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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland
July 17th 2017
Published: August 9th 2017
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Wednesday 12 July
I slept in this morning, and so it seems did mummy and daddy. They did lots of tapping at their phones, which is really boring for me, and they did't even get me up to test my legs, so I just slept in warm sunlight. Eventually we had breakfast on the verandah. I tried sucking on a white squishy thing (a banana?).
In the afternoon, I rode in my first fancy BMW. It belonged to a friend of mummy - Charles Swagemakers. He had his two sons (Faas and Cas), who played with daddy and I on the journey to Abcoude. They had a very nice and open house with a back yard big enough for daddy to play soccer with Fas. I can't always follow the ball, but it looks fun. Another woman (Caroline) arrived and gave me a big kiss, but I was more interested in the fire truck. It had silver wheels and made a woo woo noise. The floor was slippery, and daddy taught me to ski!! We move very fast and my legs do lots of splits and balance is all over the place. It was great fun.
Charles made a sumptuous feast, but just as we sat down to eat, young Faas did a huge vomit all over Caroline and the floor. It was more than 10x bigger than I have ever done. I wonder if I can do one that big someday? Mummy fed me milk, and that made me happy. Maybe I will meet Cas and Faas again someday.

Thursday 13th July
It was foggy and damp when I woke up, but mummy and daddy still took breakfast out on the verandah. In addition to bread, I had some yoghurt and part of a red berry (strawberry?) this morning. My tooth is not very effective, so all I can do is mush and suck. I'm not sure about all these new foods.
My plastic bib still tastes better.
Daddy had an Impromptu haircut from Sjaak who came to the house to cut Pieter-Bas's hair that, together with a shave, makes him look quite different!
Trams are fun. Everyone smiles at me and talks to me in this weird language, but the smiles and funny faces are the best.
Suddenly we were eating again. The strange taste of another new thing - courgette noodle - made me kick out and nearly knock over the whole table. I was restrained to only a small mess this time!
We bypassed all the queue at the entry to the Van Gogh museum, and then joined hundreds of others to look at rectangles on the wall and listen to speakers hanging from the walls. Sometimes I slept in the pram, at other times daddy flew me towards and away from paintings, between paintings and around other people. I tried to grab hair and handbags but my arms are just not long enough. I liked this new bouncy thing that daddy does and really enjoy sitting on shoulders, but a stern man stopped us doing this in the museum. I got a big shoulder ride on the way home instead. Mummy's favourite painting was the Almond Blossom and daddy spent ages in front of the Irises. I liked hearing the letters to his brother the most. We stopped in a park, and I fell asleep.

When I awoke, we had walked all the way into the centre of Amsterdam and there were many people. We walked past a red lit bollard into a street with lots of windows with ladies looking out from them. They were wearing things that looked like mummy's bikini. Some of them looked at me and smiled - I think they thought I was cute! 😊 I was a bit overawed by all the lights and people and noise, so although it was bedtime, I couldn't sleep!

Friday 14 July
Overnight, I dropped off the bed onto the floor. I made a great thud, but I was okay. Today is 14 July, and since our Air BnB hosts have French connections, they will be celebrating with music and friends this evening. I can't wait, but before that we will visit one of daddys Aunts - the wife of Jaap - Tante Ans. She lives next to the king's palace and forest in Soest.
It was quite a quick train journey, and then we were to take a taxi, but none were at the station, so we chatted with one of the locals about his "campervan" safari plans and he offered us a lift. This was one of so many lovely engagements with Dutch people that we were developing a very favourable impression. Thank-you Hans (and daughter - Sophie), for the company and transport.
The apartment of Tante Ans was very tidy with lots of pretty flowers outside. Ans was very talkative and friendly. She had a big smile and gave me lots of hugs. Mummy and daddy had lots of serious conversations about family and family history. The story about "de Vos" family name being linked to cart horses was clarified- my great great grand father had been a horse whisperer of sorts and very much called for after the Great War to pair horses and wagons. My middle name (Cornelis) does have historic precedence and is often shortened to Cees in Dutch. Ans seemed to remember everything with exact dates, so daddy nicknamed her "computer". She was fun and gave mummy lots of the dark squares (chocolate) which make my milk taste nice. We had a very nice walk through the forest back to the train station, and sat for dinner at a nice place near the station. I tried carrots and cucumber. When we got on the train mummy and daddy were so surprised about the time. They had missed all the "Bastille day" celebrations. Fortunately our Air BnB hosts anticipated our behaviour, and stayed up chatting and eating cake with us. One of their sons (Ramses) wanted to stay up as late as me. It was a fun evening with lots of talking.
On another note, I have discovered my feet. It is fun to eat my toes!

