Cycling - Spontaneous Sunday Cycling

Here is my latest blog post that seems to highlight my frequent moments of spontaneous thinking, my love of cycling and the great outdoors.

I hope that you enjoy reading it...

Rotterdam

My home and starting point is Rotterdam. It is indeed a great city, hip and happening, with so much to see and do.

Architecturally stunning, continually changing and growing at a rapid rate. Located close to the beach, river and surrounded by excellent countryside escapes.

Aside from my bias, it definitely ranks as a great place to explore in itself, but also beyond the city limits. 

Sunday Cycling...

With a little bit of free time on my hands and the continuation of some amazing summer weather, I decided to go out on the bike early doors, in the hope of getting in some much-needed miles and of course to enjoy the spectacular summer sun. 

I have big plans afoot and the only way I can train, other than my commute to work is to maximise some of the free time I have, by just getting out there and simply pedalling on. Hopefully, to achieve greater things and fulfil many of my hopes and dreams.

I guess for many, Sunday is often referred to as a day of rest. For me, my body clock just seems to react with the sun and when it's up, so am I. Yes, it is weird, I know, as I could probably do with some well-earned rest, but that is just the way it is. After all, I am a man and my head will often tell me one thing and my body another.

After gathering my things and eating a good breakfast I venture downstairs, out of the front door and then on my way. Soon enough I'm riding through the quiet streets of the city. Early on a Sunday morning, it looks fairly desolate and deserted, with only one or two party goers, looking like zombies and doing their best to complete the 'walk of shame.' 

A short while later I had made it down to the riverbank and to a point where decisions needed to be made. With that in mind, I'm never very good when it comes to crossroads, as the options for a cyclist are simply too great. With many interesting routes on offer. These different routes always seem too appealing and I guess sometimes that appeal can become to great.

Nevertheless, being a decisive person, it doesn't take long for my decisive mind to take full control and I'm then told, by the voices in my head, to go left, so that's exactly what I do. From this point, I turn into the early morning sun and then head off along the river in an easterly direction.

Dutch Motorways

Sometimes it gets really busy along here...

It was probably, not the best time to cycle through this popular tourist destination, but this blog draws upon spontaneous moments, so I guess this now becomes true to its word.

This is Kinderdjik, on a Sunday, it's early and its busy.

Even so, it is a fabulous place to cycle and of course take in the splendid scenery.

I'm quickly learning from my mistakes, so next time I'll double check Google Traffic, before leaving the house.

Today, a longer ride...

For this particular cycle ride, I wanted to continue building my (improving) base fitness and simply get some longer routes, under my belt. Prior to setting off, I had thought out a sketchy route, which eventually would turn into a natural circular loop, of around 50 miles or so.

So much so, it was probably going to be a fairly big loop, in the end, and considering I hadn't actually done it before, I had this sudden feeling, that it might actually be even longer than first thought. Add to that I'd forgotten my pump and puncture repair kit. I was now putting the whole journey, in the hands of the Gods and hopefully, today, they would be on my side.

Turning left meant that I would be going out of the city of Rotterdam, in an easterly direction, into the bright sunshine. I followed the red cycle path, with the river on my right. This allowed me to enjoy watching the many boats travel up and down and it was a delight to see and be accompanied by, so many runners and fellow cyclists.

For me, it is always good to see this, each time I go out. As it is not only reassures me this is a popular route, to run and cycle, but also provides added motivation in what seems like a Rotterdam fitness revival. With so many others out there all at the same time, just enjoying the moment. Furthermore, it also confirms that I'm not the only nut case out there and it seems others follow the same mode of thinking as me and... I'm delighted they do!

On this winding route, you stick to and travel close to the river. Then in certain places you travel up and down the steep sides of the dykes. This can be somewhat disorientating at times, as one minute the river comes into view and the next moment you are actually below it. It is a pretty cool experience, as this means you are actually below sea level and with that, you are reminded that around 80% of Rotterdam and its suburbs is positioned below sea level.

Eventually, I reach the giant sluice gate near Krimpen. This is a big and significant structure, to the local area and of course important to regulate the levels of the river and to stop any potential flooding happening, here and throughout the Netherlands. Now... I'm new to the Netherlands, but I'm learning quickly. These gates are so important to stop any potential flooding, so it is important they are, respected and regularly maintained. Therefore, I show my respects by shouting 'Dank je wel' as I ride up the steep ramp, cross at the top and then speed down the other side.

