Tag Archives: outdoors

Killarney 

Maybe it’s because I got soaking wet yesterday while whale spotting, but I suddenly had to think back of my time in Killarney National Park.

This is how I spent many summer hols between my 17th and 27th, volunteering in environmental workcamps and lateron guiding same groups of volunteers from all over the world in the project! Better than a real holiday, so many friends and connections!

Every morning we would take a bus from the National Park Hostel, then a boat trip over the Upper Lake near Eagles Nest and then a long walk through rough terrain to get to the spot where we were working high up in the mountains. That’s where we would cut out invasive rhododendrons to protect the oak woods! No matter how bad the weather. After that lots of music sessions in the evenings! It’s where I got to learn many folk songs. So many good memories!

I was still studying law in Holland at the time, but it was definitely that experience that was part of the decision to leave my lawyer job at the age of 24 and go to Ireland for an indefinite period of time with my guitar!

photo: Jan Kuiper

Whales….and the big things in life!

Since a few weeks the shallow Dutch coastal waters near The Hague have a new visitor: a large humpback whale. A new Facebook group was started with many reported sightings, but I hadn’t been lucky enough to see him, even though I Iive right on the beach.

Suddenly everybody walking the beach or the harbour heads would share one common goal: to catch a glimp of this big mammal. It created a whole new social atmosphere between the usually distant beach walkers: everybody chatting to each other, helping each other, exchanging numbers, binoculars and photo’s and a general feeling of shared excitement.

FINALLY I was in luck yesterday and I suddenly caught the whale making a big jump right in front of the place where I was standing. Impressive!

Seeing this big whale also made me aware of something. Living in a big city I noticed people are usually busy looking after their individual career and family goals. The government is responsible for the common goals so why bother thinking about them.

When I lived in a house in the Irish countryside a 10 minutes drive away from a village of 600 inhabitants (quite in the middle of nowhere) I noticed people would look after the challenges of their community very well. When there were problems with electricity people would share gas tanks for heating. People would point each other mountain wells for drinking water when the private water scheme quality wasn’t sufficient.

I think this social awareness is absolutely necessary to face any of the current climate problems and take up responsibility for these, instead of waiting for the government to come with solutions. Plus it creates a nicer social atmosphere over all!

Maybe that’s why it was so special to meet our whale friend: as a gentle reminder that there are even bigger things than us. I hope you will get to see him too!

 

 

Slow living

Cycling to work everyday  in my work suit in busy The Hague traffic at 8 am, meeting the same civil servants at the same traffic lights every morning, very much like the Groundhog Day movie, I thought I wanted a change.  Well it wasn’t only a thought, it was also my body screaming for a break. Stress can really get into one’s system, especially if you experience sensory impulses intensely. I think no money is ever worth endangering one’s health.

Anyway, so here I was in the middle of nowhere in the North West of Ireland, with only a wooden stove to heat the house, no tap drinking water, electricity that often went when there were power cuts. And a lot of silence…. Just a house, nature, birds and wild deer in the garden. The quietness was so omnipresent that it felt I was in a different world, and that the real world with the traffic jams didn’t even really exist and certainly couldn’t be important if it did! What wás important here was to collect firewood and water from a well higherup in the mountains. There was a bus once a week to a nearby town in 20 minutes distance. And I actually met one of my best friends on it.

I started focussing on baking breads every morning, pizza’s, cakes, doing the household, volunteering in an animal sanctuary, making music with the locals, meeting some very talented people in the area. All of this felt so grounding and healing. There was plenty of time in a day, no rush to do anything, no appointments in my agenda. Not even internet in the house, so I had to walk down the road to receive messages.

And I loved it…

Back in Holland I still love spending time in the house or nature just by myself to load up on energy. Are you one of these sensitive people too? How do you step out of the 21st century rat race now and then?