Personal Travel Guide from the Netherlands to the UK.Read More
Just over a year ago, I decided to take part in an early 'Brexit' and move away from my motherland, the UK and begin a new life in the Netherlands. Since then, I have settled into my new life, job and feel very happy within my new surroundings.
My move was relatively straightforward. Firstly, as the distance isn't too far, so I can visit friends and family, when I wish and it is actually very similar to the UK in many ways. I like the language, humour and weather to name just a few, so the transition has been relatively smooth.
Also, my partner is a 'Dutchie' and to build a better future together and establish our family life, it was only right that we were situated in one place. As a result we now reside in the land of cheese and clogs.
Since moving I have feel I have become a little bit more like myself again, more like the person I want to be, perhaps just fully enjoying life and making the of things that come my way. Now I cycle a lot, run a lot and probably rediscovered a part of me that was lost for a while.
I have been really pleased with my new home and surroundings. The Netherlands is a lovely place to live and I feel lucky to be part of the country and the many wonderful things that are on offer. The scenery, the culture and the customs, it is all good.
Moving here is a little bit of a contrast to where I'm originally from. Fair enough, there is no mountains here and a ruggedness I'm so used too. It hasn't really bothered me though, as I now live close to the sea and as the country is relatively small, you can reach almost everywhere within a few hours.
Besides being slightly obsessed with the outdoors, being outdoors and doing outdoors, I'm also slightly disturbed by my fascination with the weather. I think I do have some answers. I'm a Geographer at heart and feel happiest being in the outdoors seeing and experiencing this that working hand in hand with nature.
The Winter is a season I love. I really like the cold, snow, frost, low light and effect this has on the landscape. To have a proper winter is something I really look forward to and when it happens, I like nothing more than putting the appropriate gear and just getting out there an experiencing our beautiful world.
Sadly, in recent years, it has been well documented that global warming is playing its part and with the ever changing jet streams, it means that what was once a pretty much guaranteed cold and snowy winter, now becomes mild, grey and a little uninspiring.
Thankfully, winter here, has not been like last years and it has certainly been a great delight to see some cold, frost days. Recently, the weather has been cold and clear for a long period, which has lead to some brilliant opportunities to not only discover my surroundings a little more, but also capture some potentially great photographs.
As I continually highlight, I'm not a photographer and everything I do is either through learning from others, being inspired by others, or simply learning from my mistakes. I have a good camera, but predominately take images (out and about) on my smartphone. This winter has given me another chance to experiment with those potential opportunities and where possible I have tried to do that while either being out on my bike or out on a run. It might sound bizarre, but it is good to multi task and due to the fact I'm slightly obsessed with both cycling and running, it seems only natural that I take a few images along the way.
After taking a shot, I generally have to look at the editing process. I'm really not the best at editing a photo, but it is something I have learnt to improve overtime and with the use of many popular apps and computer based software, I come up with something I'm happy with. To bore you with the overall editing process is a pain I wish not to put you through. I personally find it so boring listening to others telling, writing or vlogging 'how they edit a photo' and if that 'floats your boat' then I will leave that upto the 'so called' experts. For me, life all about finding things out for yourself and learning from your mistakes? My job is to teach and develop young minds, by taking control and influencing too much, can diminish creativity and as a result everything just turns out the same.
Maybe it's really just me, but I prefer to be different and I like it to remain that way. I'm not one to follow the crowd or make out to be something I'm not, there is no point, as you only get found out in the end. Go figure!
Being armed with a bike and camera is a pretty lethal combination, as sometimes the opportunity or moment arises where the perfect shot is just being laid out in front of you. With that in mind, I don't particularly go looking to shoot, basically I don't have the time. I just take the chance while cycling to work or completing a training session at the weekend, and to be perfectly quite honest, I like it that way. I work hard in the week (educating and inspiring others) and I really look forward to good family time at the weekend. It is so very valuable, as we're always so aware that life is so short. Therefore, I actively seek every chance / opportunity to utilise my time management wisely.
I also like the feeling of just living my life, in the moment or I guess, in the context of photography, just capturing the moment. In my opinion, for what its worth, capturing the moment means that if I see something spontaneous that appeals, I will try my very best to capture it, as opposed to purposely going out, setting up and taking some specific. I would be good if I could work that way, but I'm personally someone who doesn't live there life by a plan. Of course, I have some routines, but I feel when you do go out looking, you don't always end up finding what you are looking for. Of course... others might see things differently than me and of course have their opinion, but... that is just me, using the time I have.
The landscapes here in the Netherlands always offer some great opportunities to take an abundance of water shots, with the many inland waterways and lakes scattered all around the country. Lonely trees, sitting in the wide expanse of an open flat polder and many long, straight cycle paths, that help to give a wonderful sense of perspective and point of view, of the wider surroundings. I live in the South of Holland, so it is predominately flat and exposed to what nature throws at it. Further to the East there is fantastic array of woodland that stretches to the German border. Here too some wonderful images are also be captured and on a regular basis, by talented photographers, who maximize the natural elements of light and shadow, within their beautiful surroundings.
Since moving here I have realised that the winters in the Netherlands can be rather spectacular, as (high above) when the air masses naturally collide, there can be many days where there is an abundance of lingering fog, ice encrusted landscapes, fields, trees and bushes covered in thick frost and snowfalls that can create a wondrous scene, especially in the woodland areas.
