Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Synchronicities and abandoned houses

The past day and a half have proved to be very interesting and some great stuff has come out of it.

It started with a delve into the waters of what I have been reading up on previously, that is all things connected with and associated to the esoteric, the occult, possible spiritualism, psychonautics etc.

These areas are of particular interest to me as of late and although due to not being qualified or having much indepth knowledge I find it difficult to add to such discussions and debates, I spend a lot of time reading posts and articles on these matters. One of these websites I found whilst doing some research into the life (and tragic death) of Rik Clay, is 2012rising.com.

Perhaps quite a substantial amount of people will scoff when faced with websites such as this, containing predictions, revelations and other various insights into possible 'catastrophic events in 2012' linked to the Mayan calender, 'supernatural and spiritual phenomena' and 'metaphysical matters or conspiracy topics'. But although sometimes you do have to view the counter arguments to form a valid and accurate opinion, you cannot simply deny its existence. These matters play out daily around the world and many people hold a large amount of trust in them. To simply deny them is outrageous and anybody who consider themselves to be a human that cares about where Earth is headed to, should at least read them if nothing else.

After browsing 2012rising.com, I discovered a recent article written by the founder about a visit to an author and all round esoteric-researcher in the south of Spain. This is where I began to wonder whether I had stumbled upon this website by accident or was there something bigger playing a part in guiding me towards a predetermined goal? The coincidences could be described as merely that, however it is interesting that I too have spent time volunteering and living less than 10km away from where this author is based (in the Alpujarras, south of Granada). In scientific terms, these seemingly unrelated events that come together as coincidents, could be described as Synchronicities; "the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance and that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner."

On the flipside, this is renowned for being a location where 'eccentric' ex-pats choose to settle down. Take it as you wish. I wrote a brief message to Bruce Fenton, creator of the website, pointing out these 'coincidences' and asking for his views and opinions. He is yet to get back to me, but I remain hopefull, he obviously knows his stuff and is also based in England.

On a related but slightly different note, after a talk with one of my friends concerning his previous sleep-walking and one of his friends' interest in lucid dreaming, I have decided to make a conscious effort to record my dreams. A dream-journal if you want. Dreams are a perculiar phenomenon and I have been fascinated by them since a young age and having a (slightly scary) reccurring dream. As I have been struggling to remember my dreams over the past few weeks, I figured this dream-journal could act as an aid to recall dreams, as it has been documented that keeping such a journal invokes feelings that dreams are important and therefore they become easier to recall in more detail.

I read on digihitch.com that one person kept a dream-journal as well as a regular travel journal, and found himself referring back to the dream journal more frequently that his 'real-life' journal, simply because, even though he was travelling, his dreams were often more interesting to read back through. The subconscious is a powerful thing.

On a more down-to-earth level, I went on a 4 hour walk yesterday, towards Emley Moor. However, on arrival in West Bretton the rain began, so I turned back toward home. This turn of events led me to find some slightly perculiar items...Walking back through some woods, I found a film cannister containing directions to a 'crystale' written in wannabe medieval English, then a bit further on I found a gold necklace hanging on a fence post, with what looked like a monocle attached to it. Whether these events had anything to do with the role of Synchronicity, I don't know, if anyone comes up with a link please let me know.

After these events, I continued on my way, looking forward to getting my feet up and having a cuppa, when I stumbled upon an abandoned house. Now, being a keen, albeit not too good photographer, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to check out a semi-collapsed, stinky, burnt building in the drizzling rain, by myself. I enjoyed the eerie exploration round the house and surrounding out-houses, half expecting to see some form of person squatting or drugged up or whatever, but this house is quite out of the way, and I saw no such thing. The closest I got to that was a squirrel carcass and a spider bigger than my thumb.

If your interested you can see some of my pictures from this mini-exploration on my Flickr. What I was contemplating after this solo walk, was how interesting it was to walk around a place that you thought you knew quite well, when in reality I had barely touched on anything in that area at all. Walking, especially if you are by yourself, gives you a much more intimate feel of everything you come into contact with, if only everybody could experience life a little slower, a little bit less rushed, I think the world would be a better place for it.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Going out with a bang...

Heard this a few months back and still surprises me everytime I listen to it.

Mark Esterhuysen's rant on live radio in South Africa.

His message may not be all that positive, but at least he's taking a stand for what he believes in.

Cut Loose

One of my friends said to me earlier how 'lucky' I was to be going away travelling through Europe come next month. This led me to think about what it means when people mention that somebody is 'lucky' for travelling.

