Tuesday, December 31, 2013

European holiday.....the day before New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve, from 10am, is the only time in the Netherlands that you are permitted to light firecrackers, so today Liz brought down the hoard from the attic, and went out to purchase some more. We have been hearing the bangers all week actually, and she tells us that tomorrow it will sound like a war zone here in Leiderdorp.

This is our cache ready for the nights activity. Notice the rockets, we have 26 of them!

Lily and JJ have recently lost their beloved rabbit, Tulip. After a great deal of deliberation, with the full realization that they would not be able to bring one home to Australia , they decided to pool their Christmas money from Nanna-Nanna, and buy another bunny. But first, they had to get permission from Mum! They begged and begged, and the answer was YES!

Off we went to the garden centre, and they choose this little cutie, and named him PILUT, pronounced palet.

He is sooooo cute! And a very adventurous bunny as well. Within half an hour of coming home, he was finding his way around the room.

Dinner by TRO and Lily tonight, macadamia crusted salmon, and fish fillets for those who don't care for the salmon.

Moulin Rouge was on the selected program tonight.

Location:Stationsplein,Haarlem,The Netherlands

Monday, December 30, 2013

European holiday.....Leiden

Sunday today, so I went to church by listening to an online sermon by Russ, my grandson in law, and doing lots of study. You can listen Here

Around lunchtime, Liz took us to Leiden, so we could visit the Rijksmuseum again. We found an English pub to have lunch at, and chose the pie and chips, (small serve). Note the HP sauce, and the malt vinegar for the chips!

As we were walking towards the Rijksmuseum , two elderly ladies approached me speaking German. I was so pleased to actually understand them, they wanted to know where the Rijksmuseum was! I love the challenge of being in a country where different languages are spoken.

At the Rijksmuseum , we visited the Egypt display. This is enormous, there is an incredible amount of antiquities from ancient Egypt.

This is a a coffin of a more ordinary person, note how the skeleton is broken up.

Not only were humans mummified, animals were as well. This one is a mummy of a crocodile.

I caught my bus at the Leiden central station, by the time I left it was freezing, the wind must have had a chill factor of zero. TRO went off to the pub to meet Liz and watch another game of football.

Aysha cooked us a most delicious meatloaf for dinner tonight, with the last of the mud cake for dessert.

Location: Leiderdorp,The Netherlands

Sunday, December 29, 2013

European holiday.....Haarlem

We all travelled to Haarlem on the bus and train for the express purpose of seeing the Corrie ten Boom Museum. Liz, Lily and JJ had not been to Haarlem before, so it was a first for them as well.

It's such a busy town, with Saturday market in the town square, selling just about everything you can think of. I managed to get myself a new iPad cover, as my old one was completely falling apart.

Once we found the museum, we checked the door for the time of the English speaking tour. As it was not for an hour and a half, we wandered through the shops and the market place, TRO and myself finding that the very large Cathedral of St. Bavo was open for inspection. Of course, we had to tour it. It is enormous, dating from the late 1300's. The floor of the Bavo church consists entirely of gravestones, about 1500 altogether, the oldest dating back to the 15th century.

At 1.15, we made our way back to the lane way to wait near the door , as per instructions, for the tour of the museum to begin.
If you are not familiar with the story of Corrie ten Boom, you can go to the website and do a virtual tour of the museum yourself. Here

Our English speaking guide gave us the story of the ten Booms, a Christian family, who sheltered and hid Jewish people from the Nazis during the 2nd world war. When danger arose, they had to quickly run and shelter in a cubby hole off Corrie's bedroom. After being betrayed by a fellow Dutchman, Corrie and her sister Betsie were incarcerated in Ravensbruck concentration camp, Betsie to die shortly afterwards, but Corrie surviving.

After the war, Corrie returned to The Netherlands to set up a rehabilitation center. The refuge houses consisted of concentration camp survivors and sheltered the jobless Dutch who previously collaborated with Germans during the occupation. She returned to Germany in 1946, and traveled the world as a public speaker, appearing in over sixty countries, during which time she wrote many books.

One of her books "The Hiding Place" was made into a movie. This is the very hiding place that people sheltered in. It was accessed through a false back in the cupboard.

