woensdag 28 december 2011

Return of the Falcon

Perhaps you remember the pictures of a falcon visiting my backyard half a year ago or so. It returned today trying to catch a sparrow. Several sparrows were hiding in a hedge close to the backdoor and my son had to remind me to grab the videocamera.

We let nature go about its business until the falcon decided to go for our zebrafinches.  

zondag 25 december 2011

Brilliant ? Not !

I got a bit fed up with our local neck of the woods and thought today would be a good day to walk in an unknown area. Most people get up late on Christmas Day and visit their family in the afternoon. It wouldn't be likely to meet many people when out walking.
A trip to the area of Hoog Buurlo on the Midden-Veluwe with kids and dog was planned.
I made preparations : I searched Google Earth for a conveniant parking spot, I dug up my SatMap and I charged the battery of my photocamera.
After a 45 minutes drive (Holland is a small country) we arrived at the carpark and started walking. Ten minutes into the walk there was the perfect picture postcard moment : imagine a descending, slightly curving path with old beeches at one side, a sheep-filled meadow on the other side and a thatched farmhouse at the end just visible through the trees. The sky was grey and a bit damp but gave the situation the softness it needed. I took out my camera and switched it on.
Nothing happened. Empty battery ? Can't be, I recharged the battery this morning. Wait a minute, what did I do with the battery ? I put it on the table and......forgot to put it back into the camera. Doh ! Stupid is as stupid does.... .
We still had a good 2 hour walk through the woods and across heather with a lot of photo opportunities but I'll have to return sometime for the pictures. In the meanwhile I've nicked some pictures of t'internet.

woensdag 14 december 2011

No-good geartester

I'm really no good as a geartester, at least gear for wet weather. There's been a discussion going on in Blogland, started by Alan Sloman , about the effectiveness of Paramo's Directional system and Nikwax.
Is it weatherproof or can the system fail in certain circumstances ? As always you love it or hate it.
I've been willing to test my Paramo Alta Jacket (the old version) but the weather hasn't been very cooperative. November has been the driest month ever recorded in The Netherlands but after my 'complaints' December has been more on the wet and windy side. A fortnight ago I had a chance for testing but the rain stopped as soon as I reached our local woods.
This morning, as my alarm woke me, there was heavy rain. After breakfast I got ready to bring my kids to school and dressed for rain. I had at least another hour of rain to look forward to . The Paramo Alta, TNF goretex trousers and green wellies were donned. I was ready.
Alas, the rain stopped again. The ground underfoot was very soggy and the wellies were heavily tested. They were waterproof. The Paramo has to wait for another time.
Anyone wanting to do the TGO Challenge with good weather is advised to wait for me. Walk behind me and you don't have to bring your waterproofs with you.  

woensdag 30 november 2011

Driest November ever recorded

Fellow bloggers Alan Sloman , Martin Rye , James Boulter and Andy Walker have been to the Yorkshire Dales where the weather has been a bit on the damp side last weekend. To say the least.
As Alan writes : "The weather forecast, unsurprisingly, was for wall to wall torrential downpours with a healthy dose of stormy buffeting." and "By this time the weather had taken an even more serious turn for the very worserer! It looked like firemen were training their hoses on the windows of the pub."

It's grim up north indeed.

On this side of the Northsea however November 2011 has been the driest november ever recorded with an average rainfall of only 9mm. The waterlevel of the river Rhine is very low at the moment and the Brits are to blame ;-) You're keeping all this stuff to yourselfs.
A year ago we were buried in snow during december but it's 10 dgrs Celsius today and no sign of snow coming. I prefer the 'no-snow-scenario' and just a little bit of rain now and then.
If I want torrential downpours I'll come to Great-Wet-Britain.

zondag 20 november 2011

May 2006 : An Teallach on Theooutdoors.nl

No tripreport yet but pictures are now available. The plan was to do the Inverlael and Fannichs Munros first but due to very strong winds I had to bail out from both. The date for An Teallach had been set to be able to climb with old friends so some days were filled with unplanned things like visiting the Inverewe Gardens, Gruinard Bay and a drive to the Cairngorms. See : www.theooutdoors.nl  

zaterdag 12 november 2011

May 2010 visit to Skye

I've added a new story to my website. It's about my visit to Scotland with my oldest son, 11 at the time.
Most of our holiday together was spent on Skye (Coire Lagan, Sgurr na Banachdaich, The Old Man of Storr and Quiraing).
You can read it on www.theooutdoors.nl .

woensdag 9 november 2011

New website : theooutdoors.nl

In the past I've had my pictures hosted by Fotopic.net but they went out of business. Hundreds of pictures of Scotland, Lake district and The Netherlands couldn't be viewed anymore.
Also my TGO Challenge 2007 story was lost. Luckily I still had it on an external hard disk so I was able to rewrite it and put it on a new personal website : www.theooutdoors.nl .

