Taste the Trail: a wild foraging adventure

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Once in a while we all get that romantic idea; living from the land, only eating fresh, pure food and everything organic. Forage and eat what nature provides us. In this urban times we almost forgot where our food comes from. Yeah, from the supermarket. Wrapped in plastic.

A new wave of people has risen up. Conscious people who learn the old ways of foraging. Picking mushrooms, berries and making wild salads. Marin Leus from Groene Avonturen is one of those people. She lived of the grid, without a fridge and tries to eat as much wild food as possible. In her I found the perfect partner to go on a wild forage adventure. With her skills in foraging and my skills in traveling we form the perfect duo to live from the land for a couple of days. But is this actually possible?

On the 14th of September Marin and I will hit the trail, the Eifelsteig to be precise. We will hike three days and will only eat what nature will provide. Salads, maybe some berries and I will try to get fish. It might be easy, there might be a abundance of food. But it might be hard too. Bad weather, no fish or edible plants and a journey of 54 kilometers in three days.

During the journey I will share the recipes we use, we will make pictures and film the journey. In the end talented artist Evert-Jan Soepboer will make a beautiful map with all the places we found veggies, berries, mushrooms and hopefully cached a fish.

Follow Marin on her Facebook, website or Instagram

You can follow me on Facebook as well

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Cycling through western Russia

About two months ago I’ve got a message from Gernot, head of the International Cycling Film Festival. A festival I co-host in the cinema I work at in Groningen. The message was short but strong: “Erwin, we are organizing an edition of the ICFF in Russia, you have to come!”

Obviously my first thought was: Yeah!! My second thought was: I need to arrange some free days for this, because a weekend in Russia is too short. So I arranged some free days, got myself a visum, some plane tickets and a little idea for an adventure. Cycle from The Red Square in Moscow to St. Petersburg. This will be around 700 kilometers, and I will make up the route as I go (because there are no good maps of this area).

I don’t have a bike yet, but I believe there is a bike for me somewhere in Moscow. Maybe in a second hand store, maybe at somebodies house gathering dust. With this trip I’m hoping to discover local Russian life. What we see on the news is merely a small view of Russian politics. How are the real Russian people? What do they eat, how do they live and how do they react on a bearded Dutch guy?

This journey I will work together with artist Pieter Hoekstra, who will visualize the journey in a couple of awesome illustrations. The journey will start the 29th of June and you can follow me on my Facebook page from then on!

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Pole 2 Pole: pole-camping trough the Netherlands – A photographic essay

In the Netherlands wildcamping is forbidden. If you find a nice place to put up your tent, it’s not allowed. But to compensate a little the Dutch forrest administration pointed out some designated places to camp out and see what Dutch nature can be like. These places are called “Paalkampeerplaats”, roughly translated as “pole camping place”. I traveled trough the Netherlands with my bike, in search of these places. This is the photographic account of the journey.

 

Pole to Pole in the Netherlands

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In the Netherlands wildcamping is forbidden. If you find a nice place to put up your tent, it’s not allowed. But to compensate a little the Dutch forrest administration pointed out some designated places to camp out and see what Dutch nature can be like. These places are called “Paalkampeerplaats”, roughly translated as “pole camping place”.

With my bike I will go from pole to pole and check out these places. Do they sleep well, are they away from traffic and can I really feel like I’m out in the bush when a place is designated?

Every day I will post a very short story (not more then 200 words) about an experience of that day with a picture on my Facebook page. And of course a picture of the place I’ve slept!

Rollerblading LeJog; wheels and hills

A piece for Rollerblade Scheveningen; the skatestore that provided me with my wheels for the journey. Check out their awesome shop (Adventure-hint: a Fatstep!)

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Na Nederland doorkruist te hebben op inline skates zoek ik een grotere uitdaging, en die vind ik in de gehele lengte van Engeland en Schotland; van Land’s End naar John ‘O Groats, 1600 kilometer op inline skates. Naar mijn idee was de voorbereiding goed; drie maal per week trainen met 15 kilo op mijn rug, goede skates aanschaffen en gaan.

Die avond lig ik in de wijde heuvels van Schotland en hoor de bronstige edelherten vlak bij me brullen. Af en toe hoor ik geweien tegen elkaar kletteren, en in mijn hoofd zijn deze bloeddorstige beesten op zoek naar mals mensenvlees. Om hun bloeddorst te vermijden heb ik mijn tentje binnen de muren van een oude begraafplaats gezet. Waarschijnlijk lig ik een meter boven een grafkist, maar ik voel me hier een heel stuk veiliger dan buiten de bouwvallige muurtjes van het desolate kerkhof. Eindelijk vallen mijn ogen dicht en denk ik aan het begin van de reis.

