Category Archives: adventure

A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder – 3

Ladies and gentlemen, time has come for the third episode of A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Join us as we set out to explore the wonders of this forgotten land, to misty mountains and cavernous halls; mysterious forests and the green hills of the Shire. We’re going on an adventure !




A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder

EPISODE III – Arthedain


Two days and several dozen miles later, Niphredil and Thorbjörn reached the city of Bree. Bree was an important trading center between Men and the hobbits of the Shire, a small town where the Big and the Little People coexisted in a unique but most excellent arrangement. The town was set on the most important crossroads of Eriador, the north-western lands of Middle-Earth. Two roads crossed there, the Great East road, which stretched from the lands of Elves far to the West, towards the Misty Mountains in the East; and the Greenway, a north-south axis connecting the lands of Men in the North, Arnor, to Gondor in the South.

“What peculiar houses !” said Niphredil.

“Never seen what normal housing looks like ?”, ironized Thorbjörn.

“I haven’t, so what ?”, she grumbled quietly.

A few hundred stone houses stood on the Bree-hill, the only height in a hundred miles radius. A deep dike before a wooden wall encircled it, with gates breaking it up at regular intervals. The fortifications were derelict and in parts in ruin. The life in Bree was calm, and away from danger.

Many roads led to Bree, yet most of them were empty at this time of day. In the noon of night, the gibbous moon was at its highest. The glittering stars made for a bewitching firmament. The ghostly moonlight gave an odd atmosphere to the landscape below. From the many lights flickering at the houses’ windows, emanated a warm feeling, and the two companions hastened their pace towards them. Towards the inn, at last. A warm meal and a bed. What luxury.

After a well-earned night’s rest, Niphredil and Thorbjörn were ready for their morning preparations. They had decided to make some purchases in Bree, for the rest of the road would lead them for many days into Wilderness and uninhabited lands. The merchant stalls were already open, and they found a grocer that seemed to suit their needs.

“Good day to you ! Everything’s for sale my friend. Everything ! ‘f I had a sister, I’d sell her in a second !”

“Ehm, right. We’re only going to need food, enough for-”

“I’d even buy one of your relatives, if you’re looking to sell. Ha ha ha ha. That’s a little joke.”

“Yes, no.”, stammered Niphredil, less and less convinced now that this was the right shop. Or indeed a shop at all. “We’re just looking to buy enough food for a fortnight’s travel”.

“Well why didn’t you say so ? I’ve got just what you need.”

After a substantial monetary exchange, Niphredil and Thorbjörn were now in possession of enough equipment and victuals for a long journey.

“Do come back !” called the shopkeeper after them.

“What a queer man.” commented Niphredil.

The two travellers started walking towards the southern end of the city. In the morning light, Niphredil could finally observe her surroundings. In the lower half of Bree, the stone and thatch houses were built on fairly flat ground. Sturdy yet ancient looking, with mossy roofs and ivy-covered walls, they blended in with the wilderness beyond. Wild patches of color distinguished them, formed by rhododendrons and anemones growing freely around them; thereby dotting the landscape with warm shades of pink, blue and purple.

Shortly after leaving Bree, all traces of human settlement disappeared from the landscape, save for the road, ever present, a testimony of civilization in a desperately flat and empty land. These lands, home to the descendants of Númenor, once the greatest kingdom of Men beyond the Sea, were now slowly declining into nothingness. The might of the Dúnedain, bearers of the blood of old Númenor, was waning against the growing darkness cast by the Shadow of Angmar.

For many days they walked the Great South Road. They passed through the defile of Andrath, between the Barrow-Downs and the South Downs. The Downs were two series of low, barren hills, home to the remains of the old kings of Arnor. Here and there, megaliths stood upon the hills, looming in the distance. From the Downs, they followed the road into a deserted and sullen land, where vegetation scarcely grew, for many miles.

A long voyage, with nothing to differentiate one day from the other. A featureless and desolate landscape, whose brown dirt was darkened by an equally featureless layer of clouds above.

“This region feels dead. As devoid of life as the people who used to live in this land and are now buried beneath it.”, said Niphredil drily.