My Challenge story has now been written but having visited Scotland and the ELD since 1995 there's a gigantic task to be done. New chapters will be added in the future but don't hold your breath.
Just have a look at my website now and then.

zondag 6 november 2011

Autumn colours 2 and 3

It's exceptionally warm and dry for the time of year and not that many wind. The leaves are nevertheless falling rapidly at the moment. The first three pictures are taken a week ago, the last three today.
Oak leaves

All together now... 


Schaep en Burgh

Alas, not my driveway (Schaep en Burgh) 

The Spanderswoud, Bantam and Schaep en Burgh are former estates between Bussum and 's Graveland. They are now owned by Natuurmonumenten en Goois Natuur Reservaat.

dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

zondag 25 september 2011

Allt Duine windfarm threat

I have never been in the Monadhliath myself but I've seen them from other places. The Cairngorms for example. The wind turbines they want to build will be visible from many more places and the areas surrounding these metal giants will be destroyed.
Chris Townsend has recently revisited the area and has written an arcticle on his blog. If you love the wildness of Scotland you should read it and use the link for signing the petition.

In the Netherlands building projects can be delayed for years on end, or even stopped, with the use of a law protecting rare species of animals or plants. Isn't there such a law in Scotland ?  

zaterdag 17 september 2011

Marked by a sniper for re-creation

We Dutch are kind to nature, even if we have to kill for it.

We created The Netherlands, a former swamp area at the end of the rivers Rhine, Maas, IJssel and several smaller streams.. Because of that we think we have the right to do with it what ever we think is 'right'.
Someone behind a desk decides what's acceptable and what's not. Their goal is to (re)create nature. Life as we want it, Jim.
Therefore the Goois Natuur Reservaat (GNR) has decided to make a connection between two parts of heathland. Cutting down, killing, thousands of trees in the proces.
"These connections give warmth-loving animals like reptiles and butterflies the opportunity to migrate from one place to another. Such ecological connections are of great importance for the natural richness of our environment".

What natural richness ? Who defines natural richness ? Douglas tree, Japanese Larch, Corsican Pine, American Oak, Black Cherry; they don't belong here. At least at a certain moment in time. And that moment is determined behind a desk. If we go back 15.000 years things looked quite different from today. Let's remove humans and reintroduce the mammuth ! Go back 3000 years and the intruding species Homo Sapiens is firmly established, wolf and bear are still here, rhinos and lions are gone.
The desk decides to go back 150 years. That decision costs a lot of money. Our money. How long does the desk want to maintain 1861. One hundred years ? Five hundred ? Ten thousand ?
Change is inevitable. We can cut down as many trees as we want but in the end the trees will win. They will regain lost land and cover our 'civilisation', like they covered Central and South Americain cultures.
The intention of wanting to play the almighty is totally out of order in my opinion and a role that's destined to fail.    

zondag 4 september 2011

A Munro in Holland ?

Not only a Munro but the highest straight away. I suppose you Brits will envy us for having a mountain higher than all of Britain. With onethird of the country being below seelevel it might make for interesting ascend and descend figures.
What I'm talking about ?
We Dutch are crazy. Y'all know that.
If we can create new land why not create layer upon layer of new land. If you go high enough you can call it a mountain. Let's say approximately 2km high. Would that be sufficient ?
I'm not joking you. Seriously. If you're able to read Dutch see : www.diebergkomter.nl or in English see : peopledaily or theworld .

More than 50 people - and the number of participants is growing - have joined for a brainstormsession.
Geologist, economists, marketeers, ingenieurs, architects, sportsmanagers, advisers and investigators are thinking the unthinkable : building a mountain in The Netherlands.

Yes, we ARE crazy but isn't thinking about mountains always fun ? Perhaps in 30 years time we can all have a laugh about those madmen in 'ye olde days', perhaps I'll be packing my hillwalkinggear for a short holiday-break. To get a bit of practise for the real stuff in bonnie Scotland.
How many years ago did we set foot on the moon for the first time ?

zaterdag 3 september 2011

The big squeeze

Many thanks to the person who anonimously send a box with sunshine yesterday morning. I gave it a good squeeze and got 2 days of sunshine out of it.
If you have more of those boxes, please send them to me !? It looks like I might need another one tomorrow.

donderdag 1 september 2011

'Summer' statistics

Could someone please send me a box of sunshine ?

