I’ve been doing a lot of longboarding lately. Starting this week off modest with some here and there skates to my storage and other places to do some final getting ready for Ireland. Then the big skates started.
Amsterdam to Utrecht was very doable, especially when I now compare it to distance skating in Ireland (more on that in a bit).
Utrecht to Tilburg was physically more demanding, but then again, Holland has it’s strength in its bike paths.
My flight to Knock in Ireland was easy enough as I experienced no problems with baggage or anything.
Standing at the airport in Knock I actually met my host since he was picking up his mother from the same flight, although he was heading north to have a bit of a holiday first. I was repacking my gear so it would be skate ready, then headed outside to get an idea of direction. My first few meters skating felt exciting since it was all new and I realized it was kind of nuts what I was doing. The road wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either, and I was wondering how far I’d get before I had enough.
A german lady actually passed by asking if I needed a ride, but she was kind of lost and really just needed someone to help her navigate. She had to head the exact opposite direction to where I needed to go, otherwise I think I might’ve been happy to sit in the navigator seat for a while, just because there was an outright opportunity. I was happy to skate anyway, and so made my onwards.
I passed multiple villages and made a lot of stops to switch gear and eat raspberries on the roadside… Raspberries grow like weeds here and especially when I see these big juicy ones I can’t help but stop to munch on some. This happened probably too much, so I decided to get my mind off food and focus on the road.
There are quite good downhill bits in Ireland. I was sure to tighten my trucks to avoid losing control on speed wobbles. I took a lot of small backroads as well, passing by lots of farms and country side houses. Many houses look grand and fancy, but there’s also plenty of contrasting simple houses, some even rundown and have a creepy vibe to them.
When it got around 17:30, I decided to start looking for a place to campout. I rang a house but nobody was home. I then skated further and approached an old lady with her grandson. I asked if she had any camping tips but she didn’t know, although suggested me to look in the next village. If I didn’t find anything she said I should come back here and maybe the owners of the house would be back since she was just babysitting.
100m down the road I spotted a field that looked uncultivated and unused by cattle or sheep. It had tall nettle bushes I could hide my tent behind so I decided to pitch my tent here. I read my book until the sun went down then moved into my tent changing into warmer sleeping gear.
The night’s get really cold here. More than I was prepared for. Even though I switched to warmer clothing it still wasn’t enough to keep me comfortably separated from the temperature drop. I had a lot of bad dreams because of that and tried my best to stay comfortable in a foetal position. I was also slightly paranoid about someone finding me and telling me to go away, constantly tuning my ears to outside noise, although I blocked out sound with some earplugs so I could ignore my paranoia a bit more.
The next morning I got out at 6:45 and had eaten some fruit and packed my tent by 7:30.
On the road I was good again, eating some raspberries which rejuvinated my energy. I took a toilet break at a gas station in the first village I passed and skated on south to eventually get to Loughrea which is where I am now. It is now 14:31 although I arrived here around 13:00 or earlier. It takes me quite a bit of time to skate the distance here. I’ve gotten injured once so far, misstepping and hitting my foot against the wheel (shoebite) ending up with roadrash on my forearm. Other than that, physically I’m still good to go. The uphills and the rough gravelly roads are sometimes hard, but I just keep pushing knowing that walking is going to be slower and worse in the end so I stick to my board, and push forwards. I tend to take breaks just for resupplies, never really because I’m tired since I figure I’ll only get lazy if I take a break. I just push really easy on the hard parts which is better than stopping.
This journey has gotten me thinking about where I want to be and what I want to do in the long run. Ofcourse I’m enjoying the journey as it is but there will be a time when I can’t just pick up my board, catch a plane to Ireland, and skate from village to village. Maybe it will still be possible, but there’s ideas floating in my head about other things I want to do, and what I want to dedicate my life to. By now, I’ve seen plenty of farms around me. Although not in a Permaculture fashion, it still gives me an idea about what I want out of the land… And my thoughts come back to hemp production as a way to challenge the plant’s legality and exploit its potential. Also, I’d want to experiment with aquaculture and earthworks for holding and capturing water since I see so much potential in the Irish country side for swales and food forests whilst maintaining the grazing animals present. We’ll see where I end up. As for now, I’ll probably have to skate further since I have no couchsurf request replies in Loughrea. Until next time!