Aysha thought the visit was "quite good" and "interesting". She was very surprised at the size of the bedrooms. It is a very small house with a couple of very narrow, circular staircases. There were over 25 people on our tour, from seven different nationalities.

The Ollibollen stand was outside the station on our return journey, so we enjoyed one each.

Loosely translated, meaning ..oil ball....they taste like a yeast donut actually, quite delicious.

Location:Leiderdorp,The Netherlands

Saturday, December 28, 2013

European holiday......shopping at the sales!

Of course, they have sales here in the Netherlands !!!

Off to den Haag for us this morning, we were on a mission.... to be part of the consumer society. There is an enormous underground car park in den Haag, where we quickly found a carspace, climbed up two flights of stairs to the street level, and found a very nice cafe to enjoy coffee and breakfast .

Fortified, we set off on our shopping mission. Implements for cooking and baking, stamps to collect and clothing were all on the list.

Lots and lots of pots and pans to choose from, and Lily has a new pancake pan!

Aysha scored a bargain with a designer Desigual shirt marked down to half price!

There was a talking, singing Father Christmas to entertain the shoppers along the way. One just needed to press the button on the outside of the window to start him going.

A yummy warm traditional Dutch waffle for lunch, and we were on our way home again, in just enough time for the girls to try out the new silicone cake pan before dinner.

All things considered, a successful day shopping.

Location:Leiderdorp,The Netherlands

Friday, December 27, 2013

European holiday ...Boxing Day

The promise of the sunset on Christmas night did not materialize with any sun today, but we set off on the bus for Leiden anyway. It was cold, and strangely quiet and peaceful as we walked along the canal looking for our destination, which was the Rijksmuseum Van Oudhedan, or museum of antiquities.

At the museum, there was an exhibition fromPetra, called "Petra, wonder in the Desert." I can hardly believe I had never heard of this amazing place, situated in Jordan. The exhibition was wonderful, but as no photography was permitted in Petra, you will need to use the link if you wish to see photos of this ancient city.

We did see some of the other exhibitions at the museum, although not all.

This is a grave amphora (c. 740BC, Athens). These were monuments partly interred in the burial mound, with the ashes of the deceased underneath. This one stands about five feet high.

A smaller one here, around 18 inches, this amphora was a prize awarded to a winning athlete at the panathenea, the festival in honour of the goddess Pallas Athena. The amphora would have contained olive oil. (c. 530 BC)

This rare suit of Greek armour, was not only worn as protection, but as a means to impress the enemy. (c 350 BC)

It was well past lunchtime when we left the museum in search of food, and went off to the Beans and Bagels cafe we had visited before.

Delicious bagels, with many varieties to choose from , along with lots of different toppings and cream cheese.

This cafe is so warm and cosy inside, that when we entered, our glasses fogged up and we had to take them off.

A little more wandering around, back to the central station, and the bus home for me, and TRO went of to the Duke of Oz pub to meet Liz and Aysha to watch the English football.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

European holiday...Christmas day.

Christmas Day dawned bright after the rain of yesterday, and with Jaden waking us all up at the appointed time of 8.10 for present opening. A big stagger down the stairs for a welcome cuppa and mince pie for breakfast.

Then came the long awaited, with much excitement, ......opening of the presents....

Mark joined us via skype....

Dinner on the way, and when cooked, was delicious, along with the Christmas pudding all the way from the UK!

Around 4 pm, the sun was setting, showing us a tiny sunset, with the promise of another nice day tomorrow. Time to close the curtains, light the fire, and finish off the day with several hands of extreme Uno.

A very different Christmas Day for us this year.

Location: Leiderdorp,The Netherlands

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

European holiday....Christmas Eve sight seeing.

Although it was cold, and threatening rain today, we still decided to head off to Leiden again on the bus, with the intention of seeing the De Valk Windmill museum, the inside of the Pieterskerk , and the pilgrim Museum.

Just to be on the safe side, we took a couple of borrowed umbrellas with us.

The windmill museum in the past has been a working mill, dating from 1743. It has seven floors, with the original house of the miller still maintained.
We climbed all seven, venturing out onto the reefing stage, where it was blowing an absolute gale.

The confidence of youth..there is no way I would have stood there!

