The sun came out this evening, finally

Over the years I’ve documented this field and my walks in it. I walked it in slippery mud, in crops taller than me, read The Power Of Now in it, collected things found and, as you could imagine, lost weight. I haven’t been since I joined the gym, which is a bloody shame really, but this evening with nothing to do and the sun suddenly shining after a dreary day, I went for a glorious stroll on my own. Glorious.

I didn’t plan on taking photos but I can never help myself with this field. I only had my phone though. What a good way to end a day.


Visiting The Netherlands, not Holland

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I see people walk by with travel guides in their hands, reading up places and on missions to go find them. I once thought I so wanted to be like them. They’re the people who are organised, the ones that have diary’s and calendars and use all the pretty stationary you see in shops. In the past I’ve tried, because they look so well put together. But I’m not. I’m not well put together, for a start I often forget to brush my hair, I loose things (often my mind), I’m a day dreamer and I’m currently wearing a jumper that I tie dyed myself. Not exactly the image you have in your brain of a lady with her diary/travel guide. Secondly, I would forget to pick up the travel guide up because.. I find them boring.. Is that bad?! Have I offended someone? I love travelling and always have, but I don’t really want to know all the details about the place, it doesn’t bother me. Just a little bit of info is cool. I’ll quite happily just walk about and hope for the best.

I think it must be all about what you deem important, because I don’t forget to pick up and write in my travel diary if I have a thought. Maybe it depends on what you’re ‘searching’ for. They want to learn about the place, and I? Probably learn what these places do to me.

This relates to the first title of this road trip – do you free more or less free knowing the world is our oyster? There isn’t a wrong or right way to travel, you can literally do what you want and that includes nothing. You can do nothing. Once that thought is placed on me I find I do more of what I want.

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We finally saw a windmill everyone, finally saw one! Didn’t realise you had to go searching for them, I pictured them being everywhere and hard to dodge. The one we found was right next to where we stayed our first night in The Netherlands, oops. We were going that way to Maastricht anyway. And conclusion after kicking up a fuss (but didn’t actually at all)?… It looked just like windmills from England. It was a windmill. Just in another country. But we did it!

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Nothing quite like having a wee when you’re at bursting point, then celebrating with a beer.

The market stool man was saying how much he likes London and we were saying how much we like The Netherlands – so we are going to swap places. He said ‘I’m going to live in Bromley!’

No one is ever that excited for Bromley.

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Like I was saying yesterday about Amsterdam being larger than life and full of personality, which takes away mine – here I felt complete in who I am, my personality is in full force. Not that I was shoving it in peoples faces. People here are still quirky, it’s not a quiet city, there’s a bookshop in a church, that says it all. I suppose, for me, Amsterdam is like Camden and Maastricht is like Brighton. That’s the best way I can explain it.

Isn’t it a shame that I have to describe places with places I know. The more I’ll travel it might turn into ‘Winklebottom was very much like Gravy Boat Mountain’, not ‘Amsterdam is like Camden, init!’

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Maastricht is a winner, in case you couldn’t tell. I loved it. It’s just one of those places that was perfect, couldn’t find a fault other than it’s an expensive city. Oh and someone working in the church told us not to go through a certain door because ‘you don’t fit’. Now that could have been a translation problem but he did an awkward giggle after, as if he felt bad saying it. Bit weird. If it is what he meant, that’s two days in a row we felt like we didn’t ‘fit in’. A hotel and a church. It didn’t take away our experience, it’s just a shrug of the shoulders and walk away with our beard, backpack and leggings. James wearing the leggings, me wearing a fake beard and one arm each in the backpack, of course. That might be why.

An English couple we met, who moved out 7 months ago, explained that the top part of The Netherlands is called Holland, and that’s the part reclaimed from the sea. The bottom part, which seems posh, is The Netherlands and are apparently against the top of the country? Suppose like northerners and southerners in England. He said they’re meant to be nicer in the south of The Netherlands (where we are). Well, I much preferred it to Amsterdam, if that’s anything to account for?

