Local Heart, Global Soul

March 18, 2015

A Family Sized Meal, A Treat From Oma…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this archive post my husband’s extended family have come away together to a holiday park as a group, on a long weekend so that Oma (Grandmother) can spend time with us all together.

Naturally since it’s her weekend the three families who attended took care of her costs, but as a Thank You she wanted to treat us to a dinner in the restaurant.

The Landal park complex has a variety of eateries and on this occasion she wanted us to go into the main restaurant because she and several other families are vegetarians and there would be more options on the main menu.

The children mostly went for the easy and less adventurous option of fries, nuggets and the like, but the adults went for everything from cheese fondue to surf ‘n turf.

The saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words” so I suppose I better get cracking posting photographs.

I do have to say that some members of the family enjoyed their meals more than others, but in a very large group there are always different tastes to cater to some things on the menu that turned out a bit different to what was expected and in the end the meal was less important than the fact that the service was friendly, Oma was really happy and we all had a good time.

(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)

 

March 14, 2015

Landing In Landal: A Holiday Home From Home…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Several  years ago my husband’s family decided that it would be a good idea if his mother, Oma  (Oma = Grandmother) could have a long weekend away somewhere in the Netherlands, with present, as many of the extended family as possible.

The destination on this occasion was the Veluwe, an area of national park in the east of the country that contains wooded forest, open and semi-scrub land and roaming wildlife such as deer and many birds.

Dotted amongst all of this are various small towns and villages and because it’s a popular tourist destination, many camping grounds ranging from the  tiny eco-friendly minimalist sort to the larger parks that have fully furnished holiday houses and  on-site amenities swimming pools, bowling alleys, cycles for hire and restaurants.

Since Oma is in her 90’s and I’m in no condition to be attempting tents and sleeping bags, the families have opted for three holiday houses close to each other in a large Landal holiday park.

The houses come in different sizes and prices and we also took a family friend and her young daughter, so our place slept six, in three different rooms.

The holiday home had all the immensities we required, a shower and bath for scrubbing off the large of Mother Nature that Little Mr in particular was sure to collect whilst rummaging around in forest, an on-site restaurant because Oma wished to treat us all to a meal once during the weekend (all other costs for her were of course laid on by everyone present), an outdoor space and tables etc for everyone to join together for outdoor meals “at home” in the holiday houses, and in the case of our kids, a space where they could sit together and make loom-bands, since in this archive post, this was the first year that the world had gone completely and utterly loom band crazy.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was a pleasant surprise to find a dishwasher (the narrowness of my original 1930’s Dutch kitchen and the stone worktop mean one doesn’t fit in our kitchen at home) and  for himself,  a good coffee maker in the house, the perfect start to his habitual crack of dawn risings.

The beds (even the double beds) are made with German style duvets, which means a single duvet per person rather than one large double one.

I must confess that under this system there are never any hogging of the bedding problems and I’ve always warm enough … the downside is that cuddling up close together is tricky, trying to decide which bits of the his and hers duvets go where for comfort without gaps appearing letting in the cold when someone moves fractionally.

The other downside is that we have four very decent but not so new double bed size duvets at home (for the double bed in the guest room and in ours)  and I’m too eco-friendly Dutch to get rid of them whilst they have good life left in them.

Laundry is certainly a lot easier when dealing with single sizes so this arrangement is still high on my wish list for when the old duvets are at the end of their use.

Our living room (as we have the fractionally biggest house of the three rented for the weekend) is a good size to accommodate all should the weekend weather be inclement, there is a door leading out to the outside patio right off the living room and it’s one of the houses in this complex of over one hundred houses that is closer (relatively) to the restaurant, reception and main area, so do-able with crutches at least once. Let’s take a look around.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our children’s bedroom…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our friend and her daughter’s room…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Around the Landal site, plenty for kids…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Most of the weekend’s meals were buffet, picnic style… like this…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Although on the last day, we (ok, the others not me) cleared the table at a flat out running pace as the first fat raindrops fell, and then literally two minutes later the heavens opened and the cloudburst looked like this…

 

November 1, 2014

An Unexpected Roast And I Avoid A Drenching More Than Once…

Filed under: Cornwall,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,South Coast — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you are touring the south coast of England, then Cornwall is  beautiful place to head to… and we join a huge stream of holiday makers heading in this direction.

Our next campsite is the  “Seaview International Camp Site”, where we arrive late on a cool day and after checking in and parking the camper go in search of some groceries for dinner.

As luck would have it, they have a roast dinner on this evening at the little Cafe next to the shop so we forgo buying pasta we came in for and decide to take the easy option of a ready made  roast dinner instead.

