It’s all about camping and a new adventure

It’s all about camping and a new adventure

If we’ve only got this life

And this adventure, oh then I

Wanna share it with you

Coldplay, Adventure of a lifetime

People who know me will probably tell you I’m a spontaneous type. It all depends on my mood and the situation, but I can do things and think later, ohhh what have I started! Well this adventure is one of them. Understand me well, I don’t regret a single moment of it.

Our roof tent

It’s all about camping

It was sometime in October when our dear friends Vera and Henry invited us to a camping fair. They had an interest in roof tents and wanted to see what was on the market.

I hear you thinking, roof tent? Never heared of. You’re not the only one. We neither until we saw the first one on one of our walks last summer. We are no strangers when it comes to camping but a roof tent?

Our camping life started 27 years ago when we rented a caravan to go on our honeymoon. In little more than three weeks we drove all over France, from north to south, from east to west. Wherever the road would lead us. After that many years followed with a folding trailer. Leaving home in the middle of the night and driving all the way to France, with two kids in the back seat sleeping. For four weeks we helped out our friends with all kind of outdoor activities. My love as an instructor and me doing the groceries and cooking the meals for the whole team. Those were wonderful years with a lot of fun. After the business stopped in France we sold our folding trailer, rented mobile homes in Czech and borrowed the caravan of our neighbours in Slovenia. Most of the years following there was camping involved.

Roof tent

Vera and Henry

Two years ago we walked the West Highland Way in Scotland, stayed in a lot of Bed and Breakfasts, or small hotels, but camping kept drawing us, and then all of a sudden we were walking on a camping fair with lots of campers, mobile homes, folding trailers, tents and roof tents. Those friends I was talking about, they already decided they would buy a roof tent.

We were just inocent bystanders (ahum). There was quite some difference between the various roof tents. At the second last dealer they thought they found what they were looking for and were about to buy when I said, let’s not buy, walk around one last round and then decide weather you’re going to do this or not. I said it with a reason. Henry told me he never thought twice about anything and when he wanted to buy he simply does. I recognized myself but somehow my feeling told me not to.

Storm Tent Trailers

And that’s how we met Marlies en Evelien from Storm Tent Trailers. I can guarantee you that even if you do not intend to buy a roof tent at all, these ladies have the enthusiasm to convince you to buy one. They talk from experience, go camping with it themselves and under all kinds of circumstances. They s peak from the heart. That’s when I dropped the question, what if we buy two of your roof tents? Do we get a discount? We did and a new adventure presented itself.

On top of the roof

Just like so many things, Corona threw a spanner in the works and it took a lot longer before our roof tents finally arived in the Netherlands (all the way from China). Our original plan was to cross the ocean to South England, drive all the way up to Scotland. And maybe somewhere in England it would be possible to take a ferry to make the crossing to Norway. Well that ain’t going to happen this year.

Change of plans

Instead we went camping in the Netherlands. The youngest daughter of my sister and her family have a beautiful house in Haaksbergen. I think their lawn is probably as large as a football field. Well almost! We were allowed to choose a place ourselves, hahaha.

The advantage of this luxury campsite is dinner was almost ready as we arrived. After a nice meal, and a lot of drinking and talking we finally went to bed. I climbed up the stairs to actually spend the night in our roof tent. The first night is always a bit exiting. Different environment, different souds. I dont’t know if it was the wine or just a good matras and enough space to sleep, but I woke up the next morning fresh as a daisy

Cycle around Haaksbergen

Map of our Cycle around Haaksbergen

After a MPC responsible breakfast, Protein Pancakes with fresh fruit, we took our bikes and went for a cycle around Haaksbergen. Haaksbergen is part of a township in the provence of Overijssel. This particular part in the provence is better known as Twente (at least among the Dutch People). It is almost on the border with Germany. In this part of the Netherlands you find beautiful hiking and biking trails.

Signpost of the nodes

To properly signpost all these biking trails they invented the nodes. The whole system of nodes was invented somewhere in the eighties by a Belgian mining engineer. With these nodes you can easily plan and follow your own trail. Every node has its own number and by noting these numbers a trail arises or you can just follow an existing trail. The Netherlands has about 8500 nodes and you can recognize them by the white and green signs.

