Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back in London...

As the wheel turns and the sun goes round and round I do find myself in London again. I departed from Ireland on Sunday morning after spending the night on the airport. Have you ever been awoken up by a the funny hooter of a floor cleaning machine? I have! I found Belfast to be very nice indeed. I stayed in a very cosy hostel called Arnie's Backpackers and let myself go to the opportunity to chuckle some Afrikaans songs to a crowd of 1 Italian and 2 Aussies after I found a lonely guitar standing around. In Belfast I also discovered a bookstore and lo and behold a bargain book! The complete works of Sherlock Holmes for only £2.50. At present I am thus indulged with the entertaining observation, deduction methods and lifestyle of this famous fiction detective and his Watson companion. Interesting fact. The phrase "It's elementary, my dear Watson" was never actually used in the written stories. But was introduced in one of the movies. I will confirm this in the future. 

Contacts and the will to speak smoothly is sadly honest at a down cycle as I wish to call it. My count is only 3815 and thus I only made about 130 contacts in the last 15 days.... Hope is on the horizon as I constantly visualize a future job opportunity where the desire to be as eloquent as I deserve to be and the often mysterious motivational factor will become alive once more and as strong as ever! I can however pat Hein on the back and maybe even frown upon thyself for for putting him in extreme situations. I arrived at Stansted Airport Sunday late morning without a idea of where I will lay my head for the night. I have however 4 nights before placed electronically a wanted add on the Gumtree website reading in Afrikaans " I am a christen, I don't smoke, drink or swear. I am a decent guy and I am looking for accommodation" That, I am convinced is some of my assertiveness attitude that broke through for a moment and I received e-mails from 4 people. I then phoned up these complete strangers and TOLD them I am coming to look at the accommodation NOW. The first little place, £60, shared-house with 9 people, room share with 3 people, party house, I glanced once, glanced twice, smiled and asked to be taken back to the station. The 2nd house however, Jackpot! My own clean basement space of privacy, 3/4 bed, clean neat house with very nice people and bang! I paid my deposit and moved in! Which means I dropped my backpack on the bed.  Thus concludes to that I came into a big city tired, hungry, broke, a bit lost, unshaven (yes I do have a beard),dehydrated and could still make phone calls without hesitating and ask directions to provide myself with a safe comfy cave 100% to my satisfaction. And for that I am quite proud.

When I did the 3-day tour in Tasmania I found in my group a Canadian girl. She was quite nice, very pretty, clever, athletically build, loves nature and exploring, traveling, witty, funny.........and happily married. Anyway, she is also a primary school teacher and we played a game where we had to say names of countries going down the alphabet. We had some trouble with the Q on the second round, but now I would impress her, Qatar! Today I got up bright and early to head off to work. I am helping for two days to refurbish the office of the ambassador of Qatar! This job is very physical and involves moving furniture and cleaning carpets. But that's ok, it's the pennies that make the pound, and every calorie burnt that takes it off again. I am in the process of seeking a more permanent job for a few months, so excitement is in the air as to where and what I will find myself be doing in the weeks to come.....     
backpacker lunch

Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 20:50:52 |

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Giants Causeway and Belfast

The talking traveler finds himself in the sunny city of Belfast. I am spending my last week of Ireland in the North before returning back to Dublin and then of to London. Yesterday I went to Giant's Causeway that I have been blabbing about. It is a interesting rock formation natural attraction. Also beautiful cliff and seaside scenery to add to that. I did about 7km worth of walking and took some emotion-stirring photographs. I traveled there using the train and as always found a way to amuse myself. While in the train , and I did that today also, I practiced my breathing timing. Taking a deep breath with every 10 (chucka-chuck) sounds that the train makes. We all know the soothing sound in that low frequency and the effect it has on us. I really transcended into a deep relaxed zone, and could breath in that fashion for 40mins. I guess it was probably some kind of hypnotic trance, the same we feel when we listen to waves crashing or as infants, listened to the heartbeats of our mothers. Anyway, before I make you fall asleep. I will spend another day(tomorrow) in Belfast.   
Giant's Causeway North Ireland

Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 19:06:10 |

All those little things......

