Thursday, March 31, 2016

Paasbrunch (Easter Brunch) the Dutch Way

The first thing to say is....

More Dutch you cannot get!

And then, out of the 145 apartments where we live in our senior complex, with 200+ residents, there is always a core of us who get together for special holiday Easter brunch.  For those of us who don't have relatives nearby...or a church service...we have something to make us feel festive.  

This time there were 23 of us.  We started at 11 a.m. and finished two hours later.  But pay attention because this all happens in a sequence and in separate courses, one at a time.  Just when you think there couldn't possibly be more, it goes on...and on.

The table was set, waiting for us with glasses of orange juice.
Look at all that yellow.  So perfect for Spring and Easter.
As we all gathered, champagne was served and we gave our toast:  "Proost!"

Then baskets of French bread were added to the tables,
with both plain and herbal butters nearby.... accompany the choice of soup next being served:  chicken or vegetable (with meatballs).
Many, like Astrid, had one bowl of each.  And why not!

It wouldn't be Easter (or Sunday!) without a hard-boiled egg, of course.

But for some reason, I always forget that a salad is coming.
It's a ground potato-ham mixture with accompanying cherry tomatoes and silver onions,
and another boiled egg on top.
Notice that by this point my champagne is gone.

Which made for the perfect timing of the coffee or tea making its rounds.

Of course, we hadn't had enough to eat by then, so...
bring out the feeststol...the Dutch bread served at Christmas and Easter!
It's the almond-paste center that makes it different from the German stollen.
Astrid calls it a sugar bomb, but at only two times a year, who cares, right?!

Oh, and as if we hadn't had enough eggs already, there were scrambled eggs with Dutch spek/bacon!
The deli plate was for the rolls, in case you weren't full enough.

And finally, there was the canned fruit cocktail (which I actually grew up on, interestingly).
And a surprise Belgian chocolate Easter bunny, one for everybody.

Are you still hungry????
Over the course of 2 hours, it all settles in.

As does the getting to know each other better.
This is why we love these times together.  Fellowship.  Koinonia.

Going around the table, one by one, yakkity-yak.
These are the people we have grown to love, some of whom are my Rummikub mates on Fridays.

Riet and Ria (top-center) were two, besides Ineke, who bought and organized all the food,
with heavy financial subsidizing by our Poort 6 management:
we paid €3 per person!

All the familiar suspects....with Ineke, top right and bottom.

The lady sitting next to me turns 91 in June, 3 days after I turn 71.
I told Astrid I may rethink not wanting to live that long...if I can look like that!

As they say, all good things come to an end,
but not without help.

The residents' committee had everything under control, of course.
Let's call it  Dutch Cleaning Clean-up.

The remains of the day, with email addresses handed out....
(they all knew I was taking pictures for something).
Yup.  This was our celebration for Easter, and....

More Dutch you cannot get!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Other Side of Ayush's Visit

What?  Well, in that last post when Ayush visited us here where we live in Gorinchem, NL, I also took lots of pics without him in them, of course.  THAT other side.  That's what this post is about as we went here-n-there around our backyard.  Just for the record, you know.

So, remember the train station in Geldermalsen where we picked Ayush up?

It was full of the Star of David, for one.
The snail weathervane was on a house in the neighborhood nearby.

When we crossed the big Merwede river by car ferry to the Loevestein castle,
we spotted a cow in the thicket and a ram guarding the gate.
That's what I mean by "goodies."

Inside the castle there were plenty of photo ops.

These places cater to photographers!

Once in Woudrichem, next door to the castle...more goodies.

In fact, while Astrid and Ayush were climbing up to the top of the windmill,
I stayed below with the sheep, watching them graze nearby.
Over hill, over dale....

Woudrichem has one of my favorite Dutch harbors.  It never disappoints.

The next day, when we took our Gorinchem citadel walk...more goodies.
Even the English narrowboat was in our inner harbor, a frequent visitor throughout the year.

To finish the weekend at Kinderdijk was the crowning touch, of course.
How can one place have so many faces, so many sides....

You know me. I can never get enough...or too much...of these goodnesses everywhere we go.
By now you should recognize all of it, but it's never the same two times in a row.

For those of you who also follow me at my Shutterchance photo blog,
do you ever guess which of the images I show here will end up there with a few more tweaks?
HA!  Just asking!  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ayush in Our Own Backyard

Remember Ayush?  Ayush from India, living in Singapore, and sometimes working in Venlo, NL.  Yes.  THAT Ayush.

