Northern European Bonsai/Beer tour 2013

Two days ago I started on my Northern European bonsai tour 2013, this time I have brought my apprentice Mikey along for the experience and to broad and to keep me awake during the driving.

We set off at 6.00am for The Tunnel at 11.20am arriving in good time only to discover that there was a delay due to ‘train problems!” that gave us enough time to have lunch. Once through the tunnel it was two hours to my friend Stéphane who was to be my host for the next two nights.

noelanders club membersAfter a quick dinner the first engagement was a surprise visit to the Noelanders club.

The Noelanders club is no ‘ordinary’ bonsai club, with over 80 members they are active, engaging and forward thinking. The Club meets on the first Wednesday of every month. This evening was their annual general meeting… that took place at 6.30 but we arrived at 7.30 for the general meeting. I have many friends who are the members of this club through visits and the wonderful ‘Noelanders Trophee’ that they host each January.

Marc NoelandersWe were in for a treat, due to the unseasonal cold weather Europe is experiencing the program for the evening changed because the material to be discussed could not be used as it was frozen I think? So Marc Noelanders stepped up to the plate and worked on a magnificent raw material Taxus Cuspidata, he styled it into a spectacular semi cascade. I chose to sit near ‘The Bad Boys’ table where the ‘Blonde Leffe’ drinkers were (Gentlemen prefer ‘Blondes’) I love Belgium, great bonsai, beer and friends.

The next morning I held a workshop hosted by Stéphane, eight participants each bringing their trees for wok and discussion. Again they were engaging and enthusiastic working on existing bonsai and raw material. Later in the evening Mikey relaxed and I styled a small larch for Stéphane… oh yes and I drank beer!

Today we visited Jean Paul Polmans and his rather extensive garden and bonsai collection, it is simply not fair that one artist has SO MANY amazing bonsai AND incredible yamadori raw material in his back garden. I had to haul Mikey away.

Bonsai museumNow I am in Dusseldorf and the Bonsai Museum for a special event that takes place tomorrow, the museum is the brainchild of Werner Busch and a close group of friends, the layout is excellent with descriptions and history of the trees on information panels (all in German) there is a HUGE selection of bonsai both styled and semi-styled, pots and bonsai related items for sale too!  … the report from the event will come next.


European Bonsai tour #8 the finishing line

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