A Dutch dog walk

Back in May we were in Holland, visiting relatives, and although for once the weather there wasn’t great, we did have a few good days. On one of them we went on a long walk with the dogs and as the area in the north-west (Frisian) part of the Netherlands is mainly rural, we were walking around farmland.
Foals and horse in Holland

Foals and horses

Unfortunately it isn’t like in the UK where you can get up close to any animals in fields. Most of the fields are surrounded by wide drainage ditches, I really wanted to get nearer this mare with her foal, but unless I waded over mud it wasn’t possible.

Foal and mare

There are horses all over the place, a real paradise for horsey people, apart from the fact that you usually can’t get close enough to pat them. They were always interested to see us though.

horses

De Kruidhof Botanic Gardens, Fryslan, the Netherlands

De Kruidhof 4

We visited De Kruidhof Botanic Gardens again when we were in the Netherlands last month. The last time we were there it was September and the fruit trees were in full swing, this time the fruit blossom was just beginning to bloom, as you can see.

De Kruidhof 6

These botanic gardens are really lovely, but maybe a bit remote for many people, it was very quiet when we were there, just as it was the last time. They are situated in Friesland, north east Netherlands, quite a rural district. They have a good plant nursery attached to them.

Either the box balls below have been too enthusiatically trimmed, or they’re suffering from box blight as so many of them seem to be in the UK. Mind you someone did tell me that the box blight was just a reaction they have to being constantly cut back, that seems a reasonable hypothesis to me. Don’t be so brutal to your box plants and they’ll probably grow well, mine certainly do, but they could be described as being ‘shaggy’ not sculptured.

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In the Netherlands though they have perfected the art of sculpting trees and the photo below is of a tree which is being trained to fit around the metal structure.

De Kruidhof 1

They take tree pruning very seriously. I like naturally growing trees but I also admire the regimented trees too.

De Kruidhof 5

Naarden, the Netherlands

You might know that we recently went on a trip to the Netherlands and Belgium. The Netherlands was mainly to visit family but midway through our visit we drove to Belgium to visit Ypres and some World War 1 sites.

Anyway, on our last day in Ypres we decided to go into the town and make some serious chocolate purchases. As I’m a chocoholic imagine my horror when we got into town and discovered that everything was shut! Apparently it was Ascension Day, a holiday for everyone, even for the shops catering for tourists.

Worse than that though was the fact that we only had around 90 miles worth of petrol in our tank and the journey back to Holland was a 250 mile long one. The petrol stations were all closed too of course. Who would have thunk it! With visions of running out of juice on a Belgian motorway we set off for the journey back and eventually discovered an open petrol station. Phew.

So, back to plan A – which was to visit the town of Naarden in the Netherlands on our way back. I discovered this town when I was perusing a Dorling Kindersly Eyewitness Travel Guide on the Netherlands, that’s a very good travel series I think, judging by this one anyway.

So below is a photo of the town of Naarden which was in full holiday mode, that is – everywhere shut except for the cafes and ice-cream shops, which was a bit of an annoyance as there was a vintage shop I would have gone into had it been open.

Naarden 1

It’s a very nice town, well worth a visit if you’re in that area.

Naarden

Naarden is the location of an old fort, one of those star shaped ones, designed to withstand attacks from all angles.

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It looks spectacular, especially from the air. Below you can see just one wee bit of it. You can walk all around it but we didn’t have enough time, or energy. It was very hot of course with the Netherlands being the hottest spot in Europe that week.

Naarden 11

Have a look at the images of the fort here. It looks fantastic. The distinctive star shape made it a rallying point for allied bombers during World War 2 – on their way to bomb Germany. It was photos like those that prompted us to visit the town, but I must say that the ice-cream there was lovely – and so cheap compared with back home!

Groningen, the Netherlands

The city of Groningen in the north east of the Netherlands is very old, it’s first mentioned in documents dating back to 1040. Nowadays it’s famous for its two universities and there are over 50,000 students living in the city. That means there are a lot of bikes around as you can see.

Bikes in Groningen

Bikes outside Groningen University

The last time we were in Groningen we went on a boat trip on the canal, it’s a good way to see the city, without being knocked down by bikes! But this time we wandered around – bike dodging and we visited the museum which is interesting.