“Didn’t know you were into this kind of humour. Harrowing dark thoughts like that won’t help the atmosphere of the place much.”, answered Thorbjörn with a wry smile.

“It’s just tiring to be there, is all.”, she said blearily.

The solitude in this empty land would have been unbearable if she were travelling alone, thought Niphredil. She was glad to have someone she could talk to, remind her she wasn’t stuck in some neverending nightmare.

A little less than a fortnight later, Niphredil and Thorbjörn finally came into sight of a city.

“This must be Tharbad, if our feet haven’t strayed off the path we were supposed to take. Whatever it is, I am glad to be out of these Downs.”, said Thorbjörn.

“I think it is. A city built on either side of the Mitheithel River, the innkeeper told us in Bree. I don’t know if this is the Mitheithel River, but it certainly is a city built on either side of a river. We should at least be able to replenish our victuals here.”

“Not many roads our paths could have strayed off anyways. What a depressing place. How you people can bear to live in this wasteland is beyond my comprehension.”

“They’re not my people. If I remember my history right, there were hobbits here for a long time, but they’ve left for the Shire about 200 years ago.”, said Niphredil.

“You know much, O Wise One. It’s all old nonsense to me. The lore of smithing though, that I can comprehend. What do you say to a mug of beer and a comfortable bed for the night ?”, answered Thorbjörn, apparently insensible to the charms of hobbit genealogy.

Indeed had the foundation of Tharbad been lost in the mists of time to all but masters of lore, many centuries ago. It had been built by the sea-faring Númenoreans to protect their shipyards and wood-stores from the local population, whose forests they were exploiting. In their efforts to conquer these lands, the fortress promptly became a great river-port, built on one of the most expeditious routes between Arnor in the North and Gondor in the South, in the early days of both kingdoms. A fortified town and haven grew on either side of the Mitheithel River, home to a great garrison of soldiers, mariners and engineers. Symbol of the skill of the Númenorean builders and masons, a graceful bridge of white stone spanned across the flowing river. Upon it rode the Great South Road, itself another connection between the North and the South.

This road would Niphredil and Thorbjörn follow, to reach the Halls of Durin in Khazad-Dûm.

After a mug of beer (only tea for Niphredil) and a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, the two companions were ready to take the road again. Their bags were stocked with food for the rest of the journey.

“If I understood correctly what the innkeeper told me, we must now travel through the Nîn-in-Eilph fenland, north of Tharbad; then follow the Sirannon stream that flows into it, until we reach it’s source, conveniently right under the door of Khazad-Dûm.”, explained Thorbjörn.

“So we must leave the road ?”, said Niphredil.

“Roads ? Where we’re going we don’t need roads. That is, there are none.”, retorted Thorbjörn.

“Well then, better get going quick. We can make it to the Halls of Durin in two days if we hurry.”

They left when the Sun started cresting the Misty Mountains, away to the East, and headed in that direction, their shadows stretching long on the road behind them. The fenland bore its name well : Nîn-in-Eilph, water-land of the Swans; home to many of the white wingéd bird. On the west of the marsh lay Tharbad, on the northern borders flowed the Mitheithel. Towards the eastern end of the mire, a waterfall rushed down, and beyond it was a ford over the Glanduin. Out of these lowlands and into the plain beyond, the road led to the ruins of Ost-in-Edhil. Another once mighty city, now lost to time, of which only ruins remained to this day.

Arriving to the ruins, Niphredil and Thorbjörn were surprised to see a man there. He was sitting on a tree stump, under the cover of a tent stretched between four wooden poles. His disheveled white hair and beard shone in the sun. Before him was a wide slab of white stone, probably fallen from a building long ago. He was writing on a sheet of paper, a half-filled inkwell beside him on the desk. Many more books and paper sheets were stacked in improbable piles all over the stony floor of his makeshift office. Hearing their footsteps, he turned to say :

“Well met, travelers. Are you lost ? It is rare to see visitors coming to this forsaken place.”

“Well met. I don’t believe we are lost. We’re on the way to Khazad-Dûm. Is this Ost-in-Edhil ?”

