Local Heart, Global Soul

November 8, 2015

One Last Look Around: Until The Next Time…

Our trips to and from Nijmegen have come to an end for the moment, but I never tire of taking photographs of the journey there and back. Yes, it’s true, I would like to see more of other parts of the Netherlands because we have probably overdosed on this part of the country this year, but it’s still a region that I have grown to love, one where the people are friendly and there is plenty to see. Here is a round-up of some extra photographs before I start looking into my other (hundreds of) archive files…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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November 7, 2015

A Simply Eggcellent Discovery…

Filed under: Dutch Cuisine,Kranenburg,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just over the border from Kranenburg in Germany, and a few kilometers away from the Dutch city of Nijmegen, during the summer Himself and I drop in and visit a place that I heard about but hadn’t yet seen.

Back in January, after my operation, the kids visited with our friends and announced that they had seen a roadside vending machine that gives out fresh eggs, and  that they had bought some to cook back in the hotel kitchenette for breakfast!

For all the raves this place got you might have thought it was Disneyland, but they were genuinely enthusiastic and loved the ingenious way that this place operated. Over the next months Himself and I went back to Nijmegen many times for followup appointments, but it wasn’t until the last visit this summer that Himself managed to bring me here and show me what all the fuss was about.

The closest we had been previously had been a single fleeting glimpse with the kids yelling “See? Mama did you see it? “… um no I hadn’t seen it, mostly because I was literally looking for a dispenser of some sort on the edge of the road, and not a small shed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My summer visit revealed a small shed of the type located at the bottom of many a garden, which in turn housed the dispensing machine I had heard rave reviews about.

Naturally this wasn’t the kind of machine that drops the goods from a height into a catcher at the bottom, but one where a sort of turntable reveals small doors that open upon insertion of money and the typing in of the door code.

The long wall of the shed is almost entirely taken up with small shelves where probably several hundred egg cups are displayed, there is even a small basket of fresh eggs with a sign: “Ei kapot ruilen” (Egg broken, trade/replace) so that should you find a broken egg in the box you have just purchased you can replace it with a good one from here. There is also a box to the right of the dispenser for “lege doosjes” (empty boxes) so that egg containers can be recycled again and again.

All in all it’s a brilliant way for tourists and locals to get farm fresh eggs daily without having to pull the farmer away from his business. As testament to the popularity of this place, a car was pulling away as we arrived and new one arrived as I took the photographs, the man used the machine to get two boxes of eggs and didn’t mind that I took a photograph of him doing so.

My children know me well, they were right to get excited about finding something they knew I would really love and appreciate: organic and fresh produce direct to the public and delivered in a quirky and interesting way… Eggcellent!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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November 4, 2015

De Zeven Heuvelen Hotel: The Hills Were Made When They Dug The Pool?

Filed under: Accomodation,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the beginning of January this year, I had another operation on my foot. This was done by one of Europe’s top foot surgeons in the city of Nijmegen on the other side of the Netherlands.

Looking for a hotel that would accommodate our family of four for the first night, and Himself and the kids for the nights I would be in hospital, plus our two friends and their toddler son was not at first easy.

On the list of essential requirements was an indoor swimming pool because I knew that if that wish was accomplished then all three kids would be happy and endlessly entertained, and as it turned out the pool turned out to be the highlight of their trip.

My daughter is training to be a lifeguard and my son, whilst not quite up to his sister’s standard still is a very confident swimmer, having passed the rigorous Dutch swimming diploma system. Both kids adore our friends son, so their toddler gained two personal assistants / playmates / entertainer in the pool and they played for literally hours on end in the water. This was even more perfect because our friend was expecting her second baby and said toddler still wasn’t always sleeping through the night so tired parents could keep a weather eye on proceedings without having to actually provide all of the entertainment.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Only one hotel in the area had both an indoor swimming pool and two family rooms available for the dates we needed them, which is how we ended up at the “De Zeven Heuvelen Hotel” (The Seven Hills Hotel) in Groesbeek, about fifteen kilometers out of  Nijmegen.

Being New Zealand raised, I have to admit that I struggled to find one, let alone seven hills in the area, but I’ll assume that they are (or were) here somewhere and that I’m clearly more in need of new lenses than I thought I was.

