Local Heart, Global Soul

September 25, 2016

Kid Friendly And Edible… Bonus Points Indeed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After leaving the city of Trier, Germany, Family Kiwidutch last summer returned to our holiday accommodation base at the Landal Wirfttal holiday park near Stadtkyll.

Like many of our day trips out, we arrived back too late to contemplate cooking ourselves, so opted for dinner in the on-site restaurant.

This post is a compilation of a series of meals… we basically worked our way through a decent part of their menu.

Little Mr changed his order by varying the amount of grated cheese he heaped on top of his plain boiled pasta, or by changing the flavour of his ice-cream from vanilla to strawberry (shock horror that he might one day stray further off the culinary pieste!).

The cooking isn’t the best of all of the various Landal parks we have been in, in fact my expectations were higher because we have come to expect better food in Germany than the Netherlands. That said, it was kid friendly and edible… true bonus points after busy days out and arriving back tired.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Landal Wirfttal

 

August 28, 2016

Sometimes You Just Have To Get Lucky…

Filed under: Accomodation,ART,GERMANY,Landal Wirfttal,My Reference Library — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes you have to get lucky… or not, as the case may be. Earlier, I typed in a stack of text thought I’d saved it… and now it’s gone! I have a backup copy, but that’s at home and I’m not at home at the moment.

Apologies for the lack of info. (and some missing photographs too… they also went west!) I will be home late tomorrow and up update everything then (or Monday at the latest). Thanks for your patience 🙂 Update: Fixed!!!

Last summer Family Kiwidutch plus one child guest, spent an excellent day visiting Burg Satzvey Castle in Germany before returning to our base near Stadtkyll.

As luck would have it, and had more often during our stay here, once back at the Landal Wirfttal holiday park the next day dawned  grey and rainy, leaving the kids to grumble for the umpteenth time about the lack of internet in our accommodation.

Fortunately, after Himself returns with fresh breakfast rolls from the shop by reception, and having also checked his email and the weather report on-line whilst there, he assures us that this latest dumping of wet water should only last for a few hours and the rest of the day should be dry.

Having discovered the weather report Kiwi Daughter was reluctant to get out of bed, Little Mr and his guest decided to build Lego from the emergency box “stash” he had brought along so for once the living room was quiet.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself parked himself by the windows near the kitchen end of the living room whilst I set myself up at the other end with my camera equipment.

I have been putting out birdseed (for wild birds) every day since we arrived so that the local bird life would spread the word, since I hoped to get some bird, and possibly even some squirrel photographs.

Squirrels abounded in the forest further down the hill and since every member of the family except me made the trip to Reception on foot at one time or another, they all saw squirrels, but sadly I didn’t even manage a glimpse.

Meanwhile, I set the table close to the window and kept the curtains drawn, with only the camera lens poking though on the other side of the glass. Keeping the gap around the lens closed with a few well positioned clothes pegs, I moved the camera on its tripod as little as possible so that the birds would not get spooked.

Using the “sport” setting I zoomed in as much as possible and clicked off as many shots as I could, hoping to get some decent shots.  Not being able to move to lens to follow the action has definite drawbacks: on multiple occasions birds were too far out of shot and everything was rather a hit and miss affair.

Later though when looking back at the photographs on the computer screen, I noticed that I had gotten lucky on more occasions than first thought. Pro wildlife photographer I am not, but these are definitely my best so far… so progress!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Above photo, and Below) The nano-second between table and take off…Tail and two feet visible at least…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Below: A bird version of a Face Off?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(Photo series Below: I think that this one was a baby, it had very wispy, downy head feathers…)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(Below photos: Then I managed to catch legs and feathers of one of the birds just coming in to land….)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Touchdown!

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Below: the bird on the left seems to be ordering the other one away, clearly there is a pecking order thing going on, (or just plain bullying) …

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The bird on the left advances and the other one almost does the splits as he takes a big side step in the opposite direction…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Competition eliminated for the time being…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hmmm, now which piece is the best morsel to choose?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The biggest possible piece that he can carry is selected….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Take-off is eminent…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finally a big stroke of luck and the best shot of the bunch: this feathered friend launches into the take-off position, carrying his food in his beak, to share with family members, or to eat else where in peace where he feels safer.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Landal Wirfttal

July 23, 2016

The Daring Continues…

This is my last post about the tree climbing adventure orienteering course our kids and their guest did last summer in our German Landal Wirfttal holiday park.  Rens, our Dutch instructor who we already knew from doing archery and pistol shooting earlier in the week, let us keep our options open because he said we really needed to see the tree climbing course first before adding Little Mr and his guest to our final activity bill for the day (they were still fully kitted out with all the safety equipment from abseiling).