The weather gods were favorable to us today, we had a beautiful sunny day while cycling through this beautiful landscape of Twente. There was so much to see, forests, moors, burial mounds, sand drifts, rivers, streams, wooded banks, grain fields, beautiful estates, antique farms and quaint villages. Not to mention the cows, sheeps and horses.

I don’t know about you but always when I’m on the road, something funny, strange or special happens. Today, while looking at a fennel with a lot of birds a man passed us. So far nothing wrong with that. But this man ran next to a horse with a little boy sitting on top. I asked the man who ran faster, he or the horse ( picture a man running next to a galloping horse), when he told me he had been on the road for almost three hours and it lasted another hour before he got home. A quick calculation told me this man must have ran, walked about 12 miles with the horse! Before I knew it he was gone and I didn’t get the change to ask him why walk, run 12 miles with a horse?

Coffee and a slice of apple pie

It is good practise in the Netherlands that if you go cycling, you make a stop on the way and drink a cup of coffee and a slice of  appel pie, with a dot of butcher cream. I know that’s nowhere in the mealplan of MPC, but who does not treat sometimes? To somewhat limit the damage we ordered one piece and two forks. What I didn’t know then and what I remembered later that day, I should have taken a whole piece! You see later that day I sort of ran out of fuel ( my blood sugar ran low) and we had to make another stop to eat something. And you know what is the stupidest, I always have something with me, healthy snacks to avoid such moments. Not this time!


Of course we couldn’t finish the weekend without hiking. On Sunday morning we did a beautiful walk. On our way we passed “Waterpark Het Lankheet”. This park looks like a the ricefields you find in China, only here there were reed beds. It purifies water from the nearby “Buurserbeek”. In this water park there are several kidney-shaped ponds, these interlock like a yin yang figure. The whole thing was created by a Scottish artist, Jim Buchanan. It reminded us of the stepping stones we saw so much on the West Highland Way.

And as always a beautiful weekend came to an end. A weekend with family, with the life we love. And hopefully with this blog we shares some of our adventure with you!

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”

“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”

On my way

It’s early in the morning when I drive through the sunny landscape of the Netherlands. I’m on the road to Waddinxveen, a place on the west side. About 30 km from the Hague or about 22km from Rotterdam.
Waddinxveen, were we finally, finally get a change to meet again.
I’m not the only one on the road this sunny Sunday morning in July. Lots of cars with bikes on their towbar are on the road, finding a nice place to cycle.
Did you know there are almost 23 million bikes in the Netherlands? And did you know that 1,8 million are electric?
I use to drive a lot for my work, but there’s a big difference between driving on a weekday or on a Sunday during the Summer Holliday season.
Today, people are in no hurry. They have all the time of the world. They drive for fun, going to places to walk, cycle, going to the beach or visiting a historical city.
I am used to the people driving for their jobs. Being in time, being in a hurry, traffic jams and bottlenecks. But not today, today I have to adapt to the Sunday traffic. Nice and easy, hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the road and the cruisecontrol on the speed limit.


As I said, finally we have a change to meet again. The last walk with the Walking Peakers was on the 8th of March.
We did a beautiful walk down memorylane of one of our Peakers, Vera. Vera showed us the surrounding in which she grew up, Wormerveer.
Who would have thought at that time it would last 4 months till we meet again.
In the Netherlands the rules for Corona have changed since the 1st of July and at this moment we have to keep the 1,5m distance as much as possible. Outdoors groups of 250 persons are allowed, if you keep your distance. Children don’t have to keep to the distance rule, nor do young adults until the age of 18 while around each other. Although the last group still has to keep 1,5m distance to adults.
Observing these rules we were able to organize a restart for the Walking Peakers. Linda, Antonette and myself found a beautiful place in Waddinxveen, were one of our Peakers lives. Wilma and her family own a beautiful farm.
This morning I was not the first one to arrive. By the time I got there a small group already gathered in front of what Wilma calls her, Pipo home.
It was a bit awkward. You feel like shaking hands with new Walking Peakers and introducing yourself properly. You want to hug and kiss those you haven’t seen for so long, but you know none of this is aloud. So I try and keep my distance. Luckely Antonette made us nameplates.