Last year, the weather just seemed to be typically the same. With prevailing winds from the south west establishing a gloomy, grey facade that pretty much lasted all season long. As a result the weather was windy and raining, pretty much all of the time. So much so, that it was nasty at times and annoying when I was out and about cycling. Thankfully, so far this year, we have been really lucky and had a varied conditions, that have generally been a great mix of almost everything.
Images of Winter
The above images are some of the many images that I have managed to capture, while out and about on my travels, during the winter months. So far, it has all been pretty good, with a range of weather types, over the past few months. With that in mind, it has simply been wonderful to just experience some days of lingering thick fog, around Christmas and more recently, a long week of hard frost and beautifully clear skies.
For me, that has been really great to see and something I'm sure everyone visiting here, would love to see too, once the ice arrives and the canals begin to freeze over. The popular winter pastime of skating takes hold. I think the the depth of the ice has to be measured and once the all clear is given, everyone takes to the ice, even pretenders like me.
As previously highlighted (further up) it is definitely something I have never witnessed before and actually seeing it take place in small provincial villages on the route home from work and also in some random places is perhaps what you wouldn't expect to see someone on a cold winters day. In fact the other day I was cycling along, next to a narrow canal, when a man passed me on his skates. He was probably going home from work or doing the shopping, but it was out in the middle of nowhere and just seemed so strange to me.
Whatever the reason, it is a fabulous sight to see and seeing people come together and enjoy something collectively, as a community or club is a pretty good vibe. Unfortunately, what snow we have had this winter has been relatively sparse. I live in the city of Rotterdam and also we are closely located near the sea. Here the winds maintain a warmer feel to things and if I want to see some substantial snowfalls, I would probably have to head to the higher ground near Limburg or even across the border into Germany. Hopefully before the winter is out, I can get to see something of these areas, as I have only visited once in the summer months.
I would like to extend a big thank you for taking the time to read my musings. I don't have all the answers and certainly don't profess to be an expert at anything I do. I again just live my life to the full and want to experience, as much as possible.
For me, writing a blog is a way of not only sharing thoughts and topics with my friends and family, but also perhaps appeal to a wider audience, that may choose to read, listen and comment, sharing there views.
With that I fully appreciate any comments, support or criticism. I look at it all with an open mind and of course use it as a vehicle of not trying to improve my work, but also a source of inspiring me to attempt something new.
I will not only 'forge my own path', but I'm significantly inspired by others and the things they do, achieve or their own unique view on things. With that in mind I would like to share some others in the Netherlands, who consistently produce work that not only inspires me to greater things, but also captures the wonderful Netherlands in their own personal way.
Of course there are many others out there and many I also admire, but in particular these are the people that have significantly influenced me when living in the UK and also now that I live in the Netherlands.
For more of their inspiring work, please click on the links above.
Next month, I travel back to the UK and hope to document something new then. Please look out for some future posts.
If you have any queries, questions or just want to say hi, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact my Instagram, Twitter accounts in the social media section of this blog.
Latest images from @gm8ty
As the new year rolls on, there is a always a distinct possibility of falling back into bad habits. Around Christmas and New Year many people (including myself) set themselves targets about what they would like to achieve during the year ahead and as soon as they have started, they end up giving up and reverting back to the norm.
I write this blog post on the particular day, commonly reffered to as 'Blue Monday'. When countries in the Northern Hemisphere often see it as the most depressing day of the year.
Of course, as I look out the window, yet again the morning sky is grey and the view set before me isn't the most inspiring, but among that gloomy scene, I have to be thankful that I've already biked to work this morning and hopefully will start the day in a positive frame of mind. As a result, I remain sceptical and really believe that the so called January Blues or infact Blue Monday, is really just a personal thing, with negativity simply feeding negativity and people using it as a vehicle to perhaps just wallow in a moment of self pity.
With those thoughts in mind, I have continued to develop a positive outlook and approach to the many things I do. As a result, I have again set some personal goals for this year and I'm delighted to say that I'm sticking to them. Whether that is through my photography, cycling or running.
If I firstly look back to last year. I decided after much deliberation to take the leap of faith and ditch motorised transport and opted to cycle to work instead. At first it seemed like one of my many crazy ideas, but completing a round trip of 16 miles each way, for 5 days a week was actually the best thing I have ever done. Especially, for both my body and mind.
Establishing, my new found freedom meant that eventually my total commute allowed me to complete a total of 5,546 miles for the whole year, achieving what I set out to do, as I intitially focused on the target of completing 5,000 miles. So, by the end of 2016 I'd reached a significant milestone and of course felt good for doing so.
This year I feel determined to follow in the same vain, with significantly high levels of commitment and enthusiasm for the task. I want to maintain a positve approach and continue to achieve the most I can. Therefore cycling for purpose, commuting to work, making a difference to myself and of course keeping fit remains an important part of my life.
To maintain that positive frame of mind I want to share some of my possible tips or tricks in order to hopefully motivate others to achieve personal goals, that will allow you to adopt and adapt them to almost anything you decide to do.
Always have a purpose... a GOAL.
It really doesn't matter what you do, I have many hobbies, with so many options, but you have to have a purpose for doing what you do. That might mean establishing a goal to achieve something throughout your ventures, or pehaps a goal at the very end. Just remember that lack of motivation often comes from running out of ideas or reasons as to why you are completing your desired goal. In my opinion the biggest failing is not having a purpose, so make sure it is your primary goal and develop a greater understanding that the outcome might not make you perfect, but it will motivate you to do even more.