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Sinds ik van Land’s End in Engeland vertrokken ben, stuntel ik langzaam richting het oosten. Zo voelt het ook echt: als gestuntel. Maar ik blijf skaten. Totdat ik de eerste afdaling ontmoet. De wegen in west Engeland hebben speciale bermen, ze noemen ze “Cornish Hedges”. Stenen muurtjes begroeid met bramenstruiken en brandnetels. Terwijl de auto’s langs me vliegen, ga ik steeds sneller en sneller de afdaling af. Ik probeer te remmen, maar dit lukt nauwelijks. De enige optie die ik heb, is om me te laten vallen en de befaamde hedges van dichtbij te zien. Hierna besluit ik de afdalingen lopend af te leggen.

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Het is niet makkelijk. Veertig tot vijftig procent loop ik. Als ik loop, merk ik dat ik het naar mijn zin heb. Geen pijn aan mijn enkels, voor afdalingen hoef ik niet bang te zijn en de kwaliteit van de wegen maakt minder uit waardoor ik me niet 200% hoef te focussen op wat komen gaat. Als ik op de wielen sta, verandert mijn houding. Proberen kilometers te maken en opletten. Meestal houd het na een uur of twee a drie op en ben ik weer blij als ik loop. Dit werkt niet. Er moet een nieuw plan komen.

Lopen, en waar ik kan, skaten. In het midden van Engeland is het vlak en zijn de wegen beter. Maar voor nu moet ik kilometers inhalen, wil ik over vier weken in Schotland zijn. Moet ik een fiets zien te regelen voor de kilometers? Als ik ’s avonds in de tentje lig en over de landerijen kijk, spoken deze vragen door mijn hoofd. Houd ik koste was het kost vast aan mijn plan, of stel ik het bij en maak ik de reis af op een andere manier? Soms gaan dingen vanzelf.

Ik ontmoet mensen die mij savonds uitnodigen om te blijven slapen. Daarnaast wordt mij een fiets aangeboden die ik aanneem. Maar hoe zit het dan met mijn integriteit? Ik heb iedereen verteld dat ik een heroïsche toch op skates ga doen, en nu het puntje bij paaltje komt, maak ik het mezelf er makkelijk van af, ik pak mijn oude, veilige manier van reizen weer op; met een fiets. Maar als ik dan mijn dagboek weer teruglees en lees hoe bang ik eerder was om onder een auto terecht te komen, of gewond te raken tijdens een ongecontroleerde afdaling weet ik dat ik een goede keuze heb gemaakt.

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Vijf weken fiets ik alleen en richting Edinburgh waar ik “Adventure” Henk ontmoet om samen een week mee door Schotland te rollen. Hij op een longboard en ik op de fiets. Eindelijk hoef ik niet meer met mezelf te praten. Alleen reizen is erg goed voor je, je leert met jezelf omgaan en om keuzes te maken. Je leert op jezelf te vertrouwen. Maar toch is het ook leuk om samen te reizen; de avonden zijn gezelliger met zijn tweeën dan alleen ik en mijn fiets, die nooit iets terug zegt. De laatste avond samen horen we herten brullen. Dit is een voorbode van wat komen gaat, maar dat weet ik dan nog niet.

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De fiets heb ik achter gelaten, voor een volgende avonturier. De sleuteltjes heb ik ondertussen opgestuurd naar Glasgow, waar een Deense jongen wacht op de tweewieler, om deze naar Ierland te fietsen. Zo kan ik de goedheid die mij gegeven is, doorgeven aan iemand anders. Mocht je zelf nog een uitdaging zoeken, van Land’s End naar John ‘O Groats is een avontuur voor iedere inline skater. Zorg alleen wel dat je over goede remtechnieken beschikt!

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Voor wat gedetailleerde verslagen over deze reis en andere toffe reisdingen kun je altijd mijn Facebookpage liken!

2016; a year in pictures – and Radio!

January

There are hardly any adventurous events in the Netherlands, time to make them happen! I decided to start “Leeuwarder Adventure Nights“, a series of lecture evenings where amateur adventurers talk about their journeys. First off were: Joren Kruit; cyclist – Ebrahim Hemmatnia; boatcyclists (Yeah, a boatcyclist) & Martijn Regterschot; motorbiker.

