About Me

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A constantly curious and melancholic wanderer...

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Vir jou

 'n Verwerking van "To You; Walt Whitman" *

Vir Jou 

Laat ons saam stap,
net so entjie weg van die res.

Nou is ons alleen - net 
ek   en    jy 
- kan ons nou die maskers lig?

Vertel my dit wat niemand weet nie, 
ek wil hoor wat jy vir niemand sê nie.

Die hele storie - 
die verhaal van jou.
Die deel wat net jy ken - 
die grys en die grou.

Four lines, Germany 2012 (Silverfineart)

* To You 

Let us twain walk aside from the rest; 

Now we are together privately, do you discard ceremony, 

Come! vouchsafe to me what has yet been vouchsafed to note - Tell me the whole story, 

Tell me what you would not tell your brother, wife, husband, or physician. 

Walt Whitman 

Picnic with the Van Zyl's

 Sometimes, I just love to look at life through my camera lens. I don't do this often enough and I don't have the skill that I wish I had (let's hope 2021 is the year to improve it).  So this post is just about sharing our adventures at the Heritage Nature Reserve in Bel Ombre through photo-stories...

"In nature nothing is perfect, 
 and everything is perfect"

Alice Walker 

And that is how I feel about my life (writings, musings, photos and everything else in between) too.  

Nothing is perfect,  and yet everything is perfect.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Travelling to Netherlands with kids - part 2

Our trip is almost long forgotten and yet I feel like reminiscing about it now.

The world seem different now and I am not sure if it will ever be the same again.  Some of it is good I think, the earth needs a break.  And we have become so consumed with our own needs and comforts and making sure that nothing feels like effort anymore that we don't really care about the effects some of our daily comforts and needs have on our planet. So now we have to stop for a while... We need to be still.  We need to think about lives, our priorities, our actions.

I have been thinking a lot, soul-searching, reflecting... And it is good. Life feels very uncertain now, yet I am certain of some things more than ever.

For today though, at least for a little while, I want to stroll through the streets of Amsterdam again and imagine a care-free time (which it wasn't at all) which was filled with beautiful moments (which it was).
I tend to romanticise memories, maybe we all do sometimes?  Maybe one day we will look back at this time of staying at home, not able to travel and not knowing what the future holds in, as treasured memories too.  

So back to the Netherlands...

Day 4:  This was the day we were moving out of my brother and sis-in-law's place, so we took our time to pack everything and get sorted before we finally left the house (again way too late).  Jaco booked a visit for me at the Anne Frank House and by the time we finally were on the train, it seemed that I would not be able to make it (as we still had to then take trams with the kids and do a bit of a walk up to the house) and I was very disappointed.  Luckily  Jaco worked out that I could make it, if I went on my own and he and the kids came at their own pace and wait for me close to the home in a restaurant.  This was a little bit of a scary thought as we only had one working phone between us, but in the end all worked out and I was so thankful for this amazing opportunity.  I have read her diary and have always had a bit of a fascination with this young girl (since a teacher at school told me I reminded her of Anne, possibly just because I constantly wrote in my diary).  To relive her diary as well as see where she actually stayed while writing it was just something I cannot even put into words.  It was extremely small.  Smaller than you can imagine.  It must have been so so hard.  They were in a worse lock-down than we currently are in and also had to fear for their lives if they got caught out.  Yet she found a way through words to make her world bigger and brighter everyday.  I was deeply touched by this experience and so thankful for the opportunity.

We were not allowed to take photos at the house and I will just share one of my favourite quotes from her diary below.

The boys went for a pancake and was waiting for me across the river when I was done.  It was an extremely cold day with a wind that blows through your  skin to the bones.  Yet we were amazed by people happily driving past us on bicycles, looking like they are on a summer cycle.

We needed coffee and found this great Vegan place called The Cold Pressed Juicery close to the Anne Frank House (just across the river) that not only had delicious coffee, but also a wrap that I could eat (gluten-free) filled with raw goodies and pesto.  Me and the kids chilled (or actually warmed up) in this cosy little shop for a while while Jaco went to a wine store close by.

From there on, we had to find our way to our new home without freezing our butts off.  We walked past some quaint shops and  peeked in here and there, but mostly we just felt cold and wet (as there was a sleeting rain every few minutes).  The scenery was amazing, but probably under appreciated by us at that stage with two little ones whining and us trying to figure out the fastest routes to a new place during quite a busy time of the day.  The trams were full and no-one cared that we had children and just pushed right in front of us to get there seat.

