Monday, April 28, 2014

Sand Castles and Dandelions

Zandsculpturen Festijn

Sand sculptures? Of historical events? In the middle of Holland?
I was skeptical but that was what Blanka and Rebecca wanted to do, 
so sure lets go. It was a fun drive through beautiful rural country 
side and lovely little villages.
Once inside, I was really surprised at how cool these sculptures were. Not nearly as well known or as large as Keukenhof, Zandsculpturen Festijn was never the less a delight. Fun for the kids, educational, whimsical, and exceptional quality. I will let the photos tell the story.

This year's theme was Holland's Golden Age - the 15th and 16th centuries.
Great events, famous people, what has made Holland what it is today.
Politics, military battles, the arts, the crafts, science, exploration are all represented.

This should give you an idea of the scale of the sculpture and introduce you again
to our Dutch family, Wilmar, Rebecca, Sanne-Joy and Lois.
In the 15th and 16th centuries the Netherlands had far reaching influence
throughout the world with the largest merchant fleet in Europe.

All the sculptures are 100% sand 

and are shaped by hand. The scale

and detail are impressive as is the quality.

Fish mongers, flower growers, watch makers and painters were all represented. Oh yes, don't forget the cheese guild.

And the setting was in keeping with the theme, but also fun for the kids. What little girl doesn't dream about being a princes in a castle.

In addition to the outer walls being castle like, the overhead rail system was just the thing to keep the kids and adults interested. To go around on the overhead rails you had to paddle with your feet, just like in a paddle boat. A great birds-eye view of all the sculptures.
The final part of the exhibit was a test to see how many old Dutch children's songs you could identify based on sand sculptures. I (Bob) was of no help at all at guessing the songs but the rest of our tribe were hard at work filing out the form provided naming all the songs and bursting into song.

Lunch at de Espeterhoeve, a nursery/florist shop with a cozy little cafe attached.

Off the beaten path
Not exactly the fastest road back to our home, but certainly enjoyable. We were definitely not in Arizona!                                                                    First off we came upon a couple road signs that looked like they came from the Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland. Not sure if their strange shapes help travelers navigate the round about, but they are certainly a fun distraction. I guess the Dutch had a lot of tax revenue left over and needed to spend it some how. Or maybe they train their lamp posts to grow in unusual shapes. I can't image the Arizona highway system installing these types of road signs.
After the magical road sign we ended up on a dirt farm road that was also magical.

Large expanses of lush farm land newly sewn between rows of stately trees.

A week or so ago this field was bright yellow, now it is white like snow!
Yes, dandelions, but what is funny is that they are called paardebloemen
in Dutch which translated means "horse flowers".
I suppose the name is more than appropriate.

Many of the homes and farm buildings in Holland still use thatch as shown on this home.

Kids with an abundance of energy.

As soon as we arrived home Sanne-Joy and Lois dragged me to the local playground.

And with this display of energy we will call it a day!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday with family and friends

de Schuilplaats, Wilmar and Rebecca's church
We have been looking forward to going to Wilmar and Rebecca's church, de Schuilplaats (the Hiding Place). We learned that the founding pastor of the church became a Christian through the ministry of Corrie ten Boom, thus the name of the church, the hiding place.

de Schuilplaats "family room"
Well, we got up early to be there at 9:30 for breakfast in their large central "family room." It was amazing how many of the church members knew about us and were pleased to meet us. The church was very supportive of Joel coming to the Phoenix Children's Hospital for treatment for neuroblastoma. And were in contact with Wilmar and Rebecca during their stay with us from July 2012 thru Jan 2013. It was as if we were already a part of their family.

Blanka had met many of them a year ago when she visited shortly after Joel had died, but I (Bob) didn't come with her at that time.

Notice Bob and Blanka in the back row of our
Sunday School class?

I (Bob) didn't get too much from the classes (they were all in Dutch, of course) but the fellowship and worship was uplifting. The church is fairly large with average attendance of 600 to 700, but came across as more personal and intimate than I expected. We didn't leave until after 2:00. That's four and a half hours of church!

It was raining when we arrived at church at 9:30 and sure enough still raining lightly as we headed back to Wilmar's home.

Left to right: Wilmar, Rebecca, Blanka, Lois, Sanne-Joy, Levi (w/balloon),
Tiese, Yaron, Geurt and Maike
The Metz family joined us for a late lunch at Wilmar's home. Geurt and Maike Metz are some of Wilmar and Rebecca's closest friends in Ede and helped them a great deal during Joel's illness.
Rebecca made brownies which were a big treat with the kids. And we had supper together too. A real relaxed and fun time all around.

These were special brownies that Rebecca requested that we bring from the US: "Ghirardelli's Triple Chocolate" Brownie Mix.
They were a great hit with not just the kids. In fact I am eating one right now as I type this. Well, actually my second one.

His preference was playing
with Lois's guitar!
Only Tiese didn't want a brownie
for some reason. Maybe
because of the ogre trying to feed him.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

King's Day in the Netherlands

Today was a fun day. As you see from the title it was King's Day, which could be compared to our Fourth of July. It is the biggest holiday in the Netherlands and it seems like the whole country turns orange and red, white and blue (the color orange comes from the name of the Dutch royal house: The House of Orange-Nassau.  It is always celebrated on The King's birthday.

The King and Queen of the Netherlands
Flag of the Netherlands

So this morning, at 9:00 all of us left to go to downtown Ede to celebrate.  Pretty much every town and village has a flea market on King’s day where anyone can come and bring their stuff to sell, and as you see in the pictures one person’s junk is another’s treasure.
The kids had a blast and spent all their pocket money.

Tired but happy with all our purchases we came back home around 2:00 in the afternoon and had tea and coffee with the traditional Dutch “Tompoes” (pastry).

I didn't know the little town of Ede had so many people in it. It seems everybody showed up!

Lois and her Dad contemplating a purchase. "But Dad, I really want it!"

We had an enjoyable lunch at the Oscar Cafe in downtown Ede.

Lois was really pleased that she got two bottles of soda.

Sanne-Joy was proud of her remote powered robot, a big bag of "gold" coins and a pirate's hideout Playmobil toy.
Very cool stuff for an eight year old.

The Dutch have more bikes per capita than any other country
and they seem to bike everywhere. The arbor above the bikes is formed
from Linden trees, trained to grow in straight lines. The new leaves are
just coming out now and by summer it will be covered
with loads of blossoms and leaves.

The Garden of Eden (Keukenhof, Netherlands)

Hi Gang,
Wow! Keukenhof was really beautiful. Intense colors, dramatic forms and textures, ever changing landscapes. Well, rather than a bunch of words, lets tell the story in pictures, after all, a picture is worth a 1000 words, so consider this a small book - in pictures!

On the way to Keukenhof, miles of tulips along the road


A paradise of winding paths with delights at every turn!
Every bloom beckons.


And not just tulips!

And an elegant orchid pavilion.

Blanka and Rebecca
Definitely not in Arizona!

You won't be able to fill my clogs!
And it just keeps surprising us, even after hours of exploring!


And a final appreciation of God's amazing creation.
With tired feet but warm hearts we leave Keukenhof.