Local Heart, Global Soul

January 7, 2013

The Icing On the Blogging Cake is Very Sweet Indeed…

Filed under: Blogging & Writing,Kids and Family,Life — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One thing about blogging and following other blogs is that over time you learn about other people around the world, how they live, their interests,  travels both near and far and sometimes a little bit of magic happens along the way and you build up a relationship with the person behind the blog.

In my own experience this comes about because they take an active interest in your blog, they comment often and visit every time you post.

Generally we follow each other’s blogs because of shared interests like family life, cooking, travel or photography.

We all lead very different lives but there are threads woven into each of them that are shared connections and we can relate to these in each others blogs.

After getting to know these people better, sometimes we chose  few of these people to surprise with a few gifts that are local to us but definitely exotic to someone else on the other side of the globe.

I’ve just received not one but  two of these gifts this weekend and wanted to not just say a BIG  Thank You  to the senders but also tell you about the treats new to me (and possibly to you too!).

The first parcel (photo above) arrived from blogger GH from “Noodles with Butter”  http://www.noodleswithbutter.blogspot.nl/ and contained some beautiful postcards of the region she lives in, a Christmas card and newsletter (not pictured for privacy reasons due to photos of her daughter on the front), two key-rings, herbal tea, two packets of apple chips, some fruit bars,  some chocolate bars and a little plastic bag that contained some Washington Rain which made us giggle.

Last year we decided that when we travelled we would pick up a very little bag of sand or stones from beaches we have visited and I have an old printers type box that has lots of little compartments that we aim to slowly fill, this bag of rain is destined to join this collection.

Our kids love the dried fruit strips, which we call fruit “roll ups” after a favourite New Zealand brand of the same. (the USA version about three times the thickness of the New Zealand version but they are both delicious!)

My eighteen year old oven is currently dying a slow death and it’s temperature gauge is terminally ill so in recent months I’ve been looking for a new oven, one with a specific feature that’s proving hard to find: one that starts in temperature at 30 C instead of the usual 50 C, because then I could use my new oven as a dehydrator and make things like home-made fruit roll ups and beef jerky.

The second parcel (second photo) is from Tracy from MilkayPhoto http://milkayphoto.wordpress.com/  and the contents include Reeses peanut pieces and peanut butter cups, granola (a.k.a. museli where I come from) some marshmallow fluff, jif  peanut butter, some home-made rhubarb and strawberry jam, an amazing array of specialist salts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Danish Viking Smoked Sea Salt and Vanilla Salt sound particularly  tasty and  whilst I can’t partake due to my mushroom allergy, Himself loves mushrooms and is very much looking forward to trying out the Porcini Salt. There  are candy covered coffee beans (Himself pricked his ears up and grinned a lot at that one), some Tomato Jam, parsnips (I’d mentioned that they used to be hard to get here, but they are more easily available especially in the last year), some Crisco, a sort of baking butter.

There’s bacon spread (we giggled about that one because it sounded rather a strange product  and will look at the website provided on the label for some interesting ideas to use it with) and a vanilla chocolate sweet called the Charleston Chew which it is recommended both by Tracy and on the packet to place in the freezer and then break the frozen pieces to eat.

Since I read that earlier I placed one packet in the freezer and we shared one of the two strips with the family last evening… a total hit! Had I left our children alone with the other two packets, even unfrozen I think they might not  have been there when I came back, such was the popularity of this one!

Being a prudent parent I omitted to tell them that there was a second strip in the freezer … I think that Himself and I can quietly enjoy that one by ourselves LOL. Naturally we haven’t tried everything in both the packages yet and will very much enjoy rationing out the treats, although I predict that the sweeter items will disappear very quickly. A huge Thank You and big thumbs-up to both GH and Tracy !

Both these blogging friends have excellent blogs which I can highly recommend visiting. Of course I blog because I love writing and taking photos and because it’s an on-line journal of all of our Life’s adventures, but the icing on the cake is that I also get to meet some brilliant people from all around the world. And the friendships I have made show just how sweet that icing is…

January 6, 2013

Our Fears are Extinguished As we Leave a Morning of Fire and Ice…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For my last post in Schoonhoven we are being treated to  multiple displays from the Schoonhoven Brandweer (Fire Service) as part of National Open Monumentendag (Open Monument Day).