The family room that we had was decently large, with a kitchenette so that Himself could cook pasta for the kids after the first night, and a second room of the main one that contained two single beds. The room that I booked for our friends was smaller (as requested) but I was horrified when I saw it in person (there were no photos on line) that it had a spiral staircase to access the mezzanine sleeping area upstairs.

The hotel had put a stair-gate at the bottom of the stairs but omitted to add one to the top, so our friends had be very careful when their toddler was upstairs, Luckily he was terrified of the stairs and kept well away.

I was also worried about my pregnant friend, spiral staircases not being easy to negotiate if she needed the lavatory downstairs during the night, but on the up-side they spent almost all of the “inside” time in our far larger room, and shared meals there too so it ended up not being an issue.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend this room for a family with very young children though, space is tight and those stairs are frightening. It’s a shame that there were no photographs showing this on the hotel website. Luckily the swimming pool was such a hit that little time was spent in the room,  and our (bigger) room was perfect for both families needs.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Our friends family room…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Little Mr)

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(photograph © Little Mr)

(photograph © Little Mr)

(photograph © Little Mr)

(photograph © Little Mr)

Hotel & Bungalowpark de Zeven Heuvelen
Cranenburgsestraat 23b
6561 AM Groesbeek
Telefoon: 024 – 397 58 41
info@dezevenheuvelen.nl

De Zeven Heuvelen Hotel

 

 

 

November 3, 2015

A Beautiful City, A Tragic Event…

Filed under: LIFE,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the beginning of this year I went into hospital for another operation on my foot.

I mentioned that fact in various posts but not the location of the hospital because I was still a patient, undergoing follow-up appointments.

Now I have finished there and my treatment is ongoing between two other hospitals closer to home. I also now feel free to blog about the city where this hospital is located (but not the actual hospital name) and to talk about this region of the Netherlands. My operation was far from home and Himself and I were posed with a difficulty: I wanted Himself to be at the hospital with me on the day of my surgery, and knew that the kids were worried about me, but that having the kids sit waiting around for hours between the pre-op stuff and later when I would be ready for visitors was not ideal.

Fortunately help was at hand in the form of most excellent friends, who offered to accompany us across the country, stay at the same hotel and look after our kids on the day, and any time we needed during the first days.

The city we were travelling to was Nijmegen (pronounced: Neigh may g(h)en… the last “g”should be said as a cross between an “g” and an “h”). Although technically our seven seater car could transport both families, the addition of the sixth and seventh seat means that 90% of the boot space is lost, thus luggage becomes a problem, so our brilliant friends hired a car and we traveled together across  the Netherlands to this lovely Dutch city located only a few kilometers from the German border. Photographs were take at various times over all my visits….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the visit after this photo was taken, two teenage girls were taking a shortcut through this park next to the main road into town… a thunderstorm broke out and the friends sheltered under one of the trees from the storm. They were both killed by the bolt of lightening the hit the tree they were taking shelter beneath. We arrived about 36 hours after it happened and there were many bunches of flowers on the ground left by locals in memory of two young souls, lives cut short. (I didn’t take photographs on that occasion).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There is a large building on the way out of town, driving past it looks for all the world like they are building an aircraft in there…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 21, 2015

A VERY Unexpected View Of The Cottages’ Back Yard…

Filed under: Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and I had some time to kill between hospital appointments in the city of Nijmegen, so drove to a village a short distance away and saw a tower that begged a closer look.

At first we assumed it was just a molen (mill) by itself, but once we got to the other side of it we discovered that there used to be a fortification here too.

We see the remains of what was once a moat, or maybe an earthwork defence system and walls, a huge surprise because the view on the other side just looks like a small lane, full of collages (pictured in my post the day before yesterday).

It’s only now that we can see that what looked like a circular turret roof (which I assumed was formerly part of some sort of trade) in one of my previous posts,  is in fact the top of  a far larger tower and that there are several of these towers, evenly spaced along the wall.

Any doorways in the wall are located a good distance from ground level so it was no surprise to see that steps have been added in later centuries so that the residents have access to what are now garden areas out the back.

I find myself wondering what the turret rooms must be like: certainly they seem large enough but getting furniture to fit along the walls must require some interesting adjustments, or some custom made furniture that gave a carpenter somewhere quite a headache.

