Welcome to my blog about every day life, hope, dreams, struggles and food. Love was once spelled kjaerlighed in Danish and since my surname is Kjaer, it seemed the perfect name. I hope you enjoy your read.
I returned to Victoria on Monday and I really enjoyed being back with friends, wifi and being able to connect again with friends all over the world. Again I can’t thank Gail and Stuart enough for their friendship. I couldn’t imagine being here without them.
This week I have been securing jobs for the coming weeks and visiting turist points around Victoria. Yesterday I walked to Fisherman’s Wharf to look at the seals (they figured out that if they perform, they get more fish) and enjoyed the sun and signs of spring all around.
I also happened by a fantastic shop called Frances Gray on Yates St. The shop’s window dressing caught my eye and I would have gladly bought almost everything in there. The clothes fit my style perfectly and most of it was organic, which is even better! The shop also carries the funniest caps, so I might return for one of those. I restrained my spending to just a cup, but what a cup! I love blue and this momento will hopefully stay with me a long time – locally made here in Victoria.
But all that time on my hands this week has also caused a rush of thoughts. I have been wondering if Canada is right for me, or if I should be somewhere else. Canada is treating me well, my friends here are the best and I get to see this beautiful country, so why am I not over the moon excited and happy all the time? Even before coming over here I was in this mellow state of acceptance. Those of you who know me personally, know that I live life to the fullest, so being in this mellow state is puzzling to say the least. Some of you may think that just coming over here, is living life to the fullest, but not in my book.
A former employer told me when I quit the job with her, that I was impatient. At the time I didn’t agree with her, but Heidi…maybe you are right! I feel like I am waiting for my life to take off in some way. Like it is just around the corner and I just need to locate the right corner. But the wait is really hard…specially being single and not having anyone to share it with.
So I reached out to some old friends and talked it over. See that is my process…I talk my issues over with friends. Walking around on my own does not help…it just makes me more frustrated, but a good discussion with my friends clears my mind and heart, and I have decided to give my Canadian adventure another chance. I’ve got some interesting jobs lined up for the coming weeks and you never know what it might lead to. And if I still feel the same frustration and mellowness, well, I guess I will change my plans and go somewhere else. I have to find that corner, no matter where it is.
I have decided to leave Blue Jay Lake Farm and Cortes Island. The farm and the experience has been great, but it is too remote for me right now. And I may be too comfortable for off-grid living to be honest. I like a flush toilet, electricity when I want it and wifi, so I can keep connected to my friends and family.
I spent my last weekend on the island exploring a bit. Fellow woofer Kristina and I went to Manson’s Landing to enjoy the cove in the sun. It must be amazing in summer.
I do not regret going to Blue Jay and Cortes. I have learnt so much during my three weeks there. Especially working with livestock has been interesting and giving. Milking is not really my thing, but I really enjoyed tending to the animals, so in future I would consider livestock for meat – but it would require a partner or good neighbor, because it is quite the responsibility every day. The goats had great fun the day Kristina and I cleaned up the yard – climbing all over to nibble on the cut-off branches. They sure must have steel stomachs.
Knowing that the food we ate at the farm was 95% home grown and produced, made such a difference. You have to respect all the work that has gone into making that happen. Though I was only there short term, I like that I helped prepare for this year’s production.
Maybe I will revert to Cortes Island in summer – as a visitor to enjoy these nice beaches and amazing hikes the island offers. It definitely was a nice start on my adventure over here.
So today I took two ferries. First from Cortes Island to Quadra Island. I had secured a ride across Quadra before boarding. Hitchhiking is very common on Cortes and I got a ride with the habour master – a lovely and kind lady. We loaded my big bag onboard her car and I went to the lounge to enjoy the view on the crossing.
Before getting to Quadra I found my ride, and she took me across Quadra and on to the next ferry to Campbell River. It is a generous “system” and I like that you only pay to get on the islands – not to return to Vancouver Island. The view of the second ferry again made me think of the Tunoe Ferry – and how many times I enjoyed the view onboard.
Currently I am at the Java Shack in Campbell River, where I await the arrival of my ride to Victoria. I can recommend Poparide. It is the Canadian version of GoMore and my ride promised to drive me all the way to Gail’s house. Much better than taking the bus! Waiting here is no problem – good food and wifi:
My plan is to enjoy a few days with Gail and then look for another woofing/workaway place closer to Victoria. I look forward to sharing the next adventure with you all!
Farm life has it’s chores – stacking wood for winter use, weeding, planting and covering strawberries with hay has been on the schedule this week. Now covering strawberries with hay sound pretty easy, but when you have to get the hay from a manger in a pen full of bull calves, it turns into quite a dare.