You know, it's all those little everyday speaking situations that makes the difference. For example. I was in Galway and just couldn't decide where I wanted to go next. So I asked the person at the hostel reception what they would recommend. After that talk I decided to go to the Giants Causeway and I would stay at BallyCastle. I went to the bus station and asked for the price of a ticket. They then said that the bus service doesn't go directly there but I can take a bus to Derry and then catch a Northern Ireland bus to Ballycastle. Fine, I said. And I bought a ticket to Derry. I then looked in my guide book for the number of a hostel in Ballycastle. I needed some change to phone, so I popped into the closest store and asked for four fifty cents and gave the person a 2euro coin. I then used the phone, and reserved my bed in a dormitory. I spelled out my name and surname, and asked the usual questions like....How much for a bed? Do you serve breakfast? How big is the dorm? etc. I then realized that I had 2 hours before my bus would depart, but I had to check out of the hostel in 20mins . I then asked the new person at reception, after explaining my situation, if I could wait in the TV room for 2 hours. No problem, he said. In the 2 hours I did some reading and also chatted to some people drifting in and out of the TV room. When my time was up and strolled down to the bus station, and after asking a uniform, found the platform from which my bus was to depart. Got on the bus, after greeting the driver and telling him my destination. % hours on the bus later I'm in Derry. Went to the ticket office and asked for a ticket to Ballycastle. Oops, no more buses going there for today. No problem, I took a deep breath, got out my guide book and phoned a hostel in Derry. Did the whole inquiry thing and booked my place after making sure about the directions. Off I went into another new city and after asking about 3 more people for directions finally got into the hostel. Introduced myself, had a quick hello chat and into my room. The next day I got up early, asked around for directions to the information center and got there. There I asked for information regarding visiting the Giants Causeway, a big tourist attraction. Got the info and directions to the train station. At the station I first bought a single to Giants Causeway for £6. Then I saw an offer for an all-day train ticket for £7. Went back to the ticket office, asked nicely and changed my ticket.

I can go on and on, and you would probably think that this is a bit boring, so what's the big deal? I wrote this to illustrate the huge amount of verbal contacts a person has to make to come by. As a out-of-control stammerer every single one of these would have probably been a bad experience. Blocking, frustration, humiliation, not getting what you want, self-criticism, etc. Things that you as a non-stutterer may take for granted, is a everyday battle for an out-of-control stutterer.In the past I would have avoided many many of these situations, changing words, phrases, destinations to easier ones (no jokes), maybe even booking under a different name, pointing to maps or brochures or booking on the internet to avoid speaking. But, for a recovering, soon-to-be-eloquent stutterer like myself and others worldwide that has the tools and support to move forward every situation is a challenge, and every victory is sweet. True, not every word comes out smoothly, but every word does come out, and yes,it takes hard work and lots of practice, years of practice. The number that I'm chasing is the ultimate goal yes, but it's all these little things that makes the journeys so much more and so worthwhile.
Giants Causeway Ireland

Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 13:25:48

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Aran Islands

Back in Galway after spending 2 days on the mystical Aran Islands. I stayed in a hostel on the Main Island Inishmore. Although I did not see the main attraction there(Dun Aengus Fort) I did see a beautiful and unique landscape. Kilometers upon kilometers of stone walls and solid rock cliffs.  I did not do much talking, as people are spread few and far apart. And, as a matter of fact, I just didn't feel like it. It did relax though.Wondering where I'm off to next? Me too.
Aran Island Ireland
Aran Islands Ireland
Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 20:39:58 |

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Galway with Gareth Gates

The Galway course I attended this weekend was the biggest one I ever attended. We had about 70+ recovering stutterers in the room at any time. Gareth Gates was indeed the course instructor and he did a very fine job. He as been on the program for four years now and really is a good example to us all. The preparation and effort he put in and the way he handled the course really impressed me. During the public speeches I made it my mission to approach confused looking people floating around trying to listen and tell them what we are talking about and why. The response I get 99.9 % of the time is "Thats very good!, Well done!, Thank you for telling me!" with mouth corners lifting and eyebrows relaxing to compliment that. 