Outside the weather turns unexpectedly dark and there is a sudden cloudburst, the torrential rain also helps make the decision not to attempt the walk back to the camper, and as luck would have it we came in just minutes before the rain started and the rain stopped just as we were finishing our meal… perfect timing. Kiwi Daughter was unimpressed by the roast on offer so opted for a pizza and Little Mr went for rice and his guilty pleasure: chicken nuggets. Later, since daylight lasted deep into the evening, the kids found some other children to play with and amused themselves by filling one hundred and fifty-six water balloons… yes they were all counted. I allowed it on the proviso that none were thrown inside campers or tents and that all the kids involved got their swimming costumes on and  helped pick up the burst rubber pieces afterwards.

Deal done, they started a massive water fight and their squeals attracted other kids who joined in with gusto. A few Euros for a packet of five hundred water balloons… enough to last a summer and cheap entertainment. As night fell our kids were herded to the shower block to clean up before bed and there were lots of excited stories about who chased who, who got , and took, direct hits and how wet everyone got. Who need electronics?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One hundred and fifty-six  water balloons look like this…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

Seaview International Holiday Park
Boswinger
Gorran
St Austell
Cornwall
PL26 6LL

T: 01726 843425
F: 01726 843358
E: holidays@seaviewinternational.com

June 11, 2014

Holiday Villa Ownership, Costs More Than We Guessed… Luxury Sea-Side (For A Weekend At Least)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We’ve arrived at the Roompot “Noordzee Résidence De Banjaard”  holiday park that my sister in law has organised,  there are large houses that are holiday homes for the owners, but individually let out to the public  via the holiday  park website when they are not using them. Houses vary in size (and thus price) .

We have a three bedroom house that has a large kitchen, dining area and living room.

One set of in-laws also has a three bedroom place, for themselves, their youngest son and Oma (Grandmother) and the other in-laws have a slightly smaller two bedroom house that has a double, plus a room with two single beds for their two children.

Our rented house has a large double bedroom for Himself and I, a room with two single beds for our two kids and a smaller with singles for our friend and her toddler daughter.

Our double room has French doors leading out to a balcony that overlooks the street and which is the roof of  the veranda below. We aren’t the sun-bathing types (Like all New Zealanders these days, I’m only too well aware of the risks of skin cancer, and our family prefer Factor 80 sun-block to any sort of tanning lotion) , but if you were you could opt for a spot in the shade or in the sun as takes your fancy.

There is an extra cupboard (or it may be a small room) downstairs that’s locked, it’s storage for the owner’s personal belongings, understandably they need somewhere to keep their own bed linen and private effects that are not meant for casual tenants to use.

Other than that there is not a massive amount of storage in the house, but since I think that there are rules that prohibit year round occupation in the holiday park and most tenants would only be hiring for a week or two at the time, that’s less of a problem short term.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The living area is nice and large downstairs, our villa may have the same amount of bedrooms as one of my sister in laws, but is considerably bigger inside, so after the family sharing a picnic dinner at their place on the first evening, on the Sunday, everyone did the same at ours and the larger amount of space was noticeable when filled with a crowd.

It appears that there are various floor plans available for owners to choose from and the houses are more or less compact as a result. Judging from the house rules and reading material our owner is clearly of German nationality,  and I think that many of the houses here are also German owned: it’s an established fact that with large land area but  limited coastline, German nationals love to holiday in the Netherlands and be close to the sea.

This frequently leads to German families returning year after year to their favourite places on the Dutch coast, combined with the fact that many Dutch speak German and communication is easy,  has lead to a trend where owning  a property of your own by the sea is a good long term family investment. The holiday houses aren’t cheap though,  One of my sister in laws had a brain wave and thought that one of these would also be a brilliant idea, until we checked out the website and discovered prices between 300.000,– and 400.000,–  Euro for the types of villas we were staying in and her dream one a little larger.   Ouch… her dreams quickly evaporated at those  prices.

There are various modes of “transport” to play on and to get around with: short term hires of tricycles plenty big enough for adults, with a “side-car” sort of arrangement that the kids were delighted with. Then for a set fee you could hire a little cart, to take your stuff to the on site swimming pool, playground, or in our case, to transport tired toddler back to the villa.

We had all weathers during the weekend so my photographs reflect that… 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)

(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)

May 30, 2011

Gîte Inside and Take a Look Around…

Filed under: Accomodation,FRANCE,Reviews,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So, back to our Easter trip to France… in yesterdays post I showed you around the outside of our gîte, our holiday home from home for the next week.

