Monday, 28 April 2014

Home sweet home...

My return journey finally reached it's destination this past week.
That is, I visited the town in which I was born.
Really, that in the end, is ultimately what this trip was revisit the village where I was born, spent the first decade of my life and made my very first friends in life.

I'm going to be lazy and copy and paste some comments I've made on fb during the past if you are on fb, this will look familiar. If not, it will be news to you, but I will modify and add lots more info as I go...

Day 1:  (fb) I woke up early today (Tuesday 23/4)  after another full day of visiting a family friend in Bruekelen. Got home at 11.30ish and still had to pack my case. Feeling I need a rest day but ain't gonna happen, as today I am finally off to Wolvega, the town where I was born and spent the first 9 years of my life. I will be staying with family friends whom I haven't seen since we left! More new experiences and LOTS and LOTS of talking I'm sure. My Dutch is improving to the point where I hope I don't come home with an accent!! HAHA. (fb)

I caught the bus to Centraal Station right across from Mieke's place (so easy!) with my trusty pink case in tow. Caught the train withoout any fuss and enjoyed the 2 hour journey to Wolvega, seeing the different towns along the way, as well as the now familiar farm houses with fields filled with cows, sheep and of course tulips. Just a side note:  train travel is not cheap here. A 2 hour journey is EU 22.10 (32.89AUD$) compared to $11.30AUD! and that's not even pensioner rate...
Walking down the platform at Wolvega, I recognized Jaap and it was so good to see him. Jumping into his vintage Volvo, we drove to his home where I met his wife Florence who had a cuppa ready for us. After some chatting, Jaap and I hopped in his car again and drove around the outskirts of the town to the River Linde, where my Dad and his friends swam in the summer months. Then popped into Henk Pesman's shop where we had a coffee and a chat and then onto a small quaint town called Giethoorn, where the streets are water and sometimes called the Venice of the North. We enjoyed a cool drink on the terrace of an old hotel and reminisced in the warm sunshine.
I've had such gorgeous weather here in Holland. The temperatures have been unseasonally warm and even hot, so I've been very blessed.

Ducks at Nieuwe Aanleg

Day 2:  After a great night's rest in my own room, in the roof of the house, Florence dropped me off at a park called 'Nieuwe Aanleg'(new creation{of a park} - it's no longer new of course as it was established about 180 years ago. More info here ) where we walked and played as kids. I took my time walking through the park and took lots of photos.
Nieuwe Aanleg (looking south)
Onto the adjoining Cemetary, where my paternal forebears are buried. It took some time to locate some of the graves, but I immediately recognized the beautiful angel statue, which stands in the centre of the old section. I always loved that angel as a child.
The Angel which my Dad loved so much
I wandered down to the town centre, past the old Town Hall, where my Opa officiated at the civil ceremonies every couple who marries must attend, past where my Opa's house used to be and down to where I went to school. That building also no longer exists and has been replaced by a rather ugly, low slung grey brick building. A pity I think...but everything must 'progress'.
My old home is now a whitewashed Chemist Shop - in the doorway where our front lounge once was.
Finally I walked up the main street to the house where we were all born. Now the red bricks are rendered a grey/white colour, the bottom of the building gutted to make room for a chemist shop. The huge 1st floor of the building, where our bedrooms were located is now completely sealed and no longer used. I bought a couple of cheap watches there just for fun.  
Florence and I trying on King's day hats at my old house.
 I spent the whole day walking and exploring til it started to rain around 5.30pm. Really enjoyed the day.

Back at Jaap's, Florence had a great dinner already prepared and at 8pm Jaap drove me to my second cousin Henk Pesman's home, where I met there 4 children and his wife Esther. A really great night and got home around 11.30pm. Sat up with a wine with Florence and Jaap til about 2am! fun, fun. :-)
With cousins Henk and Klaas

Day 3:   (fb) Third day in my 'home'town and staying with my childhood buddy Jaap and Florence Sleyt. Have visited most of my childhood spots walking around the village, bought something in the store which is located in the house in which I was born. Weird that. Visited my second cousin Henk and his wife Estherlast night here in Wolvega. Lovely family with four young kids who loved the little koalas etc I had brought with me for them from Australia. Today I'm visiting Tante Tinie, a 90 year old cousin of my mum's and I'm also visiting our old church where I will be treated to a pipe organ recital... played just for me. (fb)
The wonderful pipe organ in the church I attended in my childhood.
With my tante Tinie in her home (90 yrs old)
We used to sit on the cross seats under the windows.

