Local Heart, Global Soul

April 27, 2013

Jumping Into a Bath Fitted With Cannons!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As per yesterday’s post we are in Rotterdam, at Plaswijkpark.

By sheer chance (because after we had paid and left the front entrance building the heavens opened and we were getting severely rained on)  we looked for the first indoor place we could find.

The first place was a restaurant but none of us wanted food yet, and the second inside building was one under construction: but the construction was mostly on the outside of the building and the inside was open.

This is the indoor play area and to be honest,  if you are a local thinking of coming here with your kids,  head to Plaswijkpark as soon as it opens and then to this building  immediately because I’m certain that once it gets busy the place will rather literally be crawling with kids.

For instance there are two large trampolines, ingeniously made to look like four-poster beds (the  bed side “canopy” being safety nets) but there’s a maximum  of two kids per trampoline so I can imagine big queues here on busy days, or littler kids being overwhelmed by boisterous bigger kids. By coming early and coming straight here our kids got to play on everything before the masses arrived and once it got busier they were happy to escape outside.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There is a network of raised tunnels with nets, slides etc with many surprise exits, for instance the bottom drawers of the oversized blue wardrobe.

There are massive “pillows” which I think were probably filled with polystyrene balls and covered with  firm vinyl fabric, they weren’t really “soft”  but they would certainly break a fall.

The soft play area for babies and toddlers had blocks shaped like Liquorice Allsorts… even the stairs up also had an additional slide  on the “down” side and a climbing wall up with shoes for footholds!

A close second favourite to the trampoline with our kids was the “bathroom” complete with two oversized “bathtubs” (of a sort) at end of the room that each contain  four “cannons” that fire the balls using compressed air.

These blue coloured balls are far softer and lighter than the usual ones you find in kids play areas and I can vouch for the fact the even a close range hit doesn’t hurt at all.  Kids in the “baths”at each end can fire the balls at each other.

In the middle of the room are red and blue drums  attached to chutes:   balls can be loaded into these from the floor and at a certain moment a light goes on and compressed air pushes them up and back to the “bath” nearest to them: they arrive by falling out of the giant shower-heads above each of the baths and fall onto the cannon firing kids. Every new kid who doesn’t know this yet gets a surprise the first time the balls fly down on them… naturally our kids too …ingenious!

The building work was going on at a frantic pace outside, there are a lot of national public holidays in the Netherlands in May and some schools have mid term holidays so they were working  hard  to be ready for a grand opening that will take place in early May 2013.

(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)

…A  new indoor picnic area being finished…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 25, 2012

Weird Science with Cans, Fish Tanks and Lamb Chops all Help with Bouncing Back…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The evening of 23rd December 2011, after a tumultuous afternoon full of tears, fears and children’s general earthquake meltdown, we decided to try and lighten the evening by going ahead with the BBQ that we had already planned with friends.

Little Mr. wasn’t keen on going inside their house, (well any house at that point, actually) but was enticed by the very down to earth and matter of fact attitude of our friends daughter and foster daughter.

We had a chat to both privately about our kid’s afternoon reactions and they were quick to tell us kind heartedly that they would be sure take great care of them whilst they were playing together and would be careful to make sure that they felt really safe.

We arrived as our friends were cleaning up the mess that the quake had once again given them… the most pressing had been the rescue of the family goldfish, the tank got shaken off the chest of drawers it was on and toppled onto the floor.

Quick thinking and even faster action saw the girls save the fish, now all that remained was to clear up the sodden books on the bookshelf, dry out the wall and carpet and general cleanup of everything that had been displaced by the shaking.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Outside the Dad of the family was cleaning up by the garage door… there had been a neat stack of full soft drink cans sitting between a sturdy wood cupboard and the spare fridge-freezer and multiple cans  exploded, somehow the force of the liquid ripped the can open around the tab line and everything blew out under pressure.

What was particularly bizare was that although the concrete garage floor was a mess with various overflowed soft drink puddles, the cans themselves looked completely undented on the sides , and expect for the obvious damage near the tabs there was no evidence that that they had been squashed or even slightly dented at any point at all.

I’m supposing that the speed and force of the vibrations though the ground must have been enough to jiggle the contents to bursting point as no other logical explaination fits.

The cans had been neatly stacked between two solid objects and maybe because they lacked the space to allow movment in any direction except “up”, all the energy was concentrated in that direction? Hmm who knows, and stupidly  I forgot to take any photos of the cans but it was certainly some of the strangest earthquake damage they had seen so far.

The Kiwidutch kids were pleased to help out with the fish tank drama and relaxed visibly before dinner. The reassuring words and gung-ho attitude of the host girls,  did wonders as these Christchurch kids  brushed off fear completely ( publicly at least) and just got on with life.

I’m really proud of them because they are living in a house with some horrendous cracks in the walls, foundations and ceilings. In fact part of the house has sunk and is breaking away from the rest of the house and with each cluster of bigger aftershocks it’s getting worse.

In spite of this they are living in a zone classed as “Green”(deemed fit for repair) but massive repiling of their house will be necessary as well as other damage repair and there is now a battle between CERA and their Insurance company as to who is liable for what, so the whole situation is really stressful and there is little hope (realistically) of a quick solution.

They have every right to be completely and utterly stressed but are soldioring on as best they can whilst  they wait for the repairs to begin.  I’m amazed they re handling it as well as they are.  I’m not altogether sure that I would be.

When we talked about what we fancied on the menu several days ago, the subject of lamb chops came up as a suggestion from us. We then learned that the price of lamb has gone up considerably  in New Zealand recently and it’s been a shock for our lamb loving friends, so it’s been religated to “treat” status.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m afraid that when I heard the prices they mentioned I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud … and when I told them what we  paid for lamb chops and leg roasts in The Netherlands they were truly horrified. (between double and triple the price)

We therefore  very happily arranged that our contribution to the meal would be lamb chops and when we arrived with three trays of them they almost fainted… “we will never manage all those” they said… but they were sooo good, from BBQ to table they didn’t stand a chance as  we lamb-chop deprived diners enjoyed every last one of them.

Kiwi Daughter was now more relaxed and wanted to go on the trampoline, she took turns with the other girls but Little Mr was still in scared limpet mode so we didn’t push him to participate.

The Dad of the house then said to Kiwi Daughter, lets do some tricks on the trampoline together.. she was a little nervous at first as they had to bounce in complete synchronisation… he held her left hand with his right hand and when they got to a decent height he gave her a big boost with his arm on the up-bounce an she flew up really high. He was of course still hanging onto her hand so she was in no danger of flying off anywhere.

Once she mastered the technique of the synchronised bounce , she even managed to dare to reach out with her other hand on the big up-bounce to touch the fronds of the punga tree above.

I’ve managed to master the art of exceptionally bad photo-editing to show you a shot of the up-bounce trick without actually showing the participants. No, they aren’t ghosts, even though Kiwi Daughter’s face did a good impression of one earlier in the day during the more frightening moments.

In fact earlier in the day she was so scared she felt physically sick… I’ve made a new word for this phenomonon… I told her she had a “bellyquake”.

It’s nice to see her trying so hard to be brave, and finally letting out a few squeals of delight as she managed to touch the tree above… kids are nothing if not resilient, and Christchurch Kids have had to be more resilient than most since September 2010. Bravo to them all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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