Landscape

The landscapes of the Netherlands are pretty beautiful at times and forever changing, from season to season.

With wide open expanses of flat lands mixed with woodland areas, canals and farmland.

It makes for pretty, picture perfect scenery.

It is all there for you to explore. Just get out there and enjoy it!

Sometimes you have to be a little patient...

Soon after speeding down the ramp, I start to pedal through the last suburban area, of Rotterdam and into the countryside that surrounds. I would say this is my favourite part and I guess every other cyclist too. Here for the first time, for around 15 minutes, you don't necessarily need to stop 'hitting the brakes' and stopping for traffic lights. Finally, some freedom can be found and it is a good opportunity to enjoy it, take in the surroundings and simply pedal fast as you like.

As you will gather from my previous posts, that I'm a man who loves his hills and mountains. I grew up a hill dweller and it is I guess second nature for me to just climb the hills and revel in enjoying the wondrous views from some of the highest vantage points. Whether that is by foot, car or bike, it is all really good, but here, in contrast, my surroundings are... just flat.

Although, the flat is flat and some might say, often boring to look at. I actually find them really unique and I particularly love the great sense of remoteness and exposure that they so often present. Of course, the fields have trees in them and cows too, but you probably wouldn't want to be here in certain weather conditions, as shelter comes at a premium. Although, some of the best diverse weather conditions can be seen in some of the nearby locations. 

With that said, the cycling becomes easier and you can certainly pick up vast amounts of speed. Probably, even breaking the speed limit and often covering many miles or km in a short space of time. 

Kinderdijk

The windmills at Kinderdjik provide a fabulous traditional backdrop.

I guess, so typically Dutch.

Just make sure you visit here at different times of the day and also year. As the changes in light and weather conditions make for some wonderful and interesting images.

It will be worth it in the end...

I ride on until I eventually reach Krimpen aan de Lek, a small suburb in Rotterdam and here the road becomes no more. At this point, you need to cross the river and the only way of doing so is by ferry. Of course, you could pick up speed and try and jump it, or perhaps to cycle on water, but sadly, I haven't mastered either of those techniques just yet. I guess that's what I call... work in progress.

The easiest option is to dip into the back pocket, find 80 cents and pay for the ferry to take you across. It is simple and really straightforward, so that's the option I take. The journey allows you time to rest and view the surroundings and on a day like this... take a rest and a much-needed drink.

On the other side of the river is the path that leads up to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk is a small village and is also home to probably the Netherlands most popular tourist attraction. It is home to the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands. This is a fabulous place and obviously well worth the visit. Here you will get to go back in time and experience how these windmills were/are still used to manage the water levels in the nearby rivers and dykes.

Some are still lived in and if you do have time, it is great to stop and just talk with the locals. Don't worry, most of them speak English, as well as most other world languages, including Dutch. They also provide a fabulous backdrop to enjoy the typical Dutch scenery, take photographs and just admire the great contrasts of water and windmills.

I know in my short time, here in the Netherlands, I have seen some inspiring images, taken during the early morning hours or at dusk, by a wide range of photographers. Even better, during the winter months, the canals ice over and people travel from near and far to use the large expanse of water to ice skate on. As long as the ice holds, it is a pretty unique and impressive sight to see.

Oh boy, do those Dutchies love their skating...

Busy out there...

After battling through the throngs of tourists, roaming through Kinderdijk. I decide to head out across the polders and sort of follow the river towards another crossing at Nieuwepoort. Here I can make another crossing over the river Lek and continue on my route towards Gouda

It begins to become a circular type route now and without the river crossings you would actually end up not being able to cross the river at points, probably ending up somewhere in southern Germany. So... if you don't want to make the ride any longer, it is very important to cross when you can.

After making it to Nieuwepoort I again cross via the ferry and then begin to work my way up to the town of Gouda. I have been to Gouda several times before, but on this route it is actually my first time, so I'm relying on the cycle route signs (positioned all around) and also following my nose. Eventually, across the endlessly flat polder landscapes, I begin to make out Gouda and the buildings of the centre. From here I know where I am and begin to pass through.

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Gouda

The distinct smell of cheese and the top of the the Stad Huys. A popular focal point, meeting place when visiting Gouda.

