Monday, September 15, 2014

A Dutch Summer Fest and Dollhouse Rooms

School started on September 1 this year in The Netherlands...Labor Day in the USA.  Remember when we used to start school the day after Labor Day?  Nicholas started mid-August in Atlanta.

Anyway, the week before school starts each year, Gorinchem, where we live, puts on a big Zommerfest (Summer Fest) to bring summer to a big-blast end.  It's a full week of activities all around our inner citadel, plus music on stages every night.

After 5 years now, Astrid and I usually just go out on Saturday to see what's up.

Like the Lego venue, for instance, just a block from our apartment.

Legos are big all over the world but especially in Europe.
Based in Denmark and started in 1949, it's one of the most successful companies in the world.
As of 2013, around 560 billion Lego parts have been produced.
The bricks alone, sold in one year, can circle the earth 5 times.

 At the city square, next to our Grote Kerk, there was an organized mob.
The kids really do have a last blast.

All kinds of interactive crafts keep little minds and fingers busy.
(Big ones, too.)

Did I ever mention that tennis is a HUGE sport in Holland?
Start 'em young, of course.

But what absolutely stole my heart was this little fella playing chess with his dad.
Right out there in the open for the whole wide world to watch!
I wanted to eat him up.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

All of this was at the city square, as I said, which is at the backdoor of our Grote Kerk.  How many times have I shown you our Big Church!  

   We love going inside, never knowing what will be on exhibit there.

 It so happens there this time there was an exhibit of miniature doll rooms 
from Hans van den Heuvel van der Kooi.  Her collection covers almost 20 homemade rooms 
from 1930-2000 on a 1:12 scale, lining the inside church walls.

 Once I got started, I couldn't stop, changing my camera setting to the macro mode.
I think I was a miniature artist in a past life.  Seriously.

Can you imagine all this detail!  It just blew my mind.

There was a Medieval room and a kitchen from the 70s
(which I somehow lumped together before keeping the rooms separate).

Here's the decor of a living room in Ameide from 1964.

An atelier.
(Gotta love the red hair!)

A children's room or nursery.

A room with Mackingtosh furniture (notice the chess board!).

A tearoom.

A butcher's shop.

A teen room (with Pepsi, HA!).

A room from the 1930s.

A bedroom.

A men's room (back in the day).

A 1950s kitchen and living room.

A 1950s parents' bedroom.

And last but not least, a room in Christmas spirit.
Are you ready?  It'll be here before you know it!

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Muiderslot Castle in Muiden, NL

Back to finish up Astrid's birthday weekend in the Huizen/Muiden neck of the woods, this is the castle she wanted me to see from her childhood.  She could hardly wait to go back to see it herself, just 20 km away from Hilversum, where she was born and raised.

I, too, was excited when we first spotted it from afar.
That's a castle...considered the best-kept and most beautiful Medieval castle in the Netherlands!

 It even has it's own weathervanes, of course (bottom 3 images).
Everything else we saw as we walked from our car, along the harbor.

And yes, we got to use our museum card for this.
Can you imagine having an inner courtyard like this for your humble abode?

 Lucky for us, a half-hour tour came free with the ticket.

Do you think it'd be fun to live during that day and age?
The castle was built in 1285.

The tour was totally worth it.  It's all in the details, you know.

Then we went off on our own to the tower and checked out the view from there.
That body of water is the IJsselmeer, Western Europe's largest lake (fresh water).

As we explored the castle, I started thinking about living there.
HA!  And playing hide-n-seek.

Kids of all ages have so much to see and do there.

And this is just a smattering.

What would YOU be tempted to buy?
We bought a white stone bottle of the Tesseltje Likorette, since we collect stone bottles.
It's made on Texel Island and is sold only there...and at this castle!

Once we were done inside, we went out and walked around the castle to see all sides.

 Remember my oculus?  I couldn't resist.

Couldn't resist the plum trees outside the castle moat, either, with no Do Not Touch signs.
Astrid grabbed 2 each as a nice little appetizer for our walk into town for lunch.

 Have I mentioned how much I love the Dutch harbor towns?!
Even on a rainy, overcast day!

Astrid had already picked out where would eat:  the Ome Ko Café just outside the harbor lock.
It's a brown cafe that is part of her young-20's years growing up.

After the huge breakfast we had had at the Fletcher Hotel that morning (this post), 
the panini-tosti lunch was exactly what the doctor ordered.  We always share, you know.

