Peaker Munro Challenge Steps in Glasgow

Peaker Munro Challenge Steps in Glasgow

Well there’s a river that runs through Glasgow
And makes her but it breaks her and takes her into the parks
And her current just like my blood flows
Down from the hills, round aching bones to my restless heart

Feather on the Clyde – Passenger


It’s been a year ago since I wrote my blog, “A Dutch Peaker in Glasgow.” I went there to attend the Scottish Learning Festival and to see if I still got inspired an motivated for education. I had such a good memories of this festival when I first visited it in 2009 that I decided last year to go back and see where it would take me. Now I am one year further along and running my own business in education. After all teaching, and everything that has anything to do with education, it is my thing…
Just three weeks after our wonderful holliday in Scotland, I came back to Glasgow to attend the Scottish Learning Festival once again and to pay a visit to Hillhead Primary school.










I arrived on a Sunday evening and decided to go to one of my favorite restaurants on Sauchiehall Street, Ox and Finch. And guess what? I forgot my little notebook, didn’t had anything with me to write on. Luckily for me they have these wonderful placemats at Ox and Finch, which is also the menu card. These placemats can be very handy when you forget your notebook.

As I was sitting there and writing down everything that came to my mind, a very nice lady sat beside me and we started talking. Her name was Juliet Cameron. Juliet was born in Argentina, lives in France and works for Benefactor Travel. It is a company that works with top museums, art galleries and libraries all over the world to create custom-designed travel programs for major benefactors, trustees, boards of directors and collector councils of these cultural institutions. We had very pleasant coversation, enjoyed the food, and she pointed out some nice things I should definitely see while I was in Glasgow. The next morning I bought a new little notebook; I didn’t want to keep asking for new placemats every time!

When I arrived at my hotel and went up to my room, there was this old couple going up in front of me. It was so adorable. They were each walking with a stick and encouring the other as they climbed the stairs. I imagined they must have been a couple for so many years, for there was so much love between them. Isn’t that what we are all longing for? An everlasting love? I hope one day my love and I will be like this old couple.

Seeing this old couple climbing the stairs with their sticks made me think of the MPC announcement that September was going to be the Munro Challenge Month…walk as many steps as you can and see how many munros you’ve climbed! I took a lot of steps when I was in Scotland a couple of weeks ago to walk the West Highland Way, and thought that in this week I could do some work and take it easy. Take a taxi or bus to go somewhere and between my visit to the primary school and the Scottish Learning Festival, and some other things I wanted to do, I should have enough time to get some work done.










Then I heard about a little competition set up between the Dutch, English and Scottish Peakers as to who could make the most steps in September. Well I don’t need to tell you again about the rowing machine and a nice young man sitting beside me… (I was triggered and this was going to be a serious, funny challenge. I decided that as long as I was in Glasgow, I would contribute to the pursuit of this challenge. I would walk every spare minute I had this week.I’m getting used to being in Glasgow. I’m trying to put my finger on it, what it is this city is doing to me, and bit by bit it becomes clear to me. Listening to Feather on the Clyde by Passenger best describes my thoughts about Glasgow. The city got under my skin because she had helped me to get better last year, and being in this city gives me a feeling of freedom, of being me again. She inspires me and motivates me to think things through. No strings attached!





What I like most about the city is to put on my walking shoes and wander around the streets looking for places I haven’t been before. I was surprised by all the nature just in the middle of this city: walking along the Clyde, crossing almost every bridge; walking a great part along the Kelvin; not noticing you’re walking in the centre of a town as soon as you pass under the bridge on Gibson Street. There’s a moment where you pass the ruins of what was once called The Old Flint Mill. Flint was ground to powder and used in the pottery industry to lighten the colour of the clay, and to harden it. Now all That is left are the remains of the mill and the house.





When you walk further down the Kelvin, and take the blue bridge on your left hand at one moment, you walk straight up into the Botanic Gardens. Here I love to sit down on one of the many, many benches and read a book. I have my e-reader with me all the time. I read to forget the world around me, to forget what’s on my mind and the things that worry me. Now and then I stop reading and look up to see the squirrels ran around the grass in front of me. As quickly as they come, they disappear in the borders and the trees. Everytime I try to take pictures but not one is satisfactory.