Gouda is a splendid city and has everything to offer. A wonderful sense of history with plenty of great festivals taking place, throughout the year. 

It is certainly a great place to visit and enjoy.

If you like cheese...

Gouda is a really nice city and not too far from my home in Rotterdam. It has historical Dutch buildings and is of course home to the world famous Gouda Cheese. Now... I'm not really a lover of cheese, but I have to say that the varieties of Gouda on offer here are pretty fantastic. Having tasted a few of the many samples in the shops, I can say that I have been tempted to buy more, but up until now, I haven't really given into temptation. Sad, but true.

From Gouda, I always feel that you are on the home straight. You start to head west and sometimes this can be a nightmare, as you cycle into the headwind. Head winds are of course troublesome, but they test your character and make you work. You can't avoid them here, but without them you cannot improve your overall technique, quality and stamina on rides. 

Over the years I've adopted the attitude to simply just put my head down and get on with it. For sure, it is tough, but the payoff is eventually worth it, as long as you don't get blown off.

Leaving Gouda I head towards another favourite location and a popular destination for people wanting to escape the city. The Rottermeren is close to Rotterdam and is basically an extension of the river Rotte, that opens out into a huge expanse of water. Popular for recreationist like boat enthusiasts, fishermen, bird spotters, painters, skaters and ice skaters...

I like It here and I try to incorporate this area into as many rides as possible. It is a wonderful natural area and one that is loved by both nature enthusiasts and people just wanting to stay fit and utilise the outdoors. It is well worth the visit as it again has windmills dotted around, but also cafes and boat hire, for you to just get out and enjoy. 

My route takes me down one side of the river, but usually, like many others, I follow the popular cycle loop and make my way round. Therefore at certain times of the day, especially Sunday's it can become progressively busy, sometimes too busy with groups of cycling teams, training at speed. Good to remain vigilant at all times. 

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Make the most of it...

Whatever the weather the beautiful Rottemeren can be enjoyed and explored by everyone.

Going back to the start of the year I witnessed a great sight of the river freezing over and skaters then taking to the ice.

This images captures that moment.

Heading home...

At different points of the year, the weather inevitably changes and the landscape dramatically too. You can see in the picture above, I was lucky enough to witness a frozen Rottemeren, back in January, which was pretty amazing, to say the least.

In no time at all, I'm weaving and meandering my way down the river and then eventually back towards home. The river path is lined with a range of fabulous houses and places that would be so good to live in. Here, right outside your door you can park a boat, then simply cruise up and down, or perhaps even run from the door, take a dive and then go for a swim. It looks like a great life to live, especially on days like this.

En route you pass yet another great place, that place is Outdoor Valley, if you're feeling adventurous and want to do something exciting, then this place is well worth your time. It has loads on offer for the adventurer within you. 

Here you can do something positive and also useful for your health and well-being. Again, my advice would be 'practice what you preach' and to stop thinking about it or even talking about it. Just get out there and have some fun! In a place like this, there is lots of fun to be had.

I particularly like and enjoy the mountain bike loop here. The loop is pretty much all man-made and doesn't have a significant amount of climbs, but it has a lot of single track fun, it is relatively short and can be repeated several times over. In close proximity to the city, I feel it provides a wealth of opportunity for any mountain bike enthusiasts. 

At this point in proceedings, my spontaneous ride has almost come to an end, but I'm still a little hungry, I need a drink and I'm suntanned to the appearance of a Lobster. Taking this into consideration, I think it is simply time to rest.

Therefore, I make the decision to finish and opt to take a break. I decide to call in and visit the cool, Coppi Koffie cafe. Which is conveniently situated just around the corner from my house. Really lucky to have this so close.

It is a great little cafe, which is relatively new. It provides its customers with an interesting mix or fusion of both cycling and coffee. It is stylish and modern in design and you can even get your bike fixed in the back of the cafe, while you wait.

It is certainly a great concept and I do really like places like this and it is hard not to admire the creative thinking of the owners. I believe it is a great way to bring a community feel to both cycling, coffee and of course cake. Everyone loves a bit of cake!

I would say it is a well worth a visit, for any budding cycling enthusiast, coffee addict or cake connoisseur and I'm sure it will continue to grow in popularity, most certainly in an area of Rotterdam that is booming with new urban influences and creative minds.

