Tuesday 10 February 2015

Dutch Stuff

   We're back! And we had a great week in the Netherlands! We met with Seeg's friends a few times, some of his family, who I love, and had a generally great time! It's such a gorgeous place! I think I said it last time we went, but all those pictures you see of tall buildings and bicycles everywhere aren't cliche, it's real. We were staying in Arnhem, an hour from Amsterdam, and the buildings were still tall, narrow, gorgeous, and there were people cycling everywhere. Once upon a time, in England, there were bicycle lanes. Now the best you'll find are old remnants that last about 10 yards before they abruptly end. In the Netherlands, there are cycle lanes everywhere, and they're separated from the road half the time as well! You're just as likely to get hit by a bike as a car, and while in the UK cyclists are hated by drivers, in the Netherlands they seem to be on almost equal terms - there are just so many of them!

   We stayed with Seeg's parents in their massive and, again, gorgeous house with moulded ceilings, and there was loads of room without anyone getting in anyone's way. They're such lovely people, and so creative and artistic and yet not in a snobbish or pretentious way. I love it. They have art made by themselves and others hung around the house but never talk about their art, even though I walked into their art room on the Sunday to see a blank canvas on the easel, and the next morning there was a gorgeous autumn painting on it - I wish I'd taken a picture!
   It was awfully cold in the Netherlands, far more so than I'm used to in England. With the wind blowing in from the Atlantic, the UK, especially the south west, gets the warmer air, meaning we never see snow and our winters and summers are milder (warm air in the winter, cold in the summer). But in the Netherlands they don't have such a large body of water next to them so the air cools as it travels over the land. We've been to the Netherlands together four times now, and two of those times it's snowed, once for the whole week. As you can see, however, the snow melted away after a few days. But it was still cold, and I hadn't brought any gloves with me because they were broken and I didn't think to replace them. My hands, by half way through the week, had dried and cracked so badly from the cold that my knuckles were bleeding, and I'd forgotten to pack any moisturiser or lip balm, so my lips felt like plastic! We eventually bought some, but by that point it stung like hell on my hands and I just couldn't put it on, but my lips recovered well, so that was something!
   Despite the weather, however, we did go to Burger's Zoo for the second time, and that was great. They even had four baby gorillas, but the pictures didn't come out so well because the observation room was black and I had to speed up the shutter so they wouldn't blur which lead unavoidably to grain. But still, look at this little guy!

   The city of Arnhem is so pretty, too. For a city, it's really quite green, and there's a lovely lake just outside which was partially frozen. Though part of what I love about the winter is the near perpetual 'morning' light, so it was great to go out at nearly midday and still get lighting like this! Even if it was freezing!

    Such yummy chocolates, La Place is always where I go for gifts. We never really do many touristy things so there's not much of an opportunity to find much in the way of presents, but La Place's chocolates always look so good, so it's a safe, if expensive, guarantee of gifts ^^
   We played a lot of board games while we were there - and I mean a lot. It's still a really popular pass time over there I think, especially judging from the fact that a shop specialising in board games still exists on their high street rather than in a little side street. We played Star Wars Monopoly, Mole Mania (moving moles across a board in straight lines to get them into the holes, at which point, once all holes are filled, the pieces outside of holes are removed, along with the top layer of the board game - oh yes, layers - and the players are whittled down over 5 levels), Ramses II, Sjoelbak (an older board game where you shove wooden discs to get them into slots) and, quite excitingly, difficultly and frustratingly, the Warcraft board game. There were too many rules, it was late and I couldn't focus - but at least I got to play as the Scourge.

   Then there are the two strange, furry beings that lurk in the house. Falko is Seeg's cat, he's a bit old, but a bit mad. You can do anything with him - you could use him to clean the floor. He doesn't care, he just loves the attention. Isis, named after the Egyptian goddess, on the other hand, is Duco's cat, Seeg's brother, and she's very jumpy despite being only a little bit younger than Falko. She's only recently calmed down enough to let me get near her, but she's still a little edgy. It's best to let her come to you, and when she does, you can rough her about a bit and she doesn't mind. She's a funny little thing, though, and quite likes flowers. She always sits beneath a vase of flowers, whether the table's a mess or not, and she rubs her head against them if they're in reach. Well, she is a lady, after all. They're such great cats, and that's coming from a devoted dog person.

   We had a great time, but it's great to be back. There's nothing like a holiday to remind you how nice home can be, and how comfortable routine is, too. I did a little yoga and some resistance while I was away (I love how mobile resistance bands are) and did a lot of walking, but I ate lots of cakes, too. I like to think it balanced out :D

   Orders went on hold while we were away, of course, but work has resumed, and all UK orders have been shipped in time for Valentine's Day. It was a relaxing week away and a great opportunity to wind down...but it's good to be back.

   Oh, and, also, Mr Bean biscuits.


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