Most of my travels are in Central America; if that's the blog you're looking for, here it is: Hopefulist in Latin America.

This is the blog for photos and reflections of my visits to other places, beginning in 2013. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Our quick visit to The Netherlands dipped from 3 nights to 2 when Isaac was asked to be on a panel for a UNICEF Leadership conference in Cambridge (yes, really awesome). We made the most of every minute! We flew from Glasgow Scotland to Amsterdam and were picked up by the youngest of Isaac's 3 older Dutch sisters, Marlene. She whisked us to the family's house in Naaldwijk, just east of the Hook of Holland and south of The Hague.

In an explosion of irony, my host family's name - Middleton - and Isaac's host family's name - Middelburg - are linguistically the same: "Middle Town".

1st view of The Netherlands - green and flat and linear with orange highlights.

There really are windmills!

And swans!

We sat in their beautiful yard with snacks centered around Dutch cheeses. The family says that Isaac (he's called Sjaak here) speaks Dutch better now than when he left 8 years ago. I love hearing him speak so fluently with them, though their English is very good. Their home mirrors them - lovely inside and out. How lucky am I, to be made to feel like family by hosts in Scotland and again in Holland?

Traditional Dutch dinner with Linda, Aud, and Marlene.

After dinner we took a drive and stopped to see this waterworks project. More than 25% of The Netherlands is below sea level and this is effectively a massive rotating gate if other efforts fail.

We curled our toes in the soft sand at the Hook of Holland. Though much further south than Arran, the northern latitude meant nice evening light, even after 10 pm.

Next morning, a Dutch favorite for breakfast - chocoladehaglel (chocolate sprinkles) on buttered bread. This I remember from the mid 60s when my sister Kathy returned from her exchange year in The Netherlands - splendid idea!

Linda watches daughter Caroline's boys on Mondays - so bright and absolutely thrilled to be playing at Oma and Opa's house for the day. Hugo is 4 and Mauritz is 2.

Aud stayed with them

and Linda, Isaac, Mike, and I headed into Naaldwijk on bikes (Isaac on the bike he purchased years ago when he lived with them).

Isaac pointed out his best friend's house, his field hockey club, and this empty field where his high school used to reside; we also stopped by the new one, a few miles away.

This beautiful Holy Ghost courtyard, Heiligegeest Hofje, a favorite quiet place for Isaac's. There is a beautiful old church dating to the 13th century on 1 end and 3 sides of lovely traditional Dutch houses.

In case you need it, more proof I was there. The paving stones seem to fall into 2 of my favorite color palettes: split peas and lentils.

We wove in and out of streets

incuding through the main square where we purchased buns and pastries for breakfast.

Then we said goodbye to city ducks
and hello again to the Middelburg's neighborhood fauna.
Linda took a turn with the grandboys and Aud drove us to the neighboring city of Delft - historically important and visually stunning. There were dozens of rows of bikes like these near the train station, a common occurrence in The Netherlands where bikes outnumber people.

The beautiful old architecture and peaceful canals evoked postcard images on every street.

The sign above the door says, 'Little jumping horse' according to Linda.

Note the orange yarn bomb below and the gorgeous 1 in the 2nd photo down.



Say cheese!!

We enjoyed lunch under the watchful eye of Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) which dates back to the 13th century.

Mike had a salad

and Isaac and I had pofferjes, little puffy Dutch pancakes with powdered sugar, fruit, and whipped cream.

We visited a Delft pottery shop next door that had a beautiful ceiling painted more than 300 years ago.

Then we headed to the base of Nieuwe Kerk

and began to climb. We climbed nearly 400 little pie slice steps of stone and wood and the views inside and out were worth every step.

This clock is still functional and beautiful after more than 500 years.

We ate under the awnings in this photo. The church near the upper right is Oude Kerk - more on that later.

This view to the north shows The Hague on the skyline to the right.


Here Mike is instructing us in what we'd have to do to make our way on the outside of the building to the balcony on the other side. I don't think so.

The views down and up from the highest balcony. Why did this view make my stomach lurch so much more than half way up? I wouldn't survive a fall either way. It pummels my stomach just to look at the photo.


The wheels and pins of this gigantic music box have ignited bells in song for more than 500 years; we watched it in action at 3pm.

Next we made our way to Oude Kerk (Old Church). The tower leans noticeably, a problem detected long before it was completed in the 11th century and rectified in part by alterations to the plan during construction. Mike and Isaac spent most of the next few hours resting and reading in its shade and at a popular eating spot across town while I explored.



Tiny doors to a cellar pub

Bookstore find




This beautiful park area is called Beestenmarkt - for centuries it was an animal auction site.

Mike and Isaac waiting for me there under the green awnings of Kobus Kuch.

Aud met us there and drove us home in a round about windmilly way.


We talked and ate until the sun went down over neighboring glass houses

then talked some more when Isaac's best Dutch buddy Joey and his mother came to visit. Isaac will join Joey and his bride for their wedding in Belgium before returning to the states in August.

We had an early breakfast with Aud and Linda (more chocoladehagel!)


before heading into the mist toward Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.

Goodbye to the old and new of Holland

and to Isaac's other mother; I am happy to share him with this lovely woman.


Happy trails!


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