(fb)This afternoon I went to my old church and was treated to a 1 hour private pipe organ concert by my very talented second cousin Klaas Pesman. I sat where my family sat on Sunday mornings and cried.  Lots of was just wonderful.
I also visited my 90 year old second cousin, my mum's cousin Tinie. As sharp as a button still. (fb)

I think going to my old church and my private organ recital would have to be the highlight of my Wolvega journey. It brought up so many memories of Sunday mornings, sitting in church with my family or with my Tante Tjits. Dropping coins into the plate, or even more so, onto the floor and getting my Aunty's elbow into my side. Quiet was optimum in those days. 
Listening to my mother sing, accompanied by the organist and standing up above the congregation.
Listening to the 'dominee' preach and in the meantime examaning the windows and the detail on the organ and pulpit. Most of all though, the organ filling the high ceiling with majestic sound today was so special that it made me cry. Cry more than I thought I would. Thanks to Klaas Pesman (2nd cousin) for playing so beautifully.

A visit to my second cousin (cousin of my mum) Tante Tinie who is 90 and still sharp as a button. Lovely chat, reminiscing about when I was little, what funny things I did and said etc, cups of coffee and off  we went, home for a meal and quiet evening. (I think...can't remember) at home. Another very late nights (early morning) and to bed.

Day 4.
Off with Florence for the day to visit her cousin and another childhood friend of mine - Piet VanderHoef and his family. Dutch Tompoesen and coffee. I couldn't finish mine (sooo much cream!) so Piet did. haha. Lots of talking again and of course reminiscing about old times.
Wigher, Nannie, Lukas, Piet VanderHoef
  Off to the country side to check out the very old farm house that Florence and Jaap's daughter Marlee are doing up. They've been at it for 14 years and more to do. It's located in a gorgeous little town Ter Idzard, which is the highest point in Friesland at 2 metres above sea level! Funny that, I reckon. We didn't stay for coffee, so on we drove, back to Wolvega, for some more sight seeing, shopping and lunch of Dutch croquettes with mustard and mayo, washed down with a cool soda squash.

 Back home, I added a few bits and pieces to my suitcase, another cuppa and off to the train station to say
our goodbyes.
With Florence
With Jaap (Jake)
   (fb) On the train from Wolvega back to Amsterdam. What a wonderful 4 days I've had! Thanks to my hosts Florence and Jaap Sleijt who fed me, drove me everywhere and spoilt me... enough can not be said about your hospitality and kindness. To Klaas and Henk for the wonderful organ recital and for a great evening at Henk' s home. Many new memories made and many old memories refreshed. (fb)


(fb)A lazy day indoors today after a fantastic King's Birthday Celebration in Amsterdam City. Unfortuately I forgot my camera and my phone!! Luckily Mieke's friend lent us her iPhone but I don't have the photos as yet. Amsterdam is awash with orange, the national flag and thousands of people walking the streets.Hundreds of medium and small, flat bottomed boats loaded with 30-50 people standing up in them, gently motor up and down the many canals. Everyone is dressed either fully in orange (The royal family belong to The House of Orange) or with a touch at least of orange or red white and blue. There are stalls everywhere in front of the houses, with regular folks selling second hand gear from their homes - clothes, bricabrac, furniture, soft furnishings, kitchen and table ware etc. It's loads of fun. Also people are barbequing on the boats and in the streets, there are food stalls everywhere loaded with Dutch goodies, fries with mustard and mayo in a pointy bag, croquettes and ofcourse everyone is jolly with lots of beer and wine flowing. We walked around all day, interspersed with coffees, fries and finished off with a wine before catching the bus back home. Thoroughly enjoyed our day. (fb)
Photo: Even the flowers are orange for the occasion!
Even the flowers are orange!
Here I am with an 'old man (wearing a mask) ad his wife with a fancy orange hat. This shopping centre is near my sis' home and completely surrounded by stalls and also inside the centre.

Photo: Here I am with an 'old man (wearing a mask) ad his wife with a fancy orange hat. This shopping centre is near my sis' home and completely surrounded by stalls and also inside the centre.
With some stall holders.

Mieke and I enjoying the sunshine and a coffee.


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Visiting my home town...