Another biggie for my was the size of the dorm room I stayed in at the Hostel. The hostel was about 30mins walk from the hotel where the course was held so I had the opportunity to get exercise, fresh air and a clear mind at the start of each day. The dorm I inhabited had 12 people, mixed. I can hear the gasps of air but I have stayed in mixed dorms before. Of course the first time was a bit uncomfortable, but I realized that we are all adults. Anyway, girls smell nice and they don't snore as loud as boys do. I find myself today in Cork. I spent the last 3 nights visiting and staying with 3 lovely-lady-South-African friends. As they have cars I was privileged to see a bit more of Ireland. I went to Blarney again and explored the castle and also the surrounding magical gardens. I walked up and down the wishing steps backwards with my eyes closed and was allowed to make a wish. I will not reveal my wish but I will announce it when it realizes. We also visited Kinsale and the beautiful cliffs of Moher. I would love to upload some pictures to rectify the visual images in your imagination but I have yet to find a internet cafe which can accommodate my storage devices. Soon. I will spend my day today exploring the city of Cork with the number of 3709 contacts drifting in my head. Yesterday had been the 3rd month's end since my mission started. How is my speech you would wonder.....how do I feel......how do I sound. I most confess, with my friends I am visiting I didn't sound to great. I do seem to have changed my stuttering behavior, definitely. Word and situation avoidances are at a minimum but my articulation and concentration skills are challenging me. I need to do some contacts today to get into it again, no holding back, keep moving forward, must get the speech away from the mouth and in the chest, and the thoughts away from the brain and from the heart. Repetition is the mother of mastery. 

Overall I find Ireland very nice. I met wonderful people on the course and had made some great friends. Some of whom I will call upon within my further 1 & 1/2 weeks stay Ireland. Moerse lekker craig !  Whilst in London I exchanged pounds for a small little green book with the caption: "How to be a huge success". It contains quotes from famous successful people. I'll leave you with one from Abraham Lincoln : Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. 

wishing steps blarney castle 

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 10:36:07 |

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Castle's and Dragons.....

I've had quite a interesting few days. We returned from the almost disappointing last day of the "Paddywagon" tour. We didn't really stop anywhere interesting during our final day back except in a place called Nenah (I think) when the coach driver gave us some time to enjoy watching a Gaelic football match in a bar with him. Or, at least the others did, I went off to explore the town. On the way bay to Dublin I realized that I enjoyed exploring castle's. So I paged through my over-used Ireland guide book and found the biggest Normand Castle location in Ireland which is at a little town called Trim. As soon as we stopped at Dublin I headed for the Bus station and bought myself a ticket heading just that way. I arrived at Trim about 10pm and started asking around for the location of the youth hostel of which I only had a name. Being friendly and all I received good directions and after about 1.5 km of walking I caught the Hostel keeper just in time to book myself in. I spend a whole day exploring the trim castle and surrounding area. In the hostel I met a young man from Israel who had been in the Military Service for 5 years and is now taken a long awaited holiday after service. When he returns back home he plans to become a vet and wants to specialize in horses, very interesting story. Monday I made my way back to Dublin and decided to head for Glendalough. It is famous for it's amazing heritage and walking trails. I booked into a hostel there and spend my day yesterday walking a total of about 15 km in the mountains(plus 3km back and forth to the only shop there). Absolutely amazing scenery and atmosphere. I also met some friendly hikers on my path and realized again how people are amazed about the transformation that happened in South-Africa and especially the life of our old president Nelson Mandela. I'm always proud to mention that my Grandma met Nelson once and shook his hand. "Small and soft hands with big bodyguards who had wide shoulders" is the way that she described him. I'm in Galway at the moment and the next course is starting in a hour. There is a rumor that Gareth Gates himself will be presenting the course. As soon as I can find a Internet Cafe in Galway with USB ports to use I will upload some more photo's. But for the next four days it's time to kill that Dragon again.
Trim Ireland
Trim Castle Ireland
Glendalough Ireland
Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 17:56:43 |

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Green green Ireland....speakeasy bar ireland

I'm not on the gravy train, but I am definitely on the Paddywagon! Today is my last day of the short tour. We visited 3 castles, 1 lake, a national park, rocky house thingy's and a cathedral. The coach driver really has a good knowledge of Ireland, and say words like "like" and "feck" quite alot. Feck seems to be the Afrikaans equivilant of "bliksem", which is not a too harsh word, but can be. Everything is green, and people like wearing green. Thursday we spend the night is a town called Killarney, and there I found a little pub called the Speakeasy Bar. Which has quite some significance to me as I was part of support group for stutterers called Speakeasy for many years. There is also an in-the-ear device available that can reduce stuttering by Delayed Auditory Feedback, this devcie is called......the Speakeasy device. I did not have a drink there for reason No 1. I am a responsible young man, No. 2 I am traveling on a shoestring budget and No. 3 They aren't open at 8 o'clock in the morning, when I found them. I also kissed the blarney stone! Yehaa ! Now I am blessed with 7 years of eloquence...........Amazing the trade of tourism, travel thousands of miles, pay many many pounds, and kiss a rock. :) No wonder the Irish are such fast speakers with blarney stones and speakeasy bars like.

Beehive huts Fahan Ireland
Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 14:41:52 |