It's a marathon and not a sprint.
In the past I have learnt from my mistakes and I have certainly been prone to not pacing myself. Trying to achieve a lot, very quickly would certainly be the ideal, but in reality there is the possibility of burn out or lack of interest in what you are trying to achieve.
From my own mistakes, I have certainly learnt the hard way and understood a lot about myself , my skills and the things I need to improve over time. Therefore the word 'çonsistency' has become ever more present within my vocabulary.
Putting your desired goals into practice might not be so easy, but the rewards will be there to be seen. It could adopted into a variety of habits like pacing yourself during your runs, so that the training is often consitently slow and steady, cycling at a steady pace and avoiding injury or burn out, or consitently fuelling your body with the correct types of foods.
3. Be realistic
Again one of my failings and many others is generally not being realistic. I have many hobbies and have a geat deal of passion for a wide variety of things. In my eyes I want to be good at them all, whether that is my photography or perhaps my sporting pursuits, but in reality you do have to except (however hard) that you are not going to be good at everything.
True, I want to be a better cyclist, runner and photgrapher, but things don't just happen overnight and I believe it all come back to maintaining an appropriate and level of realism. Of course my dreams are big and it is important to have them, although the desired goal doesn't come without the knocks. They often say a person is shaped by how they cope with the knock-backs or dissapointments in life. If you don't like dissapointment then your threshold for coping will probably be low. If you come to terms with the negatives and earn to turn them into positives then you are probably moving in the right direction.
I'm personally motivated by people who make a difference and over the years I have met many wonderful people who focus on something and make a difference. Whether it is to their own lives or others, they put themself out there and make things happen. That is pretty admirable and something I look up to and set my realisic approach to something similar.
Throughtout January and the year ahead I will continue to keep cycling, I'm running more too and I will also endevour to try and make my photography that little bit more appealing, professional looking and seeking a slightly different viewpoint, in order to create new content.
I'm under no illusion that this will not be easy, but I always set my sights high. I also have the deisre and the perseverance to make things happen and will always feel better for doing so, in the hope of achieving something positive.
My blogs are also evolving and I want them to continue getting better throughout the year ahead. Again, I'm no expert, I just like writing and sharing my thoughts, travels, hope and dreams. As a result I don't want to sound like I know better than others, I don't, I'm just an aveage guy, who is still seeking the answers, as much as everyone else. Therefore I'm continually motivated and inspired by others and with that want to achieve and experience, as much as possible in the short time I have on this earth.
If you like this blog feel free to comment and share. It would be really fulfilling if you to could share your comments and thoughts with me, as a vehicle to hopefully inspire me and others to achieve great things in 2017.
Good luck with all that you do and remember with each and every little step, greater things can be achieved.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I really appreciate any time spent reading my musings.
All images are taken on my Smartphone.
Bob un cam, cer mla'n
With each step, go forward...
Wow! What a wonderful start to a brand new year. I've just spent a remarkable last few days, back home in the UK, exploring Wales, Snowdonia, Mid Wales and the picturesque Shropshire Hills.
It was a fleeting visit, but a memorable one all the same. With myself and Claire @claireonline enjoying the delights of one of Europe's finest natural playgrounds.
I have compiled and uploaded a few photos here. These images were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S7, whilst hiking and generally being active, in the mountains. The S7 turned out to be the ideal companion, while out in the field and I was able to snap on the go without a great deal of fuss. Really nice phone and good camera too.
Despite moving away and now living in the Netherlands, home will always be home and although happy, I really do often miss the rugged natural beauty that is so prevalent in the UK.
Unfortunately, I really can't but help display those feelings, as I'm an 'outdoors kind of guy' and being in the outdoors certainly defines my character and I guess is just in my blood.
I also have so many fond memories of this area, both as a child and as a 'hard working' University student... haha. Where I roamed the hills and paths for hours at a time studying how this beautiful location was formed and all the stunning physical features that can be found here.
As someone who thrives on being in the outdoors, happiest in the most remote locations and harshest conditions, I cannot help, but share my love for areas of such natural beauty. Snowdonia is a special place and Wales is a very beautiful country, with so much to see and do.
My next visit will most certainly involve exploring the South of Wales, with the beautiful Brecon Beacons, The Black Mountains, the stunning rugged coastlines of the Gower Peninsula and of course Pembrokeshire high on the to do list. It's been a while and I'd love to see it once more.
...I just need a little time to perhaps make things happen.
Thanks for reading and thanks #wales... you have been just perfect.
A selection of small images from the trip.
These and more images can be viewed on my Instagram page @gm8ty
The Instagram feed can be seen below.
Having grown up in the Peak District all my life, I will always regard this place as ‘Home’.
The Peak District is a place I can seek solitude, a place that always allows me to unwind and connect with myself once more. Life is tough and my job (like most people’s) demands a lot from me. Therefore to be in such a place is always a must and high on my ‘to do' list.
From an early age, I would happily embrace my beautiful surroundings. Whatever the weather, you would often find me outside, exploring and enjoying a new adventure. Often with friends, sometimes just me in a 'world of my own’. My world, a world that always played host to the best adventures and what all the best adventures are built around. A dream, a vision of creating something new and unique.