First of all it depends on what your definition of lucky is... When I think of luck, it brings to mind random events of a positive nature, for instance if you are walking down the street, feeling thirsty and have no money and out of the blue you find a £2 coin on the floor. That surely is luck.

If you want to delve further into what luck consists of; some would probably say luck to a certain extent is karmic, what goes around comes around etc. In that case good deeds lead to positive events occurring in your life. However, I made a conscious decision to go travelling a few months ago, so luck doesn't play a part in the initial process. Its purely drive to do something, just like you get the drive to go for a walk, or to play football, go skateboarding etc.

It could be said that me being able to travel is luck, I was born in a westernized country in reasonable wealth, compared to other parts of the world. I have had a good upbringing, education and home life, this allows me to have a sense of freedom, to a certain extent. I can apply for a passport and travel with relative freedom in most parts of the world. So in that way I do consider myself 'lucky'.

In many ways, if you know me, you'll probably agree that I am for the most part a pretty average 21 year old; steady relationship, family of four etc etc. However that is precisely one of the reasons for my wanting to travel into the (somewhat) unknown, I don't want to be an average 21 year old. Its not for reasons some might think, I don't aim to become famous or have people write about my adventures or what-not. Its just that normal life is for me considerately boring. Yes, its enjoyable at times, but for the most part I'm BORED. That might sound cruel or inconsiderate to friends and family, but I assure you it isn't the people that make me bored, although they do exist, no doubt about it. Its the daily routines of numbing mindless shit that I feel myself dragged into on a regular basis. When I detect these routines that make up my 'comfortable' existance, they make me feel the need to escape.

Sitting here now after just ordering, collecting and eating a take-away pizza, I almost feel ashamed. I know these are merely trivialities in the larger scheme of things, but it still makes me think that I should really be 'living' instead of sat here staring at this stupid laptop telling people about why I want to go. Why don't you go then for crying out loud? Well yeah if only it was that simple...If I had the self-confidence and knowledge to be able to set out of my house with no destination in mind and no money as back-up then I'd already be gone. Sadly, even a small budget is necessary for my travels. However if you know where to look, you will find people who have survived for years on a budget of absolutely nothing. Imagine that. Impossible right? Apparently not.

Its hard to imagine breaking such routines for a lot people, and most of the time it can take a life-changing event for anyone to do so, however it doesn't have to be like that. You know when you go somewhere new or do something you've never done before (be it legal or illegal) and you get that buzz which makes you feel 'alive' to use the cliche term...well thats because you're outside of your comfort zone, it makes you feel that way. Obviously not everyone is the same and this doesn't count for each and every person but for me that feeling once every fortnight isn't enough. I need to feel constantly 'alive', otherwise what is the point? For some people this buzz probably comes if they earn/win/steal or otherwise come by sizeable amounts of money. To me this is irrelevant. You really don't need money to be happy. Do you want to die rich or do you want to be able to tell people you travelled around the world using nothing but your intuition and other peoples good will.

As you may or may not know, when I leave for souther Spain, I will be attempting to hitch-hike, wild camp wherever possible, and use resources such as couchsurfing.org. It has been said many a time, that these means to an end improve peoples faith in humanity. There are good people out there, not just rapists and wierdo's as the news would have you think.

The cliche terms referring to 'living like its your last day' and such are used that often that you forget to take heed of what they actually mean. Inside these over-referenced quotes is a genuine meaning. If your life was to be taken away, would you be happy with what you've achieved? Does earning and extra £1 an hour matter? If it makes you happy I suppose you could say it does. But if thats the case I don't know why you've just read this.

So don't be lucky, just get outside of your comfort zone. If you don't like it, at least you've tried. If you do, then don't go back to your normal life, do something radical.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Rhubarb Triangle

Not quite like the Bermuda triangle, not as glamorous, not as mysterious. But closer to home.

Infact, Wakefield's claim to fame, alongside sculpture, is indeed the lowly Rhubarb.

As I pondered this fact the other day, driving past the subtle Rhubarb sculpture on the edge of Thornes Park. You know how they say dogs look like their owners, or visa versa, depending on how you look at it, could it be that the inhabitants of a certain place represent the main association.

Now, I'm most probably just drawing similarities for the sake of it, but it could prove interesting nonetheless. Maybe it will work for your hometown.

Rhubarb is a peculiar plant, a vegetable to most, although there has been some debate around that fact in the U.S (who'd have guessed). The leaves are inedible and although the stem can be eaten raw it is usually cooked. Does this show that there are parts of Wakefield and the surrounding area that you have to discard in order to enjoy it at its fullest? Or do you have to include everything? Council estates, 'fag packet flats' and all. If you cook it down till you are left with the basics, do you get something sweeter and more enjoyable.

