Say Cheese, say Holland

The Dutch love cheese. From the train you can see massive fields with lush green grass. They have lots of cows. The result is cheese – buckets of cheese of every type and flavour. Every town we have been to has cheese shops – note the plural. These first photos were taken on a freezing cold day in Amsterdam. [Click on any pic to see full size.]

Alkmaar is about 40 minutes by train from Haarlem where we are staying. The train was a Sprinter which means it stops at pretty much every place along the way. Alkmaar is full of courtyards, canals, dozens of terraces and, of course, the world famous cheese market. Visiting a cheese market was second on our bucket list of things to  do on our trip.

Dispatch from Maastricht, Holland

Maastricht is about far south as you can get in Holland. Maastricht is a university city on the southern tip of the Netherlands. It is known for its medieval-era architecture and vibrant cultural scene. In its cobbled old town, is the Gothic-style church Sint Janskerk, and the Romanesque Basilica of St. Servatius houses a significant collection of religious art. On the banks of the Maas River, bisecting the city, lies futuristic-looking Bonnefanten art museum.

It’s three hours each way on the train from Haarlem where we are staying. We went on the top level of our speedy inter-city train and got a great view of the Dutch countryside. We went on a Friday because the main square boasts a very large market then.

There were a lot of flower stalls at the market in Maastricht

There were a lot of flower stalls at the market in Maastricht

Flowers in pots for garden - great value too

Flowers in pots for garden – great value too

You name it and the market seemed to have it

You name it and the market seemed to have it

This was on a stall - she who must be obeyed said it would not fit in my suitcase

This was on a stall – she who must be obeyed said it would not fit in my suitcase

One of the three churches that border the main square

One of the three churches that border the main square

Some weird flower covered figures in a corner of the main square

Some weird flower covered figures in a corner of the main square

AND, Maastricht is the home of Andre Rieu. Limburg, the “county” wherein Maastricht lies has its own anthem. I do NOT recommend Limburg cheese – it STINKS.

We didn’t see Andre but did have a great, if very cold, day.

Epistle from Keukenhof in Holland

When we were in Holland some five years ago we went to Keukenhof on a quickie bus tour. We were flabbergasted and vowed to return. Well here we are in Holland celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary AND we are going to Keukenhof. What is Keukenhof?

“History of Keukenhof

The history of Keukenhof dates back to the 15th century. Countess Jacoba van Beieren [Jacqueline of Bavaria] (1401-1436) gathered fruit and vegetables from the Keukenduin [kitchen dunes] for the kitchen of Teylingen Castle. Keukenhof Castle was built in 1641 and the estate grew to encompass an area of over 200 hectares.

Landscape architects Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher, who also designed Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, redesigned the castle gardens in 1857. That park, in the English landscape style, still constitutes the basis of Keukenhof.

In 1949 a group of 20 leading flower bulb growers and exporters came up with the plan to use the estate to exhibit spring-flowering bulbs, signalling the birth of Keukenhof as a spring park. The park opened its gates to the public in 1950 and was an instant success, with 236,000 visitors in the first year alone. 2019 will be the 70th edition of Keukenhof, with Flower Power as its theme. During the past 69 years Keukenhof has developed into a world-famous attraction.”

I have no idea how many pics we took on the freezing day (sharp north wind and temp of 40 degrees) when we went. We are staying in Haarlem and it is a mere 40 minute bus ride on Holland’s superb public transport system. This is what hits you in the eye when you walk to the pavilions – giant glass houses:

[Click on any photo to bring up gallery and see the colours of the flowers]

There are several very large pavilions, This one was virtually all orchids:

99% of the plants in this pavilion are orchids

99% of the plants in this pavilion are orchids

The density of the colour of the orchid got me

The density of the colour of the orchid got me

Another stunning orchid

Another stunning orchid

The next pavilion we went in had the theme of “Flower Power”:

We didn’t get to see the flower arrangement pavilion nor did Sarah order any bulbs. The weather IS getting warmer so we hope that when we go back just before we come home many more of the beds will be in full bloom.

 

 

 

Reporting from Haarlem in the Netherlands

We got here last Monday. We’ve been strutting our stuff ever since.

The weather hasn’t been what I expected – VERY cold wind from the north, temp in the 40’s, two showers of which one had hail or snow. The weather hasn’t stopped us. All my walking in water has paid off – I walked 14,500 miles one day.

Food? It’s been great. The coffee is superb wherever you get it.

Photos? Between us we have taken over a million!!!!!!!

Haarlem – which is where we are staying – is a hop step and a jump from Amsterdam. The city dates back to the 1600s. One building on our street – which is split by a canal – is dated 1696. There’s interesting stuff everywhere. This mini selection might give yo a sense of what one sees on a simple walk in any direction.

What I am going to look like after my visit to the tonsorial artiste

What I am going to look like after my visit to the tonsorial artiste

Typical old fascia -this one dates back to the 1700s - note the oxen pulling the cart

Typical old fascia -this one dates back to the 1700s – note the oxen pulling the cart

Espalier tree - one of manyEspalier tree - one of many

Espalier tree – one of many

Detail on door

Detail on door

Amazing door adornment

Amazing door adornment

 

Angels coming to earth on sunbeams

When we go over the hill (from Fort Bragg to Willits) I enjoy watching the sunbeams coming down from through the trees. When I was growing I was very sick and I spent a lot of time with my grandmother on my father’s side – Granny Phillips. The bedroom I had looked east through some very old oak trees. When I would tell Gran that I had seen sunbeams she would always respond, “The angels slide down the sunbeams – that’s how they come down from heaven.” When I saw this photo my aged brain took me back 70 years!!!!!

Sunbeams on Route 20 between Fort Bragg (CA) and Willits

Sunbeams on Route 20 between Fort Bragg (CA) and Willits

Snoopy’s Christmas vs. The Red Baron

I’ve been reviewing/listening to old “records” and vids of the holiday season that I grew up with and enjoyed. Among these, of course, were vids of Snoopy. With all the chaos in the world I thought this one was appropriate:

The Royal Guardsmen made this record. They were 5 guys from Ocala, Florida. They recorded a quartet of songs inspired by Snoopy the Beagle in the “Peanuts” comic strip between 1967 and 1968.