As it turned out both of them stayed firmly on the ground for most of the time we were here, they were simply not tall enough to get past the bigger gaps between obstacles, which is exactly the problem that Rens predicted. They did however plead and beg to be allowed to do the flying fox (zip wire) and so after a little needed help to get up to the required platform, they whistled down the incline into the waiting hands of one of the other helping parents below.

As usual some of my photographs have been edited for family (and guest) privacy reasons. These activities made their day, all three kids have overcome fears to do something new and we are really proud of them.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 22, 2016

Getting Into The Thick Of The Forest…

Following yesterday’s posts, last summer our kids had two opportunities to do for want of  better description: “a tree climbing obstacle course”. This time my vantage point on higher ground allowed me to get some interesting close-ups of the course whilst the  group were running through some safety rules and instructions in the bottom of the gulley below. As per the Luxemburg set-up, the trees are protected from the tight wires of the course by the inclusion of additional wooden stakes. This course has many additional features: tires, ropes that have to be crawled under before you can get onto a platform, and more rope walking and sitting sections, all of which later produced buckets of squeals and laughter. Here I get to zoom in on the intricacies of the course…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 21, 2016

Overcoming Obstacles A Second Time Around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We didn’t realise it earlier during our stay last summer, but there is also a tree climbing obstacle course at the German Landal Wirfttal holiday park, where we were staying.

We would not have been able to use it though because rain forced the cancellation of almost all of the outdoor activities.

Now that the outdoor centre was open again for business, we signed up the kids for both the abseiling activity and the tree climbing / obstacle course.

The participating group walked to the course, it’s a short distance as the crow flies from the spot that they abseiled off earlier in the day.

Himself and I however needed to take a car ride down the road away from the park and then loop back  off a larger track to end up on yet another back track behind them.

My spot next to the car is on a track in the middle of a large hill, looking down on the obstacle course in a steep gully between us and Reception. Good parts of the course in the trees are almost level with where I am standing and zooming in gets me to the more distant parts of the course, and down to the floor of the gulley.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the families we saw earlier at the archery course is also here: their offspring are both older and more daring than ours so one of their boys leads the way and shows the group how it is done.

The Luxemburg experience has given Kiwi Daughter a lot of confidence,  she did this twice round.

Her verdict was that although this course was far shorter than the Luxemburg one,  many of the obstacles were either more interesting in design or harder, so in the end she wasn’t sure which course she enjoyed more.
There are several dramatic end points to the courses that the group did today, the tamer of the two is the flying fox that Little Mr and his guest enjoyed, the scarier option is a being attached to a sort of rope swing contraption and lowered down after one or two gigantic swings.

Once Kiwi Daughter saw the lads of the other family tackle the big rope swing, she determined that she would give it a go too, letting out a seriously decent scream on the first leg of the descent just for the heck of it. After the session ended with a group de-briefing, they took a side track short-cut back to the Reception building, Himself and I retraced the track and road back in the car and met up with some tired kids. We were as proud as they were that both obstacles and fears had been overcome today.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

tree2 climb 6a (Small)

 

July 20, 2016

When Courage Is On Display On The Rock Face…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Spending some family holiday time in Germany last summer was an excellent idea that did not always go according to plan.

The main problem was the weather, more specifically rain and lots of it, but near the end of the first week things improved and the kids were bursting to let off steam.

For outdoor activities we didn’t have to look too far, the Landal Wirfttal holiday park offers a few on-site, so we sign up all three of the kids for abseiling.

The session starts with a run-down of safety procedures and instruction on how to handle the equipment and then the group disappears up the trail that takes them to the top of a small bluff directly behind the park’s Reception building.

I took a lot of close up photos of the kids as they made their way down the face of the hill, and a short video of the first boy (a very confident kid by the look of things) but am having troubles logging into my YouTube account for a few weeks now so will add it later when I sort that out.

Little Mr and his guest were the smallest of the group and shorter legs made for a few interesting manoeuvres as they each came down, Little Mr was by far the more confident of these two, his steps being decisive even when he approached areas of difficulty. His guest had never abseiled before and was willing but very apprehensive.

Her descent was more of a centimetre by centimetre approach and slipped over at the point where the kids had to lean as far back as they could to negotiate a large rock that had a large gap beneath it was where her confidence crumbled.

Of course the instructor stopped her from falling immediately but she was shaken and so Himself donned a safety helmet and scrambled as high as he could to help her the last part of the way.

All kudos to her, she doggedly continued albeit very slowly until she reached Himself, a true accomplishment if you know that this little girl is as far from tomboyish as it is possible to get, and is seriously shy by nature.