When I walk out of the Botanic Gardens, I have a lot of options for which direction I want to walk on. I could take Byres Road, but that would be too easy, too familiar. Instead I walk up the Great Western Road for a few hundred meters and then decide to turn right, up the stairs and into Hillhead Street. From here I can almost take any street to walk back to my hotel. I choose to go left to Glasgow Street, right in to Southpark Ave and left again to Great George Street where I pass Hillhead Highschool at a moment when the schoolday ends. Children are getting picked up by their parents, others walk home with friends or alone. Seeing a school and all these children makes me happy, reminding me of the best choice I made last year to start doing something with education and starting my own business. As I walk further I take Woodlands Road and eventually I end up in Kelvingrove Park where I sat down by the fountain.

In the morning I love to start my day with breakfast at Mayze. I discovered this place only this week and fell in love with it right away.You can find Mayze at the end of Argyle Street, in Finnieston Street, Not to miss it, across the street there’s a police station. Mayze is a coffee and food restaurant where they have lots of different coffees, also take away, a vegetarian kitchen and a vegan bakery. I really love this place and the food is delicious. They bake all these wonderful cakes, cupcakes and pies. You can even take them with you.Having breakfast here on my last day in Glasgow already makes me start thinking of when I will be coming back. Glasgow is becoming more and more like home to me.
I leave Mayze and walk down St. Vincent Street.

Today I am going to pay a visit to Glasgow Necropolis. Standing on top of it I made a picture of me and in the back the Glasgow Cathedral. It is not a coincidence that of all the days, it is today that I pay a visit to Glasgow Necropolis. I choose today to visit the graves, for tomorrow when I’m leaving will have been exactly 6 years since my father passed away. Being in a place like this always brings back memories of when my mom and dad were still alive. It also makes me realize that there are so many questions I would have liked to ask them. I come from a family where there was not a lot of talking. And by talking I mean talking about what’s going on in your mind, your feelings, etc. Between the graves I sat down on the grass and took a moment to write down my feelings of that moment.
On my way down I walked up to the Cathedral and burned a candle for them, to remember who made me the person I am today.

From the Glasgow Cathedral I took the road that would bring me to the South Spiers Wharf. From there I walked all the way along the water, passed Firhill Stadium, and left the water near Shakespeare Street to enter Kelvingrove Park again. It was there that I received a message from another Dutch Peaker. She arrived from Oban and we were going to meet each other. We met in Ashton Lane at Brel, which calls itself the most magical venue on Ashton Lane. Who am I to dispute that? It is! It is always nice meeting other Peakers when I’m in Glasgow. I also met a Peaker from America, Christina Korstis, last week. She did a workout at EDA. I told her I was proud of her. I wouldn’t have the nerve to do something like that on my own.

And then suddenly a week has gone by and it’s time for me to go home and that’s OK. After a whole week I’m ready to live again in the world were I have obligations, responsibilities, appointments etc.
Back to the world where the people I love most live. Back to reality, but after a while I will get restless again and have to come back to this city I love so much. There’s a big building in the centre of the city that says “People make Glasgow.” Well Glasgow, in this case you made me (whole again). Thank you so much!

The Challenge of a Peaker Yet to Come

The Challenge of a Peaker Yet to Come

To a long life and a merry one
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and a honest one
A stiff whisky and another one
-Outlander S1 eps.13-The Watch-

For those of you who have watched Outlander, these four phrases must sound familiar. In fact there’s nothing Scottish about it; actually it’s an Irish saying, and the last line has nothing to do with whisky but should be, “a cold beer and another one.” But who pays attention to such a small detail? As my love would say, as long as there’s alcohol in it… To me these few phrases sound almost the same as celebrate love and life. Now that I have achieved my challenge, it’s time to take stock, to fill in the last pieces of the puzzle I have been trying to make for the last couple of years.

For our first post-challenge activity, we went back to Glasgow, to enjoy the city for the last couple of days before we went back to our every day life. And how can we celebrate our victory better than by visiting the Clydeside Distillery?  The old pumphouse by the River Clyde is nowadays a new whisky distillery in Glasgow. At this distillery they brought together the best of the old and the new. They’re using traditional techniques to make new Clydeside Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Unfortunately I can’t tell you how it tastes, for the distillery just started at the end of 2017, and the first whisky will not be ready for another 3 years at least. I have no shares in this company but I would certainly recommend a visit if you’re in town.

