Kiwi Daughter has two “best best” friends with whom she has shared a class for the last four years.
At the beginning of last year one of them announced that her father’s job was being relocated overseas due to company restructuring, so the whole family would be leaving the Netherlands during the 2012 summer school holidays.
All of the girls were sad it was happening but understood that sometimes families have to move to where the work opportunities are.
Kiwi Daughter had been talking for almost a year before this about a wish to swim with dolphins one day but our travel schedule had not allowed us to be anywhere where this was possible and a quick internet search had revealed that it was an expensive business too, often with age restrictions so Little Mr. could not be included, so we more or less put the idea on the back burner as not really a high priority.
When the news came that this best friend would be leaving, we decided that we wanted to do something special that would be a lasting memory for the girls to share.
Sleepovers and baking days were struck off the list as not having the wow factor and all of the sudden Kiwi Daughter brought up the topic of the dolphins again, wondering of maybe the three girls could swim with dolphins and if we could suggest that the two families who would be staying in the Netherlands could pay half each for the girl who was leaving.
We spoke to the other parents and they thought it was a brilliant idea.
There also needed to be two adults in the group: I am not yet fit enough and Himself didn’t want to, but luckily one parents in each of the other families decided they’d love to do this too and one even wanted to include another of their kids to make the required six in the group.
The age requirement was eight years of age so Little Mr. was too young but he was happy with the promise that we could do something at a future date when he was old enough if he was still interested then.
This is how we come to be heading out on just before the summer to the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk.
Harderwijk used to be a fishing port on the Dutch coast of the Zuiderzee. This became the IJsselmeer (pronounced “Ize El meer”) in the north of the Netherlands. It’s seen many changes in the last century as first the Dutch closed the IJsselemeer off from the sea with a massive sea barrier called literally the “afsluitdijk” (closing off dike) and then proceeded to reclaim 1,419 km2 (548 sq miles) just off the Harderwijk coast to produce what would in 1986 become the the world’s largest artificial island and the new Dutch province of Flevoland.
Now a relatively narrow strip of water connects Harderwijk to the sea, so although it hasn’t altogether lost it’s seafaring traditions, they have been dramatically downsized over the past century.
Once we get there we start to look around for the other two families…
A witty Dutch nautical pun on the word for lavatory: “w.c”