On the other side of the “moat” there is a small footpath lined with trees, then hedges and behind that, the gardens of more recent houses. It gives the spot a park-like atmosphere, it’s quiet and restful and away from the hustle and bustle of roads. An ideal play area for kids and great picnic spot. It’s so unexpected… but such a delightful find!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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June 20, 2015

Clues In The Mill Walls, If Only I Hadn’t Missed Them…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following yesterday’s post, Himself and I have a few hours between out Nijmegen hospital appointments and decided to get some fresh air and sunshine.

It was late October 2014 and the days before had been rainy and gray, so having the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine was too good to pass up.

I’m not a natural city slicker and despite being largely brought up in cities, nor is Himself.

We both love the peace and quiet of country life and if there had been suitable work  and the cards had fallen differently then our living arrangement and lifestyle might have been very different.

Like most people we are tied to where the work is, and now that I am less mobile and tied to multiple hospital appointments it’s probably better that things worked out the way they did. I didn’t at first catch the name of the village we have arrived at, it didn’t matter, we just saw a little lane leading to an interesting looking tower and drove down to take a closer look.

Closer inspection shows that this is the remains of an old molen (mill), the kind used to grind grain for flour and it’s location on the edge of the village is perfect, not too far for the baker or locals to come and collect their flour, and also there seems to be some sort of fortification here too.

But first the tower itself has my complete and utter attention. Detail… enough to drool over. Worked into the brickwork is a windmill motif… and around the tower there are various letters. I can make out “G” in upper case and “S and d ” in lower case, and then what could either be “50” or “SO” under the window towards the door.

Annoyingly I only initially saw two letters and assumed that they were the initials of the family who built the mill, it was only later when I looked at photographs on the computer that I realise that there were more letters (or numbers) under the windows… and that I hasn’t photographed all of the windows to get them all. The little triangular windows look like eyes looking down on us, the zig-zag brickwork below the roof section is beautiful and the style and pattern of the  roof is a pattern lovers dream. I love how they have recycled one of the millstones into a large door step too…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 19, 2015

A Waiting Room Chair, Or This…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in October 2014 Himself and I were in Nijmegen for medical tests and Doctor visits in an effort to getting a step closer to a solution to the problems in my foot.

We started the day by getting x-rays and seeing several people.

Then, during one of the consultations it was decided that maybe the team would be able to do something for me, so various intake procedures would be necessary.

We could do two things: stay here longer and complete everything in one day, or come back in about a week or two and complete things then. We would then go onto a waiting list for my operation after all of the intake procedure was complete.

We told the hospital that doing things today, or not first depended on childcare for our children back in The Hague. Several telephone calls later the friends who had sent kids to school that morning were arranged to also look after them when they came home, and until we returned.

We got back to the hospital and a further five appointments were made for whilst we were here. The was one more appointment before lunch, and then due to the late notice of us being squeezed in, a break of several hours before the last four in the afternoon.  Those four ended up being five additional appointments in the end, but in the end we had a decision to make. We could sit in the hospital waiting rooms or in the restaurant and try and kill some time or we could go outside and get some fresh air and take a look around. We chose the latter and took some of the tree lined roads out of the city, enjoying the autumn colours and a day of lovely sunshine. We ended up in a village about ten minutes drive away and decided that this would be a wonderful place to look around. There are some amazingly decorated buildings so I was pleased I’d bought my camera along…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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June 18, 2015

Getting Up Way Too Early…A Long Day Ahead…

Filed under: Accomodation,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in October 2014, Himself and I went to Nijmegen to see Doctors, have tests and look for solutions for my problem foot since it isn’t healing as planned.

Yesterday when the kids got out of school, we dropped them off with friends and Himself and I hit the road, arriving in time to have dinner before the Golden Tulip Val Monte hotel restaurant closed up for the evening.

Even though we were both outwardly calm, it was one of those night’s when Himself and I tried to sleep in spite of the thousand questions racing though my brain and after tossing a turning and laying quietly looking at the ceiling, I finally realised that Himself was doing exactly the same thing.

I whispered a question asking if he was awake and he was relieved to tell me that it was 04:00 am and he had been awake for a while.

