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Month: August 2019

Believe you can..

Believe you can..

Believe you can and you’re halfway there

                                                                       Theodore Roosevelt

Just an idea

From one idea another idea was born. Walking the dykes of Flevoland to show other Peakers how beautiful my backyard is was the first step to many more walks. I invited other Dutch Peakers to show me their backyard. All over the Netherlands, 22 Walks are organized by Dutch Peakers, and today we are halfway done. We have already walked 9 out of 12 regions of the Netherlands over 11 walks for a total of 167km (103miles)!

I never imagined this initiative would be such a success! Many Dutch Peakers have walked with me, and every walk is like a little party. I take the garlands and my Peaker sisters do know how to hang them. I am so proud of all of you walking and talking with me.

Hosts of todays walk

If I mention the words curly hair and red lips, a dedicated Peaker from the first moment, I think a lot of you know who I am talking about. She’s also a mom of three kids, and when she not busy being a Dutch Peaker she works as an assistant Office Manager in a Practice for Physical Therapy. Of course I am talking about Gerona, and she and Ella took us through the polder of Zuid-Holland and Utrecht, and showed us amongst other little places, Haastrecht and Oudewater.

Ella is born and bred in the Hague, but has lived in Boskoop for the past 20 years. It was her husband who took her to this lovely polder for the first time, and she has loved it ever since.

I admire Ella for her persistence. She’s the one that pushed way past her boundries when she walked with me in Flevoland, and I have never ever heard her complaining. She’s a tough lady.


Today we walk in the regions of Utrecht and Zuid-Holland. It is our third walk in this area, and Gerona told me today that if you want to have a clear picture of what represent the Netherlands the most, then this is it. The flat landscapes alternate with meadows, woods, little villages and of course, mills.

I drove all the way to Oudewater this morning where Ellen and Gerona were waiting for us  in a parking lot in the centre of the village. A large group of 18 Dutch Peakers took the trouble of getting here on a beautiful Sunday morning in June.

Oudewater got it’s city charters in 1265, and was therefor the oldest city in what we call in the Netherlands, the Green Hart. It is a sparsely populated so called green area, between the large cities of Rotterdam, The Hague, Zoetermeer, Leiden, Haarlem, Amsterdam and Utrecht.

In the 16th and 17th century this city was well known for the production of rope. This rope was made out of hemp, a product that grew in the surrounding area of Oudewater. This rope was specially made for the ships of the United Oostindie Compagnie. A lot of the ancient buildings in the city still remind you of that time, and are on the list of National Heritage.

It was not the production of rope that caught my attention, it was the “heksenwaag” that interested me. I’ve always had an interest in witches. Between the 16th and 18th century, if they found you guilty of witchcraft, they weighed you here. If they thought you weighed too little you could end on the stake. Sounds familiar? Wasn’t it Geillis in Outlander who ended on a hay stake?

According to the Oudewater history from that period, a lot of people were weighed, but none of them were actually accused of being a witch. Although our hosts gave us some nice witch candy in the end, we were not weighed……

I don’t know what it is with these witches, but it always fascinates me. I love reading stories that involve witches and seeing movies with withches. Witches of Roald Dahl is one of my favorite books. I even like face painting them.

But all kidding aside, today we actually walked not one region but two. On the first part of the walk through the polder we crossed the border with the region Zuid-Holland. And as I told you before we began and ended in Oudewater, region of Utrecht. We enjoyed our lunch in the grass near Haastrecht, bought cherries,and cherry ice cream along the way, and crossed the IJssel. All of it took place in the regions of Utrecht and Zuid-Holland.

Believe you can..

Such a large group of Dutch Peakers walking today’s walk. Many of them didn’t know they were capable of walking the distance when they first joined the Dutch Peakers Walking. Most of our walks are between the 10km and 20km, and occasionally a little bit more than 20km.

Most of the time you hardly notice the distance you walk. You walk and talk and before you know it, you have passed another km. Today was such a day. With so many Peakers I do have to pay attention to the environment, because before I know it, the end of the walk is near and all I have done is talking. I will be like those Japanese or Chinese tourists and have to look back at my pictures to see where I walked today!

You’re halfway there

Back in Oudewater, sitting on a lovely terrace with a nice cold drink, I suddenly realize we’re halfway done with our walks. And halfway means my mind is already making plans for another challenge next year. But first things first, this challenge is only halfway so there will be several beautiful walks ahead of us, with lovely Dutch Peakers and a lot of talking.

And who knows who will meet me halfway on the other half of this challenge!

All the beautiful pictures you see are made by Titia Bisschops-Schaar, Jeannette Groeneveld, Linda van den Ham and myself.

A little West Highland Way in the Netherlands

A little West Highland Way in the Netherlands

A friend is someone

who helps you up

when you’re down

and if they can’t

they lay down beside you

and listen.

When I started this walk I couldn’t have known that somewhere over the ocean way back in Bonnie Scotland our Peaker sister Ellen made a tough decision. She was walking the West Highland Way, with her son and had to stop because of knee problems. That evening I posted our group photo telling everybody that this walk was almost like walking a part of the West Highland Way, totally unaware of her decision.  This one is for you, Ellen. Maybe this way we can help you up if you’re down….

