We’ve just returned from our trip to Holland for Christmas and Sweden for The Snowball. I think we saw almost everyone we could possibly have hoped to see on this trip, including both Ans and Ko’s families, lots of good friends from Holland, and lots of our European dancing friends. It was a jam packed trip, but we still felt like we had time to relax. Along the way had 3 days of Christmas celebrations, 5 dance parties, stacks of dinners out, and learnt how to play the Nintendo Wii (my shoulder still hurts, but not as much as Lotte’s).
Okay. I just took a quick look at my photo library to see how far I’ve let my blog slide lately, and came up with the following list of events since my last entry! Yikes. So, I finally got around to uploading photos albums each one — go to the Photos page to see them. If it seems like there has been a lot going on lately, there has. These are just the things we have photos for. There were lots of other important things going on! The biggest and most time consuming was Lotte’s Visa Application, which weighed 1.7 kg and basically took Lotte 3 months of full time work (keep your fingers crossed). We also launched a new weekly live jazz club called The Speakeasy at the on August 27, which has been a great success. I presented at the ALT-C and BERA Conferences in September and at a research symposium called Poke 1.0 this month (no photos, but I’m sure you know what a conference looks like). The cricket season ended well, with Cavendish winning the league with 9 wins and 1 loss. We’ve had lots of new challenges to keep us busy too. Work for me has been quite intense since the start of October, because I have been conducting the second phase of the day experience stuff we started last term. Meanwhile Lotte has got herself two part time jobs: selling soap at Lush, and summarising news articles for important people at the Government News Network. All this, and trying to plan for our wedding next year!
We left Zeeland on Saturday morning and took the train to meet up with our friends Daan and Thomas at the house in Utrecht. That afternoon we drove 2 hours north to the province of Friesland, where Friesian cows, and the English language originate from. We stayed overnight at Thomas’ sister’s place in Leeuwarden. It was funny to think that we’d travelled the entire length of the country in less than a day. One thing I noticed about Leeuwarden was that the architecture was different. The churches did not have much decoration and things were in general very sombre and old fashioned.
We headed back towards Utrecht on Sunday the 3rd of July along the Afsluitdijk, which is an amazing 30km long construction that keeps the north of Holland from being flooded and battered by the ocean. Below you can see a ship coming through one of the lochs in the dyke, and a couple of workers pushing a small rock into place to build the dyke up.
Skip forward a few days now to Wednesday the 29th of July — the day we arrived in Zeeland, Holland. For those who don’t know, Zeeland is where New Zealand gets its name (spelt Nieuw Zeeland in Dutch). It’s the southernmost province of Holland and is famous for its beaches. We stayed with Lotte’s mum and grandma in a very small house (het strandhuisje) right on the sand at Vlissingen. Sort of like a bathing box with mod-cons. I really like this photo of the sunset over the beach. I snapped it from the front of the strandhuisje looking up along the beach just before 10pm. The days are very long right now, with twilight lasting until after 11pm.
Here’s a shot of me right in front of the strandhuisje looking about as relaxed as I can be. I must say it probably looks a tiny bit warmer than it actually was there, but while the wind is bracing, when the sun shines it’s very pleasant. I can’t say it does much for the temperature of the water though. I went for one swim and it felt about as warm as freshly melted snow.
One of the really fun things about this beach is that it’s actually right at the end of the river that leads to the port at Antwerpe, so about every 2 minutes you see a huge ship only about 1km off the beach. So spotting ships through the binoculars is one of the main passtimes.
Our other main passtime was playing Yahtzee. Also in the picture are Lotte’s mum, dad and grandma (or in Dutch, Oma).
It was about a 16 hour drive from Sigean, France to Zeeland, The Netherlands. We’re so tired! But it’s good to be back in Holland. We dropped in to Ko’s place for a cuppa before heading to Ans’ to drop off our stuff. Next is a short bike ride down to the beach box where we’ll spend the next two nights. I’m looking forward to doing absolutely nothing for a while. Justin gave me a DVD with all the photos everyone took in the South of France leg, so I’ll get to uploading some of those while I’m in Holland. Not all of them, though — there are something like 2000.