Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 First Blog from Holland

Dear Family and Friends

I bet you never expected to hear me say that it is good to be back in Holland!! But it is! We have been staying with Marian and John Berg in their lovely home in Driebergen and having a wonderful time. They have driven us around, showing us the sights and treating us royally to wonderful home cooked meals. I’ve discovered that the secret to eating well in Holland is to stay with good cooks – both Marian and John share cooking duties – and to have them take you to the good restaurants. We had a great lunch in a Utrecht bakery that also served meals down in a cave at canal level with wonderful very old brick arched ceilings and even better food. Had the best quiche EVER!
We had a bright sunny day while they toured us around the countryside including a really fun trip to Zaanse Schans, an outdoor museum with typical Dutch houses that are actually occupied, several windmills all producing different products – ground spices, peanut butter, lumber – and a few businesses from more than a century ago. Even had a wooden shoe making shop! Phil and Marian chased each other on stilts and challenged each other at several other children’s games. Too funny!

Marian and John Berg                           

                               Phil and Marian chasing each other
   Dutch House - part of living museum    

                              Working windmills
Grinding spices
Marian also took us to the lovely Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulips and all the other spring flowers. It was everything I had expected from researching it and more. Took 200 pictures on my fabulous new SLR digital Nikon that I got for my birthday last year. It was so good to spend time with them again – Marian absolutely loves to take the mickey out of Phil – he has met his match!
   Keukenhof Gardens                              
                             Keukenhof Gardens
We also met up with Arthur and Diana Dixon – our Australian friends who we met in Holland the first year we were there. Was really nice to see them again there and then had a meal with them later in Rotterdam where they keep their boat. Arthur and Diana were so helpful that first year when we didn’t know our a** from a tea kettle. Lots of good advice that we still use – except for the one to stay in Holland and not go south. Sorry guys but the Midi is the dream!!
Then we were off to Rotterdam to meet Robert and Christa Bouman who toured us around South Holland, Zeeland and Delta works that hold back the North Sea/Atlantic. Amazing, amazing engineering. When you think that much of Holland is man-made and under sea level, you get an appreciation for their accomplishments. Wow! The surprise of the day was Robert’s son Raymond, a KLM pilot, taking them up in a little 4-seater to get a view from the sky. Phil actually got to fly the plane for a short time – he loved it!! He also got a chance to see all the dams and dykes from the air. I stayed on the ground – thank you very much – and took pictures of the takeoff and landing.
    Flying Phil                                 
                             Delta works from the air
  Safely on the ground                             
                                       Robert and Christa
Robert also showed us his dental lab where he employs 11 other technicians. Beautiful well equipped lab - we were very impressed. We then went back to their lovely condo right on the Oude Maas where we could watch the barges making their way to and from the seaport. What a great view from their condo looking across to the skyline of Rotterdam. And another good home cooked meal!

We are very fortunate to have met and made such good Dutch and Australian friends that we love to spend time with. Our Dutch friends are so hospitable and generous – we can only hope that they visit us on Vancouver Island soon so that we can reciprocate.
It was hard to leave Holland but France beckoned and we took the Thalys fast train to Paris where we changed to the SNCF local to Migennes and the boat. While the weather hasn’t been great – I had to go out and buy a jacket – we look forward to better weather as we head south. I’m sure next month I’ll be complaining because it’s too hot.

And now for the Canadian news as I didn’t have time to get an email out before we left – busy, busy, busy. Phil was asked to go back and teach next year at NAIT and he agreed to one more year. They didn’t even care that he wouldn’t be back until almost the end of October. The students were ecstatic and we are really glad to be spending more time with the ‘kids’ and our Edmonton buddies. But next June – for sure!!! – we are heading home to Nanaimo.  The golf course and Island friends beckon.
So ends the first 2012 blog – we are really excited about all we’ll see and do this year. Hope you keep reading and do stay in touch. We love to hear from you. ( )
Love to all – The Master Mariner and the Galley Slave


  1. fourth time ...lets see if this works.
    Love Helen and Charles

  2. Great blog...look forward to more
    Love helen and Charles

  3. Such a great read! Your trip sounds like it is off to a wonderful start, will watch for next month's news!


    1. Hi Jan - glad you enjoyed - lovely being back in France. Sure looking forward to seeing you later this year. Make sure you bring baby pictures!!
      Love, Sharlene and Phil

  4. Nice to read you two are well
    Enjoy your summer !
    Diane Plasse