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February

It was time for a little winter adventure. Together with a friend we would walk 300 kilometers in our backyard, the outline of our province. Sadly because of an injury I had to stop, but at least we did 75 kilometers in three days. Check out the story here.

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March

Beginning of the Spring!

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The International Cycling Film Festival had a premiere in Groningen 2016. It was the first time I’ve organized a film festival, it will not be the last. Totally sold out, many cyclists came together to celebrate this culture.

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Together with the organizers from Germany and Poland

April

2016 was also the year of the first RAW Radio session; adventure radio with interviews, music and more random adventure based stuff. You can check it here. (in Dutch)

But it was also time for adventure again! A short weekend adventure on the Dutch coast, following the line of bunkers the German forces left in the second world war. Check out the short film I made about the journey here.

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Camping in one of the bunkers, the German forces used to live in

May

Another Adventure Night saw the light! Speakers were: Henk van Dillen (cycling from Rotterdam to Singapore), Roy Williams (Longboard adventures) and Johanneke & Douwe Dijkstra (Leeuwarden to Paris on a solex)

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The Idea of making radio really appealed to me, so together with Maud van Maarseveen we went on a little journey to make live adventure radio from the tent. We had some interviews with people we came across, told about out experiences, had a little beer tasting session in the tent and of course the sound of adventure! How does this sound? Check it here. (In Dutch)

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Birdspotters talking about the beauty of birds

June

The Rough Conditions Adventure Film Festival had it’s premiere in Groningen!

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July

Last year I showed “Why we go out” on the Nomads Gathering in Amsterdam. This year I’ve been asked to do the Rough Conditions Adventure Film Fest there and organise something else. I decided to do an adventure workshop. The Gathering was about travel, adventure and being outside. So what else to do then to take people outside? The workshop was a little 2 hour adventure; getting from A to B in the city without money…

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Hitchhiking bikes, boats and trams

August

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The biggest adventure of this year, rollerblading LeJog (Land’s End, UK – John ‘O Groats, SCOT) I started off in the end of August. And it wasn’t easy. It was even so hard, plans changed without consulting me…

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September

The journey didn’t go as planned but still I continued with a new (and given to me) mode of transportation. I rolled trough England, Wales and Scotland. Alone and with a friend. To go more and more north to get to John ‘O Groats, the most northeastern point of Scotland.

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October

Eventually the trip of 50 days ended by reaching John ‘O Groats. Just before that I was sure that I would be eaten by stags in rut. But luckily I survived. In the end I left “Wesley” the adventure bike in John ‘O Groats, to pass it on to the next adventurer.

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Just a week after I came back, I organized the 2nd Rough Conditions Adventure Film Festival in Germany, a day previous to the International Cycling Film Festival.

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Next to this I gave some lectures and showed some films on the biggest bike fair in the BeNeLux, BikeMotion. Yes, October was a busy month…

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November

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The Rough Conditions Adventure Film Festival in Rotterdam was totally sold out, a huge succes! It’s great to see so many people with an urge to be inspired to get outdoors!

December

Manu from the Alternative Travelers Gathering Amsterdam asked me if I wanted to do the Rough Conditions Adventure Film Festival on Gran Canaria at the ATLAS Hostel during the Nomads Gathering. An offer I couldn’t refuse! So after giving an adventure workshop (More of this in 2017) and the film festival I decided for the mountains and did some good old contemplating and made some great plans for 2017…

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But first another Leeuwarder Adventure Night before the year ends! Speakers were: Remco van der Noord; Leeuwarden – Mongolia – Leeuwarden with a motorbike, Dorien Cramers; cycling trough China, Arjen Ulrich; walking from Alkmaar to New York.

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2016; a year full of great events, meeting great people and some awesome adventures. I feel 2017 has even more in store!

Do you have some great adventures in store for 2017?

The Lake District in 7 stunning pictures

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Sometimes one doesn’t have to search for beauty, sometimes it’s just all around. Thats the case in The National Lake District for sure. Beautiful mountains, lakes and stunning views. It was a bit hard to wild camp now and then, due to all the slating land. I’ve learned one thing: the tougher the ascent, the better the descent.

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Down the Wrynose Pass (with a steady 40 km/h)

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Hardknott Pass (east)

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Hardknott Pass (east)

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A small tree line

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A little piece of Honister Pass

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Honister Pass

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Wrynose Pass (view from Hardknott Pass)

You might also like Scotland in 7 stunning pictures!

LeJog; the last stretch.