After our visit we decided to walk down the River Clyde towards People’s Palace. On our way there we walked under the King George V bridge designed by Thomas Somers and opened in 1928. Standing under this bridge is quite impressive. Walking further down the Clyde we passed a lot of bridges: Tradeston Bridge, South Portland Street Suspension Bridge, Victoria Bridge and Albert Bridge. The one I liked most is the St. Andrew Suspension Bridge. You can’t miss it for it’s a very blue bridge.

And so we walked into Glasgow Green to pay a visit to the People’s Palace, a place intended to provide a cultural centre for the people and a museum of social history for the City of Glasgow. It tells you the story of the people and the city from 1750 up to now. As we walked around on the second floor, we got caught up in the story of the Barrowland Ballroom. We listened to stories of people who came to Barrowland to dance. Dancing in the weekends could mean you were going to meet your love. The place was very popular and so very crowded on these dancing evenings. It was this place, Barrowland Ballroom, were we began to contemplate the end of our holidays.

We had bought ourselves tickets to a concert of Passenger that evening. He is a British singer-songwriter who has a very unique voice and of whom you can hardly hear the difference between singing on a record or live. With just a guitar he sings songs which makes you almost part of the lyrics. You can feel the pain, the bitterness, the depression but also the love, the joy as he sings. In a short time I became a true fan of his music, but even more of the pureness with which he stands on the stage. There was no better way to end our journey than listening to him on our last night in Glasgow.

As I told you at the beginning of this last story of my holiday to Scotland, completion of the challenge means it’s time to take stock. These last two years were a journey. I was looking for healing in the last two years, and I found it. The first piece was by healing my mind and letting go of all of the burdens I had been collecting in the past five years. Did I have a plan? No, most of what I did was a feeling, something that came into my mind and of which I thought at that moment was best for me. I started writing my story, and when I got rid of my burdens my body was worn out. The second piece then was to get my body into shape again. I went to the local gym, Leisureworld Fitness. I’m so pleased that they were able to help me to get where I am today in pretty good shape. Had it not been for all the instructors over there who helped me in this past year, I don’t think I would have been able to walk the WHW.










Just before I left I knew there was one last piece left for me to do, lose weight. Until then I had not succeeded although I tried very hard. It frustrated me. But I didn’t know what to do anymore until I met another Dutch Peaker, Brenda van Wegen, who specialised in a sugar-free life. But that was not what attracted my attention. Brenda had another specialization, women and menopause. Somewhere deep inside I knew that part of my problem lay within this issue.
I payed a visit to Brenda just before I went to Scotland and finally I had the feeling I was heard. She listened and brought up examples that were so recognizable. I felt lighter after my first visit.
After I had written down everything I ate, and at what time, for four days, there was finally an explanation why, despite my healthy meals, a lot of fitness and walking, I did not lose any weight. I felt so relieved.

In the last five years I had built up so much stress that my muscle mass broke down, and when I rested my body didn’t burn fat, it burnt energy. My blood glucose levels stayed high and insulin circulated in my blood which gave me a hungry feeling and increased my fat storage.
It all sounded so familiar to me and it made clear why I had not succeeded losing weight in my period of the black hole.

Brenda put together a mealplan for me and already after a week I had results. My third piece of the puzzle was progressing, and I was even able to lose weight. Can you imagine how happy this made me? I started about six weeks ago and I have already lost 7kg (15lb). Now you know why this last story is called “The Challenge of a Peaker Yet to Come.” I am not half way there, but I know I can beat this challenge!

The Challenge of a Peaker’s present.

The Challenge of a Peaker’s present.

There’s a mountaintop that I’m dreaming of
If you need me you know where I’ll be…
Shotgun/George Ezra

I have this funny feeling in my stomach, for today our adventure starts. Me and my love start to hike the West Highland Way (WHW). It’s that feeling when you’re going to do something you’ve never ever done before. Like on your first day of a new job, or a match and you have to deliver. I know it’s kind of an exiting healthy feeling, but still it paralyzes me a little bit. I’m not capable of doing anything else besides thinking of what lies ahead of me, and if it will all go right. I’m pretty sure that when the first day is over, it all will be better. I know the drill: I have experienced it, have seen it, have done it, and I know what it will be like for my Achilles tendon.