Growing up, I used the Peak District as ‘my playground’, somewhere I could utilise to train on my bike, run freely across open moorland, hike for miles and of course enjoy passions like photography, as well as the beautiful, physical landscape it presents. Whatever the weather, I would be happy outdoors, enjoying the moment and simply just taking it all in.
Now that I have moved away, its appeal is even greater for me. On my return, I want to continually explore, embrace and enjoy all of its natural beauty. The older I get the more I appreciate the finer details in life and this definitely allows me to be humble in my thoughts and truly thankful for what I have and what I have achieved.
My most recent visit to the Peak District took place at the end of the summer. I’m very lucky to havea long summer holiday and in the previous two weeks myself and my family had been to both Germany, Bavarian Alps and the mountains Salzburgerland in Austria.
To fully embrace all of my free time, we left our home in the Netherlands and ventured across the lowlands, through Belgium and Northern France, onward to the United Kingdom. This time, the choice of travel was by train, as it always offers a relaxed and interesting point of view. I love travelling by train, as I feel it offers a great way to just experience the world me. There is nothing better than just sitting back and watching the world pass you by. On arriving in London, many memories start to flood back. I lived here for 5 years, had a wonderful time, but soon realised that my inner peace was always in the countryside and not within the city life of London, so after a brief stopover we changed trains and headed north.
Soon after we arrived at my parents’ home, we quickly settled and then used it as a base to then explore the wonderful surroundings. I was brought up on the west side of the Peak District in the Staffordshire Moorlands. In my opinion, this area has some of the finest countryside the UK has to offer and is so often overlooked, with many other locations ranked before it. With its remote upland areas covered in moorland and heather, together with beautiful lush, rolling hills and woodland areas, there is nothing better. Add to that the presence of sheep, cattle and stunning rocky outcrops, its appeal is clearly apparent for all to see.
Using this particular area as a base is superb, as my parents' home is so close and accessible to popular locations like the Roaches, Chrome Hill, the White Peak and also the Dark Peak. I love it here, as there is simply so much to see and do. For me, I like nothing more than taking the short trip up to the village of Thorncliffe, near Leek. Here, (once you have negotiated the steep climb) you’ll be greeted with a spectacular view across the dramatic landscape, enjoying breathtaking views as far West as Wales, as far East the picturesque White Peak and North towards the Pennines. On a clear day it is amazing, on a bad day there is endless low cloud and fog. Therefore, in my opinion, any day here is a good day.
I love it here, not only for its views but due to its remoteness. I love any form of remoteness and I equally enjoy solitude. From time to time, I just like to be on my own and be in the quietest of places. Places where you can hear nothing and in the busy worlds we live in, just take a moment and 'enjoy the silence’. On the summit is moorland and extensive views of literally nothing. When the fog rolls in it is eerie and has a somewhat daunting and haunting feel. When the sun shines the colour contrasts are breath-taking, with a picture perfect scenery to be enjoyed almost every time.
In my opinion, the Peak District always offers a unique natural beauty, but also offers a harshness that can only be overcome if you adapt and develop a character to succeed within it. Like most upland areas, the landscapes can be tough and unforgiving at times. For some, a weather change may detract from the appeal of this landscape, but for me, it is a great opportunity to get out and make the most of it.
Grey clouds, fog and localised downpours, can dramatically change the surroundings and also the way that they are viewed. For me, this is what I enjoy the most, the challenge, the bleakness and the remoteness. Changes in light tend to bring out the smaller details, which I really enjoy, like the colours of moorland heathers, the undulating fields (filled with sheep and cows) and craggy rocky outcrops of places like the Roaches and Bamford Edge. It is these conditions that lead me to hike for miles or get on my bike and seek a new spot to photograph something new and dramatic.
Within this picture postcard landscape you will generally find mile upon mile of traffic free roads and if you’re lucky enough to avoid the main roads, the possibilities are endless. With a remote path to follow or a winding road that snakes off into the distance.
Throughout the stay, we visited some equally fabulous places and locations that are simply stunning. We venture slowly across the Peak District National Park to Castleton, to hook up with an old friend. Here we enjoy the Dark Peak, as it is more dramatic in its appearance and continually offers an exciting opportunity to explore. We walk for miles, in the fog, up to the summit of Mam Tor and along the Great Ridge, until we decide to double back on ourselves and traverse the lower levels of Mam Tor and discover the 'broken road', which was the main road, that was destroyed in 1979, after a significant landslide.
This is another great place. To walk up the broken road is an experience in itself, but to also enjoy the beauty that surrounds is pretty unforgettable too. Once at the top, we decide to walk down towards Winnats Pass. Winnats Pass is a popular location, with many visitors coming here to see this great spectacle. Here the path travels through a steep sided gorge, which was originally been cut out by a tropical sea, from the carnivorous period in Geological history. What is left behind is pretty fantastic and whatever way you look it, you cannot help but be inspired by the natural beauty. When you look up you see high towering pinnacles reaching high into the clouds and if you could see below your feet you would see and endless network of caverns cutting into the limestone below.
The Peak District is certainly a special place. A place that offers great opportunities for budding photographers exploring the surroundings and it is also renowned as a caver's paradise for those who like to do their exploring underground. If you get the chance, come and visit. You won't be disappointed.
Gareth Mate 2016
Challenge and survival are two words that have become very apparent in my life.
Since a young age I have always been captivated by and loved being in the great outdoors and where possible I have fully immersed myself in the beautiful world around me, doing many things that obviously make me happy. Being in the outdoors and feeling free is a feeling I live for and one that continues to motivate me throughout my life. Facing challenges head on and using them as a means of surviving has definitely helped shape the person I am today, with me continually seeking every opportunity to explore and find something new.
