Heidezicht

The heide is finally in bloom. Apparently the flowers don’t last very long before turning brown . The photos really don’t do justice to the view.

Heide 1

heide 2

Close up of the heather.
Close up of the heather.
There is a designated grazing area between Lage Vuursche and Hilversum.
There is a designated grazing area between Lage Vuursche and Hilversum.

Exercise

Exercise isn’t something I usually discuss and my blog has not really mentioned exercise until this post. I have mentioned that I walk everywhere but after 6 and a half months daily walking is more of a lifestyle than exercise. Early on I noticed a difference once I began walking everywhere. At first I was tired and sore all the time. Then I built up a tolerance and was able to walk across town and back without needing a nap and pain-reliever. Now between walking and my Dutch stair-master I think my legs are in pretty good condition. Shopping – ok buying 1-2 L of milk and carrying it home – has been good for my arms. Think that sounds easy? Fill up a 2L bottle with water and carry it around for 10-15 minutes, then get back to me.

One of our 3 (yes 3) staircases.
My Dutch stair-master, well one of three.

As the weather has gotten warmer, I have become more aware that I am more than just legs. (I am very much an “in my head” person and would live there if I could.) Anyway I decided that working on my core was a good place to start. The core connects to everything and a healthy strong core is essential for a healthy body. A 30 day Facebook event coincided with my intent to work on my core so I have been doing the exercises posted for the last 5 days. It helps to have someone else to be accountable for exercise. I figure after a month this exercising thing should be a habit and I can mix in other exercises. Wish me luck!

Note: I shouldn’t have to say (type) this but I am not a health expert and this post is not meant as medical advice. This is just my personal experience.

Keukenhof Gardens

Last week we visited the Keukenhof Gardens with friends. It was so easy to wander among the flowers and forget how long you had been there. My husband, Mike, was very accommodating as we pointed to flowers and asked for photos. After a while he just started taking pictures of the beds we lingered over. This is just a small portion of what he shot.

keukenhoff_mike_122

Mother's love tulip

plant sculpture

well

flower mosaic

red flowers

swan

Orchids

near the canal

waterfall

colorful beds

Daffofil

They even had my favorite flower: bleeding hearts.
They even had my favorite flower: bleeding hearts.

pink tulips beds

peacock Keukenhof

white tulips

Blue breasted bird

Russian dolls made from planters.

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City Farms

Mike and I first encountered a city farm or stadsboerderij, located on a green block between two busy streets, in Den Haag. Stadsboerderijen seem to be popular in the Netherlands. Families in particular love to visit these farms so the kids can interact with the animals. The animals are quite tame and seem to enjoy the attention from their visitors (especially if they bring food). You will see mainly sheep, goats, ducks, and chickens in these farms. Some farms are about the size of a small block and others are a bit larger. The photos below are from the stadsboerderij in Zwolle.

animals and barn

sheep

This guy had jumped the fence but seemed determined to stay by it.
This guy had jumped the fence but seemed determined to stay by it.
One of the 4 or 5 peacocks.
One of the 4 or 5 peacocks.

going for a walk

A Visit to the Noorder Begraafplaats

As many of my friends already know, I love cemeteries and am very interested in funeral/burial customs. I have visited graves and graveyards from small and rural to large and cosmopolitan. On vacations I usually try to visit cemeteries or graves of note in the area. When I live someplace one of my favorite things is to visit the local cemeteries. Graves that are no longer visited by friends or family have a special place in my heart. I like to visit those graves in particular because I think it is important to remember those who came before us.

Right after college I surveyed and documented an historic cemetery. It was overgrown, the headstones were cracked or otherwise broken, and except for the occasional township employ largely forgotten. It took me a little over a year to complete the project and during that time I grew to know (as best I could) the inhabitants. Before picking of where I left off documenting, I would revisit other graves and pay my respects. Sometimes I would bring my family and introduce them to my most recent friend. I wasn’t related to any of the inhabitants but they were special to me nonetheless.

This spring the weather has been beautiful and perfect for visiting the cemetery. Noorder Begraafplaats is one of the most colorful cemeteries I have visited. There are flowers growing everywhere and the trees are in bloom.

Entrance to the Noorder Begraafplaats
Entrance to the Noorder Begraafplaats
Grave Depicting birds on a branch in Noorder Begraafplaats
Grave Depicting birds on a branch in Noorder Begraafplaats
This is the most colorful headstone I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I do not know who is buried here since there is no name plaque.
This is the most colorful headstone I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I do not know who is buried here since there is no name plaque.
A lovely grave with butterflies and Bhuddas
A lovely grave with butterflies and Bhuddas
There were watering cans at regular intervals. I think this is so thoughtful and a great way to ensure that the flowers stay hydrated.
There were watering cans at regular intervals. I think this is so thoughtful and a great way to ensure that the flowers stay hydrated.
At first I thought this was a memorial monument but it seems to be just a piece of art. There was no plaque near this sculpture.
At first I thought this was a memorial monument but it seems to be just a piece of art. There was no plaque near this sculpture.
Not all the headstones were in Dutch.
Not all the headstones were in Dutch.
This is one of a couple glass headstones I saw. The glass headstones seem to be from the last 10 years.
This is one of a couple glass headstones I saw. The glass headstones seem to be from the last 10 years.

The children’s graves that I saw were often covered with toys and lanterns. Some headstones, like those below, were whimsically shaped and it is easy to imagine a child choosing the design. Rarely have I seen graves that show so much personality.

An Ernie shaped headstone.
An Ernie shaped headstone.
Mushroom grave with a gnome.
Mushroom grave with a gnome.
A beautiful spot to sit.
A beautiful spot to sit.

Walking

When people ask me what I like about living in the Netherlands, I always give the same response. Walking. When Mike and I moved we sold our cars and decided not to buy a new one. This means our main mode of transportation is walking (followed by taking the train).

Most of my walking has been around town to figure out where I can buy this or that. However, last week a friend invited me along on a walk in the woods. From my house, it only takes about a kilometer before you reach the woods and the heather. (In this weather the heather is brown and not very picture worthy but I promise I’ll take pictures when it is in full bloom.) There are paths through the heather and the woods. On weekends these paths are packed with cyclists, walkers, and even a horse or two. All that walking and cycling makes a person thirsty, so the Dutch have thoughtfully placed tea houses (not to be confused with coffeeshops) and cafes throughout the woods. My friend and I stopped at one for a drink. Sadly they were out of the fresh mint tea that is very popular here so we opted for mulled wine instead.

I think more trips out to the woods will be on my agenda in the future.