The kitchen was reminiscent of the kitchen I remembered from my very early childhood. It actually had a sink made of stone.

The stairs on the upper levels were almost perpendicular, and could only be negotiated down by coming backwards.

I actually felt safer coming down backwards than climbing up.

By the time we had toured the windmill and made our way back to central station to top up our chipkaart, and have some takeaway for lunch, it was pouring!

We decided to catch the bus to our next port of call, which was the Pieterskerk . Unfortunately, once again, it was closed.

With that, and the fact that the umbrellas were not completely covering us from the rain, we decided to find our way back home. The bus was crowded, and wet. We are managing the transport system quite well now, and don't need to walk back to Leiden Central station to catch our bus.

A quick trip to the Winkelhof to buy our own umbrellas, and some filling for Lily's knitted bear, still in the construction stage.

A very different Christmas Eve here in the Netherlands, it does not seem like Christmas at all.

Location: Leiderdorp,The Netherlands

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

European holiday...craft and cooking

After a trip to the Winkelhof to purchase knitting wool and wool to knit Lily a teddy similar to Aysha's, we settled in for an afternoon of craft. After some time perusing the teddy patterns on the internet, we finally selected one that seemed fairly easy to knit, and was not too large, so I got on with the job.

Lily and Aysha were working on a sock monkey, and a small cross stitch that Lily has designed for her brand new nephew, Knox.

A little later in the afternoon, the chefs got busy and prepared our dinner. They had a quite a production line going, assembling the bacon potato croquettes.

A delicious meal, thank you chefs!

Location: Leiderdorp,The Netherlands

Monday, December 23, 2013

European holiday....Happy Birthday Aysha

Yesterday we helped Aysha Jay McCoy celebrate her sweet 16th birthday.

The morning began by the opening of the present, and hot chocolate for those who wanted one. Brunch was pancakes, cooked by chef extraordinaire , Lily-Mai Versuis.

An absolutely delicious beetroot chocolate birthday cake was prepared and we enjoyed that for lunch /afternoon tea.

That was followed by ice skating where it was so freezing, my toes felt as if they might drop off. Only the younger ones skated, although with one of those walking frame things, I think I might have managed, it did not look that difficult.

We played a very primitive form of pictionary on our return, with Aysha and Lily soundly beating Jaden and myself. The complete game might be in order for this household, I will have to look into that. Then off we went to the Pannenkeoken for our dinner.

These pancakes are HUGE, about sixteen inches in diameter. Not everyone could eat all of their serves, but they were delicious.

Aysha had a wonderful birthday!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

European holiday ....Leiden

Today all the kiddies went to Lily-Mai's school for her final day before holidays, bike riding all the way. After a leisurely start to the day, TRO and myself decided to take the bus to Leiden, and have a little wander around there, hopefully doing the last of our Christmas shopping at the same time.

It's really not like Christmas at all here! The Christmas carols are not playing in the shops, and there does not seem to be the frantic atmosphere we often sense at home. Although a lot of shops have Christmas trees, they are varying colors, and not quite the same as our mainly green ones.
Liz tells us that Sinterklass (St Nicholas) takes more precedence than Christmas here in the Netherlands
Of course, Christmas for us is hot weather, not cold. I am usually running around like headless chook by this time, getting in all the supplies we need, planning the cooking, and cleaning the house ready for guests. No need for any of that here!

The Siege of Leiden occurred during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo–Spanish War in 1573 and 1574, when the Spanish under Francisco de Valdez attempted to capture the rebellious city of Leiden. In the end the siege failed when the city was successfully relieved in October 1574. This beautiful mosaic chair commemorates that event, and there is a huge festival each October as well.

Leiden is the third largest city of the Netherlands, and after Amsterdam, has the largest amount of canals

Pieterskerk, the first church in Leiden, was originally built as a chapel in 1121. It was built by the Count of Holland, and dedicated to the apostle Peter. It has been extended, demolished and rebuilt repeatedly before taking on its modern form.

We were a little early for the opening hours, so had to be content with a view from the outside.

Another small problem with Frank's chipkaart on the bus...for some reason it did not have enough money on it, although mine did. It was a paper ticket for him!

Location: Leiderdorp,The Netherlands