Back in Falkensee (near Berlin)

Hello from Falkensee (near Berlin). It has been a while since I have reported from my travels.

A short summary of the last two months: in June a group of 19 people dived into the we-space experiment that I had helped to bring into being. We had rented a house in the little town of Findhorn, not far from the sea, in which 11 of us lived. The rest of the group stayed in a B&B close by and joined us for meditations and morning, afternoon and often evening sessions. Basically we practiced for 10 days to feel the ‘we’, ie the group as a whole. Inquiries would go along the line of ‘Can I feel in my body, how the group is doing?, What keeps me from showing up as I would like to?, ‘What is love? and other questions. We prepared the main meals in groups of three, enjoyed free afternoons at the beach or sitting in a cafe and had a very rich and worthwhile time with lots of insights and transformations.

After this and without a real break, I took part in a week long workshop on ‘Communicating with Crystal Consciousness’. Our teacher had brought an amazing amount of crystals all the way from the South of England up to Findhorn and we practiced to feel some of the aspects and vibration of crystals, we learned to clean crystals and how to use them for healing and how to co-operate with them to get in touch with other kingdoms of consciousness such as plants. This is where life gets truly exciting for me when we start to feel how we can enter cooperation with the rest of the universe.

After this kind and rich week, during which I stayed in Cluny, a part of the Findhorn Foundation I had not experienced before, I travelled with my bicycle on the train to Carlisle to stay with a friend and meet Don again. Don and I embarked on another bicycle trip from there, this time along the Hadrian Wall, which has been built by the Emperor Hadrian and his soldiers between 122 and 128 AD to fortify the northern limit of the Roman Empire. From Carlisle we needed about a day to get to the wall which runs from the Solway Firth, north of Carlisle to the west near Newcastle. Our direction was west and eventually north to the tidal island Lindisfarne. For one day we cycled as close to the wall as possible which turned out to be a very hilly ride, as of course the Romans had taken advantage of the hills that were already there as a base for their wall and turrets to have an overview of who was coming. We stayed at a funny campsite/hostel which was managed by the pub across the street, the hostel building being an old church and I was wondering what was underneath the grass we were camping on. Anyway we stayed there for two nights to explore the wall in a bit more detail on foot. On our daytrip we stopped to visit the ruins of one of the milecastles which guarded the gateways through the wall. One of the fascinating facts that we learned there was for me, that the soldiers from each milecastle came from different provinces of the empire. So in one milecastle the soldiers would all or mostly come from Dalmatia, whereas the soldiers in the milecastle a bit further east came from Dacia and the next from Capadocia, it must have been a very multicultural wall. Also the walkers who we met and who were following the long distance footpath along the wall seemed to be fairly multicultural.  As we did not really like the constant up and down along the wall we headed more north, although that did not help in getting away from the hills. This is where the Pennine Hills, the backbone of England, runs. But there was one particularly beautiful morning ride through the moors, lots of fun in cycling up and down and having wide views most of the time. I had started this second part of our cycle trip a bit tired (from all that I had experienced in Findhorn?) and although I enjoyed the region we were cycling through and Don’s companionship, cycling became a bit too strenous for me, I needed lots of breaks, days off, etc. and then finally made the decision that I wanted to rest for a longer time. In one of his emails Don had mentioned Lindisfarne, a holy island at the east coast north of Newcastle. We spent our last day there, the island once was home to a famous abbey and still pilgrams visit and stay there, also apparently it is connected to Iona in Scotland where I spent a week last year. After our day on Lindisfarne, we cycled to the next big town with a railway station and I travelled back to Carlisle and Don went back to his UK home. In Carlisle I experienced a few very restful days at my friend’s place. And very soon I was ready to go back to Germany. I chose to travel on the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam and then train to Berlin. Some more cycling was involved to get from Newcastle town center to the ferry harbour and from Amsterdam ferry harbour to the train station. Already on the way to the Newcastle ferry I met two cyclists who knew the way and I joined them again on the way to Amsterdam which was helpful and fun.

