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Category: The Netherlands

Looking back: September 2018

Looking back: September 2018

It’s the last day of September and for once I am on time with this monthly overview blog πŸ˜‰ Compared to July and August, September was a lot better. Especially towards the end of the month, we were finally able to slow down a bit and feel a bit more in control. The beginning of September was still very hectic though, we spent the first weekend emptying the flat of Michiel’s mum which was hard both physically and emotionally.

The second weekend we decided to go for a little break. We went to Dwingeloo in Drenthe, where I also spent a couple of days last summer (click here for that blog) and we stayed at the same B&B as I did then – but this time we got the luxury “sterrenstudio” (star studio). It was a beautiful room which had a big window right above the bed so you can watch the stars at night – I loved it πŸ™‚

My parents love Drenthe as well, so they joined us, but they slept in their camper. The first day it was raining for most of the day, but in the afternoon it cleared up and we went for a little walk where we saw lots of sheep πŸ™‚

I loved the clouds that day, they were very photogenic…

My parents on the big field of heather at the Dwingelderveld National Park.

Driving back, we saw this beautiful cloud with a rainbow underneath and Michiel was kind enough to stop the car so I could get a photo!

That evening we had dinner together. It was a really nice evening, though the portions were huge and we all felt like we should not be eating for the next 3 days πŸ˜›

The next day we rented bikes and I came up with a nice route to cycle…

It took us past this mill, that turned out to be open for visitors.

So we took a look inside, and were invited for a tour by the miller. Very nice!

She talked a lot though, but that gave me time to take some fun photos of the spinning wheel at the top of the mill.

I find mills fascinating, they are so old and they creak and they move right above your head…

Ready to continue our bike trip. I didn’t take any more photos but we had a really nice weekend away!

Fast forward to later that month, we went to Gorinchem for the 20 week ultrasound and found out we’re having a girl πŸ™‚ very nice! Afterwards we had dinner in the town center overlooking this nice square…

A couple of days later CΓ©lia was in the Netherlands for work and she came early so we went to visit Jessica in Gouda as CΓ©lia hadn’t seen their new house yet. It’s in walking distance from Gouda’s city center where we enjoyed a nice lunch…

And afterwards we did the touristy thing and took selfies on the square…

It was a beautiful day!

One early morning at work we had this view at sunrise… amazing!

A week later we were back in Gorinchem to meet with a contractor at our new house. I went there by train and spent some time walking around the town center, pretty as always… Can’t wait until we can call Gorinchem home!

Here we are in front of our new house after the meeting. It went well, now we’re just (im)patiently waiting for the quotation to see how much we will be able to afford πŸ˜‰

Yesterday was another beautiful autumn day (September has been beautiful!) and I decided to go for a walk at the Ackerdijkse PlassenΒ (where I went on a bird excursion back in March). I climbed up one of the bird watching towers…

Which had a fantastic view! It was fun to be in such a beautiful nature area, but see the skyline of Rotterdam on the horizon πŸ™‚

Another beautiful view from the bird watching tower…

I continued my walk and visited another viewpoint / bird hut. It overlooked this small lake with lots of cormorants – very nice!

The path to the bird hide was full of small mushrooms and I took some photos of them…

Pretty but tiny mushrooms!

This is the path to the bird hide, lined by knotted willows…

Nice views at sunset, I loved this area!

A farm right on the edge of the nature area, must be a nice place to live!

Autumn berries…

And another photo of the berries. Autumn is really here!

And with that, September is coming to an end. It was a busy month, but it has been good. We prepared a lot of things for our new house: we bought a sofa and a kitchen, met the contractor to talk about renovating the bathroom and possibly placing roof windows in the living room. We bought a floor for the kitchen… Lots and lots of decisions to make, and lots of money that has to be spend πŸ˜‰ We’ll get the key in about 5 weeks, so I think November and December are going to be really busy trying to get the house as ready as possible before we move in. So we better make the most of relatively quiet October πŸ˜‰

