Everyhere where you look around you it is beautiful. The ocean in all her portrayal and fervor, the mountains, giant stone cheeses with holes, the meadows with their broken stone sculptures, in which calves still drink from their mother, young steers practice mating on each other and incredible innumerably stacked stone walls run through the land.
Everyday heavy clouds and grey distance change to extremite blue skies and a sun that puts everything right. Ideal for an 'après dauphin', when, seized again by gravity, we drip off on the quiet rocks and take each others breath to tell what was silenced by the water.
On the meadow life comes together. Everyone will recognize his own camping culture. On the Vlieland holiday island I always had to get used to living on the ground, but the laborious maneuvering in the tent soon changed into smart knee- and elbow steps.
Likewise in the bus, a former postal services lease Volkswagen Transporter, mainly a bed on wheels with storage room. Changing clothes we usually do outside. Only when it is raining heavily this can be messy. At home we ordered the gear as clever as we could and later adjusted it for need. Foodstuff is in a case, perishable in a cool box. Plates and other 'hardware' are in an oblong cardboard box that we can slide from under the bed. The laptop, camera's and other sensitive things are in a metal army box that can be locked and that is screwed on to the inside on the car. The rest space under the bed is a dark, inaccessible cavern where we only search when something is seriously lost.
On top of the car thrones, like a pert cap, the roof trunk. There we keep things that we seldom use, the bus tent, spare diving gear, emergency shoes.
Further we have a radio that we seldom use, tapes we even more seldom play and a user unfriendly CD player. The electricity for the laptop, the chargers for the cameras and my razor comes from the car battery to the marine battery, after which it is inverted from 12 to 220 volt.
At home I have devised the bed thus, that the three transverse sheets of plywood on which it rests, also can be stacked lengthwise. These are supported by 3 vertical, cornered sheets, that also give extra support to the bed. One mattress is spread vertically against the wall, while the other serves as a couch. On the table-top that can be inserted in the opposite wall we can work.
We cook only outside the car. Mostly on a double campinggaz stove, that we shelter from the ever blowing wind with two large, washed up red fish trays (unauthorized use will be prosecuted).
Sometimes we cook with the wok on a beachcomber fire. The adventure in this is that it can go quite wrong. That you get these red smoke soaked watery stingy eyes. That only the kindling fire burns. That at least in the bus you can see what you're doing.
Water we get in empty 5 liter bottles in the toilet house in the dunes. If you force the tap backwards the bottle just fits under it. The pouring out of the heavy full bottle is a one-handed trick. You sit the bottle on your knee and flush what you need. You can also reasonable comfortably sit on it when you slide it between your knees under your behind.
Not only to save water, but also for convenience, I wash myself from my mouth. For this you should not be averse to yourself. I take as large a mouthful as I can, tub my hands, fill them up and empty them out into my face. This self-servicing is multiform employable for the washing of my hands, the rinsing of cutlery and other small precision cleaning. Waste we put in plastic shopping bags, that nowadays cost 15 eurocent 'Government levy'. In the old days nearly every article you bought was put in a separate bag, but this is past. And it did work out. You hardly see them flapping on the street shrubberies anymore.
Sometimes in the evening we go to the pub and drink a glass of beer. This tastes so much better with a cigarette, but that is not allowed: 'It's against the law!'. That's why everywhere you see people smoking in front of the pub. 'Outlaws', someone said. Curiously without a glass of beer in their hands. Everyone finds it a ridiculous law and it is bound to reduce turnover. This won't last.
I'm typing this on the co-drivers seat of the bus, 'the office'. Right before me the mayweed is swaying between the rock chunks and behind the ocean growls. I can see for miles and miles and miles.
Jan Ploeg, Fanore Meadow, July 26th 2004
Verena's question corner:
Not a single shop sells packets of paper handkerchiefs. Only large tissue boxes. How do the Irish blow their nose when they go out? Do they go from pub to pub, are there other networks that decide the route and frequency of blowing or is the production disposed of internally? Maybe the answer lies in the shoebox size of the average Irish ladies handbag.