Monday, 21 April 2014

It's been a little while...

It's been a week since I last wrote and what a wonderful week it's been.

Tuesday saw me venture out on my own for the first time in this Kikkerlandje (Little Frog's Land - as Holland is affectionately called by Netherlanders). There is an Bus terminus just across the square from my sister's unit, so it was just a quick walk with my suitcase rolling along behind me, to catch the bus into Amsterdam city. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the terminus which is situated on the large square in front of Centraal Station. People were milling everywhere in the huge station, but I managed to find a 'loket' (ticket office) easily and quickly. Platform 4 is where I needed to be, but I still had to wait quite some time before the train to Gouda would arrive. It really was very cold, so I headed for the open end of the platform to stand in the sun. In the end I nearly missed the train as the trains have the destinations on the back not on the front of the trains.
The train trip was comfortable and I enjoyed seeing the country side as we sped along. I arrived at Gouda about 50 minutes later and was greeted by my cousin Henk and his lovely wife Sonja. We all hit it off straight away and after hugs and (3) kisses, alternating between each cheek, we headed off to their home in the burbs. After a bread table lunch, we headed off into the ancient city of Gouda. It's a very old city, with many buildings dating from the 1500's or even earlier. The streets are laid with cobble stones or bricks and comfortable shoes are really a must. The Dutch mostly wear sturdy shoes and simple clothing such as jeans/pants and warm jackets. There is lots of short grey hair about and sometimes I find it rather hard to distinguish between men and women because of their similar clothing and hairstyles they wear, because of the cold and/or windy weather.
Daylight saving is also in force at the moment, so the evenings are long and bright. The weather has been very mild this spring, so you can stay outside into the evenings because it is still light.

Anyway, I had a great week with them. We had loads of fun reminiscing about our childhoods, parents, siblings and places we had lived. On Wednesday we went to the Kinderdijk (so called because a child was found there many years ago, drifting in the water in a basket, like Moses), where there are many windmills all in one place. Then to the Biesbos (reed wood) where we enjoyed an hilarious boat ride which ended in three young Dutch men having to rescue us from destroying the small boat because my cousin couldn't get the steering and power right, and kept steering us into the mud banks. We in turn rescued them, because their motor wouldn't start. After dropping the boys at the small river harbour, we three ended up sitting in the sunshine with a lovely white wine each for us girls and a Pils beer for my cousin, safely back on shore.

Thursday was wonderful, as we visited my cousin's brother in The Hague (Den Haag), a very different city from Amsterdam and Gouda. The buildings are quite different there, as are the wide and treed avenues and thoroughfares. I had a great time catching up with my cousin Bert and his wife Els, who live in a typical Dutch, older style unit. We browsed through an album he had put together about his parents, which also contained a number of photos of my dad, my mum and even us all as kids. So many memories. I also heard some new stories about myself as a kid, and also their view on why we left Holland and went to Australia. Very interesting.
After a lovely bread table lunch, we said our goodbyes and headed off to the North Sea for a walk in the sand dunes and the beach. It was special for my cousin Henk and Sonja, because it was there that they had scattered the ashed of their son, who died of MD some years ago.

Friday I insisted on a quiet day of shopping in Gouda with Sonja. We didn't go till  mid afternoon, but it was nice even so. I picked up a top and some Arnica cream for my aching hands, which has worked wonders for them.  We watched the very modern Dutch live production, 'The Passion' on TV on Friday night which was totally brilliant. Talked till 3am with my cousin that night. Next day we said our goodbyes and I headed back to Amsterdam on the train.

Got home and virtually immediately had to head off to the city once again, to attend a performance of the St Matthew's passion which was being held in an old Catholic church building, De Duif (the Dove).  I didn't think I'd really want to go, but went because we had bought tickets for it even before I left Brisbane. The church filled up slowly and finally when not a sound could be heard, the conductor waved his stick for the music to begin. Don't know what happened inside me, but I was sobbing as soon as the first notes filled the building. It was unbelievable...just seemed to throw up a whole lot of deeply buried emotions and memories. The music was brilliantly played, the singers were unbelievably talented and 2 1/2 hours went by so easily. Could have listened longer to such brilliance. Afterwards we savoured the beauty we had just experienced over a coffee, followed by a beautiful meal.  We headed home by tram and bus and got home around 11ish.

Well, that brings me to today.  We slept in, then had a lovely Easter brekky of cereal, softly boiled eggs, toast and cups of tea.  This afternoon we walked in Het Amsterdamse Bos (woods), got lost and finally found our way to a quaint farm house used as a pancake house. I had a huge pancake sprinkled with icing sugar, some tart strawberries and an absurd amount of whipped cream while Mieke had a bacon pancake. We washed it down with coffee and tea. Really was far too much cream and ended up eating only about a third of it...way too much of a good thing I reckon. Walked back to the car and then headed off to Mieke's friend's place for another cuppa, then home by about 9pm. Loaded up photos to my usb stick, wrote my blog and now will add  some more pics for you to enjoy.
Night all...missing you lots, but also enjoying all my new experiences. xo

Photos will be uploaded later. Sorry..x


  1. oh the passion. I would cry too. such lovely release .
    what a lovely blog thanks mum for all your stories. so nice to hear you are having a wonderful time. hope you get some sleep.

    1. The sound in that old church was just amazing, so rich and beautiful.

  2. So wonderful re Matthew Passion. I remember that feeling when a group of PNG kids sang at church once, brought up emotions and memories. Looking fwd to your pics - can't remember, or should I say don't know, what my cousins look like. Enjoyed this blog immensely :) xx

    1. What a lovely story Hillie. Up now (8 am next morning) and will post in a fresh blog.

  3. Thanks for your interesting update - it all sounds wonderful, and great for you to be connecting again with your family in Holland.

    1. Thanks David. It really is wonderful, though I'm getting a little tired and will need a proper rest day very soon. :-) Hi to Gil. x

  4. Such a wonderful walk down memory lane enjoy your blog stories & pictures. XB

    1. Thanks Brenda. More to come this week when I visit my home town, beginning today. x


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