Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Found it!

I finally managed to run around what I now call “The Google circle”. Good thing I did because in few years it will just look like an intersection of paths through very tall trees. I never planned to run last night it just happened only realized this when I was driving along the Rhine with my heart rate monitor strapped on. I see from my watch that I only started running at 20:30 that would be a crazy time to start running where I come from. I did not want to find it too soon because then I know I would have not run as far but I did not plan on running 11 km before I found the place. I was so happy when I did, I ran around the circle. I love drawing in Google earth with my runs, just wish my GPS was more accurate. I saw more bunnies and a deer type thing. But no foxes I think they wiped all of them out here. I started to get frustrated and only after sunset according to my watch did, I find the ring.

52.004509°N 5.487488°E

There is no way anyone would be able to find it easily because it is surrounded by very tall trees. In a few years I would love to come back there one day and sit on the benches round the big tree in the middle.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Another interesting run

Well it was interesting for me. It all started when I was looking for other runs that people had been doing in the Rhenen area where I am now. Most of them looked really boring. So I was looking around on Google Earth and found this really interesting circle where all the trees had been removed. I could not resist wanting to run there, don't know why. So I was really anticipating the run when the company I am working at decided that everyone needed to unscrew all their desks so they can get smalled ones. The only thing is everyone needed to do their own, desk. Lucky me I am sitting in what I imagen must be a mega manager's desk that is away for a few days. So geting all the screws unscrewed took some time. A good thing was that they gave everyone pizza for their trouble. So without having to make supper I was off, got back to the farm house got ready, punched the closest road into my German GPS for the car and I was off. Well I soon discovered that the "road" was not a real road, but a bike track something a sign would have helped before having to reverse a km :(

While looking for the road I spotted a sign for a castle so I could not resist. Drove into this really tiny village with tiny houses and tiny road and fast cars and lots of big motor bikes. I just ran through the castle gate and carried on running inside the grounds. It would be cool to have a house like this one, with a moat and draw bridge, one day *grin.

The ran around the grounds the castle, and then all hot and sweaty I got into my German navigated car. 2km just to run around the moat.

Well eventually I got close well what I thought was close to what I was looking for. So I stopped the car and dashed off. I the forest was amazing even saw bunnies and a couple of birds.

Also what I enjoyed the most was that it had a descent hill to climb. So I ran around looking for the circle I never found it. But even so this was the best run I have had since I have been here. Now it is off to the UK to run in another country. Trying to do 3 countries in 7 days. So far two for two.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Perfect evening

Last night was really great, the weather was perfect actually hard to describe. The temperature was perfect and there was no wind. I suppose that why all the air balloon people all came out to float. It was the most air balloons I have ever seen at one time.

Even though I knew it was not going to be an epic run I just could not let the great conditions slip though my fingers. I kept on looking up at the balloons some of them came really close to the ground, I think it was me missing having something to look up to. There are no mountains where I am staying, but there are hills on the other side of the river Rhine. My progress along the Marse dyke that keeps the Rhine in check is going okay. To speed my coverage of the area I think I will drive where I have not been and work from there.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Cell phone SIM search continued ...

I ran all the way to Rhenen and bought a SIM card from a cell phone/photographic shop. I was so glad that the SIM card worked straight away and went around looking at all the shops. I was impressed by the variety of shops that are available for such a small town.

There is a Windmill in the town centre but I don't think it has worked in ages.
The town is really tidy no litter that I could see maybe it because they make throwing litter away a bit more fun.
The shops where all open and I was surprised that the town was not full of people doing all their shopping considering that the shops close at 1:00 PM and are closed on Sundays. I see crime is a problem here aswell fortunately I didn't see anyone that was carring a crowbar and wearing the mask of Zoro, well at least none of them looked like they had skipped a few days of shaving.
The circus is also in town and great seeing a giraffe again even if it was in the distance.

Why is a country with more bicycles than people would anyone want to ride a bike
to no where. Especially really old school low tech rides like these.

Today is the Sabbath for the people that I am living with at the moment so it has been quite interesting seeing how they do things from the time between Friday evening and Saturday morning. I ran past a Albert Hein (SA equivalent: Checkers, not quite Pick ‘n Pay) and bought some Cookie Dough ice cream that people here really like but are unable to buy themselves and can't ask me directly to buy for them. Lots of rules and exceptions is all I can say. But I think it is good that they are keeping the customs like that alive.

Mobile communications

It took me a week to find out that the SIM card I was given to be used while I was here expired on the 2nd day that I arrived, what timing. The SIM cards can't be reactived, thank goodness that I managed to get a local to find this out for me, it even took him 5 minutes on the phone to the call center.