We left Glasgow by the Great Western Road. For those of you who never have been to Glasgow, the street lives up to its name…it’s a long road! It took quite some time before we actually saw the mountains, but once we did I was impressed. Of course I was impressed, remember me, the girl from 13 feet below sea level!!
We didn’t have a clear view initially. It looked like all the tops were covered under blankets. Almost as if they didn’t want to reveal their beauty on this very first day.










On our first leg, I had the urge to stop every single moment I saw a mountain in front of me, a stream alongside the road or a strong stream running down the mountains. Excuse me for using this example, I mean no harm with it but I almost felt like a chinese tourist taking pictures of almost everything and forgetting to enjoy what I saw and felt when you I looked around.

I realized that I could never catch in a picture what my eyes saw, my heart felt and my brain registered. You have to see, feel, breath it in for yourself. But I did not only stop to make pictures. While hiking I was very busy with looking where I was hiking. My eyes were focused on the path constantly. I focused on every step I took, so afraid I would slip and cause my Achilles tendon a lot of harm or worse not be able to hike any further. There was not a single track that was smooth; they were rocky, muddy, slippery and sometimes we had to hike through the water. Luckily for me I had a very good scout who guided me. My love walked just a few meters in front of me and was directing me all the way…a little to the left, a little to the right, step on these stepping stones etc.










The WHW led us through the mountains, over the moor and through the forest. There was not a single time I wasn’t surprised by the views. One morning I even thought there must have been goblins painting the forest green at night. It was almost like a fairytale. The grass looked like a green carpet and on it were all these beautiful fly argarics.

One of our B&B’s was Beinglas Farm, at Inverarnan. At this farm we saw all kind of hikers. We met the hikers who had those large backpacks with everything in and on it, hikers who had their luggage delivered to the next B&B, and hikers who hiked not the whole WHW but just a few legs of it. I had a lot of respect for the first group and it occured to me that there were a lot of young people doing this. Me and my love were of the luxury type. We walked with a backpack and in it only what was needed for the day. Our luggage was delivered every day at the next B&B.










It was at this first B&B that the words Sam wrote in the foreward to There’s Always the Mountains (by Cameron McNeish), came to my mind. Something about “those people”, foolish, dangerous and not well-prepared. Everyone around us looked so prepared that it made me a little bit nervous, wondering if we were prepared enough for this adventure. But I figured so far so good and let it go.Although the WHW is a very popular track to hike, there were not many times we had a lot of people in front or behind us on the same leg. Mostly when we started in the morning we kept bumping into the same people, but as we went along there were large parts where it seemed like there were only the two of us. But every time you had the feeling being all alone at this piece of heaven on earth, there was always somebody else around the corner.
We met a lot of other hikers but also local people. There was always time for a little chat, a conversation or just a hello. For instance we met a man from Warwick, a little place near Birmingham. He had hiked the WHW as recommended, from south to north but was now hiking it from north to south. He couldn’t get enough of it.

We met an old man in his Jeep. He was looking after his sheep as they had been moved to a different piece of land. He was very interested in where we came from and when he heard we came from the Netherlands, he started telling us that the land we stood on once belonged to a Dutch man (a surgeon from Friesland) and was given back to the Forestry Commission Scotland after he and his wife died without leaving any children behind.

After hiking for seven days I suddenly realized that the challenge I set for myself 8 months ago was almost done. The last leg had a magical element. With every step I took, I knew that I was going to complete my challenge. Hiking without pain, I never thought I would be able to do so and now I had almost completed it. I made it to Fort William without pain and was so proud of myself. Tears were running down my face as I saw the sign telling me that I made it to the orignal end of the WHW.


The challenge of a Peaker’s Present was done!

Next time I tell you all about My Challenge yet to come.

The Challenge of a Peaker’s Past

The Challenge of a Peaker’s Past

To me, she was
those final steps
the turn around the last bend,
the house
with a light on
and a fire lit
and a faint laugh in the distance of the warm wind
That she was
She was my always coming home

It was December 2017 when I told you in my blog, Auld Lang Syne, the challenge I had set myself for 2018: walking the West Highland Way. I trusted these words to paper and to all of you who read my blog, but it still felt so unreal and so far away. But by letting every one know I had a challenge to complete, I made a promise…and a promise is a promise. From that day forward I realized there was no way back, and it became more and more real.

