Looking for some vitamins on a blind date

Looking for some vitamins on a blind date

Embrace discomfort

The world has been turned upside down for quite a while now. Almost a year now our lives and that of millions around the world have been controlled by the COVID19 virus.

From keeping distances and washing hands we ended up in partial and full lockdowns where schools closed, lessons were taught online, where grandfathers and grandmothers in nursing homes were no longer allowed to receive visitors, the catering industry went down, we ordered more and more online in webshops and many people lost their jobs. I’m not even talking about overcrowded IC units, and all those people who died from this terrible virus.

Embrace discomfort

Every time we, admins of the Walking Peakers, made plans, we were again dependent on the measures in force at that time.

Our last group walk was in September 2020. Where in other years we were walking somewhere in the Netherlands every 2 to 3 weeks, we could count them on one hand in 2020.

We had so many plans. One of them was going abroad and walk with other Peakers around Europe. Well, we managed to do at least one walk in London in January 2020 and that was it.

I generally have a positive attitude and try to see everything from the positive side as much as possible. I read a post from Jordana Brown on the MPC official Facebook page, where she said, embrace discomfort. With this she was referring to the start-up of the new MPC2021 program and that everything did not go smoothly and without problems. Instead of complaining about what is wrong she said, embrace discomfort. That’s exactly what I did today. And that’s the reason why I started Looking for some vitamins. I didn’t want to get stuck in what is impossible. I was looking for opportunities, for challenges, as I have done before.

So we organized a Blind Date for our Walking Peakers in the Netherlands. Not being allowed to walk in groups, this turned out to be a nice alternative.

We asked our Peakers to fill out a form, tell us how far you would walk, how far you will travel for it and we will link you to another Peaker.

My Blind Date

I was linked to Jolanda.

Jolanda lives in Ridderkerk, not far from Rotterdam. From my place to hers it’s an hour and a half away. We decided to look for a walk halfway.

We met a couple of times on other occasions but never had the opportunity to really walk and talk with each other.

Jolanda is currently without a job but will soon start as a secretarial assistant in the Education and Student affairs department at the 3mE faculty of the Technical University of Delft. That’s quite a mouth full, but luckily for Jolanda she has a lot of experience in that part.

For our walk today, I let Jolanda choose a walk and so we ended up in Hollandsche Rading.

Hollandsche Rading

Hollandsche Rading is a very small village in the province Utrecht. The village has only 1555 inhabitants and furthermore, it lies on the border of the province of North Holland and for that reason has often been controversial in history. It has even sparked several wars. The village is located directly on the Hilversum – Utrecht railway. On this railway we see special overhead wire portals also called the Gothic arches.

We had agreed at this station for the start of our walk.


It was the first time for Jolanda to walk a long distance. All this time she felt she would not be able to keep up with the walks organized by the Walking Peakers. I was a little bit shocked because I never realized that people would have that feeling when seeing all our enthusiastic photos and messages from the walks. We have always seen walking as something accessible that everyone should be able to participate in. Apparently, there were also Peakers who therefore dreaded walking with us, afraid that we were walking too fast and too far.

It gives us something to think about again!

Walk and talk

Walking with someone you don’t or hardly know also brings along a bit of healthy tension. What are we going to talk about? Do we have common ground? Is that enough to spend about approximately three till four hours in each other’s company?

When we linked the Peakers for a Blind Date, we tried to make an estimate for this, but it always remains a gamble. As for linking myself to Jolanda, it couldn’t have been better.

It turned out we had much the same taste for music, read the same kind of books and our love for the city of London.

I now also know from experience that walking and talking can lead to very surprising conversations. Conversations that go beyond the superficial conversation about the weather, a program we’ve seen or our work. Mostly this is how the conversation starts but gradually the content of the conversation changes.

Because you are not always looking at each other while walking, I notice again and again that people I walk with reveal themselves more easily.

Our conversation turned to the influence parents have upon us. Even now being adults and living a life of our own. Making your own choices and let go.

And while we had this conversation, we enjoyed the surroundings of our beautiful walk, somewhere in another beautiful part of the Netherlands.

It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining and what more did we need in my search for “Looking for some vitamins”. 

Thank you Jolanda for being my Blind Date today and congratulations, you did it, you managed to walk a 12,5km!

