So much to see so little time!

Back in the Netherlands we needed a little time to prepare the van after it had been tucked up in a shed for two and a half months. There was also some time to be tourists – doing what we love to do!

Reunited with our camper van after a couple of months.

It was extremely cold when we arrived in mid-January, especially in contrast to the extreme heat of a Queensland summer. Fortunately we had both been able to find warm coats to wear before leaving Australia.

Fortunately we both found warm coats in Brisbane – we needed them!

It was strange to be wearing so many layers and scrunching over frosty grass but rather nice for a change.

Everything was frosty

The canals in Pijnacker where we staying with our daughter and her partner, were nearly frozen over. The previous year you could skate on the canals but this year they only froze partially so only the ducks were able to skate.

The poor ducks were slipping and sliding over the ice

After we had been there a week we woke up one morning to find the whole world was white. The miracle of snow! I hadn’t seen snow like this for 35 years and was excited as a child.

A white world

Our daughter and my husband built their first snowman together which was a great thrill.

“We’re walking in the air…”🎶🎵

The snow was a great start for our daughter, her partner and a group of friends to go on a skiing holiday in Austria. While they enjoyed the abundant snow we babysat our grandcat who treated us with disdain although she did climb in my lap twice for a short time.

Brushing up on their skills at a nearby artificial ski slope before leaving for Austria
Skiing on teal snow in Austria
Meanwhile we are trying to win over the grandcat

On their return we went on a great walking tour of The Hague on the suggestion of other friends of Hannah and Pieter’s. This tour wasn’t any old walking tour – it was a Dutch beer tour!

The first bar on our tour
Our guide tells us some history of brewing beer in The Hague

Each bar we visited there was a tasting and a short talk from one of the staff. Some of the beers were delicious, some tasted too strong but it was such a great experience as we not only learnt a lot about local beers and visited some really good bars but also got to know The Hague a little better.

One of the beers we tried
They brew one or two beers here!
A member of staff gives us the lowdown

We also had a wonderful day out at a fabulous private modern art museum -Museum Voorlinden, in Wassenaar, very close to The Hague. The museum building is a work of art in itself, with huge glass walls and large airy galleries.

The huge windows let plenty of natural light in – even on a rainy day

There are so interesting exhibits including the Swimming Pool by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich. At first glance this piece looks just like any other small swimming pool but as you peer in you realise there are people walking along the bottom under the water. There are stairs hidden at the side which you can go down and end up “under water”. Very novel.

Go on, dive in
People walking in the water

Looking up to the surface.

One of my favourites was the hyper-realistic Couple under an Umbrella by Australian sculptor Ron Mueck. It is a massive silicone sculpture of an older couple sunbaking on the beach. Every detail – each wrinkle, quirky toenail, skin blemish, stray hair is perfectly realised and the figures were massive.

This made us just a tiny bit homesick for Australia

Another curious work that is a great favourite with photographers Is the tiny elf sized lift (or elevator). This would come up just a little bit higher than the man’s big toe in the Couple Under an Umbrella exhibit.

From massive to minute

The doors to the lift open and close and the lift disappears to an unknown destination in a building that does not have any storeys. Who uses it we wondered? Fairies? Mice? Peggoty from the “Borrowers” books or a modern-day Alice in Wonderland?

Loved this dog
A secret passage in a wall
The wall
A snowflake?

Before we took off on our next European adventure we had a wonderful day at De Haar Castle, near Utrecht.

Lunch first in the old stables

There has been a castle on the site since the 1390s but its current restoration was built in 1892 with Rothschild Family money.

It was as just like a fairy castle
The entrance to the castle

It looks just like a fairy castle and has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, of which only a small number on the ground floor are open to the public.

The grand entrance hall
A guest bedroom

The kitchen can also be viewed. It was for that period, very modern and we could still see the large collection of copper pots and pans and an enormous furnace.

The kitchen – ultra modern for its time

On display are many works from the Rothschild collections, including beautiful old porcelain from Japan and China, and several Flemish tapestries and religious paintings.

The very gracious drawing room

We left Pijnacker on a rainy day on 10 February feeling that there was always so much to see and so little time – wherever you travel.

Pancake breakfast on our leaving day
And off we go on a dull and rainy day

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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