I haven’t checked whether this is true, just took his word for it.

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We stayed half an hour away from Maastricht in a town called Valkenburg, which again just blew our little minds. I love how many times we have booked places to stay and they’ve been amazing, all by coincidence. And did we fit in? No clue, didn’t check. They have a statue of a modern day, naked lady so surely it’s not a problem that my leggings are see through at the back (didn’t actually know and James didn’t think to tell me till we went to bed, and yet I wore them the next day too) (I’m really not a travel guide/diary lady am I?).

A coach load of older people turned up at our hotel, drove all the way from Manchester – 14 hours it took. So strange to go from not hearing a lot of English in forever to all these northern accents moaning about how many stairs there are. The Europeans love stairs. We learnt this day one, just like they are learning. Then late at night as I was writing my post for yesterday we heard English football chanting. How peculiar, we said to each other and put on our raincoats and hats, popped in our pipe, whipped out our magnifying glass and went out to investigate.

A bunch of English lads were jumping around the street in football kits. They just got off a party bus and were singing ‘Winter Wonderland’. Of course the Mancs were outside watching in disgust. Probably the whole town really, doesn’t seem like a party town – though does have 3 casinos (unless we walked past the same one 3 times – no travel guide see). Brought the biggest grin to James’s face though. We wanted to start jumping around with them, I’m sure they would have accepted it. Then we were discussing how my Nan loves football and would have gone off and joined them and she’ll turn into their Queen.


James’s quotes of the day;

‘You can tell we are in a rich area – the state on the fashion’
*as someone cycles past in heels*

‘Look! An English flag, lets eat there!’

*Man has his head in the stocks and joking with his family*
Emily: ‘Throw some rotton fruit at him!’
James: ‘Shit on his face!’

Sleeping in a cell

I wonder how Dutch people choose whether their choice of transport is bike, car, bus or tram. Or even boat I suppose, but how could anyone be that ridiculous to only transport by boat.

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We’ve driven to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and now The Netherlands. Netherlands – not so fun to drive. We were spoilt rotten with the roads in Luxembourg and parts of Germany, but here it’s known for how flat it is. The roads are flat and straight.

Also, haven’t seen any windmills yet.

What’s the point in stereotypes if we don’t see any windmills? This is day two here after all. I wrote in the beginning stereotypes are true, perhaps they’re not. Did see some clogs for sale though, and it seemed genuine and not a gimmick, and I so totally wanted some but they were 30 euros and all I would achieve from that would be the short lived thrill of buying them.

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Yesterday when we were searching for a place to stay (which consists of going on comparison sites, checking the map to see where to go and trying to spend as little money as possible) James impulsively booked a hostel in an closed prison, in Leeuwarden. My initial reaction wasn’t ‘oh, goodie!’ because it just sounds intimidating. James was so excited though.

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Oh me, oh my, it is cool. And! Bunk beds, baby. I’ve never had a bunk bed before. Looked up the history online and it said it was once a place of torture and public executions, which is nice staying in a room so unpleasant for others. I read that they think it’s haunted too. I didn’t feel horrible though, I felt very comfortable.

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For dinner we nipped to a supermarket and I had two sandwiches. Crazy. I’ve really missed a good sandwich and I haven’t been able to risk buying one yet, being a veggie and all. The toilets are far and few between on a road trip to risk it. They were superb I tell you. Ate them in my prison cell, gazing out from the bars at the channel and people strolling by. How free they all are, they don’t appreciate it.

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On the ground floor there were shops and even a tattoo parlour. James wanted to get a tattoo just to say he got it in prison. That’s a good enough reason for your first tattoo, right?

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Oh miserable looking Emily and James there. We were struggling with finding a place to stay in Amsterdam, within our budget, for the next night. It’s a Dutch holiday and English bank holiday so all I can conclude is that both countries have swarmed to Amsterdam for the weekend. On AirBnB there was a sofa to sleep on in someones apartment for 70 quid. In the end we booked somewhere an hour away which is fine for us. James has been twice or three times before and I’m not a massive city person.