 Eventually we did get the right tram and got back to parliament square which is a bit more central.  We thought we would try and find a jacket for me as I was still borrowing my sis-in-law's jackets and needed one going forward.  We first went into this shopping centre that was not too big and started looking there.  I had no idea what the prices would look like, but I was shocked to see how expensive everything was.  I live on an island where I never need a jacket and definitely did not want to spend a fortune on it.  We did enjoy exploring some of the shops and found some really warm gloves for both Jaco and me at one small kiosk.

We then thought we would try the bigger chain stores and see if we find some bargains. We went to Bijenkorf (which means beehive).  I have never seen or known so many designer names and was completely overwhelmed by that and the prices.  I decided the jacket would have to wait a bit and instead we bought a toy for each of the kids as their envelope (Advent Adventure Envelopes) promised them that for the day.

By that time we were all exhausted and just wanted to find our home and relax.  Luckily my brother said he would bring our suitcases for us, so that made our life way easier.  We took a tram/bus or two and then walked the last bit to our new place that was on the water and very beautiful.  The children entertained themselves (or drove us insane - depends how you look at it) with their new toys while we unpacked and got dinner ready etc.

We slept well that evening happy to not feel cold anymore and knowing that the next day would bring new discoveries (and some more whining :).

Day 5:  The next morning was one of my favourite mornings of our trip.  We took our time to get ready - the kids played a bit with their new toys.  And then we decided to go find some breakfast. 

We were in the cutest little neighbourhood, called Haarlemmer Buurt with charming shops, coffeeshops, great smells all around and even a small movie theatre.  It was such a beautiful morning and we got lost in the feeling of local living in Amsterdam. 

We walked around looking for a breakfast spot.  On the way we had to stop for some Oliebollen (Donuts) as the kids were hungry already and the smell was calling them closer.  Then we went to a lovely restaurant called "The Breakfast Club".  Luckily more than a year ago now, the memories of how we struggled to finish our coffee (some did spill)  and breakfast in peace or have a decent conversation, but mostly just making sure the kids don't break anything and make too much noise, has faded and a more sweet memory remains of us sitting there all cosy and warm and happy in our togetherness...

Pigeon meeting on Haarlemmerplein 

After our breakfast, we were ready to tackle the day.  We went to the station and we were excited to go to Haarlem (city) for the day.  In the end there was some trains that were not running and we were stuck at the station for a while, not sure what to do and the kids were running around and it was chaos, so we had some Starbucks to focus our thoughts, which always helps (except that the kids had some hot chocolate that made them hyper :) and finally we decided to go to Zaanse Schaans, which ended up being a really good plan.  

Zaanse Schaans is the most charming, little neighbourhood filled with windmills (some working still) and full of history.  It felt like we were walking back in time and I just loved the beautiful countryside.  It was a freezing day, and felt almost unreal to be surrounded by so much green all around us.  You can read more about Zaanse Schaans over here.  The kids loved it.  We went into some of the windmills and even climbed (with a little monkey clinging to Jaco) up to the top of one of them.  

My favourite part of the trip was when we went to the cheese farm - I mean two of my favourite things combined:  farm-life and cheese! It was great for a cheese-lover with  the most peculiar coloured and flavoured cheeses to taste from... I was in cheese-heaven.  The Dutch Cheese is much more mild than most cheeses that you would find in France for instance and even Jaco could taste some without being too overwhelmed by it.  We ended off our tour and all the tastings with a bowl of nachos, coated with melted cheese.  Double yum!  

We then made our way back with two tired little men.  Luckily Liam fell asleep in the stroller. We had to wait for the train back to Amsterdam, but as we waited in this charming little coffeeshop called Zaanse Koffie, we didn't mind too much.  It was very different to anything that you usually see at these train stops and we were kept nice and warm until the train came.  

Back in Amsterdam, we still had an adventure awaiting us.  Every year, there is a Light Festival in Amsterdam when different artists from around the world create these beautiful artworks that can be seen around the canals.  So we went on a boat trip with two exhausted little boys to see these, because we are mad :) The lights were beautiful and it would make for a really romantic evening out (if two monkeys are not climbing up and down your body and fighting and laughing and crying).  This is probably why I only have one photo of the 12 artworks that we saw.  But you can view all of them over here. I can't remember anything the tour guide told us, but I know he was really funny and in  between the madness, we enjoyed the trip.  