Now I am enjoying being back in Falkensee where I have a home whenever I need one, in the house of my friends. When I am away they look after my mail and host two bags with my things in the attic and when I feel I need to rest for a while from travelling, I move into one of the guest rooms. This time it feels different, I was really looking forward to stay and rest and not be too active for a while, not even completely sure when and where I want to travel next. I am feeling grateful for being welcome to stay here. And with the current warm and sunny weather I am enjoying the garden, the flowers, the trees and I have some more interaction with the dog of the house. The apple trees are so full that they start to let some of their fruit fall and I collect some the apples to eat in my muesli. From my childhood I am used to harvesting fruit from our own garden and it feels beautiful to me. Until now, mostly when I stayed here between my trips, I was very concentrated on things and people in Berlin, meeting friends there, doctor visits, doing some paper work, buying new outdoor stuff, bringing things to the storage box or getting them from there. It felt a bit like a having to be here for a while and using my time to get ready for the new travel location. I was not really here with my heart. Wondering if this has also to do with a recent insight or discovery that I have a tendency to not sit completely in my bodily base, ie. my pelvis, something keeps me from wanting to really arrive there. In a playful constellation that I held with a friend not so long ago, an insight was that the sitting down in my base has to do with honouring my ancestors, maybe parents first and foremost and then their parents and so on. And what does honouring mean? My current understanding is that it means to acknowledge how they lived their lives and to also see and feel the struggle and difficulties they had to go through and that they inherited from their parents and grandparents and greatgrandparents. So many thanks to Wolfhard and Ulrike in Falkensee for providing me with this physical base in which I am learning to sink in more.

More from the Hebrides and Highlands

After our lovely rest day with a fresh fish dinner (fish van came to the campsite to sell the freshly caught fish) we headed to the so-called Butt of Lewis. Lots of fun instead of frustration when also the third ATM (after trying two the day before) did not cooperate in raising our cash flow and two closed cafes. The weather was warm and nice, but in the distance a huge grey wall seemed to come towards us from the north. Around 5 km before we reached the butt, we stopped in a cafe for soup / more fish to wait for the cloud to go away. But, alas it turned out to be the local ‘har’, the sea mist, that can stay around for a while when it is there. Even approaching it, temperatures dropped by a felt 10 degrees, oooh, into the wet and cold. But of course we, or mainly I maybe, wanted to reach the most northern point of Lewis. Nature at the top of the island was spectacular, giant rocks, violet flowers, lots of sea gulls and wind and the sea slashing against the rocks. Good to see and experience this. We headed back, and again 5km further south the weather seemed to change completely. And we had seen a newly created campsite on our way, to which we went back to. A site with two pods and luxury kitchen shed with some grass for pitching tents. Informative chat with other campers and cyclists about the road conditions from Ullapool to Inverness and a hint to check out nice places around Inverness. In the morning the har had crossed most of northern Lewis and we woke up to it and took our tents down in it. I noticed how the damp and cold really got to me, it felt like a taste of how travelling on the Hebrides could also have been and I was the more grateful for our stable and warm weather we experienced for most of the time.

Our thoughts were already wandering to the next part of the cycle trip on mainland Scotland and I monitored the weather forcast which said there would be lots of rain on mainland and none on the islands, which was enough reason to spend two nights on a campsite near Stornoway and enjoy two lazy town and campsite days. Good food available in Stornoway too and an exhibition opening with artist talk in the local cultural center. While in Stornoway, I read online that the mother of Donald Trump was born on the Hebrides and left when she was 18 with quite a few other young women from the islands after a very sad accident. After the first world war lots of local men had already been lost and then in early 1919 a boat with 200 men on their way home to the islands was lost in a storm and all died. As a consequence young women from the islands emigrated to Canada and the US to start a family. No sign of Donald Trump being a grandson of the islands though …

Then finally leaving the islands which made me feel sad. However, we had a sunny ferry crossing, about 2,5 hours from Stornoway to Ullapool and arrived to a spacious campsite close to the ferry terminal. In the evening I took a walk through the small town of Ullapool and felt enchanted, a place I would like to come back to. And indeed the rain had cleared when we arrived and even the sometimes (as we were told) busy road was ok to cycle on a Sunday. Even low clouds cleared before we came through. After reaching the highest point of the day it was only downhill. The cycling uphill had felt easy with all the training from the Hebrides, and we could hardly believe the long descend and enjoyed it all the more.