One more positive is that they also organise regular rides out, into the countryside starting and finishing at the cafe. Rides similar to the one that I took. Although, this would be in the form of a larger group ride, of differing abilities and well worth a try, especially if that's the kind of thing you are into.

Below, a short video clip (in Dutch) showing the Coppi Koffie cafe.

Once again, big thanks for reading this post and I hope it has given you a bit of insight into my life, the things I love and the things I do. Furthermore,  I hope my words perhaps resonate and even inspire you to be spontaneous, get out and do something similar.

The way I see it, there is always something interesting to do, you just have to be positive and make the time to do it. You never know you might like it!

This route is fairly simple and probably a regular route for many riders, but one that I feel has some interesting things to see and also enjoy, along the way. If you would like to take a look at my route, or perhaps share a route of your own, you can see it via my Strava cycling feed.

My route https://www.strava.com/routes/9242619

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Links

Cycling in the Netherlands is pretty unique. There are endless miles of safe cycle paths, that make it fun for all ages and abilities. If you are thinking of cycling here, I have compiled one or two useful links that might be of interest to you.

North Sea Cycle route

Bicycle Dutch

Dutch Cycling routes

10 best routes in the Netherlands


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Life - Winter in the Netherlands

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.


Thank You

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.

@claireonline

@vincentcroce

@rjansen1967

@erikhageman

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 gm8ty30@gmail.com or contact my Instagram, Twitter accounts in the social media section of this blog.


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Travel - Visit to Wales

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 @garethmate

The Instagram feed can be seen below.



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Collaboration - Haglöfs

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. 

The Shehy Mountains of Southern Ireland. An amazing wilderness I only discovered this year. I would love to come back here again one day and explore some more.

The Shehy Mountains of Southern Ireland. An amazing wilderness I only discovered this year. I would love to come back here again one day and explore some more.

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.  

My partner Claire @claireonline walking the hills near the Roaches in the UK.

My partner Claire @claireonline walking the hills near the Roaches in the UK.

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.

That's me. Standing on the Roaches, looking out across the beautiful countryside below. 

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 hike, run or cycle around in the great outdoors.

For further images of my life in the outdoors,  you can follow my Instagram feed @garethmate 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.


Bavarian Mountains in Germany. Provide an amzing location for hiking and exploring.

Bavarian Mountains in Germany. Provide an amzing location for hiking and exploring.

Evening light in the Austrian Alps.

Evening light in the Austrian Alps.



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Life - Cycling Musings

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 friend at work now joins me for two days a week, he gets a good view of my backside and then proceeds to hold onto my back wheel for dear life, as we cycle everywhere. 

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.

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Travel - Visit to England

At the end of our summer break we managed to get a sneaky little trip back to the Peak District in England.  

It was great to see family once more and spend sometime roaming and feeling free. There are so many great walks, close to home, so the majority of time was simply spent in the outdoors.

Here are one or two images taken from that trip. It was nice to go back home, catch up with family and enjoy the surroundings.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn't particularly very good, with pretty cool temperatures along with several wet and cold days. Although, such poor weather conditions weren't necessarily good. They certainly added to the atmosphere. 

You can see more images on my Instagram feed @garethmate

The following images are taken on the Roaches range, close to Roach End farm and moorland close to the village of Warslow. Two excellent locations, with great scenery.

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Thanks for reading this short blog. It is great to know that people do read my blogs and if you would like to share your thoughts, that would be great. 

Travel - Summer Road Trip

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 @garethmate

Bavarian Alps

Bavarian Alps

Bavaria

Bavaria

Bavarian Alps

Bavarian Alps

Austria  

Austria  

Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria.  

Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria.  

 Eifel region, in Germany. 

 Eifel region, in Germany. 


Life - Cycling Challenges

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.

Here the you can see the weekly goal of 100 miles a week and a totally distance ( and maybe more) of 5,000 miles.

Here the you can see the weekly goal of 100 miles a week and a totally distance ( and maybe more) of 5,000 miles.

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.

Overview of the cycle route from The Hague to Cape Town. A long way!

Overview of the cycle route from The Hague to Cape Town. A long way!

A more detailed look.

A more detailed look.

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. 

Gas 

Gas 

Hot, Hot, Hot

Hot, Hot, Hot

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.


