Category Archives: holidays

Alpine Fly Fishing

Miro is showing casting maneuvers. He has got something special to teach. Not to teach really. It’s more about transference and sharing. Technique easily slides into habit and patterns after many years of fishing. Miro seems to review style and skill of the fisherman who joins him for the day. In fact every new location a fisherman goes needs a reset or even an adaption of technique. It’s refreshing to go over the basics. The Soca river in Slovenia is not like any other river. Actually no river is like any other river. Rivers flow. It’s waters finding the way of least resistance. Exemplary for us, our lives. Slowly to slowly learning to flow like water. Practicing as the Japanese call it, Wu Wei. 

The more rivers one wades the more skilled one becomes. Or not? Is one more skilled having fished rivers in Japan, New Zealand, Tasmania, the Pyrenees, Montana and Alaska? Yes and no. Yes because one learns how important it is to constantly adapt techniques. No because the knowledge how to adapt them doesn’t rise like the sun does. It comes with learning, sharing and transference. Today is a fishing primeur in the Alps. The fishing guide Miro is a Slovenian fly fishing champion who posseses a wealth of Alpine fishing secrets. The acquaintance momentarily feels like the beginning of a new fly fishing chapter. Like so many other chapters passed by and to follow.

Your enthusiasm is beautiful. You could be a teenager. Like your sons are. At the same time Miro looks like he could be your father. He tells us he doesn’t have children ‘yet’. He is fifty five. His character reminds me of you; soft and articulate, hiding strength and boltness. 

The two of you are fishing the Soca River. There’s dogs and children playing around and never before I saw torrents as light and bright turquoise as here. The sun happily casting it’s bright silver shine. Sun rays seem to chemically crystalize completely translucent clear water. Girls on holiday are walking down stream with inflatable swimming toys. I don’t think we’ll be here at this seriously trodden section of the river much longer. But that depends on Miro. If he’ll let you pass and move on to deep down Slovenian fly fishing. He’s initiating you into some of it’s rites called European nymphing. It involves fluorescent paint on the fishing line as an indicator where the nymph is dropped in the water, rather then having a marker floating on the surface of the water with the nymph dangling underneath at the end of the fishing line. The last one being the default method at places outside this peculiar continent.

Why are you so kind? You make a small waving movement with your hand, looking at me. Maybe to make sure I am okay. Maybe to share your joy with me. I don’t know. I get tears in my eyes. You impact me deeper then anyone or anything else. I look at you while you let the rod slowly hoover over the river upstream to downstream. You’re fishing with a dry fly now. It’s quickly gliding over the surface of the strong mountain current. You are happy. And so am I.

We end up spending the whole morning at the heavily trodden spot in the Soca river where the fish are too lazy to bite and the water is too bright to resist. This nice and warm Slovenian summer’s day in August the world is too glorious to conquer.

After lunch at another beautiful spot where it’s very quiet you catch the first rainbow trout of the day, alive and kicking both the trout and you. It’s catch and release. I remember your words, you liking the catch more then the chase. You say it about girls when I think I need the playing hard to get game better. Three more rainbow trouts follow before it starts raining from heaven heavily. A good omen as usual. At the first cast in a river steaming from damp heath on this nice and warm Slovenian summer’s day you catch a Marble Trout, the special indigenous species you’d come all the way to the Soca river for. The purpose and destination of this Slovenian trip. Which at the same time we call our honeymoon. The Slovenian’s fishing champion Miro and four hours of his Alpine fishing technique teachings is what it takes to catch the Marble trout. The whole experience is overwhelming and deeply satisfying.


The Endless Journey

Let’s just be difficult. And challenge our fellow souls who successfully demonstrate the purpose of traveling rather then that of reaching a destination. So let’s just be annoying and ask ourselves the question: ‘what if the beginning and the end are contrary to current wisdom, all about the destination rather then about the journey? Just for the sake of it. Or to be brutally honest, because reality has it that sometimes or suddenly, life, or at least my life, is all about a certain, specific destination. Which wonderfully leads me to the realization that without realizing it, at specific yet undefined moments the present is presenting me with an endless, continuous journey.

‘What ifs’ bring me in a wondrous world of fantasy and imagination, seducing me straight onto the way out of a sound and surrounding reality. Exit, green signs pointing towards flights of stairs. The ones you physically find next to and metaphysically as opposed to, the elevation mechanism called a lift. What ifs generally don’t have the tendency to lift you up. What ifs often lead to a place where it isn’t about logic and cognitive abilities. It makes me browse another reality. An inner reality of inside stories that float and rave upon the waves of feelings, cravings and longings. It made me tattoo at the back of my shoulder: ‘dreams are wishes of the heart’. A reality where satisfaction hardly is possible, yet always just around the corner. A reality shaped by the rhythm of a constant pendulum of frantically searching and researching at one end, while at it’s other extremity finding balance by blockage and deprivation.