We had thought of cycling around Lochnesss, but the next day I felt my knees hurting slightly and also feeling called by Findhorn where I knew all the time, the cycle trip would stop at least for the time being. So we cycled up a mild hill to Cannich, a taste of the highlands with the valleys and hills in the distance and lots of midges in the woods. On the second day in Cannich the midges became a real challenge for me. The day before I had found a place in myself, I thought, were I did not mind them around and eating me. But this time I wanted to run …

Then two more days of cycling to Findhorn. I found cycling on the big streets around Inverness challenging, wishing myself back to the empty roads of the Hebrides. But arriving in Findhorn was nice. I showed Don around the community site and the dunes and beach and we had a meal in a pub in Findhorn village.

And then, today a week ago, Don left to go back to Birmingham. We had a marvellous time together, all our days together seemed to be blessed. Thank you. And more trips are being planned.

In Findhorn I am helping to prepare a retreat that will start in a few days. Good and insightful times spent with old and new friends, reading, understanding more about the Findhorn community. And somehow the birds are coming more into my focus. I would like to be able to communicate with them. For the moment I am taking more time to watch them, enjoy seeing them having fun bathing in the bird bath in the little garden of the house where I am staying at the moment. There is a portal to another world when I allow myself to ‘be’ with the birds. Don mentioned a few times how birds have been around and doing the same things forever and people and places have changed around that. I find that interesting.

Greetings from Findhorn.

Photos coming in a moment. If you read this without photos, please check back …

From the Hebrides

We have reached Lewis, the most northern island of the Outer Hebrides and are staying at a lovely small campsite with a good wifi connection. Time to write a post about the magical time on the Hebrides.

When we arrived on Barra 10 days ago, the weather had indeed turned wet and windy and the forcast was for storm. We found a little shop which offered support in finding accomodation and we were able to book two nights in a B&B place just a few km along the road over one hill. Glad to be indoors, the night was wet and the next day very wet and windy. But we wanted to venture out anyway and did a tour of Barra, once around the island, exhilarating with the wind sometimes in the back then in the face. Good to come to a dry place to take a warm shower and have some warm food.

On Monday we left Barra, it was still raining in the morning. A 40 minute ferry ride to South Uist, passing the first campsite, just stopping for a jacket potato and hot tea. And then the rain stopped and has not come back since then.

When we were already tired and really looking forward to a place to rest and stop for the night we met another cyclist who knew the area well and directed us to a beautiful beach where we could pitch our tents. The night was cold however and the wind had picked up strength in the morning and I felt a bit shaky, noticing that even in company I am not a fan of wild camping. Although I really enjoyed the evening away from everything, having dinner sitting on a wall of rocks with the view of the sea. So the next morning after a quick breakfast, and cycling only a few km up the road, we found a hostel and decided to stay there for the day and the night. Enough time to sooth my system, enjoy some time out of the wind and reading and writing and chatting to other travellers, cyclists, walkers, all different sorts and types. The Howmore hostel is part of a hostel organization maintaining three hostels on the Western Isles, situated in lovely thatched old houses, very well cared for, excellent facilities. Just what a wind scattered traveller needs. And I had set my heart already on stopping at one of the other hostels further north.

So, next morning off with the wind, the weather stabilizing more and more, moments of bliss, sitting on the bike, often not needing to pedal at all, up and down the rolling hills, enjoying the beautiful scenery and hardly able to believe our luck with wind direction and weather. Rolling through the rest of South Uist, then over the causeway to the next island Benbecula. Here we stopped for a coffee/tea in the airport cafe. Had an interesting chat with a mother who saw her son off to the mainland. He lives in Glasgow and has a three weeks on, three weeks off job as a fisherman on the island, however, is hoping to bring his family back to the island for good.

On, to the next island via another causeway. The causeways were mostly built with the support of EU money in the 90s, before there were only ferries connecting the islands. Now on North Uist, we had the option to either cycle along the East or the West coast. We chose the West coast, along the road a cafe just in time to strenghten ourselves with soup and roll.

These islands are a jewel in terms of beauty and energy and everything. I was wondering what to do with all this beauty inside of me and overflowing. My heart became really big and I wanted to embrace everything, the whole world.