Easter has passed by rather uneventfully, as we spent the days visiting friends and did not get to church as it was a kid's service and neither of us felt like attending that.
Visited a family friend at her gorgeous home on the river Vecht at Breukelen a village 30 minutes away from here. Lots of talking about old times and new times interspersed with cups of Dutch coffee, lunch and a beautiful old style Dutch evening meal: loads of floury, tossed potatoes, lightly steamed broccoli and beans, with a onion and mushroom jus. Salad of fresh leaves, boiled egg, tomatoes and other goodies on the side, accompanied by a lovely glass of red. Dessert was cherry icecream! YUM!
We arrived back home at 11.30ish, when I still had to pack my suitcase for this week's foray back to the town where I was born.

I had better get moving as I need to shower, catch a bus into the city and then take the train to Wolvega where I will arrive around midday and picked up by another old friend of our family, with whom I used to play when I was a kid. He is married to a lovely Canadian lady, who is delighted that she will be able to speak English to her guest. I'll be staying til Friday as I want to be back here in Amsterdam to celebrate King's Day.  People here wear lots of orange on the day, because the Royal Family is of the House of Orange, so I have bought an orange wig (Steph eat your heart out!) which i will wear with my orange framed sunnies, my orange blouse and orange watch. I'm not sure my sis will want to sit next to me on the bus into the city, but I'm determined to be part of the fun.

Ok lovely family and friends, I had better scurry along and get ready.
Think of me travelling past meadows filled with dairy cows and lambs. Watch the thousands of waterways flashing by and generally enjoy my journey.

Off I go to begin the next, very much, the MOST important part of my journey...exploring the place of my childhood.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Photos for previous blog...

It's the next morning and I just couldn't wait for my photos to upload last night.

Here are some from the past week with my cousin Henk and Sonja, at my coursin Bert and Els Dijk's home, at the Street where we lived for a few months before travelling to Australia and at the beach on the North Sea. Hope you like them. x

PS: I'm having mega probs with loading these photos and they are totally mixed up...and we are about to go out for the day, so these will have to do.

Centraal Station, Amsterdam - on the way to Gouda
My lonely case at Amsterdam's Centraal, it was cold!

Huge old churches with bell towers are everywhere in these old cities.
One of the many mills at Kinderdijk. For some reason I cannot find some of my photos with more mills.

At Gouda at the Canal and sluice. Old buildings in the background

 The narrowest house in Holland. The one in the middle. It is just one door wide with 3 stories.
Henk and Sonja at the Biesbos...bootje varen. (fun in the boat...NOT) haha
With my cousins Henk and Bert Dijk, at Bert's home in Den Haag

In the dunes at the North Sea, Den Haag with Henk

Bert and Henk

View to dining and garden at Bert's house

Such a fun and loving person. My cousin Bert's wife, Els.
The flowers I gave Sonja and Henk with their gorgeous cat Olle.
At the Kinderdijk
Add caption
This is a little holiday home floating on the water, at right Living area, at left sleeping area.
 Both parties to the rescue. One of the boys ended up driving our boat while the other two floated alongside by hanging on to our boat with their hands. Such nice Dutch boys.

Els in front of their 3 story unit - a typial older dwelling in Den Haag.

It's been a little while...

It's been a week since I last wrote and what a wonderful week it's been.

Tuesday saw me venture out on my own for the first time in this Kikkerlandje (Little Frog's Land - as Holland is affectionately called by Netherlanders). There is an Bus terminus just across the square from my sister's unit, so it was just a quick walk with my suitcase rolling along behind me, to catch the bus into Amsterdam city. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the terminus which is situated on the large square in front of Centraal Station. People were milling everywhere in the huge station, but I managed to find a 'loket' (ticket office) easily and quickly. Platform 4 is where I needed to be, but I still had to wait quite some time before the train to Gouda would arrive. It really was very cold, so I headed for the open end of the platform to stand in the sun. In the end I nearly missed the train as the trains have the destinations on the back not on the front of the trains.
The train trip was comfortable and I enjoyed seeing the country side as we sped along. I arrived at Gouda about 50 minutes later and was greeted by my cousin Henk and his lovely wife Sonja. We all hit it off straight away and after hugs and (3) kisses, alternating between each cheek, we headed off to their home in the burbs. After a bread table lunch, we headed off into the ancient city of Gouda. It's a very old city, with many buildings dating from the 1500's or even earlier. The streets are laid with cobble stones or bricks and comfortable shoes are really a must. The Dutch mostly wear sturdy shoes and simple clothing such as jeans/pants and warm jackets. There is lots of short grey hair about and sometimes I find it rather hard to distinguish between men and women because of their similar clothing and hairstyles they wear, because of the cold and/or windy weather.
Daylight saving is also in force at the moment, so the evenings are long and bright. The weather has been very mild this spring, so you can stay outside into the evenings because it is still light.