A little bit of walking and yoga

We wouldn’’t be called Walking Peakers if there wasn’t a bit of walking involved in the program today. To keep the distance, we decide to walk in two groups. The groups walk in opposite directions and pass each other somewhere halfway.
I think this was my first walk where I was present but didn’t walk. How did that happen?
Well for the first time in three years, due to Corona and the gym being closed, I decided to follow the MPC program. So far so good until the 2th month. A lot of cardio was in store. After years and years not having done any running I decided to run around the garden table ( it’s a pretty long and large table and don’t laugh!) to get my cardio done!
For those who do not know me, my left leg is not that good. I will spare you the details but running is actually not an option but I did it anyway.You can guess what happened. I got heel spur. So stupid!
I stayed behind with a small group of other Peakers and we did Yoga. Thank you MPC for bringing this into the program. I feel really good doing this on a regular basis.

Group Picture

In the invitation we asked everybody to bring their own lunch. Sitting on the grass, all on a plaid, we enjoyed eating our own lunch.
Overlooking the group, I saw happy, smiling faces. They were all talking and eating and so happy seeing each other, it made me so proud!
And of course that had to be captured in a group picture. But how do you make a group picture of 33 Walking Peakers and still keeping the distance of 1,5m?
I think our photographer did a pretty good job.

Horse and inspiration

Wilma lives on a large farm. She helps her daughter Lynn who runs her own business; horse and inspiration. Actually the whole family plays a part on this farm.
Lynn trains horses and their owners. The goal is to have a better communication between the horse and its owner, all on a basis of respect and trust.
She can also help when a horse is afraid of all kind of obstacles or doesn’t want to be touched for example.
This afternoon she gave us a demonstration to show us what her job is all about. She even invited some of us to try it for ourselves.
It was wonderful to see, how important body language is, not only between humans but even so with animals and humans.
Lynn, it’s great to see with how much passion you work with your horses!

And so a beautiful day, at a beautiful place with beautiful people came to an end. I had the feeling of being reunited with my family after a very long time. Thank you Walking Peakers and in particular Wilma and her family for being our host today. Driving home it made me realize that the pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again!

Thanks to Pauline Engelberts, Linda van den Ham, Antonette de Groot Klootwijk, Marit Phillipson, Caroline van Houwelingen, Jolanda Luijendijk, Ilse Schaffers, Mila Ignat, Fia Dijksma, Vanessa Viva Koomen en Stefanie Ross for letting me use the wonderful pictures you all made.

Swallows and Coconuts

Swallows and Coconuts

Slot Loevenstein

You might think this is a funny title for another blog of the Walking Peakers. In fact it is. And could I have known in May of this year that I was ever going to use it in one of my blogs? Never. I always say that I believe there is no coincidence and this proves it.

If you know our host of today well, or had the pleasure of joining her on an Outlander tour she did this year in may during the MPC2019 Event, you know why it’s no coincidence.

For those of you who haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, I am refering to swallows and coconuts, a famous scene from Monty Phyton, and how our host, Antonette de Groot, performed this scene together with the host of the Outlander tour at the Castle of Doune.

Why it’s no coicendence? Today she hosts us on a walk in her backyard and guess what, swallows and coconuts are involved. Well the swallows were , I haven’t seen any coconuts. Yet.

Smile you’re on candid camera

Antonette en Vera

Further introduction of Antonette is almost unnecessary. She takes your picture without you having the feeling there’s a camara pointed at you. She’s a very talented photographer. Until I met her, I was not a fan of photographers and hardly ever let anyone take a picture of me. I always thought I looked stupid on a picture. But she changed that, and many of the pictures you see in my blogs are made by her.

If you don’t know her from her pictures , you must know her and Annemarie, for together they are the face behind the Foodie Peakers. They started this Peaker group almost two years ago and have grown tremendously ever since.

Castle Loevenstein

To join for a walk, we communicate through an app. The one who is hosting the walk tells us where and when we have to be somewhere. At the beginning of this year, we made a calender of those who wanted to organize a walk. But as I told you in one of my other blogs, we also love to do things spontanously, and this was yet another walk not planned. But sometimes another walk is cancelled and an alternative is organized by one of the other Walking Peakers.