The old man smiled, his eyes tinted with melancholy. “This is indeed what remains of Ost-in-Edhil, the ancient elven capital of Eregion. Allow me to present myself, I am Alwis Peredhil, member of the guild of historians in Tharbad.”

“I am Thorbjörn son of Thorgald, and this is Niphredil.”, said Thorbjörn with a slight bow.

Niphredil had always been curious about the Elves. That these ruins were originated from the Fair Folk ignited her curiosity.

“If you don’t mind my asking, what is your purpose here ? What is Eregion ? And why are there no elves here today ?”

“So many questions ! I wish my students were so eager to learn.”, answered the historian, amused. “The story you wish to hear would take me many hours to tell in full. The history behind this city spans many millennia.”

“To answer your questions, I come here regularly in order to learn more about the inhabitants of Eregion. Eregion is the region west of the Misty Mountains and east of the Mitheithel river. You may know it under the name of Hollin.

The story begins in the early days of the Second Age, when Galadriel and Celeborn, Lady and Lord of the Lothlórien, founded Ost-in-Edhil. It was meant to become a trade center with both the Dwarves of Khazad-Dûm to the east, and the Men of Númenor to the west. In its time, it was a beautiful city, the gem of the West. Imagine a city filled with many fountains and statues finely carved by skilled craftsmen. A city of slender spires, towering to the sky, and houses of white stone, that held the sun’s light long after evening fell. It was home to the greatest smiths in Middle-Earth, and the greatest of all was the unrivaled Celebrimbor.

Ost-in-Edhil ultimately met its doom at the peak of its glory, at the hand of Sauron himself. Under the guise of a craftsman named Annatar, Sauron befriended the elvish smiths of Eregion, easier to mislead because of their thirst for knowledge. But a knowledge gained without wisdom comes at a price. Through cunning lies and insidious persuasion, he taught the Elves dangerous secrets for 400 years, and together with Celebrimbor, he forged the Rings of Power. Then Annatar revealed himself as Sauron by forging The One Ring and declaring war on all that was living, and Ost-in-Edhil fell shortly thereafter. Thus started the War of Elves and Sauron, and it was long and bloody, leaving all of Eriador ravaged and broken.

Dwarves, Elves and Men alike suffered heavy casualties, and many fair cities were destroyed by the forces of Sauron. He was eventually defeated near Tharbad at the Battle of Gwathló; his army routed by the combined forces of the Elves, led by Gil-galad, and Men of Númenor, who had sent a great fleet across the sea to their aid.

Ost-in-Edhil was never rebuilt, a symbol of its smith’s folly in their lust for knowledge. Forgotten by Men and forsaken by Elves, it came to us today, a ruin full of the glory and regrets of the past.”

Alwis was silent for a while, as if lost in his own story. Niphredil eventually spoke up.

“Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t born in the wrong time. Stories of the old days fascinate me. It seems like the world was so full of powers and magic beyond the reach of Man, a strength that has now departed and been lost forever. A world vividly alive, terrible and wonderful. Perilous without a doubt, yet today we relish in the marvels of those times, gazing longingly at this grandiose past.

In any case, I thank you for the tale, loremaster.”

“I am no loremaster. Though some call me half-elven because of my fascination for the lore of the Fair Folk, I have nowhere near the depth of knowledge of the only true half-elven loremaster there is : Elrond of Imladris. I am however glad you appreciated the lesson. Perhaps we’ll have the occasion of talking again if you come here on your return journey.”

The return journey. The words had a distant yet heartening feel to them. Filled with determination, Niphredil turned away from the ruins and started walking towards the road leading from the ancient elven city to the mines of Khazad-Dûm. Thorbjörn had taken the lead, uninterested by a past that was already gone anyways, and impatient of reaching his kinfolks’ dwellings.


This, dear listeners, was the third episode of A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Comb your beards, pick up your helmets and sharpen your axes, we are headed to the fourth episode : to the dwarven halls of Khazad-Dûm.

A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder – 2

Ladies and gentlemen, time has come for the second episode of A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Join us as we set out to explore the wonders of this forgotten land, to misty mountains and cavernous halls; mysterious forests and the green hills of the Shire. We’re going on an adventure !