Anyway, I had a great week with them. We had loads of fun reminiscing about our childhoods, parents, siblings and places we had lived. On Wednesday we went to the Kinderdijk (so called because a child was found there many years ago, drifting in the water in a basket, like Moses), where there are many windmills all in one place. Then to the Biesbos (reed wood) where we enjoyed an hilarious boat ride which ended in three young Dutch men having to rescue us from destroying the small boat because my cousin couldn't get the steering and power right, and kept steering us into the mud banks. We in turn rescued them, because their motor wouldn't start. After dropping the boys at the small river harbour, we three ended up sitting in the sunshine with a lovely white wine each for us girls and a Pils beer for my cousin, safely back on shore.

Thursday was wonderful, as we visited my cousin's brother in The Hague (Den Haag), a very different city from Amsterdam and Gouda. The buildings are quite different there, as are the wide and treed avenues and thoroughfares. I had a great time catching up with my cousin Bert and his wife Els, who live in a typical Dutch, older style unit. We browsed through an album he had put together about his parents, which also contained a number of photos of my dad, my mum and even us all as kids. So many memories. I also heard some new stories about myself as a kid, and also their view on why we left Holland and went to Australia. Very interesting.
After a lovely bread table lunch, we said our goodbyes and headed off to the North Sea for a walk in the sand dunes and the beach. It was special for my cousin Henk and Sonja, because it was there that they had scattered the ashed of their son, who died of MD some years ago.

Friday I insisted on a quiet day of shopping in Gouda with Sonja. We didn't go till  mid afternoon, but it was nice even so. I picked up a top and some Arnica cream for my aching hands, which has worked wonders for them.  We watched the very modern Dutch live production, 'The Passion' on TV on Friday night which was totally brilliant. Talked till 3am with my cousin that night. Next day we said our goodbyes and I headed back to Amsterdam on the train.

Got home and virtually immediately had to head off to the city once again, to attend a performance of the St Matthew's passion which was being held in an old Catholic church building, De Duif (the Dove).  I didn't think I'd really want to go, but went because we had bought tickets for it even before I left Brisbane. The church filled up slowly and finally when not a sound could be heard, the conductor waved his stick for the music to begin. Don't know what happened inside me, but I was sobbing as soon as the first notes filled the building. It was unbelievable...just seemed to throw up a whole lot of deeply buried emotions and memories. The music was brilliantly played, the singers were unbelievably talented and 2 1/2 hours went by so easily. Could have listened longer to such brilliance. Afterwards we savoured the beauty we had just experienced over a coffee, followed by a beautiful meal.  We headed home by tram and bus and got home around 11ish.

Well, that brings me to today.  We slept in, then had a lovely Easter brekky of cereal, softly boiled eggs, toast and cups of tea.  This afternoon we walked in Het Amsterdamse Bos (woods), got lost and finally found our way to a quaint farm house used as a pancake house. I had a huge pancake sprinkled with icing sugar, some tart strawberries and an absurd amount of whipped cream while Mieke had a bacon pancake. We washed it down with coffee and tea. Really was far too much cream and ended up eating only about a third of it...way too much of a good thing I reckon. Walked back to the car and then headed off to Mieke's friend's place for another cuppa, then home by about 9pm. Loaded up photos to my usb stick, wrote my blog and now will add  some more pics for you to enjoy.
Night all...missing you lots, but also enjoying all my new experiences. xo

Photos will be uploaded later. Sorry..x

Monday, 14 April 2014

Some quiet reflection...

I'm now well into week 2 of my return journey and so far, so much has happened that my brain feels quite full! haha.
I don't seem to easily remember things I've done, said or heard the day before at the moment. I am busy with planning what's next on the agenda and what to wear each day to suit this climate, that events and conversations slip into history faster than usual.
So here are a few of the differences between my life in Oz and here in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Dressing in clothing suitable for a colder/cooler climate, is proving to be quite complex for me. The days can start with brilliant sunshine, but within an hour or two, the clouds roll in and the lovely spring day turns quite cool. Or, a wind springs up out of nowhere, adding another dimension to the 'feel' of how cold or warm it is. So, when I'm dressing, I need to think about how my Queensland style winter clothes will be warm enough for a Dutch Spring day. I am learning fast that days can change to cool or quite warm within minutes, so I need to 'be prepared'! So, a camie first, then a tee or long sleeved light tee, then a jumper, topped by a cardigan. When going out, take off the cardy, then add a short jacket covered by a windcheater and finally a scarf. I do have a beanie, which I forget to take in my bag and not something worn here, so I may go and buy another type of head cover to keep my head cosy.  Then, when/if the sun comes out to surprise us, the reverse happens and the top layers come off but never far removed because the weather can change back to cool again very quickly.  Anyway, I am so fortunate to have come this year, because last year it was still snowing in April and I don't think I would have coped.

