Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wednesday 1 May

It's so easy to get stuck in a rut when writing a blog. Much as I enjoy my bike rides and like writing about them, it might not always be that interesting for everybody else.
I've never tried to blog every day for a month, figuring that blog writing should be something spontaneous. Some of my favourite blogs don't have a post every day, every week or sometimes even every month. But I found out about Blogging Every Day in May on Twitter and thought it'd be fun to give it a go. Not promising I'll last the month, but being given a subject to write about might inject some new enthusiasm!

Today is five lines about yourself. Only five?! :-)

1. As regular readers of this blog know, I am originally from Holland. After finishing my secondary school exams aged 18, I came to Britain as an aupair. I spent a year looking after 4 boys on a farm in Surrey and had what was probably the happiest time of my life. After another, less happy year with a family nearer to London, I returned to Holland for my degree but then moved back to Britain permanently in 1995. I've now almost lived longer in the UK than I have in Holland, but I feel as though I have two home countries.

2. I have spoken Dutch to my two children (14yo girl and 11yo boy) since they were born. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wouldn't speak Dutch to them, it just felt like the natural thing to do. 14yo used to speak Dutch back to me, until her brother was born (who she's always spoken English to). They now both answer me in English, but they understand pretty much everything I say to them. 14yo reads fluently in Dutch too and I'm hoping she'll take a Dutch GCSE and maybe even spend time in Holland when she goes to university.

3. I am still working for the same company I joined after leaving university (a translation agency). My boss recently said that once you have been with this company for 7 years, you don't leave anymore. In September it is 18 years for me. At the moment I have 4 Dutch colleagues, who have all made their home in the UK. Of course we speak Dutch together, and as most of them are younger than me, they help keep my Dutch up to date.

4. I cannot stand Dutch tea. The first time I made a cup of tea for the cleaner of the family I lived with in Surrey, she took one look and told me that next time I made her tea, she didn't want to be able to see the bottom of the mug. I've never forgotten that, and over the years I have come to prefer my tea ever stronger. The Dutch don't do strong tea - a quick wave with a tea bag in some boiling water and that's it - no milk, just, well, hot water with a vaguely brown colour! Yuck... So, now I bring my own tea bags to Holland.

5. My favourite part of any trip to Holland is a day spent at the Hoge Veluwe. It was started back in the twenties by a rich, German art-collecting couple. Now it is hard to describe what it is - in essence, a nature reserve with a museum, but it's much more than that. All the art, specially in the gardens, seems to be in harmony with its surroundings and can be touched, felt and even climbed over, thus making it very accessible. The park is criss-crossed by cycle paths and in three or four locations there are bicycle parks where you can pick up a 'white bike' for free to cycle around on. When you get to where you want to be, you leave your bike in another bike park for someone else to use. They are very basic bikes, with the famous pedal backwards brakes and no bell, but they just go with the whole ethos of the park. There is also a visitor center, an underground museum specially for children, a museum shop full of interesting art books, and several cafes/restaurants - nothing flashy or modern, but again, just right for its surroundings. I have been going to the Hoge Veluwe with the children since they were very young and they still enjoy going there.
If you ever spend some time in Holland, a visit is highly recommended!

Until tomorrow!