Looking back: July & August 2018

Looking back: July & August 2018

It’s mid September and I still haven’t posted anything from July or August. I’ve been postponing it, as these two months are not easy to write about. This past summer was so full of extremes, and I’m not talking about the extreme heat and drought, which in itself was crazy. It was more that life took us on a crazy rollercoaster, from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. I’ve had this blog for 13 years now, but I tend to write about adventures (small or big) and not what goes on in my personal life. This time however, I feel that I can’t just skip over everything personal. So I’ll try to share some of it in this post, but of course I’ll still show you photos of whenever I found something pretty to capture πŸ™‚

In early July I met with a former colleague from TromsΓΈ in Wageningen, she was there for a conference. We had a nice dinner outside while catching up, and since it was such a lovely evening we decided to go for a walk afterwards. We found some nice quiet paths near the river to explore…

The atmosphere was almost magical with those sunset colors, cows in the water and church bells ringing in the distance.

The path we followed…

Sunset and a happy Hanneke who really enjoyed this beautiful evening!

A couple of days later we drove to Amsterdam for a concert I’d been looking forward to for a very long time: Paul Simon!!

We had good places and the concert was AMAZING! It gave me goosebumps to get to see and hear him sing. He’s 76 and I find it incredible that he still does huge shows like this – and I totally understand he wants to retire now. He brought really good musicians as well, they were a joy to watch as they obviously loved every second of the show.

Early mornings at work are less painful when the view is like this…

A nice view of a mill while walking through Gorinchem on the way to another viewing of a house. Another sunny and warm day, and the colour of the grass shows how little rain we had that month!

The house we went to see was this oneΒ – and we both fell in love with it. We loved the amount of space, how it was surrounded by green, how it’s on a quiet dead end street with plenty of parking, the large balcony, nice garden, and all this less than a km from the beautiful city centre of Gorinchem. The next day, on Friday the 13th, we made an offer and it was accepted!! We could hardly believe that we finally got lucky and we were so happy!! We celebrated with ice cream that evening on the first night of North Sea Jazz πŸ™‚

North Sea Jazz was really great. We went for 2 nights in a row. The highlight for my was Gregory Porter singing Nat King Cole with the Metropole Orkest, it was fantastic πŸ™‚ The photo below was taken at the cider bar, my favourite place the year before – but this year I was drinking ice tea and apple juice… For a very good reason: I’m pregnant and we’re expecting our first child in February! Exciting times! But that’s also why I haven’t been taking many photos, for the first 12 weeks I was exhausted and most food repelled me. A few days after this photo we had the 12 weeks ultrasound and we finally decided to share the news with everybody, which was a lot of fun.

A random photo taken in the July heat – this is where I work!

Later that week we had a summer dinner with my family! No idea why my sister was wearing her helmet at the table, it was probably part of some joke that I can’t remember now πŸ˜‰ it was a nice evening!

We had an inspection of the new house done (luckily no issues were found!) and after that we signed the preliminary contract – YAY!

My parents came to Gorinchem for the inspection (as they wanted to see the house) and they stayed near the river in their camper. The photo below is taken by my mum, but I love it so much that I wanted to share it here πŸ™‚

That weekend we went to a party in Wageningen: Michiel’s aunt turned 70 and she celebrated with a big garden party, with nice food and live music…

The birthday lady herself πŸ™‚

At the end of July, finally some much needed rain…

I even saw this shelf cloud from our kitchen window – nice!

This photo makes me laugh, I was ready for a sleep test then. I’ve been going to speech therapy lately, as I had some problems with my voice. The speech therapist sent me for a check at the hospital, to see if anything was stopping me from breathing through my nose (I’ve never done that…), and for some reason the doctor at the hospital made me do a sleep test. It looks hilarious, but I was really not amused when they connected everything like this at the hospital and I had to cycle home looking like this!!! I just wanted to hide in the hospital’s toilet and wait until it was dark! Luckily we live close to the hospital. Oh, and spoiler alert: nothing worrying was found with the sleep test. I’m totally fine.

The next day I happily returned all the gear back to the hospital (luckily I was allowed to remove it myself before cycling there!). I was finally starting to have more energy and I decided to go for a walk at the coast at Oostvoorne. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the fresh air and nice views…

But while walking on the beach there I got a phone call from Michiel. His mum had just had some very bad news at the hospital, it was not looking good and he was on his way to Wageningen. She’d been struggling with her health for a couple of months and they never really found what was wrong, other than some issues with her back which were giving her a lot of pain. But now they had found something, it looked like a tumor and it was bad news. Not knowing much, I drove back home, packed a bag with clothes for a couple of days for both of us and drove to Wageningen as well.

