Monday, 8 January 2018

The Netherlands - Festive Season

I am getting behind more and more and don't really have a lot of spare time to write, but will do my best to get at least through a few days.

On Christmas Eve I travelled to Houten to my niece Heidi, daughter of Wim, where I would stay for a few days, or rather, till after New Year's Eve.  Together we spent the evening with Wim and Gerrie watching 'All you need is Love'. I was warned to bring a box of tissues, but I managed alright.  We finished the night with a very late supper.  When we were young we would go to the midnight Service and then have breakfast before going to bed.  The Service is a thing of the past, but the traditional meal is great.

That night I didn't have to sleep on an air mattress, as I was told before, but Heidi had bought a great bed for the spare bedroom, which looked grand and I slept well the whole week long.

Christmas Day was a quiet but pleasant affair.  I talked to Adele, Kevin and the kids on Skype early in the morning and later in the day Wim & Gerrie, and Tom, Su & Julia arrived.  Together we had dinner to which everyone had contributed something.  

On Boxing Day Pim arrived with Guido and Nils who I hadn't seen for over a year and boy, they had grown.  Delightful, if not noisy at times, to have around....  Pim stayed for lunch so we had time to catch up as well.

The next day we went for a walk with the children and on Thursday Heidi and Gerrie took Guido to Disney on Ice: Cars. Wim wanted to take little Nils for a trip on the train and the bus to Utrecht and I joined them.  We had a great morning.  Nils behaved very well when Wim and I had a cup of coffee at a little restaurant in the city.  He loved the pieces of apple cake with cream that he got from Wim and me. ;-)  Later the others returned from also a great day.  The boys had been given a car each which kept them occupied for a while.

Friday was a day at home again.  I walked to the shops and bought Heidi a small gift for her hospitality and watched the fun on the ice rink.  I would have loved to join in, but felt a bit self-conscious on my own.

And then on Saturday I met with Nicole again for a day geocachen.  I met her at her new home in Houten and then she had a surprise for me: she took me to her new house she was in the process of buying!

After that we went to Goudriaan.  We had planned to find a cache there which was quite a marvellous one and had been 'cache of the month' a while ago.  I heard of it when I was in France and made sure we would go and find this one. 

#1804 - BIJ DE BIJ

 The actual cache was hidden in somewhere in this delightful little Gypsy waggon.  I made the find, we signed the log and sat down for a chat.  There were all sorts of things, from a coffee machine to a tin with Christmas biscuits.  We didn't make coffee, because it was too cold, but ate a few biscuits, took pictures and were on our way again  This really was a cache to never forget.

On the way back to Houten we found a few of a series, but it was too windy and too cold to do much more than that.

 #1805 - Hoogblokland

 #1806 - Vijfheerenlanden 2-8

After this cache we looked for a warmer sport and went to a little café where we had a meal of hot chips and a lovely cup of hot chocolate. Then a few more caches...

#1807 - Vijfheerenlanden 2-7

#1808 - Vijfheerenlanden 2-6

#1809 - Plein

This was the last one, in the Oude Dorp Houten.  Like all the other ones an easy find, and then it was time to go home.  Later we found a great restaurant in Houten where we had dinner together: .....

And then Sunday came around again.  We walked to the shops, but they were closed, contrary to the hours stated on the Internet.  I had already been wondering why all the bins in every town were closed off at the top and had big white plastic bags hanging on the sides. Heidi told me that this was done by the councils to prevent the youngsters from blowing up the bins with fireworks.  They had already been going off all week long, which was quite annoying and actually not legal, but....  We all know about that story....

In the afternoon we went to Heidi's friend Carolien's parents' house where we met a large number of the family and had oliebollen, the traditional Dutch treat on New Year's Eve.  

Later that night Wim & Gerrie, Tom, Su & Julia came around again as well as Carolien & Frank.  At midnight we watched the fireworks which were all around us.  Unlike other countries, in the Netherlands it's still legal to launch fireworks at New Year's Eve.  Although I am generally no longer in favour of it, it's annoying during the days ahead of the actual night and it's dangerous as well, it sure is exciting and a sight to behold.

Eighteen month old Nils was awake and watched the fireworks in awe with us.  Guido was wearing headphones in bed to protect him from the noise and he slept right through it all.

On New Year's Day I had the chance again to watch the New Year's concert from Vienna, which I always liked to watch from childhood onwards and have missed all those years in Australia.  Pim arrived later and we all had lunch together.  After that Pim took the boys home to spend time with him and I packed up and headed home to Liempde.  It was a great week altogether.

We're already a few days down the track now, but the rest will have to wait till I have a moment to do another write up.  Till then.

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