And then we found this beautiful campsite near a bird sanctuary on the Western most edge of North Uist. Birds calling long into the evening and early in the morning, quite magical. Lovely breakfast in front of the tents in the sun and heading to the next island, Berneray, first along the northern coast of North Uist and then over another causeway to lovely most beautiful Berneray. Here the next hostel was waiting for us, views amazing, breath taking really and another sunny and not too windy evening. A walk along the long white beach and views of the ferry to Harris, which goes about 4 times a day.

I don’t know if I have ever been so happy and content for such a long time without interuption. Travelling with Don is very pleasent, often funny, full of kindness and common sense, wonderful really, amazingly easy to agree on where to stop or stay. And maybe this is possible because he lets me decide mostly, really I am a bit of a tour guide, I read the map and read the guide book, know about possible places to stay and eat. And he adds lots of relaxation with what he calls opportunist attitude, so I don’t go into too much planning and am happily living the opportunist life too and we have never gone hungry or without a good site for our tents. And anyway the weather has been most supportive.

The next day we and a few more cyclist who stayed at the hostel, took the 10.25 ferry to Harris, the hills looming in the not so far distance. We pedaled just another 15 or so km on Harris until we found a beautifully situated campsite on the West Coast. Day after day the weather and the places we stayed at just became more beautiful. This one was stunning and we decided to stay for two nights. Thus we had time to cycle back to the standing stone of Harris the next day. Restful and meditative time near the stone and a lazy afternoon spent reading near the tent, soaking up all the good energy from and through the ground.

Well timed rest as on the next day we cycled through and over the hills, first into Tarbert, where although it was Sunday and nearly every shop and eating place is closed for Sunday observance, we found good food in the Hebriden Hotel close to the Tarbert ferry terminal. With our water bottles well filled we tackled the Harris hills, sun was getting really hot, up to 26 degrees, cycling in shorts and top. Challenging ascents and exhilarating descents. Then a bit of a long stretch of road with further small hills until we found an acceptable half wild camping site near an inn where we enjoyed another meal. None of our emergency oat soup needed after all. The next day even hotter and nearly no wind, so the midges where coming out. I guess there is no sunny and warm Scotland experience without midges. Still in a bit of disbelieve about the weather and the heat, this summer will be talked about for a long time 🙂

Yesterday we finally reached the Callanish standing stones, the place to visit and one of the most important prehistoric sites in all of the UK. Impressive, however also full of visitors. Wondering if there will be an opportunity to go back at a less busy time to connect to the stones more deeply. I feel already changed by just having been there. A different mood somehow since then. The mood might also have to do with this part of the trip ending fairly soon. Tomorrow we are planning to cycle up to the northern tip of Lewis, the butt of Lewis, and then the next day it is really down to Stornoway to take the ferry back to the mainland to Ullapool.

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Cycling in the UK and Scotland

10 days ago I embarked on my long and often talked about trip to Scotland. I started in Berlin, myself and my bicycle on the train to Rotterdam, then some 30km of cycling to the ferry port, Hoek van Holland and the overnight ferry to Harwich. Looking out on the sea from the ferry I was filled with feelings of joy and freedom.

The next morning in Harwich it rained and I decided to take the train to Cambridge. My first stop was Birmingham where I would meet Don, a cycling traveller I had met on a campsite in NZ. We had stayed in contact via email and around last Christmas decided to cycle the Outer Hebrides together.

From Cambridge I cycled west to a campsite in St. Neots. I had imagined to cycle for a few days towards Birmingham, however, studying the map in more detail, I did not find any good campsites on the map and encountered a feeling of intense lonelyness during my first night in St. Neots. I really could not feel any enjoyment in travelling by myself anymore, felt lost and a bit disoriented. I stayed another night on the same campsite to find my inner bearings again, but no relieve. Then I decided to call Don and check if I could come a few days earlier then planned. Yes, I could, so I started off the next day to cycle around 50 km to the next big town, Milton Keynes to take the train from there to Birmingham. On the way I got amazingly lost and it started raining so hard I could not use my phone anymore to find out where I was and where to go to. People I talked to sent me into weird directions. Inner lostness mirrored by outer lostness. But in the end I arrived at the station, very wet and very cold and arrived ok in Birmingham. In Birmingham Don and I had a few days to get to know each other. My system relaxed and we actually enjoyed a few beautiful sunny days, I learnt all about cricket watching a game and we went on a day trip to Liverpool.

