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Published: October 30th 2005
Nice shot on the boat ride to Marken
This has been the first chance I have had in the Netherlands to sit and type something. We have no problems accessing the internet to upload anything, we have just been too busy having fun to set aside some time for typing! So, this will be a quick update because in the next half hour or so we will either be out bicycle riding, walking, driving or something - today is too nice to waste in front of a laptop.
The following covers the period from 22nd to 29th October, later today we will visit Gert and Henny, then tomorrow we are off to Wageningen to see Bert and Bianca. Then on Monday we drive to Frankfurt airport for Lorenza to get her flight home. But for now, on with the update ….
The fashion police
Despite our drive from Saint Necatire to Tilburg being a blur of Autoroutes, we did notice a few details as we crossed the French/Belgium border. The names on the road signs are definitely longer and make for interesting fun trying to pronounce them in an Aussie accent. Also, it was very obvious at our one stop in Belgium that the French fashion
Market in Tilburg
Lorenza selects her favourite fish or eel
police have no powers on this side of the border, beige was definitely popular, as well as very short skirts, teamed with wooly boots and padded parkers. A great look on 50 year old women!
Do we need a plan?
Over the next few days we also noticed that Netherlanders are a bit obsessed with time management. The question on every ones lips has been, “So, what’s your plan?” Our response has normally been “Plan, what plan?” It became obvious that our Australian lack of time management skills seemed to frustrate the locals. After all, we were told that time management and planning is taught at an early age in Netherlands schools. No wonder the early Dutch were able to organize themselves to sail all over the world and become one of the great trading nations. It’s also obvious that our lack of a plan is the reason Australia was not adopted as a Dutch colony back when Dirk Harthog first landed on the shores of Western Australia in the 1600’s. Harthog obviously realized the inhabitants at that time had no plan at all and our Netherlands relatives now realise that nothing much has changed in the planning
department since Harthog landed and departed!
Robbie the mouse
Tante Nina and Ome Piet made sure we were entertained with a visit to a market and also the village of Heusden, which is a traditional fishing village, surrounded by the usual dyke required to stop the reclaimed land it is built on from being covered by the river again.
Piet also amused us with his tale of the talented mouse that lives in their home, which he has christened “Robbie” after the singer Robbie Williams. Piet claims that Robbie the mouse is far more entertaining than Robbie the singer. Unfortunately, on the evening we visited Robbie the mouse was on vacation.
Fashion at work and sport
Our room here at Liesbeth and Michel’s place is so comfortable we are thinking of moving in permanently. We have shared some fine meals, wine and conversation. Michel is busy remodeling a new office that he has purchased for his “Fashion at Work” business and Liesbeth obviously keeps herself very busy with work and also her sporting activities, which include tennis and giving body pump classes at a gym in Breda. So far all reports form the tennis games
are that Liesbeth and her partner have not won as yet, except today when one of the opposing players was taken to hospital after trying to return one of Liesbeth power shots. They take sport very seriously here in Tilburg!
Guido and family and the Groote Peel
In Duerne we visited Guido and his family. He took us walking in the Groote Peel National Park, which is a peat bog swamp. It was interesting and an enjoyable walk, plus another reminder that so much of the Netherlands is below sea level.
We shared a fun evening with Guido, Marriéte and their children Sjoerd and Didi. Didi took some nice photos for us, and both her and Sjoerd gave us a tour of their rooms. We stayed until close to 11pm and considering that both Guido and Marriéte both had to work the next day we thought it was time to let them get some sleep.
Parking attendants and gay water skiers
Liesbeth took the day off work on Friday and we visited Volendam and Marken. On our arrival in Volendam we had just parked our car when we were accosted by Yop who claimed he
was the parking attendant. He told us that we could park all day as long as we paid him whatever amount we felt was fare. So, Lorenza handed over 10 euro and Yop then told us that he had been doing this job for 37 years and “see that shop there, with the Dutch flag, that is my sisters shop and the one next door, that is also my sister. If you want to buy fish, that shop there is my brother. If you want a drink that bar over there is also owned by another brother”, etc. etc.
It was obvious that Yop and his family had a very good plan, unlike us, his included hustling every tourist who tried to park near his little area of the town. Yop did it very well and we did not realise what had happened for at least half an hour!
Lorenza had planned to get a photo taken with us all dressed in the typical Netherlands clompen outfits, you know the ones, silly hats, clogs, etc. Unfortunately, after our boat trip to Marken all the photo shops were closed. Liesbeth looked very disappointed that we missed this chance as
I think she was as keen as Lorenza to get into those outfits. Although, it was odd that she insisted we wait until the last boat back from Marken to Volendam, I think she had already checked the closing times of the photo shops!
We were so upset about missing the photo shop that we had to drown our sorrows in the nearest bar. Inside we met some guys from Amsterdam who had been water skiing at Volendam. They invited us to come back to Amsterdam by boat. We declined the offer, even though it would have been a lot of fun. They claimed they were gay, but I think they also read the sucker sign written on our foreheads, because they seemed much more interested in Lorenza and Liesbeth taking the boat ride than me.
We had a great meal there, including frogs legs and Irish stew - strange combination I guess, but it was very good eating. Our drive back to Tilburg at midnight was interesting, Lorenza was the soberest of us three and managed to get us back home again.
So, that’s a brief summary of the past few days in the
Netherlands. We have also visited other relatives, such as Sylvia and Frank. There is never enough time to see everyone or to do everything, so we have done our best. The weather has been ok. It started out wet and a bit miserable, but then improved to sunshine and 22 degrees. Lorenza has been having a lot of fun, but is also looking forward to returning home. I have a few more weeks to go. This morning we spent a bit of time working out how we could pack all the additional things we have collected into our luggage, this is always one of the challenges when traveling. So a trip to the post office may be in order on Monday.
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