My new Swedish friend, wwoofer Kristina, did not feel like going into the pen, so the task went to me. Very intimidated I ventured in and desperately tried getting to the manger. Since cattle spend a lot of their time feeding, naturally the calves were hanging out in front of the manger. It turned out to be an exercise in assertiveness. Me using my deepest voice to shout “move move move” while trying to lean on them to make them understand.
I got in front of the manger, filled my arms with hay, and now had to get out behind the calves to pass the hay to Kristina. I was only scared half to death that one of the calves would kick me…so I nearly ran trying not to slip in cow dung.
Getting the hay took several visits to the pen and many trips to the manger and back behind the calves. Little by little my confidence grew and when one of the calves started nibbling at my pants, they all of a sudden seemed friendly enough. I like to believe I made some new friends that day…and Kristina told me I had done a great job collecting the hay in such conditions. I guess she was really happy, she didn’t have to go in there.
Almost as a celebration the hot tub was set up for last night. I took care of stoking the fire in the afternoon, and once night time and the dark had set in, we all changed into our swimming gear and jumped in. This was my first outdoor hut tube and what an experience! In the dark, with stars shinning up above, all we could hear was the frogs calling, while we soaked in the hot water and enjoyed the beautiful night sky view.
After work today I returned to Dean’s Bluff. I think I called it Gentleman’s Bluff earlier, but the correct name is Dean’s Bluff. The trail is pretty steep – 18% according to my iphone, but the view is definitely worth the hike. Not only a view of the farm and lake, but also of snow covered mountains and the sea. I will venture up there again as soon as we get a day of sun.
So I’m starting to get settled at the farm – learning more and more of the daily chores. This week I tried milking a cow for the first time. It is definitely a skill that takes time getting good at, but I didn’t get kicked or dropped the milk bottle. I was however competing with the newborn calf trying to get to the utter.
I also had my first dinner duty. The produce on the farm is top quality, but it is slightly different from what I normally cook with at home, so I decided to make falafel with pita bread and a cabbage chop salad. I think I have finally figured the wood stove out. I was very happy with the result and it seemed the other people on the farm agreed:
Of course one of my first projects has been to bake rye bread. I have already gone three weeks without, so I could wait no longer. I made a sour dough and got baking. They turned out great and newcomer to the farm, Swedish Kristina has approved, so I’m happy. I wonder if it is worth while trying to make liquorice?
I try to find time to do hikes, since the island is amazingly beautiful. Just look at that scene above…5 minutes from the farm. When it warms up a bit, there is a campsite right there and I can’t wait to sit around a fire and enjoy that view!
This week also provided a special dinning experience as one of the residents from Blue Jay did a French Fine Dinning event at her work place – the local CO-OP. It was Michelin worthy with the white table cloths and the food was really delicious. I already suggested that Carly should do a pop-up restaurant this summer.
It was a real treat and a fun experience to try. Of course our Blue Jay table made a bit of a scene when the napkin from the bread basket caught fire at the table, but we stopped the fire and pretended nothing happened 🙂 It is not all farm life out here.
This weekend I am in charge of feeding at the barn, so twice a day I climb to the hay loft and push hay through to the cows and goats. Who would have thought I would be doing that just half a year ago? It has shown me the level of commitment needed when dealing with livestock. I love the fresh dairy products, but it seems too big a commitment for one person, so I guess having livestock will have to go on the back burner as long as I’m single. I will just have to buy my dairy as most other people do.
I will end this blog with a picture of one of the farm dogs – Kassidy is 15 years old and deaf, but such a sweetheart. She guards the farm along with the other dog Sadie, who will always try to trick you into a game of Stick, even though she is not allowed to.
Tomorrow will finish off my first week on Cortes Island at Blue Jay Lake Farm and it has gotten me thinking. As mentioned the farm is off-grid, which means electricity is to be used sparringly, the toilet facilities are made up by a compost toilet for number twos and a transformed bidet for number ones and cell phone connection is non-existing. But big, amazing views are however to be found everywhere, like the pictures below. The mountains in the background is the mainland – Vancouver Island.
The sun was out, I found edible seaweed and I enjoyed a small break right there in the sun. It is all bout enjoying the easy pleasures in life – my new motto.
Like I really enjoy the high quality of food we get at the farm. Fresh cows milk, homemade butter and yougurt, fresh and canned vegetables from the garden and meat and eggs from the farm animals. It makes you think about the effort put into making that food available – the manhours and the planning it took.