A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder

EPISODE II – The Old Forest


Today was the day. She was an adult, and ready to abandon the Shire. Her backpack filled to the brim with victuals, a blanket and a towel, Niphredil closed the round door of her smial; her parents still asleep behind. No point in waking them up, she thought.

She now stood on top of The Hill, the main residential district of Hobbiton. Her long chestnut hair waving in the wind, chin up and gaze set on the horizon, she felt great joy and hope, for the first time in long years. Determined, she took her first step forward, out of her smial and out of her previous life, thus leaving the hurtful memories of her parents behind.
Towards a new life of adventure, where glory and mayhaps even love awaited her.

Walking down the streets she had known since forever, every step memories resurfaced and appeared before her eyes. Every step she chased them, freeing her mind of these shackles. She wanted to convince herself this was the right choice, the only choice, to get away from this land she desperately needed to hate.
The gardens of the Shire, always peaceful and still green despite the progressing Autumn, shone under the rising Sun. Quiet they were yet, only troubled by the rustle of leaves and the swishing of the grass blades in the wind.
On the edge of Hobbiton, near the Bywater river, she met the first person that was already awake in all the Shire, beside herself. Petula Brockhouse was already working her garden, trimming the cypress hedge.
“Hullo there ! Why, aren’t you out early today, Niphredil ? Going for a walk ?”
“Hmm ? Oh, yes. Something like that.” answered Niphredil, taken aback by the sudden interruption of her thoughts. Regaining her composure, she continued, “Yes. I’m going for a long, long walk. I don’t think I’ll be back this evening. In fact, I don’t plan to come back at all.”
It is known, hobbits are a simple people, and have difficulty finding an interest to the world outside of the Bounds of the Shire, or imagining why anyone would want to live in the troublesome lands of the Big People, Men. They call it simply Outside, and the farthest points of the Shire reflect this : the South, West, East and North Farthings. Beyond are things that are too far to be considered a matter of worry for decent and definitely-not-interested-by-adventure hobbits.
Petula’s answer will therefore come as a surprise to no one.
“Oh really, is that so ? Well, do be careful, eh ? Seems like the weather won’t hold for long. Oh, should you find any, would you be so kind and bring a handful of mushrooms back ? I’d like to cook something special tomorrow. See, ‘t’ll be the old Balbo’s birthday ! His 85th birthday already. How time flies, eh ! Ah, but I’m sure you young’uns only think it too slow. Always in a hurry instead of enjoying yourselves.”
Not wanting to engage in further fruitless conversation of which hobbits are so fond of, Niphredil simply nodded and went on her way.

She walked tirelessly the rest of the day and the day that followed, towards the East Farthing. She only stopped to rest at an inn in Frogmorton, before resuming her journey to the border of the Shire, through Whitfurrows and to the Bridge of the Brandywine river. There she finally marked a pause in her steps, for this was the farthest she’d ever been from home. On the other side of the bridge, the wooden fences on either side of the road quickly yielded to the sprawling vegetation, then succumbed under tall grasses, before disappearing entirely, consumed by briar and brambles. Unpruned, beech trees arched over the road. The rutted tracks thus faded, covered by a blanket of yellow and brown leaves. The road itself was however in very good shape. It was the main road in and out of the Shire, chiefly to Bree, the closest city of Men in the vicinity and principal trade partner of Hobbits. After a short meal, she took to the road once more, advancing swiftly.
Wilderness, at last. Beyond the Brandywine river was the Old Forest, though the road only traversed its outskirts. Most of the forest lay further south. An old forest indeed, left untouched since millennia uncounted. Only remnant of a once much greater primordial forest that spanned almost all of the continent. It had been awakened by Elves in the Elder Days, and Ents had roamed its paths, though none had remained to this day.