The weather

For a few days the weather has been a little threatening with heavy rain showers and strong winds.

As I leave home for another walk of our challenge, the 10th to be specific, it’s raining. We’re almost halfway through our challenge. But we don’t let ourselves stop over a little bit of rain. We are Peakers after all. This is my tough Peaker voice speaking. You see, I don’t like walking in the rain. When I walk and it starts raining, okay. But if it’s raining before I even start, that’s not my cup of tea. Looking at every weather app I could find this morning,  I saw that my positive thought, it’s going to be better later on, was confirmed. I drove to Rheden, little place in the neighbourhood of Arnhem in the region of Gelderland. And the further I went, the better it got. It was dry when I arrived.

Our hosts for today

Our hosts for today are Nicoline McCarthy and Miranda Kooiman. Miranda lives in Arnhem and Nicoline lives in Elst. They both are Dutch Peakers, and when they came in contact with each other, it turned out that Nicoline is a member of the same triathlon club as Miranda’s husband. It is a small world after all. Nicoline lives with her family of 4 kids in Hummelo.She studied Social Geography and is a self-employed cartographer. Miranda lives in Arnhem with her husband and two sons. She does the administration for three Primary schools and recently started her own business as a virtual assistant. And what I like most about her she teaches nature lessons to toddlers once in a while.

Miranda and Nicole chose to walk in this area because it is a varied piece of nature, through the forest, over the moor, with beautiful viewpoints along the way.

Arnhem is probably the place you remember from history class. The Battle of Arnhem occurred during WWII. It was part of Operation Market Garden in September 1944. Unfortunately the operation failed, mostly because the allied forces couldn’t take over the brigde. The North and West part of the Netherlands could not be liberated, and that caused the hunger winter. Today there was no hunger for us because Miranda and Nicole were waiting in the parking lot with coffee, tea and delicious homemade pie with dates and coconut.


The area is certainly beautiful and various. Right from the start it made me remember my walk last year in Scotland when I walked the West Highland way. The moorland we walk through is popularly known as the Posbank but its original name is Herikhuizerveld. The Posbank owes its name to Mr. G.A. Pos, former chairman of the ANWB (AAA). When this Mr. Pos worked for 25 years for the company they built him this semicircular stone bench, located at a beautiful viewpoint. At the site, you are standing 90 metres above NAP (sealevel). For me, coming from 6 metres under the sea that’s pretty high. Compared to climbing the Glen Coe, which I  did last month, it’s nothing. But nevertheless, the view is beautiful and amazing, especially for a country which is almost flat.


Those of you who follow the stories of the Dutch Peaker Walking, know our history with the elephant. It all started with walking the dykes of Flevoland last year. On one of the legs we had Ella walking with us and at the beginnng I told her the distance of the leg would be aproximately 18km. She had never walked any further than 10km. Somewhere along the way, I saw it would be far more km than I told her, and I was hesitating whether I should tell her or not. Eventually I did and that’s when Vanessa started this song about a little elephant. We sang it together to keep Ella walking when it became tougher. Ever since that walk, when somebody is so over it ,we start singing the song, and that is how the elephant became symbol of the Dutch Peakers Walking.

I was totally surprised when I received another elephant today from Pauline. This one is called Ganesha, a Hindu God who takes away all obstacles in life and protects all travellers.

We walkers,  are we not all in a way, travellers? Remember what I told you in Ain’t No Arthur High Enough about Robert Louis Stevenson? We travel not to go anywhere but to go…

Thank you so much for this little elephant Pauline, and may it keep us safe on all our walks in the future. I am not quite sure about the obstacles. I believe sometimes it is okay to bump into a little obstacle in life. I try to learn from it and hope that a next time I have learned enough to do it differently, think differently or react differently. But if this little guy keeps me safe from the big obstacles in life, I don’t mind.


Every now and then we have a stowaway joining us on our walks. Today Pauline’s daughter joins us.         

Jamie studies at the London School of Economics. She is earning a Master in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. I walk and talk for a little while with her, and I admire the way she is living. She is a young self-aware woman with a purpose in life. There is not much in life that I would do differently if I had the change to do it all over again, but there is one thing. I would definitely go abroad for a Master’s degree, explore the world, and meet other people in life. I can never make up for the time I didn’t, but I do admire our young people who do. They are becoming the global citizens of tomorrow.

Jamie told me she was leaving for Mumbai in India for two weeks, to do some research for the foundation her mother is working for, Khazana Foundation. The goal of this foundation is to provide basic financial skills to children who have no access to the banking system. They provide the Mumbai slum’s children with a saving account, teach them about longterm goals, provide education about the banking system and how money works. But that’s not all this young lady did. In undergraduate studies, she also minored in jazz and singing at the Royal Conservatoire in the Hague. Quite an impressive stowaway!

Thank you for being a friend

Every walk I meet so many new friends and hear so many interesting stories. I have not told you about Stefanie who works as an Environmental Expert for Boskalis. I promise to tell you more about her and the interesting work she’s doing next time she joins us for a walk. For now I lay myself down and think back on yet another wonderful day with my Dutch Peaker Walking group and listen to Thank You for Being a Friend by Andrew Gold.

Thanks to Linda van den Ham, Jolanda Schooneman en Stefanie Ross for making these beautiful pictures.