It is my day off, so I have hiked to Squirrel Cove. I was told it was 12km, but according to my phone it is only half that. A nice little walk before enjoying a café latté and second breakfast.
So back to my thoughts…the hike facilitated that. Having grown up in a small country like Denmark, I have sometimes forgotten to appreciate the basics that are provided – probably through taxes, bills and other form of payments, but nevertheless much needed. A simple thing like electricity at our fingertips at a decent rate. We do not struggle with powerouts, because most of our cables are below ground. This also ensures us internet and the ability to connect at all times.
After just one week up here, I have made one big discovery about myself…how important is it for me to be able to communicate with my friends and family. Just being able to chat means the world to me. So with that in mind, I think I can safely say that I will not be looking to live off-grid permanently.
Yesterday the farm had a new calf. A sweet little thing we all rushed to meet. Tomorrow morning I will have my second barn duty and within too long, I will be expected to do the barn chores myself, which includes milking the cows and the goats. This is definitely a new world to me, but I hope the animals will trust me to do the job and stay calm while I learn. I seem to remember having heard that when milking, the farm girls often sang or hummed to keep the animals calm. Maybe I will try that trick and see if it works.
I have embarked on this adventure to learn. Not just skills and new trades, but also to learn about myself and what I want my future to look like. So far that is going according to my plan…I sure am getting my priorities straight.
Gail was kind enough to drive me to Campbell River last Tuesday. It was a lovely drive up the coast of Vancouver Island. I guess it doesn’t take more than a few mountains to amaze me, but they sure looked pretty.
I had booked fare with The Cortes Connection, which is a van service from Campbell River to Cortes Island via Quadra Island. Yes, it takes two ferry rides to get to Cortes! I felt at home being on the ferries and sent many warm thoughts to the crew on the Tunoe ferry. I sure do miss those guys and their amazing service.
Onboard the van I met the nicest people from Cortes. They were kind, informative and I enjoyed swapping island stories with them. Turns out that the van driver also drives the ambulance – good man to know in a pinch! Another passenger offered me a welcomming gift. The herbal kind that I’m sure was homegrown, since he told me he grows his own tobacco. What a nice man!
After having dropped of a parcel at one of the neighbouring houses – going offroad in the van to make that delivery. Let me tell you…postal services around the globe should take note. The van almost got stuck in the mud, but the delivery was made. I helped carry the heavy packet in myself. I sense a high level of dedication and service! The Cortes Connection already comes with my warmest recommendations.
I was met at the driveway by one from the farm and good thing, because the 3km could just as easily have been 20km with that terrain. If I had had to haul my big pack myself, I would have arrived sometime during the night. Luckily I was expertly driven right to the door and shown my new humle abode before being offered dinner.
I have a little house of my own – bedroom and kitchen/lounge area all heated with a woodfired stove. There is a little mudroom/entry way to leave footwear and I’m sure it will come in handy as summer approaches. The water is currently not on in the house, but it will be put on shortly. Toilet and shower is at the farmhouse that also houses the common area and the owner.
Right now, after I just unpacked and rearranged the furniture in the lounge area (it has to be ”hyggeligt”), I sit by the fire enjoying a snifter of the rum I brought from the airport in DK and listen to the rain outside. I can already tell this is a more simple and spartan place when thinking in materialistic terms, but I hope it will bring a richer and more giving life in areas that I value.
I have been out exploring the surroundings on the property, and I can tell that as spring and summer approches, it will only become more and more beautiful. Already I have seen sights similar to the ones I was enjoying on Instagram before coming:
On my birthday two days ago, a good friend of mine sent me a greeting and wrote that it seemed very fitting that I was celebrating my day in Canada on the verge of a new adventure in my life. And I guess she is right…I have been one for taking the traditional route in life. I moved out of my parent’s house when I was 19 – and moved to London. I did course that required two internships abroad, so off I went to Sydney and London again. I pursued my dream of working in the car industry, I moved to a small island and learned how to smoke fish and now I sit in the home of my Camino friend’s house in Victoria, BC.
Der er under en uge til, jeg flyver til Canada. Det føles helt vildt, men også helt rigtigt. Det er 20 år siden, jeg sidst boede i udlandet. Dengang var det Sydney, Australien, der stod på billetten. Det var en kæmpe oplevelse dengang…og lidt skræmmende, for der er langt hjem til DK, når man kun er 20 år og sidder på den anden side af jordkloden. Men dengang mødte jeg fantastiske mennesker, der gjorde min tid dernede magisk, og jeg er sikker på, at min tur til Canada også bliver fyldt med nye skønne oplevelser og mennesker. Jeg flyver til Victoria, hvor jeg skal besøge Gail, jeg mødte første gang, jeg stiftede bekendtskab med Camino Frances.