Growing up in the Peak District, England has also equipped me to constantly embrace challenges with increasing resilience in order to adapt to whatever nature throws at me and with that, I'm always pushing myself to the limits, in a harsh (sometimes unforgiving) environment. In the endless pursuit of achieving my own outdoor high.
Throughout my life I have hiked, ran and cycled, pretty much everywhere, always pushing myself to be the best I can be and achieve things I perhaps only once dreamed of. In all types of weather I have pushed myself to see what I can achieve and also enjoy and experience of what life has to offer.
Last year, I took on the challenge of cycling to work. I decided (after much frustration) to ditch public transport and chose to commute to work instead. At first, people thought I was mad to complete a daily round trip of 52km, but for me it was just another opportunity to be outdoors and do something I loved. Cycling and feeling free. Now I find myself 4,000 miles or nearly 6,500 kms into that challenge and still happy and motivated to take on more.
Of course, there are days where I have questioned myself, but I'm a tough character, determined in personality and phased by little, so after eliminating the initial thoughts of giving up, the whole endeavour seems to spur me on to achieve even greater things.
At times the elements have played their part. Cycling in driving rain, gale force winds and temperatures below zero, isn't always fun or more to the point easy, but for me it is simply about surviving and doing what you have to do and by any means. In situations like this it could also be argued that it is about the clothing you wear, as opposed to having the mindset that you just can't do it.
With that the very kind people at Haglofs have provided me with suitable outdoor clothing that allows me to enjoy my 'outdoor passion' in a way that the hard times are even a pleasure to undertake.
Their quality products enable me to embrace the outdoors and subsequently enjoy all that I do, in any types of weather.
Whether it is back in England, roaming the Peak District or my daily commute in the Netherlands, my challenges have become increasingly real and I have certainly feel the survival aspect, has become even more comforting, with the opportunity to stay completely warm and dry.
With technical clothing and equipment allowing me to still hike, run and cycle long distances, in the relative comfort of wonderfully made garments. Haglofs have taken great care in making outdoor clothing that are not only made from sustainable materials, but also materials that not only allow me to move freely, stay dry, but also look good.
Within this his blog post I have tried to reflect on some of the things I love and also focus a huge appreciation to Haglofs for providing me with amazing equipment that will allow me to enjoy and fulfill my outdoor passions even more.
I have used images, from recent adventures in England, Ireland, Germany and Austria in order to help capture the essence of my existence and my love of the forever changing outdoor playground.
These images shown are generally taken with my smartphone, as I wander or cycle around. Always when I'm cycling, hiking or doing some form of outdoor pursuit.
For further images of my life in the outdoors, you can follow my Instagram feed @gm8ty where I aim to continually capture images from my outdoor adventures. Whether that be from my travels, hikes, daily cycling commute or my dream to one day cycle back to England from my home in the Netherlands.
I don't profess to be an expert at anything I do. I'm simply doing something I love .
Thank you for reading.
I hope to document a few more adventures soon.
I've also recently had the opportunity to collaborate on Instagram with Swedish manufacturer and retailer of socks and underwear, Happy Socks. https://www.happysocks.com/nl/
A great brand, producing some really cool designs.
It was a lot of fun trying to come up with an image, as so many ideas were floating round in my head. Here is what I came up with. Unedited.
I feel really honoured to have been given a great opportunity to collaborate with Biolite Energy. Biolite is innovative company based in New York City, which develops and manufactures off grid energy products for both outdoor recreational industry and also emerging markets.
Biolite is well known for its flagship wood-burning stoves, that utilise thermoelectric technology to produce usable electricity from the heat of fires. Due to my love of the outdoors and sustainability, their products are very suited to myself style. Their story is also heart warming and unique to say the least.
You can read more here Biolite Story
Big thanks to Biolite for the Biolite Stove. A fabulous product.
I'm pretty pleased with my cycling exploits at the moment, but slightly concerned with my obsessive cycling behaviour. It seems that as soon as I'm in the saddle, I just can't get out.
I've gone back to work now, after the summer break and the miles keep on coming.
As the picture shows, it's only Wednesday and I've somehow clocked 95 miles / 152 km.
I've also managed to inspire others... A work friend now joins me for two days, he gets a good view of my backside and then proceeds to hold onto my back wheel for dear life. 😂
Joking aside, it is great company and stops my overplaying Spotify or stops me repeatedly talking to myself.
I'm not sure where this will lead or even end up, but I'm certainly enjoying cycling, exploring the Netherlands, taking photos and making the most of what life throws at me. I'm going to reach my goal of 5,000 miles / 8046 km and maybe some more.
As they say... You gotta be in it to win it.
#cycling #netherlands #life #sport #exercise #explore #exploremore #outdoors #photography #fitness #strava
Some images from my daily route.
At the end of our summer break we managed to get a sneaky trip back to the Peak District in England.
Here are one or two images taken from that trip. It was nice to go back home for a little while, catch up with family and enjoy the surroundings.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn't particularly good, but such poor weather certainly added to the atmosphere.
You can see more images on my Instagram feed @gm8ty
Well, finally, my summer holidays arrived and it was so good to just 'be free to do what I want'. It is always great to reach the end of the academic year and have something to look forward to, something to enjoy and of course share it with the most important people in your life.
