Monday, May 30, 2011


Hi all,

April and May are traditionally the months with the most public holidays in Holland. Here's some photos taken during the last five or six weeks.

April 30th: Koninginnedag (Queen's Day); more or less National Day. Hordes of people put on orange clothing and take to the streets (or to the water) to celebrate.

Utrecht's old town centre was a bit too busy for our liking and so, just like last year, we cycled to a more family-friendly part of town. At a park in the well-to-do neighbourhood of Tuindorp we met up with Myrthe's friend Marsha, her husband Hennie and daughter Valerie. In the background you can see the local 'vrijmarkt' (an impromptu flea market cum car boot sale). Amsterdam's is the best known, but even in Utrecht every neighbourhood has its own vrijmarkt.

Nearby, the daughters of Myrthe's cousin were busking. Kids at every street corner, trying with varying success to fill their piggybanks (or collecting money for various charities) are another typical phenomenon of Koninginnedag.

Later that afternoon, we met up with various neighbours and friends at Rotsoord, a popular playground slash children's farm slash petting zoo slash nursery which is located a stone's throw from our house. Even here there was a mini-vrijmarkt, but (luckily) no kids playing trombones and violins.

While the parents chatted, Ben gave Lily a lift on one of the many wheeled contraptions lying around free for anyone to use.

That evening, the girls were keen to play with all their 'new' toys we had snapped up for a couple of euros at all the various vrijmarkts along the way. Here, Lily is trying to hoover the living room with her pink vacuum cleaner (€ 3) while lying next to grinning Faya is a kid's mobile phone (€ 1).

May 1st: Lily tries to ride one of the two bikes we had bought the day before (€ 12,50).

Later that day, we drove to the nearby woods and heathlands at Lage Vuursche...

...where Marieke, a friend of Myrthe's, celebrated her birthday at the restaurant in a converted barn on the edge of the forest, which is run by her husband.

Perfect weather, good food and drink,lovely surroundings: a great way to catch up with old friends and meet new people.

May 2nd: together for fifteen years.

May 3rd: married for eight years.

May 7th: to celebrate our anniversary, we left the girls in the capable hands of Myrthe's dad and stepmum's and took the scenic route to Eindhoven, where we had booked a room in a nice boutique hotel.

Eindhoven is not the prettiest of towns but it is a vibrant and diverse place, known for its modern art, architecture and design.

We walked for hours around town, shopping, visiting museums, checking out street art...

...and of course enjoying cold drinks in the afternoon sunshine.

Let's see, what else have we been up to this month? On a rainy afternoon we took Lily and Faya to the National Railway Museum, which is located in Utrecht and which thankfully has a large covered section...

...where the girls could run around and play without getting wet.

The museum even has its own theatre, where we watched a show especially for kids about the Orient Express. The girls were awestruck by the lights, costumes and set designs.

The rain has been few and far between; most days this month have been sunny and warm, so that the girls have been able to spend lots of time outside.

Last weekend we went to IJburg, Amsterdam's newest residential area on reclaimed land, where we first caught up with our former neighbours and then visited Sander's colleague Rosseel.

After lunch at their lovely house which fronts one of the canals running through IJburg, we went for a walk along the waterfront promenade. Here's a photo of Rosseel with his partner Fay (who coincidentally was a colleague of Sander at his first job) and their kids Dave and Sacha.

And here's one taken in the other direction, of our happy little family.

For the rest, all is well in Utrecht. Our girls are growing up quickly and are learning new things every day (Lily insists on putting on her Teva sandals herself)...

...although even the basics can prove too complicated sometimes!

That's all for now - till next time, much love from Sander, Myrthe, Lily & Faya

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