Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday catch-up

Things have been busy, keeping me away from the computer.  So here we to recap:
Sunday we spent the morning sewing (please note, Ronda)  In the afternoon, Caro's parents came and we went to visit the gardens at Clingendael.
The weather improved as we walked around through the Japanese Gardens and the Dutch gardens.  Be sure to also check out Caro's blog for more photos of our wanderings.  The Japanese gardens are espeically lovely.  Most of the iris are gone, but there are lots and lots of rhododendrons which are very nice.  There are carpets of moss, and of course lots of water features.  We even got to enjoy a Coot mama and her rather funny looking child
We even got to visit the bee-keepers garden house and brought home a sample of his wares
On Monday morning we were off to the Peace Palace.  Sadly, when we arrived we were told we could not have a tour that day.  (This sometimes happens).  Because there was a trial still in progress, it is not open for tours.  Another day.

However, it was a georgous day, so we took advantage of this change in plans and headed for the beach at Scheveningen, on the North Sea.

This is a very well known beach-front town.  We had to stop and have a bit of lunch - the very traditional pannenkoeken
Pancake topped with ham and pineapple and cheese.  And being "echte" (real) Dutch, we even put a bit of stroop (their syrup) over the top.  Lekker (tasty)!  We wandered further down the beach where there were several sand sculptures

Tuesday, today, we went to Oegstgeest to meet the family with whom we are exchanging houses.  It was a very nice visit with a charming couple.  We got the full tour of their home and explanation of how things work.  We have left them a detailed book with all the descriptions of how things work.  Hope that is enough.  As is often the case, it is hard for them to realize the distances and time involved to get to all the places they wish to visit.  But we are trading cars, as well, so they will manage just fine.

Caro and I did a bit more work on the squares being made for an uncle's quilt.  Caro even got the design wall up so we will play this evening.

 Adventuires continue.  Aren't we so lucky?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Great Days in the Netherlands

We are, of course, having a wonderful time here in den Haag (to Americans it is known as the Hague).   So here are some various photos of different things we are/have been doing.

I woke up early and did some cutting and continued sewing on the "Stone Soup" quilt that Caro and I are making for the father of a friend of Rob's.  (see Ronda - we haven't forgotten)

Breakfast is delicious - we are enjoying our meals
We manage to find a good many delicious meals (have you noticed?)   Yesterday we visited the Haagse Markt - a fascinating international outdoor market (for Seattle-ites it's like a [huge] local farmer's market).  There were all the things you would expect to find and lots and lots more.  Many things that we didn't recognize.  [see Caro's blog for photos of the Markt]

We have enjoyed some al-fresco dining in the center of the Hague (see Caro's blog again).  Today was a museum day, so while the weather wasn't so great, we had a very fun time,
"Waiting for the Interurban"
Sand Sculptures, located near the Parliament buildings.
City Historical Museum
Over there. . . . . .
The happy threesome, "doing the town".

We returned home to a big bowl of butternut squash soup (made first thing this morning)
and made a lemon pie for Gourmetten, tomorrow, when Caro's parents are coming
[sweetened condensed milk that most Dutch didn't even know they sold here]

This little fellow sought refuge from the rain on the balcony while we enjoyed our soup.

Tomorrow is the Japanese Gardens at Clingendael.  The adventures continue.  Life is good!

Photo Album

Attached is a link to a new album of photos from Vlieland.  Hope there aren't too many duplicates.  Quite a fun adventure.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Adventures on Vlieland

Off the northwest coast of the Netherlands are a chain of small islands.  The second one in line is Vlieland.  We had visited this island several years ago on one of our bicycle trips.  This month Elaine's brother and wife are staying on the island in the home of a friend of theirs.  We were invited for a couple of days visit.  You must take a ferry for a 90 minute ride across

