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Looking Back: October 2018

Looking Back: October 2018

It’s January now, but I still wanted to finish the monthly posts I started with last year. I like writing them, if only for my own memory πŸ™‚ So here starts my attempt at catching up: October 2018.

October was actually a nice quiet break after a busy period, and before an even busier period starting in November. During the first week, I worked a lot, but after that my schedule was relaxed. This photo was taken from the office on the 1st of October, I love these kind of skies – and of course the rainbow!

A few days later I went to the city center of Rotterdam to buy a present for a friend – it was a beautiful day, especially with the beginning autumn colours!

That weekend we did something unusual one night: we watched a water polo game in the swimming pool right next to our flat! My sister’s boyfriend plays waterpolo and this time they were playing a match in this pool – I love this place, for a while I went swimming there regularly. Michiel had never even been inside!

We were about the only supporters πŸ˜€ so we had to make a lot of noise! It didn’t help though, they lost rather badly πŸ˜‰ but it was a fun evening!

My friends had been asking for a belly picture, which I didn’t even really have. So Michiel took one for me πŸ™‚ here I’m about 23 weeks or 5 months pregnant.

I took this photo from the metro, on the way back from a dentist visit πŸ˜€ love those views! Rotterdam is such a cool city.

Another nice view of the “Kop van Zuid”, our favourite area in Rotterdam…

It was such a nice day that I decided not to go straight home, I got off the metro and walked to the Kunsthal to see an exhibition. On the way, I saw some really cool murals πŸ™‚

I went to see the exhibition Action <-> Reaction, about 100 years of kinetic art. It was fantastic!

I loved this installation, with lots of mirrors. No surprise it was one byΒ Yayoi Kusama, I love her work!

A play with light and shadows…

I really enjoyed this exhibition and spent a couple of hours there.

A couple of days later I decided to visit my parents, who were staying in a hotel in Wassenaar close to the beach. The same hotel we stayed at back in August, we thought they might enjoy it as well! It was a beautiful sunny and quite warm day, and I rented a bike from the hotel and we went for a cycling trip through the dunes.

A break along the way πŸ™‚

This is the hotel, really nice place!

As the weather was so nice, we decided to have a drink on the terrace outside the hotel. My dad was drinking jenever (Dutch gin) – I loved the reflections in his glass πŸ™‚

I spontaneously decided to stay for dinner as well. With a very yummy dessert πŸ™‚

Later that month I went for a short walk on the city walls of Gorinchem after a checkup by my midwife. The autumn colours were fantastic, and I looked forward so much to Gorinchem becoming my home town – soon!

A few days later we signed some (expensive πŸ˜‰ ) paperwork – a cohabitation agreement and wills for both of us – to make sure all the paperwork is in order before our little girl arrives!

We celebrated with a Bossche Bol πŸ˜€ (traditional Dutch cake)

That evening, we left for Noordwijk for the weekend. My parents had organized a weekend for all of us (including my aunts and uncles) to celebrate my dad’s (and his twin sister’s) 70th birthday, and my parents 45th wedding anniversary. As a present, they had asked that we (the 4 kids) organize a day out for everyone on the Saturday. Nobody knew what we were doing that day… my brother drove all of us to Schiedam first, where we arrived under a fantastic sky!

Our destination was a chocolate shop called De Bonte Koe, in a very pretty building…

We did a workshop in praline making there! We all had to wear funny clothes for hygiene, and learnt how to make chocolate…

It was a lot of fun, and especially my dad took it very seriously!

I think he made the prettiest chocolates of all of us, mine were in no way looking this neat πŸ˜€

After the workshop, we drove on to Futureland, an exhibition center in the middle of the enormous port of Rotterdam, from where you can take excursions by bus and boat. We went on a bus excursion which was really fun. These are gigantic pillars for offshore windmills…

The coolest part is watching the crane load/unload container ships, all completely automatic with self driving trucks. Fascinating!

It was a really fun weekend, and my parents enjoyed the surprise day out πŸ™‚ The next day, we went for a short walk on the beach before returning to Rotterdam.

At work, things have been changing. Another company joined us, which doubled the amount of colleagues – quite nice actually! It also meant some changes in our work schedule, and for the first time I had to work an evening shift. I wasn’t too happy about that (they finished at 22:15, and with parking being a nightmare late in the evening in Rotterdam, it would often be 23:30 before I got home) – but watching the sunset from the office was quite nice at least πŸ™‚

A few days later I went “baby shopping” with Sofie. We had given her a gift voucher a while ago for a day out with us, anything she wanted to do – and this is what she chose πŸ˜€ we went to a huge baby shop, it was a lot of fun actually. We also enjoyed a nice lunch followed by cake πŸ™‚

At the end of the month it was time for holidays! One early Sunday morning we met Jessica and Sander at the airport, ready for an adventure!

We waved goodbye to the Netherlands…

.. and said hello to FLORIDA πŸ˜€

The trip went smoothly and fast, and that evening we were having drinks in the middle of Miami South Beach πŸ™‚

It was Jessica’s and Sander’s first visit to Miami, and our second. Of course we had to photograph the amazing beach houses again, we couldn’t get enough of them πŸ™‚

We had a wonderful time in Miami, and after that we left on a road trip to another exciting city: New Orleans! But by then it was November, and anyway – this trip deserves a blog of its own πŸ™‚

More soon!

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…


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˜‰