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Issue #37 Misc Adventures Digest
Making connections and teaching workshops in the Netherlands
Well, for a few days, we finally had a brief taste of summer. Hot and sunny weather at the end of the week meant swimming in lakes and rivers and taking showers under cascading waterfalls to cool off. For the first time all summer, we didn’t have to rush to get changed post dip, the sun warm on our still pale bodies. Usually at this time of year I’m ready for autumn, looking forward to it even, but instead of pine for cooler days we did our best to squeeze the last few drips of summer sun out of the season as best we could.
Although the warm weather lasted for several more days, we said goodbye to the waterfalls, lakes and mountains that we were enjoying so much to embark on a short trip to the Netherlands where we had been invited to host a workshop at Campfire Stories - a micro festival and retreat set in the Dutch countryside.
It’s hard to summarise this little gathering that our dear friend, Selfa has carefully curated every year since 2017. Life changing, restorative and transformative for many people who attend, it is perhaps best described as a celebration of creativity, nature and connection. A bringing together of people with fascinating stories to tell and knowledge to share. We have made many friends here over the years, and going back always feels like being reunited with family and community. This was sadly the final Campfire Stories as Selfa moves on to new things - having been part of the festival ever since it began we were honoured to be asked back to help celebrate the closing chapter.
For the first few years, we taught woodcarving workshops at the retreat, helping people to find a connection to trees and woodlands, and with the power of creating something simple with tools and your own hands. This year though, we wanted to do something different, something that felt more relevant to where we are with our own story. Campfire Stories is held on Roggebotstaete, a fascinating nature reserve and experimental garden in Flevoland. It is exceptionally rich in plant diversity and so we opted to lead a series of walks around the land, focusing on noticing connections between plants, trees, wild creatures and the landscape itself. We also included a little foraging and rounded up the workshop drinking some wild teas made from ingredients gathered along the way. Thankfully many of the species are the same as those here in the UK so we had no trouble with finding familiar friends; yarrow; mugwort; nettles; red clover; alder; oak; ground ivy; and even Emma’s favourite self-heal.
We often incorporate walks into our workshops, but this was the first time the walk has been the main event and it’s definitely something we would like to do again. It’s a joy to share the things we find fascinating about the natural world with others - by opening eyes and minds to the complexities of Nature we hope to add a little awe and wonder to everyday lives, and who knows where that may lead…
It’s been a while since we led a workshop. It felt good to be doing something again and I hope we can find a way to incorporate more of them into our work. Often, we struggle to make sense of what we do, and to quantify its worth. Miscellaneous Adventures has never been about money for us (although we would like to earn enough to meet our basic needs) but it is what has enabled us to be part of events like this. It has taken us to new places, introduced us to new friends and allowed us to share the joy we find in Nature with curious folks far and wide. We may never get rich doing what we do, but we are wealthy in other ways.
Well, although we missed out on a few sunny days of splashing in waterfalls back at home, we were so glad to have been part of the festival, catching up with old friends and making new ones. The land has changed in the seven years we have been visiting and it was good to see life thriving everywhere, buzzing, vibrant, bustling and full of vitality. A highlight for us was watching a pine marten bound towards us in the woods as we sat seeking a quiet moment; we sat holding our breath as he came within a metre or so, slinking softly, white bibbed and chestnut brown. Pure magic.
On the final day we said unexpectedly emotional goodbyes to friends and to the festival itself, thankful for the experiences and connections made over the years, yet also happy to be heading home, excited to be reunited with Benji, the mountains, valleys and lakes.
With thanks to Selfa and everyone else who made our time at the festival such a joy, and massive thanks to Emma’s Mum and Dad who traveled up to look after Benji for us whilst we were away so we could attend - our first time apart since we moved.
I’ll close with a question - who wants to join us on a Nature walk here in the Lakes?
Well, that’s all from us for now. We are working on new offerings for paid subscribers and we hope to announce those next week. Stay tuned!
With warm wishes,
Andrew, Emma and Benji x
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