The challenge picked up momentum on my birthday in February, when I was given a book of the west Highland Way by my neighbours and dear friends, Marco and Anneke. Family, friends and colleagues started asking where we would go on our holiday, and as I told them what we were planning, it became more and more definite. To everybody who would listen, I told them firmly, “We are going to walk the west Highland Way [WHW].” Every time I said it, however, there was this little voice inside of me saying, “Can I do this? Isn’t it too ambitious?”

My doubts led me to remember my experiences before I was a Peaker. About five years ago I had a lot of trouble with my Achilles tendon. Walking was never without pain, and believe me I did so much to get healed. I even had my lower leg in a cast for three months. Do you know how much you still can do when only your lower leg is in a cast? I cycled all across the Island Ameland when my sister and brother were walking it. But that’s another story. At that time the doctor was not very happy with me doing all these things and not taking my rest.

At first my efforts to heal seemed to have worked, but after a couple of weeks the pain came back, and I was at my wit’s end. That’s when I met my dear friend Conny. She looks after the boys from the football club in my village, and she started by giving my Achilles tendon a massage every week. After a while I was able to walk long distances with hardly any pain. However, walking such a large distance as the WHW in Scotland was a totally different matter. As you all well know, here in my backyard, in my country, everything is flat and there are hardly any rough paths. So what seemed a real challenge in December started to freak me out. Was this going to be a dream come true or my worst nightmare?

Immediately after the plane landed on Glasgow Airport in August, I felt like I was coming home. I had this feeling on my very first time in 2009, and it grows stronger every time I visit Scotland. In 1964 Paul Simon wrote the song Homeward Bound and that song describes exactly my feelings for Scotland. Every time I visit Scotland I feel Homeward Bound.
The rough landscape, the mountains, the amazing spots, and the nature of this country impresses me over and over again. Maybe it’s because there’s no greater contrast then coming from 13 feet below sea level up to the mountains!

Before we started our walk, we stayed a couple of days in Glasgow to get used to walking up and down and to inhale the beauty of the city. Again it brought to mind my pre-Peaker trips there. Over 10 years I have seen the city change, and it’s still changing. I think they are trying hard to make it a sparkling vivid town, and they seem to be succeeding. Whereas Edinburgh is a beautiful city with a lot of ancient history, Glasglow becomes a capital with both history and modern culture side by side. I love it! That’s why I thought this would be a good start of our holiday.I showed my love all the beautiful spots in Glasgow. We went to Kelvingrove museum, the Botanic Gardens and the Cathedral, but also walked the Mural trail in the city of Glasgow. 
This walk shows you a lot of street murals on buildings and streets. They help to rejuvinate streets and revitalise buildings that are not the most beautiful anymore. It kind of brightens up the streets. They impress me. I always wonder how anyone could be so gifted to draw such a nice things. We walked up to Pollok house, just outside Glasgow. I had hoped that the famous picture by El Greco, the Lady In A Fur Wrap, was back in the house. Unfortunately luck was not on my side for the second time. She wasn’t there when I visited Pollock House last year. This means I have to visit the place for a third time. I don’t mind; it’s a place that’s so beautiful.

We ate with another Dutch Peaker and her husband at the Oran Mor. Such a nice place and to us a bit ironic. My love has a long and negative past with the church and eating in a place that once was a church is almost ironic. We also looked for lovely new restaurants to eat and drink. Glasgow has a lot of nice places to eat. If you go to Glasgow, one of the things you should definetly do is pay a visit to the Ox and Finch for a delicious meal. It is a nice little restaurant at Sauchiehall Street where they serve wonderful tapas and nice wines. The staff is very friendly, but make sure to make a reservation in advance for they are busy every night of the week. Our hotel was across the street, and every night we passed the restaurant there wasn’t a table free. We managed to eat there twice, however.


And so our first days in Glasgow came to an end. Though I was a returning visitor, this trip was different. This time I was a Dutch Peaker in Glasgow with a challenge ahead of me and a promise to fulfill. I enjoyed every single minute of the visit. Being in Glasgow confirms that home is not a place but a feeling. When it comes to Glasgow, for me it’s the place and the feeling!