Rugged up for the cold
Who wants to walk on a 35C day? Not me, that's for sure. Who wants to walk up and down hills in the blazing sun? You got it, not me. in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, EVERYONE walks EVERYWHERE. Well, at least anything within a 1-2 or 3 km distance. Maybe not 3, because then they ride their trusty, rattly, Dutch style bikes.
So, seeing Mieke doesn't have 2 bikes here atm (her other bike is at the garden house) we walk.

We walked to:
  • church
  • the shops
  • to a friend's place and back
  • to the dyke and the farmlands
  • in the city
  • at Keukenhof
  • and ofcourse to the Rijksmusem after catching a bus into the city. 
  • up and down the stairs to her unit which is on the second floor
So, lots of exercise for me. Luckily Holland is totally built on flat land, most of which is below sea level, so that walking is,a pretty straight forward exercise. One benefit of walking is that it makes you nice and warm despite the biting wind (at times) and makes your cheeks rosy. Mine are a little too old these days to get rosy, but one can live in hope :-)
Then there are the stairs! Lots of them everywhere. In the city, at the shops and ofcourse in the unit buildings where most of the population live. Here, where I'm staying we need to get to the second floor, so there are 3 stairs to climb. There are no lifts here, so groceries and any kind of purchases need to be carried up the stairs.
So it's all quite different but very beneficial. I sleep brilliantly at night but wake up thinking about how much walking I'll be doing that day. :-) (smiling...) self talk:  "It's good for you Tricia!".

Most housing here in Amsterdam is in large Unit buildings or very small worker's cottages situated on the dykes, or rows of slightly bigger, semi detached houses. Most are very small compared to Aussie houses. Even our small houses seem larger than what I've seen here. My sister's one bedroom home is lovely and roomy though even though it essentially consists of only 4 seperate spaces - lounge, dining/kitchen, bedroom, entry/bathroom. Lots of light coming into a house is very important here as every ray of warmth is utilised and enjoyed, so houses have very large picture windows whenever possible. The curtains are rarely closed and you can look into people's homes as you walk by. This is regarded as normal as people actually like it that way. Seems strange to our way of thinking but here it is normal and almost desired.

 Yesterday we were at a friend home, who lives in a very unusual unit in the rounded roof space of her building. The windows here are fully sliding doors but there are no balconies! So she has installed some artistic railings to stop one stepping out into the air! When I mentioned that this would certainly not be legal in Australia, I was told that the Dutch feel they are all adults and therefore responsible for their own and their children's well being. So they have less regulations in place. Something to think about, as we have so many regulations in place in Oz. 
rooftop home in Amsterdam
Unit in the roof top space of unit building- view to the Marina

View from the main bedroom

Looking down the length of the one beddroom unit.
Access is via a very narrow and steep circular staircase. For furniture to be moved into her apartment, everything had to be winched in through the front windows, as nothing would fit up the staircase space. This house is in a very sought after area in a very old section of Amsterdam Noord (North). The ancient houses are actually built on top of the side of a dyke with the front of the old cottages at street level and the back of the houses descending down the outside of the dyke, thereby giving them another one or two levels. Behind most house in this area there are small canals, so lots of water everywhere and hundreds of small bridges that can open to let the small boats through. It really is very special.

I was just eleven years old when I left Holland. When we arrived in Brisbane, my mum decided we would speak English at home, because she needed to learn it and didn't want to be one of those mothers who went shopping with a child in tow to translate for her. So I very quickly lost my Dutch, until a few years later a family with 6 teenagers arrived from Amsterdam. I became friends with one of the girls and soon picked up the language again because they still spoke it at home. I've never really lost it since then. However! Having said all that, now, being here, I know my Dutch is not quite up to scratch. Going to the shops asking for things is ok. Talking with people about this and that on a daily level is ok. Talking with people about politics, religion, or anything more than light conversation is not ok. I'm struggling to translate things like 'free trade policy', or finding words for appliances or IT terms etc. On the other hand people generally are amazed that someone who has been away from their country for 58 years, speaks the language as well as I do. Must say though that my head aches with all the new informations (as I said earlier) and I wake up in the morning rearranging sentences in the correct order for Dutch, as they really can say things back to front to English. Or is it that English is back to front to Dutch?
As well, most Dutchies speak English very well and regularly include English words in their speech as a normal way of speaking, so that helps.