Yesterday we finally boarded the train to go to Oban. From here we will take the ferry this morning to go to Barra, an island in the South of the Outer Hebrides. Then the plan is to cycle North hopefully with the wind. The forcast is for wind and storm for the next two days and then some calmer weather. Feeling lots of respect for the wind and possible cold. And we already found out that even campsites are booking fast, we called a few campsite places last night and only found a place for our two tents on the third site.

But feeling adventurous and loving the feeling of being in Scotland again. The trainride from Glasgow to Oban yesterday along the Loughs was wonderful.

Bornholm in April

I returned to Bornholm for a week. When I spent nearly 6 weeks on this beautiful island in winter, I was told that April is particularly beautiful with spring coming through the defrosted ground and trees starting to bloom. And yes, nature was full of abundance. Anemones covering the forest floor and wild garlic growing everywhere. My first afternoon I spent in a magical valley, sitting still on a rock in the midst of anemones looking for an answer to my sudden exhaustion that had come over me after arriving. I prayed a round of my mala and received the answer, to get up and move intuitively and slowly to free my body of some inner tension or some blockage, maybe caused by long sitting on the train and on the ferry the day before. After my little movement session I felt refreshed and clear again.
My friends’ house felt as lovely as I remembered it, lots of work done in the garden and preparing for more.
On my second day, I tried a little bicycle trip, enjoying the wind in my back on the way to the shore and then also along the shore towards the South. I would have enjoyed being pushed a little more, but I stopped to check how it would feel to cycle back to my temporary home. The wind was fierce. I decided to start cycling back immediately, smiling at my illusion that I won’t have to face up to letting myself be carried along. I cycled myself into a bit of a struggle, starting to wonder if I would make it back, certainly not enjoying the ride so much anymore. And then I remembered my experiment with the wind in November on Amrum. Back there I started interacting with the wind and for a moment felt like being one with the wind. So I started singing to the wind, humming a very simple melody, maybe four notes. Somehow it felt as if the wind was opening towards me, cycling became less strenuous, I felt like being in relationship with the wind, not fighting against it anymore. I was still tired in the evening, but somehow happily tired, having learnt an important lesson I feel.

On another day I reconnected with a new friend I had made in winter and we went for a little tour to the North of Bornholm, walking along a valley to a waterfall where masses of wild garlic were growing, looking at rock paintings possibly many thousands of years old and venturing into a cave. Seeing the wild garlic inspired me to cycle to the same valley again the next day through foggy landscapes. I collected a few bundles of the wild garlic and processed it into pesto in the evening.

Another highlight were the times with my tree friend, a beech tree I had found in January and which was featured he on my blog before. One morning before breakfast was particularly beautiful. The tree’s first green started to come out on the very top were it’s twigs stretched towards the sun. Again I found deep peace and solace here. One evening, a little shaken by what had happened, I came to my tree and had the impulse to connect to the spirit of Bornholm staying close to the tree at the same time. I asked how to find peace inside and it felt like the island was offering herself to me completely. I received an image of myself as a giant body, a little bigger than the island and I was invited to lay down on the island, soak up all its vitality and wholesomeness while letting my feet and hands tangle into then water. This brought instant relaxation and peace to my body.

Then another beautiful bicycle trip, taking most of the day, including some resting in the sand in the South of Bornholm, watching the swans nearby. Inbetween deep and sometimes healing conversations with my friends, meditation, proof reading of a small booklet, getting a little more proficient in working with my new tablet, finding useful apps and finally putting use to an external keyboard, that I had bought months ago.
Amazed by the power of Bornholm again, the island seems to be able to take in whatever one brings, ready for transformation, and providing nurturing at the same time.