This is where numerous organisations open their doors for the day so that the public can learn more about what they do.

Little Mr. has discovered that this fire station is hosting all manner of activities and so we’ve stayed here to take a look and it’s turned out to be very interesting and well worth the detour.

There’s a trailer here too where two of the sides  drop down and the fire service can take  it out for demonstrations in the community. In this demonstration involves learning what to expect if you ever should need to use your home fire extinguisher and is an excellent way to do it in a controlled environment.

We first watch a teenage girl have a go and then I ask the fireman if he could please do a demonstration so that I can take photographs for my blog,  something he is more than happy to do. He says that if anyone ever has the opportunity to have a go in a controlled situation like this one, that they should do so because it will given you real confidence and an extra element of calm that can be a life-saver should a fire break out in your home or workplace.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m a bit too tired after all the walking I’ve done on crutches today to attempt this, but directly after these photos were taken Himself had a go and said that the experience was a real  revelation: knowing  afterwards what to expect definitely made him far more confident that he could handle our extinguisher at home without hesitation if ever the need arose.

Lastly there was the decompression diving tank, with the duikteam (diving team) divers inside.

It was difficult to get photographs because reflections in the very thick porthole windows showed the background behind me, but I managed a few interesting shots, even right to the other side of the tank where people were looking in windows on the opposite side.

We manage to see everything on display and are only a little behind schedule in getting back to the car and back to Den Haag (The Hague) for our 2.00 p.m. appointment. The whole family is unanimous  this day out has been a total success, even with the combined themes of Fire and Ice (cream)!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 5, 2013

When Fundraising Reaches Scary New Heights…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Continuing from the previous day’s post, we are enjoying the displays and events put on by the Schoonhoven Fire Service as part of  “Open Monumentendag” (Open Monument Day) where various organisations open their doors so that the public can gain an insight to what they do.

One of the things that this local Fire Service also does is to raise funds for various projects and for this  they have an brilliant  idea.

The public can take a ride in the cherry-picker “basket” on the end of the biggest extension ladder and in an ingenious twist the ladder extends from the vertical great height to a horizontal one over the roof of the fire station where a large red bucket (or is it an old oxygen tank?) sits waiting for their donation to be deposited.

Himself and I asked the kids if they wanted a ride in this too and confessed our secret relief to each other afterwards when both children looked horrified at the idea and swiftly declined.

Having no head for heights ourselves we reassured them that not wanting to go on this was absolutely fine with us too and I told Kiwi Daughter afterwards that I found the height that this ladder went to rather scary, so didn’t blame her in the least.

It’s certainly a brilliant idea, and I wish I was brave enough to have enjoyed what must have been some fabulous views from so high up. Maybe if the opportunity ever arises again I should stop being a cowardly lioness and summon some courage to give this a go.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 4, 2013

Pincers to the Rescue: a Coconut Crab Would be Proud…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our family day out in Schoonhoven has taken an unexpected detour as we discover that today is also “Open Monumentendag” (Open Monument Day) when Little Mr. found a local Fire Station giving displays and information.

We arrive just in time to see a crash dummy in a car that’s been in a car  “accident” and a demonstration of how the fire service use their tools and training to cut the car open to extract the “victim”.

It’s amazing to see that sometimes a low tech solution is the best one as a firewoman sticks what looks like a wide roll of heavy duty sellotape onto one of the car windows, after pressing it to the glass she then smashes the glass with a special mallet and hey presto, lifts off all the broken pieces of glass (still in the shape of the window) stuck to the tape for clean, easy and swift disposal.

On the other side of the car a fireman is in the back seat keeping the head and spine of the “victim” stable whilst colleagues use massive hydraulic snipper claws (yes thére’s probably do have an official name for them but I have no clue what it might be) to first remove both the doors from the car body and then chop through the pillars between the front and rear seat section of the car.

There’s a dull thud as the hydraulic claw crunches through the metal… children, definitely not a hands-on toy for you to play with, as it would make rather literal short work of fingers or limbs. The spinal board is levered expertly into the back of the car and I’m surprised to see that once al hands are on deck that getting the “victim” out is a smooth operation that only takes a few minutes.

