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Author: Hanneke

I started my first blog when I left the Netherlands (my home country) for an internship in Alaska in 2004, to keep my friends and family updated on my adventures over there. Little did I know it would be more than 13 years before I'd move back to the Netherlands!

I spent a year in Toulouse (France) before starting a PhD in meteorology at the University of East Anglia in Norwich (UK) in 2005. That's when I started this current blog, first in Dutch but I soon switched to English. I really enjoyed life in the UK, and was actually planning to stay there after my PhD, but "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" and I ended up moving to TromsΓΈ in Northern Norway in 2009. TromsΓΈ is a photographer's dream, surrounded by spectacular mountains, with the light ever changing from the midnight sun in summer to the dark days compensated by aurora-filled nights in winter.

I learnt Norwegian and got a job as a weather forecaster - I got thrown in at the deep end, doing radio interviews and speaking with fishermen with way-too-strong dialects straight from the beginning, before I was anywhere near fluent in Norwegian :D I survived though, and slowly started to do some research on the side. I got more and more involved in research projects and in August 2015 I moved 2000 km south, to Oslo where I started working 100% as a researcher.

A year after moving to Oslo, I met Michiel at a music festival in Brussels :) and we started to travel very frequently between Oslo and Rotterdam, where he lives. You can't do that forever though, and I soon realized I found the perfect "excuse" to finally move back home, something I had been considering many times before. So since July 2017, I'm living in Rotterdam! I'm actually taking some time off before finding a new job, and I'm looking forward to lots of adventures in the near future - so stay tuned!
A sunny weekend

A sunny weekend

May is spoiling us with lots of good weather, and last week I had three days off and really enjoyed the sunshine πŸ™‚ On Friday night I went for a bike ride along the river Rotte at sunset. It was May 4th, which is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands. At 20:00 there is 2 minutes silence to remember the victims of World War II, but also those who came after that. This is why the flag is flying half mast in the photo below.

A bit further along I passed Molen De Vier Winden (The Four Winds), with beautiful flowers (cow parsley and what I believe is called field mustard) in the foreground.

The setting sun was reflected in a window in the distance, it was a beautiful calm scene…

I cycled back on the opposite shore, where I passed De Prinsenmolen (the mill in the first photo) again.

The next day is Liberation Day, where we celebrate our freedom. There are lots of music festivals everywhere, but we decided to avoid the crowds and go for a walk. We went to a small nature area in the dunes near Wassenaar and Scheveningen, called Meijendel. We followed a walking route, but soon our path was blocked by a lot of horses πŸ˜€

The route took us to the sea, where we enjoyed a sunny lunch break. Look how many different colors the water has here…

There are large parts of the dunes area that you can’t walk in as they are protected and fragile. I would have loved to walk to these trees in the open sand area, but at least I got to see them from a viewpoint πŸ™‚

The path next to the sand dunes.

I love this time of year, when the green is so unbelievably bright and fresh!

We stopped at a bird hide where I saw this little grebe (dodaars) – what a cute bird!

We continued our walk back to the starting point, where there’s a restaurant and a big parking lot. It was nice to discover a new area!

On the Sunday the weather was still good, but we were a bit lazy πŸ˜‰ We did go for a bike ride though, to Schiedam. It’s a nearby town that I’ve been meaning to visit since forever, and it’s only about 7 km away πŸ˜€ I only had my phone with me, but I’d love to go back there to take more photos. It’s a beautiful town and it has SEVEN mills in the centre of the town, and they are the tallest in the world! There used to be 20 mills in the town, can you imagine??

Schiedam is famous for the production of jenever (Dutch gin). This is the jenever museum on one of the canals. Can’t believe it took me so long to visit Schiedam πŸ˜€

What a weekend πŸ™‚

Looking Back: April 2018

Looking Back: April 2018

I can’t believe April came and went without me writing some blogs – I’m getting so behind! I worked a lot, but thankfully also had time for a lot of fun things – just not enough time to actually write about them πŸ˜€ At the very least, I try to keep up these monthly posts and hopefully soon I’ll find some more time to write blogs.

The first weekend in April was Easter, and we were invited for a really nice Easter Brunch at Jessica and Sander in Reeuwijk. We even did an Easter egg hunt, which was so hard that I almost gave up on finding all my eggs πŸ˜€ but it was a lot of fun!