Every kid gained a hearty round of applause from the waiting parents below, but she got an additional cheer because it was plain to see that this was a really big deal and that she showed a lot of courage in daring to do this at all. I heard that she was close to tears when she replied to me that she was ok, but bit her lip and determined to see things through. Little Mr didn’t say anything and acted like nothing was amiss but immediately was extra reassuring and generally worked hard to make her feel ok about the slip, and soon she was shyly smiling again. Both of our children show a lot of compassion for others, but even at a very early age Little Mr has shown us that he is unusually attuned to the feelings of others.

He can rough-house with boys no problem but gets on fabulously well with girls too, and this friend, a serious “girly-girl” who dresses primarily in pink, loves creative hobbies over anything dirty or strenuous seems like a rather odd play-fellow but they seem to never ever get on one another nerves and none of the parents have ever heard them fight or have a cross word. They seem to accept each others differences no problem and get on fine playing in her garden, with walkie-talkies on the street, building things from carton or paper, playing Lego or Minecraft. Little Mr preferred to stay with his friend than to take a second go on the course so we all watched whilst a few of the others and Kiwi Daughter saw if they would do even better a second time around.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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July 19, 2016

WiFi & Other Disappointments: But A Cute Dog Helps Return Smiles…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The main peeve that we had about the Landal Wirfttal holiday park in Germany, was the lack of advertised internet or phone signal at our accommodation.

We discovered that a very weak phone signal could be picked up by walking several minutes around the road, but even then a single attempted telephone conversation was interrupted by three or four complete cut-outs and redials.

A media free fortnight would have been an excellent idea had we planned for it and had the weather been better, but with me intending to sit quietly and write a blog post or two, Himself needing to keep in touch with several clients so that he could advise on amendments they thought they would be needing to make (before we left), and all of us needing to be in contact with the rest of the family due to the frailty of my then ninety-three year old mother-in-law, it was more than just a hassle.

The kids of course thought that their world had ended when Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Minecraft, FaceTime and the like were all suddenly cut off. Kiwi Daughter, who’s invited guest friend failed to materialise due to cross-planning and double booking with guest’s family holiday, took the entire situation especially hard, grumpily declaring anything and everything here a complete and utter disaster (except the tree climbing adventure of the previous day).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We heard many teenage girls her own age speaking Dutch around the park but she refused to try and pick up a conversation and make friends for the holiday with them, I even heard one family with teenage girls speaking English, actually lamenting that they had no one else who spoke English to hang out with.

I spoke to their mother (who was with them) and they were keen to meet Kiwi Daughter. Sadly she also vetoed this because the oldest girl was one year younger than her “and they were soooo young”. Not cool thus.

Of course all of the Dutch girls around the park would have already started English lessons but my experience over and over again in the Netherlands, even with nephews and nieces who know me well, is that they are afraid to speak in front of a native speaker because they are afraid of how many mistakes they make.

I have always encouraged them that it doesn’t matter, I make mistakes in Dutch all the time but I speak to them in Dutch anyway. They willingly acknowledge that but are still painfully shy about speaking English with native speakers. It appears to be a national trait.

With Wifi only available at Reception we therefore went to one of the few seats in a tiny corner there to try and log on for a little while. There are enough plugs due to an extension board provided, but the problem is usually space… and that Reception opens at 09:00 and closes at 17:30.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are a few picnic tables outside where you can sit and catch the internet signal out-of-hours, but I think I’ve mentioned the problem of excessive rain enough in recent posts for you to guess that that was no easy option either.  It’s frustrating if you need internet in the evening and it’s raining.

The car was our next option but of course there was no power point for the laptop there so I had to do some serious time management (not easy with pain drugs and close to zero concentration skills.)  I made the mistake of sitting in the early morning in the car, listening to music on the radio as I typed.

You can guess what happened then… Himself came to retrieve me, turned the key and of course the battery was flat. We had excellent luck that the park manager came by just at that moment and rescued us.

Himself and immediately made a quick run into Stadtkyll to charge the battery a little and returned with fresh croissants which placated the kids back at the house who we couldn’t phone to let them know that we could not get back right to them as soon as planned. Needless to say I learned my lesson and typed in silence from then on.

Another occasion on a fine day, I visited Reception to check my email and the lady next to me had a sweet little dog. I’m not a dog lover (another story) but this one was on a lead and behaved itself. It also drew my attention because of it’s photogenic qualities so I asked the owner if I might please take photos for my artistic reference files.