Saturday 16 July
Today a friend of Mummy and Daddy who I recognise from Australia came to visit us. I remember Brano because he always carries me and ruffles my hair and gives me big cuddles. This time he let me play on the balcony table where we are staying and I had fun pulling handfuls of lavender off the pot plant on the table while mummy and daddy had breakfast. Daddy likes playing silly games with the boy we are staying with but this time Brano held me instead of mummy while daddy played with him! Then we went for a lovely walk through the park and I fell asleep zipped up in Brano's jacket. He is comfortable to sleep on!
After Brano left for the airport, saying he would see us in November (that seems like a long way away!), we took a tram and then a train for what seemed like hours! When we came out of the train station we saw a nice lady waving to us. We also met her husband and they drove us to a beautiful house with lots of ornaments (which I couldn't reach) and a big garden which fascinated daddy. Carl & Marion are friends of mummy's parents from when they lived in Papua New Guinea. We sat outside in the pretty garden. The birds were fed meal worm and peanuts whilst we were fed cake 😊.
A very elegant daughter (Ingrid) and her husband (Gus) arrived. Ingrid wore pretty jewellery, which I would have liked to grab, but mummy was hugging me too tight. There were conversations all over the place. I heard one about the merits of streaming students at age 14. Before dinner we had a tour of Vught, including a big lake (with summer school for sailing), a Nazi concentration camp, a beautiful castle and lovely town hall. Dinner was in a pedestrian mall and the restaurant was owned by a very successful 40 year old. How do you become successful like that? I really liked Marion's blue / green glasses, and she gave me my first Eskimo kiss. Carl made everyone laugh constantly. He reminded me of grandpa. He said he thought Marion was very rich when he met her because her aunt lived in a gorgeous chateau. But then she became bankrupt and the building is now the most magnificent town hall you have ever seen! One quote daddy liked was "Cheers to you, cheers to me. I hope we never disagree. But if we ever disagree, to hell with you, and cheers to me."
The oak lined streets in these parts were planted by Napoleon when he occupied Holland.
After more train journeys and another late night, I was very glad to have a bath and retire to bed. Bath time is getting more and more fun. I can now sit up by myself and hold onto the edges of the bath, but it is only a small bath on legs like we have back home.

Sunday 16 July
On our last day in Holland we will finally visit Mieke - one of daddy's cousin and her partner. We weren't able to meet her earlier because she had some emergency tooth work undertaken. Daddy has good memories from meeting Mieke in previous visits.
We had just enough money on our OV chip carts to take trams all the way to Harlem. At our interchange point we had breakfast and tea (from medicinal herbs) at a bread shop. It served lovely bread, and daddy thought that it was a possible business model to use in Australia / New Zealand.
Harlem was beautiful and peaceful like other Dutch towns, particularly the rivers and cobbled streets. It was however bigger (~200k people) and therefore able to support more cultural activities eg museums, concerts and big churches. In a way it provided a glimpse of old Amsterdam without all the modern bustle. Since Mieke loves (& teaches history) this was the perfect place to relocate to, but she still misses Amsterdam, and has weekly excursions there! I really like her smile and her hair.
Mieke and Jean-Paul welcomed us to their newly renovated home. Although this is a more serious home, daddy still gave me more skiing lessons on the parquet floor!! Upstairs Jean-Paul played a lovely sounding instrument that is most often played in Greece - the Bouzouki. There was lots of laughter and dancing. I like it when everyone dances. It is so much fun.


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