So now I am in the search for a SIM card, something you can even purchase on the side of the road in South Africa. Here you can buy "airtime" in most shops but no one can tell me where to get a SIM card or maybe they don't understand me. Last night I went to the SPAR in Kesteren (yes the SPAR - "Every good town needs a SPAR) the place where I bought airtime last week but they don't sell SIM cards and the childworker at behind the till couldn't tell me. The people in the queue all seemed to agree that Rhenen is the place to go for such things. So now I am off to Rhenen with my cell phone and fist full of Euros, well not really that much. I think I will run there, pity though I have just showered and am squeeky clean.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Hashing - running on the white stuff

Last Sunday I was happy to connect with a crazy bunch of people that did a thing called hashing. I was desperate for a run with a group of people and as it turned it was just what I was looking for. When I heard they were going to run on some hills I was even more interested, and there actually was a descent slope to run up and down. Not quite Southern Cross Drive and good for here.

Let's explain what Hashing is because last week I had never heard of it before. Well someone marks a route using saw dust or in the hash I went to flour (apparently really cheap here) and they throw flour against a tree and on the path every few meters or just far away enough for people not loose the path. The front people who see the marker shout "On on!", and then everyone who is running behind them running in ear shout shouts "On on" until the last runner/walker/whatever. As time and distance passes people will begin to spread out to counter act, crossed out circles are marked on the ground called check points. These points are usually at a point where there are several alternate routes that can be taken but there next markers are made a reasonable distance away from the check point. This forces the front people to run down several potential routes to find the path again, normally shouting "Checking" this will give them some more exercise and allow everyone more chance to regroup. After all it is quite a social thing not anything serious.

The relaxed approach was brought home to me when I the hash started late so people started drinking beers. Then after the run there was a sing along and more beers and snacks. Unfortunately I needed to leave before things got going but I could see that the whole thing was a great idea.

I was wondering about hashing in Cape Town, after all I am obsessed about running and why have I not heard about it before. Turns out there are two hashing groups in Cape Town, well if you exclude Hermanus (150km from Cape Town) there is only one. They can't be a very regular group otherwise I am sure I would have noticed white flour along the greenbelts or they are a very tidy bunch and clean up after themselves.

The last Sunday during the Hash the weather was great and did at all during the run. The people were friendly and inclusive in conversation. If ever you get a chance to join a Hash I would recommend it. It made a lonely stressful weekend in The Netherlands a bit more bearable.

For detailed/less confusing info regarding Hashing click here.

and this was the Hash House that I joined last Sunday Wageningen Hash House Harriers.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Things they should import into The Netherlands

  • Ouma rusks

  • Good drying up cloths

  • All Gold Tomato Sauce

  • Salt and vinegar chips

  • Perforated cling wrap - Hilton's request

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Running where it is flat

It did not take long and I had my running shoes on. Being far away from home it helped keep my head clear and take away a bit of stress that I was experiancing.

My first few runs where from a place that was near a small town called Uden. Running in a foreign country is great; new scenery, different environment and different rules. I still am not used to running on the otherside of the road. The places that I have been staying have been really rural. I am really happy about that, I don't think running in Amsterdam would be as great as running through forests and past farms with goats, cows and horses. Also the traffic is different here people on bikes might creep up from behind, so far I have been lucky. The cyclists own the road here.

The sunset after nine is fantastic, it really lets you do so much in a day. I would never have thought of running after 8pm at home, but here it is posible. Good thing I won't be here in winter because I am sure they pay for all those sunny evenings. Well to say sunny would be a lie. I have not had a day here that is has not rained for some part of the day.

Uden was great because that was real farm lands with a town nearby, but now I am near Kesteren which has a great mix of small villages and farms and dykes, which are great for hill repeats. Running to the next village is no big deal.

Fortunately not all my runs have been lonely and run with a guy for a few kays in Uden and also met a bunch of crazy people who do hashing, to be explained in a later post.

So far the only problem runningwise has been to keep my right leg shin splints at bay and toes that are looking a little worse [than normal].

If you have google earth installed click on these links to see the routes that I have run so far.



08 May 7.17 km 09 May 6.19 km 10 May 9.11 km


12 May 8.48 km 15 May 8.51 km

Nearby (>20km away)

13 May 9.18 km

Things that are different in The Netherlands

Nothing bad just different ...

  • Bathrooms and toilets should not have a window even if the bathroom is on an outside wall; why have window when an extractor fan also works.
  • Cheese is big here, they eat more cheese than meat it seems, and whole sections of supermarkets are devoted to lactate products.
  • Sugar is not really something you should put in your coffee rather ration, you sugar intake to when you have bread.
  • If you are in doubt; the road you are on is for two way traffic.
  • The person driving behind you will not over take on the left.
  • A person's lawn and garden is a reflection of how decent a person is.
  • Nature must be bent, cut, moulded into submission, Topiary and tree grafting is everywhere.

I am sure there is more to add but that is what I have for now

Working outside of local

I decided to start a blog to keep me busy while I work in The Netherlands for the month of May 2007. So far things are different enough for me to want to write something.