This morning we gathered on the parking lot near Castle Loevenstein. Although Scotland has over 3000 castles, in the Netherlands we have about 1300, and Castle Loevenstein is by far the most famous. It was built in 1361, on a strategic place where the rivers Maas en Waal come together.

In 1572, this Castle Loevenstein belonged to the Geuzen.

It’s our William of Orange who reinforced the Castle and made it a state prison. You might have heard the story of one of the most famous prisoners at that time who escaped in a rather spectacular way, Hugo de Groot. He was held prisoner in this castle and managed to escape in a bookcase.

But no time for reading today, we have some walking to do.

Swallows, Woudrichem and Gorinchem

As I told you in the introduction of this blog, I don’t believe in coincedence. During our walk we passed by a nature reserve called Struikwaard. When in 1995 the water level became extremely high, dykes were improved, and that’s how this nature reserve was created. More space was created for nature and the river, and a piece of agriculture land redeveloped. Also the safety of it’s inhabitants was improved.

In 1997 a wall for Sand Martins (a swallow spieces) was built, and ever since 1998 these birds breed here. Sometimes you might even spot some kingfishers. In the same reserve you find also beaver huts and a small herd of fjordehorses grazing.

Antonette told us that it was her uncle, among others,  who set up the foundation Atenatuur. The foundation is campaigning for more space in nature, and attention to climate change.

Woudrichem, a famous place

We continued our walk by crossing the Maas and walking alongside it to a beautiful little place called Woudrichem. Woudrichem is an old fortified town on the river Merwede with only 4600 inhabitants. In 2008 several scenes of the movie Oorlogswinter were filmed here. The film was also sold to several foreign countries under the title Winter in Wartime. In 2010 it even made it to the shortlist of the nine films nominated for an Oscar. Woudrichem was also the place were the television show Dokter Tinus was filmed from 2012 to 2018.

In this rather famous place we took the ferry to the other side of the Waal where we continued our walk to Gorinchem, another fortified town much larger than Woudrichem, with more than 36.000 inhabitants. Whereas Woudrichem belongs to the region Noord Brabant, Gorinchem is situated in the region Zuid-Holland. Both cities have a lot of history and historic buildings. In Gorinchem we took the ferry back to Slot Loevenstein.

Back at Slot Loevenstein, we had a lot of fun taking some group pictures. Although no coconuts were involved today, I know for sure you could hear them when we entered the castle. What I don’t know is if they were carried by swallows!

Thanks for the beautiful pictures, Antonette de Groot, Linda van den Ham and Ellen Overman😘

Those are the colors

Those are the colors

A bench in the typical colors of Terschelling

Red are the rooftops

Blue is the sky

Yellow are the culms

Green is the grass

White is the sand

Those are the colors of Schellingerland

Every municipality in the Netherlands has it’s own crest. This little poem describes the colors of the flag of Terschelling. The colors are not only to be found on the flag, but also on the crest of Terschelling. The Island belongs to the region Friesland.

There are almost 5000 people living on the island, and I can assure you in the summer time during the hollidays that amount is much, much higher. The island is very popular among young people who go camping together. I read somewhere that during this period the amount of people on the island is tripled.

Every year since 1981 the island has a famous festival, Oerol, which lasts 10 days and attracts about 50.000 people. Another famous thing on the island is the Naval College Willem Barentz. It has been there since 1875. This College offers study programmes for Ocean Technology and Maritime Officer, but it also takes part in several research projects.

Red are the rooftops

When we asked other Peakers to organize a walk in their backyard, I received a message from Antje.

She said she would love to organize a walk but thought it might not be possible. To visit Antje you have to take the ferry and most people won’t drive up to an hour and a half to go on a ferry for two hours (or one if you take the fast ferry), just to go for a walk.

Antje haven’t you learned anything from us in this past year? Everything is possible. Even organizing a real Walking Peakers weekend on your island, Terschelling. Three days of walking, talking, doing some yoga and listening to one of our own Peakers. And of course, let us not forget all the fun and laughter we will have with each other.

