Posts Tagged ‘mud’

More Mud

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

It is currently 12.15am on Sunday 28 August and I have two woes.

Woe #1 – Underworld Concert

The main reason why Tom and I came to London was to go to the South West Four festival to see one of my favourite electronic groups, Underworld, play. I love seeing them live and have on previous occasions flown to other cities within Australia to see their concerts. So it wasn’t a completely out of the ordinary decision to buy a ticket to a concert in London seeing as it is just a 2.5 hour train ride away. I now wish I had saved my money.

The concert was out in Clapham, an area of London recently targeted during the riots. I wish they had locked up a few more people because I’m fairly certain half of the people at the concert would have been on the streets throwing bottles through windows last week. It was an interesting bunch of people – I always feel out of place at electronic music festivals as I stand in my fully-dressed attire waiting patiently for a certain dj/band to get on stage as drunken 18 year olds flirt, dance and throw themselves around provocatively nearby. I hate Australian crowds, but this was worse. EVERYONE was drunk. Usually it is only about 80% of the crowd – this was 99.9999999% with Tom and I being that last remaining percentage. Not only that, but at least six times during the four-hour period that we were at the concert I had guys with large wads of cash walk past asking the crowd if they’d like ecstasy, cocaine or marijuana. And there were a few ‘Yes, please’s.

Normally I would have just stood to the side and tried my best to ignore the idiots around me but it was a little difficult to move as every step you took resulted in you sinking into more mud. It had been raining for the past week or so in London and if there is one thing that rain, land and lots of people equal, it is mud. It was as if Tom and I had returned to the North Sea and were attempting to mudwalk with a bunch of intoxicated losers. It was awful. I had had prior thoughts of “Maybe I should buy some cheap shoes to wear in case it is muddy” but decided against it. When I arrived and saw what was in store I bid farewell to my Campers and plunged straight in. At least I am now a seasoned mud-walker and I didn’t fall flat on my arse. I did get a bit girly about the fact that my perfectly wonderful shoes were getting covered in mud. So when we were finally in front of the main stage, we picked a standing spot and stood there. The less we moved, the harder the mud beneath our feet.

When we arrived John Digweed, one of my brother’s favourite DJs was mixing it up on the stage and it was good. It was very good. But unfortunately he finished and was replaced with a guy by the name of Laidback Luke. Lazy Luke would be more appropriate – all he did was slop together a bunch of random songs with popular tunes/lyrics/choruses in order to make the audience say “YAY! I like this song!” and therefore make him look good. I felt like an old-woman-mother-figure standing with a frown on my face, not understanding the music of the youth of today. But finally he finished and Underworld came on stage.

Their set was short. And quiet. And there was no encore. And the crowd weren’t supportive and hardly cheered at all and were too busy smoking (there was a stall selling cigarettes); drinking; taking drugs; looking hideous with their ridiculously short shorts, bad hair cuts and general poor dress sense; and being obnoxious. Basically, it was no where near as good as when I saw them in Perth – now that is saying something. I would even rate seeing them at Bondi Beach on New Years Eve with evil drunk Australians as a more enjoyable experience than tonight. Such a shame because I had such high expectations. I don’t blame Underworld at all because they did their best and their music was awesome. But I just couldn’t hear it and was too busy trying to stop a stupid girl next to me from standing on my feet.

We did have delicious indian food for dinner though so I guess that’s a positive.

Woe # 2 – More Rain

We are supposed to be catching a flight to New York on Tuesday afternoon and there appears to be a bit of weather about on that side of the world (aka. a hurricane.) That’s a tad worrying as I don’t really want my flight to be cancelled or delayed as I had planned on being there for my birthday. At the same time, I also don’t want it to rain there because it has rained enough here in London. So hopefully that will all blow over (get it? Ha.)

Bed time.

Walk This Way

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Introducing the latest edition to the Zaum menagerie – everyone, meet Jacob. Jacob, meet everyone.

Jacob the mud walker
Hello…

Jacob was born near the Zuidplaspolder – the lowest point of the Netherlands and has always felt a strong affinity to all things ‘marshy’. This is potentially because his mother gave birth to him in a swamp (it’s a long story involving flat bike tyres, a windmill and lots of herring) and the fact he spent a lot of time playing in canals and soggy ground throughout his childhood. Whatever the case, Jacob has never shied away from getting a bit dirty.

Jacob the mudwalker

Jacob is ready for any muddy situation

Unfortunately for Jacob, this backfired slightly in that he was constantly teased and getting into trouble at school for the muck under his finger nails and the general stench that wafted off his skin. But no matter how many times he was tripped up by bullies, he couldn’t stay away from the ooey-gooey goodness that mud provided. In his opinion, all humans should live in mud, be constantly coated in mud, and live off the creatures and fungus that grow in and around mud. There is nothing better.

This is why when it came time for Jacob to leave home and find himself a job, he headed to the north of the Netherlands and took up mudwalking. He couldn’t believe his luck when he found out that he could make a living taking tourists on treks across the North sea sea-bed when the tide was out. Suddenly people were interested in his passion – people wanted to become with mud, just like him!