This summer has been the wettest since 1906. In June, July and August the average rainfall in the Netherlands was 350mm, that's 100mm more than normal in this period.
It has also been a bit nippy : average temperature 16,3 C (normally 17 C) and being wetter it feels even colder.
20+ days : 50 (ave. 60), 25+ days : 7 (ave. 21), 30+ days : 2 (ave. 4).
Hours of sunshine have been 525 instead of the usual 608. Especially July and August have been gloomy.
I know you're about to say "we've had a lovely spring this year" but that seems so long ago !
With autumn coming closer, or is it winter ?, I'd like to take a looooong sleep. 

woensdag 24 augustus 2011

Little Britain

It really is. No, I'm not being sarcastic. Nor do I want to offend anyone. It really, really is.And it's Linda's. Not Elizabeth's.
It's Linda's Little Britain . 

She opened her little shop last week in Hilversum, The Netherlands. Linda herself is born in Inverurie, Scotland and she's been living in Holland for many years now.

She specialises in typical British groceries and gifts.

If you happen to pass Hilversum or live nearby,
please give her shop a visit. The address is Vaartweg 22a Hilversum, 28 km southeast of Amsterdam.

zondag 14 augustus 2011

Vertigo ? Don't watch this !

The weather hasn't been particularly sunny and warm this summer. Last tuesday I took advantage of a short dryspell and took my boys out for a day of altitude.
Near Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, on The Veluwe is 'Het Klimbos'. It's an outdoor activity centre offering you the opportunity to climb through the pinetrees upto a height of 15 meters. They have 2 junior routes for children who can reach to 1.4m and 4 routes for kids and adults who can reach to 1.8m and one tokkelroute.
Sit back on your couch, fasten your seatbelt and watch the walk through the trees for 15 minutes (it took us more than 3 hrs).

vrijdag 12 augustus 2011

TGO Challenge 2007 day 7 : Kingussie-Rothiemurchus Forest

Pffff. Day 7 of my TGO Challenge is now online. It's easier to walk then to publish.

Phil at Doodlecat has asked me to republish the written account of my 2007 crossing. As you'll probably know the company that owns Fotopic has stopped their service and my story and all my Highlands and Islands pictures along with pictures of the ELD are no longer available online. I'm currently trying to locate my story on disfunctional computers. Once located I'll put it all back on t'internet using a new personal website. You'll just have to wait a little bit longer for that.

zondag 31 juli 2011

The tower of the Great Church of Naarden

Climbing the stairs inside the wall
  Yesterday we weren't really outdoors as we were ascending the local churchtower. Ascending that is using the stairs not climbing the outside.
Having been born in the neighbouring town the city of Naarden has always been the opponent. As a child I hadn't been to Naarden often and it has been one of my wishes to climb the churchtower of The Great Church of Naarden.

Yesterday I took 2 of my kids up the tower. Kids like to do these things.

The church was build during the fourteenth and fiftheenth century in the stronghold of Naarden. Naarden was rebuild after been flooded earlier as it's in spitting distance from the former Zuyderzee. Being part of the defenses around Amsterdam and Holland it got double starshaped canals around the city. People that wanted to live inside the city had to pay 2000 bricks for the construction of the church. With the small number of inhabitants 500 years ago it's a miracle the church has been completed - the walls are more than 8 feet wide. The staircase is inside the wall, turning clockwise so it could easely be defended with swords.
Floor of middle section : the churchbells
were hauled up through this hole
The ceiling of the lower part of the tower

The churchtower contained 5 bronze bells until WWII. The smallest of the bells was thrown in the canals to hide it for the German occupier. The 4 bigger bells were stolen by the Germans and transported to Germany where they were melted for warmaterial. Luckily plastermoulds were made so they could be reconstructed after the war.

5 bells in an oakframe

The views from the tower are wide and far.
It's windy on top

View north from the tower
View southeast with cityhall behind the church 

The Great Church of Naarden stitched together
Much too soon we had to get back down again after which we made a tour around the church. Ancient canonballs can still be seen sticking in the walls. Naarden has been occupied and looted by Spaniards, French and Germans and 'rentals' from all over Europe. As far as I know the British have never been here. Instead William of Orange went the other way.

woensdag 20 juli 2011

A falcon as guest

When I was a young lad I've had a close encounter with an eagle in the backgarden of an aunt, its enormous wings spread out in front of me. Today I had another encounter with a rather smaller bird of prey but none the less still giving me a WOW moment. 

