Local Heart, Global Soul

March 16, 2015

With All This Rain No Wonder The Greenery Is On Overdrive…

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our  long weekend holiday in the Veluwe, was an extended family trip, made once a year so that Oma (Grandmother) now in her 90’s could enjoy seeing as many of her children, in-laws and grandchildren as possible in one place for an extended time.

Naturally since the Landal holiday park was located within a large area of nature, and the weather on the first day was good, the physically fit members of the family dragged out the bicycles for themselves and a litter of interested children and set out on a long cycling tour of the area.

One of the other adults looked after several other kids who wanted to take part in a forestry and wood chopping course on offer by the park,  and Himself offered to take his mother to see the graves of her parents, since this was close to the area where she spent her childhood years.

Since I can’t participate in either of the other activities, I opt to join Himself and Oma for the car ride excursion.

I’m not sure why after living so long in the Netherlands, I’m still shocked at the speed at which the weather can change. As we headed away from the holiday park and headed towards Emerlo, from a clear blue sky a few grey clouds accumulated on the horizon.

Our destination took us towards them and they seems to grow blacker by the minute as we approached. Murphy’s Law dictated that in the last kilometres the first fat droplets of water descended and grew heavy by the time we arrived.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Luckily this graveyard, situated at the back of the church is full of large trees we could shelter underneath once we exited the car.

As far as graveyards go, this one is really nondescript, statues and any decorative elements being starkly absent, typical of the Dutch Reformed Church.(Calvinistic = no fussiness, no frills, nothing unnecessary).

It’s very compact in size but the plant life was having a field day.

Maybe it was just the time of year, when everything grows meters daily right under your nose, or taking ecological habitat for birds, bees and insects to a radical level, or maybe the Gemeente (city council) had too many budget cuts…

…who knows, but one thing is for sure,  you’d couldn’t complain that there wasn’t enough greenery around.

A pause in the rain allowed us to take a little look around, Oma enjoyed visiting her parents graves and since the place was very small the visit was short. We also saw the house she grew up in (long since out of the family) and then we tried to see other points of interest from her childhood and teenage days but with several neighbourhood roads completely closed because they were being repaved,  and the distance around them being too far for her to walk, that wish out of the three, went unfulfilled.

Still, since Oma now lives several hours drive away from this place and in her 90’s travelling any distance is becoming more and more difficult, each visit she can manage here is special. Also on a personal level, it’s nice to document something that might be valuable to future generations if they wish to dig into their family history and how where this particular generation of the family are buried. (Naturally I have left identifying information off this blog post, but it’s all already available within the family, this this post adds photographs of the location.)

(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)

Oma’s former childhood home…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

March 13, 2015

A Long Weekend Journey East…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

With a Mother / in Law  / Grandmother (Oma) now in her 90’s, a few years ago the family decided that it would be good to organise a family weekend where as many of her children and their families could get together and spend extended quality time with her for a weekend away one time per year.

This would allow her to spend time with everyone as a group and for her to see grandchildren from more than one family playing together etc.

Since several family members wished to conserve their annual leave for other planned events, the easiest way to make the weekend happen is to have it coincide with a public holiday that falls on either a Monday or a Friday,  and go away for a long weekend.

Oma no longer wants to travel too far and with my foot injury I have just as much difficulty as she does when it comes to car journey’s, so a maximum commute of a few hours works out fine for us both and that’s what bought us to our destination: The Veluwe.

Situated in the province of Gelderland, the Veluwe is the biggest national park in the Netherlands and certainly the biggest area of natural “wilderness” that a small crowded country like the Netherlands has. Similarly to the New Forest on the south coast of England, the Veluwe is an area of nature that is not  completely empty, but dotted with small towns and villages, has many tourist areas like camp grounds, and even large museums and a (former) stately home parks.

Three cars take three families plus Oma out of the Hague and we hit the road to escape our usual big city living…

(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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veluwe

August 6, 2014

The Family Stays and Oma Pays… (For Which We Are Very Grateful Too)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s the evening after the cat-rescue that wasn’t, and our in-law’s have returned from a long day in Volos doing legal paperwork and working out how and where to get a few specialist house repair items in Greek and in a small Greek town.