And although we knew the news wasn’t good, who would expect we would not come home until 7 days later, defeated, having to prepare a funeral… I felt like I got 10 years older in 7 days time. His mum was brave and strong, consoling us more than we could console her. We did still have time to say goodbye, and time to say all we wanted to say, and for that I am grateful. But losing her in our life, and for our little one to not have her as her biggest fan, that hurts so much. Life can be so so unfair!

One thing that helped us through that week is that my parents decided to stay nearby in their camper. Every now and then we had a little break visiting them, like here where they stayed at a beautiful place near the river.

Then came a busy time where a lot had to be organized, first of all the funeral. We managed to organize the ceremony in her sprit, there were a lot more people than we had expected and asking for a single sunflower instead of bouquets resulted in a sea of yellow. The jazzband she always listened to offered to play at the end of the ceremony and that was just beautiful.

The day after, we went to stay at a boutique hotel near the beach, just to have a little break and a sort of closure. It was relaxing and it did us good. From the balcony we looked over the dunes, a very nice place.

The next day was our anniversary… It felt a bit strange, but we decided to celebrate anyway. Michiel’s mum’s motto in life was: ENJOY. She said it all the time, sometimes it made me laugh… but she was so right of course, and now it was more clear than ever: enjoy every single moment in life, you never know what happens tomorrow. So to celebrate our anniversary, we made our own hamburgers πŸ˜€ a nice tradition!

One Friday we went to sign the mortgage papers (another step closer to being home owners!). Michiel had an appointment in Amsterdam that day, and I decided to come with him and visit my aunt. This photo was taken from the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) close to where she lives. I loved having the Dutch skies back – the heatwaves of this summer made the skies boring for a photographer πŸ˜€

After visiting with my aunt, I walked to the central station. It was such a nice day…

Pretty!

From the central station I took the free ferry to the NSDM wharf. Michiel was visiting a colleague who lives in that area. I had never really been here, it’s a really cool area to explore! I loved this large mural of Anne Frank…

And I loved watching more graffiti in the making…

Later in the month I finally had time and energy for my favourite bike ride to the mills again…

This short (about 10 km) bike ride never disappoints and I always find something fun to take photos of πŸ™‚

I sat on the dike for a while, enjoying the nice weather and the liveliness of all the boats on the river and lake.

One thing I really miss while being pregnant is sushi! One day I decided to order some anyway. Vegetarian sushi as well as “safe” (nothing raw) fish for me, “real” sushi for Michiel. See how happy that made him πŸ˜‰ As for me, well… it’s just not really the same… sigh πŸ˜‰

During the last week of August, my nieces Mare and Lena came to stay with us for 3 days. It was really nice!

The next day Jessica joined us and we went to visit MiniWorld, which shows Rotterdam in miniature. It’s quite cool, with a daylight-nighttime cycle where the lights change during sunset and nighttime.

Afterwards we had delicious pancakes for lunch… πŸ™‚

We then took the metro and the very cool escalator at Wilhelminaplein.

We took the bridge from Hotel New York to the Fenix Food Factory, which took a loooooong time because Lena wanted to touch every single heart shaped lock that was attached to the bridge, haha!

Jessica went to take some photos of the Fenix hall to decorate their new house with. It’s a very photogenic place!

Of course we couldn’t resist ordering some more food here, it was good and it was fun πŸ˜€

Then Jessica went home, and we took a watertaxi to the other side of the river. We didn’t get the superfast one, but a fancy slower one from Hotel New York, which Lena was happy with and Mare disappointed about πŸ˜‰ The Wereldmuseum (World Museum) was being renovated, so only one room was open – we watched a film there.