It was the perfect way to say Good-Bye to a BIG 6-0 birthday celebration weekend.
Lots of memories for Astrid to share with me from her former neck of the woods.
It was as though it were my birthday!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Vision and Verb: My Blurb Book Redux

So, guess what.  Instead of working this week on the castle images from Astrid's birthday weekend, I re-did my Blurb book of Vision and Verb posts...for free!

It's a back-n-forth story of several emails with the Support Desk, and in the end , they really wanted me to be happy...and I was.  Part of it was my fault in not computing how a text book is different from a photo book.  Part of it is that the editing tool was not a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) tool, and the support man graciously agreed.

So, with all of that, here's the new book or my 98 V&V posts, more the way I expected and with only some slight changes.  THIS is the book that replaces the other one (which we'll promtly forget all about).  Thank you for your indulgence:

Make sure you view it on full-screen to see it as intended.  I've also added it to my sidebar with my other two (Shutterfly) photo books.  [I do not intend for anyone to BUY this book...way too expensive!  But I'd love for you to be able to see it, if you wish.]

I also purchased the PDF version, in case you want to download it.

For those of you who have followed me during the last 4-1/2 years of my visions and verbs, THANK YOU.  It's been quite the journey!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

BIG 6-0 Birthday Celebration in Huizen, NL

That would be Astrid, of course, who turned the BIG 6-0 last Sunday.  HELLO!  And YES, we celebrated.

Astrid loves to find good deals through the Dutch VakantieVeilingen (vacation auction) site, so for her birthday, we had a hotel and 3-course dinner in Huizen for less than half price.  How can you say NO to that!

So, off we went last Sunday morning, with a route already mapped out (another thing she loves to do) on the back roads of Holland.  The destination that day, Huizen, was only only 66 km from home taking the fast route.  But, no, we weren't in a hurry.  Once we got off the main road, we stopped at every Dick-Jane-and-Sally weathervane...which you'll see at the end of this post.

But this is a start at the Trompenburgh, a 17th-century manor house in 's-Graveland.
Believe it or not, Astrid's brother knew the son who lived there when they were both 14,
going to the same school in Hilversum, nearby.  Remember that Astrid grew up in Hilversum. 

After that, it was already time to eat lunch, which we did at the nearby 't Bruggetje in Loosdrecht.
We knew we'd have a big dinner, so "light" was the vote.

Astrid knew there was a water tower in nearby Bussum, from 1897.
In 2001 it was sold to an engineering firm that turned it into an office building!

Remember that we were stopping for weathervanes all the time, before and after...
but soon we drove into Huizen, our destination for the day.
Astrid learned to ski there on those green slopes...on grass, yes.
In her day, Huizen had 4K people; today they have 41K.

And before we could say "Jack Sprat," there was our Fletcher Hotel with a HUGE weathervane.
It was opened in 2012 and is quite the complex.
Our room was in the side tan building (left-middle), overlooking the harbor.

All of this was right in front of our very eyes.

And because we had plenty of time before dinner, we took a walk to the harbor head.

We wanted to see the big water of the IJsselmeer lake,
and watch some of the boats sail into the harbor.

Then it was time to eat, and boy, were we ever looking forward to it.
(In the middle-right image you can see the building where we stayed.)
As Astrid says, we had the best seat in the house.

Her appetizer was mussels, mine was we were both in heaven.
Our main course was beefsteak and salmon, which we shared, with au gratin pototoes and frietjes .
Dessert was crème brûlée (for me) and a caramel delight (for Astrid).
After all, it WAS her BIG 6-0.

After dinner we took a nice walk around the Fletcher complex...
and enjoyed our breakfast the next morning, part of the cost of the stay.
WOW.  How can you beat that.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It was a new day, the day after, and we were off to nearby Muiden to see the castle Astrid had known as a child (next post).  But on the way, she wanted to stop at the Jewish cemetery in Muidenberg that she had never visited while growing up.

It's the second oldest but largest Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands, from 1642.

What is it about cemeteries?

Since we couldn't read Hebrew, we made up our own stories.

We had seen so much before finding the castle.  We were short of eyes!

Can you imagine seeing a camel out in the middle of nowhere (top-left)?
How about a school sign telling you to slow down (top-right).
Astrid told me the (bottom-left) fur-ball was spit out by an owl, with parts of a field mouse still in tact.
And one of the 50 weathervanes that didn't make any of my following collages is the troubadoor.

Are you ready for all the vanes we saw in the space of two days?

Yes, I separated them into themes.

The boats first...some of which just blow my mind, in 3-D.

Animals and fish.


And everything else.
One is even "gone with the wind," as Astrid so cleverly says (top-2nd-left).

Next up will be the castle we saw before heading back home....