We had planned this years summer holiday after about five minutes of unpacking from the last. Of course that might seem a little strange, but I think it's clear that everyone loves a holiday, so you might as well just get on with things and make the most of the whole experience.
With that mind we wanted an adventure and a road trip that would allow us to travel through Europe and see and do as much as we could.
This year we spent a fantastic week in the Eifel region of Germany and then travelled through the rest of Germany, to spend another week in beautiful Austria. A place I love!
Here are some of the images taken on our journey. These are also available on my Instagram feed @gm8ty.
I finish work in a week's time and finally I get a well earned break. I'm so looking forward to having the opportunity of travelling a little around Europe, visiting family in England and also attempting to get a little rest somewhere along the way.
As previously posted, I have been setting myself new challenges here and there. Something I have always done and probably will always continue to do in the future, as long as my body lasts. Some of those challenges have already failed and some are still work in progress, but determination and motivation continues to drive me on, in the pursuit of something new.
One of my recent challenges started in January, when I went back to work, after an enjoyable Christmas break. I decided as much as possible to cycle to work and see how long and how far I could go, within the working year. I had been cycling occasionally to work before Christmas and also sharing some of the difficult days with either a lift in with my friend Paul or a mix of bike, train and tram. The difficult days obviously refer to days when I was simply to tired and low on energy, issues with health (man flu) and of course the extremes of the winter weather, like strong wind, rain, snow and ice.
However and wherever possible I have continued to remain positive, focused and simply tried to just keep moving on and push forward towards achieving my desired goal.
In the process of doing so and attempting what sometimes feels like the impossible, things have often been difficult. Inevitably, there has been times of both highs and lows. Yes... I have got extremely wet, battled against strong wind and been blown off my bike a few times, argued with car drivers about the right of way, ate a lot of bananas and throughout this journey had a rather intimate relationship with various types of chaffing cream.
Although, when looking back to the start, whatever the difficulties might have been initially, it is clear to see that the positives far out weigh the negatives.
So much so, today I spent a lesson talking to the class all about challenges and trying to explain that if you put your mind to something, then you can almost certainly achieve what you set out to do. As a class we talked about my challenge, then looked at my Strava statistics and reviewed where I had started and where I was currently up to. It all seemed fairly straightforward as we began to look and analyse numbers and compare distances over time.
After a while a child asked to see what the distance might look like on a map, a keen visual learner it might seem. Therefore we decided to plot the distance covered, by selecting a starting point of the Hague and looked towards a finish destination that we assumed might be around 5,000 miles away. Once discussed we settled upon Cape Town, in South Africa and began using Google Maps to create a route. It was great to see and discuss a potential route, as it passed through some of the children's native European countries and moved into some of the most inhospitable places on earth, like the Sahara desert.
We then started to look at what those locations were like and draw comparisons to our home. Of course from the images shown I have some distance to go. Cape Town might also actually be a little further than the target of 5,000 miles, so I will probably have to add on some extra cycle rides in order to complete my desired goal. Using an accurate calculation of the distance traveled, it appears that I'm currently located in Algeria with the closest location being Ain Salah.
We had never heard of Ain Salah and I can't say I would like to ever visit such a place, as first impressions show that it is pretty warm and the extensive gas fields might appeal to some, but not to me.
With that said, I'm really delighted with what I have achieved so far and the enthusiasm and learning opportunities for the children is just huge. With all of my class now eager to follow with interest and push me to greater things. Unfortunately, as most of this virtual journey (shown above) has been completed through my regular commute from Rotterdam to The Hague. One day my dream of cycling the real thing might actually come true and I might do it for really. Possibly, The Hague to Cape Town or maybe even circumnavigate the globe. Just watch this space....
So far this has certainly been a learning curve, a journey and also a wonderful experience, one that has now just become part of my daily routine. It has allowed me to explore my new surroundings in great depth and of course enjoy an abundance of photo opportunities. As well as improving my health, by being active and taking in plenty of fresh air. My travels have been interesting and staying dry with the Haglofs clothing has definitetly helped. Therefore I would like to extend a huge thank to them for all of the generosity and support in providing me with suitable clothing.
Studies have shown that riding a bicycle everyday makes you more awesome than the general population.
Well... I had a fantastic two week break, back home and feel extremely lucky to have spent my well earned rest in two fabulous locations.
The first week, as previously posted, was spent in the South West corner of Ireland and the second, back home visiting family, in the beautiful Peak District and surrounding areas.
It was so nice to spend most of that time out in the open, walking and exploring, doing the many things I love to do. It was also so good to have an abundance of fresh air, freedom, see loved ones and share many special times together.
My family is so cool, the best and where possible, whenever possible, it is great to just spend time with them. Even more important now I don't live as close. Then again it is only a 50 minute flight from Amsterdam to Manchester or 3 days by bike. : )
Now, for me it's back to reality, as work starts once again, but I'm looking forward to more great times in the next few months. As we have lots planned.
For me, in my world, there are certainly exciting times ahead...
I would also like to extend a big thanks to the lovely people at Haglöfs for providing me with outdoor gear that allows me to explore this great place in comfort and of course enable me to be in my element.
Thanks for reading.
Here are or two images from this wonderful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Most of the images here are from my IPhone.
Here are a further selection of images. These images are taken mainly around the Roaches and also Gun Hill.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit South West Ireland. Here some images taken from the visit.
