And there was an offer on anyway of get three, pay for one! However, there was one thing that I had to get as well: my reading has deteriorated somewhat from before and I now need varifocals, ie the little reading bit at the bottom! That put the price right up! 

Ah well, from January 2nd, I will have six new pairs of glasses. So I can see the world properly again!

Tuesday 15 December 2020

The moving days

As the year moves to an end, things are not really changing much. Corona is still very much with us and it looks as if it's not going to let us out of its grip for a while yet. In fact, last night we heard that the Netherlands will be on lock-down until January 19th. Schools, shops and other places where people might gather are going to be closed.

I had made arrangements to meet up with a friend of mine to do the walk I originally wanted to do last week. I picked her up from home and we drove to the woods together, both wearing face masks. Not liked, but necessary. Once there, we took the masks off, put on our gear and started. At first it was a bit of a boring walk, also because I had already done that part last week, but it soon changed. 

The landscape was much more open, there were larger lakes and there were animal tracks and animal poop. And then we saw the animals themselves: three sheep. As we continued on our walk, we saw a smaller flock as well, but there was one thing missing: the sign we needed to follow. 

In the end we turned around and retraced our steps, adding more kilometers to our walk, but not wanting to just walk wherever. We found the sign again at the place where the lake and the sheep had interrupted our chatting. It wouldn't be the last time either that we were distracted too much by just chatting. Even at the required distance that is fairly easy for us.

After a while we arrived in a small bit of the wood which was mostly made up of holly trees. It was a bit of a search for red berries though, I think the birds had already gotten to most of them, despite us not seeing that many birds around (or hearing them for that matter). Perhaps we were too loud?

Once we cleared the holly trees, we heard bleating in the distance. Not just of a couple of sheep, but of a whole flock. I took out the big lens, we walked around a corner and there they were: dozens and dozens of sheep! We stuck to the path, but we then decided to go across to get closer. That's when the man who tended to the sheep also came closer and started chatting to us.

We asked him the number (300, 350 in summer), the breed (Drents, Schoonebeek, Texel), the feeding rituals (every day during winter) and several other things and he was happy to answer. He called the sheep to come a bit closer, but I think my friend and I scared them a bit, as they would not get too close. In the end we said goodbye and finished our walk. 

Due to the extra distance we had done, we finished on just short 8,4 km. My friend was happy as it was the first time she had done that distance in over two years and I was happy as it is a good distance. The knee will hurt at 5 km or at 8, so might as well do 8!

Back at the car we changed shoes, had the remainder of our lunch, put our face masks back on and then drove home. Another good day. Which will hopefully be followed by more in the coming period as I will be off quite a bit over the next few weeks. Regular work-off and Christmas-off. 

Photos of the bench and of me taken by my friend C.

Thursday 10 December 2020

And on we go

The knee finally felt okay enough and the head was feeling good as well. So, it was time for another walk out in the countryside. The last (local) walk was okay, but only just. There was just too much built up area to be any kind of fun at all. 

So, I trawled through the archives of the Dutch Forestry Commission and found a walk that suited me a lot more. It needed a drive to and from, but that was fine. Once I arrived at the parking lot I could not find the walk I wanted to do, but on an information board close by I found another walk that would be about equal distance (6 km). So, instead of the blue signs, I followed the yellow ones.

Some areas of the walk were also used by mountain bikers (I only saw the tracks fortunately) and there the paths were extremely muddy and difficult to navigate. But, mostly it was reasonably dry. As it was quite foggy any view that there might be, was ruined somewhat, but it was a good walk nonetheless. 

At the end of the walk I found my blue signs, so I put that in the back of my head for another day. By the time I had finished my walk, I noticed the walk was not nearly as long as 'advertised' on the information board: it was 4,7 km max! A bit of a shame, but at least I got that in. On the Forestry's site it stated the walk was 5 km, so much closer to the real thing. 

After putting my regular shoes on, brushing off my walking shoes (oh yes, I bought a brush especially), eating my treat, and putting everything back in place, I drove home. Another good day. 

Monday 7 December 2020

Walking and stuff (mostly stuff though)

As I wrote in my last post, I have been walking quite a bit. Going to wooded areas and getting filthy in the process, walking on proper paths and staying reasonably clean. Last Sunday I did another one. It was in the area and about the same distance as the other walks I had done: about 5,5 km. No problem. 

However, I didn't start walking at the start point, I started at home, which was about 1,5 km from the start point. Which meant that when I was finished, I had to walk back as well. In total I did just over 8 km that day. 

