Another Day

Time has gone so fast, and I realise we have not written anything for some time! The new year started and the family is already back into the swing of things. It’s almost like Christmas never happened!

It’s now the 3rd Sabbath of the month and I guess it’s no longer appropriate to wish folks happy New Year!

However, that’s just what this is all about. New year, new beginnings, good intentions.

I did not really make any. I know I break them as soon as I make them. But still, reflection of the year past and figuring out the future year can’t really be escaped. So caught up in the hype, I did at least tell myself that this year i would try and think of my own needs a little more. Spending time doing things I love just because I love them.

If you ask how I have fared these first 3 weeks of the year.. Uhm.. not so good. However there is one thing I really love doing that relaxes me… Crocheting. I prefer not to do that alone though, it’s fun to do that together with my daughter. But as I am often away, I do find myself often crocheting by myself. Each stitch is done in a rhythm, while my thoughts freely flow. Maybe it’s just a daily reflection, going through the day, self examining and often praying for those around me.

Come to think of it, maybe that should be my good intention for the rest of this year. Starting each day with devotion, and finishing each day with reflection.

My current devotional is ‘my utmost for His highest’ by Oswald Chambers. I subscribe and daily the thought for that day is emailed to me. (https://utmost.org)

Maybe this year we can motivate each other to keep going?

Beach and Sorts

Some weekends are even better than others. Sometimes it’s just brilliant to just take time out and enjoy all that is around you. It revitalises, enriches, and just makes you plain grateful for the life you are able to lead.

Last weekend was just one of those weekends. We were blessed enough to be able to spend the weekend in Guanacaste, a hot tropical paradise in north west Costa Rica. Konrad, a colleague and friend of mine, was willing to drive us there and back.. not sure if the pictures below show the roads, but for this European, those roads are better described as dirt roads with craters, rivers to cross, and seatbelts tested to the max. Needless to say, we would not have gone there if I would have been the driver. One look and it would have been.. sorry Mel, time to turn back…

Our purpose was to spot turtles, who nest in flocks in Ostional. The call the phenomena Arribada, which unfortunately we mist by a month. Turtles were still spotted but those we also missed. Hatchlings did not come out while we were there. However, the times we were there it was hot, and hatchlings would not survive in that heat.. so maybe for the best after all. We did see lots of evidence of turtles there.. nests, empty eggcasings, hatchling tracks, turtle tracks…. it just made it all very real and a huge reason to come back one day!!!!!

What was weird, shops selling turtle eggs… something I may never understand… and for sure not something i would ever try!!

What we did experience: beautiful beaches, sunsets and nature, amazing food, friendship, waking up to the sounds of monkeys, hummingbirds, butterflies etc.

Mel had the opportunity to snorkel and saw an Octopus, she was happy!! She spotted a couple Whales in the ocean.. and her marine biology appetite was satisfied also.

Writing this does the weekend no justice. It’s something I want to see again!

I am truly marvelled at the beauty of this world, created for us to enjoy. With the word of the Psalmist (19:1) the Heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands.

 

Seven Sisters

To go away for a couple days to the seaside is about as lovely as it gets. The destination is the south coast, East Sussex to be precise. We picked up a little Motorhome yesterday and set off, looking for a spot to park the van next to the sea.

We managed to find an area where we could hear the sea.. and see it if we stretched a little. Beds were made and the first night started.

Unfortunately we woke up to nice British weather… rain..

But not to worry.. we packed up, had breakfast and coffee at McDonalds and set off to an area just west of Eastbourne, in the Southdown National park. I had heard a lot about that area, it has an area called ‘Beachy Head’ with a National Trust owned piece of Land. The sun made an appearance soon and the whole area just looked so pretty!

The coastline there is known for its white chalk cliffs, called Seven Sisters. A typical British view.

We decided to have a short cliff walk to see the famous lighthouse beneath the rock, but it was just so windy!

We soon set off to find a campsite for the night, not far from Eastbourne.. next to a pebble beach… shelling is one of our favourite activities, so off we went.. finding lovely different kinds of shells. It’s now fully sunny and it feels like holiday!

We are off, to make food and relax for the evening. Tomorrow is another day for new adventures. I like exploring! So don’t mind me :o)

State Fair

A country fair in England is probably the closest to how I can describe a state fair. Showcasing the best and brightest a US state has to offer. Apparently Minnesota is one of the largest State Fairs in the country.

And so being here in the US at the time of the fair it’s almost a given to go! A group of colleague friends and me went….

