Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Last Sunday we drove to the swimming club my son is going to have exams in November. I had to learn the way because my husband will not be in the Netherlands on the day of the exam. Done that, we decided to go with the kids to a park where they could play and see animals as well. Spaarnwoude was the perfect place for that. I had to plans to blog about it on Sunday evening or at least on Monday. But only today I ended up having some free time to post it.

At the local restaurant we ordered pannenkoeken. This is a Dutch pancake: big, soft and thin like old cold pizza. What does it taste like ? Like old cold pizza, humpf ! My children, especially my son is mad about it. At this place they served it with powder sugar - which I scooped half of it away - and we added some stroop (syrup).

A little orchard is placed near to the pastures where goats and sheeps graze.

This kale had stunning shades of blue and purple, you cannot see that well on a photo.

And this courgette arrangement was just waiting for my "click".

When we decided to go inside to search for restrooms with the kids we noticed that there was a show going on. This group of teens was playing Hotel California. Very professional and the singer was very charismatic, relaxed and what such a beautiful voice ! Those boys could easily be in the finals of TV programmes such as "Idols" or X-Factor.
My husband has blond curly hair which gets very beautiful a couple of weeks after he visits the hairdresser. When it is finally all curlied and wild he just goes back to have a hair cut. I suggested him to let it grow so long as the singer's hair - it would give him sexier looks. He said his boss and colleagues would have a different opinion.

Walking around the tables in the restaurant terrace we have seen this... thing. I first thought it was a poodle dog or an extra terrestrial being or the singer's half brother walking among my feet (or that his hair was actually a wig that his colleagues threw spinning on the floor) but it was just an odd race of a very hairy chicken. Gee... your brain does imagine weird things in a fraction of seconds when it doens't know exactly what to think. Or maybe I have a burn-out (too much blogging, hehehe) ? Now, can you imagine me chasing a chicken with a photo camera among tables and waiters in order to get its best pose ?
It seems the chicken lives in the wild and the restaurant personnel has always fresh water for it.
The area has definitely beautiful flower pots, birdhouses, works of art and sculptures spreaded around the pancake house. There is a playground for kids and a little forest with some wooden apparatuses and ropes for them to climb and spring. You can also visit a farm with cows and calves and check how they mechanically collect their milk.

The Spaarnwoude recreation area at the fringe of Amsterdam is the buffer between Haarlem, Amsterdam and Velsen. In an environment with vast polders and forest, there is ample opportunity for biking, hiking, climbing, golfing, skiing, sailing and canoeing. It also hosts many annual events like Dance Valley and Loveland. Oh, and there is a train for kids nearby. I am considering to take my kids and a couple of their little friends to go there again on a Wednesday afternoon - when the weather is dry. If you wish to visit the place just remember: they are closed on Mondays. But then as a modern mother ("mothern") like me you have to work and you children have to go to school, right ?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Expats & Books: Angela Rhodes

I am starting today a new series: expat bloggers are going to tell us about their favourite books. Aussie Angela Rhodes from blog Amsterdamned tells us her preferences.

What is your favourite genre?

Fiction and some popular science.

An important book in your life is....

Paulo Coelho's ‘The Alchemist’. It is about a young boy named Santiago who sets out to live his dream instead of settling down into mundane everyday life like so many of us do. The book is written simply in the style of a fable, it is full of fantasy, symbolism and adventure similar to what we find in fairy tales but the message is beautiful. I know some people who have read the book and hated it, mostly because they missed the point - to live your dream. They missed this because as atheists they were too caught up in the references to destiny and took the metaphors literally. I find this a little sad, because I as an atheist myself found the message inspiring regardless of its fairy tale qualities.

What are you reading at the moment ?

At the moment I am reading 'The Beijing Coma' by Ma Jian. I've only just started on it, so I can't really comment on it just yet.The last book I read was 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster. On the surface The New York Trilogy is three detective stories, however the theme is just a base for a much deeper exploration into the nature of identity and the multiple selves we encompass, which is a theme Auster is well known for.Paul Auster is one of the most eloquent writers I have come across. And I would definitely recommend The New York Trilogy. Having said that though, I have heard you either love Auster or you hate him - his novels are often dark and leave you a little chilled, because of this he is not for everyone.

Friday, September 25, 2009

EatGreen Boat For a Better Climate

I just "heard" the following news from vegetarian Lizzy (from blog Lizzy Goes Dutch): Tomorrow, 26th September, from 14:30 - 17:00, the team of Eat Green Together will sail in the canals of Amsterdam with an environment friendly boat. Everybody is invited to participate in this project and during the sail participants can enjoy vegetarian bites. The contribution is on a free-will basis. When you leave the boat you get a nice starterkit with a chopping board and a small vegetarian cookbook - among other things.