The four to five hour return drive made it a long day so this was a perfect day for both families to get together and go to a restaurant for a meal.

This all took place of course way back in the last week October 2012 and since our two families now constituted the last handful of tourists in Platania, we and a few locals had the restaurant to ourselves.

Our in-laws have been coming to this area for over twenty years and in past decades  Oma (Grandmother: Himself and sister-in-laws mother) would join them for a part of  each summer. Back on this day in 2012 Oma was nearing ninety years of age and for some years had ceased these visits, finding the travel too tiring and being far less able to deal with the high temperatures.

She was delighted to hear that family Kiwidutch were going to visit one of her favourite places for the first time and with fond memories of Platania, had offered to “Trakteren” . It means “to treat” but more specifically it means to offer to pay for a dinner/lunch /drinks or in a work situation maybe something like cake for afternoon tea etc.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

She couldn’t join us in person but wanted to in the New Zealand terminology wanted to “shout” us all dinner.

This was the perfect day to take up her generous offer and by chance my sister in law immediately said that she would like us all to go to Spiros, coincidently the same place family Kiwidutch had been for lunch.

Once there and after some discussion we found that my favourite fish dish was not available because the fishing boats were late back into port, so our in-laws ordered the Greek equivalent of “tapas”. Lots of little dishes duly arrived (the names were only given verbally so I didn’t have a hope of remembering them all) and we could all try what we wanted.

I am allergic to squid and all things from the molusc family so stuck to the fish and declined desert after sampling a teaspoon from Himself’s place because as usual Greek deserts are mega sweet.The meal was unusual but tasty even although our fussy children stuck mostly to bread and fries, because in the words of Little Mr. “eew the tomato and onion have touched  the cucumber!” we all had fun. (Three guesses who’s getting double doses of vegetables when we get back to The Netherlands?).

Maybe it’s the weather, the growing climate or tradition but I haven’t seen any vegetables such as broccoli, beans , cauliflower, leeks etc here at all so far. Just as well the kids like cucumber and the adults like the traditional Greek Salads!

(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)

Kid entertainment (I’m sure this isn’t  how backgammon is played lol) The kids had fun anyway!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Restaurant Spiros by day…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

November 12, 2013

Determination Means Not Ever Giving Up, No Matter What (Or How Long) It Takes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This isn’t my first visit to Bruges.  I was last here with my parents in 1988 because we were visiting relatives in The Netherlands and made a week long side trip that incorporated London and an overnight stop in Bruges on the way back.

Back then it was literally a whistle-stop visit, we arrived in the afternoon, I was able to visit Michelangelo’s  statue of  Madonna in the Church of Our Lady. All I remember of the church was a quick glimpse of the statue because we arrived minutes before the churched closed for the day and joined at least a hundred other tourists who were also trying to get a last minute peek.

My one precious (film was very expensive) photograph was a beautifully blurred example because I got elbowed by someone as I clicked the shutter closed, but I still kept the photo for a long time afterwards because it was a reminder and proof  that I had really seen a real Michaelangelo.  You can imagine my pride as I pulled the photo out with the apology, “I know the photo’s not great but that white blurred blob really IS a real Michelangelo statue!”.  I remembered absolutely nothing else about the interior of the church, but it was something behind the church that has been the driving force behind my wish to return here ever since that d.ay

My father had a back problem and had been tired out by an incident earlier :  His mother (my Dutch Oma) had requested a special sort of  chocolate from Bruges. We had very limited time on that trip and the shops were starting to shut, but my father hadn’t managed to track down these elusive favourites and he openly admitted that he was too scared to go back to her without them.

Therefore i witnessed my father literally running from one chocolate shop to another minutes before closing time trying to find what he wanted. Finally there was a lady who was actually trying to close the shop door to lock up for the night, but had answered “yes we have those, but we are closed so please come back tomorrow” to the question my father has asked.