It was too much. Literally too much. Yes, my condition was fine and I was able to keep the speed up, even at the last bit. However, my left knee said it was too much and started protesting when I was nearing home. Then having to work in the evening and having that knee bent in the same position for the rest of the night, didn't really do much for it either.

The upshot of it was, that my knee hurt. Really hurt. And it needed rest. Which meant no walking for the rest of the week. I would start again at the weekend when I was off.

Come the weekend, I was still not going out for a walk. On Friday the headache started and by Saturday morning I knew it was a migraine. Take meds, stay calm, take more meds, feel nauseated (I wasn't sick) and still overdoing it that day by making a cake.

On Sunday I again had to take meds. Early in the morning and then later on in the afternoon. The last one finally did the trick as well. Yes, some headache came back later on and no, today I am still not feeling my best, although the nausea has passed. I called in sick for today, but will be back at work tomorrow. 

Mind you, the headache days are fewer and farther in between now. I started a headache diary July last year and so far there is a decided difference between now and when I started. Which is good. I can combat a lot more now by not using pills but heat packs in my neck. And periods of 10-14 days clear are more common.

But, the migraines will still come every so often, despite the preventative medication. Fortunately this time it wasn't as bad as the last time (meds too late, spontaneous vomiting), but it is still part of my life. 

An aunt said that her migraines had disappeared when she had been through menopause, but I don't even know whether I am in or already out. I will only find out next year when I stop with the pill which I have to take for my endometriosis.

One more thing I want to tell you today: as of this morning I have lost 9,9 kilograms (22 pounds). I am very pleased about that as it shows that I am doing something right. A few weeks ago I moved from morbidly obese into the 'just' obese range, which was a start. There are a fair few kg's (about 20 or so) to lose before I am supposedly at my ideal weight, but I prefer to go slow and steady.

Friday 27 November 2020

Eleven days

The island of Schokland, the island in the land

It's been eleven days since I last wrote a post. Or you could say it was twelve, as the last post was pre-posted. However, it has been too long. But, not much is happening. I work, I walk. Not at the same time obviously, although I do get some meters done at work as well. 

The remains of the old church, already abandoned while
there were still people on the island. Now it's a grave site.

Last week's outing was supposed to be a field trip. Literally. But, the weather being what it was and me not feeling too comfortable driving onto somebody's land and then parking there, led me to a different walk not too far from that. A few months ago I was there as well and walked the northern tip, this time around I did the southern tip.

Look closely and you can see two medieval dikes (one left, one right).
As time passed, they were slowly covered by the Suydersee.

It's the island in the land and this time I didn't just walk the island itself, but also the remains of medieval dikes, which wasn't always that easy with the wet clay. I stayed upright though and managed to come home more or less clean.

Then on Wednesday I did a walk I had been wanting to do for a few weeks now. Ever since I first saw it. It was called Wolves Track and had some features that looked to be fun. I was not disappointed at all.

Can you find the paw print?
The path basically wound between the trees.

The track was guided by paw prints on rocks and trees, although at one point I couldn't see a single one and had to guess. I took the right guess as well, which was great. Mind you, it did lead me onto a path that was not too much for the non-nimble, as you had to climb over tree trunks that were just hanging and laying in the path. Great fun though.

Yes, this was the right path!

As this was a wood again, it was great to see how this one differed yet again from the others I have been to. This seemed much more open again and there were a few larger areas of really open land which were basically swampy. I crossed those swampy bits by boardwalk. 

Apparently it had been quite wet recently as there were some areas that were just mud. Upturned by animals (I saw some tracks and poo: roe deer perhaps?) and people alike, it was really tricky to navigate, but yet again, I managed to cross without any mishaps. 

I was so NOT getting under the boardwalk!

Apart from some small birds, I didn't see a single living thing. No humans and no animals. Which led me to believe that the call of nature could be answered without fear of being spotted (by humans at least). Fortunately the belief was right as being caught with your trousers round your ankles...

Anyway, since then, I have been walking a bit more on the inbetween days as well. Not the distances of the proper 'hikes', but shorter, easier and definitely cleaner walks. These are mainly to get my average speed up, which is still fairly low. Even if during my Wolves Track walk I apparently had a kilometer where my average was up to 7,2 km/h. 

I wrote this on Facebook as well: I never get up to 7,2 km/h, not even when chased by a pack of vicious dogs. My maximum on a good, even road is about 5,4 km/h. On a muddy, slippery, winding path where I have to duck tree roots and branches: not a chance!

So, this is all again for now. This weekend is work weekend, and even though on Sunday I don't start until quite late in the day, I don't know whether I will get out for a hiking walk or just a simple walk. I will keep you posted though...