Wednesday 25 April 2018

2018 Netherlands Trip

   What a wonderful week. Truly, Seeg and I have agreed, that this has been the best trip yet. We had lots of memorable experiences - myself in particular - we did everything we wanted to do, saw everyone we wanted to see, ate (almost) everything we wanted to eat, and had a few surprises along the way.

   It was an incredibly busy week in The Netherlands. Seeg and I aren't very social creatures, we tend to stick to each other and rarely see friends or family on either side. Not because we don't like them, but my side is very small, his is overseas, and we have commitments which keep us from seeing what the other side of the front door looks like. Which makes it even more special when we do see people - and equally as exhausting. Seriously. Going from seeing no one for weeks and then socialising for anywhere between 5 and 9 hours with people is taxing. But always worth it. Especially since this is the last time we'll see any of them before our wedding.
   We also did more physically than we're used to - again, commitments, front door - and that was just as wonderful/tiring. Lots of walking, hiking, cycling; it's been tough, but great. And while I did work out in the mornings, I was glad I had nothing but my own body weight to work with. I am in love with my barbell, but it's been nice to have a break from it and work with just FitFlow/FitFlow Max for a week.

   Our flight was easy enough, no problems but for a 30 minute delay due to - ooh, guess what - a drunk person causing problems disembarking the previous flight. But there we go. Aside from that, smooth and easy. We then caught the train using the really quite efficient system of swiping prepaid cards rather than buying tickets, which is the same card & method used for the buses, and while the train we wanted ran every 30 minutes, we caught the train with just 4 minutes to spare. Then we traveled for another hour and a half - backwards, because forward-facing seats were taken - and I got a lovely shot of the sunset that evening.
   But we'd been out since 1 and didn't get to the house until 10pm, so we were exhausted when we arrived, and even then we sauntered off to his parent's shop at about 11 to say hi to his dad who was still working privately after the whiskey tasting event. Needless to say we were glad to plonk down into bed that night.
   The next day was spent chilling, reacquainting with the house and cats, and jumper hunting. Yes, jumper hunting. The house is very cool, even during the heat wave, and in the mornings and evenings it was downright chilly, and I hadn't packed anything other than a thin cardigan in anticipation of highs of 29 degrees. Silly me. We found one eventually and then stuffed ourselves with chocolate and biscuits, because holiday!
   Sunday was more social and active; his cousin came to visit with his wife, both very lovely people who have a lot in common with us, and we had a lunch of homemade soup, then a longer-than-expected walk that ended with delicious beef bitterballen and a much-needed iced green tea, then a late dinner of duck and salad followed by a platter of rather decadent chocolate and biscuits, which didn't last very long.

   Monday was far more active, in fact - we went cycling through the Hoge Veluwe, and I remind you all now that I can't ride a bike. So we hired a tricycle. I have a whole post about that right here.
   After that epic day out, we did some gourmeting for dinner. This is a Dutch thing developed in the 70's to boost the meat industry. A set of tiny pans - think big enough for just 1 egg - over burners, surrounded by raw meats and vegetables. You pick a few pieces, slap it in the pan and cook away however you like it, then move it onto a plate and put more into the pan. It. Was. Awesome. We had the whole spread, too, which included pancakes, cheeses and seafood. Food can be a very social thing, but none more so than gourmetten. Truly. And when one person came up with a good idea, everyone else was quick to follow and try it for themselves. And it's hard to over-eat, too, because the time it takes to cook gives you the opportunity to realise that you're full and turn off the heat once your present concoction is complete.

   Tuesday was our day; we went out to Burger's Zoo, it was really quiet, and we saw some cool things - we were just in time to watch the lions feed, we watched the coyotes play together and then stop for no reason we could see and start howling as a group, we saw baby rhino, baby capybara, burrowing owls and the biggest Cornetto I've ever seen.
   After all that in the perfect temperature - about 22 degrees at the highest, I think - we met with his aunt and uncle who are also very cool people - in fact they often come right here to Bristol for punk concerts - and who gifted me with a 40-year-old Bristol City football scarf from their collection. They know we're not football fans, but I recognise the gesture and it means an awful lot to me.

   Wednesday was when things started to wind down, and just as well with the temperature increasing. We sat around - Seeg was reading or playing Fallout Shelter, and I was working on my book - until about half 3 then went to his best friend's house for dinner and to meet his girlfriend, which was a very nice evening.

   Thursday and Friday saw highs of 29 degrees. We didn't do much on those days. Another of his friends came to visit and we hung out for hours, went to Trio for ice cream where...on Thursday I had 1 pure chocolate and 2 hazelnut, then on Friday I had 2 pure chocolate, 1 Snickers and 1 cookie. I was on holiday, dammit!

   If I'm honest, we're both actually kind of sad to be home. I'm in the midst of the worst post-holiday blues I've had since I was a kid, but this time it's less 'leaving the fun behind' and more a case of realising how emotionally and mentally challenging our situation really is. I don't want to whine because talking about it isn't doing anything to change it, and it's not the sort of difficulty that I can make any change to anyway, it's simply the hand I've been dealt and one I've been living with for years now and trying to make the best of. In fact, I don't usually notice or think about it, but after such a great holiday, the truth of it all has hit me like a freight train and I've been seriously struggling to get back on track. Being a full-time carer for your own mother, especially from such a young age, isn't the sort of thing anyone should have to just adapt to. But it is the case for me, and for my incredible fiancĂ©e who has been 100% supportive throughout our 8 years together, and we will adapt once again.

   My parents will be away for a week in a month or so's time, so we get a little time to ourselves once again in not too long, so that's something to look forward to and reduce the strain a little.

   Otherwise, we're back home and back to work! All Etsy orders are being shipped out today, I'm back to my usual workouts and more reasonable food choices (sad face), and, of course, we have the wedding to prepare for. So fortunately I'm busy enough to keep my mind off of these post-holiday blues!


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