Latte Machiatte and Appel Taart.
There's lots of cheese about as is to be expected. Nothing new for me there, as I love my cheese and it's hard to change that in a girl from a dairy country. Coffee is best taken in coffee shops as Latte Machiato and resembles a three tiered drink - coffee, then milk, then froth - in a tall glass. Appel taart is my favourite so far, as other small cakes seem to be filled with loads of whipped cream and quite sweet.
Haven't tried anything typically Dutch so far as we mainly eat at home, because my sister if gf and gf foods are very hard to find in Holland. You can ask for them, but there's not much creativity in that area, so the meals are rather basic when eating out. I hope to go eat some more Dutch specialties when I'm with Dutch rellies and friends. I must eat a raw herring at a stall, as well as some croquettes. Will see how it goes.

So that's my little diatribe for today.
Today is washing and packing day, as tomorrow I head out on my own to Gouda to visit my cousin Henk Dijk, who I recently re-connected with on fb, but haven't seen in the flesh since the 1960's when he lived with us in Brisbane for two years. So that will be an adventure for me to catch buses and a train on my own.

More about that next time.
Enjoy your day, wherever in the world you may be this new day.

Please click on the photos for  a larger version.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Some more goings on

I have been in Amsterdam for just over a week and we have done so many things already! I had a list of things to do in Amsterdam and have just about ticked off every one of them.

My wish list of things to see inluded a visit to Keukenhof, the Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt's Nightwatch.
The Rijksmuseum was amazing, in that it has been thoroughly renovated over several years and has only just been re-opened recently. The people's entrance hall is magnificent and the structures that were built are an engineering feat...amazing stuff. See here for More about the renovations .

The amazing 4 story historic Art Library recently restored and open to the public.
Here are just a few photos of the hundreds I took, of our visit there.

1770's Delft Blue Ceremaic vases. The tall ones are to display single tulip stems in the little spouts on the sides

The new foyer and entrance court showing coffee/restaurant  with store beneath (downstairs)

The all important coffee time at the Rijks

The visitors crowding around to see the Nightwatch by Rembrandt

me with the Nightwatch. It's a huge artwork.
Mieke with Vermeer's streetscape that Dad loved so much

We have been to both in the first week. As well as that we have been to Edam,  a gorgeous little town not far from Mieke's house, where they make the famous Edam cheeses.

MS 'Ria' - on Het Ij
Me with my new friend Ria
On Friday we visited the parents of a friend , who live on a houseboat on Het Ij,- in Amsterdam. They have lived on this boat for many decades and have never lived in a house. It is very roomy and comfortable and recently motored down to France in it for a holiday. How good is that, to be in your permanent home on holidays! No packing, or organising someone to look after your place. They stock up with all their regular groceries and even oil for the engine before they set off for their journey. They are a very lovely, hospitable and kind couple, and we enjoyed our visit with them very much

Mieke with Ria and their keeshond

At Mieke's garden house
This past week we've also spent several days at Mieke's garden house, weeding the very large garden and planting some seedlings. There is just so much work to be done after the winter months, as well as that she was away in Australia for 6 weeks, so she is somewhat behind in the jobs that should be done in early spring. These garden complexes were opened up to the community after WWll for people who lived
 in flats and had no probability to acquire a garden of their own.(Some history about these gardens.) Each garden contains a very small house - about 6 x 6 metres each, which you can renovate however you like but you have to stay within the parameters of the rules laid down by the council governing these garden complexes. There are a number of these on the outskirts of Amsterdam and highly sought after when they are available for sale.

In the garden

In the garden

Anyway, with all the sightseeing, gardening, walking everywhere we go, I feel rather tired each night so I sleep very well.
The house I am staying in is a one bedroom unit but the rooms are roomy, so I sleep in the lounge or dining area and then each day the bed is folded up and put away...but it is a comfy bed and the rooms are centrally heated so it's very comfortable and plenty warm enough.

OK...It's taken me quite a long time to load these photos from my phone to my memory stick and then back into my it's goodbye folks for now.
Missing all my lovely family and friends in Oz but enjoying my time here immensely.