In arrived in my home at 10.00am on Tuesday after staying the night with Stone Monkey near Tunbridge Wells in the South of England. My European Tour started on 2nd May and finished on 16th May. I visited 7 countries and travelled 5239Km/3256miles.
I met many wonderful people, plus a few crazy ones! Ate really good food, drank in moderation and perhaps talked too much. Thanks for following my epic journey, I have an enormous amount of material for this blog including over 2 hours of video, 1500 photos and lots of great stories that will feature here over the next few weeks.
For now though here are my personal reflections and statistics from the tour:
Best roads: Germany
Worst roads: Slovenia
Best Food: Italy
Worst Food: Germany
Most enthusiastic bonsai Nation: Hungary
Highest point: 1760 mtrs in Austria
Lowest point: Sharing the stage with a Prima Donna
Best Night Out: Ljubljana
Strangest drink: Fruit of Myrtle Spirit (Italian homemade)
Best bonsai personality: Marc Noelanders
Hero: Tomaž Kovšca (organiser of EBA Ljubljana)
Zero: Brussels Ring Road
Best Weather: Italy
Worst Weather: Belgium
Best Audience: Belgium
Worst Coffee: Germany
Best Coffee: Italy
Favourite place: On top of a mountain in Slovenia
Funniest name: “Gasthof Wanker” in Austria
Best thing of all: staying with friends old and new
This weekend was the EBA show in Ljubljana. I Exhibited a tree, was a headline demonstrator, I traded my Yamadori and I did a presentation about Hawthorns! The weekend has been full on, but what made this extra special was that I did not have to stay in a hotel, I stayed with Nik Rozman and his wonderful parents Peter and Marina… it truly was home from home.
Staying with Nik was great because having somebody who was ‘local’ and deeply involved with the organising club meant that a lot of the ‘formalities’ (translating, help with my trade stand, drivers) were easily overcome. My thanks goes to them for making my stay so enjoyable.
The majority of exhibition was a very high standard, with 11 countries taking part with over trees on show and 12 traders. Normally the first day is busier, not on this occasion. Saturday was a VERY hot 28c and sunny with the people through the door less than expected. The exact opposite on Sunday VERY cold 4c and overcast. More than three times the amount of people came.
Considering that this is the biggest Bonsai show ever to be staged staged in Slovenia the organising club Slovenski bonsaj klub did a great job.
My demo with Nik was on a beautiful Mugo Pine that he had collected three years before.
Kevin Willson assisted by Richard Chambers worked a massive Olive and Yew, the Italian talked about a mugo pine that had been fully prepared for him by his assistant.
A full gallery of the trees is to follow. Tomorrow I drive to See Walter Pall and continue on with my European Bonsai Tour
Yesterday I had the time of my life hunting for Spruce with Nik and Peter Rozman, we ascended a very high mountain after a four hour drive
The weather was so bright and sunny that Sunglasses had to be worn at all times! The climb to the top took a few hours, even if we had not collected any trees it was worth it for the view alone.
We did collect one tree… MINE! A wonderful small fat spruce that came out of the ground so easy, it had NO tap root and the fine roots did not sink into the ground very far. These trees have been styled/eaten by wildlife so the foliage was very compact.
The wild Hellebore were shades of pink and white and there were all over the top of the mountain.
Matija was kind enough to take me to one of his happy yamadori hunting grounds. Fortunately we could drive a long way high into the mountains.
We still had to walk/climb for two hours but it sure was worth it! Larch, Spruce and Pine yamadori in abundance. Also the wild flowers at this time of year are spectacular.
We collected a couple of truly beautiful mugo pines with great movement and shari. Then it was on to simply one of the most impressive ‘Sumo’ Larch I have ever seen… and YES! Matija offered it to me… to collect NEXT YEAR! As it was a wee bit late in the season to collect.
So a European tour is in the planning for next year so that I can collect this rather handsome tree.
It’s not actually as Bonsai Hill it’s just that it’s WAY smaller that the mountains that surround it! This is how the conversation went:
Matija: “you fancy a beer”
Me: “Yeh sure”
Matija: “we need to take a short walk… up that hill”
Me: “What’s wrong with the Spa store”
Matija: “the view is not as good”
So we set of as at a gentle pace. Matija is 1.83m tall and long legs run in his family so I was a bit slower…and older.
And he was right the view was amazing, definitely worth the walk/climb… and the beer was welcome too!
On the way down I wanted to take the Tractor… for some reason it would not start!