After the cozy campfire Sunday evening, I woke up Monday morning with the horses already at the window. Just a little bit tidying up, a breakfast with friends and my parents, clearing up the meadow, harnessing the horses , and then the big moment of departure.
The first moments alone with horse and cart, peaceful through the landscape. Only 3 streets away, a women already stops me and asks if I need anything, and wonders why I leave Alken for a journey with horse and cart. After a few times of trying to round up, I get started anyway. My journey on the first day goes to “samenland”, a permaculture garden next to the castle of Nieuwenhoven, about 6 km further. Just before samenland, a women comes to tell me about a biological garden where my horses can graze, perfect, I’m welcome. They drive in front of me, and for the first time I drive on a small field track, whole the way to the backside of the property. What a trip, a little bit further I try to turn and I get stuck. Damn.. I decide to give the horses a rest, and to set up the meadow. I enjoy the day, weed a little bit between the leek and try in the evening again to pull the cart out with the horses. No movement, and one of the old bits of the horses breaks. Since I’m still close by, I call my father, who also can’t get any movement with his car. In the end the jeep of Hans helps me out.. Thanks! And I use the spare bit that is handmade with Ward (but which actually needs some more welding).
The next day (Tuesday) doesn’t start very well, because the horses had pulled the cart twice without any movement, and had lost their mood and trust, especially to start on the bumpy field track. After a little bit of struggling, we get started. I doubt about going right or left, because right is the most beautiful and shortest way, but begins with a serious slope. I choose to accept the challenge. Not a good idea, halfway the horses stagnate, and because they lost their trust, they refuse to get the cart started on the hill, my cart rolls backwards, my little cart ends up under the big one and the wheel is bended, and of course the spare bit breaks. I am able to turn the cart, and drive downhill again. 2 km further, I see an empty house with long grass around. I ask the neighbors, who would all be glad with a little bit shorter grass, and I decide to squat this place till tomorrow. I call someone for a new bit. Luckily, this gets delivered, and with another friend he finds another wheel for my little cart, and with some drilling and polishing at a garage a little bit further, the wheel fits and everything is all right again. Also the 2 broken bits are welded by someone with a lot of sympathy, who I had a nice talk with. Evereything is ready again for the next day, and I kept courage!! In the evening I let the chickens (Lotje and Lena) out for the first time, and they even came back to their cage. The next day they showed their gratitude with the first egg!
My courage and patient were rewarded, Wednesday everything went perfect. I enjoyed the nice landscapes, and everything went well! I travel a small 8 km, and stop at a beautiful farm, which used to be a convent. When I drive into the courtyard, I feel like in a fairytale. Wodan en Ilja get a big meadow with 2 gorgeous mares as company. I help out in the garden and have a nice talk with the residents. In the afternoon I cycle to Geetbets, where I find a shop with nothing new since the 60ies I think, I start talking, get a coffee and free shoeshine for greasening the horses’ harness! When I cycle back, I harvest some camille and enjoy the peaceful life.
Whopla and we were gone again, still a little bit exciting, but everything went well again and the road stayed flat, so I still didn’t know how the hills would go, and I worried a little bit. But for the time being, were drove 9 km on nice flat land. I stopped at a cow farmer, were the horses got a gigantic meadow, and I a tour through the farm. I went cycling in the rain and noticed there would be hills the next day. Early in my bed, then.
Harnessing again and hup away, till my great pleasure went the hills well, I encouraged the horses enough, broke into a trot when it was really steep, and tried not to let them stop. The driving on small, steep little roads ask a lot of concentration. So for me and my horses, we take once in a while a break. This day we went over 10 km, we did a few 12 km. A farmer showed me a meadow were I could stay, in the middle of nothing on a hill with a beautiful view. I was alone and the loneliness began to play up. But suddenly a car stops, people who say me and came to bring me a pizza, amazing! And just when the pizza is finished, an ice-cream cart drives by in the middle of the fields, I had to think about Runkst and enjoyed my ice-cream . In the evening, in the sunset and with a glass of porto, I grease the harness again.
Today as well everything went fine, we drove 10 km through a hilly landscape. The most exciting of the day was a small little road with unmarked road work where I had to turn the car, this succeeded just, the towing bracket of the little cart broke because of the very short turn, so for now the little cart lies inside when I drive, but that works as well. I found again a beautiful place for the horses and me, were I have the luck of using their wifi. Today the hoofs of Wodan got a maintenance, and after the work I could take a dive in a beautiful swimming pond, after almost a week I could use a wash Pictures of this spot follow later.
Wow, all this writing, I don’t think I can keep up with this for every day of the journey, but for the kickoff and all the new experiences was it necessary. The next day I will drive underneath Brussels, I’m still worrying since the hills will be much steeper and higher there!! Hopefully everything will go well, only one way to find out… aarreee juuuu
p.s. for everything who reads this till here, I’m always glad with reactions on the site, so if you come up with something, let yourself go ;)