The first section we happen to walk through is the animal section.. in fact, we did not wander too many other places but stayed close to the Animal barns.

It’s so interesting to see.. goats are being pimped, washed, groomed.. pigs walk on a leash… people take great pride showcasing their breeds.

The horses though are my favourite… the horse and carts were just amazing to see. The way the horses are dressed up and walk so graciously! The owners look proud for a reason!

Combine that with all the sounds, smells and foods.. it’s an overwhelming attack on the senses:

I had a delicious pecan roll for dinner, washed down with lemonade. Not sure I want to know the amount of calories I consumed!

You seem to be able to get just about anything on a stick. Fried banana split, fried olives, fried mash, fried pickles….

Fries come in huge buckets, as do cookies… I guess to be shared, but who is going to say something if you eat it all alone?

People watching is probably my favourite activity. Dressed up, dressed down, having fun. I was glad to be able to hang out at the fair for a few hours and sample the atmosphere.

This event makes me reflect on those times in Jesus life where large groups gathered around Him, hungry for what He had to share. He gave them food, when they were hungry. However, when He wanted to talk to His Father, he sought solitude, being away from people.

I think I feel not to different. A few hours at the fair and I am ready for a day of rest, reflecting on other things!

How has your week been? Are you also happy with this day of rest, to reflect back on that which is important?

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough…

So here I am…7 months after my operation (check out the ‘Living with a hidden (not so hidden) illness’ series if you aren’t sure what I am on about) and I am finally back on track. I am able to walk more than 50 metres without being out of breath…well unless I am walking with my mum, who runs more than walks!

We just had a bank holiday this past weekend in the UK and we thought we’d use the time to go and climb Pen Y Fan in south Wales. So after dropping mum off at the airport, who unfortunately had to go back to America for work, and off we went to Cardiff where we spent the night.

Following a filling and hearty breakfast and coffee at the ready, we drove into the Brecon Beacons and before I knew it…we were at the base of Pen Y Fan. From the road we could see how busy it was and it really didn’t look like it was much of a climb. Boy was I wrong.

Almost as soon as we started the ascent, I was already out of breath!!! However, after many breaks on the way up, we made it to the top of Pen Y Fan (886m) in just over 2 hours. We then also climbed Corn Du (873m) before a steep descent down a different route. We were so insanely lucky with the weather and somehow avoided the rain.

This might not seem like a huge feat, and the mountain really wasn’t that high, but for me this was huge. This was the first real challenge I’d had since my surgery. Finally having two lungs I could use to breathe and no pressure on my spine, definitely helped. Yes I was still very much out of breath and it took me a longer than I’d hoped but I made it!

Hiking will never be one of my favourite things to do but getting to the top, I couldn’t help but feel proud and happy of my achievements. It is also the first step on a long journey. Dad and I have challenged ourselves to climb either Mount Kilimanjaro or to do the Base Camp trek of Everest in 2020. So keep an eye out for our other climbs and adventures!!

What about you? What is your favourite mountain to climb? What has been your proudest moment this year so far?

Cousins

My grandfather used to say ‘the sun does not set over the Knopper family’. The reason was that his kids spread to corners of the earth. One to Australia, one to America… and my dad stayed home in the Netherlands…

The consequence of this was that family reunions were just with very small portions of the family. We grew up without knowing any of the cousins.

There is a picture of 1971 where we were all together… apparently.., I don’t remember it..

A few years ago, my Australian cousin met up with us in Luxembourg.. so nice to meet! A familiarity immediately there.

Last year I met up with my American cousin… same thing… I wrote an earlier blog about that.

As I am regularly in America, I finally was able to arrange to spend some time with my cousin. Catching up on uhm… some 47 years of missing history… he remembers stories about my grandparents from what I don’t remember or was too young for.

A drive into the Smokey Mountains was the setting for all this..

Below a few pictures of that…

I know the sun will continue to shine over the Knopper family and not set.. as cousins have families, equally spread out in their respective countries…

One day we will have that total family reunion…it may have to wait till we are all Home with Jesus though!

Definitely Not in Kansas Anymore…

When you travel around the world, you are bound to come across situations that are so different from home. Whilst here in Costa Rica, it has definitely been the earthquakes (or quacks according to mum).

