Summer is coming to a close here. We have had a pretty calm and quiet time with everyone (for once) on vacation at the same time. Our main events included a very pleasant visit from my mother in July. In August, we spent a few days as a family in the Netherlands for a change of scene. I hear you. You are only repeating what my children said. The Netherlands? Really?
Most people we know head south in the summer in search of the sun. Highly overrated, especially as you can never be sure there will actually be sun. But perhaps that’s the influence of years of Belgian weather speaking. At any rate, we left planning so late that options were limited. People here are serious about vacations and things are booked up well in advance. A couple years ago we stayed at this AirBNB in Germany – absolutely stunning views, and a great outdoor space for passing the day even when it rained, because of course it did rain. But that place was taken this year by the time we started planning our trip.
Then we found this place in Gietelo, Netherlands. We were looking for something that had a nice outside area. Not having a yard, what we most wanted was to be able to sit outside. This place was wonderful. The patio was large with a table for eating and lots of comfortable seating, half of it covered which came in handy when it, of course, rained. There was a gas grill which we used every day (the house has neither oven nor stove) and a little fire pit, too. My son was in charge of the fire. He was so enthusiastic that after one rather smokey fire, we banned further conflagrations until after dinner. He made the most of it, though, spending his day preparing kindling, arranging wood, doing a little whittling, and planning what to cook in the embers (onions).
The patio was surrounded by shrubs and trees and flowers. Even though the little house was right next to its owners, we had our own private space. We looked onto a vacant lot that was overflowing with wildflowers. There were miles and miles of paths for walking or biking. We stepped out of the driveway and could walk one way into the woods, another way past a cornfield
and pastures (with very frisky cows) to a river, and in another direction we ended up on a dike. I expected the dike to be next to water, but no. I suppose it is a precautionary measure because the river, at that point, isn’t even within sight. The dike is a raised, paved walkway between fields. Daisies and purple clover were abundant along the sides. Some fields had lime green grass. One view had purplish hues that looked like something right out of a Van Gogh painting. My husband and daughter had plenty of material on which to focus their photography skills.
Bikes were everywhere. We didn’t take ours but we certainly would procure some for a future visit. You could easily ride into neighboring cities or the huge national park nearby. All day long bikes sailed past our house: retirees, people going to and from work, families, moms with kids added on in various manners, bikers in racing attire… Most people said hello as we passed, which was quite refreshing but took getting used to. I grew up saying “Hey” to all and sundry, but since moving to my adopted city, I have mastered the art of not looking people in the eye and just passing on by since it is considered highly unusual, verging on rude, to speak to someone you don’t know (which begs the question of how to get to know people in the first place…). This was also true when waiting around at the school pick up area when my children were little, but I digress.
All in all, our short stay in the Netherlands was a quiet, relaxing way to spend time together and slowly wind up the summer. Hopefully we will all be recharged and ready to head back to school!