Let’s assume that the concept of destiny equals our so called point of satisfaction. We assume things the whole day. In particular about other people’s thoughts, emotions and intentions. So now let us assume something about our own conception. We do have the capacity to feed ourselves with whatever it is we want, to such an extent that at a certain point we say: I’ve had enough, I am done, full, satisfied. At that point we experience a sense of satisfaction. But then, as chance unsurprisingly has it, we quickly find a new spot at the horizon to reach for. And so we accumulate a wealth in experiences. We diversify the richness of our taste palette. We widen the scope of our possessions, let them be made of material, bare power or fulfilling relationships. Eventually we end up being experienced, rich and possessed. But are we ever really satisfied? Or let’s put it this way: does satisfaction actually exist? It makes me compare a sense of satisfaction to the concept of destiny – or there being a destination in life.

What if? I bluntly put forward that a destination does not exist other then in our mind. That the concept of destiny merely functions as a tool, an apparent focus point, allowing us to thrive, move forward, push along, using, or driven by, forces of nature comparable to water whirls, blazing winds and striking lightning. We need our destination and our point of focus as an excuse to flow with those forces of nature. The conceptualization of a destiny, a point of focus and the idea that it is due to our own doings, that it’s us ourselves getting us there, give us a sense of mastering those forces of nature, that we control and that we lead instead of being led by human nature. Why do we call such a vast thing as nature, human anyway? Smells like an effort to master or at least control The Force.

We assume the continuous development, proactively unrolling, dynamically pushing like sprouts do, is led by our own genius. And it’s exactly this assumption that tricks us into being haunted. As human beings, we turn into human doings, restless, never satisfied, always (de)parting, never arriving. And you know what? To stop the motion is not an option. Stop, hold back, like pulling the reins of a galloping Arabian horse, resist the race, back out of it by trying to repress forces of nature that are so much bigger then a bit of consciousness wrapped in a human body. Inertia makes us wonder about the difference between repression and depression. Inertia leads us to believe, have faith, divert into the realm of dreaming, finding distraction and the ephemere satisfaction of multiple addictions. Closing the circle I like to put forth that the absence of a conceptual triplet evolving around being destined, destiny and destination frees the way to literally realize what it actually is that the present beholds. I assure you it’s more then just cruising along.

An homage to great escapes


I am in the air. As if it is a radio show. But it is about flying. An airy no-show. Absent from my daily life for a week, maybe two. What is my daily life and why is flying away from it seen as an escape? It doesn’t feel like it is. There’s stuff – like matters of life and death – that don’t get to be done because they are overruled by short term daily life priorities and goals. Being easily overruled or overlooked doesn’t mean however, that matters of life and death are of no importance. To be precise, short term and long term both need equal attention. But yes it’s difficult to free one’s attention from short term busy-ness. Because most of the time short term busy-ness is surfacing acute and clear. Whereas long term busy-ness is like an undercurrent building up and gaining force over a length of time and therefore harder to capture.

It might even seem that daily life is composed of only short term busy-ness. So the moment one abdicates from setting the alarm at 7 am to prepare breakfast and lunch boxes for the kids, bringing the kids to school, attending to work or other engagements, groceries, play dates, making dinner, the usual entertainment time abided with phone conversations, media or so called ‘quality time’, the very moment one doesn’t set mind and body to these occupations, it’s called an escape from daily life.

I reckon my daily life deserves as much time to be spent on overthinking my values in life, exploring the borders of my comfort zone, breaking habits that have silently turned into unconscious patterns or setting up new ones. What I am saying is that to me, the time and energy spent to achieve these goals are as much part of my daily life as the repeating schedule captured in set moments of time. How to create space to do all that? Flying time – a good time unit of being in transition or even better, of being lost in translation – is terrific. Obviously flying is not the thing we do out of a quest for taking distance from our set schedules. We’re not going to be in the air for the sake of being in the air.

Which actually is pitiful. Flying time is excellent to float amidst the clouds of life, possibly peeking into ‘see-throughs’ on to our short term busy-ness – as in being busy and maybe capturing a glimpse of the overview; origin and destination included. What I am getting at is that abdicating from our so called daily lives in fact isn’t an escape at all. It is so much not of an escape that instead of merely experiencing the reality of it, temporary abdication of a set schedule even turns out to be more confrontational on a deeper level then engaging in the fairly superficial daily ‘short cuts’, is.

Holy Days: the final part

Archery, a circus festival and full moon somewhere in the midst of a forgotten mountain village tucked far away in the Western Pyrenees. Medieval times revisited? No way! What we experience today is as happening and engaging as can be.