We were going through the places we have stayed so far in the shared living room/bar. This is night 10. We have gotten to the point where we only remember the places that really stood out for us. We had to go through our emails to remind us where we have been. Maybe this isn’t a thing for everyone but we both have awful memories. The prison will obviously stand out. Along side Luxembourg, the B&B in Duppach and last night celebrating the Kings birthday. How very random.

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Unpredictability of the road

I knew this day was a winner when I had three cups of tea this morning. Start the day as you mean to go on, you know? And that’s a solid start. Where I am right now is a more than a solid finish.

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Luxembourg City is breathtaking, utterly stunning. James said it’s he’s favourite country and city so far. The city is situated over a cliff and it’s just unbelievable. I think this whole country is unbelievable. As soon as we left the city suddenly the buildings had colour! Full of colour. I assume the city is beige to match the old architecture but to me it just makes it invisible and not worth looking at. Maybe that’s the point. I’m also assuming that the villages that we drove through today aren’t that old because of the war wiping everything out. I have no clue, they might be old but kept perfect.

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We drove through the country side and oh my it’s just nothing I’ve seen before. I mean, I have seen farmer fields and country lanes like what we were going down, but there’s just something different and special here. So much forest, forest forever. They also love their deer – they have their own bridges over motor ways, covered in trees and plants.

I wonder if Luxembourg is one of those places where the people never leave, like Malta. I once asked my old Maltese boss why he doesn’t, not even for holidays, and he said ‘because it’s the best country.’ There are all these people searching and travelling around to experience different cultures, and there are people out there that are satisfied with exactly where they are.

As I said a few posts ago James had booked the place we are staying in two days ago, Kautenbach. This one was recommended by my own Mum, and would my own Mum steer us wrong? No. Never. Oh, wait, what did that say when I read the email.. Bring you’re own bedding. Right. Yep. We have none of that. No refunds? Oh, okay, cool. (I’m only saying this because I know she reads my blog.) So we Googled for any sort of sporting goods place, and in desperate hope that all of Europe have the same shops, I Googled Sports Direct and Decathlon. A Decathlon was half an hour away in Belgium, so we drove to another country to buy sleeping bags. You reading this Mum? Another country!

My Mum was freaking, she just told me. As you could have gathered from my last posts, I didn’t care. It’s all cool.

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James’s commentary;

*turns up at a beautiful village*
‘Look, bikers! I want to go have a drink with them!’

*making game car noises while driving*
‘How many points to kill the dog?’

Rather than swearing he’s started to say ‘Dusseldorf.’

Me: ‘Look, you can bring your dog!’
James: ‘I brought mine.’

‘I think we will take the short cut’ meaning over the cliff, ‘At least we will die happy.’

‘All these people checking into the pub – I’m in Luxembourg ya c**ts!’

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This. Is. So. Peaceful.

I would come here for a two week holiday in the summer. I’m currently sitting on our decking in the sun, enjoying a beer we brought from France and I don’t have many words about this place. Or many thoughts. The campsite is situated in a ravine, not far from a beautiful village.

This has blew my mind. This whole trip has blew my mind.

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We went for dinner this evening for the first time. We both feel like we have been on the road for ages and that we haven’t eaten a hot meal the whole time. We have. And its day 4. I don’t know why our bodies are feeling this, I suppose they’re constantly in use and so need the energy.  Vegetarian food here is better than England though, so more points to Europe. I feel very lucky for this whole adventure.

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When I’ll think of Liege I’ll think of steps

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Half an hour into our glorious drive to Luxembourg James said ‘If we crash here no one is ever going to find us. Beautiful roads though.’ Picture it, breathtaking views of forest for miles, I’m quietly writing a little post to look back on one day, and Dj Fresh Gold Dust remixed by TC is blaring through our speakers. That’s the dream right there.