A young falcon had entered the conservatory, probably thinking it might have an easy snack with one of our Zebra finches. Being unable to reach the little birds it tried to find a way out again but the glass prevented a direct getaway. It gave me the chance to grab my photocamera and take some pictures before it finally escaped through an open door.
It's one of those rare occasions, when you come close and totally unexpected in direct contact with wildlife, that makes you feel very much alive.

maandag 27 juni 2011


Saturday 14 dgrs.C. - Sunday 26 drgs.C. - Monday 34 dgrs.C.

vrijdag 10 juni 2011

TGO Challenge day 6 : Laggan - Kingussie

I know.
Some people have already written down and published their account of this year's Challenge. I've published my 2007 Challenge long ago (which is no longer available because someone pulled the plug at Fotopic.net) but now I'm rewriting my story as an anquet video.
Main problem is time. There's only 24 hours in a day and I've got so much to do.
I can't say : "Next week day 7 will be ready". You'll just have to check in now and then.
In the meanwhile  day 6 for anyone who's interested :

zondag 29 mei 2011

Avond4daagse : a daunder around town.

While some people were having fun swimming across Scotland from westcoast to eastcoast (has that been done already?) we did our annual "avond4daagse". The "avond4daagse" is a walk or daunder during 4 evenings in a row, mainly undertaken by schoolkids in the age of 6 to 12 but parents and anyone else can join also. Distances are 5, 10 or 15km and, like last year, there were approximately 1900 attenders.

We (me, my wife and kids aged 12, 10 and 6) always subscribe as individuals for the 5km. We don't like to walk with the schoolgroups for obvious reasons : too crowded, too much noise and very chaotic.

All walks start from the AW footballclub sportsground and go through the forest and heather of the district 'Het Gooi' in the Netherlands. These "avond4daagse" walks take place all around the Netherlands and have different starting points of course.

As you can see in the picture we had perfect weather for the first three days, contrary to the weather in most parts of Scotland. This drought has been going on for 8 weeks now. Only during the 4th evening there was some rain but, having started early, we finished before the rain started. The main groups got seriously wet though.

zondag 15 mei 2011

TGO Challenge 2007 : day 5

In realtime the Challenge is in it's third day now for most people. Their start was on Friday the Thirteenth and sofar the weather hasn't been too well.
It's a sort of tradition that the first days can be wet with a fresh dusting of snow on the summits. Every day I check the weather on buienradar and see a lot of showers moving quickly across Scotland.
Although the weather looks rough there can be a huge difference locally as you can read in Phreerunner's report of day 1. During my Challenge in 2007 the first day started warm with hail and snowshowers to be followed by 12 days of sunshine or clouds but hardly any rain. I'm sure this years Challengers will get sunburned somewhere along their way to the eastcoast.

For those staying at home this year I've completed my coverage of day 5 of my 2007 Challenge : from Melgarve Bothy to the Monadhliath Hotel near Laggan.

zondag 1 mei 2011

April weather statistics

April has been extremely warm, very sunny and very dry in Holland.
With an average temperature of 13,1 dgs C. April 2011, together with April 2007, is the warmest April since meteorological observations started back in 1706. The longterm average is 9,6 C..
Total of warm days (20+ C.) is 13 and the highest recorded temperature is 27,9.

The average rainfall was 10mm (normally 44mm) and some areas have even less than 5mm of H2O.
March was very dry also so there's now a shortage of rainfall of 100mm.

The sun delivered 258 hours of sunshine, normally we have 178 hours. April 2007 still holds the record with a staggering 284 hours of sunshine.

In Holland we have a saying "April doet wat-ie wil" which best translates with "April does as April likes" meaning that April can have all seasons. This month we've seen only two seasons, spring and summer. I'm afraid it will be a crap summer (june till august) this year.  

donderdag 28 april 2011

TGO Challenge 2007 : day 4

Part 4 of my TGO Challenge 2007 movie is now published. It has taken a while but life is very busy, and if I may say so, very hectic at the moment.
We had some rain last night, the first in many weeks. The 2011 Challenge starts in a fortnight and I'm in perfect condition having covered 135km on foot in the last 6 days.
It's a pity I won't be doing the Challenge this year. Enjoy the movie !

maandag 25 april 2011

Green leaves, for how long ?

This picture was taken just 6 days ago in our local neck of the woods. Spring really got moving on but at the moment large parts of woods and heather in Holland have a Code Red. It means that fire is a severe threat and open fire, bbq's etc. are strictly forbidden.