It felt like a schooltrip when most of us left home on Friday. In the days prior to this trip a lot of messages flew back and forth. What should we take with us, how much luggage was permitted on the ferry, did we have the same ferry, who was arriving at what time, etc., etc.? I can assure you it was nothing compared to a school class, and I should know for I have been a teacher for a very long time! And I did a lot of schooltrips!

Much to our supprise, every Peaker arriving on the Island was picked up by Antje. Finally on Friday night everybody was on the island. Everybody had a roof over their heads. Let the party begin.

Blue is the sky

The weather forecast for Saturday said it was going to be a very bad day with heavy showers and strong winds blowing. But hey, we are Peakers and we don’t let ourselves get stopped by some bad weather.

We went walking, having every neccesary thing like raincoats, rainlegs, caps and umbrellas put in our backpack. We prepared for everything that was coming!

Antje showed us on a map where our walk of today was going to be. She told us, it would mainly be on the west side of the island.

We saw some beautiful sights of the island and now and then Antje told us a little bit of history.

And blue was the sky, for most of the day!

Yellow are the culms, Green is the grass

It’s the end of September and I expected to see the first signs of autumn in nature. But apart from all the beautiful mushrooms, there were little signs of transformation. The temperature was still pretty high for the time being.

I have this thing with mushrooms, especially those red ones with the white spots. My fantasy overwhelmes me. All these dwarves running around with paint cans and paintbrushes in the middle of the night to make these mushrooms look as beautiful as they do during the day!

But there was more to be seen on this beautiful island. Only just departed we had a lovely view on the harbour of Terschelling. Never knew this harbour was the only natural bay in the Netherlands.

As we continued our walk, Antje gave us a lot of information about the island and its inhabitants. For instance did you know that there are 85 bunkers on the island and four of those bunkers are appointed to be project bunkers and now have a museum function?

Most of those four bunkers were covered with sand and it took a lot of volunteers, ceanes and shovels to remove over 4000m³ of sand. After setting up the original electricity wiring it is possible to do a guided tour in these bunkers.

When we arrived on the West side of Terschelling and stood there on a beautiful vantage point. I was surprised to learn a little history that left a heavy impression on the island. On top of this vantage spot there was a plaque of remembrance to the Second English War. In 1666 when we thought we had beaten England, they fought back, and on Holmes’s Bonfire they, not only destroyed a merchant fleet between the islands Vlieland and Terschelling, but also destroyed and burnt down the city Ter Schelling.

Terschelling is also famous for its lighthouse, de Brandaris.

In 1323 the Medieval church Brandarius was built. The tower of the church was built as a beacon for the ships that sailed through the Zuiderzee to Amsterdam. When the church no longer existed, the lighthouse was built in 1592. It took two years to complete it.    

White is the sand

As soon as the idea of this weekend was born, we were told by one of our Peakers that she had a very dear friend living on the island and this friend gave, among other things, yoga classes. After having done this in Edinburgh we thought it was an awesome thing to do again. That was a good thought because on Sunday morning it was raining cats and dogs, not exactly nice weather to go walking!

As you all know yoga teaches you to control your mind, your heart and your body. I was surprised in Edinburgh how yoga filled up a gym with over 200 Peakers and today I was surprised again. You could hear a pin drop and after two hours I felt so relaxed. My headache from Saturday night gone!

In these past few years being a Peaker, I have met a lot of people and made a lot of new friends. Many of these new friends helped me to heal from my burn out. One of them is Brenda. Brenda taught me a lot about food, about hormones, the combination of food and hormones, and the effects on your body. She made me a custom mealplan.

For a long time I wanted to share this with the other Walking Peakers, and what better place was there than this weekend, to ask her to tell us all about it. Did you know that most of us get too much sugar during the day, more than we need and more than you would expect. Research confirms this, and by making us aware of this and showing us how to read the labels on products she gave us a very interesting work shop.

Those are the colors of Schellingerland

Before you know it, the weekend is at its end, and we all had to go home. But not before we thanked Antje for an awesome weekend in which she showed us her backyard. Mireille, thank you for a relaxing yoga class and Brenda, thank you for inspiring us to be critical ofwhat we eat. These people coloured our weekend!

Huge thanks to Antonette de Groot, Brenda van Wegen, Caroline Kooiman, Antje Sipkema, Linda van den Ham en Jeanette Groeneveld for sharing their pictures with me

It’s raining men..

