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Published: January 2nd 2008
Friday 28th December
Judy is very slowly recovering, this morning she felt she had to do something but was not yet ready for a long walk. Instead she and Marion went shopping for some essentials, this being enough for one day.
After lunch, Hans took Rags northwards to where there is the main dyke, Afsluit dyk, which is 38kms long with the North Sea on one side and a huge man-made lake, Ijssel Meer, on the other, joining up to Freisland at the other end.
About half way along the dyke (there is a 4 lane highway on it) we stopped at an observation point to take some photos. Even though the temperature was not very low the wind chill made it quite bitter and we didn't spend too much time outside of the car.
We stopped to look at the fishing boat harbour at the southern end of the dyke, this being one of the areas which flooded during the storm and high tides when the English coast was also on alert in October. Little damage was done as they are prepared for these events, even having a lock in the dyke to seal off the
village from the dock during storms.
We returned along a countryside road with identical farmhouses every 3-400m, the hundreds of hectares of farmland being reclaimed land and the government building the houses before leasing them out. Many of the houses were unoccupied, Hans relating that the people who were there couldn't take what for them was isolation.
Hans made an interesting observation; the Dutch are considered arrogant, but they are the only race who actually “made” their own country.
After another delicious meal from yesterday's leftovers Marion went Amsterdam with a friend to participate in her drum
whilst we read, talked and caught up with this blog.
At 3am Rags awoke to the sound of the phone ringing and then the doorbell ringing. Thinking that Hans would deal with it he ignored both. When it was repeated soon after he went downstairs, to find Marion who couldn't get inside because the keys had been left in the door. She had spent nearly an hour trying to get in and to get Hans' attention.
Saturday 29th December
A slow start to a cold, blue-skied day. After breakfast Rags took Judy for a short walk as she
The fireworks left an awful mess!
wanted to get some exercise. She handled the hour pretty well.
Before lunch she again went out with Rags & Hans to the local shopping centre but was happy to have a snooze straight after.
Dinner tonight was at Marjolein and Ivo's home. They have a very compact 3 storey unit not very far from where Hans & Marion live. After looking at various photos relating to the family we sat down to a tasty and filling “Jewish lentil soup”. The recipe for this soup has been passed down for several generations originating from Marjolein's grandmother who was Jewish. With its lentils and dumplings it took little to make us feel full!
Hans & Marion arrived in time to join us for a cup of coffee before taking us home after an enjoyable evening.
Sunday 30th December
A very quiet day, not only is Judy still unwell now Hans is as well. He has had a bad headache for the past few weeks but today it has reached a stage where he stayed in bed. Marion and Hans were going to a neighbours for dinner but only Marion went.
After a day of rest, reading
and Rags doing a bit of cooking we ended watching the video, Collateral, before going to bed.
Monday 31st December
Another year just about to finish! Today Judy felt up to walking to the local shopping centre so that we could also put a few things on the table for tonight. We enjoy looking at the variety of wares available in other countries. It will only be direct family here tonight.
Marion is busy cooking the traditional “oliebollen, appelflappen and bananenflappen” - deep fried pastry & raisins, apple & banana in batter, respectively. These are eaten warm or cold all evening washed down with beer or coffee.
Another tradition we don't have at home are the fireworks the youngsters have been setting off fairly constantly since about 0800. These are meant for the evening but few seem to be waiting. As we walked along we could hear and see fireworks being exploded, in drains, the street, an old kayak.
We watched the New Year in at Sydney with their spectacular firework display, and for the first time since we left Rags is feeling homesick!
A quiet evening with just family watching a popular Dutch
comedian on TV (which we couldn't understand) culminated in a firework display at midnight which left both of us gob smacked! Everybody in the neighbourhood seemed to have fireworks and for the next hour or so we watched and heard fireworks going off all around us. Some were obviously very powerful they were so loud when they exploded and it didn't surprise us that there were already 4 deaths attributed to them before the evening started!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Tuesday 1st January
Today we went into the centre of Amsterdam to visit Nel & Thio. They have just moved to another apartment in a quieter street than where they lived previously. It is on 2 floors with a huge living area and the kitchen on the lower floor opening onto a small garden, and bathroom and 4 bedrooms upstairs. One of these rooms have been made into an office and another a library/craft room. Thio has a large collection of Meccano pieces he has collected over many years with several large models on display.
While we were there his their son, Vincent, and his wife, Janine, dropped in with their 2 children on the way home
from a hostel where they and some other couples had gathered to celebrate New Year.
Vincent does similar work to Hans so they had a common interest, Janine, who speaks very fluent English as she lived in Scotland for some time, was able to talk to us. She is presently studying to be a lawyer, this giving her an opportunity for work when the children get older.
Before dinner we all went out walking around the Rijkmuseum even though it was closed and watched the many ice-skaters on the rink there. It was very cold and we were glad to get back to the house, Judy going with the men to buy some Chinese food for dinner.
After a very tasty meal enjoyed with the family stting around a long table, we said our farewells and made our way home. A pleasant way to start the new year!
Wednesday 2nd January
Today was our last day in the Netherlands. The morning was spent doing some last minute washing and packing our bags ready for tomorrow's 0700 departure for the airport.
After Hans cooked us his “special” egg & sandwich dish for lunch we went
for a walk to the local shops. Very few people were about and after 15 mins or so we knew why. It was freezing cold! By the time we returned to the house our noses and faces almost stung. The temperature was about -2 degrees but the windchill factor made it even colder.
This evening we were going to go out for dinner but apparently all the eating places around have loud music playing and Hans has the same problem as we have of not being able to hear in those environments. Instead we are going to have take-in food from somewhere.
We have had a great time in the Netherlands and have felt quite at home and welcome with Hans & Marion. We hope we have talked them into coming to Australia in the future and look forward to returning their generosity.
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