The forest seemed to stretch itself around the road indefinitely. Rows upon rows of moss covered trunks and roots wherever the eye could see. When the light grew dim, on her third day since she closed the door to her previous life, Niphredil set up camp in a small glen. A small brook burbled quietly in the distance. Tired but content from her first days of march, she ate, then unfurled her blanket and went to sleep.
Quickly, she realized that the forest wasn’t so still as it seemed at first. Noises of the night surrounded her. The sound of water, acorns falling and leaves whispering prevented her from sleeping. Although these were but the outskirts of the Old Forest, it remained a wild and peculiar place. Hobbits believed the trees of the Old Forest were in some manner “awake”. They would sway when there is no wind, whisper at night, and mislead and waylay travelers. These tales were of no concern to Niphredil, so she eventually fell asleep. For a while.
A particularly irritating child threw little pebbles on the window of her smial. The pebbles, clattering, formed a maddeningly irritating noise. It seemed that child had also emptied a bucket of water on her, for she was dripping wet. Drowsy and tired, she awoke from her dream, disturbed by an omnipresently annoying noise environing her. Accompanied by a very distinct sensation of sogginess. Sogged to the bone, that is.
It was bucketing down, and had been for a little while now, judging from the swamped ground. It pounded the trees, it churned and slopped the scrubby land into a mudbath.
“Ugh.” was the only sound she could utter, before gathering her things and running to the closest semblant of a shelter : a small hollow under the roots of a great oak. She lay there shivering, in a transitory state between sleep and waking.

Morning come, she was tired and sick but determined to go on.
“I was naive to think adventure would be easy”, she thought, looking with apprehension upon the muddy road before her. The road was submerged in parts, making her advance slower.
Come evening, her feet were covered in mud and she wished only for a warm meal in her smial, in front of a good chimney. With tea. She liked tea.
This time she searched for a proper place to sleep, and found a small burrow, not too far from the road. Exhausted, her mind didn’t have time to focus on anything other than a blissful void before her body plunged into a deep slumber.

The next day, the sun was shining again, and the water had already receded from the road. She realized she hadn’t yet looked at the forest around her, occupied as she was with avoiding to slip in the mud or thinking about her future.
With the humidity of the previous day’s draught, the forest sprang to life. Bright green moss sprawled on the ground between the trees. Brown, red and white capped mushrooms were scattered all over. She walked all day long, until the sun started westering.
At a turn of the road, she suddenly stopped in wonder, awestruck by the heavenly scenery that lay before her. Time halted.
Under the razing light of the westering Sun, colour and light were weaved into a vibrant tapestry, as the green foliage, forming a ceiling over the road, glowed with shades of red, orange and gold.
The road, straight ahead, was wreathed in the shade of linden trees. Dim should the pathway have been, yet it shone as if from its own light. As if no darkness was to be in this timeless place.
Further along the road, the forest dwindled and opened into a glen. The Sun shone through the opening upon the path, a circle of light like a portal to another time and place.
Shimmering leaves fell whispering, brought down by a slight breeze from the trees. Catching the westering rays of the sun through the foliage, they shone like so many sparks of light.
This warm, impossibly bright light gave an eerie feeling to the scene, and Niphredil felt as if she didn’t belong there. Or rather, that this scenery couldn’t belong to this world. For a fleeting moment you could catch a glimpse of a time that was to be no more, long gone countless millennia ago.
The moment passed. The Sun was hidden by clouds, the birds started chirping again, and Niphredil realized she had been holding her breath for, well she had lost count of time, but enough for her to need air. Quickly.