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Looks like this post will be things James said today. I’ve got a few winners. Stay tuned. We made the right choice in staying in Liege, we had a cute apartment with great views in the centre of town. Shit storm getting to that point of relaxation of course, but lovely. Below is the photo of when we were desperately trying to book any hotel while the sun was setting. I think it opened James’s eyes though because he booked the next two nights already, with the help of my Mum sending a recommendation. Am I the only one not worrying?

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Regards to yesterdays post, today I remembered when someone negatively commented that I have no sense of urgency. That was when I was 17. I suppose I still don’t, and won’t. I can see how this is difficult for those around me. I’m a mass of contradictions. I stress over irrelevant things but probably important things? I really don’t care.

He just farted again and won’t let me open the window. I just gasped in a mouthful of air to sing Pack up by Eliza Doolittle as well. And now it’s the smell of his pork scratchings, and I’m a vegetarian.

We just spotted a car with GB on the back and got so excited. He wants me to write ‘English!’ on a piece of paper and hold it up at them. Call me a spoil sport but I refused, instead he’s just going to overly mouth it at them and wave. This is the real story of a road trip.

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Are you ready for James’s commentary as we were walking up the 347 steps of Montagne de Bueren. Baring in mind we had 3 flights of spinal steps at our apartment to climb up and down too. Then up the top there were more stairs.

‘I’ve walked up enough steps today.’

‘I’ll definitely need my Belgium waffle after this.’

‘Wait a minute…’ *loads Pokemon go*

(There were houses on these stairs) ‘Imagine trying to bring a bird home and she takes one look at these steps and is like ‘Nah, forget it.”

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It occurred to me that when you go on a usual holiday it takes a few days to adjust to the local customs, and then you act like you’re a regular. With a road trip you will never adjust because you are never there long enough. France first day, Belgium second and third and driving to another country now, there’s never the time to settle in. We will constantly make mistakes and possibly come across as rude or stupid and cross the road when you’re not meant to and get confused in supermarkets. The confusion when James was buying cigarettes in Belgium was unbelievable, or when buying groceries in some places they have machines that you put your money into – the cashier doesn’t handle money. I suppose it stops anyone stealing it. I even mocked James when he started speaking French in Belgium. Few hours later worked out that they actually speak French. Along with a few other languages, Google says. He did it by mistake anyway, and when I say speaking I mean ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’. Did I mention that there was absolutely no planning before this trip? And, I hope this isn’t too embarrassing, I didn’t even know Luxembourg was a country. Oh, the naivety.

We won’t have a chance to settle anyway, that’s not the point of a road trip. It’s interesting that when travelling no one wants to stick out like a sore thumb, everyone has a need to fit in and look local, look like they belong – that’s why English tourists will still speak English, but put on a accent. As if that’ll make them easier to understand.

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‘Go on a road trip, they said. It’ll be fine, they said.’

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Words out of James’s mouth. It’s 18:23 on day two and he revealed to me that he thought a road trip would be easy. It’s day two! I personally find this hilarious, and he calls me naive sometimes. In my opinion easy isn’t fun anyway. The enterprise man said ‘there are such things as all inclusive,’ we just laughed, I don’t know what to say to people when they almost want an answer to why you want to do things. I would like an answer to why he wouldn’t do a road trip, thank you. I always feel like there’s permission in the world for ‘normal’ people to ask ‘weird’ people why they are ‘weird’, but it’s offensive in my books. I don’t think I get thrills the same way as people who ask me that, which I’m okay with obviously but they’re not. I actually theorised today that maybe part of my anxiety is to do with not doing enough and becoming stagnant, so living on the road like this is perfect for it. I haven’t had a panic attack yet.

So James has reached that level of madness when you swear and shout but you’re also laughing at the same time. Like a moan but half of your mouth is cracked into a smile, know what I mean? He’s definitely smiling when one of his farts reaches my nostrils though. I’m currently listening to him have a rant about traffic, finished with him singing along with Rick Astley on the radio. I’m trying to be a good passenger but I just keep roaring with laughter.

