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Looking back: May 2018

Looking back: May 2018

I can’t believe June is nearly over before I managed to write this post about May – oops!

May was a great month, with lots of nice weather. During the first weekend I made the most of the weather which you can read all about in a blog about that weekend. It involved mills along the river Rotte…

And a nice walk through the dunes to the beach πŸ™‚

I briefly went back to work, and then Jessica and I took the train to Brussels to visit CΓ©lia (and Ben) for two days. It was a really nice girls weekend in sunny Ukkel…

We went for a nice walk, and discovered that Ukkel, although part of Brussels, feels more like the countryside!

One of the reasons for our visit was to finally see the amazing flat that CΓ©lia and Ben have bought. It is just amazing, I couldn’t get enough of the views and the HUGE terrace. Here we are enjoying a wonderful dinner with Jerome, watching the sunset… Can’t wait to visit again!

When I came back, we went almost straight to my favourite food festival TREK, which is held in a park very close to our house. My favourite tractor-DJ was there again πŸ™‚

It was a lot of fun, I even took a ride in the swing carousel with the daughter of friends πŸ˜€ Unfortunately it was really busy as it was Ascension Day and the lines were really long, so we didn’t stay long in the end.

I finally spent an evening taking photos of Rotterdam by night, or more specifically the Erasmus bridge which was lit in white and green to commemorate the bombing of Rotterdam 78 years ago. More photos here πŸ™‚

Later that month, I finally submitted my paper again, which was a huge relief and called for celebrating with sushi πŸ˜€ We discovered a new place, which is now by far our favourite and so much better than all the other take-away places. For those in Rotterdam, it’s called Sushi CompanyΒ and we can really recommend the chef’s special πŸ™‚ Spoiler alert: the paper has now FINALLY been accepted and it’s even already published.

The next weekend, we went to another food truck festival with friends, this time next to de Kralingse Plas (Rrrollend Rotterdam). I have to say, I liked this festival even better than TREK, it was relaxed and the food was great.

It was the Pentecost weekend, and we spent almost the entire weekend putting laminate in our bedroom and hallway. We replaced a carpet that had been there for 15 years and it really improved the rooms. It was hard work though, especially the hallway which had NINE doors to go around, and was not straight (or level) in any way. On Monday we were finally done, and we went to Wageningen to visit Michiel’s mum, where we had lunch on the square in beautiful sunshine πŸ™‚

Later that week, I had my first media shift at work where I didn’t “ghost write”. We write forecasts for nearly all the papers in the Netherlands, and lots of them publish the forecast with a name and photo. I didn’t have a photo yet, so I always wrote under somebody else’s name. My parents sent me a picture of my story and photo in their local paper πŸ™‚ quite strange, but nice!

During the last week of May I had visitors from Norway not once but twice! First Matilda (a friend / former colleague from TromsΓΈ) came for a weekend. We spent one day in Wageningen and one day in Rotterdam, where we of course visited the cube houses, also from the inside this time (one is a museum).

I thought the museum could have been a lot better, but it was still fun to see a cube house from the inside!

Matilda left on Sunday afternoon, and not even 24 hours later Marie and PΓ₯l arrived. On the first day we explored Rotterdam, for me it was the second tour of Rotterdam in two days πŸ˜›

One of the things I love in Rotterdam: old meets new in so many ways…

The floating forest and the floating pavilion, I’m still trying to find a way to get a tour of this cool building!

The weather was amazing, even a little bit too warm – but then we would just stop for a refreshing drink somewhere πŸ˜‰

Back to the cube houses again…

The sign is a quote from the architect and it reads: “Living = Love… Love = the roof of the city”. Yeah I am not quite sure what it means either, but it sounds nice πŸ˜‰

PΓ₯l was interested in Erasmus, so we went to see his sculpture…

As well as this strange monument on the side of where he used to live (I believe…).

On our way back home (after a nice meal outside!) we picked up rental bikes from the train station for our bike trip the next day.

The next day we got up very early to catch the waterbus to Kinderdijk (the windmills). Unfortunately, one of the bikes we rented got a flat tire and we had to walk back to the train station to replace it, which meant we just missed our boat. Never mind, we took the next one and changed our route a little (not all of them stop at Kinderdijk). It was a beautiful sunny day and we had such a great time exploring the mills and the countryside.

Of course we had to be real tourists πŸ˜›

We bought tickets to visit the information centre and this included a visit to two mills. That was so much fun! Here Marie is testing the “bedstee” (box-bed inside the wall).

This was the mill we visited from the inside. Although it was a sunny day in May, there were hardly any other tourists. Not sure why, I have seen more people there on a cloudy day in November! Never mind, it was beautiful to have the place nearly to ourselves πŸ™‚

Marie on one of the small bridges…

And the small ferry with a lot of windmills.

Marie and PΓ₯l cycling at Kinderdijk πŸ™‚

We cycled all the way to Dordrecht, where we had a drink on the square and explored the beautiful old town a bit. Only a bit, because we knew that thunderstorms were on the way, and we wanted to get on the waterbus before they reached us. We just about managed that, while on the hour long trip to Rotterdam we were hit by a crazy storm with lightning, hail and very strong rain. Impressive!

The next day they were taking a plane back to Oslo but we still had some hours in the morning for a nice bike ride. I took them on my favourite bike ride along the river Rotte, which was as beautiful as it always is πŸ™‚

Especially seeing my favourite mill nicely decorated with flags! There were lots of rowing boats on the river that day. We actually visited the mill, which was open. We bought some really delicious jam πŸ™‚

And with that, May came to an end. I loved all the good weather and fun trips that month!

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™‚