Mission accomplished, the “victim” is stretchered away for “treatment” and we turn out attention to the “claws” used to extract him…

Humans regularly steal brilliant ideas from nature and Tasmanian King or Coconut Crabs may be two of the biggest crab species in the world, but I dare say they would be very jealous of the pinching power of these man-made claws…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 3, 2013

A Monumental Turn Of Events…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are still in Schoonhoven and have sampled the ice-cream and had a look around.

We take a look at the bricante second-hand bric-a-brac market that was advertised in the sign nearby.

We walk back to the car, well at least I’m walking, bringing up the rear as the kids run ahead and  Himself  jogs to keep up with them.

They disappear out of sight but after ten minutes or so Little Mr. runs puffing back and can barely speak he’s so excited.

By sheer co-incidence today when we were in Schoonhoven (the 8th September 2012) happens to be “National Open Monumentendag” in the Netherlands (Open Monuments Day) but it’s not just monuments that are open to the public but all sorts of local, national and international organisations as well.

By sheer chance the parking space that Himself secured earlier is right next to the local fire station and the Schoonhoven Fire Service is talking part in Open Monumentendag too, so there’s a whole display of vehicles and a heap of activities.

This certainly did not escape the attention of our seven year old Emergency Services fanatic who’s arrived back smothering me in hugs and  begging and pleading for me to let him detour there.

We have an appointment back in Den Haag (The Hague) at two, so need to leave at 1 o’clock at the very latest to get there on time, and with our spare hour had intended to stop somewhere for a quick toasted sandwich or pancake on the way back but decide that if we are really quick then we could see the events here and then just grab a sandwich to munch in the car on the way home instead.

Little Mr. almost bounces up the street with joy as he dashes back to tell Himself that Mama didn’t mind having her lunch plans shelved in favour of looking at fire engines. O.K.  what actually what really happened is that he ran back screaming  “Ik mag! ”  (I may!) over and over on the top of his lungs and Himself worked out the rest without any difficulty.

I’ve a good mind to tell the Fire Service that they don’t actually need sirens on their engines and that the “greener” version would be the shrieking joy of seven year old boys who appears to easily outdo the siren in decibels. Behind the Fire Station are a grand assortment of vehicles, and actually it’s an education for me too as I see the huge variety of equipment on board.

I knew that axes and cutting equipment would be standard issue but was surprised to see rakes and brooms there too (for clean up after road accidents or something else?) So much to see … Let’s take a look around.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 29, 2012

Sometimes You Just Have to Try a New Palette…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have reached our destination for our day out and special treat in Schoonhoven.

The place we were looking for is called “Proef” (which translates into English as “test” or “try”).

Proef” in this instance though is the name of an ice-cream parlour!   Here they make their own ice-cream and you can buy a special card that allows you to test different flavours of  the ice-cream menu. For us, my work gift card covers a five flavour tasting for each family member.

There were squeals of excitement when the kids realised what this treat involved, Little Mr. did a rather good Tigger impression bouncing around with joy and the grins were so big they almost split their faces in half. The Mama and Papa are given to understand that this outing is more than acceptable.

The kids spend an inordinate amount of time deliberating over which five flavours they should each choose between: Vanilla, Chocolate, Pistachio, Orange Mascarpone,  Schoonhoven’s Silver (a local speciality), Cherry, Smurfs (yes,  it was blue ice-cream). The range of flavours isn’t huge but the ice-cream is hand-made and I’ll take quality over quantity any day.

The day is almost the hottest of the summer almost 30 C and most welcome after many days of rain. It’s relaxing to be taking  seat in the cool of the ice-cream parlour and waiting for our orders to arrive.

The plates are crockery ones in the shape of artists palettes, there are  five “holes” (indented cups) for the different flavoured ice-cream but in practice they use two of these for the cream and topping that goes with the order and two scoops of ice-cream go into the centre of the palette board.

The place is understandably busy, as per my usual habit I try and take photos as people leave the tables or just before new people arrive. There’s a stream of people (especially families with kids) at the front of the shop getting ice-creams to take away.At the back of the shop is a gift area, these “dual purpose” shops have become quite popular recently I think.

There’s a cellar area under the main shop (very common in Europe) but in this case they have opted to keep the original entrance to the cellar in the middle of the shop , which would have been a rather dangerous idea had they not ingeniously covered it with a very thick plexiglass cover. This allows you to see the “history” of the worn brick steps below the floor whilst still giving the owner access to valuable storage space (Dutch buildings are generally very small, and land is expensive so every centimetre of space counts!)