It took her a moment to realize someone else was standing there, in the middle of the road. A small man, seemingly middle-aged, red-haired.
“Pretty, ain’t it ?” he said, matter-of-factly.
Niphredil could but nod, speechless as she was. It was quite impressive that the man could speak at all, after such a moment.
“I didn’t know woods could be this beautiful.” he said, entering the pathway. “Looks like we’re going the same way, where are you headed ?”.
“Nowhere in particular.” answered the hobbit, finally finding her words.
“Oh. Well that’s as good a destination as any, I suppose. I am Thorbjörn, son of Thorgald. Shall we walk together towards nowhere in particular, for a while ?”
“That name doesn’t sound very hobbitish at all. It sounds very dwarfish, in fact.”
“Makes sense, I’m a dwarf. I come from the Ered Luin, far to the East. I believe you call them the Blue Mountains here.”
“You’re a dwarf ? But, you have no-”
“-beard, yes, I know. I’m a very young dwarf. And you, are a very impolite young lady. What’s your name ?”
“I am Niphredil, from the Shire.”
“A hobbit ? That much is obvious, I suppose, what with the walking-barefoot-in-the-forest business. But a hobbit with an elvish name ? Now that’s peculiar.”
“My parents used to travel a lot.” she said, not wanting to discuss this particular subject. “The Blue Mountains are very distant from here, what could you be looking for in the Shire ?”
“Nothing in particular. I’m merely passing through these lands on my way to the ancient capital of the dwarves, towards the vast halls of Khazad-Dûm. There, my folk is most numerous in all of Middle-Earth, and I hope to learn much from them in the arts of craftsmanship and lore. There is mithril in them darn mines. Can you imagine that ? Mithril !”
At the mere mention of mithril and highly-skilled smiths, Thorbjörn brimmed with anticipation. His brow twitched strangely, until he calmed down a little.
“Khazad-Dûm ? Would you mind if I accompanied you there ? I want to see the world, and what better way to discover the realm of the dwarves than guided by a dwarf ?”
“I see no reason to refuse. If we’re going the same way, might as well travel together.”
All the while talking, they had already reached the edge of the northern end of the Old Forest, which wasn’t very far from where they started off.
From there they now had to follow the Great East road (named from the Shire’s point of view), towards the city of Bree, and through the realms of Men. A long journey awaited them in these peaceful lands, until they finally reached Khazad-Dûm, jewel of the kingdoms of the Dwarves.
But that, is a story for another day.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

This, dear listeners, was the second episode of A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Next week (or two ?), we’ll follow Niphredil and Thorbjörn to the third episode of their tale, to the realms of men, in Arthedain.

A Tale of Wide-Eyed Wonder – 1

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first episode of our journey to the lands of Middle-Earth. Join us as we set out to explore the wonders of this forgotten land, to misty mountains and cavernous halls; mysterious forests and the green hills of the Shire. We’re going on an adventure !




A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder

EPISODE I – The Shire


Third Age 1800. Eriador, The Shire.

Niphredil woke up in the early hours of the morning. Like every day, she woke before her parents, who were still fast asleep in the room adjacent to hers. She slipped quietly in her clothes and opened wide the windows of her bedroom, letting a refreshing breeze in the smial. Leaning on the window sill, she closed her eyes and let her thoughts wander.

She liked these quiet early mornings, alone at her window. Soon, the Shire would rouse from its slumber and life would fill the streets of Hobbiton. Until then, it was as if time had decided to slow down for a while and the world belonged only to her and the bird’s chirping. Scents of ripening fields filled her lungs. It was already Autumn, and the harvest-time was nigh.

She opened her eyes again. Far to the East, the Sun was already starting to cast her light over the crest of the hills. Everywhere, trees and leaves and flowers started glittering, as the sunrays were scattered by the morning dew. Like a prism of light, the red and gold shades of the falling leaves mingled with the green of the grass of the Shire. The rising mists enshrouding the rolling hills of the Shire truly were a sight to behold. Yet Niphredil saw it not, as her eyes looked beyond the hills, her gaze attempting to pierce the haze and see what lies beyond. Beyond her village of Hobbiton, beyond the Bywater river, beyond Frogmorton, Whitfurrows and the bridge of Stonebows that crossed the Brandywine and was the eastern border of the Shire. Beyond that even, far to the East, to mythical lands, lost forests and cities you could easily get lost in.

Unheeding, time went on and the Sun continued its ascension, and the Shire arose with the cries of the roosters. Yet another day, thought Niphredil. Another day in the Shire. Nothing unexpected ever happened here. Only trees, gardens and fields as far as the eye could see. Its people were little more interesting, peaceful and content with their quiet lives.

She loathed this simple and rustic beauty, for she had never seen anything else. She was tired of peace and calm, and wished to seek adventure beyond the border of the Shire. Explore the world, and maybe, hopefully, see some of the Fair People, the Elves.