The next day we spent a couple of hours shopping in Rotterdam, or perhaps we spent most of our time playing with the water fountains in de Koopgoot…

We had a break with really delicious cake at Picknick πŸ™‚

And after that, it was time to drive back to Haarlem and take them back to my brother and Kaya. We had a nice dinner there. And with that, the sad month of August at least ended on a happy note…

Looking back: June 2018

Looking back: June 2018

Since August starts tomorrow, I figured it’s high time I write a blog about JUNE. Ahh I am so behind πŸ˜‰

We spent the first weekend in June in Groningen, celebrating Michiel’s birthday πŸ™‚ It’s a beautiful city that I used to visit a lot, but it had been a long time… nice to be back!

We first explored the city by following an architecture walk, which ended at the Groninger Museum. This is the most famous museum in Groningen, and well worth a visit. Inside and outside, it’s a really cool modern building with lots of surprises inside. A very nice afternoon!

A selfie in our hotel room before going out for Michiel’s birthday dinner.

I found a really nice sounding Italian restaurant through TripAdvisor: Gustatio. You have to book in advance as the restaurant is tiny and quite popular. It was AMAZING! An Italian restaurant in the best possible way: run by Italians, serving classical, simple Italian pasta dishes that are SO tasty, served in a really relaxed way and not expensive at all. Somehow I only have a good photo of our desserts, which were heaven πŸ™‚

After dinner, the clouds finally broke and the light was beautiful. We walked around the city, finding some beautiful places.

The Martini tower, a famous landmark in the city…

Beautiful houses near the Martini tower…

The next day we decided to drive over the Afsluitdijk (a 30 km long dike!), because Michiel had never driven over it. That’s unacceptable for a Dutch person, so we had to fix this πŸ˜‰ On the way to my brother’s birthday party, we stopped for lunch in my favourite little village: De Rijp. Always beautiful…

The next day I was working, and after work we were going to a Beck concert in Tilburg with Maarten and Suus. I finish work at 14:00 and had to wait for Michiel to finish, so I went for a walk in a neighbourhood of Houten (where we both work) I had seen on Instagram and was keen to see for myself. Quite an amazing colourful place with houses built right on the water, very cool!

Basically a modern version of those old wooden houses in De Rijp!

I spent the second weekend of June working, but after work on Saturday we went to Reeuwijk to have dinner with Jessica, Sander and the boys. We had something to celebrate: they sold their house! They had already bought an amazing house in Gouda, so plenty of reason for a toast!

After that weekend, I had some days off. We went to visit Michiel’s mum in Wageningen. The weather was beautiful and we went for a walk just outside the city – I love this area!

Back in Rotterdam, I finally managed to visit the Hyperrealism exhibition in de Kunsthal (modern art museum). It was fantastic, some sculptures were so realistic it made you confused. Others were quite bizarre, but so fascinating. You can read more about it hereΒ (although the exhibition has now finished).

During the next weekend, the Architecture Days took place in Rotterdam, with lots of excursions. I booked us on an excursion to visit the inside of the Erasmus bridge. It was really cool! We got to see the gigantic hall inside the bridge, with the mechanism for opening the bridge. We were even allowed to stay there when the bridge opened, an impressive experience!

Impressive to see the cables…

A few days later my parents came to visit us in Rotterdam. We had a nice dinner together, and the day after I took them for a bike ride to the Kralingse Plas and the Heemtuin. This summer has been crazy hot and sunny, but that day was an exception: it was cold, cloudy, windy and rainy. Oh well πŸ˜‰

We got caught in a rain shower, which was a good excuse for a coffee break! Here my mum looks very sceptical of me taking a photo, as usual πŸ˜› And yes, I was having a hot chocolate, it was that cold!

That afternoon I went home with them, because we had tickets for a Passenger concert on the beach in Bloemendaal. It all sounded so nice when I booked it, but it was COLD for an outdoor concert, and (in my opinion) they let too many people into the venue. We stood in the back and hardly saw anything. Oh well, Passenger always manages to include everyone but still, it wasn’t my favourite concert experience. I think my favourite part of the night was actually when the concert finished and we saw this amazing sunset from the beach!

A really beautiful end of an otherwise very gray day! πŸ™‚ Not a silver lining, but a golden lining!

And with that, June came to an end. Can you believe I took no photos at all with my SLR? Even worse, not during July either… Oh well! More on July soon(ish) πŸ˜‰