Outside there is music, and people marching past on the street… there is more going on here today that just ice-cream! But in the meantime, we settle down to eat our artistically arranged and soon to be rapidly melting assortment of ice-cream, Little Mr. managing to seemingly smear more over his face than made it  into his stomach.

It may not look like a lot of ice-cream but three out of the four of us struggled… and then heaped excess ice-cream onto Himself’s plate in an attempt to make him struggle too. I think we almost  succeeded.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 25, 2012

Wishing You a Smile, this Merry Christmas…

Filed under: Kids and Family,Life,The Hague,The Netherlands — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m going to be really honest and admit that I have no clue why many North American’s use the phrase “ Happy Holidays”.

I know that not everybody in the world celebrates Christmas, or indeed may even have faith in any particular religion. For me that matters less because I believe that each person has the right to their own view and as long as they respect the views of others.

At the moment I am unable to drive because of my foot injury and so work pays for a taxi to and from work, I have a regular driver, who just happens to be Muslim. He observes Ramadan and Eid and we use the opportunity to learn more about the customs we each hold dear.

I know he doesn’t celebrate Christmas but he has no problem to wish me a Merry Christmas just as I wished him a happy Eid celebration earlier in the year.

Neither of us observes the other’s celebration but we like to extend our support to the other knowing that it’s important to the other’s family and friends. Harmony is different notes arranged together not a collective of the same note played all at the same time.

So just as I would wish someone a Happy Hanukkah , Rosh Hashanah, Eid Al-Fitr, Easter, Diwali, or Ramadan celebration, I now extend very Happy Christmas Celebrations to all who observe it, in whatever capacity.

Recently, world events involving children have left us with tears and breaking hearts, but ultimately one child was born (symbolically) on this day to relieve the heartbroken and to dry the tears.

Therefore for this post I’d like to leave you with a smile as I present a compilation of some of the smiles my children have given me.

I always try to jot down the incident as soon as possible after they happen, but surprisingly it’s been so long since I posted some of these that some of them took place quite a while ago… never mind, the smile is still the same. Enjoy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

***

Kiwi Daughter: I have an idea, when our little TV breaks down and you buy a new big one for the living room can I have the old one for my room?

(two second pause as she computes the logic of that, then giggles) “… err,  that isn’t right is it? ‘cos the old one would be broken!”

(Our answer is simple: Yes, you may have the little broken TV in your room (if that floats your boat LOL) but ” No working one , or  computers)

***

Himself went into the kids bedroom to wake them both up for school. Little Mr. usually chirpy first thing in the morning woke up on this day bleary eyed, sat up in his bed, looked around and asked “Papa, what did we do with the two people we saved?”

Clearly his fascination with anything ambulance, police  or fireman and had carried over to his dreams and he had been busy dreaming of rescue missions… Himself told him “I don’t know my boy but you are very brave to have been rescuing people”.

***

Little Mr aged 6 has come home with his first homework assignment: he has to write about his favourite fairy tale and then write one himself, with pictures.

I was busy helping Kiwi Daughter with a maths homework game she has to play, reading and a spelling test/revision so Himself took Little Mr to the heaving kid bookcase to look for a favourite out of the many many favourites.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Later Himself comes back to me laughing and tells me “Little Mr has chosen the book  “Jack and the Beanstalk”, but  announced that he hasn’t gotten around to starting writing about it yet, because he still doesn’t know that the beans are talking about

An unwittingly beautiful play on words Little Mr.,    Bravo…

***

Little Mr. wanted a toy plane in the shop but it cost Euro 20 and he only had Euro 3,– from his piggy bank to spend. I explained that he didn’t have nearly enough money and advised he to look at some of the small Lego figures instead.

The shop was quiet and one of the assistants (a very young woman) was pricing stock on an shelf a little further along.

Little Mr. was silent for a few minutes and then said “Mama, do you think I have enough money to just buy the wheels of the plane then?”  Trying had not to burst out laughing I explained that the shop doesn’t let children buy just  “parts” of toys… because then some other child would not be very happy if they bought the plane later and discovered that it had no wheels.