There is a decent sized living area, with sofa,  indoor dining table, kitchen with fridge freezer and oven, and outdoor dining table outside through the back door so we can choose al fresco dining or indoors as we wish.

There are two large bedroom, our main room with the double bed has a 3/4 bed at the end (good to move into the second bedroom and sleep an extra kid if you need) and French doors leading out the front, plus shutters for warmer summer evenings.

The second bedroom contains two single beds and a seat that I forgot to investigate further, but may have been a extra fold-out bed since the gite is advertised on the website to sleep six,  but it’s biggest bonus is that it’s a very large room indeed so extra beds could easily be put into it if you wanted four kids in the one room.

The bathroom contains a large open shower, no steps or inside bath arrangements for me to struggle with on crutches and the toilet is invalidity sized and could  accommodate a wheelchair if needed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s a washing machine for doing laundry, a massive stack of local information in the folder provided and it’s supposed to have wifi if you need computer access.

The computer access was the one and only negative of this gîte…  I know from two of our three sets of French friends that internet connection in rural areas of France is very hit and miss.

One of them has reliable internet and a strong signal almost all the time. Another has next to none most of the time and almost never bothers to use their computer, and the third has a strange mixture of the two, the connection being perfectly fine at some moments and practically nil the next.

At this gîte the signal  never showed more  than one bar of signal strength and the error message that I could paraphrase as  ” signal too low, unable to connect to server”  became the daily message that I got used to. Every now and again the signal strength was just enough for me to  see email for a few minutes but it was frustrating trying to find that window of opportunity.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I used the computer as a photo dumping site  instead and for writing up posts and ideas for posts and was pleased to have had posts in the schedule for this week, otherwise it would have been very annoying indeed.

If  this area is one of the unlucky spots, lost in the dark ages of internet connectivity, then there isn’t much the gîte owners can do… they have to make do with whatever connectivity there is.

For us the weather was unseasonably glorious, with an average temperature of 25 C so we could comfortably eat outside in the evenings even though it was only April.  Whilst I love my laptop, I could also take an enforced break and enjoy my ‘off-line-life” as much as I do my one-line one.

The lack of internet also definitely  helped to improve my French as the TV  here receives only local stations:  there were some good movies on the box that gave my gray cells a workout as I furiously tried to keep up with the twists and turns of the plot.

So, space inside and garden outside, there’s even a table-tennis table in the garden,  my kids are already making friends with the gîte owner’s children in spite of them speaking no French and the other kids almost no English. (The oldest girl had a few words in English as she had just begun to study it in school but preferred to stretch my French to the limit as she felt very shy trying her few words out on a native speaker)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The gîte owners wife is brilliantly friendly and soon after settling in we feel like we have been here for days instead of hours.

The silence is broken only by children’s laughter and birdsong.

Bliss!

May 29, 2011

Gîtes de France … Finding the Perfect Place…

Filed under: Accomodation,FRANCE,Reviews,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So, I am planning a holiday in France… hmm the countryside might be nice… village or completely rural location, something rustic and typically French.

In my dreams …right?

Maybe not.  If ever you wanted your dream to come true, there is an organisation that you need to know about.

They are called “Gîtes de France”     and their website is :   http://www.gites-de-france.com/

So, What is a Gîte ?  well you pronounce it “jzeet” and it’s a kind of holiday house, camping or rented rooms,  and there are a selection all throughout France that range from ultra basic  to  luxurious, from cheap to expensive.

There are “childrens gîtes” that are especially family friendly, gîtes by the week or for weekend breaks, you can choose a gîte according to your passion: golf, skiing, beach, gourmet, with a garden, historic,  lake, countryside, village, or if you choose in the offshore  departements of France, even tropical.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

With 45 000 gîtes to choose from and 10 000 Chambre d’hôtes available in places affiliated with gîtes, there should be something to suit everyone, where-ever you want to be in France.

Mostly the rural gîtes are on working farms or adjoining  houses in villages, the local bakery may or may not be within walking distance depending on your choice but even if you have to drive a short distance  for fresh bread or croissants, it will be worth it. (you know by now I have a “thing” about freshly baked bread don’t you? LOL)

Family Kiwidutch love staying in a gîte because it allows us to have our own personal space at a good price.

Usually there are  decent kitchen and laundry facilities, and masses more space then a hotel and you can pick and choose your comfort level and number of rooms to suit.  In our case we look for one with a garden and for me on this particular trip, one with no stairs, a disability friendly shower area  and close in location to two of the three families we are visiting.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A little searching on the Gîtes de France website and I found one that met all of our criteria and was economical as well,   …jackpot!