Travel - Peak District

Well... I had a fantastic two week break, back home in the UK and I 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, close to Bantry and the second was spent, back home visiting family, in the beautiful Peak District National Park and surrounding areas.

It was so nice to spend most of that time out in the open, walking and just exploring and doing the many things I love to do. It was also good to have an wealth of fresh air, freedom, see loved ones and then share many special times together. It makes going home very worthwhile.

My family is cool, the best there is and where possible, whenever possible, it is great to just spend time with them. It's even more important now I don't live as close. Then again it is only a 50 minute flight from Amsterdam to Manchester or around 3 days by bike. : )

Now, for me it's back to reality, as work starts once again, but I'm looking forward to yet more great times in the next few months. As we have lots of exciting things planned.

For me, in my world, there are certainly good times ahead...

Most of the images posted here are from the ‪#‎PeakDistrict‬ ...my playground, from now and when I was young. Visit Peak District I love this play as it brings back so many great memories and it's a place I would always call home.

Besides this short blog post, I have also posted the following images on my Instagram feed @garethmate What appears here are the copies of those. https://www.instagram.com/garethmate/

I would also like to extend a big thanks to the lovely people at Haglöfs for providing me with wonderful outdoor gear that allows me to explore this great place in comfort and of course enable me to be in my element while doing so.

Thanks for reading this short post. I really appreciate it.

Links

Peak District National Park

Visit the Peak District

Things to do in the Peak District


Here are or two images from this wonderful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Most of the images here are taken my IPhone. They have then been slightly edited using the apps Snapseed and also Instagram.

Above the remote location of Three Shires Head is this pretty special spot. From here you can see for miles. On a warm day its stunning, a no place better, on a cold day it can be extremely bleak and challenging. Instagram @garethmate 

Above the remote location of Three Shires Head is this pretty special spot. From here you can see for miles. On a warm day its stunning, a no place better, on a cold day it can be extremely bleak and challenging. Instagram @garethmate 

A lonely tree stands solitary and proud, just below the popular walking route of Shuttingsloe, Cheshire. From here you can tackle this great climb and at the top, see for miles in all directions. Instagram @garethmate 

A lonely tree stands solitary and proud, just below the popular walking route of Shuttingsloe, Cheshire. From here you can tackle this great climb and at the top, see for miles in all directions. Instagram @garethmate 

Out for a summer stroll with my Mum and Dad at the beautiful Lyme Park, Cheshire. The park and manor house are stunning and i do believe they were filmed and used, as a backdrop for the popular costume drama called Pride and Prejudice. Instagram @garethmate 

Out for a summer stroll with my Mum and Dad at the beautiful Lyme Park, Cheshire. The park and manor house are stunning and i do believe they were filmed and used, as a backdrop for the popular costume drama called Pride and Prejudice. Instagram @garethmate 


Here are a further selection of images. These images are taken mainly around the popular Roaches range and also Gun Hill.


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Travel - South West Ireland

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. 

Links

Wild Atlantic Way

Ireland.com

Discover Ireland

See views from Instagram @gm8ty

See views from Instagram @gm8ty

House on Bantry Bay from Instagram @gm8ty

House on Bantry Bay from Instagram @gm8ty

Sea views from Instagram @gm8ty

Sea views from Instagram @gm8ty

A walk from Instagram @gm8ty

A walk from Instagram @gm8ty

Sail Away from Instagram @gm8ty

Sail Away from Instagram @gm8ty

Three Castle Head from Instagram @gm8ty

Three Castle Head from Instagram @gm8ty

Mizen Head from Instagram @gm8ty

Mizen Head from Instagram @gm8ty

Shehy Mountains from Instagram @gm8ty

Shehy Mountains from Instagram @gm8ty

The locals from Instagram @gm8ty

The locals from Instagram @gm8ty

A rugged landscape from Instagram @gm8ty

A rugged landscape from Instagram @gm8ty

Great view from Instagram @gm8ty

Great view from Instagram @gm8ty

Lone tree from Instagram @gm8ty

Lone tree from Instagram @gm8ty


Yesterday, I went for a walk...

'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  @garethmate

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.

Travel - Tour of Europe

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. 

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Rotterdam Centraal Station

Rotterdam Waterfront  Waiting for the impressive and on time water taxi. 

Rotterdam Waterfront 

Waiting for the impressive and on time water taxi. 