Faktisk mødtes Gail og jeg sidste år i Seattle i januar, og jeg ser frem til at se hendes by denne gang. Jeg får også mulighed for at mødes med Stuart – endnu en Camino buddy fra min tur sidste år. Der bliver helt sikkert delt Camino historier, når vi alle tre mødes. Faktisk har de lovet at hjælpe mig med at fejre min 40 års fødselsdag, når den rammer d. 27/2.
De seneste tre uger, jeg har boet i Vestjylland. Det er altid rart at komme hjem og lade op ved den jyske vestkyst. At blive blæst igennem og nyde den smukke kystlinje vil altid betyde ro i sind og sjæl for mig.
Der foregår også en del fysiske forberedelser. Jeg har kastet mig over at genoplive en gammel oilskins jakke til min tur. For hvor svært kan det være? Som billedet viser indkøber man voks, der så smeltes langsomt over vandbad til formålet. Den del af processen er temmelig overkommelig. Jeg havde godt læst, at det kan være en omstændelig opgave at vokse en jakke, men som altid tænkte jeg…hvor svært kan det være?
Sådan en jakke kan vel lige ordnes på en formiddag eller? Det er faktisk ikke fordi selve det at vokse er svært, men det tager væsentlig længere tid, end jeg havde forventet. Jeg har taget et lille nap hver dag, og projektet skrider da også frem, som I kan se:
Jeg skal nok blive færdig til afrejse på tirsdag, og hver gang jeg ifører mig jakken, vil jeg glæde mig over al det arbejde, jeg har lagt i den. Men når min Barbour oilskins jakke trænger til en opfriskning, er jeg næsten sikker på, at jeg vil benytte mig af Barbour’s serviceafdeling, og lade dem klare opgaven.
Jeg har brugt aftenerne i Vejers på at genopfriske mine evner til at strikke. Mest fordi jeg forestiller mig, at jeg får en del aftener på min rejse, hvor jeg ikke har adgang til tv, andre mennesker til en snak eller en god bog, og at strikke skulle jo være sundt, så jeg har allerede fabrikeret en karklud. Naturligvis er der indkøbt strikkepinde af træ, så jeg ikke bliver stoppet i sikkerhedskontrollen på vej ombord! Det føles nemlig rart at producere noget, istedet for bare at sidde og se ud i luften.
Jeg slutter dagens indlæg med et billede taget i går morges på terrassen her i Vejers. Billedet viser desværre ikke helt de mange “diamanter” frosten havde skabt i løbet af natten, der glimtede om kap i morgensolen. Men jeg fik fornøjelsen af dette smukke syn, og tager det med mig som et håb om, at min forestående rejse vil blive fyldt med strålende, smukke og givende oplevelser. Nyd dagen og nuet!
A few of you have been asking about my plans for the future, and I am finally ready to share it with you. Since I got back from Spain and the Camino Frances, I have been very sure that my time in the big city is coming to an end. I miss the country side, the quiet and closeness to nature. I have been pouring over travel and nature pictures on Instagram and dreaming myself away almost every day.
Life waits for no one, so on the 21st of February I will be boarding a plane for Canada.
I will start by visiting my Camino friends Gail and Stuart in Victoria to catch up, get to know their beautiful city and if the weather allows it, maybe do a hike with them. They will be my base during my travels in this beautiful country, where I hope to see some of the places I been pining for for so long.
I bought new walking shoes and they are aching to take me new places and show me new views. I have never done camping or outdoor living. My mother hated it, so we always stayed at hotels or beach houses. Maybe because I have never tried it, it has an allure to me, and I hope to get the chance to get a taste of the great outdoors during my Canadian adventure.
Another theme I have been pouring over online, is Tiny House living. Canada and USA are currently really expanding on this lifestyle, and I will be looking for ideas and trying to get a feel for this way of living while I am there.
Organic food…Well, you know I love it, and luckily some parts of Canada is really embracing sustainable, organic produce. I will attempt to taste my way through it all and pick up as much knowledge as possible.
So, my friends, for the coming future you can find me in Canada. I will try to share the experience as I explore, enjoy and breathe in as much a possible while I’m there, but with such a vast country, there will be areas without mobile connection and internet. I actually look forward to just being in the moment and living life to the max.
What a year it has been for me. I can’t believe I managed all that in just a year!