The next blog about my trip will be: My challenge of a Peaker’s Present.

Happy first Peaker anniversary

Happy first Peaker anniversary

Happy first Peaker anniversary

I’ve got you under my skin
I have got you, deep in the heart of me
So deep in my heart that you’re really a part of me
I’ve got you under my skin
                                                                                        -Frank Sinatra-


If your motto in life is “celebrate love and life”, then a first-year anniversary is definitely something to celebrate.
Anniversaries are all about confetti, balloons, streamers, birthday cake and drinking a nice glass of wine. As soon as my words hit the paper however, I realize it looks a bit awkward to celebrate one’s first year anniversary of a membership. I don’t think I have ever celebrated a first year anniversary of any kind of membership. So why should I celebrate this one?
Because being a member of My Peak Challenge is different. It’s something that gets under your skin the moment you start. It becomes a part of you, even to a down to earth woman like myself.

Looking back on this first year of my MPC membership, I can assure you my life didn’t look the least bit like what it is today. For those of you who read my blogs regularly, you will have noticed the change in this past year.
Looking back also made me wonder if the founder of this community, Sam Heughan, would ever have imagined what the effect would be when he started MPC? A global community with more then 10,000 members, mostly women, all over the world. People with different kinds of race, religion, political preference etc, all with one believe that they can effect a positive change in their lives while helping others.
Would Sam ever have imagined that all over the world activities are organized to raise money for the organizations MPC supports?
Or that he could inspire over 10,000 members to change their lives, doing things they never have done before if it wasn’t for MPC ( or should I say Sam?) Or that MPC members would challenge themselves and maybe their partners and friends to do things they never have been able to do?

I told you at the beginning of this year that one of my challenges for this year would be walking through all 12 regions of the Netherlands. I know now that I won’t achieve my challenge this year because I keep walking in my own backyard, Flevoland. I was born and raised in this part of the Netherlands that once was called “the new country”. I went to school here, I made friends here, took my first job at the local drugstore, went to the local pub, met my love her but clearly wasn’t able to see the true beauty of it until now.

Everytime I see it from a different angle, and I am surprised by the beauty of it. Where was I these last 50 years? I must have been walking around with my eyes closed!
If it wasn’t for MPC I would never have walked as much as I do now. I see trees, bushes, flowers, birds etc. without DSCN0310knowing their names. When I come home I show pictures to the people who do know and learn from it.DSCN0309
During my college time (when I studied to become a teacher), I had a professor in biology who used to laugh and say to me, “how can you become a teacher if you can’t distinguish a dandelion from a daisy…?” I told him that I had other skills.
But today I do know the difference and it pleases me. My professor would be proud of me.
If it wasn’t for MPC, I would never have discovered the true beauty of the region I live in. And even today, and every other day, I see different parts of it, and it still amazes me.
This walking doesn’t only make me see the beauty around me but it also clears my head and gives me space to think about new plans, ideas, sometimes even new blogs!

So you see my MPC membership has brought me a lot this first year. I also met a lot of new people. Not only here in the Netherlands but all over the world.
I met some really nice Dutch Peakers, at a time where I tought I was the only one! Together we did some awesome and crazy things this past year. I even had one of them taken pictures from me for my new business website. Over 200 pictures were taken of me. I don’t think there are that many pictures of me in my whole life!
I met a really nice Russian Peaker who was here on a holliday. We spent a day together in Amsterdam. We wandered the streets of the city, talking about a lot of subjects.IMG_5449 (Edited)
If you read this blog post, it has already been to America, Texas, where a really nice American Peaker corrects it. If you thought my English was that good, it’s all because of her.
I wonder Sam, if you would have ever imagined that your global community would bring together so many people? Honestly ?
You see, that’s why I celebrate today my first anniversary with MPC. I made it through, a positive change, and therefore I’m able to help others around me. It really gets under my skin, especially when I was raised and brought up in this belief that you can be a better person by helping others. Somewhere along the road I seemed to have forgotten it a little bit until I became a member of MPC.
Slàinte Sam, (and all those who work behind the scenes, who make this community to what it is; challenging and global), to my first year as an MPC member and hopefully many more to come.

1 Universe
9 Planets
204 Countries
809 Islands
7 seas
And I had the privelege of meeting you (MPC)