We haven't had any serious rain for at least 4 weeks now and every day we're having fires in forest, dunes, heather and moors. The lush spring green will soon darken to summer green. Too soon, too fast. 

vrijdag 8 april 2011

TGO Challenge 2007 : day 3

Part 3 : from Glen Loyne to (South) Laggan Youth Hostel in the Great Glen.

vrijdag 1 april 2011

TGO Challenge 2007 : day 2

Part two of 'TGO Challenge 2007 : the movie'.

vrijdag 25 maart 2011

TGO Challenge day 1 : the movie

Yes, the movie ! How's that possible, Theo ? You only had a simple 3,2Mb point and shoot camera with you !? That's correct but not so long ago I bought a simple point & shoot videocamera and made a flythrough from my TGO Challenge route in 2007 with the Anquet software and recorded that with my videocamera. Mixed with my Challenge 2007 pictures and by adding some music I hope the result will make good entertainment. Being a Challenge firsttimer in 2007 this is also a first time for me making a short movie.Especially adding music is totally new for me. Any tips, advise and encouragements are welcome ! 

This is day 1, the other days will follow in the near future but they'll take some time to edit.


zaterdag 19 februari 2011


We walked to the market in Naarden-Vesting today. The wind was cold today and the walking wasn't easy because I'm recovering from a severe flu-like cold. Naarden-Vesting is an old fortified city in the centre of Holland. It has a double ring of canals and lots of forts and fortified walls. You can read more about its history here . 
The inner canal panorama
Restoration is an ongoing proces for years and years now and earthworks and maconary is slowly brought back to its original state.
The former housing of the garrison

Down a cul-du-sac I saw this old tractor, a photographers jem.
I'll return on a nice sunny day in the spring and show you some more pictures of Naarden.

zondag 6 februari 2011

A windy day at Parnassia beach

Yesterday we went to Parnassia beach, just north of Zandvoort. We that is my two sons, my little daughter, me and the dog. A storm was blowing, mainly in the northwest. Not a 'real' storm with winds upto 55 mph but strong enough to enjoy it. After driving for 45 minutes we reached the coast.
We got sandblasted while walking through the dunes before reaching the beach. It wasn't fun. Once on the wet sand the boys and the dog where enjoying themselves but my little girl wanted to return to the car immediately. It was indeed colder than I expected, 10 dgrC., but with a significant windchill.

I acted as a windshield to protect her. After 6 or 7 minutes we retreated to the car. I carried my little girl on my back (a good backpacking exercise) and we got sandblasted again climbing to the top of the dunes.
A flash visit to the coast. Next time without the kids ? 

woensdag 26 januari 2011

Let's start with the end : "Coffin Road"

A couple of weeks ago I bought a cheap digital camcorder. The plan was to use it for videoing the Dutch landscape and publish them on Youtube and this blog. A first try-out with time laps recording was quite disappointing. I decided to do it the 'old-fashioned way' and take photographs which would be transferred into a movie. Windows Movie Maker can put 12 pictures into 1 second so it isn't a smooth movie. I think that adds to the charm (and takes less time to watch).

My first movie is "Coffin Road", a short movie about a path used in the past to carry the deceased to their last resting place, St.John's cemetery near Laren (The Netherlands). The cemetery is believed to be an ancient place of worship going back to pre-Christian times. In 893 A.D. a pilgrim carrying a silver box containing the bones of St.John was murdered at the spot and found dead the next morning. The bones were found and buried thus starting the St.John's cemetery. Being the only Cathlic cemetery in the district deceased Catholics were buried there. To ban out heiden habits it was forbidden to carry the dead in a zigzagging way. Straight lines were formed from villages to the cemetery (zigzagging was used in heiden times to prevent the deceased finding his or hers way back home).

'Doodweg' near Laren by Anton Mauve 

Several paths still exist - all leading to St.John's cemetery - and are called 'doodweg' in Dutch (death road). I believe the english equivalent is Coffin Road.

I hope you'll enjoy my movie and the Dutch landscape.

zondag 16 januari 2011

Muddy waters

It was a 'hot' day today, 12 dgr.C. in the shade, but still some ice on little manmade forestlakes. Most paths are fine but we walked mostly horsetracks and they were really muddy. Atilla chased a rabbit and now he's got a sore back again.
We even saw a butterfly today, mostly black with red stains.

zaterdag 15 januari 2011


Not these windmills. These are friendly in comparison and perhaps 20% the size of modern windturbines. Modern turbines are used in Scotland for filling up the vast, empty spaces in the Highlands of Scotland. It's just an empty landscape, innit ? Let's fill it up with turbines and fill the wallets of landowners, politicians and big energycompanies at the same time. Where the Romans didn't succeed, the Turbines will.
However, opposition is growing.  You can read all about it at Alan Sloman's site with opinions and links to other sites.

woensdag 5 januari 2011

Don't tell anyone....

that I've turned 50 today. Sssshhhhhhhhhhhhh !!