It was very windy but quite a lovely day.  We were met at the dock and walked "all the way" - about 10 houses away.  ;-)
Perhaps 20' from side to side.  The front windows are to the dining room
with the living room at the back.  [I'll put more pictures into an album for you to see]  It is a very old fashioned style of house, still furnished in a 1960's style (or older).  Some things are just charming and others simply out-of-date and needing updating.  Really very fun!
Kitchen and bath are entirely tiled.  Tuesday evening we had a very pleasant walk to the highest place on the island, where the lighthouse is located.  Georgous.
Wednesday morning we visited the local church.  There is only one village on the island and thus one church.  This church De Nicolaaskerk dates from 1647 and is made almost entirely from shipwrecks found on the shore.  It includes a ship's mast cut to provide the major roof support, paneling used to make the pulpit and various pieces of wood used to make the front of the pews.  Our guide was the same woman I had heard when we visited here, perhaps 10 years ago.
We then crossed the island to the NorthSea side and took the Vliehors Express.
These open topped trucks run just along the surf line.  We went along the shoreline to the western tip of the island.  The entire western half of the island is  NATA property and we had to have permission to cross their land.  It is an area used for target practice (without any live ammunition) so planes will fly over and have a target on the ground and will be evaluated for how close they can get to the target.  Interesting!  In the middle of the sand, quite far from the waterline is a small house used as an emergency outpost should you get stranded when the tide comes in.  It is such flat land that that can happen easily.
This little building is filled with (and surrounded) by flotsam and jetsam found along the beach.  On
our return journey we were serenaded by a local accordianist and all the natives sang along
 Thursday morning was just a quiet time at home before our ferry back to the mainland.
Such fun!  Thanks Glenn and Sue for your hospitality!

More adventures in den Haag to be posted.

Monday, May 23, 2011

All the Iceland photos

Click here to see all the Iceland photos

A number of duplicates, as I'm learning how to do this.  But check it out.


 Caro made me a  link to our dutch adventures.

Arrival in the Netherlands

We had an easy flight to the Netherlands and were met by our friends Caro and Dieuwke.  They were easy to spot outside the luggage pick-up window

I'm sure many people wondered who were these strange arriving visitors.  :-)  We returned to Caro's home to a sumptuous lunch
Such fun to be here visiting.  Willemijn came over, as well, so we had a reunion of the girls from March 2010.  Later we walked to a somewhat nearby windmill, exercising the dog and returned home.  Everyone was tired and we all had a great night's sleep.

Sunday morning after breakfast, we went to buy our train passes - thank heavens for our  "in country" help as the system isn't quite as easy as it used to be.  Caro then prepared to run in a charity 5K run.  We were the local cheerleaders
check out Caro's blog.  Sunday afternoon we cleaned up a bit and headed to Scheveningen for a small teaparty with my Dutch teacher who is here visiting her daughter - a local resident.  We had, of course, a delightful time.  Jacqueline's son-in-law was having an art show, as part of an art walk.

One cannot say we aren't eating well!

Sunday evening was delightfully slow and lazy (filled with blogging catch up)  Rob arrived home after a 10 day bicycling holiday.  (photos of his trip will be on Caro's blog)

Today (Monday) will be a catch up day and preparing  for our jaunt to Vlieland tomorrow.  We will stay with Elaine's brother and SIL who are staying on the island for the month of May.  (more) Great fun coming!

Friday in Iceland

Our personal tour guide picked us up at 9am on Friday morning.  We were going to make a modified version of the "Golden Circle" tour.  The Icelandic language has (I believe Edda told us) 32 letters.  And there are several sounds which are simply not in English, so I cannot pronounce most of the names of places we saw.  We drove past another enormous geo-thermal area after crossing some really big hills (mountains?) with quite a bit of snow still on them

Through pipes, perhaps 36" in diameter hot water is transported back to Reykjavic.  We then drove around a beautiful lake to one of the oldest historical areas in Iceland.  The first gathering of all the clans on the island occurred here, at [a word without the right letters on this typewriter] Pingvellir.  Here in 930 the first national assembly was held and annual meetings continued until 1798.  The judicial system was set up by dividing the country into fourths - 36 farmers were to represent each quarter and then a fifth group of 48 farmers made up the appellate court.  Amazing!  The gatherings were held in a huge field with circles where each tent was placed,

This is also a further extension of the separating earth plates and you can see the high walls on either side of a big depression.
Of course, there is the requisite lovely church, in a little village with a few other buildings.  Oh yes, and of course a wonderful little graveyard.

After some lunch, we moved on to see Gullfoss, the golden falls.  Indescribable!  I believe they are larger than Niagara falls.  With the spray and a lot of wind, it was difficult to stand up.

It's hard to see, but Elaine is standing on the far rocks.  And then we drove back to stop at the geysers, called Geyser.  (a la Yellowstone)  The really large one, Geyser, has pretty much dried up, but Strokkur erups every few minutes,

After all our "outdoorsy" activities, a delightful break for coffee.  Back to the hotel and an early bedtime, as we had to be up at 4am in order to get ready and at the airport for our early morning flight to the Netherlands.  [The new volcanic eruptions on Iceland occurred the night after we left.  Thank goodness for that.]