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I’ve given up looking for somewhere to sleep for tonight. Not completely but we can’t get our internet to work well. We drove to Brussels after Bruges which was a stupid idea because Bruges is beautiful, and Brussels? Well, it’s not Bruges. As James said ‘we didn’t come all this way to go to Lewisham.’ It’s probably okay but we just weren’t feeling it, and that’s the beauty of not booking anything – you can just move on.

He just pretended to throw this book out the window (my notebook). Not cool. We are driving to Liege instead – and actually driving now, no more traffic. We have never heard of the place till I went on Google maps and the few images that would load looked nice enough for us to drive straight through Brussels.

I’m so glad I decided we should go to Bruges. I’ve been twice before on day trips and it’s just so beautiful but James didn’t understand why I’d want to go back. I think from the get go it surprised James, from the moment we reached the cobbled streets and you feel like you shouldn’t be driving on them, let alone a bus. It was a very calm, very happy day. It was nice spending time like that, since we’ve started the road trip there’s always something to think about and we kept on moving, and to suddenly just stop thinking about survival, so to speak, and just look at our surroundings was refreshing. But because we were so happy and nothing went wrong, there just isn’t much to write. We walked for hours, visited little shops and bought a bottle of green alcohol for us and a lolly pop for my little brother, had a beer or two, got a little bit sun burnt on my face and walked some more.

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Something very important to write about is that I’ve decided swans should be called Hump-noses instead.

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I finish this post the next morning at 9am. We almost didn’t have a bed last night. I also found out I’m hysterical. Us not being able to find a place to sleep didn’t bother me in the slightest, I was prepared to park up somewhere and get so drunk in the car that we pass out in it. James and I aren’t so similar turns out, not when it comes to sleeping at least, and me laughing at the situation didn’t hinder it, but it didn’t help now did it, Emily? I remember a similar situation when my best friend and I got stuck in Lisbon when we were 17, and while she was panicking how to get home a calmness came over me and I couldn’t stop laughing.

We got to Liege about 7:30 maybe, parked in an underground car park and headed out to steal someones wifi – no matter what the 3g on our phone wouldn’t work. Beautiful looking town by the way, the sun was setting around us in the town centre as we were walking shop to shop hoping for an open network. A perfume shop did the job in the end, so we sat on the warm wall – why was it warm? it was somehow heated – and searched the net for any hotel for the night. At 8:15 it was booked. We paid more than we wanted to but it was getting to that point where if we wanted a bed to sleep in we just had to pay it. I was still fine with sleeping in the car, just throwing it out there.

So, walked back to the car and it was all shut up. We couldn’t get in through the shopping centre. Even now I’m laughing as I type this. I really am hysterical. A few more swears got thrown around but we managed to find another entrance to the car park, popped in the new address to park on the sat-nav and drove a few minutes away. We then walked with all our luggage for 5 minutes to a pub which own the apartments above, one of which I am sitting in right now. Funny thing though, as we were outside the front door and looking about to see where we are situated… we are about 50 metres from the perfume shop where we booked it. AND to top it all off, we are on the third floor, but the stairs are spindly and windy and I had to drag our big, yellow suitcase up it.

And, somehow, I find all of this hilarious.

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Quotes for me and pottery

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You need to be tested.

Sentences pop into my brain every once in a while which sums up what I’m feeling or even advice for getting through it. It’s almost like there’s someone else in here with me that just points something out which steers me in the right direction. There isn’t a little man in here though, it’s an a culmination of all my thoughts jumbled up then like on Count Down it’s my job to find the words. It’s a little dose of clarity I need every once in a while.

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Other thoughts I’ve had the past week or two that were so strong I had to write down;

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Don’t become stagnant.

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Exercise is the baseline for some stability.

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You feel like you have so much to offer the world so why aren’t you offering it?

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Always try.