We were truly exhausted by the end of this and ready to go home.  It was raining and wet and cold.  We had to go back to the main station to catch a bus to our neighbourhood and off-course this means bathroom-breaks, nappy changes etc.  We ended up watching this local band, Moor Park perform for a bit - which was the highlight of Xander's trip.  He was in awe he watched  them perform (pretty hard-core music I might add) and he decided there and then he will be in a band one day.  He basically forced me to go speak to the band members afterwards and I told them about their youngest fan.  They were really sweet about it and they gave him a guitar-pick and one of the drum-sticks they just used.  This is one of his most treasured possessions and has since inspired him to start taking guitar lessons.  

This was one of his favourite songs... :) 

After all of that excitement, we were now more than ready to crash in our beds after a long and exciting day filled with wonder and surprises... 


Day 6:  Our last day in Amsterdam.  I couldn't believe that our last day has arrived, but we were getting excited for the next part of our trip to Vienna.  But first, coffee and maybe one or two more Oliebollen for the kids... 

We walked a different way to get some extra sight-seeing done and the kids had fun walking across the bridge and jumping around in some puddles.  And there was some beautiful street art around that I loved.  

Since it was my last day, I had to stop borrowing my sister-in-law's cosy jackets and had to get myself one.  I discovered second hand shops and I loved how easy it was to find good quality, previously-loved clothing items for much more affordable than what we would have paid in the chain shops.  In the end, I found one I loved and only realised afterwards it is actually a Calvin Klein one... Since I really don't care about labels and designer names and often avoid them,  I thought this was an ironic find and one I'll proudly wear, since I didn't buy it at a designer shop :) We did some shopping - Christmas and souvenirs.  I will share some of my favourite photos of the morning below... Random snippets of a memorable morning.  

After this, we took the tram to Museumplein, where we would meet my brother and sis-in-law.  I took a lot of blurry photos while we drove, and caught Santa Clause casually strolling by - spreading joy as he goes I am sure... (or maybe off to go have a biertje somewhere - who knows?) 

After we spent some time with my brother and sis-in-law and the children ran after the bubbles that were blowing everywhere, we went to the Rijk's Museum with Liam, while Xander went ice-skating with his uncle :) We loved the Museum  and we had time to take in some of the art without too many distractions (especially after I vigorously and definitely against his will, rocked Liam to sleep)...  Some favourites were a Van Gogh and a Monet that we discovered, Rembrant's "The Night Watch" and a few Vermeers.  As well as an interesting one called:  "The death of the Pharoah's firstborn son".

When we came out of the museum, it was pouring and freezing cold.  We went to fetch Xander from my brother  and then had to say our goodbyes.  This made me a little sad, as we didn't know when we will see them again and it was really so special spending time with them.  Thinking back now and knowing what I know now - post-Covid and 2020,  I am so thankful we took this trip - even though it felt super hectic at the time with two small boys.  The memories we made are amazing and we really hope to return to the Netherlands again when the world one day return to a sort-of new normal.  It is a really special place and we enjoyed seeing glimpses of it and experiencing it with family. 

Before we headed back home to our apartment for our last night (and an early flight to Vienna the next morning) we decided to go to the Christmas Market next to the ice rink.  The smell of Glühwein and apple cider in the air greeted us and at the first stall we got a warm bowl of the most delicious pea soup I have ever tasted.  (Maybe we were just hungry, but it was really good!) We sat there for a bit and warmed up and filled our tummy with all sorts of comforts.  And then we explored the market a bit - in the rain.  I remember all of it so magical that it almost feels unreal.  Because I also remember being in it and thinking most of the time, "This is crazy, we are in over our heads, we should have stayed in Mauritius"...  And yet, I mostly remember the smiles, the lights, the smells, the tastes and the excitement of me and my boys being on one big adventure together.  

Life is pretty good in between all the chaos.  We just need to sometimes forget the things that stops us from seeing that in a moment... 

* edited.  After my husband read the blogpost, he reminded me that we did not go to bed, but my brother came and we had pizza and wine and laughs until late.