After that I worked for 6 days straight. It was tough, I had only just come back from 2 weeks in Norway and these were my first shifts working independently (no longer in training). It also meant getting up every day at 04:20 or 05:20, I think you’ll understand I was half dead by the time I finished the 6 days πŸ˜‰

During the weekend I worked, the temperature reached 20 degrees for the first time this year, which we celebrated with an ice cream πŸ™‚

After this work marathon, I had two days off – but they were spent working on the paper I am STILL trying to get published, going to the dentist and voluntarily going into work for an important meeting. Hmm, not the most relaxing “weekend”!

Later that week, we went to a Clouseau concert (for the second time :D) with Sharon and Renier. The concert was totally different from the one in Amsterdam, it was shorter and they hardly talked between songs. It was nice, but the audience was a bit annoying (talking through the concert and blocking my view, how dare they πŸ˜› ). Still, it was a fun evening!

The second weekend of April was a long weekend for me – 4 days off. I really needed it! I still had to spend some of it on the paper – I will be SO relieved when that is out of the way, hopefully soon.

Still, I found time for a bike ride to my favourite “secret” garden (de Heemtuin) at de Kralingse Plas. I enjoyed watching the birds, and all the spring leaves that had exploded after those first warm days!

I also found this cute baby bunny hiding between the spring leaves…

And a family of pheasants, who always seem to hang around in the garden.

Besides birds and bunnies I also disturbed a couple who obviously thought they’d had the park to themselves on a Friday morning – Spring is in the air I guess πŸ˜›

On Saturday, we went to Gorinchem for a meeting with an estate agent who’s going to help us buy a house. We spent the rest of the day in Gorinchem to explore the town a bit. I fell in love with Gorinchem’s city centre, it’s so beautiful…

The house on the water is actually for sale, we went to look at it later the next week.

What I love about Gorinchem: it feels like a real (albeit small) city, but when you walk on top of the city walls you are right next to the river. Isn’t that great??

Another impression of Gorinchem…

That evening we had dinner in Leerdam, and we also spent the night there. We wanted to get more of a feeling for where we would like to live. I found Leerdam small and sleepy, and much preferred Gorinchem. Good to know!

The next day we drove to Wageningen to visit Michiel’s mum. We stopped to look at a stork along the way. They used to be such a rare sight, but they have become quite common!

We also stopped in Culemborg to look at two houses we had seen for sale. One of them had this view… nice!

On Monday I had another day off, and my car needed to get a service. I took my bike with me and went cycling – the weather was beautiful! I went looking for birds, and I found some πŸ™‚ I believe this is a wood warbler (Fluiter), but I am not totally sure.

I cycled along de river Rotte, and stopped to take some photos of the 3 mills next to each other. I noticed a footh path going from one to the other, so I went for a little walk.

I loved taking photos of the mills with these beautiful clouds in the sky!

When I got to the last one, the miller was just mowing the grass, and he came to talk to me. He was very chatty and friendly, and ended up inviting me to have a look around the mill. I stayed for over an hour, it was so fascinating to hear about how he ended up being a miller andΒ his experiences living in a mill. He even showed me his living room, decorated in old Dutch style.. so nice!

In the hallway you can see parts of the mill, very cool! This mill dates from 1730 (hard to imagine!) and together with the 3 other mills it pumped the water (one step up at each mill) away from the surrounding fields and into the river Rotte. They all still function, and they are a backup for when the pumping station has a power cut.

Next to the mill is the “summer house” which is a tiny living room and a shed, which in the past was used by the wife of the miller during the summer to bake and do other jobs. Below you can see the miller and his ridiculously cute cat, who follows him everywhere!

The mill with the summerhouse on the left.

About once a month, we go for dinner with my family and my uncle Joop. This month it was our turn to chose a restaurant and organize the dinner. Since I knew it was going to be really warm weather, we decided to go for dinner in a restaurant on the beach at Noordwijk. The service at the restaurant was slightly chaotic (it was really busy), but we were in no hurry and it was so nice to eat outside and watch the sunset…

My family πŸ™‚

The lighthouse at Noordwijk, beautifully lit…

The next day we went to look at two houses in Gorinchem. One was the beautiful house by the water that we had seen from the outside the week before. It was built in 1790 and unfortunately not in the best state. It needed a lot of renovation, and it’s a monument which makes all that even more complicated (and expensive). We’d love to buy it, but unfortunately we had to conclude that it’s too much of a financial risk for us.