It’s raining men..

Only in spontaneity we can be who we truly are

Although the title of this blog might suggest otherwise, it was definitely not raining this day. In fact it was an awesome day for a walk. The sun was shining, temperature rose above 25 degrees Celsius, and still it was raining. It was raining men; our men, our partners in crime.

So you might say today was a rather special day for a walk, because for the first time a lot of our men joined us. They are not members of MPC, but to us they are very important as they are our partners in crime. We women joined MPC, but we wouldn’t always be able to do all the things we do without the support of our men. Our men suddenly saw different meals served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They saw all kinds of fitness equipment filling the bedroom. Some of us were lucky enough to have a spare bedroom to make a separate fitness room. But maybe it was this one spare bedroom they thought of making their man cave!

Bikes were dusted, hiking boots bought and if the men had had any plans for the weekend, they had to re- schedule them. Throughout the year all kind of activities and walks were scheduled. Every two weeks another walk planned by the Walking Peakers. But today they were invited to join us. On todays walk it’s raining men, for they accompany us in a spontaneous walk of the Walking Peakers.

Only in spontaneity we can be who we truly are

In our schedule we made for this year, there were no walks planned during the month of August. A lot of Peakers are gone for the summer holiday. At least that’s what we thought. But sometimes we need to do a little less thinking or at least let everybody think for herself?  I am glad Jeanette did think for herself. She spontaneously asked if anybody fancied a walk, and within a few minutes a lot of enthusiastic reactions popped up in our app group, and a walk was arranged.

Spontaneous is the one word to describe Jeanette. With a big smile on her face, she’s always in for a little action, a joke or just a nice conversation. I met her less than a year ago when she joined me on my challenge, Walking the Dykes of Flevoland. And ever since we have done many walks together. Seeing her always puts a smile on my face.

Jeannette and her husband Jan live outside a little place called Werkendam, in the region of Noord-Brabant. Their house is built on an embankment, and as far as you can see there is grassland, fascinating skies and beautiful views. The only way to get to their lovely house is just one road. And at the end of this one road you find a gate leading to their property. They live there with their son and daughter, three dogs, a horse and a pony, a lot of chickens and a rooster. I asked other Peakers at the beginning of this year to show me their backyard, and that’s exactly what we did today. We literally walked in the backyard of Jeanette and Jan..

When we finished our coffee and tea, we started our walk by following a path called the “Jannemanpad.” The path is named after Jeannette’s husband Jan. It’s not an official name. To walk in his own backyard, and to keep connected with the regular paths, was only possible when Jan mowed a path. He has mowed that path ever since. He likes to do this, it’s a kind of hobby to him.

Room for the rivers

Not only was walking with our husbands a special treat today, but also the area we walked in. As we walked Jan and Jeanette told us the history of it.

The area is called “Noordwaard” polder and is as large as about 6000 football fields. If you know the Netherlands a little bit, you can find this area in the south west part of the Netherlands, between the Brabantse Biesbosch and the river Nieuwe Merwede. In 2009 they started to de-polderisate this area and it took about five years to complete this project. Part of the polder was reassigned and changed from an inner dike area to an outside dike area. All this was done to make sure that when it is high tide it’s possible to have a flow-through of water to the sea. This will take place when the water reaches a height of two metres above NAP ( Normal Amsterdam Peil). This NAP is a reference height used in the Netherlands to do measurements. Before 2009 most of the area had an agriculture function. After the realisation of the project, the area is no longer suitable for agriculture. You can imagine the landscape of the area changed after 2009. They used a topographic map of 1905 to remodel the area. And today we had the opportunity to walk in this beautiful area. It was quite an experience to walk in an area so full of nature.

Thank you Jeannette and Jan for inviting us on this beautiful day. And we will be back, for you promised us a boat trip and a sleepover. We don’t know when yet but we figure something out for next year.

Today’s walk was not planned but spontaneously organized, but that’s who we are. We are a group that does things spontaneously and that’s truly who we are. We are thankful our menfolk could join us on this part of the journey.

Thanks to Antonette de Groot, Jeanette Groeneveld en Vera de Koning for taking the pictures.