Little Mr. “got” that, but meanwhile the young lady shop assistant was wiping away tears of laughter and was trying (and mostly failing) to keep control of her mirth, which made it really hard for me to keep a straight face too.

Suddenly I was forced to pretend I had a sniffle so that I could  blow my nose, wipe away tears and use the moment to compose myself.   Luckily Little Mr. was so seriously concentrated on his decision making process that he was oblivious to both of us,  but clearly this comment made this young shop assistant’s day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

***

Little Mr. suddenly started a conversation asking me why in the last weeks everyone likes puppies so much.

I replied: “lots of people like puppies but sadly not everyone can have one“( thinking that this is leading to another plea for the pets that he knows we can’t have since Kiwi Daughter and I are both allergic to animal hair and I also to feathers).

Little Mr. gives me a quizzical look and says “No, no, everyone who wants one can have one I think… lots and lots of people on the TV have puppies, the people on the sports have puppies, the people on the News have a puppy, even the people on the Dancing all have a puppy (we have been watching Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC)  and lots of other people have a puppy too…  “

Now I’m getting  rather confused, I certainly haven’t spotted any dog invasions on Strictly Come Dancing and nor have dogs been on the News much of late.  “Do you mean that everyone has a dog, Little Mr.? I haven’t seen any dogs?!”

Little Mr. shoots me a funny look that shows that he finds my stupidity very frustrating and sighs… “Noooo,  Mama,  not “dogs”.. I don’t know the real word, it’s a bit hard to say so I call them puppies, you know, puppies, puppies,  the red things we  wear when we have to be quiet when all the people died”  Ah Ha! the penny drops, he doesn’t mean puppies, he means  “Poppies!”

Of course,  as a bilingual family we watch both Dutch TV and the BBC from the UK… and the UK celebrated  their Remembrance Day on 11th November and Little Mr. Knows poppies from the New Zealand and Australian commemoration of ANZAC Day.

***

Little Mr. at dinner table… “Papa, did you go to school?”

Himself looks rather surprised at the question, whilst Kiwi Daughter almost choked on her food laughing.

***

I hope that no matter where you are and what you do today, that your day is an especially Happy one. Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2012

I NEED a Giraffe …And You Have Less Than Five Minutes

Filed under: A sketching Journey,Art,Kids and Family — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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“CC”  a fellow blogger from “Slightly out of sync…”  inspired this post by showing me this one:

http://slightlyout.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/that-creative-bug/

I mean how often can it be is that someone posts a giraffe drawing,  just short while after you’ve been asked for a drawing of a Giraffe ?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Actually “ask” isn’t quite how it happened: it was more of a demand and Little Mr was in no mood to wait for patient studies and careful detail since for whatever reason, he “needed” his giraffe sketch quickly.

He hovered impatiently bouncing up and down from one foot to another whilst I used Google Images and typed in “giraffe” to remember what the spots looked like (and the face and the ears and the…)  and after a quick scan of the page a stubby finger went out with an order “That One!”.

I suggested  a different one (because it looked easier to draw since it was in profile)… Nope nothing doing,  here he was with  pen and paper and a totally expectant look on his face that his mother could surely deliver the goods. (sigh)

At least I know that Little Mr’s artistic standards are low enough that there will be no criticism. One good thing at least.

The rough sketch is barely taking shape when his small voice says “finish it quick because I need to colour it in”… and this is when the truth emerges that they are due to visit the zoo and he confesses that he’s supposed to have done a drawing in his book already himself.

He’s now annoyed that I did this on a piece of paper and not directly into the book. I tell him he may copy mine but that he needs to do is own homework. Himself appears and clarifies matters, it’s not homework apparently,  just extra decoration and the kids could have cut a picture out of a magazine if they had wanted to.

Strangely enough we do not happen to have magazines laying around containing images of giraffes. Ok, then no problem. I get arms flung around my neck in a spontaneous hug for my efforts with a muffled “Thanks Mama!” from the head buried in my shoulder.

He reluctantly lets me take a photo before he snatches it away and runs off to find a glue-stick.  I have a lot of admiration for CC’s artistic efforts: giraffe’s are  far harder to draw than they look.

December 14, 2012

Up, Up and Away!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are spending a hot 2012 summer’s day at the Space Expo in Katwijk, The Netherlands. One of the very special things about this place is that you may choose to buy one ticket or two when you arrive.