Groningen Museum 2

It’s a pity we missed the exhibition they had on of David Bowie’s art although apparently the queues for it were enormous. You can see some images of the exhibition here.

I must admit though that I find it sad that many museums and art galleries are now charging for admission. It cost us 13 euros each to get in. I think it must come as a nice surprise to tourists visiting Britain when they discover that most of the museums/galleries have no entry charges.

If you want to see more images of Groningen have a look here.

Dog Grooming – Dutch Style

It’s the time of the year when if you have dogs you’ll probably be going crazy with the amount of hair which they are shedding at the moment.

If you happen to be living around north-east Holland, around about the Groningen area you should do yourself a favour and take your dogs to a very good dog groomer – Kirsty Skirving. Not only is she a great groomer, she’s also a whizz with dogs with behavioural problems. www.activedogcare.nl

Kirsty's van

De Kruidhof – Botanische Tuin Fryslan

We had really good weather while we were in the Netherlands, it was that Indian Summer which we often hope for but rarely get, this year it turned up in the Netherlands and Britain.

De Kruidhof

So although it wasn’t quite the best time of the year to visit a botanic garden we decided to visit one anyway. De Kruidhof Botanic Garden was still looking good and it has a great plant nursery attached to it, of course I just had to buy some.

De Kruidhof 2

It must be nice to have a house which backs on to such a lovely botanic garden. Spot who got into the photo above.

De Kruidhof 6

The apple/pear walkway had the most amazing crop of fruit, this is a really beautiful way of growing fruit, if you have plenty of space of course.

De Kruidhof 14

I took lots more photos, but more of those ones sometime later probably. De Kruidhof is a lovely place to visit if you happen to be in that part of the Netherlands.

Surhuisterveen, the Netherlands

Surhuisterveen 3

I spotted the house above when we were parking the car in the village of Surhuisterveen which is actually in Friesland, a part of North East Netherlands, where they speak a different language which sounds to me more akin to Polish than Dutch.

I love the look of this house, to me it looks fairly modern but they do still put thatched roofs on newish houses in the Netherlands. It was the weather vane which really attracted me though. Who wouldn’t want a Viking ship on their roof?!

Surhuisterveen 1

Or is it just the Viking in me taking over?

Surhuisterveen

The Netherlands

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The photo above is the first view we got of the place we were staying in in the Netherlands, you can see the stables straight ahead where the four horses live, there were five but one died a few months ago – old age, she had a good innings.

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As you can see, the house itself is thatched although not completely thatched, in common with a lot of Dutch houses. The tiles are shiny black ones, very different from the orange terracotta tiles which are common in Scotland, and those ones came originally from the Netherlands too, as ballast in ships. All of the houses in the area are different from each other. The farmers just seem to have drawn houses and got local builders to put build them. It’s just as well that the houses were individual as it helped me to recognise places, otherwise the very flat landscape bamboozled me, I need hills and natural outcrops to help me to know where I am.

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The wee house which you can see to the left of the main house is completely thatched and in the past it was used for cooking and eating in. The farm workers weren’t allowed to trail their muck and mud into the house so the farmhouses all have these structures. Now the mini house is used as a laundry room, like an updated wash house, very handy as it keeps all the washing machine noise out of the house.

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The photo of the stained glass above is one of five windows which were in our bedroom. I love stained glass and I think this design would transfer really well into a patchwork quilt design. Maybe one day I’ll get around to doing it!

The Netherlands Trip – at last

At the moment I’m busy preparing for our trip to the Netherlands, we’ll be setting off in less than a week now. We’re going to visit the Dutch branch of my family, something which we’ve been meaning to get around to since we got married, but life, kids and a mortgage sort of got in the way. We’re going by ferry and we’re fitting in a bit of a road trip in England before and after going to north Holland.

So all in all we’ll be away for almost a fortnight, that’s unheard of for me as I really don’t like being away from home for more than about a week at a time. I don’t know what our internet access will be like but I’m going to schedule a few posts for during our time away, just in case I don’t have a chance to blog. I might not be able to get around to answering any possible comments until we get back home though, I’ll get around to them eventually.

I’m sure there’ll be lots of interesting places to visit and photograph while we’re away which I hope armchair travellers will enjoy.