Most of this I wrote while being ferried over the Baltic Sea back to Germany, on a sunny and quiet crossing with few other travellers as the tourist season is yet to begin on Bornholm. Once I reached the habour of Sassnitz, I cycled into town, had some lunch and boarded the train to Kiel. A few very interesting conversations on the 5 hour train ride and reading in my lovely book. The book feels precious: ‘The Lady and The Monk by Pico Iyer. It is about his trip to Kyoto in the late 80s, beautifully describing the Japanese culture, funny intercultural encounters, his fascination with Zen, and Japanese poetry and it is about love. Reading it often makes me laugh out loud, even on the train, or feeling very touched. I would love to share a part which touched me in particular and which is about connecting Heaven and Earth. Here it is:

‘Increasingly, then, as I went on reading Singer, I began to see that the great project of this closet pantheist was, quite literally, to build a rainbow bridge between heaven and earth. Again and again, his robust tales turned around men who wished to renounce the world in favor of some unearthly, abstract love – a devotion to scholarship, or even God – and then, of a sudden, found themselves confronted with the presence of something less lofty that seemed to betray a higher source; again and again his people were divided, their eyes on the heavens and their hands on earth. And invariably, Singer resolved the issue by showing that the earthly love could be just the manifestation of heavenly love, that it revealed to us a radiance and a beauty that were otherwise concealed; that this was all we could know of heaven here on earth, and all we would need to know. “The more we know of a particular thing,” Spinoza had written, “the more we know of God.” ‘

Stone Circles in Cornwall

From my notes from a few days ago:

Yesterday I said good-bye to Cornwall and travelled on to Bath, a 6-hour train journey. Arriving here seems to have been a bit of a shock to my system.

I felt very happy and grounded and somehow cared for in Cornwall. The cared-for feeling was also mirrored in the connection to my airbnb host. We had a few interesting converstations in her kitchen which I could use to cook my meals and she was always ready to pick me up somewhere if the bus schedule was not cooperative with my walking schedule. Particularly after visiting the Boscaven-un stone circle I needed her. It was Sunday, the forcast had been for more snow, and I was ready for a day inside. But then when I woke up, the sun was shining from a blue sky, the ground was half frozen and I decided to walk to the stone circle, a 1,5 to 2 hour walk from the cabin. Beautiful scenary on the way, and I got lost only once and found my way again. On my map it looked like there was only one path to the circle which I took. It turned out to be the most muddy path I walked in Cornwall, some parts I could only walk because of the frost still in the earth, so I was not sinking in more than ankle deep into the mud. I was determined to get to the circle, climbed over fences to avoid deeper water holes and then there it was in the sunshine. It felt to me like a very powerful place, I walked around it three times, then asked if I could enter and did enter into the circle. Inside there was such a high vibration that it felt like a sound in the air, similar to the hissing or static that you can hear inside your head when in very deep meditation or when you put a shell to you ear. A very peaceful place. Standing in the middle I connected to each of the 19 stones one after the other (there might have been more stones when the circle was first built). I had a sense of different aspects or perspectives or frequencies coming from each stone as each stone is also different in size and shape, and all these perspectives coming together in peace, as a model for showing us that this is possible and letting us feel how strong such a wholesome place feels. I like the theory that some stone circles where built for that purpose, to create a perfectly balanced and aligned place for people to go to, to find balance if they had fallen out of it, and particularly spend time in such a circle during the changes of the wheel of the year, e.g. summer and winter solstice and equinoxes when our whole system needs to align to a new flow of energy to stay in balance.

While being in the circle some clouds appeared in the sky and the coldness got to me. I needed to keep moving and found a different path to the next street and on the street to the next little village where I was hoping to catch a bus. But somehow I had misread the bus schedule. When I could not reach my airbnb host on her telephone I started walking another 1,5 miles to a bigger village where I would be able to catch a bus later in the day. But then she called back and came to pick me up. What a relieve, as after the experience in the circle I did not feel like sitting in a pub by myself, waiting for a bus.

I told her about the stone circle and she became curious and wanted to experience it too. So on my last day I took her, or better she took me in her car to the circle again and to two other interesting places. And we completed our outing with a lunch in Sennen Cove an old fishing village at the coast which I had visited before on my coastal walk and loved.

When I was writing these notes I sat in a square beside the Bath Abbey, listening to a man playing piano with lots of people sitting on the benches around him, enjoying his music. I don’t feel so much in balance here. Listening to the music felt soothing, but inside I am highly activated. Curious how this all belongs together.