Wearyingly dull were the days here, ever the same, ever unchanging, month after month, year after year. 33 years it had been already. Well, not quite. Tomorrow was to be her 33rd birthday. Tomorrow she would become an adult, as hobbit tradition wants it. Incidentally, she would become free to leave the Shire and live a life of adventure like her ancestors.

Always she had dreamt of adventure. To flee the heady atmosphere of her parents smial on the hillside of Hobbiton. To walk in the tracks of her legendary ancestors.

When she was but a young hobbit lass, she marvelled at the tale of the history of the ancient forefathers of the hobbits of the Shire. Indeed had the Shire not always been inhabited by hobbits. They originally lived in the upper vales of the river Anduin, which flowed east of the Misty Mountains, from the far northern mountains of Ered Mithrin to Gondor in the South.

About 200 years ago, gentlehobbits of great strength and honor led their people into a long voyage from their initial homes into the West, towards the Misty Mountains. To flee the rising evil of Mirkwood and the increasing number of Men, they began their wandering days.

Three hobbit kindreds, the Fallohides, Harfoots and Stoors, took three different roads. The Fallohides, people of the woods, crossed the Misty Mountains and met the Elves by Rivendell. The Stoors, people of the rivers, climbed the Redhorn Pass above the dwarven capital of Khazad-Dûm, which would later be known as the Moria. The Harfoots, people of the hills and closest to the hobbits we know, wandered further into the West, into Wilderland, until they finally settled into what we know today as the Shire.

Such a rich history, full of great deeds and accomplishments. Yet the hobbits of today were nothing like their wandering ancestors. Preferring peace and quiet to the risks and dangers of adventure, the old gaffers and gammers of Hobbiton said to her when she told them of her plans :

“You’re like all the young’uns now’days, restless young lass. Ye better worry ‘bout yer future, yer family and yer land instead of worrying ‘bout queer places you’re not meant to go. We don’t want no adventures here, thank you, brings only trouble and disquiet”.

As for her parents, well, they hadn’t answered when she told them of her plans of travel. Though that was as she had expected. They hadn’t uttered a word since they had returned from their own journey, to visit distant relatives in the East. Though that was almost 20 years ago now, they had remained obstinately mute and indifferent to the world around them ever since; accomplishing only daily tasks in the fields to assure their survival, like automats.

Their own daughter they ignored. The initial happiness to see them return quickly turned into tears, the tears into despair. She cried and wailed, in vain. The smiling and loving parents that had left her for their many months long journey in the East would never return. She’d never feel their embrace again. She mourned for weeks as desolation struck her. Eventually, she recovered, finding strength in the memories she reminisced of her parents before their doomed journey.

Thus she had to repress her excruciating loneliness and heartrending despair to live on, and for the better part of her late childhood, she had to care for herself alone. Even though she still lived in the same house as her parents, she was now living with strangers. Every now and then, the empty eyes of her parents woke the painful emotions she thought she had hidden far enough in her mind, never to be seen again. She wanted to be strong to be able to flee the Shire, now synonym of a lost times of happiness and an unending sorrow.

Friends came to see them and were met only with silence. Even today, she still remembers how apathetic her parents were against the increasing concern from their neighbours, despite the unease their state caused around them. Wholly detached from their environment they seemed to be, as if they didn’t belong to this world anymore.

After the final attempt the friends of Veryan and Nostariel Took made at making them reconnect with their surroundings, they gathered at their doorstep to decide what was to be done. Apprehending her parents absence of reaction, Niphredil had hidden herself when the four hobbits had arrived, but overheard their conversation when finally they came out, discouraged by the obtuse silence opposed to them. Bruno Bracegirdle, Pansy Proudfoot, Goldilocks Goodenough and Mirabella Mugwort shared their thoughts :

“I don’t understand what’s happened with them. Used to be very respectable folk. Very nice, well-spoken gentlehobbits. They were always ready to help me out in the fields, come harvest season. And their daughter was so sweet, as nice a young hobbit as you could wish to meet.” said Mirabella.

“They’ve been like that since they returned. All this adventuring must have knocked the senses outta them. Their relatives beyond the Brandywine River, they’re queer folk. Fool about with boats on that big river. Anduin they call it, or so I heard. There’re dark places out there, if all tales be true.” agreed Pansy.