Based in the beautiful South West corner, close to Bantry Bay, myself and family enjoyed a fabulous week exploring the Wild Atlantic Way and the surrounding locations.
It is a truly magnificent coastline, mixed with rugged cliffs, remote coves and spectacular mountain backdrop. It's pretty much perfect for me and my exploration / outdoors fix.
We traveled from Amsterdam, hired a car and just enjoyed everything that was laid out in front of us. The relatively quiet roads and stunning scenery led us to an unforgettable adventure around each and every corner.
For me Ireland is perfect. I love landscapes like this, as it is not only reminds of my childhood home in England, but it is continuously changing, with always some interesting and breathtaking to see.
All images shown here are taken on my IPhone and then posted on to my Instagram feed @gm8ty
After the trip, my camera roll was pretty full, so expect many more images in the years to come.
I would also like to extend a big thanks to everyone at Haglöfs for providing me with suitable kit and keeping me warm and dry.
In recent months I have been cycling back from work each day. The journey has been about 20 miles in total (most direct route) and I have been completing the journey for 4 days of the working week. This is mainly due to having other commitments on the 5th day.
Since the half term holidays, in February, I have started to slowly ramp up the distances and have now totaled 98, 123 and 127 miles each week. This increase has mainly come about due to me completing a longer distance on the Friday, where I basically cycle down the coastal path and then cut inland to make my way back home. I'm also completing 5 days of cycling, which is really positive.
My goal is to now cycle both ways...
From door to door that should be around 40 miles a day and 200 ish miles a week. It sometimes feels a little daunting, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, with my only nemesis being the wind. In such a flat, exposed land, that can be awful.
Nevertheless, I'm very hardy and don't easily give up or give in. I just have to strike the right balance with suitable clothing and of course suitable fuel for the engine.
With that in mind, I have lost weight, trimmed up and feel much, much stronger for doing all this. Of course, I do have my moments and often crave a rush of sugar, but the importance of disciplining myself is driving me on to big things.
- The following image is taken on my IPhone, after a brief stop to take the photo and of course admire the view.
Thankfully on this particular day the wind was behind me.
You can also follow my cycling exploits here https://www.strava.com/athletes/554778
So with the build up to Christmas fast approaching us, I have been given a great opportunity to collaborate with Daniel Wellington watches. I will compose three images and then post and promote the Daniel Wellington brand through my Instagram.
All of the images will appear on my Instagram page @gm8ty
'Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world'.
I decided yesterday to catch the train, head north and visit the beautiful Peak District. To grab some much needed fresh air and thinking time. I love the Peak District, so peaceful and picturesque, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The plan was pretty rushed, but I intended to catch the early train to Sheffield, then change to the regional Hope Valley line and head west towards Manchester, eventually stopping off in Edale, the starting point to the Pennine Way.
The weather was cold, windy and the clouds very low. There had been snow over night and the valley was looking pretty spectacular to say the least. Initially, I had thought about going up Kinder Scout, but as the level of cloud was low, it seemed silly to venture up there, as it is pretty bleak at the best of times.
Instead I took the winding road uphill and eventually made my way onto Rushup Edge. From here the clouds began to break and the views on both sides of the valley were pretty remarkable. It was fantastic having blue skies above, swirling low clouds and crisp snow underfoot.
Image shows: Looking back towards Rushup Edge.
After walking along the edge you hit the steep climb up towards Mam Tor, which is a popular destination with walkers from all around. I have summited this 'mini mountain' a million times before, but it is simply beautiful and the views are stunning. As they say... 'You can see for miles'.
Once at the top you slowly take the cobbled path down the mountain side and the 'Great Ridge' in all it's splendour is right there in front of you. A view to always remember and arguably a photographers paradise.
Image shows: The Great Ridge
From here I ambled along a few hundred feet at a time, taking in the magnificent views and continually snapping away. A brief 'Hi!' to the walkers who pass by and then quick... another shot needed. Some people might think I'm mad, but I was enjoying myself and I was happy with that fact.
Thankfully, the weather was superb and it certainly helped to enhance the beauty of this particular area. Armed with 2 DSLR cameras and an Iphone, I captured almost everything possible.
I will add one or two more images to this blog and then further images (over time) to my Instagram feed @gm8ty
Furthermore, I have added a 'Steller Story' which will be embedded at the bottom of this page. I hope you enjoy that and it provides a link to my further Steller Stories online.
Image shows: The view back towards Mam Tor.
Sunday 12th October
I had a great steady 10 mile run this morning, round the local woods and surrounding areas.
Ran with a friend of mine and kept the pace to a really slow, to simply aid recovery from previous runs. Sadly, I do have a tendency from time to time to ultimately run to quick. Like to get the pain over with quickly, but in the long run it doesn't do any good. Must learn!
Training is going really well, slowly ramping up the miles as I move out of the build up stage. More miles to come, but if I can happily do some miles in the week and then a longer run at the weekend, I will be more than delighted.
Today's weather was fantastic, fog in abundance. Rolling over the hills and in amongst the woodland.
Really enjoyed being out! Here are a few pictures.
The route up to Clipstone Woods
Harvesting in the fog
I haven't had a great deal of time to write anything over the past few weeks. Going back to work, in early September certainly put pay to that!
On reflection, I always wanted to write a blog entry about my summer holidays, but just finding the time was the only obstacle that need to be overcome.