I do have to say that I speak enough French that the website poses no problem for me to navigate, but even if you had to resort to a dictionary for a few key terms,  it’s fairly easy. The number of  “wheat”  next to the listing will tell you what grade of accommodation you are getting and checklists for items wanted: i.e.  number of beds, garden, dogs permitted (or not), swimming pool etc allow you to narrow down your search within a geographical area relatively efficiently.

So as we pull up outside our  gîte we get a view of where we will be staying for the next week…

Imagine a courtyard accessed by an large arch in the main wall, to the right, on the same wall is the old farmhouse, now long since empty, and in a wing adjoining that, the gîte , to the left of the archway there are various outbuildings for storage etc and off that, the main farmhouse (opposite the gîte ) on the remaining side a large wall, and a gate, the farm equipment sheds and the “working” hub of the farm.

There is a passageway between the end of the gite and the farm equipment wall, and it expands at the back to reveal a private patio, BBQ and a gate that leads straight out to the vines… I hear the small rustle of leaves in the wind, birdsong and … other than that,  total silence.

Merveilleux…

(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 8, 2011

You Want to “Postaday” But You’ll be Away ? Practical Blogging Tips.

Filed under: Blogging & Writing — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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I know that some of my readers have accepted the WordPress 2011 Challenge to make a daily (or weekly) blog  post because they would like to get into the habit of blogging more regularly.

Keeping  up with posting regularly can be daunting enough if you are at home and in your normal everyday routine, but what if you are on the move? … and maybe to somewhere with little or no internet connection? What happens if “Life Happens” and there is a family emergency,  unexpected work pressure,  or rushing to the littlest room with severe tummy troubles and the dilemma of not knowing which end of yourself to point over the toilet bowl first?

I have been blogging daily for a year and a half now and all of these things have happened to me.
So here are a few Tips:  You are into the business of blogging because you like the business of writing,  Yes? My first tip involves some extra work, but will be well worth it in the end. It doesn’t matter what your blog is about: Surely there is a topic that is close to your heart, a question you’d like to ask or an opinion that you’d like to get off your chest. First you need just a little inspiration.

Tip One: make a folder on your computer  or a notebook where you  jot down notes and ideas of possible blog topics. The weird, wonderful, serious, whatever…  jot ALL your ideas down.

(photograph © Kiwidutch

FORGET the phrase “writer’s block”. Seriously, it’s a disease you can convince yourself you have at the mere glance at a blank page. EVERYONE has good ideas!, It just so happens in life, that the moment in the day that we have to time to write does not neatly coincide with our best creative moments, so you will  just need reminding what your good ideas were.

Be it on the computer, in a notebook or on the back of your shopping list, write down your  idea as soon as as you can.  If your idea is on a scrap of paper or anything you can loose, then transfer it to your notebook or computer file as soon as you can. These summaries, words and phrases are your “inspiration” file.  Make a habit of adding to it as often as you possibly can… 10 topics or 100, it doesn’t matter, these are the tinder for your creative match.

Now a little effort is required: Draw yourself a timetable and force yourself to  make not ONE blog post at a time, but TWO. Post one of them as usual but save the other one as a “draft”, or put it into your schedule with a date far away (yes, even next year!) I already have a few of my topics in the WordPress Schedule for December 2011!

In theory I have a whole year to finish off, refine my “reserve” posts, and add photos, but in reality they will be ready long before the scheduled posting date, and when I need a post in a hurry, then I only have to change the date of that post in the schedule to tomorrow, or whenever date I need it.

If you expend a little energy now then you can quickly build up a stash of “reserve” posts. If you put your posts into a schedule one year in advance, then not every one of these has to be a fully completed post.

Keep your “stash” of reserve posts and use them in case of illness, family emergencies, holidays etc.  Make it a priority to “top up” your “reserve”  posts as soon after use as you can. That way you won’t suddenly find that your stash of reserves is … oops …zero.

These “Reserve” posts can be used three ways…

(A) Save them for when you are desperate to have a blog post that you can just slot in quickly.

(B) Use them as a buffer… so you have posts already in the schedule for the next two weeks  and the one you are working on today is destined to be added to the end of the queue, thus if you add a post every day then you will aways be two weeks ahead.