Is this small northern city comparable to its vegetable in terms of mundanity? Rhubarb is nothing special, at least not by its self, is Wakefield the same? Is it stupid to draw upon similarities between locations and crimson-stalked vegetables. Probably...Definately.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

To skateboard or not to skateboard...

Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately, I seem to have lacked enough motivation to just crack on and write some stuff that hardly anybody will read. Oh wait it kind of makes sense now, after saying that.


I have the a predicament, although to call it a predicament sounds negative, however I am happy with either choice, I simply can't decide.

I have been skateboarding for nearly 7 years now and still love it as much as I first did.. Last time I was away for a month I took my board but it lay untouched under my WWOOFer bed in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

This time I will be hitchhiking longer distances, through France and Spain and then possibly through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia...

I have had various opinions from my friends on this matter, obviously biased depending on whether they skate or not. Some say I have to take it, missing out on a great park to skate or hooking up with the locals (skateboarders around the world have a tendency to help other skateboarders, its a group that you are instantly welcomed into). Others say it should stay at home, hitch-hiking and travelling in general is for me an escape from everyday life, and my skateboard is very much a part of my routine.

There is also the fact that I will be volunteering in the more mountainous regions in Spain, such as the Sierra Nevada and Picos de Europe. In these locations I can almost guarantee there will be minimal skateboarding activity/locations.

Alongside these factors is the awkwardness factor of carrying it all that way to not set foot on it, with it merely taking up space and weighing me down. However, if I find myself 15 miles from a town, on a flat road, it could be invaluable...but then again there is the fact that I [i]will[/i] have a 45l backpack on, which means my movement will be severely limited.

If I had to say whether I am swayed more toward bringing it or leaving it to gather dust at home, I would have to say the negatives seem to outway the positives at the moment.

Monday, 6 February 2012

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu

I have spent almost a full day on Digihitch, gathering inspiration to get and just do the deed, start the ball rolling, browsing the forum and reading the various stories from different ends of the 'subcultural movement'. Add to that a soundtrack of Lynryd Skynyrd and you have one 21 year old who is dying for a real adventure.
I think there is so much bad in the world, and if you stay in one place too long, it is easy to get way too caught up in everything, little everyday things that don't matter one single bit in relation to your existence. Sure, some things are necessary, that is a given. But most people never seem to step even a tiny bit outside of their comfort zone. I myself am also guilty of this and have been for most of my life, however I am trying to change this every day...Varying my routines where possible and planning ahead in my spare time.
Every time I drive anywhere locally nowadays I find myself pining for an opportunity to break away from my standard journey, I long for a lonely hitch-hiker that I can pick up and help out, to make my day just a little bit more exciting.
And that is just the start..I want to be that lonely hitch-hiker. I want to leave everything here behind, pack a bag, survive how I can, camping where I want, eating when I'm hungry, working if I need some money or somewhere to stay. Sometimes I doubt this though and that makes me feel peculiar...having lived such a normal existence for the past 8 years, makes me wonder whether I will cope.
Apart from a month excursion to volunteer and a month long Interrail trip with my partner, I have lived like most UK teenagers. However in the back of my mind the whole time has been the dream of getting away from everything.
Who knows, after being 'away', it is possible to return to 'normality'. But that is for after the adventures, if they should end. Best not to think about the finish line before even starting, especially if you don't want there to be a finish line.
Over the past few years, it seems hypocritical to say the most of my inspiration has come from the 'media', but it is true. Although 'On the road' and 'Into the wild' are probably the cliché young freespirit inspirations, then so be it. But what a beautiful cliché, to be no only care-free, but also car-free, money-free,worry-free. Not without company though, as a certain Christopher McCandless noted ; 'Happiness is only real when shared'.
I could transfer a quote from possibly every page of On the road, but that would not do it justice, because its that special feeling when you know that someone is persuing something that is possibly unattainable, yet there will always be people searching...

"I love you and I love these people. But there is something I have got to find, and it isn't here. Where it is exactly, I don't know myself." Anne Lee Waldo

Sunday, 5 February 2012


"He sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; He lives as if he's never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived"

Dalai Lama in response to what surprises him most.

Found on Relatively Uncensored

Why we're all doomed...or...how badgers and their torturers teach us valuable lessons.