The majority have been minor with only a couple seconds of shaking, which before it even registers as an earthquake is already finished. However this week was different. I had spent the whole day by the pool and hot tub, just enjoying the sunshine and spending some much needed down time to read, crochet, and read a book. I was sat in the hot tub when all of a sudden I get a text from mum asking if I was ok…Mum normally messages me but the tone of this message was different. So I instantly responded, seconds later another message pops up, a large earthquake had hit…didn’t I feel it?

Something I learnt was that whilst you’re in the hot tub, you apparently don’t feel earthquakes. This had been a 5.3 and I felt nothing. I knew it was a big deal though as instantly all the staff at the hotel went around checking if everyone was ok and switching off the various alarms going off. This was my first ever experience of a larger quake. Even though I didn’t feel it myself, I was still shaken (pun intended) by the idea of it. The rest of the day I was restless, expecting another one to hit.

So sometimes when you’re traveling, you experience things that you wouldn’t at home. Earthquakes in the UK are so rare and yet here there are around 10-15 a day!!! You don’t really think of these things when you’re traveling until you experience them. Last year whilst we were here, one of the volcanoes was active and so we couldn’t visit it, but the thought was in the back of our minds…what if…luckily nothing happened, and the volcano is dormant again. But you just never know.

Traveling opens up your eyes to not only new cultures but also to new experiences. Whether that is walking over the hanging bridges, whale watching, eating new foods, or feeling an earthquake for the first time. I love it and wouldn’t change it. Yes at the time it can be scary but you know what to do the next time!

What about you? What has been something thats happened to you whilst traveling that you didn’t expect to happen? Let me know in the comments below!

On to the next adventure…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Exploring Cornwall

So as I mentioned in one of my previous blogs (Taking Time for Yourself), dad and I went on a little minibreak to Cornwall. The reason for this trip was that dad had been asked to play the drums at Live in a Field in Chapel Porth (a camp filled with worship and activities) and of course I would join. Who wouldn’t want to escape their everyday life to be beside the ocean for a couple days??

Thursday afternoon came and it was time to drive down…we were expecting awful traffic and a long journey, however, we had managed to beat the bank holiday traffic!! Before we knew it (and after a quick stop off at Mcdonalds) we had arrived in Cornwall. We had decided to rent an Airbnb near the campsite and found a cute flat in Porthtowan. The one downside was that we arrived in the dark and there is no phone signal in Porthtowan. So finding the flat was an adventure…but we managed to find it (a stone’s throw from the beach!) and we settled in and got an early night.

The next morning we woke to dense fog and thick cloud cover…not the weather you hope for when you’re going to the beach…however, I put my wellies on and dad put his trainers on and off we went for a morning walk on the beach. Porthtowan beach is gorgeous, if you ever find yourself in Cornwall, definitely go!! And if the weather is nice…treat yourself to some Cornish icecream from Moomaid of Zennor!! We went looking for shells and found none but did a quick beach clean whilst we were there. After a little exploration, we decided to head over to Trevaunance Cove which had been a favourite spot of ours for the last couple years. However, the beach cafe had been changed and didn’t have the same cosy feel that it had had over the last couple years. So after a quick coffee and a seal or two spotted, we went for another walk on the beach and explored some of the caves.

It soon became time for us to head over to Chapel Porth campsite for dad to drop off his drums and a quick catch up with some friends before heading over to St Ives for a spot of lunch and a quick wander around the beautiful town, and of course another ice cream! We then headed back to the camp for the evening worship and headed off for an early night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday morning, dad headed back off for a pretty full day at the campsite. I had decided to take the day for myself and explored the coastal paths between Porthtowan and Chapel Porth. Dad met me halfway and we continued on exploring some of the ruins that Cornwall has to offer! That evening we had a lovely concert filled with Lily-Jo, Speak, Brother and Volney Morgan & New Ye. So no early night for us!

The next morning we were promised sunshine and it definitely came through!!! Blue sky and glorious sunshine! Nothing could beat that! So off we went for ice cream (that I mentioned above) and a quick walk up the coastal path to a viewpoint. After an hour of not spotting anything, we decided to have a quick bite to eat. Whilst eating, we saw the fog coming in and before we knew it…the view was gone! The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see far in front of you at all! So off to Starbucks for a coffee and then back to the camp.

That evening we had the last concert filled with Daughters of Davis and Philippa Hanna. Once that was done, we packed up dads drum kit and headed back to our normal lives. It was a whirlwind of a trip but one that was much needed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What do you like about minibreaks?  What do you like to do relax?

Also, check out or Cornwall 2018 Vlog for a more detailed look at what we got up to!!