Jacob the mud walker

Everywhere he goes, he takes his mudwalking stick

While he did manage to get a job as a mudwalk tour guide, it wasn’t easy. People get scared by his odd looks and obsession with the slimy stuff. Due to decades of contact with mud, Jacob’s pasty-white skin has turned into a dark, mouldy-black. His blonde hair has permanently stuck to the top of his head and you can’t tell the difference between hair and skin. The only part of his face that is easily decipherable are his eyes that bulge out in a mole-like appearance. The only part of him that makes him clearly a Dutch-man are his limbs – long and gangly compared to the rest of his body. His legs are excellent tools for getting out of tricky mud-situations and his arms can pull out stuck tourists in an instant.

Every time he heads out on an expedition into the great mud, Jacob will always wear his lucky green hat. It is the only colourful item that he will wear – he never washes his mudwalking outfits as he has broken too many washing machines and he hates doing it by hand. His hat, however, is his pride and joy and he will do anything to avoid it getting muddy. In addition, he attached a small bell to the back of it in case of emergencies – should he ever get completely stuck in the mud he will ring the bell to call for help. Now that’s a pro-mudwalker.

Jacob the mud walker

Lindt Bunnies aren't the only ones who need bells

Jacob will be available for purchase from my Etsy Store soon! I just need to go to the post office and work out postage costs… That’ll be fun. Not. Also, Jacob is made from a sock that had a one in three chance of being used by me when I went mudwalking in Holland. The socks I actually used were beyond repair so this is as good as I could do. I don’t think any quarantine departments would have been too happy about me sending mud-filled socks across their borders.

Walking Through Mud is Quite Tricky

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Quick update: Still in Germany. Went to Limburg yesterday where I bought a red felt bag (hooray!) and some new Tom’s shoes that I had been wanting but couldn’t find in Paris or buy on the internet because the website wouldn’t accept my French address (hooray!). Have eaten good food. Today we’re driving along the Moselle river. Went on an amazing chair lift ride into the hills where there was a spectacular view of the Rhein river. The end.

Ok, now back to my adventures in Holland. There is one event in particular that I feel I need to share with everyone as it isn’t every day you get to do this. Previous visits to Holland had included discussions with my Dutch family where they described a local activity that I heard to be a glorious stroll through low-tide waters to a deserted island. Much fun is had, the sun shines and everyone has a jolly good time. And so when my third cousin (or something like that) Judit contacted me via Facebook to ask whether or not I was coming to Holland with my parents and if I was still keen to go ‘mud walking’ my immediate response was, “Yes please!” Oh, how young and naive I was when I made that decision three or so weeks ago…

Judit and her sister, boyfriend, mother and father came and picked up Mum, Tom and me and off we drove for two hours to get to the most northern point of Holland in the province of Groningen. The day before, the three of us had been busy running around el-cheapo shops buying ankle-high shoes, socks, shorts and warm jumpers to wear as it rapidly became clear that what we were about to do wasn’t quite as sun-shiny as I expected. The forecast for the day was 15 degrees with showers and as we were about to walk out into the North Sea, we were required to wear shorts in order to not get soggy pants. Crazy dutch.

We finally arrived at our destination and it started raining. We all jumped in and out of cars changing into our mud-walking togs and scoffing sandwiches before our three-hour trek. And here’s where we walked:

mud walking
Somewhere out there is the edge of the North Sea

We were accompanied by two guides who took us from the safety of a dijk to down onto the sea bed of the North Sea. In summer, during low tide, the water between the north of Holland and some islands off the coast recedes and groups of insane Dutch men/women walk towards the water. Why? I’m not sure. I suspect they think the resulting mud on the sea bed does good things to the skin on their feet because considering the wind, rain and general stupidity of the activity, I can’t think of many other good reasons to do mud walking.

I kid. It was actually ridiculously, stupidly fun. I am not one to get my feet dirty on a daily basis and I much prefer being clean, tidy and germ-free. So the act of intentionally walking into large expanses of mud was very beneficial to my mental health, I think. I was dressed for the occasion and knew what I was getting myself into (sort of) and therefore loved the fact that my shoes filled with greeny-black mud. See?

mud walking

Squidgy

We did the beginners’ walk which meant that for most of the time the mud was ankle deep at the most. On occasion you would hit a patch of soggier mud where you would sink a little further or harder mud where you were practically walking along a beach. There were two patches of mud that proved slightly trickier. We had been given the advice to take “quick, short steps” which is well and good to say when you suddenly discover your calf is engulfed in mud. It was deep. There’s probably deeper mud in the world but at that point in time I quickly thought back to the advice Bear Grylls had given about what to do in quick sand. Mum and I had been walking through the mud together to avoid potential death-by-mud and I soon realised that she had sunk slightly further than I had. She had clearly forgotten the ‘short quick steps’ advice and instead had both of her legs knee-deep in mud and had then lost balance and fallen forward slightly. Not so good. I thought I would have to leave my mother in the North Sea forever more but luckily the guides had saved stranded tourists from mud previously and gave her a large walking pole to stick into the mud and hoist herself out of it. Of course, by this stage I had been rapidly sinking further into the squidgy darkness and had to save myself while the guide took care of Mum.

So it all worked out ok in the end. No one died. No one was left to sink into the great unknown. And everyone enjoyed themselves. We were all a bit grubby by the end of it, particularly Mum who had some nice brown patches in some amusing areas on her pants. We eventually reached the North Sea and everyone cleaned their shoes in the water. It was bloody windy and I think I caught a cold as a result of it but it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that I really enjoyed. And will never do again.

Mudwalking

I made it!

You can see more photos and movies on my Flickr site, should you be interested.