We have been in The Netherlands for a month now and I have not yet written a blog post. This evening is our last night here so I thought I had better scribble a few words!
We have been staying in a place called Erm in the province of Drenthe. Drenthe is one of the greenest provinces in the Netherlands, and we have been surrounded by beautiful forests and the cutest thatched cottages. One of the highlights of our stay here has been visiting the ‘hunebedden’. These are 5000 year old stone graves that are from Scandinavia, but moved down to The Netherlands on a glacier, settling here when it melted.
We also spent a day in a magical forest called Boomkroonpad. It has a play area and 6 different trails through the woods with wooden tree carvings, dens, hammocks, thrones and much more to find on your adventure around. It was a lovely free day out with the option to pay 4 euros more to go up on a tree-top walkway and up a look out tower as high as the trees. I didn’t spend too much time up there, heights kind of freak me out and the look out tower was swaying in the wind… eek!
The bungalow we are staying in is on a holiday park. There are people who live here permanently, and the rest of the houses are rented out to holiday makers. We have had use of a pool, gym and play park. There’s also a stunning lake which has been frozen over for a good chunk of our stay. It is surrounded by a lovely wooded area which Eliza and I have spent a lot of time hunting in for fungus and whittling sticks. I have definitely settled into the rural living and loving the slow pace of life that it offers. Eliza is too! Without the distractions of our normal busy life back in the UK she is choosing to spend a lot more of her time reading, writing and playing by herself – BY HERSELF!! This was completely unheard of back home, she always needed me or Chris at her side. It has been really lovely to see her enjoying her own company, and watching her imagination shine as she makes up stories with her playmobil figures. She still very much enjoys the company of other children, and is quick to make friends wherever we go. She has even added a new Dutch friend to her instagram account. ( https://www.instagram.com/elizadoalot/ )
We knew before we arrived here that everyone cycles so it was no shock for me and Chris, but for Eliza it was amazing! She loves to cycle and was amazed to see hundreds of other people on their bikes too. Although she did notice quickly that no one wears helmets – not even small children. People even commented on her helmet (apparently the Dutch know you are a tourist if you are wearing one!) People on the road here are very friendly, drivers stop for cyclists, give way to them with a smile and a wave. I have never felt so safe on a bike before.
It has been easy to chat to people and to get to know about the local area, everyone wants to help. Most people speak English too, even here in a very rural area. This has meant we have been lazy with our Dutch – aside from writing down 10 or so useful phrases when we first arrived, and leaning our numbers, we have not really spoken Dutch at all! However, it doesn’t seem too different from English. I think it would be an easy language to learn and one I would love to be fluent in. We have all felt very welcome here and would love to come back for a longer stay.