He was however so intent on not leaving empty handed that he jammed his foot in the door and then the rest of him, and refused to budge until the lady sold him what he wanted.  Witnessing your father physically wrestling with the door that this Belgium lady was just as intent on closing was one of those life’s images burned into my brain. My mother and I thought it was all very comical but for him it was no laughing matter. Eventually the lady gave up trying to evict him and with a lot of muttering and grumbling because the till had already been closed she sold him the chocolates he wanted.

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

Afterwards my Mother dared to ask if we could try one… the glare we both received told us that probably the second worst thing to facing Oma without her favourite chocolates would be facing her with a depleted supply, so it was more than our lives were worth to dare touch that little gift wrapped cardboard box.

After this incident we had managed our few minutes inside the church and now that all the drama and rush was over,  all my father wanted to do was to collapse back at the hotel.  It was a beautiful summer’s night and the hotel was close by so I elected to walk around the church first and set out by myself.  I remember the stillness of the evening as I stumbled upon a little bridge over the canal,  situated just behind the church: there were beautiful buildings on the canal around it and I was completely and utterly alone.

The evening light was magical and the stillness,  solitude and peace  of the moment in this beautiful spot left a lasting impression.  I spent about twenty minutes there before other people arrived and the spell was broken.

Ever since that day I knew I wanted to return one day to that one little spot in Bruges, and now decades later I have finally done it. Amazingly the details were exactly as I remembered,  even the weather was similar, but unfortunately this time there was no total solitude and silence.  A constant stream of tourists kept coming to the bridge, photographs would be taken at each end and in the middle… getting photos without “extra’s” posing in them became a the challenge that I was determined to win. It took a while but Velveteen and I were determined, patient and at least partially successful.

This post therefore has become one of persistence on many levels, and whilst I have no idea what the canal or this area are officially called, the little path across the bridge becomes a cherished trip down memory lane.

(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 © Velveteen)used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen)used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen)used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen)used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen)used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen)used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen)used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen)used with permission

August 31, 2013

Loving It, Hating It and Not Knowing What You Might be Letting Yourself In For…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer our visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” (I’m using her internet screen name for privacy reasons) stayed at the  Saracens Head  Hotel in Great Dunmow whilst Himself and the kids enjoyed roughing it in tents with a group of friends.

One of the bonuses of staying in a hotel was that breakfast was included so over the time of our stay we collected quite a few Foodie photos. This is a compilation of them all.

“Velvetine”  adores eggs, so opted for an egg dish every day in the form of a cooked English breakfast or  Eggs Benedict (with Hollandaise sauce)  or Egg Florentine (with hollandaise and spinach), and another version that I can’t remember the name of that had salmon as the extra ingredient.

I also rekindled my love of Marmite… when I first came to Europe I was used to the New Zealand version of Marmite and didn’t like the flavour of the English one,  and then it became a moot point because Marmite wasn’t available in the Netherlands anyway.

Now, years later I can get Marmite in one of the Dutch  ex-pat specialty shops but never bothered because I assumed I wouldn’t  like it. On a whim I tried Marmite again some 20 years after my first attempt at British marmite and probably because I have completely lost the taste of the New Zealand version, I discovered I liked it, and liked it a lot.

A large pot of marmite went into our shopping basket before we went back to the Netherlands and I have been buying it and having it semi-regularly ever since.  Marmite is a “love it” or “hate it” kind of taste, and I have one enduring memory of it as a child.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think that my sister and must have been around eight years old.  My Dutch Oma (grandmother) was visiting New Zealand and she didn’t speak English.

My sister and I had limited Dutch. The kitchen was a little off the dining room and my Father and Mother were busy there, leaving my sister and I with Oma at the breakfast table.

We looked in awe and amazement when Oma suddenly seized the pot of Marmite with great delight and issued a torrent of excited Dutch at a rate we had no hope of keeping up with.

I clearly remember her spreading a very thick layer of Marmite on her bread and watched as the slow-motion-like sequence of events unfolded. She raised the bread to her mouth with a massive smile, My sister and I were still dumb-struck at how much Marmite she had used and sat in stupid wonder.