Big claim really isn't it...that we're all doomed..
I think a lot of people would like to imagine that the human population will go on for many many happy years, with their childrens children having just a joyous life as they once did. Ok maybe not joyous, maybe pleasant, ok maybe not too pleasant but bearable.
How does this have anything to do with badgers..well, this article form the Guardian newspaper 'Barbaric' gang jailed for badger baiting
which I read the other day, made me think about the relations between animals, yes, believe it or not, humans are actually animals too.
There are a lot of branches of different arguments that stem from these relationships between animals, predatory, evolutionary, etc. However it seems to me that no other animal on earth commits such acts of 'barbarity' as frequently or as widespread as humans do. Yes, cats drag in half dead mice and seem to 'play' cruelly with them, but to deliberately slice open the carcass of a defenseless animal and hurl its offspring around a meadow is quite a different matter altogether.
Upon reading of this article, you may think this reaction is a bit over the top, in fact I heard somebody state that 'badgers are vicious bastards anyway', now I don't know too much about badgers, or badger baiting for that matter. But that argument doesn't hold any truth when the people commiting these acts of heartless-ness breed dogs specifically for their 'vicious' temperaments, apparently cross-breeding for the speed of the lurcher and the 'aggression' of a pit bull.
And what does this have to with the human race...well, I'd assume that after reading that article you recoil slightly and think that luckily its just a minority committing these acts of atrocity. But thats exactly why it will be the downfall or humans, because there are people who do this sort of stuff, and I'd take a guess that there will be people doing acts such as this or similar until they can act no more.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Travel Plans

I set this blog up initially so I could write stuff from my travels, maybe I won't be writing them straight onto the world wide web, but hopefully they'll be getting on here eventually...
Personally I find reading travel blogs alot more interesting than the ones of people who sit at home and do day-to-day update of their lives.

So the basic plan was to get a lift down to Spain with a guy who contacted me via Helpx.net, however I had to let him know today that I've had to give it a miss, partly due to him not being easily contactable (this is a journey to Spain we're talking about, not just down the road..) and because I would like to try and push through another 3-4 weeks torture...I mean, work, in order to have a decent bank balance when I set off.

It was hard to turn that lift down, it seemed like it was going to be the spark that set the adventure motor running, but sometimes good things come to those who wait. It will also make it a bit easier for me and my girlfriend, who is planning on joining me mid-July, wherever I am.

So the plan is still to get to Spain by mid-March, now its just a case of figuring out how. I have had romantic visions of me getting a ferry to Amsterdam and hitch-hiking down, counting on the good hearts of other and good fortune of myself to make it to my destination. But in reality, I don't speak much French at all and it could take alot of time and patience. One day I will do it, I promise.

I really do not want to fly, although it is without a doubt the easiest and cheapest option, it seems like a complete cop-out, there is only a few miles of water between England and mainland Europe, only a fool would skip out all the good bits inbetween. So I'm still undecided on that one, but, however I end up getting there, I should hopefully end up in Andalucia, Spain. A place that holds a special place in my heart, after spending 6-7 months living in 2 remote mountain houses in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Since that time spent galavanting through the wild mountains, seeing hundreds of vultures circle up on vertical air currents, watching snakes slither into dry-stone walls, I have longed to be back there.

In 2009 I spent a month volunteering at a lovely little cortijo about an hour away from where we used to live. This was a fantastic time and I met many amazing people, however a month was just not enough and my longing to travel has no subsided since then. As I never fancied the prospect of university, coupled with the fact that I picked what I now see as the wrong options at college, travelling has become my major concern. Who knows, I might go to university someday in the future, but for now, while the world is still a reasonably normal place and I am lucky enough to have a European passport allowing me to travel almost completely freely, I feel it is my duty to see and feel as much of life as possible.

The cliche that travelling in 'infectious' is overused to put it lightly, but all cliche's are formed from truths and it is the uncertainty in this case that one craves, not knowing who you will be volunteering with, or where you will be tomorrow. For some people this is not even an option, they thought of having to pitch a tent somewhere in an unknown country to them is terrifying. But that surely is living. More so than 'living for the weekend'. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-party by any means, but theres partying and theres being a drunken lout just because you've got nothing better to spend your money on.

So after having my fill of Andalucia and all it has to offer, there is a possibility to head to Portugal, a place I have never been, to stay with and English couple I met whilst volunteering 3 years ago. Another location on my agenda is Asturias, Northen Spain. A place compared more to Scotland than anywhere else, its beauty is in its rugged-ness. A place where bears still wander the barranco's. I found a HelpX host who is renovating an old hamlet with a group of volunteers. They forage for food and sleep under the stars, in what sounds to me like a mini-paradise. I like to think they haven't got back in touch yet because there is no internet connection, although we will have to wait and see...