Both of us were nervous about what the specialists would say and sleep was going out of the window until we knew more. Luckily both the swimming pool and the restaurant where breakfast was served were both also open extra early, so we started the day with a swim and  breakfast and had both the pool and the breakfast area completely to ourselves.

I was very pleased that there was no-one to see me get into the pool, there was a ladder rather than steps so with one good foot and Himself giving me more than a hand I got in (and out) eventually.

It wasn’t however graceful at any moment of the procedure, but my physiotherapist would have been proud of my effort, knowing how much of a non-swimmer I am. In the breakfast room I spy some unusual egg cups, they were plastic throw-a-way ones so I asked if I could take two for our children back at home and the staff were happy to oblige. It was still early when we got back from breakfast and after packing we decided to just leave early for the hospital rather than sit around watching the minutes tick slowly by…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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June 17, 2015

Dinner In The Restaurant And Dessert In The Bedroom…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in October 2013, Himself and I were in the city of Nijmegen so that we could have hospital tests and see specialist doctors.

Since the first appointment was for x-rays at 08:30 and the hospital is an hour and a half to two hours away from where we live, Himself and I dropped the kids off with friends after school and drove here the night before, staying in the local vicinity at the Golden Tulip Hotel Val Monte.

We arrived in time to be one of the last patrons of the restaurant that evening and were delighted to have a bite to eat after our drive.

Due to the late hour and the kitchen being on the countdown for the evening, we skipped having an entrée and chose just a main course.

Himself went for a hearty stew that came in it’s own mini casserole dish and I went for a schnitzel. We shared the salad and fries that arrived separately and whilst the meal was ok, we didn’t rate it too much higher than that.

Nothing jumped out at being exceptional and it was more of a fuel stop than a special dining experience. Maybe eating at 9:00 pm instead of 6:00  is just too much out of our comfort zone? who knows. It came time for desert, but we were rather too self concious that we were the only ones left in the restaurant by now, but we had a brain wave and asked if it might at all be possible to have our dessert in our room please.

That’s how we ended up eating crème brulée off a tray in bed. That section of the meal I can highly recommend. Both the coffee and the brandy were Himself’s… I’m a strictly tea gal these days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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June 16, 2015

A Room Or A Tent, It’s Complicated … And It Shouldn’t Really Be.

Filed under: Accomodation,Nijmegen,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On our way to dinner in the Golden Tulip Hotel Val Monte restaurant, Himself and I see an exhibition that includes a bamboo bicycle and a photograph of a tent, Himself stops and takes a look.

At first he is really enthusiastic, the deal is that the customers pay a Euro 75,– donation to an organisation called Shelterbox and sleep in a tent in the grounds instead of one of the hotel rooms for one or two nights.

It wasn’t really clear if the idea was that there would be a Euro 75,– donation per night or if that amount covered two nights, and Himself had a laugh and said that had we been there in the summer months then he would be really keen.

I told him he was on his own on this one, when I book into a hotel I rather like the idea of having a toilet on hand should I have to go in the night and whilst coffee works or some, I’m not particularly human until I’ve had a shower in the morning.

They advertise the breakfast as being “free” but if you’ve just aid Euro 75,– for a night in a tent then breakfast isn’t exactly free.

I’d rather take a proper hotel room and just donate Euro 75,– to the cause.

According to the information board, it costs Euro,– 750 (that includes transport costs) to get one Shelterbox to a family in need somewhere in a disaster zone. Also according to the information board, 130,000 boxes have been donated in 200 disaster areas in the last ten years.

Himself was getting really enthusiastic when I spotted another line on the information board: “ neem uw eigen slaapmat en slaapzak mee” which translates to: “bring your own mattress and sleeping bag with you”.

I was speechless,  I don’t get how they expect people to bring half of their own camping kit to a hotel… or is it just me?  This line did kind of take the wind out of Himself’s sails too, and we decided that maybe it would be better if we stuck to paying for a normal hotel room and donating to the charities we feel we want to.  Later in the week I looked  up the ShelterBox website (link at the bottom of this post). They look like a wonderful organisation that are doing excellent stuff… I felt that the hotel “advert” for them didn’t really do justice to their cause.  It seems to be so much more complicated than it needs to be. I’d still rather donate than camp though!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

ShelterBox

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