It was nice to be in Gorinchem again though, it would be so nice to live there. A few streets away from the city center there’s a mill (with a beautiful view over the river)…

It was 28 degrees that day, which called for more ice cream πŸ˜€

A week ago, I went flying with my brother, and my mum joined as well. We were so lucky with the weather!

It was the perfect time to fly over the flower fields with tulips in the west of the Netherlands…

We also flew over the city centre of Haarlem, which was so amazing!!

We stopped for lunch at Texel πŸ™‚

I took so many photos that day, I hope to share them in a blog soon!

The last weekend of April was quiet. I did spend time with my friends Aline and Edwin who came to visit us and we went to see a photo exhibition together. I hadn’t seen them since they came to visit me in TromsΓΈ back in 2013 (click here to read about their visit), and it was really nice to catch up πŸ™‚

On the last day of April we went to see another house in Gorinchem, also in the city centre. It was built in 1999, but it was designed to fit in with the older houses in the street. I liked it, but Michiel was not that keen. So the search continues πŸ˜‰ (if it starts to sound like a never-ending story, my mum keeps reminding me that it took them two years to find a house – so I guess we should be patient πŸ˜€ )

So that was April… It was fun, but hectic. I think May will be better though, I’m going to work 3 days a week instead of 4 so that helps already. I have lots of fun things planned for May: a trip to Brussels with Jessica for example, and I will have friends from Norway visiting not once but twice πŸ˜€

Looking back: March 2018

Looking back: March 2018

Early in March, we had a second viewing of the house in Arkel. After a weekend of brainstorming, we decided to buy it. We almost got it, we got very far in the negotiating process, but in the end the seller surprised everyone (including the estate agent) by selling it directly to someone else. It was so disappointing, it still makes me sad. We got so close! Oh well, chin up and we’ll keep looking!

That weekend I also went to a winter bird excursion to Ackerdijkse Plassen, a nearby nature reserve.

We spent the next weekend in Haarlem, but since Michiel had a work meeting in Leiden on Friday afternoon, I came with him and walked around Leiden for a couple of hours. I took a lot of photos and plan to spend them on my blog soon! Here’s one photo taken at the Burcht πŸ™‚

We spent a great weekend in Haarlem, Michiel’s sister and her boyfriend joined as well. This is where I grew up, so I showed everyone around Haarlem on Saturday. The weather was a bit grey, but it was a really nice day.

A cat in front of the former prison in Haarlem, which we would visit on an excursion the next day!

Our actual reason for visiting Haarlem was my birthday present by Bart and Kaya: a dinner trip around the world in 5 courses. The menu was AMAZING and the evening was wonderful – what a great birthday present!!

On Sunday we went on an excursion to the former prison in Haarlem, it was housed in a round building. Our guide talked a LOT but finally we did reach the room that we came to see, and that was really impressive… More photos on my blog soon!

I then spent a busy week at work, where I started at 06:30 every day. That meant I didn’t do much else that week, although we did find time for a dinner with my parents and a visit to the theatre to see Fiddler on the Roof with Thomas Acda. Very nice!

On Saturday our friend Katharina and her boyfriend Joris came to visit us (from Brussels/Antwerp). We showed them around Rotterdam on a VERY cold day. The temperature was just below zero, but it was very windy which made it feel like -15!

We finished the afternoon with beer and cider in Fenix Food Factury πŸ™‚ We went home early, because I had to pack for a two week holiday…

I spent the last two weeks of March in Norway. My friend Nicole, who lives in Seattle, always wanted to visit me while I lived in TromsΓΈ. She never got the chance until now (only 3 years after I moved from TromsΓΈ πŸ˜‰ ), and I decided going back to Norway for holidays would be fun.

We had an amazing trip! Our first stop was Svalbard, the real Arctic, and as Nicole put it: the closest to the North Pole we’d ever get!

We had such a great time there. It was my third visit, but I’m still as amazed by this area every time I visit. We went dog sledding and we went on a long snow scooter trip to the east coast. So beautiful! I hope to publish a blog post about Svalbard soon πŸ™‚

Our next stop was TromsΓΈ, where we got to see the northern lights in all its glory already on our first night!

We also spent a few days on the island Senja, in a DNT cabin… there was so much snow, and it kept snowing all week.

Finally we had a day in Oslo before we both flew back home. Nicole visited her family-in-law, while I spent a wonderful day catching up with friends in the spring sunshine. The highlight of the day was sharing a wonderful sauna experience with Teresa – with this view!

And with that, March came to an end. What a wonderful month! πŸ™‚