This past weekend we had the good fortune of showing him around our own backyard when he took the train to visit us for an overnight.  Lucky for us, our senior complex here has a guest room across the courtyard from us, so it all worked out splendidly.

Astrid and I drove to Geldermalsen to pick him up at the train station.  He could have come all the way to Gorinchem
but this gave us an extra hour by driving to another station, without him having to change trains again.

Besides, Geldermalsen was near the stork village we wanted him to see...our first stop.
Even Astrid still gets excited by storks, though having grown up with them.
I had never seen a real one till I moved here!

Then we drove along the dijk to Brakel, to catch the ferry across the Merwede river,
saving us miles and time for the rest of our day.

The first big stop across the river was the Loevestein castle from 1361.
Those who've followed me for awhile should recognize it, right?!

It's one of those child-friendly castles, catering to Kids of all ages.

Ayush was a good sport!

What's there not to love about a real castle!

For one thing, they have a way of working up your appetite.
So we drove to nearby Woudrichem for lunch at our favorite De Stroming restaurant.

Woudrichem is Gorinchem's sister city across the river from us, remember?
The Nooit Gedagt windmill there is where Astrid gets her flours for our bread machine.
It's also where you can climb to the top...which Ayush and Astrid did.

Woudrichem has a picturesque harbor, too, so it was the ideal place to end our first day.

At home that evening we watched a good movie while eating peanuts in the shell.
Ayush was in Rome and followed suit like a very good gentleman!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The next day, Sunday, was another "see what's in our backyard" kind of day.

From our back door (top-right), we started the walk around Gorinchem's citadel.

I couldn't be prouder of where we live here in the Netherlands!

We actually wouldn't have to go anywhere ever for how beautiful our city is.
(But you didn't hear me say that, of course.)

Another windmill, De Hoop, allows climbing to the top.
For having never been inside a windmill, Ayush really lucked out...two in one weekend!

What is it about water and boats and harbors?

We ended up in city center to visit inside the protestant Grote Kerk, two blocks from our apartment.

And because the Italian ice cream shop is there on the square, we did our thing
before heading back home...before heading out again by car.

It was time to drive out into the polder to our favorite pannenkoeken restaurant.
Liddle lamzy diveys were skipping about all over the place, so we had to stop.

I especially loved watching the two who were inseparable the entire time.
It doesn't get much cuter than that.

And, yes, we each chose a different pannenkoek and shared one-third of each.

And then, for the grand finale, we drove to Kinderdijk, the UNESCO site of 19 windmills.

I hope you never tire of this place because this won't be the last time you'll see it from me,
God willing and the creek don't rise.

It was the Golden Hour already, time to take Ayush back to the train station.
What a great visit from such a kind, generous, considerate young man.
We'd do it again in a heartbeat, Ayush, so THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I told sister, Ruth, that this was a dry run for the two days she and hubby will be with us in July.
If it works for you, it works for us!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Another Day Out in the Dutch Polder, Near Almkerk

I get antsy for this, you know, needing to see and feel it again.  It's gotten under my skin.  And besides, you never know what you're going to see!

In this case, we specifically went to Almkerk, 7 km south of us across the Merwede river, to find a cat weathervane we knew was there (a long story related to a Facebook friend we know here).  As it turned out, we never found the cat...but will go back with our friend to guide us later.

In the meantime...we were NOT disappointed....

...because we saw our first BUTTERFLY vane!

And, looking at that center image above, do you see a haystack/silo (with a vane on top, yes)?
The roof rises or falls on those corner poles depending on how much hay is stored.
Don't you wonder how the Dutch think these things up?!

It was a good day for vanes, even though we never found the cat!
I included a view of several houses in a row to show how plentiful the vanes sometimes are.

Almkerk also has it's own water tower, restored after the original was destroyed in 1945's WWII.

And two windmills, of which this is one:  the Oude Doornse Molen c. 1700.

And then, of course, you can't have the polder without swans.
Astrid counted 30+ swans in this group, all "children," she says, waiting to find their own field.
Swans pair up for life and live in one pair per spot/field.
I do hope these kids find their perfect mate.

It was a sunny day, so Mother Nature was out in force, doing her thing.

We were able to tell immediately that the horse rider was handicapped.
How splendid to be taken care of so well...on a beautiful day.

One thing I have learned about the Dutch:  they HAVE to be outdoors.
I don't go outdoors every day but maybe one day I will...and find that I, too, am Dutch?!
I have no excuse.  I just need to do it.