“T’is what you get for leaving your home, going off to odd places with queer people and just altogether meddling with strange and unnatural things. Small wonder trouble came of it, I say.” said Goldilocks.

“Beats me why they left their young daughter alone, too. Poor thing.” vituperated Mirabella.

“Bloody adventures. Hate them.” put in Bruno.

“I think we better leave them alone. Can’t do much about their current state anyways, I figure.” Pansy, one of the longest friends of Veryan, Niphredil’s father, further added, “Never saw anything like them empty eyes of theirs, gave me shivers.”

They parted on these words.

Niphredil had wanted to hate her parents for leaving her alone, but could not. Instead, she hated this artefact they had brought back in their linen sack. One night she went with a torch to the hidden room her parents had stashed it away, out of sight. She wanted to burn the vile thing, to destroy the symbol of her parents doom. Opening the sack however, she saw nothing unusual, only an old parchment, similar to those she used to see her father write on. On the parchment lay several verses of an old traditional poem, scribbled down in the neat and tidy handwriting of her father. Determined, she had closed the sack and extinguished the torch. She couldn’t destroy the last token of her parent’s sanity. To this day, she remembers the entirety of the poem.

So it began.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

And so it goes. Tomorrow, she will set out at dawn.

This, dear listeners, was the first episode of our voyage in Middle-Earth; A Tale Of Wide-Eyed Wonder. Pack your bags, we’re going on an adventure ! Tune in next week for the second episode : The Old Forest.

You need to see the World !

Travel, what’s that? Some would say it’s going out of your home town, others would see things larger and say it’s leaving your country for a while. I would say it’s simply challenging yourself. No matter where you go, to me, a real trip is something that still looks impossible one week before the big departure. It’s one of those things you see others do, but don’t believe you can achieve yourself before you actually do. You wish you could do it one day and, in the end, you never really go for it.

So let’s do this! When can you go? Different possibilities for different ages. When you’re young, around 20-25, you can actually travel during summer holidays or take a gap year at uni or even right after, just before you jump into professional life. If you’ve already been working for a while, there are two possibilities: ask your company for an unpaid leave during the year or go when on holiday. Eventually, if you’ve retired, you can go whenever you want, you are one of those who have absolutely no excuses not to travel!

Where to go? That is entirely up to you, but I highly recommend a region of the world where nature has taken over. Places where you can look around and see nothing but breath-taking landscapes, where there’s no human beings within 100 miles at least. Why am I advocating that? Because I strongly believe that’s how it should be done if you want to experience something that really is going to change you.

Not convinced yet? Alright, here are some example of people who took the plunge.


Sylvain Kevin Islande

Who are they? Sylvain, 21, and Kevin, 23, are two students from Nantes in France.
What was their plan? Just the two of them, walking through the cold desert of Iceland. Two pals travelling with nothing else but two backpacks and a tent.
For how long? Only 10 days, as they had to carry with them all the food they will eat.
Why this destination? Contrasted landscapes, and a very sporty challenge.
Best memory? Smoking a cigar in a spot where the view were sensational.
Final words? “It always seems impossible before it’s done.”



World cuple tour

Who are they? Kendrick and David are a couple but also professional photographers living in Los Angeles in the US.
What was their plan? To travel America taking pictures each day with the exact same pose, a lovely ode to love.
For how long? Over one year, taking breaks at some points.
Why this destination? America holds quite a lot of amazing places, that’s all they needed to shoot their love pictures.
Best memory? When they found out their special pose had gone viral on Twitter and Instagram, couples started taking the same picture all over America.
Final words? “We went on a creative field trip, that’s it.”




Who is he? Oleg Grigoryev is a Russian photographer.
What was their plan? To see the beauty of the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan and their amazing lakes.
For how long? Several weeks, not more.
Why this destination? Imagine waking up each morning in a different place, with each day a different view when you open you’re tent.
Best memory? When he drank a warm coffee and the outside temperature were nice although he was high in the mountains.
Final words? “After that I just want to love people.”


And there you go ! You no longer have any excuses not to pack your things and just go for it.