Many years ago, when I was 18 and 19, I had a plan and that plan came into fruition. I organised and then embarked on a long European adventure for the very first time. At that age I was relatively care free, fresh out of college and looking to enjoy life t University. I obviously felt free and that the world was there to be taken. With a strong sense of adventure and time on my side, it was time to explore and make life long memories. So with no hesitation I proposed the plan to my best friend, who thankfully and gladly agreed to join in. The only thing we didn't have is a great deal of money, but we had the desire and that was pretty much all we would need. When two good friends set their minds to it, anything is possible!!
Years later and fast approaching 'old age' it really got me thinking once again about how it important it is to seize the day and enjoy eveything you do. I have never been someone who will settle for second best and to settle my inquisitive and adventurous nature, that's exactly what i did...
The past year has been one of the most challenging, yet enjoyable years on planet earth with so many high points and unfortunately one or two lows.
On the 23rd July I finished work, for the summer and soon headed to Amsterdam for the start of yet another new adventure. Manchester to Amsterdam is a straightforward 50 minute flight, one that I had already completed 4 times in the last year or so. No sooner are you are up in the air, than you're safely back on the ground.
Arriving at Schipol is always a nice feeling. It's a huge airport and efficient in every way. You leave the plane and walk the corridors for what seems like a month. Part way along is passport control and then finally the arrival hall, where you know your bags will be waiting the moment you get through. All in all that month probably equates to around 10 mins and from here the outside world.
On walking through the 'big doors', Claire was waiting for me, happy and delighted to see me as usual. From here we would take the short train journey back to Rotterdam, where Claire lives. On arriving Claire aka @claireonline was obviously very happy to see me, but also was equally anxious to show me the scene from the down MH17 flight which had been sadly shot down over the Ukraine only days before.
On seeing this I couldn't help but think back to how lucky I was. It it was of course an extremely moving experience. People stood in silence, some laid yet more flowers as memories. The country was still in mourning and yet life all around me was still going on as usual.
After spending an initial few minutes there, standing and observing, we proceeded downstairs to the underground station and the onward to the city of Rotterdam.
Rotterdam Centraal Station
Here are few more photos from the ever changing city of Rotterdam
Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second city of the Netherlands and a rather cool place to boot. Flattened during the Second World War it has grown again from the ashes into a city of modern architectural splendour. The city boast a fantastic waterfront and a fine selection of modern buildings that are both daring and unique. I particularly love the new station as it is a huge space, yet so calm and peaceful once you are inside.
France - Paris
After spending the evening in Rotterdam we woke up early and heading straight to the main station to catch an early train to Paris. We had purchased our 3 week rail passes, but even though they allowed you to travel almost anywhere in Europe, they did have one or two restrictions. Mainly on the type of train you could catch.
The Thalys (fast) train would get you into Paris in around four hours and the alternative train eight hours. To ultimately save over £100 pounds each we opted for the eight hour journey. This ended up to be the best option, as it allowed us to travel from to Paris via Antwerp in Belgium and both Arras and Amiens in France.
Stocked up with sweets, fruit and drinks we enjoyed the scenery of Northern France and head towards Paris. On arriving in Paris the heat, noise, hustle and bustle soon hit us. Paris is a great city, but today was also the grand finish of the Tour de France. A race I have always wanted to see, but today I was actually going to get nowhere near it as the entire world had turned up.
Instead we headed close by and still enjoyed the sights and sounds around the Effiel Tour and along the Seine On route back to the hotel we wandered along the river Seine, but soon realised we were running low on food, energy and desperately needed some drink. We searched and eventually found snails in abundance, together with frites and French bread. Rounded off with a couple of 1664's and we were back on track.
The next day saw us hop across to station Austerlitz where we would gather ourselves and connect with the train that would take us onwards to Switzerland. At the station it was rush hour and it was so busy. People rushing all over and it struck me that it was going to be a rush onto an already packed train. Thankfully, running down the platform laiden with luggage and then diving into the nearest available carriage really did pay off, as we helped ourselves to two wonderfully located seats.
The journey again was long, five hours in total, but the scenery was truly amazing. Love France, so open and expansive. Rolling fields and thundery weather allowed for some dramatic moments. Eventually, we made our way into Basel and beyond into the beautiful Swiss town of Interlaken.
It's fair to suggest that I truly love Switzerland. If there is a place I could live on earth, then it would be there. Such a wonderful country with a wonderful mix of mountains, lakes, forests and a super standard of living. We ventured to Interlaken and also to Zermatt.
Interlaken is a great location situated between two major Swiss lakes and also close to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery the Alps has to offer.
Austria - Vienna
Poland - Krakow
Germany - Berlin
The Netherlands - Amsterdam
We'll I started off writing about my summer holiday and sadly couldn't actually find the time to write it all down.
I had a million other photos and a million other memories to share. One day I will build on this and probably get it all written down.
I had an amazing time, at a point in my life where I just needed to do things because I wanted to do it. I shared this experience with Claire and it was the best time in the best company.
I wouldn't have wanted it any other way and wouldn't change a thing. Well, only to do it all again tomorrow and visit somewhere new.
I will continue to venture and experience new experiences as it helps make me the person that I am.
Claire is a talent, a wonderful human, with an ability to capture the world in a very unique and inspiring way. If you have enjoyed reading this or perhaps enjoyed viewing my pictures, then you need to see an expert.
Please stop by Instagram @claireonline or www.claireonline.nl and marvel at her work.