As she chewed that first bite a look of shock and horror came over her face and her whole face crumpled up, and we then witnessed an elderly lady make a spritely dash for the rubbish tin accross the room, where the offending material was deposited.

Then came the shriek of disgust and another torrent of Dutch that bought my father running from the kitchen, as apparently Oma thought she had found some sort of Dutch stroop (a sweet  dark syrup) in New Zealand that she really missed and had expected something sweet on her bread.

It appeared that her bitter disappointment was both figurative and literal.  My Father then gave my sister and I a strict telling off for not stopping her… which I remember to this day because I thought it most unjust.

How were we to have known that she didn’t know it was Marmite? The transformation on Oma’s face as the realisation hit was however an enduring memory that will remain with me for all my days. Now I can laugh and see the funny side but at the time she definitely couldn’t.  I suppose it was safe to say that we didn’t any translation that day to tell us that she wasn’t in the Marmite  “love it” camp.

(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)

I think Velvetine made off with the photo trophy of the series with these two very photogenic Egg Florentine photographs…

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

August 5, 2011

Looking to the Past and Thinking of the Future…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the items on my  “101 Things in 1001 Days” task list  is:

18. To chase up family history from some older family members before it’s too late.

My Mother passed away some twenty years ago and now with children of my own I started to realise that there are soooo many things I wish I could have asked her, not only about her life but also about my Grandparents on her side of the family too.

My Mother-in-Law is approaching 90 years of age, and whilst she is becoming  becoming physically frail,  mentally she is still capable: to the point where she still lives independently, albeit with ever increasing  assistance from family members.

My Father recently married his partner of a decade and I realised that since I have now lived a substantial part of my life on the other side of the world, and only see them intermittently, that I know rather little about my new Step-Mother too.

To this end I have sent Himself out with a shopping list for books…  the “Oma / Opa vertel ‘s”  books to be exact. (the ‘s  is the shortened form of the word “eens“= a kind of filler word in Dutch that doesn’t have a really literal translation in this particular instance, but  the title translates literally as “Grandma tell us…” “Grandpa tell us… (a story)” and these are separate books that you give as a gift to your parents or grandparents to fill in.

As far as I know these are a fairly recent innovation and I think, a brilliant idea. These books are of course, (naturally enough since we are in the Netherlands) only available in the Dutch language, but since my Father is Dutch he will help my non dutch speaking Step-Mother fill hers in.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On various pages there is space for free texts, but on many pages there are various prompts to get the thought processes going.

Basic stuff is covered, like where the person was born, how many brothers and sisters they had etc but there are also many prompts about childhood games, toys, celebrations, family traditions, typical food they ate, what their school days were like, work and social habits, how holidays were spent, differences they have noticed between when they were young and now,  their studies, apprenticeships or first work experiences, how they met their husband/wife etc.

All of this is designed to build up a picture what their lives were like as children,  teenagers and adults.

I like that this gives an insight to our parents and grandparents lives on detail,  issues, and experiences that are often, for many many often complicated reasons just aren’t discussed when we are together in person.

Today’s life is very much lived in the “here and now” and we don’t tend to sit down and talk about the past, let alone document it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

By giving my Father, Step-Mother and Mother-in-Law one of these books each, I hope that they will be inspired to jot down many things that will enlighten me about their lives and to give their grandchildren (my children) an enduring record to treasure when they are old enough to appreciate it.

Family history is more than just doing a genealogy search and  labeling a Family Tree (sigh. that  task is however still on my long  list for “one day” but  a too large and complicated  task for me right now). In the meantime I hope to make the people who are alive today, into real human beings with personal histories and not just a date of birth, marriage and death.

If course, once my 1001 Days is up and I sit to make a list of new 101 tasks, I’m sure that one of the new entires will to be to buy a copy of this book for Himself and myself, (yes I know, we aren’t Grandparents yet, but the principle is there) and for us to start making entries of our own,  (especially the more private stuff that doesn’t go into this blog)  to fill in our kids about our own lives as children and things about their parents that they might appreciate when they are old enough too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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