The first ticket is admittance into the Space Exhibition building that’s I’ve just shown you parts of, and the second ticket is for a guided tour of the European Space agency in the massive complex behind us.

There are however a few rules to this tour: there’s a minimum age limit of 10 years of age and there’s a warning that much of the tour involves fairly fast paced walking and stairs.

The tour lasts for one and a half hours too so this is not physically possible for me to manage on crutches. Little Mr. doesn’t meet the age requirement and of course nor do the babies in our extended party. It ends up that the other two Mama’s stay here looking after their babies and as I put it to him: Little Mr. looks after me.

The Papa’s and older kids headed off to the Space Train parked out the front and were whisked away for the tour whilst we finished off looking around the exhibitions.

Little Mr. found something he coverted in the gift ship out the front and then we all headed out to the play area outside, and ordered lunch under the parasol shade at one of the tables.

Little Mr. was delighted to find that if he polished off his bread roll, that “helping Mama” also involved fetching ice-cream from the Café.

Whilst the playground was a hit, we chanced upon extra entertainment when one of the staff bought out some apparatus, and what appeared to be a birthday party group came out to make water rockets in the open area at the front of the building.

Making a water rocket involves attaching an empty 1.5 litre (2.63 pints) plastic bottle to a tripod that’s fitted with a hose and a hand pump. Pumping the handle fills the bottle with water until the pressure builds up so far that the bottle is launched into the air… the water exiting the bottle under pressure acting as the rocket “fuel”.

It’s fun to watch and it takes rather a lot of photo’s before I can get some that show the launch process and the bottles in the air. In one photograph I’ve circled the bottle because I thought it was harder to find.

I also laughed when I looked at another of the photos on the computer afterwards, everyone is staring skywards to the right, searching for the bottle, but it’s actually behind them on the left of the photo, just above the Dutch flag. I zoomed in on that photo and took a screen-shot of the zoomed area because it wasn’t easy to pick up on the full sized photo.

The others returned enthusiastic about their tour and after they had had a bite to eat we all headed back home… an excellent day out for families, even with that something extra in the form of the additional tour for the older kids. I’d have no trouble to recommend this place to families, we all loved it here!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…close-up of part of previous photo:

space museum 8l close up edit (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…And then they look completely the wrong way!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…It’s hiding over here!…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 13, 2012

I Spy as Our Kids Get Spaced Out…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are still looking around the Space Expo in Katwijk, which is also the visitor centre and informational arm of the European Space Agency complex situated next door.

The three families continue to discover all the exhibits and there is something for everyone to delight in.

One interesting feature is a set of three reclined seats set into pod-like modules with a large screen in the ceiling and lights and “controls” in front of them.

The kids can make themselves comfortable in one of the seats and as the film commences they get to “feel” and see the experience of what it would be like to take off and return on a Soyuz rocket and to add to the realism their seats vibrate, move and there are sound and lighting effects galore.

What the kids don’t  know is that a short distance away, the same film is played on a screen but  included above the film are real-time camera images of each of the face areas of the pods as they are spied on by three cameras. This means you can secretly watch your kids faces as they experience the surprise and amazement of various parts of the “journey”…  in fact there were also a few startled shrieks and “woooo’s !” at various points as well as some embarrassed giggles.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The children’s images are not recorded at all, that’s for the parent to do on their own camera,  the if there is no kid in a pod then the image area just shows the empty pod.

Because I didn’t want photos of my kids faces on this blog, I waited until they had left the pods and the movie sequence (on a loop) started again and just took some photos of the pods, this time sans kids.

There is a lot of detail in the Exhibition Centre, even the litter bins are shaped like rockets and in one area you can see a corner of a 1950’s room so that you can appreciate the technology of the time (or lack of it, to the astonishment of our kids).

We are lucky in the fact that we’ve come here on one of the hottest days of the year… the beach nearby has what looks horrifically like standing room only as we pass by and yet here we have the place pretty much to ourselves. I think that there may have been 50 visitors in the whole place whilst we were there, so there was never more then one  other kid in front our groups kids for any interactive activity and to be honest they had most of the activities to themselves.  I’d totally recommend this place in the height of summer: cool,  quiet, interesting, unhurried and bliss!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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