In January I had the most amazing holiday in the US. I reconnected with an old school friend I had not seen in 20 years, and Nina welcomed me into her home, her family and showed me the best of San Francisco, Petaluma and Napa Valley during my stay there. After having seen The Golden Gate Bridge in movies so many times, it seemed almost unreal being right there next to it. It was a fantastic way to commence my adventures of 2017. Thank you, Nina, for your ever open personality!
I met up with Camino family and friends in Seattle. The Camino is some of the most rewarding experiences of my life due to the friendships I have gained there. Seattle grew on me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Scandinavian feel the city and the surrounding areas has. Thank you Gail, Derry & Jim for showing me around and taking time to see me.
Patrick showed me the best of Austin. From live music to BBQ and cowboy boots. It was such a treat to spend time with more Camino family and do a hike near Lady Bird lake. Austin is so very different from the other places I visited, but so very vibrant and alive. Thank you, Patrick, for that rewarding experience.
I got back to my dad’s beach house at Henne Strand and the search for a job began. Luckily my childhood friend, Nette has the touch when it comes to helping others, and she found me a job in Horsens, so in March I began working at Landmad. I love the concept behind Landmad – Danish, local produce for sale at city center combined with a café offering rustic, clean food. It was such an adventure taking part of opening the shop in Horsens. Thank you, Heidi, for giving me the opportunity and for respecting my need to move on. I wish the absolute best for your shops!
That period also marked my farewell to my precious dog, Elly. I knew I was moving to Copenhagen, and since Elly is a country dog, I took the difficult decision to let her go. It was such a hard thing to do, and thinking about it, still brings tears to my eyes. Elly is an amazing dog, and she deserves the best life possible, so being back on Tunoe is an infinite better solution than going to the big city with me. Elly is forever in my heart.
April returned me to Copenhagen. Mette and Thomas kindly opened their home to me, and I returned to Nansensgade, where I years earlier owned my own apartment. It felt good to be back on familiar grounds, and once again Nette found me a job. I can only advice you all to get a “Nette”. My friend, Nette, is the most unselfish, giving and loving person I know, and I feel incredibly thankful to have her in my life. I love you, Nette, and am proud to call you my friend. Being back in Copenhagen also provided me with the opportunity to reconnect with many of my friends. I have had a great time this summer hanging out with you all and experiencing the city and what it had to offer.
I started working at DARE2 in June. What a difference from all the previous jobs I’ve had. Entering into this creative, energetic and vibrant atmosphere full of entrepreneurs, go-getters and inspiring people gave me a real kick. Meeting these driven souls made me think about what I really want out of life. Thank you, Laila & Kris for giving me a chance and supporting my dream chase. I will keep following your endeavours. You never know if our paths may cross again. A big thanks to all the lovely people, I got to meet while at DARE2. I’m sure I have made lasting friendships, and you all have my full support in achieving your dreams.
In October I said goodbye to DARE2 and went of to Spain to walk more of the Camino Frances. I took up where I left of in Burgos, but already in Madrid I met my first new Camino buddy – Maria Grazia. The Camino surely provides. It was physically hard, since I had not had time to train before going, but a new back pack with more focused content made for a much easier time. The Meseta was like being home in flat Denmark, but the views breathtaking and once again I was met by loving, positive and happy people. Maria Grazia and Gary became my new Camino family. Thank you to both of you. I look forward to meeting up with you again in future. But also big thanks to all the other amazing people, who crossed my way – I’m struggling if I should mention your names, since I’m scared of forgetting anyone. In case you feel left out, please put it down to my forgetful memory and not my appreciative heart. Thank you, Juan, Stuart, Martina, Paul, Bernice, Lukas, Pablo, Magdalena, Jenna, Kyra and Boromir. Even though I got of the Camino in León, I followed you online walking into Santiago, and I am proud to have walked with everyone of you.
I’ve spent the rest of the year figuring out a plan for 2017 and making the required changes. I hope to soon be able to share the plans with you, but in order not to jinx it, I will hold off until the details are settled. But be certain it will put me on the path towards my dream. I will no longer just react to what life throws at me. I will go out and attempt to make my dreams come true.
2016 has given me so much. My word for this year is without a doubt friendship – old and new. Thank you, Katja, Ole, Yana, Mette, Thomas, Lykke, Gitte, Keld, Iben, Nette, Kirstine, Susanne, Pernille, Henrik, Vivi, Kristian and everyone I may right now have forgotten, but am thankful for non the less. As the sun sets on 2016, allow me to leave you with this:
My friends mean everything to me, and no matter where in the world I end up, I hope you will all keep in touch.