The reply was an enthusiastic “Yes”, and not having animals of our own I probably overloaded on the opportunity. Ergo, one hundred and one (or just seems like it) doggie poses for your viewing pleasure…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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June 29, 2016

Wi-Fi And A Distinct Feeling Of Disconnect…

Filed under: Accomodation,GERMANY,Landal Wirfttal,PHOTOGRAPHY,Stadtkyll — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Landal Wirfttal holiday park, located close to the town of  Stadtkyll in Germany is the ideal sort of place to take families on holidays.

The Landal brand is one of similarly styled chains that cater to “in house activity” holidays with various size and price range accommodations and amenities ranging from outdoor swimming pools to indoor ones with spa facilities.

Not all of the companies that operate inside the Netherlands also operate outside of it and since I have been (and still am) stuck mostly inside the four walls of home, we decided that travelling to Germany would give me not just a geographical change of scene but a culinary one as well.

That said, I find car travel difficult so we chose the Landal closest to the Netherlands that also sported a heated swimming pool, a kid request because they realise that this is northern Europe after all and Summer is often more of a hope than a season. Upon arrival we find that most of the facilities more than meet with the approval of our offspring, with one large exception, the advertised in-accommodation Wi-Fi is absolutely non-existent in ours.

When we went to enquire what the problem was we discovered that on our side of the hill some of the houses had Wi-Fi, some had a little and some had none.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since Wi-Fi had specifically been on my wish list I was less than happy, especially since watching a Netflix series or a movie helps divert attention from constant pain when I am resting with my foot in the air and is necessary when making blog posts.

Himself also like to twice daily check his client email so I talked to the Manager and explained my problem, asking if there was another house available that did have Wi-Fi, but they were already full.

We were offered our money back if we wanted to leave and go somewhere else but without the security of alternative accommodation I decided that whenever we needed to check email or spend half an hour on the internet we would have to do what they suggested: come and sit in Reception and use the Wi-Fi that was working there.

I suggested that since it was a known problem that they admitted had been ongoing for several years that maybe it would have been more honest if their website had made the situation clear, their response was that they were aware of the problem and were working on it.

Hmmm,  platitudes for the customer, of course but what could we do than accept it in the end? Had we known how often it was going to rain during our stay we may well have rethought this decision but blissfully ignorant we broke the bad news to the kids and bore their wails of displeasure. By the end of our holiday however, we all unanimously agreed that how ever nice the rest of the place was, in light of the weather issues that subsequently ensued we would never be making this mistake again.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The large green and yellow plastic thing in the photograph is what translates into English as “Spring Cushion” and kids love bouncing on them. I always thought they were for smaller kids until one evening when we were here I saw a man get on it and bounce higher than I thought would be possible. Once he had achieved the height he needed he proceeded to do an amazing amount of very impressive somersaults…

(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)

The sandy area was for both petanque and football (not both at the same time, obviously!).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Landal Wirfttal

June 28, 2016

Landal Wirfttal, Accommodation With A View…

Filed under: Accomodation,GERMANY,Landal Wirfttal,PHOTOGRAPHY,Stadtkyll — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Going on holiday with a kids who are four years apart in age can present problems once they hit the teen and pre-teen age.

We are trying to keep everyone happy with the least amount of compromise on what is supposed to be a relaxing holiday for all four of us.

Little Mr has a neighbour friend along, so he is kind of sorted but we are also trying to plan for all eventualities from the weather, as well as not too long a travelling time for me to manage.

Extra items on our planning wish-list were some decent walks for Himself, ergo a Park in a rural location (preferably with hills) and an indoor swimming pool for the kids and the longer our wish list got the more it became apparent that a family orientated commercial holiday park seemed a better option than renting a private holiday home somewhere.

It’s the last kind of accommodation that Himself and I would choose if we were on our own, but all parents of children know that if you are not somewhere that has options for keeping kids occupied then “holiday” (and sanity) as an option for the adults involved will be close to non-existent, so needs must.

The makers of commercial holiday parks know this too of course and a very agreeable enterprise it is too. This is how we ended up choosing the Landal Wirfttal holiday park close to Stadtkyll in Germany last summer. The Park is located in an area that is a mixture of forest copses and farmland in an undulating rolling hill landscape. The weather during the week turned out to be rather less than we had hoped for, some sunny spells were undispersed with plenty of rain so my photographs were taken over the course of our stay and in all weathers. Our accommodation awaits…

(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)

Landal Wirfttal

January 7, 2015

Red Sky At Night…

Filed under: Accomodation,GERMANY,Ichenhausen,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

Sunsets are tricky things to photograph. At least they are tricky for me to photograph, so when I get one right I’m first of all amazed and then delighted. Here is one close to our accommodation in Ichenhausen, Germany taken on our Legoland trip…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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