Here are few more photos from the ever changing city of Rotterdam

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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

Effiel Tower. I love this particular view of Paris.

Effiel Tower. I love this particular view of 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.  

The grand entrance to Antwerp station, Belgium.

The grand entrance to Antwerp station, Belgium.

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. 

Bridge of locks over the river Seine.

Bridge of locks over the river Seine.

 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. 

Switzerland

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.

Looking out and into the valley below, in Switzerland. Loved this so much. Watching the clouds dancing below was a wonderful experience. Could have certainly stayed here for a long time or revisited on a daily basis. 

Looking out and into the valley below, in Switzerland.

Loved this so much. Watching the clouds dancing below was a wonderful experience. Could have certainly stayed here for a long time or revisited on a daily basis. 

Views from Gournegrat, Switzerland. Again a valuable life experience. Understanding how we are so small, living in such a beautiful space. 

Views from Gournegrat, Switzerland.

Again a valuable life experience. Understanding how we are so small, living in such a beautiful space. 

Zermatt, Switzerland. Walking the trails outside of the beautiful alpine village of Zermatt. On this particular evening we walked for sometime. The only thing bringing us back, the lack of day light. 

Zermatt, Switzerland.

Walking the trails outside of the beautiful alpine village of Zermatt.

On this particular evening we walked for sometime. The only thing bringing us back, the lack of day light. 

Looking towards the Matterhorn. Sadly on this cloudy day, it can't be seen. Thankfully, I have been to Zermatt twice and I have seen it...the Matterhorn! 

Looking towards the Matterhorn.

Sadly on this cloudy day, it can't be seen.

Thankfully, I have been to Zermatt twice and I have seen it...the Matterhorn! 

Close to Interlaken is Harder Klum. A brilliant small mountain, with wonderful mountain views.   Sadly, our visit was interrupted by a thunderstorm, but the closing clouds and mist added a sense of interest and this picture shows the result. 

Close to Interlaken is Harder Klum.

A brilliant small mountain, with wonderful mountain views.  

Sadly, our visit was interrupted by a thunderstorm, but the closing clouds and mist added a sense of interest and this picture shows the result. 

Austria - Vienna

International Centre

International Centre

The oldest Ferris wheel in the world in one of the weirdest theme parks I have ever visited. I suppose you had to be there to marvel in this place. 

The oldest Ferris wheel in the world in one of the weirdest theme parks I have ever visited.

I suppose you had to be there to marvel in this place. 

A great way to travel in any city.

A great way to travel in any city.

 Poland - Krakow

Storm chasing over the castle. Prior to this we spent the over an hour watching a distant thunderstorm.   Really cool! 

Storm chasing over the castle.

Prior to this we spent the over an hour watching a distant thunderstorm.  

Really cool! 

Visit to Auschwitz A moving experience. On that didn't seem real.  Cannot imagine I will visit here again. I 'm glad I did and the memory shall live long. 

Visit to Auschwitz

A moving experience. On that didn't seem real. 

Cannot imagine I will visit here again. I 'm glad I did and the memory shall live long. 

Germany - Berlin

Holocaust Memorial An amazing place! 

Holocaust Memorial

An amazing place! 

East Side Gallery A section of the Berlin Wall. A very impressive and historical structure. Hard to believe what life must have been like during this difficult time. 

East Side Gallery

A section of the Berlin Wall. A very impressive and historical structure. Hard to believe what life must have been like during this difficult time. 

Checkpoint Charlie Even has a McDonald's  

Checkpoint Charlie

Even has a McDonald's  

Berlin Wall wide angle

Berlin Wall wide angle

The Netherlands - Amsterdam

Capturing scenic Amsterdam A great find and many thanks to the artist who gave me this moment. 

Capturing scenic Amsterdam

A great find and many thanks to the artist who gave me this moment. 

Peaceful Taking in the views

Peaceful

Taking in the views

Many, many bikes in many, many colours.

Many, many bikes in many, many colours.

Walking and talking

Walking and talking

The Netherlands

Storm rolling in from England. The Dutch Coast. 

Storm rolling in from England.

The Dutch Coast. 

Kinderdjik Picture Perfect.  If I could paint, this place would keep you busy for hours. 

Kinderdjik

Picture Perfect. 

If I could paint, this place would keep you busy for hours. 

Let's go fly a kite

Let's go fly a kite

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. 


Social Media

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