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Month: October 2018

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!