If you want to know more about this project just sign up sending an e-mail to: Or visit their site clicking here.

Thanks for the tip Lizzy. And I wish all the readers a wonderful weekend, yippie !

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Birdhouses (Casas de Passarinhos) [Vogelhuisjes]

In my village there are lots and lots of houses with well manicured gardens - and birdhouses. During months I have photographed some of them in order to post here. Sometimes my husband was very irritaded about me because he had an impression I was invading private space - but I think it was just his perception of my act. I do not invade gardens - I just need to step in them for two or three seconds in order o make my clicks.

Photos above and below:

The 8 photos below were made by be in my village. I am always taking different routes to the school of my kids on Wednesdays in order to investigate gardens and back yards. If I spot a certain birdhouse somewhere and I do not have the photo camera at the moment with me then I make a mental note to come back later. It can take me sometimes weeks to have a proper light and dry weather - and no one wondering behind the windows why the hell I am taking pics of birdhouses. After all I AM a shy person.

You can find such birdhouses at garden centers (Tuincentra) and greenhouses. Once I have seen a red wooden one at Bijenkorf. I doubted for a long moment because my husband doesn't want to have birds "shiting all around the back yard". I didn't buy it then. But I would like to give a helping hand to birds during winter with extra food and shelter. So sooner or later I will find one.

In the sequence below all 5 projects are from Droog Design and the photos are from La crème de la crème in birdhouse design !
Above: a three-star restaurant for birds, project by Marcel Wanders.

Eva Solo bird houses above (porcelaine) and below.

Above: "Rond", below: "Vogel voeder tafel"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Elephant Parade [Desfile de Elefantes]

Have you ever heard of the Cow Parade ? Well, there is now in Amsterdam an open air-exhibition called the Elephant Parade. From 5th september to 31st October a hundred sculptures can be admired in the following spots: Museum Square, Spui, Westermarkt, Koningsplein and Kalvertoren.

photo above: Central Station, Amsterdam

Vocês já ouviram falar da Cow Parade ? Pois é... Agora existe a Elephant Parade. O Desfile dos Elefantes é uma exibição ao ar livre que depois de passar por Antuérpia e Roterdã agora esta em Amsterdã de 5 de setembro até 31 de outubro. Há mais de 100 obras espalhadas por diversas praças da cidade.

Maybe this is one of my favourites. Excess of cuteness ! Pink nails, I guess it is a girl elephant.
Um dos meus exemplares favoritos é essa elefantinha holandesa, fofa, fofa, excesso de fofice !

I have seen in other blogs and flicks some quite interesting photos of such elephants. I will be next week after work in Amsterdam in order to interview someone for this blog, so maybe I will be photographing more in order to post here. I hope therewill be no rain or bad weather. Maybe I will visit the shop in the Kalvertoren, I have already my preferences. Anyway, it it is difficult to elect one favourite above all !

Photo above: Westermarkt Square.

Eu estarei semana que vem em Amsterdã depois do trabalho para fazer uma entrevista pro blog, então farei mais fotos se o tempo e a luz ajudar. É difícil no meio de 100 elefantes escolher o mais interessante ou favorito, mas acho que já tenho umas preferências. Se der, vou visitar a lojinha na Kalvertoren também.

In the offical site of the Elephant Parade you can read: "This project aims to raise attention for the Asian elephant, that is threatened with extinction. (...) The benefits of the Elephant Parade are donated to the Elephant Family, the largest elephant charity in the world". Well, I guess such initiative proves one more time that financial issues are not solved by money. I always say that financial problems are (mostly) solved by imagination and creativity.
If you wish to buy one elephant then visit the web shop clicking here while the link lasts.

Um elefante tomatinho. Há mais, muito mais para se ver pela cidade. Se você quiser dar uma olhada na lojinha da web clica aqui. No final do evento, as obras serão recolhidas para um galpão e ocorrerá um leilão para empresas que desejam adquirir um exemplar. O dinheiro arrecadado com o projeto Desfile dos Elefantes será doado para The Elephant Family, que é a maior obra de caridade para proteção dos elefantes no mundo. Esse projeto visa recolher não só fundos mas também chamar a atenção para o elefante asiático, seriamente ameaçado de extinção. Taí galera, essa é mais uma prova de que problemas financeiros não se resolvem com dinheiro. Eu sempre digo que problemas financeiros são, na maioria das vezes, resolvidos com imaginação e criatividade.