Looking for some vitamines

Looking for some vitamines

Good friends

Are hard to find

Harder to leave

And impossible

To forget


Although it’s 2021 now, I don’t do resolutions or good intentions. But like every other year I like to think of something that I can do to make the new year more interesting, more energetic and maybe a little bit more challenging (After all I am a Peaker). Something that puts a new dot on the horizon. But most of all I embrace all the new chances at happiness, health and love. In other words, I want to celebrate love and life. After a year full of insecurities, fears, and doubts, there seems to be a little light. And I will take the opportunity to go out and search for these lights. For light gives me energy.


2020 has been a year with far fewer walks than planned. January started so well with our London walk. Walking Peakers together with England Peakers, Peakers England and Imagery Peakers took a beautiful walk from Putney to Richmond River. We had so many more beautiful walks in mind, even some abroad. After that we did, correct me if I’m wrong, four other walks and every time we had to adapt to the Corona measures of that moment.

At this moment the Netherlands, like many countries around us, are in a complete lockdown. Walking with a large group is not possible for the time being. I miss my Peaker friends enormously. We try to do a lot online things but it’s different. I miss the hugging and the talking as we walk. Having fun along the way, oh boy do I miss it.

I had to do something, and an idea was born. I am “looking for some vitamins” this year.I let Peakers, friends and family invite me. They decide what they want to do with me, this could be walking, cycling, cooking or maybe a workout? You name it. Think of something, anything, make an appointment with me and I’ll come over to you.


Today is my first “looking for some vitamins” with Anouk. I met Anouk over three years ago when she was in Glasgow for the MPC Gala and I was there (a fresh Peaker) for the Scottish Learning Festival. Anouk hired a camper van and after the Gala stayed in Scotland for another week. I also remained in Scotland but moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh. And on the last night of our stay, we had diner in Edinburgh together with my husband and Vera, my other Peaker friend. From that moment on, friendship and our love for whisky grew.

As I left home it still drizzled a bit, but the closer I came to Anouk, the sky broke and a beautiful winter sun appeared.

Being one on one with someone is different than in a group. There is more opportunity and space to really talk better to each other. Anouk works for an educational institution where they train students, for example, to become a gym teacher. Normally she sits with three other colleagues in the office and is responsible for all that has to do with the exams.

At this time, however, they all work from home. She misses her colleagues, but most of all she misses the whole school life, the atmosphere, the students, and the interaction. “Sometimes you just walk from your place to get coffee, meet someone down the hall, have a chat. That’s not there now”.

Anouk has two great hobbies, skating and cycling. She has been doing both for a long time, and also in the past in a competition context. But now she does it to stay fit and healthy, and to clear her mind. And about the last one, clearing our minds, we certainly did today.

Anouk took me on a cycling tour through Zaanstreek-Waterland but the region she lives in is called Wormerland. Believe me I have been to places I have never ever heard of before today.

Looking for some vitamins 1

We started in Wormer, cycled through Oostknollendam, Spijkerboor, Graft, De Rijp, Middenbeemster, Zuidoostbeemster and finally de Zaanse Schans.

All these places belong to the region called Wormerland, or for those not to familiar with the Netherlands, just above Amsterdam. I saw a lot of beautiful spots on our trip. Places I had never been to before, roads I had never travelled before.

One of the first stops we made was in a little place called Graft which nowadays has nearly 900 inhabitants. The town hall was built in 1613 and has three stepped gables. Next to the town hall were the tombstones of a 17th century church. The church was demolished in 1951 because there was not enough money left over for restoration. The only thing left were some glass panels with information from the past.

One of the tombstones belongs to a woman called Anne Jans Sappes. One of the richest women of Graft in the 17th century, but also a woman who herself lived very frugally.

In 1621 Graft had about 3000 inhabitants and one in six was so poor that they could not survive without the support of the rich. Anne Jans was one of the rich who made it her mission to look after these poor people.

This morning at the coffee table we had a long talk about women, about us, effacing ourselves to help our loved ones, or anyone, but in the end, we meet ourselves anyway.

We are the kind of women who like to help others, but gradually we have found some sort of balance. We have learned to put ourselves first every now and then.

All the talking and cycling gave us a dry throat and a bit of hunger. We decide to have our lunch along the Noordhollands kanaal with a magnificent view on the Neckermolen. This poldermill is a watermill that is used to move water from a lower level to a higher level.

Sitting on a bench, eating our bread, we enjoyed an early January sun an already felt the warmth on our cheeks. I haven’t felt this free and full of energy in a very long time.

Thank you so much Anouk that you were the first person to join me on my way “looking for some vitamins” and the beautiful conversation we had at the table and on the road. Big hug from me to you.

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😘