(C) Do a little of both. Have a few finished posts already lined up for the next days, a few finished ones as ‘reserves” and a stack of others at various stages of being “works-in-progress”

In my schedule I currently have a “stash” of completed posts,  some half-written ones, some that have a short paragraph or a few lines and a stack more that are just a title or key-word just to remind me of a topic. I use a combination of (B) and (C) when I post, but I very often also ‘insert” many ‘impromptu” posts as well into the queue,  … these are usually in response to a comment made on my blog, or because reading someone else’s blog  has inspired me to write a post of my own right away.

Inserting impromptu  posts is easy, all I have to do is to re-jig the scheduled posting dates.

So next time you need to be on a flight somewhere, you can leave your blog post in the safe hands of the  schedule and it will post automatically for you at the time and date you have designated.

By keeping a blog post coming at your set posting time in the week, your readers will keep with you.Big time gaps in your blog are  actually fine but eventually some readers may drift away and also on a psychological level you make it harder to kick  yourself to get back into the rhythm of blogging.

Big gaps in your blog posts might make you feel under pressure to produce a new blog post, and writing because you feel you “have to” is not fun, it’s stressful. Blogging should be fun.If though you find that too many things in Life overtake you at once then be realistic… don’t sweat the small stuff.

If your child is in hospital, a parent  or a friend is in their last days, you need to meet work commitments or your family time is being impacted because of your blog then it’s time to take a step back and realise that posting on time in your blog is the least of your worries and no longer top priority for the moment.

And rightly so, Sensible  regular readers who have gotten to know you will understand.

Happy Blogging!

September 7, 2010

Slip into this side pocket and let me take you to the aiport…

Filed under: THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So much for the surprise… I ruined it by being sick on the way home, but now the tummy bug is gone and I’m concentrating on getting my travel photos into shape pronto.

It’s been a bit of a general body shock for all of us coming back to the Netherlands (Tummy bug not withstanding) because it was 36 C during the day in Portugal and 25 C at night and we landed back home to a chilly, windy daytime 16 degrees C.

The shock was not lessened by our neighbours chirpy quip that “ Lucky you didn’t come back a week ago, it was cold then and it’s warmed up just yesterday. good hey?”  Warmed up?  Ack, what a difference two and a half thousand kilometers makes!(especially in North /South directions).

What impressed me more was the Himself had had the foresight to pack the pull-overs that had been totally unused in Portugal on the very top of the main suitcase so we didn’t need to scatter half the contents of the bags onto the airport floor to haul them out and get them on. Very good thinking indeed my Sweet.

If you haven’t deduced by now, Himself and I are lovers of warm to hot, preferably dry, climates. You can keep your snow, unless it arrives at our home on a postcard.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So,  Family Kiwidutch escaped to beautiful Portugal in mid August 2010,  grab your toothbrush and come and hitch a ride….

First we have a night flight, so I start work very early in the morning, come home, have a half hour rest, then freshen up, sling my toothbrush into the otherwise packed bag and we drive with our neighbour to the Schipol Airport. We have some fantastic neighbours who drive but don’t own a car.

For the last 10 years that Himself and I have owned a car we have come to a fabulous arrangement, No matter the day or night, or the weather, one of these neighbours drops us off and picks us up from the airport. In return, they get the use of our car the whole time we are away.

They are careful drivers and they use the opportunity to visit friends in places harder to get to by public transport, make day trips, or short overnight ones to Germany… or lug home stuff for DIY projects  that would be difficult on their bicycles, (although if they need to do that at other times they sometimes just borrow the car for an afternoon too) and they generally appreciate  the use of it without the hassle and expense of having to hire a car at different times during the year.

They also look after the house and it’s an arrangement that works brilliantly for all parties, since emerging from an airport, tired, jet-lagged ,shunting luggage and carrying sleeping children on our shoulder is an art form that I’d really prefer not to master.

Yes, yes,  Dutch trains are very efficient, but it’s the connecting and getting the bags on board and off again and then onto a tram and then the walk home from the tram…and the extra time involved that we can just do without. Plus we get driven home, door to door, brilliant when the jet-lag is heavy and you really just want to sleep.

So… as dusk falls we tumble out of the car at Schipol. They are constantly tearing down old parts of the airport to make way for the new, so the view changes with every visit…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr. delights on excitedly screeching ” Plane!!!!” when he sees one, (funny how you always do at airports?) and I bend his brain by telling him that the winner of the game is the first one to see a boat. That kept him busy for a full five minutes the first time I pulled it ( but he was then four), now that he is a Grown up Five, he’s got wise and quickly said ” Silly, Mama,  there are no boats!”  but I noticed him not so furtively looking around for some anyway.

Birds are swarming in the air in arching flocks and then neatly divided and settled on these tall light standards .. sleeping or plane spotting like me?…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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