We’ve spent the last few days walking in the dunes and hanging out on the beach. The day after we went swimming, we decided to take a surf lesson. Our guide was Johnny, an Aussie surfer dude who is waiting impatiently in the Netherlands for his girlfriend to finish her degree so they can move to Johannesburg and find some proper waves. He was hilariously and explicitly unimpressed with the surf available in the Netherlands while at the same time trying to persuade us we were going to have fun.
We practiced for a while standing in the shallows and jumping on the boards every time a likely-looking wave came through, trying to ride it lying down on the board. After that we practiced standing up on the boards on the beach, where it all seemed pretty straightforward. Different story in the water though as the board wobbles around underneath you as you try ungracefully to stagger to your feet, usually falling off within half a second. I managed to stand for about two seconds on my best attempt. When Anna came in at the end she said to Johnny “God, I’m knackered”. His response “I’m not surprised, you were getting smashed out there. You get an A for effort if nothing else”. So encouraging!
In the evening we caught up with one of our friends from our old jobs, who now works in the Hague. Bobby is a triathlete from the Orkney Islands who has competed all over the world while finding time to hold down a full-time job. A proper athlete! It was cool catching up and hearing the news from home, and filling him in on what we’ve been up to!
The following day Anna found she was almost crippled with a trapped nerve type pain in her leg. She couldn’t bend down to put her shoes on, or sit down for any long period. I was very sympathetic obviously, and thought the best thing for her would be to stand on the beach watching me have another go at surfing. For some reason she agreed to this, so I had another chance to ride the barrel! This time I was much more successful, and I can basically now surf like a champ. I’m thinking of taking a trip to Jo’burg myself.
The next couple of days we went for a few walks, Anna did some yoga and we did some planning for the next bit of our trip. We must have had too much time on our hands because at some point we decided we would try to not buy any plastic for a week. We found this made buying food quite difficult, which was a bit sad really. We found a nice Turkish supermarket that sells loose fruit and veg, and does couscous in cardboard boxes. Flushed with success we’ve decided to try to do the whole month plastic free. This means we’re going to need to find shampoo, soap, toothpaste etc. that comes in non-plastic packaging. I think it’s going to be tough, but I’m excited to see if we can do it!
We also met a mum and daughter who are on holiday from Germany. The mum is American but has lived in Germany for about 15 years. They were really interesting – we got talking about vegetarianism and veganism, the girl said she started being vegetarian when she saw a documentary about where meat comes from, and led the rest of the family with her. This later changed to veganism when she realised that everything is over-fished, battery hen farming is awful etc. She is only 15 now, I don’t know what age she was when she started showing such awareness, but it was definitely a lot younger than I was! It was cool to see that she was also able to persuade her family to follow her ideas as well. They also had some interesting stuff to say about the film The Shining, Stanley Kubrick and the moon landings. Apparently The Shining contains clues that Stanley Kubrick worked on faking film footage for the moon landings in case the actual landing wasn’t successful. I didn’t quite get it – but it’s a good excuse to watch The Shining again.
We also stumbled on a nudist beach the other day as we were wandering around. We were looking for a quiet bit of beach, and found one, slowy realising that everyone there was in the buff. So we thought, oh well, what the hell, and stripped off for a swim. We’ve been skinny dipping a few times in the UK, but always by ourselves (apart from once when we were surprised by a hiker in the Lake District – awkward). It was a different experience when there were loads of other people around letting it all hang out, but the water was lovely and it was quite a liberating thing to do. Apparently the world doesn’t immediately explode when you see people you don’t know with no clothes on. Maybe they can let the naked rambler out of prison now??
Swimming naked was awesome, but getting back to the sandy beach and having no towels was an issue. I thought I’d probably be able to dry myself with sand. You cannot dry yourself with sand. I had to walk back down the beach, naked and covered in sand, to wash myself off in the sea. After that we dressed, dug a firepit to keep the wind off and cooked soup on a stove. It was partially successful, our soup got hot, but the silica content became quite high, and there was quite a lot of crunch to it.
Tomorrow we’re going to meet Yvonne, the lady who has made this whole trip happen for us, by co-ordinating our visits to rewilding projects. She works on a project here in the Netherlands; European Bison living in a Dutch dune system. Bring on the bison!