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All around me I hear red deer belling; it’s mating season and I’m in the midst of it. Luckily I set up my tent within the walls of an old cemetery, hoping to keep those aggressive deer outside. While lying in my tent I’m seeing a shadow flying over my tent; one has just jumped over the walls and my tent! Just when I’m starting to realize I’m not alone, I see two feet trying to push through my tent. A piece of antler is trying to lift up the tent’s canvas. The antler is getting bigger. My heart is beating like a steam train at full speed and slowly I’m seeing the deer’s head peaking in my tent. While trying to play dead another head appears. I’m moving very slowly when one of the deer bites my hand and lisping with his mouth full “aren’t you the lucky one ending up in Deerland!” I try to get up, push the deer away and jump out of my tent, over the cemetery wall. Next to me I hear a giant deer roar and wake up with a scare.
I wake up because a giant red deer is belling loudly very close by. I’m actually in my little tent, on an old cemetery surrounded by a bunch of rutting and aggressive red deer. This is a moment when I’m actually scared. Scared of being attacked. During October the deer change into fighting machines to test each other’s dominance. It isn’t unusual for these animals to attack sheep, cows or even humans in this testosterone-driven times. And I’m looking at some 10 testosterone-bombs. Now and then I hear them fight, horn against horn. I’m a long way from the town of Inverness.

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North of Inverness there is not much to find. Some small towns and big roads. But these soon change into small roads and even tinier towns. The more I bike north the tinier the villages get, up to the point the ‘villages’ on the map end up being only one or two houses. This is where it really gets beautiful, far stretched plains, with once in a while a small patch of wood and a tiny lake. Here I go with Wesley; feeling A-Okay while the hills are looking upon us. Struck with silence of the striking landscape we’re rolling, ending up one night at an old cemetery. This is where I’m going to stay for the night. In my book this is truly ‘the middle of nowhere’ as far as you can find such a place in Western Europe. No other sound than the wind blowing and nothing else to see but far stretched hills.

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From the middle of nowhere I’m going to the edge of nowhere and soon I’m somewhere. At the northern part of the Scottish coast to be exactly. It’s 30 kilometers to John ‘Ó Groats and quite impulsive I decide to drop by the Orkney Islands. It is already dark when I arrive on the island and I still have to cycle for two hours to get to the nearest camping. In these two hours I cross a big part of the island, but haven’t got a single clue of what I’m surrounded with. Mountains? Hills? Cliffs? Trolls? I smell a plentitude of seawater and occasionally see a small village. It’s exciting to bike in the pitch dark while exploring a new place, your fantasy shines a bright light on the dark lands and fills in all the blanks. I know for sure there are trolls.

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Orkney is an island with a huge history of different cultures. The early Norsemen got ashore and built their settlements. Some of these are still visible and the massive stone circles are testament of these. Some stones are a few meters high and I wonder how folks got these here hundreds of years ago and placed them where they are now. These massive stones have a big air of mysterious stories surrounding them of course. It is said that during Yule and Hogmanay the stones walk up to the nearest water, bend over and drink the water. If you would witness the stones drinking the water it would lead to one year of bad luck. The locals wouldn’t go near the circles after sunset during these periods.

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During the nights I hear John ‘O Groats calling across the sea and cliffs, so I decide to follow the calling after spending three days on the island. From the ferry it’s not far and within the hour I’m standing near the sign ‘John ‘O Groats’. I’ve made it. From Land’s End to John ‘O Groats. But not in the way I wanted. I’m standing in front of the sign with mixed feelings. And with the realization, this is it. There is only one thing left; drink a beer and head on to the most eastern part of Scotland to put up my tent for one final night in the fresh Scottish sea air.

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Now the ‘real’ life starts again. Cooking dinner in a kitchen, sleeping with the window open to get some fresh air and knowing where I will be sleeping. Even if it were only 50 days, sometimes it was cold, the food wasn’t all that good and my shoes were wet, I enjoyed and will miss every single second of it.

One plus point, I don’t have to worry about any rutting red deer now!

Check the raw sleep-out Facebook page to see how I’m trying to add adventure in the ‘real’ life.

Scotland in seven stunning pictures

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While riding into Scotland a feeling came over me, it was the feeling of being “home”. A country, wild and sparsely populated with humans, but densely populated by deer and other wild animals.

Here are seven pictures making you want to jump on your bike and cycle these beautiful roads!

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Road from Cock Bridge

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Loch Muick

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Close to Tomintoul

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Cairngorms national park

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Somewhere after Cock Bridge

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The road to Bandanloch Lodge

Check my Facebookpage for more Scottish adventure!