Coffee, warm fire, chocolate cake and a cozy couch.
When could you lean back more relaxed to write, think about the past days and the adventure „dogpacking“ in the Netherlands so far than now.
Yesterday, when I arrived in Hoek van Holland it felt not like I was on the road since 9 days but since 9 weeks or even months. Best would be if I could just go to UK by ship and start my already planed tour towards Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Oh it would be so nice if I could start it right now… I have everything I need with me.
Even if I had some problems with my bike within the last days, it has accompanied me very well and did grow to me very much. Even so it has not let me down like I thought before I started this trip. I was thinking that my backwheel would not make the 150-160 Kilogram (including my and Woodstock’s weight), but it did held until now.
My beautiful and beloved dog Woodstock – Woody – who did run so incredibly nice and smooth during rain, spent all cold nights with me and is admired by all as a smart dog, a true companion and even as an attraction. I often wonder about the luck I had meeting him and naming him as my friend, my baby, my socii.
Shortly after I packed my tent and luggage it was looking like the sun would have no chance rummaging through this vault of dark clouds and it would be a grey and wet day. I decided to ready myself and my luggage by dressing Rainclothes and covering my stuff inside of all my raincovers. Just after 500 meters it was clear that I made the right decision. Since I did not make a lot of distance during the last days desperately wanted to make at least 50 Kilometers this day. This came out as a big mistake.
After 3 hours, some short breaks to fix my brakes again, using the only break of raining to cook some rice with tomato-basil-sauce and just 20 kilometers made, my Feet were already wet and felt like I would step through a moor bare-footed. Nevertheless I decided to keep on driving while happily stowed my winter socks away and was also sure that my raincovers will protect my luggage from rain.
With Woody laying in the trailer and the wind & rain in my face I kept on biking. A hiker I’ve met on the road told me that it would stop raining in the afternoon which pushed my motivation that I wanted to bike until the rain stops and build up my tent in dry weather. After three more hours and another 15 kilometers I just realized that it was just wishful thinking and I had to search for a suitable place to camp. I had no sense in my toes since one hour, my winter gloves were wet and even my normally solid rain trousers were not keeping the rain, cold and wind away from me anymore.
The fight against the wind, weight of the rain on my bike, clothes and trailer paired with the tired Woody in it were taking my last energy reserves. Even more cereal bars which I was eating while biking couldn’t fill those.
I saw an older man standing in front of a small garage who replied to my wink nicely. So I decided to stop and ask him if I could possibly camp in his garden. To my luck he agreed that I could with the words
„Sure, it’s not my garden, do it!“.
I also was allowed to hang up my wet clothes in a small backyard shed to dry them.
After I built my tent up and stored my luggage I went to that shed and took of my wet clothes and shoes. „If I go bare-footed or with swimming-pool-shoes, it doesn’t matter!“, I was thinking.
Fully exhausted but happy to take a breath in a dry tent I was inflating my mattress. To my horror I recognized the wet backpack. The raincover had work just like my raintrousers: not a bit!
My sleeping bag, clothes, my winter socks: everything was wet. Hopelessness was the result accompanied with a shaking and sadly looking Woody laying beside me.
How should I dry my sleeping bag while it’s raining, cold and windy outside? What about my socks? I always had to sleep with 3 socks cause of the freezing cold nights so that it was necessary to have them dry at least to keep some sense in my feet at night. And what about Woody? I felt so incredibly sorry for him. It was shaking him so bad. Luckily at least one towel of him was dry.
„At least something…“, I thought.
I was on the brink calling my friend Luiz from Bochum to ask him if he could pick me up here. Cancel it? I had to tell myself that I would not make it through the night without any help. My last chance was to ring the bell of the man who allowed me to camp on his neighbours field. I put Woody on his last dry towel in the shed and went with my wet sleeping back bare-footed through the rain around the garage and ringed. That was the way I met Cor and Corry which proved to be my and Woodys rescue and greatly kind conversation.
Cor was a 72 year old guy, former Truck-driver who stayed young and decided to make some garden-work for surrounding houses. He was a quiet and calm guy who seemed to prefer usualness before trying out new things. Shortly after they sat me in front of the oven and put my sleeping back underneath it he had a call from a neighbour who asked for help in his garden.
His Wife Corry who also did not seemed like she is allready 71 years old served me a nice tea which I thankfully enjoyed. She narrated about her life. Before some time she was a children’s-book-author and showed me five books she published. Some were playing in the neighbourhood around her house, one was about her brother and one other played in Germany. She also told me about a manuscript of another book she wrote but couldn’t publish because the publisher isn’t existing anymore. The way she told me affected me deeply. I could see that she would have loved to publish that book so I decided if I find a publisher for my book I would also ask them if they could take her manuscript aswell. That made her smile and me a bit happier as well. After I drank the tea she served me a beer with the words
„My husband only drinks Aldi-beer“.
When Cor came back, I also put my shoes under the oven, had another cold beer of Mr. Aldi and went chafed feet with my & another sleeping bag they had give me to my tent. Woody still waited wet and shivering in the shed. Back in the tent I wrapped him with the new sleeping bag to get him warm and dry as soon as possible. Luckily this worked out very well and I was relieved when he began snoring while muffled up in the blanket.
„Coffee is done!“,
Cor shouted over the hedge in the morning. Awesome!
Sitting at the breakfast table with some delicious cake, a fried egg, a currant bun and some bread I enjoyed looking across the Rhine out of the window of this old house.
Directly on the other side there was „Slot Loevestein“. They told me about the interesting story of it when it was prison and an unique breakout. An inmate was so well literate that he has read a whole box of books and covered himself inside so he could break out of that prison. He did it! How small or agile could a person be… or how tall could a box be…
An absolutely paradisaically view. I imagined to sit here every morning while drinking my coffee which I usually have when arriving in the university or at my work and also imagined to read the newspaper which I usually never do at home, while sitting on the table watching the silhouettes of the castle and dreaming 5 minutes…
„In two years it will all be demolished.“,
took me out of my thoughts and scared me. Demolished? What the… Cor and Corry told me about the plans of the government who wanted to improve the dyke and demolish all houses for this reason. Both have lived here since over 40 years. 40 years of a paradise. What comes after that? Both are feeling to old to start something new, seemed to be hopeless and you could feel that they wanted to waste no thoughts of the future and started to change the topic fastly.
I tried to imagine how it would be to lose the own home when living there for such a long time. I think only those who already lost something similar can describe and imagine that. Unbelievable, intangible, unintelligible. On my way I saw a lot of Houses newly built or even still in the building process. How is it possible that such an old, beautiful house has to be demolished while others are built?
With all these thoughts and a filled stomache, a new towel for an old one from those nice and kind humans, I made my way towards Rotterdam. Of course, not without fixing my brakes again. In the meanwhile I think that the cold nights are affecting them.
Thoughts and Broodings about the past and present time brought me a headache. It took some kilometers to make me concentrate on my bike and the remaining 50 kilometers to Rotterdam again.
This day was hard. The will to make some distance, the upcoming hopelessness when detecting the wet clothes and sleeping bag, seeing the shivering Woodstock without beeing able to do something made me learn a lot. On the one hand that you should not go biking a lot when raining. Why would you:
„I have all the time in the world!“, I told myself.
On the other hand sometimes you have to believe in the good and have some trust in human beeing. Maybe there are some sort of „angels“ in the world without diving in a religious way. Sometimes you just have to ask, be open minded and step up to somebody or let others approach to you. I just realise once more that this is the second motto for me since last year:
„If you don’t go you won’t know“