Luna and me are being installed next to each other with bow and arrows in front of two seperate targets. Our first attempt at archery is about to take place. I’m quietly impressed, wanted to do this already for a long time. Here we are, right now! Our Spanish instructor invites us to move a bit closer to the target. To prevent us from giving up too easily, my guess. Another repetition of how to stretch the bow pointing down, hence rising it while stretching it more and more until the left arm is horizontal and points perfectly straight ahead while the right arm pulls the cord. With just one finger and even that one, almost not touching the cord, holding it at the very tip of the finger, stretching the bow as much as possible. Until the right hand comes next to the right cheek and holds still to focus, finally releasing the cord swift and silently. That’s all for the instruction course. We’re being left alone and there we go. Over and over again. Figuring out which eye to close, searching our arrows somewhere in the field behind the target, competitively giving each other ‘the look’ if the arrow hits the target reasonably focused. The tip of our finger is meant to hurt. We don’t feel it. We go on and on, loving it.

The next day the inner part of my right elbow is completely bruised from the cord that’d slapped several times against it, the price for not keeping my arm completely straight at all times. I hope someone will ask after the exaggerated bleu-ish green bruise, just for the fun of proudly recounting of our first archery experience.

After some indefenite time we proceed further into the fresh and sunny late afternoon by driving on to the tiny old village centre of Villanau. We come across several well fitted outdoor walkers. A beautiful part of the so called French camino de Santiago trail passes through Villanau, supplying the scenery with yet another remnant of centuries past: pelgrimage.
At the tiniest Plaza Major I’ve come across in Spain so far, the decor is set for a circus festival. It uncommonly consists of three seperate artist ensembles, travelling together but each one performing on their own stage. So we find ourselves in between three different stages at three different sides of the little square plaza, already packed to the fullest with local and visiting Spanish families. The peaceful and impressive backdrop of rising mountains under a bright blue late-afternoon sky is pretty overwhelming. To me that is. The people around me are not for a moment being distracted from their cheerful chatting and laughing. Until the spectacle takes off and we’re soon all being dazzled by trapeze work, acrobat acts, music from the soundtrack of Grease and Indian folkoric songs. Twice we’ve got to move by ourselves the wooden benches we are sitting on, turning them into the direction of the following performance, facing the next stage. Acting as sullen spectators, leisurably being entertained by hard working artists, it takes a lot of confusion and unexpected teamwork to get this done. Interactivity at a very basic level, as engaging as it is funny. All this is taking place at the tiniest Main Square (Plaza Major) of the age old village of Villanau (new village), adorned by well kept rustic houses, bright red flowers dangling down from artisinal pottery outside the windows. Romanticism at it’s best.

After I don’t know how much time, the festival finishes. The Spanish quickly resume their laughing and chatting. We’re leaving the enchanted circus scene, happily surprised by the very present and deeply satisfied. A giant bright yellow moon is rising to it’s fullest. That beautiful feminine moon, as overwhelming as the mountains it highlights, is fooler then full tonight.


Holy Days II

On a late afternoon I am struck by a most picture perfect #home and country style living# scene. On velvety green grass surrounding a picturesque cottage, I walk up to my host, father of four and owner of four popular London based restaurants. He sits in front of a clay open air pizza oven, shuffling a large stainless steel shovel-like ‘peel’ in and out, sliding baked goods a bit further to and from the fire inside.

He and the pizza oven are set in a private orchard-garden surrounded by lavish green vales and hills. We are talking Dorset, next to rich and beautiful Somerset. At a two hours driving distance from London, sheltered today by blue skies that are finely larded with breezy white strokes.

William Wordsworths’ poem:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils…
could have been written exactly here instead of in the Lake District.

A couple of Adirondack or Canadian chairs, typical for Maine, prop perfectly the simple out and about life style. The wooden, elegant yet rustic garden furniture originally from Westport USA was acquired after their last oversees holidays. This morning under a fresh summers’ downpour it was put together by hand. During the same time my friend, fierce- and beautiful mother of the earlier mentioned four, prepared pizza dough, adding some rye flour to consolidate it.

The picture perfect home and country style living scene also depicts seven kids, sitting about the green orchard, devouring their self topped pizzas. Featuring a backdrop like as if turning the next page of that very sensuous magazine: slowly changing colors into orange and purplish.

Hence the kids start to play games involving throwing apples at each other and tossing an egg. Laughing and enthusiastic screams make us turn our heads away from our light-hearted conversation facing the glowing fire in the stone oven. Now turned into dedicated supporters we sit by the kids’ nameless and priceless games. Until around the same time we all decide the game is over. As harmonious as only fiction has it, the seven kids at once run inside to go and watch a movie while we assemble a stack of empty round wooden cutting boards, an empty wine bottle and left over Pellegrino.

While we’re leaving the perfect magazine scene, the sky over the cattle fields and lush green bushes sets on fire. So it seems. The beauty of it not to be pictured nor described. But to imagine!